Posts tagged with "Justice Department"

Records from Trump White House still missing, National Archives says

October 4, 2022

The National Archives informed Congress’s House Oversight Committee on Friday, September 30, that members of the Trump White House still had not turned over all presidential records—and signaled there could be legal consequences for those who do not comply, reports The New York Times.

In a letter, Debra Steidel Wall, the acting U.S. archivist, said the archives was working to retrieve electronic messages from certain unnamed White House officials who had used personal email and messaging accounts to conduct official business.

Wall wrote that the Archives would consult the Justice Department about whether to “initiate an action for the recovery of records unlawfully removed.”

“While there is no easy way to establish absolute accountability, we do know that we do not have custody of everything we should,” Wall wrote to Representative Carolyn B. Maloney, Democrat of New York and the chairwoman of the Oversight Committee.

Wall cited an August filing by the Justice Department to recover official email records from the personal account of Peter Navarro, a former Trump adviser. Navarro is facing charges of contempt of Congress after he refused to comply with a subpoena from the House committee investigating the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.

In her letter, Wall declined to say whether former President Donald Trump had surrendered all presidential records in his possession.

“With respect to the second issue concerning whether former President Trump has surrendered all presidential records, we respectfully refer you to the Department of Justice in light of its ongoing investigation,” she wrote.

“The National Archives has confirmed to the Oversight Committee that they still have not received all presidential records from the Trump White House,” Maloney said in a statement. “Presidential records are the property of the American people, and it is outrageous that these records remain unaccounted for 20 months after former President Trump left office.”

Maloney had requested a formal assessment from the Archives of what presidential records remained unaccounted for and whether the archives believed any were potentially still in Trump’s possession.

Maloney also requested that the Archives “seek a personal certification from Donald Trump that he has surrendered all presidential records that he illegally removed from the White House after leaving office.”

The federal government tried and failed for more than a year and a half to retrieve classified and sensitive documents from Trump before resorting on August 8 to a search of his Florida estate, Mar-a-Lago, according to government documents and statements by his lawyers.

Two months before the search, Trump’s lawyer certified that all documents bearing classified markings had been returned and that no “copy, written notation or reproduction of any kind was retained.”

Yet the FBI search revealed that the former president still had more than 11,000 government records—including more than 100 with classified markings and documents with the highest classification markings, some related to human intelligence sources. There were additional classified documents in Trump’s office desk drawer.

The search also turned up 48 folders with classified markings that were empty. Although it was unclear why they were empty, the committee said, the apparent separation of classified material and presidential records from their designated folders raised questions about how the materials were stored and whether sensitive material might have been lost or obtained by third parties.

Research contact: @nytimes

Judge rules Trump can ignore Special Master’s order to prove claim FBI ‘planted’ docs

October 3, 2022

U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of Florida Aileen Cannon—who was nominated to the court by former President Donald Trump in April 2020—ruled on Thursday, September 29, that Trump does not have to comply with an order by the Special Master to put up or shut up about his claims that the FBI “planted” information among documents that agents seized from Mar-a-Lago, reports HuffPost.

Special Master Raymond Dearie—a federal judge who was recommended by Trump’s own legal team—had given the former president’s lawyers until Friday to confirm or refute an inventory list of items taken by the FBI agents that was provided by the Justice Department.

Dearie’s order, in essence, demanded proof of Trump’s claims that some White House files agents confiscated at Mar-a-Lago had been “planted.” It was a claim pointedly not ever made by his attorneys.

“This submission shall be Plaintiff’s final opportunity to raise any factual dispute as to the completeness and accuracy of the Detailed Property Inventory,” Dearie, a former federal prosecutor and a U.S. district judge in Brooklyn, New York, said when he issued the order.

Trump said that he and family members watched agents search sections of his Mar-a-Lago home and resort on surveillance cameras—raising the question of how the FBI could have secretly planted evidence at the same time.

Two lawyers for Trump were also at Mar-a-Lago during the search, and one signed off on a list of boxes and “miscellaneous top secret documents” that were removed.

In a letter written on Sunday, September 25, and made public late Wednesday, Trump’s team attempted to duck Dearie’s demand.

“Because the Special Master’s case management plan exceeds the grant of authority from the District Court on this issue, plaintiff must object,” Trump’s attorneys wrote.

Cannon agreed in her order Thursday, saying Trump’s attorneys would not be required to affirm the accuracy of the FBI’s inventory from Mar-a-Lago before getting a chance to review the records themselves.

“There shall be no separate requirement on Plaintiff at this stage, prior to the review of any of the seized materials. … The Court’s Appointment Order did not contemplate that obligation,” Cannon wrote.

Her order also extended the timeline to review the documents Trump took from the White House to stash at Mar-a-Lago from November 30 until December 16. The records, which belong to the public, are supposed to be held by the National Archives.

Dearie is supposed to be reviewing the several boxes of documents to determine if any may be protected by lawyer-client or executive privilege.

While Dearie appeared to be speeding up the process, Cannon is slowing it down— which will delay revealing any damning information until after the midterm elections.

In a blow to Trump, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit ruled last week that the Justice Department can resume reviewing the seized classified records—blocking a portion of a stay issued earlier by Cannon. The appeals court also prohibited Dearie from vetting the documents marked classified.

After the ruling, Cannon—whose decision in Trump’s favor protecting the records seized at Mar-a-Lago has been criticized by several legal expert— amended her own order. It now states that material subject to a special master review no longer includes the “approximately one-hundred documents bearing classification markings.”

Research contact: @HuffPost

Meadows was central to hundreds of texts about overturning 2020 election, book says

September 28, 2022

The texts included previously unreported messages—including a group chat with Trump administration cabinet officials and plans to object to Joe Biden’s election certification on January 6 by Republican members of Congress and one former US attorney, as well as other Trump allies.

The book, “The Breach” by former Congressman Denver Riggleman, was obtained by The Guardian in advance of its scheduled publication on Tuesday, September 27.  The 288-page tome, published by Henry Holt and Co., already has become controversial after being condemned by the panel as “unauthorized.”

Although most of the texts sent to and from Meadows that Riggleman includes in the book have been public for months, his text offers new insight into and fills some gaps about how all three branches of government were seemingly involved in strategizing ways to obstruct the congressional certification on January 6, 2021.

Less than an hour after the election was called for Biden, for instance, Rick Perry, Trump’s former energy secretary, texted a group chat that included Meadows; then-housing secretary, Ben Carson; and former agriculture secretary, Sonny Perdue, all concluding that Trump should dispute the call.

POTUS line should be: Biden says hes [sic] president. America will see what big data says,” Perry wrote. “This sets the stage for what we’re about to prove.” While Carson was more cautious, Perdue appeared unconcerned about seeing concrete proof of election fraud. “No quit!” he wrote.

The former president’s final White House chief of staff also fielded a text from the Republican Senator Kevin Cramer, who forwarded a note from North Dakota’s then-U.S. attorney, Drew Wrigley, who offered his own advice for overturning the results because “Trump’s legal team has made a joke of this whole thing.”

“Demand statewide recount of absentee/mail-in ballots in line with pre-existing state law with regard to signature comparisons,” Wrigley wrote. “If state officials refuse that recount, the legislature would then act under the Constitution, selecting the slate of electors.”

The suggestion from Wrigley echoed what the Trump legal team would ultimately pursue in having fake electors sent to Congress on January 6 to have the then vice-president, Mike Pence, refuse to certify Biden’s win—a scheme now part of a criminal investigation by the US attorney in Washington, D.C.

The text from Wrigley is significant since the Justice Department is supposed to remain above the political fray. Wrigley’s note appears to mark an instance of a federal prosecutor endorsing a legally dubious scheme when there was no fraud sufficient to alter the outcome of the 2020 election.

A DOJ spokesperson could not immediately be reached for comment. Wrigley, now the North Dakota state attorney general, also could not be immediately reached for comment.

Texts to Meadows also show Republican lawmakers started to finalize objections to the certification of the 2020 election only hours after Trump sent a tweet about a “big protest” that the House January 6 committee has said mobilized far-right groups to make preparations to storm the Capitol.

The former president sent the pivotal tweet in the early hours of December 19, 2020. The panel previously described it as the catalyst that triggered the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers groups, as well as “Stop the Steal” activists, to target obstructing the certification.

But the tweet also coincided with efforts by Republican lawmakers to finalize objections to the congressional certification of Joe Biden’s election win, new texts from some of Trump’s most ardent supporters on Capitol Hill sent to Meadows show.

Hours after Trump sent his tweet, according to texts published in the book, the Republican congressman Jody Hice messaged Meadows to say he would be “leading” his state’s “electoral college objection on Jan 6”—days before Trump is known to have met with Republicans at the White House to discuss it.

The congressman also told Meadows that Trump “spoke” with Marjorie Taylor Greene, a far-right Republican who had been elected to a House seat in Georgia but had yet to be sworn in, and was interested in meeting with the ultra-conservative House Freedom Caucus.

Hice’s messages to Meadows came at a critical juncture: It was the Saturday after a contentious Friday meeting at the White House, where Trump entertained seizing voting machines and installing a conspiracy theorist lawyer, Sidney Powell, as special counsel to investigate election fraud.

The meeting to discuss objecting to Biden’s win on January 6 was originally scheduled for the next Monday, December 21, 2020, but it was rescheduled to take place on the next Tuesday, according to the book, citing additional messages sent by the Republican congressman Brian Babin.

Nine days after the meeting with Trump, the Republican members of Congress seemed to finish their objection plans, and Babin texted Meadows to say the “objectors” would be having an additional strategy session at the Conservative Partnership Institute, which played host to other January 6 efforts.

The timing of the new texts to Meadows raised the prospect that Trump’s tweet moved ahead several plans that worked in concert, with the Republican objections about supposed fraud giving Pence a pretext to throw out Biden votes as rioters obstructed proceedings.

Research contact: @guardian

CNN exclusive: Mark Meadows has complied with DOJ subpoena in January 6 probe

September 16, 2022

Former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows has complied with a subpoena from the Justice Department’s investigation into events surrounding the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, sources familiar with the matter have told CNN—making him the highest-ranking Trump official known to have responded to a subpoena in the federal investigation.

Meadows turned over the same materials he provided to the House select committee investigating the US Capitol attack, one source said, meeting the obligations of the Justice Department subpoena, which has not been previously reported.

Last year, Meadows turned over thousands of text messages and emails to the House committee, before he stopped cooperating. The texts he handed over between Election Day 2020 and Joe Biden’s inauguration, which CNN previously obtained, provided a window into his dealings at the White House, though he withheld hundreds of messages, citing executive privilege.

In addition to Trump’s former chief of staff, one of Meadows’ top deputies in the White House, Ben Williamson, also recently received a grand jury subpoena, another source familiar with the matter has informed CNN.

That subpoena was similar to what others in Trump’s orbit received. It asked for testimony and records relating to January 6 and efforts to overturn the 2020 election. Williamson previously cooperated with the January 6 committee. He declined to comment to CNN.

Meadows’ compliance with the subpoena comes as the Justice Department has ramped up its investigation related to January 6, which now touches nearly every aspect of former President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss—including the fraudulent electors plot, efforts to push baseless election fraud claims and how money flowed to support these various efforts, CNN reported this week.

An attorney for Meadows declined comment. The Justice Department did not respond to CNN requests for comment.

As White House chief of staff, Meadows was in the middle of Trump’s efforts to overturn the election in the two months between Election Day and Biden’s inauguration. Meadows communicated with numerous officials who tried to find election fraud and pushed various schemes to try to overturn the election, according to text messages obtained by CNN that Meadows turned over to the House select committee.

Meadows also shared baseless conspiracy theories with Justice Department leaders, as Trump tried to enlist DOJ’s help in his push to claim the election was stolen from him.

After Meadows stopped cooperating with the House committee, Congress referred him to the Justice Department for contempt of Congress. DOJ declined to prosecute him for contempt earlier this year.

It’s not yet clear whether the Justice Department will seek more materials from Meadows as part of the ongoing criminal investigation, which could lead to a legal fight over executive privilege.

Following last month’s FBI search of Trump’s Florida residence and resort, the Ma-a-Lago Club, Meadows handed over texts and emails to the National Archivesv that he had not previously turned over from his time in the administration, CNN previously reported. Last year, Meadows spoke with Trump about the documents he brought to Mar-a-Lago that the National Archives wanted returned.

Trump has been counseled to cut contact with Meadows—and some of Trump’s attorneys believe Meadows could also be in investigators’ crosshairs and are concerned he could become a fact witness if he’s pushed to cooperate, CNN reported last month. Still, Trump and Meadows have spoken a number of times, according to a source familiar with their relationship.

Another source described their relationship as “not the same as it once was” while in the White House, but said they still have maintained a relationship, even as Trump has complained about Meadows to others.

Research contact: @CNN

Trump’s private residence in Florida is searched by F.B.I.

August 10, 2022

Former President Donald Trump said on Monday, August 8, that the F.B.I. had conducted what he referred to as an “unannounced” search of his Palm Beach, Florida, home on the grounds of the private Mar-a-Lago Club, and had broken open a safe—an account signaling a major escalation in the various investigations into the final stages of his presidency, reports The New York Times.

The search, according to multiple people familiar with the investigation, appeared to be focused on material that the former president had brought with him to Mar-a-Lago, when he left the White House. Those boxes contained many pages of classified documents, according to a person familiar with their contents.

Trump delayed returning 15 boxes of material requested by officials with the National Archives for many months, only doing so when there became a threat of action to retrieve them. The case was referred to the Justice Department by the archives early this year.

According to the Times, “The search marked the latest remarkable turn in the long-running investigations into Trump’s actions before, during and after his presidency—and even as he weighs announcing another candidacy for the White House.”

It came as the Justice Department has stepped up its separate inquiry into Trump’s efforts to remain in office after his defeat at the polls in the 2020 election and as the former president also faces an accelerating criminal inquiry in Georgia and civil actions in New York.

Trump has long cast the F.B.I. as a tool of Democrats who have been out to get him—and the search set off a furious reaction among his supporters in the Republican Party and on the far right of American politics. Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the Republican leader in the House, suggested that he intended to investigate Attorney General Merrick Garland if Republicans took control of the House in November.

The Times notes that the F.B.I. would have needed to convince a judge that it had probable cause that a crime had been committed, and that agents might find evidence at Mar-a-Lago, to get a search warrant. Proceeding with a search on a former president’s home would almost surely have required sign-off from top officials at the bureau and the Justice Department.

The search, however, does not mean prosecutors have determined that Mr. Trump committed a crime.

An F.B.I. representative declined to comment, as did Justice Department officials. The F.B.I. director, Christopher A. Wray, was appointed by Trump.

Trump was in the New York area at the time of the search. “Another day in paradise,” he said Monday night during a telephone rally for Sarah Palin, who is running for a congressional seat in Alaska.

Eric Trump, one of his sons, told Fox News that he was the one who informed his father that the search was taking place, and he said the search warrant was related to presidential documents.

Trump, who campaigned for president in 2016 criticizing Hillary Clinton’s practice of maintaining a private email server for government-related messages while she was secretary of state, was known throughout his term to rip up official material that was intended to be held for presidential archives. One person familiar with his habits said that included classified material that was shredded in his bedroom and elsewhere.

The search was at least in part for whether any records remained at the club, a person familiar with it said. It took place on Monday morning, the person said, although Trump said agents were still there many hours later.

“After working and cooperating with the relevant Government agencies, this unannounced raid on my home was not necessary or appropriate,” Trump said, maintaining it was an effort to stop him from running for president in 2024. “Such an assault could only take place in broken, Third-World Countries.”

Research contact: @nytimes

Stephen King to testify for government in book-publisher merger trial

August 3, 2022

As the Justice Department bids to convince a federal judge that the proposed merger of Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster would damage the careers of some of the most popular authors, it is leaning in part on the testimony of a writer who has thrived like few others: Stephen King, reports ABC.

 The author of “Carrie,” “The Shining,” and many other favorites, King has willingly—even eagerly—placed himself in opposition to Simon & Schuster, his longtime publisher, ABC says. He was not chosen by the government just for his fame, but for his public criticism of the $2.2 billion deal announced in late 2021—joining two of the world’s biggest publishers into what rival CEO Michael Pietsch of Hachette Book Group has called a “gigantically prominent” entity.

 “The more the publishers consolidate, the harder it is for indie publishers to survive,” King tweeted last year.

 One of the few widely recognizable authors, known for his modest-sized glasses and gaunt features, King is scheduled to take the witness stand Tuesday, August 2, the second day of a federal antitrust trial anticipated last two to three weeks.

 He may not have the business knowledge of Pietsch, the DOJ’s first witness, but he has been a published novelist for nearly 50 years and knows well how much the industry has changed: Some of his own former publishers were acquired by larger companies. “Carrie,” for instance, was published by Doubleday, which in 2009 merged with Knopf Publishing Group and now is part of Penguin Random House. Another former King publisher, Viking Press, was a Penguin imprint that joined Penguin Random House when Penguin and Random House merged in 2013.

King’s affinity for smaller publishers is personal. Even while continuing to publish with the Simon & Schuster imprint Scribner, he has written thrillers for the independent Hard Case Crime. Years ago, the publisher asked him to contribute a blurb, but King instead offered to write a novel for them, “The Colorado Kid,” released in 2005.

 “Inside I was turning cartwheels,” Hard Case co-founder Charles Ardai would remember thinking when King contacted him.

 King, himself, would likely benefit from the Penguin Random House-Simon & Schuster deal, but he has a history of favoring other priorities beyond his material well-being. He has long been a critic of tax cuts for the rich, even as “the rich” surely includes Stephen King, and has openly called for the government to raise his taxes.

 “In America, we should all have to pay our fair share,” he wrote for The Daily Beast in 2012.

 On Monday, attorneys for the two sides offered contrasting views of the book industry. Government attorney John Read invoked a dangerously narrow market, ruled tightly by the Big Five— Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins Publishing, Macmillan and Hachette—with little chance for smaller or startup publishers to break through.

  Attorney Daniel Petrocelli argued for the defense that the industry actually is diverse, profitable, and open to newcomers. Publishing, he said, means not just the Big Five, but also such medium-size companies as W.W. Norton & Co. and Grove Atlantic. The merger, he contended, would in no way upend the ambitions so many hold for literary success.

 “Every book starts out as an anticipated bestseller in the gleam of an author’s or an editor’s eye,” he said.

 Research contact: @ABC

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

How to watch the January 6 Committee hearings (and what to watch for)

June 8, 2022

After 11 months and more than 1,000 interviews, the House committee investigating the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob is ready to share what it knows, reports The Washington Post.

It will do that in public hearings, some in prime time, throughout this month. The first will be held this week. Here’s what to know about the hearings.

  • When are the hearings’ dates and times? The first hearing is scheduled for Thursday, June 9, at 8 p.m. (EDT). The committee hasn’t announced a formal schedule for the remainder of the hearings, but there could be as many as eight through June, with a final hearing in September—right before the November midterm elections. 
  • How to watch the hearings: The committee  usually live-streams its hearings, and most major TV news stations will be airing at least Thursday’s inquiry in full: TheWrap reports that ABC, NBC, CBS, MSNBC, and CNN plan to air the proceedings. Fox News is the only major news network to decide to continue with its regular, primetime coverage and talk about the hearings “as warranted.” The Washington Post will have anchored coverage and analysis beginning Thursday night on www.washingtonpost.com.
  • What to watch for: The committee plans to detail itsr findings of what members say was a months-long Republican conspiracy to overthrow Joe Biden’s legitimate election victory, led by President Donald Trump. Indeed, the committee even could accuse Trump of committing a crime by intentionally trying to stop Congress’s certification of Biden’s win on January 6, 2021. But Congress’s power is limited; ultimately, the Justice Department would have to decide whether to prosecute.

Investigators have not gotten many close Trump allies or top Republican members of Congress to testify. Instead, members plan to call in staffers to some of the top players, such as aides to former vice president Mike Pence, or former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows. And they plan to play videos of their previous interviews with Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, report The Post’s Jacqueline Alemany, Josh Dawsey and Amy Gardner.

Each hearing will have a theme. On Thursday, lawmakers are planning to introduce the public to what they’ve been up to for the past 11 months since

Democrats in Congress voted to set up the investigatory committee. Only two Republicans, Representatives Liz Cheney (Wyoming) and Adam Kinzinger (Illinois) sit on it, and there are no Trump allies on the committee. They will make an opening statement that offers an overview of the January 6 events.

The New York Times reports that on Thursday, a documentarian who interviewed the Proud Boys and a Capitol police officer who was injured in the attack will provide testimony as some of the panel’s first public witnesses. This comes after the current and former leaders of the Proud Boys have been charged with seditious conspiracy, for allegedly planning the attack on the Capitol.

Other hearings could focus on what Trump did (or didn’t do) on January 6; how he and his allies tried to dismantle the electoral process in the weeks after Election Day in order to keep him in power; how disinformation spreads; and policy recommendations to prevent such an attack from happening again.

Research contact: @washingtonpost

Trump tells former aides to defy subpoenas from January 6 House panel

October 11, 2021

Former President Donald Trump has instructed his former aides not to comply with subpoenas from the special congressional committee investigating the Capitol riot—raising the prospect of the panel issuing criminal referrals for some of his closest advisers as early as Friday, October 8, The New York Times reports.

In a letter reviewed by the Times. Trump’s lawyer asked that witnesses not provide testimony or documents related to their “official” duties, and instead to invoke any immunities they might have “to the fullest extent permitted by law.”

The House committee has ordered four former Trump administration officials — Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff; Dan Scavino Jr., a deputy chief of staff; Stephen K. Bannon, an adviser; and Kash Patel, a Pentagon chief of staff — to sit for depositions and furnish documents and other materials relevant to its investigation. They all faced a Thursday, October 7, deadline to respond.

Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi—and the chairman of the select committee—has threatened criminal referrals for witnesses who do not comply with the subpoenas, and said the panel expected witnesses “to cooperate fully with our probe.”

The move amounted to a declaration of war by Trump on the investigation, and raised legal questions about how far the committee could go in compelling information from a former president and his advisers, the Times said.

The committee is demanding that Meadows and Patel submit to questioning on Thursday, October 14; and Bannon and Scavino, the following day.

While President Biden already has said that extending Trump’s “executive privilege” is unlikely, it remains unclear whether his Administration will see fit to offer the privilege to those who have been subpoenaed.

The Justice Department and the White House already have waived executive privilege for a previous batch of witnesses who were asked to testify before the Senate Judiciary and House Oversight committees, which were investigating both the January 6 attack and the Trump Administration’s efforts to subvert the results of the presidential election. The Justice Department argued that privilege was conferred to protect the institution of the presidency—not to provide immunity for wrongdoing.

Taylor Budowich, a spokesperson for Trump, said that the records request by the select committee was “outrageously broad” and that it lacked “both legal precedent and legislative merit.

The instructions from Trump were reported earlier by The Guardian.

Research contact: @nytimes

Two men charged with conspiracy to attack Democratic HQ in Sacramento

july 19, 2021

On July 16, federal authorities announced they had arrested two men in California who allegedly wanted to organize a movement to overthrow the government—and who had discussed blowing up the Democratic headquarters in Sacramento—in a new, major case of would-be domestic terrorists motivated by former President Donald Trump’s election defeat, CNN reports.

Five days before the presidential inauguration on January 20—which prosecutors believe was to be a key date in the planning of the attack—the Justice Department apprehended one of the men, who had amassed a large arsenal. Ian Benjamin Rogers, 45, of Napa, California, showed strong support for White supremacy and for Trump, and said in text messages he realized he would be labeled a domestic terrorist, according to Justice Department court filings.

A man Rogers communicated with, Jarrod Copeland, 37, of Vallejo, California, was arrested in Sacramento this week, DOJ said.

According to CNN, court records citing extensive encrypted messages between Rogers and Copeland raise the alarm of how the men sought to inspire domestic terrorism toward Democrats—and how their anti-government motivations may still persist.

In January, Rogers had told Copeland, “I want to blow up a democrat building bad,” and Copeland responded in agreement, writing, “Plan attack.”

The pair discussed “war” after President Joe Biden’s inauguration, the Justice Department said. They also discussed attacking George Soros, a billionaire donor who supports liberal causes; and Twitter, which by then had removed Trump from the social media platform.Enter your email to sign up for CNN’s “What Matters” newsletter.”I hope 45 goes to war if he doesn’t I will,” Rogers allegedly wrote.

The larger idea, the FBI and prosecutors say, was for Rogers to become violent near where he lived, to prompt others into similar actions nationwide, according to the court record.

Both men are charged with conspiracy to destroy by fire or explosive a building used or in affecting interstate commerce.

Rogers also faces weapons charges after investigators found 49 firearms, thousands of rounds of ammunition and five pipe bombs at his home and business in January, shortly after they discussed the plan but before January 20, according to court records. One of the guns, investigators noted, appeared to be a replica of a fully automatic machine gun that Nazi troops had used during World War II, according to a charging document for Rogers. Rogers told investigators after his arrest the pipe bombs were for “entertainment.”

Secret Service intel briefings ahead of January 6 concluded there was no indication of civil disobedience

Rogers and Copeland are currently being held in custody and have yet to be arraigned, and a federal prosecutor said Thursday they remain a threat. “All of the political and social conditions that motivated them to plan what they themselves described as a terrorist attack remain,” the prosecutor write in a court filing.

Rogers’ attorney declined to comment, and it was not immediately clear if Copeland had a lawyer. Copeland is due in court in San Francisco on July 20.

Prosecutors, national security officials and politicians have warned that after Trump and his allies ramped up his lies of a stolen election in November and after a mob of hundreds of Trump supporters attacked the US Capitol on January 6, their inflammatory rhetoric could lead to violence.

An FBI agent specializing in domestic terrorism wrote in court about the messages, “I believe that these latter messages indicate Rogers’ belief that Trump (“45″) actually won the presidential election and should ‘go to war’ to ensure he remained in power.”

Prosecutors also say Rogers had written to Copeland months before, in November, that he wanted to “hit the enemy in the mouth” with homemade explosives attacking the Governor’s Mansion and the Democratic headquarters building in Sacramento, according to DOJ.

Copeland had told Rogers he was in touch with an anti-government militia group and also had made contact with a militia leader after Rogers’ arrest, who advised him to delete his communications, which he allegedly did, the Justice Department also said.

In various searches, investigators found Copeland had rifles, a “go bag” with a helmet, elbow and knee pads, ammunition magazines and zip tie handcuffs, and anabolic steroids.

The zip ties, prosecutors say, were intended for the men’s plot. “The fact that he still had them six months later indicates that he still believed a situation would arise where he would need to take prisoners,” a Justice Department court filing said. “His sentiments are deeply felt and long-standing and reflect a belief that the government is illegitimate. He is not likely to obey rules imposed on him by someone he views as part of a tyrannical government.”

Prosecutors note that Copeland served in the military but had deserted in 2016 under an “other than honorable” discharge.

“It doesn’t matter for our purposes whether the steroids make Copeland more violent and aggressive, or he seeks out steroids because he tends to be more violent and aggressive. Either way, he is a greater danger to the community,” prosecutors noted about the steroids.

At first, CNN reports, Rogers’ idea was to use Molotov cocktails and gasoline, and his a “first target” of the governor’s mansion, because he believed it was empty and there would be no casualties. “Would send a message,” Rogers allegedly wrote to Copeland, according to the court record. “That’s the best target I think too,” Copeland responded.

Prosecutors say Rogers then decided to change the target to the Democratic headquarters building in Sacramento. The two men allegedly made plans over the next two months, prosecutors say. The discussed pipe bombs and gallons of gasoline, among other violence at the building, according to their messages included in court records.

Research contact: @CNN