The GOP’s masculinity panic

“That’s not just Twitter trolling. It’s not just posturing online anymore. It’s the logic of a movement centered around aggression divorced from virtue that indulges in apocalyptic rhetoric. It’s heading exactly where such movements head, and everyone who in 2015 or 2016 was dismissing the alt-right and Trump’s Twitter trolls says, “Oh, that’s just Twitter. That’s just Twitter.” There was an inexorable moral logic that was going to lead to action in the streets.

I’ve been a pessimist about this for some time. I’ve been warning about violence for some time. In December, I was jumping up and down on The Dispatch saying violence is a real threat. Even as a pessimist, I didn’t imagine the capital being overrun on January 6.

To argue that, “Well, that was a one-time thing. Everybody got carried away” — no. No, no, no. That was the result of rhetoric and conduct that put a specific group of people together on January 6 to provide cover for an attempted coup. Many of the architects of that exact plan are still some of the most revered figures in Republican life right now.

So when you tell people their country is at stake, when you tell people the other side hates them, wants to see you dead, hates you, puts you in camps, then some people are going to believe that, and act accordingly.”

The Bar for Charging Trump with Obstructing Congress Is Higher Than Many Realize

“Text messages to Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows indicate that Trump allies in Congress such as Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) pushed plans to set aside the election results and subvert the democratic process before Jan. 6. And when the insurrection started, the messages also reveal that members of Congress, Trump’s media allies and his own son pleaded unsuccessfully with Meadows to get the president to call off his supporters.

That evidence — not to mention the earlier revelation of a PowerPoint presentation circulating in the Trump White House about how to block the electoral vote certification — led members of the committee to question whether the president might be in legal jeopardy. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), the vice chair of the committee, gained particular attention for a question she posed that went so far as to paraphrase the language of 18 U.S.C. § 1512, which makes it a felony to attempt to “corruptly obstruct, influence, or impede any official proceeding.”
But while the committee may ultimately uncover sufficient evidence to indict Trump, it does not appear that they have done so thus far. Rather than using the exact language of the statute, she inserted four words that reveal the scope of the committee’s investigation but also suggest that the committee knows it might fall short of the bar for criminal prosecution. “Did Donald Trump, through action or inaction [emphasis added], corruptly seek to obstruct or impede Congress’ official proceeding to count electoral votes?” Cheney asked as she urged colleagues to hold Meadows in contempt of Congress for refusing to be deposed.

The key word used by Cheney is “inaction.” Thus far the evidence made public by the committee indicates that in the face of a violent attack on the U.S. Capitol, Trump did nothing. Cheney and others argue that Trump violated his oath of office, in which he swore to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution,” which requires him to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” There can be little dispute that Trump failed to do so. But a president violating his oath of office, in itself, does not constitute a federal crime.

In fact, our criminal laws rarely punish people for not taking action, and with good reason. Our criminal laws were designed to punish people who knowingly engage in wrongdoing, not to punish people who showed mere indifference or inadvertence when others were engaged in wrongdoing.”

January 6 texts from Fox hosts reveal the lie at the heart of the conservative movement

“As the Capitol riot unfolded on January 6, Fox News hosts knew exactly how bad things were.

“The president needs to tell people in the Capitol to go home. This is hurting all of us. He is destroying his legacy,” Laura Ingraham texted to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. “Please, get him on TV — [the riot is] destroying everything you accomplished,” Brian Kilmeade wrote to Meadows. “Can he make a statement, ask people to leave the Capitol?” wrote Sean Hannity in yet another Meadows text.

The texts, revealed during a Monday hearing of the House January 6 Commission, were at odds with the hosts’ on-air comments on the night of the attack. Ingraham suggested that “antifa supporters” may have been responsible for the violence. Kilmeade took a similar line: “I do not know Trump supporters that have ever demonstrated violence that I know of in a big situation.” Hannity, for his part, asserted that “the majority of them were peaceful.”

This is tangible proof that some of Fox’s marquee personalities knowingly lied to their audience about January. The lying began basically immediately, in the direct aftermath of a national tragedy.

This isn’t the only issue on which Fox’s dishonesty has been exposed. On one of the fundamental policy topics of the day, the pandemic, the right’s most influential news network is saying one thing to its audience and doing another in private.

Fox News’s programming on vaccines and vaccine mandates has been relentlessly hostile. Yet more than 90 percent of Fox News employees are fully vaccinated, and the company has a vaccine mandate that’s actually stricter than the one President Joe Biden has proposed for large corporations. Hosts tend not to mention this on air and, on the rare occasions that they do, they mislead their audience about it.

They are lying to their audience, and anyone paying close attention can see it.

These incidents speak to a deep pattern in modern conservatism, a parasitic relationship in which a super-wealthy elite preys on the fears of the conservative base for profit.”

Jan. 6 investigators’ new challenge: Trump allies pleading the Fifth

“three witnesses with ties to Donald Trump have signaled they intend to invoke their constitutional right against self-incrimination.”

“Their assertions are the latest, and perhaps stiffest, test for the Jan. 6 committee as it seeks to penetrate the former president’s inner circle and piece together his actions during the chaotic closing weeks of his term. Eastman, Clark and Stone are among those who were closest to Trump as he sought to overturn the 2020 election, with some physically just blocks away as a mob of supporters overran Capitol Police and threatened the peaceful transfer of power.

Legal experts say the committee has few options once a witness pleads the Fifth — and the choices they do have are risky or impractical. ”

“For now, the committee has been content to emphasize Trump allies’ extraordinary acknowledgment, by asserting their right against self-incrimination, that some of their actions related to the 2020 election may have crossed the line into criminality — even if it carries no legal weight.”

“The committee’s options for circumventing a Fifth Amendment assertion are extremely limited. One path would involve offering a form of immunity that would prevent a witness’ testimony from being used by prosecutors in any future criminal proceeding. Thompson said Monday that immunity was among the tools the committee could consider to compel another former Trump aide, Mark Meadows, to provide information to the panel.
Legal experts say this is an unlikely path, though, since offering immunity could derail any investigation into criminal activity that the committee reveals.”

“Another option for the Jan. 6 panel is to file a civil contempt lawsuit and seek a judge’s review of the witness’ claim, but that could be a protracted effort at a time the committee is racing against a dwindling calendar. And it might not work.

“Courts will be reluctant to order witnesses to testify … if there is any potential for prosecution,” McQuade said.

A third option that some committee members — and other House Democrats — have floated is the concept of “inherent contempt.” That’s a process by which Congress bypasses the Justice Department and simply arrests or fines any recalcitrant witness. But House General Counsel Douglas Letter has made clear for years that this option is not realistic to pursue. It hasn’t been deployed in a century and it could lend itself to dangerous abuses in a body that is inherently political.”

‘This call never happened’: Ex-D.C. Guard leaders push back as internal Army report on Jan. 6 emerges

“The Army report, obtained by POLITICO, lays the foundation for the Pentagon’s defense against criticism that it took too long to approve the Guard’s response to the Capitol attack. The March 18 report says Guard members weren’t prepared to respond quickly to the riot and describes multiple communications between top Army officials and the D.C. Guard’s commander, then-Maj. Gen. William Walker.

But Walker, now sergeant at arms in the House, says some of those communications the Army describes in the report never actually happened. He and a former top lawyer for the D.C. Guard, Col. Earl Matthews, also say the Guard members were ready to be deployed to the Capitol.

“It’s whole fiction,” said Matthews, who has accused two Army generals of lying to Congress about their role in the Jan. 6 response. Matthews was on a call with leaders from the Capitol Police and the Army during the siege.”

“Matthews alleges that the report is a secretive attempt to whitewash the Army’s record on Jan. 6 and shift blame to the Capitol Police and Guard leaders, thus taking the focus off the Army’s own missteps.

Army spokesperson Mike Brady says the Jan. 6 report was designed for internal staff use as part of routine procedure and drafted with information from the Guard.”

““One side or the other is lying,” said Sol Wisenberg, a white collar defense attorney and former federal prosecutor. “One side or the other has committed perjury or obstructed a congressional inquiry concerning a topic of paramount importance. The Department of Justice should unquestionably be investigating this matter for possible perjury and/or obstruction charges. Something this serious cannot be left to Congress alone.””

Suni Lee says she was pepper sprayed in racist attack: ‘I was so mad, but there was nothing I could do’

“the 18-year-old Lee described what happened to her and her friends (who are all women of Asian descent) just a week before the interview took place. While they were waiting for an Uber during a night out, a car pulled up to them and started yelling Asian slurs out the window. Lee said she got pepper sprayed on the arm as the car sped away.”

U.S. investigators increasingly confident directed-energy attacks behind Havana Syndrome

“The U.S. government’s investigation into the mysterious illnesses impacting American personnel overseas and at home is turning up new evidence that the symptoms are the result of directed-energy attacks, according to five lawmakers and officials briefed on the matter.

Behind closed doors, lawmakers are also growing increasingly confident that Russia or another hostile foreign government is behind the suspected attacks, based on regular briefings from administration officials — although there is still no smoking gun linking the incidents to Moscow.”

Americans Have Never Forgotten 9/11

“Americans have remained convinced that a terrorist attack is likely. A series of polls from The Economist/YouGov conducted from 2013 to 20211 asked what Americans think are the chances of a terrorist attack in the U.S. in the next 12 months. Those who thought an attack was “very” or “somewhat” likely rarely dipped below 50 percent and often spiked following major terrorist attacks in the U.S. or Europe. (Any time the responses rose about 70 percent, it was following a major attack.)

Similarly, Pew’s annual survey of policy priorities has found Americans rank terrorism at or near the top of the list year over year. As recently as 2020, 74 percent of Americans said defending against terrorism should be a top priority for the president and Congress, making it the number-one policy issue. Even in 2021, as the pandemic altered priorities, 63 percent of Americans still rated terrorism as their top issue, making it fourth overall, behind the pandemic, the economy and jobs.

Americans also consistently say that 9/11 has had a lasting impact on this country. In Washington Post/ABC News polls from 2001, 2002, 2011 and 2021, the proportion of Americans who said the attacks “changed this country in a lasting way” has never fallen below 83 percent, with 86 percent saying so in a survey conducted within the past month. Notably, though, the feelings on whether this is a change for the better or worse has shifted: In 2002, 67 percent of Americans said that the 9/11 attacks changed America for the better. That number has declined since, with only 33 percent saying so in 2021.”

Hundreds of law enforcement officials were prepped early for potential Jan. 6 violence

“it raises more questions about why the U.S. Capitol Police weren’t ready for chaos on Jan. 6.

“The intelligence was there in blinking neon lights, yet Capitol Police leadership went willfully blind,” Shapiro said in a statement. “The question is why. Why did Capitol Police leadership ignore the clear threat”