Politico is reporting that after reviewing the search warrant for Mar-A-Lago, Trump may have been in possession of documents marked with the high level classification of TS/SCI (Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information, usually reserved for the highest level of government).
The warrant shows federal law enforcement was investigating Trump for removal or destruction of records, obstruction of justice, and violating the Espionage Act. Conviction under the statutes can result in imprisonment or fines.
There is no reason at all why any former president would be in possession of these types of top secret documents because it’s not legal for him to have them, let alone storing them in an unsecured location.
There are a lot of hard and thankless gigs these days.
But one of the hardest must be “intern for Adam Kinzinger.” The congressman from Illinois, and Air Force vet who served in Iraq, is now flying a different combat mission: truth bombing. As a key member of the Jan. 6 Select Committee — the next must see hearing is Tuesday — Kinzinger sacrificed his political ambitions to be on the right side of history.
The man deserves a Nobel Prize for bravery and honesty.
It has come at a tremendous cost. For the mortal sin of condemning Donald Trump’s attempted coup, Kinzinger is persona non grata to the frothing MAGA cult. He’s seen as a traitor, a liberal secret agent, a heretic, a disgrace, a treasonous scumbag who deserves to rot in hell for all eternity.
Some of his own relatives have said as much.
On Tuesday, Kinzinger released a truly bone-chilling comp of voice mails that have turned his answering system into a rated R rage machine. He prefaced this with an important reminder to the uninitiated: “All voice mails and phone calls are received by my interns, high school or college level, attempting to learn about the legislative process.”
Sigh. What they are learning about is death threats.
On any given day, an enraged MAGA cultist vows to assassinate Kinzinger and his family. The callers say they know where he lives. They make disparaging remarks about his mother, his wife, his infant son. They pray he dies a painful death. They promise to “get” him and make that so.
Remember that famous scene from All the President’s Men, with Deep Throat in the shadows of a parking garage, telling Robert Redford’s Bob Woodward to “follow the money” in order to unlock the conspiracy? Well, the Jan. 6 committee is most definitely following the money, and in doing so potentially building a wire fraud case against Donald Trump and members of his White House staff and campaign, who raised $250 million for a defense fund that did not exist to “fight election fraud”—which also did not exist.
Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) led this portion of the hearing testimony Monday, which included video of Amanda Wick, a senior investigative counsel. She outlined how, for weeks following the election and up to Jan. 6, Trump and his allies raised that $250 million with dozens of email solicitations a day. They raised $100 million in the first week after the election alone, Wick said.
“The emails claimed the, quote, left-wing mob was undermining the election, implored supporters to ‘step up to protect the integrity of the election’ and encouraged them to ‘fight back,’ ” Wick said. “But as the select committee has demonstrated, the Trump campaign knew these claims of voter fraud were false. Yet they continued to barrage small-dollar donors with emails encouraging them to donate to something called the ‘Official Election Defense Fund.’”
Donald Trump promoted a modern Civil War in America this week on his social media platform. Civil War?
Further confounding things, Republican candidates like Pennsylvania’s Kathy Barnette are openly running as ultra-MAGA candidates, having hijacked Trumpism without Trump himself. It’s causing the media and political elites to have a “Huh? What?” moment.
Trumpism without Trump? Could it even be a thing?
Apparently so: candidates Trump has openly disavowed are claiming Trumpism as their standard, the flag they’ll carry into the election and into office if they win.
Trumpism, they proclaim, is a coherent political philosophy of its own that has replaced conservativism as the dominant system of political theory in the “new” Republican Party.
But is Trumpism really new?
Consider its main principles:
*Assert white supremacy
*Fetishize rule by a wealthy elite
*Brand the movement with its own flag and slogans separate from the country’s
*Put the “rights” of business above those of workers
*Marginalize and destroy trust in the media
*Maintain a strict racial and gender hierarchy
*Arm the movement’s foot soldiers
*Regulate school curriculum to promote a racist worldview
*Embrace authoritarian preachers to claim the appearance of Christianity
*Make alliances with foreign authoritarians
*Rig elections and prevent minorities from voting
*Embrace a police state for all but the richest
*Accuse political opponents of demonic or perverse behavior
*Heavily criminalize minor behaviors like drug use
*Normalize violence as a political tool
*Oppose worker organizing efforts
*Claim the mantle of “the average man” fighting against the tyranny of the “deep state”
*Make it hard for all but the wealthy to get a college education
*Minimize government regulation of working conditions and products
*Establish a mythology of victimhood and fear of “replacement”
This is not Barry Goldwater’s, Ronald Reagan’s, or even George W. Bush’s Republican Party.
Sure, those guys were happy to suck up to the wealthy and pass legislation favored by big business, but they didn’t go so far as to separate themselves from the mainstream of American governance.
They didn’t accuse Democrats of drinking the blood of tortured children, openly proclaim their racism, or encourage violence. Before Trumpism, Republicans had for generations opposed nations that suppressed democracy and called out murderous dictators like Hitler, Putin, and Kim.
This is something new.
Or is it? Is it possible Trumpism is simply a very old American invention making its return to the US political stage?
In the early 1800s the invention of the Cotton Gin, which could with one very expensive machine do the work of 50 enslaved people, transformed the American South. It was a technological revolution that made possible the traitorous Confederacy.
For the previous thirty or so years, the slave-holding South had been a democracy, albeit one where only white men had a say in things. But even poor white men could vote, and the region identified as “America” with the American flag and American songs and textbooks.
Wealth disparities weren’t as severe as some northern regions, particularly New York City whose bankers and traders had been made rich by the cotton export trade. (When the South seceded in 1861 the Mayor of New York City argued that the city should secede along with them, but back in 1820 there wasn’t even a whisper of what would tear the nation apart in a mere forty years.)
The Cotton Gin, invented in 1794 by Eli Whitney and widely sold in the South in the 1810s and 1820s, changed all that. Only the wealthiest plantation owners could afford to buy a Gin, and it enabled them to out-compete the hundreds of thousands of small cotton farms that dotted the South.
Large plantations, after driving smaller local farmers out of business, bought up their land and hired their former owners to work the land as sharecroppers.
Wealth inequality exploded across the South as a new, powerful aristocracy rose up and seized control of Jefferson’s Democratic Party. By the end of the 1830s, most of the land and nearly all the wealth and political power in the South was in the hands of a few thousand families.
But that wasn’t enough for the Lords of the New Plantations in the New South of the 1840s and 1850s. They wanted total control of the entire country and were chafing under the restrictions of the American brand and its two-party system of government.
As I wrote in detail in The Hidden History of American Oligarchy, by the late 1830s, with the rise of John C. Calhoun and the Nullification Crisis, the South was firmly in the economic, political, and social hands of a small number of morbidly rich plantation-based oligarchs.
It was no longer a democracy or a republic: the South had turned into a neofeudal state, what today we’d call a fascist state.
“A new generation of rulers reshaped the south around their new ruling principle…
“The development of Southern oligarchy portended the rupture of the union, regardless of the ties that bound them together, because no ties, physical, legal, or otherwise, can overcome the difference between fundamentally opposed types of political regimes.”
Nabors cites a speech to Congress by Senator Timothy Howe of Wisconsin, who argued that the oligarchy in the South had become so strong that they weren’t just trying to be left alone; they wanted to seize control of the North and end democracy in America altogether:
“Such, then, I find to be the cause and the purpose of the rebellion. It was not to secure the independence of slaveholders, but to subject you to abject dependence upon slaveholders. It was not to build a new capitol for a new government, but to place a new government in possession of your Capitol.
“It was not to frame a new constitution for a new republic, but it was to impose a new constitution upon the Republic of the United States. It was not to secure toleration for slavery within the seceding Slates, but to compel the adoption of slavery by the nation.”
Congressman John Farnsworth, representing the Chicago area of Illinois, laid it out clearly on Wednesday, June 15th, 1864 in a speech on the floor of the House of Representatives:
“The slave-owner is cutting at the heart of the nation; yes, sir, he is cutting at the throats of your sons and brothers, of your neighbors and friends; he is with mad desperation seeking to destroy the beautiful fabric of this nation, and to quench in our blood the fires of republican liberty which have burned so long, a beacon of light to other nations, and the hope of the world. All this [he] is trying to do that he may erect a slave empire instead…”
By the time of the Civil War, the oligarchs of the South had rejected all pretense of belief in democracy, a republican form of government, or even the core idea of the peaceful transition of power in the United States of America.
*Asserted white supremacy
*Seized total control of the political systems of the South
*Branded their movement with its own flag and slogans separate from the country’s
*Passed laws putting the “rights” of plantation owners above those of workers, including poor whites
*First marginalized and, by 1861, completely destroyed any opposition media (often lynching or imprisoning publishers and editors)
*Established a strict racial and gender hierarchy, both in society and in law
*Armed the Confederacy’s foot soldiers
*Carefully regulated school curriculum to promote a racist worldview
*Incorporated authoritarian preachers into the political Confederacy to claim Christianity
*Tried unsuccessfully to make alliance with French emperor Napoleon
*Rigged elections to prevent all minorities from voting
*Embraced a police state for all but the richest plantation owners who could never be prosecuted
*Accused their political opponents in both the North and South of demonic or perverse behavior, particularly interracial or gay sex
*Enforced anti-abortion laws when white women became pregnant
*Heavily criminalized minor behaviors like loitering
*Normalized violence as a political tool
*Crushed a generation of Southern worker organizing efforts
*Claimed the mantle of “the average man” fighting against the “tyranny” of the North
*Made it impossible for all but the wealthy to get a college education
*Ended what few government regulations existed for working conditions and products
*Established a mythology of victimhood and fear of “replacement” later known as “The Lost Cause”
In other words, Trumpism is simply the politics of the American Confederacy reinvented for the 21st century. And even now Trumpists — whether affiliated with Donald or not — are openly talking about starting a second civil war.
They’re lionizing killers for the cause like Kyle Rittenhouse.
They’re embracing foreign authoritarians like Putin and Orbán.
They’re building and funding their own media empires while destroying American’s faith in mainstream media.
And they’re successfully using the filibuster to block the passage of any legislation that may strengthen democratic principles in our republic.
Today’s Republican Party, under the control of Trumpism, is every bit as real a threat to the survival of our republic as was the Confederacy in the 1860s.
It’s emerged from similar conditions and reflects a nearly identical worldview grounded in the fear of losing white supremacy. It’s based in the American South, as was the Confederacy.
The media needs to wake the hell up. The American government, the American people, and the Democratic Party must see the Trumpist Republican Party for the threat it is.
The FBI and intelligence agencies need to bring the seditionists within it to ground. Democrats must loudly call out its naked embrace of racism and fascism and make clear where this will lead if unchecked.
Every day that goes by without action brings us closer to the new Republican Party’s goal: tearing apart democracy in America and transforming this country into this generation’s version of the Confederacy, complete with its own Lost Cause mythology.
The question is no longer whether Trump and the MAGA movement are fascist, but where they are taking the country.
By Bill Blum
The Republican Party’s embrace of fascism is now open and notorious, and impossible to ignore. With the exception of a few stragglers and diehards, the party has been captured by Donald Trump and the MAGA movement he has spawned.
And the takeover is accelerating.
In his latest “Save America Rally,” held in Montgomery County, Texas, on Jan. 29, the former president went beyond his usual tirades about the “big lie” of the stolen election and Mike Pence’s cowardice, ranting that he would consider pardoning the Capitol insurrectionists if he is reelected in 2024. “If I run and I win, we will treat those people from Jan. 6 fairly,” he declared. “And if it requires pardons, we will give them pardons, because they are being treated so unfairly.”
Implicit in the prospect of pardons is the endorsement of political violence and the promotion of alternative realities, both hallmarks of classic and, now Trumpian, fascism. Lest it be forgotten, four people died on the day of the insurrection. Another 150 officers from the Capitol Police, the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Police and other agencies were injured. In the weeks after the attack, an additional five officers died, either from injuries sustained during the riot or because they committed suicide.
At his Texas rally, Trump also called on his supporters to stage massive demonstrations if he winds up getting indicted or sued as a result of investigations led by the Justice Department, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, New York Attorney General Letitia James, and Fulton County, Georgia, District Attorney Fani Willis. Without mentioning James, Bragg or Willis–all of whom are Black–by name, Trump vowed, “If these radical, vicious, racist prosecutors do anything wrong or corrupt, we are going to have the biggest protests we have ever had.”
Following Trump’s remarks, Willis sent a letter to the FBI, asking for a “risk assessment” of the courthouse and government center where she works, and for security assistance.
The Republican National Committee, on the other hand, responded to Trump’s speech with abject genuflection. On February 4, the RNC voted to censure Representatives Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois for serving on the House select committee investigating the insurrection. In its formal censure resolution, the RNC condemned the pair for “joining in a Democrat-led persecution of ordinary citizens who engaged in legitimate political discourse.” [The RNC later attempted to clarify that the resolution applied only to non-violent protesters.]
As the House investigation into the Jan. 6 attack heats up, some of the planners of the pro-Trump rallies that took place in Washington, D.C., have begun communicating with congressional investigators and sharing new information about what happened when the former president’s supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol. Two of these people have spoken to Rolling Stone extensively in recent weeks and detailed explosive allegations that multiple members of Congress were intimately involved in planning both Trump’s efforts to overturn his election loss and the Jan. 6 events that turned violent.
Rolling Stone separately confirmed a third person involved in the main Jan. 6 rally in D.C. has communicated with the committee. This is the first report that the committee is hearing major new allegations from potential cooperating witnesses. While there have been prior indications that members of Congress were involved, this is also the first account detailing their purported role and its scope. The two sources also claim they interacted with members of Trump’s team, including former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, who they describe as having had an opportunity to prevent the violence.
The two sources, both of whom have been granted anonymity due to the ongoing investigation, describe participating in “dozens” of planning briefings ahead of that day when Trump supporters broke into the Capitol as his election loss to President Joe Biden was being certified.
“I remember Marjorie Taylor Greene specifically,” the organizer says. “I remember talking to probably close to a dozen other members at one point or another or their staffs.”
For the sake of clarity, we will refer to one of the sources as a rally organizer and the other as a planner. Rolling Stone has confirmed that both sources were involved in organizing the main event aimed at objecting to the electoral certification, which took place at the White House Ellipse on Jan. 6. Trump spoke at that rally and encouraged his supporters to march to the Capitol. Some members of the audience at the Ellipse began walking the mile and a half to the Capitol as Trump gave his speech. The barricades were stormed minutes before the former president concluded his remarks.
These two sources also helped plan a series of demonstrations that took place in multiple states around the country in the weeks between the election and the storming of the Capitol. According to these sources, multiple people associated with the March for Trump and Stop the Steal events that took place during this period communicated with members of Congress throughout this process.
Along with Greene, the conspiratorial pro-Trump Republican from Georgia who took office earlier this year, the pair both say the members who participated in these conversations or had top staffers join in included Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.), Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), and Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas).
“We would talk to Boebert’s team, Cawthorn’s team, Gosar’s team like back to back to back to back,” says the organizer.
As I have noted in other recent posts, much of the recent ‘news’ about the insurrection has not been terribly new. It’s repackaged versions of things we knew or additional evidence and detail. This story published last night in the Post is one of the biggest revelations I’ve seen to date. John Eastman is the Federalist Society right wing law professor who wrote up the legal gloss for the President’s coup plot. It created the connective tissue joining the coup plot within the government with the paramilitary violence that broke out on Capitol Hill on January 6th.
The Post has emails – presumably emerging out of the committee investigation – of what happened during the insurrection. As the insurrectionists were storming the Capitol and Pence was holed up in a secure location as they hunted for him and members of Congress, Eastman emailed Pence and his top aide saying that the insurrection was Pence’s fault for not going through with the coup plot. With the President’s supporters ransacking the Capitol Eastman demanded Pence shift course and do the right thing.
These exchanges capture something we suspect and know in some way. But here we’re getting the details, the documentary evidence. Eastman didn’t recoil when the President’s rally escalated to violence. He clearly saw the inside coup plot and the insurrectionists on the street as part of the same effort. This isn’t surprising to most of us. The insurrectionists were laying siege to Pence in the Capitol because Pence wasn’t going along with the plan. And the answer was to go along with the plan. Eastman recognized the insurrection as the paramilitary wing of the coup plot he was part of and as the Capitol was under siege used it as a cudgel to force Pence’s hand.
Again, this won’t come to a shock to many of us. But here we’re getting the receipts. At least the first of them. To date the actions of Eastman, the President, his various coconspirators – during the hours of the assault on the Capitol – have largely been a black box even as we’ve learned more and more granular detail of the ransacking of the Capitol itself. We’ve had brief glimpses in reported accounts. There was the notorious phone call between Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Trump in which McCarthy demanded Trump call off his insurrectionists. Trump notoriously responded, “Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.”
In real time, Trump’s message was the same as Eastman’s. You brought it on yourself and they’re my guys. The way to lift the siege is to do the right thing and support the coup. They both recognized the insurrectionists as their foot soldiers and expressed as much in real time to the members of Congress under siege. And of course they did since they were their foot soldiers.
It’s hardly surprising that both Trump and Eastman were cheering on the assault on the Capitol in real time or seeing it in the same terms. They were part of the same war room. They were leading it. Directly or indirectly McCarthy was the source of those quotes from the conversation with the President. It was reportedly anger and expletive filled. Of course he later fell in line. Much of the resistance to the investigation was his effort not to be placed under oath to reveal what happened on that day and the fact that he resisted it.
These are only two glimpses of the real story of January 6th. The Committee seems serious about getting the whole story.
The Trump Organization and the Trump Org CFO, Allen Weisselberg, were formally indicted in Manhattan on Thursday for a variety of crimes, including a 15-year record of tax and financial crimes. Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s former personal attorney, predicts that this is just the “tip of the iceberg”, and that many more indictments are to come, including Michael Calamari, the Trump kids and even The Former Guy himself.
Alan Futerfas, an attorney for Trump Organization, vented to reporters outside a Manhattan courthouse about the charges brought against the Trump family business on Thursday. The company was charged with fraud and tax crimes as part of what District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr.’s office says was a 15-year-long arrangement to compensate Allen Weisselberg off the books. Weisselberg, the company’s chief financial officer, was also charged. Prosecutors say he avoided paying taxes on $1.7 million in perks. Both the Trump Organization and Weisselberg pleaded not guilty.
Outside the courthouse, Futerfas suggested the charges are politically motivated and are designed to harm former president Donald Trump.
MSNBC’s Ari Melber delivered an assessment for the Trump Organization on the potential ramification of the charges against CFO Allen Weisselberg.
The Trump Organization’s chief financial officer pleaded not guilty on Thursday after he and the company were indicted for grand larceny, falsifying business records, and a conspiracy of tax fraud. Melber joined Ayman Mohyeldin for analysis as the news was breaking, and his takeaway was “they have thrown the kitchen sink at the Trump Organization and Allen Weisselberg.”
“This is very bad news for the Trump Organization because the DA’s taken an aggressive tact, indicting the entire Trump Organization in reference to the payroll company and others,” Melber continued. “If you were the company hoping to pin this on the employee or get out of it as far as the DA is concerned, game over there. They’re going after the whole company. That ensures Donald Trump and others will be drawn out to fight this.”
Melber went on to catalogue the full list of charges against the Trump Organization from a 15 year period. He also noted that the indictment references an “unindicted co-conspirator number one” who facilitated Weisselberg to carry on his alleged tax fraud scheme.
“Who is unindicted co-conspirator one?” Melber asked. “Many people would like to know.”
Possible charges against the Trump Organization could reportedly be announced in just a matter of days.
On Friday, The New York Times reported that the Manhattan district attorney’s office informed former President Donald Trump’s lawyers it’s considering criminal charges against his business, the Trump Organization, related to “fringe benefits the company awarded a top executive,” Allen Weisselberg.
“If the case moves ahead,” the Times writes, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. could announce the charges “as soon as next week.”
Vance has been probing the former president’s business dealings, though these would be the first charges to be brought in the case. The Times previously reported that prosecutors were examining Trump for having handed out “valuable benefits to some of his executives and whether taxes were paid on those perks,” which included school tuition, apartment rent, and car leases.
The Times reports that Trump’s lawyers met with prosecutors Thursday hoping to convince them not to charge the company, though it reportedly isn’t clear whether a final decision about whether to do so has been made. Lawyers, though, told the Times that indicting a company for not paying taxes on fringe benefits would be “highly unusual.”