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D.C. police detail their fight to defend the Capitol against pro-Trump mob

This attack was so much worse than it looked on TV. And this was done by the same crowd that claims that Blue Lives Matter to them. It sounds like the only thing that really matters is getting their own way.

D.C. police detail their fight to defend the Capitol against pro-Trump mob

Peter Hermann, reporting for The Washington Post.

The officers at the West Terrace eventually pushed people away from the doors. It was only then that Fanone saw the immense, volatile crowd stretched out in front of him and realized what police were up against.

“We weren’t battling 50 or 60 rioters in this tunnel,” he said in the first public account from D.C. police officers who fought to protect the Capitol during last week’s siege. “We were battling 15,000 people. It looked like a medieval battle scene.”

Someone in the crowd grabbed Fanone’s helmet, pulled him to the ground and dragged him on his stomach down a set of steps. At around the same time, police said, the crowd pulled a second officer down the stairs. Police said that chaotic and violent scene was captured in a video that would later spread widely on the Internet.

Rioters swarmed, battering the officers with metal pipes peeled from scaffolding and a pole with an American flag attached, police said. Both were struck with stun guns. Fanone suffered a mild heart attack and drifted in and out of consciousness.

All the while, the mob was chanting “U.S.A.” over and over and over again.

“We got one! We got one!” Fanone said he heard rioters shout. “Kill him with his own gun!”

Looking over the chaotic scene in front of him from the Capitol steps, Glover grew concerned as the battle raged. There were people caught up in the moment, he said, doing things they would not ordinarily do. But many appeared to be on a mission, and they launched what he and the police chief described as a coordinated assault.

“Everything they did was in a military fashion,” Glover said, saying he witnessed rioters apparently using hand signs and waving flags to signal positions, and using what he described as “military formations.” They took high positions and talked over wireless communications.

Authorities would later learn that some former members of the military and off-duty police officers from across the country were in the pro-Trump crowd. Glover called it disturbing that off-duty police “would knowingly and intentionally come to the United States Capitol and engage in this riotous and criminal behavior against their brothers and sisters in uniform, who are upholding their oaths of office.”

D.C. officer Daniel Hodges, assigned to a civil-disturbance unit, entered the Capitol grounds with the riot well underway. He was quickly separated from colleagues, and someone in the mob grabbed his radio.

The 32-year-old waded through the hostile crowd, only to be knocked down. Someone tried to gouge his eyes and others piled on top of him before a fellow officer wrested him free. He reached the Capitol and got inside. With no assignment and no way to find his supervisor, he went “looking for work.”

He found it at the West Terrace doors.

He had a gas mask and put it on, then worked his way to the front of the police line. He tried to hold the rioters back “as best I could,” he said.

Shortly after 3 p.m., Hodges got caught between the interior glass doors, sandwiched by rioters pushing forward and by police behind him pushing the other way. His arms were trapped, then his head, on the rioter’s side.

“I really couldn’t defend myself at that point,” he said.

A rioter grabbed his gas mask from the bottom and shoved upward, tearing it off his helmet. Another took his baton “and started beating me in the head with it.” He took face-fulls of bear spray with no way to shield himself, and a video captured his agonizing groans and twisted face as the assault continued before he was finally freed and pulled back.

“The zealotry of these people is absolutely unreal,” said Hodges, who suffered from a severe headache but otherwise emerged unhurt. “There were points where I thought it was possible I could either die or become seriously disfigured.”

Still, Hodges said, he did not want to turn to his gun.

“I didn’t want to be the guy who starts shooting, because I knew they had guns — we had been seizing guns all day,” he said. “And the only reason I could think of that they weren’t shooting us was they were waiting for us to shoot first. And if it became a firefight between a couple hundred officers and a couple thousand demonstrators, we would have lost.”

This entry was tagged. Donald Trump January 6 Insurrection MAGA Cult

We Knew

We Knew

Paul Miller, writing for The Dispatch.

We knew, and many of us warned, that Trump was a demagogue with no sense of constraint and no respect for the Constitution, who was enamored of violence and prone to norm-breaking, who had a weirdly regular habit of expressing his public admiration for dictators and tyrants, and whose ignorance of and disrespect for American democracy was unprecedented in the history of the republic. That we knew matters because it means Trump’s defenders cannot plead ignorance, and it places a higher burden on them to reexamine what they got wrong and the role they played in bringing us to this point.

A tiny sample of forewarnings about Trump would start with Peter Wehner’s op-ed, “Why I Will Never Vote for Donald Trump,” published five years ago this week. Wehner, who worked in the Reagan administration and both Bush administrations, wrote that “Mr. Trump’s virulent combination of ignorance, emotional instability, demagogy, solipsism and vindictiveness would do more than result in a failed presidency; it could very well lead to national catastrophe.” Wehner further warned that Trump is “a demagogic figure who does not view himself as part of our constitutional system but rather as an alternative to it.” If there were a prize for prescient political commentary, Wehner would retire the trophy.

In February 2016, _National Review _devoted an entire issue to explaining why Trump was the wrong choice, with writer after writer arguing that he did not respect conservative or Christian principles and might not respect democratic ones either. The same month I joined a rising chorus of voices—many of them conservative—warning that Trump showed uncomfortable parallels to outright fascism. I wrote:

He is an autocrat in democrat’s clothing, a tyrant in the wings, a bully who admires the “strength” of tyrants and butchers, who finds a free press to be an inconvenience that he intends to tame with legal force once elected, a man who demonizes opponents and romanticizes violence, especially against minorities, who pines for the day when government could have its way with people without the trouble of constitutional law getting in the way.

A month later, dozens of Republican national security leaders (including me) signed an open letter warning that Trump was “wildly inconsistent and unmoored in principle.” We warned of his dishonesty and admiration for tyrants. And we concluded that “his expansive view of how presidential power should be wielded against his detractors poses a distinct threat to civil liberty in the United States.” The same month Mitt Romney delivered a famous stemwinder of a speech denouncing Trump and warning against him. In May 2016, Andrew Sullivan wondered if America was ripe for tyranny. Months after Trump’s inauguration, David Frum warned how Trump could bring autocracy to America.

We Mock the Rioters as Ignorant Buffoons at Our Peril

It wasn’t antifa. It was us. White, middle-class, evangelical Christian Americans.

We Mock the Rioters as Ignorant Buffoons at Our Peril

Jack Shafer, opining for Politico.

we’ve learned that many who rallied or rioted on January 6 were, in Trump’s memorable 2016 phrase, only “the best and most serious people.” Take, for example, Bradley Rukstales, a tech CEO in suburban Chicago who faces charges of illegally entering the Capitol “with the intent of and impeding government business” or others arrested on similar charges: retired Air Force officer Larry Rendall Brock Jr; Republican state legislator Derrick Evans (who live-streamed his storming of the Capitol Building); Aaron Mostofksy, the son of a Brooklyn Supreme Court judge; Olympic gold medalist Klete Keller; and former Midland, Texas, mayoral candidate Jenny Cudd, who said in one video, “We did break down Nancy Pelosi’s office door.” Cudd was arrested Wednesday for her role in the Capitol rumble.

Then there are the ranks of those who haven’t been charged: a Seattle doctor, who appeared in a video recounting her storming of the Capitol. A former Republican state representative, who resigned his adjunct professor position at a college after posting a video of the melee outside the Capitol, as KDKA reported. A California physician (and vaccine critic), who read a speech inside the Capitol, and her communications director. A Texas attorney, alleged by the Houston Chronicle _to have posted video from inside the Capitol, got sacked by his bosses for his “activism.” A housing entrepreneur, who was arrested for violating the curfew. An unnamed Pennsylvania teacher who was reportedly suspended for his role in the unrest, as the _Morning Call reported. A retired SEAL, who bragged about “breaching” the Capitol. A Chicago real estate agent, who posted selfies from the crowd outside the Capitol on Facebook and was fired, in turn, by her bosses. Then there was an active-duty U.S. Army officer who led a group to the rally, making herself the subject of an Army probe, according to CBS News. Police departments in Seattle, New York, Philadelphia and other jurisdictions have opened investigations into whether any of their officers participated in the rebellion, as have some fire departments. And finally, let’s not forget Ashli Babbitt, the Air Force vet and QAnon devotee who was shot dead as she tried to vault through a just-broken window into the Speaker’s Lobby just outside the House chamber.

It would, of course, amount to an overcorrection if we attempted to characterize the riot as a middle-class insurgency. But many of the protesters who filled Washington’s 17 Hilton hotels to capacity and made the Grand Hyatt’s lobby their after-action lounge did not come from Dogpatch. Many hail from the Republican professional and political classes, and they fueled the rampage with their organizational skills and reputations just as much as the face-paint guy did with his horns, fur, a U.S. flag mounted on a spear, and tattoos. Some of the criminal interlopers will argue that they only invaded the Capitol to exercise their First Amendment rights to petition the government for a redress of grievances. But that doesn’t fly. Nowhere does the First Amendment empower citizens to bull their way through a line of police—causing murderous injury to one—shatter windows and break doors, make violent threats and disrupt Congress. Nor does anybody have a right to stride into the Capitol behind the mob as long as they don’t break anything. The masses who coursed through the Capitol grand rooms and hallways clearly broke the law, and their overwhelming numbers abetted the rioters who spearheaded the attack.

Yes, there was plenty of class resentment at play at the Capitol and lots of overt racism, but we can’t assume that this was just a revolution by the powerless, the pathetic and the rural. The most shocking thing about the attack on the Capitol was that so many of the rioters were people who better resemble our kin and neighbors than they do the so-called barbarians from the boondocks.

The point here isn’t to sympathize with the rioters, or even seek to “understand” them, but to see them as they are and to prepare ourselves for future confrontations. How are we to deal with them as a country? I want to believe the intruders who now say they regret their actions of January 6. That’s exactly the sort of response you would hope to hear from an otherwise lawful American. But for every such apology we can be certain at least one person—and likely more—has been radicalized, maybe irreversibly, by the events. There are no easy ways to quell this national rebellion, a rebellion that appears to be gaining velocity, but the first step has got to be organizing a political taxonomy that doesn’t marginalize them as aliens. Instead of thinking of the rioters as “them,” try thinking of them as “us.” It’s bound to make you uncomfortable, but at least it’s a start.

This entry was tagged. Donald Trump January 6 Insurrection MAGA Cult Jesus and John Wayne Republicans

Republicans must unambiguously admit that Trump’s lies threaten more violence

Republicans can either be a party that participates in American democracy or they can be the party of Mr. Trump. They can’t be both.

Republicans must unambiguously admit that Trump’s lies threaten more violence

Greg Sargent, opining in the The Washington Post.

Alarming new details are emerging about the true nature of the violent insurrection that we witnessed last week — and the critical point about this insurrection is that it is ongoing.

This raises the stakes on what we’re seeing from many Republicans, who are working to obscure the true source of this ongoing threat. By piously calling for “unity,” and claiming impeachment will “divide” us, they are striving to manufacture the impression that the cause of our ongoing breakdown is some species of generalized division.

In fact, it’s a straight cause-and-effect: One side (Trump and his democracy-despising enablers who are still trying to illegitimately overturn the election’s outcome) is threatening and inciting violence against the other (those who stand for constitutional democracy and are affirming the legitimacy of that outcome).

This has now been crystallized by none other than a senior Republican congressional staffer. Politico reports that Jason Schmid has resigned from the House Foreign Affairs Committee with a blistering letter attacking his party’s efforts to overturn the election.

Schmid argued in his letter that Republicans had failed to sufficiently condemn the insurrection. I want to highlight this:

The sad, incontrovertible truth is that the people who laid siege to the Capitol were and continue to be domestic enemies of the Constitution of the United States. A poisonous lie that the election was illegitimate and should be overturned inspired so called “patriots” to share common cause with white supremacists, neo-Nazis and conspiracy theorists to attack the seat of American government.

GOP lawmakers who voted to overturn the election, Schmid charged, “harmed the ability of every service member, intelligence officer, and diplomat to defend the nation and advance American interests.”

What’s important here is the unflinching acknowledgment of two things: First, the claim by Trump and his enablers that he won is a deranged lie and anyone telling it is an enemy of U.S. constitutional democracy. Second, this lie is what incited the violent siege of the Capitol.

That is what many Republicans will not say, and it’s why this letter is important news.

… Trump is enforcing this line among Republicans. He told reporters on Tuesday that “I want no violence” and that Democrats pursuing impeachment are “causing tremendous anger.”

There’s that veiled threat again — Hold me accountable for inciting violence and you’ll meet more violence! — but it’s also a command to Republicans: Keep denying that I’m the chief instigator of the violence, and keep claiming the real threat of incitement comes from Democrats.

… Making this worse, as Simon Rosenberg points out, countless elected GOP officials are already on record having propped up these lies for months. The only way to reverse this is to flatly and unequivocally declare that those were lies and that Biden legitimately won:

I would add that Republicans must also say unequivocally that this lie caused last week’s violence, and that it threatens untold more to come.

Republican calls for “unity” are conditional: Unity can only be premised on a blanket agreement not to acknowledge the truth about who and what are actually to blame for violently tearing the country in half. Until Republicans tell the truth about all of this, their professed hopes for unity are empty nonsense, to be treated with derisive contempt.

This entry was tagged. Donald Trump January 6 Insurrection MAGA Cult Impeachment Republicans

For insurrectionists, a violent faith brewed from nationalism, conspiracies and Jesus

There is something tragically wrong with White American evangelical Christianity. How else do you explain a multitude of Christian symbols during the attack on our nation’s capitol and the democratic process?

For insurrectionists, a violent faith brewed from nationalism, conspiracies and Jesus

Jack Jenkins, writing for Religion News.

As throngs surged toward a barricade manned by a vastly outnumbered handful of police, a white flag appeared above the masses, flapping in the wind: It featured an ichthys — also known as a “Jesus fish” — painted with the colors of the American flag.

Above the symbol, the words: “Proud American Christian.”

It was one of several prominent examples of religious expression that occurred in and around the storming of the Capitol last week, which left five people dead — including a police officer. Before and even during the attack, insurrectionists appealed to faith as both a source of strength as well as justification for their assault on the seat of American democracy.

While not all participants were Christian, their rhetoric often reflected an aggressive, charismatic and hypermasculine form of Christian nationalism — a fusion of God and country that has lashed together disparate pieces of Donald Trump’s religious base.

“A mistake a lot of people have made over the past few years … is to suggest there is some fundamental conflict between evangelicalism and the kind of violence or threat of violence we’re seeing,” said Kristin Kobes Du Mez, a history professor at Calvin University and author of “Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation.”

“For decades now, evangelical devotional life, evangelical preaching and evangelical teaching has found a space to promote this kind of militancy.”

This entry was tagged. Donald Trump January 6 Insurrection MAGA Cult Christianity Jesus and John Wayne

Statement from Wheaton College Faculty and Staff

Wheaton College steps up and calls out White Christian Nationalism.

Statement from Wheaton College Faculty and Staff

The January 6 attack on the Capitol was characterized not only by vicious lies, deplorable violence, white supremacy, white nationalism, and wicked leadership—especially by President Trump—but also by idolatrous and blasphemous abuses of Christian symbols. The behaviors that many participants celebrated in Jesus’ name bear absolutely no resemblance to the Christian teachings or ethics that we submit to as faculty and staff of Wheaton College. Furthermore, the differential treatment displayed by those with a duty to protect in their engagement with rioters who trespassed on the Capitol grounds illegally, when compared to recent protests over police brutality in D.C. last summer, illustrates the ongoing reality that systemic racism in our country is tragically and undeniably alive and well. These realities are reprehensible. Our Christian faith demands shining a light on these evils and the simultaneous commitment to take appropriate action.

In the days and weeks preceding January 6, many more leaders, including many evangelical leaders, could have spoken truth to the disillusioned supporters of President Trump—diminishing the prospects for violence and bolstering the witness of Christian love and the call for justice in our civic life. Some did. However, many wittingly propagated lies, or were unduly silent in a just cause. Our Christian faith demands greater courage.

We repent of our own failures to speak and to act in accordance with justice, and we lament the failures of the Church to teach clearly and to exercise adequate church discipline in these areas. Moreover, we grieve over the inadequate level of discipleship that has made room for this type of behavior among those who self-identify as Christian.

McCarthy Grows a Sliver of a Spine

Axios Sneak Peek for January 11

“Sneak Peek”, anchored by Alayna Treene, Hans Nichols and Kadia Goba.

President Trump today privately — and falsely — blamed "Antifa people" for storming the Capitol, even though clear video and documentary evidence exists showing the rioters were overwhelmingly Trump supporters, Axios' Jonathan Swan reports.

Why it matters: Despite facing an impeachment vote for an assault he helped incite, the outgoing president is still sticking with his tried-and-true playbook of deflecting and reaching for conspiracies.

Behind the scenes: In a tense, 30-minute-plus phone call this morning with [Republican] House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Trump trotted out the Antifa line.

  • McCarthy would have none of it, telling the president: "It's not Antifa, it's MAGA. I know. I was there," according to a White House official and another source familiar with the call.
  • The White House official said the call was tense and aggressive at times, with Trump ranting about election fraud and an exasperated McCarthy cutting in to say, "Stop it. It's over. The election is over."

This entry was tagged. Donald Trump MAGA Cult January 6 Insurrection

The Roman Road From Insurrection

This entire newsletter is a forceful Christian response—a proper one, for once—to the insurrection that Trump’s supporters committed last Wednesday.

The Roman Road From Insurrection

Russell Moore, the president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, the public-policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), writing the “Moore to the Point Newsletter”, for January 11.

The governing authorities do not have a choice as to whether or not to hold people accountable for inciting and carrying out insurrection. To do otherwise would be to cease to be a just society, and to empower future evildoers to do the same. Everyone who attacked our Capitol or planned or directed such a storming of the Capitol, should be arrested and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

You will hear people saying that for the sake of “unity” we should quietly put such things away. God forbid. The unity of the people cannot come with a lack of accountability. The police do not have the option to ignore these mobs. The Congress does not have the option to ignore their constitutional obligations on high crimes and misdemeanors. The Vice President and the Cabinet cannot put aside questions of their responsibilities for fear of their futures. To hope that this all will just quietly go away and resolve itself is to incite future terrorists and is to do exactly what the Bible forbids—to “justify the wicked and to condemn the righteous” (Prov. 17:15).

Unity demands accountability. Justice demands accountability. Without such, all we are left with is “lawlessness leading to more lawlessness” (Rom. 6:19).

You don’t have to agree with me. I might be wrong. I don’t speak for anyone else, only myself. But you deserve to hear from me what I honestly think. If I were the President, I would resign. If I were the Vice President, I would assemble the cabinet in accordance with the 25th Amendment. If I were a Member of Congress, I would vote to impeach. And if I were a United States senator, I would vote to convict. And I would be willing, if necessary, to lose my seat to do so. As a matter of fact, I am willing, if necessary, to lose this seat.

Again, I might be wrong. But, if so, propose what can be done to make sure that justice is done and that this never happens to our country again.

Is that easy? No. Will people say you’re a “closet liberal.” Yes. Will people threaten “psychological warfare” or conduct endless investigations against you? Maybe. Will people send threats to kill you and your family or to destroy your reputation and ministry? Perhaps.

You can survive all that. Trust me.

This entry was tagged. Donald Trump MAGA Cult January 6 Insurrection

Records show fervent Trump fans fueled US Capitol takeover

Records show fervent Trump fans fueled US Capitol takeover

By Michael Biesecker, Michael Kunzelman, Gillian Flaccus and Jim Mustian, for the Associated Press.

The Associated Press reviewed social media posts, voter registrations, court files and other public records for more than 120 people either facing criminal charges related to the Jan. 6 unrest or who, going maskless amid the pandemic, were later identified through photographs and videos taken during the melee.

The evidence gives lie to claims by right-wing pundits and Republican officials such as Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., that the violence was perpetrated by left-wing antifa thugs rather than supporters of the president.

“If the reports are true,” Gaetz said on the House floor just hours after the attack, “some of the people who breached the Capitol today were not Trump supporters. They were masquerading as Trump supporters and, in fact, were members of the violent terrorist group antifa.”

Steven D’Antuono, the assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Washington field office, told reporters that investigators had seen “no indication” antifa activists were disguised as Trump supporters in Wednesday’s riot.

The AP found that many of the rioters had taken to social media after the November election to retweet and parrot false claims by Trump that the vote had been stolen in a vast international conspiracy. Several had openly threatened violence against Democrats and Republicans they considered insufficiently loyal to the president. During the riot, some livestreamed and posted photos of themselves at the Capitol. Afterwards, many bragged about what they had done.

As the mob smashed through doors and windows to invade the Capitol, a loud chant went up calling for the hanging of Vice President Mike Pence, the recent target of a Trump Twitter tirade for not subverting the Constitution and overturning the legitimate vote tally. Outside, a wooden scaffold had been erected on the National Mall, a rope noose dangling at the ready.

So far, at least 90 people have been arrested on charges ranging from misdemeanor curfew violations to felonies related to assaults on police officers, possessing illegal weapons and making death threats against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

There were also current and former members of the U.S. military in the crowd.

Retired Air Force Lt. Col. Larry Rendall Brock Jr. of Texas was charged in federal court on Sunday after he was identified in photos showing him standing in the well of the Senate, wearing a military-style helmet and body armor while holding a pair of zip-tie handcuffs.

The insurrectionist mob also included members of the neofascist group known as the Proud Boys, whom Trump urged to “stand back and stand by” when asked to condemn them by a moderator during a presidential debate in September.

Nicholas R. Ochs, 34, was arrested Saturday after returning home to Hawaii, where he is the founder of the local Proud Boys chapter. On Wednesday, Ochs posted a photo of himself on Twitter inside the Capitol, grinning broadly and smoking a cigarette. According to court filings, the FBI matched photos of Ochs taken during the riot to photos taken when Ochs campaigned unsuccessfully last year as the Republican nominee for a seat in the Hawaii statehouse.

Proud Boys leader Henry “Enrique” Tarrio was arrested Monday in Washington on weapons charges and ordered to stay out of the nation’s capital. Tarrio is accused of vandalizing a Black Lives Matter banner at a historic Black church last month.

The FBI has opened a murder probe into the death of Capitol Police Officer Brian D. Sicknick, who was hit in the head with a fire extinguisher, according to law enforcement officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the ongoing investigation publicly. He died at a hospital.

The Trump supporters who died in the riot were Kevin D. Greeson, 55, of Athens, Alabama; Benjamin Philips, 50, of Ringtown, Pennsylvania; Ashli Babbitt, 35, of San Diego; and Rosanne Boyland, 34, of Kennesaw, Georgia.

Boyland’s sister told the AP on Friday she was an adherent of the QAnon conspiracy theory that holds Trump is America’s savior. Her Facebook page featured photos and videos praising Trump and promoting fantasies, including one theory that a shadowy group was using the coronavirus to steal elections. Boyland’s final post on Twitter — a retweet of a post by White House social media director Dan Scavino — was a picture of thousands of people surrounding the Washington Monument on Wednesday.

“She would text me some things, and I would be like, ‘Let me fact-check that.’ And I’d sit there and I’d be like, ‘Well, I don’t think that’s actually right,’” Lonna Cave, Boyland’s sister, said. “We got in fights about it, arguments.”

The AP’s review found that QAnon beliefs were common among those who heeded Trump’s call to come to Washington.

Doug Jensen, 41, was arrested by the FBI on Friday in Des Moines, Iowa, after returning home from the riot. An AP photographer captured images of him confronting Capitol Police officers outside of the Senate chamber on Wednesday.

Jensen was wearing a black T-shirt emblazoned with a large Q and the phrase “Trust The Plan,” a reference to QAnon. Video posted online during the storming of the Capitol also appears to show Jensen, who is white, pursuing a Black police officer up an interior flight of stairs as a mob of people trails several steps behind. At several points, the officer says “get back,” but to no avail.

Jensen’s older brother, William Routh, told the AP on Saturday that Jensen believed that the person posting as Q was either Trump or someone very close to the president.

“I feel like he had a lot of influence from the internet that confused or obscured his views on certain things,” said Routh, of Clarksville, Arkansas, who described himself as a Republican Trump supporter. “When I talked to him, he thought that maybe this was Trump telling him what to do.”

This entry was tagged. Donald Trump MAGA Cult January 6 Insurrection

Debunking the Conspiracy Theories Claiming That Antifa Led the Attack on the Capitol

Debunking the Conspiracy Theories Claiming That Antifa Led the Attack on the Capitol - The Dispatch

Alec Dent, writing for The Dispatch. (A conservative publication, although not a pro-Trump one.)

While it is, of course, possible that a crowd of tens of thousands of individuals included troublemakers with ties to Antifa or other left-wing groups, there is no evidence to suggest that Antifa members were among those who stormed the Capitol. There is, however, an abundance of evidence demonstrating that Trump-supporting radicals participated in the siege. A number of pro-Trump accounts livestreamed the attack on Congress on social media platforms, including prominent far-right figures Nick Fuentes and Tim Gionet (better known as “Baked Alaska”) who livestreamed themselves breaking into Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office. Derrick Evans, a Republican member of West Virginia’s legislature, broadcast himself breaching the Capitol. A Proud Boy “elder” was among many who shared a selfie from Congress on social media.

Other people who participated in the attack on Congress have been identified as well. Noted QAnon and Trump supporter Jake Angeli drew lots of attention with his face paint and horned hat. Kristina Malimon, a Turning Point USA ambassador who gained notoriety for organizing a Trump boat parade that sank a non-participating boat, was arrested along with her mother for unlawful entry due to her alleged participation in the storming of the Capitol. Ashli Babbitt, who died after being shot while breaking through a window in the Capitol, was an ardent QAnon believer and Trump supporter. Many others openly identified themselves to reporters, such as Richard Barnett, who bragged about a letter from Nancy Pelosi’s office. Barnett is a member of the pro-Trump group 2A NWA Stand and has posted white nationalist comments on social media. A number of participants were identified after sharing videos and pictures of themselves from the storming of the Capitol. After the names of those arrested for their participation in the siege were made public, news outlets looked through social media platforms and interviewed those who knew them, identifying them as Trump supporters.

Even if there were Antifa members present—again, a claim lacking proof—all evidence still points to Trump supporters as the ringleaders of the attack. After Trump encouraged his supporters to come to D.C. on January 6—and after he had spent weeks making the false claim that the election had been stolen—plans were crafted on fringe right-wing media platforms and discussion boards in the weeks leading up to the siege, with plans for sneaking weapons into the rally openly discussed.

All available evidence indicates that Trump supporters, not Antifa members or liberals in disguise, were responsible for the violence and destruction that took place on Capitol Hill Wednesday. There is no current evidence to support claims to the contrary.

This entry was tagged. Donald Trump MAGA Cult January 6 Insurrection

Impeach President Trump

The President must be impeached and removed from office.

President Trump spent the last 2 weeks calling his supporters to Washington D.C. This morning, he held an outdoor rally in the capitol, riling up his supporters. He and his personal lawyer talked about fighting for the Presidency, having a “trial by combat”. Then he spent hours silently watching from the Oval Office as his supporters left the rally, marched to the Capitol Building, fought their way inside, and prevented Congress from tallying the electoral votes that would finalize his loss.

This is insurrection and an attempted coup. No American president should ever be allowed to incite violence. Even less should a president be allowed to incite violence in the furtherance of their own power. Condemn this action now, in the strongest way possible, or America will be forever weakened. Possibly fatally.

What It Looks Like to Care for Separated Migrant Children

This isn’t heartbreaking or gut wrenching. This is legitimately traumatizing. As a parent, having my children kidnapped from me like this is my worst nightmare. America did this to parents who were fleeing violence and persecution, who came to the United States hoping to find safety. But modern Republicans are fiercely xenophobic and greeted them with terror and horror, by taking away their children.

This is what Republicans—and the evangelical Christians who enable them—stand for.

What It Looks Like to Care for Separated Migrant Children by Caitlin Dickerson, for The New York Times

Ms. Acevedo was just settling into the role when things suddenly became more chaotic, in the late summer of 2017. Unlike the teenagers she was used to working with, who had intentionally crossed the border alone, the separated children who began to arrive were inconsolable when they reached her. Each new one seemed to traumatize the rest all over again. “It was horrible,” she said. “We could not do work. It was just a classroom full of crying kids all day.”

Even after covering family separations for over a year, as an immigration reporter for the National desk at The New York Times, I was struck by how much they uprooted not only the lives of family members who were divided from each other, but also the people like Ms. Acevedo who were charged with caring for them. While she was on call, Ms. Acevedo had to be available 24-7. She often waited up after midnight to meet newly separated children arriving at her office, transported from the border by contract workers. She would be roused from bed by phone calls about children who refused to eat or leave their rooms until they were allowed to speak to the parents from whom they had been separated.

Ms. Acevedo was particularly good at soothing them during outbursts, which usually meant going from classroom to classroom and pulling up videos of songs from “Frozen” or “Moana” on her phone. It helped that she could identify with the children. She still remembers the day in first grade when she had to participate in a classroom discussion about family. She didn’t know how to say in English that she didn’t have any siblings, so she lied and said she had a brother.

Many of the parents of children on her caseload ended up being deported, ending any hope of a quick reunion. When that happened, she would meet with her fellow caseworkers and staff therapists, sometimes for hours, to discuss how to break the news to the child. They used pictures and puppets to illustrate the distance between the United States and countries like Guatemala. And they spoke in intentionally vague terms to avoid making false promises about when the children might be able to see their parents again, after learning the hard way that even those who were barely old enough to talk would latch on to any concrete expectation.

“We would have to say, ‘In many, many days you will be reunited with your parent, but we have to do a lot of paperwork,’ ” she told me, mimicking the soft voice she would use with an upset child. “The kids would still be like, ‘O.K., when am I going?’ They would start crying and it wasn’t just tears, it was screams.”

Parents who were in detention would call to ask whether they should give up their asylum claims, as Constantin’s father had. They said they had been promised they would get their children back. Ms. Acevedo would tell them she had received no such assurance from the federal government and could not advise them on how to proceed. “The parents would sign in desperation and then, the next thing you know, they would call me from their home country and say, ‘I’m here, where’s my child? Give me my child back.’”

This entry was tagged. Children Donald Trump Immigration Immigration Policy President2020

Refugees Who Assisted U.S. Military Denied Entry Into U.S

Refugees Who Assisted U.S. Military Denied Entry Into U.S

They risked their own lives and the lives of their families to help American troops in Iraq. Their assistance saved the lives of American service members. You want to support the troops? It starts with supporting the people who support the troops.

Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant bias will result in more American soldiers being killed, in future conflicts. Once again, he’s either too mentally challenged to realize the consequences of his actions or he’s too self-centered to do what’s best for America and America’s allies.

Veterans and active-duty service members fear that the exclusion of those who assisted the military from resettlement is the real threat to national security because such cooperation will be harder to come by in future conflicts. More than 9,800 Iraqis were welcomed to the United States in 2016, according to State Department data. By the 2019 fiscal year, that was down to 465.

“If the message is sent that those who stepped up to help American service members were left behind, forgotten, and to die, then it’s going to significantly reduce the likelihood of people stepping forward in the future in other countries to help U.S. service members with their missions,” said Allen Vaught, a former captain in the Army who served in Iraq from 2003 to 2004.

Mr. Vaught has helped two Iraqis and their families resettle in Texas, his home state, where he served in the Legislature from 2007 to 2011. Two other translators who helped his squad were executed, Mr. Vaught said. He has spent years lobbying for the approval of a fifth who fled to Egypt in 2014 to escape retaliation from Iraqi militia groups. At least 110,000 Iraqis are waiting to be approved as refugees based on their assistance to the American authorities, according to resettlement organizations.

“Anyone who worked with U.S. forces had a scarlet letter,” Mr. Vaught said. “They had a mark on their head. And the way they killed them was gruesome. One of my translators was burned alive.”

“We’ve got a lot of things to make right,” he added.

This entry was tagged. Donald Trump Foreign Policy Immigration Iraq President2020

Refugee data on religion disappears as fewer persecuted Christians admitted to US

God loves the refugees who live among us. God wants us to love the refugees who live among us. These aren’t my words, these are God’s commands, from Deuteronomy 14. And, yet, under President Donald Trump the United States turns away almost all refugees and the President attacks the ones who already live here. This is an anti-Christian, anti-Biblical stance. And America’s Christians either silently agree (therefore allowing it to happen), or join in the attacks by treating Trump’s words as applause lines.

If you are a Christian, why would you vote for a man who opposes and oppresses the weak and the vulnerable? There is nothing in these policies that makes God happy or glorifies God.

Refugee data on religion disappears as fewer persecuted Christians admitted to US

by Emily McFarlan Miller, Jack Jenkins, for Religion News Service

The data showed a precipitous drop in recent years in the number of Christian refugees admitted to the U.S. from the 50 countries at the top of Open Doors USA’s World Watch List. The annual list tracks the places where Christians face the worst persecution.

President Donald Trump promised in his first days in office to make helping persecuted Christians a priority for his administration.

But the last numbers made available by the State Department — which Soerens downloaded Friday before they disappeared from the department’s website — show the number of Christians admitted from those countries dropped 83.2% from fiscal years 2016 to 2020.

Just 2,811 Christian refugees were admitted to the U.S. from the countries on the World Watch List in fiscal 2020, which ended last month. By contrast, 16,714 Christians from those countries were admitted to the United States in fiscal 2016, former President Barack Obama’s last full year in office.

This entry was tagged. Bible Christian Living Christianity Donald Trump Immigration Policy President2020

Turning Power of State Against Rivals, Trump Seeks Power of Authoritarians

No matter how much he talks about law and order, Donald Trump has no respect for the law. From his first day in office, he’s been interested in using the power of the Presidency to punish his enemies. Not for real violations of the law, but for merely opposing him. He doesn’t see a difference between Donald Trump, the individual, and the office of the President of the United States. He views any opposition to him personally as a crime against America and wants his opponents treated as traitors and criminals.

Turning Power of State Against Rivals, Trump Seeks Power of Authoritarians

by David Sanger, for the New York Times

President Trump’s order to his secretary of state to declassify thousands of Hillary Clinton’s emails, along with his insistence that his attorney general issue indictments against Barack Obama and Joseph R. Biden Jr., takes his presidency into new territory — until now, occupied by leaders with names like Putin, Xi and Erdogan.

Mr. Trump has long demanded — quite publicly, often on Twitter — that his most senior cabinet members use the power of their office to pursue political enemies. But his appeals this week, as he trailed badly in the polls and was desperate to turn the national conversation away from the coronavirus, were so blatant that one had to look to authoritarian nations to make comparisons.

He took a step even Richard M. Nixon avoided in his most desperate days: openly ordering direct, immediate government action against specific opponents, timed to serve his re-election campaign.

“There is essentially no precedent,” said Jack Goldsmith, who led the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel under President George W. Bush and has written extensively on presidential powers. “We have a norm that developed after Watergate that presidents don’t talk about ongoing investigations, much less interfere with them.”

“It is crazy and it is unprecedented,” said Mr. Goldsmith, now a professor at Harvard Law School, “but it’s no different from what he has been saying since the beginning of his presidency. The only thing new is that he has moved from talking about it to seeming to order it.”

This entry was tagged. Donald Trump Government President2020

Risks rise in West Wing

President Trump’s cavalier attitude to COVID-19 has put the lives of everyone in and around the White House at risk. This includes the White House staff, who make the beds, clean the house, prepare the food, etc. Donald Trump is a not a good man. A good man would treat those around him better, valuing their lives and health as highly as his own. I cannot fathom voting for a man with this little regard for those who serve him daily.

Risks rise in West Wing

Mike Allen, for Axios AM

White House aides have advised President Trump to avoid the Oval Office while he's still infected. But they’re making arrangements for him to work out of the Diplomatic Reception Room, and use it as a backdrop for future televised remarks, two White House officials tell Axios' Alayna Treene.

  • Why it matters: The preparations show that far from bunkering down in the residence until he's well, Trump is considering remaining active while he recovers from COVID.
  • Any Trump movement in the West Wing would create a series of risks for his staff.

A taste of Trump's attitude about the virus played out on live TV last evening as he returned by Marine One at sunset after three nights at Walter Reed: He walked up to a White House balcony, took off his mask for the cameras, put it in his jacket pocket, adjusted his suit, straightened his tie and lingered to give purposeful thumbs-ups and salutes.

  • "Don’t be afraid of Covid," he tweeted — the exact opposite of what any medical or public-health professional will tell you. "Don’t let it dominate your life. We have developed, under the Trump Administration, some really great drugs & knowledge. I feel better than I did 20 years ago!"
  • "Will be back on the Campaign Trail soon!!!" he added.

Reflecting widespread dismay among administration officials, a White House source told Axios' Alexi McCammond:

  • "It's insane that he would return to the White House and jeopardize his staff's health when we are still learning of new cases among senior staff. This place is a cesspool."
  • "He was so concerned with preventing embarrassing stories that he exposed thousands of his own staff and supporters to a deadly virus. He has kept us in the dark, and now our spouses and kids have to pay the price. It's just selfish."

The big picture: The White House — despite its infinite access to the best resources available — continues to respond to its own coronavirus outbreak about as recklessly as possible, Axios' Caitlin Owens writes.

  • The White House is doing only minimal contact tracing, and hasn't sought help from the CDC, the N.Y. Times reports (subscription)._ _The White House has decided not to trace the contacts of attendees at last weekend’s Rose Garden event celebrating the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.
  • Mayor Muriel Bowser said D.C. officials have been unsuccessful in trying to connect with the White House to assist with contact tracing: "We have reached out to the White House on a couple of different levels, a political level and a public health level."

Among those endangered by Trump's approach:

  • "The White House residence staff members are largely Black and Latino, and often elderly, according to Kate Anderson Brower, who compiled a trove of interviews with former staffers for her book ''The Residence,'" the WashPost reports. There are about 90 full-time ushers, butlers, housekeepers, valets, florists, engineers and cooks.
  • "For the Secret Service, a New Question: Who Will Protect Them From Trump?" says a N.Y. Times headline.
  • White House reporters are increasingly anxious and angry, Axios' Sara Fischer reports. N.Y. Times White House correspondent Michael Shear, who tested positive, tells Axios: "My wife has now tested positive for COVID. The collateral damage is going to be pretty significant, I think."

This entry was tagged. COVID-19 Donald Trump President2020

A Mess in Trump's Orbit

A reminder that Donald Trump’s presidency is a failure by his own standards and judged against his own promises. He’s a con man. He’s been a con man his entire life. He’s never accomplished anything other than burning through $400 million of inherited money and then getting bailed out by a reality TV show. He conned the American people four years ago and he’s trying to con them into giving him another four years in power.

A Mess in Trump's Orbit

by Jay Caruso, for The Monday Notice

And hey, remember those tariffs that were going to reduce our trade deficit? That deficit is at a 14-year high—more brilliance.

If not for the Federalist Society handing Trump a piece of paper and saying, “Appoint these individuals,” Mitch McConnell doing what was necessary to steer judicial nominees through to the courts and balance the federal judiciary, what outside of the Israel/UAE agreement and 2017 tax cuts did the president do?

There’s no wall. His tariffs have hampered the economy and crippled farmers in the midwest. He didn’t bring back manufacturing jobs. He didn’t bring back coal. He didn’t reform or repeal Obamacare. He’s alienated allies. He failed with North Korea. If he loses, he likely brings down four or five Republicans in the Senate with him. The regulations he eliminated were made via the executive branch, not legislatively, meaning a new president can reinstate them.

More importantly, he failed as a leader in the one crisis he faced. One in which affected senior citizens (read as “most likely voters”) more than anyone else. Trump’s constant downplaying of a deadly virus that hit seniors harder than any other age group created a gap between him and Joe Biden for which he may not recover. The demographic of older voters helped Trump gain his electoral victory in 2016. Without them, Trump can’t win.

This entry was tagged. Donald Trump Jobs President2020

In a First, New England Journal of Medicine Joins Never-Trumpers

This article hardly needs an introduction. When the NEJM, America’s foremost medical research publication, breaks with 200 years of precedent to say that you’ve completely botched a medical crisis, there’s really no defense. Donald Trump’s handling of COVID-19 is a national disgrace and is responsible for the death of people who wouldn’t have otherwise died. His disregard for the lives and health of Americans disqualifies him from being a pro-life candidate.

In a First, New England Journal of Medicine Joins Never-Trumpers

by Gina Kolata, for the New York Times

Throughout its 208-year history, The New England Journal of Medicine has remained staunchly nonpartisan. The world’s most prestigious medical journal has never supported or condemned a political candidate.

Until now.

In an editorial signed by 34 editors who are United States citizens (one editor is not) and published on Wednesday, the journal said the Trump administration had responded so poorly to the coronavirus pandemic that they “have taken a crisis and turned it into a tragedy.”

The journal did not explicitly endorse Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic nominee, but that was the only possible inference, other scientists noted.

The editor in chief, Dr. Eric Rubin, said the scathing editorial was one of only four in the journal’s history that were signed by all of the editors. The N.E.J.M.’s editors join those of another influential publication, Scientific American, who last month endorsed Mr. Biden, the former vice president.

The political leadership has failed Americans in many ways that contrast vividly with responses from leaders in other countries, the N.E.J.M. said.

In the United States, the journal said, there was too little testing for the virus, especially early on. There was too little protective equipment, and a lack of national leadership on important measures like mask wearing, social distancing, quarantine and isolation.

There were attempts to politicize and undermine the Food and Drug Administration, the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the journal noted.

As a result, the United States has had tens of thousands of “excess” deaths — those caused both directly and indirectly by the pandemic — as well as immense economic pain and an increase in social inequality as the virus hit disadvantaged communities hardest.

The editorial castigated the Trump administration’s rejection of science, writing, “Instead of relying on expertise, the administration has turned to uninformed ‘opinion leaders’ and charlatans who obscure the truth and facilitate the promulgation of outright lies.”

This entry was tagged. COVID-19 Donald Trump President2020

Mike Pence’s Trumpian Makeover at the Vice-Presidential Debate

Mike Pence was supposed to be one of the good, solid, Christian conservatives who would surround Donald Trump and give him wise advice. Today, the only thing that distinguishes Mike Pence from Donald Trump is his calm demeanor. He sold his soul and jettisoned every principle that he once professed in order to gain the power of the Vice Presidency.

Mike Pence’s Trumpian Makeover at the Vice-Presidential Debate

by Susan Glasser, for the New Yorker.

Both Harris and Pence are younger and far more articulate politicians than their running mates, fully capable of holding their own in a televised argument that cleared the low bar of not degenerating into a food fight at a senior-citizens’ center. The debate seemed sort of normal—at least, after Trump’s frenetic performance of a week earlier. But the more I listened to Pence the more I realized that the Vice-President of 2020 is no longer the deeply conventional, if fervently right-wing, evangelical of four years ago. Or even the oleaginous Trump suck-up he has been for much of the Administration’s tenure. He has been changed, and radically so, by his association with the President, and Wednesday night showed something both new and disturbing: Pence has come to resemble a lower-decibel Trump, lying with a fluency and brazenness that might have shocked his former moralistic self.

Once presented as the acceptable public front for Trumpism to those who might be offended by the President’s grosser displays of ego and misogyny, this new Pence was ruder and cruder, and he spent much of the evening interrupting the two women with whom he shared the stage, refusing to listen when the moderator implored him to follow the rules, and simply seizing extra time to rebut Harris whether Page offered it or not. This Pence was not the Middle American cleanup man of this spring’s anxious coronavirus press conferences; he was nasty, an elbow-thrower who dropped snide references to Biden as a plagiarist, inserted random media-bashing into long-winded soliloquies, and peddled a pet Trump conspiracy theory about the 2016 campaign. Like the boss, he repeated falsehoods about the Democratic platform with abandon—they are going to raise your taxes “on day one” and “abolish” fossil fuels and eliminate fracking and allow taxpayer-funded abortions “up to the moment of birth”—all of which was not only untrue but so exaggerated beyond the actual Democratic platform that it was hard to imagine anyone but the most diehard Republican believing it. This sounded like Donald Trump talking, not Mike Pence. A quieter, less bombastic Donald Trump, to be sure, but Trump nonetheless.

This entry was tagged. Donald Trump President2020

For Trump, a Pattern of Denial, From the Virus to Russia to Climate Change

Donald Trump believes that any and all bad news makes him look bad. So he denies everything bad, ignores everything bad, and carries on as normal while the world burns around him. This is not a President that surrounds himself with good people, who help him to make good decisions. Because if there are good people around him, they are being ignored daily. If Nero fiddled while Rome burned, Trump writes self-congratulatory tweets while America burns.

For Trump, a Pattern of Denial, From the Virus to Russia to Climate Change

by David Sanger, for the New York Times

his presidency has in many ways been defined by his dismissal of many of the biggest threats facing the United States. His preoccupation with demonstrating strength or rearranging facts to reinforce his worldview has led him, time and again, to downplay, ignore or mock everything from climate change to Russian interference in the American political process.

Mr. Trump’s own Pentagon declared in a report last year that a warming climate was a major “national security issue” that could spur future instability around the globe, but to Mr. Trump it remains a theory, something to be stricken from government reports and explained away when the West erupted in wildfires.

His intelligence agencies have assessed that North Korea’s nuclear stockpile has expanded significantly on Mr. Trump’s watch. But to the president, that arsenal — which he said in 2017 might force him to take military action leading to “fire and fury like the world has never seen” — is hardly worth mention today. Asked about it, he invariably turns the conversation to his relationship with Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader.

The unremitting stream of cyberattacks by Russia, many aimed at the heart of the American political process, has preoccupied intelligence and military officials determined to keep Vladimir V. Putin from interfering in another election. But not Mr. Trump, who has said he has no reason to disbelieve the Russian leader’s denials that Moscow was involved.

On virtually every front, said Richard Haass, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, Mr. Trump has embraced “denialism,” as if wishing problems away was a substitute for policy and action.

“The denialism is a pattern,” said Mr. Haass, who served several Republican presidents at the National Security Council and the State Department. “It is pervasive. And the fear among friends and allies is that all this is not limited to Trump but reflects how this country has not just changed, but changed for the worse.”

“They have put their security in our hands,” said Mr. Haass, the author of “The World: A Brief Introduction,” “and they are questioning that wisdom, at the same moment that our adversaries see us as divided and distracted.”

It is a distinctive pattern that began in the Trump administration’s first hours, when the new president bristled at photographs released by the National Park Service that suggested the crowds at his inauguration paled when compared with the turnouts for the swearing-in of some past presidents, including Barack Obama. Then came his search for three million fraudulent votes — all in the service of denying that he had lost the popular vote, even while winning the Electoral College.

Some of the moments were laughable, like the Sharpie used to alter National Weather Service maps of the course of Hurricane Dorian last year, all to justify Mr. Trump’s erroneous declaration that the storm was headed to Alabama.

It was great fodder for late-night comedians. Then, in March, as the virus emptied out offices and began to strike American cities, denialism went from deadly serious to simply deadly.

Mr. Trump’s own Department of Health and Human Services, with the help of the White House staff, had prepared for an influenza pandemic that many experts had viewed as inevitable. They had even run a monthslong exercise, code-named “Crimson Contagion,” that mapped out how the government needed to respond if a virus — somewhat different from the coronavirus — that originated in China came to American shores aboard direct flights, borne by tourists, students, business executives and returning Americans.

But the tabletop exercise missed one key element: a president who made it clear he didn’t want to hear news that imperiled economic expansion, especially in an election year.

“Nobody ever thought of numbers like this,” Mr. Trump said in mid-March, as his early story that the virus was under control began to collapse around him.

In fact, they had — it was simply that Mr. Trump did not want to acknowledge those numbers. He kept downplaying the casualties, saying he was sure that deaths would top out below 60,000 and creating a White House culture where mask-wearing was equated with weakness, rather than the pandemic equivalent of strapping on seatbelts.

Mr. Trump has also seemed incapable, or at least unwilling, to acknowledge the cost of denying reality. He continues to insist the economy will have a “V shaped” recovery, even though the Federal Reserve chairman he appointed, Jerome Powell, said on Tuesday that Americans should brace for a “longer-than-expected slog back to full recovery.”

This entry was tagged. COVID-19 Donald Trump Foreign Policy President2020 Pride