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McConnell’s choice is emblematic of the GOP’s rot

The Republican Party now stands for nothing but Donald Trump. There are no principles, there are no convictions. There is only Trump. They have thrown everything else away in defense of the man.

McConnell’s choice is emblematic of the GOP’s rot

Jonah Goldberg, writing for the Los Angeles Times.

McConnell’s choice is emblematic of the GOP’s rot. Republicans claim to fight for fidelity to the Constitution, traditional morality, law and order, economic liberty, fiscal responsibility, etc. As a conservative, I believe these are things worth fighting for. But most Republicans today don’t see these as principles to stand for, they see them as slogans to campaign on.

That is the only way to reconcile their sloganeering with their slavish support for Donald Trump — a thrice-married, admitted sexual predator who, as president, lavished praise on dictators, imposed tariffs with drunken abandon, tried to steal an election so brazenly he was impeached twice and set in motion a multi-pronged anti-constitutional assault on Congress and democracy that left dead cops in its wake and the impeachment clause of the Constitution a dead letter.

“Courage,” C.S. Lewis wrote, “is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point, which means at the point of highest reality.”

Again and again, at the moment of highest political reality, the bulk of the Republican Party has chosen Donald Trump — and the voters who dominate the primaries — over all other considerations.

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

A year of election misinformation from Trump, visualized

Mr. Trump’s incitement to violence started well before January 6, with a continuous stream of lies.

A year of election misinformation from Trump, visualized

Philip Bump, reporting for The Washington Post.

Before the 2016 election, Trump invested a decent amount of energy on claims that presidential elections were rife with voter fraud. It was transparently an effort to inoculate himself against what seemed to be a likely loss in that year’s presidential race. Then he won — and his claims that voter fraud were rampant were more narrowly tailored to explain why Hillary Clinton got nearly 3 million more votes than he did, or so they said.

For the next few years, he’d occasionally return to the subject, waving his hands about fraud whenever he wanted to complain about immigrants, California, Californian immigrants or whatever. But it was last April when his fraud claims took a new, more concrete form: Democrats were using the coronavirus pandemic as an excuse to expand the use of mail-in ballots — a tool that made casting illegal ballots trivial, or so Trump asserted.

One could (and many did) watch the plan solidify over the next few months. Mail ballots were rife with fraud, Trump claimed over and over, and therefore an election predicated on mail ballots would necessarily be suspect. By April it had become clear that Trump’s opponent in his reelection bid would be Joe Biden, who led Trump by a healthy margin in the polls. So Trump dutifully planted seeds of doubt about what seemed like a probable Biden win.

As the election neared, he repeatedly refused to say that he would accept the outcome if he lost, instead saying that he would only accept the outcome of a free and fair election — something that he assured his followers was impossible, given the circumstances. Then he performatively demanded that no votes should be counted after the night of the election itself, recognizing that mail ballots that heavily favored Biden would only be counted in the hours or days after polls closed.

It was this poisonous snowball of nonsense meant to set the stage for his declaring that Biden hadn’t actually won. And it worked very well.

In the weeks after his loss, Trump repeatedly claimed that the election had been tainted by fraud, without offering any credible evidence. As surely as he’d built up nonsensical claims of imminent wrongdoing before the Nov. 3 election, he assiduously latched on to any claim of fraud that emerged after the election was over, however obviously ridiculous or quickly debunked. Day after day of dishonesty about his loss, of which his speech at the Ellipse on Jan. 6 was only the last.

About an hour after he finished speaking, his supporters — in D.C. at his behest and motivated by Trump to try to interrupt the finalization of the election results occurring in the Capitol — had overrun the seat of legislative power in the United States.

This entry was tagged. Donald Trump Elections January 6 Insurrection MAGA Cult President2020 Impeachment

Trump’s weak impeachment defense will expose the depravity of GOP senators who acquit him

Even more of the case for impeaching Donald Trump. Not only is he guilty, guilty, guilty, but if the Republican Senators acquit him, they’ll be guilty of putting the party—and the man—far above the Constitution that they swore an oath to defend.

Trump’s weak impeachment defense will expose the depravity of GOP senators who acquit him

Greg Sargent, opining in The Washington Post.

The real choice they face is not between sticking with Trump or going against him. Rather, it’s between sticking with Trump or remaining faithful to their oath of office, which requires them to defend the Constitution against those who would undermine or destroy it, and to the oath of impartiality they take as impeachment jurors.

Trump tried to overthrow U.S. democracy to keep himself in power illegitimately, first through corrupt legal efforts, then through nakedly extralegal means, and then by inciting intimidation and violence to disrupt the constitutionally designated process for securing the peaceful conclusion of free and fair elections.

Trump fully intended to subvert the constitutional process designating how our elections unfold, and intended this every step of the way. GOP senators cannot remain “loyal” to Trump without breaking their oaths to execute their public positions faithfully.

The weakness of Trump’s own defense will reveal the true contours of this choice — and demonstrate how his defenders, both on his legal team and in the GOP Senate caucus, will try to bury the inescapable nature of this choice under mounds of obfuscation.

Trump’s laughably weak defense

Trump’s lawyers will first argue that the Senate “lacks jurisdiction” to try Trump, on the grounds that he no longer holds office. This idea has been roundly debunked by lawyers across the political spectrum, including Chuck Cooper, a conservative legal icon.

As Cooper argued, the Constitution provides for a Senate vote not just on removal for “high crimes and misdemeanors,” but also for “disqualification” from ever holding office again, which by definition must also apply to those who are no longer in office but might run again later.

But the larger thrust of this “defense” is pernicious in another way.

GOP senators hope to take refuge in the idea that former presidents are exempt to give themselves a rhetorical and political means of dodging a direct vote on whether what Trump actually did constitutes high crimes and misdemeanors.

This has been widely depicted as mere tactical maneuvering. But it’s much worse than that: It’s an active evasion of their own duty as public officials to defend the Constitution. This defense, then, actually unmasks their dereliction of this duty.

Trump incited violent insurrection

Trump’s lawyers will also argue he is not guilty of “incitement of insurrection.” They will say he didn’t “direct anyone” to carry out the attack, as he used the word “peacefully” while haranguing the mob on Jan. 6.

And they will say that because the riots were “preplanned by a small group of criminals,” then Trump cannot have “incited” them.

All this is pure baloney. Trump spent months urging his supporters to mobilize for war over the election results, which he said could not be legitimate if he lost, meaning a struggle to overturn them would inevitably be a righteous cause in their own defense. If some preplanned the attack, they did so at what they understood — correctly — as his direction, as their own language has confirmed.

What’s more, if some preplanned the attack well in advance, many did not, and people in this latter group also attacked the Capitol. They, too, were incited by Trump’s haranguing leading up to and on Jan. 6.

And if Trump intended them to be peaceful, it’s strange that he again whipped up rage at then-Vice President Mike Pence while the mob rampaged into the Capitol looking for Pence and lawmakers who were counting electoral votes. It’s also odd that as the rampage worsened, he refused entreaties to call for the very calm his lawyers claim he wanted to see.

Acquitting Trump means declaring that these known facts do not point to high crimes and misdemeanors.

This entry was tagged. Donald Trump Elections January 6 Insurrection MAGA Cult President2020 Impeachment Republicans

The worst thing about impeachment? The lawyers

More of the case for impeaching Donald Trump. He’s guilty, guilty, guilty.

The worst thing about impeachment? The lawyers

Jonah Goldberg, writing in the Los Angeles Times.

in their defense brief, the president’s lawyers claim that Trump’s remarks egging on the crowd on Jan. 6 are protected under the 1st Amendment. They’re probably right. But so what?

The president of a corporation has every freedom to go on TV to declare that his company’s products are defective. But the board of his company could — and would — fire him according to whatever procedure they liked. If the head of the Smithsonian invited a mob to protest outside the Air and Space Museum and the mob ransacked the place because of lies he told them, the regents wouldn’t await a legal verdict before firing him.

The Senate is like a board of trustees for the government. The Constitution gives the senators the authority to conduct impeachment trials as they see fit, subject to a handful of procedural rules. Even the judges in impeachment trials don’t function as judges would in a regular court; the Senate can overrule their decisions.

My analogy, while imperfect, is useful because impeachment is about self-government not criminal behavior. Yes, crimes can be impeachable, but as James Madison explained, impeachable acts don’t have to be criminal.

We all understand that private and most public institutions have every right to police the professional conduct of their officers. Why the standards for corporations, museums, universities, or Little League coaches should be so much higher than for presidents is a mystery to me. In almost every other realm of life, leaders are held to account not just to the law, but to notions of leadership, common sense and the basic decency and maturity we expect from responsible adults.

They Stormed the Capitol. Their Apps Tracked Them

It wasn’t antifa.

They Stormed the Capitol. Their Apps Tracked Them

Charlie Warzel and Stuart A. Thompson, writing in The New York Times.

The data we were given showed what some in the tech industry might call a God-view vantage of that dark day. It included about 100,000 location pings for thousands of smartphones, revealing around 130 devices inside the Capitol exactly when Trump supporters were storming the building. Times Opinion is only publishing the names of people who gave their permission to be quoted in this article.

About 40 percent of the phones tracked near the rally stage on the National Mall during the speeches were also found in and around the Capitol during the siege — a clear link between those who’d listened to the president and his allies and then marched on the building.

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

Countering the big lie

A public radio station stands up for the truth and promises to hold Republican politicians accountable for the lies that they’ve told. No one should be able to so blatantly mislead the public and expect to escape without any consequences.

Countering the big lie: WITF newsroom’s coverage will connect lawmakers with their election-fraud actions

Tim Lambert and Scott Blanchard, writing for WITF.

In the weeks leading up to the 2020 election, WITF’s journalists worked to remind listeners and readers in story after story that results from Pennsylvania would take days to be finalized, and why that was the case.

Our goal was to prepare listeners for any disinformation or misinformation about the count and any attempts by President Donald Trump to claim victory before all the ballots were counted.

What we didn’t realize was that false claims of voter fraud would be amplified by the president’s allies in Congress, state legislatures, right-wing media and conspiracy theorists on social media.

What we didn’t realize was a large portion of the electorate would fall for this lie.

What we didn’t realize was elected leaders, who took an oath to uphold the laws of the United States, would actively work to overturn an election that county, state and federal judges and public officials of both political parties, and election experts, concluded was free and fair.

To be clear, all the false claims about Pennsylvania’s results were attacks on the truth. On democracy.

The constant drumbeat of falsehoods that the election was stolen came to a head on Jan. 6 with a violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, as far-right extremists tried to halt the certification of President Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory and overturn the results.

The attack’s purpose was to ignore the will of the people, throw out their votes and allow former President Trump to remain in power.

If it had succeeded, democracy would have failed. Some experts called the national security nightmare a coup.

The insurrection was the culmination of a lie that was allowed to fester and grow.

A lie that was pushed by several Republican members of Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation and by many in the state legislature.

To be clear, all the false claims about Pennsylvania’s results were attacks on the truth.

On democracy.

On the work of dozens of journalists at WITF and across the state, who were doing on-the-ground reporting and talking with the county-level leaders who ran elections.

Those stories revealed the hard work of election workers to get it right, and that the election amid the coronavirus pandemic went smoothly, with no signs of massive fraud.

At WITF, our editors and journalists held dozens of discussions on how to counter the election-fraud lie with facts and original reporting.

Because of the unprecedented attack on an election and democracy, it’s important to discuss some of the basic facts:

  1. Joe Biden won Pennsylvania by more than 80,000 legally cast votes. Court challenges were dismissed for reasons including lack of evidence. In tossing out one case, conservative federal judge Stephanos Bibas wrote: “… calling an election unfair does not make it so.”
  2. Eight Pennsylvania congressmen supported Trump’s lies about election fraud and irregularities as he attempted to illegally retain power. Those lies led many to believe the election was stolen from Trump. After the insurrection at the Capitol to try to overthrow the U.S. electoral system, those eight lawmakers voted to nullify Pennsylvania’s election results.

So, as part of WITF’s commitment to factual reporting, and because many who attacked the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 have said their goal was to overthrow the U.S. electoral system and government, we will use language in our reporting to show how elected officials’ actions are connected to the election-fraud lie and the insurrection.

Here are two examples:

“Sen. (name), who signed a letter asking members of Congress to delay certifying Pennsylvania’s electoral votes despite no evidence that would call those results into question, today introduced a bill …”

and

The congressmen who voted against certifying Pennsylvania’s electoral college votes are __ eight of the commonwealth’s nine GOP representatives. The one who did not vote for that is U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, a Republican who represents the Bucks County-based 1st Congressional District.

We understand this may be an unusual decision for a news organization to make. But, these are not normal times.

We are not taking this approach lightly, and will apply it for lawmakers who took at least one of these three actions: signed on to a Texas lawsuit aimed at invalidating Pennsylvania’s election; signed on to a state House or a state Senate letter urging Congressional representatives to object to or delay certification; and voted against certification. The list of lawmakers is here.

When using this language, we’ll consider whether the lawmaker has admitted their mistake, and how the language fits in to each particular story.

… We would like to emphasize our approach is based in fact and provides the proper context to the decisions made by Republican elected officials in the commonwealth.

This wasn’t a policy disagreement over taxes, abortion, or government spending.

This wasn’t lawmakers spinning an issue in their favor.

This was either knowingly spreading disinformation or outright lying by elected officials to overturn an election in an attempt to keep former President Trump in office.

This was an unprecedented assault on the fabric of American democracy.

To us, this is a matter of holding elected officials accountable for their actions.

Impeachment Shows How Partisan Politics Have Swamped the Constitution

Opening with a useful summary of the case for impeaching Donald Trump.

Impeachment Shows How Partisan Politics Have Swamped the Constitution

Jonah Goldberg, writing for The Dispatch.

Let me say up front I think it’s an open-and-shut case that Trump committed numerous impeachable acts, and in a healthy republic, any self-respecting Congress would have moved within hours of the assault to impeach, try, and convict him.

Over the 63 days between Election Day and the siege, Trump manufactured fraudulent claims that the election was stolen. He was recorded improperly—and almost certainly illegally—pressuring Georgia election officials to “find” the votes he needed to win the state. He invited supporters to come to Washington to pressure the vice president and Congress to commit unconstitutional acts so he could overturn the election he lost and hold power.

Whether Trump intended to incite violence or just negligently incited it is immaterial. The violence makes it worse, of course. But even exhorting the peaceful intimidation of officials conducting their constitutional duties would be a violation of his oath. Moreover, that the president was derelict in his duty to do everything he could to put down the violence once it was unfolding as he watched TV and fielded calls for help is also nakedly impeachable.

This entry was tagged. Donald Trump Elections January 6 Insurrection MAGA Cult President2020 Impeachment Republicans

'THIS IS ME': Rioters flaunt involvement in Capitol siege

Once again, it was Trump’s supporters at the capitol. We know who these people were. They told us themselves. It wasn’t antifa.

'THIS IS ME': Rioters flaunt involvement in Capitol siege

Michael Balsamo, Alanna Durkin Richer, and Colleen Long, reporting for the Associated Press.

These suspects weren’t exactly in hiding.

“THIS IS ME,” one man posted on Instagram with a hand emoji pointing to himself in a picture of the violent mob descending on the U.S. Capitol. “Sooo we’ve stormed Capitol Hill lol,” one woman texted someone while inside the building. “I just wanted to incriminate myself a little lol,” another wrote on Facebook about a selfie he took inside during the Jan. 6 riot.

In dozens of cases, supporters of President Donald Trump downright flaunted their activity on social media on the day of the deadly insurrection. Some, apparently realizing they were in trouble with the law, deleted their accounts only to discover their friends and family members had already taken screenshots of their selfies, videos and comments and sent them to the FBI.

Their total lack of concern over getting caught and their friends’ willingness to turn them in has helped authorities charge about 150 people as of Monday with federal crimes. But even with the help from the rioters themselves, investigators must still work rigorously to link the images to the vandalism and suspects to the acts on Jan. 6 in order to prove their case in court. And because so few were arrested at the scene, the FBI and the U.S. Marshals Service have been forced to send agents to track suspects down.

“Just because you’ve left the D.C. region, you can still expect a knock on the door if we find out that you were part of criminal activity inside the Capitol,” Steven D’Antuono, the assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Washington office, said earlier this month. “Bottom line — the FBI is not sparing any resources in this investigation.”

In the last few weeks, the FBI has received more than 200,000 photos and video tips related to the riot. Investigators have put up billboards in several states with photos of wanted rioters. Working on tips from co-workers, acquaintances and friends, agents have tracked down driver’s license photos to match their faces with those captured on camera in the building. In some cases, authorities got records from Facebook or Twitter to connect their social media accounts to their email addresses or phone numbers. In others, agents used records from license plate readers to confirm their travels.

More than 800 are believed to have made their way into the Capitol, although it’s likely not everyone will be tracked down and charged with a crime. Federal prosecutors are focusing on the most critical cases and the most egregious examples of wrongdoing. And they must weigh manpower, cost and evidence when charging rioters.

A special group of prosecutors is examining whether to bring sedition charges against the rioters, which carry up to 20 years in prison. One trio was charged with conspiracy; most have been charged with crimes like unlawful entry and disorderly conduct.

Many rioters posted selfies inside the Capitol to their social media accounts, gave interviews to news outlets describing their experience and readily admitted when questioned by federal investigators that they were there. One man created a Facebook album titled “Who’s House? OUR HOUSE” filled with photos of himself and others on Capitol grounds, officials said.

“They might have thought, like so many people that work with Trump, that if the president tells me to do it, it’s not breaking the law,” said Michael Gerhardt, an expert on impeachment and professor at the University of North Carolina School of Law.

Others made blunders, like a Houston police officer, who denied he went into the Capitol, then agreed to let agents look at the pictures on his phone. Inside his deleted photos folder were pictures and videos, including selfies he took inside the building, authorities said. Another man was wearing a court-ordered GPS monitor after a burglary conviction that tracked his every movement inside the building.

A retired firefighter from Long Island, New York, texted a video of himself in the Capitol rotunda to his girlfriend’s brother, saying he was “at the tip of the spear,” officials said. The brother happened to be a federal agent with the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service, who turned the video over to the FBI. A lawyer for the man, Thomas Fee, said that he “was not part of any attempt to take over the U.S. Capitol” and that “the allegation is that he merely walked through an open door into the Capitol — nothing more.”

Another man who was inside the Capitol was willing to rat out another rioter who stole House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s lectern and emailed the video to an FBI agent, even signing his own name to it. “Hello Nice FBI Lady,” he wrote, “Here are the links to the videos. Looks like Podium Guy is in one of them, less the podium. Let me know if you need anything else.”

In another case, a man was on a flight leaving D.C. two days after the riot when he kept shouting “Trump 2020!” and was kicked off. An airport police officer saw the man get off the plane and the man was booked on another flight. Forty-five minutes later, the officer was watching a video on Instagram and recognized the man in a group of rioters. The man, who was wearing the same shirt as the day he stormed the Capitol, was arrested at the airport, authorities said.

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

Rudy Giuliani Sued by Dominion Voting Systems Over False Election Claims

Perhaps one person will get what he’s richly earned. Giuliani has done more than anyone besides the President to lie about the results of the Presidential election. It’d be nice if he paid some price for that.

Rudy Giuliani Sued by Dominion Voting Systems Over False Election Claims

Nick Corasaniti, reporting for the New York Times.

Dominion Voting Systems filed a defamation lawsuit on Monday against Rudolph W. Giuliani, the lawyer for Donald J. Trump and former mayor of New York City who played a key role in the former president’s monthslong effort to subvert the 2020 election.

The 107-page lawsuit, filed in the Federal District Court in Washington, accuses Mr. Giuliani of carrying out “a viral disinformation campaign about Dominion” made up of “demonstrably false” allegations, in part to enrich himself through legal fees and his podcast.

The suit seeks damages of more than $1.3 billion and is based on more than 50 statements Mr. Giuliani made at legislative hearings, on Twitter, on his podcast and in the conservative news media, where he spun a fictitious narrative of a plot by one of the biggest voting machine manufacturers in the country to flip votes to President Biden.

Mr. Giuliani, one of Mr. Trump’s closest advisers and confidants, has faced continuing fallout for his highly visible efforts to reverse the election outcome. This month, the chairman of the New York State Senate’s judiciary committee formally requested that the state court system strip Mr. Giuliani of his law license.

Mr. Giuliani did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Taken together with a lawsuit the company filed this month against Sidney Powell, another lawyer who was allied with Mr. Trump, the suit represents a point-by-point rebuke of one of the more outlandish conspiracy theories surrounding last year’s election. The president’s allies had contended that the voting machine company — which was also used in states during Mr. Trump’s victory in the 2016 election, has been tested by government agencies, and was used in states Mr. Trump carried in 2020 — was somehow involved in a rigged election, partly as a result of ties to a long-deceased Venezuelan dictator.

“Dominion was not founded in Venezuela to fix elections for Hugo Chávez,” the suit says. “It was founded in 2002 in John Poulos’s basement in Toronto to help blind people vote on paper ballots.” The suit later adds that the headquarters for the company’s United States subsidiary is in Denver.

Laying out a timeline of Mr. Giuliani’s comments about Dominion on Twitter, his podcast and Fox News, the company notes that Mr. Giuliani avoided mentioning Dominion in court, where he could have faced legal ramifications for falsehoods. “Notably, not a single one of the three complaints signed and filed by Giuliani and other attorneys for the Trump Campaign in the Pennsylvania action contained any allegations about Dominion,” the lawsuit says.

This entry was tagged. Elections MAGA Cult President2020

Trump’s Pre-Facism and The Big Lie

Donald Trump and his supporters need you to believe that he is the sole source of truth and that everyone else is untrustworthy, lying, and part of a plot against you.

The American Abyss

Timothy Snyder writing for the New York Times.

Post-truth is pre-fascism, and Trump has been our post-truth president. When we give up on truth, we concede power to those with the wealth and charisma to create spectacle in its place. Without agreement about some basic facts, citizens cannot form the civil society that would allow them to defend themselves. If we lose the institutions that produce facts that are pertinent to us, then we tend to wallow in attractive abstractions and fictions. Truth defends itself particularly poorly when there is not very much of it around, and the era of Trump — like the era of Vladimir Putin in Russia — is one of the decline of local news. Social media is no substitute: It supercharges the mental habits by which we seek emotional stimulation and comfort, which means losing the distinction between what feels true and what actually is true.

Post-truth wears away the rule of law and invites a regime of myth. These last four years, scholars have discussed the legitimacy and value of invoking fascism in reference to Trumpian propaganda. One comfortable position has been to label any such effort as a direct comparison and then to treat such comparisons as taboo. More productively, the philosopher Jason Stanley has treated fascism as a phenomenon, as a series of patterns that can be observed not only in interwar Europe but beyond it.

My own view is that greater knowledge of the past, fascist or otherwise, allows us to notice and conceptualize elements of the present that we might otherwise disregard and to think more broadly about future possibilities. It was clear to me in October that Trump’s behavior presaged a coup, and I said so in print; this is not because the present repeats the past, but because the past enlightens the present.

Like historical fascist leaders, Trump has presented himself as the single source of truth. His use of the term “fake news” echoed the Nazi smear Lügenpresse (“lying press”); like the Nazis, he referred to reporters as “enemies of the people.” Like Adolf Hitler, he came to power at a moment when the conventional press had taken a beating; the financial crisis of 2008 did to American newspapers what the Great Depression did to German ones. The Nazis thought that they could use radio to replace the old pluralism of the newspaper; Trump tried to do the same with Twitter.

Thanks to technological capacity and personal talent, Donald Trump lied at a pace perhaps unmatched by any other leader in history. For the most part these were small lies, and their main effect was cumulative. To believe in all of them was to accept the authority of a single man, because to believe in all of them was to disbelieve everything else. Once such personal authority was established, the president could treat everyone else as the liars; he even had the power to turn someone from a trusted adviser into a dishonest scoundrel with a single tweet. Yet so long as he was unable to enforce some truly big lie, some fantasy that created an alternative reality where people could live and die, his pre-fascism fell short of the thing itself.

Some of his lies were, admittedly, medium-size: that he was a successful businessman; that Russia did not support him in 2016; that Barack Obama was born in Kenya. Such medium-size lies were the standard fare of aspiring authoritarians in the 21st century. In Poland the right-wing party built a martyrdom cult around assigning blame to political rivals for an airplane crash that killed the nation’s president. Hungary’s Viktor Orban blames a vanishingly small number of Muslim refugees for his country’s problems. But such claims were not quite big lies; they stretched but did not rend what Hannah Arendt called “the fabric of factuality.”

One historical big lie discussed by Arendt is Joseph Stalin’s explanation of starvation in Soviet Ukraine in 1932-33. The state had collectivized agriculture, then applied a series of punitive measures to Ukraine that ensured millions would die. Yet the official line was that the starving were provocateurs, agents of Western powers who hated socialism so much they were killing themselves. A still grander fiction, in Arendt’s account, is Hitlerian anti-Semitism: the claims that Jews ran the world, Jews were responsible for ideas that poisoned German minds, Jews stabbed Germany in the back during the First World War. Intriguingly, Arendt thought big lies work only in lonely minds; their coherence substitutes for experience and companionship.

In November 2020, reaching millions of lonely minds through social media, Trump told a lie that was dangerously ambitious: that he had won an election that in fact he had lost. This lie was big in every pertinent respect: not as big as “Jews run the world,” but big enough. The significance of the matter at hand was great: the right to rule the most powerful country in the world and the efficacy and trustworthiness of its succession procedures. The level of mendacity was profound. The claim was not only wrong, but it was also made in bad faith, amid unreliable sources. It challenged not just evidence but logic: Just how could (and why would) an election have been rigged against a Republican president but not against Republican senators and representatives? Trump had to speak, absurdly, of a “Rigged (for President) Election.”

The force of a big lie resides in its demand that many other things must be believed or disbelieved. To make sense of a world in which the 2020 presidential election was stolen requires distrust not only of reporters and of experts but also of local, state and federal government institutions, from poll workers to elected officials, Homeland Security and all the way to the Supreme Court. It brings with it, of necessity, a conspiracy theory: Imagine all the people who must have been in on such a plot and all the people who would have had to work on the cover-up.

Trump’s electoral fiction floats free of verifiable reality. It is defended not so much by facts as by claims that someone else has made some claims. The sensibility is that something must be wrong because I feel it to be wrong, and I know others feel the same way. When political leaders such as Ted Cruz or Jim Jordan spoke like this, what they meant was: You believe my lies, which compels me to repeat them. Social media provides an infinity of apparent evidence for any conviction, especially one seemingly held by a president.

On the surface, a conspiracy theory makes its victim look strong: It sees Trump as resisting the Democrats, the Republicans, the Deep State, the pedophiles, the Satanists. More profoundly, however, it inverts the position of the strong and the weak. Trump’s focus on alleged “irregularities” and “contested states” comes down to cities where Black people live and vote. At bottom, the fantasy of fraud is that of a crime committed by Black people against white people.

It’s not just that electoral fraud by African-Americans against Donald Trump never happened. It is that it is the very opposite of what happened, in 2020 and in every American election. As always, Black people waited longer than others to vote and were more likely to have their votes challenged. They were more likely to be suffering or dying from Covid-19, and less likely to be able to take time away from work. The historical protection of their right to vote has been removed by the Supreme Court’s 2013 ruling in Shelby County v. Holder, and states have rushed to pass measures of a kind that historically reduce voting by the poor and communities of color.

The claim that Trump was denied a win by fraud is a big lie not just because it mauls logic, misdescribes the present and demands belief in a conspiracy. It is a big lie, fundamentally, because it reverses the moral field of American politics and the basic structure of American history.

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

How Democrats Planned for Doomsday

There are two messages here. First, nothing Mr. Trump did was a surprise. He’d been telegraphing his plans for holding onto power for months. Secondly, the left actually managed to coordinate an effective response to counter it.

How Democrats Planned for Doomsday

Alexander Burns, writing for the New York Times.

By the time rioters ransacked the Capitol, the machinery of the left had already been primed to respond — prepared by months spent sketching out doomsday scenarios and mapping out responses, by countless hours of training exercises and reams of opinion research.

At each juncture, the activist wing of the Democratic coalition deployed its resources deliberately, channeling its energy toward countering Mr. Trump’s attempts at sabotage. Joseph R. Biden Jr., an avowed centrist who has often boasted of beating his more liberal primary opponents, was a beneficiary of their work.

Just as important, progressive groups reckoned with their own vulnerabilities: The impulses toward fiery rhetoric and divisive demands — which generated polarizing slogans like “Abolish ICE” and “Defund the police” — were supplanted by a more studied vocabulary, developed through nightly opinion research and message testing.

Worried that Mr. Trump might use any unruly demonstrations as pretext for a federal crackdown of the kind seen last summer in Portland, Ore., progressives organized mass gatherings only sparingly and in highly choreographed ways after Nov. 3. In a year of surging political energy across the left and of record-breaking voter turnout, one side has stifled itself to an extraordinary degree during the precarious postelection period.

Since the violence of Jan. 6, progressive leaders have not deployed large-scale public protests at all.

Interviews with nearly two dozen leaders involved in the effort, and a review of several hundred pages of planning documents, polling presentations and legal memorandums, revealed an uncommon — and previously unreported — degree of collaboration among progressive groups that often struggle to work so closely together because of competition over political turf, funding and conflicting ideological priorities.

For the organizers of the effort, it represents both a good-news story — Mr. Trump was thwarted — and an ominous sign that such exhaustive efforts were required to protect election results that were not all that close.

For the most part, the organized left anticipated Mr. Trump’s postelection schemes, including his premature attempt to claim a victory he had not achieved, his pressure campaigns targeting Republican election administrators and county officials and his incitement of far-right violence, strategy documents show.

This entry was tagged. Donald Trump Elections January 6 Insurrection MAGA Cult President2020

Military Veterans Overrepresented In Those Charged In Jan. 6 Capitol Riot

“Roughly one-third of active duty troops said they had "personally witnessed examples of white nationalism or ideological-driven racism within the ranks in recent months," according to a [2019 survey]…”

Military Veterans Overrepresented In Those Charged In Jan. 6 Capitol Riot : NPR

Tom Dreisbach and Meg Anderson, for NPR.

NPR compiled a list of individuals facing federal or District of Columbia charges in connection with the events of Jan. 6. Of more than 140 charged so far, a review of military records, social media accounts, court documents and news reports indicate at least 27 of those charged, or nearly 20%, have served or are currently serving in the U.S. military. To put that number in perspective, only about 7% of all American adults are military veterans, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Several veterans are charged with violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. One of them is Larry Rendall Brock Jr. The Air Force veteran was photographed in a military-style helmet and tactical vest carrying flex cuffs inside the Capitol. He posted on Facebook that he was preparing for a "Second Civil War," according to documents filed in federal court. In the weeks after Biden's victory, Brock posted that "we are now under occupation by a hostile governing force."

"I see no distinction between a group of Americans seizing power and governing with complete disregard to the Constitution and an invading force of Chinese communists accomplishing the same objective," Brock wrote. (There is no credible evidence of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election.) He ended his post with a reference to the oath taken by members of the military: "Against all enemies foreign and domestic."

Some veterans who allegedly stormed the Capitol are still serving in some capacity. Jacob Fracker, 29, was an infantry rifleman in the Marine Corps and deployed to Afghanistan twice, according to the Pentagon. He now serves in the Virginia National Guard, according to widespread news reports, though he was not among the service members deployed to Washington ahead of the inauguration. He is also a police officer in Rocky Mount, Va. With him at the Capitol on Jan. 6 was his colleague from the Rocky Mount Police Department, Thomas Robertson, 47, who is an Army veteran also facing charges.

Federal prosecutors have also alleged that multiple members of the right-wing extremist group the Oath Keepers took part in the "incursion" at the Capitol. The group has been known to target and recruit active-duty members of the military and veterans, in part for their specialized skills. Among those charged in relation to the storming of the Capitol are Thomas Edward Caldwell, a Navy veteran and alleged leader among the Oath Keepers, and Donovan Ray Crowl, a Marine Corps veteran. They have been charged with conspiracy to obstruct the Electoral College vote, among other alleged crimes.

Roughly one-third of active duty troops said they had "personally witnessed examples of white nationalism or ideological-driven racism within the ranks in recent months," according to a 2019 survey conducted by the Military Times and Syracuse University Institute for Veterans and Military Families. Troops said they had seen "swastikas being drawn on service members' cars, tattoos affiliated with white supremacist groups, stickers supporting the Ku Klux Klan and Nazi-style salutes between individuals."

This entry was tagged. January 6 Insurrection Jesus and John Wayne MAGA Cult Military White Christian Nationalism

Inside the Capitol Riot: What the Parler Videos Reveal

It wasn’t antifa at the capitol. It was Trump’s supporters.

Inside the Capitol Riot: What the Parler Videos Reveal

Alec MacGillis, writing for Pro Publica.

“Clearly, there’s millions of people in town today. There’s people packed like sardines from the White House to the Washington Monument today. For the first time as far I’m aware in history, they broke the perimeters at the Capitol. I mean, they’re pissed. I’m not keen on violence and breaking doors. But outside of that, there seemed to be no violence, and after hearing all summer long about city after city getting burned down, this was a mostly peaceful protest. This was what a mostly peaceful protest looks like.”

He didn’t appear to know about the deaths and extent of the violence. He had only his vantage point. But we now have many more vantages. And they give us the picture of what happens when something that was gathering across the land for years, and recklessly and cynically fomented by those who knew better, reached a culmination. There undoubtedly were some dangerous organized elements within the mob that attacked the Capitol. But what is scariest about these videos is that they show the damage that can be done by a crowd of unorganized Americans goaded and abetted by the leaders of an organized political party. The radical fringe is a cause for concern. The thousands of regular people whipped into a murderous rage is the real nightmare.

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

There’s Video of Christian Terrorists Praying to God Inside the U.S. Capitol

More evidence that something is deeply, deeply wrong inside of American Christianity. These insurrectionists saw no conflict between their faith and their violent attack on the nation’s government.

There’s Video of Christian Terrorists Praying to God Inside the U.S. Capitol

Hemant Mehta, writing at Friendly Atheist.

These aren’t just terrorists. They’re Christian terrorists. The prayer they recited was one that wouldn’t be out of place at evangelical churches across the country.

I know this comparison isn’t new, but if Muslims invaded the Capitol and said a prayer in the name of their God, we know exactly what Christians would say about it, and we know exactly how right-wing media would cover it.

The 80% of white evangelicals voters who supported Trump for two elections have created an environment where terrorism in the name of their faith isn’t seen as hypocritical or out of place by the most fervent believers. It’s not that all evangelicals condone the actions of the men inside the chamber. It’s that their churches haven’t done enough to dissuade believers from supporting right-wing conspiracies and blatant lies and conservative cruelty — to the point where even outright terrorism is seen as perfectly in line with how these believers view God.

When pastors play into culture war rhetoric, act like Christians are constantly persecuted, and lie to their congregations about how the sky is falling when liberals have any kind of power, they can’t pretend like this scene is shocking.

It’s not surprising at all. There’s a reason so many Christian symbols were seen during the riot.

A bunch of Christians were among the terrorists. They believe God was on their side. Unless evangelical pastors address the beliefs they hold and the rhetoric they use — because that creates a foundation for terrorism like this to thrive — it’s not going to stop.

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

Three ways the media can vanquish the Big Lie that will linger even after Trump is gone

We must be up front about calling lies lies and not pretending that there are two sides to every story. If the two sides are “truth” and “lie” or “truth” and “debunked conspiracy theory”, then there’s really only one side to the story.

Three ways the media can vanquish the Big Lie that will linger even after Trump is gone

Margaret Sullivan, writing for The Washington Post.

His administration is down to its last hours, but you can bet that the false belief held by millions of Americans that the election was rigged is not going away when President Trump does.

Journalists, if they take their core mission seriously, should think hard about how they’re going to confront this Big Lie, as it’s become known.

Our goal should go beyond merely putting truthful information in front of the public. We should also do our best to make sure it’s widely accepted — “to create a public square with a common set of facts,” as Tom Rosenstiel, an author and the executive director of the Virginia-based American Press Institute, put it.

But how? Here are a few ideas I’ve gathered.

Stop relying on shorthand.

Too often, even the most credible journalists who are trying to cover the disastrous effects of the Big Lie explain it by sprinkling phrases into their reporting like “baseless claims” or “without evidence” — and seem to expect them to do all the work.

But that’s simply ineffective. “People don’t notice this boilerplate language after a while,” Rosenstiel said, “or even begin to bristle at it.”

What’s the alternative? Journalists should take the time — even in an ordinary news story or brief broadcast segment — to be more specific. Let’s offer a few sentences that give detail on why the claims are baseless and how they’ve been debunked.

The second paragraph of this January national security report in The Washington Post does just that: “By mid-December, President Trump’s fraudulent claims of a rigged election were failing in humiliating fashion. Lawsuits were being laughed out of courts. State officials, including Republicans, were refusing to bend to his will and alter the vote. And in a seemingly decisive blow on Dec. 14, the electoral college certified the win for Joe Biden.”

That’s far better than a mere nod to “baseless claims.” As Rosenstiel put it: “Engage in verification and explanation, not labeling.”

Use an honesty litmus test.

Journalists long ago made a virtue of getting input from both sides of an issue. It’s generally a healthy practice, but it also became a crutch. And when one side consistently engages in bad-faith falsehoods, it’s downright destructive to give them equal time.

Joe Lockhart, President Bill Clinton’s former press secretary, offers an extreme example: “If I went on the air and said the Holocaust didn’t happen, the interview would end right there.”

We must stop calling Trump’s enablers ‘conservative.’ They are the radical right.

Similarly, the election-fraud lie — which was the foundation for the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol — shouldn’t be given a huge megaphone either. But you can expect some Republican members of Congress will trot this out during Trump’s Senate impeachment trial, Lockhart warned. He argues that news organizations should think hard before allowing these claims to be broadcast live and at length.

“It’s no longer a case of no harm, no foul,” Lockhart told me. We know what damage has come from helping the Big Lie to spread.

The NYU professor and press critic Jay Rosen put it memorably: “In the same way that you might begin an interview with a pro forma, ‘this is on the record,’ or ‘how do you spell your name?’ journalists (and talk show bookers) should set the ground rules with, ‘Very quickly before we start: who was the legitimate winner of the 2020 election?’ ” If the answer is “we need to investigate that” or “President Trump,” simply withdraw the opportunity.

In the bad-faith political world we live in, these kinds of sound policies will be branded as liberal bias and a free-speech violation. Not so.

“This isn’t a cancel culture,” Christopher Krebs, whom Trump fired as head of Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, told CNN last week in arguing why it’s essential to shoot down harmful false claims as he did. “There has to be an accountability culture in the United States right now.”

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

New poll shows Trump’s GOP has an ugly authoritarian core

Donald Trump’s voters believe lies, oppose democracy, and support the man, not the platform or the party. This is why I’m a former Republican.

New poll shows Trump’s GOP has an ugly authoritarian core

On questions that probe underlying attitudes about Trump’s efforts to undermine democracy, the contrast between the broader public and Republican respondents is stark. Here’s a rundown:

  • By 66 percent to 30 percent, Americans overall say Trump acted irresponsibly in his statements and actions since the election. But Republicans say Trump acted responsibly by 66 percent to 29 percent.
  • By 62 percent to 31 percent, Americans say there’s no solid evidence of the claims of voter fraud that Trump cited to refuse to accept Joe Biden’s victory. But Republicans say there is solid evidence of fraud by 65 percent to 25 percent.
  • 57 percent of Americans say Trump bears a great deal or good amount of responsibility for the assault on the Capitol. But 56 percent of Republicans say Trump bears no responsibility at all, and another 22 percent say he bears just some, totaling 78 percent who largely exonerate him.
  • 52 percent of Americans say Republican leaders went too far in supporting Trump’s efforts to overturn the election. But 51 percent of Republicans say GOP leaders didn’t go far enough, while 27 percent say they got it right, a total of 78 percent who are fully on board or wanted more. Only 16 percent of Republicans say they went too far.

On these questions, independents are far more in sync with the broader public: In this poll, support for what Trump did is largely a Republican phenomenon.

Meanwhile, solid majorities of Americans believe Trump should be charged with a crime for inciting the riot (54 percent) and removed from office (56 percent). But among Republicans, opposition to both is running in the mid-80s, demonstrating extraordinary GOP unity against any form of accountability.

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

How the rioters who stormed the Capitol came dangerously close to Pence

The rioters weren’t just making a statement. They were out for blood and they were looking for Donald Trump’s enemies.

How the rioters who stormed the Capitol came dangerously close to Pence

Ashley Parker, Carol D. Leonnin, Paul Kane, and Emma Brown, reporting for The Washington Post.

The violent mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 came perilously close to Vice President Pence, who was not evacuated from the Senate chamber for about 14 minutes after the Capitol Police reported an initial attempted breach of the complex — enough time for the marauders to rush inside the building and approach his location, according to law enforcement officials and video footage from that day.

Secret Service officers eventually spirited Pence to a room off the Senate floor with his wife and daughter after rioters began to pour into the Capitol, many loudly denouncing the vice president as a traitor as they marched through the first floor below the Senate chamber.

About one minute after Pence was hustled out of the chamber, a group charged up the stairs to a second-floor landing in the Senate, chasing a Capitol Police officer who drew them away from the Senate.

Pence and his family had just ducked into a hideaway less than 100 feet from that landing, according to three people familiar with his whereabouts, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation. If the pro-Trump mob had arrived seconds earlier, the attackers would have been in eyesight of the vice president as he was rushed across a reception hall into the office.

Pence was ultimately evacuated from his office off the Senate floor to a more secure location elsewhere in the Capitol complex. It is unclear exactly how long that took. But as the vice president made his way through the building, a growing number of rioters were joining their cohorts and coursing through the Capitol’s labyrinthine halls.

Once inside, they used pipes, flagpoles and other weapons to shatter windows and break furniture. One police officer later died of injuries sustained during the onslaught. Dozens of officers were wounded, including some who were struck with a fire extinguisher and another who was dragged down a set of steps and attacked by the crowd.

Many of those in the mob had their sights on Pence — enraged that he had refused President Trump’s demand that he head off the electoral college count that formalized President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.

According to the FBI, one man who was charged this week with trespassing and disorderly conduct after making his way into the Senate chamber said in a YouTube video: “Once we found out Pence turned on us and that they had stolen the election, like, officially, the crowd went crazy. I mean, it became a mob.”

At one point, a group of rioters began chanting, “Hang Mike Pence!” as they streamed into the main door on the east side of the Capitol.

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

Donald Trump Impeachment: Case for Conviction & Disqualification

We need to make a clear statement that this attack on the capitol was inexcusable and must never happen again. The President takes an oath to defend the Constitution. He did not.

Donald Trump Impeachment: Case for Conviction & Disqualification

Dan McLaughlin, writing for National Review.

It is the proud boast of the United States of America that we have the oldest continuous constitutional government in the world, in which nothing — not terrorists attacks, not depressions, not pandemics, not hurricanes, not foreign wars, not the burning of our capital by invaders, not even civil war — has stopped our government of laws or impeded the timely, peaceful transfer of power between opposing political parties and candidates. The Capitol riot on January 6, given its timing around the pivotal constitutional process of counting electoral votes to effectuate such a transition, took direct aim at that central pillar of our American system. It emboldened the foes of democracy, republicanism, and constitutionalism around the globe who have long been shamed by our example.

There must be grave consequences for that. And as is true whenever society as a whole is threatened by such an outrage, those consequences must be sufficiently spectacular to deter any repetition so long as our national memory endures. Those who participated directly must be punished relentlessly to the maximum extent of federal law, without cease or mercy. And they should be confronted with vivid evidence that their cause failed utterly and permanently. The riot was inspired by Trump, and carried out by a faction of his supporters. Imposing consequences on Trump himself, and barring him from ever again holding federal office, will accomplish that end. In a less squeamish time, both Trump and the rioters would justly have had their heads mounted on pikes outside the Capitol as a warning to all.

What would George Washington do? What would Abraham Lincoln do? What would William Tecumseh Sherman do? What would Calvin Coolidge do? What would Harry Truman do? What would Ronald Reagan do? The making of harsh and unforgiving examples has always been the American way of ensuring that some outrages are never repeated. Harsh example for deterrent effect was the theory of Trump’s own policy to prevent crossings of the Mexican border, even when the harshness fell on innocent children. He should be prepared to take that medicine now himself.

Is it unfair to punish Trump, who did not personally participate in the riot, and who did not explicitly call for violence? Hardly. As I have detailed previously, when you take in the entirety of Trump’s speech and its context, he bears moral and political responsibility for inspiring the Capitol riot, and for putting a target on Mike Pence’s back. True, Trump’s conduct falls just shy of the narrow legal definition of inciting riot or rebellion. True, it is becoming increasingly clear that some of the forces he summoned to Washington on January 6 came prepared for violence in advance, and commenced it even before he was done speaking. But leadership entails responsibility, not pettifogging efforts to backtrack after things you set in motion, and have nurtured for two months, have gotten out of hand. There comes a time when the man at the top must be the man who accepts the blame.

Trump’s behavior on January 6 was extraordinarily reckless. It had foreseeable and horrendous consequences. And it did not happen in a vacuum. It was the culmination of two months of lies, conspiracy theories, increasingly vexatious litigation, efforts to pressure state legislatures and elections officials his way, open pressure on the vice president to disregard settled federal law, and baseless volcanic rhetorical blasts at the integrity of the entire American system. Many of those actions were not, by themselves, impeachable acts; but taken together, they constitute a massively irresponsible violation of Trump’s oath of office. They form the backdrop for why he should be held politically accountable for the riot and siege at the Capitol. Anyone reading these events in a history book, uninvested in the individual participants, would recognize this.

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

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.