Thursday, January 13, 2022

Last Call For Insurrection Investigation, Con't

I don't how many more time I will have to point this out, but yes, the Trump regime tried to steal the 2020 election and there was a national conspiracy by Republicans to do so.

In the weeks after the 2020 election, then-President Donald Trump's allies sent fake certificates to the National Archives declaring that Trump won seven states that he actually lost. The documents had no impact on the outcome of the election, but they are yet another example of how Team Trump tried to subvert the Electoral College -- a key line of inquiry for the January 6 committee. 
The fake certificates were created by Trump allies in Georgia, Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Nevada and New Mexico, who sought to replace valid presidential electors from their states with a pro-Trump slate, according to documents obtained by American Oversight
The documents contain the signatures of Trump supporters who claimed to be the rightful electors from seven states that President Joe Biden won. But these rogue slates of electors didn't have the backing of any elected officials in the seven states -- like a governor or secretary of state, who are involved in certifying election results -- and they served no legitimate purpose. 
The documents were first posted online in March by the government watchdog group. But they received renewed attention this week, as the January 6 committee ramps up its investigation into Trump's attempted coup, including how his allies tried to stop states from certifying Biden's victory, in part, by installing friendly slates of electors who would overturn the will of the voters. 
Politico and MSNBC were first to report on the documents this week.

As part of the Electoral College process, governors are required to sign a formal "certificate of ascertainment," verifying that the statewide winner's slate of electors are the legitimate electors. These electors then sign a second certificate, formally affirming their votes for president. 
These documents are sent to the National Archives in Washington, DC, which processes them before they are sent onto Congress, which formally counts the electoral votes on January 6. 
The real certificates, which have been posted to the National Archives website, correctly stated that Biden won the seven battleground states. They also list the legitimate group of electors from each state, rather than the rogue pro-Trump slate included on the unofficial documents. 
Some of the fake certificates with pro-Trump electors were sent to the National Archives by top officials representing the Republican Party in each state, according to the documents. 
They sent these fake certificates after Trump himself failed to block governors from signing the real certificates. Specifically, Trump encouraged Republican governors in states like Georgia and Arizona not to certify the election results, and falsely claimed the elections were fraudulent. But these GOP officials ignored Trump, followed the law, and awarded the electors to Biden
Installing slates of "alternate electors" was an integral part of the ill-fated plan conceived by Trump allies to usurp power on January 6 by pressuring Vice President Mike Pence to throw out the pro-Biden electors that had been chosen by voters. The idea was promoted by Trump advisers inside and outside the White House, including controversial right-wing lawyer John Eastman. 
Eastman, who has been subpoenaed by the January 6 committee, authored a memo outlining a six-step plan for Pence to overturn the election and award Trump a second term. The plan included throwing out results from seven states because they allegedly had competing electors. 
In truth, no state actually had two slates of competing electors. The pro-Trump electors were merely claiming without any authority to be electors, as documented in the fake certificates sent to the National Archives. The certificates were essentially an elaborate public relations stunt. 
The new documents weren't the only fake certificates sent to the National Archives. Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, told CNN's Don Lemon that a second group called the "Sovereign Citizens of the State of Arizona" sent a rogue document to the National Archives in 2020, and she said they improperly used the Arizona state seal on their fake certificate. 
"They used this fake seal to make it look official, which is not a legal activity," Hobbs said.
Outright election fraud, and the conspiracy to commit it, by Trump supporters and Republican state officials in at least seven states, planned by Eastman and the Trump regime in order to "document" their "win."

Seems like a prosecutable offense to me.

Stewart Rhodes — founder and leader of the extremist group Oath Keepers, whose members are accused of being key players in the Jan. 6 attack on Congress — has been indicted and arrested, officials said Thursday.

The 56-year-old, who was at the Capitol that day but has said he did not enter the building, is the most high-profile person charged in the investigation so far. He is charged with seditious conspiracy, along with 10 other Oath Keepers members or associates, officials said.

Most of those individuals were previously arrested, but one, 63-year old Edward Vallejo of Phoenix, Arizona, is also facing charges as part of the case against the Oath Keepers for the first time. Officials said Rhodes was arrested this morning in Little Elm, Texas, and Vallejo was taken into custody in Phoenix.

A federal grand jury in the District leveled the new charges focusing on what prosecutors say is a core group of Oath Keepers adherents who allegedly planned for and participated in obstructing Congress on the day lawmakers certified President Biden’s 2020 election victory.

The indictments unsealed Thursday mark the first time anyone has faced charges of seditious conspiracy for the Jan. 6 attacks, though prosecutors have long signaled they were considering using that rarely-applied section of federal law.

In interviews with The Washington Post over the past year, Rhodes — a former Army paratrooper and Yale Law graduate who has become one of the most visible figures of the far-right anti-government movement — has repeatedly denied wrongdoing.

He said he was communicating with members of his group on Jan. 6, 2021 in an effort to “keep them out of trouble,” and emphasized that Oath Keepers associates who did go into the Capitol “went totally off mission.”

An attorney for Rhodes, Jonathan Moseley, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

An earlier indictment charged 19 of alleged Oath Keepers adherents with conspiracy and aiding and abetting the obstruction of Congress. Two of those individuals have pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with investigators. The rest have pleaded not guilty and are preparing for trials later this year.

In cases in which people have pleaded guilty, defendants acknowledged they were among a group that forced entry through the Capitol’s East Rotunda doors after marching single-file in tight formation up the steps wearing camouflage vests, helmets, goggles and Oath Keepers insignia.

Some defendants also admitted to stashing guns in a nearby Arlington, Va., hotel for possible use by what they called a “Quick Reaction Force.”
So yes, we're now starting to finally see the seditious conspiracy charges.

More will follow.

Ohio GOP Maps Struck Down As Unconstitutional

In a sign that Ohio isn't completely ruled by Republicans in perpetuity, the Ohio Supreme Court tossed the GOP's ridiculous two-thirds state House and state Senate supermajority maps as unconstitutional gerrymandering, and the deciding vote in the 4-3 decision was Republican Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor.

The Ohio Supreme Court struck down GOP-drawn state House and Senate district maps as unconstitutional gerrymandering in a 4-3 decision Wednesday, sending the maps back to the drawing board.

Advocates of redistricting reform hailed the decision as a resounding victory for Ohio voters who overwhelmingly approved changes to the state constitution to limit partisan line-drawing in 2015.

“This ruling sends a clear message to lawmakers in Ohio: they may not put politics over people," said attorney Freda Levenson, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio, who argued for opponents of the maps.

The Ohio Supreme Court ruled that the Ohio Redistricting Commission – which is tasked with drawing legislative maps and dominated by Republicans – could not ignore parts of the Ohio Constitution that required them to attempt to match the statewide voting preferences of voters, according to the court's majority opinion, written by Justice Melody Stewart.

Those preferences, according to Stewart's opinion, were 54% for Republican candidates and 46% for Democratic candidates over the past decade.

“The commission is required to attempt to draw a plan in which the statewide proportion of Republican-leaning districts to Democratic-leaning districts closely corresponds to those percentages,” Stewart wrote. “Section 6 speaks not of desire but of direction: the commission shall attempt to achieve the standards of that section."

Stewart rejected the argument from commission members Senate President Matt Huffman and House Speaker Bob Cupp that the language was "aspirational" and required only if other, more technical, line-drawing requirements weren't met.

"We reject the notion that Ohio voters rallied so strongly behind an anti-gerrymandering amendment to the Ohio Constitution yet believed at the time that the amendment was toothless," Stewart wrote.

The commission must now get to work. The new plan must be adopted within 10 days, and the Ohio Supreme Court retains its authority to review any rewrites.

Feb. 2 is the current deadline to file paperwork to run for the Ohio Legislature. State lawmakers could change that filing date without moving the May 3 primary.

Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor was the key vote, breaking with her party to rule against the maps. O'Connor, a Republican, joined the court's three Democratic justices and the three GOP justices dissented.

O’Connor, who has served in statewide office for 24 years, suggested an alternative to the commission, which she called out for its partisanship.

“Having now seen firsthand that the current Ohio Redistricting Commission – comprised of statewide elected officials and partisan legislators – is seemingly unwilling to put aside partisan concerns as directed by the people’s vote, Ohioans may opt to pursue further constitutional amendment to replace the current commission with a truly independent, nonpartisan commission that more effectively distances the redistricting process from partisan politics,” O'Connor wrote in a concurring opinion.
On Sept. 16, Republicans on the Ohio Redistricting Commission approved maps that would allow the GOP to retain its veto-proof majority in the state Legislature over the objections of the commission's two Democrats.

According to Huffman, R-Lima, the maps could give Republicans a 62-37 advantage in the House and 23-10 advantage in the Senate.
In other words, Republicans set up the Ohio Redistricting Commission to fail.  The Ohio Supreme Court didn't fall for it. Now the commission has to come up with better maps.

It's a pretty huge victory.

BREAKING: US Supreme Court Strikes Down Biden Vaccine Mandate

While leaving the vaccine requirement for health care workers at any medical facility that get federal money, the vaccine mandate died today in a 6-3 decision authored by Justice Gorsuch.

The Supreme Court on Thursday blocked the Biden administration from enforcing a vaccine-or-testing mandate for large employers, dealing a blow to a key element of the White House’s plan to address the pandemic as cases resulting from the Omicron variant are on the rise.

But the court allowed a more modest mandate requiring health care workers at facilities receiving federal money to be vaccinated.

The vote in the employer mandate case was 6 to 3, with liberal justices in dissent. The vote in the health care case was 5 to 4, with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh joining the liberal justices to form a majority.

The employer mandate would have required workers to be vaccinated against the coronavirus or to wear masks and be tested weekly, though employers were not required to pay for the testing. There were exceptions for workers with religious objections and those who do not come into close contact with other people at their jobs, like those who work from home or exclusively outdoors.

Parts of the mandate concerning record-keeping and masks had been scheduled to take effect on Monday. The administration had said it would not enforce the testing requirement until Feb. 9.

The Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, had issued the mandate in November, and it applied to more than 84 million workers. The administration estimated that it would cause 22 million people to get vaccinated and prevent 250,000 hospitalizations.


The conclusion of Gorsuch's decision makes it pretty obvious there's nothing that the Executive branch can do.

The question before us is not how to respond to the pandemic, but who holds the power to do so. The answer is clear: Under the law as it stands today, that power rests with the States and Congress, not OSHA. In saying this much, we do not impugn the intentions behind the agency’s mandate. Instead, we only discharge our duty to enforce the law’s demands when it comes to the question who may govern the lives of 84 million Americans. Respecting those demands may be trying in times of stress. But if this Court were to abide them only in more tranquil conditions, declarations of emergencies would never end and the liberties our Constitution’s separation of powers seeks to preserve would amount to little.
So, as with the Voting Rights Act and a host of other things, the Supreme Court expects Congress to act, one that will never be allowed to act by Senate Republicans.
This is how democracy dies.

Viginia Voters Get What They Deserve

Dear Virginia voters:

You didn't think that Glenn Youngkin and the Republicans you elected would only punish those people, did you?

The 60-day session will test the political skills of a new governor who comes to Richmond with no background in elective office and a Cabinet made up largely of newcomers to state government. Yet with Virginia enjoying a hefty surplus, even some Democrats seemed primed to go along with Youngkin’s plans to cut taxes and create more charter schools.

“He looks forward to working with Republicans and Democrats to solve the challenges that Virginia faces,” Youngkin spokesman Devin O’Malley said, noting the governor-elect’s “extensive outreach” to legislators from both parties to convey his focus on creating the “best schools, safest streets, a lower cost of living and more jobs.”

With hundreds of bills already filed, Republicans were clearly hoping to roll back much of what Democrats muscled through in the past two years, looking well beyond the “kitchen-table” issues that Youngkin and incoming House Speaker Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah) have called priorities.

Among the GOP bills are those to: prohibit local governments from banning guns from parks and government buildings; cancel a minimum wage hike — from $11 an hour to $12 — that’s scheduled to take effect next year; require women seeking an abortion to sign a written consent; require voters to show photo ID at the polls; cut the early-voting period from 45 days to 14 days; and repeal a state law requiring local school boards to follow the state’s lead on transgender-rights policies.

I mean, good luck. You threw out the "awful" Democrats and got...this.
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