Friday, December 23, 2022

Last Call For Insurrection Investigation, The End

The January 6th Committee's investigation of Donald Trump's clumsy attempt to overthrow the U.S. Government and install himself as President has come to an end, as the Committee released its final report on the matter late Thursday night.

Far-right extremists who believed they were answering Donald Trump’s call to stop the transfer of presidential power didn’t just join the Jan. 6 mob — they led it.

The first wave of rioters to enter the Capitol during the siege, according to the Jan. 6 select committee’s final report released Thursday night, was disproportionately comprised of members of the Proud Boys, Three Percenters, QAnon fanatics and so-called “Groypers” loyal to Nick Fuentes, the former president’s racist and antisemitic recent Mar-a-Lago dinner guest.

Among the central findings of the select panel’s report: Trump’s incendiary lies about the 2020 election activated an extraordinary coalition of far-right militants and conspiracy theorists who not only joined the mob but were its vanguard smashing through police lines. Those extremists chose Jan. 6, the report outlines, in large part because Trump told them to in a now-infamous tweet: “Be there. Will be wild.”

“The January 6th attack has often been described as a riot — and that is partly true. Some of those who trespassed on the Capitol’s grounds or entered the building did not plan to do so beforehand,” the committee found. “But it is also true that extremists, conspiracy theorists and others were prepared to fight. That is an insurrection.”

The interplay between Trump world and shadowy right-wing extremist networks dominated the voluminous final report cataloging Trump’s multi-part bid to subvert the 2020 election and prevent Joe Biden from taking office. The document emerged nearly two days later than initially anticipated, as the select panel raced to wind up its work with a dwindling staff footprint in the waning days of its mandate from departing Speaker Nancy Pelosi. But the unspoken alliance Trump developed with those who would go on to do violence and destruction in his name stands out as a central conclusion of the committee’s year and a half of investigative work.

Pro-Trump conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, the select committee found, texted with Proud Boys Chair Enrique Tarrio — now charged with seditious conspiracy — during the attack on the Capitol. In addition, Jones’ sidekick Owen Shroyer texted with other Proud Boys charged alongside Tarrio, including leaders Ethan Nordean and Joseph Biggs, who would later breach the Capitol.

Those communications happened after Trump, confronting a failed effort to unravel his loss to Biden, exhorted allies to descend on Washington and pointed an angry crowd to the Capitol, where outnumbered and underprepared police officers quickly became prey.

The select committee has spent months outlining the former president’s bid to subvert the 2020 election, concluding that Trump committed multiple crimes in his quest to corruptly seize a second term. But its final report sheds new light on the nexus between Trump boosters and members of the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, as well as other groups.

That in-depth analysis is the product of nearly 1,200 witness interviews and reams of hard-won documents, arriving just days after the select panel held its final open meeting to approve the report’s release. It’s likely the last public action from the select panel, which is set to expire at the end of this Congress.

The eight-chapter report traces each element of the last-ditch effort by Trump and his allies to undercut the election. Four appendices to the document break down security and intelligence failures leading up to Jan. 6, the money trail of the “Stop the Steal” rally on the Ellipse, and an analysis of foreign actors’ capitalization on Trump’s election disinformation.

Juxtaposed with the magnitude of the report was its somewhat chaotic conclusion: The select panel had originally targeted a Wednesday release, but Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s last-minute trip to Washington likely complicated the schedule. Then, the select panel abruptly released the report Thursday evening, with a placeholder date left on its cover page.
The 800+ pages lay out in excruciating detail how Donald Trump tried to steal the 2020 Presidential election by using January 6th as a bloody flag to force Congress and Mike Pence out of certifying the electoral vote.
It was very nearly successful.

The Road To Gilead Goes Through Kentucky, Con't

This week the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals blocked Louisville's abortion clinic 10-foot buffer ordnance, saying it was a violation of the free speech of people harassing clinic patients, not that Kentucky has any these days.
A federal appeals court on Wednesday ruled in favor of blocking the enforcement of a Louisville ordinance that allows 10-foot-wide buffer zones outside health care facilities, including a local abortion clinic where protesters have often gathered.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals supported a preliminary injunction because the buffer zone legislation's "limits likely violate the First Amendment" and instructed a U.S. district court to prevent the enforcement of the ordinance for now.

This is the latest decision in a court case filed last year by plaintiffs that include two anti-abortion groups, Sisters for Life and the Kentucky Right to Life Association. The case challenges a Louisville Metro Council ordinance passed in May 2021 that prohibits people from lingering in or obstructing a health care facility's buffer zone and from obstructing someone else's entrance to or exit from that facility.

Abortion access in Kentucky has been severely limited in the past six months. The procedure is banned, with exceptions only for life-threatening health risks, under state law following the U.S. Supreme Court's decision last summer to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that legalized abortion nationwide.

A Kentucky Supreme Court ruling is expected anytime concerning whether to temporarily reinstate some abortion access while a separate lawsuit challenging two highly restrictive anti-abortion laws continues.
There's a very good chance that the case will end up before the Roberts Court in the fall, leading to the end of clinic buffer zones in all states, and giving the Gilead Chuds free reign to assault clinic personnel and patients even in states where abortion is still allowed.
I like how abortion clinics in Kentucky were all but regulated out of existence with nuisance health regulations, but a regulation to actually protect people at a health clinic from having their access physically blocked by raging assholes is a free speech and not a safety issue. 

And we get one step closer along the road.


Shutdown Countdown, Con't

The omnibus spending bill to keep the government open passed easily in the Senate, despite Republican efforts to sabotage the bill with poison pill amendments. The better news is several long-awaited and badly-needed pieces of legislation were added to the bill, including the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, and the big one, the Electoral Count Reform Act.

The bill overcame a last-minute snag late Wednesday over a GOP-demanded amendment to keep the Trump-era Title 42 border policy in place. Democrats agreed to hold a vote on their amendment alongside a Democratic alternative. Both failed, and the delicate coalition for the bill stayed intact. Other amendments were approved.

After a yearslong fight, senators approved including the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act as part of the omnibus package, offering protections against discrimination for pregnant workers. The last-ditch effort was led by Sens. Patty Murray, D-Wash., Richard Burr, R-N.C., Bill Cassidy, R-La., and Bob Casey, D-Pa.

“For far too long, too many workers excited about welcoming a new baby had to worry about losing their jobs — all because their employers could deny them basic, low-cost accommodations like a bathroom break or a stool to sit on,” Murray said in a statement, calling the measure “a big and important step forward.”

Another bill to expand accommodations for pumping in the workplace also passed as part of the tranche of amendments, cementing another victory for pregnant women and new moms. It was offered by Sens. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska.

In a statement, Murkowski called the amendment's passage “good progress toward ensuring no mother ever has to choose between a job and nursing her child.”

The omnibus bill moved forward 75-20 in the Senate on Tuesday, overcoming staunch opposition from conservative Republicans to win the 60 votes necessary to ensure passage. Before the final vote Wednesday, the Senate defeated a series of amendments that GOP members had demanded in exchange for dropping their threats to drag out the bill for days.

One of those opponents, Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, pushed back against McConnell's view. “I don’t understand how that’s a big win for Republicans,” he said. “I do think this is harmful to Republicans. We have a Republican leader in the House and a Republican leader in the Senate taking diametrically opposed positions. And I’m with McCarthy on this one.”

GOP leaders in the House are pressuring members to vote against the bill, which will have to rely on mostly Democratic votes to pass.

The office of House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., told Republicans the bill was "designed to sideline the incoming Republican House Majority by extending many programs for multiple years" and criticized its "large funding increases" for Democratic priorities.

The legislation also includes a rewrite of an 1887 federal election law to close loopholes that then-President Donald Trump and his team sought to exploit on Jan. 6, 2021, to make it harder for presidential candidates to steal elections. It would also grant extra funds to the Justice Department for Jan. 6 prosecutions.

Schumer said the election measures in the bill would “preserve our democracy for generations to come.”

Trump said it was "probably better" to reject the election changes.

"I don’t care whether they change The Electoral Count Act or not, probably better to leave it the way it is so that it can be adjusted in case of Fraud," he wrote on his social media platform, arguing that the desire in Congress to clarify the law validates his belief that the vice president had the power to overturn the 2020 result.

Proponents of the changes say that the 1887 law is poorly written and that it was never intended to give the vice president such power — and that the new legislation would make that abundantly clear.

“It’s going to stop the kind of stuff we saw on Jan. 6, where a sitting president tried to take the election and become dictator of this country,” Sen. Jon Tester of Montana, a moderate Democrat, said Wednesday on MSNBC’s "Morning Joe." “It’s an important piece of legislation that was worked on in a bipartisan way.”
The fight's not over, however. House Republicans have vowed to scuttle the bill Friday and shut down the government on Christmas Eve, but they'll need Democratic votes to do it. And frankly, the legislation locks funding into place for a lot of programs for two years, meaning Kevin McCarthy and the Dumbass Crew won't be able to take things apart this time next year.

No, I expect Nancy Pelosi's final act as the most effective and powerful House Speaker in generations will be to guide the House to pass the Senate version and hang up her gavel as the GOAT one last time.

America will miss her when it comes to whatever Republican takes her job in a couple weeks, because whoever it is, they are doomed. And I still say that it won't be McCarthy.
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