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US Monthly Headline News December 2020 Page 3


CNN's Don Lemon reviews President Donald Trump's fourth year as Commander in Chief, playing videos of Trump throughout 2020. video...

Microsoft says customer data wasn't compromised.
Karissa Bell

The hackers behind the SolarWinds attack got deeper access into Microsoft’s systems than the company previously disclosed. The company, which previously confirmed it found compromised code in its system, now says the hackers were able to gain access to its source code. “Our investigation has, however, revealed attempted activities beyond just the presence of malicious SolarWinds code in our environment,” Microsoft wrote in an update. “We detected unusual activity with a small number of internal accounts and upon review, we discovered one account had been used to view source code in a number of source code repositories.” more...

Coral Murphy - USA TODAY

Distilleries across the U.S. received a surprise fee from the Food and Drug Administration after using their facilities to make hand sanitizer amid the COVID-19 pandemic. As COVID-19 cases began surging in March, distilleries started making hand sanitizer by switching their alcohol production to antiseptic, undrinkable alcohol and giving away bottles to members of their communities. The efforts rose after the country faced a shortage in hand sanitizer as shoppers panic bought hand soap, cleaning wipes and other sanitation products.

The CARES Act enacted in March included a non-prescription drug policy, making  distilleries producing hand sanitizer "over-the-counter drug monograph facilities." The CARES Act also established these facilities must pay user fees under the over the counter monograph drug user fee program. The fees impacting distillers are a $14,060 Monograph Drug Facility Fee and $9,373 Contract Manufacturing Organization Facility Fee due on Feb. 12. "This incredibly frustrating news comes as a complete shock to the more than 800 distilleries across the country that came to the aid of their local communities and first responders," said Distilled Spirits Council President and CEO Chris Swonger. "This unexpected fee serves to punish already struggling distilleries who jumped in at a time of need to do the right thing." more...

Kevin McDermott

Josh Hawley on Wednesday finally answered the question of just how far he is willing to subvert democracy in his quest to inherit President Donald Trump’s base. The answer is: there’s no limit. Missouri’s junior Republican senator will do anything — complicate a valid presidential transition in the middle of a deadly national crisis, undermine public faith in elections, validate conspiracy theories about nonexistent voter fraud, ditch his own supposed conservative principles about federalism and states’ rights. Anything. We now know, once and for all, that there is no bottom with this man.

But give him a little credit. In announcing Wednesday that he will challenge the certification of electoral votes from the states on Jan. 6, Hawley will be unintentionally performing a valuable service to America’s political system. By forcing a Congressional vote, Hawley will compel his fellow Senate Republicans to confirm, for the record, where they stand: with the nation’s sacred electoral system, or with Trump’s corrosive lies about that system. more...

“I have never seen a president in American history who has lied so continuously and so outrageously as Donald Trump, period,” presidential historian Michael Beschloss said.
By Jane C. Timm

President Donald Trump spent his first days in office pushing false claims about the size of his inauguration crowd. He has spent the final weeks of his term blitzing the American people with falsehoods and far-fetched conspiracies as part of a failed attempt to overturn the election he lost — cementing his legacy as what fact checkers and presidential historians say is the most mendacious White House occupant ever.

“I have never seen a president in American history who has lied so continuously and so outrageously as Donald Trump, period,” presidential historian Michael Beschloss said in an interview. “Dwight Eisenhower used to say one of the most important tools a president of the United States has is that people believe what he says."

But that belief in the president’s words has become increasingly dependent on the political party to which a person belongs. Trump decries reports that are unflattering and facts that don’t fit with his world view as “fake news,” fueling a growing partisan information divide on everything from the contagiousness of the coronavirus to the reliability of the media. more...

Trump’s run for the presidency was fueled by political prominence gained by promoting the racist “birther” lie about President Barack Obama, and his 2016 victory was secured by a campaign rooted in false claims about immigrants and inner-city crime. Once in the White House, the president routinely made false claims about everything from toilet flushes to tax reform. Some of Trump’s false claims drove policy, while conspiracy theories were elevated in tweets and in public and private conversations with foreign leaders. more...

By Alexandra Garrett

Republican Representative Adam Kinzinger called out President Donald Trump's campaign fundraiser emails on Wednesday. "Where I feel really bad is just the people that are, you know, struggling during the pandemic are giving President Trump's campaign money for this recount because they believe him, said Kinzinger during an interview with CNN's New Day. "And it's just a scam it's a big grift," Kinzinger added. "Hard-working taxpayers are giving their money to this because they are convinced because the president's telling them that they can win." The Trump campaign sent out over 500 emails since the presidential election on November 3. More than 400 of those emails contained fundraising solicitations. A large number of the emails focused on unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud in the presidential election although most of the lawsuits filed from Trump's campaign turned out unsuccessful in proving any voting irregularities contributed to President-elect Joe Biden's win. more...


LOS ANGELES — The man authorities say was the most prolific serial killer in U.S. history, with nearly 60 confirmed victims, died Wednesday in California. He was 80. Samuel Little, who had diabetes, heart trouble and other ailments, died at a California hospital, according to the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. He was serving a life sentence for multiple counts of murder.
Advertisement California corrections department spokeswoman Vicky Waters said there was no sign of foul play, and his cause of death will be determined by a coroner.

A career criminal who had been in and out jail for decades, Little denied for years he’d ever killed anyone. Then, in 2018, he opened up to Texas Ranger James Holland, who had been asked to question him about a killing it turned out Little didn’t commit. During approximately 700 hours of interviews, however, Little provided details of scores of slayings only the killer would know. A skilled artist, he even provided Holland with dozens of paintings and drawings of his victims, sometimes scribbling their names when he could remember them, as well as details such as the year and location of the murder and where he’d dumped the body. By the time of his death, Little had confessed to killing 93 people between 1970 and 2005. Most of the slayings took place in Florida and Southern California. more...

Yohannes Abraham said a lack of cooperation was limiting the president-elect’s ability to mount an effective economic response to the pandemic.

The head of President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team blasted the leadership of President Donald Trump’s Office of Management and Budget on Wednesday — accusing the agency of thwarting coordination between its career civil servants and incoming administration officials. The fresh complaints from Yohannes Abraham, the transition’s executive director, about what he called “obstruction” by the White House budget office come after Biden’s team and the president-elect himself have expressed similar frustrations this month with Trump’s political appointees at the Pentagon.

In a virtual news briefing with reporters, Abraham acknowledged that although most of the transition’s agency review teams “have benefited from strong cooperation” with their federal counterparts, “unfortunately, that has not been the case across the board.” Transition officials “have encountered obstruction from political leadership at various agencies, most notably at the Department of Defense and the Office of Management and Budget,” Abraham said. “Make no mistake, this lack of cooperation has real-world implications, most concerningly as it relates to our national security,” he added. “This intentionally generated opacity makes it harder for our government to protect the American people moving forward.” more...

By Jordain Carney

Senate Republicans on Wednesday blocked a House-passed bill to increase the amount of recently passed stimulus checks from $600 to $2,000, marking the second day the legislation has hit roadblocks. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) blocked an attempt by Democrats to either pass or vote on the bill, which passed the House on Monday.  The floor drama underscores the increasing likelihood that lawmakers will not be able to pass a bill to boost the stimulus checks before the 116th Congress wraps on Sunday.

"The Senate is not going to split apart the three issues that President Trump linked together just because Democrats are afraid to address two of them. The Senate is not going to be bullied into rushing out more borrowed money into the hands of Democrats' rich friends who don't need the help," McConnell said from the Senate floor. McConnell introduced his own measure on Tuesday that would tie an increase in the stimulus checks to the repeal of a liability shield used by tech companies and the creation of a commission to investigate the 2020 election. more...

The runoff is a gold mine for politicians. And now that they can run Facebook ads in Georgia, they’re rushing for it.
Lachlan Markay

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) needs your help to keep the U.S. Senate in Republican hands. So blared a handful of Facebook ads that Cruz’s campaign committee purchased this month. But none of them were actually raising money for the Republican candidates in Georgia. Instead, every penny donated went directly to… Cruz. The Cruz campaign bought 15 separate ads on Facebook over the past two weeks, each featuring a video of the senator dramatically hyping the need to hold two U.S. Senate seats in Georgia runoff contests. “Gun-grabbing, tax hikes, open borders, and stacking the Supreme Court. That’s the radical Democrat agenda if they win the Georgia Senate elections,” Cruz declared.

He asked for $5 contributions to his new “Keep Georgia Red fund.” But Facebook users who clicked through to the online donation page—and read the fine print at the bottom—would see that the actual beneficiary was Cruz’s own campaign committee, not Sens. Kelly Loeffler or David Perdue, the two Republicans running for re-election in Georgia. Cruz is just one of a number of elected officials of both parties using the competitive—and extremely expensive—Georgia runoff contests to raise money for themselves. Increasingly, those officials are doing so on Facebook, where a political ad ban instituted in late October was lifted this month, but only for ads in Georgia. That’s led to a rash of Facebook ads invoking the Senate contests in the state on behalf of out-of-state political candidates. On some occasions, the ads don’t even mention the runoff contests, but are targeted at users in Georgia in an effort to exploit Facebook’s state-specific political advertising policy. more...

Investigators are aware of statements the suspect made about a conspiracy theory that powerful politicians and Hollywood figures are actually lizards who have extraterrestrial origins.
By Tom Winter, Michael Kosnar and Wilson Wong

Investigators are exploring several conspiracy theories as potential motives behind the Christmas Day bombing outside an AT&T building in Nashville, including evidence that the bomber believed in lizard people and a so-called reptilian conspiracy, two senior law enforcement officials told NBC News on Wednesday. Investigators are expected to conclude their crime scene work this week, but it could take several more weeks until they determine the motive of the bomber, Anthony Quinn Warner, who died in the bombing.

Since Saturday, authorities have been probing Warner’s digital devices — which one official says includes a significant trove of pictures, videos and writings — looking for any clues on what drove the man to set off a powerful bomb inside his recreational vehicle that took down communications networks and injured several people in downtown Nashville.

Specifically, investigators are looking into the suspect’s previous trips to an undisclosed location in Tennessee where he would camp out in his R.V. and according to the suspect’s statements to others, hunt possible aliens, the officials said. In addition, investigators are aware of statements the suspect made about an internet conspiracy that powerful politicians and Hollywood figures are actually lizards or other reptiles who have extraterrestrial origins and are taking over society, the officials said. more...

By Jeremy Herb, Phil Mattingly and Lauren Fox, CNN

(CNN) Missouri Republican Sen. Josh Hawley said Wednesday he will object when Congress counts the Electoral College votes next week, which will force lawmakers in both the House and Senate to vote on whether to accept the results of President-elect Joe Biden's victory. Hawley is the first senator to announce plans to object to the results, which is significant because both a House member and senator are required to mount an objection when Congress counts the Electoral College votes on January 6. The objection will not change the outcome of the election, only delaying the inevitable affirmation of Biden's victory in November over President Donald Trump. Democrats will reject any objections in the House, and multiple Republican senators have argued against an objection that will provide a platform for Trump's baseless conspiracy theories claiming the election was stolen from him.

Hawley's objection, which other senators may still join, will also put many of his Senate Republican colleagues in a difficult political position, forcing them to vote on whether to side with Trump or with the popular will of the voters. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has privately urged Senate Republicans not to join the group of House members who are planning to object. Senate Majority Whip John Thune argued against it publicly, prompting a rebuke from Trump on Twitter and the threat of a primary challenge. Trump has been pushing for Congress to try to overturn the election result as his campaign's attempts to overturn the election through the courts have been repeatedly rejected. more...

*** Some Republicans are trying to help Trump with his failed coup attempt. This is not some third world country, but some on the right think it or are trying make it so. All Americans should remember all the republicans who helped Trump try to steal the election and vote them out of office. ***

By Jordain Carney

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) said on Wednesday that he will object during Congress's counting of the Electoral College vote on Jan. 6, becoming the first GOP senator to back the effort by House conservatives. The decision by Hawley would ensure a debate and vote in the House and Senate on the Electoral College results. “I cannot vote to certify the electoral college results on January 6 without raising the fact that some states, particularly Pennsylvania, failed to follow their own state election laws," Hawley said in a statement. "And I cannot vote to certify without pointing out the unprecedented effort of mega corporations, including Facebook and Twitter, to interfere in this election, in support of Joe Biden. At the very least, Congress should investigate allegations of voter fraud and adopt measures to secure the integrity of our elections. But Congress has so far failed to act," Hawley added. His office didn't immediately respond to a question about which states he will object to next week. more...

Looser privacy standards for vehicle data are a treasure chest of data for law enforcement.

By Olivia Solon

On June 26, 2017, the lifeless body of Ronald French, a bearded auto mechanic with once-twinkling eyes, was mysteriously found in a cornfield in Kalamazoo County, Michigan. French, a grandfather of eight who always tried to help people "down on their luck," his daughter Ronda Hamilton told NBC affiliate WOOD of Kalamazoo, had disappeared three weeks before. According to the police report, a cord had been wrapped around his neck, his face and his feet. He had been dragged behind a vehicle so forcefully that he had abrasions along his back, and his skull had been partly flattened. The medical examiner attributed French's death to "homicidal violence." But then his grieving family heard nothing about arrests.

For more than two years, Kalamazoo County sheriff's detectives investigated French's murder without making any arrests. Then, according to police records obtained by NBC News, one of the detectives learned of an emerging field — digital vehicle forensics — which focuses on extracting the treasure trove of data stored in an automobile's onboard computers. They returned to French's 2016 black Chevy Silverado pickup truck, which had been stolen around the time he vanished, and discovered time-stamped recordings of someone else's voice using the hands-free system to play Eminem on the radio at the time of French's murder.

The voice, according to the police report obtained by NBC News, belonged to Joshua Wessel, now 32, who used to tinker on cars and motorcycles with French. Wessel's voice was identified by relatives, including his wife, key evidence that allowed investigators to reconstruct his movements and the final hours of French's life, the police report says. In July, Wessel was arrested and charged with French's murder. He has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial subject to psychiatric assessment. more...

Nick Penzenstadler, USA TODAY

In a Zoom session with the camera turned off, Mayowa describes how he scoops up U.S. unemployment benefits fattened by COVID-19 relief, an international imposter attack that has contributed to at least $36 billion being siphoned away from out-of-work Americans. Mayowa is an engineering student in Nigeria who estimates he’s made about $50,000 since the pandemic began. After compiling a list of real people, he turns to databases of hacked information that charge $2 in cryptocurrency to link that name to a date of birth and Social Security number. In most states that information is all it takes to file for unemployment. Even when state applications require additional verification, a little more money spent on sites such as FamilyTreeNow and TruthFinder provides answers – your mother’s maiden name, where you were born, your high school mascot. Mayowa said he is successful about one in six times he files a claim. more...

By Madeline Holcombe and Joe Sutton, CNN

(CNN) A woman who said she was the girlfriend of the man who set off the Christmas Day explosion in Nashville told police last year he was making bombs in his recreational vehicle, according to a statement and documents the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department provided to CNN. On August 21, 2019, police received a call from an attorney representing Pamela Perry, the woman who said she was the girlfriend of the bomber Anthony Warner, the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department said in a statement Tuesday. Her attorney, Raymond Throckmorton, said she had made "suicidal threats to him via telephone."

When police arrived, they found two unloaded pistols near Perry, who said they belonged to Warner. She told officers she did not want them in the home any longer and that Warner was "building bombs in the RV trailer at his residence," according to a "matter of record" report from the MNPD. The police also spoke to Throckmorton, who once represented Warner and was also present at Perry's home. He told authorities Warner "frequently talks about the military and bomb-making. (Throckmorton) stated that he believes that the suspect knows what he is doing and is capable of making a bomb," the report said. more...

By Ganesh Setty, CNN

(CNN)The Louisville Metro Police Department is seeking to fire two detectives connected to the Breonna Taylor case, attorneys for the men told CNN. Detective Joshua Jaynes received a pre-termination letter from the department earlier Tuesday, his attorney Thomas Clay said. The letter, sent from Interim Chief of Police Yvette Gentry, informed Jaynes of the "present intention to terminate (his) employment" and that the action is based upon a review of the findings of the "Professional Standards Investigation into the preparation and execution of the search warrant" at Taylor's apartment.

Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency room technician, was shot and killed by Louisville police officers in her apartment during a flawed forced-entry raid in the early morning hours of March 13. Gentry writes that Jaynes violated standard operating procedure with regards to preparation for search warrant execution and untruthfulness. "Your actions have brought discredit upon yourself and the Department. Your conduct severely damaged the image our Department has established within our community," Gentry wrote. "I cannot tolerate this type of conduct or untruthfulness by any member of the Louisville Metro Police Department." more...

By Joe Sutton and Jason Hanna, CNN

(CNN) Health officials in a Colorado county believe they've found a second local case of a coronavirus variant from the United Kingdom -- one that experts have said may be especially contagious -- a county public health director said Wednesday. That news comes a day after the first known case of the variant in the US was announced in Colorado's Elbert County. Both the confirmed case and the suspected instance involve men who work at the Good Samaritan Society assisted living facility in Simla, about 45 miles northeast of Colorado Springs, county health director Dwayne Smith told CNN.

Neither are residents of Elbert County, and they are isolating outside the county, Smith said. There is "no indication at this point" that this event has gone beyond the facility and into the larger community, he said. The first patient had no known travel history, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis said Tuesday. In part because of that, there is a good chance the variant has been spreading within the community, William Haseltine, chair and president of the global health think tank ACCESS Health International, told CNN Wednesday. The variant emerged in the UK in September, and US health officials have said in recent days as it became prevalent in the United Kingdom that it is probably already in the United States. more...

Joel Rose

A significant number of Americans believe misinformation about the origins of the coronavirus and the recent presidential election, as well as conspiracy theories like QAnon, according to a new NPR/Ipsos poll. Forty percent of respondents said they believe the coronavirus was made in a lab in China even though there is no evidence for this. Scientists say the virus was transmitted to humans from another species. And one-third of Americans believe that voter fraud helped Joe Biden win the 2020 election, despite the fact that courts, election officials and the Department of Justice have found no evidence of widespread fraud that could have changed the outcome.

The poll results add to mounting evidence that misinformation is gaining a foothold in American society and that conspiracy theories are going mainstream, especially during the coronavirus pandemic. This has raised concerns about how to get people to believe in a "baseline reality," said Chris Jackson, a pollster with Ipsos. "Increasingly people are willing to say and believe stuff that fits in with their view of how the world should be, even if it doesn't have any basis in reality or fact," Jackson said. "What this poll really illustrates to me is how willing people are to believe things that are ludicrous because it fits in with a worldview that they want to believe." more...


Congressman-elect Luke Letlow died Tuesday evening from complications with COVID-19, shaking the Louisiana political world weeks after his election to represent Louisiana's 5th District in Congress as the state's youngest U.S. representative. Letlow, 41, died at Ochsner-LSU Health Shreveport from “complications from COVID-19,” his spokesman, Andrew Bautsch, said in a statement.

Letlow was admitted to a Monroe hospital with COVID-19 symptoms on Dec. 19th before being transferred to the Shreveport hospital and moving to the intensive care unit on Dec. 23rd. Letlow is survived by his wife, Julie Barnhill Letlow, and two young children, Bautsch said.

He was in critical condition but had recently shown signs of improvement when he "apparently suffered a cardiac event this evening that was refractory to all resuscitation efforts," said Dr. G.E. Ghali, of LSU Health Shreveport. Ghali previously said Letlow was being treated with the antiviral drug Remdesivir and steroids. Asked if Letlow had any underlying conditions that would have made his death more likely, Ghali said in a text message, "none. All COVID related." more...

By Phil Mattingly, CNN

(CNN) Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell introduced legislation Tuesday to combine two additional demands from President Donald Trump to an expansion of direct stimulus payments as part of the Covid-19 relief package, raising Democratic concern the pathway for expanded stimulus payments would soon be short-circuited. The Kentucky Republican, shortly before adjourning the Senate on Tuesday afternoon, introduced a bill that would combine increased direct payments with a repeal of the online liability protections known as Section 230 and the establishment of a commission to study voter fraud. The latter two issues have been significant drivers of Trump's ire in the wake of his general election loss -- the latter of which with zero evidence presented to this point. While the move doesn't guarantee McConnell will bring the bill up for a vote, it provides a substantive option should time -- and the political winds -- press the chamber in that direction. It's also one that would be all but certain to fail to garner the votes for passage. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York called the bill a "cynical gambit" and said it would serve as "a blatant attempt" to ensure the $2,000 direct payments were not signed into law. more...

By Zack Budryk

Republican-leaning pollster Rasmussen invoked a quote attributed to Soviet leader Joseph Stalin in a Twitter thread Sunday suggesting Vice President Pence could attempt to overturn the results of the presidential election. “Those who cast the votes decide nothing. Those who count the votes decide everything. – Stalin,” the pollster tweeted, before going on to outline a scenario in which Pence refuses to certify the results in swing states.

Supporters of President Trump have made similar arguments that Pence, as president of the Senate, has the power to reject Electoral College results. However, the theory is based on a misreading of U.S. code that simply authorizes the vice president to call on states to submit their electoral votes if they do not do so by the fourth Wednesday in December, according to The Washington Post. “The Vice President is not supposed to control the outcome of the process for counting the electoral votes from the states. That’s true from the perspective of the Constitution as well as the Electoral Count Act," Edward Foley, a law professor at the Ohio State University, told The Hill in an email. more...

*** Are they planning on a coup? Trump lost the election it is over, the only way Trump can stay as president is if he and his minions stage a coup. Are they planning on a coup? ***

By Alexandra Hutzler

Less than a week after his controversial pardon, Roger Stone said he was able to thank President Donald Trump in person over the weekend. Stone posted about his meeting with Trump on Parler, a social media site that has been attracting conservative commentators after Twitter and Facebook restricted posts that included false or misleading information about the 2020 election. "I also told the president exactly how he can appoint a special counsel with full subpoena power to ensure those who are attempting to steal the 2020 election through voter fraud are charged and convicted and to ensure Donald Trump continues as our president," Stone wrote. Trump pardoned Stone on December 23 along with 19 other individuals, including his son-in-law's father. So far, the president has granted clemency for five people who were convicted during former special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. more...

*** Trickle-down economics is Republican BS it does not work, never has, never will. ***

Data spanning 50 years and 18 countries shows lowering rates for the wealthy increases inequality
By Christopher Ingraham

President Trump sold his 2017 tax cuts as “rocket fuel” for the economy, arguing that freeing up money for the wealthy would allow them to hire more workers, pay better wages and invest more. The tax savings, in other words, would trickle down from the rich to everyone else.

But, just as many economists predicted, slashing individual, corporate and estate tax rates was mostly a windfall for big corporations and wealthy Americans. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act did not pay for itself, failed to stimulate long-term growth and did not lead to sustained business investments.

According to one of the most comprehensive studies to date on tax cuts for the rich, this should come as no surprise. A London School of Economics report by David Hope and Julian Limberg examined five decades of tax cuts in 18 wealthy nations and found they consistently benefited the wealthy but had no meaningful effect on unemployment or economic growth. more...

Musician Keyon Harrold, who filmed the incident, said the woman tackled his son and tried to search his pockets. The woman later found her phone.
By Nina Golgowski

Prominent jazz musician Keyon Harrold says a woman physically assaulted him and his 14-year-old son inside a Manhattan hotel over the weekend after the woman falsely and baselessly accused the teenager of stealing her cellphone, raising racial profiling concerns. Harrold and his son, who are both Black, were staying at Arlo Hotel in SoHo on Saturday when he filmed the unidentified woman repeatedly lunging at them in the lobby while trying to get the child’s iPhone.

Minutes after the filmed encounter, Harrold said the woman’s actual phone was returned to her by an Uber driver. “Take the case off, that’s mine,” the frantic woman is heard saying from behind a man who identifies himself as a manager at the boutique hotel. “Literally, get it back, please. Get it back.” Harrold, who played the trumpet in the Grammy-award-winning soundtrack to the 2015 film “Miles Ahead,” a Miles Davis biopic, informs the manager that his son does not have to show the woman his phone because he didn’t do anything wrong.

“You don’t have to explain nothing to her,” Harrold tells his son. When they try to walk away, the woman follows and appears to physically rush at them, sparking an altercation. “No, I’m not letting him walk away with my phone,” the woman is heard yelling as she trails the father and son down a hallway. Harrold, in comments to The New York Times, said his phone’s video cut off as the woman tackled his son and tried to search his pockets. The woman was then physically separated from him. more...

By Lee Brown

Nashville RV bomber Anthony Quinn Warner likely chose Christmas morning for his devastating suicide blast because his “intent was more destruction than death,” a lead investigator said Monday. The 63-year-old loner notably blew up a number of buildings when the usually packed streets in the city’s historic downtown were mostly deserted, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Director David Rausch said on NBC’s “Today” show. He also gave “the opportunity to clear the area” with warnings from his parked RV “that an explosion was imminent,” Rausch said, of the audio that also bizarrely played Petula Clark’s classic pop song “Downtown.” The evidence “certainly gives you that insight that the possibility was that he had no intention of harming anyone but himself,” the senior investigator said. “It does appear that the intent was more destruction than death,” he said. more...

By Tim Elfrink

President Trump has had few more-stalwart backers in the media than the New York Post editorial board. The Rupert Murdoch-controlled tabloid was among the first to endorse Trump four years ago and this year urged voters to give him a second term. But on Sunday, the Post aimed a blistering editorial at Trump, demanding that he accept his loss to President-elect Joe Biden and stop falsely claiming that mass voter fraud had marred the results — an effort the paper labeled a “dark charade.”

“We understand, Mr. President, that you’re angry that you lost,” the editorial board wrote. “But to continue down this road is ruinous.” Under the headline “Stop the insanity,” the conservative tabloid took particular aim at Trump’s attempts to pressure Vice President Pence and congressional Republicans to somehow reverse the result when they meet on Jan. 6 to certify Biden’s electoral college victory. “You have tweeted that, as long as Republicans have ‘courage,’ they can overturn the results and give you four more years in office,” the Post wrote. “In other words, you’re cheering for an undemocratic coup.” more...

By Hollie Silverman, CNN

(CNN) Investigators continue to look at "any and all possible motives" in the Nashville explosion after identifying the bomber as Anthony Quinn Warner. The early Christmas morning explosion, which took place in the city's downtown area, left at least three injured and damaged more than 40 buildings. Investigators have said the RV involved in the Nashville explosion was broadcasting a female voice warning to evacuate with a countdown clock, mixed with the song "Downtown" by Petula Clark, CNN previously reported.

After being informed about the warning, Nashville Police officers immediately sprang into action, knocking on doors and evacuating residents from the area and likely saving many from serious injury, Mayor John Cooper said. Investigators are looking at "any and all possible motives," Doug Korneski, the FBI special agent in charge of the Memphis Field Office, said during a Sunday evening press conference.

Warner's neighbor: He was a 'hermit'
Steve Schmoldt has lived next door to Warner since 2001, and Schmoldt's wife has lived in the house since 1995. "He's lived there a long time and he sort of kept to himself," Schmoldt told CNN of Warner. "All we knew him by was Tony. He was kind of a hermit." The extent of most of their interactions was just waving to each other over the fence, he explained. more...

by: WTVO

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Rockford Police identified 37-year-old Duke Webb, of Florida, as the suspect in a mass shooting that took place at the Don Carter Lanes bowling alley on Saturday night. According to Rockford Police Chief Dan O’Shea, police were called to the business, at 4007 E State Street, at 6:55 p.m. and arrived within 1 minute of the 911 call. O’Shea said Webb fired his weapon both inside and outside the building. Two handguns were recovered at the scene, he said.

Three people were killed, including a 73 year old man, a 65 year old man, and a 69 year old man. O’Shea said the identities of the victims was being withheld until notification of next of kin. O’Shea said 3 people were wounded in the shooting. A 14-year-old male was shot in the face and was airlifted to a Madison hospital for treatment. A 16-year-old female was shot in the shoulder and was treated at a local hospital and released. The two teens were at the establishment to pick up food for carry-out, according to O’Shea. more...

Other pandemic assistance programs are set to end and a government shutdown looms as Trump spends his holiday at Mar-a-Lago.
By Liz Johnstone

Pandemic unemployment assistance, a lifeline for 7.3 million American workers out of work because of the coronavirus, expired at midnight Sunday morning after President Donald Trump continued to resist signing the $2.3 trillion package that combines government funding with Covid-19 relief. The bill, the result of protracted negotiations between both parties and the Trump administration that the president himself largely sat out, includes a $900 billion Covid-19 stimulus package that would extend those unemployment benefits — $114 to $357 weekly payments to unemployed gig workers and self-employed people whose business has stalled.

That package would also extend the federal eviction moratorium, which is set to expire on Dec. 31. Without an extension, millions could face an immediate housing crisis. The legislation would also fund the federal government through September 2021. Without Trump’s signature, the government will shut down at midnight Tuesday morning. After Congress passed the bill with large bipartisan support late last Monday, Trump threw Washington into chaos by suddenly raising an objection to the size of a new round of direct payments, which came as news to his own aides who had negotiated them with Congress. He demanded lawmakers raise to the amount to $2,000, as also criticized other elements he called “pork” included within the mammoth spending package, including routine annual foreign aid payments. Trump reiterated his criticism of the bill Saturday, tweeting, “I simply want to get our great people $2000, rather than the measly $600 that is now in the bill.” more...

by: WTVO

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Unemployment benefits for millions of Americans struggling to make ends meet lapsed overnight as President Donald Trump refused to sign an end-of-year COVID relief and spending bill that had been considered a done deal before his sudden objections. The fate of the bipartisan package remained in limbo Sunday as Trump continued to demand larger COVID relief checks and complained about “pork” spending. Without the widespread funding provided by the massive measure, a government shutdown would occur when money runs out at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday.

“It’s a chess game and we are pawns,” said Lanetris Haines, a self-employed single mother of three in South Bend, Indiana, who stood to lose her $129 weekly jobless benefit unless Trump signed the package into law or succeeded in his improbable quest for changes. Washington has been reeling since Trump turned on the deal after it had won sweeping approval in both houses of Congress and after the White House had assured Republican leaders that Trump would support it. more...

Jeremy Finley

NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - News4 Investigates has confirmed FBI agents spent Saturday speaking with a top Nashville real estate agent, who contacted them after fearing the subcontractor who worked for him may be the same man whose home they were searching. Other federal agents spent much of the day searching the Antioch home of Anthony Warner. Realtor Steve Fridrich contacted the FBI after reading Warner’s name, as for several years, a man by the name of Tony Warner had worked for him for several years doing information technology work.

Fridrich confirms that agents asked him whether or not Warner had paranoia about 5G technology. Fridrich told the agents that Warner had never spoken to him about that. But a source close to the federal investigation said that among several different tips and angles, agents are investigating whether or not Warner had paranoia that 5G technology was being used to spy on Americans. A spokeswoman for the FBI said they could not comment because of the pending investigation. Fridrich described the Tony Warner who worked for him as a kind person who they contacted only to work on internet issues. “Nice guy. You know, he was a techie guy - don't mean anything negative about that. He would do this thing and leave. He didn't bother anybody. He did his thing and leave,” Fridrich said. more...

By Natalie Colarossi

Lin Wood, a pro-Trump lawyer who has been aggressively promoting unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud, tweeted a plan to boycott Georgia's critical Senate runoff race Friday and hinted at arresting GOP Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue. Without evidence, Wood has alleged that voting machines provided by Dominion Voting Systems in the general election switched votes from President Donald Trump to President-elect Joe Biden, and has since demanded that Republicans boycott the upcoming Georgia election.

Wood has also accused Loeffler, Perdue, and Georgia Governor Brian Kemp of participating in election fraud against Trump. "I have received much criticism for demanding that GA fix the 11/3 fraud before we vote in 1/5 runoff. In full disclosure, I am not a fan of any of the 4 candidates in Senate runoff. Communists or China compromised in my opinion," Wood tweeted Friday. "I just want an HONEST election. Don't you?" he added, before tweeting a diagram outlining a boycott plan. more...


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Federal agents converged Saturday on the home of a possible person of interest in the explosion that rocked downtown Nashville as investigators scoured hundreds of tips and leads in the blast that pulverized city blocks on Christmas morning and damaged dozens of buildings.

More than 24 hours after the explosion, a motive remained elusive as investigators worked round-the-clock to resolve unanswered questions about a recreational vehicle that blew up on a mostly deserted street on a sleepy holiday morning and was prefaced by a recorded warning advising those nearby to evacuate. The attack, which damaged an AT&T building, continued to wreak havoc Saturday on cellphone service and police and hospital communications in several Southern states.

Investigators from multiple federal and local law enforcement agencies were at a home in Antioch, in suburban Nashville, after receiving information relevant to the investigation, said FBI Special Agent Jason Pack. Another law enforcement official, who was not authorized to discuss an ongoing investigation and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity, said investigators regard a person associated with the property as a person of interest. more...

By James Crowley

President Donald Trump went on a Boxing Day Twitter rant, where he attacked the FBI, Justice Department, Supreme Court, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and other Senate Republicans for various claims related to voter fraud—claiming that it cost him the election to President-elect Joe Biden. In a Saturday morning tweet directed at the Supreme Court, the president called it "incompetent and weak" for its handlings of his claims that there was fraud in the November election. Trump's campaign has filed numerous lawsuits, alleging that it had evidence of widespread voter fraud in key swing states. As previously reported, almost all of the Trump campaign's lawsuits have been dismissed.

The president claimed to have "absolute PROOF" that widespread voter fraud occurred during the November election, but he said that the Supreme Court doesn't "want to see it." "The U.S. Supreme Court has been totally incompetent and weak on the massive Election Fraud that took place in the 2020 Presidential Election. We have absolute PROOF, but they don't want to see it - No 'standing', they say. If we have corrupt elections, we have no country," he wrote. He also condemned the Department of Justice and FBI in a tweet: "The 'Justice' Department and the FBI have done nothing about the 2020 Presidential Election Voter Fraud, the biggest SCAM in our nation's history, despite overwhelming evidence. They should be ashamed. History will remember." more...

Joe Biden called Trump's inaction an "abdication of responsibility" that could have "devastating consequences."
Tanya Chen

COVID relief checks and unemployment benefits for millions of Americans hang in the balance as President Donald Trump has yet to sign aid legislation passed by Congress into law. Trump has instead spent the last few days golfing at Mar-a-Lago. Congress finally reached an agreement this month to send additional COVID aid to US residents, including $600 checks for most people, but Trump railed about the bill after it had passed and demanded that Congress raise the bill's $600 checks to $2,000 in direct payments — something his own party doesn't want to do. House Democrats were more than happy to apply pressure on Republicans to raise the check amounts, but they've declined to do so.

Unless Trump imminently signs the bill while he's in Florida, the checks, as well as housing protections and unemployment aid would be delayed. The state unemployment provisions established in the first CARES Act passed in the spring which expanded who can qualify for unemployment benefits will expire on Saturday, according to the New York Times. Even if the bill is signed Saturday, payments could be delayed due to states having to enter the new information into their systems, the Times reported. The bill would also provide another $300 per week in federal unemployment on top of state benefits through mid-March, but those too will be delayed if Trump does not sign the legislation this weekend. As of Saturday, the president had no public events scheduled on his agenda. Democrats like President-elect Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders have made public statements urging Trump to sign the critical relief bill. Biden called Trump's inaction an "abdication of responsibility" that could have "devastating consequences." more...

City leaders said if they had turned down Asatru Folk Assembly, they would have faced an expensive legal battle.
By Deon J. Hampton

When the church doors open, only white people will be allowed inside. That’s the message the Asatru Folk Assembly in Murdock, Minnesota, is sending after being granted a conditional use permit to open a church there and practice its pre-Christian religion that originated in northern Europe. Despite a council vote officially approving the permit this month, residents are pushing back against the decision. Opponents have collected about 50,000 signatures on an online petition to stop the all-white church from making its home in the farming town of 280 people.

“I think they thought they could fly under the radar in a small town like this, but we’d like to keep the pressure on them,” said Peter Kennedy, a longtime Murdock resident. “Racism is not welcome here." Many locals said they support the growing population of Latinos, who have moved to the area in the past decade because of job opportunities, over the church. “Just because the council gave them a conditional permit does not mean that the town and people in the area surrounding will not be vigilant in watching and protecting our area,” Jean Lesteberg, who lives in the neighboring town of De Graff, wrote on the city’s Facebook page. The Southern Poverty Law Center describes Asatru Folk Assembly as a “neo-Volkisch hate group” that couches “their bigotry in baseless claims of bloodlines grounding the superiority of one’s white identity.” Many residents call them a white supremacist or white separatist group, but church members deny it. more...

CBS News

A law enforcement source told CBS News at least one person of interest has been identified in connection to the recreational vehicle that exploded on Christmas morning, rocking downtown Nashville. Multiple sources confirm that Anthony Quinn Warner, a Nashville area resident, had a similar make and model RV as the one in photos released to the public. Warner was described as a 63-year-old White man. Federal agents are at the address listed to Warner.  

FBI Special Agent in Charge Doug Korneski said Saturday there is no indication of additional explosive threats. He said officials had received about 500 tips and are "not working on any assumptions." Police responded to a call of shots fired early Friday near the AT&T building in downtown Nashville. Instead, they found an RV with clothes and blinds covering the windows. Shortly afterward, the warning of an imminent bomb started blaring and an explosion rocked the area at about 6:30 a.m.

Shell casings have been found at the scene, but the ammunition related to them is believed to have been set off by the large explosion. The scene is very large, and authorities said they are beginning at the "outermost" perimeter of the blast and working their way in. There is video of the RV in downtown Nashville. Investigators have a Google Maps photo of the address of the person of interest that shows a similar looking camper in the yard. Google Maps says the picture was taken in May 2019. more...

For years, Republicans have used the specter of cheating as a reason to impose barriers to ballot access. A definitive debunking of claims of wrongdoing in 2020 has not changed that message.
By Jim Rutenberg, Nick Corasaniti and Alan Feuer

President Trump’s baseless and desperate claims of a stolen election over the last seven weeks — the most aggressive promotion of “voter fraud” in American history — failed to get any traction in courts across seven states, or come anywhere close to reversing the loss he suffered to Joseph R. Biden Jr. But the effort has led to at least one unexpected and profoundly different result: A thorough debunking of the sorts of voter fraud claims that Republicans have used to roll back voting rights for the better part of the young century.

In making their case in real courts and the court of public opinion, Mr. Trump and his allies have trotted out a series of tropes and canards similar to those Republicans have pushed to justify laws that in many cases made voting disproportionately harder for Blacks and Hispanics, who largely support Democrats. Their allegations that thousands of people “double voted” by assuming other identities at polling booths echoed those that have previously been cited as a reason to impose strict new voter identification laws.

Their assertion that large numbers of noncitizens cast illegal votes for Mr. Biden matched claims Republicans have made to argue for harsh new “proof of citizenship” requirements for voter registration. And their tales about large numbers of cheaters casting ballots in the name of “dead voters” were akin to those several states have used to conduct aggressive “purges” of voting lists that wrongfully slated tens of thousands of registrations for termination.

After bringing some 60 lawsuits, and even offering financial incentive for information about fraud, Mr. Trump and his allies have failed to prove definitively any case of illegal voting on behalf of their opponent  in court — not a single case of an undocumented immigrant casting a ballot, a citizen double voting, nor any credible evidence that legions of the voting dead gave Mr. Biden a victory that wasn’t his. more...

by: Associated Press

President Donald Trump spent his Christmas golfing in Florida as a government shutdown looms and COVID relief hangs in the balance. Trump, at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach for the holidays, had no events on his public schedule after throwing the future of a massive COVID relief and government funding bill into question. Failure to sign the bill, which arrived in Florida on Thursday night, could deny relief checks to millions of Americans on the brink and force a government shutdown in the midst of the pandemic. The White House declined to share details of the president’s schedule. It said only: “During the Holiday season, President Trump will continue to work tirelessly for the American People. His schedule includes many meetings and calls.”

Trump’s expected golf partner Friday was South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, a close ally. Trump’s vacation came as Washington was still reeling over his surprise, eleventh-hour demand that an end-of-year spending bill that congressional leaders spent months negotiating give most Americans $2,000 COVID relief checks — far more than the $600 members of his own party had agreed to. The idea was swiftly rejected by House Republicans during a rare Christmas Eve session, leaving the proposal in limbo. more...

Yihyun Jeong, Brinley Hineman - Nashville Tennessean

Nashville authorities believe an explosion that occurred in downtown Nashville early Christmas morning was an "intentional act" and sparked by a vehicle blast. Police came across a suspicious RV parked outside a nearby AT&T building near Second Avenue and Commerce Street before 6 a.m., when initially responding to calls of shots fired in the area, said Metro police spokesperson Don Aaron. There was no immediate evidence of any shooting but officers alerted the department's bomb squad, which was en route when a "significant explosion" happened about 30 minutes later,  Aaron said.

Just before the blast, officers were conducting door-to-door checks in the area and redirected a man walking his dog along the street. The force of the explosion knocked an officer to the ground. Three people were hospitalized with injuries, police said. Aaron said it was unclear if anyone was inside the RV when it exploded. Betsy Williams, the owner of the Melting Pot building across the street, told The Tennessean that guests reported the RV was stationed there since Thursday night. Williams, who lives in a loft apartment on the third floor, said she heard the sound of loud, rapid-fire gunshots at about 4:30 a.m. After multiple rounds of gunshot sounds, Williams said she called 911. Then, she said, she heard a repeated warning she said came from the RV parked outside her building. more...

Legal threats range from investigations into his business dealings in New York to possible obstruction of justice charges – but all come with a political cost
by Ed Pilkington in New York

At noon on 20 January, presuming he doesn’t have to be dragged out of the White House as a trespasser, Donald Trump will make one last walk across the South Lawn, take his seat inside Marine One, and be gone. From that moment, Trump’s rambunctious term as president of the United States will be over. But in one important aspect, the challenge presented by his presidency will have only just begun: the possibility that he will face prosecution for crimes committed before he took office or while in the Oval Office.

“You’ve never had a president before who has invited so much scrutiny,” said Bob Bauer, White House counsel under Barack Obama. “This has been a very eventful presidency that raises hard questions about what happens when Trump leaves office.” For the past four years Trump has been shielded from legal jeopardy by a justice department memo that rules out criminal prosecution of a sitting president. But the second he boards that presidential helicopter and fades into the horizon, all bets are off.

The Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus Vance, is actively investigating Trump’s business dealings. The focus described in court documents is “extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organization” including possible bank fraud. A second major investigation by the fearsome federal prosecutors of the southern district of New York has already led to the conviction of Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen. He pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations relating to the “hush money” paid to Stormy Daniels, the adult film actor who alleged an affair with Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign. During the course of the prosecution, Cohen implicated a certain “Individual 1” – Trump – as the mastermind behind the felony. Though the investigation was technically closed last year, charges could be revisited once Trump’s effective immunity is lifted. more...


PALM BEACH (AP) — After tossing a grenade that threatens to blow up a massive COVID relief and government funding bill and force a government shutdown in the midst of a pandemic, President Donald Trump spent his Christmas Eve golfing in Florida. Failure to agree on the bill could deny checks to millions of Americans on the brink.

Trump had no events on his public schedule on the first day of his winter vacation Thursday, but traveled to his Palm Beach golf club, where he was spotted by CNN cameras on the links. Reporters were given no details of his schedule for the day, but told that, “As the Holiday season approaches, President Trump will continue to work tirelessly for the American People. His schedule includes many meetings and calls.” more...

"No parcels are moving at all. As bad as you think it is, it's worse."
By Jake Johnson

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy's sweeping and destructive effort to slash operating costs at the U.S. Postal Service has made an already difficult time of the year even more chaotic for the beloved agency, threatening the prompt delivery of millions of Christmas-time packages as strained postal employees tirelessly work their way through mounting backlogs.

The Washington Post reported late Monday that a "perfect storm of crises" — the coronavirus pandemic, an unprecedented level of online orders, and DeJoy's operational changes — is wreaking havoc on the agency, which has seen drastic performance fall-offs since the postmaster general began implementing his agenda over the summer.

"Mail performance has plummeted: Only 75.3 percent of first-class mail, such as letters and bills, arrived within the standard one- to three-day delivery window the week of December 5, according to the most recent agency data available," the Post reported. "This time last year, the mail service's on-time score was closer to 95 percent."

"Adding to the slowdowns," the Post noted, "is on-the-ground confusion over the cost-cutting initiatives that Postmaster General Louis DeJoy implemented during the summer and then paused at the direction of five federal courts. The Postal Service has appealed several of those rulings." A Michigan postal worker told the Post that "as bad as you think it is, it's worse." more...


Authorities believe an explosion that rocked the downtown Nashville area early on Christmas Day was a deliberate act, according to Metro Nashville Police Department. Police spokesman Don Aaron said the 6:30 a.m. explosion, which shattered glass and damaged buildings, was believed to be “an intentional act.” Police earlier said they believe a vehicle was involved in the explosion. He said three people were taken to area hospitals for treatment, although none were in critical condition.

Police and fire crews were on the scene, as were investigators from the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. “Right now, it’s a public safety concern, to make sure everybody is accounted for and to make sure the spread of the fire doesn’t go any further,” Michael Knight, a spokesman for the ATF in Nashville, told The Associated Press. Black smoke and flames were seen early Friday billowing from the area, which is packed with bars, restaurants and other retail establishments and is known as the heart of downtown Nashville’s tourist scene. more...

As Donald Trump peddled baseless claims of vote fraud after 3 November, democracy found out who its friends were
Tom McCarthy

In November, Donald Trump became the first president in American history to try to hold on to power that voters had given to someone else in the course of a national election. The plot did not unfold in one dramatic scene. Instead, Trump lured Republicans to commit a series of coercive acts on his behalf under a false banner of non-existent election “fraud” – the attempted steal masquerading as a security measure. It might have worked. Many Republicans went along actively or silently. These included well-known national figures such as Rudy Giuliani, Newt Gingrich, Lindsey Graham and most other Republican senators.

But to succeed, Trump’s plot depended not only on the top Republicans he dominates but also on the cooperation of hundreds of state and local officials. Over three crucial weeks in November, some of those officials made individual decisions that could have seen the plot through, while others thwarted it. Here is an incomplete list of some of the lesser-known Republican friends and foes of US democracy who emerged in the historic November 2020 battle over its fate.

To stay in power, Trump needed to prevent states from certifying the results of their 3 November votes, or to convince Republican legislators to try to throw out state results. Trump’s key targets included officials in Michigan and Pennsylvania. He found some ready accomplices. more...

By Jeffery Martin

President Donald Trump lashed out at some Republican lawmakers Thursday on social media for not embracing his baseless allegations of election fraud. Trump has refused to concede the election to President-elect Joe Biden, who bested Trump in both the popular and electoral vote. Trump has repeatedly claimed that widespread election manipulation was to blame for his apparent loss. While some GOP members, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, have acknowledged Biden's incoming administration, others have rallied behind Trump's allegations. On Thursday, Trump gave a warning to GOP senators he deemed to be disloyal. "I saved at least 8 Republican Senators, including Mitch, from losing in the last Rigged (for President) Election," Trump tweeted Thursday. "Now they (almost all) sit back and watch me fight against a crooked and vicious foe, the Radical Left Democrats. I will NEVER FORGET!" more...

The internal documents suggest that Facebook should stop positioning itself as a champion of small business.
Sam Biddle

Facebook is currently waging a PR campaign purporting to show that Apple is seriously injuring American small businesses through its iOS privacy features. But at the same time, according to allegations in recently unsealed court documents, Facebook has been selling them ad targeting that is unreliable to the point of being fraudulent.

The documents feature internal Facebook communications in which managers appear to admit to major flaws in ad targeting capabilities, including that ads reached the intended audience less than half of the time they were shown and that data behind a targeting criterion  was “all crap.” Facebook says the material is presented out of context. more...

John Haltiwanger

President Donald Trump is leaving the White House in less than a month, but you wouldn't know it from his behavior. Beyond refusing to concede to President-elect Joe Biden, the president has continued to threaten Iran with military action and his administration has reportedly discussed potential responses to recent rocket attacks on the US Embassy in Baghdad thought to have been carried out by Iranian-backed militias.

Meanwhile, Biden says he's being stonewalled by the Pentagon and hasn't been thoroughly briefed on a number of crucial issues. In the wake of the discovery of the massive, embarrassing SolarWinds hack, Trump has claimed that "everything is well under control." Biden on Wednesday said he's seen "no evidence" to back that up and suggested the department hasn't been forthcoming with information on the hack. The president-elect said the Defense Department "won't even brief us on many things." The Pentagon pushed back on that assertion, describing it as "patently false" in a statement on Wednesday. more...

By Kaelan Deese

An overwhelming majority of Democrats say President-elect Joe Biden was elected fairly, while only a slim margin of Republicans say the same, according to a USA Today/Suffolk University poll released Thursday. Ninety-six percent of Democrats say that Biden was elected fairly in the November presidential election, while just 20 percent of Republicans surveyed said the same. Seventy-eight percent of Republicans think Biden was not legitimately elected president.

News of the public opinion on Biden's election win comes after the president and his allies have repeatedly questioned the validity of the 2020 presidential election, claiming that it was subject to widespread voter fraud. President Trump and his allies have also claimed that due to an increased use of mail-in ballots amid the coronavirus pandemic, there has been an uptick in unlawful practices such as ballot harvesting. However, top election officials including former administration official Christopher Krebs and Attorney General William Barr have said that there is no evidence that there was widespread fraud. more...

Jacob Pramuk, Tucker Higgins

House Republicans on Thursday blocked a Democratic attempt to pass $2,000 direct payments to Americans, as the fate of the massive coronavirus relief package passed by Congress earlier in the week hangs in the balance. The Democrats moved to increase the size of the checks after President Donald Trump threatened to oppose the $2 trillion pandemic aid and federal funding bill because it included only $600 in direct payments rather than $2,000. Congress passed the proposal Monday after Trump took no role in weeks of talks. The plan included $900 billion in coronavirus relief.

Trying to cap the plan’s cost, most of Trump’s Republican Party sought $600 in direct payments rather than the $1,200 passed in the CARES Act in March. In criticizing the year-end legislation, Trump also pointed to foreign aid spending — which Washington includes in funding bills every year. The House tried to pass the $2,000 payments during a pro forma session on Christmas Eve day, a brief meeting of the chamber where typically only a few members attend. Democrats aimed to approve the measure by unanimous consent, which means any one lawmaker can block it. Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., offered the proposal from the House floor, but was blocked because the measure was not approved by House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. more...

Richard and Mayumi Heene claimed son had floated away to try to get reality TV show
Reuters in Denver

The husband and wife who pleaded guilty to criminal charges for staging the 2009 “balloon boy” hoax, in which they created a global media sensation with a false report that their son had floated away in a makeshift dirigible, have been pardoned by Colorado’s governor. In granting executive clemency to Richard and Mayumi Heene, Governor Jared Polis said the couple, now 59 and 56, had paid their debt to society for a “spectacle” that wasted law enforcement time and resources.

The couple reported on 15 October 2009 that their six-year-old son, Falcon, had been carried aloft by a homemade helium balloon that had become untethered in the family’s back yard in Fort Collins, Colorado. News footage showed the silver balloon, resembling a flying saucer, soaring over north-east Colorado for 90 minutes trailed by National Guard helicopters, as authorities scrambled to reroute aviation traffic around Denver international airport.

Millions were riveted to live coverage on television and the internet, watching as the balloon finally landed in a wheat field. No one was onboard the craft and Falcon, the youngest of the couple’s three children, ultimately turned up in the attic of the family’s garage. Investigators said the mother later admitted the stunt was aimed at gaining the family their own reality TV show. The Heenes’ initial account unravelled after an appearance on CNN’s Larry King Live programme in which Falcon was asked why he stayed in hiding so long. Looking first to his parents, the boy answered: “You said that we did this for a show.” more...

By Kathryn Watson

President Trump announced 26 new pardons Wednesday, including for allies Paul Manafort and Roger Stone, as well as Jared Kushner's father, Charles Kushner. Mr. Trump granted 15 pardons the day before. Manafort, a former Trump campaign manager, was sentenced to 7-and-a-half years in federal prison for convictions related to former special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation. Manafort was released from prison in March to serve his sentence from home due to COVID-19.

Mr. Trump had already commuted the sentence of Stone, a longtime friend, in July. Stone was convicted of seven felony counts stemming from Mueller's investigation, including lying to investigators and witness tampering. Kushner was convicted of witness tampering, tax evasion and illegal campaign contributions back in 2005. Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump's son-in-law, has worked in the White House since the beginning of Mr. Trump's presidency, and has been one of the president's most influential and long-serving aides. The case against Charles Kushner was prosecuted by former New Jersey Governor and Trump ally Chris Christie.

The pardon announcement comes as the president arrives in Florida for his Christmas vacation, after vetoing the National Defense Authorization Act and threatening not to sign the stimulus package that would grant relief for millions of Americans. Mr. Trump pardoned other allies and former Republican members of Congress earlier this week. Manafort immediately took to Twitter to thank the president. more...

Gabriel Rosenberg

Body camera footage shows a Columbus Police officer fatally shooting 47-year-old Andre Maurice Hill less than 10 seconds after finding him in a garage early Tuesday morning. The officer who shot him is Adam Coy, a 19-year veteran of the department who has since been placed on paid administrative leave. Columbus Police released records and video of the incident on Wednesday, along with Coy's personnel file and discipline records. Coy is white, Hill was Black. Police say no weapon was found at the scene.

Police officials say officers were dispatched to the city's Cranbrook neighborhood around 1:30 a.m. on Tuesday, responding to a non-emergency call about a man sitting inside a car repeatedly turning it on and off. Footage from Coy's body camera shows officers walking up to an open garage and shining their flashlights on Hill, who turned around and held up his cell phone. Hill took several steps toward Coy, who raised his gun and shot him. Because Coy did not activate his camera until after the shooting, there is no audio for the first minute of the footage – Columbus Police body cameras feature a "look back" function that records video but no audio of the 60 seconds before activation. more...

The pre-Christmas wave of 20 pardons and commutations are not likely to be the last before Mr. Trump leaves office on Jan. 20.
By Maggie Haberman and Michael S. Schmidt

In an audacious pre-Christmas round of pardons, President Trump granted clemency on Tuesday to two people convicted in the special counsel’s Russia inquiry, four Blackwater guards convicted in connection with the killing of Iraqi civilians and three corrupt former Republican members of Congress. Among those pardoned was George Papadopoulos, who was a foreign policy adviser to Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign and pleaded guilty in 2017 to making false statements to federal officials as part of the investigation by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III. Also pardoned was Alex van der Zwaan, a lawyer who pleaded guilty to the same charge in 2018 in connection of the special counsel’s inquiry. Both men served short prison sentences. The Mueller-related pardons are a signal of more to come of people caught up in the investigation, according to people close to the president.

Mr. Trump recently pardoned his former national security adviser, Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, who pleaded guilty twice to charges including lying to the F.B.I. in connection with the inquiry into Russian involvement in the election. Mr. Trump in July commuted the sentence of Roger J. Stone Jr., his longtime adviser who was convicted on a series of charges related to the investigation. Both men have maintained their innocence. Mr. Trump’s pardon list also included four former U.S. service members who were convicted of killing Iraqi civilians while working as contractors in 2007.

One of them, Nicholas Slatten, had been sentenced to life in prison after the Justice Department had gone to great lengths to prosecute him. Mr. Slatten, had been a contractor for the controversial company Blackwater and was sentenced for his role in the killing of 17 Iraqi civilians in Nisour Square in Baghdad — a massacre that left one of the most lasting stains on the United States of the war. more...

Yeganeh Torbati, The Washington Post

WASHINGTON - Congress on Monday unveiled a 5,593-page spending bill and then voted on it several hours later, with lawmakers claiming urgent action was needed to rescue an ailing economy ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic. But tucked in the bill was over $110 billion in tax breaks that strayed far from the way the bill was marketed to many Americans. These giveaways include big tax cuts for liquor producers, the motorsports entertainment sector and manufacturers of electric motorcycles.

These measures, added onto the broader spending bill, are known as “tax extenders” - tax breaks targeted at specific, sometimes niche industries. And routinely extending these “temporary” measures has become something of a year-end tradition, despite loud complaints from some lawmakers who allege the votes largely benefit special-interest groups who stand to gain financially from the outcome.

These tax extenders are designed to be temporary but are frequently renewed, often at the urging of industry lobbyists, and done so during late-night votes at the end of the year. (The Senate vote Monday took place shortly before midnight.) The Joint Committee on Taxation estimated the extenders benefiting industry and special interests included in the stimulus bill would cost over $110 billion over 10 years. Tax experts and good governance advocates have criticized such short-term tax relief extensions, arguing they hide the true cost of the cuts and advantage industries with the most well-connected lobbyists. more...

Trump has deflected blame away from Russia, contradicting top officials in his own administration and baselessly suggesting China may have been involved.
By Adam Edelman

President-elect Joe Biden on Tuesday tore into President Donald Trump's recent reaction to a hacking campaign that has torn through U.S. government agencies and businesses and that experts believe is the work of Russian intelligence. Biden, speaking to reporters in Wilmington, Delaware, ripped Trump for an "irrational downplaying of the seriousness of this attack," and called the breach a “grave risk to our national security." “The truth is this: The Trump administration failed to prioritize cybersecurity,” Biden said. “This assault happened on Donald Trump’s watch, when he wasn’t watching.”

He added that he saw “no evidence it is under control,” pointing out that Trump “hasn’t even identified who is responsible yet.” Biden said the Department of Defense had not briefed his transition team on the attack and vowed that when he does learn “the extent of the damage,” he would, as president, respond “in kind.”

The hack is being described as one of the most successful cyber infiltrations of U.S. government and corporate institutions in history. The hackers appear to have gotten access by first breaking into SolarWinds, a company in Austin, Texas, that provides remote information technology services to clients around the world, including a number of U.S. government agencies and major corporations. The hack began at least as early as March, though it was discovered only last week. more...

Analysis by Stephen Collinson, CNN

(CNN) Joe Biden will be president in 30 days. Until then, the question is how much damage can be done by a vengeful, delusional soon-to-be ex-President swilling conspiracy theories, whose wild anti-democratic instincts are being encouraged by fringe political opportunists. Donald Trump will retain the awesome powers of the presidency until noon on January 20, and there's never been a time when he has been subject to as few restraining influences or has had a bigger incentive to cause disruption.

The President is spending day after day in his White House bunker, entertaining crackpot theories about imposing martial law, seizing voting machines and staging an intervention in Congress on January 6 to steal the election from Biden. Surrounded by the last dead-end loyalists, Trump is flinging lies and political venom like King Lear in a crumbling Twitter kingdom, alarming some staffers about what he will do next.

Two ways Trump can hurt America
Trump can further damage the United States in the coming days in two ways -- by aggressive design and by his passive neglect of his sworn obligations to lead. His attempts to crush American democratic traditions by claiming a landslide victory in an election that he lost and that was not especially close fits into the first category. The President's behavior has sown huge mistrust of the fundamental underpinning of the US political system -- fair elections -- among millions of his voters and threatens to compromise the legitimacy of Biden's White House.

CNN's Barbara Starr reported Tuesday that there is concern among executive office staff and the military's leadership that Trump could use his power as President and commander in chief in dangerous ways in the last days of his term. "We don't know what he might do," one officer in the Pentagon said. Another added: "We are in strange times." more...

by: The Associated Press and Nexstar Media Wire

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump hosted several House Republican lawmakers at the White House on Monday to discuss an effort to block Congress from affirming President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the November election. The meeting underscored Trump’s refusal to accept the reality of his loss and his willingness to entertain undemocratic efforts to overturn the will of the majority of American voters. Biden will be sworn in as president on Jan. 20.

With no credible legal options remaining and the Electoral College having confirmed Biden’s victory earlier this month, Trump is turning his attention to Jan. 6. That’s when Congress participates in a count of the electoral votes, which Biden won 306-232. The count, required by the Constitution, is generally a formality. But members can use the event to object to a state’s votes. Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., said he organized Monday’s session with about a dozen House Republicans who are willing to challenge the results.

“President Trump is very supportive of our effort,” Brooks said in an interview late Monday. With Democrats holding the House majority and several Republican senators now acknowledging Biden’s victory, any effort to block congressional approval of the election appears sure to fail. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has warned his members against taking such a step.

Sen. John Thune, the No. 2 Senate Republican, urged lawmakers to remember that an effort to block the election results in Congress was “just not going anywhere.” “I mean, in the Senate, it would go down like a shot dog,” Thune told CNN. “I just don’t think that it makes a lot of sense to put everybody through this when you know what the ultimate outcome is gonna be.” more...

CBS News

West Point, New York — More than 70 cadets training at the U.S. Military Academy to be Army officers have been accused of cheating on a math exam taken online when they were studying remotely because of the coronavirus pandemic.  Lt. Col. Christopher Ophardt, spokesman for the academy at West Point, said Monday that 73 cadets were accused of cheating on the calculus exam in May after instructors noticed irregularities in answers. All but one were freshmen, or plebes, in a class of 1,200. The other was a sophomore. "West Point honor code and character development program remains strong despite remote learning and the challenges brought by the pandemic," Ophardt said. "Cadets are being held accountable for breaking the code."

After an investigation by an honors committee made up of trained cadets, two cases were dropped for lack of evidence and four were dropped because the cadets resigned, Ophardt said. Of the remaining 67 cases, 55 cadets have admitted cheating and have been enrolled in a six-month rehabilitation program focused on ethics. They will be on probation for the rest of their time at the academy. Three more cadets admitted cheating but weren't eligible for the rehabilitation program. The remaining cadets accused of cheating face administrative hearings to determine if they've violated the honor code and recommend penalties, which could include expulsion. more...

Kevin Stankiewicz

Sen. Patrick Toomey, R-Pa., on Monday defended his opposition to extending emergency Federal Reserve lending programs, which had emerged as a last-minute sticking point in coronavirus stimulus negotiations. A deal over the weekend was eventually reached around the Fed’s lending powers, paving the way for an agreement on the larger, $900 billion relief package. Congress was set to vote on the bill Monday.

Democrats had worried Toomey’s original proposal would prevent the Fed from adequately responding to future crises. In an interview on “Squawk Box,” Toomey said he fully supported the wide-ranging credit programs launched by the central bank in March in response to the burgeoning pandemic. But the Pennsylvania Republican contended that they should be wound down at the end of December and Congressional approval must be required again before restarting them. more...

The crooks used emulators to mimic the phones of more than 16,000 customers whose mobile bank accounts had been compromised.

Researchers from IBM Trusteer say they’ve uncovered a massive fraud operation that used a network of mobile device emulators to drain millions of dollars from online bank accounts in a matter of days. The scale of the operation was unlike anything the researchers have seen before. In one case, crooks used about 20 emulators to mimic more than 16,000 phones belonging to customers whose mobile bank accounts had been compromised. In a separate case, a single emulator was able to spoof more than 8,100 devices.

The thieves then entered usernames and passwords into banking apps running on the emulators and initiated fraudulent money orders that siphoned funds out of the compromised accounts. Emulators are used by legitimate developers and researchers to test how apps run on a variety of different mobile devices.

To bypass protections banks use to block such attacks, the crooks used device identifiers corresponding to each compromised account holder and spoofed GPS locations the device was known to use. The device IDs were likely obtained from the holders’ hacked devices, although in some cases, the fraudsters gave the appearance that they were customers who were accessing their accounts from new phones. The attackers were also able to bypass multi-factor authentication by accessing SMS messages. more...

By Jordan Williams

Close to 200 organizations were hacked by Russia as part of the cybersecurity attack on SolarWinds, a third party software contractor, that has compromised multiple government agencies, Bloomberg News reported. Massachusetts-based cyber security firm Recorded Future identified 198 people that were hacked by a malicious update, threat analyst Allan Lisa told the news outlet.

Three people familiar with the inquiry told Bloomberg the hack further compromised at least 200 victims by attempting to move in their computer networks or gain user credentials. About 18,000 SolarWinds customers received the malicious update, according to Bloomberg. Of that number, more than 1,000 experienced a malicious code ping that gave hackers further access to sensitive networks.

The identities of the victims were not provided to Bloomberg, and the number is expected to grow as the the investigation continues. The firm said in a statement to The Hill that it used open source datasets and information provided by the security researcher community to "identify a likely partial list of organizations affected by the SolarWinds backdoor." more...

By Bud Kennedy

To hear some Republican insiders — including a few preachers — President Donald Trump will invoke martial law if Congress doesn’t overturn the Electoral College Jan. 6 and re-elect him president. It’s God’s will, they say. Christians can’t afford to lose a president who was anointed to carry out a heavenly plan. Never mind the election. Or the electors. Or that the incumbent’s actual court claims challenging Joe Biden’s role as president-elect have been thinly grounded and poorly argued.

“The bottom line is, there are many people in the evangelical community who are deeply concerned that there were substantial numbers of inaccurate results, and maybe fraudulent activities that may have affected the outcome,” said Dave Welch of the Houston-based U.S. Pastor Council activist group, which is “hoping and praying” for reversal. Some faith-and-values Republicans accepted the outcome of the election as divine plan. But others are preaching a QAnon-like conspiracy theory about Trump’s plan for an imminent reversal. more...

Nathan Larson, who has run for public office and has been linked to a website promoting pedophilia, is awaiting his court date in Denver.
Ana Lucia Murillo

A 40-year-old white supremacist has been arrested after abducting a 12-year-old girl and trying to fly her across the country in disguise, authorities say. Nathan Larson, the alleged kidnapper, is a convicted felon with a track record of openly promoting pedophilia on his website, according to the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office. He has also run unsuccessfully for public office in Virginia.

Larson began corresponding over the internet this fall with the unnamed 12-year-old girl from Fresno. He then groomed the girl and flew to Fresno to meet her, convincing her to sneak out of her home in the middle of the night early Monday to see him, police said in a statement released Saturday.

At that point, police say, Larson ordered a ride share car to pick the two of them up and take them to the Fresno Airport.

Larson had allegedly convinced the child to run away with him, making her wear a wig to hide her identity and pretend to be unable to speak and have a disability so she couldn’t communicate with others in the airport. When the girl was reported missing by her family to the Fresno Police Department and Fresno County Sheriff’s Office early Monday morning, authorities began searching for her. more...

By Cameron Jenkins

Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) blasted Georgia GOP Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler on Friday night, calling them "the Bonnie and Clyde of corruption." Pressley made an appearance on MSNBC's "The ReidOut" and talked about getting out the vote for Georgia's upcoming runoff elections set for Jan. 5. "Georgia, do your thing. I know we're asking a lot of Georgia. But do your thing, Georgia," Pressley said. "Do what you do. more...

In a meeting at the White House on Friday, President Trump weighed appointing Sidney Powell, who promoted conspiracy theories about rigged voting machines, to investigate voter fraud.
By Maggie Haberman and Zolan Kanno-Youngs

President Trump on Friday discussed naming Sidney Powell, who as a lawyer for his campaign team unleashed conspiracy theories about a Venezuelan plot to rig voting machines in the United States, to be a special counsel overseeing an investigation of voter fraud, according to two people briefed on the discussion. It was unclear if Mr. Trump will move ahead with such a plan.

Most of his advisers opposed the idea, two of the people briefed on the discussion said, including Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer. In recent days Mr. Giuliani has sought to have the Department of Homeland Security join the campaign’s efforts to overturn Mr. Trump’s loss in the election.

Mr. Giuliani joined the discussion by phone initially, while Ms. Powell was at the White House for a meeting that became raucous and involved people shouting at each other at times, according to one of the people briefed on what took place. Ms. Powell’s client, retired Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, the former national security adviser whom the president recently pardoned, was also there, two of the people briefed on the meeting said. Some senior administration officials drifted in and out of the meeting. more...

By Benjamin Fearnow

Trump, who twice campaigned on being the "law and order" candidate, is hoping to create chaos in Washington two weeks before Inauguration Day. As he continues to baselessly claim that it's "statistically impossible" he lost, Trump Saturday urged his supporters to interrupt what is typically an innocuous joint session of Congress on January 6 in which they will count Biden's 306 to 232 win among state electoral votes. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has urged Republicans not to object to the election results, but some GOP lawmakers and far-right conspiracy theorists say they plan to disrupt the final procedural hurdle before Biden takes office.

"Peter Navarro releases 36-page report alleging election fraud 'more than sufficient' to swing victory to Trump," the president tweeted Saturday. "A great report by Peter. Statistically impossible to have lost the 2020 Election. Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!" Twitter flagged Trump's claim as "disputed," as it's done often of late.

Legal experts say the January 6 gathering of House and Senate lawmakers, presided over by Vice President Mike Pence, is traditionally just a formality in which Congress received and approves the long-since decided state electoral votes. But several vehemently pro-Trump Republicans—Alabama's Mo Brooks and Georgia's Representative-elect Marjorie Taylor Greene, along with Alabama's senator-elect Tommy Tuberville—say they plan to disrupt the rudimentary process next month. more...

By Kaitlan Collins, Kevin Liptak and Pamela Brown, CNN

(CNN) President Donald Trump's campaign legal team sent a memo to dozens of staffers Saturday instructing them to preserve all documents related to Dominion Voting Systems and Sidney Powell in anticipation of potential litigation by the company against the pro-Trump attorney. The memo, viewed by CNN, references a letter Dominion sent to Powell this week demanding she publicly retract her accusations and instructs campaign staff not to alter, destroy or discard records that could be relevant.

A serious internal divide has formed within Trump's campaign following the election with tensions at their highest between the campaign's general counsel, Matt Morgan, who sent the memo Saturday, and Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Though the campaign once distanced itself from Powell, Trump has been urging other people to fight like she has, according to multiple people familiar with his remarks. He has asked for more people making her arguments, which are often baseless and filled with conspiracy theories, on television.

Morgan wrote in the memo, "The Allegations within the letter dated December 16, 2020 reference the Campaign and lawyers who may have performed work for the Campaign. Even with references to the Campaign and some of its outside lawyers, the Campaign does not reasonably anticipate litigation against the Campaign at this time. Notwithstanding the foregoing, the Campaign views it as prudent to establish a litigation hold at this time to protect and preserve all rights and privileges that may exist under the law." The Trump campaign has declined to comment. more...

By Amir Vera and Artemis Moshtaghian, CNN

(CNN) A severed head that washed ashore near Cape Lookout National Seashore in North Carolina last May was that of a 21-year-old soldier from Fort Bragg, an autopsy found. Enrique Roman-Martinez, a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division, was last seen May 22 at a campsite on South Core Banks, one of the islands that make up Cape Lookout National Seashore, US Army Criminal Investigation Command (CID) spokesperson Chris Grey told CNN.

Roman-Martinez's friends reported him missing the evening of May 23 and found his phone and wallet at the campsite. Roman-Martinez's severed head washed ashore May 29 in the area where the tides have washed up other remains in years past, according to a CID spokesperson. Roman-Martinez suffered multiple chop injuries to the neck and cervical spine, indicative of decapitation, according to an autopsy report from the Division of Forensic Pathology at East Carolina University's Brody School of Medicine. Because the rest of his body was not recovered, medical examiners could not determine the cause of death, but based on autopsy findings it was determined Roman-Martinez's death was due to homicide. more...

*** Trump is the greatest threat that our country has ever faced. ***

Nicholas Reimann Forbes Staff

President Donald Trump reportedly inquired about an idea raised by his former (and now pardoned) national security adviser, Michael Flynn, that the U.S. military be deployed to overturn the results of the presidential election—a claim shot down by his advisors at a meeting where the president appeared to embrace increasingly fringe notions about his election loss. New York Times White House correspondent Maggie Haberman reported Saturday that the president asked about Flynn’s idea, as senior officials are reportedly becoming very unsettled by Trump’s escalating interest in crackpot plans during his last days in power.

On Thursday, Flynn said that Trump could deploy the military to swing states he lost to President-elect Joe Biden in order to “rerun” the presidential election. During the meeting, Trump also floated naming the conspiracy-theorist attorney Sidney Powell—who has pushed a baseless theory that long-dead Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez rigged voting machines—as special counsel to investigate voter fraud. Axios reported Saturday that even some of Trump’s long-loyal top officials have been dismayed by Trump’s behavior, including his interest in Flynn’s views, with one senior official saying Trump “spends his time talking to conspiracy nuts who openly say declaring martial law is no big deal.” more...

*** Why does Trump continue to protect Putin and Russia over America? It makes you wonder if Trump is on Putin’s payroll or do the Russians have something on him.  ***

Jordan Novet

President Donald Trump suggested Saturday that China might have been behind a cyberattack affecting multiple U.S. government agencies and companies, despite Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s allegation hours earlier that Russia was likely behind the attack. The assertion adds confusion to an already complex situation, as cybersecurity workers strive to figure out a hack that came to light less than week ago. At that time Reuters reported, citing people familiar with the matter, that attackers were affiliated with Russia.

“Russia is the priority chant when anything happens because Lamestream is, for mostly financial reasons, petrified of........discussing the possibility that it may be China (it may!)” Trump wrote in a pair of tweets. A U.S. official confirmed to NBC News on Saturday that White House officials were planning to issue a statement on Friday that would say Russia was responsible for the cyberattack but were told to stand down. The Associated Press reported on the White House’s plans earlier on Saturday. Two officials told NBC News that Trump’s tweets had caught White House off guard.

“At this time the NSC is focused on investigating the circumstances surrounding this incident, and working with our interagency partners to mitigate the situation,” National Security Council spokesperson told NBC News. “There will be an appropriate response to those actors behind this conduct.” Russia has been a sensitive topic for Trump. An investigation led by Robert Mueller found that the Russian government had interfered in the 2016 election that resulted in Trump becoming president. Trump said in 2019 that he had never worked for Russia, after The New York Times reported the Federal Bureau of Investigation had begun looking into whether he had become influenced by the Kremlin. more...

The secretary of State also defended President Donald Trump for not publicly calling out the U.S. adversary for the attack.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo publicly blamed Russia for the monthslong cyber hack of agencies across the U.S. government. “This was a very significant effort, and I think it’s the case that now we can say pretty clearly that it was the Russians that engaged in this activity,” Pompeo told radio host Mark Levin in an interview released Friday. “I can’t say much more as we’re still unpacking precisely what it is, and I’m sure some of it will remain classified. But suffice it to say there was a significant effort to use a piece of third-party software to essentially embed code inside of U.S. Government systems and it now appears systems of private companies and companies and governments across the world as well,” Pompeo added.

The massive and sophisticated cyber operation infiltrated the departments of Treasury, Homeland Security, State and Agriculture; the National Institutes of Health, and the Commerce Department’s telecommunications policy agency. The Department of Energy has found evidence that hackers breached networks at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, two national laboratories, a DOE field office and a division of the National Nuclear Security Administration. U.S. officials believe hackers linked to a Russian intelligence agency infected software updates for an IT monitoring program made by a company called SolarWinds. Pompeo defended President Donald Trump for not publicly calling out Russia for the attack. more...

Dylan Stableford

President Trump has tweeted or retweeted 96 messages so far this week. The vast majority of them were attacks on the election, with baseless allegations of voter fraud and false claims that he won. Interspersed were a few updates on the U.S. coronavirus vaccine rollout, an analysis of Fox News ratings, a complaint about the decision by the Cleveland Indians to drop their controversial team name and the announcement of Attorney General William Barr’s resignation.

Not once has the president mentioned the massive cyberattack that U.S. officials suspect was carried out by Russian hackers — one that the nation’s cybersecurity agency warned was a “grave” threat to government and private networks. In a briefing with congressional staffers, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, or CISA, said the breach was “highly sophisticated” and would “take weeks, if not months, to determine the total number of agencies affected by the attack and the extent to which sensitive data and information may have been compromised.”

On Sunday, reports emerged that the U.S. Treasury and Commerce departments had been breached by “Cozy Bear,” a Russian military intelligence unit responsible for past hacks into government agencies. Trump spent part of that day at his golf resort in Virginia and tweeting various complaints about the election, including his dismay that the Supreme Court had dismissed a lawsuit initiated by the attorney general of Texas seeking to throw out the votes of four other states. more...

The judge questioned the basis for the suit on several grounds, including legal standing, but she also expressed concern that segregating ballots could prompt some potential voters not to cast them.

A federal judge expressed bafflement Friday at the legal underpinnings of a Republican-led lawsuit seeking to disqualify some voters who recently registered in Georgia, just weeks in advance of a pair of hotly contested runoff elections that will dictate control of the U.S. Senate. The Georgia Republican Party, NRSC and the campaigns of Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue filed a suit Thursday arguing that data on new registrations indicate they include hundreds of voters who already cast ballots in other states with Senate races this year.

However, following a hearing that stretched to more than two hours Friday afternoon, U.S. District Judge Lisa Godbey Wood denied the Republicans’ request for an emergency order setting aside all ballots cast by tens of thousands of voters registered since the Nov. 3 election. Wood questioned the basis for the suit on several grounds, including legal standing, but she also expressed concern that segregating ballots could prompt some potential voters not to cast them.

“We do have a risk of suppressing other voters from coming in,” the judge said. “I’m concerned on a number of levels with what it would mean to at this point switch course. ... There might be voters who are confused about what it means to have your vote set aside for possible later questioning.” Earlier in the session, the judge scoffed at a GOP lawyer who claimed that data from matching voter rolls showed voters had cast ballots in two different Senate races or were about to do so. more...

By Mark Morales, CNN

(CNN) New York Police Department officials did not anticipate the large number of protesters or violence that came at them during the George Floyd demonstrations and that, combined with insufficient staffing and lack of training, led to poor judgment and excessive force, according to a report released Friday.

The city Department of Investigation, appointed by Mayor Bill de Blasio to analyze the NYPD's response into the Floyd demonstrations in late May and into much of June, released their 115-page report on Friday. And while the report acknowledges that emotions among protesters ran high and spilled over into abuse and violence against police officers, the report also says NYPD officers engaged in actions that were unprofessional or excessive.

"The Department itself made a number of key errors or omissions that likely escalated tensions, and certainly contributed to both the perception and the reality that the Department was suppressing rather than facilitating lawful First Amendment assembly and expression," DOI Commissioner Margaret Garnett said in the report.

Mayor takes 'full responsibility'
The report listed 20 recommendations, including the creation of a protest response unit and a patrol guide policy for protests, that NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said he would include. The report called for NYPD officers in riot gear to be off to the side and only used when needed, additional training and policies, daily roll call messages about the constitutional rights of protesters, and a stronger role for community affairs officers and the bureau as a whole. "In general terms the report captured the difficult period that took place in May/June of 2020 and presents 20 logical and thoughtful recommendations that I intend to incorporate into our future policy and training," Shea said in a statement.

By Elizabeth Crisp

President Donald Trump sent a warning to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his GOP allies Friday morning: "Get tougher, or you won't have a Republican Party anymore."

.@senatemajldr and Republican Senators have to get tougher, or you won’t have a Republican Party anymore. We won the Presidential Election, by a lot. FIGHT FOR IT. Don’t let them take it away! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 18, 2020

The Twitter missive comes as Trump is publicly encouraging senators to overturn the outcome of the presidential election—seen as a last-ditch effort after a string of court losses—because the president and his allies have not been able to produce any credible evidence of election irregularities that would change the outcome.

"We won the Presidential Election, by a lot. FIGHT FOR IT. Don't let them take it away!" Trump claimed in the tweet directed at McConnell, who this week acknowledged from the Senate floor that President-elect Joe Biden has won the election a day after the Electoral College decisively confirmed Biden as the next president. more...

Mr Kushner allegedly helped establish the company in 2018 and Mr Trump’s daughter-in-law Lara Trump was installed as president
Graeme Massie

Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner allegedly created a shell company that secretly paid the president’s family members and spent more than $600 million, a report says. The payments to the Trump family and top advisors through the company helped shield financial details from the public, according to Business Insider. Use of the company, incorporated as American Made Media Consultants Corporation and American Made Media Consultants LLC, reportedly allowed the president and his family to bypass federally required financial disclosures. Campaign finance records show the Trump campaign and its committee at the Republican National Committee, spent $617 million from their $1.26bn coffers through the company, according to Business Insider.

Mr Kushner allegedly helped establish the company in 2018 and Mr Trump’s daughter-in-law Lara Trump was installed as president, vice president Mike Pence’s nephew John Pence as vice president, and Trump campaign CFO Sean Dollman as treasurer and secretary. Some of Mr Trump’s advisers said that they did not know how the shell company worked, and did not know of Lara Trump and John Pence’s involvement. "They like to say they don't know, but that's not true," one person familiar with the company told Business Insider. more...

First they lied about election fraud to sow distrust. Now they say voters don’t trust the election.
By William Saletan

Forsaken by the Supreme Court and defeated in the Electoral College, President Donald Trump has seized on a new basis for overturning the 2020 election: public opinion. On Tuesday night, he tweeted, “Poll: 92% of Republican Voters think the election was rigged!” The number was bogus, but there’s a deeper reason to reject Trump’s argument: It’s circular. For weeks, the president and his allies have been spreading lies about election fraud. Now, having manufactured distrust among Republican voters, they’re spinning that distrust as a basis to throw out the election.

Every fact-finding body has rejected Trump’s lies. He’s been stiffed by Trump-appointed judges, Trump-endorsed governors, pro-Trump election officials, and Republican state legislators. But in the court of public opinion, he has found an audience. In polls taken last month, 59 percent of Republicans attributed Trump’s defeat to “illegal voting or election rigging,” 74 percent blamed it on “voter fraud” or insisted it would be overturned, and 67 percent said Trump had actually won. These numbers are much worse than the distrust measured in previous elections, even in years when the margin was closer. more...

By Ariane de Vogue and Veronica Stracqualursi, CNN

(CNN) The Supreme Court on Friday threw out a challenge for now to President Donald Trump's bid to exclude undocumented immigrants from being counted when seats in Congress are divvied up between the states next year, but left open the possibility the issue could be revisited at the nation's highest court. Friday's ruling is a narrow victory for Trump as it wipes away a lower court opinion that went against him, but the President still has upcoming hurdles should he try to push through his policy based on census data in his final days in office.

The court said the challengers, a coalition of states led by New York and immigrant rights groups, did not have the legal injury necessary to bring the case because the government has not yet announced which individuals it seeks to exclude from the count.
Census officials have indicated they're facing difficulties processing census responses in time to produce the final count by an end of the year deadline.

If the census numbers are produced after January 20, President-elect Joe Biden has already suggested he would work to reverse Trump's memorandum signed in July. The court stressed that it "expressed no view" on the merits of the case, but concluded that the dispute is currently "premature" because of the procedural issues surrounding whether the case was properly before the justices.
The court also knocked the case as being "riddled with contingencies and speculation that impede judicial review."

Liberals dissent
The three liberal justices dissented from the opinion. Justice Stephen Breyer, writing for Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, criticized the court's decision to throw out the case based on the "uncertainty" on how Commerce Department officials would attempt to implement Trump's directive. Breyer wrote that the "question is ripe for resolution" and that the court should have reached the merits of the dispute and ruled against the President. more...

By Kaelan Deese

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) on Thursday said it was "stunning" for the White House to not issue a response regarding multiple alleged U.S. government cyber attacks stemming from Russia. The senator from Utah tweeted an abbreviated version of the statement he told SiriusXM’s Chief Washington Correspondent Olivier Knox in a prerecorded interview, noting the recent reports of Russian hacks into government agencies showed "alarming U.S. vulnerability" and "apparent cyber warfare weakness." more...

Former White House National Security Adviser Michael Flynn has checked in with a fresh dose of patriotism.
By Jack Holmes

Many of the high clergy in the Church of the Savvy have been calmly explaining for weeks that although Donald Trump's brazen and pathetic post-election behavior is corrosive to democracy, it does not technically count as a coup attempt. The president's myriad lawsuits attempting to throw out the results of democratic elections have not worked, these folks explain, therefore they were never going to work (Logic), and concern about them working—on the basis that no Law or Norm has much mattered for four years—was hysteria. This is too stupid to be a coup! It's just a grift, because these things are mutually exclusive. And besides, a coup involves using the military or the security apparatus to seize power. He's just getting laughed out of court.

Welp, now his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, a man the president pardoned just last week for "any and all possible offenses" related to the Mueller probe, has endorsed a call for the president to "temporarily suspend the Constitution," "declare limited martial law," have "the military oversee a national re-vote," and "silence the destructive media." Wow! Sounds a bit like a coup. Maybe the best part is the idea that you can have "limited" martial law, or that suspending the Constitution would just be "temporary," or that the only organization that could oversee a legitimate election—read: one where Donald Trump wins—is the military. more...

The president’s freshly pardoned ex-national security adviser retweeted a statement advocating suspending the Constitution.
By David Moye

Michael Flynn, President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser who was pardoned by the president last week for lying during the Russia investigation, wants Trump to declare martial law and “temporarily suspend the Constitution” until a new election is held. Flynn, who had been awaiting sentencing for lying to the FBI about his Russian contacts before Trump’s pardon, on Tuesday retweeted a news release from a right-wing Ohio group called We The People Convention asking the president to declare martial law so troops can supervise a do-over of the 2020 election.

Flynn tagged many conservative celebs in his post and added: “Freedom never kneels except for God.” The news release cites “massive, planned, illegal election fraud” carried out by Democrats. Trump lost the election handily to President-elect Joe Biden and no widespread fraud has been found. If the president doesn’t declare martial law, the statement retweeted by Flynn warns, “we will also have no other choice but to take matters into our own hands and defend our rights on our own.” A retired Army general’s support for the military takeover of U.S. government shocked many people on Twitter. more...

It may sound laughable, but it’s no joke—the GOP leadership and the right-wing media machine are colluding with Trump’s assault on democratic institutions.
By Sasha Abramsky

We are less than seven weeks away from the inauguration, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t counting down the seconds. For the last spasms of Trumpist rule are truly a sight and sound to behold. Trumpism is at this point nothing more than a blend of cultism and fascism, a violent, nihilistic howl against the pillars of American democracy unparalleled in presidential history.

Donald Trump and his acolytes know their gig is up; they can file lawsuits till they are blue in the face, but they’re not going to overturn the election results in multiple states simultaneously. They have reached a fork in the road: Accept the results and move on, or attempt to flex the presidential muscle in a way that launches America into an experiment with dictatorship. They have decided, at least rhetorically, to opt for the latter. And while they almost certainly don’t have the bite to match their bark, the very fact that people surrounding Trump are calling for dictatorship ought to send a chill up all Americans’ spines. Here’s a sampling of some of the Trump team’s doings this past week. more...

John Dunphy

Trump supporters take joy in depicting themselves as ardent patriots who will tolerate no disrespect of the American flag and our national anthem. Now, however, the lunatic fringe of the Trump movement are demanding that their idol, who was so soundly defeated in last month’s election, stage a coup so that he can remain in office.

Sidney Powell, most recently employed as one of Trump’s lawyers and tasked with uncovering non-existent election fraud, retweeted a message that millions of Americans who love our country found chilling. The tweet reads: Dear Mr. President, We will not stand by and watch Foreign and Domestic enemies further destroy our Constitutional Republic. Eighty and more million of us request that you use the Insurrection Act, Suspend the December Electoral College Vote, and set up Military Tribunals immediately, to properly investigate and resolve the cyber warfare 11-3-20 issue. Further, we request you suspend the Jan 6 GA Runoff Race, and the January Inauguration until this issue is resolved. Respectfully, We The People.”

This tweet is nothing less than a request that Trump instigate a coup to remain in power and suppress any opposition to this blatant assault on American democracy. Other pro-Trump extremists share Powell’s desire to transform our nation from a democratic republic into an authoritarian regime. We the People Convention, which is a coalition of Tea Party groups, placed an ad in the Washington Times demanding that Trump invoke “limited martial law” so that the American military can supervise a new federal election. more...

*** Trump has not called out Russia for the attack. The question is will Trump call out Russia or will he give them a pass as he did when the Russians put bounties on the heads of our solders. It makes you wonder whose side Trump is on our side or the Russians. ***

By Kevin Liptak, CNN

(CNN) When President Donald Trump convened his Cabinet at the White House Wednesday as Washington absorbed news of a massive data breach, the heads of most agencies relevant to the intrusion — including the Department of Defense, the State Department, the Justice Department, the director of national intelligence and the Central Intelligence Agency — were absent. After the meeting, Trump said nothing about the attack, which went undetected by his administration's intelligence agencies for months. As those agencies now mobilize to assess the damage — which the government said Thursday could be more widespread than initially thought, posing a "grave risk to the federal government" — the President himself remains silent on the matter, preoccupied instead with his election loss and his invented claims of widespread voter fraud.

The massive data breach, revealed in the final weeks of Trump's administration, amounts to a dramatic coda for a presidency clouded by questions of deference to Russia and unsuccessful attempts to warm relations with its President, Vladimir Putin. Just as he has largely ignored the latest surge in coronavirus cases, Trump appears to have all but abdicated responsibility in his final weeks in office. The White House has not listed an intelligence briefing on the President's daily schedule since early October, though officials say he is regularly briefed on intelligence even when a formal briefing doesn't appear on his calendar and a senior White House official told CNN that Trump was briefed on the hack by his top intelligence officials on Thursday. more...

Officials did not say which agencies or infrastructure had been breached or what information taken in a March attack.
Ben Fox

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal authorities expressed increased alarm Thursday about an intrusion into U.S. and other computer systems around the globe that officials suspect was carried out by Russian hackers. The nation’s cybersecurity agency warned of a “grave” risk to government and private networks. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency said in its most detailed comments yet that the intrusion had compromised federal agencies as well as “critical infrastructure” in a sophisticated attack that was hard to detect and will be difficult to undo.

CISA did not say which agencies or infrastructure had been breached or what information taken in an attack that it previously said appeared to have begun in March. “This threat actor has demonstrated sophistication and complex tradecraft in these intrusions,” the agency said in its unusual alert. “CISA expects that removing the threat actor from compromised environments will be highly complex and challenging.” In a statement, the Department of Energy confirmed the agency was affected, but that the breach was “isolated to business networks only” and not national security functions. more...

By Devan Cole and Sonia Moghe, CNN

Washington (CNN) Six men involved in an alleged plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer were indicted Wednesday on a federal kidnapping conspiracy charge. Daniel Harris, Ty Garbin, Kaleb Franks, Adam Fox and Brandon Caserta pleaded not guilty to the indictment in proceedings on Thursday. Each of the defendants has been in custody since being arrested in October, when the plot was thwarted.

Josh Blanchard, an attorney for Barry Croft, who was also indicted in the case, said his client had not yet been arraigned, but had no further comment. The indictment alleges that between June 6 and October 7, the men conspired to "unlawfully seize, kidnap, abduct and carry away, and hold for ransom and reward" Whitmer, who is a Democrat. Authorities have said the men were planning to kidnap the governor from a vacation home and blow up a bridge to delay law enforcement, but they were arrested first. more...

House committee is investigating Purdue Pharma and billionaire family’s role in epidemic that has killed almost 500,000 Americans
Joanna Walters in New York

Two of a group of billionaire Sackler family members that own Purdue Pharma, the US pharmaceutical manufacturer of the prescription painkiller OxyContin, refused to apologize for their role in the opioids crisis that has killed almost half a million Americans, during a hearing in Washington on Thursday.

Kathe Sackler and David Sackler, former board members of Purdue, both said sorry for the pain endured by individuals suffering from addiction and those who lost loved ones to overdoses, but they avoided admitting any personal culpability. It was the first time members of the family faced such public scrutiny in person for their alleged role in the opioid epidemic.

The Democrat Jim Cooper of Tennessee, a member of the House of Representatives oversight committee questioning the two at the online hearing, said that watching the pair testify made his “blood boil”. “I’m not sure I know of any family in America that is more evil than yours,” Cooper said. more...

*** Trump has not called out Russia for the attack. The question is will Trump call out Russia or will he give them a pass as he did when the Russians put bounties on the heads of our solders. It makes you wonder whose side Trump is on our side or the Russians. ***

Hackers accessed systems at the National Nuclear Security Administration, which maintains the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile.

The Energy Department and National Nuclear Security Administration, which maintains the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile, have evidence that hackers accessed their networks as part of an extensive espionage operation that has affected at least half a dozen federal agencies, officials directly familiar with the matter said. On Thursday, DOE and NNSA officials began coordinating notifications about the breach to their congressional oversight bodies after being briefed by Rocky Campione, the chief information officer at DOE.

They found suspicious activity in networks belonging to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), Sandia and Los Alamos national laboratories in New Mexico and Washington, the Office of Secure Transportation at NNSA, and the Richland Field Office of the DOE. The hackers have been able to do more damage at FERC than the other agencies, and officials there have evidence of highly malicious activity, the officials said, but did not elaborate.

The officials said that the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, which has been helping to manage the federal response to the broad hacking campaign, indicated to FERC this week that CISA was overwhelmed and might not be able to allocate the necessary resources to respond. DOE will therefore be allocating extra resources to FERC to help investigate the hack, even though FERC is a semi-autonomous agency, the officials said. Several top officials from CISA, including its former director Christopher Krebs, have either been pushed out by the Trump administration or resigned in recent weeks. more...

The Queen in the North has spoken.
By Bill Bradley

Tea is coming ... On Wednesday, amid COVID-19 cases continuing to rise in the U.S., “Game of Thrones” actor Sophie Turner posted a simple message on her Instagram story, destroying anti-maskers faster than Arya did the White Walkers. “If I can wear a mask while I give birth, you can wear a mask at Walmart, and that’s the tea,” Turner said. The video was saved by fan accounts and can be seen below: more...

Hannah Allam

The widespread embrace of conspiracy and disinformation amounts to a "mass radicalization" of Americans, and increases the risk of right-wing violence, veteran security officials and terrorism researchers warn. At conferences, in op-eds and at agency meetings, domestic terrorism analysts are raising concern about the security implications of millions of conservatives buying into baseless right-wing claims. They say the line between mainstream and fringe is vanishing, with conspiracy-minded Republicans now marching alongside armed extremists at rallies across the country. Disparate factions on the right are coalescing into one side, analysts say, self-proclaimed "real Americans" who are cocooned in their own news outlets, their own social media networks and, ultimately, their own "truth."

"This tent that used to be sort of 'far-right extremists' has gotten a lot broader. To me, a former counterterrorism official, that's a radicalization process," said Mary McCord, a former federal prosecutor who oversaw terrorism cases and who's now a law professor at Georgetown University. McCord was speaking at a recent online conference, Millions of Conversations, an organization aimed at reducing polarization. Along with McCord, several other former officials who served in senior national security roles said the mass embrace of bogus information poses a serious national security concern for the incoming Biden administration. more...

by Jennifer Rubin

When “sensible” Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) responded to the electoral college vote on Monday by arguing that there was fraud in the election, but not enough to change the outcome, I knew where this was headed. If someone on the sane side of the bell curve in the Senate’s Republican caucus could float without a shred of evidence that there were “instances” of fraud, certainly more egregiously dishonest Republicans would advance that line. Sadly, I was not wrong.

On Wednesday, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, presided over a kangaroo court that set out to show the election was somehow tainted. The event was as fact-free and dishonest as Johnson’s claims about Ukraine during the campaign. It was also just as likely to serve Russian interests by undermining the American democracy. Johnson called election lawyers for the Trump campaign, who failed to prove fraud in a single case. As CNN reported: more...


CNN's Kate Bennett reports on the letter President Trump's future Palm Beach neighbors' attorneys sent saying he cannot be a permanent resident of Mar-a-Lago post-presidency.  video...

By Kate Bennett and Katelyn Polantz, CNN

(CNN) First lady Melania Trump plans to slip down to Palm Beach via government jet on Friday for a weekend walk-through of renovations underway at the Trump family's private quarters at Mar-a-Lago, according to a source familiar with the first lady's schedule, to make sure it's to her liking before she and President Donald Trump move to the private club after January 20, when President-elect Joe Biden moves into the White House.

But beyond the new paint, fabrics and finishes and general expansion of the approximately 3,000 square foot private quarters, there looms a much larger issue with the permanency of the move: whether or not it is legal. When he turned the private residence into a club, Trump had agreed with the town to limit his stays there, and now some Palm Beach residents say he might be violating that agreement. Trump bought the former estate of Marjorie Merriweather Post in 1985, and subsequently turned it into a members' only club in 1993. The plan was -- as with most Trump deals -- to turn a profit.

Yet in order to transform the private residence into a revenue-generating business, Trump had to agree to certain limitations, based on guidelines presented as dealbreakers from the Town of Palm Beach. For example, there could be no more than 500 members, there were rules concerning parking and traffic, and club members -- Trump included -- could not spend more than seven consecutive days at Mar-a-Lago, for no more than three weeks total a year. At the time, following several appearances at town council meetings by Trump and his lawyers to plead his case for approval on the evolution of the property, Trump assented to abiding by the 21-day rule. more...

By Manu Raju and Daniella Diaz, CNN

(CNN) House conservatives are undeterred by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's push to squelch their efforts to contest the presidential election results when a joint session of Congress meets in January to formally count the electoral votes that made Joe Biden's win official. "I know there is zero chance of succeeding if you are a member of the surrender caucus," said Rep. Mo Brooks, a Republican of Alabama who is a leader of the effort. "There is some chance of succeeding if you fight."

The comments are the latest sign that many House Republicans are not ready to accept the results of the election as leading conservatives continue to echo President Donald Trump's false voter fraud claims that have yet to be proven in court -- and House GOP leaders remain silent on acknowledging that Biden is the President-elect. Indeed, even as McConnell ultimately congratulated Biden on Tuesday and referred to him as the "President-elect" for the first time, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy was silent when asked if he'd acknowledge Biden's win, while his No. 2, Steve Scalise, has yet to publicly accept the results himself.

The conservative effort to attempt to overturn states' election results is doomed to fail. But it could put Republicans in a bind.
Privately, McConnell -- along with his top deputies, GOP Sens. John Thune of South Dakota and Roy Blunt of Missouri -- urged GOP senators on a Tuesday call not to join a House effort to object to the results on January 6 since doing so would ultimately force senators to cast a vote on the merits of the objection. GOP leaders fear they would be forced to choose between Trump and the will of the voters -- and are eager not to be put in that position. more...

By Melissa Quinn

Washington — The Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to take up a dispute between the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and a group of collegiate athletes who argue the group's rules restricting education-related compensation violated federal antitrust law.

The court said it would consider the appeal by the NCAA, a body composed of more than 1,200 schools and conferences that sets the rules for college athletics, of a decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court Appeals that found limits on benefits to college basketball and football players related to their education restricted competition under federal law. The case was consolidated with a similar dispute brought by the major athletic conferences, including the Power 5: Big Ten, Big 12, Atlantic Coast Conference, PAC-12 and Southeastern Conference.

A group of football and men's and women's basketball players filed the lawsuit against the NCAA and the largest athletic conferences challenging the rules restricting student-athlete compensation. The collegiate athletes argued the rules on education-related benefits were unlawful and contended that without the limits, they would be compensated at a level more commensurate with their value to their universities, conferences and the NCAA. more...

Donnelle Eller Des Moines Register

Tyson Foods Wednesday fired seven employees at its Waterloo pork processing plant following an investigation into allegations that managers and supervisors made bets on the number of workers who would be sickened by the coronavirus. Arkansas-based Tyson last month hired former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate the gaming allegations after they were raised in wrongful death lawsuits filed by families of workers at the plant who died of COVID-19.

The managers' alleged betting scheme occurred early in the pandemic as the coronavirus began tearing through the Waterloo plant, where about 1,000 of 2,800 workers tested positive for it in early May. Tyson Foods CEO Dean Banks said in a statement Wednesday that "behaviors exhibited by these individuals do not represent the Tyson core values." Tyson "took immediate and appropriate action to get to the truth. Now that the investigation has concluded, we are taking action based on the findings,” Banks said. “We value our people and expect everyone on the team, especially our leaders, to operate with integrity and care in everything we do,” he said. more...

About 3,400 players were part of these seven leagues that existed from 1920 to 1948.
By David K. Li

Major League Baseball on Wednesday announced that records of Negro Leagues players and teams will be included in the game's official statistics, in a "long overdue recognition." Before Jackie Robinson broke professional baseball's race barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947, Black players were barred from MLB play, depriving many baseball fans from seeing some of the best hitters, pitchers and fielders of the 20th century.

"All of us who love baseball have long known that the Negro Leagues produced many of our game's best players, innovations and triumph against a backdrop of injustice," MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. "We are now grateful to count the players of the Negro Leagues where they belong: as Major Leaguers within the official historical record." The records and stats of 3,400 players who competed in seven leagues for Black players between 1920 and 1948, will be included in MLB records, officials said. more...

Christopher Krebs, Trump's former top election security official, said attacks on the election have undermined American democracy.

A Republican-led Senate panel provided a three-hour platform for allies of President Donald Trump to dispute the results of the 2020 election, with the hearing at one point devolving into a shouting match between the top Republican and Democrat on the committee. Throughout the partisan clash, Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chair Ron Johnson argued the forum was simply to evaluate information, while Democrats like Gary Peters countered it was giving oxygen to conspiracy theories undermining U.S. democracy.

GOP-called witnesses, including two Trump campaign lawyers described rampant fraud in Nevada, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, some of which had been considered and scrapped in court, others of which had no basis. The one witness called by Democrats, the Trump administration’s former top election security official Christopher Krebs, served as a counterweight. He urged Americans to put baseless election disputes behind them and warned that false conspiracy claims had fueled violent threats to election officials — including himself.

“I think we’re past the point where we need to be having conversations about the outcome of this election,” said Krebs, who ran the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security agency until Trump fired him last month. The attacks from Trump and his GOP allies on the election, he said, are “ultimately corrosive to the institutions that support elections.” Krebs issued his plea at a hearing that grew increasingly contentious, while Johnson insisted without evidence that fraud had undoubtedly occurred at an indeterminable scale. It was Johnson’s last hearing as chair of the panel, and while he offered some words of comity to his Democratic colleagues, he also sparred bitterly with Peters, the ranking member. more...

*** White supremacist, white racist and white mobs are more of a threat to America than black extremists are. ***

Jana Winter, Marquise Francis and Sean D. Naylor

More than three years after the FBI came under fire for claiming “Black identity extremists” were a domestic terrorism threat, the bureau has issued a new terrorism guide that employs almost identical terminology, according to a copy of the document obtained by Yahoo News.

The FBI’s 2020 domestic terrorism reference guide on “Racially or Ethnically Motivated Violent Extremism” identifies two distinct sets of groups: those motivated by white supremacy and those who use “political reasons — including racism or injustice in American society” to justify violence. The examples the FBI gives for the latter group are all Black individuals or groups.

The FBI document claims that “many” of those Black racially motivated extremists “have targeted law enforcement and the US Government,” while a “small number” of them “incorporate sovereign citizen Moorish beliefs into their ideology, which involves a rejection of their US citizenship based on a combination of sovereign citizen ideology, religious beliefs, and black separatist rhetoric.” more...

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