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US Monthly Headline News January 2021 Page 1

They weren’t protesters or rioters. They were terrorists. Will they be brought to justice for their assault on our democracy?
Jay Michaelson

In a lawful society, in which our laws were administered fairly to all, the armed terrorists who shook the nation, attempted an insurrection, and forcibly occupied our Capitol would be thrown in jail for decades. Specifically, these terrorists (they are not protesters; they are not rioters; they are terrorists, insurrectionists, and traitors) have violated the following federal laws:

18 U.S.C. § 2385. Seditious Conspiracy. If “two or more people… conspire… by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States, or by force to seize, take, or possess any property of the United States contrary to the authority thereof,” penalties are fines and twenty years imprisonment.
18 U.S.C. § 1361. Destruction of Government Property. If the damage exceeds $100, penalties are fines up to $250,000 and ten years imprisonment.
18 U.S.C. § 111. Assaulting Federal Officers. Fines vary, 20 years imprisonment.
18 U.S.C. § 351. Assault on Members of Congress. One year imprisonment.
41 CFR 102-74.380. Creating a Hazard on Federal Property. Penalties vary.
36 CFR 2.34 (and elsewhere). Disorderly Conduct. 90 days imprisonment, $300 fine.

Will any of those charges be filed? Will the smiling, white, unmasked faces of these thieves—stealing podiums, breaking into offices, smashing windows—be identified, and will the thieves be prosecuted? more...

After being harassed in the airport by self-proclaimed “patriots,” the true patriotism of all involved was revealed.
By Samuel Benson

As the Utah Territory launched a bid for statehood in 1862, Brigham Young — speaking as the proposed governor — made his case in The New York Times: “(Utah) will, with equal patriotism, adopt such measures as will best sustain our Government,” he said, appealing to the territory’s “tried and firm supporters of the Constitution and every Constitutional right.” A century-and-a-half later, Utah is certainly tried and firm in many regards — but how we define “patriotism,” or how we view support of the Constitution, could use some reevaluation. A case in point is Mitt Romney. The Utah senator headed to Washington Tuesday, and while waiting for his flight, was verbally harassed by a group of self-proclaimed “Utah Patriots.” “You’re a joke. An absolute joke,” a woman shouted at him. “It’s a disgusting shame.” He was greeted on his flight by more of his jeering constituents, chanting “traitor” and calling for him to retire. All in the name of patriotism. more...

Lawmakers were evacuated during the counting of Electoral College votes after a mob of supporters descended on the Capitol at Trump's urging.

Congress's effort to count the Electoral College votes that gave President-elect Joe Biden his election victory devolved into chaos and violence Wednesday after pro-Trump protesters stormed the Capitol. The breach of the building occurred after President Donald Trump called on supporters at a rally in downtown Washington to march to the Capitol complex. One person has died, according to multiple law enforcement sources. The woman shot in the Capitol amid violent breach of the complex has died. more...

Utah members report they are safe amid melee.
By Lee Davidson

Utah Sen. Mitt Romney was furious after protesters — fired up by President Donald Trump at a rally saying he was robbed in the elction — stormed the U.S. Capitol and managed to stop the official count of the Electoral College vote,. “This is what the president has caused today, this insurrection,” he told New York Times reporter Jonathan Martin after senators arrived at a secure location. Reporter David Freedlander with Politico tweeted that Romney earlier yelled in the Senate chamber, “This is what you’ve gotten” to Ted Cruz and his colleagues who raised objections to the electoral vote counts.

Protesters managed to gain entrance eventually into the Senate chamber, and even pose in senators’ chairs. Television pictures showed protesters firing tear gas, and carrying weapons. Members of Congress were evacuated by police reportedly to secure locations. Sen. Mike Lee urged the Senate to continue the electoral count, and not let protesters stop it. “Congress was elected to govern. We need to get back on the floor and gavel in the Senate as soon as possible,” he tweeted. Lee added, “Whether we get back in the chamber or convene in a different location, the Senate should continue the work of the American people immediately. This outrage cannot be allowed to disrupt that work for a minute longer.” more...

Elena Moore, Alana Wise, Benjamin Swasey

The U.S. Capitol was engulfed in chaos on Wednesday, as supporters of President Trump, responding to his call to head there, breached the complex, resulting in violence in the seat of America's federal government. The surreal and dangerous scene interrupted proceedings in the House and Senate, as members of Congress were tallying President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College victory. For two months, Trump has falsely claimed the election was stolen from him, and dozens of fellow Republicans have planned to object to slates of electors from various states they considered contested.

Lawmakers were debating an objection to Arizona's results — a state Trump lost narrowly — when the sessions were recessed as the U.S. Capitol Police attempted to put the complex on lockdown. Violent protesters were seen smashing windows and occupying the House and Senate floors and various offices. Police were seen with guns drawn in the House chamber, pointing their firearms at windows that were smashed. more...

Lauren Feiner

Hackers who tapped into government networks through SolarWinds software potentially accessed about 3% of the Justice Department’s email accounts, but there’s no indication they accessed classified systems, a DOJ spokesperson said in a statement Wednesday. The DOJ Office of the Chief Information Officer learned of the hack the day of Christmas Eve, according to the statement, where agents accessed the Department’s Microsoft Office 365 email environment. more...

Trump supporters clash with law enforcement at protest
New Day

Hundreds of law enforcement officers have mobilized across Washington DC as thousands of supporters who refuse to accept President Donald Trump's election loss have flocked to the nation's capital to protest as Congress gathers to certify President-elect Joe Biden's victory. CNN's Boris Sanchez reports. video...

Senators escorted out of chamber as Trump protesters storm building
Washington Post

Senators were escorted out of the chamber amid a joint session to certify the electoral college votes on Jan. 6 as Trump-supporting protesters stormed the building. more...

Police clearing pro-Trump mob from US Capitol after rioters stormed halls of Congress
By Ted Barrett, Manu Raju and Peter Nickeas, CNN

(CNN) Police are clearing supporters of President Donald Trump from the US Capitol after they breached one of the most iconic American buildings, engulfing the nation's capital in chaos after Trump urged his supporters to fight against the ceremonial counting of the electoral votes that confirmed President-elect Joe Biden's win. Shortly after 1 p.m. ET hundreds of pro-Trump protesters pushed through barriers set up along the perimeter of the Capitol, where they tussled with officers in full riot gear, some calling the officers "traitors" for doing their jobs. About 90 minutes later, police said demonstrators got into the building and the doors to the House and Senate were being locked. Shortly after, the House floor was evacuated by police.

An armed standoff took place at the House front door as of 3 p.m. ET, and police officers had their guns drawn at someone who was trying to breach it. A Trump supporter was also pictured standing at the Senate dais earlier in the afternoon. A woman is in critical condition after being shot in the chest on the Capitol grounds, according to two sources familiar with the matter. The sources could not provide further details on the circumstances of the shooting. Multiple officers have been injured with at least one transported to the hospital, multiple sources tell CNN. Smoke grenades were used on the Senate side of the Capitol, as police work to clear the building of rioters. Windows on the west side of the Senate have been broken, and hundreds of officers are amassing on the first floor of the building. The Senate floor was cleared of rioters as of 3:30 p.m. ET, and an officer told CNN that they have successfully squeezed them away from the Senate wing of the building and towards the Rotunda, and they are removing them out of the East and West doors of the Capitol. more...

By Melissa Macaya, Meg Wagner, Veronica Rocha and Mike Hayes, CNN

Democrat Jon Ossoff will win his Senate race in Georgia, CNN projects. His win means Democrats will have control of the Senate. With Ossoff and Raphael Warnock's wins over Georgia's two incumbent GOP senators, there will be a 50-50 split in the Senate. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, also a Democrat, will cast any tie-breaking votes. more...

The Kentucky Republican characterized Wednesday’s vote as the most important he’d ever cast in his 36 years in the Senate.
By MARIANNE LEVINE

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is leading the charge against President Donald Trump and a dozen Senate Republicans’ efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election. In a floor speech following the first objection to Arizona’s election results, McConnell (R-Ky.) warned that the effort to object to certifying the Nov. 3 election, if successful, would spur U.S. democracy into a “death spiral.” “The voters, the courts and the states have spoken,” McConnell said. “If we overrule them, it would damage our Republic forever.”

The Kentucky Republican characterized Wednesday’s vote as the most important he’d ever cast in his 36 years in the Senate. “I will not pretend such a vote would be a harmless protest gesture while relying on others to do the right thing,” McConnell said. “I will vote to respect the people’s decision and defend our system of government as we know it.” McConnell’s remarks come as more than a dozen Senate Republicans are planning to object to the certification of a handful of states, following Trump’s unsubstantiated claims of widespread voter fraud. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who is leading one effort, is calling for the establishment of a ten-day electoral commission to investigate fraud allegations, which he acknowledged Tuesday is “extraordinarily uphill.” more...

By Ted Barrett, Manu Raju and Peter Nickeas, CNN

(CNN) Supporters of President Donald Trump have breached the US Capitol and one woman has been shot as one of the most iconic American buildings is engulfed in chaos after Trump urged his supporters to fight against the ceremonial counting of the electoral votes that confirmed President-elect Joe Biden's win. Shortly after 1 p.m. ET hundreds of pro-Trump protesters pushed through barriers set up along the perimeter of the Capitol, where they tussled with officers in full riot gear, some calling the officers "traitors" for doing their jobs. About 90 minutes later, police said demonstrators got into the building and the doors to the House and Senate were being locked. Shortly after, the House floor was evacuated by police. An armed standoff was taking place at the House front door as of 3 p.m. ET, and police officers had their guns drawn at someone who is trying to breach it. A Trump supporter was also pictured standing at the Senate dais. A woman is in critical condition after being shot in the chest on the Capitol grounds, according to two sources familiar with the matter. The sources could not provide further details on the circumstances of the shooting. more...

The events of the past few weeks suggest the principles animating modern conservative constitutionalism are merely arguments of convenience.
By Steve Vladeck, professor at the University of Texas School of Law

There are any number of reasons to criticize the dozens of congressional Republicans who have vowed to object to duly certified slates of presidential electors Wednesday, when Congress meets to ratify President-Elect Joe Biden's Electoral College victory. Among other things, there remains no substantiated evidence that the results in any states were inaccurate. Nor is that for lack of trying; in some states (including Georgia) there have been multiple audits of the final tallies using paper receipts, each of which has confirmed the results. As with any election, there have been infinitesimal discrepancies at the margins, but none of them come close to overcoming Biden's margins of victories in the tipping-point states — Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — and some have only increased his margins.

Rather, the goal seems to be to try to appease and appeal to the president's supporters — to whom no amount of contrary evidence and/or rejections of these claims in court have sufficiently established that 81 million Americans voted for the other guy. In the process, these objections will serve only to perpetuate conspiracy theories and delegitimize the clearly legitimate election of our country's 46th president. Worse still, they may also set the stage for similar machinations four years from now — when they might be sufficient to overturn narrower election results.

Wednesday's antics aren't just dangerous political theater; they are also a betrayal of two of the foundational legal principles conservative Republicans have pushed for decades: The first of these is "originalism" — the theory that any debate over the meaning of specific constitutional provisions should be conclusively resolved by how those provisions would have been understood when they were adopted. The second, related principle is a particular understanding of "federalism" — the division of power between state and federal governments — through which our founding charter preserves the regulatory primacy of states over most topics, including federal elections. more...

Cleta Mitchell had been quietly helping President Trump’s attempt to subvert the election results when the recording of him pressuring Georgia elections officials was revealed.
By Michael S. Schmidt and Kenneth P. Vogel

As President Trump has sought to overturn the election results, his personal lawyers paraded themselves before television hosts, state elections officials and anyone else willing to entertain their baseless claims of voter fraud. But behind the scenes, a longtime conservative lawyer named Cleta Mitchell quietly helped. Her work for Mr. Trump drew widespread attention for the first time over the weekend, when a recording was released of an hourlong call in which Mr. Trump threatened Georgia elections officials with “a criminal offense” if they failed to “find” enough votes to change the state’s presidential results.

On the call, Ms. Mitchell repeatedly jumped in to help Mr. Trump, showing an intimate level of involvement in his efforts as they made baseless claims about the election and pressed Georgia officials to hand over election data. Ms. Mitchell is a partner at the law firm Foley & Lardner, which has over 1,000 lawyers and an office in nearly every major city in the United States and represents large corporations such as CVS Pharmacy. Her presence on the call stood out because Mr. Trump has struggled to attract high-profile lawyers to aid his attempts to overturn the election, instead relying on a group that has included Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former New York City mayor who has pushed outlandish claims in defense of Mr. Trump throughout his presidency, and Sidney Powell, who has espoused conspiracy theories. more...

Alex Montrose

At least $36 billion in fraudulent unemployment benefits have been stolen from the U.S., according to analysis from the Office of the Inspector General for the Department of Labor. As CNBC reports, 10 percent of the $360 billion Congress allotted for unemployment benefits in the Cares Act have been improperly distributed, mostly due to scams that have taken those benefits away from unemployed workers. The fraud has prompted several states, including California, to freeze benefits as they implement changes to combat the theft.

“This is the largest fraud attack on the U.S. ever. Period,” Blake Hall of ID.me, a company that provides identity-verification to state unemployment agencies, told CNBC. “And it’s not even close.” Hackers and others took advantage of state unemployment systems’ lax security measures. In response, the new COVID-19 relief package signed in December includes measures to prevent theft of future unemployment benefits. The fraud primarily took place under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program for self-employed and gig workers, an expansion in the CARES Act that covered workers the are usually ineligible for unemployment benefits. In some states, more than 35 percent of PUA applications were fraudulent. more...

Julie Gerstein

The Pennsylvania state senate devolved into a shouting match during its swearing-in ceremony Tuesday. The breakdown came when Lt. Governor John Fetterman left his position as presiding officer of the Senate after disruption from GOP Senators during a debate over the seating of Sen. Jim Brewster. Brewster narrowly won his race against Republican challenger Nicole Ziccarelli in the 45th District by 69 votes.

The election was certified by Pennsylvania's Department of State and upheld by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, however, Ziccarelli is challenging the results of the race and the case is still pending. Ziccarelli disputes the legitimacy of the election results based on a discrepancy between how various counties in the 45th District handled mail-in ballots. In one county, mail-in ballots that did not have a date on them were discarded, while in another they were allowed. Ziccarelli is asking a judge to throw out 311 undated mail-in ballots, which would alter the results of the election. more...

By Benjamin Fearnow

President Donald Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani said any Republican who is against overturning the November election results should be removed from the party, labeling several GOP lawmakers in Pennsylvania and Arizona "liars" and a "disgrace." Giuliani told Arizona Governor Doug Ducey he "should join another political party" alongside any Republican state legislators who have failed to assist Trump's legal team in overturning President-elect Joe Biden's victory. Giuliani explained Trump and Vice President Mike Pence's final legal options to remain in office included their submission of "two sets of state electors" for Congress to count this week. Giuliani said one outcome that allows Trump to remain in office is if "you can't determine a winner, but you can determine the election was illegal."

Giuliani laid out the legal options for Pence to refuse to count at least six states where "confusing" results were contested by Trump. Making several demands for party loyalty on conservative Charlie Kirk's podcast, Giuliani said the GOP should be taking down the names of anyone "not supporting us." Giuliani railed against the "coward" Senate Republicans who are not joining the 12 "sedition caucus" members who plan to disrupt Wednesday's Electoral College vote count. The former New York City mayor said Pennsylvania's election officials are a "disgrace," and he called Georgia GOP Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger "a liar." more...

The effort to overturn Trump's loss may be defeated overwhelmingly while fracturing his party.
By MARIANNE LEVINE and BURGESS EVERETT

The Senate Republicans opposed to certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s win are heading toward a hefty defeat on Wednesday. The only remaining question is this: how badly do they lose? Just 11 GOP senators have signaled support for separate efforts led by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.). That makes 13 supporters — and many more have come out swinging against it. “To challenge a state’s certification, given how specific the Constitution is, would be a violation of my oath of office — that is not something I am willing to do and is not something Oklahomans would want me to do,” said Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), who announced his decision Tuesday.

Sens. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and Jerry Moran (R-Kans.) also said Tuesday that they would not object to the election results. In a statement, Moran said that doing so "would risk undermining our democracy — which is built upon the rule of law and separation of powers" and that "no victory for one’s cause today can be worth what we would lose tomorrow." At least 23 GOP senators will vote to certify Biden’s election win, according to a series of interviews and statements. As of midday Tuesday, 15 Republican senators had not said what they would do publicly. With every Senate Democrat also sure to reject the challenge to Biden’s victory, President Donald Trump’s pressure campaign will easily fail even as it succeeds in splitting the GOP. Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) said on MSNBC Tuesday that reaching his conclusion to endorse Biden’s win in key swing states was a “brutal” episode because a majority of his constituents were urging him to oppose the certification. more...

*** Trump is still trying to steal the election. Trump lost he should man up get over it, move on and admit he is a sore LOSER. ***

Analysis by Stephen Collinson, CNN

(CNN) Desperate, deluded and dangerous, President Donald Trump drove America deeper into a political abyss on Monday night in his zeal to steal an election he lost and to destroy faith in the democracy that fairly ejected him from office. The President spewed lies, conspiracy theories and nonsensically false claims of vote fraud before an angry crowd in Georgia on a trip scheduled to help two Republicans in toss up run-offs Tuesday set to seal the Senate balance of power. But as usual, and as it has been for the last four years, including during the fast-worsening pandemic that he ignored, the outgoing President's primary concern was himself. "By the way, there is no way we lost Georgia, that was a rigged election," Trump said in the first, inaccurate words out of his mouth after disembarking from his Marine One helicopter, before broadening his disinformation to the November 3 election as a whole.

"When you win in a landslide and they steal it and it's rigged, it is not acceptable," Trump said in an embittered screed, rooted in false claims that he prevailed in an election President-elect Joe Biden won 306-232 in the Electoral College. Though he often wove GOP Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue into his remarks -- and warned of the dangers of a Democratic monopoly of power in Washington if they lost -- the President's appearance was essentially a wild, on-stage prime-time TV version of Saturday's call in which he leaned on Georgia state officials to conjure votes out of thin air in order to discredit Biden's already certified Peach State victory -- a flagrant and possibly unlawful abuse of power. The President's rants on Monday night contrasted sharply with the stunning point-by-point denunciation of his case by a top GOP election official who used facts and evidence to dismiss false claims of electoral corruption. "This is all easily, provably false. Yet the President persists," Gabriel Sterling, the voting systems implementation manager for the Georgia secretary of state's office, said in a calm, reasoned news conference on Monday. more...

By Rocco Parascandola New York Daily News

A 22-year-old man with extremist right-wing views surrendered to police early Tuesday after he was linked to the hoax device that sparked the evacuation of a Queens shopping mall, police said. Louis Shenker called 911 at about 3 a.m. and surrendered in Brooklyn. He is being questioned and was not immediately charged. Shenker, who gave police a home address in Amherst, Mass., was busted twice last week for allegedly burning posters near Gracie Mansion. He has a podcast, “The Minuteman,” on which he pushes his far-right views, according to a police source, and he was known during the George Floyd protest for confronting those demonstrating against police brutality. Police descended Monday morning on Queens Place, a mall in East Elmhurst, after someone reported seeing propane tanks on a black Tesla parked in a garage. more...

Christine Wang

The New York Stock Exchange said it no longer plans to delist three Chinese telecommunications giants. In a late Monday statement, the NYSE said it dropped the plans after “further consultation with relevant regulatory authorities in connection with Office of Foreign Assets Control.” Hong Kong-listed shares of China Telecom, China Mobile and China Unicom rallied after news of the reversal.

The announcement comes after the NYSE said on Dec. 31 that it would move to delist American depositary shares of China Telecom, China Mobile and China Unicom. The NYSE had originally planned to drop the Chinese telecom listings in order to comply with an executive order that President Donald Trump signed in November. That order sought to bar American companies and individuals from investing in firms that the Trump administration alleged aid the Chinese military. more...

By Peter Hermann and Martin Weil

The leader of the Proud Boys, Enrique Tarrio, was arrested by D.C. police Monday afternoon on a warrant charging him with burning a Black Lives Matter banner taken from a historic Black church during a demonstration last month, officials said. Police stopped a vehicle Tarrio had been in shortly after it entered the District, said Dustin Sternbeck, a D.C. police spokesman. He said it is believed that Tarrio, who lives in Miami, was coming into the District from the airport. Sternbeck said Tarrio is charged with one misdemeanor count of destruction of property in connection with the Dec. 12 burning of a banner stolen from Asbury United Methodist Church.

Tarrio had told The Washington Post last month that he was among those who burned the banner. Police said Tarrio, who was in custody Monday evening, also was charged with two felony counts of possession of high-capacity ammunition feeding devices, which is a legal term for a firearms magazine that allows guns to hold additional bullets. The devices were found during the arrest, police said. more...

Police said Steven Brandenburg "told investigators that he believed that Covid-19 vaccine was not safe for people and could harm them and change their DNA."
By David K. Li and Samira Puskar

A pharmacist accused of trying to destroy hundreds of doses of coronavirus vaccine is a conspiracy theorist who believed the medication wasn't safe, Wisconsin authorities alleged Monday. The man, Steven Brandenburg, 46, was ordered held in lieu of $10,000 bond by Ozaukee County Circuit Court Judge Paul Malloy during a brief appearance. Police in Grafton, about 20 miles north of Milwaukee, arrested Brandenburg, a pharmacist with Advocate Aurora Health, on Thursday after 57 vials of the Moderna vaccine appeared to have been spoiled. Police said Brandenburg took the vaccine doses from a refrigerator and left them out for 12 hours, possibly rendering them useless.

Each vial contained 10 doses; in total, the material was worth $8,550 to $11,400, according to a probable cause statement by Grafton police Detective Sgt. Eric Sutherland. Brandenburg is an "admitted conspiracy theorist," and he "told investigators that he believed that Covid-19 vaccine was not safe for people and could harm them and change their DNA," Sutherland wrote. "He admitted this was an intentional act," the probable cause statement added. more...

Lloyd Green

Never mind sedition – for the secession caucus, defeat by Barack Obama’s successor and a black woman is just too much to bear. On Wednesday, the Republicans’ transition to the party of the Confederacy will be complete. A day after Georgia’s runoff elections, at least a dozen lawmakers in the Senate and more than half of the party’s House membership will seek to overturn the results of the 2020 election and disenfranchise the majority of US voters. A coup attempt in all but name, this is how democracy dies. Sadly, a statement issued on Saturday by seven sitting senators and four senators-elect dispelled any doubts about the nexus between the end of the US civil war, more than 150 years ago, and Donald Trump’s desperate attempt to cling to power. Predictably, America’s racial divide again stands front and center.

After regurgitating for the umpteenth time unproven and unsubstantiated charges of electoral fraud, the senators invoked the election of 1876. Back then, the Democrats contested the outcome, conceding after the Republicans agreed to halt Reconstruction. As framed by Ted Cruz and his posse, “the most direct precedent” for their actions “arose in 1877, following serious allegations of fraud and illegal conduct in the Hayes-Tilden presidential race”. In their telling, “elections in three states” were “alleged to have been conducted illegally”. Left unsaid is that after the end of Reconstruction, Jim Crow and the toxic legacy of “separate but equal” followed. more...

*** Trump the conspiracy nut in the White House. ***

The call offered a look at just how much Trump is now relying on some of the most outlandish theories from obscure corners of the internet to make his case for election fraud.
By Ben Collins, Brandy Zadrozny and Jane C. Timm

President Donald Trump cataloged a series of false conspiracy theories during an hourlong call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on Saturday in which he sought to overturn the state's election results, and they were familiar to anyone following the far fringes of the internet. Trump floated fragments of several baseless conspiracy theories that were primarily pushed by QAnon followers over the last two months, including a widely debunked theory about voting machines from Dominion Voting Systems.

The wide-ranging slew of theories, spawned on extremist forums like 4chan, were repeatedly referred to by Trump as “rumors” that are “trending on the internet.” He claimed they were reasons Raffensperger should “re-examine it [the election] with people that want to find answers.” And while Trump has embraced conspiracy theories for much of his tenure as president, Saturday's call offered a look at just how much he is now relying on some of the most outlandish theories from obscure corners of the internet to make his case for election fraud. more...

By Sarah Carter

Johannesburg, South Africa — The new coronavirus variant identified in South Africa poses even more of a risk than the strain discovered several weeks ago in England, Britain's top health official warned on Monday. His alarm came as scientists warned that the new strain sweeping through South African coastal communities could be resistant to the COVID-19 vaccines approved or awaiting approval in the U.S. and Europe. "I'm incredibly worried about the South African variant," Health Secretary Matt Hancock told BBC Radio. "This is a very, very significant problem... it's even more of a problem than the U.K. new variant."  

As the first doses of the Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccine outside of medical trials were administered at an Oxford hospital on Monday, senior Oxford immunologist Professor John Bell — who helped create the prestigious university's vaccine — said there was a "big question mark" over whether the current versions of vaccines would work on the South African variant. He said it was "unlikely" the mutation would make the vaccines ineffective, but that they might need tweaks to provide as much protection against the strain as they do against the others already in wide circulation elsewhere. more...

Georgia Republican facing Senate runoff bought significant shares in US bank after meeting with financial policy makers
Stephanie Kirchgaessner in Washington

David Perdue, the Georgia Republican facing a Senate runoff election on Tuesday, has twice bought a significant number of shares in a US bank shortly after meeting with financial policy makers, raising more questions about his prolific stock trading while in office. In one case, in May 2015, Perdue bought between $15,000 and $50,000 worth of shares in Regions Financial Corporation two days after a 10-minute phone call with then treasury secretary Jack Lew. Perdue bought additional shares in the bank two years later, on 18 May 2017, two days after a half-hour meeting with then Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen.

It is not clear in either case if Perdue discussed relevant financial regulation or other market-sensitive issues with Lew or Yellen or whether the discussions influenced his decision to buy the stock. At the time of the call with Lew, members of the Senate banking committee, on which Perdue sits, were engaged in close talks over a potential trade deal. But the purchase of more Regions stock in the wake of Perdue’s meeting with Yellen – who will be nominated to serve as treasury secretary by Joe Biden once the president-elect takes office – is possibly significant, because it came about two months before Yellen publicly discussed her support for raising the $50bn asset threshold for systemically important institutions, a change that meant Regions bank could see an easing of important financial regulations. more...

In his final weeks in office, the president is honoring friends and allies with pardons and medals.
David Mack BuzzFeed News Reporter

Devin Nunes, the California Republican who helped undermine the Trump impeachment proceedings and Russia inquiry by spreading unfounded conspiracies, was rewarded for his actions by the president on Monday with the nation's top civilian honor. President Donald Trump announced he would bestow the Presidential Medal of Freedom on the member of Congress, thanking him for his work exposing what Trump called the "Russia Hoax." "Congressman Devin Nunes is a public servant of unmatched talent, unassailable integrity, and unwavering resolve," Trump said in a statement. "He uncovered the greatest scandal in American history."

A White House spokesperson told media on Monday afternoon the ceremony was held — apparently privately — earlier in the day. Trump is also expected to soon bestow the award to Jim Jordan, the Ohio member of Congress who has also been a close ally and who has been accused of turning a blind eye to sexual assault at Ohio State University when he coached wrestling there — a charge he denies. The decision to honor Nunes and Jordan with an award previously given to figures such as Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., Neil Armstrong, and Sandra Day O'Connor is part of a pattern of behavior of Trump rewarding allies with honors or presidential pardons during his final weeks in office. more...

By Kaitlan Collins, CNN

(CNN) Before he leaves office, President Donald Trump will award the nation's highest civilian honor to two of his most vocal political allies who defended him throughout his impeachment, Rep. Devin Nunes of California and Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, as the White House has been inundated with requests for others, multiple sources told CNN. Though it wasn't listed on his public schedule released by the White House, Trump on Monday will award the Medal of Freedom to Nunes, the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee who is a close political ally of Trump's and who has worked closely with him to undermine the Justice Department's Russia investigation. Trump is also considering granting the Medal of Freedom to Bobby Bowden, the retired Florida State University football coach. more...

By Teo Armus

After The Washington Post on Sunday published an extraordinary phone call between President Trump and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R), many observers shared one question: Did Trump break the law? During that hour-long call on Saturday, Trump urged Raffensperger to “find” enough votes to overturn his defeat and threatened him with vague legal consequences, seemingly encouraging his fellow Republican to fix the election results. ‘I just want to find 11,780 votes’: In extraordinary hour-long call, Trump pressures Georgia secretary of state to recalculate the vote in his favor

As the sole Democrat on Georgia’s state election board on Sunday urged Raffensperger to investigate the president over the call, some lawyers and legal scholars say Trump’s actions indeed appeared to violate both state and federal criminal statutes. On social media, much of the conversation among legal observers and Trump critics revolved around a federal statute, 52 U.S. Code 20511, that makes it a crime to “knowingly and willfully” deprive or defraud a state’s residents of a free or fair election — or to attempt to do so. Eric Holder, the former attorney general under President Barack Obama, shared the text of that statute on Twitter on Sunday. “As you listen to the tape consider this federal criminal statute,” Holder wrote. more...

By Manu Raju and Jeremy Herb, CNN

(CNN) Many conservative House Republicans defended President Donald Trump in the aftermath of his phone call demanding Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger "find" the votes needed for him to win the elections in his state -- as Democrats began drafting a resolution seeking to censure Trump over the matter. After House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy downplayed Trump's stunning demand, other Republicans rushed to his defense -- and some refused to take issue with the President's actions. "I wasn't involved in the call," said Minnesota Rep. Tom Emmer, who chairs the House GOP's campaign arm. Rep. Paul Gosar, a conservative Arizona Republican who is joining his colleagues' effort to overturn the election results on Wednesday, contended that Trump's call was a simple expression of "enormous frustration."

"Politically correct speech doesn't run well," Gosar said when asked about Trump. Trump's call with Georgia's secretary of state, audio of which was reported by CNN, the Washington Post and others on Sunday, comes ahead of a Republican effort to object to President-elect Joe Biden's victory when Congress counted the Electoral College votes on Wednesday. At least 140 House Republicans and a dozen Senate Republicans are preparing to vote against Biden's victory in a push to overturn the election results despite no evidence of widespread voter fraud, though the effort has divided Republicans, with some Republicans openly criticizing their colleagues for an effort they charge is dangerous to democracy. Trump has attacked those Republicans not joining with his push to overturn the election results, tweeting Monday at Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, one of Trump's typical Senate GOP allies, after Cotton announced he wouldn't support the objections. more...

By Christina Zhao

Senator Lindsey Graham is facing online backlash from supporters of President Donald Trump for condemning several GOP congressional members' efforts to challenge the certification of the Electoral College vote for President-elect Joe Biden. A coalition of 11 Republican senators and senators-elect promised to oppose Congress in certifying the Electoral College vote this Wednesday, unless a commission is formed to audit the election results in disputed states. The group, led by Ted Cruz of Texas, said it would "reject the electors from disputed states as not 'regularly given' and 'lawfully certified'... unless and until that emergency 10-day audit is completed."

Graham, a Republican who represents South Carolina, criticized the effort as a political stunt on Sunday. "Proposing a commission at this late date—which has zero chance of becoming reality—is not effectively fighting for President Trump," he tweeted. "It appears to be more of a political dodge than an effective remedy." "They will also need to show that the failure to take corrective action in addressing election fraud changed the outcome of these states' votes and ultimately the outcome of the election," he added. "My colleagues will have the opportunity to make this case, and I will listen closely. But they have a high bar to clear." more...

David Knowles

As word spread Sunday of President Trump’s astonishing phone conversation with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger the day before, there was widespread speculation that the president had committed one or more crimes in his effort to overturn the results of the election in Georgia, including extortion and, ironically, election fraud. A recording of the one-hour call was released Sunday by the Washington Post. The president is heard pressuring Raffensperger to “find 11,780 votes” that would put him in the lead over President-elect Joe Biden in Georgia, which has already certified its results. Trump also threatens Raffensperger with the possibility of criminal charges unless he comes up with the votes to overturn the election results. “You know, that’s a criminal — that’s a criminal offense. And you know, you can’t let that happen,” Trump says on the call. “That’s a big risk to you and to Ryan, your lawyer. That’s a big risk.” more...

By Paul LeBlanc, CNN

(CNN) All 10 living former US defense secretaries declared that the US presidential election is over in a forceful public letter published in The Washington Post on Sunday as President Donald Trump continues to deny his election loss to Joe Biden. The letter -- signed by Dick Cheney, James Mattis, Mark Esper, Leon Panetta, Donald Rumsfeld, William Cohen, Chuck Hagel, Robert Gates, William Perry and Ashton Carter -- amounts to a remarkable show of force against Trump's subversion efforts just days before Congress is set to count Electoral College votes.

"Our elections have occurred. Recounts and audits have been conducted. Appropriate challenges have been addressed by the courts. Governors have certified the results. And the electoral college has voted. The time for questioning the results has passed; the time for the formal counting of the electoral college votes, as prescribed in the Constitution and statute, has arrived," the group wrote. Since Election Day, Trump has falsely claimed that a second term is being stolen, even as there have been no credible allegations of widespread voting issues as affirmed by dozens of judges, governors, and election officials, the Electoral College, the Justice Department, the Department of Homeland Security, and the US Supreme Court. Still, a wide swath of congressional Republicans are siding with the President and plan to object to Biden's win during Electoral College counting on Wednesday -- even though their efforts will only delay the inevitable affirmation of Biden's win. more...


(CNN) CNN has obtained the full January 2 audio call between President Donald Trump and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. Trump is joined on the call by White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and several lawyers. CNN obtained the audio from a source who was on the call and had direct knowledge of the conversation. CNN has redacted the name of one individual about whom Trump made unsubstantiated claims. Here is the full transcript and audio of the hour-long call. more...

CNN Newsroom

Legendary Watergate journalist Carl Bernstein reacts to audio obtained by the Washington Post of President Donald Trump pushing Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to "find" votes to overturn the election results in the state. video...

*** If you want to stop the steal, tell Donald J. Trump to stop trying to steal the election. ***

Jay Busbee

ATLANTA — Just two days before the Georgia runoffs that will determine the leadership of the Senate and one day before a rally on behalf of the Republican candidates, President Trump has continued to unload on the GOP officials leading the state. In an extraordinary development, Trump attempted to cajole Republican Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, according to the Washington Post, which published audio of their call on Sunday. “So look. All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have,” Trump told Raffensperger, laying bare his overriding goal of overturning the November election results.

President-elect Joe Biden won Georgia on Nov. 3, the first time the state had gone for a Democratic candidate since 1992. Despite three vote recounts, Trump has continued to insist that the voting was tainted, casting a wide range of allegations without any credible evidence to back up his assertions. Trump continued to attack Raffensperger while addressing their call hours before the Post published the audio. “I spoke to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger yesterday about Fulton County and voter fraud in Georgia,” Trump tweeted. “He was unwilling, or unable, to answer questions such as the ‘ballots under table’ scam, ballot destruction, out of state ‘voters,’ dead voters, and more. He has no clue!” “Respectfully, President Trump,” Raffensperger replied on Twitter, “What you're saying is not true. The truth will come out.” On Sunday afternoon, the truth did come out in the form of the Post publishing audio of the conversation. In the course of the call, Trump attempted on multiple occasions to induce Raffensperger to change the results of the election, one way or another. more...

Trump’s effort to interfere with the Electoral College count will fail — this time. But it's dangerous because it provides a blueprint for next time.
Chris Truax

You’ve got to give credit where credit is due. President Donald Trump is sparking the biggest reexamination of the nuts and bolts of our democracy since the Constitutional Convention in 1787. How many of us had contemplated the ins and outs of the Vacancies Act or the proper scope of presidential power during a national emergency before Trump came along? Unfortunately, all this is missing some of the dignity of the original discussion, and we’ve ended up with a sort of tabloid version of The Federalist Papers in which those of us concerned about American institutions don’t so much engage in learned debate as in frantically attempting to head off the next pending scandal.

Which brings us to the Electoral Count Act of 1887. Until a few weeks ago, this was one of the most obscure pieces of legislation on the books. The ECA governs how Electoral College votes are counted. In short, during a joint session of Congress, the vice president opens the envelopes containing each state’s Electoral College votes and hands them to two tellers from the House and two tellers from the Senate who read the votes aloud. Once all the votes have been read, the tellers add them up and announce the result. In 2013, the entire process took 23 minutes. more...

By Jordan Freiman

The Nashville bomber sent packages containing writings and videos promoting conspiracy theories to multiple people just days prior to the blast, CBS News confirms. Authorities identified Anthony Warner as the suspect in the Christmas Day bombing and say he killed himself in the explosion. Federal law enforcement confirmed the packages were postmarked December 23, just two days before the bombing, and did not have a return address. It was not immediately clear how many packages Warner mailed. The packages contained at least nine typed pages of writings and two thumb drives loaded with videos. At least one of the packages contained a letter that began "Hey Dude, You will never believe what I found in the park." more...


To the editor: Let’s call this what it is — voter suppression. (“Mike Pence: Your loyalty should be to the Constitution, not Trump,” editorial, Dec. 31) The foundation for contesting the 2020 electoral college results, pure and simple, is voter suppression under the guise of voter fraud. And, whose votes are being suppressed? Can there be any doubt that it is those of the marginalized residents of large cities who have been impeded by racism and poverty in exercising the right to vote?

The entire compendium of challenges is directed at disenfranchising citizens more at risk, suffering greater income loss, and less able to reach polling places due to a pandemic. The disingenuous claim by far-right Republicans in Congress that they will object the electoral vote on Jan. 6 because of constitutional concerns is an insult to anyone who actually believes in the right of every citizen to have their vote count. As the announcement by Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) so clearly displays, we have moved to where political theater “trumps” any concept of justice. more...

By Jenni Fink

Lin Wood, an attorney fighting for President Donald Trump's victory in the 2020 election, raised alarms after he called for Vice President Mike Pence to be at the top of the list of arrests for treason. Wood, a staunch believer that Trump won the election, has switched his focus from Democrats to Republicans, calling for Pence to resign and face "execution by firing squad" in a tweet Friday. Once arrested, Wood suggested that the vice president would "sing like a bird" and confess to being a "main participant" in the "theft of the election." The controversial Atlanta attorney's comments sparked people to tag the FBI and Secret Service in responding tweets, saying that Wood's tweets constituted a threat against the vice president. more...

By Dan Berman, CNN

(CNN) A federal court on Saturday dismissed an appeal from Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert in his lawsuit to force Vice President Mike Pence to interfere in the Electoral College vote count. The Saturday decision by the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals came just hours after the Republican congressman filed his appeal of an earlier loss. On Friday, a district court threw out Gohmert's and several Arizona Republicans' lawsuit seeking to force Pence to help throw the election to President Donald Trump next week when Congress meets to count the Electoral College votes. Saturday's ruling affirmed the previous decision. "We need say no more, and we affirm the judgment essentially for the reasons stated by the district court. We express no view on the underlying merits or on what putative party, if any, might have standing. The motion to expedite is dismissed as moot. The mandate shall issue forthwith," read the ruling. more...

Vice President Mike Pence signaled his support as 11 Republican senators and senators-elect said that they would vote to reject President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory.
By Luke Broadwater

WASHINGTON — Vice President Mike Pence signaled support on Saturday for a futile Republican bid to overturn the election in Congress next week, after 11 Republican senators and senators-elect said that they would vote to reject President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory when the House and Senate meet to formally certify it. The announcement by the senators — and Mr. Pence’s move to endorse it — reflected a groundswell among Republicans to defy the unambiguous results of the election and indulge President Trump’s attempts to remain in power with false claims of voting fraud.

Every state in the country has certified the election results after verifying their accuracy, many following postelection audits or hand counts. Judges across the country, and a Supreme Court with a conservative majority, have rejected nearly 60 attempts by Mr. Trump and his allies to challenge the results. And neither Mr. Pence nor any of the senators who said they would vote to invalidate the election has made a specific allegation of fraud, instead offering vague suggestions that some wrongdoing might have occurred and asserting that many of their supporters believe that it has. more...

By Elizabeth Thompson, The Dallas Morning News

WASHINGTON — East Texas congressman Louie Gohmert suggested that “violence in the streets” may be the only remaining option to block Joe Biden from becoming president, after a federal judge rejected his lawsuit aiming to force Vice President Mike Pence to overturn the election. Judge Jeremy Kernodle, a Trump appointee from Gohmert’s hometown of Tyler, threw out the lawsuit late Friday, ruling that he and other plaintiffs — including the GOP chairwoman in Arizona and that state’s defeated slate of Republican electors — lack standing.

Late Friday on Newsmax, Gohmert said he had sought redress in court “so that you didn’t have to have riots and violence in the street.” “Bottom line is, the court is saying, ‘We’re not going to touch this, you have no remedy,’” Gohmert said. “Basically, in effect, the ruling would be that you’ve got to go to the streets and be as violent as antifa and BLM.” more...

By David Williams, CNN

(CNN) A Massachusetts police officer used his own money to buy Christmas dinner for a family in need instead of charging two women with shoplifting. Somerset Police Officer Matt Lima was called to a Stop & Shop grocery store on December 20 after store security said the women didn't scan everything that they put in their bags at a self-checkout register, according to a statement on the police department's website.

The women, who had two small children with them, were stopped as they left the store, police said.
"I have two girls myself, similar on age to the two girls that were there, so it kind of struck me a little bit," Lima told CNN affiliate WJAR. Lima took one of the women aside so they could talk about what happened without the children hearing. Store employees kept the kids occupied, so they wouldn't know what was going on. "The woman I talked to, she explained she was working, but the mother of the children was not working and had some other family issues going on and that what she had taken was Christmas dinner for the kids," Lima told WJAR. more...

Ben Tobin Louisville Courier Journal

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — United States Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's Louisville home was vandalized early Saturday morning following his blocking of $2,000 stimulus checks to most Americans. Messages like "where's my money" and other expletives were written with spray paint across the front door and bricks of the Kentucky Republican's Highlands residence. McConnell said in a statement Saturday morning that “I’ve spent my career fighting for the First Amendment and defending peaceful protest. I appreciate every Kentuckian who has engaged in the democratic process whether they agree with me or not." “This is different," he continued. "Vandalism and the politics of fear have no place in our society." He concluded: “My wife and I have never been intimidated by this toxic playbook. We just hope our neighbors in Louisville aren’t too inconvenienced by this radical tantrum.” more...

*** The election is over Biden won but some in the Republican Party are trying to help Trump steal the election, Trump and those Republicans are attempting a coup. Americans need to remember those Republicans who help Trump with his coup attempt and vote them out of office. ****

By Jordain Carney

Eleven Senate Republicans on Saturday announced that they will vote for objections to the Electoral College results Wednesday, when Congress convenes in a joint session to formally count the vote. GOP Sens. Ted Cruz (Texas), Ron Johnson (Wis.), James Lankford (Okla.), Steve Daines (Mont.), John Kennedy (La.), Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.) and Mike Braun (Ind.) and Sens.-elect Cynthia Lummis (Wyo.), Roger Marshall (Kan.), Bill Hagerty (Tenn.) and Tommy Tuberville (Ala.) said in a joint statement that they will vote against accepting the election results until there is a 10-day audit.

"Congress should immediately appoint an Electoral Commission, with full investigatory and fact-finding authority, to conduct an emergency 10-day audit of the election returns in the disputed states," they said. "Once completed, individual states would evaluate the Commission’s findings and could convene a special legislative session to certify a change in their vote, if needed. "Accordingly, we intend to vote on Jan. 6 to reject the electors from disputed states as not 'regularly given' and 'lawfully certified' (the statutory requisite), unless and until that emergency 10-day audit is completed," they added.

The senators didn't say in their joint statement if they plan to object to the results from specific states, how they would divvy up those objections or if they would just vote in support of challenges to the Electoral College results if they reach the Senate. The group's announcement means that at least a dozen GOP senators, or almost a quarter of the caucus, will challenge the election results Wednesday. GOP Sen. Josh Hawley (Mo.) was the first senator to announce he would be joining a band of House conservatives to force a debate and vote on the Electoral College results. more...

By Daniel Villarreal

A YouTube video of Arizona Republican Party chair Kelli Ward is being used to undermine a lawsuit she filed with Texas Republican Representative Louie Gohmert and 11 other Republicans in the state to overturn the election in favor of President Donald Trump.

The lawsuit, filed on December 27, seeks to challenge the 1887 Electoral Count Act, a law that requires Vice President Mike Pence to oversee a congressional approval of the Electoral College's final votes for president. The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District, argues that the law violates the 12th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which, they say, gives Pence the right to singlehandedly throw out any votes that were fraudulently obtained, no matter whether the majority of Congress agrees.

However, Timothy Dowling, a Texas attorney seeking to intervene in the case, has directed the court's judge, Trump-appointee Jeremy Daniel Kernodle, to consider throwing out the case based on Ward's December 29 YouTube video in which she calls the case "a friendly lawsuit" against Pence. Dowling alleged that the lawsuit's filers and Pence actually have the same goal: ensuring that Trump gets a second term. more...

By Grace Segers

The Senate on Friday overrode President Trump's veto of the National Defense Authorization Act, the $740 billion defense policy bill. This veto, in the waning days of Mr. Trump's presidency, marked the first time Congress has voted to override him. The final vote tally was 81 to 13, with a two-thirds vote required to overturn the veto. The bill had previously passed in the Senate 84-13 earlier this month, and the House has already voted to override Mr. Trump's veto. Mr. Trump tweeted after the vote that Senate Republicans had "missed a big opportunity to get rid of Section 230," one of the portions of the bill he had objected to. Mr. Trump wanted to repeal the social media liability shield, but several members of Congress, including some Republicans, argued that the repeal of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act was not relevant to national security. more...

Those behind the widespread intrusion into government and corporate networks exploited seams in U.S. defenses and gave away nothing to American monitoring of their systems.
By David E. Sanger, Nicole Perlroth and Julian E. Barnes

On Election Day, General Paul M. Nakasone, the nation’s top cyberwarrior, reported that the battle against Russian interference in the presidential campaign had posted major successes and exposed the other side’s online weapons, tools and tradecraft. “We’ve broadened our operations and feel very good where we’re at right now,” he told journalists. Eight weeks later, General Nakasone and other American officials responsible for cybersecurity are now consumed by what they missed for at least nine months: a hacking, now believed to have affected upward of 250 federal agencies and businesses, that Russia aimed not at the election system but at the rest of the United States government and many large American corporations.

Three weeks after the intrusion came to light, American officials are still trying to understand whether what the Russians pulled off was simply an espionage operation inside the systems of the American bureaucracy or something more sinister, inserting “backdoor” access into government agencies, major corporations, the electric grid and laboratories developing and transporting new generations of nuclear weapons. At a minimum it has set off alarms about the vulnerability of government and private sector networks in the United States to attack and raised questions about how and why the nation’s cyberdefenses failed so spectacularly. Those questions have taken on particular urgency given that the breach was not detected by any of the government agencies that share responsibility for cyberdefense — the military’s Cyber Command and the National Security Agency, both of which are run by General Nakasone, and the Department of Homeland Security — but by a private cybersecurity company, FireEye. more...

TMZ

Somebody left Speaker Nancy Pelosi a very disturbing message to kick off the new year ... and it seems to be related to the ongoing financial struggles of millions of Americans. Pelosi's San Francisco home was vandalized overnight ... most of the damage was done to her garage door and driveway. The perp or perps spray-painted "Cancel Rent!" and "We Want Everything" in big black letters on her door ... and there's also a nod to the failed $2,000 government stimulus checks. more...

He says he’s “not just some pillow guy” to be mocked. He knows Trump is the chosen one because he’s familiar with “numbers and charts” and soon even “Trump-haters” will see.
Asawin Suebsaeng, Will Sommer

With a month to go until Inauguration Day, Mike Lindell, the MyPillow CEO and a personal friend and diehard MAGA supporter of Donald Trump, says he’s poured more than $1 million of his own money into bankrolling efforts to nullify Joe Biden’s win in the 2020 presidential race. According to Lindell, who served as Minnesota co-chair for Trump’s re-election campaign, he’s been in direct contact this month with pro-Trump attorneys and conservative luminaries like Michael Flynn to talk “all about fraud.” He’s launched his own private “investigations and due diligence” into voting machines. And he is financially backing the post-election work of several legal teams and Trumpist lawyers, including Lin Wood and Sidney Powell, the latter of whom is a former top member of the president’s legal team. “This president won by a lot, by a landslide! I know there was fraud. And I’m not just some pillow guy that they can mock out there. ” — Mike Lindell. more...

President Trump continued his assault on election integrity, baselessly claiming the presidential results and the Senate runoffs in Georgia were both invalid — which could complicate G.O.P. efforts to motivate voters.
By Richard Fausset

ATLANTA — President Trump took to Twitter Friday evening to make the unfounded assertion that Georgia’s two Senate races are “illegal and invalid,” an argument that could complicate his efforts to convince his supporters to turn out for Republican candidates in the two runoff races that will determine which party controls the Senate.

The president is set to hold a rally in Dalton, Ga., on Monday, the day before Election Day, and Georgia Republicans are hoping he will focus his comments on how crucial it is for Republicans to vote in large numbers for Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, the state’s two incumbent Republican senators.

But Mr. Trump has continued to make the false claim that Georgia’s election system was rigged against him in the Nov. 3 general election. Some Republican leaders are afraid that his supporters will take the president’s argument seriously, and decide that voting in a “corrupt” system is not worth their time, a development that could hand the election to the Democrats. more...

By Dan Berman

(CNN) A federal judge threw out a lawsuit from Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas and several Arizona Republicans seeking to force Vice President Mike Pence to help throw the election to President Donald Trump next week when Congress meets to count the Electoral College votes. Judge Jeremy Kernodle said Gohmert and the others lacked standing to sue. more...

*** The election is over Biden won but some in the Republican Party are trying to help Trump steal the election, Trump and those Republicans are attempting a coup. ****

Matthew S. Schwartz

With just days until Congress is scheduled to formalize the results of the 2020 presidential election, legal challenges to President-elect Joe Biden's win are still coming in. The January certification of states' electoral votes, overseen by the vice president, is usually seen as a formality. But a lawsuit filed last week by Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, seeks to upend the process.

In some key battleground states, groups of Republicans have baselessly declared themselves to be "alternate electors," claiming to represent the true wishes of the voters. Gohmert and the other plaintiffs — including a group of self-proclaimed electors from Arizona — argue that when confronted with competing slates of electors, the Constitution gives Vice President Mike Pence the power to choose which electors to certify. The legal challenge, which reflects the longstanding refusal of certain Republicans to acknowledge Biden's victory, is widely seen as a long shot.

In their suit, which names the vice president as the defendant, the Republican plaintiffs argue that a 19th century law spelling out how Congress should handle the count is unconstitutional, because it directs Pence to tally the electoral votes as they've been reported by the states.

These Republicans argue that the 12th Amendment gives Pence, not the states, sole discretion to determine which among competing slates of electors may be counted. But in response, Pence told the court that he was the wrong person to sue. The Republicans' beef isn't with the vice president, he said, but with Congress. more...

Tracy Connor

A federal judge took a rhetorical blowtorch to South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, saying in a ruling this week that the state has done “little, if anything” to stop COVID-19 from ravaging the state. The Sioux Falls Argus Leader reports that U.S. District Judge Charles Kornmann ordered a state court to stop using the pandemic as an excuse to delay a defendant’s trial. Then he went after the state’s response to the crisis itself. more...

By Jeffery Martin

In a video posted to YouTube on Thursday, Illinois Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger addressed the prevalence of conspiracy theories in U.S. politics while debunking some President Donald Trump's allegations of voter fraud. Trump has refused to concede the November election to President-elect Joe Biden, baselessly claiming that widespread voter fraud perpetrated by Democrats handed Biden the victory. Trump and members of his legal team have alleged that voting machines distributed by Dominion Voting Systems were programmed to flip votes from Trump to Biden.

While a majority of Trump's legal efforts to have the election results overturned have failed, some House Republicans have stated they plan on objecting to the results of the Electoral College during the official Congressional count of the votes on Wednesday. Kinzinger said in the video that the challenges were based on misinformation. "The president doesn't want to admit defeat and nobody would, but he's currently trying to discredit the election results through falsehoods and conspiracies," Kinzinger said. "As someone entrusted to lead, I have a choice. I can be quiet and I can survive by taking the easy path or I can speak up and lead without concern for the consequences. I choose to lead without fear."

"As public servants, we have a responsibility to serve in good faith," Kinzinger added. "Purporting falsehoods is dangerously irresponsible—and it's just plain wrong." One of the claims made by Trump's legal teams was that Dominion voting machines in Michigan were counting votes for Trump as votes for Biden. Kinzinger said those claims were false. "There was an error but it was a human error, not a Dominion issue, and it was corrected," Kinzinger said. more...

"We should be attempting to expand our reaches, even if it does cost us," said one young Republican voter.
By Nicole Via y Rada

Now that the election dust has settled just weeks until President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration, the Republican Party is beginning to take stock of its future beyond President Donald Trump. For many young Republicans, Trump's loss signals an opening for new directions within the party. Several said in interviews that they want the party to become more tolerant and inclusive while staying true to conservative values.

"The GOP has a lot of really good policy, a lot of winning policies, but it does seem like often we can get caught up on the losing ones and fight like hell for them," said Cameron Adkins, a sophomore who is vice president of College Republicans at Columbia University. "When in reality, they're losing issues with the American people."

Thirty-one percent of voters ages 18 to 24 supported Trump in November, according to exit polls, down from 37 percent in 2016. The Generation Z bloc, born after 1996, makes up at least 10 percent of the U.S. population, according to a report by the Brookings Institution, and it will only grow as the next election approaches. more...

By Sun Sentinel Editorial Board

There is no reasonable doubt that Congress will confirm the election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris when it meets Wednesday to count their electoral votes for president and vice-president. What remains to be seen is how much decency and patriotism remain in the Republican Party. Under Abraham Lincoln, the GOP stood for government of, by and for the people.

But now, does it stand for anything other than Donald Trump? “This is Donald Trump’s party and I am a Donald Trump Republican,” says Rep. Matt Gaetz, Florida’s enfant terrible, one of the Congress members who plan to challenge the Democratic electoral votes from up to five key states. If you want to understand how democracies die, that’s how. An entire party turns into a personality cult.

No political party ever had a more noble purpose or a more glorious beginning. It was founded in 1854 to stop the expansion of slavery to the western territories. To the South, confining slavery to where it existed would result in abolishing slavery, and so it fell to Lincoln, the party’s first president, to save the Union and abolish the evil institution that had spawned secession and civil war. more...

Senator Josh Hawley isn’t just engaging in civic vandalism—he is an emblem of a weak and rotten Republican Party.
Peter Wehner - The Atlantic

Those hoping for a quick snapback to sanity for the Republican Party once Donald Trump is no longer president should temper those hopes.  The latest piece of evidence to suggest the enduring power of Trumpian unreality is yesterday’s announcement by Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri that he will object next week when Congress convenes to certify the Electoral College vote.

Hawley knows this effort will fail, just as every other effort to undo the results of the lawful presidential election will fail. (A brief reminder for those with faulty short-term memories: Joe Biden defeated Trump by more than 7 million popular votes and 74 Electoral College votes.) Every single attempt to prove that the election was marked by fraud or that President-elect Biden’s win is illegitimate—an effort that now includes about 60 lawsuits—has flopped. In fact, what we’ve discovered since the November 3 election is that it was “the most secure in American history,” as election experts in Trump’s own administration have declared. But this immutable, eminently provable fact doesn’t deter Trump and many of his allies from trying to overturn the election; perversely, it seems to embolden them.  

One such Trump ally is Tommy Tuberville, the newly elected senator from Alabama, who has suggested that he might challenge the Electoral College count. And there are others. But what makes Hawley’s declaration ominously noteworthy is that unlike Tuberville—a former college football coach who owes his political career in a deep-red state to Trump’s endorsement in the GOP primary against Jeff Sessions—Hawley is a man who clearly knows better. According to his Senate biography, he is “recognized as one of the nation’s leading constitutional lawyers.” A former state attorney general, Hawley has litigated before the Supreme Court. He graduated from Stanford University in 2002 and Yale Law School in 2006. He has clerked for Chief Justice John Roberts; he taught at one of London’s elite private schools, St. Paul’s; and he served as an appellate litigator at one of the world’s biggest law firms. more...

By Daniel Politi

The Secret Service will be changing up the agents who are in the presidential detail to protect President-elect Joe Biden. Even though it isn’t rare for agents to change when a new president arrives, this time the shake-up is taking place amid suspicion that some agents are politically aligned with President Donald Trump, reports the Washington Post. To allay any concerns, the Secret Service will be bringing back some of the senior agents whom Biden already knows from his time as vice president.

Several recent incidents have led to questions about the political leanings of agents on the presidential detail. Some, for example, urged agents and Secret Service officers not to wear masks on presidential trips because the president saw them as a sign of weakness. That may have contributed to the way in which more than 130 Secret Service officers either tested positive for the coronavirus or were forced to quarantine because they were in close contact with someone who contracted COVID-19. more...

Azmi Haroun

Throughout the course of the pandemic, President Donald Trump lashed out at his son-in-law Jared Kushner over testing and mask-wearing, according to a report by The New York Times. According to The Times, during a meeting of top aides in the Oval Office on August 19, Trump grew angry with increased COVID-19 testing in the US, which he blamed for higher case numbers. "You're killing me! This whole thing is! We've got all the damn cases," Trump reportedly yelled at Kushner. Trump continued, The Times reported, by telling Kushner, "I want to do what Mexico does. They don't give you a test till you get to the emergency room and you're vomiting." The report alleged that Trump viewed testing "as a mechanism for making him look bad by driving up the number of known cases." more...

There have been recent heightened tensions, but an official acknowledged reading Iranian intentions is "difficult and at times unpredictable."
By Mosheh Gains

WASHINGTON — The U.S. has seen increasing indications that Iran could be planning an attack against American forces or interests in the Middle East, according to a U.S. official. The U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, acknowledged that reading Iran’s intentions was “difficult and at times unpredictable.” But the indications are being taken seriously, the official said. The one-year anniversary of the U.S.' killing of top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani is just days away. Soleimani was killed in a U.S. dronestrike in Iraq on Jan. 3, 2020, in what the Defense Department characterized as a "defensive action" because it alleged the leader of Iran's Quds Force was developing plans to attack Americans. Iran launched missiles against U.S. forces in Iraq in response to the killing days later. more...

By Dan Berman

(CNN) Vice President Mike Pence's lawyers asked a federal judge Thursday to reject a request from Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas that attempts to force Pence to ignore electoral votes of several key states when Congress meets to certify the 2020 presidential election next week. Pence argues that the legal issues raised by Gohmert, along with a slate of Arizona Republicans, should be addressed to the House and Senate (if they should be raised at all). Gohmert's lawsuit is a last-gasp attempt by Republicans to persuade Pence to interfere in the declaration of President-elect Joe Biden's victory and flip the election for President Donald Trump. The brief, filed with the Eastern District of Texas, does not say if Pence would entertain that possibility, but there is no public indication he will.

"Plaintiffs have presented this Court with an emergency motion raising a host of weighty legal issues about the manner in which the electoral votes for President are to be counted," Pence's filing states. "But these plaintiffs' suit is not a proper vehicle for addressing those issues because plaintiffs have sued the wrong defendant." Pence later adds: "(A) suit to establish that the Vice President has discretion over the count, filed against the Vice President, is a walking legal contradiction." The lawsuit falsely claims the election was stolen by Democrats, citing unproven allegations of fraud that federal and state courts have rejected again and again. Gohmert and the Republicans argue that the Electoral Count Act unconstitutionally binds Pence to the Electoral College count certified by the states, saying that Pence has "exclusive authority and sole discretion" to count the states' electoral votes. more...

CBS New York

The COVID pandemic changed our lives and is now changing how we celebrate the last night of 2020. Spectators are missing from Times Square this year, but there's still hope in the air as we look forward to 2021; CBS2's Ali Bauman reports. video...

CBS News

Portland police declared a riot just before 11 p.m. local time on New Year's Eve after protesters broke windows, shot off fireworks and set fires near the federal courthouse, CBS News affiliate KOIN reported. Less than half an hour later Portland police advanced on the protesters, who responded by shooting fireworks at them, KOIN said. Department of Homeland Security officers, who've been in the city for months to help police deal with regular protests that have often turned violent, faced off against another group in the city. more...

WISN 12 News talked to people who know the pharmacist accused of ruining 570 doses of the Moderna vaccine
Caroline Reinwald

GRAFTON, Wis. — On Thursday, Advocate Aurora officials confirmed the employee accused of intentionally leaving out Moderna COVID-19 vaccines no longer worked for the company. "On Saturday, December 26th, in the early morning, one of our pharmacy technicians discovered what turned out to be 57 vials of Moderna vaccine, enough for about 570 doses outside the refrigerator in which those vials were stored," said Dr. Jeff Bahr, president of Aurora Health Care Medical Group. "Over the subsequent days, as we continued our internal review, we became increasingly suspicious of the behavior of the individual in question." "The individual was suspended and after multiple interviews over the course of the week, admitted yesterday to intentionally removing the vaccine from refrigeration," Bahr said. Bahr would not go into detail about the accused pharmacist. Grafton Police Department confirmed they arrested the 46-year-old pharmacist on Thursday. They also said the spoiled vaccines are worth as much as $11,000. more...

By Camilo Montoya-Galvez

President Trump on Thursday extended a pandemic-era suspension of certain immigrant and work visas, ensuring that his sweeping limits on legal immigration will remain in place when Joe Biden is sworn in. Through a proclamation issued 20 days before Inauguration Day, Mr. Trump ordered a three-month extension of the visa restrictions, which were first enacted in April as a ban on some prospective immigrants and expanded in June to also halt several temporary work programs.

Mr. Trump has said the limits — which invoke a broad presidential power to bar the entry of foreigners deemed to be "detrimental to the interests" of the U.S. — are necessary to prevent new immigrants and temporary workers from competing with Americans for jobs during the economic recession caused by the coronavirus pandemic. more...

By Zoe Christen Jones

Columbus Police "can't defend" newly released body cam footage of the shooting death of unarmed Ohio resident Andre Hill that shows officers delay in giving Hill medical aid after the shooting. The death of Hill, a 47-year-old Black man, at the hands of police officer Adam Coy sparked national outrage. "Andre Hill should be alive today," said Police Chief Thomas Quinlan in a video statement Thursday. "A Columbus police officer is responsible for his death. I can't defend it, I can't make it right, but I will do what is in my power."

The newly released body camera footage show the fatal shooting of Hill, who was a guest at the residence police responded to. Around 1:30 a.m, the video shows Hill inside a garage, walking toward Coy with a cellphone in his hand, the screen lit up and visible. Within seconds, Coy fires his weapons and Hill falls as Coy continues to ask Hill to show his hands. more...


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