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US Monthly Headline News March 2021

N'dea Yancey-Bragg USA TODAY

MINNEAPOLIS – Firefighter Genevieve Hansen broke down in tears Tuesday as she testified about being prevented from helping George Floyd as police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck. The 27-year-old, who also trained as an EMT, was on a walk last Memorial Day when she encountered Floyd and Chauvin. She can be heard on video of the arrest begging officers to check Floyd's pulse. She described feeling "totally distressed" and "helpless" that the police wouldn't let her give medical attention to Floyd. Almost everyone who has testified in Chauvin's trial became choked up on the witness stand as theydescribed watching Floyd go unconscious and lose his pulse. Many expressed regret that they couldn't help Floyd, a Black man who was pinned beneath Chauvin's knee for more than nine minutes on May 25, 2020. more...

Gaetz denies sexual misconduct allegations in Tucker Carlson interview

When most politicians come face to face with the news that they’re under federal investigation, their first move generally is not to pop up on cable news. But most politicians are not Rep. Matt Gaetz, a man who understands that, because politicians can easily disappear among the hundreds on Capitol Hill, it is best for a Republican to appear on Fox News whenever possible. more...

Analysis by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large

(CNN)In response to stunning New York Times reporting that the Justice Department is investigating a possible sexual relationship between Matt Gaetz and a 17-year-old girl, the Florida Republican congressman vehemently denied the accusation and told a broader story of intrigue involving himself and his father. more...

Dylan Stableford

The second day of Derek Chauvin’s trial began with emotional testimony from a bystander who said he called police on the now-former Minneapolis officer who was kneeling on George Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes because he believed he had “witnessed a murder.” Under questioning from the prosecution, Donald Williams, a student of martial arts, testified that he was scared for his own safety as he pleaded with Chauvin to take his knee off of Floyd’s neck — and that he called 911 after Chauvin did not respond to him.

“I did call the police on the police,” Williams said. “Because I believe I witnessed a murder.” Williams teared up as an audiotape of his 911 call was played in court. He can be heard on the call telling a dispatcher that an officer “pretty much just killed this guy that wasn’t resisting arrest. He had his knee on the dude’s neck this whole time.” When asked why he made the call, Williams said he “just felt like that was the right thing to do.” more...

Similar to a provision in Georgia's new election law, it's one of a number of proposals moving through the state's GOP-controlled Legislature.
By Jane C. Timm

Florida Republicans are considering a bill that would effectively make it a crime to give voters food or drink, including water, within 150 feet of polling places. State law currently prohibits campaigning within 100 feet of polling locations, but an elections bill introduced last week, H.B. 7041, expands that zone to 150 feet and includes a prohibition on giving “any item” to voters or “interacting or attempting to interact” with voters within that zone. State Rep. Blaise Ingoglia, a Republican from Spring Hill, said in a committee meeting last Monday that the ban would include “food or beverages.” more...

Son of Hollywood actor Tom Hanks has come under fire for his antics on social media
Roisin O'Connor

Chet Hanks is at it again, this time drawing ridicule for declaring a “white boy summer” in 2021. The son of Hollywood star Tom Hanks shared a video on Instagram asking if his followers could “vibe” with his idea. “Okay guys, look I just wanted to tap in really quick,” he said. “I just got this feeling, man, that this summer is about to be a white boy summer, you know? Take it how you want.” The aspiring rapper continued: “I’m not talking about Trump, you know, NASCAR type white. I’m talking about me, Jon B, Jack Harlow type white boy summer. Let me know if you guys can vibe with that and get ready, because I am.” more...

Trump congratulated Georgia on its recent legislative move, which critics have slammed as a major blow to Black voters’ rights
Edward Helmore and agencies

Cleta Mitchell, a Republican lawyer who advised Donald Trump on his campaign to overturn the 2020 election results, is now a key player in the Republican effort to tighten voting laws. A Republican lawyer who advised Donald Trump on his campaign to overturn the 2020 election results is now playing a central role coordinating the Republican effort to tighten voting laws around the country. The moves comes as Trump himself signaled his support for new Republican-pushed legislation in Georgia which critics have slammed as being a major blow to voting rights for communities of color, especially Black voters. Joe Biden called the Georgia laws “Jim Crow in the 21st Century” and “an atrocity”. But Trump, whose grip on the Republican party remains strong, welcomed the Georgia developments. “Congratulations to Georgia and the Georgia state legislature on changing their voter rules and regulations,” Trump said in a statement through his Pac, Save America, which repeated his baseless allegation that fraud was a factor in his election loss to Biden. “They learned from the travesty of the 2020 presidential election, which can never be allowed to happen again. Too bad these changes could not have been done sooner!” more...

By Faith Karimi, CNN

(CNN) Georgia's new sweeping elections law has a number of controversial provisions that will restrict access to voting. But one in particular has some people shaking their heads. Under the bill, signed into law Thursday night by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, it's now illegal to hand out food or water to people standing in line to vote. "No person shall solicit votes in any manner or by any means or method, nor shall any person distribute or display any campaign material, nor shall any person give, offer to give, or participate in the giving of any money or gifts, including, but not limited to, food and drink, to an elector," the new law states. The law applies within 150 feet of a polling place or within 25 feet of any voter at a polling place. Violators are guilty of a misdemeanor. But some observers see the provision as an attempt to curb voting by urban voters and people of color who lean Democratic and whose precincts often have long waits to cast ballots. more...

By Kate Sullivan and Maegan Vazquez, CNN

(CNN) President Joe Biden on Friday called a sweeping elections bill signed into law in Georgia "Jim Crow in the 21st Century" and "an atrocity" and called on Congress to pass voting rights legislation that would counter restrictions Republicans are trying to push through at the state level across the country. "Recount after recount and court case after court case upheld the integrity and outcome of a clearly free, fair, and secure democratic process," Biden said in a statement released by the White House, referring to the 2020 election, when he became the first Democratic presidential candidate in nearly three decades to win the state. Georgia is the first presidential battleground to impose new voting restrictions following Biden's victory in the state, but the bill, which Republican Gov. Brian Kemp signed into law Thursday evening, is part of a national Republican effort to restrict access to the ballot after the 2020 election saw record turnout. "This is Jim Crow in the 21st Century. It must end," Biden said in the statement, noting how the restrictions disproportionately target Black voters. more...

By Veronica Stracqualursi, CNN

Washington (CNN) Former President Donald Trump on Thursday attempted to whitewash the history of the January 6 Capitol riot by pushing the false suggestion that his supporters were "hugging and kissing" police officers and posed "zero threat" despite widespread violence, injuries to law enforcement officers and five deaths. It's an outrageous attempt by Trump to rewrite the history of the insurrection, which he stoked by repeatedly and falsely claiming the 2020 election was stolen from him. There is no evidence of widespread fraud, but Trump and many of his conservative allies in the media and on Capitol Hill have continued to push the "big lie" regardless. Calling into Fox News on Thursday night, Trump was asked if he was concerned about the US Capitol's beefed up security, including razor-wire fencing, which he derided as "disgraceful" and a "political maneuver." more...

By Oliver Darcy, CNN Business

New York (CNN Business) Dominion Voting Systems, a voting technology company that was the target of baseless conspiracy theories about the 2020 election, filed a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against the right-wing channel Fox News on Friday. The company alleged that the network "recklessly disregarded the truth" and participated in a disinformation campaign against it because "the lies were good for Fox's business." In the immediate aftermath of the 2020 election, then-President Donald Trump falsely asserted that the election had been rigged against him. His allies promoted outlandish conspiracy theories about Dominion to support Trump's false claims. "Fox took a small flame" of disinformation and "turned it into a forest fire," Dominion said in its lawsuit. more...

CBS News

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp on Thursday signed into law a sweeping Republican-sponsored overhaul of state elections that includes new restrictions on voting by mail and gives the legislature greater control over how elections are run. Among other things, the law requires a photo ID in order to vote absentee by mail, after more than 1.3 million Georgia voters used that option during the COVID-19 pandemic. It also cuts the time people have to request an absentee ballot and limits where ballot drop boxes can be placed and when they can be accessed. Democrats and voting rights groups say the law will disproportionately disenfranchise voters of color. It is part of a wave of GOP-backed election bills introduced in states around the nation after former President Trump stoked false claims that fraud led to his 2020 election defeat. more...

America First Legal will focus on a few things: executive branch issues and giving Joe Biden headaches.
By GABBY ORR

Former Trump White House policy adviser Stephen Miller, known for his hard-line immigration policies and conservative culture war postures, is launching a new legal group. And he’s looking to use it to make Joe Biden’s life miserable. The group, which will be known as America First Legal, will help organize Republican attorneys general against perceived executive branch abuses in addition to filing lawsuits of its own, according to six people familiar with the planning. “During the Trump administration, we had the ACLU and three or four other advocacy groups consistently working with Democrats to coordinate against our policies. Miller is taking a page out of their book,” said a senior Trump administration official briefed on Miller’s plans. more...

Associated Press

Thursday’s $852m settlement applies to 700 women who had accused Dr George Tyndall of abuse. An earlier class-action suit was settled for $215m. The University of Southern California in Los Angeles. When combined with an earlier settlement of a separate class-action suit, the school has agreed to pay out more than $1bn for claims against Dr George Tyndall. The University of Southern California (USC) has agreed to an $852m settlement with more than 700 women who have accused the college’s longtime campus gynecologist of sexual abuse. The victims’ lawyers and USC announced the settlement on Thursday. When combined with an earlier settlement of a separate class-action suit, the school has agreed to pay out more than $1bn for claims against Dr George Tyndall. Tyndall, 74, faces 35 criminal counts of alleged sexual misconduct between 2009 and 2016 at the university’s student health center. He has pleaded not guilty and is free on bond. more...

By Noah Manskar

The richest Americans use crafty methods to dodge taxes on far more income than the feds previously thought, a new study shows. The Internal Revenue Service tries to catch high-income tax evaders with random audits — but they often fail to spot complex schemes that the wealthy employ to hide income, such as offshore bank accounts and pass-through businesses, according to the paper published Monday. In all, the nation’s richest 1 percent fail to report 21 percent of their actual income — and 6 percentage points of that stems from “sophisticated evasion” strategies that federal audits miss, IRS and academic researchers estimate.

The bottom 50 percent of American taxpayers, by contrast, only fail to report about 7 percent of their income, says the study released by the National Bureau of Economic Research. The researchers argue this undetected tax-dodging exacerbates income inequality by increasing the share of the nation’s total income that’s hoarded by a small number of elites. It’s also costing the feds a pretty penny — the top 1 percent is responsible for more than a third of all unpaid federal income tax, and collecting what that group owes would increase federal revenues by about $175 billion a year, according to the paper. more...

A brutal political incentive pushes GOP leaders to embrace policies that hurt their own constituents.
By Teri Kanefield, attorney and author

A simple formula, or what we might call a neat magic trick, allows Republican Party leaders to retain the support of their "base" even as they enact policies that hurt their own voters. Two competing storylines highlight exactly how this is playing out right now. The Republican Party claims to be the party of the working class. On Feb. 26, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, told supporters at the Conservative Political Action Conference that the GOP was "the party of steelworkers and construction workers and pipeline workers and taxicab drivers and cops and firefighters and waiters and waitresses and the men and women with calluses on their hands who are working for this country." And yet just a few days later, 49 Republican senators — including Cruz — voted against President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief bill (one senator was absent). more...

“I believe the facts do support those charges," Michael Sherwin, the former acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, said in an interview on “60 Minutes.”
By Rebecca Shabad

WASHINGTON — The federal prosecutor who had been overseeing the Justice Department’s investigation into the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol says evidence likely supports sedition charges against some of the rioters. “I personally believe the evidence is trending towards that and probably meets those elements,” Michael Sherwin, the former acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, said in an interview with CBS News’ Scott Pelley that aired Sunday on “60 Minutes.” Asked if he expects sedition charges to be brought against some of the suspects, Sherwin said, “I believe the facts do support those charges, and I think that as we go forward, more facts will support that, Scott. This is going to be a long-term investigation.” more...

These powerful Memphis figures reveal the rift in a segregated society.
By Abigail Tracy

At 12:11 p.m. on January 5, an eight-seat Bombardier Challenger 300 jet took off from Memphis International Airport. A little over an hour and a half and one time zone later, it touched down at Dulles, just outside of Washington, D.C. The following day a seditious horde of Donald Trump supporters, unapologetically encouraged by him, mounted an insurrection to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory. “After this we’re going to walk down, and I’ll be there with you,” the 45th president told attendees of the “Stop the Steal” rally gathered at the Ellipse, a park a little over one mile from the Hill. At 2:11 p.m. the first of the mob had breached the Capitol on the west side of the building, near the Senate chamber. At 5:34 p.m. the sergeant at arms informed lawmakers that the Capitol was secure. At 6:39 p.m. the Challenger was wheels-up, an hour behind schedule, according to flight data. It touched down in Memphis at 7:25 p.m., back in central time. more...

The bureau is also looking into members of Congress who communicated with rioters
By Peter Wade

Federal law enforcement officials have uncovered contact between the Trump White House and a member of the far-right extremist organization, the Proud Boys, just days before the January 6 attack on the Capitol. According to a New York Times source, the FBI obtained “location, cellular and call record data revealed a call tying a Proud Boys member to the Trump White House.” Earlier this week, CNN reported that law enforcement officials are looking at communications data to determine “whether lawmakers wittingly or unwittingly helped the insurrectionists.” And so far they’ve found “indications of contact” between “alleged rioters discussing their associations with members of Congress.” On Thursday, a former Trump State Department aide, Federico Klein was arrested for taking part in the attack of the Capitol. more...

By Paul P. Murphy, Jamiel Lynch and Amanda Watts, CNN

(CNN) A photo allegedly posted by Capt. Jay Baker, a public information officer at the Cherokee County, Georgia, Sheriff's Office, shows shirts with a racist and anti-Asian message about Covid-19. "Covid 19 imported virus from Chy-na," the racist shirt in the photo posted April 2, 2020, reads. Although the account that posted it has been deleted, CNN was able to access the photos through a cached copy. The name on the Facebook account matches Jay Baker, and it claims that the individual is an employee of the Cherokee County Sheriff's office. The Daily Beast was first to report on the racist shirt photo. They also reported the account posted photos of Baker in uniform, with his name tag visible. more...

The Senate confirms Xavier Becerra, President Biden's pick as Health and Human Services secretary. He will resign as California's attorney general. video...

By Katelyn Polantz, Christina Carrega and Devan Cole, CNN

(CNN) The FBI released on Thursday several new video clips of violence toward police during the Capitol riot, as investigators continue their hunt for suspects. The videos -- showing graphic moments of rioters beating police with metal poles, stolen shields and chemical sprays -- highlight some of the more shocking moments from the riot, such as when the crowd worked to overcome a police line to push through a lower archway into the Capitol building. Even with so many arrests and footage documenting the siege already, the FBI's release and request to the public for help identifying the people in the video shows how they continue to pursue cases of severe violence from the pro-Trump crowd.

Video capturing the hours-long siege inside and outside the Capitol has been immense in its volume and available publicly for months, since many participants and observers had already posted footage online. But investigators have worked to zero in on specific rioters and moments, scrubbing through the tens of thousands of hours they've collected of police body cameras, news broadcasts, surveillance images and video taken from social media and even from the cell phones of rioters who have been arrested. more...

The FBI’s Washington Field Office has released new information and videos of suspects in the most egregious assaults on federal officers during the riots at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, and is seeking the public’s help to identify them.

It has been two months since violent extremists breached the U.S. Capitol and committed a litany of federal criminal acts. With the assistance of hundreds of thousands of tips from the American people, the FBI has arrested more than 300 individuals who took part in the Capitol riots. Of those, more than 65 were arrested for assaulting law enforcement officers. However, some of the most violent offenders have yet to be identified, including the 10 seen assaulting officers in the video footage we are releasing today. more...

Documents obtained by The Daily Beast link the $230 million fraud discussed at the Trump Tower meeting in 2016 to Russia’s black-market weapons of mass destruction program.
Nico Hines

LONDON—A company newly sanctioned by the U.S. over Alexei Navalny’s poisoning attack is tied to the money-laundering network that Natalia Veselnitskaya tried to cover up at the infamous 2016 Trump Tower meeting, according to financial records obtained by The Daily Beast. Now we know why Vladimir Putin was so desperate to play down the international corruption probes that began when Sergei Magnitsky uncovered a $230 million fraud on the Russian people. For the first time, that dark-money network can be linked to the murderous chemical-weapons program run by Russia’s notorious intelligence services. more...

The party didn’t think it could stop passage. But with nearly three-quarters of Americans approving of the law, some luminaries can’t believe how little a dent they made.
By GABBY ORR, CHRISTOPHER CADELAGO, MERIDITH MCGRAW and NATASHA KORECKI

As President Joe Biden embarks on an ambitious plan to sell his massive coronavirus relief package to the public, conservatives are starting to ask: Did we botch this? The overwhelming sentiment within the Republican Party is that voters will turn on the $1.9 trillion bill over time. But that wait-and-see approach has baffled some GOP luminaries and Trump World figures who expected Republicans to seize their first opportunity to cast newly-in-charge Democrats as out of control. Instead, they fear the party did little to dent Biden’s major victory — a victory that could embolden the administration in forthcoming legislative fights and even the lead up to the midterm elections. more...

In a floor speech, Sen. Bob Menendez described Sen. Ron Johnson's remarks as a "hurtful," "racist" and a “stain” on his office.
By MARIANNE LEVINE

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) ripped GOP Sen. Ron Johnson on Tuesday after the Wisconsinite suggested that he would be more afraid if Black Lives Matter protesters, not Donald Trump supporters, had stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6. In a floor speech, Menendez described Johnson's remarks as a "hurtful," "racist" and a “stain” on his office. “I get that no one likes to be called racist, but sometimes there’s just no other way to describe the use of bigoted tropes that for generations threatened Black lives by stoking white fear of African Americans — and Black men in particular,” Menendez said. more...

‘I was peaceful. I was civil.’ A federal judge says Jacob Chansley “blatantly lied” during a jailhouse interview with CBS News.
Pilar Melendez

The notorious “QAnon Shaman” made several stunning claims during his jailhouse interview with CBS News earlier this month—including that his actions during the Capitol riots were not an attack on the United States because authorities left the door open for the MAGA mob to enter. “I didn’t break any windows,” Jacob Chansley said during the interview with 60 Minutes+ that aired March 4. “I didn’t break any doors. I didn’t cross any police barricades. I was peaceful. I was civil. I was calm.” But a federal judge, who last week ordered Chansley to remain behind bars pending trial, insists the accused rioter “blatantly lied” during the interview about his easy entrance into the Capitol. And he has the receipts to prove it. On Tuesday, the court released two videos to debunk Chansley’s claim, showing the chaos outside the Capitol on Jan. 6 as thousands of MAGA supporters smashed through the building’s windows. In the first video, first obtained by Law & Crime, Chansley is seen standing on scaffolding and holding an American flag above a sea of rioters being held back by law enforcement. more...

The assessment was the intelligence community’s most comprehensive look at foreign efforts to interfere in the election.
By Julian E. Barnes

WASHINGTON — President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia authorized extensive efforts to hurt the candidacy of Joseph R. Biden Jr. during last year’s election, including by mounting covert operations to influence people close to former President Donald J. Trump, according to a declassified intelligence report released Tuesday. The report did not name those people but seemed to be a reference to the work of Mr. Trump’s former personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, who relentlessly pushed allegations of corruption about Mr. Biden and his family involving Ukraine.

“Russian state and proxy actors who all serve the Kremlin’s interests worked to affect U.S. public perceptions in a consistent manner,” the report said. The declassified report represented the most comprehensive intelligence assessment of foreign efforts to influence the 2020 vote. Besides Russia, Iran and other countries sought to influence the election, the report said. China considered efforts to influence the presidential vote, but ultimately concluded that any such operation would fail and likely backfire, intelligence officials concluded. more...

*** Mitch McConnell and Republicans have already used the scorched earth Senate policy when they obstructed everything Obama tried to do. ***

By Ali Zaslav and Ted Barrett, CNN

(CNN) Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell gave a stark warning Tuesday about how Republicans would grind the chamber to a halt if Democrats changed the filibuster rules, leading to a "completely scorched earth Senate." The Kentucky Republican defended the 60-vote threshold on the legislative filibuster in a floor speech, cautioning Democrats that if they moved to change the rules of the filibuster, it would not open up an express lane for the Biden administration to push through their agenda. Instead, Republicans would use every rule and option at their disposal to halt the chamber, making the Senate "more like a 100-car pileup, nothing moving." Majority Whip Dick Durbin told reporters he's not concerned about McConnell's threats to slow the Senate if Democrats change the filibuster because "he has already done that." more...

Not all guidance released by the CDC during the Trump administration was based on the best scientific data or authored by its staff, the agency’s review found.
By Nina Golgowski

Not all of the coronavirus health guidance released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention during the Trump administration was based on the best scientific evidence or even primarily authored by the agency’s staff, according to a review ordered by the CDC’s new director. The review aimed to ensure that the CDC’s current and primary COVID-19 guidance contains the most updated information and is “evidence-based and free of politics,” according to a summary presented to CDC Director Rochelle Walensky and dated March 10. “I am focused on moving CDC forward with science, transparency and clarity leading the way,” Walensky said in a statement Monday. “It is imperative for the American people to trust CDC. If they don’t, preventable illness and injury can occur — and, tragically, lives can and will be lost.” more...

A Democratic senator has asked attorney general Merrick Garland to facilitate ‘proper oversight’ into concerns on the investigation
Stephanie Kirchgaessner

The FBI is facing new scrutiny for its 2018 background check of Brett Kavanaugh, the supreme court justice, after a lawmaker suggested that the investigation may have been “fake”. Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democratic senator and former prosecutor who serves on the judiciary committee, is calling on the newly-confirmed attorney general, Merrick Garland, to help facilitate “proper oversight” by the Senate into questions about how thoroughly the FBI investigated Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearing. The supreme court justice was accused of sexual assault by Christine Blasey Ford and faced several other allegations of misconduct following Ford’s harrowing testimony of an alleged assault when she and Kavanaugh were in high school. more...

By Zachary Cohen, CNN

Washington (CNN) The Office of the Director of National Intelligence released its declassified report on foreign threats to 2020 US elections Tuesday, which concludes that foreign adversaries -- including Russia -- did attempt to interfere. Russia's efforts were aimed at "denigrating President Biden's candidacy and the Democratic Party, supporting former President Trump, undermining public confidence in the electoral process, and exacerbating sociopolitical divisions in the US," it says. "Unlike in 2016, we did not see persistent Russian cyber efforts to gain access to election infrastructure," the report notes. The report also stated that there are "no indications that any foreign actor attempted to alter any technical aspect of the voting process in the 2020 US elections, including voter registration, casting ballots, vote tabulation, or reporting results." more...

Greg Iacurci

The IRS should police wealthy Americans who intentionally dodge their income taxes with more vigor, according to a report from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. About 686,000 taxpayers who earn at least $200,000 a year had a combined $38.5 billion tax balance as of mid-May 2019, according to the watchdog. Further, the agency collects less than 50% of tax debt owed by high-income taxpayers within a year of the case being assigned to an IRS tax collector, the report said. For example, high earners — those making at least $1.5 million a year — paid the IRS just 39% of the taxes they owed, on average, according to the audit. Such taxpayers still owed about $2.4 billion in delinquent tax. more...

Microsoft's Azure cloud is hit with an AAD authentication issue, affecting many Microsoft services for a subset of users. After two hours, Microsoft is starting to roll out a fix.
By Mary Jo Foley

An Azure Active Directory issue causing authentication problems is affecting a subset of Microsoft customers worldwide across many MIcrosoft services, including Office, Dynamics, Teams, Xbox Live and the Azure Portal. Customers began complaining around 3:15 p.m. ET on March 15 about their inability to use services that ran on top of Azure, and as of 5:15 p.m. ET, the issue was still unresolved. Currently, a message on the Azure Status page says: "CURRENT STATUS: Engineering teams have identified a potential underlying cause and are exploring mitigation options. The next update will be provided in 60 minutes or as events warrant." Because the Admin Portal also runs on Azure, a number of users on Twitter were complaining they were not able to get an update on the outage. This isn't the first time an Azure Active Directory authentication issue resulted in outages across numerous Microsoft services. In late September 2020, Microsoft had multiple Azure AD authentication issues affecting many of its services. more...

Bob Brigham

President Joe Biden declared "help is here" during a Friday address in the Rose Garden on the coronavirus relief legislation he has signed into law. On social media, Americans were reporting that they had already had their $1,400 survival check deposited into their bank accounts. "Americans waiting to get their stimulus checks were growing increasingly frustrated Saturday after discovering some banks won't make checks available to them for days, even if they've already been deposited by the federal government," HuffPost reported Saturday. "The official payment date for the "Economic Impact Payments" is March 17, but millions of dollars in checks had already landed in countless bank accounts by Friday, The Wall Street Journal reported." more...

Travis Gettys

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is demanding a meeting with U.S. Marine Corps leadership to discuss criticism of Fox News host Tucker Carlson -- igniting brutal ridicule. The broadcaster has faced widespread criticism from veterans, active-duty troops and an official Marine force social media account for mocking women who serve in uniform, and Cruz wants to meet with military leaders to tell them to lay off Carlson and other critics. "Under Biden, the military is launching political attacks to intimidate Tucker Carlson & other civilians who criticize their policy decisions," Cruz tweeted. "Officials in uniform are being used for the campaign. I've demanded a meeting with the Commandant of the USMC to put a stop to it." more...

Sky Palma

An officer from the Fresno Police Department in California has been placed on leave and is under investigation after he was seen in video footage participating in a protest with the far-right extremist group known as the "Proud Boys." Officer Rick Fitzgerald was placed under investigation after Chief Paco Balderrama became aware of the footage, the Fresno Bee reports. Officer Rick Fitzgerald was placed under investigation after Chief Paco Balderrama became aware of the footage, the Fresno Bee reports. "Although at this point these are merely allegations, and the matter will be fully investigated, it is important to maintain the integrity and legitimacy of our police department," Balderrama said in a statement. "Any allegations of actions unbecoming of a police officer or the affiliation with any alleged criminal or hate group will always be investigated and addressed. Fair and impartial policing are extremely important in our society. There is no place in our police ranks for any biased, racists, or anti-Semitic views."more...

And it’s not going over well.
By Aaron Rupar

Two recent tweets from members of Congress illustrate how, in the wake of President Joe Biden signing the Covid-19 relief bill, Republicans are trying to “have their cake and vote against it, too,” as Barack Obama once put it. That $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, which Biden signed into law last Thursday, didn’t receive a single Republican vote, even though recent polling shows a majority of Republican voters have said they somewhat or completely support it. The popularity of the legislation puts Republican members of Congress in a bind: How does one message against a bill that most Americans like, and that will cut child poverty in half, while also juicing an economy that’s been ravaged by the year-long pandemic? Some Republicans, perhaps understandably, are instead opting to instead focus on culture war distractions like whether Dr. Seuss is being “canceled.” But others are shamelessly trying to take credit for Democratic policy right after they voted against it. more...

By Sara Murray, CNN

(CNN) Two left-leaning groups are teaming up to pour $30 million into an effort to persuade US senators to pass a sweeping voting rights bill that would counter efforts by state GOP lawmakers to restrict voting access. The plan from End Citizens United/Let America Vote and the National Democratic Redistricting Committee is to spend $20 million on a television and digital advertising campaign and $10 million on a grassroots effort to try to get the legislation passed. more...

NBC News’ Ken Dilanian gives details on the two men arrested and charged for the assault of Capitol Hill Police Officer Brian Sicknick, how they were identified and the investigation following. video...

AP

BEIJING (AP) — China’s capital and a wide swath of the country’s north were enveloped Monday in the worst sandstorm in a decade, forcing the cancelation of hundreds of flights. Skyscrapers in the center of Beijing appeared to drop from sight amid the dust and sand. Traffic was snarled and more than 400 flights out of the capital’s two main airports were canceled amid high winds and low visibility. The National Meteorological Center said Monday’s storm had developed in the Gobi Desert in the Inner Mongolia Region, where schools had been advised to close and bus service added to reduce residents’ exposure to the harsh conditions. more...

Bill Chappell

The Roman Catholic Church cannot bless same-sex marriages, no matter how stable or positive the couples' relationships are, the Vatican said on Monday. The message, approved by Pope Francis, came in response to questions about whether the church should reflect the increasing social and legal acceptance of same-sex unions. "Does the Church have the power to give the blessing to unions of persons of the same sex?" the question asked. "Negative," replied the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which is responsible for defending Catholic doctrine.

The church says its answer regarding same-sex couples "declares illicit any form of blessing that tends to acknowledge their unions as such." The message underlines the church's insistence that marriage should be limited to a union between a man and a woman, saying that same-sex unions involve "sexual activity outside of marriage." In the Vatican's view, same-sex marriages are not part of God's plan for families and raising children. more...

By Kara Scannell, Sonia Moghe and Jason Morris, CNN

(CNN) After averting a conviction in his second impeachment trial, former President Donald Trump faces significant new legal threats as prosecutors in Georgia have joined those in New York to conduct criminal investigations into his actions. As the nation watched harrowing videos from January 6 of Trump supporters storming the US Capitol during the Senate impeachment trial this week, Georgia officials announced they have opened investigations into Trump's efforts to overturn the state's election results, including by pressuring officials to "find" votes to swing the outcome in his favor. The new investigations add to a heaping list of legal issues facing the former President that could threaten his finances and possibly his freedom. Out of office and without the protections that the presidency afforded him, Trump is now facing multiple criminal investigations, civil state inquiries and defamation lawsuits by two women accusing him of sexual assault. more...

By Jason Morris, CNN

(CNN) Officials in the Georgia Secretary of State's Office located a recently released recording of former President Donald Trump's call to a state investigator in a trash folder on her device, a state official familiar with the situation confirmed to CNN. The discovery of the call comes after state officials originally told CNN that they did not think audio of the call existed. The call added to the examples of Trump's extraordinary efforts to push false claims of widespread voter fraud and influence Georgia election officials as they certified the state's election results. The audio file of the December 23 call between the former President and investigator Frances Watson was discovered as the Georgia Secretary of State's Office responded to a public records request. The personal familiar spoke with CNN on the condition of anonymity to describe the internal process. The Washington Post first reported the details of how the audio of the December phone call emerged. more...

By Camilo Montoya-Galvez

As of Sunday morning, U.S. Border Patrol was holding more than 4,200 unaccompanied migrant children in short-term holding facilities, including jail-like stations unfit to house minors, according to government records reviewed by CBS News. Nearly 3,000 of the unaccompanied children in Customs and Border Protection (CBP) custody had been held longer than 72 hours. CBP is legally obligated to transfer most unaccompanied minors to the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), the agency which oversees shelters licensed to house children, within three days of taking them into custody. more...

Tom Boggioni

In a deep dive by the New York Times into the now-changing relationship between law enforcement officials and the extreme right-wing Proud Boys, one of the leaders of the group admitted that he exchanged information with federal authorities before their rallies that often turned violent. According to the report, law enforcement officials for years have ignored the growing violence at Proud Boy rallies -- choosing instead to arrest their antagonists -- but things have changed since the Jan 6th riot when supporters of Donald Trump overran the Capitol and sent lawmakers fleeing for their lives. As the Times' David Kirkpatrick and Alan Feuer wrote of the Proud Boys, "The group's propensity for violence and extremism was no secret. But the F.B.I. and other agencies had often seen the Proud Boys as they chose to portray themselves, according to more than a half-dozen current and former federal officials: as mere street brawlers who lacked the organization or ambition of typical bureau targets like neo-Nazis, international terrorists and Mexican drug cartels." more...

Sarah K. Burris

John Boyd Jr., president of the National Black Farmers Association called Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) out for his claim that subsidies for the community are nothing more than "reparations." Over the last century, Black farmers have lost almost all of their land and have been blocked from federal programs often given to their white counterparts. "I want to reiterate that since 1910, Black farmers have lost 92 percent of their land, some 12 million acres, largely due to systematic racism," said MSNBC host Rev. Al Sharpton. "For our viewers, what does that discrimination look like, specifically where banking and access to federal aid are concerned? You and I have talked about this for years. You've been on the forefront of it. Explain what has happened historically and why this means something." White farmers have had reductions in lands too, but only about 10 percent, according to Sarah Blaney, executive director of the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts. She told Raw Story that all the bill did was give equal access to their own government, which they've never had before. more...

Cuomo’s Democratic allies abandoning him over credible allegations further shows how Republicans only know how to deflect and excuse their own leaders’ misconduct.
Michael Tomasky

A month ago, after the Senate delivered its impeachment verdict, I wrote a column talking smack about Ben Sasse over his post-verdict Facebook statement. Sasse voted to convict Donald Trump, so he was getting a lot of mainstream cred at the time, and some of his statement was unobjectionable, but then he got to the part where he wrote that “if we were talking about a Democratic president, most Republicans and most Democrats would simply swap sides. Tribalism is a hell of a drug…” The point of the column was that no, Democrats would not behave toward a Democratic president who incited an armed siege against the temple of our democracy in anything like the same way Republicans behaved toward Trump. I thought it was a strong argument, but of course, since there was no Democratic chief executive accused of serious wrongdoing, it was largely hypothetical. more...

In statehouses around the country — most notably, in Georgia — lawmakers are rolling out legislation that would make it a lot harder to vote.
By NOLAN D. MCCASKILL

Former President Donald Trump’s debunked claims of widespread voter fraud and a stolen election galvanized his supporters who stormed the Capitol in January. Now, his rhetoric is turning into policies that are moving through GOP-dominated state legislatures: a rollback of voting access. In statehouses around the country — most notably, Georgia — lawmakers are rolling out legislation that would make it a lot harder to vote. They’re considering dozens of restrictive bills to purge voters from rolls, limit early and absentee voting, add voter ID requirements and eliminate automatic and same-day voter registration. In short, bills are being introduced to prevent something that didn’t happen in 2020 — widespread voter fraud — from recurring in 2022, 2024 and beyond. more...

By Jordain Carney

Republicans are going on the attack against the newly signed $1.9 trillion coronavirus bill as they scramble to find a messaging foothold against Democrats' first big win heading into 2022. GOP lawmakers, who voted in unison against the legislation, are gambling that they'll be able to tamp down the bill’s popularity in the long run, even as polls have shown it garners broad approval, including from their own voters. The focus among congressional Republicans is twofold: highlighting provisions they hope will be damaging to Democrats and accusing their political opponents of trying to take credit for an economic recovery Republicans say was set in motion by the Trump administration. more...

Florida-based Big Dog Ranch Rescue has spent as much as $1,883,160 on fundraising costs for events at Mar-a-Lago
Guardian staff

A dog rescue charity that has links to Lara Trump, the former president’s daughter-in-law, has spent almost $2m at Trump properties in the last seven years, according to US media reports. While other companies and groups have distanced themselves from the Trumps since the 6 January attack on the capital, the Florida-based Big Dog Ranch Rescue is expected to spend another $225,000 at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago country club for an event this weekend, according to a permit filed with the town of Palm Beach, which was reported by HuffPost. The former president has been living in the club full time since leaving the White House in January following his election defeat. more...

By Dan Merica and Mark Morales, CNN

(CNN) Gov. Andrew Cuomo, facing multiple allegations of sexual harassment and unwanted advances, is now the subject of an impeachment investigation after the speaker of the New York State Assembly authorized the judiciary committee to begin the probe this week. While Cuomo has apologized for "making anyone feel uncomfortable," the Democrat has maintained that he "never touched anyone inappropriately." When pressed on whether he would resign the office, as many top New York Democrats are now calling on him to do, the governor has bluntly said he will not heed those calls. The impeachment investigation is running in parallel with New York Attorney General Letitia James' independent civil inquiry into the allegations against the governor, which Cuomo has said he will participate in fully. National and New York Democratic operatives believe Cuomo's resolve, arguing that it is highly unlikely the governor will step down on his own -- making a potential impeachment the most likely venue for the third-term governor's possible departure. "The only way he leaves, unless he surprises everyone and turns into a different human being, is if he is impeached," said a top Democratic operative, noting that Cuomo's mentality has often been not to give an inch when challenged. more...

"Had the tables been turned, and President Trump won the election and those were tens of thousands of Black Lives Matter and Antifa protesters, I might have been a little concerned," Johnson said.
By BEN LEONARD

In an interview on conservative talk radio, Sen. Ron Johnson, one of former President Donald Trump’s strongest supporters, said he didn’t feel threatened by rioters violently storming the Capitol. Instead, he said, he might have been scared if the participants were Black Lives Matter or Antifa supporters — a comment with strong racial overtones. “Even though those thousands of people that were marching to the Capitol were trying to pressure people like me to vote the way they wanted me to vote, I knew those were people that love this country, that truly respect law enforcement, would never do anything to break the law, and so I wasn't concerned,” Johnson (R-Wis.) said in an interview on conservative radio host Joe Pag’s show Thursday. more...

By Megan Sheets For Dailymail.com

The former White House counsel to President Richard Nixon has predicted that Donald Trump will be indicted by the Manhattan district attorney's office within a matter of days. John Dean, who delivered pivotal testimony in 1973 that helped cause Nixon to resign after the Watergate scandal, shared his prediction via Twitter on Wednesday. It followed reports that Trump's former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen reportedly met with Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance for a seventh interview in a sweeping investigation into alleged financial crimes by the Trump Organization. more...

By Oliver Darcy and Barbara Starr, CNN

New York (CNN Business) In an extraordinary rebuke, the Pentagon and several senior members of the US military called out Fox News host Tucker Carlson on Thursday for a sexist segment in which he mocked women serving in the armed forces. Carlson, who is effectively the face of Fox and hosts the top show on the right-wing channel, ridiculed President Joe Biden Tuesday for saying that the US military had created uniforms to fit women properly, created maternity flight suits for those who are pregnant, and updated requirements for hairstyles. "So we've got new hairstyles and maternity flight suits," Carlson snarked. "Pregnant women are going to fight our wars. It's a mockery of the US military." Carlson's comments have prompted severe backlash from some of the most senior members of the US military who took to Twitter on Wednesday and Thursday to call Carlson out for what they described as harmful and divisive rhetoric. more...

U.S. attorneys cited the rapidly growing roster of defendants and the enormous cache of evidence they must sift through.
By KYLE CHENEY and JOSH GERSTEIN

Federal prosecutors have begun seeking 60-day delays across a series of Capitol riot cases, calling the probe “likely the most complex investigation ever prosecuted by the Department of Justice.” In a nine-page filing lodged in multiple cases Friday morning, U.S. attorneys handling cases stemming from the Jan. 6 insurrection cited the rapidly growing roster of defendants and the enormous cache of evidence they must sift through to get a complete picture of the crimes committed that day. “The investigation and prosecution of the Capitol Attack will likely be one of the largest in American history,” prosecutors said, “both in terms of the number of defendants prosecuted and the nature and volume of the evidence.”

That evidence, they said, includes findings of more than 900 search warrants executed in nearly every state. It also includes more than 15,000 hours of surveillance and body-worn camera footage supplied by some of the 14 federal and local law enforcement agencies that participated in the Capitol response — from the FBI to the Secret Service to the Arlington, Va., police department. Authorities are also combing through 1,600 electronic devices, conducting hundreds of searches of text messages from multiple providers, and reviewing 210,000 tips and 80,000 witness interviews. more...

By Aila Slisco

Lawyer Lin Wood, a prominent booster of conspiracy theories involving former President Donald Trump, has claimed under oath that he has evidence proving that former Vice President Mike Pence is a "traitor." Wood stated that he had already handed evidence proving Pence's alleged treachery to the U.S. Secret Service in a court filing on Tuesday. The filing was made in response to an attempt to remove him as the lawyer for Roslyn La Liberte, the plaintiff in a defamation lawsuit against MSNBC anchor Joy Reid. Reid's attorney cited Wood's claim that Pence is a "traitor" and several other controversial remarks as evidence of his misconduct. Although the Reid suit is being adjudicated in New York state, where Wood is not licensed to practice law, he had previously been granted pro hac vice status, which grants lawyers permission on a case-by-case basis. more...

The Manhattan District Attorney’s criminal probe is closing in.
By Bess Levin

Since leaving office in January, Donald Trump has apparently laid out a number of goals for himself. One of them is to scam as much money as possible out of his supporters. Another is to maintain relevance despite his social media banishment. Yet another, and probably the most important of the bunch, is to avoid prosecution for his cornucopia of alleged crimes. And on that last front, things aren’t looking great for the ex-president.

Weeks after the Supreme Court rejected Trump’s bid to keep his tax returns out of the hands of the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office—a turn of events he reacted to like a man who knows prison is in his future—the D.A. has expanded its criminal investigation of potential insurance, bank, and tax fraud outside of New York City. On Monday, CNN reported that Cy Vance’s office has subpoenaed documents from Fortress Investment Management, which loaned the Trump Organization $130 million to build his Chicago tower and then, seven years later, forgave a cool $102 million of that debt. While Trump ended up getting a sweet deal not having to repay a huge chunk of money, investigators are reportedly interested to know if he paid taxes on the forgiven amount, as required by the IRS. Per CNN: more...

Juana Summers

House lawmakers have passed two bills aimed at strengthening the nation's gun laws, including a bill that would require background checks on all gun sales and transfers. The top Senate Democrat vowed to bring up legislation expanding background checks up for a vote, but it does not have the 60 votes needed in the chamber to advance. With Democrats in full control of Congress, lawmakers hope that the legislation will find more support. Democrat-led efforts to pass tougher gun control laws have repeatedly failed since the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. "The gun violence crisis in America is a challenge to the conscience of our country — one that demands that we act," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said. The House also voted to approve legislation that would close the so-called "Charleston loophole," which made it possible for Dylann Roof, the white supremacist who killed nine people at a historically black church in Charleston, S.C., in 2015, to purchase a handgun even though he should have been barred from purchasing one. The measure lengthens the review period for background checks from three days to up to 20. more...

By Donald Judd and Devan Cole, CNN

(CNN) President Joe Biden signed an executive order Sunday expanding voting access in what the White House calls "an initial step" in its efforts to "protect the right to vote and ensure all eligible citizens can freely participate in the electoral process." The move comes as Republicans in statehouses around the country work to advance voter suppression legislation, including a bill in Georgia that voting rights groups say targets Black voters. Congressional Democrats, meanwhile, have pushed measures in recent days to increase voting rights, including HR1 -- a sweeping ethics and election package that contains provisions expanding early and mail-in voting, restoring voting rights to former felons, and easing voter registration for eligible Americans. Sunday's order directs the heads of all federal agencies to submit proposals for their respective agencies to promote voter registration and participation within 200 days, while assisting states in voter registration under the National Voter Registration Act. In addition, the order instructs the General Services Administration to modernize the federal government's Vote.gov portal. Ahead of the signing, Biden spoke about the order during virtual remarks at the Martin and Coretta King Unity Breakfast, an annual event commemorating "Bloody Sunday," where African American demonstrators demanding the right to vote were brutally beaten by police while crossing Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. more...

By Jamiel Lynch and Danielle Hackett, CNN

(CNN) A Florida firefighter was arrested for unlawful entry of a restricted building and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, according to court documents, after a photo surfaced of him wearing a Trump 2020 hat and pointing at a placard for Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi inside the US Capitol. Andrew Williams, a firefighter-paramedic with the Sanford Fire Department, appeared in federal court Tuesday and was released on a $25,000 signature bond, according to the court documents. The Sanford Fire Department launched an investigation into Williams' involvement after the photo circulated online. Fire Chief Craig Radzak confirmed it was Williams in the photo and said that Williams had been with the department as a firefighter-paramedic since October 2016. Williams has been placed on administrative leave without pay, according to an updated release from the fire department. As one of the bail conditions, Williams must appear at all court proceedings. In addition, he is not allowed to possess firearms, ammunition or dangerous weapons, and must surrender his passport by Friday. Records from federal court in Florida show that Williams' case is being transferred to the District of Columbia. more...

Gov. Cuomo stays out of view today as a sixth accuser comes forward and the allegations of sexual harassment continue to swirl, Andrew Siff has the latest. video...

It is the first known murder indictment for an Austin police officer in a use of force incident, the county's top prosecutor said.
By Wilson Wong

An Austin police officer was booked on a murder charge Thursday morning in connection with a deadly shooting that led to protests last year in Texas’ capital city. Officer Christopher Taylor was taken into custody after a grand jury indicted him in the April 24 shooting death of Michael Ramos, a spokesperson for the Travis County Sheriff's Office said. He was released just before 12:40 a.m. Thursday on $100,000 bond, according to the sheriff's office. It is the first known murder indictment for an Austin police officer in a use of force incident, the county's top prosecutor said. Taylor is accused of killing Ramos after officers responded to a 911 call about a person possibly involved in a drug deal. The caller noted the person had a gun, NBC affiliate KXAN reported. Witness video from the shooting shows Ramos get out of the vehicle, put his hands in the air and ask officers to put their guns down when they command him to walk toward them, according to the Austin American-Statesman. more...

Grace Dean

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said on Wednesday that he would sue the city of Austin after it said it would still enforce mask-wearing. Gov. Greg Abbott lifted the statewide mask mandate via executive order on Wednesday, making Texas the largest state to do so. He also lifted other COVID-19 safety protocols, such as capacity restrictions for bars and restaurants. On Tuesday, Austin-Travis County authorities announced that a local mask mandate would remain until April 15 to "avoid another surge of cases." The county has mandated face masks on business premises since July, and people can be fined if they don't comply. In Austin, people who are "outside of their residence" and people over the age of 6 who are on or in city property must wear masks. more...

“What we absolutely won’t do is take personnel advice from a talk show host,” said the Pentagon’s top spokesperson.
By QUINT FORGEY

Senior military officials are condemning Fox News host Tucker Carlson for saying this week that President Joe Biden is making a “mockery” of the armed forces through efforts to recruit and keep women in the service. On Tuesday, Carlson complained during his prime-time program that while “China’s military becomes more masculine … our military needs to become, as Joe Biden says, more feminine.” Carlson was referring to remarks Biden made at a White House ceremony on Monday, during which he announced the nominations of two female generals to become combatant commanders — putting them on track to potentially become only the second and third women to serve in those positions in U.S. history. At that event, Biden said the military was undertaking “relatively straightforward work” to better reflect gender diversity within its ranks and retain female recruits, including “designing body armor that fits women properly, tailoring combat uniforms for women, creating maternity flight suits [and] updating requirements for their hairstyles.” more...

By Clare Foran and Annie Grayer, CNN

(CNN) The Democratic-led House on Wednesday approved HR 1, a sweeping government, ethics and election bill that, among other things, would counter state-level Republican efforts to restrict voting access. Democrats describe the package as anti-corruption legislation that would expand voting access and improve accountability and transparency in Washington. Republicans, however, argue that the legislation limits political speech and represents an overreach and a federal power grab that Democrats are advancing in an effort to gain an advantage in elections. House Republicans have urged their members to vote against it. Acting on former President Donald Trump's false claims of a rigged 2020 election and widespread fraud, Republican-controlled states are advancing state bills that would make it harder to vote by imposing new voter ID requirements and curbing access to early and mail-in voting that several states adopted or expanded last year to prevent the spread of Covid-19. As of February, state legislators in 43 states had introduced more than 250 bills with restrictive voting provisions, according to a tally from the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University. These state measures and the fight over the federal voting bill come as the 2022 midterm elections loom large, along with the redrawing of legislative districts that will shape control of Congress for years to come. more...

By MARTHA MENDOZA and JULIET LINDERMAN

Two firefighters loaned to Washington for the day said they were the only medics on the Capitol steps Jan. 6, trying to triage injured officers as they watched the angry mob swell and attack police working to protect Congress. Law enforcement agents were “being pulled into the crowd and trampled, assaulted with scaffolding materials, and/or bear maced by protesters,” wrote Arlington County firefighter Taylor Blunt in an after-action memo. Some couldn’t walk, and had to be dragged to safety. Even the attackers sought medical help, and Blunt and his colleague Nathan Waterfall treated those who were passing out or had been hit. But some “feigned illness to remain behind police lines,” Blunt wrote. more...

By Teo Armus

Fox News host Tucker Carlson devoted a lengthy portion of his show Tuesday night to attacking New York Times reporter Taylor Lorenz over her accounts of facing online harassment, claiming that in fact she has “one of the best lives in the country.” After both she and the newspaper spoke out, with the Times calling his segment “calculated and cruel,” he returned to the airwaves Wednesday to continue lambasting Lorenz. He labeled her a “deeply unhappy narcissist,” denied that she faces online abuse and allowed a guest to baselessly accuse her of “harassing kids and teenagers.” His segment is the latest instance of Carlson singling out a reporter — a tactic that his targets like Lorenz say has unleashed waves of new online abuse. “I hope people see this and recognize it for what it is,” Lorenz said on Twitter late Wednesday, “an attempt to mobilize an army of followers to memorize my name and instigate harassment.” more...

Self-styled 'paleoconservative' had a hand in organising Stop the Steal rally that led to Capitol riot but appears to have since broken with QAnon cult
Joe Sommerlad

“Q tells us stuff and all of it’s lies,” a frustrated Alex Jones recently raved on his InfoWars radio show in the aftermath of the US Capitol riot. “You keep interrupting me…” his caller, a believer in the QAnon cult whose acolytes like “Q Shaman” Jacob Chansley took part in the failed insurrection, started to complain. “Because you’re lying! Because you’re full of s***! That’s why! Because every goddamned thing out of you people’s mouths doesn’t come true,” Mr Jones frothed, working himself up into one of his trademark bellicose furies. “And it’s always, ‘Oh, there’s energy’ and ‘Oh, now we’re done with Trump’. You said he was the messiah! You said he was invincible! You said it was all over, they were all going to Gitmo! more...

The two men were together just hours before prosecutors said Roberto Minuta stormed the Capitol armed with a gun and bear spray.
By Mary Papenfuss

A member of the extremist Oath Keepers seen hanging out with longtime Donald Trump confidant Roger Stone the day of the U.S. Capitol siege was arrested Monday on charges linked to the riot. Roberto Minuta, 36, of New Jersey is accused of obstructing the formal counting of presidential election votes, trespassing and attempting to cover up his crimes, according to the criminal complaint against him. Minuta, who owns a tattoo parlor in New York, traveled to Washington “equipped with military-style attire and gear, including apparel emblazoned with a crest related to the Oath Keepers,” and then stormed the Capitol, states an affidavit in support of the complaint. He was allegedly armed with a gun and bear spray. more...

By Jeff Mason

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House on Sunday urged computer network operators to take further steps to gauge whether their systems were targeted amid a hack of Microsoft Corp’s Outlook email program, saying a recent software patch still left serious vulnerabilities. “This is an active threat still developing and we urge network operators to take it very seriously,” a White House official said, adding that top U.S. security officials were working to decide what next steps to take following the breach. CNN on Sunday separately reported the Biden administration was forming a task force to address the hack. The White House official, in a statement, said the administration was making “a whole of government response.” While Microsoft released a patch last week to shore up flaws in its email software, the remedy still leaves open a so-called back door that can allow access to compromised servers and perpetuating further attacks by others. more...

By Jennifer Hansler, Pamela Brown and Devan Cole, CNN

Washington (CNN) Online platforms directed by Russian intelligence are spreading disinformation about two of the coronavirus vaccines being used in the US, a State Department spokesperson confirmed to CNN on Sunday. The agency's Global Engagement Center identified three Russian outlets -- News Front, New Eastern Outlook and Oriental Review -- that are spreading not only misinformation about the virus, but also regarding "international organizations, military conflicts, protests; and any divisive issue that they can exploit," according to the spokesperson. "These sites all vary in their reach, tone, and audience -- but they all are spreading Russian propaganda and disinformation. The State Department's finding of a link between these sites and Russian Intelligence is a result of a joint interagency conclusion," the spokesperson said. The GEC leads efforts "to recognize, understand, expose, and counter foreign state and non-state propaganda and disinformation efforts aimed at undermining or influencing the policies, security, or stability of the United States, its allies, and partner nations," according to its website. The Wall Street Journal first reported on the disinformation. more...

Websites linked to Russian intelligence services publish false information questioning vaccines’ safety, efficacy
By Michael R. Gordon and Dustin Volz

WASHINGTON—Russian intelligence agencies have mounted a campaign to undermine confidence in Pfizer Inc.’s and other Western vaccines, using online publications that in recent months have questioned the vaccines’ development and safety, U.S. officials said. An official with the State Department’s Global Engagement Center, which monitors foreign disinformation efforts, identified four publications that he said have served as fronts for Russian intelligence. The websites played up the vaccines’ risk of side effects, questioned their efficacy, and said the U.S. had rushed the Pfizer vaccine through the approval process, among other false or misleading claims. Though the outlets’ readership is small, U.S. officials say they inject false narratives that can be amplified by other Russian and international media. more...

Sam Levine in New York

Joe Biden will sign an executive order expanding voting rights on Sunday, the 56th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, when police brutally attacked a voting rights march in Selma, Alabama. Republicans have advanced more than 250 measures in state legislatures which aim to restrict voting, according to the Brennan Center for Justice. Biden referenced those measures in remarks delivered remotely to a unity breakfast in Selma on Sunday, saying: “We cannot let them succeed.” “If you have the best ideas, you have nothing to hide,” he said. “Let more people vote.” House Democrats last week passed HR1, a bill that contains some of the most sweeping measures to expand voting rights since the Voting Rights Act in 1965. Amid the increasing efforts to restrict voting rights, there are increasing calls for Democrats to get around the 60-vote filibuster in the US Senate in order to pass the measure. more...

Martin Pengelly in New York

Donald Trump could arrive in New York City for his first visit since leaving the White House as soon as Sunday night, according to multiple reports. The former president was born in Queens and rose to fame in Manhattan but changed his primary residence to Florida in 2019 and has been at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach since leaving Washington on 20 January. After reports of a New York visit proliferated on Saturday, local station WABC-TV reported that police were preparing to increase security around Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue in midtown Manhattan. The New York police department did not comment. Trump’s New York home was the subject of protests and a heavy police presence from the start of his run for the White House in summer 2015 through to the end of his term in office in the acrid aftermath of the 6 January Capitol attack. In July 2020, amid national protests for racial justice and policing reform, city authorities painted the words “Black Lives Matter” on the street outside Trump Tower. Mayor Bill de Blasio claimed to have “liberated” that stretch of Fifth Avenue. The mural was repeatedly vandalised. more...

Cuomo denied behaving inappropriately and called one accuser a "longtime political adversary."
By Dennis Romero and Allan Smith

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Sunday made clear he will not be resigning after two additional women accused him of behaving inappropriately when they worked for him. In a conference call with reporters, Cuomo struck a more defiant tone, saying demands from politicians that he resign are "anti-democratic." Cuomo said his administration's work in helping the state recover from the pandemic is too important for him to step aside now. "There is no way I resign," he said. Cuomo's comments followed claims made Saturday in the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post by Ana Liss and Karen Hinton, respectively, whose harassment allegations are similar to those made in recent weeks by former Cuomo aides Charlotte Bennett and Lindsey Boylan. Liss, now 35, told the Journal that when she served as a policy and operations aide to Cuomo, 63, from 2013 to 2015, he once hugged her, kissed her on both cheeks and grabbed her waist for a photo. "Reporters and photographers have covered the governor for 14 years watching him kiss men and women and posing for pictures," Cuomo senior advisor Rich Azzopardi said in a statement Saturday. more...

Ledyard King, Bart Jansen, Nicholas Wu, Savannah Behrmann | USA TODAY

WASHINGTON – The Democratic-controlled Senate Saturday overcame Republican roadblocks and a debate that lasted beyond 24 hours to pass President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package which would provide millions of Americans with $1,400 direct payments, billions of dollars for vaccine distribution, and funds to help reopen schools and colleges. The chamber passed the bill following a session that began around 9 a.m. Friday and ended at approximately 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, aft a "vote-a-rama" of proposed changes from both parties. The final vote was 50-49 with all Republicans voting against the measure and all members of the Senate Democratic caucus supporting it. Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, was not present for the vote. "It’s been a long day, a long night, a long year, But a new day has come," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said. “We tell the American people 'help is on the way.'" more...

By Kelly Murray and Alta Spells, CNN

(CNN) Amanda Gorman, the nation's first youth poet laureate, said she was "tailed" and told "you look suspicious" by a security guard as she walked home Friday night. "A security guard tailed me on my walk home tonight. He demanded if I lived there because 'you look suspicious.' I showed my keys & buzzed myself into my building. He left, no apology," Gorman wrote in a post on her verified Instagram account. "This is the reality of black girls: One day you're called an icon, the next day, a threat," she added. In a later tweet, the 22-year-old said, "In a sense he was right. I AM A THREAT: a threat to injustice, to inequality, to ignorance. Anyone who speaks the truth and walks with hope is an obvious and fatal danger to the powers that be. A threat and proud." more...

Joshua Zitser

America's oldest collegiate debate society has voted to strip Sen. Ted Cruz of its highest honor, according to The Daily Princetonian. Princeton University's American Whig-Cliosphic Society passed a motion to rescind the James Madison Award for Distinguish Public Service awarded to Cruz in 2016, the newspaper reported. Members of the society proposed the motion because unhappy at Cruz's support of baseless voter fraud claims in the 2020 election and the January 6 Capitol attack. The award — introduced in 1960 — is bestowed upon individuals who have "taken up the arduous but righteous cause of dedicating their life to the betterment of society," according to the society's website. more...

By Nicquel Terry Ellis

Atlanta (CNN) Voting rights groups led bus tours, knocked on 1 million doors and gave out food at community events to achieve an unprecedented Black voter turnout in Georgia. The organizations have been credited with helping Democrats win both the White House and control of the US Senate in the last election cycle. Their efforts, however, could be reversed by Republican-backed bills advancing in the Georgia Legislature that activists say are reminiscent of tactics used to prevent Black people from voting in the South during the Jim Crow era. "We know that their targets are Black voters," said Cliff Albright, co-founder of the Atlanta-based Black Voters Matter. "These (legislation) notes are dripping in the blood of Jim Crow." Black Voters Matter, the Georgia NAACP, the New Georgia Project and other civil rights groups are now in a battle to protect Black voting power, launching a campaign this week to stop the voter restrictions from moving forward. more...

Zack Linly

It seems like not more than a few weeks ever passes before The Root covers another story about wrongly convicted Black men being released from prison after spending years and even decades behind bars for crimes they did not commit due to the wilful negligence and indifference of law enforcement and courts. In 1996, George Bell, Rohan Bolt and Gary Johnson were arrested and convicted of murdering an off-duty police officer and the owner of a check-cashing store in Queens, N.Y. On Friday, a judge ordered their exoneration and release from prison after it was determined that evidence of their innocence was “deliberately withheld” from their attorneys. more...

By Fredreka Schouten, Casey Tolan and Kelly Mena, CNN

(CNN) Black Georgians disproportionately cast their ballots on the weekend days that Republican lawmakers want to eliminate as options in future elections, according to a CNN analysis of voting data from last November's general election. A measure moving swiftly through the Georgia legislature would reduce the number of weekend days available for in-person early voting and ban casting ballots on the final Sunday of the early voting period. Voting rights activists say the move attacks the "Souls to the Polls" programs that help drive turnout among Black churchgoers, a key Democratic constituency. Only 26.9% of the voters who cast in-person early ballots in Georgia during the general election were Black, state voting records showed. But CNN's analysis shows Black voters made up 34.6% of the voters who cast early ballots on the three weekend voting days that could be eliminated under the proposal from Georgia lawmakers -- about 48,000 people, significantly more than President Joe Biden's victory over former President Donald Trump in the state. Biden won Georgia by just shy of 12,000 votes. more...

The attack has been ongoing since January
By Mitchell Clark

Four exploits found in Microsoft’s Exchange Server software have reportedly led to over 30,000 US governmental and commercial organizations having their emails hacked, according to a report by KrebsOnSecurity. Wired is also reporting “tens of thousands of email servers” hacked. The exploits have been patched by Microsoft, but security experts talking to Krebs say that the detection and cleanup process will be a massive effort for the thousands of state and city governments, fire and police departments, school districts, financial institutions, and other organizations that were affected. According to Microsoft, the vulnerabilities allowed hackers to gain access to email accounts, and also gave them the ability to install malware that might let them back into those servers at a later time. more...

The decision comes mere days before Derek Chauvin is scheduled to stand trial on March 8.
By Chao Xiong Star Tribune

The Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled Friday that a trial judge was wrong to deny prosecutors' request to reinstate a third-degree murder charge against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who is scheduled to be tried next Monday in the killing of George Floyd. The court ruled that its Feb. 1 decision in an unrelated third-degree murder case set precedent that should apply to Chauvin's case. The court overturned a ruling by Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill that rejected charging Chauvin with the count, and sent the prosecution's request back to him for reconsideration. "A precedential opinion of this court has immediate precedential effect…," wrote Court of Appeals Judge Michelle Larkin. " … Although parties, attorneys, district court judges, and the public may disagree with this court's precedential decisions, district courts are bound to follow them. If it were otherwise, there would be uncertainty in the law and the integrity of our judicial system would be undermined." more...

Dan Mangan

New York state lawmakers on Friday moved to strip Gov. Andrew Cuomo of temporary emergency powers he was granted last year to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic. The state Senate, in a 43-20 vote, approved the bill, which would revoke Cuomo’s power to issue new orders related to coronavirus, while allowing current orders to remain in effect, albeit with great legislative oversight. The bill still was being debated Friday in the Assembly, which is expected to pass it. The effort came as the Democratic governor dealt with two major scandals: a cover-up of Covid nursing home death data by Cuomo’s administration and accusations by three women that he sexually harassed them. NBC New York reported earlier this week that the Democratic leaders of the state Senate and Assembly had reached a deal to revoke Cuomo’s emergency powers that would allow issues such as Covid lockdowns to be determined by local authorities. Cuomo has suggested he is willing to sign the bill. more...

By Tami Luhby, CNN

(CNN) Jobless Americans would get a smaller weekly boost to unemployment benefits but receive those payments for an additional month under a last-minute revision of the Senate's $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package on Friday. The bill, which now differs from the House version passed last week, calls for providing a $300 a week federal enhancement and for extending two key pandemic jobless benefits programs through September. The new arrangement would also make the first $10,200 worth of benefits tax-free. This is a significant change from the House bill, which would provide an extra $400 a week through August 29 and continue the two pandemic programs for the same period. The House bill does not contain the tax provision. But West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin -- the Democrats' crucial 50th vote -- does not yet support the plan, but has been supportive of a Republican proposal to extend $300-a-week federal benefits through July. more...

By Jim Newell

On Tuesday, I began to ask Sen. Bernie Sanders a question about his plan for “forcing a vote” on the $15 minimum wage during the Senate’s debate over COVID relief legislation. He took issue with the phrasing. “Well, you call it forcing a vote,” he said. “There’s going to be a vote.” Fair enough. He would be calling a vote, then, on the $15 minimum wage. And since the Senate parliamentarian had already determined that increasing the minimum wage wasn’t allowed under the strict reconciliation rules that Democrats are using to pass their $1.9 trillion relief bill, Sanders’ vote would be a procedural one, requiring 60 votes, to waive those rules. The reason “forcing” seemed apt, though, is that it is a vote that many members of Sanders’ caucus would prefer not to take. Last month, Sanders spared Senate Democrats a $15 minimum wage–related vote when they were debating the budget resolution. This time, they would be on the spot. more...

By Oscar Quine

Federico G. Klein, a former mid-level aide at the State Department, is the first member of the Trump administration to face criminal charges in connection with the January 6 storming of the capital. Klein was arrested in Virginia for charges including unlawful entry, violent and disorderly conduct, obstructing Congress and law enforcement, and assaulting an officer with a dangerous weapon, Samantha Shero, a spokesperson for the Bureau's Washington Field Office, confirmed Thursday. In videos, Klein is seen wearing a red "Make America Great Again" cap while assaulting officers with a stolen riot shield. According to a court document filed by the FBI, Klein was still employed by the State Department and possessed a Top Secret security clearance at the time of the alleged offence. more...

Tackling the most powerful social media accounts – such as Donald Trump’s – could be key to halting false narratives, researchers say
Kari Paul in San Francisco

A handful of rightwing “super-spreaders” on social media were responsible for the bulk of election misinformation in the run-up to the Capitol attack, according to a new study that also sheds light on the staggering reach of falsehoods pushed by Donald Trump. A report from the Election Integrity Partnership (EIP), a group that includes Stanford and the University of Washington, analyzed social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok during several months before and after the 2020 elections. It found that “super-spreaders” – responsible for the most frequent and most impactful misinformation campaigns – included Trump and his two elder sons, as well as other members of the Trump administration and the rightwing media. The study’s authors and other researchers say the findings underscore the need to disable such accounts to stop the spread of misinformation. “If there is a limit to how much content moderators can tackle, have them focus on reducing harm by eliminating the most effective spreaders of misinformation,” said said Lisa Fazio, an assistant professor at Vanderbilt University who studies the psychology of fake news but was not involved EIP report. “Rather than trying to enforce the rules equally across all users, focus enforcement on the most powerful accounts.” more...

Kills quickly exceeded statewide limit, forcing the state to end the hunting season early
Victoria Bekiempis

Hunters and trappers in Wisconsin killed 216 gray wolves last week during the state’s 2021 wolf hunting season – more than 82% above the authorities’ stated quota, sparking uproar among animal-lovers and conservationists, according to reports. The kills all took place in less than 60 hours, quickly exceeding Wisconsin’s statewide stated limit of 119 animals. As a result, Wisconsin’s department of natural resources ended the season, which was scheduled to span one week, four days early. While department officials were reportedly surprised by the number of gray wolves killed, they described the population as “robust, resilient” and expressed confidence in managing the numbers “properly going forward”. more...

By Lauren Fox, CNN

Washington (CNN) Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren has quietly posted a nearly 2,000-page report documenting social media posts by her Republican colleagues who voted against certifying results of the presidential election on January 6. The information compiled isn't secret, but the report is another sign of the deep distrust that has settled into the US Capitol in the weeks since the insurrection. The report chronicles the social media activity of members on public forums immediately before the November election and right after the January 6 riot. The report has been online for a week. CNN reported earlier Thursday that federal investigators are examining records of communications between members of Congress and the pro-Trump mob that attacked the Capitol, as the investigation moves closer to exploring whether lawmakers wittingly or unwittingly helped the insurrectionists. In a preamble to the report, Lofgren -- the chair of the House Administration Committee -- wrote that she had asked her staff to pull the relevant social media posts and compile them in an effort to gather facts. more...

Some former political appointees say they were promised lump-sum payouts and are now struggling to pay rent.
By DANIEL LIPPMAN

A number of former Trump political appointees have still not received their lump-sum vacation payouts and required forms that are necessary to file for unemployment benefits as they face a tough job market in a Democratic Washington. While HR headaches are to be expected during a government transition, some former political appointees say they were not warned there would be significant delays. And the problems faced by the seven former appointees POLITICO interviewed appear more acute than during past recent transitions. It’s not clear, however, whether the delays are related to the rocky Trump-Biden transition or a slow federal government bureaucracy that is still working mostly from home.

Political appointees who stay to the very end of an administration often face a gap between Jan. 20 and when they land their next job, given the time it takes to network, get job interviews and then get a formal offer. Trump appointees face the added problem of job hunting in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 riot, which made some companies reluctant to hire former Trump appointees, in part because of fear of a backlash. “I’m sitting here going, how do I pay my rent? How do I pay my cellphone bill?” one former Commerce appointee said in an interview. more...

Despite the latest gains, around 4 million people have still been out of work for 27 weeks or longer.
By Martha C. White

The U.S. economy added 379,000 jobs in February, roundly beating economists’ estimates of 210,000, and indicating that one year into the pandemic, the labor market is finally showing signs of recovery. In the first full monthly employment report under President Joe Biden, the unemployment rate fell to 6.2 percent,from 6.3 percent in January, according to data released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. "The ship is pointed in the right direction, and the additional stimulus coming from Congress should be the wind in the sails to get the economy back on track," said Charlie Ripley, Senior Investment Strategist for Allianz Investment Management. The latest jobs report comes after a month of stumbles in Covid-19 vaccine deployment and frigid weather that plunged Texas and large parts of the South into a deep freeze that froze oil rigs, ruptured household plumbing and cost lives. more...

By Katelyn Polantz and Devan Cole, CNN

Washington (CNN) Former House impeachment manager Eric Swalwell has sued former President Donald Trump, his son Donald Trump Jr., Rudy Giuliani and Republican Rep. Mo Brooks in a second major lawsuit seeking to hold Trump and his allies accountable for inciting the insurrection at the US Capitol on January 6. The new lawsuit filed on Friday by Swalwell, a California Democrat who helped to lead impeachment arguments against Trump for inciting insurrection, follows a similar suit filed last month by Rep. Bennie Thompson against Trump, Giuliani and the extremist groups the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys. Swalwell's case makes some of the same claims as Thompson's -- citing a civil rights law meant to counter the Ku Klux Klan's intimidation of elected officials. But it also alleges Trump, Trump Jr., Giuliani and Brooks broke Washington, DC, laws, including an anti-terrorism act, by inciting the riot, and that they aided and abetted violent rioters and inflicted emotional distress on the members of Congress. "The Defendants, in short, convinced the mob that something was occurring that -- if actually true -- might indeed justify violence, and then sent that mob to the Capitol with violence-laced calls for immediate action," the lawsuit, in Washington, DC's federal District Court, alleges. more...

By Kate Gibson

As Texas and Mississippi move to join a dozen other U.S. states without statewide mask requirements, many major retailers and employers aren't ready to nix face covering requirements amid a pandemic that killed more than 1,800 Americans on Tuesday alone. The governors of both states said they are dispensing with mask mandates and allowing businesses to operate at full capacity. "We must now do more to restore livelihoods and normalcy for Texans by opening Texas 100 percent," Texas Governor Greg Abbott said in a statement. "We are ensuring that all businesses and families in Texas have the freedom to determine their own destiny." more...

*** Republicans are up to the old tricks once again obstruction not helping the American people but obstructing help for the American people and then will blame the democrats for not helping the American people. ***

The Alaska senator — as unique as her home state — has admitted she is torn over what to do.
By BURGESS EVERETT and MARIANNE LEVINE

Senate Republicans are leaning on Lisa Murkowski to reject President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion pandemic relief plan, hoping they can get unanimous GOP opposition and prevent Democrats from claiming the bill is bipartisan. Most in the GOP think that the senator will ultimately side with them on the Covid measure. In particular, they expected Murkowski to vote no on the first procedural vote on the measure on Thursday — and she met those expectations. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has said, both publicly and privately, that he wants a united GOP casting 50 "no" votes on the final product too. Murkowski said Thursday she was undecided on the final vote. more...

*** Republicans are up to the old tricks once again obstruction not helping the American people but obstructing help for the American people and then will blame the democrats for not helping the American people. ***

Nicholas Wu USA TODAY

WASHINGTON – Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., forced the Senate to begin reading all 628 pages of President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID bill aloud on the Senate floor Thursday, further delaying a vote on the legislation Democrats hope to make law by next week. Johnson said his tactic was about “educating” the American public on what was in the $1.9 trillion package, which he has derided as full of provisions unrelated to COVID relief. The entire process could take at least 10 hours. He told reporters Thursday he felt badly for the Senate clerks who are going to “have to read it,” but it was “important” to delay the process and read the bill aloud because “so often we rush these massive bills” which few lawmakers have time to read. more...

By Emily Czachor

As federal law enforcement agencies braced for QAnon conspiracy theorists to engage in potential acts of violence on Thursday, leading affiliates of the far-right extremist movement seemed to amend formerly held beliefs about the significance of March 4. QAnon, a viral set of online conspiracy theories pushed predominantly by followers of former president Donald Trump, gained widespread notoriety ahead of the most recent general election. Supporters believe a range of false conspiracies, whose overarching theme alleges that distinguished Democrats belong to a secret, global network of sex traffickers and Satan worshipers that Trump was appointed to disband. Proponents for QAnon were responsible for spreading misinformation and disinformation about a number of issues, from COVID-19 to the Black Lives Matter movement, during the months leading up to November's election. more...

By Christina Zhao

Fears of another Capitol attack have ramped up in the days and hours leading up to March 4, the next significant date in the QAnon calendar. Despite countless failed Q predictions, supporters of former President Donald Trump and the proliferating conspiracy theory believe that Thursday will be the day that the ex-president will be inaugurated again.

On Wednesday, the United States Capitol Police (USCP) announced that they had uncovered threats by militia groups to breach the Capitol building on March 4. The "possible plot" appeared to be connected to the QAnon theory that Trump would return to office on that date, when presidents were inaugurated pre-1933.

"The United States Capitol Police Department is aware of and prepared for any potential threats towards members of Congress or towards the Capitol complex," authorities said in a statement. "We have obtained intelligence that shows a possible plot to breach the Capitol by an identified militia group on Thursday, March 4." more...

The Starship SN10 came far closer to achieving a safe, vertical touchdown than two previous models.
By Reuters

The third time appeared to be the charm for Elon Musk’s Starship rocket - until it wasn’t. The latest heavy-duty launch vehicle prototype from SpaceX soared flawlessly into the sky in a high-altitude test blast-off on Wednesday from Boca Chica, Texas, then flew itself back to Earth to achieve the first upright landing for a Starship model. But the triumph was short-lived. Listing slightly to one side as an automated fire-suppression system trained a stream of water on flames still burning at the base of the rocket, the spacecraft blew itself to pieces about eight minutes after touchdown. It was the third such landing attempt to end in a fireball after an otherwise successful test flight for the Starship, being developed by SpaceX to carry humans and 100 tons of cargo on future missions to the moon and Mars. more...

By Jim Sciutto and Zachary Cohen, CNN

(CNN) Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré has briefed senior members of Congress on his independent review of security at the US Capitol and submitted draft recommendations for sweeping changes to bolster protections for lawmakers after the January 6 insurrection, two sources with direct knowledge of his findings told CNN. The review recommends establishing a quick reaction force to be on standby full time near the Capitol and that the US Capitol Police Chief should not need to get approval from the police board or Sergeant at arms to request the quick reaction force, a change that is appears aimed toward resolving chain of command issues in deploying the National Guard like those seen on January 6. In addition, the review includes adding more than 1,000 US Capitol Police officers to help protect lawmakers while they are in Washington, DC, and back in their home states and installing retractable fencing around the Capitol complex. Rep. Tim Ryan told CNN Thursday that he believes Honoré is "hitting the nail on the head" with his recommendations. more...

Trevor Hughes USA TODAY

WASHINGTON – A screaming man with his fist raised, a Byzantine cross emblazoned in red on his T-shirt. A white flag with a lone green pine tree and the words "An Appeal to Heaven" fluttering over the angry crowd. The Christian flag whipping in the wind from a parked pickup. Those images on display at the Jan. 5-6 rally and riot in Washington, D.C., have raised concerns that some of former President Donald Trump's most ardent and dangerous supporters, including groups such as the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, QAnon, 3 Percenters and America Firsters, are cloaking themselves in biblical language to justify their actions. The flags and other displays are the latest examples of how white terrorists throughout history, including the KKK, have cited Christianity to justify what they claim is their God-given right to control races and ethnic groups, experts said. more...

By Grace Segers

Washington — The House on Wednesday passed H.R. 1, a sweeping government and elections reform bill and a key legislative priority for the Democratic majority. The House also passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, though the vote was initially scheduled for Thursday. It was moved up due to a security threat. Two House sources confirmed to CBS News that there were discussions about moving up votes in the House because of the threat. The U.S. Capitol Police "received new and concerning information and intelligence indicating additional interest in the Capitol for the dates of March 4th – 6th by a militia group," the House Sergeant at Arms said in a bulletin on Wednesday. Capitol Police Acting Chief Yogananda Pittman told lawmakers during a hearing Wednesday that "we do have some concerning intelligence" and "we have enhanced our security posture." The concerns for lawmakers' safety come after the Capitol was stormed by a mob seeking to overturn the presidential election on January 6, with several rioters seeking to harm or even assassinate lawmakers. more...

Jaclyn Diaz

In her time as former President Donald Trump's Transportation Secretary, Elaine Chao repeatedly used her position and agency staff to help family members that run a shipping business with ties to China, in potential violation of federal ethics laws, according to an inspector general report. The findings were uncovered in a Transportation Department's inspector general report released Wednesday that detailed the office's investigation into Chao's dealings as secretary. The inspector general referred the findings to the Justice Department in December 2020. But with the Trump administration coming to a close, the DOJ declined to open its own investigation into the matter citing "there is not predication" to do so. Chao, who is married to Sen. Mitch McConnell, announced her resignation Jan 7, saying she was deeply troubled by the previous day's mob that attacked the Capitol "in a way that I simply cannot set aside." Her term was set to end at President Biden's swearing-in. more...

By Kathryn Watson

President Biden on Wednesday criticized leaders in Texas and Mississippi for ending their statewide mask mandates before all Americans have access to a vaccine. Mr. Biden said it was "Neanderthal thinking" to believe that "in the meantime, everything is fine, take off your masks." Republican governors in Texas and Mississippi announced the lifting of their mask mandates this week, before the states have finished vaccinating seniors and vulnerable populations. The Centers for Disease Control and federal health officials have said now is not the time to stop being vigilant, especially given the uptick in variants. more...

Johnathan Hettinger Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting

Rhonda Bomwell had never used a flea and tick collar before. Pierre, her 9-year-old Papillon service dog, was mostly an indoor animal. Still, her veterinarian recommended she purchase one, so Bomwell went to the pet store near her home in Somerset, New Jersey, and selected Bayer’s Seresto collar. A day later, on June 2, 2020, Pierre had a seizure, collapsing while Bomwell was making dinner. Lying on his back, the dog stopped breathing and his eyes rolled back. Bomwell tried giving him CPR. Then she called the police. An officer helped her lift the dog into her car, and she rushed him to the hospital. Pierre died before he could receive medical treatment. Bomwell didn’t think to take off Pierre’s collar. “I just didn’t put it together,” she said. more...

Police say the discovery of a live pipe bomb at a central Iowa polling place forced an evacuation of the building
By The Associated Press

ANKENY, Iowa -- The discovery of a live pipe bomb at a central Iowa polling place as voters were casting ballots in a special election forced an evacuation of the building, police said. Officers called to the Lakeside Center in Ankeny around 9:30 a.m. Tuesday found a device that looked like a pipe bomb in grass near the center. Police later confirmed in a news release that the device was a pipe bomb. The banquet hall was being used as a polling place for an Ankeny school district special election. Police evacuated the building, and the State Fire Marshal and agents with the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were called in. Technicians safely detonated the device, and the center was reopened around 12:30 p.m. — about three hours after the device was discovered, police said. No one was injured. more...

By Manu Raju, Barbara Starr, Zachary Cohen and Oren Liebermann, CNN

(CNN) The Department of Defense inspector general has issued a scathing review of Rep. Ronny Jackson during his time serving as the top White House physician, concluding that he made "sexual and denigrating" comments about a female subordinate, violated the policy for drinking alcohol while on a presidential trip and took prescription-strength sleeping medication that prompted concerns from his colleagues about his ability to provide proper care. The findings outlined in the report, which was obtained by CNN prior to its release on Wednesday, stem from a years-long IG investigation into Jackson -- who currently represents Texas in the House of Representatives and sits on the House Armed Services subcommittee overseeing military personnel -- that was launched in 2018 and examines allegations that date back to his time serving during the Obama and Trump administrations. Members of Congress were briefed on the IG report findings on Tuesday, according to two sources familiar with the matter. more...

CBS News

Baghdad — At least 10 rockets targeted a military base in western Iraq that hosts about 2,000 U.S. troops on Wednesday, American and Iraqi military officials said. A U.S. defense official told CBS News national security correspondent David Martin there were no reported casualties among U.S. or coalition troops, but one American civilian contractor, who had taken cover in a bunker on the base, died of a heart attack during the rocket strike. The rockets struck Ain al-Asad airbase in Anbar province at 7:20 a.m., according to Col. Wayne Marotto, a spokesman for the U.S.-led military coalition. The Iraqi military released a statement later saying the attack did not cause significant losses and that security forces had found the launch pad used for the missiles. An Iraqi official said it was found in the al-Baghdadi area of Anbar, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not permitted to brief media. more...

Alana Wise

It took more than three hours for former President Donald Trump's Defense Department to approve a request for D.C.'s National Guard to intervene in the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, the commanding general of the outfit told senators on Wednesday. The testimony comes as Congress holds a series of hearings about security preparations for and response to the violence at the Capitol earlier this year. "At 1:49 p.m. I received a frantic call from then-Chief of U.S. Capitol Police, Steven Sund, where he informed me that the security perimeter at the Capitol had been breached by hostile rioters," Maj. Gen. William Walker told the Senate Homeland and Rules committees in a joint hearing. "Chief Sund, his voice cracking with emotion, indicated that there was a dire emergency on Capitol Hill and requested the immediate assistance of as many Guardsmen as I could muster." more...

Twitter users mocked the right-wing network’s newest obsession.
By Ed Mazza

Fox News went into full freakout mode on Tuesday after Dr. Seuss Enterprises announced it would stop publishing six books over “hurtful and wrong” stereotypes and racist imagery. “Ceasing sales of these books is only part of our commitment and our broader plan to ensure Dr. Seuss Enterprises’ catalog represents and supports all communities and families,” the organization said. Fox News spent much of the day deriding “cancel culture” despite the fact that the company made the decision on its own and most of the beloved author’s books will remain in circulation. The progressive watchdog group Media Matters counted 85 mentions of Seuss on Fox News by 4 p.m.: more...

The Infowars host, who profits from pandering to Trump’s base, was filmed in an expletive-laden tirade against him in 2019.
By Josephine Harvey

Conspiracy theorist and far-right talk radio host Alex Jones, who has promoted Donald Trump to his audience extensively for years, is heard in a newly leaked video expressing disgust at the former president in 2019. “It’s the truth, and I’m just going to say it. That I wish I never would have fucking met Trump,” Jones says in the footage. “I wish it never would have happened. And it’s not the attacks I’ve been through. I’m so sick of fucking Donald Trump, man. God, I’m fucking sick of him. And I’m not doing this because, like, I’m kissing his fucking ass, you know. It’s, like, I’m sick of it.” Filmmaker Caolan Robertson, who shot a propaganda film called “You Can’t Watch This” with the Infowars host, leaked the footage to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Hatewatch initiative, which monitors far-right extremism in the U.S. more...

City and county leaders urged residents in their areas to still follow recommendations from health experts and officials that call for wearing face masks in public.
by Juan Pablo Garnham

Mayors and county judges in some of Texas’ largest urban areas criticized Gov. Greg Abbott over his decision to lift the statewide face mask mandate next week, saying it contradicts health officials’ advice as infections continue to spread throughout the state, which averaged over 200 reported deaths a day over the last week. Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, a fellow Republican, called Abbott’s order “premature” and asked him to allow more people to get the vaccine. “I am calling on Gov. Abbott to open up additional vaccine tier categories so that more people are eligible to get a vaccine if they want one,” Price said in a statement. “As the state’s directive has changed, so must our response. Now, more than ever, vaccines and testing must be readily available.” more...

*** No matter how hard Republicans, Fox news and right wing media try to place the blame on Anifa the facts and the videos prove it was not Antifa but Trump supporters, white supremacist and Qanon that sacked the capitol of the Untied States of America. ***

The FBI has not seen "any evidence of anarchist violent extremists or people subscribing to antifa in connection with the 6th," he said at a Senate hearing.
By Rebecca Shabad

WASHINGTON — FBI Director Christopher Wray on Tuesday repeatedly shot down claims by Republican allies of former President Donald Trump and others that antifa activists participated in the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol. “We have not to date seen any evidence of anarchist violent extremists or people subscribing to antifa in connection with the 6th," Wray said in testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee at a hearing to address concerns about the intelligence leading up to the riot and the domestic terrorism threat more broadly. "That doesn't mean we're not looking, and we'll continue to look, but at the moment we have not seen that.”

Wray explained that those who participated in the breach of the Capitol fell into two main groups of violent extremists — those associated with militia groups, such as Oath Keepers, and those who advocate white supremacy. Wray's comments came after Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the top Republican on the committee, spent much of his opening remarks focused not on the right-wing extremists who attacked the Capitol in January, but on left-wing extremists, such as the anti-fascist, or antifa, movement. Grassley referred to how far-left protesters vandalized a federal courthouse in Portland, Oregon, in the summer and the state Democratic Party headquarters during President Joe Biden's inauguration. more...

The three Trump-appointed justices could provide key swing votes in the ruling.
By Sahil Kapur

WASHINGTON — Supreme Court justices asked skeptical questions Tuesday about Arizona election laws in a case that has emerged as an important test of the Voting Rights Act. The case is about whether two state laws violate Section 2 of the act: One blocks the counting of ballots cast in the wrong precinct, and another prohibits anyone other than a family member or caregiver from collecting and delivering a voter’s absentee ballot.

On one side is the state of Arizona and Republicans, who want to keep the strict laws on the books and argue they prevent fraud. And on the other side are Democrats, who want the laws stricken and argue the rules prevent voters, particularly minorities, from accessing the ballot. The voting restrictions are being fought in a state where Republicans have dominated local and national races for generations but where recently Democrats have gained traction and won both U.S. Senate seats and the presidential contest last year. The outcome of the case could have far-reaching implications for voting laws in other states, too. more...

By Jericka Duncan, Caitlin Yilek CBS News

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is facing allegations that he was sexually inappropriate toward three women. Harassment allegations from two women, former aides to Cuomo, led New York Attorney General Letitia James to launch an investigation. James said Monday she received a formal referral from Cuomo's office, granting her the ability to choose an investigator to look into the allegations.  "This is not a responsibility we take lightly as allegations of sexual harassment should always be taken seriously," James said in a statement, adding that the findings of the investigation would be made public after its completion. "All members of the Governor's office will cooperate fully. We will have no further comment until the report is issued," said Beth Garvey, special counsel and senior advisor to Cuomo. more...

by: Associated Press

El CENTRO, Calif. (AP) — An SUV believed to be carrying 27 people crashed into a semi truck Tuesday on a Southern California highway, killing 15 people and leaving others injured, hospital officials said. Judy Cruz, director of El Centro Regional Medical Center’s emergency department, said 14 people died at the scene, which is about 11 miles (18 kilometers) north of the U.S.-Mexico border, and another died after arriving at the hospital. more...

Brittany Gosney told investigators she tried to abandon her son in a wildlife area and ran over him when he attempted to get back into her vehicle, according to court documents.
By Wilson Wong

An Ohio mother who told police her 6-year-old son was missing now faces murder and other charges in connection with his death. Before Brittney Gosney filed a missing persons report with the Middeltown Division of Police on Sunday, authorities said she tried to abandon James Robert Hutchinson in a wildlife area and ran over him when he attempted to get back into the car. Gosney, 29, told investigators she sped off and dragged Hutchinson in Preble County on Friday, according to court records obtained by NBC affiliate WWBT. When she returned about 30 minutes later, she said she found him dead in a parking lot with a head injury, the criminal complaint said. more...

By Paul LeBlanc and Gregory Krieg, CNN

Washington (CNN) A third woman has accused Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo of unwanted advances in 2019, The New York Times reported Monday, adding to an escalating crisis facing the governor in the wake of two sexual harassment allegations. The woman, Anna Ruch, told the Times that Cuomo approached her during a crowded wedding reception in New York in 2019. Ruch told the newspaper she thanked Cuomo for his toast to the newlyweds, and in response, she says he put his hand on her bare lower back, which the Times said was exposed in an open-back dress. When Ruch removed his hand, Cuomo allegedly told her she seemed "aggressive" as he put his hands on her cheeks, she recalled to the Times. Cuomo then asked if he could kiss her, Ruch said, and she distanced herself as he came closer. "I was so confused and shocked and embarrassed," Ruch told the Times. "I turned my head away and didn't have words in that moment." more...

Anderson Cooper 360

CNN's Ryan Nobles reports that Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) fell during a visit with his family that resulted in a visit to the hospital, and visible injuries including a black eye. Source: CNN. video...

Members are alleged to have dressed “incognito” on Jan. 6, then fanned out to prevent law enforcement from identifying them en masse.
By KYLE CHENEY and JOSH GERSTEIN

The Proud Boys gathered at the Washington Monument at 10 a.m. on Jan. 6 dressed “incognito” to avoid detection, and then fanned out across the Capitol to prevent law enforcement from identifying them en masse, prosecutors alleged Monday in a legal filing that provides the most detail yet about the group’s actions on the day of the insurrection. In one of the most detailed filings describing the violent nationalist group’s activities, prosecutors say the Proud Boys — bereft of their leader Enrique Tarrio, who had been arrested two days earlier — turned to new leaders, including Ethan Nordean, a Seattle-based Proud Boys leader, who helped orchestrate the group’s role in the assault. more...

CNBC

Texas energy companies failed to pay another $345 million for electricity and other services incurred during last month’s cold snap, the operator of the state’s grid said on Monday. The state’s deregulated electricity market was thrown into turmoil last month as 48% of its generating plants went offline, fueling up to $9,000 per megawatt hour (mwh) spot rates and $25,000 per mwh service fees. Those charges drove one provider into bankruptcy on Monday. In all, electricity prices on the state’s wholesale market soared by $47 billion for the about five-day period when cold weather drove up demand and generating plants failed, estimated Carrie Bivens, a vice president at Potomac Economics, which monitors the Texas power market. more...

Fritz Berggren’s hundreds of blog posts, videos and podcasts date back several years.
By NAHAL TOOSI

A State Department official for several years has been publicly calling for the establishment of Christian nation-states, warning that white people face “elimination” and railing against Jews as well as Black Lives Matter and other social movements. Fritz Berggren, a mid-ranking Foreign Service officer, openly uses his name and image as he espouses these and other controversial views, according to a review of his online postings. Current and former State Department officials noted the connection to POLITICO in recent days. more...

Ryan Lucas

FBI Director Christopher Wray is expected to face a grilling from lawmakers Tuesday about the bureau's response to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol and the rising threat from white supremacists and other domestic violent extremists. Wray is set to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee for what will be his first public testimony before Congress since a pro-Trump mob ransacked the Capitol almost two months ago. more...

By Alex Marquardt, CNN

(CNN) Shortly after the US intelligence community published its long-awaited report on Friday afternoon on the Saudis who were responsible for the death of Jamal Khashoggi, it was taken down without explanation and replaced with another version that removed the names of three men it had initially said were complicit. The quiet switch by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence went largely unnoticed as the outcry grew that the Biden administration was failing to punish the prince in any way, despite having just declared in no uncertain terms that MBS was responsible. The first link to the report that was sent out by ODNI went dead. It was then replaced with a second version that removed three of the men it had just announced "participated in, ordered, or were otherwise complicit in or responsible for the death of Jamal Khashoggi." The Office of the Director of National Intelligence declined to clarify why the names were originally on the list and what roles, if any, they may have had in Khashoggi's killing. more...

*** How Republicans win elections by suppressing the votes of democrats. ***

By Mark Niesse, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The fight over voting restrictions will permeate the Georgia Capitol this week, with protests and votes on bills creating obstacles to absentee and early voting. The House planned to vote on an overhaul of Georgia’s election laws Monday, requiring ID for absentee voting, curbing ballot drop boxes and limiting weekend early voting hours. Proposals to end no-excuse absentee voting and automatic voter registration could also receive votes within days. Democrats vowed to try to stop the bills, but they’re outnumbered by majority Republicans pushing to change election rules after losing presidential and U.S. Senate races in Georgia. more...

Jacob Shamsian

The Supreme Court on Monday formally rejected two of Sidney Powell's lawsuits seeking to overturn the results of the 2020 US election, brushing away any lingering ideas that Donald Trump would be declared the true winner. As Law and Crime first reported, the court didn't offer any comment while rejecting the two lawsuits. One lawsuit sought to overturn results in Arizona, the other in Wisconsin. Joe Biden, the winner of the presidential election, was inaugurated on January 20. The cases — premised on a bizarre conspiracy theory that election-technology companies were in cahoots with the regime of the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez to secretly flip votes from Trump to Biden — were widely expected to fail. The Supreme Court has rejected several other lawsuits seeking to overturn election results. more...

Jaclyn Diaz

Amazon warehouse workers in Alabama voting to unionize won the backing of an important executive. Without naming the massive e-commerce company specifically, President Joe Biden said in a video posted late Sunday that he supports the organizing drive in Bessemer, Ala. "Today and over the next few days and weeks, workers in Alabama and all across America are voting on whether to organize a union in their workplace," Biden said in a video shared to his Twitter page. "This is vitally important — a vitally important choice, as America grapples with the deadly pandemic, the economic crisis and the reckoning on race — what it reveals is the deep disparities that still exist in our country." More than 5,800 warehouse workers at the facility are voting this month whether to join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. more...

The Arizona case involves GOP efforts that Democrats charge would disenfranchise minority voters.
By Pete Williams

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court takes up a court fight Tuesday over voting rights in the battleground state of Arizona, and the outcome may affect how the nation's courts resolve clashes over election laws in dozens of other states. The case also will be a test of one of the most important civil rights laws — the Voting Rights Act, which the Supreme Court significantly scaled back in 2013. Two Arizona laws are at issue in the virtual oral arguments before the justices. One requires election officials to reject ballots cast in the wrong precincts. The other concerns voting by mail and provides that only the voter, a family member or a caregiver can collect and deliver a completed ballot. more...

By David Zurawik | Baltimore Sun

One hour into his rambling, grievance-filled speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference on Sunday night, former President Donald Trump had his big moment. He had already said multiple times that he won the 2020 presidential election but that it was stolen from him. Now, however, he uttered the magical, dumbed-down catchphrase that his audience wanted to hear. “The election was rigged,” he shouted, and the crowd rose to its feet to give him a standing ovation. And then as he posed and beamed amid the applause like the late fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, the audience started to chant: “You won. You won. You won.” more...

Opinion by Scott Jennings

(CNN) Donald Trump's return to the national stage at the Conservative Political Action Convention (CPAC) was about what I expected: In a two-track speech where he was intermittently bored by a teleprompter and amused by his own adlibs, he teased a third presidential run, came home to his animating issue, immigration (which was inexplicably absent from his 2020 reelection campaign) and continued the farce that he actually won last November. He even ran through a "hit list" of Republicans to be ousted from the party. Of note was Trump shooting down the idea of a third party, which is actually a good impulse. Republicans cannot win with a fractured party, nor can they win if it gets any smaller. I don't understand the quest by some Republicans to shrink the party. The GOP just lost the White House by nearly 7 million votes and hasn't won the national popular vote in a presidential election with someone other than a Bush since 1984. Republicans lost the White House and don't control either house of Congress in Washington, despite the relative equilibrium in the congress. more...

Jaclyn Diaz

The largest power cooperative in Texas filed for bankruptcy protection Monday, citing a massive bill from the state's electricity grid operator following last month's winter storm that left millions of residents without power for days. Brazos Electric Power Cooperative Inc. filed for Chapter 11 in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas, according to court documents reviewed by NPR. The company in court documents says it received an essentially unpayable $1.8 billion bill from the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, the entity that maintains and operates much of the state's electricity grid. Brazos Electric is the wholesale energy provider for its 16-member cooperative. more...

On social media, on cable networks and even in the halls of Congress, supporters of Donald J. Trump tried to rewrite history in real time, pushing the fiction that left-wing agitators were to blame for the violence on Jan. 6.
By Michael M. Grynbaum, Davey Alba and Reid J. Epstein

At 1:51 p.m. on Jan. 6, a right-wing radio host named Michael D. Brown wrote on Twitter that rioters had breached the United States Capitol — and immediately speculated about who was really to blame. “Antifa or BLM or other insurgents could be doing it disguised as Trump supporters,” Mr. Brown wrote, using shorthand for Black Lives Matter. “Come on, man, have you never heard of psyops?” Only 13,000 people follow Mr. Brown on Twitter, but his tweet caught the attention of another conservative pundit: Todd Herman, who was guest-hosting Rush Limbaugh’s national radio program. Minutes later, he repeated Mr. Brown’s baseless claim to Mr. Limbaugh’s throngs of listeners: “It’s probably not Trump supporters who would do that. Antifa, BLM, that’s what they do. Right?” What happened over the next 12 hours illustrated the speed and the scale of a right-wing disinformation machine primed to seize on a lie that served its political interests and quickly spread it as truth to a receptive audience. The weekslong fiction about a stolen election that President Donald J. Trump pushed to his millions of supporters had set the stage for a new and equally false iteration: that left-wing agitators were responsible for the attack on the Capitol. more...

By Bill McCarthy

Tucker Carlson’s false claim downplaying role of white supremacists at Capitol riot. Several people charged in connection with the U.S. Capitol riot have ties to right-wing extremist groups. Some of those groups are explicitly white supremacist. Others, like the Proud Boys, have members who have expressed white supremacist views. Video and photos from the event show that white supremacist symbols were prominently displayed on shirts and flags. Asked during a Senate hearing on Feb. 23 whether white supremacists and extremist groups were involved in the riot, top Capitol security officials said, “yes.” Fox News host Tucker Carlson downplayed the involvement of racially motivated extremist groups in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, falsely suggesting that the mob of pro-Trump rioters who violently stormed the building did not include white supremacists. "There's no evidence that white supremacists were responsible for what happened on Jan. 6. That's a lie," Carlson said Feb. 22 on his TV show. "And contrary to what you've been hearing, there's also no evidence this was a, quote, 'armed insurrection.'" During the segment, Carlson, whose primetime show is among the most-watched cable news programs, interviewed the author of a blog post that argued the riot did not amount to an armed insurrection. PolitiFact previously rated that claim Pants on Fire. more...

By Erik Larson

Donald Trump’s niece is balking at the former president’s claim that she waited too long to file her multi-million dollar fraud suit against him, saying she would have sued sooner if he hadn’t covered his tracks so well. Mary Trump on Friday asked a judge to deny Donald Trump’s motion to dismiss the suit, which she filed in September against her uncle and his siblings, Robert Trump and Maryanne Trump Barry. She claims they conspired to skim tens of millions of dollars off her stake in the family business for decades after her father died and left them as her fiduciaries. The suit by the daughter of Donald Trump’s late older brother, Fred Trump Jr., is one of several serious legal threats the former president faces as a private citizen. If the case in New York state court in Manhattan survives, he could be deposed under oath by the end of the year or early 2022. more...


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