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‘Most humiliating punishment imaginable’: Black National Guardsman allegedly forced to wear heavy chain

As the military reckons with racism and extremism in its ranks, one story of the Maryland National Guard highlights the toll of discrimination.

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Tom Vanden Brook, USA TODAY – Published Apr. 14, 2021

WASHINGTON – Sgt. Bruce Weaver recalls in an instant the heft of the chain that the all-white trainers at the Maryland National Guard forced him to wear during training at officer candidate school. 

For three days, Weaver, a Black soldier in the Maryland National Guard, hauled the chain – running, falling behind under the burden, being hectored by instructors. They claimed it would remind him to follow the chain of command.

He was stunned. It felt as if he’d been subjected to the kind of punishment used by enslavers, Weaver told USA TODAY.

“At first, my inclination was to drag it,” Weaver recalled of the events five years ago. “They said, ‘No, no. You wear it. That will keep you down.’ That hit me. That hit me. I suppressed it and kept going. The next day, they said, ‘You’re still wearing this chain.’ I told them this is inappropriate punishment. It’s also messing with me psychologically. Chains mean something to Black people.”Tweet Facebook Reddit Email Sgt. Bruce Weaver

They said, ‘No, no. You wear it. That will keep you down.’ That hit me. … Chains mean something to Black people.”

A USA TODAY investigation brings Weaver’s previously unreported case to light as it nears resolution after years of delayed investigations and conflicting findings.

Weaver’s case represents a wider problem for the National Guard whose units in each of the states, territories, and District of Columbia operate with a great deal of autonomy and with little oversight of how various units respond to complaints of inappropriate conduct, such as allegations of, racism, sexual harassment, and assault. The National Guard Bureau in Washington, which referees appeals between state Guard units and troops, serves largely in an advisory role.

Eugene R. Fidell, an expert on military law and professor at New York University Law School, referred to a “perfect storm” of factors contributing to a case like Weaver’s: 

  • Lack of oversight by Congress
  • Little transparency into how the state and territorial Guard units operate
  • Need for a uniform process for handling complaints of discrimination

“This case screams out for some remedy,” Fidell said. 

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In a scathing report obtained by USA TODAY, the National Guard Bureau Office of Equity and Inclusion substantiated 11 complaints of discrimination and one of harassment lodged by Weaver and accused Maryland of violating Weaver’s right to due process. 

The Maryland National Guard has exonerated its personnel after several internal investigations and is appealing the bureau’s decision. In his own harsh letter to the National Guard Bureau on April 8, Maj. Gen. Timothy Gowen, the Maryland National Guard’s adjutant general, accused the bureau’s Office of Equity and Inclusion of attacking the state with “erroneous and unsupported allegations.” Gowen also said the office was acting as an advocate for Weaver and another Black Guardsman who filed a complaint, instead of its mandated role as a “neutral third party.”

He called for a review of the office and corrective action.

“Based on my personal observations, I believe that the National Guard Bureau Military Equal Opportunity program and the offices that support it are not serving justice,” Gowen wrote. “The program has fundamental flaws.”

Racism in the US – and its military

Weaver’s case comes as the nation and military reckons with issues of race – and the National Guard, a confederation of state-run militias, continues to be thrust into the debate in highly visible ways.

In June, when racial justice demonstrations spread in the wake of George Floyd’s death, states and the federal government deployed National Guard troops to city streets. In Washington, D.C., the Guard’s response to mostly peaceful protests received flak for heavy-handed tactics such as buzzing crowds with military helicopters.

In January, tens of thousands of Guardsmen from several states flooded the capital after insurrectionists, some carrying the Confederate Battle flag, the symbol of white supremacy, attempted to overturn the election. Several Guardsmen had to return home after authorities found reason to suspect them of sympathizing with white nationalists.

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Staff photo by Joe Lamberti

By law, custom and oath, Guardsmen are sworn to uphold the Constitution, including the First Amendment right to freedom of speech and to assemble peaceably. In reality, Guard troops are men and women who reflect a society grappling and at times riven by race. At times those high-minded ideals and ugly divisions conflict as Weaver claimed happened on Nov. 6, 2015, at the Delaware base where Weaver trained.

“This is not the military service that I thought I’d do,” Weaver said. “I don’t view myself as a civil rights activist. What I want is to commission as a data science officer and do something productive for my country.” 

‘Designed to single out and humiliate’

Weaver, 44, lives with his wife and young son outside of Washington, D.C., and has worked for the federal government for 12 years, including 11 at the Food and Drug Administration and one at the IRS. He has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Maryland and also served in the Marine Reserve before joining the Maryland Army National Guard.

Accustomed to achievement, and raised to control his emotions, Weaver persisted through his punishment during the officer training despite simmering anger.

Maryland National Guard Sgt. Bruce Weaver wearing a chain as discipline after a minor infraction.
Sgt. Bruce Weaver with his wife, Kaye Evans-Lutterodt, and 18-month-old son Oliver Weaver in Wheaton, Md., on April 7, 2021.

“It hurt my pride,” he said. “After that, I felt humiliated.”

Weaver had left a training site without prior authorization, a charge that Weaver disputes. For that, he received what a National Guard Bureau investigator called “the most humiliating punishment imaginable to use against an African American cadet.” 

A photo, taken by a classmate and forwarded to Weaver, shows a chain braided over his right shoulder and entwined around his wrist. The classmate was stunned by the scene, documented it, and wanted Weaver to have proof, according to Weaver. 

Sen. Tammy Duckworth wears a protective mask at the U.S. Capitol on Feb. 13, 2021. She was wounded in Iraq in 2004 while piloting a Black Hawk helicopter as a member of the Illinois National Guard.
Maryland National Guard Sgt. Bruce Weaver wearing a chain as discipline after a minor infraction.

The bureau’s investigator scoffed at the claim by the Maryland instructors that the chain represented the importance of the “chain of command,” the military edict to follow orders of superiors.

“To conclude that such punishment, meted out by an all-white chain of command on a subordinate minority cadet to reinforce that the chain of command is in charge, is simply a mischaracterization of what happened,” the report states.

Maryland National Guard officials denied race was a factor in the discipline. One of its investigations determined that the chain belonged to the Delaware National Guard, which had discontinued its use for discipline in about 2015.

Weaver says he was singled out.

“This punishment was designed to be humiliating on a cultural level as it mirrored slavery,” Weaver wrote. “I have not seen this punishment before … nor have I seen it since. It was uniquely designed to single out and humiliate.”

‘The intent was not what you see’ 

The report points to two instructors for their treatment of Weaver, Sgt. 1st Class Andrew Carbaugh and Capt. Jacob Day.

“SFC Carbaugh knew precisely what the chain would mean to both Complainant and the other cadets. SFC Carbaugh wanted to teach Complainant a lesson about who was in charge and he used a heavy chain to accomplish this and the rest of the OCS (Officer Candidate School) Cadre let him,” the Bureau report stated. “The allegation of discrete discrimination based on race or color is SUBSTANTIATED.”

Carbaugh now retired, said in an interview that Weaver had not been singled out because of his race. Instructors had required white and Black candidates to carry the chain, an ammunition can, and a rock because Weaver and others had left another training site without proper authorization, Carbaugh said. The idea was to slow them down and drive home the lesson not to leave anybody behind. 

Weaver did not have to wear the chain, Carbaugh said, but he did have to haul it.

“I can understand the optics of the picture look very bad,” Carbaugh said. “However, the intent was not what you see in the picture.”

Day declined to comment on the advice of military lawyers.

The National Guard Bureau found that Day and Carbaugh had singled out Weaver “and concluded he would not succeed based at least in part on his race,” according to its report. The bureau also found that requiring Weaver “to wear a heavy chain was based on Complainant’s race and the desire to humiliate Complainant and let him know the OCS chain of command was in control.” There was also no evidence that the chain had been used by the Maryland National Guard before or since the incident involving Weaver, the National Guard Bureau report said. 

Carbaugh said the characterization of his action in the National Guard Bureau report was inaccurate and that he had not been interviewed by its investigators about the incident.

“It’s a damning picture, but it’s not an accurate depiction of what happened that weekend,” Carbaugh said. Tweet Facebook Reddit Email Sergeant First Class Andrew Carbaugh

It’s a damning picture, but it’s not an accurate depiction of what happened that weekend.”

The Maryland National Guard investigated and in a January 2020 memo stated that none of Weaver’s allegations of discrimination could be substantiated and that he had offered no “concrete proof” of racial bias. The investigating officer, whose name is redacted, cited sworn statements that “suggest” Weaver did not believe the chain was used in a discriminatory way. 

“I do not find there to be any intent for this item or action to be racist or discriminatory in any way,” the officer wrote in the report.

“The Officer Candidate School program cannot replicate the true stress of combat, so both physical exertion and other stressing events are used to develop our future combat leaders,” the memo said. “OCS candidates are required to carry the chain due to their failure to properly execute leadership responsibilities. Our Investigating Officer interviewed all Officer Candidates and there wasn’t one that felt the practice was racially motivated.”

Weaver disputed the characterization by the Maryland National Guard that he had merely had to carry the chain.

“No other candidates had to wear the chain,” he said.

The Maryland National Guard defended its investigation and is appealing parts of the decision made by the National Guard Bureau, said Maj. Kurt Rauschenberg, a spokesman for the Maryland National Guard.

“We are aware of the allegations made in this case, and we conducted a thorough investigation, which failed to substantiate these claims,” Rauschenberg said in a statement. “We believe the investigation was properly conducted and are aware of the concerns raised by NGB. This case is currently before an NGB Hearing Examiner and will remain open until the examiner has made his final ruling. Until the process is complete, it would be improper to discuss any potential findings.”

A chain’s heavy symbolism

Characterizations of what happened in 2015 are still disputed by the Maryland National Guard and the National Guard Bureau and Weaver.

Weaver filed a formal complaint in 2017, during his second attempt to complete the second of three phases of officer candidate school, he said. Maryland National Guard officials dropped him from the program for failing twice to pass the second phase of the school.

Nobody, however, denies that the heavy chain was used as punishment by an all-white group of instructors on a Black cadet.

A 2017 memo from the Maryland National Guard concedes that the chain had racist overtones and would no longer be used.

“The issues of racial inequities continue to be something that we as an Army must address,” the memo stated. “To that end, the use of carrying a chain to reinforce the importance of the ‘chain of command’ is discontinued. While the investigating officer found no intent to mistreat or create a racially charged situation, this approach is something that all leaders agree leaves too much to personal interpretation.”

Michael Ricci, a spokesman for Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, said discrimination in the Guard and elsewhere is intolerable.

“With regards to the chain: In 2017, the governor’s office was advised by the Guard that the matter was fully investigated and that the practice was discontinued,” Ricci said. “No one, soldier or otherwise, should feel harassed or discriminated against.”

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Who decides who has the ‘ability to lead’?

To Weaver and the National Guard Bureau, racism is at the heart of the chain’s use as a discipline. The bureau’s report noted that the instructors did not want Weaver to become an officer.

Weaver had completed the first phase of three in officer training, and his instructors were determined to force him out during the second phase, he said.

“The intent was to degrade,” Weaver said. “To degrade and challenge my ability to lead. And that was successful.”

Weaver’s case has the attention of Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., who chairs the Armed Services Committee panel that oversees the National Guard. 

Sen. Tammy Duckworth wears a protective mask at the U.S. Capitol on Feb. 13, 2021. She was wounded in Iraq in 2004 while piloting a Black Hawk helicopter as a member of the Illinois National Guard.
Sen. Tammy Duckworth wears a protective mask at the U.S. Capitol on Feb. 13, 2021. She was wounded in Iraq in 2004 while piloting a Black Hawk helicopter as a member of the Illinois National Guard.

“Stories like these are painful reminders of how much work remains to make our military a safe and welcoming place for all service members,” Duckworth said. “As the Chair of the Airland Subcommittee, I am focused on rooting out these kinds of degrading and discriminatory incidents that harm our troop readiness and national security. We need greater diversity in the upper ranks of our military leaders, and we need leaders of all backgrounds, genders, and races to send a clear message that they won’t tolerate discrimination of any kind.” 

The Army continues to struggle to attract and promote Black officers to career fields deemed a prerequisite for future senior positions, USA TODAY reported last fall. While white service members make up 69% of active duty overall, they represent more than 87% of the highest-ranked officers.

Those who have achieved leadership positions acknowledge their own struggles for equal treatment as Black officers.

Air Force Chief on his struggles as he takes a job the Air Force’s new chief of staff, Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr., is reflecting on current protests, racial injustice, and disparity as he takes on the historic appointment. (June 10)AP

Gen. Charles Brown, the Air Force chief of staff, shared publicly his reaction to Floyd’s death last year.

“I’m thinking about how full I am with emotion, not just for George Floyd but the many African Americans who have suffered the same fate as George Floyd,” Brown said. “I’m thinking about how my nomination provides some hope but also comes with a heavy burden. I can’t fix centuries of racism in our country, nor can I fix decades of discrimination that may have impacted members of our Air Force.”

Brown acknowledged that he was often the only African American in his squadron or the room. 

While 15% of those serving the Army National Guard nationwide are Black, in Maryland that number is 34%. About 25% of its officer corps are people of color, including Black, Asian American, and American Indian troops.

Yet at the time of Weaver’s incident, the OCS instructors were all white. 

One of the bureau’s proposed remedies for Weaver is to allow him to rejoin officer candidate school. Weaver instead wants a direct commission as an officer, an action that would bypass officer candidate school. A provision in the National Defense Authorization Act in 2019 allows the military to appoint officers up to the rank of colonel if they have special skills. Weaver wants to serve as a data science officer.

“I don’t think realistically I could go back to OCS in Maryland and get a fair shake,” he said. 

He’s not alone.

‘Hostile work environment’

The National Guard Bureau’s report on Weaver was followed closely by another blasting the Maryland National Guard for treatment of a Black soldier and the investigation of his case.

In that case, the Bureau harshly criticized Maryland’s treatment of Chief Warrant Officer 3 George Ross, according to the document obtained by USA TODAY. The bureau’s report concluded that “race was a factor” in a different white officer’s decision to deny Ross’ bid to join a cyber protection team. The bureau’s finding was “based on the hostile work environment (the officer) created for minorities generally and Complainant in particular.”

As in Weaver’s case, the bureau pointed to a flawed mechanism to report discrimination and harassment, the military equal opportunity complaint process.

Ross filed his complaint in Nov. 2017, and it should have been processed in six months. 

“Like the previous case, this matter is only now through the formal stage,” the report states. “This type of delay is inexcusable.”

Maryland officials’ delay in investigating Ross’ harassment complaint and the “cumulative efforts by the State to hamper or influence the MEO (military equal opportunity) process in this matter are significant and suggest the State is trying to stack the deck against the complainant.”

Among the bureau’s proposed recommendations: Ross be awarded more than two years of back pay and have his attorney’s fees paid and a reprimand issued to the officer it found at fault in his case. 

Ross, through his attorney, declined to comment. Maryland is appealing the decision. In Gowen’s letter, he accused the Bureau of bias in reviewing the case and findings not supported by facts.

Equal opportunity issues aren’t restricted to the Maryland National Guard.

In a survey of other states, USA TODAY found that attendance in required equal opportunity training within the Ohio National Guard was attended by fewer than half its troops. In one document signed and dated December 2018, 41% of listed Ohio National Guard members attended the training. Attendance among senior leaders was not much different: 44%.

Ohio National Guard requires all units to conduct equal opportunity training every six months, but there is no mandatory participation requirement, said spokeswoman Stephanie Beougher. That training is “just one component to the Ohio National Guard (equal opportunity) program to provide a comprehensive effort that ensures fair treatment of all members and develops cohesion and readiness by eliminating discriminatory behaviors or practices,” Beougher said. Other measures include new employee training and additional training available at a commander’s request.Tweet Facebook Reddit Email Author of the National Guard Bureau report

From the looks of the (investigative report) assembled by the State, Complainant is the most unlucky person in the Maryland National Guard.”

Officials at the National Guard Bureau’s Office of Equity and Inclusion determined that Maryland officials “violated the due process rights” of Weaver and Ross in the way they processed their complaints, said Nahaku McFadden, a bureau spokesman, in a statement.

“The National Guard Bureau Equity and Inclusion office takes its role in the Military Equal Opportunity Program seriously,” McFadden said. While their cases are being appealed, the bureau cannot comment further, she said.

The bureau proposed several remedial actions in Weaver’s case and blasted Maryland officials for a shoddy investigation of Weaver’s complaints that took years instead of months to complete. 

“How the State processed this complaint is deeply troubling,” the report states. 

It noted that “every unusual instance just happened to occur in this matter,” including the use of the chain, a poor evaluation of Weaver despite no negative reports on file, and the processing of his complaint, which was mandated to take no more than six months but stretched out over more than three years.

“From the looks of the (investigative report) assembled by the State, Complainant is the most unlucky person in the Maryland National Guard,” the report’s author concludes.

Nearing resolution – in one case

The bureau report criticized the Maryland National Guard for failing to track complaints from officer candidates about racial discrimination. It noted that previous classes of officer candidates had lodged military equal opportunity complaints “regarding how minority candidates were treated, yet the Maryland OCS Cadre remained all white with no minority representation.”

Further, the report noted that personnel in neighboring states had made comments about how Maryland’s all-white training cadre had treated minority personnel, “yet the State did not take such allegations seriously.”

In 2021, its 17-member instructor cadre includes 10 white troops, six Black and one Hispanic member, according to the Maryland National Guard.

The report called on Maryland to review all military equal opportunity complaints since 2016 “to determine if there is a systemic problem with how instructors are treating minority candidates.”

The senior official at the bureau charged with investigating Weaver’s complaint substantiated several claims of discrimination and proposed remedies, said McFadden. The bureau plans to review responses from Weaver and Maryland and make a ruling within weeks. Tweet Facebook Reddit Email Michelle Bercovici, a partner at Alden Law Group in Washington, D.C.

If this cannot happen for Bruce, then the whole system is entirely toothless and unjust … Maryland National Guard needs to be … holding the responsible officers accountable and taking action to investigate and address what may be systemic issues of racism in the (officer candidate school) program.”

Maryland could then request a review of the decision by a general officer assigned to the bureau, said Air Force Maj. Matt Murphy, a spokesman for the bureau. The official deciding on that request could recommend suspension or termination of federal funds for Maryland’s National Guard. The bureau, however, does not have command authority over state National Guard units, which is reserved for state officials.

Rauchenberg, the Maryland National Guard spokesman, acknowledged problems with the military equal opportunity process but, said Maj. Gen. Linda Singh, the adjutant general for Maryland at the time, had reviewed the claims and concluded they were unsubstantiated.

“Fundamental flaws exist in the process of National Guard Bureau’s Military Equal Opportunity program, causing confusion and delays between both the state and NGB levels,” Rauschenberg said. “Although not perfect, the (Maryland National Guard) conducts investigations thoroughly while taking appropriate measures where positive change can be made within our force.”

Michelle Bercovici, a partner at Alden Law Group in Washington, D.C., has advised Weaver as he represents himself in the appeal and called the treatment of his case by the Maryland National Guard to be abhorrent. The National Guard Bureau has substantiated most of Weaver’s claims, and he deserves to be an officer and have a chance to succeed without discrimination, she said.

“If this cannot happen for Bruce, then the whole system is entirely toothless and unjust,” she said. “Next, I think that the Maryland National Guard needs to be held accountable for its failure to uphold anti-discrimination principles, which includes, but is in no way limited to, holding the responsible officers accountable and taking action to investigate and address what may be systemic issues of racism in the (officer candidate school) program.” 

Contributing: Ryan Miller

E-mail USA TODAY Pentagon correspondent Tom Vanden Brook at tvbrook@usatoday.com or follow him on Twitter @tvandenbrookPublished 5:02 AM GMT-4 Apr. 14, 2021 Updated 8:07 AM GMT-4 Apr. 14, 2021

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Officials: 400 escape, 25 dead after Haiti prison breakout

Officials: 400 escape, 25 dead after Haiti prison breakout

https://apnews.com/article/port-au-prince-shootings-prisons-prison-breaks-haiti-fafa74cb388da63e1ca3bc439539d1a6

By EVENS SANON – February 26, 2021

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Haitian authorities announced Friday that more than 400 inmates escaped and 25 people died in a prison breakout, making it the country’s largest and deadliest one in a decade, with the prison director and a powerful gang leader among those killed.

Some believe Thursday’s jailbreak at the Croix-des-Bouquets Civil Prison in northeast Port-au-Prince was to free gang leader Arnel Joseph, who had been Haiti’s most wanted fugitive until his 2019 arrest on charges including rape, kidnapping, and murder.

Joseph was riding on a motorcycle through the Artibonite area in the town of L’Estère on Friday a day after his escape when he was spotted at a checkpoint, police spokesman Gary Desrosiers told The Associated Press. He said Joseph pulled out a gun and died in an exchange of gunfire with police.

Joseph ruled Village de Dieu, or Village of God, a shantytown in downtown Port-au-Prince, and other communities, including some in Artibonite, which is Haiti’s largest department.

Authorities have not yet provided many details on the breakout except to say that 60 inmates have been recaptured and the investigation is ongoing. State Secretary Frantz Exantus said authorities have created several commissions to investigate who organized the breakout and why. Among those killed was the prison director, identified as Paul Joseph Hector.

Residents who declined to be identified because they feared for their life told the AP that they saw gunmen shoot at prison guards on Thursday before inmates escaped from the Croix-des-Bouquets penitentiary.

The prison is known for a 2014 breakout in which more than 300 of the 899 inmates being held there at the time escaped. Some believed that attack was designed to free Clifford Brandt, the son of a prominent businessman, who had been imprisoned since 2012 for allegedly kidnapping the adult children of a rival businessman. Brandt was captured two days later near the Dominican Republic border.

After the 2014 breakout, officials said they were taking steps to up security at the prison that Canada built-in 2012, including installing security cameras and placing ankle monitors on the most dangerous prisoners. It wasn’t immediately clear if any of those measures were taken. At the time of Thursday’s breakout, the prison held 1,542 inmates, nearly twice its capacity.

Haiti’s largest prison breakout in recent history occurred after the devastating 2010 earthquake in which more than 4,200 inmates fled the notorious National Penitentiary in downtown Port-au-Prince.

Posted in Crime, International, Local, News, Police, Regional0 Comments

McConnell-Trump-was-guilty-but-cannot-be-impeached-out-of-office

Support grows for Capitol riot inquiry after Trump acquittal

By Hope Yen, Associated Press – PA Media – 14 February 2021

House prosecutors who led Donald Trump’s impeachment maintained they proved their case on Sunday while railing against Senate Republicans for “trying to have it both ways” in acquitting the former president.

A day after Mr. Trump won his second Senate impeachment trial in 13 months, bipartisan support appeared to be growing for an independent September 11-style commission to ensure such a horrific assault could never happen again.

The end of the quick trial hardly put to rest the debate about Mr. Trump’s culpability for the January 6 insurrection as the political, legal, and emotional fallout unfolded.

More investigations into the riot were already planned, with Senate hearings scheduled later this month in the Senate Rules Committee. Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also has asked a retired Army General Russel Honore to lead an immediate review of the Capitol’s security process.

Legislators from both parties signaled on Sunday that even more inquiries were likely.

“There should be a complete investigation about what happened,” said Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy, one of seven Republicans who voted to convict Mr. Trump. “What was known, who knew it and when they knew, all that, because that builds the basis so this never happens again.”

Mr. Cassidy said he was “attempting to hold President Trump accountable,” and added that as Americans hear all the facts, “more folks will move to where I was”. He was censured by his state’s party after the vote, which was 57-43 to convict but 10 votes short of the two-thirds required.

A close Trump ally, GOP senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, said he looked forward to campaigning with Mr. Trump in the 2022 election, when Republicans hope to regain the congressional majority.

But Mr. Graham acknowledged Mr. Trump had some culpability for the siege at the Capitol that killed five people, including a police officer, and disrupted politicians’ certification of Democrat Joe Biden’s White House victory.

“His behaviour after the election was over the top,” Mr. Graham said. “We need a 9/11 commission to find out what happened and make sure it never happens again.”

The Senate acquitted Mr. Trump of a charge of “incitement of insurrection” after House prosecutors laid out a case that he was an “inciter in chief” who unleashed a mob by stoking a months-long campaign of spreading debunked conspiracy theories and false violent rhetoric that the 2020 election was stolen from him.

Mr. Trump’s lawyers countered that the then president’s words were not intended to incite the violence and that impeachment was nothing but a “witch hunt” designed to prevent him from serving in office again.

The conviction tally was the most bipartisan in American history but left Mr. Trump to declare victory and signal a political revival while a bitterly divided GOP bickered over its direction and his place in the party.

The Republicans who joined Mr. Cassidy in voting to convict were Senators Richard Burr of North Carolina, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania.

“It’s frustrating, but the founders knew what they were doing and so we live with the system that we have,” Stacey Plaskett, a House prosecutor who represents the Virgin Islands, said of the verdict, describing it as “heartbreaking”.

She added: “But, listen, we didn’t need more witnesses. We needed more senators with spines.”

On Sunday, several House impeachment managers sharply criticised minority leader Mitch McConnell, who told Republican senators soon before the vote that he would acquit Mr. Trump.

In a blistering speech after the vote, Mr. McConnell said the president was “practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of that day” but that the Senate’s hands were tied to do anything about it because he was out of office. But the Senate, in an earlier vote, had deemed the trial constitutional.

“It was powerful to hear the 57 guilties and then it was puzzling to hear and see Mitch McConnell stand and say not guilty and then minutes later stand again and say he was guilty of everything,” said Democratic representative Madeleine Dean.

“History will remember that statement of speaking out of two sides of his mouth.”

Ms Dean backed the idea of an impartial investigative commission “not guided by politics but filled with people who would stand up to the courage of their conviction”.

An independent 9/11 style commission, which probably would require legislation to create, would elevate the investigation a step higher, offering a definitive government-backed accounting of events.

McConnell and Republicans who defied Trump face GOP backlash

Alex Woodward – The Independent – 14 February 2021

McConnell Condemned Trump’s “disgraceful dereliction of duty”

The Republican Party remains sharply divided in the wake of Donald Trump’s impeachment for his role inciting a deadly riot on 6 January inside the same halls of Congress where senators convened for his second trial this week.
Senator Mitch McConnell, moments after voting to acquit the former president on Saturday, condemned his “disgraceful dereliction of duty” and said he is “practically and morally responsible” for his supporters’ assault on the Capitol.
On Sunday, Trump ally Lindsey Graham said the Senate’s GOP leader “got a load off his chest, obviously, but unfortunately he put a load on the back of Republicans” by giving ammunition to negative adverts ahead of critical midterm elections, as Republicans mount an aggressive campaign to gain a majority in the House of Representatives.

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Read more: Follow live updates following Trump’s trial

“That speech you will see in 2022 campaigns,” Senator Graham told Fox News.

He added that Senator McConnell’s speech “is an outlier regarding how Republicans feel” about Mr Trump’s impeachment.

On Saturday night, Donald Trump Jr fired back at Senate minority leader McConnell.

“If only McConnell was so righteous as the Democrats trampled Trump and the Republicans while pushing Russia collusion bull**** for 3 years or while Dems incited 10 months of violence, arson, and rioting. Yea then he just sat back and did jack ****,” the president’s eldest son tweeted.

Mr Trump Jr followed with a call to “impeach the RINOs” – referring to “Republicans in name only” – and oust them from the GOP.

Seven Republican senators who joined Democrats to vote to convict have faced blowback from their party leaders in their home states, signaling fissures within the GOP over the former president’s role in the party.
Louisiana’s Bill Cassidy and North Carolina’s Richard Burr were censured by their state Republican parties for their votes.

“I have no illusions that this is a popular decision,” Mr Cassidy wrote in a column published on Sunday.

“I made this decision because Americans should not be fed lies about ‘massive election fraud.’ Police should not be left to the mercy of a mob. Mobs should not be inflamed to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power.”
Louisiana attorney general Jeff Landry said the senator’s vote is “extremely disappointing” and claimed that Mr Cassidy has “fallen into the trap laid by Democrats to have Republicans attack Republicans”.

Senators Burr and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania are both retiring in 2022, eliminating the likelihood of long-term political blowback.

But the chair of the Pennsylvania Republican Party called the trial “an unconstitutional theft of time and energy that did absolutely nothing to unify or help the American people.”

“I share the disappointment of many of our grass-roots leaders and volunteers over Senator Toomey’s vote today,” Lawrence Tabas said.
While Senators Mitt Romney and Lisa Murkowski still have strong support in their states, the former president’s volatile base of support has routinely rejected their place in the party.

In a lengthy statement on Sunday, Senator Murkowski of Alaska outlined the case against Mr Trump as presented by House impeachment managers, adding that if the evidence “is not worthy of impeachment, conviction, and disqualification from holding office in the United States, I cannot imagine what is”.

The US Senate voted 57-43 to convict Mr Trump, falling short of a two-thirds majority to secure a conviction but representing a bipartisan effort to hold accountable a former president who will continue to loom large over a party moulded in his image.

It remains unclear how he will wield that influence without his social media bully pulpit.

Mr Graham told Fox News on Sunday that the former president is “ready to move on and rebuild the Republican Party” ahead of 2022 elections.
In a statement following his acquittal, the former president said his Make America Great Again movement “has only just begun”.

House impeachment managers’ closing arguments on Saturday warned that the insurrectionists are “still listening” and that the assault on the Capitol could be the “beginning” of a violent political legacy initiated by the former president.

“I fear, like many of you do, that the violence we saw on that terrible day may be just the beginning,” said Congressman Joe Neguse.

“The extremist groups grow more emboldened every day. Senators, this cannot be the beginning. It can’t be the new normal. It has to be the end, and that decision is in your hands.”

Federal law enforcement has warned that far-right militia groups and others supporting the “shared false narrative of a ‘stolen’ election” and opposition to Joe Biden’s presidency and a Democratically-controlled federal government “may lead some individuals to the belief that there is no political solution to address their grievance and violence action is necessary”.

The Department of Homeland Security has also issued a terrorism advisory bulletin due to a “heightened threat environment” through the end of April, following the Capitol violence.

Read more:
https://www.independent.co.uk/independentpremium/editors-letters/trump-impeachment-biden-mitch-mcconnell-senate-b1802189.html
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/impeachment-isnt-the-final-word-on-capitol-riot-for-trump-donald-trump-capitol-impeachment-republicans-riot-b1802195.html
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/trump-impeachment-republicans-voted-convict-list-romney-burr-cassidy-b1801991.html
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/can-trump-run-2024-election-impeachment-b1799980.html

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Republican Sen. Collins on why she voted to convict | Second Trump impeachment trial

Republican Sen. Collins on why she voted to convict | Second Trump impeachment trial

https://youtu.be/VJt_-eU0SNE
Senator Collins in a most powerful informed truthful presentation on why former president Trump should be condemned for abusing his office on and before January 6, 2021.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, delivers remarks Feb. 13 following Trump’s acquittal in his second impeachment trial. The 57-43 vote was the most bipartisan in history, with seven Republicans, including Collins, voting to convict but 10 votes shy of the two-thirds majority needed.

“Context was everything. Tossing a lit match into a pile of dry leaves is very different than tossing it into a pool of water,” Collins said, explaining her vote to convict. She said Trump’s selfish interests are to blame for the Capitol attack. “This impeachment trial is not about any single word uttered by President Trump on January 6, 2021. It is instead about President Trump’s failure to obey the oath he swore on January 20, 2017,” she said.

She condemned his repeated false claims about a stolen election, the call to Georgia election officials asking to “just find 11,780 votes,” and his Twitter invitation to his supporters to come to the Capitol on Jan. 6. She said she voted to convict to uphold the oath she took to defend the Constitution.

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Trump Acquitted – ‘Make America Great Again has only just begun’: Trump defiant after acquittal

https://a.msn.com/r/2/BB1dELAT?m=en-gb&referrerID=InAppShare

Sky News – 13 February 2021

Former US President Donald Trump has been found not guilty in his impeachment trial

Former US President Donald Trump has been found not guilty in his 2nd impeachment trial.

Although the final vote came in as 57 “guilty” and 43 “not guilty”, the Democrats did not reach the two-thirds majority they needed to secure a conviction.

Seven members of Mr. Trump’s own party (Senators Sasse, Romney, Burr, Collins, Murkowski, Toomey, and Cassidy) joined Democrats on the charge of incitement.

In a statement after the trial, Mr. Trump said it was “a sad commentary on our times” that the Democrats had been given a “free pass to transform justice into a tool of political vengeance, and persecute, blacklist, cancel and suppress all people and viewpoints with whom or which they disagree”.

He added: “I always have, and always will be a champion for the unwavering rule of law, the heroes of law enforcement, and the right of Americans to peacefully and honorably debate the issues of the day without malice and without hate.

“No president has ever gone through anything like it, and it continues because our opponents cannot forget the almost 75 million people, the highest number ever for a sitting president, who voted for us just a few short months ago.”

Mr. Trump had been charged with “incitement of insurrection” over last month’s violence when the US Capitol was stormed by his supporters, just as Congress was attempting to ratify the 2020 election result.

Just before the 6 January riots, thousands of his supporters gathered at a “Save America” rally on the National Mall, minutes away from the Capitol.
It had been organised to challenge the election result and Joe Biden’s win.

Mr. Trump’s supporters listened to him speak for 70 minutes, during which at one point the former reality star exhorted them to “fight like hell – or you’re not going to have a country anymore”.

https://news.sky.com/story/trump-impeachment-trial-three-things-that-make-the-verdict-crucial-to-all-of-us-12216607

The attack began moments after he took the applause.

At the impeachment hearing, Mr. Trump’s defence team had launched a blistering attack on the Democrats, describing proceedings as an “unjust, unconstitutional witch-hunt”.

Michael van der Veen, Mr. Trump’s lawyer, said: “This whole spectacle has been nothing but the unhinged pursuit of a long-standing political vendetta against Mr. Trump by the opposition party.”

He told the hearing Mr. Trump was not to blame and that he had told his supporters to protest peacefully.

It was argued that his speech at the rally was “ordinary political rhetoric” and was constitutionally protected free speech.

t is the first time in history that a US president has been impeached twice.
The first attempt to convict Mr. Trump in January 2020, for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, saw him acquitted by a majority of 52 votes to 48 for one charge and 53 to 47 for the second.

Only one Republican voted against him on one of the charges.
In his defiant statement after the conclusion of Saturday’s vote, Mr. Trump hinted he may return to the political spotlight.

He said: “Our historic, patriotic and beautiful movement to Make America Great Again has only just begun.

“In the months ahead I have much to share with you, and I look forward to continuing our incredible journey together to achieve American greatness for all of our people.

“There has never been anything like it!”

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The New Yorker

How the Question of Trump’s Behavior During the Capitol Assault Shook Up the Impeachment Trial

The New Yorker
Reprint

By Amy Davidson Sorkin – February 13, 2021

Former President Donald Trump standing on stage in front of a line of American flags waving in the wind.
The former President’s tweets and reports of his calls to Republican congressmen during the riot became a key part of the case against him. Photograph by Brendan Smialowski / Getty

On Friday afternoon, when senators got their chance to ask questions in Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial, one of the first came from Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska, and Susan Collins, Republican of Maine. Like all of the senators’ questions, this one had been written on a yellow notecard, passed from the gallery to Patrick Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, who was presiding and then read aloud by a clerk. “Exactly when did President Trump learn of the breach of the Capitol, and what specific actions did he take to bring the rioting to an end? And when did he take them?” Murkowski and Collins wanted to know. “Please be as detailed as possible.” The two senators are among the handful of Republicans who are seen as possible votes to convict the former President for inciting an insurrection, and, for that reason alone, their question, which was directed at Trump’s lawyers, was worth taking seriously. But it also got at a central inquiry in the trial: How many people were Trump willing to see get hurt in his effort to hold on to the Presidency?

Michael van der Veen, one of Trump’s lawyers, didn’t really answer. “The House managers have given us absolutely no evidence one way or the other on to that question,” van der Veen, whose professional specialty is personal injury cases, said. This was an odd complaint, given that the question concerned his client’s knowledge and actions. Flipping through some papers, van der Veen offered that there had been “a tweet at 2:38 P.M.” on January 6th—which would have been almost half an hour after a mob seeking to disrupt the Electoral College vote tally had breached the Capitol—and so “it was certainly some time before then” that Trump had learned of the riot. (In the tweet, Trump advised the mob to be peaceful, but failed to tell them to leave the Capitol—perhaps because that was where he wanted them to be.) Van der Veen added, “That’s the problem with this entire proceeding. The House managers did zero investigation! The American people deserve a lot better than coming in here with no evidence. Hearsay on top of hearsay on top of reports that are of hearsay.” Van der Veen muttered something about due process and then, without any further attempt to answer the question, he sat down.

In one respect, his reply is an example of the dismissive, blame-shifting, reality-defying manner in which Trump’s defense has been conducted. Trump’s lawyers may have also recognized that the question of his response on January 6th has become a particularly hazardous area for him—and, indeed, for a few hours on Saturday morning, it seemed to have changed the timeline for the trial, opening the door for witnesses. The question is powerful for more than one reason. First, his reaction spoke of his intent: if he had truly been misunderstood by his supporters, who certainly seemed to believe that they were fulfilling his wishes, he might have quickly expressed shock and condemnation, told them in no uncertain terms to leave the Capitol, and rushed to send reinforcements. He, of course, did none of these things. Despite van der Veen’s claims, and even though much about how, exactly, Trump spent his time is not known, the House managers did document the former President’s inaction. It wasn’t until after 4 P.M. that he told the rioters to go home, but, in the same message, he said, “We love you,” and took the time to complain, again, about the election. As Stacey Plaskett, a House manager and a delegate representing the Virgin Islands, noted, when she got a chance to respond to the Murkowski-Collins query, the reason that the question of what Trump did to help “keeps coming up is because the answer is ‘nothing.’ ”

As Plaskett took her seat, Collins and Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, sent a question to the chair about the second aspect of Trump’s response: his attitude regarding the danger to Vice-President Mike Pence. In the days leading up to the January 6th assault, Trump had pounded home the message that he expected Pence, who was set to preside over the joint session of Congress that day, to sabotage and disrupt the electoral-vote certification. Under the Constitution, Pence did not have the power to do that, as he and many others explained to Trump. No matter: Trump drew his supporters into his effort to pressure Pence to act lawlessly. At the rally before the assault, Trump built up the expectation that Pence might still come through. “All Vice-President Pence has to do is send it back to the states to recertify, and we become President, and you are the happiest people,” he said, and added, “Mike Pence is going to have to come through for us.” When people in the mob realized that Pence had not done so, they shouted that he was a traitor and chanted, “Hang Mike Pence!” They began searching for him inside the Capitol; at about 2:13 P.M., Secret Service agents took him out of the Senate chamber, to a room where he took shelter with his family, before being moved again.

As Pence hid, the mob heard from Trump. The 2:38 P.M. tweet was not his first since the breach of the Capitol. At 2:24 P.M., Trump posted this: “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution . . . the USA demands the truth!” Romney and Collins asked whether, when Trump sent that “disparaging tweet,” he was “aware that the Vice-President had been removed from the Senate by the Secret Service for his safety.” Joaquin Castro, one of the House managers, replied that the assault itself was being reported live. People, he said, “couldn’t consume any media or probably take any phone calls or anything else without hearing about this, and also hearing about the Vice-President.” Castro also noted that Senator Tommy Tuberville, Republican of Alabama, had confirmed that he had been on a phone call with Trump, which ended when he told him, “Mr. President, they just took the Vice-President out. I’ve got to go.”

Video From The New Yorker

A Reporter’s Video from Inside the Capitol Siege
In a Taped Call, Trump Pressures a Georgia Official to Overturn the State’s Election Results

It would be good to know more about that call to Tuberville—on Saturday, Mike Lee, whose phone Tuberville had used, said his call log indicated that the call had begun at 2:26 P.M., right after the tweet—but the focus soon shifted to another one, between Trump and Kevin McCarthy, the House Minority Leader. On Friday evening, after the trial had adjourned for the day, CNN reported new details of the “expletive-laced” call between Trump and McCarthy, citing several Republicans who had heard the Minority Leader’s account of it. Trump did not seem interested in ending the violence. According to some who spoke with McCarthy, Trump told him, “Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are,” suggesting that McCarthy could learn from their devotion. (Three weeks later, McCarthy made a pilgrimage to Mar-a-Lago, to reconcile with Trump.) Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler, of Washington—one of only ten House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump—had spoken publicly in January about McCarthy’s account of the call. On Friday, she put out a statement in which she told any “patriots” who had heard Trump’s side of his conversations that day that “if you have something to add here, now would be the time.” In other words, witnesses are welcome. When the trial convened on Saturday morning, Jamie Raskin, the lead House manager, said that he wanted to subpoena Herrera Beutler, offering to depose her via Zoom. Van der Veen responded with an angry tirade, in which he said that any witnesses—he mentioned Vice-President Kamala Harris—would have to come to his Philadelphia office. (That is a fantasy.) The Senate voted 55–45 to allow witnesses—and then, after closed-door negotiations, the lawyers and House managers agreed to enter Herrera Beutler’s statement into the record instead.

Herrera Beutler had also suggested that Mike Pence might have something to say. For example, he might add something to van der Veen’s reply to Romney and Collins’s question. “The answer is no,” van der Veen said. “At no point was the President informed the Vice-President was in any danger.” This is an absurd answer. Even putting aside the particularities of Pence’s situation—that it was the Secret Service, for example, that led him out of the chamber—Trump certainly knew that his Vice-President was in a dangerous setting. If, before sending the tweet, he had bothered to find out whether Pence was safe, he would certainly have been given an even more troubling report. Pence was not safe: the managers’ presentation made clear that the mob had come even closer to him and his family than had previously been understood. At that moment, Trump not only abandoned Pence—he targeted him. To put it another way, the incitement did not end when the first window was broken.

Van der Veen, however, argued that the Pence question wasn’t even “really relevant to the charges for the impeachment in this case.” The House managers had focussed on how Trump’s actions ahead of January 6th had laid the groundwork for the violence; these included his threats to election officials and his summoning of his supporters for a “wild” rally to coincide with the vote certification. Trump’s lawyers seemed to believe that he had to answer only for his precise words at the rally, for which they offered improbable explanations. (Because Trump, early in his speech, had observed that the crowd planned to “peacefully and patriotically” protest, the lawyers brushed aside his subsequent repeated calls for them to act quite differently.) In their telling, it was as if Trump were just someone who had happened to wander onto the stage, with no context, history, or—perhaps most of all—power. But when the President of the United States tells people that they must go to the building he’s pointing at, the Capitol, and fight, or else “you’re not going to have a country anymore”—and when he says that “when you catch somebody in a fraud, you are allowed to go by very different rules”—he is doing something distinct. Trump’s lawyers, throughout their defense, ignored all the ways that Trump used and abused the office of the Presidency to make January 6th unfold as it did. As Raskin had noted, the impeachment process, with its reference to “high crimes and misdemeanors,” has a political character that makes it distinct from the ordinary criminal justice process.

In the course of the defense presentation—which lasted a little more than three hours, less than a quarter of the time that Trump’s lawyers were allotted—they played so many clips of Representative Maxine Waters, Democrat of California, delivering fiery speeches, that one might have thought that she was on trial. There were also videos of other Democratic politicians, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Kamala Harris, Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, Karen Bass, Al Green, Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar, and Hillary Clinton—and even ones featuring Madonna, Chris Cuomo, and Johnny Depp. One video, played multiple times, consisted of clips of Democratic senators and House managers using the word “fight” in different contexts. (Judging from the placard set up next to him in one clip, Representative Joe Neguse, one of the impeachment managers, was captured saying, during his first term in Congress, that he’d fight for the Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy Act, which, among other things, helps preserve areas for mountain biking and protects the habitat of the greater sage grouse.) Speaking of the people shown in the videos, Plaskett noted, “It is not lost on me that so many of them were people of color. And women—Black women.” As Trump surely knows, that message won’t be lost on his supporters, either.

The underlying message in Trump’s defense, however, was that it was outrageous that his actions were being questioned at all. Bruce Castor, another of his lawyers, told the senators that, by any measure, Trump was “the most pro-police, anti-mob-rule President this country has ever seen.” The senators had already heard from the managers how, for months before the assault, Trump had reveled in acts of political violence, such as when COVID-lockdown protesters attacked state buildings in Lansing, Michigan, or when vehicles driven by his supporters dangerously surrounded a bus of Biden campaign workers on a Texas highway. The senators had also seen evidence of the injuries that his supporters had inflicted on officers with the Capitol Police and Metropolitan D.C. Police. But Castor showed them one of the videos. There was Trump, standing in front of an American flag, saying, “I am your President of law and order.” The scenes changed—to people holding Black Lives Matter signs, to street violence, to Maxine Waters, again—but always returned to Trump with the words “LAW AND ORDER” superimposed on the screen. “We know that the President would never have wanted such a riot to occur, because his long-standing hatred for violent protesters and his love for law and order is on display, worn on his sleeve every single day that he served in the White House,” Castor said. He sounded like he was offering a declaration of faith—against all the evidence of reality—not a legal argument. On Saturday morning, Mitch McConnell, the Senate Minority Leader, reportedly told colleagues that he planned to vote to acquit. The Trumpist credo, it seems, is one that the Republican Party intends to live by.

https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/how-the-question-of-trumps-behavior-during-the-capitol-assault-upended-the-impeachment-trial?utm_source=nl&utm_brand=tny&utm_mailing=TNY_Daily_021321&utm_campaign=aud-dev&utm_medium=email&bxid=5c4900cb3f92a44c6204e517&cndid=49388965&hasha=335bf5f704bb1992aeb4e5c8934cb9a9&hashb=71c6a87bf07011f21867006e6169ea9865429b1e&hashc=8611d077b9d4bfc03504d249e603f505bfeadca448fe02f135ccf05e677e717e&esrc=bounceX&mbid=CRMNYR012019&utm_term=TNY_Daily

Read More About the Attack on the Capitol

Amy Davidson Sorkin

has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 2014. She has been at the magazine since 1995, and, as a senior editor for many years, focusing on national security, international reporting, and features.

More: Impeachment Donald Trump Senate Capitol Hill

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Brian Stelter here at 10:40pm ET Thursday with the latest on BBC News, Dean Baquet, Medium, Microsoft, Bloomberg, Disney, “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” Issa Rae, and much more…

Those empty seats in the Senate chamber on Thursday? They are emblematic of the public’s reaction to the second Trump impeachment trial.

If you’ve been glued to every minute of the trial, or even just half-watching the proceedings, then you’re part of a special club. You’re learning the full story of the crimes that were committed at the Capitol on January 6. But you are much more plugged-in than the average American adult.

The Nielsen TV ratings for the first two days of trial coverage show that only a sliver of the public is watching at any given time. The ratings for CNN and MSNBC are way up — and the ratings for Fox News are much weaker. Some people are also watching coverage via the broadcast networks, but not in huge numbers.

The bottom line: News junkies are gripped by emotional presentations, but a vast swath of the nation is not. More casual news consumers are catching the coverage in bits and pieces, by watching clips of the Democratic presentation on news websites or YouTube, or by scanning summaries by partisan outlets. This is far, far from one of those “drop what you’re doing and watch” moments in America.

What the numbers tell us

On Tuesday afternoon an average of 11 million viewers watched the opening arguments across MSNBC, CNN, Fox, ABC and CBS. (NBC, PBS and other outlets also aired live coverage but I don’t have exact data for those channels.) On Wednesday afternoon the same five channels averaged 12.4 million viewers. This is an average, which means people came and went the whole time, and the cumulative audience was much higher. But given that nearly 210 million adults live in the US, you might conclude that many folks think they know how this story ends, so they’re not bothering to watch…

 >> However: Trump’s second trial IS drawing a larger average audience than the first trial, the NYT’s John Koblin points out…

 >> On Wednesday CNN was #1 overall in the 25-54 demo while MSNBC prevailed among total viewers…

 >> Online, the streaming audience was smaller, but still significant. CNN Digital’s traffic on Tuesday and Wednesday surpassed the equivalent days for the 2019 House Impeachment Hearings and the 2020 Senate Impeachment Trial…

Fox viewers don’t want to see Democratic arguments

Fox News ended Wednesday morning with 1.4 million viewers. Then the trial began, and so did Fox’s ratings slide. Fox bottomed out at 1 million in the 3pm hour, though the audience levels noticeably ticked up during a break in the trial at 1:39pm, when Fox’s Trump-friendly analysis of the trial brought some viewers back. The audience came back in a big way at 5 p.m. when Fox cut away from the Senate chamber and aired “The Five” — 2.7 million viewers were there for it. Some tuned out during “Special Report” at 6, and many more tuned out when Fox resumed trial coverage from 6:30 til 7 — Fox plummeted to 1.2 million viewers. The audience rushed back, of course, for “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” which topped 3 million. But MSNBC and CNN’s average viewership was up above 3 million all afternoon long! The takeaway is clear: Fox’s base rejected the prosecution of Trump. They only wanted to hear the pro-Trump spin…

 >> Thought bubble: I know it never would have happened, but what if the Senate had decided to conduct this trial in the evening, when a prime-time audience might have watched live?

Pulling further apart?

Will that be the primary result of this trial? New tears in the proverbial American fabric? Even more fights between red and blue?

The insurrection shouldn’t be seen as a partisan issue, but it has been, period, full stop. Folks have retreated to their corners. Charges of hypocrisy have flown in all directions. The crimes that will never be forgotten by Trump critics have already been excused, and buried down the memory hole, by Trump loyalists. The terms “Trump critics” and “Trump loyalists” shouldn’t even be a part of this conversation, but… they are.

What happened at the Capitol on January 6? Trump’s war on truth has affected how people answer that question. And it’s pulling people even further apart…

Not worth debating?

Brian Lowry writes: “Twitter spats seldom merit attention, but I think there’s a significant point buried in producer David Simon’s gleefully vulgar exchange with Hugh Hewitt, in which Hewitt offered Simon a chance to come debate on his syndicated radio show. It’s a favorite tactic of Hewitt’s, but buried within Simon’s response was this: Having gone all-in on defending the former president, you no longer have the credibility to be worth debating. This might not be a path to bridging the political divide, but it does send a message that someone like Hewitt – once seen as a fair broker of conservative ideals – has sacrificed that standing in the eyes of many on the left…”

FOR THE RECORD, PART ONE

 — “I’m not sure what, exactly, to call what we have been watching this week: part trial, part documentary film, part constitutional-law seminar, part Facebook video shared by your politics-obsessed cousin,” Susan Glasser writes… (TNY)

 — “Anderson Cooper called out the three Republican senators who met with Donald Trump’s defense attorneys on Thursday, despite being jurors of the trial, noting that ‘the fix is likely in…'” (Mediaite)

 — Instead of leading his hour with the trial news, Tucker launched into a conspiratorial complaint about Jeff Bezos, Max Boot, Nick Kristof, and yours truly… (Twitter)

 — Speaking of stories you won’t hear in MAGA media: “The Capitol assault resulted in one of the worst days of injuries for law enforcement” in the US since 9/11… (NYT)

 — WaPo’s most-read story right now: “Mounting evidence suggests Trump knew of danger to Pence when he attacked him as lacking ‘courage’ amid Capitol siege…” (WaPo)

 — Jonathan Reiner: “The former president’s legal team could literally say nothing tomorrow, offer no defense, and GOP senators would still vote to acquit…” (Twitter)  — The WSJ editorial board’s harsh assessment of Trump: “He might be acquitted, but he won’t live down his disgraceful conduct…” (WSJ)

Trump wants to see more lawyers on TV defending him

Jim Acosta reports: “Trump wants to see more lawyers defending him on television, a source familiar with his thinking said. One of his attorneys, David Schoen, left the Senate in the middle of the impeachment trial to do a live interview on Fox News. Even out of office, Trump has the people working for him performing for the ‘audience of one.’

FRIDAY PLANNER

The trial will resume at noon ET…

The WH press briefing will take place at 12:30 pm…

Friday is the deadline for public input on the Facebook Oversight Board “as it nears a decision” about Trump’s account…Natalie Morales will make her official debut as a “Dateline NBC” correspondent…

Kamala Harris and The 19th*

“In her first national, extended interview since becoming vice president, Kamala Harris sat down with Errin Haines, editor-at-large at The 19th* to discuss her focus on an equitable response to the COVID-19 crisis,” the website said in a press release. Here’s the interview…

FOR THE RECORD, PART TWO

— The deception of the Trump era is still being documented and exposed. The NYT’s Thursday afternoon scoop: “Trump Was Sicker Than Acknowledged With Covid-19…” (NYT)

 — The day’s most hopeful headline: President Biden “declares there will be enough vaccines for 300 million Americans by end of July” (CNN)

 — “On Wednesday, the 7-day average of new doses administered exceeded President Biden’s target for 1.5 million doses per day the first time,” per CNN Health…

 — NBCUniversal is rolling out a new tool “dedicated to helping you plan when and where you can get vaccinated…” (NBC)  — Journalists all across NYC are mourning the sudden death of Katherine Creag, a beloved reporter for News 4 who was “the first face many New Yorkers woke up to every day.” May her memory be a blessing. (WNBC)

Baquet walks back controversial comment

Oliver Darcy writes:Dean Baquet on Thursday walked back a controversial comment he and Joe Kahn made last week in which they said the paper does not ‘tolerate’ the use of racist language ‘regardless of intent.’ At the State of the Times meeting, Baquet said that in their ‘zeal to make a powerful statement about our workplace culture, we ham-handedly said something you rightfully saw as an oversimplification of one of the most difficult issues of our lives.” Baquet called it a ‘deadline mistake’ and expressed regret for it. More in my story here…”

>> Darcy adds: “The comment Baquet and Kahn had made about intent had drawn criticism from external critics, but also from staffers inside NYT who had expressed confusion to me and said that intent and context always matter. These staffers pointed to NYT’s own use of such language in reporting. Baquet nodded to that fact, telling employees racial slurs ‘will no doubt appear in our pages again….'”

Stephens says Sulzberger ‘spiked’ column, but…

Darcy writes:Bret Stephens on Thursday accused AG Sulzberger of having ‘spiked’ a piece he had written about the McNeil departure. In an email to a small group of colleagues, which was first reported by Dylan Byers and which I later obtained, Stephens said he had filed the column Monday, but that it was never published. Opinion editor Kathleen Kingsburyexplained to me over the phone that the paper regularly chooses not to run columns for various reasons. ‘The bar is especially high for columns that could reflect badly on colleagues,’ Kingsbury said. ‘And we decided that this column didn’t reach that bar.’ Kingsbury also pointed out to me that she has previously published and supported Stephens when he has written critically about NYT, including the 1619 Project and his reaction to retracting the Tom Cotton op-ed, but in this case felt his piece wasn’t quite there…”

A call for coverage

An Phung emails: “A number of celebrities and activists of Asian descent have taken to social media to condemn the spate of anti-Asian violence around the country, a trend that took root at the start of the pandemic and was reinforced by Trump’s hateful language. A thread that runs through the commentary: The glaring lack of attention from the national media. Amanda Nguyen said it. Daniel Dae Kim touched on it. Gemma Chan pleaded for media attention.

Phung adds: “A few high-profile incidents caught on camera that rippled through social media in recent weeks showed perpetrators targeting elderly people. This detail gets to the heart of why celebrities are wielding their powerful platforms: “Our elderlies won’t speak up to report these crimes so we have to do it,” said comedian David So, citing language and cultural barriers. On Thursday, the Asian American Journalists Association weighed in, calling on the national media to ‘prioritize coverage of this ongoing violence against AAPIs, and to empower their journalists to report on these incidents immediately, accurately and comprehensively.’ Indeed, coverage of the latest wave of violence was scant at the start of this week — but the media has since picked up the pace. Some credit goes to Nguyen for her powerful plea for media attention in a video that caught the eye of celebrities, journalists and lawmakers. Catch up with CNN, The Cut, or NPR for the latest on this troubling trend.”

FOR THE RECORD, PART THREE

— “In an apparent tit for tat move, BBC World News has been banned from airing in China,” one week after China Global Television Network was blocked in the UK… (CNN)

 — State Department spox Ned Price condemned the BBC blockade and said “it’s troubling that as the PRC restricts outlets and platforms from operating freely in China, Beijing’s leaders use free and open media environments overseas to promote misinfo…” (Reuters)

 — “Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, has won a privacy claim in her case against a tabloid newspaper,” the Mail on Sunday, “that published a handwritten letter to her estranged father, Thomas Markle…” (CNN)

 — David Folkenflik is out with a new story about the Trump-era VOA and about the lives that were upended… (NPR)

 — Via Brian Fung: Twitter has permanently banned an account belonging to Project Veritas (and temporarily locked James O’Keefe’s account) for repeated violations of the company’s anti-doxxing policies… (CNN)  

— New and compelling from Donie O’Sullivan and company: “Two women tell us how their parents began following QAnon and how it is tearing their families apart.” The extended 11-minute story is up on YouTube… (CNN)

A Valentine edition of the RS podcast

My better half, NY1 host Jamie Stelter, took over the “Reliable Sources” podcast for a Valentine-themed episode. She gathered questions via social media and asked me about everything from work habits (I’m a huge procrastinator) to “love language” to local news. A special guest makes an appearance at the end of the conversation. Hint: We taped this during afternoon nap time, or at least, we thought we did. Listen in via Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn, or your favorite pod app…

Microsoft calls for laws forcing Big Tech to share revenue with news outlets

CNN’s Brian Fung writes:Microsoft is calling for new laws, including in the US, designed to force tech platforms to share more advertising revenue with news publishers. It is a direct assault on Facebook and Google, who have protested such a proposal currently under consideration in Australia and, increasingly, in Europe. And it reflects Microsoft’s eagerness to challenge the reigning kings of digital advertising in markets where doing so could provide a convenient boost to Microsoft’s own bottom line.”

 >> Microsoft prez Brad Smith spoke with the NYT’s Cecilia Kang about his push…  >> Bloomberg’s Dina Bass has much more here…

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, Crime, Elections, International, Local, News, Regional0 Comments

COVID chart Jan 20 2021

Ministry of Health, Montserrat investigages suspected COVID-19 cases

COVID, Ministry of Health & Social Services, News / 6th February 2021

The following is a release which says that Montserrat’s Ministry of Health and Social Services (MoHSS) is currently investigating possible cases of COVID-19 on the island.

The Ministry has started the contact tracing process while they await the results from tests conducted.

A further update on this will be issued tomorrow, Saturday February 6, 2021, following the results of the tests.  

In the meantime, the Ministry of Health is encouraging persons to practice the recommended social distancing and safety protocols:

  1. Wear a face-covering or mask in business places and on transportation services;
  2. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or use an alcohol-based sanitizing gel;
  3. When coughing or sneezing, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your flexed elbow dispose of the tissue immediately and wash your hands;
  4. Avoid close contact with anyone who has coughing and fever;
  5. Practice social distancing.

The Ministry of Health and Social Services will continue to update the public as new information is received.

Unconfirmed response to inquiries as to whether to suspicions are of a person or persons already living on the island, or recent visitors, is that its the latter.

There has not been a positive case since July 2020. It is still puzzling why some of these protocols have been criminalised with heavy fines of $1,000.00 and there is no official advice as to what the public should do to immunise their bodies or how to immediately deal with early symptoms.

It would not be surprising should we see a panic reaction from the ‘authorities’ who have not demonstrated that they in fact have acted with reasonable understanding and hands-on practice with the pandemic.

Visit the Facebook page for information in that regard at: https://www.facebook.com/themontserratreporter/

see the latest chart:

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, COVID-19, Crime, Environment, Featured, Health, Local, News, Regional0 Comments

The New Yorker

When Reporting Becomes a Defense for Rioting

John Sullivan claims that he was at the Capitol insurrection as a neutral journalist. Others say he was a riot chaser who urged the mob to “burn this shit down.”

By Andrew Marantz
February 3, 2021

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A photo collage of John Sullivan with a group of protesters on the Capitol.

Sullivan has made a habit of blurring the lines between activism, advocacy journalism, and opposition research. Illustration by Jon Key; Source photographs from John Sullivan / YouTube (portrait 1, 2); Preston Crawley (portrait 3); Tayfun Coskun / Anadolu Agency / Getty (crowd)

John Sullivan, also known as Jayden X, calls himself an activist, a reporter, or an entrepreneur, depending on who’s asking. When I first reached him by phone, he told me that he was “a video journalist, or maybe a documentarian, or whatever you would say—going out there and just live-streaming the events that are transpiring, so that people can see it on the Internet.” He lives near Salt Lake City, but, until recently, he spent most of his time on the road, looking for the next riot: Portland, Seattle, New York. He has tried to associate himself with the Black Lives Matter movement, but many organizers have disavowed him; others have gone further, accusing him of being an “agent provocateur,” a “con artist,” or a “thrill-seeking instigator.” “Riots are meant to bring change, so purge the world with fire,” he tweeted in December. But he has not always been clear about what kind of change he has in mind. “I’m not Antifa,” he told me recently, although he went out of his way to mention that he often wears all black to protests, as many antifascists do. “And I’m not with the Trump supporters,” he continued, although he was among the Trump supporters when a mob of them assaulted the Capitol, on January 6th. Using a Samsung phone mounted on a gimbal, he captured about ninety minutes of raw video—a chilling, near-comprehensive record of the siege. (Reviewing some of the footage, in Artforum, the film critic J. Hoberman called it “cinema as forensic evidence.”) Sullivan has since uploaded his footage to YouTube and provided it to law enforcement; he has also repeatedly tried and largely failed, to explain what he was doing there in the first place.

Sullivan is twenty-six, lean and sharp-featured, and he moves with the lithe precision of a former athlete. He has three younger brothers: James, Peter, and Matthew. “We’re all Black, adopted, and our parents are white,” John told me. “We were raised in a sheltered household and taught to view the world as colorless. Then you grow up and suddenly realize, No, actually, I’m Black, and a lot of the people I grew up around were racist as fuck.” He told me that his father, John Sullivan, Sr., is a retired Army lieutenant colonel who now works in the freight-shipping industry and that his mother, Lisa, is a homemaker. They are conservative—“more conservative than Trump,” Peter told me—and are devout Mormons, although their three eldest sons no longer practice the religion. Growing up, John, Jr., was a nationally ranked speed skater, but he quit in 2018. (On one of his Web sites, he claims that he “competed in the 2018 Olympic Games”; in fact, he only got as far as the Olympic trials.) In 2016, he starred in a slickly produced Uber ad, the conceit of which was that athletes who train at odd hours might want to work part-time in the gig economy. A director’s cut ends with a shot of Sullivan skating to an abrupt stop, followed by the tagline “Find your hustle.”

After graduating from high school, Sullivan said, he thought about joining the Army Reserve and applied to be a police officer in a Salt Lake City suburb. He ended up working in corporate sales instead. Last year, feeling isolated and restless during the pandemic, he decided to start his own business. George Floyd had just been killed, and Sullivan’s social-media feeds filled with rousing images from street protests against police brutality. He went to a local Black Lives Matter protest, wearing a GoPro on his motorcycle helmet, and uploaded his footage to YouTube. After that, he established an L.L.C., called Insurgence USA. Later, on the Web site ActivistJohn.com, he posted a photo of himself raising a clenched fist, with the National Mall in the background, next to the words “John Sullivan is bringing the revolution.” He solicited donations on Patreon and PayPal, offered his services as a motivational speaker, and sold merchandise: black tactical gloves; protective goggles; red baseball caps that looked like Make America Great Again hats, but actually read “Made Ya Look / Black Lives Matter.” He started filling his YouTube channel with footage from street clashes, employing a gonzo-guerrilla aesthetic: balaclavas, billowing clouds of tear gas. “I put my body on the line to bring people the best documentation of history,” Sullivan said. “That’s my thing: When shit’s going down, you follow me and I show you exactly what it’s like.”

More on the Capitol Riot
Ronan Farrow on a Pennsylvania mother’s path to insurrection.

Last June, early in his new career as an activism entrepreneur, Sullivan attended a protest near a police station in Provo, Utah. A pro-police group had organized a “Back the Blue” rally; another group planned an anti-police-brutality demonstration around the same time. (Sullivan’s Insurgence USA organization reportedly promoted the latter event on social media.) The vast majority of Black Lives Matter protests last summer were peaceful—more than ninety-five percent, by some estimates—but, at this one, clashes broke out. According to criminal affidavits later filed in state court, one of Sullivan’s fellow-protesters shot a man who was driving near the protest, and Sullivan kicked a woman’s car and threatened to beat her up. (Sullivan claimed that his confrontation started because the woman was trying to run over the protesters.) Sullivan was charged with criminal mischief and “riot,” which was defined, in part, as assembling “with the purpose of engaging . . . in tumultuous or violent conduct.” Sullivan argued that he had simply attended the event as a journalist—not a credentialled and impartial journalist, perhaps, but a journalist nonetheless.

More than once, his brother Peter, who describes himself as “politically moderate,” asked John why he was drawn to potentially violent street actions. “He would talk about his business, how he wanted to be the best video journalist, and that meant taking risks,” Peter recalled. “He would also tell me, ‘You don’t understand, it’s such a surreal experience.’ In addition to the journalism element, I think that rush is something that he really craves.”

John Sullivan made a habit of blurring the lines between activism, advocacy journalism, and opposition research. He tried to stay abreast of where the next big protest or riot was likely to break out, monitoring activist group chats on Signal and Telegram. “I was able to collaborate with the left in their community to gather information,” Sullivan wrote in an unpublished draft of a memoir. “But I also can connect with the right and successfully be in their presence without them being combative towards me.” When he was surrounded by left-wing activists or right-wing activists, he sometimes gave the impression of being one of them; at other times, he implied that he was working undercover to expose one side or the other. In his recent conversations with me, he emphasized his neutrality. “I want to make sure my First Amendment rights as a journalist are not being forgotten,” he told me.

The First Amendment enshrines, separately, “the freedom of speech” and “of the press.” “If the Speech Clause is the Court’s favorite child, the Press Clause has been the neglected one,” Sonja West, a legal scholar at the University of Georgia, wrote in the Harvard Law Review, in 2014. As a result, West told me, “this remains a fuzzy area of the law.” Can an undercover reporter misrepresent herself in order to get a story? Should a journalist in pursuit of publicly useful information be allowed to do certain things—push past a police barricade, say—that a normal citizen may not? “The Court has indicated that journalists have a special role that deserves protection,” West said. “But it has been very reluctant to say what those protections are.” If a professional reporter follows a crowd of protesters onto private property, the police may refrain from arresting her. If a whistle-blower leaks classified information to a journalist, prosecutors can treat this differently than if the information were leaked to a spy. In West’s Harvard Law Review article, she advocates what she calls “press exceptionalism,” suggesting a kind of checklist—eight “distinct qualities,” including “attention to professional standards” and “a proven ability to reach a broad audience”—that might distinguish the press from “press-like” members of the public. Sullivan checks about half of these boxes, depending on how generously you apply the criteria.

There has never been a clean way to delineate professional journalists from everyone else, and the boundary has only grown blurrier in the selfie-stick era. Defining the press too narrowly risks excluding freelancers and correspondents from nontraditional outlets; defining it too broadly could mean including anyone with a cell phone and a YouTube account. “If everyone has an equal claim to being a reporter, regardless of intent or track record, what it means in practice is that law enforcement won’t be able to tell the difference,” Lucy Dalglish, the dean of the University of Maryland’s journalism school, told me. “Suddenly, you have a situation where anyone can do any crazy thing—like break into the Capitol building, for instance—and then, when the cops show up, they can just take out their phone and say, ‘Hands off, I’m a documentarian.’ ” One of the people who invaded the Capitol on January 6th was Nick Ochs, a Proud Boy from Hawaii, who was later arrested for unlawful entry. “We came here to stop the steal,” Ochs said on a live stream the day of the siege. That night, however, Ochs told CNN that he had entered the Capitol as a professional journalist. He was associated with a far-right new-media collective comprising audio and video talk shows, published on YouTube and other platforms. The name of the collective was Murder the Media.

In July, Sullivan returned to the Provo police station for another demonstration. Standing on a small promontory and holding a megaphone, he gave a short speech. Then, spotting members of the Proud Boys and other far-right groups in the crowd, he improvised a kind of olive-branch gesture. “I want to understand you,” he said. “That’s what we’re about here. Getting to know people . . . because then you love them just like your family.” The megaphone was passed to several far-right activists, including a burly Proud Boy in a camouflage vest. The following month, Sullivan, wearing body armor and carrying a long gun, led a few dozen Second Amendment enthusiasts, including both left-wing activists and members of the Utah Constitutional Militia, on an armed march to the state capitol.

The more prominence he gained in local newspapers and TV-news segments, the more vocally left-wing organizers denounced him. (Lex Scott, a founder of Black Lives Matter Utah, told me, “He’s a thorn in our side. We learned to stay away from him long ago.”) Some wondered whether he was a police informant or a spy for a far-right militia. Among their reasons for suspicion was Sullivan’s brother James, a right-wing activist in Utah who had ties to the Proud Boys. (When asked if he had ever collaborated with James, John said, “I have barely spoken to that man in years.”) James currently runs a right-wing Facebook page called Civilized Awakening, which, in addition to the usual links about Trump and voter fraud, seems to specialize in anti-John Sullivan content—for example, a crudely Photoshopped image of John receiving a creepy neck massage from Joe Biden. Recently, on Facebook, James wrote, “I got into activism for one reason, and that was to take down my brother.” An activist from Portland floated a simpler explanation for John Sullivan’s antics: “He came off as someone that was a bit lost and looking for a family/following anywhere he could find it.”

According to left-wing activists, John Sullivan promoted his work online using a fluctuating assortment of handles: @ActivistX, @BlackFistNews, @FascistFighter, @WatchRiotPorn. Sometimes, he appeared to log in to multiple accounts simultaneously, using one to corroborate another. During one group chat on Signal, an organizer warned, “Activist X is not to be trusted.” Sullivan, who was in the chat, brushed it off. “Lol the fuck?” he wrote, using the display name Activist X. “I’ve known Activist X,” the next comment read. “Sounds like a lot of bullshit to me.” This was supposed to appear under the display name Tiger Wolf, but other activists claimed that they could see that it was actually posted by Sullivan, from another one of his phone numbers. “Why did you respond to yourself?” one asked. Another wrote, “I’m burning this chat lol.” (Sullivan denied using the handle Tiger Wolf and others, saying, “People are trying to hack my accounts and misrepresent me.”)

During the fall and winter, as Black Lives Matter protests fizzled and pro-Trump protests grew, Sullivan followed the momentum, live-streaming from far-right events in Washington, D.C., and at the Oregon state capitol. On Election Day, he witnessed a group of Proud Boys, normally implacable supporters of law enforcement, chanting “Fuck the police.” “That was shocking,” he wrote in a draft of his memoir; in his view, the far right’s turn against the police marked “a paradigm shift.” In December, he started to notice chatter on Parler and Telegram indicating that Trump supporters planned to descend on the Capitol. He booked a trip to D.C. In the memoir draft, he recalled thinking that Trump supporters who were angry about the outcome of the election, especially those who “overcame this barrier of supporting the police,” might “unite with Black Lives Matter. . . . I felt that perhaps they would come and fight together against the government.”

In the first shot of Sullivan’s main video from the Capitol, he is standing outside, underneath a set of bleachers erected for Joe Biden’s Inauguration. He angles his camera to take in the crowd behind him: red MAGA hats, yellow Gadsden flags, a man in a fur pelt. Suddenly, the crowd surges up a flight of stairs and toward a line of police barricades. The officers, most of whom do not have helmets or shields, are vastly outnumbered; they hold the line for a few seconds, but they’re quickly overtaken. “This shit’s ours!” Sullivan shouts as the invaders swarm onto a terrace. “We accomplished this shit. We did this shit together! Fuck, yeah!”

Looking over a balustrade to the lawn below, he sees a roiling crowd of thousands of people. He lets out several wonder-struck cheers, his voice cracking with exertion and emotion. “That’s beautiful shit!” he shouts. “Let’s go!” People are climbing up the walls, and he offers one of them a hand up. “Holy shit, dude, that was awesome,” he says. “Let’s burn this shit down.” A few seconds later, Sullivan rests his camera on a ledge and turns to a woman next to him, who is also filming. “I’m just gonna rely on you for footage from now on, is that chill?” he says. “Or should I just keep recording?” But then he presses forward, still taping, following the group through a broken window.Inside the Capitol, Sullivan wanders from room to room more or less at random, as if playing a first-person video game with no clear objective. He marvels at the palatial digs (“This is surreal”; “I’m shook at this!”; “What is life?”) and fantasizes about their destruction. “We’ve gotta burn this,” he says. “We’ve gotta get this shit burnt.” When he is surrounded by Trump supporters, he provides encouragement or advice. When confronted by police officers who ask him to leave, he says, “I’m just filming,” or “No freedom of the press now?” A few times, he tries to persuade police officers to abandon their posts. “We want you to go home,” he tells an officer. “I don’t want to see you get hurt.”

In the Rotunda, he stops to admire the domed ceiling, watching the afternoon light streaming in from above. “Damn,” he says, relishing the moment. Then, gesturing toward the fresco on the ceiling, he asks the man next to him, “What is this painting?”

“I don’t even know, but I know we in this motherfucker,” the man responds.

“Gang shit, bro,” Sullivan says.

“Make sure you follow me on Instagram,” the man says.

Sullivan continues past Corinthian columns and ruffled red-velvet curtains, into a marble hallway packed with insurrectionists, where the mood turns dark. A woman with a gray ponytail stands inches away from a police officer, vibrating with rage. “Tell fucking Pelosi we’re coming for her!” she shouts. “We’re coming for all of you!” She stops and stares the officer down, as if preparing for battle. “You ready?” she asks.

“I’m ready, bro,” Sullivan says, perhaps to himself. “I’ve been to so many riots.”

Suddenly, the mob pushes past the police and into a small inner corridor. One of the insurrectionists grabs a megaphone and turns to face the others. “We need to remain calm now,” he says. “We’ve made our point. Let’s be peaceful.”

“Fuck that shit,” Sullivan says. “Push!” Several times throughout the video, he can be heard saying, “I got a knife.” (He now claims that he didn’t actually have a knife: “I used that to navigate myself to the front of the crowd.”)

Some of the insurrectionists break away and find another small hallway, leading to a set of wood-and-glass doors. On the other side is a lobby leading to the House chamber. (The mob doesn’t know it, but several members of Congress, staffers, and journalists are still in the process of being evacuated from the chamber.) The insurrectionists use helmets and wooden flag poles to start beating down the door, smashing the glass, and splintering the wood frame. One woman, an Air Force veteran named Ashli Babbitt, starts to approach the door. A plainclothes police officer stands on the other side, wearing a mask and pointing a pistol in the group’s direction. “There’s a gun!” Sullivan says, but Babbitt doesn’t seem to hear. She starts to climb through an opening in the doorway. The officer shoots once and Babbitt falls to the ground, bleeding, eyes open. “She’s dead,” Sullivan says to the man next to him, who identifies himself as a correspondent from the far-right conspiracist network Infowars. “I saw, the light goes out in her eyes.”

“I need that footage, man,” the Infowars correspondent says. “It’s gonna go out to the world.”

“Dude, this shit’s gonna go viral,” Sullivan says.

From his hotel room, Sullivan uploaded his video footage to YouTube. He licensed parts of it to the Washington Post and NBC, and Anderson Cooper interviewed him on CNN. Right away, far-right conspiracy theorists started to use Sullivan for their propaganda efforts. Some tried to suggest that Sullivan was a left-wing plant who had somehow orchestrated the entire insurrection. Rudy Giuliani, President Trump’s lawyer, tweeted a screenshot of what appeared to be a text conversation between himself and James Sullivan, who claimed, baselessly, that there were “226 members of Antifa that instigated the Capitol ‘riot,’ ” and added, “I’m currently working with the FBI to expose and place total blame on John.”

John Sullivan uploaded videos in which he spoke directly to the camera, attempting to justify some of the more incongruous parts of his Capitol footage. “I have emotions, and those moments are crazy,” Sullivan said. In another video, he added, “I was not there to be a participant. I was there to record. But I also have to blend my fucking Black ass into that crowd.” Many of his followers didn’t seem to buy it. When he tweeted, “#TrumpSupporters are making a hit list to take me out,” someone responded, “Stop acting like the victim. . . . You were obviously more involved than what you are playing out.”

“I mean, the FBI doesn’t think so,” Sullivan responded.

A week after the insurrection, James Sullivan says, he sent the F.B.I. tips about his brother. On January 14th, according to John, agents came to his apartment and seized two computers, two cell phones, and his camera equipment. Federal prosecutors announced that Sullivan was being charged with one count of knowingly entering a restricted building, one count of violent entry and disorderly conduct, and one count of interfering with law enforcement. “People are understandably angry and upset, but I’m hoping we don’t respond to mob violence with mob justice,” Mary Corporon, one of Sullivan’s defense attorneys, told me. “It’s going to take a lot of discipline to look at each individual case separately, to give each person a chance to be presumed innocent, but that’s what the Constitution requires.”

A central function of the press is to reveal significant information, including images that the public otherwise would not have seen. “People can say what they want, but nobody else got the footage I got,” Sullivan told me. “That shit was history, and I captured it.” The events leading to Ashli Babbitt’s death are of undeniable import, and we would understand them less well if Sullivan hadn’t documented them. In a dissenting Supreme Court opinion from 1972, Justice Potter Stewart argued that, in order to protect “the full flow of information to the public,” there “must be the right to gather news.” Sullivan and his lawyers may end up arguing that some of his actions on January 6th—shouting support for the mob, for example—were acts of newsgathering, necessary for Sullivan to get as far as he did. This theory would be less helpful, presumably, in explaining away some of Sullivan’s other actions, such as encouraging the invaders to push forward or claiming to have a knife. In Brandenburg v. Ohio, from 1969, the Supreme Court ruled that speech is not protected by the First Amendment if it is “directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.” This is a high bar, but it’s possible that Sullivan’s speech would clear it.

Sullivan spent the night of January 14th in jail. The next day, he was brought before a judge, who released him on the condition that he wear an ankle monitor and stay in his house except for pre-approved activities. Near the end of the hearing, the prosecutor asked that Sullivan be barred from using the Internet. The defense argued, “It is nearly impossible to find employment in the twenty-first century without some form of Internet access.” In the end, the judge ordered the prosecution and the defense to agree on “a list of social-media sites that you feel would be dangerous for Mr. Sullivan to use.”

Against his lawyers’ advice, Sullivan has called me nearly every day since his release, giving me a Zoom tour of his apartment and sending me a Google Drive of protest footage, snippets from his childhood vlog, and cell-phone recordings from his family’s Thanksgiving. I wondered whether these were acts of defiance or of self-sabotage, but it seemed more likely that he was trying to alleviate his boredom. He showed me his video-editing setup, which includes a ring light, a key light, and a professional microphone with a pop filter—but not his computers, which had been confiscated by the F.B.I. His rhetoric about his trip to D.C. was triumphant—“I think I really accomplished something”—but his body language seemed deflated. He told me that, when he closed his eyes, he still saw images of Babbitt’s shooting. “Even after all the wild stuff I’ve witnessed,” he said, “that was the first time I ever saw anyone die.” Internet sleuths continued to argue about whether he was a far-right plant or an Antifa double agent, but he sounded more like a confused kid who was in over his head.

During one of our conversations, he told me that he hadn’t yet received the list of social-media sites that he would be prohibited from using, but that he had been told to expect a far-ranging ban. “Maybe I’ll be allowed to use LinkedIn, maybe not even that,” he told me. “I’m just watching TV and meditating and trying to steer clear of all of it.” This may have been his goal, but he did spend at least some time lurking on Twitter. I know this because, on January 16th, he followed me. He used one of his old handles, @ActivistJayden. I clicked on the account’s profile and scrolled through its history. It was one of Sullivan’s lesser-used accounts; at the time, it consisted only of a few retweets. There was a live stream of a protest outside a federal prison and a video of a protester playing violin while tear gas spread around him. On New Year’s Eve, @ActivistJayden had retweeted a tweet that read, “Let’s make 2021 the year of political upheaval.” Replying to the tweet from a different account, Sullivan had written, “I’m fucking ready.”


Read More About the Attack on the Capitol

Andrew Marantz is a staff writer at The New Yorker and the author of “Antisocial: Online Extremists, Techno-Utopians, and the Hijacking of the American Conversation.”More:Donald TrumpBlack Lives MatterTrumpismActivistsJournalistsRiotsProtestTrump-Biden Transition

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View all storiesAmong the Insurrectionists

The Capitol was breached by Trump supporters who had been declaring, at rally after rally, that they would go to violent lengths to keep the President in power. A chronicle of an attack foretold.

By Luke MogelsonHow Social Media Made the Trump Insurrection a Reality

Facebook banned the President from its platform on Thursday, but the move was too little, too late.

By Andrew Marantz Video A Reporter’s Video from Inside the Capitol Siege

On January 6th, 2021, Luke Mogelson followed Trump supporters as they forced their way into the U.S. Capitol, using his phone’s camera as a notebook. The Political SceneThe Week the Trump Supporters Disappeared

In Washington, D.C., our leaders sealed themselves off from a rebel force that didn’t arrive.

By Megan K. Stack

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, COVID-19, Crime, Culture, Elections, International, News, Politics0 Comments

AP-logo-1

Insurrection marks moment of reckoning for Republicans

Reprint (Adapted)

By STEVE PEOPLES

1 of 4Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., left, and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, right, speak after Republicans objected to certifying the Electoral College votes from Arizona, during a joint session of the House and Senate to confirm the electoral votes cast in November’s election, at the Capitol, Wednesday, Jan 6, 2021. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

The insurrection at the U.S. Capitol was both stunning and predictable, the result of a Republican Party that has repeatedly enabled President Donald Trump’s destructive behavior.

When Trump was a presidential candidate in 2016, Republican officials ignored his call to supporters to “knock the crap out” of protesters. Less than a year after he took office, GOP leaders argued he was taken out of context when he said there were “very fine people” on both sides of a deadly white supremacist rally.

And last summer, most party leaders looked the other way when Trump had hundreds of peaceful protesters forcibly removed from a demonstration near the White House so he could pose with a Bible in front of a church.

But the violent siege on Capitol Hill offers a new, and perhaps final, moment of reckoning for the GOP. The party’s usual excuses for Trump — he’s not a typical politician and is uninterested in hewing to Washington’s niceties — fell short against images of mobs occupying some of American democracy’s most sacred spaces.

The party, which has been defined over the past four years by its loyalty to Trump, began recalibrating in the aftermath of Wednesday’s chaos.

One of his closest allies in Congress, GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, said “enough is enough.”

Another South Carolina Republican, Rep. Nancy Mace, said Trump’s accomplishments in office “were wiped out today.”

At least one senior White House staffer resigned, and more resignations were possible as the weight of the day’s events settled in.

But for the party to move forward, it will need to grapple with the reality that Trump in fact lost to President-elect Joe Biden by more than 7 million votes and a 306-232 margin in the Electoral College, a result Congress certified early Thursday when it finished accepting all the electoral votes.

Trump himself acknowledged his term was coming to a close but not that he had actually lost. “Even though I totally disagree with the outcome of the election, and the facts bear me out, nevertheless there will be an orderly transition on January 20th,” he said in a statement minutes after Congress certified the vote. “I have always said we would continue our fight to ensure that only legal votes were counted. While this represents the end of the greatest first term in presidential history, it’s only the beginning of our fight to Make America Great Again!”

Former Republican President George W. Bush described the violent mob as “a sickening and heartbreaking sight.” He declined to call out Trump or his allies, but the implication was clear when Bush said the siege “was undertaken by people whose passions have been inflamed by falsehoods and false hopes.”

Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, a top House Republican and the daughter of Bush’s vice president, was much more direct in an interview on Fox News.

“There’s no question the president formed the mob. The president incited the mob,” Cheney said. “He lit the flame.”

While their criticism was searing, Bush and Cheney were already among a smaller group of Republican officials willing to condemn Trump’s most outrageous behavior at times. The overwhelming majority of the GOP has been far more reserved, eager to keep Trump’s fiery base on their side.ADVERTISEMENT

Still, Trump’s grip on his party appeared somewhat weakened when members of Congress returned to the Capitol Wednesday night, having spent several hours hiding in secure locations after being evacuated. Before they left, a handful of Republican senators and more than 100 Republican House members were set to oppose the vote to certify Joe Biden’s presidential victory.

It was a move led by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley, each with his own 2024 presidential ambitions, over the objection of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who warned that that U.S. democracy “would enter a death spiral” if Congress rejected state election results.

When they resumed debate, however, much of the energy behind the extraordinary push had fizzled. Several Republicans dropped their objections altogether. Hawley and Cruz did not, but they offered scaled-back arguments.

Hawley condemned the day’s violence but also called for an investigation into “irregularities and fraud.” Earlier in the day, his hometown newspaper, The Kansas City Star, released an editorial charging that Hawley “has blood on his hands” for enabling Trump’s false claims.

Other Republicans were clearly more concerned about the day’s violence and the events that preceded them.

“Dear MAGA- I am one of you,” former White House aide Alyssa Farah tweeted. “But I need you to hear me: the Election was NOT stolen. We lost.”

Jefferson Thomas, who led Trump’s campaign in Colorado, expressed some regret about joining Trump’s team in the first place, calling Wednesday’s events “an embarrassment to our country.”

“This isn’t what I ever imagined when I signed up to #MAGA. Had I known then that this is how it would end, I never would’ve joined,” he wrote on Twitter.

And while there were obvious cracks in Trump’s grip on the Republican Party, his fiercest detractors came from a familiar pool of frequent critics.

Trump’s former secretary of defense, James Mattis, who denounced the president as a threat to the Constitution last year, described the violent assault on the Capitol as “an effort to subjugate American democracy by mob rule, was fomented by Mr. Trump.”

“His use of the presidency to destroy trust in our election and to poison our fellow citizens has been enabled by pseudo-political leaders whose names will live in infamy as profiles in cowardice,” Mattis charged.

Anthony Scaramucci, a former Trump, often has harsh words for Trump but offered his harshest on Wednesday for Trump’s Republican enablers.

“Republican elected officials still supporting Trump need to be tried alongside of him for treason,” he tweeted.

___

Trending on AP News GOP split over Trump, election runs across deep-red WyomingTrump supporters, other passengers in shouting bout on planeSomber Senate unites to reject election challengesby Taboola

Associated Press writer Meg Kinnard in Columbia, South Carolina contributed to this report.

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, Court, Crime, Elections, International, Local, News, Regional0 Comments

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