At today’s hearings on Capitol Hill, it seemed like a hearty exchange and blame game. Contentious words and everyone dodging responsibility.
Officials in charge of security for the Capitol on Jan. 6 on Tuesday blamed poor intelligence and a sluggish response from the federal government for the deadly riotthat threatened the peaceful transfer of power.
Former Capitol Police chief Steven Sund testified at a joint Senate committee hearing on security and intelligence failings leading up to the riot that intelligence reports compiled from information from the Capitol Police, FBI, Secret Service, Department of Homeland Security and the D.C. Metropolitan Police showed “the level of probability of acts of civil disobedience/arrests” on Jan. 6 ranged from “remote” to “improbable.”
"In addition, the daily intelligence report indicated that ‘the secretary of homeland security has not issued an elevated or imminent alert at this time,’” Sund testified.
“Without the intelligence to properly prepare, the USCP was significantly outnumbered and left to defend the Capitol against an extremely violent mob,” he said.
That’s despite significant online chatter and numerous media reports that protesters were targeting the electoral vote count during the joint session of Congress. Asked about a Jan. 5 threat report from the FBI’s field office outside Norfolk, Va., that detailed specific calls online for violence at the Capitol, including that protesters be ready to fight and show up ready for war, Sund testified it had gone to an intelligence official in the Capitol Police and that he had not seen it.
Robert Contee, acting chief of the Washington, D.C. police, said he had not seen the memo, which was “not fully vetted,” on Jan. 6 either.
“What the FBI sent, ma’am, on Jan. 5 was in the form of an email,” he said, adding that he would think a warning "that something as violent as an insurrection at the Capitol would warrant a phone call or something."
The former House and Senate sergeants-at-arms, who also testified at the hearing, said they also did not see the FBI memo.
National Guard delay
Contee also said he and Sund called the National Guard for help shortly after the mob stormed the building and was dismayed by the response he received from the Army.
“At 2:22 p.m., a call was convened with, among others, myself, leadership of the Capitol Police, the D.C. National Guard, and the Department of the Army,” Contee said. “I was stunned at the response from Department of the Army, which was reluctant to send the D.C. National Guard to the Capitol. While I certainly understand the importance of both planning and public perception — the factors cited by the staff on the call — these issues become secondary when you are watching your employees, vastly outnumbered by a mob, being physically assaulted.”
“I was able to quickly deploy MPD and issue directives to them while they were in the field, and I was honestly shocked that the National Guard could not — or would not — do the same,” he added.
Sund said in his prepared remarks that Army Lt. General Walter Piatt said on the conference call that he didn’t like “the visual of the National Guard standing a line with the Capitol in the background” and would rather Capitol Police officers be pulled from other posts to handle the protesters.
Sund added later that the “first 150 members of the National Guard were not sworn in on Capitol grounds until 5:40 p.m., four-and-a-half hours after I first requested them and three-and-a-half hours after my request was approved by the Capitol Police Board.”
In his opening statement, Sund also blamed former House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving and former Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Michael Stenger for the sluggish response.
Sund said he had tried to enlist the National Guard for help in the days before the riot, but “Irving stated that he was concerned about the ‘optics’ of having National Guard present and didn’t feel that the intelligence supported it.”
Sund also asked Stenger for help ahead of time. “Instead of approving the use of the National Guard, however, Mr. Stenger suggested I ask them how quickly we could get support if needed and to ‘lean forward’ in case we had to request assistance on January 6,” he said.
Sund said the pair were also slow to respond during the riot.
"I notified the two sergeant-at-arms by 1:09 p.m. that I urgently needed support and asked them to declare a state of emergency and authorize the National Guard," Sund said. "I was advised by Mr. Irving that he needed to run it up the chain of command. I continued to follow up with Mr. Irving, who was with Mr. Stenger at the time, and he advised that he was waiting to hear back from congressional leadership, but expected authorization at any moment."
Irving pushed back against Sund’s account, saying he did not recall speaking to him at that time, had no record of any phone calls or text messages from Sund, and never said he had to run Sund’s request up the chain of command.
He also denied that he’d voiced any concern about "optics."
“That is categorically false," Irving said. ‘Optics,’ as portrayed in the media, did not determine our security posture; safety was always paramount when evaluating security for January 6. We did discuss whether the intelligence warranted having troops at the Capitol, and our collective judgment at that time was no, the intelligence did not warrant that.”
Republicans defend witnesses
Sund, Stenger and Irving all resigned after the riot, which left five people dead including Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick. Police officers were able to regain control of the building with help from the National Guard and federal law enforcement officers after several hours, and the vote counting was completed. More than 200 people have been criminally charged.
Sen. Josh Hawley, a Republican who some Democrats have blamed for inciting the violence by announcing he would challenge the legitimacy of some states’ electors during the vote count, defended Sund, Stenger and Irving during his question period.
The Missouri senator noted that retired Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré, whom House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has tasked with leading a review of the U.S. Capitol’s security, had called Capitol Police leadership “complicit” in the attack because of the poor response. He asked the trio if they were complicit, and they responded, “Absolutely not.”
The Mercers are into the business of getting out conspiratorial/conservative news and are helping Parler get back up and running.
When social media website Parler’s founding CEO John Matze was pushed out last month, it was at the direction of a quiet but powerful political megadonor backing the right-leaning site.
Rebekah Mercer, the 47-year-old daughter of major Republican donor Robert Mercer, is a founding investor of Parler. She increasingly pulls the strings at the company, according to people familiar with the company who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private business matters. She holds the majority stake in Parler and controlled two of three board seats as of early February — a board to which she recently appointed allies.
The social media company started garnering a name for itself last year as a friendly gathering spot for Republican politicians and pundits turned off by fact-checking and moderation on sites like Facebook and Twitter. But Parler, which publicly extolled itself as a free-speech-focused network with minimal rules, became a breeding ground for conspiracy theories about the 2020 presidential election. The site was knocked offline shortly after the riot at the U.S. Capitol for its alleged role in allowing the rioters to plan and egg each other on.
Now Mercer, who is credited with helping get Donald Trump elected president in 2016, is working to revive the site. It came back online last week with her new handpicked CEO, former Tea Party Patriots leader, Mark Meckler, at the helm. It’s the latest in a long line of maneuvers by the Mercer family to create an alternative media industry that pushes a version of the news that fits with their right-wing, populist political agenda — while keeping a low profile themselves.
Parler executives did not respond to multiple requests for interviews or comment. Mercer did not respond to requests for comment.
Parler surged as an alternative to Twitter and Facebook during 2020, racking up 10 million users shortly after the election, largely because of polarizing politics sweeping the nation and rhetoric from prominent conservative leaders claiming that the social media giants were “censoring” leaders, including Trump. Parler was seen as a middle-of-the-road alternative social media site — a more palatable option than small, far-right sites that have been relegated from the mainstream.
Parler gained millions of users in the weeks after the election, reaching a total of 15 million accounts by January. Parler attracted high-profile users last year, including investor and conservative pundit Dan Bongino, as well as lawmakers like Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.). But after Parler’s more than month-long break offline, it has been forced again to try to find its footing in a saturated market — this time without a contentious election to spur growth.
Mercer has worked with her father for years to fund and support a complicated web of foundations and companies designed in part to sow distrust of big government. The Mercers invested in data company Cambridge Analytica, the firm that spurred a long-running scandal over misuse of Facebook data. They also invested heavily in right-wing site Breitbart News and were instrumental in connecting its former CEO, Stephen K. Bannon, with Donald Trump, for whom he served in a senior adviser role until mid-2017.
Rebekah Mercer was an early investor in Parler, which was founded in 2018. Co-founder Matze approached her at the time with an idea for a social media network that would take an aggressively open-Web position, asserting that people should be able to express their own views without fear of moderation from tech bureaucracies. Mercer had met Matze when he was working in IT consulting for one of her father’s ventures, Matze told Axios earlier this month.
She was fairly hands-off for the first two years of the company as it slowly established itself, the people familiar with Parler said. She dropped in only for occasional check-ins to get status updates and provide more financial capital if she deemed it was warranted. That changed last fall as Parler rapidly gained popularity and the election approached. Mercer, who also set up the board’s governing documents through lawyers, started asserting more board accountability and playing a larger role in company leadership.
Observers of the Mercer family say her interest in Parler coincides with the family’s efforts to erect an alternative media system that aligns with their political views.
“She wants to influence the public narrative,” said Mobashra Tazamal, a senior research fellow at the Bridge Initiative at Georgetown University, who has studied the Mercers for years. “She doesn’t just give money, she is involved in every entity she invests in.”
Mercer and her father have heavily invested money in populist and conservative media efforts, such as the Media Research Center, which works on “neutralizing leftist bias in the news media and popular culture,” according to its website, and the Government Accountability Institute, a conservative think tank co-founded by Bannon.
Though she has served on the boards of many organizations, Mercer typically prefers to take a background role. Her connections have historically been tough to trace because she rarely announces her investments. She only confirmed her funding of Parler on the site last fall after media reports emerged that she was involved. At the time, she positioned herself as a founder of the company.
Old Trump coverup comes to light at last, or at least is confirmed.
We may need a new thread for the many ongoing investigations INTO Trump.
Trump’s tax returns and related records spanning from January 2011 to August 2019 have been turned over to Manhattan district attorney Cy Vance just hours after the US Supreme Court denied Trump’s last-ditch effort to keep the records private
It’s funny how swiftly this happens when the Supreme Court rules against him and Trump doesn’t have the Department of Justice and IRS in his pocket to protect him any longer.
Another wrinkle on the Russian involvement & Manafort’s relation with it…Peter Strzok, ex FBI guy that Trump basically got fired, is noting this.
Alongside the Jamal Khashoggi info:
The White House also announced sanctions on entities implicated in the murder, though not on MBS directly. Officials also announced a new “Khashoggi ban” under which individuals accused of harassing journalists or dissidents outside their borders can be barred from entering the U.S.
Here’s what was being asked by someone at the CPAC event reported by an NBC fact checker.
Despite Trump winning in a straw poll at CPAC (with 55% of the votes), only 68% of the GOP present want Trump to run again. Trump Wins CPAC Straw Poll, but Only 68 Percent Want Him to Run Again - The New York Times. Interesting how 13% who want him to run again did not vote for him. Coming in second in the straw poll was Ron DeSantis with 21%. Mike Pence who did not attend CPAC received only 1% of the votes.
Oh look. The Trump regime secretly stole $10 BILLION from a fund meant to help hospitals and health care providers affected by Covid-19 and used the money to bankroll Operation Warp Speed contracts.
Under Trump, Bill Barr brought back the horrifically brutal spectacle of firing squad executions.
Now South Carolina, where total Trump toadie Lindsey Graham dwells, has also.
Apparently the “good ol’ days” the GOP embraces are full of death & fear.
Inspector General’s Report Cites Elaine Chao for Misuse of Office
The report said the Justice Department declined to investigate her promotion of her family’s shipbuilding business while serving as transportation secretary in the Trump administration.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise; ALL of his cabinet picks were corrupt. We just failed to hear about this because she’s Mitch McConnell’s wife.
I remember talk of Weisselberg potentially flipping early on. This should be interesting.
Why are QAnon believers obsessed with 4 March?
Before the 20th amendment of the US Constitution - adopted in 1933 - moved the swearing-in dates of the president and Congress to January, American leaders took office on 4 March.
QAnonsense conspiracy theorists believe that no American president has been officially inaugurated since Ulysses S. Grant in 1869 & a law was passed in 1871 secretly turned the U.S. into a corporation, making all presidents after Grant illegitimate.
The notion has its roots in the “sovereign citizen” movement, a separate, overlapping, & often violent group that claims that the federal government is illegitimate, sovereign citizens shouldn’t have to pay taxes, & sheriffs represent the highest legal power in every county.
Sovereign citizens have been behind a growing trend of ambushing law enforcement officers, particularly in rural communities.
Some diehard followers have also believed as recently as a month ago that Trump is still secretly in power and has been undertaking executions at the White House, and that a large wave of them will come on the 5th.
The alleged “evidence” is a doctored image that merges together photos of the security fencing around the executive mansion, what appears to be stands built for the inauguration parade, & an image that shows public executions in Kuwait in 2013.
While Capitol police and the FBI are warning of a threat Thursday, dire enough that the House has canceled it session, analysis of QAnon followers finds many dejected and losing motivation.
PS: I forgot to mention the best detail of the “corporation” conspiracy theory: it states that the U.S. became a private business venture owned by bankers… most notably the City of London.
That’s right. They think LONDON owns us all.
An FBI report comes out to confirm how worried Pentagon officials and others are worried about the infiltration of white supremacists into military, law enforcement…and what kind of havoc that presents for this country.
In some cases, they wanted to join the military or police so they would be able to commit acts of violence toward members of minority groups.
In others, they planned to join the military or police to learn how to wage war against members of those minority groups.
Based on investigations between 2016 and 2020, agents and analysts with the FBI’s division in San Antonio concluded that white supremacists and other right-wing extremists would “very likely seek affiliation with military and law enforcement entities in furtherance of” their ideologies, according to a confidential intelligence assessment issued late last month.
The document, obtained by ABC News, was distributed to law enforcement agencies both in Texas and elsewhere in the country. It focuses on extremists inspired by the white-supremacist publication “Siege,” which served as motivation for the neo-Nazi group known as “Atomwaffen Division,” among others. The report is titled “Siege-Inspired Actors Very Likely Seek Military and Law Enforcement Affiliation, Increasing Risk of Tradecraft Proliferation and Color of Law Offenses in the FBI San Antonio Area of Responsibility.”
Conclusions in the assessment were based on information from records and informants, some of whom had “excellent access,” the FBI authors wrote in the Feb. 25 document.
“In the long term, FBI San Antonio assesses [racially motivated violent extremists] successfully entering military and law enforcement careers almost certainly will gain access to non-public tradecraft and information, enabling them to enhance operational security and develop new tactics in and beyond the FBI San Antonio” region, the document said.
FBI spokesperson Katherine Gulotta said that “FBI field offices routinely share information with their local law enforcement partners to assist in protecting the communities they serve.” She did not specifically address the content of the report.
Critics say the document once again shows the nation’s top law enforcement agency has been slow to deal with the problem of white-supremacist infiltration of police and the military, even as FBI agents watched evidence mounting.
“When we asked the FBI last year to testify about white supremacists executing plans to infiltrate law enforcement entities across America, the bureau refused and told us it had no evidence that racist infiltration was a problem,” Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) said in a statement. “Now, the January insurrection – and the growing evidence of off-duty law enforcement officers being involved in the attack on Congress – and this newly leaked report confirm in my mind that the FBI’s failure to level with the American people about organized racist infiltration of law enforcement is having dangerous and deadly consequences.”
Raskin, the chairman of the House Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Subcommittee, led a hearing last year on white supremacy and the federal government’s response to the problem. He also released a report detailing FBI warnings about the way white supremacists infiltrate law enforcement, and said the bureau was reluctant to deal with the problem during the Trump administration.
“We are continuing to press the FBI for information about how it plans to counteract the contagion of white supremacist infiltration of law enforcement bodies,” Raskin said after learning of the newly released report. “The FBI must answer specifically for what it is doing to combat white supremacist infiltration of law enforcement. It must work to root out officers who seek state power to terrorize our communities under color of law.”
Addressing the issue of violent extremism, FBI Director Christopher Wray told lawmakers last week that the bureau has been “sounding the alarm” about the rising domestic terror threat for “a number of years now.”
Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Wray said that there are currently 2,000 domestic terrorism investigations, up from almost 1,000 when he first started in 2017.
“Whenever we’ve had the chance we’ve tried to emphasize that this is a top concern and remained so for the FBI,” Wray said. “The FBI will not tolerate agitators and extremists who plan or committed violence. Period. And that goes for violent extremists, of any stripe.”
The authors of the Feb. 25 report wrote that their assessment is “based on evidence [extremists] expressed a desire to join the military and law enforcement primarily to obtain tradecraft to prepare for and initiate a collapse of society, specifically by engaging in violence against the US government and specified racial and ethnic groups. Online peers encouraged them to seek these careers and [extremists] built relationships with associates seeking military employment, focusing on the associates’ current and future martial skills.”
In addition, the report says extremists are “likely to seek to exploit familial and social connections when pursuing military and law enforcement employment, reducing obstacles and increasing opportunities … to acquire tradecraft.”
Since the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, lawmakers and officials have increasingly focused on the issue of white supremacy and other types of violent extremism in the military and law enforcement. According to research by news organizations including The New York Times, at least 30 people with law enforcement training have been tied to the events of the insurrection, which left five dead, including a Capitol Hill police officer.
The Pentagon is so concerned about right-wing extremism and white supremacy in the ranks that the entire military has been ordered to do a one-day “stand down” to address the problem.
“This is behavior that can really tear at the fabric of our institution,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told ABC News’ Martha Raddatz Sunday on This Week. “And so we want to make sure that our troops are reminded of what our values are, reminded of the oath that we took coming in.”
Lordy, there are tapes.
Channel 2 Action News has obtained a copy of a new phone call between former President Donald Trump and a lead investigator at the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office.
The call gives a new look at the outside pressure that Georgia investigators faced while investigating allegations of election fraud in 2020.
Channel 2 investigator reporter Mark Winne spoke exclusively with Frances Watson, the chief investigator for the Georgia’s Secretary of State’s Office.
The call between Watson and Trump took place on Dec. 23, one week before the now-famous phone call between Trump, Raffensperger, his attorney Ryan Germany and White House senior staff members.
“It is something that is not expected, and as I mentioned in the call, I was shocked that he would take the time to do that,” she said.
In the call recording, Trump mentions other states in the South where he defeated President Joe Biden, including Florida and Alabama and questions how he didn’t win Georgia. He also urges investigators to check signatures on ballots going back several years to verify their accuracy.
“If you go back two years or four years, you’ll see it’s a totally different signature. But, but hopefully, you know, I will, when the right answer comes down, you’ll be praised,” Trump said.
“You know, you have the most important job in the country right now. Because if we win Georgia, first of all if we win you’re gonna have two wins. They’re not gonna win right now, you know they’re down,” Trump said.
Watson said her call from Trump came after a conversation with his chief of staff Mark Meadows about the signature audit her team and the GBI were conducting in Cobb County.
“Even prior to the audit, we were working extremely long days. And during the audit, we had a team of over 50 that were working again 12-16 hour days, trying to complete the audit,” Watson said.
The investigation found there were only two mismatched signatures among the more than 15,000 votes in the audit.
Watson told Winne that she did not perceive any pressure from the president’s call and the phone call has not been requested from any investigative agency.
“You won’t be surprised if that happens after today?” Winne asked.
“No, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was requested and I wouldn’t mind sharing it,” Watson replied.
RAW VIDEO: President Trump’s call to Georgia Secretary of State investigator about signature audit
This is not the first phone call that the former president made to Georgia election officials and investigators.
Channel 2 Action News previously reported on another phone call that lasted more than an hour on Jan. 2 between Trump, Raffensperger, his attorney Ryan Germany and White House senior staff members.
During the call, Trump asked Raffensperger to “find” him 11,000 more votes and to overturn his defeat in the state.
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis opened an investigation into the phone call. Willis said she will look at all the evidence before making a decision about whether to file charges against Trump, and what those charges would be.