Trump and His Allies Are “A Clear and Present Danger to American Democracy”

This post originally appeared at Common Dreams on June 22, 2022.

Every responsible media representative should have been amplifying Luttig’s stark message, not deducting points based on performance.

On Thursday, June 16, a conservative icon issued an ominous warning about the most influential Republican in the country. Former federal appellate judge J. Michael Luttig concluded his testimony before the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol with these words:

“Today, almost two years after that fateful day in January of 2021, still Donald Trump and his law allies and supporters are a clear and present danger to American democracy.”

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Russia’s “Victory Day” and the Trump-Putin Alliance Against Ukraine

This post originally appeared at Common Dreams on May 5, 2022.

Putin fell just one U.S. presidential election short of swift and complete success in Ukraine.

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Vladimir Putin planned to conquer Ukraine by May 9—Russia’s annual “Victory Day” celebrating the defeat of Nazi Germany. Instead, he failed miserably and is a global pariah. NATO and U.S. support for Ukraine made all the difference.

But consider this: Putin fell just one U.S. presidential election short of swift and complete success in Ukraine. Prior to the 2020 election, then-President Donald Trump told aides that he planned to withdraw the U.S. from NATO in his second term. And as recently as April 21, 2022, Trump boasted that, as President, he threatened our NATO allies, saying that he would not defend them against a Russian attack.

The Trump-Putin alliance was always hiding in plain sight. But Putin’s war on Ukraine has made many of the dots easier to connect.

Putin’s Motive, Means, and Opportunity

Addressing his nation in 2005, Putin called the collapse of the Soviet Union “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century.” Restoring it required the conquest of Ukraine, but he needed help to accomplish that mission.

Enter Donald Trump.

The entire U.S. intelligence community, special counsel Robert Mueller, and the bipartisan report of the Senate Intelligence Committee concluded that Russia interfered with the 2016 election to help Trump win. Launched in February 2017, the Trump-Russia Timeline at BillMoyers.com documented Putin’s efforts, as well as Trump’s presidential actions rewarding Russia’s dictator. When last updated in early 2021, the Timeline had over 2,000 entries. More than 600 relate to Ukraine.

Here’s a sample:

Paul Manafort

In 2007, Paul Manafort worked as a paid consultant for Ukraine’s pro-Putin dictator. By March 2016, the dictator had been deposed and Manafort was broke. Although deeply in debt, Manafort went to work without pay on the Trump campaign. By May, he was its chairman.

Hmmmm….

Summer 2016: Manafort began pushing the Kremlin lie that Ukraine was responsible for hacking Democratic National Committee computers. For the next four years, that lie became a pervasive Trump talking point. 

July 2016: Working behind the scenes, Trump’s campaign weakened a Republican Party platform plank that would have armed the Ukrainian popular resistance with weapons to combat Russia’s ongoing attacks in Crimea. After Manafort’s repeated denials, another Trump adviser eventually admitted that Trump himself had insisted on the change.

Later that month, Boris Epshteyn, a Russian-born Trump adviser, spouted Kremlin propaganda about the illegal seizure of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in 2014, telling CNN: “Russia did not seize Crimea. We can talk about the conflict that happened between Ukraine and the Crimea… But there was no seizure by Russia. That’s an incorrect statement, characterization, of what happened.” (Epshteyn is now part of the Trump team urging states to “decertify” the 2020 election of President Biden, which is a legal impossibility.)

August 2016: Manafort met in Manhattan with his Kyiv-based business associate, Konstantin Kilimnik, who had just flown in from Ukraine. Kilimnik was a Russian-Ukrainian dual citizen and former Soviet military officer with ties to Russian intelligence. He and Manafort discussed a so-called “peace plan” for Ukraine that was actually a “backdoor” for Russia’s permanent control of eastern Ukraine.

Trump Won!

November 2016: A few days before the U.S. presidential election, the pro-Kremlin leader of the nationalist Liberal Democratic Party of Russia proclaimed that if Trump won, “Russia would ‘drink champagne’ in anticipation of being able to advance its positions on Syria and Ukraine.” 

November 9, 2016: When Russia’s Parliament learned of Trump’s election, it erupted in applause.

January 2017: At the Manhattan Loews Regency Hotel on Park Avenue, Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, met with Trump’s business associate, Felix Sater, and Andrey Artemenko, a pro-Putin lawmaker from Ukraine. Artemenko and Sater gave Cohen a supposed “peace plan” for Ukraine.

July 2017: Trump met with Putin in Helsinki. Over the next several months, Trump promoted Putin’s lie, telling aides on several occasions that Ukraine had interfered in the 2016 election to help Hillary Clinton. At one point, Trump told a senior aide that he knew Ukraine was the real culprit because “Putin told me.”

Trump Extorted Ukraine

April 2019: After Volodymyr Zelensky became Ukraine’s president with an overwhelming 73 percent of the popular vote, Putin simplified the process for residents of eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region to obtain a Russian passport. Meanwhile, Trump promoted the Russian lie that Ukraine had interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

June 2019: Trump ordered a hold on distributing $250 million in military aid that Congress had authorized to help Ukraine defend itself against Russia’s ongoing attacks.

July 25, 2019: “I would like you to do us a favor though…” Trump said to Zelensky in their now-infamous phone call. He was holding U.S. military aid hostage to demands that Zelensky: 1) promote Putin’s lie that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election; and 2) smear Trump’s likely opponent in the 2020 election, Joseph Biden.

September 2019: During a joint appearance on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly meeting, Trump urged Zelensky to “get together” with Putin and “solve your problem.”

The Putin-Trump Lie Persisted

November 20, 2019: As Republicans on the House Impeachment Committee and throughout Capitol Hill defended Trump’s extortion of Zelensky by pushing Russia’s lie that Ukraine had interfered in the 2016 election, Putin told an economic conference in Moscow: “Thank God, no one is accusing us of interfering in the U.S. elections anymore; now they’re accusing Ukraine.”

November 21, 2019: Fiona Hill, a former member of the National Security Council and a leading authority on Russia and Putin, testified before the House Impeachment Committee: 

“Based on questions and statements I have heard, some of you on this committee appear to believe that Russia and its security services did not conduct a campaign against our country — and that perhaps, somehow, for some reason, Ukraine did. This is a fictional narrative that has been perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves.

“The unfortunate truth is that Russia was the foreign power that systematically attacked our democratic institutions in 2016. This is the public conclusion of our intelligence agencies, confirmed in bipartisan Congressional reports. It is beyond dispute….” 

But Hill’s admonition didn’t stop Trump and his allies from continuing to push Putin’s lie.

November 22, 2019: On Fox & Friends, Trump repeated Putin’s lie, saying, “[A] lot of it had to do, they say, with Ukraine.”

November 24-December 1, 2019: Appearing on Fox News Sunday, Sen. John N. Kennedy (R-LA) said he didn’t know if Ukraine or Russia was responsible for hacking the DNC server and Clinton campaign emails. Appearing on “Meet the Press” a week later, Kennedy said falsely, “I think both Russia and Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election. I think it’s been well documented.”

December 2, 2019: Politico reported that the Republican-controlled Senate Intelligence Committee investigated and found no evidence to support claims that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

December 9, 2019: “We have no information that indicates that Ukraine interfered with the 2016 presidential election,” FBI Director Christopher Wray told ABC News.

Trump Remains Loyal to Putin

Trump’s initial take on Russia’s 2022 invasion was to call Putin “savvy” and a “genius.” He has showered endless praise on the Russian dictator, never uttering an unkind word about him. Russia’s state-controlled media has replayed all of it.

President Biden and a united NATO deprived Putin of the “Victory Day” celebration that he desired this year. But Putin isn’t finished – with Ukraine, Trump, or American democracy. Recently, U.S. intelligence agencies assessed that Putin may increase his efforts to interfere with upcoming U.S. elections.

Compared to the obstacles that Putin encountered in Ukraine, undermining American democracy is his path of least resistance to a momentous Russian “Victory Day” down the road. As Trump and his Republican allies suppress voting, place Trump’s minions in critical state positions that could influence election outcomes, and push bogus post-election audits that destroy voter confidence, they have become Putin’s accomplices.

The Ongoing GOP Attack on Democracy

This post originally appeared at Common Dreams on April 25, 2022.

On March 28, 2022, a federal judge found that former President Donald Trump and attorney John Eastman engaged in “a coup in search of a legal theory.” The court concluded that, more likely than not, their efforts to overturn the presidential election were federal crimes.

The coup continues.

Trump lost by more than seven million votes, but his false claim that Democrats stole the election from him isn’t just about 2020 anymore. It’s about conditioning GOP voters for the ultimate Trump loyalty test: rejecting future elections that Trump or his designees lose. Sowing distrust in the system, Trump and his allies are proceeding state by state, one voter at a time.

“Look at Wisconsin”

On the eve of Wisconsin’s annual Republican convention in June 2021, Trump issued a statement filled with his standard “pants-on-fire” lies. Although he lost all recounts and legal challenges seeking to reverse his 2020 loss, Trump threatened the state’s GOP leaders with political annihilation if they didn’t spread his Big Lie by pursuing an unwarranted post-election “audit” of Wisconsin votes.

Trump scared them into submission. The next day, State Assembly Speaker Robin Vos announced to the convention that he had appointed retired Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman to oversee an investigation into the 2020 presidential election. On January 9, 2022, Vos told an interviewer that he talked to Trump periodically about the investigation “just to keep him up-to-date to make sure he understands what’s happening but to know we are doing our very best.”

Two days later, when NPR’s Steve Inskeep confronted Trump about his persistent Big Lie, Trump denied, dissembled, and deflected: “Take a look at what’s going on in Wisconsin. You just take a look.”

Ok, let’s take a look.

Michael Gableman

Hours after news networks had called the election in favor of Joseph Biden on November 7, 2020, Gableman attended a pro-Trump rally in Milwaukee.

“I don’t think anyone would be here if we all had confidence that this was an honest election,” he said.

Addressing the crowd and lacking any evidence to support his claim, Gableman declared, “Our elected leaders — your elected leaders — have allowed unelected bureaucrats at the Wisconsin Elections Commission to steal our vote.”

Gableman’s GOP ties run deep. He’s a former chair of his local county Republican Party. He relied on GOP support to win a state supreme court seat in 2008. And he’s an avid Trump fan.

Immediately after Speaker Vos announced Gableman’s appointment to head the 2020 election investigation, Gableman told the GOP convention audience, “I’m glad to be here — glad to see so many friends.”

On March 1, 2022, Gableman presented his report to the Wisconsin Assembly’s election committee. It included bogus claims and false conspiracy theories, some from a pro-Trump website that has for years trafficked in misinformation.

But Gableman’s most dangerous ideas were legislative recommendations that would transfer electoral power to partisan political hacks. They included moving oversight from the bipartisan Wisconsin Election Commission to “a politically accountable body,” taking “a very hard look at the option of decertification of the 2020 Wisconsin presidential election” (which is a legal impossibility), and establishing on the floor of the Wisconsin Assembly or Senate yet another post-election forum in which a losing candidate could air false claims of fraud in an effort to overturn the popular vote after exhausting all legal challenges.

Ominously, Gableman added, “This is just the beginning of the investigation.” The Republican-led legislature gave him a $676,000 taxpayer-funded budget and extended his probe to the end of April.

Trump promptly seized on Gableman’s dubious testimony and bogus conclusions, falsely labeling Wisconsin’s 2020 election corrupt. Two weeks later, John Eastman was taking his “coup in search of a legal theory” to Wisconsin, where he pressured Vos to nullify the 2020 election and reclaim the electors awarded to Biden.

The Assembly’s Republican majority leader, Jim Steineke, isn’t seeking re-election, so he was having none of it, declaring:

“I have ten months remaining in my last term. In my remaining time, I can guarantee that I will not be part of any effort, and will do everything possible to stop any effort, to put politicians in charge of deciding who wins or loses elections…

“In a world where partisan divides are deep & seemingly anything can be justified as long as it results in retaining power, handing authority to partisan politicians to determine if election fraud exists would be the end of our republic as we know it.”

Ron Johnson

Trump and Gableman have an important Wisconsin ally, U.S. Senator Ron Johnson. In April 2021, nine months beforeJohnson had even decided to seek reelection, Trump endorsed him to run again. The reasons are self-evident

On December 16, 2020, the courts had uniformly rejected Trump’s election fraud claims. But as then-chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, Johnson convened a hearing that amplified Trump’s lies. Likewise, in February 2021, Johnson repeated the false claim that “fake Trump supporters” caused the violence at the U.S. Capitol on January 6. And in May, he said, “By and large, it was peaceful protest.”

But at a GOP event in August when Johnson thought that he was speaking to a fellow Republican, he admitted, “I think it’s probably true that Biden got maybe seven million more popular votes. That’s the electoral reality. So to just say for sure that this was a stolen election, I don’t agree with that.”

Knowing that Trump lost the popular vote in Wisconsin, Johnson echoes Gableman’s recommendation that the Republican-controlled legislature replace the state’s bipartisan Election Commission in overseeing federal elections. Johnson said that Gableman’s report “raises severe issues regarding the 2020 election that need to be taken seriously. The goal of our efforts moving forward is to restore confidence in our election system.”

Other than Trump himself, few people in Wisconsin have done more to undermine voter confidence in the nation’s election system than Michael Gableman and Ron Johnson. Along with Trump allies throughout the country, they’re succeeding. According to a recent Marquette University Law School poll, three-fourths of Republicans nationwide are “not confident that the votes were accurately cast and counted in the 2020 presidential election.”

Danger Ahead

The long-term consequences of the Big Lie and its spawn are far more profound than specious cries to “decertify” the 2020 election.

“If everybody always lies to you, the consequence is not that you believe the lies, but rather that nobody believes anything any longer,” Hannah Arendt said in a 1974 interview. Arendt was a German-American philosopher who studied the origins of totalitarianism and wrote Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil, which was an attempt to explain how ordinary people became participants in evil totalitarian systems.

Arendt continued: “And with such a people you can then do what you please.”

November 2022: The Anti-Democracy Coalition

This post originally appeared at Common Dreams on April 15, 2022.

In former President Donald Trump’s ongoing effort to dismantle democracy, his people gave Jim Marchant an important assignment. Marchant embraced it.

The Big Lie, QAnon, and a Coalition

Marchant’s mission began shortly after the November 2020 election, when he lost his bid to become a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Nevada.

“I got a suite in the Venetian hotel across the hall from the Trump attorneys and the Trump people that came in to start investigating the election fraud here in Nevada,” Marchant later told a QAnon audience at its October 2021 convention in Las Vegas. “And guess who showed up at my suite? Juan O Savin.”

Savin is the alias for an anonymous QAnon influencer and author. Some followers believe he is John F. Kennedy, Jr. in disguise. QAnon’s bizarre conspiracy theories include its core falsehood that a group of Satan-worshiping elites who run a child sex ring are trying to control American politics and media. No longer on the far-right political fringe, QAnon followers now comprise 25 percent of Republicans.

“For the next three to five months, we worked on trying to expose the election, the fraudulent election here in Nevada and everywhere, actually,” Marchant continued, failing to mention that they failed to find fraud anywhere.

He went on to describe his new task, saying, “We need to take back the secretaries of state offices around the country. So not only did they ask me to run, they asked me to put together a coalition… I can’t stress enough how important the secretary of state offices are. I think they are the most important elections in our country in 2022. And why is that? We control the election system. In 2022, we’re going to take back our country.”

In most states, the secretary of state administers all elections and certifies outcomes used to determine electoral votes in presidential contests. Marchant’s coalition is working “behind the scenes to try to fix 2020 like President Trump said.”

“We have the original Rachel Hamm in California, Kristina Karamo in Michigan, Jody Hice in Georgia, Mark Finchem in Arizona,” Marchant said in a January 2022 interview, identifying the members of his coalition. Trump has endorsed Karamo, Hice, and Finchem. Hice has denied that he was “part of a coalition” but is among the handful of candidates profiled on the “America First Secretary of State Coalition” website.

Marchant also claimed that others from Minnesota and Wisconsin would be joining. Currently, the coalition website also includes candidates from Colorado, Idaho, and New Mexico. 

“Like-Minded” in Undermining Democracy

Marchant describes his group as a “coalition of like-minded secretary of state candidates” across the country. It promotes the Big Lie that Trump won the 2020 election. It supports voter suppression efforts. And without any evidence supporting its claims of widespread fraud, it is systematically undermining voter confidence in America’s elections.

“Your vote hasn’t counted for decades,” Marchant told the audience during a February 2022 debate with his GOP rivals for the secretary of state nomination. “You haven’t elected anybody. The people that are in office have been selected. You haven’t had a choice.”

Marchant relies an absurd antisemitic conspiracy theory to support the baseless claim. He asserts that powerful Jewish Democrats plotted for 20 years to defeat Republican presidential candidates by electing progressive secretaries of state to control election outcomes in key swing states. And he says that Trump’s loss in 2020 was “the direct result of that plan.”

He points to George Soros – a Holocaust survivor who emigrated to the U.S. from Hungary in 1956 – and the late former Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) – a Mormon who married a Jew – as key players in his fantasy. His views would be laughable if they weren’t so dangerous.

The Cancer Spreads

Besides Marchant, other members of the coalition spoke at the QAnon convention last October. Michigan’s Kristina Karamo told the audience:

“First, I want to thank Jim Marchant for putting the coalition together. We owe him so much because you know, when I first asked to be a part of the coalition, and we came here today and we sat in a room and we met and we talked, all of us on the coalition together, and we realized how well coordinated, how nefarious this agenda was to undermine the will of the American people.”

Arizona’s Mark Finchem and California’s Rachel Hamm participated in a panel discussion during which Marchant outlined some of the coalition’s priorities for their candidates who win in November. They include advocating voter ID laws, limiting voting to a single day, discontinuing the use of mail-in ballots, and “cleaning up” voter rolls.

According to an NPR analysis in February 2022, “[A]t least 20 Republican candidates running [for secretary of state] question the legitimacy of President Biden’s 2020 win, even though no evidence of widespread fraud has been uncovered about the race over the last 14 months. In fact, claims of any sort of fraud that swung the election have been explicitly refuted in state after state, including those run by Republicans.”

If you live in any of the following states, a “2020 election denier” is seeking to become your next secretary of state: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, Washington, and Wisconsin.

In Pennsylvania, the governor selects the secretary of state, and the two front-runners for the Republican nomination are promoting Trump’s Big Lie too. Marchant has said that one of them, Doug Mastriano, is a member of his coalition. His profile is on the coalition’s website.

Historically, midterm elections don’t attract much voter interest. If such lethargy prevails this time, the outcome of a few key contests for secretary of state in November 2022 could lead to tragic consequences for American democracy in 2024 and beyond.

Now is the time to pick a side.

State Candidates and the Trump “Ticket” – He Said the Quiet Part Out Loud Again

This post originally appeared at Common Dreams on April 5, 2022:

As he plants the seeds of democracy’s destruction, former President Donald Trump is open and notorious about his plan. Most recently, at an April 2 rally in Washington Township, Michigan, he exhorted the crowd to ask each candidate at the state’s upcoming Republican convention “if they will support the Trump ticket.” 

“If they won’t give you that assurance,” he continued, “don’t give them your vote.”

[Read More]

Ginni Thomas’s Texts: A “Coup in Search of a Legal Theory,” and Judicial Malfeasance

This post originally appeared at Common Dreams on March 30, 2022:

The 29 publicly available text exchanges between Ginni Thomas and then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows that begin on November 5, 2020, are stunning.

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U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has written that he and his wife, Virginia (“Ginni”), are “one being—an amalgam.” Repeatedly, he has called her his “best friend.” Immediately after President Donald Trump lost the November 2020 election, Ginni Thomas joined the effort to overturn it. Since then, her husband has been hearing cases arising from the January 6 insurrection.

The Gap

The 29 publicly available text exchanges between Ginni Thomas and then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows that begin on November 5, 2020, are stunning, but what’s missing may be more important: a 46-day gap – no texts between November 24, 2020, and January 10, 2021.

What happened during that period?

According to U.S. District Court Judge David Carter, the answer is that Trump and law professor John Eastman “launched a campaign to overturn a democratic election, an action unprecedented in American history.” The judge called it “a coup in search of a legal theory,” which “spurred violent attacks on the seat of our nation’s government, led to the deaths of several law enforcement officers, and deepened public distrust in our political process.”

The court found it more likely than not that Trump and Eastman had committed serious crimes against the United States: “If Dr. Eastman and President Trump’s plan had worked, it would have permanently ended the peaceful transition of power, undermining American democracy and the Constitution.”

John Eastman is a former law clerk for Justice Thomas and a close friend of the Thomas family.

Texts We’ve Seen (So Far)

Between November 5, 2020, and January 10, 2021, Ginni Thomas sent Meadows 21 texts that are now publicly available. Meadows sent her eight. Here are a few highlights:

November 6: “Do not concede. It takes time for the army who is gathering for his back [sic].”

November 10: “Help This Greatest President stand firm, Mark!… You are the leader, with him, who is standing for America’s constitutional governance at the precipice. The majority knows Biden and the Left is attempting the greatest Heist of our History.”

November 13: “Sidney Powell & improved coordination now will help the cavalry come and Fraud exposed and America saved.” (Sidney Powell was Mike Flynn’s attorney and a conspiracy theorist pursuing Trump’s bogus voter fraud claims throughout the country. None succeeded.)

November 19: “Sounds like Sidney and her team are getting inundated with evidence of fraud. Make a plan. Release the Kraken and save us from the left taking America down… You guys fold, the evil just moves fast down underneath you all.” (After the election, the far right used “Release the Kraken” as a catchphrase. It referred to the exposure of a massive voter fraud conspiracy that would have the force of a “Kraken” – a mythical giant sea monster.)

November 24: “If you all cave to the elites, you have to know that many of your 73 million feel like what Glenn [Beck] is expressing…”

When Meadows asked what Thomas meant, she answered, “I can’t see Americans swallowing the obvious fraud. Just going with one more thing with no frickin consequences… the whole coup and now this… we just cave to people wanting Biden to be anointed? Many of us can’t continue the GOP charade.”

Describing the effort to overturn the election, Meadows invoked God: “This is a fight of good versus evil. Evil always looks like the victor until the King of Kings triumphs. Do not grow weary in well doing. The fight continues. I have staked my career on it. Well at least my time in DC on it.”

Thomas responded, “Thank you!! Needed that! This plus a conversation with my best friend just now… I will try to keep holding on. America is worth it!”

Then comes the gap.

Nefarious Deeds During the Gap

Ginni Thomas is a board member of CNP Action – an offshoot of a secretive but influential conservative group called the Council for National Policy. After the election, it urged members to pressure Republican lawmakers in swing states to challenge the results and appoint alternate slates of electors: “Demand that they not abandon their Constitutional responsibilities during a time such as this.”

In a memo shortly after Christmas, John Eastman outlined a planned coup relying on those alternate slates of phony electors. Eastman and Trump pressured Vice President Mike Pence to execute it on January 6, when Congress met in joint session to confirm Joseph Biden’s victory. It’s no surprise that Ginni Thomas attended Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally, which sought to intensify that pressure.

Nor is it a surprise that the House committee investigating the January 6 attack now wants to interview her. Recently, Thomas claimed that she “played no role with those who were planning and leading the Jan. 6 events.” But 10 days later, that denial became dubious with the disclosure of her text exchanges with Meadows, who was deeply involved in planning the protests.

Likewise, immediately after the attack on the U.S. Capitol, the CNP circulated a memo from one of its members, outlining a public relations strategy for reframing the violent insurrection: “Drive the narrative that it was mostly peaceful protests… Amplify the concerns of the protesters and give them legitimacy.”

Which takes us to the only available post-gap text from Ginni Thomas to Mark Meadows. She excoriated Pence, who foiled the January 6 coup:

January 10, 2021: “We are living through what feels like the end of America,” she wrote. “Most of us are disgusted with the VP and are in listening mode to see where to fight with our teams. Those who attacked the Capitol are not representative of our great teams of patriots for DJT!! Amazing times. The end of Liberty.”

Justice Thomas’s Rulings on the Failed Coup

On January 19, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Trump’s request to block the release of White House records to the House committee investigating the insurrection. Only one justice dissented: Clarence Thomas. It wasn’t the first time that he sided with Trump allies in a case involving the 2020 presidential election and its aftermath.

All federal judges, including U.S. Supreme Court justices, are subject to federal law requiring disqualification “in any proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned.” The requirement specifically includes cases in which a spouse has an “interest” in the outcome.

But for Supreme Court justices, there’s no enforcement mechanism. It’s up to the individual discretion of the justice in question. Also unlike all other judges, Supreme Court justices have no binding code of professional ethics.

Cases relating to Trump’s failed coup will continue making their way to the nation’s highest court. If Justice Thomas greets them as he has – with callous disregard for his obligation to recuse himself – remember that his “best friend” will be lurking nearby.

And public confidence in the U.S. Supreme Court will take another hit.

QAnon Arrives in the U.S. Senate

This post originally appeared at Common Dreams on March 25, 2022:

Senators Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley are Republican presidential prospects for 2024, and the pedophilia theme panders to an increasingly large GOP constituency: QAnon followers.

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Specious claims of soft sentences in child pornography cases were an unlikely theme for Republicans to pursue in a confirmation hearing on a U.S. Supreme Court nominee. Fact checkers had thoroughly debunked the claims. Thoughtful conservatives tried and failed to head them off.

“The allegation appears meritless to the point of demagoguery,” Andrew McCarthy wrote in the conservative publication National Review on March 20, 2022.

McCarthy was referring to Sen. Josh Hawley’s (R-MO) false claim on Twitter that, as a district court judge, U.S. Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson had an “alarming pattern… of letting child porn offenders off the hook for their appalling crimes, both as a judge and as a policymaker.” Likewise before the hearing, the Washington Post dismantled Hawley’s claims, awarding him “Three Pinocchios.” 

None of that mattered to Hawley or his equally dogged ally of the moment, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). Over and over again, they returned to the subject. Media coverage of the meritless claims missed a key point: Both men knew better.

So why did they do it?

Preoccupation with Pedophiles

Cruz and Hawley focused most of their questions on Judge Jackson’s service on the U.S. Sentencing Commission and her sentences in a handful of child pornography cases. Repeatedly, Judge Jackson explained in detail how she followed the law in imposing sentences appropriate to the factual circumstances of each case. Those sentences put her squarely in the mainstream of all federal judges, regardless of which administration appointed them.

Yet Cruz and Hawley persisted. Facts and truth didn’t matter.

Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley are not stupid. Cruz graduated from Princeton University and was Judge Jackson’s classmate on the prestigious and highly competitive Law Review at Harvard. Hawley graduated from Stanford University and Yale Law School.

So why did they ignore the fact checkers and pretend not to understand Judge Jackson’s complete rebuttal of their suggestions that she is somehow soft on pedophilia?

The QAnon Connection

The answer is that Cruz and Hawley are Republican presidential prospects for 2024, and the pedophilia theme panders to an increasingly large GOP constituency: QAnon followers.

QAnon is an anonymous website that became an internet sensation in 2017. One of its core beliefs is that a group of Satan-worshiping elites run a child sex ring and are trying to control U.S. politics and media. Another foundational tenet is that a storm is coming to sweep away those elites and restore the rightful leader of the country (whom some believe to be former President Donald Trump). They also believe that things are so off track that true American patriots may have to resort to violence in order to save the country.

Seventy percent of QAnon adherents believe that the 2020 election was stolen from former President Donald Trump. The infamous “QAnon Shaman” participated in the January 6, 2021 insurrection, for which he was sentenced to 41 months in prison. 

According to a February 2022 Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) analysis, 25 percent of Republicans identify as QAnon believers. That’s more than enough to tip a GOP presidential primary election.

The New York Times noted that “few QAnon followers appeared to take notice of Judge Jackson’s sentencing record before Senator Hawley’s tweets.” But Hawley and Cruz quickly changed that:

“One prominent QAnon message board immediately amplified the Republican allegations with a post on Tuesday afternoon that wildly and baselessly claimed that there was proof in Judge Jackson’s ‘office logs’ that she sympathized with child abusers. On Monday, after Mr. Hawley’s remarks on the hearing’s first day, the same website posted a message with copies of the senator’s tweets about Judge Jackson and the subject heading, ‘Biden’s SCOTUS nominee has got a soft spot for pedophiles.’”

Other Republicans on the committee then ran with the fake pedophilia baton, including Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT). Less than a year ago, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) voted to confirm Judge Jackson to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. This time, he badgered and interrupted her repeatedly with angry outbursts.

“Put their ass in jail…” Graham proclaimed. Which, of course, she did. But truth wasn’t the point. Pandering to QAnon was the point.

Desperation underlies the demagoguery. Going into the hearings, 58 percent of Americans said that Judge Jackson should be confirmed. That level of support was second only to then-Judge John Roberts, who had 59 percent support prior to his confirmation in 2005. And Senate Republicans know that Judge Jackson is well on her way to the 51 votes needed to join him on the Court.

But Hawley, Cruz, Graham, and the other GOP purveyors of misinformation on the Judiciary committee and throughout the party are playing to the 53 percent of Republicans opposed to her confirmation. QAnon followers are among them.

That’s now the party of Lincoln, and it’s frightening.

The Expendable Americans in a Pandemic

This post originally appeared at Common Dreams on March 18, 2022:

On March 14, 2022, seven million Americans and their families became victims again. I’m one of them

For the first time since the COVID pandemic began, Republicans jettisoned Congress’s bipartisan approach of providing “no strings” emergency funds to battle the virus. Instead, the GOP insisted that Democrats find a way to pay for ongoing COVID testing, treatment, and vaccines. Otherwise, Republicans would scuttle the $1.5 trillion omnibus bill funding the entire federal government through September. The bill also included a $42 billion increase in military spending and almost $14 billion in emergency aid for Ukraine.

The COVID funds were a rounding error – a $15.6 billion item, or 1 percent of the omnibus bill.

To assuage Republicans, Democrats pulled $7 billion from state aid allocated in a previous relief package. But pushback from governors and some House Democrats caused Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to remove COVID funding from the bill altogether.

The No. 2 Republican in the Senate, John Thune (R-SD), tried to blame Democrats. “We had a chance to get that last week, and the House progressive wing blew it up,” he said, adding, “They torpedoed it.”

Given the GOP’s new demand that Democrats find a way to pay for this round of the COVID plan, that’s nonsense.

For immunocompromised citizens like me, vaccination offers some protection. But the science is clear: According to a study published in the JAMA Network on Dec. 28, 2021, the vulnerable population is at increased risk of “breakthrough COVID-19 infection that can have severe and even fatal outcomes.” Individuals 65 and over account for 75 percent of all deaths, even though we have the highest COVID vaccination rates. Likewise, across all age ranges, more than seven million American adults live with compromised immune systems that impede vaccine effectiveness. In a recent study, vaccinated immunosuppressed patients accounted for 44 percent of breakthrough hospitalizations. And an even greater percentage – 98 percent – were over 50, which makes me a double-dipper in the COVID pool.

This means that for many of the immunocompromised, treatments are the only way back to a life resembling “normal.” But they are in short supply and, without additional federal funding, will become ever scarcer.

In his State of the Union message, President Biden said, “We’re leaving no one behind or ignoring anyone’s needs as we move forward.” He then outlined his plan for stockpiles of tests, masks, and pills “if Congress provides the funds we need.”

Well, Congress dropped that ball. But the Biden administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) share some of the blame for my current plight. As of last summer, COVID had killed 580,000 Americans, but President Biden said the worst was over. The CDC announced that anyone vaccinated didn’t need to wear a mask indoors or outdoors.

When Delta arrived, infections and hospitalizations soared, but most people remained in an “I’ve moved on – I’m so done with COVID” state of denial. As Omicron engulfed the world and swamped hospitals yet again, that mindset persisted.

America paid the price for its denialism. By January 2022, the country was approaching one million COVID deaths, and the CDC told everyone to wear N95 masks for the best protection against Omicron. A month later, the CDC revised its metrics to focus on hospital admissions rather than infections. Using the new criteria, most of the country went from “high” community transmission levels to “medium” or “low” levels overnight and, suddenly, 70 percent of Americans could remove their masks.

But every day, more than 1,000 Americans are still dying of COVID.

Now rising infection and hospitalization rates in Europe provide troubling signs that another wave may be on the way. As Dr. Eric Topol recently wrote, “That, in itself, requires preparedness. Unfortunately, we have a mindset that the pandemic is over, which couldn’t be further than the truth…”

I now have a new perspective on how handicapped individuals must have felt before the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) became law. My COVID fate remains in the hands of people motivated to look the other way. We’ve become an unwanted footnote in discussions about transitioning the country from pandemic – which is where we still are – to so-called “endemic” – a goal for which we have no real plan. Lip-service about “leaving no one behind” has yielded to social Darwinism making seven million people like me expendable.

The country shouldn’t come to a screeching halt because some of us have compromised immune systems that make COVID especially dangerous. But presenting that as the only alternative to “moving on” – the message that people embrace because they want to hear it – is disingenuous.

Rather than promoting magical thinking, tell Americans the truth: Just because you haven’t contracted severe COVID doesn’t mean that the pandemic is over. Just because you don’t have symptoms doesn’t mean that you can’t transmit the virus to someone who will develop serious complications with tragic consequences.

Rather than sowing doubt about scientific facts, provide funds for testing, treatment, and vaccines – all of which are now in imminent jeopardy. Adopting those public health measures should be characterized as bipartisan victories. They will not only better protect the most vulnerable now, but also help everyone defeat future lethal variants. Helping us – the immunocompromised – helps everyone.

There’s even biblical precedent for doing the right thing:

“Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (Matthew 25: 40)

The War on Democracy is Here

This post originally appeared at Common Dreams on March 14, 2022:

As Ukraine fights for its democratic survival, former President Donald Trump’s war on democracy in America continues.

For the first time, on January 12, 2022, Trump said the quiet part out loud. In a video message, he told Republicans gathered for Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate and gubernatorial primary debates, “Sometimes the vote counter is more important than the candidate.” Repeating the Big Lie that he won the election, Trump added, “We have to get tougher and smarter.”

Trump’s choice of venue was no accident. Pennsylvania was a key state in his effort to overturn the results of the 2020 election. Like most states, the secretary of state is its chief vote counter. But unlike most states, the governor – not the voters – selects the person who holds that office.

Now two of Trump’s accomplices in 2020 are front-runners for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, and they are polling far ahead of their competition.

Subverting Democracy Plan A: Lou Barletta

When Trump’s court challenges failed to reverse the popular vote in any state, he needed a new plan to switch some of Biden’s electoral votes into his column.

The first phase of the plan called for Republican allies in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin to ignore Trump’s loss in their states and submit a false slate of Trump electors to the Electoral College. If accepted, the phony electors would swing the entire election to Trump.

One of the signatories to Pennsylvania’s phony slate was Lou Barletta, a former U.S. congressman. He was among the first politicians to endorse Trump in 2016, co-chaired Trump’s 2016 Pennsylvania campaign, and served on his transition team.

So Barletta seemed like a shoe-in for Trump’s endorsement – until Doug Mastriano came along.

Subverting Democracy Plan B: Doug Mastriano

The second phase of the subversion plan contemplated that Congress might not accept the phony Trump electors when it met to certify Biden’s election on January 6, 2021. But their mere existence could create a cloud over legitimate Biden electors from those states.

That cloud would allow Vice President Mike Pence – as presiding officer of the session – to delay the proceedings in the hope of making Trump the eventual winner. Buttressing this phase of the plan before January 6, Trump urged state legislators to sow doubt and confusion about the election results.

In Pennsylvania, state Sen. Doug Mastriano helped to organize and host a “Senate Republican policy hearing” at a hotel conference room in Gettysburg on November 25. Speakers included Rudy Giuliani promoting the Big Lie and Trump offering an 11-minute videotaped rant about how the election had been rigged.

Trump invited Mastriano to the White House that evening, but he tested positive for COVID and had to leave. Two days later, he introduced a resolution in the Pennsylvania senate authorizing the Republican-controlled legislature to choose the state’s electors.

The following week, Trump followed up twice with Pennsylvania House Speaker Bryan Cutler (R), asking him to “fix” the election problem. But on December 2, Cutler and the state’s other three legislative leaders released a letter repeating what they had said publicly: The legislature had no power “to overturn the popular vote and appoint our own slate of presidential electors.”

However, Cutler then joined Mastriano in other efforts to reverse Trump’s loss. On December 4, they were among dozens of Republican state legislators who signed letters complaining about the election to Pennsylvania’s attorney general and inspector general. Along with 62 other GOP members of the state legislature, they also sent a letter to Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation, urging that they object to the state’s electoral votes for Biden.

On December 14, the Electoral College included Biden’s electors from Pennsylvania in confirming his victory, but Mastriano persisted. Eight days later, he sent each of Pennsylvania’s Republican state senators an email reminder of their invitation to lunch “with POTUS at the White House” on December 23. 

And on January 4, 2021, Mastriano was one of 21 Pennsylvania state senators who signed a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), urging Congress to delay certifying the state’s electoral votes for Biden because of “inconsistencies and questionable activities” relating to the election. Numerous courts in Pennsylvania and across the country had rejected Trump’s similar claims.

The following evening, John Eastman, the subversion plan’s architect, forwarded that letter to Greg Jacob, Pence’s chief legal counsel: “Major new development attached. This is huge as it now looks like PA legislature will vote to recertify its electors if Vice President Pence implements the plan we discussed.”

As rioters breached the U.S. Capitol the next day, Jacob responded that Eastman’s scheme would not garner a single vote in the U.S. Supreme Court or any of the U.S. Courts of Appeals, concluding, “Thanks to your bullsh*t, we are now under siege.”

Mastriano, who had organized bus trips to Washington for the “Stop the Steal” rally, was present when the mob attacked. The House committee investigating the assault has subpoenaed him.

In May 2021, Mastriano said that Trump had asked him to run for governor and had promised to campaign for him. The next day, a Trump senior adviser responded that Trump had not yet endorsed anyone in that race.

After all, Lou Barletta was already a candidate.

The Rest

Two months before the May 17 primary, 45 percent of Pennsylvania Republicans are still undecided. But most of the other GOP candidates aren’t distancing themselves from Trump, including the two immediately behind Barletta and Mastriano in the latest poll:

  • William McSwain was Trump’s U.S. attorney in Philadelphia. In a June 9, 2021 letter to Trump, he raised vague allegations of voter fraud and suggested that Attorney General William Barr had impeded his effort to investigate. “It’s just false,” Barr retorted. To him, the claims “appeared to have been made to mollify President Trump to gain his support for McSwain’s planned run for governor.”
  • As he prepared to join the gubernatorial race, state Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman moved closer to Trump and pushed the legislature’s ongoing election investigation. “I don’t necessarily have faith in the results,” he said in August, still lacking any evidence of problems. Corman also signed the January 4, 2021 letter urging Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation to delay certification of the state’s Electoral College votes for Biden.

Trump is using America’s democratic process to destroy democracy from within. He’s counting on the Big Lie to divert uninformed voters from the truth. He’s betting that the apathy of others will allow his organized minority to prevail. And he’s hoping that most people don’t realize that the outcome of November 2022 elections in Pennsylvania and other key states on Trump’s hit list will have profound implications for 2024.

Every patriot should hope that he’s wrong.

What Did William Barr Know and When Did He Know It?

This post originally appeared at Common Dreams on March 7, 2022:

We live in the age of narrative, not facts,” former Attorney General William Barr told NBC News in an interview that aired on March 6, 2022.

He should know. For two years, Barr developed false narratives that protected then-President Donald Trump from incriminating facts, starting with a “distorted” and “misleading” summary of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report. Barr diverted the public from Mueller’s conclusions that Russia committed crimes to help Trump win the 2016 election, Trump’s campaign had embraced the assistance, and Trump himself had obstructed justice during the ensuing investigation.

But now that Trump is at the center of a potential criminal conspiracy to remain in office after losing the election, Barr is promoting his new book and launching a new narrative. 

And this time, he’s trying to protect himself.

I have a few questions.

Why Did Barr Stop Pushing Trump’s Big Lie?

Prior to the election, Barr repeatedly pushed Trump’s lie that fraud could infect the outcome. He was still at it on November 9, 2020, when he reversed the Justice Department’s longstanding hands-off policy surrounding elections and ordered an investigation into allegations of voting irregularities that, “if true, could potentially impact the outcome a federal election in an individual State.”

According to former acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen’s August 7, 2021 interview with the House committee investigating the January 6 attack, Barr “had been considering it earlier.” But for some reason, he decided to announce the policy change two days after every news organization had confirmed Trump’s defeat. The head of the Justice Department’s Election Crimes Branch resigned from that position in protest.

On the same day and in a seemingly unrelated development, Trump fired Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and appointed Christopher C. Miller as acting secretary. Immediately, Miller replaced three top department officials and named three Trump loyalists to replace them:

  • New chief of staff to the secretary of defense: Kash Patel, former aide to former Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH).
  • New acting undersecretary of defense for policy: Retired army Gen. Anthony Tata, a pro-Trump Fox News pundit.
  • And, perhaps most significantly, new acting undersecretary of defense for intelligence and security: Ezra Cohen-Watnick, former assistant to Trump’s first national security adviser, confessed felon, and election-conspiracy promoter, Mike Flynn.

Then in a recently revealed mid- to late-November meeting, Trump told Barr that his lawyers said the Justice Department could seize voting machines. Barr rejected the idea. But did he hear that Trump kept exploring the possibility with other federal agencies, including the Defense Department?

Shortly thereafter, Barr abruptly turned on Trump and renounced the Big Lie publicly. On December 1, he told the Associated Press that there was no evidence of voter fraud sufficient to change the election outcome.

Nine days later, Trump signed an executive order revising the Defense Department’s line of succession. He moved up his newest departmental loyalists – Tata and Cohen-Watnick – and put them directly behind the deputy secretary and the secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force. It meant that if Trump issued an order that the Pentagon’s top four leaders refused to obey, the resulting departmental massacre would leave friendly faces in their stead.

What Did Barr Know about Trump’s Phony Electors?

Trump tried to reverse his defeat in key states by litigating popular vote totals and contacting election officials. Many of those efforts were in plain sight at the time, and all of them failed. But recently we learned that Trump’s allies were working secretly on another ploy.

On December 9, Boston attorney Kenneth Chesebro – whom the House’s January committee subpoenaed on March 1, 2022 – outlined a plan to press ahead with Trump’s potential electors in six states that he had lost. Their combined electoral votes would swing the Electoral College outcome to Trump.

In accordance with the U.S. Constitution and federal law, the Electoral College voted on December 14 in state capitals throughout the country. Previously chosen electors for each state’s winning candidate cast their ballots accordingly and transmitted them to federal officials, including the National Archives.

But in seven states that Biden won – the six states in Chesebro’s memo plus New Mexico – Trump’s potential electors pretended that Trump had won. They signed phony voting certificates that are now the subject of criminal investigationsIdentically prepared as to font and format, the certificates falsely declared Trump the official winner in those states. One of Trump’s illegitimate electors from Michigan later said that the request for the false certificates had come from the Trump campaign.

What Did Barr Know about the Defense Department’s Involvement?

December 14 was an eventful day:

  • The Electoral College voted to confirm Biden’s victory.
  • Barr resigned effective December 23.
  • Trump named Jeffrey Rosen as acting Attorney General.
  • And Trump’s White House assistant sent Rosen an email (“From: POTUS”) that pushed repeatedly debunked claims about voting machines in Antrim County, Michigan.

The following day, Rosen and others met in the Oval Office and told Trump that the Antrim County claims were false. Immediately afterward, Rosen briefed Barr on the session.

“Thanks for the update,” Barr responded.

A recently revealed draft executive order dated December 16, 2020, ties together various election-subversion strands. Based on the lies about Antrim County, the order empowered the newly reworked Defense Department to seize voting machines, federalize the National Guard, and prepare an assessment of the situation within 60 days – nearly a month past the January 20 Inauguration Day set forth in the Constitution. The order also appointed a special counsel to investigate voter fraud.

On December 17, Secretary Miller ordered a cessation of transition team meetings between the Defense Department and President-elect Biden’s team.

On December 18, an aide to Trump adviser Peter Navarro escorted Mike Flynn and attorney Sidney Powell into the Oval Office where they urged Trump to sign the draft executive order. Other advisers, including Rudy Giuliani, pushed back. So Trump told Giuliani to ask acting Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II if his agency could seize voting machines. Cuccinelli said no.

Still, early on December 21, Navarro appeared on Fox News, proposing that the federal government “seize a lot of those voting machines” and appoint a special counsel before Inauguration Day to investigate. Shortly thereafter, Barr responded to a reporter’s question, saying that he saw no basis for either step.

On December 23, Barr left office.

Less than three weeks later, a remarkable bipartisan op-ed appeared in the Washington Post. Evidently inspired by former Vice President Dick Cheney, who had served as secretary of defense for President George H.W. Bush when Barr was attorney general the first time, it issued a stark warning from all 10 living former secretaries of defense to leaders of the armed forces:

“Each of us swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. We did not swear it to an individual or a party…

“Efforts to involve the U.S. armed forces in resolving election disputes would take us into dangerous, unlawful and unconstitutional territory. Civilian and military officials who direct or carry out such measures would be accountable, including potentially facing criminal penalties, for the grave consequences of their actions on our republic.”

The following day, Trump moved forcefully in a different direction. Along with Chapman University law professor John Eastman, he urged Pence to proceed with the final phase of the phony-electors plot. They wanted Pence to use the false certifications as a pretext to ignore the electoral votes that Biden had won in those seven states.

On the morning of January 6, Pence rejected the plan. The insurrection followed.

William Barr was the nation’s top law enforcement officer – twice. He too had sworn an oath to support and defend the Constitution. We now know that after the election and before Barr left office, nefarious plots to undermine democracy swirled throughout the Trump administration. He quashed at least one himself.

What did Barr know and when did he know it?

Before he answers, put him under oath.

Putin’s Most Dangerous Fan is Donald J. Trump

This post originally appeared at Common Dreams on February 28, 2022:

As I write this column on February 27, 2022, President Vladimir Putin has put his nuclear deterrence forces into high alert.

Only five days ago, on February 22, Trump called Putin “savvy” and his flagrant violation of international law “genius.”

“You gotta say, that’s pretty savvy,” Trump said the day after Putin illegally declared two regions of Ukraine to be independent countries and thereby created a false pretext for an imminent and unprovoked invasion. “This is genius,” Trump added. “Putin declares a big portion of the Ukraine … Putin declares it as independent. Oh, that’s wonderful.”

At a Mar-a-Lago fundraiser the following evening, he doubled-down: “They say, ‘Trump said Putin’s smart.’ I mean, he’s taking over a country for two dollars’ worth of sanctions. I’d say that’s pretty smart. He’s taking over a country — really a vast, vast location, a great piece of land with a lot of people, and just walking right in.”

Even as casualties mounted while Ukraine fought for its life on Saturday night, February 26, 2022, Trump again told a large Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) audience that Putin was “smart.”

Trump’s comments generated widespread shock and outrage – except from fellow Republicans, including those who cheered him last night at CPAC. His praise for the ruthless dictator should not have surprised anyone. For years, Trump has helped Putin advance his most important objective: rebuilding the former Soviet Union.

Putin’s Mission

Putin’s April 2005 state of the nation address revealed the guiding principle of his reign: “First and foremost, it is worth acknowledging that the demise of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century. As for the Russian people, it became a genuine tragedy. Tens of millions of our fellow citizens and countrymen found themselves beyond the fringes of Russian territory.”

At the time Putin gave that speech, some of the people he referred to as his “countrymen” had been citizens of newly independent nations for more than a decade. A few of those former Soviet satellites had even become members of NATO – the European security pact that was created to counter Soviet aggression. For more than 70 years, NATO has helped the continent avoid a major war.

Putin wants them back and, more importantly, he wants the land they occupy. If he can sow discord among NATO allies, all of Eastern Europe – including Ukraine – becomes a softer target. That’s where Trump comes in.

Trump’s Assistance

Trump has happily obliged the Russian benefactor whose support he embraced during the 2016 election. His open and notorious praise for Putin personally has been unwavering. Trump also tried to undermine NATO.

For example, at an April 2, 2016 campaign appearance in Racine, Wisconsin, he called NATO “obsolete.” Member countries had to pay their fair share, he said, and if they didn’t, “they have to get out. And if it breaks up NATO, it breaks up NATO.”

Shortly before accepting the Republican nomination for President in July 2016, Trump told the New York Times that whether he would come to the aid of NATO countries facing Russia’s most immediate threats, especially the former Soviet Union’s Baltic States, depended on whether those countries were fulfilling their financial obligations to the pact. The simple fact is that many countries who need NATO protection the most simply can’t afford to pay more.

Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama pressed NATO allies to increase military spending. But no American president has ever imposed such a condition on the United States’ mutual defense obligation under NATO.

On July 10, 2018, as Trump departed for the annual NATO summit in Brussels, followed by a trip to London and a summit with Putin in Helsinki, he said, “I have NATO, I have the UK, which is in somewhat turmoil, and I have Putin. Frankly, Putin may be the easiest of them all. Who would think? Who would think?”

Then he opened the NATO summit on July 11, 2018, by demanding once again that all NATO countries increase their financial contributions to the pact. He reiterated that demand in London.

Then he met with Putin in Helsinki where they breached diplomatic protocol and held a private two-hour session with no aides present. We still don’t know what they discussed then or in their numerous private conversations throughout Trump’s presidency. We do know that Trump confiscated the U.S. interpreter’s notes of their July 7, 2017 session in Hamburg, Germany.

Perhaps one of their conversations concerned Putin’s displeasure at being ousted from what was then the G8 – eight of the world’s most powerful leaders – in retaliation for his 2014 annexation of Crimea. As host of the 2020 summit, Trump wanted to invite Putin back in, saying, “I don’t feel that as a G7 it properly represents what’s going on in the world… It’s a very outdated group of countries.”

Trump’s Second Term?

And then there’s this from Washington Post reporters Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker in their recent book, I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump’s Catastrophic Final Year“Trump had privately indicated that he would seek to withdraw from NATO and to blow up the U.S. alliance with South Korea, should he win reelection. When those alliances had come up in meetings with [Defense Secretary Mark] Esper and other top aides, some advisers warned Trump that shredding them before the election would be politically dangerous.

‘Yeah, the second term,’ Trump had said. ‘We’ll do it in the second term.’”

Even as some Republicans criticize Putin’s invasion while also trying to blame President Joseph Biden for the war, the GOP remains silent about Trump’s willingness to genuflect before an autocrat who is ruthless with his enemies, territorially aggressive with his neighbors, and committing what may be war crimes against innocent people. That’s worth remembering for the 2022 midterm elections.As for that “second term,” if Trump runs and retakes the presidency, he’ll be not only Putin’s most dangerous fan, but also his most powerful. 

Anatomy of Trump’s Big Lie

This post originally appeared at Common Dreams on February 23, 2022:

On November 4, 2020, a county clerk in rural northwestern Michigan inadvertently launched one of former President Donald J. Trump’s Big Lies. Six weeks later, it was embedded in a proposal that the U.S. Department of Defense seize voting machines across the country. The lie remains a central talking point in Trump’s assault on democracy.

Now Trump is rewarding one of its original promoters.

Birth of a Big Lie

The story of Antrim County and the 2020 election is simple. Back in 2016, Trump received more than 60 percent of the county’s votes. But around 4:00 a.m. on November 4, 2020, the county clerk  – a Republican who had been with the office for more than 40 years – posted unofficial results showing that Biden had won the reliably Republican county with about that percentage. A few hours later, a local resident sent the clerk an email questioning the outcome.

Later that morning, the county released a statement noting “skewed results” and asking “all interested parties to bear with us while we get to the bottom of this.”

The world didn’t wait.

On November 6, the New York Post ran an article headlined: “Michigan Republicans claim software issue undercounted Trump votes.”

By that evening, the clerk had found the human error that was to blame. Although the scanners and tabulators in the voting machines had counted the votes correctly, she had not updated the computer software properly. The clerk took full responsibility for the mistake and issued corrected totals showing that Trump had indeed won.

Even if the error had not been caught so quickly, it would have surfaced during the post-election canvassing process required before certifying the official vote.

The Lie Metastasized

Trump and his allies immediately seized on the mistake as evidence of widespread election fraud committed via Dominion Voting System machines used throughout the country. And Dominion itself became the subject of false conspiracy theories.

In Portage, Michigan, sole practitioner Matthew DePerno pressed the false claims on behalf of an Antrim County resident. To assist, DePerno used Allied Security Operations Group (ASOG). ASOG’s founder, Russell Ramsland, Jr., was an unsuccessful Republican candidate for Congress in the 2016 Texas primary. In October 2017, he spoke about a purported effort by the “deep state” – including U.S. intelligence agencies – to undermine Trump’s 2016 candidacy and then his presidency.

Ramsland was already on Trump’s election team. In a separate federal lawsuit by Trump allies, on November 18, 2020, Ramsland submitted an affidavit making what fact-checkers called “wildly inaccurate claims” alleging widespread election fraud in Michigan. During the state’s House Oversight Committee hearing the next day, Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani used Ramsland’s affidavit to push the Big Lie.

The judge in DePerno’s state court case was a former Republican state lawmaker. On December 4, the same day that fact-checkers gave Ramsland’s affidavit a “Pants on Fire!” rating, the judge issued an order giving DePerno access to Antrim County’s voting machines. Only nine days later –  December 13 – Ramsland sent DePerno his report, which made unsupported claims of election fraud involving Dominion equipment. Trump and his allies immediately amplified those claims in the media too.

At an Oval Office meeting a few days later, Trump’s former national security adviser Mike Flynn and attorney Sidney Powell – prominent purveyors of false election-conspiracy theories – urged Trump to sign a December 16, 2010 draft executive order seizing voting machines across the country. It cited “the forensic audit of the Antrim County voting machines, released December 13, 2020” – and little else – as “probable cause” to justify the seizure. The draft order quoted Ramsland’s false conclusion that “the Dominion Voting System is intentionally and purposefully designed with inherent errors to create systemic fraud and influence election results.”

The next day – December 17 – Antrim County concluded an actual audit. State and local officials and representatives of both political parties conducted a hand recount of all votes cast for president. It confirmed the official results as tabulated by the Dominion voting machines: Trump beat President-elect Biden by 3,800 votes.

More Undisputed Facts Haven’t Slowed the Big Lie

On January 20, 2021, the GOP-led Michigan Senate Oversight Committee issued a comprehensive analysis of the election. It refuted in detail the claims in Ramsland’s report.

The committee concluded that “ideas and speculation that the Antrim County election workers or outside entities manipulated the vote by hand or electronically are indefensible. Further, the Committee is appalled at what can only be deduced as a willful ignorance or avoidance of this proof perpetuated by some leading such speculation.” (Emphasis in original)

The report also addressed attorney Matthew DePerno’s role in the Trump team’s disinformation campaign: “The Committee closely followed Mr. DePerno’s efforts and can confidently conclude they are demonstrably false and based on misleading information and illogical conclusions.”

Likewise, on April 21, 2021, the Michigan secretary of state issued the results of a statewide audit of the November 2020 election, concluding:

“Beginning on Wednesday, November 4, several inaccurate claims were made about the conduct of the 2020 Election. In general, these claims were either entirely fabricated, based upon misunderstanding of election processes, or the result of incorrect inferences that human errors were intentional misconduct.”

Meanwhile, Dominion Voting sued Sidney Powell, Rudy Giuliani, Mike Lindell (“Mr. Pillow”), Patrick Byrne (former CEO of Overstock), Newsmax, One American News Network (OANN), and Fox News for defamation, seeking more than a billion dollars in damages.

Trump keeps repeating the Antrim County lie and is now endorsing Matthew DePerno to become the state’s next attorney general. In Trump’s September 16, 2021 statement, he praised DePerno for having “exposed so much Voter Fraud in Antrim County.” And on March 8, 2022 – six weeks before the Michigan Republican primary – Trump is scheduled to host a fundraiser for him at Mar-a-Lago.

If DePerno wins, he’ll be in charge of litigating disputes over Michigan’s elections. So his baseless attacks on the November 2020 election attracted Trump’s attention.

Now, perhaps, he has attracted yours.

Georgia Republicans Are Deliberately Attacking Voting Rights

This post originally appeared at Common Dreams on February 14, 2022:

When Georgians vote, the consequences reverberate across the nation. With the help of former President Donald Trump’s Big Lie, Republicans enacted a voter-suppression law in 2021 that is already working. A recent case study demonstrates its impact.

What happens in Georgia…

Georgia voters helped propel Joseph Biden to the White House. In runoff elections two months later, Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff scored victories that delivered control of the Senate to Democrats.

Biden won the state by 12,000 votes, in large part because he carried its four most populous counties in and around Atlanta – Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton, and Gwinnett – by a combined total of more than 600,000 ballots. In close races, Warnock and Ossoff prevailed in those counties by almost the same margin.

Georgia’s new restrictions strike at the heart of that Democratic stronghold, especially Black voters.

The obvious target

More than half of the four Atlanta-area counties’ absentee voters –  305,000 –  deposited their ballots in drop boxes. The new law allows only one drop box for every 100,000 active registered voters in a county, reducing the number in the four Atlanta-area counties from 111 to 23. 

Fulton County, which Biden won by 240,000 votes, is 44 percent Black. In November 2020, it had 36 drop boxes. Under the new law, it has only eight.

DeKalb County, which Biden won by 250,000 votes, is 55 percent Black. The number of drop boxes went from 35 to five.

Gwinnett County, which Biden won by 75,000 votes, is 30 percent Black. The number of drop boxes went from 24 to five.

Cobb County, which Biden won by 56,000 votes, is 29 percent Black. The number of drop boxes went from 16 to five. The Cobb County elections director called that number so small that they are “no longer useful… The limited numbers mean you cannot deploy them in significant numbers to reach the voting population.” 

Beyond reducing the number of ballot boxes, the Georgia law restricts their use. For example, Gov. Brian Kemp learned of his exposure to COVID-19 on the Friday before Election Day 2020. He quarantined and requested a mail ballot. The new law that he championed requires voters to make such requests at least 11 days before the election, so his request would have been denied.

Likewise, on Election Day, Gov. Kemp returned his ballot at a drop box. A year later, he couldn’t have done that either. The new law requires that the few remaining drop boxes be located inside the clerk’s office or early voting location and closed when the early voting period ends – which is before Election Day.

Suppression works

The impact of these new restrictions became apparent in Georgia’s November 2021 municipal elections. The absolute numbers were small, but the implications for democracy are enormous. Compared to November 2020, there was a four-fold increase in the rejection rate for absentee ballot applications, according to a study by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Fifty-two percent of rejections occurred because the would-be voter missed the new 11-day pre-election deadline to request a ballot.

But depending on the reason for the rejection, applicants could still reapply or vote in person. On January 28, 2022, Mother Jones’ follow-up analysis “zeroed in how many voters never cast a ballot by mail or in person after their mail applications were denied.”

The conclusions:

  • “During municipal elections in November [2021], Georgia voters were 45 times more likely to have their mail ballot applications rejected – and ultimately not vote as a result – than in 2020. If that same rejection rate were extrapolated to the 2020 race, more than 38,000 votes would not have been cast in a presidential contest decided by just over 11,000 votes.”
  • “In November 2021, Georgians who successfully obtained mail ballots were also twice as likely to have those ballots rejected once they were submitted compared to the previous year. If that were the case in 2020, about 31,000 fewer votes would have been cast in the presidential election.”

It gets worse

During the 2020 early-voting period, Fulton County used two RVs that brought polling places to churches, parks, and public libraries. More than 11,200 voters used them. The new law eliminates such mobile voting centers (unless the governor declares a state of emergency).

Finally, Georgia’s new law gives the newly-constituted state election board – with its three to one Republican majority – new powers over local county election officials, including the power to suspend and replace them. The board began an investigation into Fulton County’s management practices that, as the Associated Press reports, “could ultimately lead to a takeover of elections in the state’s most populous county.” Republicans controlling the state legislature have also reorganized six other county boards through county-specific legislation.

Defenders of Georgia suppression efforts say the new law expands access because it requires a minimum number of drop boxes in rural counties that didn’t have them. Most of those areas are Republican strongholds. The law also requires an additional Saturday for early voting. That too increases access in rural counties, which were sometimes short-staffed and therefore limited early voting hours. 

Even so, Trump is working on a backup plan. In his ongoing purge of the GOP, he has endorsed loyalists running against incumbent Republicans for secretary of state (Rep. Jody Hice) and governor (former Sen. David Perdue) in the upcoming primary. On January 6, Hice, voted to reject the electoral votes that Biden won in Arizona and Pennsylvania. Perdue says he would not have certified the popular vote outcome in Georgia.

Republicans say that somehow all of this promotes “election integrity.” That’s doublespeak for attacking democracy itself.

Now Every Day is January 6: Trump Targets the “Vote Counters”

This post originally appeared at Common Dreams on February 7, 2022:

Next time, former President Donald Trump may not even have to ask.

After losing the election, Trump and his allies pressured officials in key states to reverse the popular outcome. The effort failed, and now—state by state—Trump is getting even.

Next time, former President Donald Trump may not even have to ask.

After losing the election, Trump and his allies pressured officials in key states to reverse the popular outcome. The effort failed, and now – state by state –  Trump is getting even.

In Georgia

After losing the popular vote in Georgia, Trump pressured Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger – a Republican who voted for Trump – to “find” the 11,780 votes needed to make him the winner. That attempt to subvert the election is now the subject of a special grand jury investigation. But in addition to death threats that Raffensperger and his family received from Trump supporters, he is paying a professional price for his resistance.

A little-publicized feature of Georgia’s restrictive new voting law removes the secretary of state as chair of the five-person state election board. Instead, the GOP-controlled General Assembly now elects the chair. The secretary of state isn’t even a voting member.

Trump still wants Raffensperger out. In March, he endorsed Rep. Jody Hice’s run against Raffensperger in the Republican primary.

Why Hice?

Immediately after the violent insurrection on January 6, 2021, he voted to reject the electoral votes from Arizona and Pennsylvania. Earlier that morning, Hice had posted a picture on Instagram calling that day “our 1776 moment.” He condemned Trump’s second impeachment.

In May, Hice told CNN, “I believe if there was a fair election, it would be a different outcome.” He “absolutely” still believed that Trump had won Georgia. The long list of Trump’s unsuccessful lawsuits challenging the state’s election results proves otherwise.

Now try to wrap your head around this: If Trump is the 2024 Republican presidential nominee, Raffensperger hasn’t ruled out voting for him.

In Michigan

Because Michigan’s top “vote counter” in November 2020 was a Democrat, Trump maneuvered around her. Only hours after a GOP member of the Wayne County board (which includes Detroit) voted to certify the county’s vote, Trump personally phoned her. After the call, she tried to rescind her certification. That ploy didn’t work.

Then he invited Republican leaders of the state’s legislature to the White House. But the will of the people prevailed. Trump lost Michigan by 154,000 votes, and he lost all of the lawsuits challenging the outcome.

So Trump has now endorsed Kristina Karamo to become the Republican nominee for Michigan secretary of state. Why Karamo?

On her podcast the day after the January 6 insurrection, she said, “I believe this is completely Antifa posing as Trump supporters.” She is a vocal proponent of Trump’s Big Lie and has called for the removal of Republican “traitors” from office.

Here are her other qualifications to serve in one of Michigan highest elective offices:

  • She has a master’s degree in Christian apologetics – the study of the defense of Christianity against objections – from Biola University, an evangelical university in Southern California.
  • In a November 2020 podcast, she said that the Democratic party “has totally been taken over by a satanic agenda.”
  • She calls public schools “government indoctrination camps” that expose children to “unbridled wickedness.”

Among candidates for the GOP nomination, Karamo is the leading fundraiser

In Arizona

Trump has endorsed state Rep. Mark Finchem to become Arizona’s secretary of state. On January 5, 2021, Finchem addressed Trump’s crowd at the “Stop the Steal” pre-rally in Washington, D.C.

“I want you to hear a message from Americans,” Finchem said, speaking rhetorically to lawmakers who were defending the popular vote outcome and questioning #StopTheSteal activists. “This ain’t going away.” 

The next day, Finchem attended the January 6 insurrection. Later he claimed that he was never within 500 yards of the U.S. Capitol building. Photos and video demonstrated otherwise.

An outspoken purveyor of Trump’s Big Lie, Finchem also attended the October 2021 QAnon convention – “For God & Country: Patriot Double Down.”

So did Michigan’s Kristina Karamo.

Now for the really bad news

Across the country, the Big Lie has become a dominant feature of Republican campaigns for secretary of state. Twenty-seven states will hold elections for that position in 2022, including several that are likely to determine the outcome of the 2024 presidential race: Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, and Wisconsin. So far, Trump has made endorsements in only three of them and none has won yet.

More will come.

Trump is exploiting the soft underbelly of America’s election system: the top “vote counters” in key states. As he travels the country endorsing promoters of his Big Lie for those crucial jobs, democracy’s defenders have promises to keep – and miles to go before we sleep.

Now Every Day in Arizona is January 6

This post originally appeared at Common Dreams on January 31, 2022:

Former President Donald J. Trump and his Republican allies are using three tactics in a nationwide, state-by-state strategy to control the outcome of future elections. All are on display in Arizona.

Tactic #1: Keep voters from voting

Arizona’s latest voter restriction law will remove an estimated 100,000 eligible voters from its early voting mailing list. It won’t begin deleting voters from the list until after the 2024 election. But Republicans have proposed new restrictions that could have a profound impact sooner, including new voter-ID requirements, severe limitations on the use of drive-up voting and ballot drop boxes, and requiring all voting to be in person on Election Day. 

“We need to get back to 1958-style voting,” Arizona State Rep. John Fillmore said, defending his proposals in a committee hearing on Jan. 26, 2022.

Ah, the good ol’ days of 1958, when Arizona with its large Native American population imposed literacy tests as a prerequisite to voting, and about half of the Navajo voting-age population couldn’t pass them.

Tactic #2: If the opposing candidate wins the popular vote, disregard It

Trump recently told the Pennsylvania GOP, “Sometimes the vote counter is more important than the candidate… We have to get tougher and smarter.”

He’s putting those words into action.

In 2020, Secretary of State Katie Hobbs – a Democrat – was Arizona’s top “vote counter.” Now that she is running for governor, Trump has endorsed state Rep. Mark Finchem to replace her. Finchem addressed Trump’s crowd at the “Stop the Steal” rally in Washington, D.C., on January 5, 2021, and attended the January 6 insurrection.

Gov. Doug Ducey, who is term-limited, signed the state’s official certification of Biden’s victory. To replace him, Trump has endorsed former Fox news anchor Kari Lake. She claims falsely that Trump won the election, advocates the imprisonment of Hobbs for unspecified election crimes, and demands that Arizona “decertify” Biden’s electoral victory, which is impossible.

Republicans in Arizona are also working on a backup plan. They have proposed a law that would empower the state’s legislature to “accept or reject the election results.” If rejected, any voter could sue to request a new election.

Tactic #3: Bogus audits and investigations

After Trump lost in Arizona, his allies focused on Maricopa County, which accounted for 60 percent of the state’s total. To its credit, the Republican-dominated Maricopa County Board of Supervisors withstood the pressure and certified Biden’s 45,000 vote victory.

Nevertheless, in March 2021, the state senate’s Republican president hired Cyber Ninjas to lead an outside audit of Maricopa County’s 2.1 million ballots. The inexperienced firm’s owner had touted Trump’s election conspiracy theories and provided the ominous voiceover in “The Deep Rig” – a movie claiming that Trump had won the election.

The state promised to pay Cyber Ninjas $150,000. Millions more poured in from outside sources, including pro-Trump fundraising groups led by his former national security adviser Michael Flynn, Trump’s election conspiracy-peddling lawyer Sidney Powell, and correspondents for the One America News Network.

The “audit” became a farce. 

”It’s clearer by the day: The people hired by the Senate are in way over their heads,” said the Republican chair of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors in May. “This is not funny; this is dangerous.” In June, another Arizona GOP election official blasted the audit as “insane from a competence standpoint.”

When Cyber Ninjas’ final report made false, misleading, and inaccurate claims about the county’s election process, Trump amplified them. He ignored the firm’s conclusion: Biden’s victory margin in the state had increased by 360 votes.

The mere existence of the bogus “audit” became fodder for Trump’s talking points and spawned Republican demands for equally specious copycat audits across the country. By November 2021, a Monmouth University poll found that “among Republicans, 32% say the so-called audit found evidence of fraud and 30% say it probably did.”

GOP State Sen. Wendy Rogers, a vocal supporter of Trump’s Big Lie, seeks to operationalize the false claims. In December, she introduced a bill that would create a new bureau in the governor’s office to investigate election fraud allegations. It would have the power to subpoena witnesses, conduct hearings, seek a court order impounding election equipment, and make prosecutorial referrals.

Moral: Even when Trump loses, he wins

In early January 2022, Maricopa County issued a detailed analysis demonstrating that Cyber Ninjas’ report about its voting process made 22 misleading claims, 41 inaccurate claims, and 13 claims that were false.

“An empty piñata is a pretty accurate description of the ‘audit’ as a whole,” the county tweeted.

On January 7, 2022, Cyber Ninjas shut down for good after a judge fined the company $50,000 a day for failing to turn over public records in accordance with a court’s ruling in August.

But it was too little, too late. Trump still pretends that Cyber Ninjas somehow corroborated his Big Lie.

“If you look at the numbers, if you look at the findings in Arizona…,” Trump told NPR’s Steve Inskeep during a phone interview on January 11, 2022. “This was a corrupt election… the findings are devastating for Arizona.”

When Inskeep asked Trump whether GOP candidates must embrace the Big Lie to get his endorsement, he launched into praise for Kari Lake.

“She’s very big on this issue…,” Trump said.

Without answering Inskeep’s question, Trump continued his monolog of false claims and then hung up.

Four days later, Lake and Mark Finchem appeared with Trump and spoke to thousands of his supporters in Florence, Arizona. Their theme: 

The Big Lie.

The Enemy Within: Now Every Day is January 6

Originally published in The Hill: https://thehill.com/opinion/national-security/589909-the-enemy-within-now-every-day-is-jan-6

If democracy dies in 2024, it will have been an inside job.

“Let’s make sure that it never happens again” was the universal theme of speakers reflecting on the anniversary of the assault on the U.S. Capitol. They spoke about brave men and women who fought insurrectionists in hand-to-hand combat. They talked about preventing another frightening physical attack on the global symbol of freedom.

They fixated on the wrong battlefield.

The war erupting into public view on January 6 hasn’t ended. It has just moved to a less visible venue. The enemies of democracy are undermining the republic from within – state by state. Their efforts are built on the foundation of Trump’s Big Lie that he somehow won an election he lost. Embracing that lie has become a litmus test for the political party that he now controls.

But remember this: Trump and his allies filed and lost more than 60 lawsuits claiming that he was wrongfully denied re-election. Trump’s attorney general, William Barr, admitted that there was no evidence of widespread voter fraud that could change the outcome.

Trump and his allies are deploying several weapons in their larger strategy – especially in swing states that decide presidential elections.

Step One: Keep the Opposition’s Likely Voters from Voting

In 2021, 19 states enacted 34 laws that restrict access to voting. Among them were key swing states where Republicans control the legislature and the governorship, including Arizona, Florida, and Georgia. Only vetoes by Democratic governors kept Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin (all with Republican legislatures) off that list.

That was only the beginning. In 2022, more than 150 restrictive bills are already slated for legislative sessions in 18 states. But voting rights isn’t the only front in this war.

Step Two: If the Opposing Candidate Wins the Popular Vote, Disregard It

State election officials sign off on final vote totals, verifying the results for that state. Typically, the secretary of state and governor then certify the winner, whose electors cast the final votes certifying the presidential election in the U.S. House of Representatives. That’s what was happening on January 6, 2021.

The goal now is to accomplish what Trump tried and failed to do in 2020: Prevent state officials from certifying vote totals in an election that Trump lost. 

In Georgia, for example, initial certification responsibility fell to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. After numerous recounts of the 2020 popular vote, Raffensperger – himself a Republican who had voted for Trump – refused Trump’s demand that he “find” enough votes to flip the state to Trump. As his reward, Raffensperger became a victim of Trump’s attacks, and his family received death threats from Trump supporters.

Trump’s similar strongarm tactics failed to flip Michigan, Pennsylvania, or Arizona. But a true Trump loyalist could have solved this problem at the outset – by disregarding enough Biden votes to swing a state’s election and certifying the result in Trump’s favor. That’s why Trump is now endorsing candidates seeking critical positions in the certification process.

As the Washington Post reported recently, “A year after local and state election officials came under immense pressure from Trump to subvert the results of the 2020 White House race, he and his supporters are pushing an ambitious plan to place Trump loyalists in key positions across the administration of U.S. elections.”

Step Three: Fallback Plan – Bogus Audits

Only one-third of Republicans say they will trust the 2024 election, regardless of who wins. The remaining two-thirds will trust the result only if their candidate wins. Likewise, two-thirds of Republicans also say that Trump continues to say the 2020 election was rigged “because he is right,” namely, that there was “fraud that changed the results” in Biden’s favor.

In 2020, Trump’s propaganda created similar attitudes that drove his loyalists in state legislatures to launch post-election “audits.” None revealed any hidden Trump victories. But the publicity surrounding the bogus audits fueled the Big Lie. So Republican legislators in several states are pushing bills to authorize audits that would reverse future election outcomes that don’t go their way.

In 1710, Jonathan Swift wrote, “Falsehood flies; and the truth comes limping after it.”

Trump continues to kneecap the truth. Will it ever catch up?

In the swing states that matter most in presidential elections, it is falling farther and farther behind.

WHERE HAVE I BEEN?

Loyal readers have wondered why I haven’t posted anything since June. The answer is that I took a needed break from political, legal, and pandemic commentary to tackle a completely different project.

I spent the past six months creating a holiday voyage on a model railroad train that takes readers to a magical place. Before the COVID Delta variant spread, I began to design and build it. Working seven hours a day, seven days a week, I hoped to complete the project by the winter holidays, when all of our four grandchildren would be able to visit us safely and run the trains themselves. 

Delta’s explosion and Omicron’s emergence scuttled those plans.

So until the pandemic eases, this video will have to suffice.

But it’s no substitute for the real thing.

And two years of FaceTime and Zoom are no substitute for hugging those you love.

Anyway, here is a short video showing the result of my labors. Perhaps you, too, will find it to be a welcome respite during difficult times.

The Continuing Attack on Democracy

The January 6, 2021 insurrection did not end when federal officers expelled the attackers from the US Capitol. It assumed a less dramatic but equally deadly form.

With Big Lies, Facts Don’t Matter

Donald Trump launched his political career on the wings of a Big Lie about President Barack Obama’s birthplace. In response to Trump’s spurious claims, President Obama provided a copy of his birth certificate.

It didn’t matter. As of December 2017, 51 percent of Republicans still believed that President Obama was born outside the US.

A more dangerous Big Lie fueled the unparalleled insurrection that put the republic to its most severe stress test since the Civil War, endangered members of Congress, and placed Trump’s own vice president in harm’s way. More than 60 judges – many of whom are Trump appointees – rejected his claims of voter fraud that supposedly stole the election from him. So did Republican election officials in numerous states that Trump targeted.

None of that mattered. As of March 2021, 65 percent of Republicans still believed that Biden’s win was due to voter fraud, and 29 percent say they will never accept him as president.

The GOP Has Embraced the Latest Big Lie

When fear of Trump’s mob was still fresh in his psyche, then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) saw the truth quite clearly.

Jan. 19: McConnell takes the Senate floor and says, “The mob was fed lies. They were provoked by the president and other powerful people, and they tried to use fear and violence to stop a specific proceeding of the first branch of the federal government, which they did not like.”

But continuing fear of Trump’s mob overcame him.

Feb. 13: Now the minority leader, McConnell votes to acquit Trump.

Feb. 25: McConnell says he will “absolutely” support Trump if he is the Republican presidential nominee in 2024.

And now McConnell’s fear is so profound that he killed an independent commission that would have put added pressure on every Republican to acknowledge the truth.

May 28: Despite support from a majority of US senators and the American public, bipartisan legislation from the House that would establish an independent commission to investigate the insurrection comes up short of the 60 votes required to overcome the GOP’s filibuster. The final vote in favor of creating the commission is 54-39.

The Big Lie Metastasizes

The Big Lie is now fueling the GOP’s ongoing effort to dismantle democracy.

  1. Arizona: Experienced companies have audited Maricopa County’s 2020 election results multiple times, finding no problems. But Republican legislators in the state’s senate hired yet another company to do it again. Its CEO has spread election-related conspiracy theories (“Stop the Steal”) that the vote was rigged against Trump. Even Republican leaders in the state now describe the current effort as “a grift disguised as an audit” that has spun out of control. 
  2. Pennsylvania: Despite the absence of any evidence of election fraud in Pennsylvania, a small group of Republican state lawmakers from the state visited Arizona recently. At least one of them later said that he wanted Pennsylvania to conduct a similar audit.
  3. Since the January 6 insurrection, Republicans have relied on the Big Lie to enact new voting restrictions in 14 states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Montana, Oklahoma, Utah, and Wyoming.
  4. President Biden called the new Georgia law “Jim Crow in the 21st century.” Among the state’s new rules to make voting more arduous is a criminal penalty for offering food or water to people waiting in line. Other provisions of the law will make those lines longer.
  5. Voter-restriction bills are still advancing in another 18 states, including Texas, where Democratic legislators scored a temporary victory by walking out shortly before a vote on legislation that would have imposed some of the toughest restrictions yet.

Democracy Hangs by a Slender Thread

In the coming months, watch GOP-controlled state legislatures gerrymander congressional districts in an effort to regain Republican minority rule in the House of Representatives. For extended periods over the past 20 years, Republicans achieved that goal in the Senate. 

The GOP hasn’t enjoyed popular support from a majority of American voters since 1996. But it controlled  the Senate from 1994 to 2004 and again from 2014 to 2018. Today, the GOP has the same number of senators as Democrats and independents combined, but those Republicans represent only 43.5 percent of the US population.

When asked about House Republicans punishing Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) for choosing country over party and calling out Trump’s Big Lie, McConnell said, “100 percent of our focus is on stopping this new administration.”

McConnell’s evasive response is telling. Trump’s Big Lie intersects with the efforts of a Republican minority to suppress the vote and retain power. That’s why the Big Lie is now GOP orthodoxy – and representative democracy isn’t.

INSURRECTION TIMELINE: First the Coup and Then the Cover-Up – Update #6

This post first appeared at BillMoyers.com on March 7, 2021.

Editor’s Note, March 6, 2021 — The theme for the latest update: The Gap and the Insiders. We’re learning more about the three hours that Trump and his administration failed to respond to the ongoing attack on the US Capitol. And now prosecutors have filed the first criminal charges against a member of the Trump administration. We’ve added new items (or revisions to previous items) that appear with an asterisk (*).

Trump’s Original Narrative Collapses

The Department of Defense’s January 8, 2021 initial press release purported to “memorialize the planning and execution timeline” of the deadly insurrection that it called the “January 6, 2021 First Amendment Protests in Washington, DC.”

The title was a ruse. Even so, Trump’s defenders are sticking with that false characterization and trying to convert it into a defense to his impeachment. But there’s no First Amendment right to incite an insurrection. And the First Amendment does not apply to whether Trump committed an impeachable offense anyway.

Late in the afternoon on January 11, 2021, even the Defense Department changed the title of its January 8 memorandum and reissued it “to more appropriately reflect the characterization of the events at the U.S. Capitol on January 6.” The retitled summary is the “January 6, 2021 Violent Attack at the U.S. Capitol.”

Substantively, the memo’s minute-by-minute account created a false illusion of transparency. In truth, its most noteworthy aspects are the omission of Trump’s central role in the insurrection and the effort to shift blame away from Trump and his new Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller.

Who is Christopher Miller?

November 9, 2020: Every news organization has declared that former Vice President Joe Biden won the election. Trump fires Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and replaces him with Christopher Miller, an Army retiree who worked for a defense contractor until Trump tapped him as his assistant in 2018. Miller’s promotion is the beginning of a departmental regime change.

Under pressure from the White House, Defense Department general counsel Paul Ney names former GOP political operative Michael Ellis to be the top lawyer at the National Security Agency – the US government’s largest and most technically advanced spy agency. Ellis had been chief counsel to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) before joining the White House in 2017 as a lawyer on Trump’s National Security Council and then senior director for intelligence. During Trump’s first impeachment, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman testified that Ellis had the idea of moving the memorandum of Trump’s infamous phone call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to a highly classified server.

Unlike a political appointee, Ellis’s position as general counsel to the NSA would make him a civil servant with accompanying employment protections. NSA Director Paul Nakasone opposes Ellis’s selection and tries to delay the process of installing him.

Nov. 10, 2020: Miller embeds three fierce Trump loyalists as top Defense Department officials: Kash Patel (former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA)), retired army Gen. Anthony Tata (pro-Trump Fox News pundit), and Ezra Cohen-Watnick (former assistant to Trump’s first national security adviser, Mike Flynn).

At such a late date in Trump’s presidency, many ask, why the shake-up at the Department of Defense? We may be learning the answer.

Prior to the Attack

The department’s January 8, 2021 memo ignores Trump’s central role in igniting and then encouraging the January 6 insurrection. In fact, the only reference to Trump appears in a January 3 entry when Miller and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley meet with him and he concurs in activation of the DC National Guard “to support law enforcement.”

Other than that, Trump is conspicuously absent, along with the most important parts of the story. In the date and time entries that follow, only those in italics and preceded with “(DoD Memo)”summarize items from the Defense Department’s January 8 memorandum. The memo ignores every other fact set forth in this Timeline.

Nov. 4, 2020: Throughout the summer and fall, pre-election polls have indicated that Trump will lose to Biden decisively. But Trump has claimed repeatedly that he will lose only if the election is “rigged” and “stolen” from him. During an interview with far-right commentator Alex Jones, Trump ally Roger Stone says, “We’re calling it a fraud or we’re calling it a steal — stop the steal.” Stone had first used the “Stop the Steal” slogan during the 2016 primaries, claiming that a “Bush-Cruz-Kasich-Romney-Ryan-McConnell faction” was attempting to steal the Republican nomination from Trump. Stone had used the slogan again in the 2016 general election against Hillary Clinton.

Starting Nov. 9, 2020 and continuing past Jan. 6, 2021: Trump refuses to concede. Relentlessly, he attacks the election as “rigged” and “stolen.” Trump and his allies then lose more than 60 lawsuits seeking to invalidate the results as he pressures election officials to reverse vote totals in key swing states that he lost, including Georgia. “Stop the Steal” becomes a rallying cry.

Dec. 12, 2020: Trump tweets: “Wow! Thousands of people forming in Washington (D.C.) for Stop the Steal. Didn’t know about this, but I’ll be seeing them! #MAGA”

Dec. 15: Trump summons Acting Attorney General Rosen to the Oval Office to say that he wants the Justice Department to file legal briefs supporting his allies’ lawsuits seeking to overturn his election loss. Trump urges Rosen to appoint special counsels to investigate unfounded accusations of widespread voter fraud and Dominion, the voting machines firm. Rosen refuses. After the meeting, Trump continues to pressure Rosen in person and in phone calls.

Dec. 19, 2020: Trump tweets: “Statistically impossible to have lost the 2020 Election. Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!”

Dec. 22: ABC7 News in Washington, DC confirms that the pro-Trump group, Women for America First, has amended its permit application for a rally to protest the outcome of the election, moving the date from January 23 – after the inauguration – to January 5 through 7. Federal Election Commission disclosures through November 2020 reveal that the Trump campaign has paid more than $2.7 million to rally organizers who together comprise almost all of the names on the permitincluding:

The Trump campaign paid Mulvaney at least $138,000 through November 2020. She is a niece of former Trump aide Mick Mulvaney, who currently serves as Trump’s special envoy to Northern Ireland. According to her LinkedIn profile, she is the Trump campaign’s director of finance operations and manager of external affairs.

The Trump campaign paid Powers around $290,000 while she was on its payroll from February 2019 through at least November 2020. According to her LinkedIn profile, she is the campaign’s director of operations – a position she assumed after being a senior advisor and press secretary for NASA (April 2018 to January 2019). Before that she worked as a press representative for the White House (January 2017 to April 2018), the Presidential Inauguration Committee (December 2016 – January 2017), and Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. (June 2015 – November 2016).

Salem spent three years as a senior White House press aide, according to her LinkedIn profile.

The Trump campaign paid Wren at least $20,000 each month from March to November – totaling $170,000. She was the campaign’s national finance consultant for its joint fundraising committee with the Republican National Committee. Wren is a veteran GOP fundraiser and was finance director for the 2014 re-election campaign of Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).

The Trump campaign paid Caporale more than $144,000 in direct payroll payments in the one-year period leading up to November 2020. He was the Trump campaign’s advance director.

The Trump campaign paid Unes more than $117,000 through November 2020. He is Caporale’s business partner in Event Strategies, Inc., which received more than $1.7 million from Trump’s campaign and joint fundraising committee.

The Trump campaign paid Oakes $126,000 in salary through at least November 2016.

Trump’s campaign paid Holden around $72,000 for payroll and consulting in early 2020.

The Trump campaign started paying Wilson in October 2020 with around $6,000 in payments for advanced consulting through November 2020 alone.

Dec. 27, 2020: Trump tweets, “See you in Washington, DC, on January 6th. Don’t miss it. Information to follow.”

Dec. 31: Acting Attorney General Rosen and his deputy, Richard Donoghue meet with Jeffrey Clark, assistant attorney general of the environment and natural resources division, whom Trump had also named acting head of the civil division in September 2020. Rosen and Donoghue tell Clark to stop pushing Trump’s false conspiracy theories about election fraud. Unbeknownst to Rosen and Donoghue, Clark had been meeting privately with Trump, who had embraced Clark’s theories and support.

Jan. 2, 2021: Trump holds an hour-long phone call pressuring Georgia election officials to change the state’s voting outcome.

  • “And you are going to find that they [the ballots] are — which is totally illegal — it is more illegal for you than it is for them because, you know, what they did and you’re not reporting it. That’s a criminal, that’s a criminal offense. And you can’t let that happen. That’s a big risk to you and to Ryan, your lawyer. And that’s a big risk…”
  • “I mean, I’m notifying you that you’re letting it happen. So look. All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have because we won the state…”
  • “You know, and I watched you this morning and you said, uh, well, there was no criminality. But I mean, all of this stuff is very dangerous stuff. When you talk about no criminality, I think it’s very dangerous for you to say that.”

The Georgia election officials tell Trump – point by point – that he is wrong factually and refuse his request. Someone on the call is taping it.

*CNN later reports that between the election and Trump’s call, the White House had attempted to reach Raffensperger’s office 18 times.

Jan. 3, 2021: Replying to a #StoptheSteal tweet from one of the rally organizers, Trump tweets:“I will be there. Historic day.”

Also on Jan., 3: Acting Defense Secretary Miller and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley meet with Trump and he concurs in activation of the DC National Guard “to support law enforcement.”

Jan. 3, midday: After meeting with Trump, Assistant Attorney General Clark informs Acting Attorney General Rosen that Trump intends to replace Rosen with Clark, who could then try to stop Congress from certifying the Electoral College results. He says that Rosen could stay on as his deputy attorney general, leaving Rosen speechless. Rosen works with White House counsel Pat Cipollone to secure a meeting with Trump that evening.

Jan. 3, 6:00 p.m.: Rosen, Donoghue, and Clark meet at the White House with Trump, Cipollone, his deputy Patrick Philbin, and other lawyers. Trump has Rosen and Clark present their competing arguments to him. Top lawyers in the Justice Department tell Trump that if he fires Rosen, all of them will resign. Three hours after the meeting began, Trump decides that Clark’s plan would fail and allows Rosen to remain as acting attorney general.

Jan. 3, late night: Under pressure from the White House, a top Justice Department official calls the US attorney in Atlanta, Byung Pak. He says that Trump is furious that there is no federal investigation into Georgia voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election.

Because the recording of Trump’s January 2 call with Georgia election officials had surfaced earlier in the day, Pak says that he is thinking about resigning. On the January 2 call, Trump had complained that Pak is a “never Trumper.” The White House indicates that Pak should resign immediately.

Trump then calls the US attorney in Savannah, Georgia, Bobby Christine. Trump says that he wants Christine to replace Pak, bypassing the longstanding protocol of elevating the number two person in Pak’s office. That move puts Christine in charge of two US attorney offices.

The following day, Pak submits his resignation due to “unforeseen circumstances.”   

Also on Jan. 3: An internal Capitol Police intelligence report warns of a violent scenario in which “Congress itself” could be the target of angry Trump supporters in the upcoming rally.

“Supporters of the current president see January 6, 2021, as the last opportunity to overturn the results of the presidential election,” the memo states. “This sense of desperation and disappointment may lead to more of an incentive to become violent. Unlike previous post-election protests, the targets of the pro-Trump supporters are not necessarily the counter-protesters as they were previously, but rather Congress itself is the target on the 6th.”

Jan. 4: Miller issues a memo to Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy requiring Miller’s “personal authorization” for the DC National Guard to employ “riot control agents” and other tactics, including “ballistic protection equipment such as helmets and body armor.” The limitations also include sharing equipment with law enforcement agencies and using “Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance assets” or conducting ISR activities. The memo states that McCarthy “may deploy the DCNG Quick Reaction Force only as a last resort and in response to a request from an appropriate civil authority.”

Jan. 4: The National Park Service increases the crowd estimate on the January 6 rally permit to 30,000 – up from the original 5,000 in December.

Also on Jan. 4: Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund asks the Senate and House sergeants at arms for permission to put the National Guard on emergency standby. They reject that idea and suggest instead that he informally seek out his Guard contacts, asking them to “lean forward” and be on alert in case the Capitol Police need help.

Jan. 5: The FBI office in Norfolk, Virginia issues a warning that extremists are preparing to travel to Washington to commit violence and “war.” The office shares the information with its counterparts in the Washington, DC office.

Also on Jan. 5: Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) receives a call from White House Political Director Brian Jack asking him to speak at the “Stop the Steal” rally on January 6. Brooks agrees.

January 6, 2021

8:17 a.m.: Trump tweets: “States want to correct their votes, which they now know were based on irregularities and fraud, plus corrupt process never received legislative approval. All Mike Pence has to do is send them back to the States, AND WE WIN. Do it Mike, this is a time for extreme courage!”

10:00 a.m.: Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally is underway. Addressing the crowd, Donald Trump Jr. says, “If you’re going to be the zero and not the hero, we’re coming for you, and we’re going to have a good time doing it.”

11:15 a.m.: A mile-and-a-half from the rally, a group of 200 to 300 protesters arrives at the Capitol reflecting pool area near the west side of the building.

10:50 a.m.: Speaking at the rally, Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani says, “Let’s have trial by combat.”

Noon: Trump begins to address the mob and continues speaking for more than an hour.

  • “We will never give up. We will never concede. It doesn’t happen. You don’t concede when there’s theft involved.”
  • “We won this election, and we won it by a landslide. This was not a close election.”
  • “I hope Mike is going to do the right thing. I hope so. I hope so, because if Mike Pence does the right thing, we win the election… 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.”

12:30 p.m.: As Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) enters the Capitol for the joint session of Congress that will certify Biden’s election, he gives a thumbs up, a fist pump, and a wave to Trump’s mob.

1:00 p.m.: While Trump continues his rant to the mob, some members of Trump’s crowd have already reached the US Capitol building where Congress assembles in joint session to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s victory. An initial wave of protesters storms the outer barricade west of the Capitol building. As the congressional proceedings begin, Pence reads a letter saying that he won’t intervene in Congress’s electoral count: “My oath to support and defend the Constitution constrains me from claiming unilateral authority.”

1:09 p.m.: DC Capitol Police Chief Sund tells his superiors – House Sergeant at Arms Paul Irving and Senate Sergeant at Arms Michael Stenger — that he wants an emergency declaration and to call in the National Guard.

1:11 p.m.: Trump ends his speech by urging his followers to march down Pennsylvania Avenue:“We fight like hell. If you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore… Our exciting adventures and boldest endeavors have not yet begun… We’re going to the Capitol. We’re going to try and give them [Republicans] the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country.”

The Attack

If the District of Columbia were a state, its governor alone could have deployed the National Guard to crush the riot. Instead, Trump and his Defense Department had that responsibility, and an unprecedent assault on a sacred institution of government succeeded, if only for a few hours.

(DoD Memo) 1:26 p.m.: The Capitol Police orders the evacuation of the Capitol complex.

*Among those later arrested is Federico Klein, who is a US State Department political appointee with a top-secret security clearance. In March 2021, Klein, a former Trump campaign employee before joining the State Department in January 2017, is charged with numerous felonies that include storming the Capitol and assaulting an officer with a riot shield.

1:30 p.m.: The crowd outside the building grows larger, eventually overtaking the Capitol Police and making its way up the Capitol steps. Suspicious packages – later confirmed to be pipe bombs – are found at Republican National Committee headquarters and Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington.

As the attack unfolds, Trump is initially pleased and disregards aides pleading with him to intercede. Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) later says that, according to Trump aides, he is “delighted,” while “walking around the White House confused about why other people on his team [are]n’t as excited.” Trump initially rebuffs and resists requests to mobilize the National Guard.

(DoD Memo) 1:34 p.m.: DC Mayor Muriel Bowser asks Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy – who reports to Miller – for more federal help to deal with the mob.

Bowser is told that the request must first come from the Capitol Police.

(DoD Memo) 1:49 p.m.: The Capitol Police chief asks the commanding general of the DC National Guard for immediate assistance.

*The commanding general, Maj. Gen. William Walker, later testifies that he immediately notifies Army senior leadership of the request. The previous day, he had received an unusual restriction on deploying any quick reaction force service members unless Army secretary McCarthy explicitly approves is. Anticipating such approval, Walker begins to move National Guard members closer to the Capitol.

Also at 1:49 p.m.: Trump retweets a video of the rally, which includes his previous statements that: “our country has had enough. We will not take it anymore and that’s what this is all about. To use a favorite term that all of you came up with, we will stop the steal. . . You’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong.”

1:59 p.m.: Sund receives the first report that rioters have reached the Capitol’s doors and windows and are attempting to break at least one window.

2:10 p.m.: Text and email alerts to all congressional staff warn those inside to stay away from windows and those outside to seek cover.

2:11 p.m.: Trump’s mob breaches the Capitol building – breaking windows, climbing inside, and opening doors for others to follow.

2:13 p.m.: Pence suddenly leaves the Senate floor and is moved to a nearby office.

2:14 p.m.: Rioters chase DC Capitol Police officer Eugene Goodman up a flight of stairs and arrive on the landing near the office where Pence and his family are hiding. Goodman runs in the opposite direction – luring them away from Pence and the Senate chamber.

2:18 p.m.: Another text alert goes out to Capitol staff: “Due to security threat inside: immediately, move inside your office, take emergency equipment, lock the doors, take shelter.”

Around 2:20 p.m.: Hiding in a barricaded room, members of Congress and their aides make pleas for outside help. Among them is a senior adviser to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who reaches a former law firm colleague, Will Levi. Levi had served as Attorney General William Barr’s chief of staff. From his home, Levi then calls FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich at the command center in the FBI’s Washington field office. Bowdich dispatches the first of three tactical teams to the Capitol, including one from the Washington field office and another from Baltimore.

During the attack: Among the members of Congress appealing directly to Trump for help is House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). According to a later statement from Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA), “When McCarthy finally reached the president on January 6 and asked him to publicly and forcefully call off the riot, the president initially repeated the falsehood that it was antifa that had breached the Capitol. McCarthy refuted that and told the president that these were Trump supporters. That’s when, according to McCarthy, the president said: ‘Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.’” [Emphasis in original]

(DoD Memo) 2:22 p.m.: Army Secretary McCarthy discusses the situation at the Capitol with Mayor Bowser and her staff.

They are begging for additional National Guard assistance.Note the time. It’s been almost an hour since Bowser requested help.

2:24 p.m.: Trump tweets: “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify. USA demands the truth!”

After erecting a gallows on the Capitol grounds, the mob shouts, “Hang Mike Pence.” Rioters create another noose from a camera cord seized during an attack on an on-site news team.

2:26 p.m.: While the senators are in a temporary holding room after the Senate chamber is evacuated, Trump tries to call Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), but mistakenly reaches Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), who hands the phone to Tuberville. Trump then tries to convince Tuberville to make additional objections to the Electoral College vote in an effort to block Congress’ certification of Biden’s win. The call is cut off because senators are asked to move to a secure location. “Mr. President, they’ve taken the vice president out,” Tuberville says. “They want me to get off the phone, I gotta go.’”

2:26 p.m.: Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund joins a conference call with several officials from the DC government, as well as officials from the Pentagon, including Lt. Gen. Walter E. Piatt, director of the Army Staff. Piatt later issues a statement denying the statements attributed to him.

“I am making an urgent, urgent immediate request for National Guard assistance,” Sund says. “I have got to get boots on the ground.”

The DC contingent is flabbergasted when Piatt says that he could not recommend that his boss, Army Secretary McCarthy, approve the request. “I don’t like the visual of the National Guard standing a police line with the Capitol in the background,” Piatt says. Again and again, Sund says that the situation is dire.

*The commanding general of the DC National Guard, Maj. Gen. William Walker, later testifies that the call includes Lt. Gen Charles Flynn – brother of former national security Mike Flynn, whom Trump pardoned after pleading guilty to lying to the FBI during the special counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and the Trump campaign. Piatt and Flynn relay to Walker: “It wouldn’t be their best military advice to send uniformed guardsmen to the Capitol because they didn’t like the optics. And they had also said that it could ‘inflame’ [the protesters].”

2:28 p.m.: Rioters storm House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) suite of offices, pounding the doors trying to find her.

(D0D Memo) 2:30 p.m.: Miller, Army Secretary McCarthy, and the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff meet to discuss Mayor Bowser’s request.

2:33 p.m.: A broadcast on the emergency management agency channel in DC requests that all law enforcement officers in the city respond to the Capitol.

2:42 p.m.: As lawmakers are evacuating the House chamber using the Speaker’s Lobby, rioters breach the Lobby threshold.

2:52 p.m.: The first FBI SWAT team enters the Capitol.

2:53 p.m.: The last of a large group of House members has been evacuated and is headed for a secure location.

(DoD Memo) 3:04 p.m.: Miller gives “verbal approval” to full mobilization of the DC National Guard (1,100 members).

It has now been more than 90 minutes since Mayor Bowser first asked Army Secretary McCarthy for assistance. It took an hour for Defense Department officials to meet and another half-hour for them to decide to help. And Bowser still doesn’t know the status of her request.

(Memo) 3:19 p.m.: Pelosi and Schumer call Army Secretary McCarthy, who says that Bowser’s request has now been approved.

(Memo) 3:26 p.m.: Army Secretary McCarthy calls Bowser to tell her that her request for help has been approved.

The Defense Department’s notification of approval to Bowser came two hours after her request.

While Miller and his team were slow-walking Mayor Bowser’s request, she had sought National Guard assistance from Virginia Governor Ralph Northam (D) and Maryland Governor Larry Hogan (R). At about the same time, Speaker Pelosi called Northam directly for help and he agreed.

3:29 p.m.: Governor Northam announces mobilization of Virginia’s National Guard. But there’s a hitch. Federal law requires Defense Department authorization before any state’s National Guard can cross the state border onto federal land in DC. That approval doesn’t come until almost two hours later.

(DoD Memo) 3:47 p.m. Governor Hogan mobilizes his state’s National Guard and 200 state troopers.

The Defense Department “repeatedly denies” Hogan’s request to deploy the National Guard at the Capitol. As he awaits approval, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) callsHogan from the undisclosed bunker to which he, Speaker Pelosi, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) have been evacuated. Hoyer pleads for assistance, saying that the Capitol Police is overwhelmed and there is no federal law enforcement presence.

4:17 p.m.: Trump tweets a video telling rioters, “I know your pain, I know you’re hurt. We had an election that was stolen from us. It was a landslide election and everyone knows it, especially the other side… It’s a very tough period of time. There’s never been a time like this where such a thing happened where they could take it away from all of us — from me, from you, from our country. This was a fraudulent election, but we can’t play into the hands of these people. We have to have peace. So go home. We love you. You’re very special. You’ve seen what happens. You see the way others are treated that are so bad and so evil.”

(DoD Memo) 4:18 p.m.: Miller gives voice approval to notifying surrounding states to muster and be prepared to mobilize their National Guard personnel.

(DoD Memo) 4:32 p.m.: Miller gives verbal authorization to “re-mission” DC National Guard from city posts where most have been directing traffic and monitoring subway stations “to conduct perimeter and clearance operations” in support of the Capitol Police force. 

4:40 p.m.: More than 90 minutes after Governor Hogan had requested federal approval to send his state’s National Guard troops to DC, Army Secretary McCarthy calls and asks, “Can you come as soon as possible?” Hogan responds, “Yeah. We’ve been waiting. We’re ready.”

*5:08 p.m.: More than three hours after Maj. Gen. Walker’s request for approval to deploy the National Guard at the Capitol, he receives approval.

*5:20 p.m.: After being ready for hours, 155 members of the National Guard arrive at the Capitol. According to Maj. Gen. Walker’s later testimony, earlier assistance “could have made a difference” in pushing back the crowd.

(DoD Memo) 5:45 p.m.: Miller signs formal authorization for out-of-state National Guard personnel to muster and gives voice approval for deployment to support the Capitol Police.

The first Maryland National Guard personnel don’t arrive at the Capitol until January 7 at 10:00 a.m. The first Virginia National Guard members arrive at Noon.

6:01 p.m.: Trump tweets: “These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long. Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!”

7:00 p.m.: Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, intends to call Sen. Tuberville but, like Trump five hours earlier, he reaches Sen. Lee. Unaware that he has reached the wrong number, Giuliani leaves a voicemail message saying, “Sen. Tuberville? Or I should say Coach Tuberville. This is Rudy Giuliani, the President’s lawyer. I’m calling you because I want to discuss with you how they’re trying to rush this hearing and how we need you, our Republican friends, to try to just slow it down so we can get these legislatures to get more information to you. I know they’re reconvening at 8 tonight, but it … the only strategy we can follow is to object to numerous states and raise issues so that we get ourselves into tomorrow — ideally until the end of tomorrow.”

When Congress resumes the session at 8:06 p.m., Tuberville votes in favor of objections to certifying Biden’s election.

(DoD Memo) 8:00 p.m.: The DC Capitol Police declare the Capitol building secure.

The Aftermath of the Attack

8:31 p.m.: After widespread media reports that Pence, not Trump, had actually given the order to deploy the National Guard, Kash Patel – Miller’s chief of staff and former top aide to Rep. Nunes – tells the New York Times, “The acting secretary and the president have spoken multiple times this week about the request for National Guard personnel in D.C. During these conversations, the president conveyed to the acting secretary that he should take any necessary steps to support civilian law enforcement requests in securing the Capitol and federal buildings.”

But according to the Defense Department’s January 8 memo, the only such conversation with Trump occurred on January 3.

Jan. 7: US Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick dies from injuries he sustained while defending against the attack. About 140 law enforcement officers suffer injuries such as cracked ribs, crushed spinal discs, stab wounds from a metal fence stake, concussions from head blows with objects that include metal poles ripped from inauguration-related scaffolding and even a pole with an American flag attached. Other injuries are swollen ankles and wrists, bruised arms and legs, and irritated lungs from bear and pepper spray. In the three weeks following the attack, another 38 officers who responded to the riot test positive for the coronavirus. Two officers responding on the scene die by suicide.

Jan. 7: Amid growing criticism over his fist pump to the mob shortly before it attacked the Capitol and his continuing objections after the attack to certifying Biden’s victory, Sen. Hawley issues a statement saying, “I will never apologize for giving voice to the millions of Missourians and Americans who have concerns about the integrity of our elections. That’s my job, and I will keep doing it.”

Jan. 7: Trump releases a video in which he lies, saying, “I immediately deployed the National Guard and federal law enforcement to secure the building and expel the intruders.” Defense Department officials confirm that they did not speak to Trump on January 6.

Jan. 8: Trump tweets: “The 75,000,000 great American Patriots who voted for me, AMERICA FIRST, and MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN, will have a GIANT VOICE long into the future. They will not be disrespected or treated unfairly in any way, shape or form!!!”

Shortly thereafter, he tweets again: “To all of those who have asked, I will not be going to the Inauguration on January 20th.”

Jan. 9: Twitter issues a statement saying that it has banned Trump because his “statement that he will not be attending the Inauguration is being received by a number of his supporters as further confirmation that the election was not legitimate… and encouragement to those potentially considering violent acts that the Inauguration would be a ‘safe’ target, as he will not be attending.”

Twitter’s statement continues, “The use of the words ‘American Patriots’ to describe some of his supporters is also being interpreted as support for those committing violent acts at the US Capitol. The mention of his supporters having a ‘GIANT VOICE long into the future’ and that ‘They will not be disrespected or treated unfairly in any way, shape or form!!!’ is being interpreted as further indication that President Trump does not plan to facilitate an ‘orderly transition’ and instead that he plans to continue to support, empower, and shield those who believe he won the election.”

The statement concludes: “Plans for future armed protests have already begun proliferating on and off-Twitter, including a proposed secondary attack on the US Capitol and state capitol buildings on January 17, 2021.”

Jan. 12: Preparing to board Marine One for Andrews Air Force Base en route to a speech in Alamo, Texas, Trump says, “And on the impeachment, it’s really a continuation of the greatest witch hunt in the history of politics.  It’s ridiculous.  It’s absolutely ridiculous. This impeachment is causing tremendous anger, and you’re doing it, and it’s really a terrible thing that they’re doing.  For Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer to continue on this path, I think it’s causing tremendous danger to our country and it’s causing tremendous anger.”

Also on Jan. 12: As he prepares to board Air Force One, Trump says, “So if you read my speech — and many people have done it, and I’ve seen it both in the papers and in the media, on television — it’s been analyzed, and people thought that what I said was totally appropriate.

And if you look at what other people have said — politicians at a high level — about the riots during the summer, the horrible riots in Portland and Seattle, in various other — other places, that was a real problem — what they said. But they’ve analyzed my speech and words and my final paragraph, my final sentence, and everybody, to the T, thought it was totally appropriate.”

Also on Jan. 12: Speaking to his Texas audience, Trump says, “Before we begin, I’d like to say that free speech is under assault like never before. The 25th Amendment is of zero risk to me but will come back to haunt Joe Biden and the Biden administration. As the expression goes: Be careful what you wish for. The impeachment hoax is a continuation of the greatest and most vicious witch hunt in the history of our country, and it is causing tremendous anger and division and pain — far greater than most people will ever understand, which is very dangerous for the USA, especially at this very tender time.”

Also on Jan. 12: The House Judiciary Committee issues a 76-page report of the events before, during and after the January riot that culminated in the deaths of five Americans, including a US Capitol Police officer. It concludes, “President Trump has falsely asserted he won the 2020 presidential election and repeatedly sought to overturn the results of the election. As his efforts failed again and again, President Trump continued a parallel course of conduct that foreseeably resulted in the imminent lawless actions of his supporters, who attacked the Capitol and the Congress. This course of conduct, viewed within the context of his past actions and other attempts to subvert the presidential election, demonstrate that President Trump remains a clear and present danger to the Constitution and our democracy.”

Jan. 13: As the article of impeachment and House Report head to the House floor for a vote, CNN reports that members of Congress, under pressure from Trump, are “scared” and “fear for their lives and their families.” Appearing on MSNBC, Rep. Jason Crow (D-CO) says, “I had a lot of conversations with my Republican colleagues. … A couple of them broke down in tears … saying that they are afraid for their lives if they vote for this impeachment.”

Later that day, 10 Republicans join all House Democrats to impeach Trump for “incitement of insurrection” by a vote of 232 to 197.

*Jan. 13: Senate Majority Leader McConnelsays he’s open to convicting Trump for inciting the insurrection. But he also states that the Senate trial will not begin before Trump leaves office.

Jan. 16: Acting Defense Secretary Miller orders National Security Agency Director Paul Nakasone to install former White House official Michael Ellis as the NSA’s top lawyer by 6:00 p.m. Later that afternoon, Ellis formally accepts the NSA’s job offer.

*Jan. 19: McConnell takes the Senate floor and says, “The mob was fed lies. They were provoked by the president and other powerful people, and they tried to use fear and violence to stop a specific proceeding of the first branch of the federal government, which they did not like.”

Jan. 20: Shortly after Biden’s inauguration, Nakasone, places Ellis on leave pending a Pentagon inspector general inquiry into the circumstances of his selection as NSA general counsel.

Jan. 22: Speaker Pelosi announces that she will transmit the article of impeachment against Trump to the Senate on Monday, January 25. The Senate will delay the start of Trump’s trial until the week of February 8, as Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) requested.

Jan. 26:By a 55-45 vote, the Senate rejects Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-KY) motion to declare the impeachment proceedings against Trump unconstitutional. Convicting Trump after trial will require a two-thirds vote of senators present for the vote.

Feb. 10: The top prosecutor in Fulton County Georgia, which covers most of Atlanta, has opened an investigation into efforts to influence the state’s 2020 presidential election.

Feb. 12: After Trump’s legal team finishes presenting its case to the Senate, Rep. Beutler releases a statement confirming Minority Leader McCarthy’s conversation with Trump during the insurrection: “When McCarthy finally reached the president on January 6 and asked him to publicly and forcefully call off the riot, the president initially repeated the falsehood that it was antifa that had breached the Capitol. McCarthy refuted that and told the president that these were Trump supporters. That’s when, according to McCarthy, the president said: ‘Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.’” [Emphasis in original]

Feb. 12: The top prosecutor in Fulton County Georgia says that her office’s investigation will include Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-SC) November phone call to Secretary of State Raffensperger about mail-in ballots, the abrupt removal last month of US attorney Pak who had refused Trump’s debunked assertions about election fraud, and false claims that Rudy Giuliani made before the state’s legislative committees.

Feb. 13: Based on Rep. Beutler’s newly-released statement, Lead House Impeachment Manager Jamie Raskin (D-MD) asks the Senate to permit the deposition of Rep. Beutler. Trump’s legal team objects, claiming that it will call 100 witnesses if the request is granted. By a 55-45 vote, the Senate approves calling witnesses. Immediately after the vote, the Senate recesses. House managers and Trump’s counsel agree to read Rep. Beutler’s statement into the record, rather than subpoena her to testify.

Later that afternoon, seven Republicans join all Democrats for a 57-43 vote in favor of convicting Trump – 10 short of the two-thirds required for conviction. Republicans voting to convict are Sens. Richard Burr (NC), William Cassidy (LA), Susan Collins (ME), Lisa Murkowski (AK), Mitt Romney (UT), Ben Sasse (NE). and Pat Toomey (PA).

After Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) votes to acquit Trump, he gives a speech on the Senate floor blaming him for the insurrection: “President Trump is still liable for everything he did while he was in office, unless the statute of limitations has run… He didn’t get away with anything yet. We have a criminal justice system in this country. We have civil litigation.”

*Feb. 25: McConnell says he will “absolutely” support Trump if he is the Republican presidential nominee in 2024.

Trump’s second impeachment trial is over, but the fight to save American democracy remains. And it still boils down to a single defining question:

Which side are you on?

INSURRECTION TIMELINE: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. McConnell – Truth or Consequences?

This post first appeared at BillMoyers.com on February 27, 2021.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is grappling with aftermath of a Devil’s Bargain with Trump. On January 6, his prior willingness to humor Trump’s election lies landed him in mortal danger. But for the foreseeable future, telling the truth about Trump could kill his political career.

Like every Devil’s Bargain, this one isn’t going well for McConnell. He’s trapped between the truth and its consequences, and it shows in his wildly contradictory actions.

First, He Blurred the Truth

Nov. 9, 2020: After every major news organization declares President-elect Joe Biden the winner of the election, McConnell goes to the Senate floor and refuses to acknowledge Trump’s defeat, saying, “This process will reach its resolution.”

But weeks of Republican unwillingness to recognize Biden’s win include a “process” that fractures the GOP and allows Trump to engage and enrage his supporters.

Then He Tried to Blunt the Consequences

Dec. 15, 2020: Following Vladimir Putin’s lead the same day, McConnell finally admits publicly that Biden won the election.

But it’s too late. Trump is actively promoting his “Save America – Stop the Steal” rally in Washington, DC, pressuring state election officials to reverse his popular vote losses in key swing states, and urging Vice President Mike Pence to throw out certain Electoral College results during the joint session of Congress that will certify Biden’s win on January 6.

Jan. 6, 2021: Moments before Trump’s mob attacks the US Capitol, McConnell tells the Senate that he will vote to certify Biden’s win, saying, “We cannot simply declare ourselves a national board of elections on steroids. We’ll either hasten down a poisonous path where only the winners of an election actually accept the results or show we can still muster the patriotic courage that our forebears showed, not only in victory, but in defeat.”

Less than an hour after his Senate speech, McConnell hides in a barricaded room as members of Congress and their aides plead for outside help. McConnell’s senior adviser reaches a former law firm colleague, Will Levi, who had served as Attorney General William Barr’s chief of staff. From his home, Levi then calls FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich at the command center in the FBI’s Washington field office. Bowdich dispatches the first of three tactical teams to the Capitol.

But the Truth Became Unavoidable

Jan. 13: Reacting to the House article of impeachment, McConnell says he’s open to convicting Trump for inciting the insurrection. But he also states that the Senate trial will not begin before Trump leaves office.

Jan. 19: McConnell takes the Senate floor and says, “The mob was fed lies. They were provoked by the president and other powerful people, and they tried to use fear and violence to stop a specific proceeding of the first branch of the federal government, which they did not like.”

Then He Tried to Blunt the Consequences, Again

Jan. 26: McConnell votes in favor of a motion that would have declared the impeachment trial unconstitutional because Trump is no longer in office – a scenario that McConnell himself has orchestrated. The motion fails.

Then He Found the Truth, Again

Feb. 13: After voting to acquit, McConnell delivers a blistering condemnation of Trump and his mob on the Senate floor, saying, “They built a gallows and chanted about murdering the vice president. They did this because they had been fed wild falsehoods by the most powerful man on earth because he was angry he had lost an election. Former President Trump’s actions preceded the riot were a disgraceful – disgraceful dereliction of duty…

“A mob was assaulting the Capitol in his name. These criminals were carrying his banners, hanging his flag and screaming their loyalty to him. It was obvious that only President Trump could end this. He was the only one who could… He did not do his job…

“President Trump is still liable for everything he did while he was in office, unless the statute of limitations has run… He didn’t get away with anything yet. We have a criminal justice system in this country. We have civil litigation.”

And Then He Abandoned the Consequences Altogether

Feb. 16: Trump responds to McConnell’s speech with a lengthy personal attack: “The Republican Party can never again be respected or strong with political ‘leaders’ like Sen. Mitch McConnell at its helm… Mitch is a dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack, and if Republican Senators are going to stay with him, they will not win again.”

Feb. 25: A Fox News reporter asks McConnell whether he would support Trump if he wins the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. “Absolutely,” McConnell responds.

During the insurrection, McConnell feared mortal danger from Trump’s mob. Now he fears political death at the hands of Trump and the same mob. Such is the fate of every elected official in what was once the Republican party.

They must keep feeding the beast or it will eat them.

INSURRECTION TIMELINE: First the Coup and Then the Cover-Up – Update #5

This post first appeared at BillMoyers.com on February 14, 2021.

Editor’s Note, February 14, 2021 — The theme for the latest update: The trial is over, but the stain remains. We’ve added new items (or revisions to previous items) that appear with an asterisk (*).

Trump’s Original Narrative Collapses

The Department of Defense’s January 8, 2021 initial press release purported to “memorialize the planning and execution timeline” of the deadly insurrection that it called the “January 6, 2021 First Amendment Protests in Washington, DC.”

The title was a ruse. Even so, Trump’s defenders are sticking with that false characterization and trying to convert it into a defense to his impeachment. But there’s no First Amendment right to incite an insurrection. And the First Amendment does not apply to whether Trump committed an impeachable offense anyway.

Late in the afternoon on January 11, 2021, even the Defense Department changed the title of its January 8 memorandum and reissued it “to more appropriately reflect the characterization of the events at the U.S. Capitol on January 6.” The retitled summary is the “January 6, 2021 Violent Attack at the U.S. Capitol.”

Substantively, the memo’s minute-by-minute account created a false illusion of transparency. In truth, its most noteworthy aspects are the omission of Trump’s central role in the insurrection and the effort to shift blame away from Trump and his new Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller.

Who is Christopher Miller?

November 9, 2020: Every news organization has declared that former Vice President Joe Biden won the election. Trump fires Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and replaces him with Christopher Miller, an Army retiree who worked for a defense contractor until Trump tappedhim as his assistant in 2018. Miller’s promotion is the beginning of a departmental regime change.

Under pressure from the White House, Defense Department general counsel Paul Ney namesformer GOP political operative Michael Ellis to be the top lawyer at the National Security Agency – the US government’s largest and most technically advanced spy agency. Ellis had been chief counsel to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) before joining the White House in 2017 as a lawyer on Trump’s National Security Council and then senior director for intelligence. During Trump’s first impeachment, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman testified that Ellis had the idea of moving the memorandum of Trump’s infamous phone call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to a highly classified server.

Unlike a political appointee, Ellis’s position as general counsel to the NSA would make him a civil servant with accompanying employment protections. NSA Director Paul Nakasone opposes Ellis’s selection and tries to delay the process of installing him.

Nov. 10, 2020: Miller embeds three fierce Trump loyalists as top Defense Department officials: Kash Patel (former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA)), retired army Gen. Anthony Tata (pro-Trump Fox News pundit), and Ezra Cohen-Watnick (former assistant to Trump’s first national security adviser, Mike Flynn).

At such a late date in Trump’s presidency, many ask, why the shake-up at the Department of Defense? We may be learning the answer.

Prior to the Attack

The department’s January 8, 2021 memo ignores Trump’s central role in igniting and then encouraging the January 6 insurrection. In fact, the only reference to Trump appears in a January 3 entry when Miller and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley meet with him and he concurs in activation of the DC National Guard “to support law enforcement.”

Other than that, Trump is conspicuously absent, along with the most important parts of the story. In the date and time entries that follow, only those in italics and preceded with “(DoD Memo)”summarize items from the Defense Department’s January 8 memorandum. The memo ignores every other fact set forth in this Timeline.

Nov. 4, 2020: Throughout the summer and fall, pre-election polls have indicated that Trump will lose to Biden decisively. But Trump has claimed repeatedly that he will lose only if the election is “rigged” and “stolen” from him. During an interview with far-right commentator Alex Jones, Trump ally Roger Stone says, “We’re calling it a fraud or we’re calling it a steal — stop the steal.” Stone had first used the “Stop the Steal” slogan during the 2016 primaries, claiming that a “Bush-Cruz-Kasich-Romney-Ryan-McConnell faction” was attempting to steal the Republican nomination from Trump. Stone had used the slogan again in the 2016 general election against Hillary Clinton.

Starting Nov. 9, 2020 and continuing past Jan. 6, 2021: Trump refuses to concede. Relentlessly, he attacks the election as “rigged” and “stolen.” Trump and his allies then lose more than 60 lawsuits seeking to invalidate the results as he pressures election officials to reverse vote totals in key swing states that he lost, including Georgia. “Stop the Steal” becomes a rallying cry.

Dec. 12, 2020: Trump tweets: “Wow! Thousands of people forming in Washington (D.C.) for Stop the Steal. Didn’t know about this, but I’ll be seeing them! #MAGA”

Dec. 15: Trump summons Acting Attorney General Rosen to the Oval Office to say that he wants the Justice Department to file legal briefs supporting his allies’ lawsuits seeking to overturn his election loss. Trump urges Rosen to appoint special counsels to investigate unfounded accusations of widespread voter fraud and Dominion, the voting machines firm. Rosen refuses. After the meeting, Trump continues to pressure Rosen in person and in phone calls.

Dec. 19, 2020: Trump tweets: “Statistically impossible to have lost the 2020 Election. Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!”

Dec. 22: ABC7 News in Washington, DC confirms that the pro-Trump group, Women for America First, has amended its permit application for a rally to protest the outcome of the election, moving the date from January 23 – after the inauguration – to January 5 through 7. Federal Election Commission disclosures through November 2020 reveal that the Trump campaign has paid more than $2.7 million to rally organizers who together comprise almost all of the names on the permitincluding:

The Trump campaign paid Mulvaney at least $138,000 through November 2020. She is a niece of former Trump aide Mick Mulvaney, who currently serves as Trump’s special envoy to Northern Ireland. According to her LinkedIn profile, she is the Trump campaign’s director of finance operations and manager of external affairs.

The Trump campaign paid Powers around $290,000 while she was on its payroll from February 2019 through at least November 2020. According to her LinkedIn profile, she is the campaign’s director of operations – a position she assumed after being a senior advisor and press secretary for NASA (April 2018 to January 2019). Before that she worked as a press representative for the White House (January 2017 to April 2018), the Presidential Inauguration Committee (December 2016 – January 2017), and Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. (June 2015 – November 2016).

Salem spent three years as a senior White House press aide, according to her LinkedIn profile.

The Trump campaign paid Wren at least $20,000 each month from March to November – totaling $170,000. She was the campaign’s national finance consultant for its joint fundraising committee with the Republican National Committee. Wren is a veteran GOP fundraiser and was finance director for the 2014 re-election campaign of Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).

The Trump campaign paid Caporale more than $144,000 in direct payroll payments in the one-year period leading up to November 2020. He was the Trump campaign’s advance director.

The Trump campaign paid Unes more than $117,000 through November 2020. He is Caporale’s business partner in Event Strategies, Inc., which received more than $1.7 million from Trump’s campaign and joint fundraising committee.

The Trump campaign paid Oakes $126,000 in salary through at least November 2016.

Trump’s campaign paid Holden around $72,000 for payroll and consulting in early 2020.

The Trump campaign started paying Wilson in October 2020 with around $6,000 in payments for advanced consulting through November 2020 alone.

Dec. 27, 2020: Trump tweets, “See you in Washington, DC, on January 6th. Don’t miss it. Information to follow.”

Dec. 31: Acting Attorney General Rosen and his deputy, Richard Donoghue meet with Jeffrey Clark, assistant attorney general of the environment and natural resources division, whom Trump had also named acting head of the civil division in September 2020. Rosen and Donoghue tell Clark to stop pushing Trump’s false conspiracy theories about election fraud. Unbeknownst to Rosen and Donoghue, Clark had been meeting privately with Trump, who had embraced Clark’s theories and support.

Jan. 2, 2021: Trump holds an hour-long phone call pressuring Georgia election officials to change the state’s voting outcome.

  • “And you are going to find that they [the ballots] are — which is totally illegal — it is more illegal for you than it is for them because, you know, what they did and you’re not reporting it. That’s a criminal, that’s a criminal offense. And you can’t let that happen. That’s a big risk to you and to Ryan, your lawyer. And that’s a big risk…”
  • “I mean, I’m notifying you that you’re letting it happen. So look. All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have because we won the state…”
  • “You know, and I watched you this morning and you said, uh, well, there was no criminality. But I mean, all of this stuff is very dangerous stuff. When you talk about no criminality, I think it’s very dangerous for you to say that.”

The Georgia election officials tell Trump – point by point – that he is wrong factually and refuse his request. Someone on the call is taping it.

Jan. 3, 2021: Replying to a #StoptheSteal tweet from one of the rally organizers, Trump tweets:“I will be there. Historic day.”

Also on Jan., 3: Acting Defense Secretary Miller and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley meet with Trump and he concurs in activation of the DC National Guard “to support law enforcement.”

Jan. 3, midday: After meeting with Trump, Assistant Attorney General Clark informsActing Attorney General Rosen that Trump intends to replace Rosen with Clark, who could then try to stop Congress from certifying the Electoral College results. He says that Rosen could stay on as his deputy attorney general, leaving Rosen speechless. Rosen works with White House counsel Pat Cipollone to secure a meeting with Trump that evening.

Jan. 3, 6:00 p.m.: Rosen, Donoghue, and Clark meet at the White House with Trump, Cipollone, his deputy Patrick Philbin, and other lawyers. Trump has Rosen and Clark present their competing arguments to him. Top lawyers in the Justice Department tell Trump that if he fires Rosen, all of them will resign. Three hours after the meeting began, Trump decides that Clark’s plan would fail and allows Rosen to remain as acting attorney general.

Jan. 3, late night: Under pressure from the White House, a top Justice Department official calls the US attorney in Atlanta, Byung Pak. He says that Trump is furious that there is no federal investigation into Georgia voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election.

Because the recording of Trump’s January 2 call with Georgia election officials had surfaced earlier in the day, Pak says that he is thinking about resigning. On the January 2 call, Trump had complained that Pak is a “never Trumper.” The White House indicates that Pak should resign immediately.

Trump then calls the US attorney in Savannah, Georgia, Bobby Christine. Trump says that he wants Christine to replace Pak, bypassing the longstanding protocol of elevating the number two person in Pak’s office. That move puts Christine in charge of two US attorney offices.

The following day, Pak submits his resignation due to “unforeseen circumstances.”   

Also on Jan. 3: An internal Capitol Police intelligence report warns of a violent scenario in which “Congress itself” could be the target of angry Trump supporters in the upcoming rally.

“Supporters of the current president see January 6, 2021, as the last opportunity to overturn the results of the presidential election,” the memo states. “This sense of desperation and disappointment may lead to more of an incentive to become violent. Unlike previous post-election protests, the targets of the pro-Trump supporters are not necessarily the counter-protesters as they were previously, but rather Congress itself is the target on the 6th.”

Jan. 4: Miller issues a memo to Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy requiring Miller’s “personal authorization” for the DC National Guard to employ “riot control agents” and other tactics, including “ballistic protection equipment such as helmets and body armor.” The limitations also include sharing equipment with law enforcement agencies and using “Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance assets” or conducting ISR activities. The memo states that McCarthy “may deploy the DCNG Quick Reaction Force only as a last resort and in response to a request from an appropriate civil authority.”

Jan. 4: The National Park Service increases the crowd estimate on the January 6 rally permit to 30,000 – up from the original 5,000 in December.

Also on Jan. 4: Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund asks the Senate and House sergeants at arms for permission to put the National Guard on emergency standby. They reject that idea and suggest instead that he informally seek out his Guard contacts, asking them to “lean forward” and be on alert in case the Capitol Police need help.

Jan. 5: The FBI office in Norfolk, Virginia issues a warning that extremists are preparing to travel to Washington to commit violence and “war.” The office shares the information with its counterparts in the Washington, DC office.

Also on Jan. 5: Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) receives a call from White House Political Director Brian Jack asking him to speak at the “Stop the Steal” rally on January 6. Brooks agrees.

January 6, 2021

8:17 a.m.: Trump tweets: “States want to correct their votes, which they now know were based on irregularities and fraud, plus corrupt process never received legislative approval. All Mike Pence has to do is send them back to the States, AND WE WIN. Do it Mike, this is a time for extreme courage!”

10:00 a.m.: Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally is underway. Addressing the crowd, Donald Trump Jr. says, “If you’re going to be the zero and not the hero, we’re coming for you, and we’re going to have a good time doing it.”

11:15 a.m.: A mile-and-a-half from the rally, a group of 200 to 300 protesters arrives at the Capitol reflecting pool area near the west side of the building.

10:50 a.m.: Speaking at the rally, Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani says, “Let’s have trial by combat.”

Noon: Trump begins to address the mob and continues speaking for more than an hour.

  • “We will never give up. We will never concede. It doesn’t happen. You don’t concede when there’s theft involved.”
  • “We won this election, and we won it by a landslide. This was not a close election.”
  • “I hope Mike is going to do the right thing. I hope so. I hope so, because if Mike Pence does the right thing, we win the election… 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.”

12:30 p.m.: As Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) enters the Capitol for the joint session of Congress that will certify Biden’s election, he gives a thumbs up, a fist pump, and a wave to Trump’s mob.

1:00 p.m.: While Trump continues his rant to the mob, some members of Trump’s crowd have already reached the US Capitol building where Congress assembles in joint session to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s victory. An initial wave of protesters storms the outer barricade west of the Capitol building. As the congressional proceedings begin, Pence reads a letter saying that he won’t intervene in Congress’s electoral count: “My oath to support and defend the Constitution constrains me from claiming unilateral authority.”

1:09 p.m.: DC Capitol Police Chief Sund tells his superiors – House Sergeant at Arms Paul Irving and Senate Sergeant at Arms Michael Stenger — that he wants an emergency declaration and to call in the National Guard.

1:11 p.m.: Trump ends his speech by urging his followers to march down Pennsylvania Avenue:“We fight like hell. If you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore… Our exciting adventures and boldest endeavors have not yet begun… We’re going to the Capitol. We’re going to try and give them [Republicans] the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country.”

The Attack

If the District of Columbia were a state, its governor alone could have deployed the National Guard to crush the riot. Instead, Trump and his Defense Department had that responsibility, and an unprecedent assault on a sacred institution of government succeeded, if only for a few hours.

(DoD Memo) 1:26 p.m.: The Capitol Police orders the evacuation of the Capitol complex.

1:30 p.m.: The crowd outside the building grows larger, eventually overtaking the Capitol Police and making its way up the Capitol steps. Suspicious packages – later confirmed to be pipe bombs – are found at Republican National Committee headquarters and Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington.

As the attack unfolds, Trump is initially pleased and disregards aides pleading with him to intercede. Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) later says that, according to Trump aides, he is “delighted,” while “walking around the White House confused about why other people on his team [are]n’t as excited.” Trump initially rebuffs and resists requests to mobilize the National Guard.

(DoD Memo) 1:34 p.m.: DC Mayor Muriel Bowser asks Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy – who reports to Miller – for more federal help to deal with the mob.

Bowser is told that the request must first come from the Capitol Police.

(DoD Memo) 1:49 p.m.: The Capitol Police chief asks the commanding general of the DC National Guard for immediate assistance.

Also at 1:49 p.m.: Trump retweets a video of the rally, which includes his previous statements that: “our country has had enough. We will not take it anymore and that’s what this is all about. To use a favorite term that all of you came up with, we will stop the steal. . . You’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong.”

1:59 p.m.: Sund receives the first report that rioters have reached the Capitol’s doors and windows and are attempting to break at least one window.

2:10 p.m.: Text and email alerts to all congressional staff warn those inside to stay away from windows and those outside to seek cover.

2:11 p.m.: Trump’s mob breaches the Capitol building – breaking windows, climbing inside, and opening doors for others to follow.

2:13 p.m.: Pence suddenly leaves the Senate floor and is moved to a nearby office.

2:14 p.m.: Rioters chase DC Capitol Police officer Eugene Goodman up a flight of stairs and arrive on the landing near the office where Pence and his family are hiding. Goodman runs in the opposite direction – luring them away from Pence and the Senate chamber.

2:18 p.m.: Another text alert goes out to Capitol staff: “Due to security threat inside: immediately, move inside your office, take emergency equipment, lock the doors, take shelter.”

Around 2:20 p.m.: Hiding in a barricaded room, members of Congress and their aides make pleas for outside help. Among them is a senior adviser to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who reaches a former law firm colleague, Will Levi. Levi had served as Attorney General William Barr’s chief of staff. From his home, Levi then calls FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich at the command center in the FBI’s Washington field office. Bowdich dispatches the first of three tactical teams to the Capitol, including one from the Washington field office and another from Baltimore.

*During the attack: Among the members of Congress appealing directly to Trump for help is House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). According to a later statement from Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA), “When McCarthy finally reached the president on January 6 and asked him to publicly and forcefully call off the riot, the president initially repeated the falsehood that it was antifa that had breached the Capitol. McCarthy refuted that and told the president that these were Trump supporters. That’s when, according to McCarthy, the president said: ‘Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.’” [Emphasis in original]

(DoD Memo) 2:22 p.m.: Army Secretary McCarthy discusses the situation at the Capitol with Mayor Bowser and her staff.

They are begging for additional National Guard assistance.Note the time. It’s been almost an hour since Bowser requested help.

2:24 p.m.: Trump tweets: “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify. USA demands the truth!”

After erecting a gallows on the Capitol grounds, the mob shouts, “Hang Mike Pence.” Rioters create another noose from a camera cord seized during an attack on an on-site news team.

*2:26 p.m.: While the senators are in a temporary holding room after the Senate chamber is evacuated, Trump tries to call Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), but mistakenly reaches Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), who hands the phone to Tuberville. Trump then tries to convince Tuberville to make additional objections to the Electoral College vote in an effort to block Congress’ certification of Biden’s win. The call is cut off because senators are asked to move to a secure location. “Mr. President, they’ve taken the vice president out,” Tuberville says. “They want me to get off the phone, I gotta go.’”

2:26 p.m.: Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund joins a conference call with several officials from the DC government, as well as officials from the Pentagon, including Lt. Gen. Walter E. Piatt, director of the Army Staff. Piatt later issues a statement denying the statements attributed to him.

“I am making an urgent, urgent immediate request for National Guard assistance,” Sund says. “I have got to get boots on the ground.”

The DC contingent is flabbergasted when Piatt says that he could not recommend that his boss, Army Secretary McCarthy, approve the request. “I don’t like the visual of the National Guard standing a police line with the Capitol in the background,” Piatt says. Again and again, Sund says that the situation is dire.

2:28 p.m.: Rioters storm House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) suite of offices, pounding the doors trying to find her.

(D0D Memo) 2:30 p.m.: Miller, Army Secretary McCarthy, and the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff meet to discuss Mayor Bowser’s request.

2:33 p.m.: A broadcast on the emergency management agency channel in DC requests that all law enforcement officers in the city respond to the Capitol.

2:42 p.m.: As lawmakers are evacuating the House chamber using the Speaker’s Lobby, rioters breach the Lobby threshold.

2:52 p.m.: The first FBI SWAT team enters the Capitol.

2:53 p.m.: The last of a large group of House members has been evacuated and is headed for a secure location.

(DoD Memo) 3:04 p.m.: Miller gives “verbal approval” to full mobilization of the DC National Guard (1,100 members).

It has now been more than 90 minutes since Mayor Bowser first asked Army Secretary McCarthy for assistance. It took an hour for Defense Department officials to meet and another half-hour for them to decide to help. And Bowser still doesn’t know the status of her request.

(Memo) 3:19 p.m.: Pelosi and Schumer call Army Secretary McCarthy, who says that Bowser’s request has now been approved.

(Memo) 3:26 p.m.: Army Secretary McCarthy calls Bowser to tell her that her request for help has been approved.

The Defense Department’s notification of approval to Bowser came two hours after her request.

While Miller and his team were slow-walking Mayor Bowser’s request, she had sought National Guard assistance from Virginia Governor Ralph Northam (D) and Maryland Governor Larry Hogan (R). At about the same time, Speaker Pelosi called Northam directly for help and he agreed.

3:29 p.m.: Governor Northam announces mobilization of Virginia’s National Guard. But there’s a hitch. Federal law requires Defense Department authorization before any state’s National Guard can cross the state border onto federal land in DC. That approval doesn’t come until almost two hours later.

(DoD Memo) 3:47 p.m. Governor Hogan mobilizes his state’s National Guard and 200 state troopers.

The Defense Department “repeatedly denies” Hogan’s request to deploy the National Guard at the Capitol. As he awaits approval, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) callsHogan from the undisclosed bunker to which he, Speaker Pelosi, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) have been evacuated. Hoyer pleads for assistance, saying that the Capitol Police is overwhelmed and there is no federal law enforcement presence.

4:17 p.m.: Trump tweets a video telling rioters, “I know your pain, I know you’re hurt. We had an election that was stolen from us. It was a landslide election and everyone knows it, especially the other side… It’s a very tough period of time. There’s never been a time like this where such a thing happened where they could take it away from all of us — from me, from you, from our country. This was a fraudulent election, but we can’t play into the hands of these people. We have to have peace. So go home. We love you. You’re very special. You’ve seen what happens. You see the way others are treated that are so bad and so evil.”

(DoD Memo) 4:18 p.m.: Miller gives voice approval to notifying surrounding states to muster and be prepared to mobilize their National Guard personnel.

(DoD Memo) 4:32 p.m.: Miller gives verbal authorization to “re-mission” DC National Guard from city posts where most have been directing traffic and monitoring subway stations “to conduct perimeter and clearance operations” in support of the Capitol Police force. 

4:40 p.m.: More than 90 minutes after Governor Hogan had requested federal approval to send his state’s National Guard troops to DC, Army Secretary McCarthy calls and asks, “Can you come as soon as possible?” Hogan responds, “Yeah. We’ve been waiting. We’re ready.”

5:40 p.m.: The first DC National Guard personnel arrive at the Capitol.

(DoD Memo) 5:45 p.m.: Miller signs formal authorization for out-of-state National Guard personnel to muster and gives voice approval for deployment to support the Capitol Police.

The first Maryland National Guard personnel don’t arrive at the Capitol until January 7 at 10:00 a.m. The first Virginia National Guard members arrive at Noon.

6:01 p.m.: Trump tweets: “These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long. Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!”

7:00 p.m.: Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, intends to call Sen. Tuberville but, like Trump five hours earlier, he reaches Sen. Lee. Unaware that he has reached the wrong number, Giuliani leaves a voicemail message saying, “Sen. Tuberville? Or I should say Coach Tuberville. This is Rudy Giuliani, the President’s lawyer. I’m calling you because I want to discuss with you how they’re trying to rush this hearing and how we need you, our Republican friends, to try to just slow it down so we can get these legislatures to get more information to you. I know they’re reconvening at 8 tonight, but it … the only strategy we can follow is to object to numerous states and raise issues so that we get ourselves into tomorrow — ideally until the end of tomorrow.”

When Congress resumes the session at 8:06 p.m., Tuberville votes in favor of objections to certifying Biden’s election.

(DoD Memo) 8:00 p.m.: The DC Capitol Police declare the Capitol building secure.

The Aftermath of the Attack

8:31 p.m.: After widespread media reports that Pence, not Trump, had actually given the order to deploy the National Guard, Kash Patel – Miller’s chief of staff and former top aide to Rep. Nunes – tells the New York Times, “The acting secretary and the president have spoken multiple times this week about the request for National Guard personnel in D.C. During these conversations, the president conveyed to the acting secretary that he should take any necessary steps to support civilian law enforcement requests in securing the Capitol and federal buildings.”

But according to the Defense Department’s January 8 memo, the only such conversation with Trump occurred on January 3.

Jan. 7: US Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick dies from injuries he sustained while defending against the attack. About 140 law enforcement officers suffer injuries such as cracked ribs, crushed spinal discs, stab wounds from a metal fence stake, concussions from head blows with objects that include metal poles ripped from inauguration-related scaffolding and even a pole with an American flag attached. Other injuries are swollen ankles and wrists, bruised arms and legs, and irritated lungs from bear and pepper spray. In the three weeks following the attack, another 38 officers who responded to the riot test positive for the coronavirus. Two officers responding on the scene die by suicide.

Jan. 7: Amid growing criticism over his fist pump to the mob shortly before it attacked the Capitol and his continuing objections after the attack to certifying Biden’s victory, Sen. Hawley issues a statement saying, “I will never apologize for giving voice to the millions of Missourians and Americans who have concerns about the integrity of our elections. That’s my job, and I will keep doing it.”

Jan. 7: Trump releases a video in which he lies, saying, “I immediately deployed the National Guard and federal law enforcement to secure the building and expel the intruders.” Defense Department officials confirm that they did not speak to Trump on January 6.

Jan. 8: Trump tweets: “The 75,000,000 great American Patriots who voted for me, AMERICA FIRST, and MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN, will have a GIANT VOICE long into the future. They will not be disrespected or treated unfairly in any way, shape or form!!!”

Shortly thereafter, he tweets again: “To all of those who have asked, I will not be going to the Inauguration on January 20th.”

Jan. 9: Twitter issues a statement saying that it has banned Trump because his “statement that he will not be attending the Inauguration is being received by a number of his supporters as further confirmation that the election was not legitimate… and encouragement to those potentially considering violent acts that the Inauguration would be a ‘safe’ target, as he will not be attending.”

Twitter’s statement continues, “The use of the words ‘American Patriots’ to describe some of his supporters is also being interpreted as support for those committing violent acts at the US Capitol. The mention of his supporters having a ‘GIANT VOICE long into the future’ and that ‘They will not be disrespected or treated unfairly in any way, shape or form!!!’ is being interpreted as further indication that President Trump does not plan to facilitate an ‘orderly transition’ and instead that he plans to continue to support, empower, and shield those who believe he won the election.”

The statement concludes: “Plans for future armed protests have already begun proliferating on and off-Twitter, including a proposed secondary attack on the US Capitol and state capitol buildings on January 17, 2021.”

Jan. 12: Preparing to board Marine One for Andrews Air Force Base en route to a speech in Alamo, Texas, Trump says, “And on the impeachment, it’s really a continuation of the greatest witch hunt in the history of politics.  It’s ridiculous.  It’s absolutely ridiculous. This impeachment is causing tremendous anger, and you’re doing it, and it’s really a terrible thing that they’re doing.  For Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer to continue on this path, I think it’s causing tremendous danger to our country and it’s causing tremendous anger.”

Also on Jan. 12: As he prepares to board Air Force One, Trump says, “So if you read my speech — and many people have done it, and I’ve seen it both in the papers and in the media, on television — it’s been analyzed, and people thought that what I said was totally appropriate.

And if you look at what other people have said — politicians at a high level — about the riots during the summer, the horrible riots in Portland and Seattle, in various other — other places, that was a real problem — what they said. But they’ve analyzed my speech and words and my final paragraph, my final sentence, and everybody, to the T, thought it was totally appropriate.”

Also on Jan. 12: Speaking to his Texas audience, Trump says, “Before we begin, I’d like to say that free speech is under assault like never before. The 25th Amendment is of zero risk to me but will come back to haunt Joe Biden and the Biden administration. As the expression goes: Be careful what you wish for. The impeachment hoax is a continuation of the greatest and most vicious witch hunt in the history of our country, and it is causing tremendous anger and division and pain — far greater than most people will ever understand, which is very dangerous for the USA, especially at this very tender time.”

Also on Jan. 12: The House Judiciary Committee issues a 76-page report of the events before, during and after the January riot that culminated in the deaths of five Americans, including a US Capitol Police officer. It concludes, “President Trump has falsely asserted he won the 2020 presidential election and repeatedly sought to overturn the results of the election. As his efforts failed again and again, President Trump continued a parallel course of conduct that foreseeably resulted in the imminent lawless actions of his supporters, who attacked the Capitol and the Congress. This course of conduct, viewed within the context of his past actions and other attempts to subvert the presidential election, demonstrate that President Trump remains a clear and present danger to the Constitution and our democracy.”

Jan. 13: As the article of impeachment and House Report head to the House floor for a vote, CNN reports that members of Congress, under pressure from Trump, are “scared” and “fear for their lives and their families.” Appearing on MSNBC, Rep. Jason Crow (D-CO) says, “I had a lot of conversations with my Republican colleagues. … A couple of them broke down in tears … saying that they are afraid for their lives if they vote for this impeachment.”

Later that day, 10 Republicans join all House Democrats to impeach Trump for “incitement of insurrection” by a vote of 232 to 197.

Jan. 16: Acting Defense Secretary Miller orders National Security Agency Director Paul Nakasone to install former White House official Michael Ellis as the NSA’s top lawyer by 6:00 p.m. Later that afternoon, Ellis formally accepts the NSA’s job offer.

Jan. 20: Shortly after Biden’s inauguration, Nakasone, places Ellis on leave pending a Pentagon inspector general inquiry into the circumstances of his selection as NSA general counsel.

Jan. 22: Speaker Pelosi announces that she will transmit the article of impeachment against Trump to the Senate on Monday, January 25. The Senate will delay the start of Trump’s trial until the week of February 8, as Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) requested.

Jan. 26:By a 55-45 vote, the Senate rejects Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-KY) motion to declare the impeachment proceedings against Trump unconstitutional. Convicting Trump after trial will require a two-thirds vote of senators present for the vote.

*Feb. 10: The top prosecutor in Fulton County Georgia, which covers most of Atlanta, has opened an investigation into efforts to influence the state’s 2020 presidential election.

*Feb. 12: After Trump’s legal team finishes presenting its case to the Senate, Rep. Beutler releases a statement confirming Minority Leader McCarthy’s conversation with Trump during the insurrection: “When McCarthy finally reached the president on January 6 and asked him to publicly and forcefully call off the riot, the president initially repeated the falsehood that it was antifa that had breached the Capitol. McCarthy refuted that and told the president that these were Trump supporters. That’s when, according to McCarthy, the president said: ‘Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.’” [Emphasis in original]

*Feb. 12: The top prosecutor in Fulton County Georgia says that her office’s investigation will include Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-SC) November phone call to Secretary of State Raffensperger about mail-in ballots, the abrupt removal last month of US attorney Pak who had refused Trump’s debunked assertions about election fraud, and false claims that Rudy Giuliani made before the state’s legislative committees.

*Feb. 13: Based on Rep. Beutler’s newly-released statement, Lead House Impeachment Manager Jamie Raskin (D-MD) asks the Senate to permit the deposition of Rep. Beutler. Trump’s legal team objects, claiming that it will call 100 witnesses if the request is granted. By a 55-45 vote, the Senate approves calling witnesses. Immediately after the vote, the Senate recesses. House managers and Trump’s counsel agree to read Rep. Beutler’s statement into the record, rather than subpoena her to testify.

Later that afternoon, seven Republicans join all Democrats for a 57-43 vote in favor of convicting Trump – 10 short of the two-thirds required for conviction. Republicans voting to convict are Sens. Richard Burr (NC), William Cassidy (LA), Susan Collins (ME), Lisa Murkowski (AK), Mitt Romney (UT), Ben Sasse (NE). and Pat Toomey (PA).

After Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) votes to acquit Trump, he gives a speech on the Senate floor blaming him for the insurrection: “President Trump is still liable for everything he did while he was in office, unless the statute of limitations has run… He didn’t get away with anything yet. We have a criminal justice system in this country. We have civil litigation.”

Trump’s second impeachment trial is over, but the fight to save American democracy remains. And it still boils down to a single defining question:

Which side are you on?

INSURRECTION TIMELINE : First the Coup and Then the Cover-Up – Update #4

This post first appeared at BillMoyers.com on February 1, 2021.

Editor’s Note, February 1, 2021 — The theme for the latest update: What did Christopher Miller known and when did he know it? We’ve added new items (or revisions to previous items) that appear with an asterisk (*).

Trump’s Original Narrative Collapses

The Department of Defense’s January 8, 2021 initial press release purported to “memorialize the planning and execution timeline” of the deadly insurrection that it called the “January 6, 2021 First Amendment Protests in Washington, DC.”

The title was a ruse. Even so, Trump’s defenders are sticking with that false characterization and trying to convert it into a defense to his impeachment. But there’s no First Amendment right to incite an insurrection. And the First Amendment does not apply to whether Trump committed an impeachable offense anyway.

Late in the afternoon on January 11, 2021, even the Defense Department changed the title of its January 8 memorandum and reissued it “to more appropriately reflect the characterization of the events at the U.S. Capitol on January 6.” The retitled summary is the “January 6, 2021 Violent Attack at the U.S. Capitol.”

Substantively, the memo’s minute-by-minute account created a false illusion of transparency. In truth, its most noteworthy aspects are the omission of Trump’s central role in the insurrection and the effort to shift blame away from Trump and his new Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller.

Who is Christopher Miller?

November 9, 2020: Every news organization has declared that former Vice President Joe Biden won the election. Trump fires Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and replaces him with Christopher Miller, an Army retiree who worked for a defense contractor until Trump tapped him as his assistant in 2018. Miller’s promotion is the beginning of a departmental regime change.

Under pressure from the White House, Defense Department general counsel Paul Ney names former GOP political operative Michael Ellis to be the top lawyer at the National Security Agency – the US government’s largest and most technically advanced spy agency. Ellis had been chief counsel to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) before joining the White House in 2017 as a lawyer on Trump’s National Security Council and then senior director for intelligence. During Trump’s first impeachment, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman testified that Ellis had the idea of moving the memorandum of Trump’s infamous phone call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to a highly classified server.

Unlike a political appointee, Ellis’s position as general counsel to the NSA would make him a civil servant with accompanying employment protections. NSA Director Paul Nakasone opposes Ellis’s selection and tries to delay the process of installing him.

Nov. 10, 2020: Miller embeds three fierce Trump loyalists as top Defense Department officials: Kash Patel (former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA)), retired army Gen. Anthony Tata (pro-Trump Fox News pundit), and Ezra Cohen-Watnick (former assistant to Trump’s first national security adviser, Mike Flynn).

At such a late date in Trump’s presidency, many ask, why the shake-up at the Department of Defense? We may be learning the answer.

Prior to the Attack

The department’s January 8, 2021 memo ignores Trump’s central role in igniting and then encouraging the January 6 insurrection. In fact, the only reference to Trump appears in a January 3 entry when Miller and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Milley meet with him and he concurs in activation of the DC National Guard “to support law enforcement.”

Other than that, Trump is conspicuously absent, along with the most important parts of the story. In the date and time entries that follow, only those in italics and preceded with “(DoD Memo)”summarize items from the Defense Department’s January 8 memorandum. The memo ignores every other fact set forth in this Timeline.

Nov. 4, 2020: Throughout the summer and fall, pre-election polls have indicated that Trump will lose to Biden decisively. But Trump has claimed repeatedly that he will lose only if the election is “rigged” and “stolen” from him. During an interview with far-right commentator Alex Jones, Trump ally Roger Stone says, “We’re calling it a fraud or we’re calling it a steal — stop the steal.” Stone had first used the “Stop the Steal” slogan during the 2016 primaries, claiming that a “Bush-Cruz-Kasich-Romney-Ryan-McConnell faction” was attempting to steal the Republican nomination from Trump. Stone had used the slogan again in the 2016 general election against Hillary Clinton.

Starting Nov. 9, 2020 and continuing past Jan. 6, 2021: Trump refuses to concede. Relentlessly, he attacks the election as “rigged” and “stolen.” Trump and his allies then lose more than 60 lawsuits seeking to invalidate the results as he pressures election officials to reverse vote totals in key swing states that he lost, including Georgia. “Stop the Steal” becomes a rallying cry.

Dec. 12, 2020: Trump tweets: “Wow! Thousands of people forming in Washington (D.C.) for Stop the Steal. Didn’t know about this, but I’ll be seeing them! #MAGA”

Dec. 15: Trump summons Acting Attorney General Rosen to the Oval Office to say that he wants the Justice Department to file legal briefs supporting his allies’ lawsuits seeking to overturn his election loss. Trump urges Rosen to appoint special counsels to investigate unfounded accusations of widespread voter fraud and Dominion, the voting machines firm. Rosen refuses. After the meeting, Trump continues to pressure Rosen in person and in phone calls.

Dec. 19, 2020: Trump tweets: “Statistically impossible to have lost the 2020 Election. Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!”

Dec. 22: ABC7 News in Washington, DC confirms that the pro-Trump group, Women for America First, has amended its permit application for a rally to protest the outcome of the election, moving the date from January 23 – after the inauguration – to January 5 through 7. Federal Election Commission disclosures through November 2020 reveal that the Trump campaign has paid more than $2.7 million to rally organizers who together comprise almost all of the names on the permitincluding:

The Trump campaign paid Mulvaney at least $138,000 through November 2020. She is a niece of former Trump aide Mick Mulvaney, who currently serves as Trump’s special envoy to Northern Ireland. According to her LinkedIn profile, she is the Trump campaign’s director of finance operations and manager of external affairs.

The Trump campaign paid Powers around $290,000 while she was on its payroll from February 2019 through at least November 2020. According to her LinkedIn profile, she is the campaign’s director of operations – a position she assumed after being a senior advisor and press secretary for NASA (April 2018 to January 2019). Before that she worked as a press representative for the White House (January 2017 to April 2018), the Presidential Inauguration Committee (December 2016 – January 2017), and Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. (June 2015 – November 2016).

Salem spent three years as a senior White House press aide, according to her LinkedIn profile.

The Trump campaign paid Wren at least $20,000 each month from March to November – totaling $170,000. She was the campaign’s national finance consultant for its joint fundraising committee with the Republican National Committee. Wren is a veteran GOP fundraiser and was finance director for the 2014 re-election campaign of Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).

The Trump campaign paid Caporale more than $144,000 in direct payroll payments in the one-year period leading up to November 2020. He was the Trump campaign’s advance director.

The Trump campaign paid Unes more than $117,000 through November 2020. He is Caporale’s business partner in Event Strategies, Inc., which received more than $1.7 million from Trump’s campaign and joint fundraising committee.

The Trump campaign paid Oakes $126,000 in salary through at least November 2016.

Trump’s campaign paid Holden around $72,000 for payroll and consulting in early 2020.

The Trump campaign started paying Wilson in October 2020 with around $6,000 in payments for advanced consulting through November 2020 alone.

Dec. 27, 2020: Trump tweets, “See you in Washington, DC, on January 6th. Don’t miss it. Information to follow.”

Dec. 31: Acting Attorney General Rosen and his deputy, Richard Donoghue meet with Jeffrey Clark, assistant attorney general of the environment and natural resources division, whom Trump had also named acting head of the civil division in September 2020. Rosen and Donoghue tell Clark to stop pushing Trump’s false conspiracy theories about election fraud. Unbeknownst to Rosen and Donoghue, Clark had been meeting privately with Trump, who had embraced Clark’s theories and support.

Jan. 2, 2021: Trump holds an hour-long phone call pressuring Georgia election officials to change the state’s voting outcome.

  • “And you are going to find that they [the ballots] are — which is totally illegal — it is more illegal for you than it is for them because, you know, what they did and you’re not reporting it. That’s a criminal, that’s a criminal offense. And you can’t let that happen. That’s a big risk to you and to Ryan, your lawyer. And that’s a big risk…”
  • “I mean, I’m notifying you that you’re letting it happen. So look. All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have because we won the state…”
  • “You know, and I watched you this morning and you said, uh, well, there was no criminality. But I mean, all of this stuff is very dangerous stuff. When you talk about no criminality, I think it’s very dangerous for you to say that.”

The Georgia election officials tell Trump – point by point – that he is wrong factually and refuse his request. Someone on the call is taping it.

Jan. 3, 2021: Replying to a #StoptheSteal tweet from one of the rally organizers, Trump tweets:“I will be there. Historic day.”

*Also on Jan., 3: Acting Defense Secretary Miller and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley meet with Trump and he concurs in activation of the DC National Guard “to support law enforcement.”

Jan. 3, midday: After meeting with Trump, Assistant Attorney General Clark informs Acting Attorney General Rosen that Trump intends to replace Rosen with Clark, who could then try to stop Congress from certifying the Electoral College results. He says that Rosen could stay on as his deputy attorney general, leaving Rosen speechless. Rosen works with White House counsel Pat Cipollone to secure a meeting with Trump that evening.

Jan. 3, 6:00 p.m.: Rosen, Donoghue, and Clark meet at the White House with Trump, Cipollone, his deputy Patrick Philbin, and other lawyers. Trump has Rosen and Clark present their competing arguments to him. Top lawyers in the Justice Department tell Trump that if he fires Rosen, all of them will resign. Three hours after the meeting began, Trump decides that Clark’s plan would fail and allows Rosen to remain as acting attorney general.

Jan. 3, late night: Under pressure from the White House, a top Justice Department official calls the US attorney in Atlanta, Byung Pak. He says that Trump is furious that there is no federal investigation into Georgia voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election.

Because the recording of Trump’s January 2 call with Georgia election officials had surfaced earlier in the day, Pak says that he is thinking about resigning. On the January 2 call, Trump had complained that Pak is a “never Trumper.” The White House indicates that Pak should resign immediately.

Trump then calls the US attorney in Savannah, Georgia, Bobby Christine. Trump says that he wants Christine to replace Pak, bypassing the longstanding protocol of elevating the number two person in Pak’s office. That move puts Christine in charge of two US attorney offices.

The following day, Pak submits his resignation due to “unforeseen circumstances.”   

Also on Jan. 3: An internal Capitol Police intelligence report warns of a violent scenario in which “Congress itself” could be the target of angry Trump supporters in the upcoming rally.

“Supporters of the current president see January 6, 2021, as the last opportunity to overturn the results of the presidential election,” the memo states. “This sense of desperation and disappointment may lead to more of an incentive to become violent. Unlike previous post-election protests, the targets of the pro-Trump supporters are not necessarily the counter-protesters as they were previously, but rather Congress itself is the target on the 6th.”

*Jan. 4: Miller issues a memo to Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy requiring Miller’s “personal authorization” for the DC National Guard to employ “riot control agents” and other tactics, including “ballistic protection equipment such as helmets and body armor.” Thelimitations also include sharing equipment with law enforcement agencies and using “Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance assets” or conducting ISR activities. “The memo states that McCarthy may deploy the DCNG Quick Reaction Force only as a last resort and in response to a request from an appropriate civil authority.”

Jan. 4: The National Park Service increases the crowd estimate on the January 6 rally permit to 30,000 – up from the original 5,000 in December.

Also on Jan. 4: DC Police Chief Steven Sund asks the Senate and House sergeants at arms for permission to put the National Guard on emergency standby. They reject that idea and suggest instead that he informally seek out his Guard contacts, asking them to “lean forward” and be on alert in case the Capitol Police need help.

Jan. 5: The FBI office in Norfolk, Virginia issues a warning that extremists are preparing to travel to Washington to commit violence and “war.” The office shares the information with its counterparts in the Washington, DC office.

Also on Jan. 5: Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) receives a call from White House Political Director Brian Jack asking him to speak at the “Stop the Steal” rally on January 6. Brooks agrees.

January 6, 2021

8:17 a.m.: Trump tweets: “States want to correct their votes, which they now know were based on irregularities and fraud, plus corrupt process never received legislative approval. All Mike Pence has to do is send them back to the States, AND WE WIN. Do it Mike, this is a time for extreme courage!”

10:00 a.m.: Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally is underway. Addressing the crowd, Donald Trump Jr. says, “If you’re going to be the zero and not the hero, we’re coming for you, and we’re going to have a good time doing it.”

11:15 a.m.: A mile-and-a-half from the rally, a group of 200 to 300 protesters arrives at the Capitol reflecting pool area near the west side of the building.

10:50 a.m.: Speaking at the rally, Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani says, “Let’s have trial by combat.”

Noon: Trump begins to address the mob and continues speaking for more than an hour.

  • “We will never give up. We will never concede. It doesn’t happen. You don’t concede when there’s theft involved.”
  • “We won this election, and we won it by a landslide. This was not a close election.”
  • “I hope Mike is going to do the right thing. I hope so. I hope so, because if Mike Pence does the right thing, we win the election… 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.”

12:30 p.m.: As Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) enters the Capitol for the joint session of Congress that will certify Biden’s election, he gives a thumbs up, a fist pump, and a wave to Trump’s mob.

1:00 p.m.: While Trump continues his rant to the mob, some members of Trump’s crowd have already reached the US Capitol building where Congress assembles in joint session to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s victory. An initial wave of protesters storms the outer barricade west of the Capitol building. As the congressional proceedings begin, Pence reads a letter saying that he won’t intervene in Congress’s electoral count: “My oath to support and defend the Constitution constrains me from claiming unilateral authority.”

1:09 p.m.: DC Capitol Police Chief Sund tells his superiors – House Sergeant at Arms Paul Irving and Senate Sergeant at Arms Michael Stenger — that he wants an emergency declaration and to call in the National Guard.

1:11 p.m.: Trump ends his speech by urging his followers to march down Pennsylvania Avenue:“We fight like hell. If you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore… Our exciting adventures and boldest endeavors have not yet begun… We’re going to the Capitol. We’re going to try and give them [Republicans] the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country.”

The Attack

If the District of Columbia were a state, its governor alone could have deployed the National Guard to crush the riot. Instead, Trump and his Defense Department had that responsibility, and an unprecedent assault on a sacred institution of government succeeded, if only for a few hours.

(DoD Memo) 1:26 p.m.: The Capitol Police orders the evacuation of the Capitol complex.

1:30 p.m.: The crowd outside the building grows larger, eventually overtaking the Capitol Police and making its way up the Capitol steps. Suspicious packages – later confirmed to be pipe bombs – are found at Republican National Committee headquarters and Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington.

As the attack unfolds, Trump is initially pleased and disregards aides pleading with him to intercede. Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) later says that, according to Trump aides, he is “delighted,” while “walking around the White House confused about why other people on his team [are]n’t as excited.” Trump initially rebuffs and resists requests to mobilize the National Guard.

(DoD Memo) 1:34 p.m.: DC Mayor Muriel Bowser asks Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy – who reports to Miller – for more federal help to deal with the mob.

Bowser is told that the request must first come from the Capitol Police.

(DoD Memo) 1:49 p.m.: The Capitol Police chief asks the commanding general of the DC National Guard for immediate assistance.

Also at 1:49 p.m.: Trump retweets a video of the rally, which includes his previous statements that: “our country has had enough. We will not take it anymore and that’s what this is all about. To use a favorite term that all of you came up with, we will stop the steal. . . You’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong.”

1:59 p.m.: Sund receives the first report that rioters have reached the Capitol’s doors and windows and are attempting to break at least one window.

Shortly after 2:00 p.m.: While the senators are in a temporary holding room after the Senate chamber is evacuated, Trump tries to call Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), but mistakenly reaches Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), who hands the phone to Tuberville. Trump then tries to convince Tuberville to make additional objections to the Electoral College vote in an effort to block Congress’ certification of Biden’s win. The call is cut off because senators are asked to move to a secure location.

2:10 p.m.: Text and email alerts to all congressional staff warn those inside to stay away from windows and those outside to seek cover.

2:11 p.m.: Trump’s mob breaches the Capitol building – breaking windows, climbing inside, and opening doors for others to follow.

2:13 p.m.: Pence suddenly leaves the Senate floor and is moved to a nearby office.

2:14 p.m.: Rioters chase DC Capitol Police officer Eugene Goodman up a flight of stairs and arrive on the landing near the office where Pence and his family are hiding. Goodman runs in the opposite direction – luring them away from Pence and the Senate chamber.

2:18 p.m.: Another text alert goes out to Capitol staff: “Due to security threat inside: immediately, move inside your office, take emergency equipment, lock the doors, take shelter.”

Around 2:20 p.m.: Hiding in a barricaded room, members of Congress and their aides make pleas for outside help. Among them is a senior adviser to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who reaches a former law firm colleague, Will Levi. Levi had served as Attorney General William Barr’s chief of staff. From his home, Levi then calls FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich at the command center in the FBI’s Washington field office. Bowdich dispatches the first of three tactical teams to the Capitol, including one from the Washington field office and another from Baltimore.

(DoD Memo) 2:22 p.m.: Army Secretary McCarthy discusses the situation at the Capitol with Mayor Bowser and her staff.

They are begging for additional National Guard assistance. Note the time. It’s been almost an hour since Bowser requested help.

2:24 p.m.: Trump tweets: “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify. USA demands the truth!”

After erecting a gallows on the Capitol grounds, the mob shouts, “Hang Mike Pence.” Rioters create another noose from a camera cord seized during an attack on an on-site news team.

2:26 p.m.: Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund joins a conference call with several officials from the DC government, as well as officials from the Pentagon, including Lt. Gen. Walter E. Piatt, director of the Army Staff. Piatt later issues a statement denying the statements attributed to him.

“I am making an urgent, urgent immediate request for National Guard assistance,” Sund says. “I have got to get boots on the ground.”

The DC contingent is flabbergasted when Piatt says that he could not recommend that his boss, Army Secretary McCarthy, approve the request. “I don’t like the visual of the National Guard standing a police line with the Capitol in the background,” Piatt says. Again and again, Sund says that the situation is dire.

2:28 p.m.: Rioters storm House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) suite of offices, pounding the doors trying to find her.

(D0D Memo) 2:30 p.m.: Miller, Army Secretary McCarthy, and the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff meet to discuss Mayor Bowser’s request.

2:33 p.m.: A broadcast on the emergency management agency channel in DC requests that all law enforcement officers in the city respond to the Capitol.

2:42 p.m.: As lawmakers are evacuating the House chamber using the Speaker’s Lobby, rioters breach the Lobby threshold.

2:52 p.m.: The first FBI SWAT team enters the Capitol.

2:53 p.m.: The last of a large group of House members has been evacuated and is headed for a secure location.

(DoD Memo) 3:04 p.m.: Miller gives “verbal approval” to full mobilization of the DC National Guard (1,100 members).

It has now been more than 90 minutes since Mayor Bowser first asked Army Secretary McCarthy for assistance. It took an hour for Defense Department officials to meet and another half-hour for them to decide to help. And Bowser still doesn’t know the status of her request.

(Memo) 3:19 p.m.: Pelosi and Schumer call Army Secretary McCarthy, who says that Bowser’s request has now been approved.

(Memo) 3:26 p.m.: Army Secretary McCarthy calls Bowser to tell her that her request for help has been approved.

The Defense Department’s notification of approval to Bowser came two hours after her request.

While Miller and his team were slow-walking Mayor Bowser’s request, she had sought National Guard assistance from Virginia Governor Ralph Northam (D) and Maryland Governor Larry Hogan (R). At about the same time, Speaker Pelosi called Northam directly for help and he agreed.

3:29 p.m.: Governor Northam announces mobilization of Virginia’s National Guard. But there’s a hitch. Federal law requires Defense Department authorization before any state’s National Guard can cross the state border onto federal land in DC. That approval doesn’t come until almost two hours later.

(DoD Memo) 3:47 p.m. Governor Hogan mobilizes his state’s National Guard and 200 state troopers.

The Defense Department “repeatedly denies” Hogan’s request to deploy the National Guard at the Capitol. As he awaits approval, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) callsHogan from the undisclosed bunker to which he, Speaker Pelosi, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) have been evacuated. Hoyer pleads for assistance, saying that the Capitol Police is overwhelmed and there is no federal law enforcement presence.

4:17 p.m.: Trump tweets a video telling rioters, “I know your pain, I know you’re hurt. We had an election that was stolen from us. It was a landslide election and everyone knows it, especially the other side… It’s a very tough period of time. There’s never been a time like this where such a thing happened where they could take it away from all of us — from me, from you, from our country. This was a fraudulent election, but we can’t play into the hands of these people. We have to have peace. So go home. We love you. You’re very special. You’ve seen what happens. You see the way others are treated that are so bad and so evil.”

(DoD Memo) 4:18 p.m.: Miller gives voice approval to notifying surrounding states to muster and be prepared to mobilize their National Guard personnel.

(DoD Memo) 4:32 p.m.: Miller gives verbal authorization to “re-mission” DC National Guard from city posts where most have been directing traffic and monitoring subway stations “to conduct perimeter and clearance operations” in support of the Capitol Police force. 

4:40 p.m.: More than 90 minutes after Governor Hogan had requested federal approval to send his state’s National Guard troops to DC, Army Secretary McCarthy calls and asks, “Can you come as soon as possible?” Hogan responds, “Yeah. We’ve been waiting. We’re ready.”

5:40 p.m.: The first DC National Guard personnel arrive at the Capitol.

(DoD Memo) 5:45 p.m.: Miller signs formal authorization for out-of-state National Guard personnel to muster and gives voice approval for deployment to support the Capitol Police.

The first Maryland National Guard personnel don’t arrive at the Capitol until January 7 at 10:00 a.m. The first Virginia National Guard members arrive at Noon.

6:01 p.m.: Trump tweets: “These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long. Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!”

7:00 p.m.: Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, intends to call Sen. Tuberville but, like Trump five hours earlier, he reaches Sen. Lee. Unaware that he has reached the wrong number, Giuliani leaves a voicemail message saying, “Sen. Tuberville? Or I should say Coach Tuberville. This is Rudy Giuliani, the President’s lawyer. I’m calling you because I want to discuss with you how they’re trying to rush this hearing and how we need you, our Republican friends, to try to just slow it down so we can get these legislatures to get more information to you. I know they’re reconvening at 8 tonight, but it … the only strategy we can follow is to object to numerous states and raise issues so that we get ourselves into tomorrow — ideally until the end of tomorrow.”

When Congress resumes the session at 8:06 p.m., Tuberville votes in favor of objections to certifying Biden’s election.

(DoD Memo) 8:00 p.m.: The DC Capitol Police declare the Capitol building secure.

The Aftermath of the Attack

8:31 p.m.: After widespread media reports that Pence, not Trump, had actually given the order to deploy the National Guard, Kash Patel – Miller’s chief of staff and former top aide to Rep. Nunes – tells the New York Times, “The acting secretary and the president have spoken multiple times this week about the request for National Guard personnel in D.C. During these conversations, the president conveyed to the acting secretary that he should take any necessary steps to support civilian law enforcement requests in securing the Capitol and federal buildings.”

But according to the Defense Department’s January 8 memo, the only such conversation with Trump occurred on January 3.

*Jan. 7: US Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick dies from injuries he sustained while defending against the attack. About 140 law enforcement officers suffer injuries such as cracked ribs, crushed spinal discs, stab wounds from a metal fence stake, concussions from head blows with objects that include metal poles ripped from inauguration-related scaffolding and even a pole with an American flag attached. Other injuries are swollen ankles and wrists, bruised arms and legs, and irritated lungs from bear and pepper spray. In the three weeks following the attack, another 38 officers who responded to the riot test positive for the coronavirus. Two officers responding on the scene die by suicide.

Jan. 7: Amid growing criticism over his fist pump to the mob shortly before it attacked the Capitol and his continuing objections after the attack to certifying Biden’s victory, Sen. Hawley issues a statement saying, “I will never apologize for giving voice to the millions of Missourians and Americans who have concerns about the integrity of our elections. That’s my job, and I will keep doing it.”

Jan. 7: Trump releases a video in which he lies, saying, “I immediately deployed the National Guard and federal law enforcement to secure the building and expel the intruders.” Defense Department officials confirm that they did not speak to Trump on January 6.

Jan. 8: Trump tweets: “The 75,000,000 great American Patriots who voted for me, AMERICA FIRST, and MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN, will have a GIANT VOICE long into the future. They will not be disrespected or treated unfairly in any way, shape or form!!!”

Shortly thereafter, he tweets again: “To all of those who have asked, I will not be going to the Inauguration on January 20th.”

Jan. 9: Twitter issues a statement saying that it has banned Trump because his “statement that he will not be attending the Inauguration is being received by a number of his supporters as further confirmation that the election was not legitimate… and encouragement to those potentially considering violent acts that the Inauguration would be a ‘safe’ target, as he will not be attending.”

Twitter’s statement continues, “The use of the words ‘American Patriots’ to describe some of his supporters is also being interpreted as support for those committing violent acts at the US Capitol. The mention of his supporters having a ‘GIANT VOICE long into the future’ and that ‘They will not be disrespected or treated unfairly in any way, shape or form!!!’ is being interpreted as further indication that President Trump does not plan to facilitate an ‘orderly transition’ and instead that he plans to continue to support, empower, and shield those who believe he won the election.”

The statement concludes: “Plans for future armed protests have already begun proliferating on and off-Twitter, including a proposed secondary attack on the US Capitol and state capitol buildings on January 17, 2021.”

Jan. 12: Preparing to board Marine One for Andrews Air Force Base en route to a speech in Alamo, Texas, Trump says, “And on the impeachment, it’s really a continuation of the greatest witch hunt in the history of politics.  It’s ridiculous.  It’s absolutely ridiculous. This impeachment is causing tremendous anger, and you’re doing it, and it’s really a terrible thing that they’re doing.  For Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer to continue on this path, I think it’s causing tremendous danger to our country and it’s causing tremendous anger.”

Also on Jan. 12: As he prepares to board Air Force One, Trump says, “So if you read my speech — and many people have done it, and I’ve seen it both in the papers and in the media, on television — it’s been analyzed, and people thought that what I said was totally appropriate.

And if you look at what other people have said — politicians at a high level — about the riots during the summer, the horrible riots in Portland and Seattle, in various other — other places, that was a real problem — what they said. But they’ve analyzed my speech and words and my final paragraph, my final sentence, and everybody, to the T, thought it was totally appropriate.”

Also on Jan. 12: Speaking to his Texas audience, Trump says, “Before we begin, I’d like to say that free speech is under assault like never before. The 25th Amendment is of zero risk to me but will come back to haunt Joe Biden and the Biden administration. As the expression goes: Be careful what you wish for. The impeachment hoax is a continuation of the greatest and most vicious witch hunt in the history of our country, and it is causing tremendous anger and division and pain — far greater than most people will ever understand, which is very dangerous for the USA, especially at this very tender time.”

Also on Jan. 12: The House Judiciary Committee issues a 76-page report of the events before, during and after the January riot that culminated in the deaths of five Americans, including a US Capitol Police officer. It concludes, “President Trump has falsely asserted he won the 2020 presidential election and repeatedly sought to overturn the results of the election. As his efforts failed again and again, President Trump continued a parallel course of conduct that foreseeably resulted in the imminent lawless actions of his supporters, who attacked the Capitol and the Congress. This course of conduct, viewed within the context of his past actions and other attempts to subvert the presidential election, demonstrate that President Trump remains a clear and present danger to the Constitution and our democracy.”

Jan. 13: As the article of impeachment and House Report head to the House floor for a vote, CNN reports that members of Congress, under pressure from Trump, are “scared” and “fear for their lives and their families.” Appearing on MSNBC, Rep. Jason Crow (D-CO) says, “I had a lot of conversations with my Republican colleagues. … A couple of them broke down in tears … saying that they are afraid for their lives if they vote for this impeachment.”

Later that day, 10 Republicans join all House Democrats to impeach Trump for “incitement of insurrection” by a vote of 232 to 197.

Jan. 16: Acting Defense Secretary Miller orders National Security Agency Director Paul Nakasone to install former White House official Michael Ellis as the NSA’s top lawyer by 6:00 p.m. Later that afternoon, Ellis formally accepts the NSA’s job offer.

*Jan. 20: Shortly after Biden’s inauguration, Nakasone, places Ellis on leave pending a Pentagon inspector general inquiry into the circumstances of his selection as NSA general counsel.

*Jan. 22: Speaker Pelosi announces that she will transmit the article of impeachment against Trump to the Senate on Monday, January 25. The Senate will delay the start of Trump’s trial until the week of February 8, as Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) requested.

*Jan. 26:By a 55-45 vote, the Senate rejects Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-KY) motion to declare the impeachment proceedings against Trump unconstitutional. Convicting Trump after trial will require a two-thirds vote of senators present for the vote.

The fight to save American democracy is now down to a single defining question:

Which side are you on?

The Trial of Donald Trump

This post first appeared at BillMoyers.com on February 5, 2021.

BY STEVEN HARPER

[Editor’s Note: STEVEN HARPER is a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers]

Opening Statement

“How did this happen in America?”

The answer led the House of Representatives to impeach then-President Donald Trump by the largest bipartisan vote in American history. Today we continue the process of holding him accountable for incitement of insurrection against the government of the United States. The Trump Insurrection led directly to at least five deaths, injuries to 140 law enforcement officers and a scar on the heart of our democracy.

So that we all operate from the same set of indisputable facts, let’s watch four short videos overviewing the events of January 6, starting with Just Security’s 10-minute excerpt of Trump’s 70-minute speech, which ignited an insurrection that Trump had fomented for months. Notice the mob’s reaction as Trump spoke line after incendiary line.

The second video is the Washington Post’s 14-minute encapsulation of the 41 minutes that followed Trump’s diatribe.

The third video, taken by a reporter for The New Yorker, is a view from inside the mob.

The fourth and final video comes from the bodycam of a law enforcement officer trying to protect the citadel of democracy that day. Watch the mob beat him with hockey sticks and flagpoles ripped from the temporary presidential inauguration structure.

Everything that you just saw and heard actually – indisputably – happened on January 6, 2021 in the United States of America. How did it come to this? 

The story begins six months earlier.

The Documentary Evidence

Let the evidence speak for itself.

  • Hours of incriminating video show Trump in his own words, first telling his followers that the election will be rigged unless he wins, and then, after a landslide defeat, telling them that the election was stolen because he lost. Here’s a sample
  • Trump personally pressured legislators and election officials to reverse the outcome in swing states that he lost, including Pennsylvania and Michigan. Shortly before Arizona Governor Doug Ducey (R) signed his state’s certification of Biden’s win, Trump placed a call to him too. But Ducey refused to take it, earning him a spot on Trump’s list of enemies attacked in future speeches and tweets. As we’ll see in a moment, Georgia was Trump’s final play on that field.
  • Trump’s attacks on the free and fair election failed in court too. Here are the more than 60 legal challenges that Trump lost after failing to present any evidence of the widespread fraud that he claimed was responsible for his defeat. Even Trump’s loyal attorney general, William Barr, said that Trump had no basis for reversing Biden’s win.

But Trump wasn’t willing to abide by the judicial branch’s reaffirmation of his election loss. As court after court rejected his claims, he was pursuing a final backup plan – an attack on the legislative branch that, if successful, would nullify the will of the voters and all of his courtroom losses. The Trump Insurrection targeted January 6 when a joint session of Congress would certify President-elect Joseph Biden’s win.

In mid-December, Trump began actively promoting the “Save America – Stop the Steal” rally. Look at this sample of his tweets:

  • Dec. 12, 2020: “Wow! Thousands of people forming in Washington (D.C.) for Stop the Steal. Didn’t know about this, but I’ll be seeing them! #MAGA”!
  • Dec. 19, 2020: “Statistically impossible to have lost the 2020 Election. Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!”
  • Dec. 26, 2020: – “The ‘Justice’ Department and the FBI have done nothing about the 2020 Presidential Election Voter Fraud, the biggest SCAM in our nation’s history, despite overwhelming evidence. They should be ashamed. History will remember. Never give up. See everyone in D.C. on January 6th.”
  • Dec. 27, 2020: “See you in Washington, DC, on January 6th. Don’t miss it. Information to follow.”
  • Jan. 1, 2021: “The BIG Protest Rally in Washington, D.C., will take place at 11.00 A.M. on January 6th. Locational details to follow. StopTheSteal!”

Trying desperately to create a false cloud over the election outcome in at least one swing state, Trump focused on Georgia. On January 2, he called Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger – a Trump supporter who had contributed to the campaign. Listen as he pressured Raffensperger to reverse the will of Georgia voters and threatened criminal prosecution if Raffensperger failed to comply:

  • “And you are going to find that they [the ballots] are — which is totally illegal — it is more illegal for you than it is for them because, you know, what they did and you’re not reporting it. That’s a criminal, that’s a criminal offense. And you can’t let that happen. That’s a big risk to you and to Ryan, your lawyer. And that’s a big risk…”
  • “I mean, I’m notifying you that you’re letting it happen. So look. All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have because we won the state”
  • “You know, and I watched you this morning and you said, uh, well, there was no criminality. But I mean, all of this stuff is very dangerous stuff. When you talk about no criminality, I think it’s very dangerous for you to say that.”

And now let’s listen to what Raffensperger – a Trump supporter – told him.

  • “President Trump, we’ve had several lawsuits, and we’ve had to respond in court to the lawsuits and the contentions. We don’t agree that you have won…Well, Mr. President, the challenge that you have is the data you have is wrong.’”

Getting nowhere with Raffensperger, the Trump Insurrection plan moved forward. On January 3, the day after his call with Raffensperger, he replied to a #StoptheSteal tweet from one of the rally organizers.

  • “I will be there. Historic day!”

At the same time, Trump was pressuring Vice President Mike Pence relentlessly. He wanted Pence to defy the Constitution and, as presiding officer of the January 6 joint session, block final congressional certification of the election.

Danger was in the air. As Trump was tweeting on January 3, the US Capitol Police warned of the potential for violence at the rally, with “Congress itself” as the target.

On January 4, the National Park Service increased the crowd estimate on the rally permit from 5,000 to 30,000. The US Capitol Police chief asked for permission to put the National Guard on emergency standby, but was denied.

And take a look at the unusual memo that Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller – whom Trump had installed shortly after every major news organization had called the election in Biden’s favor – issued that day to his secretary of the army. It required Miller’s personal authorization before the DC National Guard could employ “riot control agents” and other tactics, including “ballistic protection equipment such as helmets and body armor.”

January 5 was a busy day:

  • The FBI office in Norfolk, Virginia warned that extremists were preparing to travel to Washington to commit violence and “war” and shared that warning with counterparts in Washington.
  • The DC Metropolitan Police arrested a leader of Proud Boys – a group of devoted Trump followers – who was in possession of high capacity firearm magazines.
  • Someone placed explosive devices outside the offices of the Republican and Democratic national committees, although the devices weren’t found until the next day.
  • And White House Political Director Brian Jack was lining up Trump loyalists to speak at the rally. Members of the 2020 Trump campaign and former Trump White House staffers had been organizing it for weeks. 

On the morning of January 6 – Trump Insurrection Day – he got an early start with a tweet at 8:17 a.m. that put Pence in the crosshairs.

  • “States want to correct their votes, which they now know were based on irregularities and fraud, plus corrupt process never received legislative approval. All Mike Pence has to do is send them back to the States, AND WE WIN. Do it Mike, this is a time for extreme courage!”

Later that morning, Pence told Trump that he would not comply with his unconstitutional demand to overturn the election. As Trump prepared to speak at the rally, his surrogates warmed up the crowd – actively promoting insurrection. Look at the video:

  • Donald Trump Jr.: “If you’re going to be the zero and not the hero, we’re coming for you, and we’re going to have a good time doing it.”

Now that you have the context of the timeline, let’s watch and listen to key excerpts from Trump’s speech again. It began shortly before noon.

  • “We will never give up. We will never concede. It doesn’t happen. You don’t concede when there’s theft involved.”
  • “Republicans are constantly fighting like a boxer with his hands tied behind his back. It’s like a boxer, and we want to be so nice. We want to be so respectful of everybody, including bad people. We’re going to have to fight much harder and Mike Pence is going to have to come through for us. If he doesn’t, that will be a sad day for our country because you’re sworn to uphold our constitution.”
  • “Now it is up to Congress to confront this egregious assault on our democracy. After this, we’re going to walk down, and I’ll be there with you. We’re going to walk down. We’re going to walk down any one you want, but I think right here. We’re going to walk down to the Capitol and we’re going to cheer on our brave senators, and congressmen and women. We’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong.”
  • “Mike Pence, I hope you’re going to stand up for the good of the Constitution and the good of our country.” (12:49 p.m.)
  • “We fight like hell and if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.”
  • “We’re going to the Capitol and we’re going to try and give…[W]e’re going to try and give our Republicans, the weak ones, because the strong ones don’t need any of our help, we’re going to try and give them the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country. So let’s walk down Pennsylvania Avenue.”

At 1:26 p.m. – less than 30 minutes after Trump’s speech had ended – his mob had already reached the Capitol and the US Capitol Police ordered the evacuation of the complex. 

At 1:34 p.m. DC Mayor Muriel Bowser asked the secretary of the army for more federal help to deal with the mob. Almost an hour later, Acting Defense Secretary Miller still had not approved the request.

At 1:49 p.m. Trump was so proud that his incitement had succeeded, he retweeted a video of his speech.

Trump didn’t appear publicly until 4:17 p.m. – three hours after the attack began. Rather than condemn his insurrectionists, he tweeted a video to the mob, saying: “I know your pain. I know you’re hurt. We had an election that was stolen from us. It was a landslide election and everyone knows it, especially the other side…It’s a very tough period of time. There’s never been a time like this where such a thing happened where they could take it away from all of us — from me, from you, from our country. This was a fraudulent election, but we can’t play into the hands of these people. We have to have peace. So go home. We love you. You’re very special. You’ve seen what happens. You see the way others are treated that are so bad and so evil.”

And at 6:01 p.m. Trump tweeted: “These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long. Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!”

Inside the Insurrection

Now let’s hear live testimony from law enforcement witnesses:

  • A US Capitol police officer who saw the mob attack and kill 42-year-old officer Brian Sicknick with a fire extinguisher.
  • The DC Metropolitan police officer who was dragged from the Capitol building and beaten.
  • Officer Daniel Hodges, who got crushed in a doorway as insurrectionists tried to tear off his mask.
  • Officer Michael Fanone, who heard insurrectionists shout, “Kill him with his own gun.”
  • US Capitol police officer Eugene Goodman, who knew that Pence was hiding less than 100 feet away when he led the mob chasing him in the opposite direction from 2:20 p.m. to 2:25 p.m. As that was happening – at 2:24 p.m. – Trump tweeted:

“Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify. USA demands the truth!” 

Here’s a clip showing the crowd chanting “Hang Mike Pence,” the mob’s makeshift gallows, and Goodman’s heroism.

  • An official who can describe the massive police casualties resulting from the Trump Insurrection, including:
  • 81 Capitol Police officers who were assaulted during the siege.
  • About 65 DC police officers who suffered injuries such as cracked ribs, crushed spinal discs, stab wounds from a metal fence stake, concussions from head blows with objects that include metal poles ripped from inauguration-related scaffolding and even a pole with an American flag attached. Other injuries included swollen ankles and wrists, bruised arms and legs, and irritated lungs from bear and pepper spray.
  • 38 Capitol Police employees who tested positive for the coronavirus in the three weeks after responding to the riot.

Let’s also hear from these elected representatives and their staffs:

  • Pelosi’s staffers who hid under a conference room table as the approaching mob shouted, “Where’s Nancy? Where the f*ck is Nancy?” and “We’re here for you, Nancy.” Look again at the Washington Post video at around 2:28 p.m., when a staffer heard the mob in the hallway and whispered, “They’re pounding the doors, trying to find her.”
  • Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL), who heard the mob around 2:40 p.m., pounding on the barricaded doors to the House chamber as members and staff evacuated. Which Republicans were with him at the time?
  • Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) who had conversations with Trump aides telling him that Trump was delighted with the attack as it was happening and that he didn’t understand why his aides weren’t equally thrilled. Who were those aides? Which Republicans hid with him during the siege?
  • Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), who received a phone call around 2:00 p.m., when Trump called him by mistake as he was intending to pressure Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) into making additional objections to congressional certification of the election. Where was he hiding from the mob when Trump’s call with Tuberville was cut short because the group had to move to a more secure location? Which Senate Republicans were hiding with him?

At 7:00 p.m., dozens of police officers had been injured in the Trump Insurrection, and people had died when Sen. Lee got another call intended for Sen. Tuberville. This time, Rudy Giuliani called the same wrong number that Trump had called when he mistakenly reached Sen. Lee five hours earlier. Giuliani left this message on Sen. Lee’s phone:

“Sen. Tuberville? Or I should say Coach Tuberville. This is Rudy Giuliani, the president’s lawyer. I’m calling you because I want to discuss with you how they’re trying to rush this hearing and how we need you, our Republican friends, to try to just slow it down so we can get these legislatures to get more information to you. I know they’re reconvening at eight tonight, but it…the only strategy we can follow is to object to numerous states and raise issues so that we get ourselves into tomorrow — ideally until the end of tomorrow.”

The Immediate Aftermath

Now let’s hear from elected representatives reflecting on what happened that day:

  • Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY). Which Republicans were hiding with him that afternoon? Were they they all trying desperately to reach members of the Trump administration for help? Whom did they reach?

Let’s look at a video excerpt of his January 19 speech from the Senate floor:

“The mob was fed lies.” What were the lies? And since he used the passive voice, who fed those lies to the mob?

“They were provoked by the president and other powerful people.” How did Trump provoke the mob? And who are the “other powerful people” he referenced?

And they tried to use fear and violence to stop a specific proceeding of the first branch of the federal government which they did not like.” Is that how American democracy is supposed to work after an election?

What blowback has he received from Trump and fellow Republicans after making that statement?

  • Rep. Jason Crow (D-CO), who on January 13 said, “I had a lot of conversations with my Republican colleagues…A couple of them broke down in tears…saying that they are afraid for their lives if they vote for this impeachment.” Does he feel safe naming those colleagues now?
  • Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), the No. 3 ranking Republican in the House, who took a stand against Trump and voted to impeach him. Let’s hear her statement again:

“On January 6, 2021 a violent mob attacked the United States Capitol to obstruct the process of our democracy and stop the counting of presidential electoral votes. This insurrection caused injury, death and destruction in the most sacred space in our Republic.

“‘Much more will become clear in coming days and weeks, but what we know now is enough. The President of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack. Everything that followed was his doing. None of this would have happened without the President. The President could have immediately and forcefully intervened to stop the violence. He did not. There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.” 

What blowback has she received from Trump and fellow Republicans after telling the truth and voting to impeach Trump?

What recriminations have the other nine Republicans in the House endured since joining with Rep. Cheney in voting to impeach Trump?

  • Finally, let’s hear from an expert witness who can confirm the broad scholarly consensusthat the Senate has the power to try, convict and ban from future office an impeached former president who incited an insurrection while president.

Closing Argument

This time the Trump Insurrection failed. But America can’t risk a sequel. After a successful attack on democracy, no one is left to hold the perpetrators accountable.

So now you know the answer to the question – “How did this happen in America?” But you also know that there’s a more urgent one: “Are there enough Republicans in the Senate willing to keep it from happening again?”


RELATED:

UPDATED: Insurrection Timeline – First the Coup and Then the Cover-Up

Listen to Steven Harper and Bill Moyers in Conversation.  December 10, 2020

Insurrection Timeline — First the Coup and Then the Cover-Up – Update #3

This post first appeared at BillMoyers.com on January 25, 2021.

Editor’s Note, January 25, 2021 — Two themes dominate the latest events: “Follow the Money” and “Georgia on My Mind.” It’s all coming out, and Trump has lost his power to silence key witnesses. Since the January 18 Update to our Insurrection Timeline, we’ve added new items (or revisions to previous items) that appear with an asterisk (*).

Trump’s Original Narrative Collapses

The Department of Defense’s January 8, 2021 initial press release purported to “memorialize the planning and execution timeline” of the deadly insurrection that it called the “January 6, 2021 First Amendment Protests in Washington, DC.”

The title was a ruse. Even so, Trump’s defenders are sticking with that false characterization and trying to convert it into a defense to his impeachment. But there’s no First Amendment right to incite an insurrection. And the First Amendment does not apply to whether Trump committed an impeachable offense anyway.

Late in the afternoon on January 11, 2021, even the Defense Department changed the title of its January 8 memorandum and reissued it “to more appropriately reflect the characterization of the events at the U.S. Capitol on January 6.” The retitled summary is the “January 6, 2021 Violent Attack at the U.S. Capitol.”

Substantively, the memo’s minute-by-minute account created a false illusion of transparency. In truth, its most noteworthy aspects are the omission of Trump’s central role in the insurrection and the effort to shift blame away from Trump and his new Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller.

Who is Christopher Miller?

November 9, 2020: Every news organization has declared that former Vice President Joe Biden won the election. Trump fires Acting Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and replaces him with Christopher Miller, an Army retiree who worked for a defense contractor until Trump tapped him as his assistant in 2018. Miller’s promotion is the beginning of a departmental regime change.

Under pressure from the White House, Defense Department general counsel Paul Ney names former GOP political operative Michael Ellis to be the top lawyer at the National Security Agency – the US government’s largest and most technically advanced spy agency. Ellis had been chief counsel to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) before joining the White House in 2017 as a lawyer on Trump’s National Security Council and then senior director for intelligence. During Trump’s first impeachment, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman testified that Ellis had the idea of moving the memorandum of Trump’s infamous phone call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to a highly classified server.

Unlike a political appointee, Ellis’s position as general counsel to the NSA would make him a civil servant with accompanying employment protections. NSA Director Paul Nakasone opposes Ellis’s selection and tries to delay the process of installing him.

Nov. 10, 2020: Miller embeds three fierce Trump loyalists as top Defense Department officials: Kash Patel (former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA)), retired army Gen. Anthony Tata (pro-Trump Fox News pundit), and Ezra Cohen-Watnick (former assistant to Trump’s first national security adviser, Mike Flynn).

At such a late date in Trump’s presidency, many ask, why the shake-up at the Department of Defense? We may be learning the answer.

Prior to the Attack

The department’s January 8, 2021 memo ignores Trump’s central role in igniting and then encouraging the January 6 insurrection. In fact, the only reference to Trump appears in a January 3 entry when Miller and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Milley meet with him and he concurs in activation of the DC National Guard “to support law enforcement.”

Other than that, Trump is conspicuously absent, along with the most important parts of the story. In the date and time entries that follow, only those in italics and preceded with “(DoD Memo)”summarize items from the Defense Department’s January 8 memorandum. The memo ignores every other fact set forth in this Timeline.

Nov. 4, 2020: Throughout the summer and fall, pre-election polls have indicated that Trump will lose to Biden decisively. But Trump has claimed repeatedly that he will lose only if the election is “rigged” and “stolen” from him. During an interview with far-right commentator Alex Jones, Trump ally Roger Stone says, “We’re calling it a fraud or we’re calling it a steal — stop the steal.” Stone had first used the “Stop the Steal” slogan during the 2016 primaries, claiming that a “Bush-Cruz-Kasich-Romney-Ryan-McConnell faction” was attempting to steal the Republican nomination from Trump. Stone had used the slogan again in the 2016 general election against Hillary Clinton.

Starting Nov. 9, 2020 and continuing past Jan. 6, 2021: Trump refuses to concede. Relentlessly, he attacks the election as “rigged” and “stolen.” Trump and his allies then lose more than 60 lawsuits seeking to invalidate the results as he pressures election officials to reverse vote totals in key swing states that he lost, including Georgia. “Stop the Steal” becomes a rallying cry.

Dec. 12, 2020: Trump tweets: “Wow! Thousands of people forming in Washington (D.C.) for Stop the Steal. Didn’t know about this, but I’ll be seeing them! #MAGA”

*Dec. 15: Trump summons Acting Attorney General Rosen to the Oval Office to say that he wants the Justice Department to file legal briefs supporting his allies’ lawsuits seeking to overturn his election loss. Trump urges Rosen to appoint special counsels to investigate unfounded accusations of widespread voter fraud and Dominion, the voting machines firm. Rosen refuses. After the meeting, Trump continues to pressure Rosen in person and in phone calls.

Dec. 19, 2020: Trump tweets: “Statistically impossible to have lost the 2020 Election. Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!”

*Dec. 22: ABC7 News in Washington, DC confirms that the pro-Trump group, Women for America First, has amended its permit application for a rally to protest the outcome of the election, moving the date from January 23 – after the inauguration – to January 5 through 7. Federal Election Commission disclosures through November 2020 reveal that the Trump campaign has paid more than $2.7 million to rally organizers who together comprise almost all of the names on the permitincluding:

The Trump campaign paid Mulvaney at least $138,000 through November 2020. She is a niece of former Trump aide Mick Mulvaney, who currently serves as Trump’s special envoy to Northern Ireland. According to her LinkedIn profile, she is the Trump campaign’s director of finance operations and manager of external affairs.

The Trump campaign paid Powers around $290,000 while she was on its payroll from February 2019 through at least November 2020. According to her LinkedIn profile, she is the campaign’s director of operations – a position she assumed after being a senior advisor and press secretary for NASA (April 2018 to January 2019). Before that she worked as a press representative for the White House (January 2017 to April 2018), the Presidential Inauguration Committee (December 2016 – January 2017), and Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. (June 2015 – November 2016).

Salem spent three years as a senior White House press aide, according to her LinkedIn profile.

The Trump campaign paid Wren at least $20,000 each month from March to November – totaling $170,000. She was the campaign’s national finance consultant for its joint fundraising committee with the Republican National Committee. Wren is a veteran GOP fundraiser and was finance director for the 2014 re-election campaign of Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).

The Trump campaign paid Caporale more than $144,000 in direct payroll payments in the one-year period leading up to November 2020. He was the Trump campaign’s advance director.

The Trump campaign paid Unes more than $117,000 through November 2020. He is Caporale’s business partner in Event Strategies, Inc., which received more than $1.7 million from Trump’s campaign and joint fundraising committee.

The Trump campaign paid Oakes $126,000 in salary through at least November 2016.

Trump’s campaign paid Holden around $72,000 for payroll and consulting in early 2020.

The Trump campaign started paying Wilson in October 2020 with around $6,000 in payments for advanced consulting through November 2020 alone.

Dec. 27, 2020: Trump tweets, “See you in Washington, DC, on January 6th. Don’t miss it. Information to follow.”

*Dec. 31: Acting Attorney General Rosen and his deputy, Richard Donoghue meet with Jeffrey Clark, assistant attorney general of the environment and natural resources division, whom Trump had also named acting head of the civil division in September 2020. Rosen and Donoghue tell Clark to stop pushing Trump’s false conspiracy theories about election fraud. Unbeknownst to Rosen and Donoghue, Clark had been meeting privately with Trump, who had embraced Clark’s theories and support.

*Jan. 2, 2021: Trump holds an hour-long phone call pressuring Georgia election officials to change the state’s voting outcome.

  • “And you are going to find that they [the ballots] are — which is totally illegal — it is more illegal for you than it is for them because, you know, what they did and you’re not reporting it. That’s a criminal, that’s a criminal offense. And you can’t let that happen. That’s a big risk to you and to Ryan, your lawyer. And that’s a big risk…”
  • “I mean, I’m notifying you that you’re letting it happen. So look. All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have because we won the state…”
  • “You know, and I watched you this morning and you said, uh, well, there was no criminality. But I mean, all of this stuff is very dangerous stuff. When you talk about no criminality, I think it’s very dangerous for you to say that.”

The Georgia election officials tell Trump – point by point – that he is wrong factually and refuse his request. Someone on the call is taping it.

Jan. 3, 2021: Replying to a #StoptheSteal tweet from one of the rally organizers, Trump tweets:“I will be there. Historic day.”

*Jan. 3, midday: After meeting with Trump, Assistant Attorney General Clark informs Acting Attorney General Rosen that Trump intends to replace Rosen with Clark, who could then try to stop Congress from certifying the Electoral College results. He says that Rosen could stay on as his deputy attorney general, leaving Rosen speechless. Rosen works with White House counsel Pat Cipollone to secure a meeting with Trump that evening.

*Jan. 3, 6:00 p.m.: Rosen, Donoghue, and Clark meet at the White House with Trump, Cipollone, his deputy Patrick Philbin, and other lawyers. Trump has Rosen and Clark present their competing arguments to him. Top lawyers in the Justice Department tell Trump that if he fires Rosen, all of them will resign. Three hours after the meeting began, Trump decides that Clark’s plan would fail and allows Rosen to remain as acting attorney general.

*Jan. 3, late night: Under pressure from the White House, a top Justice Department official calls the US attorney in Atlanta, Byung Pak. He says that Trump is furious that there is no federal investigation into Georgia voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election.

Because the recording of Trump’s January 2 call with Georgia election officials had surfaced earlier in the day, Pak says that he is thinking about resigning. On the January 2 call, Trump had complained that Pak is a “never Trumper.” The White House indicates that Pak should resign immediately.

Trump then calls the US attorney in Savannah, Georgia, Bobby Christine. Trump says that he wants Christine to replace Pak, bypassing the longstanding protocol of elevating the number two person in Pak’s office. That move puts Christine in charge of two US attorney offices.

The following day, Pak submits his resignation due to “unforeseen circumstances.”   

Also on Jan. 3: An internal Capitol Police intelligence report warns of a violent scenario in which “Congress itself” could be the target of angry Trump supporters in the upcoming rally.

“Supporters of the current president see January 6, 2021, as the last opportunity to overturn the results of the presidential election,” the memo states. “This sense of desperation and disappointment may lead to more of an incentive to become violent. Unlike previous post-election protests, the targets of the pro-Trump supporters are not necessarily the counter-protesters as they were previously, but rather Congress itself is the target on the 6th.”

Jan. 4: The National Park Service increases the crowd estimate on the January 6 rally permit to 30,000 – up from the original 5,000 in December.

Also on Jan. 4: DC Police Chief Steven Sund asks the Senate and House sergeants at arms for permission to put the National Guard on emergency standby. They reject that idea and suggest instead that he informally seek out his Guard contacts, asking them to “lean forward” and be on alert in case the Capitol Police need help.

Jan. 5: The FBI office in Norfolk, Virginia issues a warning that extremists are preparing to travel to Washington to commit violence and “war.” The office shares the information with its counterparts in the Washington, DC office.

Also on Jan. 5: Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) receives a call from White House Political Director Brian Jack asking him to speak at the “Stop the Steal” rally on January 6. Brooks agrees.

January 6, 2021

8:17 a.m.: Trump tweets: “States want to correct their votes, which they now know were based on irregularities and fraud, plus corrupt process never received legislative approval. All Mike Pence has to do is send them back to the States, AND WE WIN. Do it Mike, this is a time for extreme courage!”

10:00 a.m.: Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally is underway. Addressing the crowd, Donald Trump Jr. says, “If you’re going to be the zero and not the hero, we’re coming for you, and we’re going to have a good time doing it.”

11:15 a.m.: A mile-and-a-half from the rally, a group of 200 to 300 protesters arrives at the Capitol reflecting pool area near the west side of the building.

10:50 a.m.: Speaking at the rally, Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani says, “Let’s have trial by combat.”

Noon: Trump begins to address the mob and continues speaking for more than an hour.

  • “We will never give up. We will never concede. It doesn’t happen. You don’t concede when there’s theft involved.”
  • “We won this election, and we won it by a landslide. This was not a close election.”
  • “I hope Mike is going to do the right thing. I hope so. I hope so, because if Mike Pence does the right thing, we win the election… 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.”

12:30 p.m.: As Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) enters the Capitol for the joint session of Congress that will certify Biden’s election, he gives a thumbs up, a fist pump, and a wave to Trump’s mob.

1:00 p.m.: While Trump continues his rant to the mob, some members of Trump’s crowd have already reached the US Capitol building where Congress assembles in joint session to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s victory. An initial wave of protesters storms the outer barricade west of the Capitol building. As the congressional proceedings begin, Pence reads a letter saying that he won’t intervene in Congress’s electoral count: “My oath to support and defend the Constitution constrains me from claiming unilateral authority.”

1:09 p.m.: DC Capitol Police Chief Sund tells his superiors – House Sergeant at Arms Paul Irving and Senate Sergeant at Arms Michael Stenger — that he wants an emergency declaration and to call in the National Guard.

1:11 p.m.: Trump ends his speech by urging his followers to march down Pennsylvania Avenue:“We fight like hell. If you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore… Our exciting adventures and boldest endeavors have not yet begun… We’re going to the Capitol. We’re going to try and give them [Republicans] the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country.”

The Attack

If the District of Columbia were a state, its governor alone could have deployed the National Guard to crush the riot. Instead, Trump and his Defense Department had that responsibility, and an unprecedent assault on a sacred institution of government succeeded, if only for a few hours.

(DoD Memo) 1:26 p.m.: The Capitol Police orders the evacuation of the Capitol complex.

1:30 p.m.: The crowd outside the building grows larger, eventually overtaking the Capitol Police and making its way up the Capitol steps. Suspicious packages – later confirmed to be pipe bombs – are found at Republican National Committee headquarters and Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington.

As the attack unfolds, Trump is initially pleased and disregards aides pleading with him to intercede. Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) later says that, according to Trump aides, he is “delighted,” while “walking around the White House confused about why other people on his team [are]n’t as excited.” Trump initially rebuffs and resists requests to mobilize the National Guard.

(DoD Memo) 1:34 p.m.: DC Mayor Muriel Bowser asks Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy – who reports to Miller – for more federal help to deal with the mob.

Bowser is told that the request must first come from the Capitol Police.

(DoD Memo) 1:49 p.m.: The Capitol Police chief asks the commanding general of the DC National Guard for immediate assistance.

Also at 1:49 p.m.: Trump retweets a video of the rally, which includes his previous statements that: “our country has had enough. We will not take it anymore and that’s what this is all about. To use a favorite term that all of you came up with, we will stop the steal. . . You’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong.”

1:59 p.m.: Sund receives the first report that rioters have reached the Capitol’s doors and windows and are attempting to break at least one window.

Shortly after 2:00 p.m.: While the senators are in a temporary holding room after the Senate chamber is evacuated, Trump tries to call Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), but mistakenly reaches Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), who hands the phone to Tuberville. Trump then tries to convince Tuberville to make additional objections to the Electoral College vote in an effort to block Congress’ certification of Biden’s win. The call is cut off because senators are asked to move to a secure location.

2:10 p.m.: Text and email alerts to all congressional staff warn those inside to stay away from windows and those outside to seek cover.

2:11 p.m.: Trump’s mob breaches the Capitol building – breaking windows, climbing inside, and opening doors for others to follow.

2:13 p.m.: Pence suddenly leaves the Senate floor and is moved to a nearby office.

2:14 p.m.: Rioters chase DC Capitol Police officer Eugene Goodman up a flight of stairs and arrive on the landing near the office where Pence and his family are hiding. Goodman runs in the opposite direction – luring them away from Pence and the Senate chamber.

2:18 p.m.: Another text alert goes out to Capitol staff: “Due to security threat inside: immediately, move inside your office, take emergency equipment, lock the doors, take shelter.”

Around 2:20 p.m.: Hiding in a barricaded room, members of Congress and their aides make pleas for outside help. Among them is a senior adviser to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who reaches a former law firm colleague, Will Levi. Levi had served as Attorney General William Barr’s chief of staff. From his home, Levi then calls FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich at the command center in the FBI’s Washington field office. Bowdich dispatches the first of three tactical teams to the Capitol, including one from the Washington field office and another from Baltimore.

(DoD Memo) 2:22 p.m.: Army Secretary McCarthy discusses the situation at the Capitol with Mayor Bowser and her staff.

They are begging for additional National Guard assistance.Note the time. It’s been almost an hour since Bowser requested help.

2:24 p.m.: Trump tweets: “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify. USA demands the truth!”

After erecting a gallows on the Capitol grounds, the mob shouts, “Hang Mike Pence.” Rioters create another noose from a camera cord seized during an attack on an on-site news team.

2:26 p.m.: Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund joins a conference call with several officials from the DC government, as well as officials from the Pentagon, including Lt. Gen. Walter E. Piatt, director of the Army Staff. Piatt later issues a statement denying the statements attributed to him.

“I am making an urgent, urgent immediate request for National Guard assistance,” Sund says. “I have got to get boots on the ground.”

The DC contingent is flabbergasted when Piatt says that he could not recommend that his boss, Army Secretary McCarthy, approve the request. “I don’t like the visual of the National Guard standing a police line with the Capitol in the background,” Piatt says. Again and again, Sund says that the situation is dire.

2:28 p.m.: Rioters storm House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) suite of offices, pounding the doors trying to find her.

(D0D Memo) 2:30 p.m.: Miller, Army Secretary McCarthy, and the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff meet to discuss Mayor Bowser’s request.

2:33 p.m.: A broadcast on the emergency management agency channel in DC requests that all law enforcement officers in the city respond to the Capitol.

2:42 p.m.: As lawmakers are evacuating the House chamber using the Speaker’s Lobby, rioters breach the Lobby threshold.

2:52 p.m.: The first FBI SWAT team enters the Capitol.

2:53 p.m.: The last of a large group of House members has been evacuated and is headed for a secure location.

(DoD Memo) 3:04 p.m.: Miller gives “verbal approval” to full mobilization of the DC National Guard (1,100 members).

It has now been more than 90 minutes since Mayor Bowser first asked Army Secretary McCarthy for assistance. It took an hour for Defense Department officials to meet and another half-hour for them to decide to help. And Bowser still doesn’t know the status of her request.

(Memo) 3:19 p.m.: Pelosi and Schumer call Army Secretary McCarthy, who says that Bowser’s request has now been approved.

(Memo) 3:26 p.m.: Army Secretary McCarthy calls Bowser to tell her that her request for help has been approved.

The Defense Department’s notification of approval to Bowser came two hours after her request.

While Miller and his team were slow-walking Mayor Bowser’s request, she had sought National Guard assistance from Virginia Governor Ralph Northam (D) and Maryland Governor Larry Hogan (R). At about the same time, Speaker Pelosi called Northam directly for help and he agreed.

3:29 p.m.: Governor Northam announces mobilization of Virginia’s National Guard. But there’s a hitch. Federal law requires Defense Department authorization before any state’s National Guard can cross the state border onto federal land in DC. That approval doesn’t come until almost two hours later.

(DoD Memo) 3:47 p.m. Governor Hogan mobilizes his state’s National Guard and 200 state troopers.

The Defense Department “repeatedly denies” Hogan’s request to deploy the National Guard at the Capitol. As he awaits approval, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) callsHogan from the undisclosed bunker to which he, Speaker Pelosi, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) have been evacuated. Hoyer pleads for assistance, saying that the Capitol Police is overwhelmed and there is no federal law enforcement presence.

4:17 p.m.: Trump tweets a video telling rioters, “I know your pain, I know you’re hurt. We had an election that was stolen from us. It was a landslide election and everyone knows it, especially the other side… It’s a very tough period of time. There’s never been a time like this where such a thing happened where they could take it away from all of us — from me, from you, from our country. This was a fraudulent election, but we can’t play into the hands of these people. We have to have peace. So go home. We love you. You’re very special. You’ve seen what happens. You see the way others are treated that are so bad and so evil.”

(DoD Memo) 4:18 p.m.: Miller gives voice approval to notifying surrounding states to muster and be prepared to mobilize their National Guard personnel.

(DoD Memo) 4:32 p.m.: Miller gives verbal authorization to “re-mission” DC National Guard from city posts where most have been directing traffic and monitoring subway stations “to conduct perimeter and clearance operations” in support of the Capitol Police force. 

4:40 p.m.: More than 90 minutes after Governor Hogan had requested federal approval to send his state’s National Guard troops to DC, Army Secretary McCarthy calls and asks, “Can you come as soon as possible?” Hogan responds, “Yeah. We’ve been waiting. We’re ready.”

5:40 p.m.: The first DC National Guard personnel arrive at the Capitol.

(DoD Memo) 5:45 p.m.: Miller signs formal authorization for out-of-state National Guard personnel to muster and gives voice approval for deployment to support the Capitol Police.

The first Maryland National Guard personnel don’t arrive at the Capitol until January 7 at 10:00 a.m. The first Virginia National Guard members arrive at Noon.

6:01 p.m.: Trump tweets: “These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long. Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!”

7:00 p.m.: Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, intends to call Sen. Tuberville but, like Trump five hours earlier, he reaches Sen. Lee. Unaware that he has reached the wrong number, Giuliani leaves a voicemail message saying, “Sen. Tuberville? Or I should say Coach Tuberville. This is Rudy Giuliani, the President’s lawyer. I’m calling you because I want to discuss with you how they’re trying to rush this hearing and how we need you, our Republican friends, to try to just slow it down so we can get these legislatures to get more information to you. I know they’re reconvening at 8 tonight, but it … the only strategy we can follow is to object to numerous states and raise issues so that we get ourselves into tomorrow — ideally until the end of tomorrow.”

When Congress resumes the session at 8:06 p.m., Tuberville votes in favor of objections to certifying Biden’s election.

(DoD Memo) 8:00 p.m.: The DC Capitol Police declare the Capitol building secure.

The Aftermath of the Attack

8:31 p.m.: After widespread media reports that Pence, not Trump, had actually given the order to deploy the National Guard, Kash Patel – Miller’s chief of staff and former top aide to Rep. Nunes – tells the New York Times, “The acting secretary and the president have spoken multiple times this week about the request for National Guard personnel in D.C. During these conversations, the president conveyed to the acting secretary that he should take any necessary steps to support civilian law enforcement requests in securing the Capitol and federal buildings.”

But according to the Defense Department’s January 8 memo, the only such conversation with Trump occurred on January 3.

Jan. 7: Amid growing criticism over his fist pump to the mob shortly before it attacked the Capitol and his continuing objections after the attack to certifying Biden’s victory, Sen. Hawley issues a statement saying, “I will never apologize for giving voice to the millions of Missourians and Americans who have concerns about the integrity of our elections. That’s my job, and I will keep doing it.”

Jan. 7: Trump releases a video in which he lies, saying, “I immediately deployed the National Guard and federal law enforcement to secure the building and expel the intruders.” Defense Department officials confirm that they did not speak to Trump on January 6.

Jan. 8: Trump tweets: “The 75,000,000 great American Patriots who voted for me, AMERICA FIRST, and MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN, will have a GIANT VOICE long into the future. They will not be disrespected or treated unfairly in any way, shape or form!!!”

Shortly thereafter, he tweets again: “To all of those who have asked, I will not be going to the Inauguration on January 20th.”

Jan. 9: Twitter issues a statement saying that it has banned Trump because his “statement that he will not be attending the Inauguration is being received by a number of his supporters as further confirmation that the election was not legitimate… and encouragement to those potentially considering violent acts that the Inauguration would be a ‘safe’ target, as he will not be attending.”

Twitter’s statement continues, “The use of the words ‘American Patriots’ to describe some of his supporters is also being interpreted as support for those committing violent acts at the US Capitol. The mention of his supporters having a ‘GIANT VOICE long into the future’ and that ‘They will not be disrespected or treated unfairly in any way, shape or form!!!’ is being interpreted as further indication that President Trump does not plan to facilitate an ‘orderly transition’ and instead that he plans to continue to support, empower, and shield those who believe he won the election.”

The statement concludes: “Plans for future armed protests have already begun proliferating on and off-Twitter, including a proposed secondary attack on the US Capitol and state capitol buildings on January 17, 2021.”

Jan. 12: Preparing to board Marine One for Andrews Air Force Base en route to a speech in Alamo, Texas, Trump says, “And on the impeachment, it’s really a continuation of the greatest witch hunt in the history of politics.  It’s ridiculous.  It’s absolutely ridiculous. This impeachment is causing tremendous anger, and you’re doing it, and it’s really a terrible thing that they’re doing.  For Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer to continue on this path, I think it’s causing tremendous danger to our country and it’s causing tremendous anger.”

Also on Jan. 12: As he prepares to board Air Force One, Trump says, “So if you read my speech — and many people have done it, and I’ve seen it both in the papers and in the media, on television — it’s been analyzed, and people thought that what I said was totally appropriate.

And if you look at what other people have said — politicians at a high level — about the riots during the summer, the horrible riots in Portland and Seattle, in various other — other places, that was a real problem — what they said. But they’ve analyzed my speech and words and my final paragraph, my final sentence, and everybody, to the T, thought it was totally appropriate.”

Also on Jan. 12: Speaking to his Texas audience, Trump says, “Before we begin, I’d like to say that free speech is under assault like never before. The 25th Amendment is of zero risk to me but will come back to haunt Joe Biden and the Biden administration. As the expression goes: Be careful what you wish for. The impeachment hoax is a continuation of the greatest and most vicious witch hunt in the history of our country, and it is causing tremendous anger and division and pain — far greater than most people will ever understand, which is very dangerous for the USA, especially at this very tender time.”

Also on Jan. 12: The House Judiciary Committee issues a 76-page report of the events before, during and after the January riot that culminated in the deaths of five Americans, including a US Capitol Police officer. It concludes, “President Trump has falsely asserted he won the 2020 presidential election and repeatedly sought to overturn the results of the election. As his efforts failed again and again, President Trump continued a parallel course of conduct that foreseeably resulted in the imminent lawless actions of his supporters, who attacked the Capitol and the Congress. This course of conduct, viewed within the context of his past actions and other attempts to subvert the presidential election, demonstrate that President Trump remains a clear and present danger to the Constitution and our democracy.”

Jan. 13: As the article of impeachment and House Report head to the House floor for a vote, CNN reports that members of Congress, under pressure from Trump, are “scared” and “fear for their lives and their families.” Appearing on MSNBC, Rep. Jason Crow (D-CO) says, “I had a lot of conversations with my Republican colleagues. … A couple of them broke down in tears … saying that they are afraid for their lives if they vote for this impeachment.”

Later that day, 10 Republicans join all House Democrats to impeach Trump for “incitement of insurrection” by a vote of 232 to 197.

Jan. 16: Acting Defense Secretary Miller orders National Security Agency Director Paul Nakasone to install former White House official Michael Ellis as the NSA’s top lawyer by 6:00 p.m. Later that afternoon, Ellis formally accepts the NSA’s job offer.

*Jan. 20: Shortly after Biden’s inauguration, Nakasone, places Ellis on leave pending a Pentagon inspector general inquiry into the circumstances of his selection as NSA general counsel.

*Jan. 22: Speaker Pelosi announces that she will transmit the article of impeachment against Trump to the Senate on Monday, January 25. The Senate will delay the start of Trump’s trial until the week of February 8, as Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) requested.

The fight to save American democracy is now down to a single defining question:

Which side are you on?

INSURRECTION TIMELINE: FIRST THE COUP AND THEN THE COVER-UP – Update No. 2

This updated post first appeared at BillMoyers.com on January 18, 2021.

The story keeps getting worse. Since the January 13 Update to our Insurrection Timeline, we’ve added new items (or revisions to previous items) that appear with an asterisk (*).

Trump’s Original Narrative Collapses

The Department of Defense’s January 8, 2021 initial press release purported to “memorialize the planning and execution timeline” of the deadly insurrection that it called the “January 6, 2021 First Amendment Protests in Washington, DC.”

The title was a ruse. Even so, Trump’s defenders are sticking with that false characterization and trying to convert it into a defense to his impeachment. But there’s no First Amendment right to incite an insurrection. And the First Amendment does not apply to whether Trump committed an impeachable offense anyway.

Late in the afternoon on January 11, 2021, even the Defense Department changed the title of its January 8 memorandum and reissued it “to more appropriately reflect the characterization of the events at the U.S. Capitol on January 6.” The retitled summary is the “January 6, 2021 Violent Attack at the U.S. Capitol.”

Substantively, the memo’s minute-by-minute account created a false illusion of transparency. In truth, its most noteworthy aspects are the omission of Trump’s central role in the insurrection and the effort to shift blame away from Trump and his new Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller.

Who is Christopher Miller?

*November 9, 2020: Every news organization has declared that former Vice President Joe Biden won the election. Trump fires Acting Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and replaces him with Christopher Miller, an Army retiree who worked for a defense contractor until Trump tapped him as his assistant in 2018. Miller’s promotion is the beginning of a departmental regime change.

Under pressure from the White House, Defense Department general counsel Paul Ney names former GOP political operative Michael Ellis to be the top lawyer at the National Security Agency – the US government’s largest and most technically advanced spy agency. Ellis had been chief counsel to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) before joining the White House in 2017 as a lawyer on Trump’s National Security Council and then senior director for intelligence. During Trump’s first impeachment, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman testified that Ellis had the idea of moving the memorandum of Trump’s infamous phone call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to a highly classified server.

Unlike a political appointee, Ellis’s position as general counsel to the NSA would make him a civil servant with accompanying employment protections. NSA Director Paul Nakasone opposes Ellis’s selection and tries to delay the process of installing him.

*Nov. 10, 2020: Miller embeds three fierce Trump loyalists as top Defense Department officials: Kash Patel (former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA)), retired army Gen. Anthony Tata (pro-Trump Fox News pundit), and Ezra Cohen-Watnick (former assistant to Trump’s first national security adviser, Mike Flynn).

At such a late date in Trump’s presidency, many ask, why the shake-up at the Department of Defense? We may be learning the answer.

Prior to the Attack

The department’s January 8, 2021 memo ignores Trump’s central role in igniting and then encouraging the January 6 insurrection. In fact, the only reference to Trump appears in a January 3 entry when Miller and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Milley meet with him and he concurs in activation of the DC National Guard “to support law enforcement.”

Other than that, Trump is conspicuously absent, along with the most important parts of the story. In the date and time entries that follow, only those in italics and preceded with “(DoD Memo)” summarize items from the Defense Department’s January 8 memorandum. The memo ignores every other fact set forth in this Timeline.

*Nov. 4, 2020: Throughout the summer and fall, pre-election polls have indicated that Trump will lose to Biden decisively. But Trump has claimed repeatedly that he will lose only if the election is “rigged” and “stolen” from him. During an interview with far-right commentator Alex Jones, Trump ally Roger Stone says, “We’re calling it a fraud or we’re calling it a steal — stop the steal.” Stone had first used the “Stop the Steal” slogan during the 2016 primaries, claiming that a “Bush-Cruz-Kasich-Romney-Ryan-McConnell faction” was attempting to steal the Republican nomination from Trump. Stone had used the slogan again in the 2016 general election against Hillary Clinton.

*Starting Nov. 9, 2020 and continuing past Jan. 6, 2021: Trump refuses to concede. Relentlessly, he attacks the election as “rigged” and “stolen.” Trump and his allies then lose more than 60 lawsuits seeking to invalidate the results as he pressures election officials to reverse vote totals in key swing states that he lost, including Georgia. “Stop the Steal” becomes a rallying cry.

*Dec. 12, 2020: Trump tweets: “Wow! Thousands of people forming in Washington (D.C.) for Stop the Steal. Didn’t know about this, but I’ll be seeing them! #MAGA”

*Dec. 19, 2020: Trump tweets: “Statistically impossible to have lost the 2020 Election. Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!”

*Dec. 27, 2020: Trump tweets, “See you in Washington, DC, on January 6th. Don’t miss it. Information to follow.”

*Jan. 3, 2021: Replying to a #StoptheSteal tweet from one of the rally organizers, Trump tweets: “I will be there. Historic day.”

*Also on Jan. 3: An internal Capitol Police intelligence report warns of a violent scenario in which “Congress itself” could be the target of angry Trump supporters in the upcoming rally.

“Supporters of the current president see January 6, 2021, as the last opportunity to overturn the results of the presidential election,” the memo states. “This sense of desperation and disappointment may lead to more of an incentive to become violent. Unlike previous post-election protests, the targets of the pro-Trump supporters are not necessarily the counter-protesters as they were previously, but rather Congress itself is the target on the 6th.”

Jan. 4: The National Park Service increases the crowd estimate on the January 6 rally permit to 30,000 – up from the original 5,000 in December.

*Also on Jan. 4: DC Police Chief Steven Sund asks the Senate and House sergeants at arms for permission to put the National Guard on emergency standby. They reject that idea and suggest instead that he informally seek out his Guard contacts, asking them to “lean forward” and be on alert in case the Capitol Police need help.

*Jan. 5: The FBI office in Norfolk, Virginia issues a warning that extremists are preparing to travel to Washington to commit violence and “war.” The office shares the information with its counterparts in the Washington, DC office.

Also on Jan. 5: Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) receives a call from White House Political Director Brian Jack asking him to speak at the “Stop the Steal” rally on January 6. Brooks agrees.

January 6, 2021

8:17 a.m.: Trump tweets: “States want to correct their votes, which they now know were based on irregularities and fraud, plus corrupt process never received legislative approval. All Mike Pence has to do is send them back to the States, AND WE WIN. Do it Mike, this is a time for extreme courage!”

*10:00 a.m.: Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally is underway. Addressing the crowd, Donald Trump Jr. says, “If you’re going to be the zero and not the hero, we’re coming for you, and we’re going to have a good time doing it.”

*11:15 a.m.: A mile-and-a-half from the rally, a group of 200 to 300 protesters arrives at the Capitol reflecting pool area near the west side of the building.

*10:50 a.m.: Speaking at the rally, Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani says, “Let’s have trial by combat.”

Noon: Trump begins to address the mob and continues speaking for more than an hour.

  • “We will never give up. We will never concede. It doesn’t happen. You don’t concede when there’s theft involved.”
  • “We won this election, and we won it by a landslide. This was not a close election.”
  • “I hope Mike is going to do the right thing. I hope so. I hope so, because if Mike Pence does the right thing, we win the election… 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.”

*12:30 p.m.: As Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) enters the Capitol for the joint session of Congress that will certify Biden’s election, he gives a thumbs up, a fist pump, and a wave to Trump’s mob.

1:00 p.m.: While Trump continues his rant to the mob, some members of Trump’s crowd have already reached the US Capitol building where Congress assembles in joint session to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s victory. An initial wave of protesters storms the outer barricade west of the Capitol building. As the congressional proceedings begin, Pence reads a letter saying that he won’t intervene in Congress’s electoral count: “My oath to support and defend the Constitution constrains me from claiming unilateral authority.”

*1:09 p.m.: DC Capitol Police Chief Sund tells his superiors – House Sergeant at Arms Paul Irving and Senate Sergeant at Arms Michael Stenger — that he wants an emergency declaration and to call in the National Guard.

1:11 p.m.: Trump ends his speech by urging his followers to march down Pennsylvania Avenue: “We fight like hell. If you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore… Our exciting adventures and boldest endeavors have not yet begun… We’re going to the Capitol. We’re going to try and give them [Republicans] the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country.”

The Attack

If the District of Columbia were a state, its governor alone could have deployed the National Guard to crush the riot. Instead, Trump and his Defense Department had that responsibility, and an unprecedent assault on a sacred institution of government succeeded, if only for a few hours.

(DoD Memo) 1:26 p.m.: The Capitol Police orders the evacuation of the Capitol complex.

1:30 p.m.: The crowd outside the building grows larger, eventually overtaking the Capitol Police and making its way up the Capitol steps. Suspicious packages – later confirmed to be pipe bombs – are found at Republican National Committee headquarters and Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington.

*As the attack unfolds, Trump is initially pleased and disregards aides pleading with him to intercede. Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) later says that, according to Trump aides, he is “delighted,” while “walking around the White House confused about why other people on his team [are]n’t as excited.” Trump initially rebuffs and resists requests to mobilize the National Guard.

(DoD Memo) 1:34 p.m.: DC Mayor Muriel Bowser asks Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy – who reports to Miller – for more federal help to deal with the mob.

Bowser is told that the request must first come from the Capitol Police.

(DoD Memo) 1:49 p.m.: The Capitol Police chief asks the commanding general of the DC National Guard for immediate assistance.

Also at 1:49 p.m.: Trump retweets a video of the rally, which includes his previous statements that: “our country has had enough. We will not take it anymore and that’s what this is all about. To use a favorite term that all of you came up with, we will stop the steal. . . You’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong.”

*1:59 p.m.: Sund receives the first report that rioters have reached the Capitol’s doors and windows and are attempting to break at least one window.

Shortly after 2:00 p.m.: While the senators are in a temporary holding room after the Senate chamber is evacuated, Trump tries to call Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), but mistakenly reaches Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), who hands the phone to Tuberville. Trump then tries to convince Tuberville to make additional objections to the Electoral College vote in an effort to block Congress’ certification of Biden’s win. The call is cut off because senators are asked to move to a secure location.

*2:10 p.m.: Text and email alerts to all congressional staff warn those inside to stay away from windows and those outside to seek cover.

*2:11 p.m.: Trump’s mob breaches the Capitol building – breaking windows, climbing inside, and opening doors for others to follow.

*2:13 p.m.: Pence suddenly leaves the Senate floor and is moved to a nearby office.

*2:14 p.m.: Rioters chase DC Capitol Police officer Eugene Goodman up a flight of stairs and arrive on the landing near the office where Pence and his family are hiding. Goodman runs in the opposite direction – luring them away from Pence and the Senate chamber.

*2:18 p.m.: Another text alert goes out to Capitol staff: “Due to security threat inside: immediately, move inside your office, take emergency equipment, lock the doors, take shelter.”

*Around 2:20 p.m.: Hiding in a barricaded room, members of Congress and their aides make pleas for outside help. Among them is a senior adviser to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who reaches a former law firm colleague, Will Levi. Levi had served as Attorney General William Barr’s chief of staff. From his home, Levi then calls FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich at the command center in the FBI’s Washington field office. Bowdich dispatches the first of three tactical teams to the Capitol, including one from the Washington field office and another from Baltimore.

(DoD Memo) 2:22 p.m.: Army Secretary McCarthy discusses the situation at the Capitol with Mayor Bowser and her staff.

They are begging for additional National Guard assistance. Note the time. It’s been almost an hour since Bowser requested help.

2:24 p.m.: Trump tweets: “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify. USA demands the truth!”

After erecting a gallows on the Capitol grounds, the mob shouts, “Hang Mike Pence.” Rioters create another noose from a camera cord seized during an attack on an on-site news team.

2:26 p.m.: Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund joins a conference call with several officials from the DC government, as well as officials from the Pentagon, including Lt. Gen. Walter E. Piatt, director of the Army Staff. Piatt later issues a statement denying the statements attributed to him.

“I am making an urgent, urgent immediate request for National Guard assistance,” Sund says. “I have got to get boots on the ground.”

The DC contingent is flabbergasted when Piatt says that he could not recommend that his boss, Army Secretary McCarthy, approve the request. “I don’t like the visual of the National Guard standing a police line with the Capitol in the background,” Piatt says. Again and again, Sund says that the situation is dire.

*2:28 p.m.: Rioters storm House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) suite of offices, pounding the doors trying to find her.

(D0D Memo) 2:30 p.m.: Miller, Army Secretary McCarthy, and the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff meet to discuss Mayor Bowser’s request.

*2:33 p.m.: A broadcast on the emergency management agency channel in DC requests that all law enforcement officers in the city respond to the Capitol.

*2:42 p.m.: As lawmakers are evacuating the House chamber using the Speaker’s Lobby, rioters breach the Lobby threshold.

*2:52 p.m.: The first FBI SWAT team enters the Capitol.

*2:53 p.m.: The last of a large group of House members has been evacuated and is headed for a secure location.

(DoD Memo) 3:04 p.m.: Miller gives “verbal approval” to full mobilization of the DC National Guard (1,100 members).

It has now been more than 90 minutes since Mayor Bowser first asked Army Secretary McCarthy for assistance. It took an hour for Defense Department officials to meet and another half-hour for them to decide to help. And Bowser still doesn’t know the status of her request.

(Memo) 3:19 p.m.: Pelosi and Schumer call Army Secretary McCarthy, who says that Bowser’s request has now been approved.

(Memo) 3:26 p.m.: Army Secretary McCarthy calls Bowser to tell her that her request for help has been approved.

The Defense Department’s notification of approval to Bowser came two hours after her request.

While Miller and his team were slow-walking Mayor Bowser’s request, she had sought National Guard assistance from Virginia Governor Ralph Northam (D) and Maryland Governor Larry Hogan (R). At about the same time, Speaker Pelosi called Northam directly for help and he agreed.

3:29 p.m.: Governor Northam announces mobilization of Virginia’s National Guard. But there’s a hitch. Federal law requires Defense Department authorization before any state’s National Guard can cross the state border onto federal land in DC. That approval doesn’t come until almost two hours later.

(DoD Memo) 3:47 p.m. Governor Hogan mobilizes his state’s National Guard and 200 state troopers.

The Defense Department “repeatedly denies” Hogan’s request to deploy the National Guard at the Capitol. As he awaits approval, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) calls Hogan from the undisclosed bunker to which he, Speaker Pelosi, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) have been evacuated. Hoyer pleads for assistance, saying that the Capitol Police is overwhelmed and there is no federal law enforcement presence.

4:17 p.m.: Trump tweets a video telling rioters, “I know your pain, I know you’re hurt. We had an election that was stolen from us. It was a landslide election and everyone knows it, especially the other side… It’s a very tough period of time. There’s never been a time like this where such a thing happened where they could take it away from all of us — from me, from you, from our country. This was a fraudulent election, but we can’t play into the hands of these people. We have to have peace. So go home. We love you. You’re very special. You’ve seen what happens. You see the way others are treated that are so bad and so evil.”

(DoD Memo) 4:18 p.m.: Miller gives voice approval to notifying surrounding states to muster and be prepared to mobilize their National Guard personnel.

(DoD Memo) 4:32 p.m.: Miller gives verbal authorization to “re-mission” DC National Guard from city posts where most have been directing traffic and monitoring subway stations “to conduct perimeter and clearance operations” in support of the Capitol Police force. 

4:40 p.m.: More than 90 minutes after Governor Hogan had requested federal approval to send his state’s National Guard troops to DC, Army Secretary McCarthy calls and asks, “Can you come as soon as possible?” Hogan responds, “Yeah. We’ve been waiting. We’re ready.”

5:40 p.m.: The first DC National Guard personnel arrive at the Capitol.

(DoD Memo) 5:45 p.m.: Miller signs formal authorization for out-of-state National Guard personnel to muster and gives voice approval for deployment to support the Capitol Police.

The first Maryland National Guard personnel don’t arrive at the Capitol until January 7 at 10:00 a.m. The first Virginia National Guard members arrive at Noon.

6:01 p.m.: Trump tweets: “These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long. Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!”

7:00 p.m.: Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, intends to call Sen. Tuberville but, like Trump five hours earlier, he reaches Sen. Lee. Unaware that he has reached the wrong number, Giuliani leaves a voicemail message saying, “Sen. Tuberville? Or I should say Coach Tuberville. This is Rudy Giuliani, the President’s lawyer. I’m calling you because I want to discuss with you how they’re trying to rush this hearing and how we need you, our Republican friends, to try to just slow it down so we can get these legislatures to get more information to you. I know they’re reconvening at 8 tonight, but it … the only strategy we can follow is to object to numerous states and raise issues so that we get ourselves into tomorrow — ideally until the end of tomorrow.”

When Congress resumes the session at 8:06 p.m., Tuberville votes in favor of objections to certifying Biden’s election.

(DoD Memo) 8:00 p.m.: The DC Capitol Police declare the Capitol building secure.

The Aftermath of the Attack

8:31 p.m.: After widespread media reports that Pence, not Trump, had actually given the order to deploy the National Guard, Kash Patel – Miller’s chief of staff and former top aide to Rep. Nunes – tells the New York Times, “The acting secretary and the president have spoken multiple times this week about the request for National Guard personnel in D.C. During these conversations, the president conveyed to the acting secretary that he should take any necessary steps to support civilian law enforcement requests in securing the Capitol and federal buildings.”

But according to the Defense Department’s January 8 memo, the only such conversation with Trump occurred on January 3.

*Jan. 7: Amid growing criticism over his fist pump to the mob shortly before it attacked the Capitol and his continuing objections after the attack to certifying Biden’s victory, Sen. Hawley issues a statement saying, “I will never apologize for giving voice to the millions of Missourians and Americans who have concerns about the integrity of our elections. That’s my job, and I will keep doing it.”

Jan. 7: Trump releases a video in which he lies, saying, “I immediately deployed the National Guard and federal law enforcement to secure the building and expel the intruders.” Defense Department officials confirm that they did not speak to Trump on January 6.

Jan. 8: Trump tweets: “The 75,000,000 great American Patriots who voted for me, AMERICA FIRST, and MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN, will have a GIANT VOICE long into the future. They will not be disrespected or treated unfairly in any way, shape or form!!!”

Shortly thereafter, he tweets again: “To all of those who have asked, I will not be going to the Inauguration on January 20th.”

Jan. 9: Twitter issues a statement saying that it has banned Trump because his “statement that he will not be attending the Inauguration is being received by a number of his supporters as further confirmation that the election was not legitimate… and encouragement to those potentially considering violent acts that the Inauguration would be a ‘safe’ target, as he will not be attending.”

Twitter’s statement continues, “The use of the words ‘American Patriots’ to describe some of his supporters is also being interpreted as support for those committing violent acts at the US Capitol. The mention of his supporters having a ‘GIANT VOICE long into the future’ and that ‘They will not be disrespected or treated unfairly in any way, shape or form!!!’ is being interpreted as further indication that President Trump does not plan to facilitate an ‘orderly transition’ and instead that he plans to continue to support, empower, and shield those who believe he won the election.”

The statement concludes: “Plans for future armed protests have already begun proliferating on and off-Twitter, including a proposed secondary attack on the US Capitol and state capitol buildings on January 17, 2021.”

Jan. 12: Preparing to board Marine One for Andrews Air Force Base en route to a speech in Alamo, Texas, Trump says, “And on the impeachment, it’s really a continuation of the greatest witch hunt in the history of politics.  It’s ridiculous.  It’s absolutely ridiculous. This impeachment is causing tremendous anger, and you’re doing it, and it’s really a terrible thing that they’re doing.  For Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer to continue on this path, I think it’s causing tremendous danger to our country and it’s causing tremendous anger.”

Also on Jan. 12: As he prepares to board Air Force One, Trump says, “So if you read my speech — and many people have done it, and I’ve seen it both in the papers and in the media, on television — it’s been analyzed, and people thought that what I said was totally appropriate.

And if you look at what other people have said — politicians at a high level — about the riots during the summer, the horrible riots in Portland and Seattle, in various other — other places, that was a real problem — what they said. But they’ve analyzed my speech and words and my final paragraph, my final sentence, and everybody, to the T, thought it was totally appropriate.”

Also on Jan. 12: Speaking to his Texas audience, Trump says, “Before we begin, I’d like to say that free speech is under assault like never before. The 25th Amendment is of zero risk to me but will come back to haunt Joe Biden and the Biden administration. As the expression goes: Be careful what you wish for. The impeachment hoax is a continuation of the greatest and most vicious witch hunt in the history of our country, and it is causing tremendous anger and division and pain — far greater than most people will ever understand, which is very dangerous for the USA, especially at this very tender time.”

Also on Jan. 12: The House Judiciary Committee issues a 76-page report of the events before, during and after the January riot that culminated in the deaths of five Americans, including a US Capitol Police officer. It concludes, “President Trump has falsely asserted he won the 2020 presidential election and repeatedly sought to overturn the results of the election. As his efforts failed again and again, President Trump continued a parallel course of conduct that foreseeably resulted in the imminent lawless actions of his supporters, who attacked the Capitol and the Congress. This course of conduct, viewed within the context of his past actions and other attempts to subvert the presidential election, demonstrate that President Trump remains a clear and present danger to the Constitution and our democracy.”

Jan. 13: As the article of impeachment and House Report head to the House floor for a vote, CNN reports that members of Congress, under pressure from Trump, are “scared” and “fear for their lives and their families.” Appearing on MSNBC, Rep. Jason Crow (D-CO) says, “I had a lot of conversations with my Republican colleagues. … A couple of them broke down in tears … saying that they are afraid for their lives if they vote for this impeachment.”

*Later that day, 10 Republicans join all House Democrats to impeach Trump for “incitement of insurrection” by a vote of 232 to 197.

*Jan. 16: Acting Defense Secretary Miller orders National Security Agency Director Paul Nakasone to install former White House official Michael Ellis as the NSA’s top lawyer by 6:00 p.m. Later that afternoon, Ellis formally accepts the NSA’s job offer.

The fight to save American democracy is now down to a single defining question:

Which side are you on?