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February 11, 2021 – Michael Novakhov – Shared News Links: The Capitol Riot as the focus of the Counterintelligence Investigations – Articles

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February 11, 2021 – Michael Novakhov – Shared News Links:

The Capitol Riot as the focus of the Counterintelligence Investigations

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German intelligence warns Capitol riot, Covid lockdown fuel right-wing extremism. Alleged Oath Keeper leader Thomas Caldwell was former FBI agent with top-secret clearance, attorney says. Investigate The Investigators! How many of the current and past FBI agents participated in the organizing, planning, and the execution of the Capitol Riot? Capitol riot defendants shared history of financial probelms: WaPo. Dominic Pezzola, Capitol riot defendant, was ‘misled’ and ‘duped’ by Donald Trump: Lawyer. Germany hails Biden’s move to halt Trump-ordered troop cuts

Michael Novakhov – SharedNewsLinks 
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Capitol insurrection: Most of the people charged, like Jenna Ryan, showed signs of prior money troubles

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Yet Ryan, 50, is accused of rushing into the Capitol past broken glass and blaring security alarms and, according to federal prosecutors, shouting: “Fight for freedom! Fight for freedom!”

But in a different way, she fit right in.

Despite her outward signs of success, Ryan had struggled financially for years. She was still paying off a $37,000 lien for unpaid federal taxes when she was arrested. She’d nearly lost her home to foreclosure before that. She filed for bankruptcy in 2012 and faced another IRS tax lien in 2010.

Nearly 60 percent of the people facing charges related to the Capitol riot showed signs of prior money troubles, including bankruptcies, notices of eviction or foreclosure, bad debts, or unpaid taxes over the past two decades, according to a Washington Post analysis of public records for 125 defendants with sufficient information to detail their financial histories.

The group’s bankruptcy rate — 18 percent — was nearly twice as high as that of the American public, The Post found. A quarter of them had been sued for money owed to a creditor. And 1 in 5 of them faced losing their home at one point, according to court filings.

The financial problems are revealing because they offer potential clues for understanding why so many Trump supporters — many with professional careers and few with violent criminal histories — were willing to participate in an attack egged on by the president’s rhetoric painting him and his supporters as undeserving victims.

While no single factor explains why someone decided to join in, experts say, Donald Trump and his brand of grievance politics tapped into something that resonated with the hundreds of people who descended on the Capitol in a historic burst of violence.

“I think what you’re finding is more than just economic insecurity but a deep-seated feeling of precarity about their personal situation,” said Cynthia Miller-Idriss, a political science professor who helps run the Polarization and Extremism Research Innovation Lab at American University, reacting to The Post’s findings. “And that precarity — combined with a sense of betrayal or anger that someone is taking something away — mobilized a lot of people that day.”

The financial missteps by defendants in the insurrection ranged from small debts of a few thousand dollars more than a decade ago to unpaid tax bills of $400,000 and homes facing foreclosure in recent years. Some of these people seemed to have regained their financial footing. But many of them once stood close to the edge.

Ryan had nearly lost everything. And the stakes seemed similarly high to her when she came to Washington in early January. She fully believed Trump’s false claims that the election was stolen and that he was going to save the country, she said in an interview with The Post.

But now — facing federal charges and abandoned by people she considered “fellow patriots” — she said she feels betrayed.

“I bought into a lie, and the lie is the lie, and it’s embarrassing,” she said. “I regret everything.”

The FBI has said it found evidence of organized plots by extremist groups. But many of the people who came to the Capitol on Jan. 6 — including Ryan — appeared to have adopted their radical outlooks more informally, consuming baseless claims about the election on television, social media and right-wing websites.

The poor and uneducated are not more likely to join extremist movements, according to experts. Two professors a couple of years ago found the opposite in one example: an unexpectedly high number of engineers who became Islamist radicals.

In the Capitol attack, business owners and white-collar workers made up 40 percent of the people accused of taking part, according to a study by the Chicago Project on Security and Threats at the University of Chicago. Only 9 percent appeared to be unemployed.

The participation of people with middle- and upper-middle-class positions fits with research suggesting that the rise of right-wing extremist groups in the 1950s was fueled by people in the middle of society who felt they were losing status and power, said Pippa Norris, a political science professor at Harvard University who has studied radical political movements.

Miller-Idriss said she was struck by a 2011 study that found household income was not a factor in whether a young person supported the extreme far right in Germany. But a highly significant predictor was whether they had lived through a parent’s unemployment.

“These are people who feel like they’ve lost something,” Miller-Idriss said.

Going through a bankruptcy or falling behind on taxes, even years earlier, could provoke a similar response.

“They know it can be lost. They have that history — and then someone comes along and tells you this election has been stolen,” Miller-Idriss said. “It taps into the same thing.”

Playing on personal pain

Trump’s false claims about election fraud — refuted by elections officials and rejected by judges — seemed tailored to exploit feelings about this precarious status, said Don Haider-Markel, a political science professor at the University of Kansas who studies political extremism.

“It’s hard to ignore with a Trump presidency that message that ‘the America you knew and loved is going away, and I’m going to protect it,’” Haider-Markel said. “They feel, at a minimum, that they’re under threat.”

While some of the financial problems were old, the pandemic’s economic toll appeared to inflict fresh pain for some of the people accused of participating in the insurrection.

A California man filed for bankruptcy one week before allegedly joining the attack, according to public records. A Texas man was charged with entering the Capitol one month after his company was slapped with a nearly $2,000 state tax lien.

Several young people charged in the attack came from families with histories of financial duress.

The parents of Riley June Williams — a 22-year-old who allegedly helped to steal a laptop from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office — filed for bankruptcy when she was a child, according to public records. A house owned by her mother faced foreclosure when she was a teenager, records show. Recently, a federal judge placed Williams on home confinement with her mother in Harrisburg, Pa. Her federal public defender did not respond to a request for comment.

People with professional careers such as respiratory therapist, nurse and lawyer were also accused of joining in.

One of them was William McCall Calhoun, 57, a well-known lawyer in Americus, Ga., 130 miles south of Atlanta, who was hit with a $26,000 federal tax lien in 2019, according to public records. A woman who knows Calhoun, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk candidly, said he started to show strong support for Trump only in the past year. An attorney for Calhoun declined to comment.

Ashli Babbitt, who was shot and killed by police when she tried to leap through a door’s broken window inside the Capitol, had struggled to run a pool-service company outside San Diego and was saddled with a $23,000 judgment from a lender in 2017, according to court records.

Financial problems were also apparent among people federal authorities said were connected to far-right nationalist groups, such as the Proud Boys.

Dominic Pezzola, who federal authorities said is a member of the Proud Boys, is accused of being among the first to lead the surge inside the Capitol and helping to overwhelm police. About 140 officers were injured in the storming of the Capitol and one officer, Brian D. Sicknick, was killed.

Pezzola, of Rochester, N.Y., also has been named in state tax warrants totaling more than $40,000 over the past five years, according to public records. His attorney declined to comment.

The roots of extremism are complex, said Haider-Markel.

“Somehow, they’ve been wronged, they’ve developed a grievance, and they tend to connect that to some broader ideology,” he said.

The price of insurrection

Ryan, who lives in Frisco, Tex., a Dallas suburb, said she was slow to become a big Trump supporter.

She’s been described as a conservative radio talk show host. But she wasn’t a budding Rush Limbaugh. Her AM radio show each Sunday focused on real estate, and she paid for the airtime. She stopped doing the show in March, when the pandemic hit.

But she continued to run a service that offers advice for people struggling with childhood trauma and bad relationships. Ryan said the work was based on the steps she took to overcome her own rough upbringing.

Twice divorced and struggling with financial problems, Ryan developed an outlook that she described as politically conservative, leaning toward libertarian.

But politics was not her focal point until recently. She recalled being upset when President Barack Obama won reelection in 2012. And she preferred Trump over Hillary Clinton four years later. But she said she wasn’t strident in her support for Trump.

That changed as the 2020 election approached.

She said she started reading far-right websites such as Epoch Times and Gateway Pundit. She began streaming shows such as Alex Jones’s “Infowars” and former Trump chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon’s “War Room: Pandemic.” She began following groundless assertions related to QAnon, a sprawling set of false claims that have coalesced into an extremist ideology. She said she didn’t know whether the posts were true, but she was enthralled.

“It was all like a football game. I was sucked into it. Consumed by it,” Ryan said.

She attended her first-ever protest in April, going to Austin to vent about the state’s pandemic shutdown orders. That was followed by a rally for Shelley Luther, who gained national attention for reopening her beauty salon in Dallas in defiance of the shutdown.

Ryan said she traveled to Trump’s “Save America” rally on a whim. A Facebook friend offered to fly her and three others on a private plane.

They arrived in Washington a day early and got rooms at a Westin hotel downtown, Ryan said.

It was her first trip to the nation’s capital.

The next morning, Jan. 6, the group of friends left the hotel at 6 a.m., Ryan said. She was cold, so she bought a $35 knit snow hat with a “45” emblem from a souvenir shop. They then followed the crowd streaming toward the National Mall.

“My main concern was there were no bathrooms. I kept asking, ‘Where are the bathrooms?’” she said. “I was just having fun.”

They listened to some of the speakers. But mostly they walked around and took photos. She felt like a tourist. They grabbed sandwiches at a Wawa convenience store for lunch. They hired a pedicab to take them back to the hotel.

She drank white wine while the group watched on television as Congress prepared to certify the electoral college votes. They listened to clips of Trump telling rallygoers to walk to the Capitol and saying, “We fight like hell, and if you don’t fight like hell you’re not going to have a country anymore.”

They decided to leave the hotel and go to the Capitol.

Ryan said she was reluctant.

But she also posted a video to her Facebook account that showed her looking into a bathroom mirror and saying, according to an FBI account of her charges: “We’re gonna go down and storm the capitol. They’re down there right now and that’s why we came and so that’s what we are going to do. So wish me luck.”

She live-streamed on Facebook. She posted photos to Twitter. She got closer to the Capitol with each post. She stood on the Capitol’s steps. She flashed a peace symbol next to a smashed Capitol window. The FBI also found video of her walking through doors on the west side of the Capitol in the middle of a packed crowd, where she said into a camera, according to the bureau: “Y’all know who to hire for your realtor. Jenna Ryan for your realtor.”

The FBI document does not state how long Ryan spent inside the building. She said it was just a few minutes. She and her new friends eventually walked back to the hotel, she said.

“We just stormed the Capital,” Ryan tweeted that afternoon. “It was one of the best days of my life.”

She said she realized she was in trouble only after returning to Texas. Her phone was blowing up with messages. Her social media posts briefly made her the infamous face of the riots: the smiling real estate agent who flew in a private jet to an insurrection.

Nine days later, she turned herself in to the FBI. She was charged with two federal misdemeanors related to entering the Capitol building and disorderly conduct. Last week, federal authorities filed similar charges against two others on her flight: Jason L. Hyland, 37, of Frisco, who federal authorities said organized the trip, and Katherine S. Schwab, 32, of Colleyville, Texas.

Ryan remained defiant at first. She clashed with people who criticized her online. She told a Dallas TV station that she deserved a presidential pardon.

Then Trump left for Florida. President Biden took office. And Ryan, at home in Texas, was left to wonder what to do with her two mini-goldendoodle dogs if she goes to prison.

“Not one patriot is standing up for me,” Ryan said recently. “I’m a complete villain. I was down there based on what my president said. ‘Stop the steal.’ Now I see that it was all over nothing. He was just having us down there for an ego boost. I was there for him.”

Read the whole story

 

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Michael_Novakhov

2 hours ago
REPLY
EDIT
HTTP://MICHAEL_NOVAKHOV.NEWSBLUR.COM/
1 public comment

acdha

20 hours ago
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Just like their leader
WASHINGTON, DC

nocko

1 hour ago
Most of their acute economic problems seemed to mature under Trump’s admin. How was more Trump going to help them? Very confusing.

Capitol riot defendants shared history of financial probelms: WaPo

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  • Many of the Capitol riot defendants have something in common: a history of financial difficulties. 
  • A Washington Post analysis found that a substantial number of defendants had money woes. 
  • The documented financial problems include bankruptcies, debt, foreclosures, and unpaid taxes. 
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

The more than 240 defendants charged in the January 6 insurrection on the Capitol siege came to Washington, D.C. from around the United States and from all walks of life, but something in common: a history of financial difficulties. 

new Washington Post analysis of court records and financial documents found that out of 125 defendants who had publicly available financial information, nearly 60% had filed for bankruptcy, had unpaid tax bills and other debts, been sued for unpaid debts, or faced losing their homes through eviction or foreclosure. 

The Post also found that among that group, the bankruptcy rate was 18%, almost double the national average. 

Read more: How Trump’s Senate trial could end with a vote to ban him from ever holding federal office again and kill any chances of a 2024 run

Among them were some of the most infamous accused rioters who have become faces of the insurrection. Jenna Ryan, the Texas real estate agent charged with two misdemeanors in connection with Capitol insurrection who flew to Washington, D.C. on a private jet, had filed for bankruptcy in 2012, almost lost her home before then, and had a history of unpaid federal taxes.

Ryan, who was also banned from PayPal after trying to raise funds for her legal defense on the platform, told the Post that she now fully regrets her participation in the riots and says she “bought into a lie.” 

Riley June Williams, the 22-year-old Pennsylvania woman accused of being involved in the theft of a laptop from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office, had herself filed for bankruptcy when she was just a child, according to the Post. 

And Ashli Babbit, who was shot and killed by law enforcement during the insurrection, had been hit with a $23,000 judgment from a lender a few years prior. 

Research shows that low-income people with lower levels of education are not necessarily more likely to fall into extremist movements — but being saddled with debt or other struggles can make some feel as if they have nothing left to lose. 

The Capitol insurrection further displays how outwardly successful and educated people in society’s mainstream can fall into anti-government movements. 

Those arrested so far include people associated with extremist groups like the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, but also people who had never before been charged with a federal crime or had a connection to those movements.

The rise of domestic right-wing extremism and the QAnon conspiracy theory haven’t just targeted low-income or uneducated people, however, but have swept up many well-off, college-educated professionals, too. 

One researcher interviewed by the Post said that middle-class and educated people may be more likely to be lured into extremism when they feel their position in society being jeopardized or threatened. 

Ryan, for example, told the Post that while she had voted for Trump in 2016, she didn’t become politically engaged until 2020, when she started consuming right-wing media like the Gateway Pundit, Infowars, and Steve Bannon’s “War Room” podcast, and fell down the rabbit hole of the QAnon conspiracy. 

Read the whole story

 

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Dominic Pezzola, Capitol riot defendant, was ‘misled’ and ‘duped’ by Donald Trump: Lawyer

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Dominic Pezzola, a former Marine facing charges for storming the U.S. Capitol, was “duped” by former President Trump into believing it was his duty to act, his lawyer told a federal court Wednesday.

Mr. Pezzola, of Rochester, New York, “acted out of the delusional belief that he was a ‘patriot’ protecting his country,” attorney Jonathan Zucker wrote in a motion seeking his release from custody.

“Defendant is former military who is sworn to protect his country. He was responding to the entreaties of the then commander in chief, President Trump. The President maintained that the election had been stolen and it was the duty of loyal citizens to ‘stop the steal’,” Mr. Zucker argued on behalf of Mr. Pezzola

“Admittedly there was no rational basis for the claim, but it is apparent defendant was one of millions of Americans who were misled by the President’s deception,” Mr. Pezzola‘s lawyer added.

Mr. Pezzola, 43, also known as “Spaz,” is among roughly 200 people facing charges so far in connection with storming the Capitol as Congress met to count electoral votes on the afternoon of Jan. 6.



In charging documents, federal prosecutors included photographs the government alleges to show Mr. Pezzola using a plastic riot shield to break a window on the Capitol Building prior to entering it.

“The only act that seems to distinguish defendant from thousands of other participants is that he used a shield to break a window and he, along with hundreds if not thousands, actually entered the capital,” his lawyer argued in the court filing.

That footage was played during Wednesday’s impeachment trial of Mr. Trump in the Senate. Mr. Pezzola was mentioned by name as well.

Mr. Pezzola described himself on social media as a member of the Proud Boys, the just-for-men group whose members were among the mobs who violently stormed the building, prosecutors said previously.

In a 15-page motion seeking pretrial detention for Mr. Pezzola, Mr. Zucker does not deny his client has connections to the Proud Boys but claims they are “relatively short lived and minimal.”

Mr. Pezzola has been jailed since mid-January. He has since been charged in an 11-count indictment, including with charges he allegedly conspired with another Proud Boys member from New York.

“The object of the conspiracy was to obstruct, influence, impede and interfere with law enforcement officers engaged in their official duties in protecting the U.S. Capitol and its grounds,” the indictment alleges.

Mr. Pezzola pleaded not guilty to all counts Tuesday. A detention hearing was scheduled for later Wednesday afternoon to determine if he should be released pending the outcome of his trial.

 

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AP News in Brief at 12:04 a.m. EST | National

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Trump trial video shows vast scope, danger of Capitol riot

WASHINGTON (AP) — Prosecutors unveiled chilling new security video in Donald Trump’s impeachment trial on Wednesday, showing the mob of rioters breaking into the Capitol, smashing windows and doors and searching menacingly for Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as overwhelmed police begged on their radios for help.

In the previously unreleased recordings, the House prosecutors displayed gripping scenes of how close the rioters were to the country’s leaders, roaming the halls chanting “Hang Mike Pence,” some equipped with combat gear. Outside, the mob had set up a makeshift gallows.

Videos of the siege have been circulating since the day of the riot, but the graphic compilation amounted to a more complete narrative, a moment-by-moment retelling of one of the nation’s most alarming days. In addition to the evident chaos and danger, it offered fresh details on the attackers, scenes of police heroism and cries of distress. And it showed just how close the country came to a potential breakdown in its seat of democracy as Congress was certifying Trump’s election defeat to Democrat Joe Biden.

“They did it because Donald Trump sent them on this mission,” said House prosecutor Stacey Plaskett, the Democratic delegate representing the U.S. Virgin Islands. “His mob broke into the Capitol to hunt them down.”

The stunning presentation opened the first full day of arguments in the trial as the prosecutors argued Trump was no “innocent bystander” but rather the “inciter in chief” of the deadly Capitol riot, a president who spent months spreading election lies and building a mob of supporters primed for his call to stop Biden’s victory.


Trial highlights: Harrowing footage, focus on Trump’s words

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Democrats opened their first day of arguments in former President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial Wednesday with searing footage of the U.S. Capitol riot as they painted Trump as an “inciter in chief” who systematically riled up his supporters and falsely convinced them the election had been stolen, culminating in the deadly attack.

“He assembled, inflamed and incited his followers to descend upon the Capitol,” said the lead impeachment manager, Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md.

As she presented harrowing footage of the siege, Del. Stacey Plaskett, a Democrat representing the U.S. Virgin Islands and one of the prosecutors, said Trump had “put a target” on the backs of then-Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who were leading the certification of President Joe Biden’s election victory. “His mob broke into the Capitol to hunt them down,” Plaskett said.

Highlights from the first full day of arguments:

TRUMP’S WORDS COME BACK TO HAUNT HIM


Is one day a week enough? Biden’s school goal draws blowback

President Joe Biden is being accused of backpedaling on his pledge to reopen the nation’s schools after the White House added fine print to his promise and made clear that a full reopening is still far from sight.

Biden’s initial pledge in December was to reopen “the majority of our schools” in his first 100 days in office. In January he specified that the goal applied only to schools that teach through eighth grade. And this week the White House said that schools will be considered opened as long as they teach in-person at least one day a week.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki defended the goal Wednesday, calling it part of a “bold ambitious agenda.” But she also said it’s a bar the administration hopes to exceed.

“Certainly, we are not planning to celebrate at 100 days if we reach that goal,” she said. “We certainly hope to build from that.”

The White House had faced increasing pressure to explain the goal as the reopening debate gains urgency. Biden had never detailed what it meant to be reopened or how he would define success. Pressed on the question Tuesday, Psaki clarified that one day a week of in-person learning would meet the mark.


Georgia prosecutor investigates election after Trump call

ATLANTA (AP) — A Georgia prosecutor said Wednesday that she has opened a criminal investigation into “attempts to influence” last year’s general election, including a call in which President Donald Trump asked a top official to find enough votes to overturn Joe Biden’s victory in the state.

In a Jan. 2 telephone conversation with Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, Trump repeatedly argued that Raffensperger could change the certified results of the presidential election, an assertion the secretary of state firmly rejected.

“All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have,” Trump said. “Because we won the state.”

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, a Democrat elected to the job in November, did not specifically mention Trump in the letters she sent to state officials Wednesday announcing her investigation. But the former president has been under intense criticism for the call.

Willis spokesman Jeff DiSantis told The Associated Press that while he could not name the subjects under investigation, he confirmed that Trump’s call to Raffensperger was “part of it” and said “the matters reported on over the last several weeks are the matters being investigated.” In her letters, Willis also remarks that officials “have no reason to believe that any Georgia official is a target of this investigation.”


Countries curb diplomatic ties, weigh sanctions on Myanmar

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — A growing number of governments are curbing diplomatic ties with Myanmar and increasing economic pressure on its military over the coup last week that erased the fragile democratic progress in the long-oppressed Southeast Asian nation.

President Joe Biden said Wednesday he was issuing an executive order that will prevent Myanmar’s generals from accessing $1 billion in assets in the United States, and he promised more measures were to come.

The U.S. was among many Western governments that lifted most sanctions in the past decade to encourage democratic change as Myanmar’s military rulers were taking gradual steps toward civilian rule — changes that proved temporary with the ousting of the elected government and detentions of Nobel Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and others.

One of the strongest reactions came from New Zealand, which has suspended all military and high-level political contact with the country and pledged to block any aid that could go to its military government or benefit its leaders. It also placed a travel ban on its military leaders.

“We do not recognize the legitimacy of the military-led government and we call on the military to immediately release all detained political leaders and restore civilian rule,” Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta said Tuesday.


Digital siege: Internet cuts become favored tool of regimes

LONDON (AP) — When army generals in Myanmar staged a coup last week, they briefly cut internet access in an apparent attempt to stymie protests. In Uganda, residents couldn’t use Facebook, Twitter and other social media for weeks after a recent election. And in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region, the internet has been down for months amid a wider conflict.

Around the world, shutting down the internet has become an increasingly popular tactic of repressive and authoritarian regimes and some illiberal democracies. Digital rights groups say governments use them to stifle dissent, silence opposition voices or cover up human rights abuses, raising concerns about restricting freedom of speech.

Regimes often cut online access in response to protests or civil unrest, particularly around elections, as they try to keep their grip on power by restricting the flow of information, researchers say. It’s the digital equivalent of seizing control of the local TV and radio station that was part of the pre-internet playbook for despots and rebels.

“Internet shutdowns have been massively underreported or misreported over the years,” said Alp Toker, founder of internet monitoring organization Netblocks. The world is “starting to realize what’s happening,” as documenting efforts like his expand, he said.

Last year there were 93 major internet shutdowns in 21 countries, according to a report by Top10VPN, a U.K.-based digital privacy and security research group. The list doesn’t include places like China and North Korea, where the government tightly controls or restricts the internet. Shutdowns can range from all-encompassing internet blackouts to blocking social media platforms or severely throttling internet speeds, the report said.


Government investigating massive counterfeit N95 mask scam

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal authorities are investigating a massive counterfeit N95 mask operation in which fake 3M masks were sold in at least five states to hospitals, medical facilities and government agencies. The foreign-made knockoffs are becoming increasingly difficult to spot and could put health care workers at grave risk for the coronavirus.

These masks are giving first responders “a false sense of security,” said Steve Francis, assistant director for global trade investigations with the Homeland Security Department’s principal investigative arm. He added, “We’ve seen a lot of fraud and other illegal activity.”

Officials could not name the states or the company involved because of the active investigation.

Nearly a year into the pandemic, fraud remains a major problem as scammers seek to exploit hospitals and desperate and weary Americans. Federal investigators say they have seen an increase in phony websites purporting to sell vaccines as well as fake medicine produced overseas and scams involving personal protective equipment. The schemes deliver phony products, unlike fraud earlier in the pandemic that focused more on fleecing customers.

3M, based in Maplewood, Minnesota, is among the largest global producers of the N95 mask, which has been approved by the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and is considered the gold standard in protection against the coronavirus. The company delivered some 2 billion N95 masks in 2020 as the pandemic soared, but in earlier months of the pandemic, when masks were in short supply, fraudsters starting popped up.


Biden in call with China’s Xi raises human rights, trade

Joe Biden on Wednesday held his first call as president with Xi Jinping, pressing the Chinese leader about trade and Beijing’s crackdown on democracy activists in Hong Kong as well as other human rights concerns.

The two leaders spoke just hours after Biden announced plans for a Pentagon task force to review U.S. national security strategy in China and after the new U.S. president announced he was levying sanctions against Myanmar’s military regime following this month’s coup in the southeast Asian country.

A White House statement said Biden raised concerns about Beijing’s “coercive and unfair economic practices.” Biden also pressed Xi on Hong Kong, human rights abuses against Uighur and ethnic minorities in the western Xinjiang province, and its actions toward Taiwan.

“I told him I will work with China when it benefits the American people,” Biden posted on Twitter after the call.

China’s state broadcaster CCTV struck a mostly positive tone about the conversation, saying Xi acknowledged the two sides had their differences, and those differences should be managed, but urged overall cooperation.


Hustler publisher Larry Flynt dies at 78

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Porn purveyor Larry Flynt, who built Hustler magazine into an adult entertainment juggernaut that included casinos, films, websites and other enterprises as he relentlessly championed First Amendment rights, has died at age 78.

Flynt, who had been in declining health, died Wednesday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, his longtime attorney, Paul Cambria, told The Associated Press. He had been paralyzed and nearly killed in a 1986 assassination attempt.

“He suffered decades of health issues and you can imagine it was pretty difficult,” said his nephew Jimmy Flynt Jr. He added, “I loved him and may he rest in peace.”

From his beginnings as a fledgling Ohio strip club owner to his reign as founder of one of the most outrageously explicit adult-oriented magazines, Flynt constantly challenged the establishment and was intensely disliked by the religious right and feminist groups that said he demeaned women and put them at risk with pictures of bondage and other controversial acts.

Flynt maintained throughout his life that he wasn’t just a pornographer but also a fierce defender of free-speech rights.


Reports: Mori to resign Tokyo Olympics over sexist remarks

TOKYO (AP) — The long saga of Yoshiro Mori appears to be near the end.

Japan’s Kyodo news agency and others reported on Thursday — citing unnamed sources — that Yoshiro Mori will step down on Friday as the president of the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee.

The move follows his sexist comments about women more than a week ago, and an ensuing and rare public debate in Japan about gender equality,

A decision is expected to be announced on Friday when the organizing committee’s executive board meets. The executive board of Tokyo 2020 is overwhelming male, as is the day-to-day leadership.

The 83-year-old Mori, in a meeting of the Japanese Olympic Committee more than a week ago, essentially said that women “talk too much” and are driven by a “strong sense of rivalry.” Mori, a former prime minister, gave a grudging apology a few days later after his opinions were reported, but declined to resign.

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Germany hails Biden’s move to halt Trump-ordered troop cuts

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The German government has welcomed President Joe Biden’s decision to formally halt the planned withdrawal of U.S. troops from Germany

BERLIN — The German government on Friday welcomed President Joe Biden’s decision to formally halt the planned withdrawal of U.S. troops from Germany, arguing that the troops’ stationing there is “in our mutual interest.”

Last year, then-President Donald Trump announced that he was going to pull out about 9,500 of the roughly 34,500 U.S. troops stationed in Germany, but the withdrawal never actually began.

Biden said Thursday that the pullout would be halted until Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin reviews America’s troop presence around the globe.

“The German government welcomes this announcement,” Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, told reporters in Berlin. He said that “we will remain in contact with the new American administration on its further plans.”

“We have always been convinced that the stationing of American troops here in Germany serves European and trans-Atlantic security, and so is in our mutual interest,” Seibert said. “We very much value this close, decades-long cooperation with the Americans’ forces that are stationed in Germany.”

Asked whether Germany would make any concrete offers to persuade the U.S. not to withdraw troops, Seibert said that Berlin will follow developments but “how these reviews go is an internal American matter.”

The U.S. has several major military facilities in Germany, including Ramstein Air Base, the headquarters for U.S. European Command and U.S. Africa Command, and Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, the largest American military hospital outside the United States.

Trump’s order met resistance from Congress as well as from within the military, which has long relied on Germany as a key ally and base of operations.

Trump announced the troop cuts after repeatedly accusing Germany of not paying enough for its own defense, calling the longtime NATO ally “delinquent” for failing to spend 2% of its GDP on defense, a benchmark that alliance members have pledged to work toward.

7:39 AM 2/9/2021 – Investigate The Investigators! How many of the current and past FBI agents participated in the organizing, planning, and the execution of the Capitol Riot?

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Feb. 9, 2021 at 5:04 a.m. EST

Alleged Oath Keeper leader Thomas Caldwell was former FBI agent with top-secret clearance, attorney says

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Those details were revealed in a motion filed Monday asking a judge to let Caldwell out of custody, citing his long military career and ability to pass vetting for the high security clearance. His attorney also claimed that Caldwell has disabilities from his military service that would have prevented him from storming the Capitol.

The FBI did not immediately return an inquiry about Caldwell’s past employment status late Monday.

The claims about Caldwell’s high security clearance and FBI service add to concerns about extremism in the military and law enforcement. The indictments against numerous alleged rioters with military and police ties have led local agencies to launch investigations and the Pentagon to order each military branch to dedicate time to addressing the problem in the coming months.

“The presence of law enforcement officers in the riot reinforces and substantiates the greatest fears many in the public had in the nature of law enforcement in the United States,” Michael German, a former FBI special agent and fellow with the Brennan Center for Justice’s Liberty and National Security Program, told The Washington Post.

“It’s incumbent on the Justice Department, if it wants to restore that confidence, to act quickly” to hold the most violent Capitol rioters accountable, he added.

Caldwell lives in Berryman, Va., and had been involved in local GOP politics. He was arrested on Jan. 19 in Virginia on charges of conspiracy, destruction of government property, obstruction of an official proceeding, and violent entry or disorderly conduct.

The government alleges that Caldwell, whom an FBI agent identified as having “a leadership role in the Oath Keepers,” sent Facebook messages coordinating with members of the self-styled militia and sharing video from within the Capitol.

“Us storming the castle,” Caldwell allegedly said in one message that accompanied a video that showed a crowd within the Capitol, according to the criminal complaint. “Please share. Sharon was right with me! I am such an instigator!”

His case is one of several prosecutors are building against Oath Keepers and Proud Boys to make the case that the assault on Congress was premeditated and organized by extremists. Federal prosecutors are considering whether to file sedition charges against some of the accused rioters, the Associated Press reported.

In Monday’s motion for bond, Caldwell denied being a member of the Oath Keepers.

“Caldwell is not a member of the organization, nor has he ever been a member of the organization, and if he were, such membership would be protected activity under the First Amendment,” wrote his attorney, Thomas K. Plofchan.

The motion also questioned whether the Facebook messages allegedly posted by Caldwell prove his involvement in the Jan. 6 riot, arguing that he was “merely relaying news that was circulating through the crowd that some people were inside.”

Plofchan identified Caldwell as a retired lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy, and said Caldwell worked as a section chief in the FBI from 2009 to 2010 after retiring from military service. His attorney listed multiple service awards Caldwell earned and also said he has had a “top-secret security clearance” since 1979.

After leaving the FBI, Caldwell founded a consulting firm that has done business with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the U.S. Army Personnel Command, the motion said.

Caldwell has several service-related injuries and other disabilities, his attorney said, including injuries to both shoulders, degenerative lumbar disc disease, and chronic knee pain. He underwent spinal fusion surgery in 2010 that failed, the filing said, and has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

“Moving, sitting for extended periods of time, lifting, carrying, and other physical activities are extremely painful and Caldwell is limited in his ability to engage in them,” the motion said.

His attorney also claimed that witnesses “will testify that [Caldwell] never entered the U.S. Capitol Building and that his physical limitations would have prevented him from forcibly entering any building or storming past any barrier.”

Plofchan noted that prosecutors did not include photos of Caldwell in the criminal complaint, although two co-defendants in the case are shown in photos.

“The Government has not identified any photo or video that shows Caldwell in the U.S. Capitol Building, on the grounds after overcoming any barrier,” the motion said.

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Alleged Oath Keeper leader Thomas Caldwell was former FBI agent with top-secret clearance, attorney says

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Those details were revealed in a motion filed Monday asking a judge to let Caldwell out of custody, citing his long military career and ability to pass vetting for the high security clearance. His attorney also claimed that Caldwell has disabilities from his military service that would have prevented him from storming the Capitol.

The FBI did not immediately return an inquiry about Caldwell’s past employment status late Monday.

The claims about Caldwell’s high security clearance and FBI service add to concerns about extremism in the military and law enforcement. The indictments against numerous alleged rioters with military and police ties have led local agencies to launch investigations and the Pentagon to order each military branch to dedicate time to addressing the problem in the coming months.

“The presence of law enforcement officers in the riot reinforces and substantiates the greatest fears many in the public had in the nature of law enforcement in the United States,” Michael German, a former FBI special agent and fellow with the Brennan Center for Justice’s Liberty and National Security Program, told The Washington Post.

“It’s incumbent on the Justice Department, if it wants to restore that confidence, to act quickly” to hold the most violent Capitol rioters accountable, he added.

Caldwell lives in Berryman, Va., and had been involved in local GOP politics. He was arrested on Jan. 19 in Virginia on charges of conspiracy, destruction of government property, obstruction of an official proceeding, and violent entry or disorderly conduct.

The government alleges that Caldwell, whom an FBI agent identified as having “a leadership role in the Oath Keepers,” sent Facebook messages coordinating with members of the self-styled militia and sharing video from within the Capitol.

“Us storming the castle,” Caldwell allegedly said in one message that accompanied a video that showed a crowd within the Capitol, according to the criminal complaint. “Please share. Sharon was right with me! I am such an instigator!”

His case is one of several prosecutors are building against Oath Keepers and Proud Boys to make the case that the assault on Congress was premeditated and organized by extremists. Federal prosecutors are considering whether to file sedition charges against some of the accused rioters, the Associated Press reported.

In Monday’s motion for bond, Caldwell denied being a member of the Oath Keepers.

“Caldwell is not a member of the organization, nor has he ever been a member of the organization, and if he were, such membership would be protected activity under the First Amendment,” wrote his attorney, Thomas K. Plofchan.

The motion also questioned whether the Facebook messages allegedly posted by Caldwell prove his involvement in the Jan. 6 riot, arguing that he was “merely relaying news that was circulating through the crowd that some people were inside.”

Plofchan identified Caldwell as a retired lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy, and said Caldwell worked as a section chief in the FBI from 2009 to 2010 after retiring from military service. His attorney listed multiple service awards Caldwell earned and also said he has had a “top-secret security clearance” since 1979.

After leaving the FBI, Caldwell founded a consulting firm that has done business with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the U.S. Army Personnel Command, the motion said.

Caldwell has several service-related injuries and other disabilities, his attorney said, including injuries to both shoulders, degenerative lumbar disc disease, and chronic knee pain. He underwent spinal fusion surgery in 2010 that failed, the filing said, and has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

“Moving, sitting for extended periods of time, lifting, carrying, and other physical activities are extremely painful and Caldwell is limited in his ability to engage in them,” the motion said.

His attorney also claimed that witnesses “will testify that [Caldwell] never entered the U.S. Capitol Building and that his physical limitations would have prevented him from forcibly entering any building or storming past any barrier.”

Plofchan noted that prosecutors did not include photos of Caldwell in the criminal complaint, although two co-defendants in the case are shown in photos.

“The Government has not identified any photo or video that shows Caldwell in the U.S. Capitol Building, on the grounds after overcoming any barrier,” the motion said.

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6:27 PM 2/8/2021 – Michael Novakhov – SharedNewsLinks℠

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6:27 PM 2/8/2021

Michael Novakhov – SharedNewsLinks℠ | In Brief | 

Michael Novakhov – SharedNewsLinks 
Tweets by @mikenov – 6:07 PM 2/8/20
German intelligence warns Capitol riot, Covid lockdown fuel right-wing extremism
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Tweets by ‎@mikenov – 6:07 PM 2/8/20

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    UK insists AstraZeneca vaccine is effective against South African varian… https://youtu.be/vuHGfEW4_sA  via @YouTube  YouTube ‎@YouTube

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    El segundo juicio político a Trump, a punto de empezar en un Senado divi… https://youtu.be/izewCbOQXm8  via @YouTube

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German intelligence warns Capitol riot, Covid lockdown fuel right-wing extremism

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MUNICH — While much of the liberal West watched the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol in horror, right-wing extremism and anti-Semitic ideas are gaining ground in certain corners of the globe.

German officials say the violence in Washington, together with coronavirus skepticism and anti-lockdown sentiment, has emboldened right-wing groups. The rising extremism has prompted the country’s intelligence services to place a number of people under surveillance.

 

“The security services are wide awake and are monitoring all developments,” Alina Vick, a spokeswoman for Germany’s Interior Ministry, said at a news conference Jan. 25 in response to questions from NBC News.

According to provisional police figures released Thursday, the number of crimes committed by right-wing extremists jumped to its highest level in at least four years in 2020.

Suspected coronavirus deniers have attacked a number of people and organizations in recent months. In October, the Robert Koch Institute, Germany’s center for disease control, was the target of an arson attack. The same day, an explosive detonated at the Berlin office of the Leibniz Association, a group of research institutes that has also researched the coronavirus.

Anti-lockdown demonstrations have intensified in recent weeks as Germany has tightened coronavirus restrictions, which are in place until at least mid-February.

Intelligence agencies have taken a particular interest in the group Querdenken 711, whose name loosely translates as “thinking outside the box.” The anti-lockdown group, which was founded in Stuttgart, the capital of the southwestern state of Baden-Württemberg, has inspired similar groups across the country that espouse a mixture of QAnon conspiracy theories, anti-Semitic ideas and frustration at coronavirus restrictions.

 

In December, Baden-Württemberg’s intelligence service placed the group on a watchlist and warned about rising extremism.

“We are dealing with a movement that formed on the occasion of the corona protests and then radicalized further on,” Beate Bube, the president of Baden-Württemberg’s intelligence service, said in a recent interview with a local newspaper. “We see an anti-state attitude at demonstrations and in online activities. Such attitudes are specifically fanned by the organizers.”

She said that the group was not interested in legitimate protest and that it was simply seeking to spread false information about the coronavirus and undermine the rule of law. The riot at the U.S. Capitol has added fuel to those sentiments.

“What we saw in Washington can be a breeding ground for radicalization and violent action in the right-wing scene,” Bube said. “Within the state’s scene, we are currently seeing verbal approval for the violence at the Capitol.”

 

While official national statistics on extremism for 2020 are not yet available, preliminary numbers released by a German lawmaker indicate that police recorded the highest number of far-right crimes since 2016. Police recorded 23,080 crimes with far-right backgrounds, around 700 more than in the previous year.

A report by RIAS Bavaria, a nonprofit organization, documented 46 anti-Semitic incidents related to coronavirus conspiracy theories in the state of Bavaria alone from Jan. 1 to Oct. 31, 2020. Many incidents occurred at demonstrations, while others occurred online or in daily life.

Annette Seidel-Arpaci, the head of RIAS Bavaria, said in an interview that the coronavirus protests have helped promote anti-Semitic beliefs more broadly, raising the possibility of violence.

 

“The danger is that ideas turn into public speech and through that potentially into actions,” Seidel-Arpaci said.

Even before the pandemic, right-wing attacks have shocked Germany in recent years. In 2019, a gunman attacked a synagogue on Yom Kippur, and a man with far-right views shot and killed a politician.

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According to the RIAS Bavaria report, a Jewish pedestrian was accosted in a Munich park last year by a man wearing a T-shirt that read “corona denier” and “anti-vaxxer.” The assailant claimed that Jews had created the coronavirus, according to the report.

In another documented case, a German rapper posted a video to Instagram claiming that the Rothschild family was behind a curfew that had been instituted to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Seidel-Arpaci said that signs of anti-Semitism were evident in early protests against coronavirus measures last year but that those sentiments have become much more prevalent now.

“Victims are feeling more fear and insecurity,” Seidel-Arpaci said. “Not just because of the coronavirus pandemic, but in general, anti-Semitism is acted out more openly, especially in everyday life.”

Carlo Angerer is a multimedia producer and reporter based in Mainz, Germany. 


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Author Craig Unger makes the revelations in his new book, American Kompromat, How the KGB Cultivated Donald Trump, and Related Tales of Sex, Greed, Power and Treachery: How Russia began ‘grooming’ Donald Trump 40 years ago by saving him from financial ruin, book claims

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The author writes Trump was rescued multiple times from multiple bankruptcies by boatloads of Russian cash laundered through his real estate in the 80s and 90s as well as Russian money picking up the tab for buildings franchised under Trump's name

How Russia began ‘grooming’ Donald Trump 40 years ago by saving him from financial ruin, book claims

Donald Trump was cultivated as a Russian asset more than 40 years ago which exploded into a decades-long ‘relationship’ of mutual benefit to both Russia and Trump, a shocking new book claims.  

Trump was rescued multiple times from multiple bankruptcies by boatloads of Russian cash laundered through his real estate in the 80s and 90s, the author asserts. Russian money also picked up the tab for buildings franchised under Trump’s name.

An invitation to Russia by a high-level KGB official in 1987 under the guise of a preliminary scouting trip to build a Trump hotel in Moscow, was in fact ‘deep development’ by KGB handlers that furthered creating secret back channels and allowed the Russians to influence and damage American democracy, the author claims.

When Trump became President, it was time to pay the piper and Trump gave Putin everything he wanted, the author writes.

Author Craig Unger makes the revelations in his new book, American Kompromat, How the KGB Cultivated Donald Trump, and Related Tales of Sex, Greed, Power and Treachery.  Unger is a journatist and author of six books, including the New York Times bestsellers House of Bush, House of Saud, and House of Trump, House of Putin.

A new book claims Donald Trump was cultivated as a Russian asset more than 40 years ago and that exploded into a decades long 'relationship' of mutual benefit to both Russia and Trump. When Trump became President, it was time to pay the piper and Trump gave  Vladimir Putin everything he wanted, the author writes

A new book claims Donald Trump was cultivated as a Russian asset more than 40 years ago and that exploded into a decades long ‘relationship’ of mutual benefit to both Russia and Trump. When Trump became President, it was time to pay the piper and Trump gave  Vladimir Putin everything he wanted, the author writes

The author writes Trump was rescued multiple times from multiple bankruptcies by boatloads of Russian cash laundered through his real estate in the 80s and 90s as well as Russian money picking up the tab for buildings franchised under Trump's name

The author writes Trump was rescued multiple times from multiple bankruptcies by boatloads of Russian cash laundered through his real estate in the 80s and 90s as well as Russian money picking up the tab for buildings franchised under Trump’s name

Asking if Trump was a Russian asset is the single most important question about the president, the author writes after extensive interviews with high-level sources, Soviets who defected, former CIA officers, FBI counter-intelligent agents, lawyers and more.

‘This is a story of dirty secrets and the most powerful people in the world’ and Unger reveals what went wrong in the numerous congressional investigations into Trump.

Trump and the Russians were also in bed together through Trump’s close friendship with Jeffrey Epstein, who was supplying the Russians and Silicon Valley with underage girls, the author claims. 

American Kompromat How the KGB Cultivated Donald Trump, and Related Tales of Sex, Greed, Power, and Treachery by Craig Unger is out January 26

American Kompromat How the KGB Cultivated Donald Trump, and Related Tales of Sex, Greed, Power, and Treachery by Craig Unger is out January 26

Epstein claimed to have introduced Melania to Donald when Donald was partying with Epstein’s ‘girls’.

Epstein had made videotapes of sexual acts that he could use for blackmail or kompromat – compromising material – and photos of Trump with a bevy of young girls and girls giggling at the semen stains on Trump’s pants when in the company of the under eighteen-year olds and he couldn’t hold back his ‘excitement’.

Trump’s association with Russia began in 1976 when he decided to make his move from developing real estate in Queens to Manhattan.

Under the tutelage of the ‘Mafia lawyer and dark satanic prince of the McCarthy era’, Roy Cohn, who tutored Trump on how to find generous tax abatements, the brash real estate developer paid one thin dollar to buy the old decrepit Commodore Hotel that sat next to Grand Central Station on 42nd and Park Avenue.

The development of that decaying monstrosity into the Grand Hyatt New York offers the key to Trump’s first encounter with the Russians when he went downtown to Joy-Lud Electronics at Fifth Avenue and 23rd Street to buy hundreds of television sets for his new hotel.

Store co-owner Semyon ‘Sam’ Kislin, was a Ukrainian Jew who emigrated to Manhattan from Odessa in 1972 and hung a sign on his store’s front door reading, ‘We speak Russian’.

Kislin co-owned the store with another Soviet émigré Tamir Sapir and sold electronic equipment to Soviet diplomats, KGB officers and Politburo members returning to the Soviet Union because it had all been adapted to PAL, technical standards used in Europe and Russia.

That stood Jud-Lud Electronics apart from the wildly popular 47th Street Photo and Crazy Eddie grabbing the airwaves with their big pitch, discount claims.

Jud-Lud was the only place to buy electronic equipment and consumer goods to take back to the Soviet Union.

Trump picked up the TVs on credit and paid Kislin back in 30 days, an unusual move for the man well known for stiffing his vendors.

Donald Trump and Tamir Sapir at the Trump Soho Launch on September 19, 2007 in New York City. Tamir Sapir owned a store and sold electronic equipment to Soviet diplomats, KGB officers and Politburo members returning to the Soviet Union

Donald Trump and Tamir Sapir at the Trump Soho Launch on September 19, 2007 in New York City. Tamir Sapir owned a store and sold electronic equipment to Soviet diplomats, KGB officers and Politburo members returning to the Soviet Union

Back in the 70s Trump picked up TVs on credit and paid Tussian Semyon Kislin (left) back in 30 days, an unusual move for the man well known for stiffing his vendors
A former KGB officer Yuri Shvets, informed the author that a Jewish guy running a fresh produce store back then would have had to have been recruited by the KGB

Back in the 70s Trump picked up TVs on credit and paid Ukrainian Semyon Kislin (left) back in 30 days, an unusual move for the man well known for stiffing his vendors. Kislin had run a highly celebrated fresh produce store back in Odessa where foodstuffs passed through the black market. A former KGB officer Yuri Shvets (right) said Kislin would have been recruited by the KGB

The author asks the question why the Grand Hyatt needed TVs with dual systems enabling them to receive broadcasts to the Soviet Union – but the answer is lost to the passage of time.

Kislin had run a highly celebrated fresh produce store back in Odessa where foodstuffs passed through the black market.

A former KGB officer Yuri Shvets, informed the author that a Jewish guy running a fresh produce store back then would have had to have been recruited by the KGB.

The deal was if Kislin wanted to emigrate from the Soviet Union, he had to sign a pledge to cooperate with the KGB.

Back in the US, if anyone questioned letting in so many Soviet Jews, they faced being called anti-Semitic.

Kislin’s store, under the KGB seal of approval was ‘used by the KGB to initiate overtures to prospective assets’.

So Trump was under the watchful eye of the KGB. But that had begun years earlier when the ‘young, vain, narcissistic and ruthlessly ambitious real estate developer’ sold multimillion-dollar condos to the Russian Mafia laundering money by buying through anonymous shell companies.

The sale of these condos made Trump rich again after losing billions of dollars when his Atlantic City casinos went belly up.

Surveillance of Trump began even earlier in 1977 when he married Ivana Zelnickova, a Czech national from a district where the secret police force was in league with the KGB and Trump was already talking about wanting to be president one day. 

For sale! Exclusive look inside Trump’s Atlantic City casino in 2017

Trump sold multimillion-dollar condos to the Russian Mafia laundering money by buying through anonymous shell companies. The sale of these condos made Trump rich again after losing billions of dollars when his Atlantic City casinos went belly up

Trump sold multimillion-dollar condos to the Russian Mafia laundering money by buying through anonymous shell companies. The sale of these condos made Trump rich again after losing billions of dollars when his Atlantic City casinos went belly up

The author claims Trump's association with Russia began in 1976 when he decided to make his move from developing real estate in Queens to Manhattan

The author claims Trump’s association with Russia began in 1976 when he decided to make his move from developing real estate in Queens to Manhattan

Trump probably also appealed to the KGB because he was ‘vain, narcissistic, highly susceptible to flattery and greedy’.

‘With Trump it wasn’t just weakness. Everything was excessive. His vanity, excessive, Narcissism, excessive. Greed, excessive. Ignorance, excessive’, writes the author.

‘Deeply insecure intellectually, highly suggestible, exceedingly susceptible to flattery, Trump was anxious to acquire some real intellectual validation – and the KGB would be more than happy to humor him,’ the author added. 

Kislin denied any ties with the Russian Mafia years later but hung in close to Trump and donated more than $40,000 to Rudy Giuliani’s 1993 and 1997 New York mayoral campaigns. 

The file on Trump with the Soviet/Russian intelligence went from laundering money through Trump luxury condos, to partnering with wealthy Soviet émigrés in franchising scams, to becoming involved in countless financial irregularities, to creating secret back channels with the Russians, to partying with Jeffrey Epstein, and on and on,’ writes Unger.

Epstein, whose father had been a municipal parks department employee in Coney Island, amassed hundreds of millions of dollars, owned fabulous homes around the world and lived two short miles from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach.

Within his house there were scores of women and young girls, dozens in their teens who were passed around like party favors by Epstein with the help of one time girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell — to the world’s most powerful men.

‘All the while, he was secretly recording their activities, the tapes of which provided a hammerlock of kompromat, leverage, and influence’, Unger writes.

It was a world of unimaginable decadence – gorgeous young women, private planes, spectacular residences – and sex with young girls.

Billionaire oligarchs shipped in teenage girls from Russia and the Ukraine.

Russian models and beauty pageant contestants were flown in and manipulated for sexual favors by Epstein with Ghislaine as his fixer, the author claims.

Trump fit in and he reciprocated Jeffrey and Ghislaine’s invites.

The author claims surveillance on Trump began in 1977 when he married Ivana Zelnickova, a Czech national from a district where the secret police force was in league with the KGB and Trump was already talking about wanting to be president one day (pictured in Russia)

The author claims surveillance on Trump began in 1977 when he married Ivana Zelnickova, a Czech national from a district where the secret police force was in league with the KGB and Trump was already talking about wanting to be president one day (pictured in Russia) 

In 1987 Donald and Ivana Trump visited Palace Square in St.Petersburg, Russia. The author says the invitation to Russia by a high-level KGB official in 1987 under the guise of a preliminary scouting trip to build a Trump hotel in Moscow, was in fact 'deep development' by KGB handlers that furthered creating secret back channels and allowed the Russians to influence and damage American democracy

In 1987 Donald and Ivana Trump visited Palace Square in St.Petersburg, Russia. The author says the invitation to Russia by a high-level KGB official in 1987 under the guise of a preliminary scouting trip to build a Trump hotel in Moscow, was in fact ‘deep development’ by KGB handlers that furthered creating secret back channels and allowed the Russians to influence and damage American democracy

Twenty-eight young women were flown in to Mar-a-Lago for a calendar girl competition and the only two males guests were Trump and Epstein.

Trump was known for nonstop groping as well as putting his hands up the skirt of the girlfriend of the organizer of the calendar girl competition – all the way to her crotch.

Christina Oxenberg, daughter of Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia and sister of Dynasty star Catherine Oxenberg, met Ghislaine when Ghislane was knitting together a social network that introduced Bill Clinton and Prince Andrew to Epstein.

Christina said her mother had an affair with JFK in 1962 and suggested she was President Kennedy’s love child.

‘Ghislaine was the woman behind the world’s greatest Rolodex – and all about power and money’, stated Oxenberg.

When the FBI raided Epstein’s homes, ‘they found video recording equipment, hard disks and evidence of kompromat – videos of billionaires in the act of pedophilia, raping underage girls, committing crimes that could lead to hard time’.

Trump’s name was in Epstein’s black book with no fewer than 16 phone numbers.

‘Trump Model Management was very much a part of Epstein’s picture and allegedly indulged in many of the dubious practices – violating immigration laws and illegally employing young foreign girls,’ the author writes. 

Epstein took the fifth when asked if he ever socialized with Trump in the presence of females under eighteen.

Epstein claimed he was the one who introduced Melania to Trump.

‘Jeffrey and Ghislaine knew Trump’s secrets, and he knew theirs – secrets were the ultimate currency in the decadent and highly transactional world they lived in,’ the author writes. 

After 17 years of friendship, the close friends permanently fell out in 2004 when Epstein told Trump that he was keen on buying a spectacular mansion in Palm Beach being sold out of a bankruptcy auction.

With his heart set on the property, he wanted to make one change – move the swimming pool. So he brought his pal Trump to the property for advice.

In financial straits with his bankruptcies in Atlantic City, Trump outbid his friend with an offer of more than $41 million.

Trump put the house up for sale shortly thereafter for $125 million.

The author claims Trump was connected to Russians through friend Jeffrey Epstein, who was supplying the Russians and Silicon Valley with underage girls

The author claims Trump was connected to Russians through friend Jeffrey Epstein, who was supplying the Russians and Silicon Valley with underage girls

Trump appealed to the KGB because he was 'vain, narcissistic, highly susceptible to flattery and greedy,' the author writes. Trump and Putin pictured in 2017

Trump appealed to the KGB because he was ‘vain, narcissistic, highly susceptible to flattery and greedy,’ the author writes. Trump and Putin pictured in 2017 

Trump in 2017: What I say to Putin is ‘none of your business’

Enraged, Epstein never spoke to Trump again but showed around photos of Trump with topless young girls and one photo with semen stained pants.

After three years into Trump’s presidency, the curtain was pulled back and revealed ‘Trump was a sociopath who had given false or misleading statements more than 20,000 times while in office and created false narratives that Russia had interfered in the 2016 election on Trump’s behalf.’

When it came to 2020 and the president’s daily briefings on the rapidly expanding Covid-19 pandemic as early as January that Trump never read, ‘He did next to nothing when it came to stopping the spread of the virus’, writes Unger who calls it ‘a death cult’.

He just didn’t care if Americans died.

Deceit was the new norm with Trump’s lies that were anti-science and free of reason – ‘that killed hundreds of thousands of Americans’.

‘The pandemic was being handled by a superstitious, science-defying authoritarian leader who had decided to let the people fend for themselves – and die accordingly,’ the author writes. 

The nation was now in free-fall – thanks to the ‘vulgar and vile, misogynistic, racist firebrand’ – who had mesmerized tens of millions with ‘anti-science based policies that led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans’.

‘The Russians had undermined the US elections in 2016 and Trump had collaborated with them’, writes Unger. And now thanks to the virus, everything wrong with the United States – sex trafficking, racism and greed –  was visible. 

American Kompromat by Craig Unger: 9780593182536 | PenguinRandomHouse.com: Books


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Capitol assault a more sinister attack than first appeared

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WASHINGTONUnder battle flags bearing Donald Trump’s name, the Capitol’s attackers pinned a bloodied police officer in a doorway, his twisted face and screams captured on video. They mortally wounded another officer with a blunt weapon and body-slammed a third over a railing into the crowd.

“Hang Mike Pence!” the insurrectionists chanted as they pressed inside, beating police with pipes. They demanded House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s whereabouts, too. They hunted any and all lawmakers: “Where are they?” Outside, makeshift gallows stood, complete with sturdy wooden steps and the noose. Guns and pipe bombs had been stashed in the vicinity.

Only days later is the extent of the danger from one of the darkest episodes in American democracy coming into focus. The sinister nature of the assault has become evident, betraying the crowd as a force determined to occupy the inner sanctums of Congress and run down leaders — Trump’s vice president and the Democratic House speaker among them.

This was not just a collection of Trump supporters with MAGA bling caught up in a wave.

That revelation came in real time to Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., who briefly took over proceedings in the House chamber as the mob closed in Wednesday and the speaker, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, was spirited to safer quarters moments before everything went haywire.

“I saw this crowd of people banging on that glass screaming,” McGovern told The Associated Press on Sunday. “Looking at their faces, it occurred to me, these aren’t protesters. These are people who want to do harm.”

“What I saw in front of me,” he said, “was basically home-grown fascism, out of control.”

Pelosi said Sunday “the evidence is that it was a well-planned, organized group with leadership and guidance and direction. And the direction was to go get people.” She did not elaborate on that point in a ”60 Minutes” interview on CBS.

The scenes of rage, violence and agony are so vast that the whole of it may still be beyond comprehension. But with countless smartphone videos emerging from the scene, much of it from gloating insurrectionists themselves, and more lawmakers recounting the chaos that was around them, contours of the uprising are increasingly coming into relief.

 

THE STAGING

The mob got explicit marching orders from Trump and still more encouragement from the president’s men.

“Fight like hell,” Trump exhorted his partisans at the staging rally. “Let’s have trial by combat,” implored his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, whose attempt to throw out election results in trial by courtroom failed. It’s time to “start taking down names and kicking ass,” said Republican Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama.

Criminals pardoned by Trump, among them Roger Stone and Michael Flynn, came forward at rallies on the eve of the attack to tell the crowds they were fighting a battle between good and evil and they were on the side of good. On Capitol Hill, Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri gave a clenched-fist salute to the hordes outside the Capitol as he pulled up to press his challenge of the election results.

The crowd was pumped. Until a little after 2 p.m., Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was at the helm for the final minutes of decorum in partnership with Pence, who was serving his ceremonial role presiding over the process.

Both men had backed Trump’s agenda and excused or ignored his provocations for four years, but now had no mechanism or will to subvert the election won by Biden. That placed them high among the insurrectionists’ targets, no different in the minds of the mob than the “socialists.”

“If this election were overturned by mere allegations from the losing side, our democracy would enter a death spiral,” McConnell told his chamber, not long before things spiraled out of control in what lawmakers call the “People’s House.”

 

THE ASSAULT

Thousands had swarmed the Capitol. They charged into police and metal barricades outside the building, shoving and hitting officers in their way. The assault quickly pushed through the vastly outnumbered police line; officers ran down one man and pummeled him.

In the melee outside, near the structure built for Joe Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20, a man threw a red fire extinguisher at the helmeted head of a police officer. Then he picked up a bullhorn and threw it at officers, too.

The identity of the officer could not immediately be confirmed. But Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, who was wounded in the chaos, died the next night; officials say he had been hit in the head with a fire extinguisher.

Shortly after 2 p.m., Capitol Police sent an alert telling workers in a House office building to head to underground transportation tunnels that criss-cross the complex. Minutes later, Pence was taken from the Senate chamber to a secret location and police announced the lockdown of the Capitol. “You may move throughout the building(s) but stay away from exterior windows and doors,” said the email blast. “If you are outside, seek cover.”

At 2:15 p.m., the Senate recessed its Electoral College debate and a voice was heard over the chamber’s audio system: “The protesters are in the building.” The doors of the House chamber were barricaded and lawmakers inside it were told they may need to duck under their chairs or relocate to cloakrooms off the House floor because the mob has breached the Capitol Rotunda.

Even before the mob reached sealed doors of the House chamber, Capitol Police pulled Pelosi away from the podium, she told “60 Minutes.”

“I said, ‘No, I want to be here,’”she said. “And they said, ‘Well, no, you have to leave.’ I said, ‘No, I’m not leaving.’ They said, ‘No, you must leave.’” So she did.

At 2:44 p.m., as lawmakers inside the House chamber prepared to be evacuated, a gunshot was heard from right outside, in the Speaker’s Lobby on the other side of the barricaded doors. That’s when Ashli Babbit, wearing a Trump flag like a cape, was shot to death on camera as insurrectionists railed, her blood pooling on the white marble floor.

The Air Force veteran from California had climbed through a broken window into the Speaker’s Lobby before a police officer’s gunshot felled her.

Back in the House chamber, a woman in the balcony was seen and heard screaming. Why she was doing that only became clear later when video circulated. She was screaming a prayer.

Within about 10 minutes of the shooting, House lawmakers and staff members who had been cowering during the onslaught, terror etched into their faces, had been taken from the chamber and gallery to a secure room. The mob broke into Pelosi’s offices while members of her staff hid in one of the rooms of her suite.

“The staff went under the table barricaded the door, turned out the lights, and were silent in the dark,” she said. “Under the table for two and a half hours.”

On the Senate side, Capitol Police had circled the chamber and ordered all staff and reporters and any nearby senators into the chamber and locked it down. At one point about 200 people were inside; an officer armed with what appeared to be a semi-automatic weapon stood between McConnell and the Democratic leader, Sen. Chuck Schumer.

Authorities then ordered an evacuation and rushed everyone inside to a secure location, the Senate parliamentary staff scooping up the boxes holding the Electoral Collage certificates.

Although the Capitol’s attackers had been sent with Trump’s exhortation to fight, they appeared in some cases to be surprised that they had actually made it in.

When they breached the abandoned Senate chamber, they milled around, rummaged through papers, sat at desks and took videos and pictures. One of them climbed to the dais and yelled, “Trump won that election!” Two others were photographed carrying flex cuffs typically used for mass arrests.

But outside the chamber, the mob’s hunt was still on for lawmakers. “Where are they?” people could be heard yelling.

That question could have also applied to reinforcements — where were they?

At about 5:30 p.m., once the National Guard had arrived to supplement the overwhelmed Capitol Police force, a full-on effort began to get the attackers out.

Heavily armed officers brought in as reinforcements started using tear gas in a coordinated fashion to get people moving toward the door, then combed the halls for stragglers. As darkness fell, they pushed the mob farther out onto the plaza and lawn, using officers in riot gear in full shields and clouds of tear gas, flash-bangs and percussion grenades.

At 7:23 p.m., officials announced that people hunkered down in two nearby congressional office buildings could leave “if anyone must.”

Within the hour, the Senate had resumed its work and the House followed, returning the People’s House to the control of the people’s representatives. Lawmakers affirmed Biden’s election victory early the next morning, shell-shocked by the catastrophic failure of security.

Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Ca., told AP on Sunday it was as if Capitol Police “were naked” against the attackers. “It turns out it was the worst kind of non-security anybody could ever imagine.”

Said McGovern: “I was in such disbelief this could possibly happen. These domestic terrorists were in the People’s House, desecrating the People’s House, destroying the People’s House.”

 

Associated Press writers Dustin Weaver in Washington and Michael Casey in Concord, New Hampshire, contributed to this report. Reeves reported from Birmingham, Alabama.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.


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Feds combing for details on planning ahead of Capitol riot

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Pro-Trump supporters storm the US Capitol following a rally with President Donald Trump on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC.

Among the questions federal prosecutors and investigators are pursuing: Was there a plan to capture and hold hostage members of Congress, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, whose name was invoked in angry chants by people who stormed a joint session of Congress to try to stop certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory over President Donald Trump.

People in military-style gear, some carrying zip-tie restraints, were seen in videos and photos participating in the ransacking of the Capitol, raising the question of whether capturing lawmakers — or even Vice President Mike Pence — was the goal, according to a federal law enforcement official.

Acting US Attorney Michael Sherwin told NPR that “hundreds” of people could be facing charges, from destruction of property to murder, for participating in the insurrection. Sherwin said that

there would be some challenges

because hundreds of suspects were able to leave the scene.

“I don’t want this tyranny of labels saying this was sedition, this was a coup,” Sherwin said.

Before the Trump rally on Wednesday, federal and local law enforcement agencies shared raw intelligence showing that some people associated with extremist groups, including some with White supremacist ideologies, were expected to flock to Washington at Trump’s urging, according to law enforcement officials briefed on the intelligence. One official said the regional level intelligence reports were broadly shared, including with the US Capitol Police. But the officials said, none of the intelligence reports suggested any plots to attack the Capitol. Much of the information was so-called open-source reporting, based on social media and extremist sites on the Internet, where discussions among planned rally-goers shared some of Trump’s false claims about a stolen election. 

“It was a lot of noise, like there always is,” said one federal law enforcement official who reviewed intelligence reports from before the Trump rally.

More than 20 arrests on federal charges made since Wednesday have largely focused on some of the relatively easy to identify insurrectionists, many of whom proudly posted on social media or even livestreamed their participation, law enforcement officials said.

The harder work now is to try to build potential domestic terrorism cases against people who helped engineer the attack, one federal law enforcement official said.

In a news conference Friday, a federal prosecutor in Washington told reporters that investigators in some cases are using initial charges to try to arrest people, while they continue to investigate what other possible charges to bring.

That includes looking into possible foreign ties for some suspects; one woman arrested asked for a Russian translator during her court hearing last week.

“The goal here is to really to identify people and get them at least what we call placeholder charges initially and then we look deeper into how these individuals came here, how much planning was involved, and any actors domestic or foreign,” said Ken Kohl, the acting principal assistant US Attorney in Washington.

Amid that effort is an equally urgent one to prepare for more potential violence from groups that are planning to come to Washington before and during the Biden inauguration.

The FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies are redoubling efforts to try to identify people who could be planning violence.

The fact Wednesday’s mob managed to overwhelm an unprepared Capitol Police force has likely emboldened others who may want to try something similar either in Washington, or in states around the country, officials say. That includes foreign terrorist groups that have always had the US Capitol as a top target.


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Law enforcement missed key signs ahead of riot on US Capitol

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Law enforcement missed key signs ahead of riot on US Capitol - CNNPolitics

During conference calls that included federal agencies and the city’s police ahead of the rally, federal law enforcement officials say the US Capitol Police assured counterparts they had the situation under control—they knew how to deal with large demonstrations at the Capitol, in large part because the complex was already being prepared for Inauguration Day, one of the most secure events in the city, according to sources familiar with the matter.

Federal and local officials said Thursday they did not have intelligence suggesting any violent mob was preparing to attack the Capitol, even as demonstrators were publicly saying on social media they were not planning a typical protest.

Despite weeks of preparations, “obviously, what happened no one anticipated,” Michael Sherwin, acting US Attorney for the District of Columbia, told reporters in a telephone press conference Thursday. “Things could have been done better.”

Of course, there were reports of violence when Trump’s backers had come to town last month, and the FBI was monitoring everything from social media to the hotels where some of the rioters were staying. One sign of the preparations came in the days before the rally, when, acting on the FBI’s intelligence information, Washington’s Metropolitan Police arrested Enrique Tarrio, leader of the Proud Boys, after he left the airport en route to his hotel. 

He was charged for his role in destroying a Black Lives Matter banner at a previous Proud Boys march in Washington, and prosecutors later added charges for carrying two extended ammunition magazines that are illegal in the city. As part of his release, a local judge told him to leave town and to stay away from Wednesday’s rally.

Police were caught flat-footed the next day. DC Police Chief Robert Contee told reporters Thursday there was no intelligence that suggested there would be a breach of the US Capitol on January 6. Three DHS sources, who usually receive such reports, were unaware of a threat assessment being shared from the DHS intelligence office ahead of Wednesday’s siege.

Several federal executive branch agencies had teams on standby ready to assist Capitol Police. And they weren’t aware the Capitol Police weren’t in any position to be able to prevent the insurrection at the Capitol that led to some of the most secure areas of the building to be overrun by rioters.

The call for help from the Capitol Police came as protesters, apparently riled up from speeches during a rally near the White House, began converging at barricades outside the Capitol. It was too late.

Serious questions about being caught off guard

The ransacking of the Capitol has sparked serious questions across Washington about how the US Capitol was caught so off guard — putting in danger lawmakers as well as Vice President Mike Pence — and why law enforcement treated President Donald Trump’s supporters differently than the Black Lives Matter protests that occurred last year. The episode has quickly led to recriminations on Capitol Hill — with Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund

planning to resign next week

— and vows to investigate the incident from Republicans and Democrats alike.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the House Sergeant at Arms, Paul Irving, was submitting his resignation, while Senate Sergeant at Arms, Michael Stenger, submitted his resignation late Thursday, according to a statement by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Part of the planning for the Trump rally took into account criticism that federal and local police, and the US National Guard received for handling of summer protests, federal and local officials say.

This included a heavy-handed response to protesters near Lafayette Park, who were cleared to make way for a Trump photo op walk to St. John’s Church across from the White House. The visible police and National Guard presence for the Trump rally was notably less aggressive than during summer protests.

A Homeland Security law enforcement source said the “most glaring and obvious speck in our eye is when you contrast it to similar demonstrations that did not always go well and the response,” referring to the heavy-handed response DHS had in Portland and Washington, DC this past summer.

Coordinated by Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, federal executive branch agencies had more than 500 officers and agents close by and ready to help, a Justice Department spokesman said.

“We had what I believe were sufficient federal resources for this,” Sherwin said, adding, “I cannot speak for the Capitol Police.”

Sund issued a statement Thursday saying that Capitol Police “had a robust plan established to address anticipated First Amendment activities.”

“But make no mistake — these mass riots were not First Amendment activities; they were criminal riotous behavior,” Sund said, adding that the rioters “actively” attacked officers and were “determined to enter into the Capitol Building by causing great damage.”

But police chiefs across the country who plan for major protests, sometimes with other agencies, make contingency plans for how to respond when something goes wrong — for when a First Amendment protest turns into violence, which Wednesday’s rioters said all along it would be.

One of the complications of the capital is that the Capitol Police reports to Congress and is separate from the Executive Branch agencies, including the FBI and Secret Service, which don’t have jurisdiction on the Capitol grounds unless requested by the Capitol Police.

Former Capitol Police Chief Terrance Gainer told CNN that Washington, DC, police have responsibility for the entire city, while Capitol police cover the area that includes the Capitol and House and Senate office buildings.

“What’s kind of been worked out is, everyone tends to their business until we need each other,” Gainer said. “There’s some concurrent jurisdictions, some separate.”

In practice, the different agencies do their own work until they’re needed. There was a time when Metro Police couldn’t give field sobriety tests so Capitol Police would respond to DUI traffic stops, Gainer said.

Call for help came too late

Sherwin said the first indication of trouble was when crowds began breaching entrances on the east front of the Capitol building.

Federal officials had been asked for help — first with bomb threats in multiple locations, and then to the Capitol itself — but they said by the time they were asked to respond to the chaos at the Capitol, it was too late for them to intervene and stop the building from being breached.

“They have jurisdiction. And the minute they asked for support, we sent it,” Acting Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli said on Fox News. “And by the way, they asked for support before violence began. So that was not a pure reaction. There was some planning to it. But it was just too close to when everything began to heat up. And they were outnumbered and overwhelmed. I mean, that’s why you see pictures like that. It’s pure, it’s just numbers.”

Multiple federal law enforcement agencies deployed emergency response teams near the Capitol on Wednesday that were eventually deployed to respond to the unfolding rioters that had breached the Capitol building.

The Metropolitan Police Department, DC’s local police force, said there was a call for help from Capitol Police at 1 p.m. Both the FBI and the Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms Bureau had teams near the Capitol, and after they received a call for help, more than 300 agents and officers were deployed to the Capitol, sources told CNN.

But less than 90 minutes later, the Capitol was under siege as rioters entered into some of the most secure parts of the building, including the Senate chamber and Pelosi’s office.

The Homeland Security law enforcement official said both ICE and CBP had quick response teams available if needed for any protests or breach of headquarters locations. Those teams were on standby, the official said, but there was no request for DHS assets to go to the Capitol beyond a limited number of Secret Service and Federal Protection Service officers.

The FBI response included SWAT teams and other special agents who were deployed to assist US Capitol Police to clear the Capitol grounds, as well as a Hostage Rescue Team. The FBI also has evidence response teams on site collecting evidence and bomb technicians to respond to pipe bombs at buildings that house the Republican and Democratic National Committees.

A team of The ATF’s explosive specialists responded to bomb threats in Washington, DC. A short time later, they received the call for help from Capitol Police and ATF’s special response team and agents from Baltimore and Washington deployed to the Capitol to assist clearing the rioters.

Congressional leaders quickly got on the phone with acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller and Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy in the early moments of the riots, while lawmakers were being evacuated from the House and Senate chambers, Schumer said Thursday. The call was tense, a source said, with lawmakers demanding answers about why there wasn’t better protection.

“The question is why weren’t they there in advance, and then why didn’t they get there ASAP. All of that needs to looking into,” Schumer told reporters.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan Thursday said that he was on the phone with House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, who pleaded with him to send the Maryland National Guard to help. But Hogan said the Maryland Guard was told multiple times “we don’t have authorization” and waited an hour and a half before he finally received a call from Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy to deploy to the Capitol.

Hogan said that McCarthy asked him, “‘Can you come as soon as possible?’ Yeah, we’ve been waiting. We’re ready.”

CNN reported on Wednesday that it was Pence, not Trump, who helped to facilitate members of the DC National Guard deploying to the Capitol, and Trump initially resisted deploying the National Guard.

Clearing the Capitol

After lawmakers, aides and reporters had been evacuated to safety, it was the FBI and ATF teams that ultimately cleared the Capitol building, and not Capitol police, sources tell CNN.

The two agencies each went from one end of the Capitol, room-to-room, meeting in the middle to clear the building and allow Congress to return to the House and Senate chambers to finish certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s win, sources said.

Around 7 p.m., as the Capitol complex was being cleared, federal law enforcement agencies held another call with Pence and House and Senate leaders. Capitol Police were not included in the call, according to one source, and the tone was quite different than the earlier call as the situation was still unfolding.

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf was up late into the night in Qatar monitoring events as they unfolded on Capitol Hill Wednesday, according to a DHS official familiar with his trip. In light of the siege on the Capitol, Wolf arranged to return to the US as quickly as possible, the official said, following visits to Cyprus, Bahrain and Qatar this week.

ICE Homeland Security Investigations personnel, who were deployed to support Federal Protective Service last year to protect the agency’s buildings amid protests, were not sent out to the Capitol Wednesday, and stayed at ICE headquarters as they did during the summer’s Black Lives Matter protests, though they were on standby to assist, according to two officials. Federal Protective Service, meanwhile, requested assistance from US Customs and Border Protection to protect federal facilities and property.

“There are many questions lingering about the attack on the US Capitol and it will take time to discover the answers,” said FEMA Administrator Pete Gaynor in an internal message to the workforce Thursday, which was obtained by CNN. FEMA staff, Gaynor said, worked overnight to “support efforts to ensure continuity of government operations.”

CORRECTION: This story has been corrected to reflect that the Capitol Police officer is on life support.

CNN’s Peter Nickeas contributed to this report. 

 

Despite weeks of planning between federal and local police agencies ahead of Wednesday’s Trump rally—including tracking social media—officials said that going into Wednesday they had no intelligence indicating there was a threat the US Capitol could be overrun.

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Audio – Federal Agents Who Violate Individual Rights Can Be Sued For Damages, Supreme Court Rules

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from Nick Sibilla.

Setting an important precedent for law enforcement accountability and religious liberty, the U.S. Supreme Court last month sided with three Muslim men who say they were forced onto the No-Fly List when they refused to becomes informants for the FBI. With the ruling unanimous, Tanzin v. Tanvir reaffirms the principle that individuals can sue federal agents for violating their rights. 

Muhammad Tanvir, Jameel Algibhah, and Naveed Shinwari are practicing Muslims who were approached by the FBI to spy on their communities. When the men refused to collaborate, they soon found themselves unable to fly. That came with a heavy cost. The men were effectively barred from visiting family members abroad, while Tanvir was forced to quit his job as a trucker. 

To vindicate their rights, Tanvir and the others sued the FBI agents for monetary damages under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). For nearly 30 years, RFRA has let individuals “whose religious exercise has been burdened” seek to “obtain appropriate relief against a government,” which includes any “branch, department, agency, instrumentality, and official (or other person acting under color of law) of the United States.” 

PROMOTED

But since RFRA doesn’t explicitly define what counts as “appropriate relief,” the case sought to determine “whether ‘appropriate relief’ includes claims for money damages against Government officials in their individual capacities.” By a vote of 8-0, the court agreed with Tanvir that it does. (Since oral argument occurred before Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation, she did not participate in the case.)

“In the context of suits against government officials, damages have long been awarded as appropriate relief” and have “coexisted with our constitutional system since the dawn of the Republic,” Justice Clarence Thomas wrote for the court. Moreover, suing for damages is not just “appropriate,” Thomas noted, “it is also the only form of relief that can remedy some RFRA violations.” For Tanvir’s lost income and “wasted plane tickets, effective relief consists of damages, not an injunction.” 

Thomas also cited cases involving one-off violations, including the desecration of religious property and an unauthorized autopsy that violated Hmong beliefs, where injunctions would be useless—and only damages could remedy. “It would be odd to construe RFRA in a manner that prevents courts from awarding such relief,” Thomas added. “Had Congress wished to limit the remedy to that degree, it knew how to do so.”

“It is a soaring feeling. I made my life in this country, so this is important not just for me, but for everybody,” Tanvir said in a statement. “I don’t want the same thing that the FBI did to me to happen to others.”

The Supreme Court also dismissed the Justice Department’s argument that allowing lawsuits for damages against government officials could “raise separation-of-powers concerns.” “To the extent the government asks us to create a new policy-based presumption against damages against individual officials, we are not at liberty to do so,” Thomas wrote. “Congress is best suited to create such a policy. Our task is simply to interpret the law as an ordinary person would.” After all, preventing anyone from filing a damages claim under RFRA would let judges nullify causes of actions passed by Congress—a clear breach of the separation of powers.

“To be sure, there may be policy reasons why Congress may wish to shield Government employees from personal liability, and Congress is free to do so. But there are no constitutional reasons why we must do so in its stead,” the justice added. “We cannot manufacture a new presumption now and retroactively impose it on a Congress that acted 27 years ago.” 

Though Tanvir and the other men can now proceed with their lawsuit, they could soon encounter another procedural roadblock. In a footnote, Thomas noted that the FBI agents are “entitled to assert a qualified immunity defense when sued in their individual capacities for money damages under RFRA.” Found nowhere in the Constitution and created whole-cloth by the Supreme Court, qualified immunity shields government employees from any legal liability, unless they infringed on someone’s “clearly established” rights. Since only a handful of federal courts have heard claims for damages under RFRA, it’s quite possible that Tanvir could still lose his case on the grounds that his rights weren’t “clearly established.” 

Nevertheless, the decision in Tanzin v. Tanvir may signal a new receptiveness among the court to hold government officials accountable. Last month, the Supreme Court denied qualified immunity to Texas prison guards who kept an inmate in cells “teeming with human waste,” allowing the man’s Eighth Amendment lawsuit to continue. This rejection of qualified immunity was the first such denial in more than 15 years by the Supreme Court. (Curiously, Thomas was the only justice who dissented, and he did not explain his reasoning.)

That same month, the High Court held oral argument in Brownback v. King, which hinges on whether the government can create a new form of immunity for police brutality cases. This government accountability case centers around James King, who was brutally beaten by police officers in broad daylight and has been fighting for years to get his day in court. 

“The Supreme Court has provided its full-throated endorsement of damages as a necessary and historic mechanism for constitutional accountability,” said Scott Bullock, president and general counsel of the Institute for Justice, which is representing King. “In doing so, the court also reiterated its support for the foundational principles of this country, such as that damages can be awarded to check the government’s power and that it is Congress’ job to engage in policy making. The court’s job is to interpret the law, not to do policy.”


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FBI Reports 2020 Rise in Violence

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FBI Reports 2020 Rise in Violence

Murder and assault rates rose nationwide in the first half of 2020, although other violent and property crime rates are on the decline, according to the FBI’s most recent Preliminary Uniform Crime Report (UCR).

Legal experts, meanwhile, warn about an increase in hate crimes, which were already spiking in 2019, the FBI said in a second report, released in November.

The FBI reported that cases of murder and non-negligent manslaughter rose 14.8% in 2020, and aggravated assaults were up 4.6%, while rapes were down 17.8% and robbery, 7.1%. Released in September, the UCR compares data for January to June 2020 to the same period in 2019. 

Rates of homicide and assault are indeed rising across the country, according to data from the National Commission on Covid-19 and Criminal Justice, created in July by the Council on Criminal Justice.

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The commission reports that homicide rates between June and August 2020 increased by 53% over the same period in 2019, while aggravated assaults went up by 14%.  Led by Richard Rosenfeld, PhD, a former president of the American Society of Criminology, the study concluded that “subduing the pandemic, pursuing crime control strategies of proven effectiveness, and enacting needed police reforms will be necessary to achieve durable reductions in violent crime in American cities.”

Hate crimes increased in 2019

Meanwhile, the FBI released its 2019 Hate Crime Statistics report two weeks ago. A survey of more than 15,000 law enforcement agencies across the country reported 7,314 criminal incidents and 8,559 related offenses that were motivated by race, ethnicity, ancestry, religion, sexual orientation and gender identity last year. 

More than half of the victims (57.6%) were targeted because of their race or ethnicity, and 20.15 because of religion. Another 16.7% were targeted because of sexual-orientation and 2.7% because of gender identity, said the report.

“Just in general, pandemic-induced weirdness may have set normal patterns aside, said Nora V. Demleitner, a professor of law at Washington and Lee University in Virginia, who sits on the board of the non-profit Prison Policy Initiative.

Ms. Demleitner suggested the rise in hate crimes is related to the political climate. “[There is] more widespread lack of trust in the police or a withdrawal of policing,” which may be due to staffing shortages in some communities due to Covid-19, she said.  

Stress of the pandemic

Legal experts attribute the increase in violent and hate crime to the stresses of the epidemic, especially unemployment and risk of exposure.

“Unemployment, economic insecurity and the stress of exposure to COVID-19, coupled with mandatory stay-at-home orders during the initial phases of the pandemic, have strained familial and community relationships,” said Daphne R. Robinson, an attorney and public health consultant in Shreveport, La.

“I believe that this upheaval has contributed to increased domestic violence, child abuse and participation in unlawful activities, thus increasing exposure to gun violence,” Ms. Robinson told Medical Daily. She maintained that the level of racist rhetoric has been increasing in the US, and people of color have increasingly felt marginalized.

Many people have been laid off or furloughed, and are isolated at home 24/7 with their families, or by themselves.

“Rather than the usual few hours between work and bed, the result is an increase in domestic violence,” said Don Hammond, a criminal defense attorney in Los Angeles. “That is reflected in the overall violent crime rate.” 

Common outlets for stress relief like gyms, bars and other activities have been severely curtailed due to COVID-19. Mr. Hammond said stress and energy build to a breaking point.

“That opportunity came when police officers killed several people, sparking large-scale protests,” Mr. Hammond said, referring to widespread protests that occurred after George Floyd was killed by a police officer in Minnesota last May.

Individuals either take out that stress on others or turn it against themselves. An article in April 2020 in the Journal of the American Medical Association warned of the heightened risk of suicide due to pandemic-related factors, including economic stress, isolation, less access to community and religious support, barriers to mental health treatment, and 24/7 news coverage. 

Courts at fault?

Another factor, suggested Mr. Hammond, is the courts’ handling of criminal cases during the pandemic. 

“Courts have closed, extended hearing dates, and reduced or eliminated bail. Jails also emptied out in an effort to prevent the spread of the virus,” he said.

“… Now, to deal with a backlog of trials (over 7,000 in LA County), prosecutors are offering better plea deals to resolve cases, resulting in less custody time for those who are convicted.” 

This has set some criminals free and able to commit additional crimes, believing they would not be held in custody due to COVID-19, he said.

Unfortunately, the criminal justice system as a whole does a poor job of providing resources to address issues that underlie criminal conduct—mental health, addictions, poverty and other conditions that lead to crime, said Mr. Hammond.

“To the extent that this has been improving over the last several years, 2020 has been a step backwards, as courts get overwhelmed with cases and are reluctant to monitor more people in programs.” 

Jennifer Nelson is a health writer based in Florida who also writes about health and wellness for AARP, PBS’ Next Avenue, Shondaland, and others.


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Rethinking lone-wolf extremism – Samuel Bezzina

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Rethinking lone-wolf extremism – Samuel Bezzina

France is getting to grips once again with its domestic jihadist threat, after two lone-wolf attacks in Nice and Paris.

On October 29, three churchgoers in Nice were hacked to death by a Tunisian migrant at the city’s Notre Dame cathedral. This was preceded by the gruesome beheading of Samuel Paty, a history schoolteacher, at the hands of a Chechen-born expat near Paris on October 16.

The triggering factor that inspired such violence was France’s upholding of liberal patriotic values, defending Paty’s cartoon showing of Prophet Muhammad during his free speech classes.

Both tragedies show how Western counterterrorism continues to struggle in understanding lone-wolf extremism as an undetectable, unpredictable and persistent terrorist threat.

Two days before Paty’s assassination, Britain’s MI5 chief, Ken McCallum, admitted that “more terrorists have gone for basic attack methods requiring little preparation, meaning fewer clues to detect in advance.”

Like terrorism, lone-wolf extremism is hard to define. Generalisations have neither been recognised by policymakers nor academics in terms of obscure interactions, ideological beliefs and choice of tactics and targets adopted by militants. Political violence staged by individuals can be traced back to the early 1800s, when anarchist activists committed random attacks in Italy, Spain, Scandinavia and the US.

Australian sociologist Ramon Spaaij recognises that “lone-wolf terrorists operate individually, do not belong to an organised group and whose methods are directed by individuals without outside command”.

Single-minded determination, strategic direction and independence to plot violence have made solo acts of terrorism high-profile, devastating and unforgettable for victims and audiences. Patrizio Peci, a former Red Brigades militant, once described how these characteristics require individual terrorists to become “tense but not nervous, calm but not relaxed, decisive but not foolhardy”.   

Virtual self-radicalisation, irrespective of ideological influences, have inspired lone attackers to follow radical social media platforms, publicise their militant content and call for extreme solutions through violence.

 

Guns need hands but they also need ideas

 

Norway’s 2011 attacks are an example. Anders Breivik’s murder of 77 civilians, from the Oslo bomb to the Utøya shootings, reflected his online presence to promote his far-right ideology.

Convinced that Islam and migration were threatening Norway’s white power identity, Breivik’s belief to use terrorism was shaped by Nordic xenophobic blogs that praised violence as a moral (if not spiritual) defence against ‘betraying’ governments undertaking multiculturalism.

Breivik’s bloodstained beliefs, posted online under his manifesto ‘2083: A European declaration of independence’, would serve to inspire online activists to carry out greater lethal attacks, including Brandon Tarrant’s 2019 anti-Muslim massacres in Christchurch, New Zealand.

For Western liberal democracy, Islamist terrorism remains a disturbing phenomenon when rethinking lone-wolf extremism. On November 2, Vienna saw Austrian-born IS supporter Kujtim Fejzulai mow down four bystanders in a gun-and-knifing spree. Fejzulai had been prevented from joining ISIS in Syria by Austria’s security services and was later released from prison.

Later revelations from Austria’s interior ministry indicated that Fejzulai’s wish for revenge was incensed by his attendance at two local mosques preaching political Islam. Revenge plays an emotional role that persuades lone-wolf extremists to adopt political violence.

Lone attackers imagine the use of terrorism as altruistic, seeking to defend powerless communities by violently cleansing the evils of liberal democracy. Irish terrorism expert Louise Richardson argues: “I grapple with how a young idealist can believe that, in murdering innocent people, he is battling injustice and fighting for a fairer world.”

Europe’s recent jihadist attacks show how terrorism’s ideological threat continues to stimulate future lone-wolf militants, adopting a radical mindset that reshapes contextual problems, reidentify in-group victims and out-group targets and justify violence in ethical terms to achieve goals in whose cause they fight for.

Sotiris Kondylis, an ex-terrorist from Greece’s defunct Marxist gang 17 November, once concluded: “Guns need hands but they also need ideas. If the ideas are not there, the guns won’t work.”

Samuel Bezzina, independent researcher in terrorism and political violence

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Carter Page sues DOJ, FBI over ‘unlawful surveillance’ – Audio Post – 9:22 AM 11/28/2020

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November 28, 2020 | 12:03am | Updated November 28, 2020 | 12:07am

Carter Page on Friday sued the Justice Department, the FBI and former FBI Director James Comey for $75 million, insisting he was unlawfully surveilled as part of the 2017 special counsel investigation into so-called Russian collusion.

The 59-page lawsuit, filed Friday in Washington, DC, the federal court additionally sues former FBI Assistant Director Andrew McCabe and FBI lovebirds Peter Strzok and Lisa Page.

Also named as plaintiffs are former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith, who this year pleaded guilty to falsifying an e-mail that was used by the FBI to obtain a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant to monitor Page.

The surveillance “violated federal statutes enacted to prevent unlawful spying on United States persons, as well as the Constitution,” the lawsuit says.

Page is a former Moscow-based investment banker and was a foreign policy adviser for President Trump’s 2016 campaign.

The FBI had a wiretap on him for a year as a suspected recruitment target of Russian intelligence agents.

The FBI’s suspicions were based in part on allegations contained in the infamous dossier prepared by Christopher Steele and paid for by Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee.

The dossier “falsely alleged unlawful communications and activities involving Dr. Page and two Russians with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin,” the lawsuit says.

In seeking the warrants needed to wiretap Page, the FBI failed to independently investigate Steele’s allegations, the lawsuit complains.

The FBI also failed to disclose to the FISA court that Page had in fact been a CIA informant between 2008 and 2013, helping the agency “in combatting intelligence-related activities pursued by Russia and other foreign countries against the United States’ interests,” the lawsuit says.

“To persuade [the FISA court] that there was probable cause to believe that Dr. Page was a Russian agent, the Defendants provided false or misleading information” to the court, the suit says.

Page was ultimately exonerated by special counsel Robert Mueller.

Mueller’s report found “numerous links” but no criminal conspiracy between the Russian government and the Trump campaign.

“The investigation did not establish that Page coordinated with the Russian government in its efforts to interfere with the 2016 presidential election,” the Mueller report said last year.

A report by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz further concluded that the FBI made 17 significant omissions or outright errors in its applications to the FISA court to surveil Page.

The IG said that despite the multiple errors, he found no evidence of political bias by the FBI when it opened the collusion probe.

Earlier this month, McCabe conceded before the Senate Judiciary Committee that he would not have signed off on surveilling Page if he knew in 2017 what he knew now.


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