Air Date 6/25/2022
[00:00:00] JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: Welcome to this episode of the award-winning Best of the Left Podcast, in which we shall take a look at some of the takeaways from the hearings investigating the January 6th insurrection. Most notably they knew. They knew. They knew. They knew. They knew from the very beginning that their fraud claims were nonsense and they pushed ahead anyway.
Clips today are from Fresh Air, Straight White American Jesus, The BradCast, The Intercept, and The Thom Hartmann Program, with an additional members-only clip from Democracy Now!.
The Jan. 6 Insurrection Understanding The Big Picture Part 1 - Fresh Air - Air Date 6-9-22
[00:00:33] TERRY GROSS - HOST, FRESH AIR: The storming of the capital is not an isolated event. It's the most dramatic, most documented, and most visible and physically threatening part of the larger story, but it's just one part. So how do you see the insurrection as fitting into the larger months-long story and the attempt to overthrow the results of the election?
[00:00:58] LUKE BROADWATER: Well, it's the culmination of everything that came before it, uh, and basically the Trump campaign had run out of options at that point. At first, they had tried to keep the former President in power through the courts. You know, right away on election night, Donald Trump announces that he won the election despite what the votes say. And so they try lawsuit after lawsuit to try to keep him in power. And that's the legitimate way to do it, right? I mean, these lawsuits were very dubious and they were bogus, but that is the proper remedy to try to contest an election is to go to the courts and they try some 60 plus times and fail each time. Each one of these suits is thrown out.
After that happens, they try schemes that are increasingly at odds with norms, standards, and the law. So they then come up with this idea that, well, if the courts won't go along with this, it's because they haven't seen the evidence of fraud that we believe exists. And in order to get that evidence of fraud, we need to take control of the voting machines because there must be fraud.
So they strategize with a number of theories for how they can take control of various voting machines. Obviously this is a very dangerous and frightening plan. And at first we believed it was mainly pushed by people with extreme views, but through reporting, we've been able to determine that Donald Trump himself actually entertained this plan and checked with three different agencies to see if they would carry it out. And each one rejected these attempts to seize voting machines. And so that plan sort of dies in the water once he can't get any of his agency heads to go along with it.
[00:02:55] TERRY GROSS - HOST, FRESH AIR: So when previous efforts to overturn the election failed then there was the effort to submit fake electors to the electoral college so that the Biden electors wouldn't be getting to vote. Trump electors would be getting to vote. So tell us how that figures in.
[00:03:12] LUKE BROADWATER: So, yes, after the Trump campaign realizes they cannot win through the courts or through seizing voting machines. They have to come up with a different strategy to keep Donald Trump in power. That's their goal. And one idea they settle on is to have their lawyers fan out across the country and contact Republicans in seven different battleground states that were all won by Joe Biden and convince them to meet and certify slates of electors for President Trump instead of Joe Biden, and then send those slates to the Congress and to the National Archives. But in order for this plan to have any legitimacy, they need the governors of those states or the state legislatures to approve of these slates, to say, yes, in fact, there was a contested election here, we have two slates of electors, we don't know which one is right, here, Congress, please decide for us. The problem for Donald Trump is no one's willing to go along with that plan. They do get the fake electors to sign these certificates, but no governor and no legislature is willing to meet to sign off on them.
So they don't have any legitimacy once they get to Washington. And that's when, uh, Donald Trump becomes, one, enraged at those people who won't go along with it, you know I recall Governor Kemp of Georgia receiving a lot of ire from the President because he would not acquiesce. Um, but then they have to come up with a different way to try to keep him in power to say, well, maybe we don't need to get, uh, governors to sign off on them. Maybe we can just have Vice President Mike Pence accept these fake electors and throw out legitimate votes. And that's when the pressure really turns to Mike Pence.
[00:05:05] TERRY GROSS - HOST, FRESH AIR: And Pence decides he can't go forward with that. It's not legal. And he decides that after talking with his lawyers and with former Vice President Dan Quail. And then Trump gets really angry with Pence and even says, as they're chanting Mike Pence, even says, maybe they should hang Mike Pence. And we don't know what the tone was when he said that, whether they were saying that in a snarky way, or like, I really mean it kind of way, but it is a demonstration of how angry he was. So how does all of this lead to the actual violence, the actual storming of the capital, the insurrection on January 6th, like where does that fit in to the larger story? Connect the dots to that explosion.
[00:05:49] LUKE BROADWATER: Yes. So the only reason to have a crowd assembled in Washington on January 6th is to put pressure on Congress and on Mike Pence specifically to overturn the election. There's never a rally on January 6th any other year. The purpose of that was to bring a crowd to D.C. and to the Capitol.
So the very fact that they've assembled this crowd of thousands creates a sort of very hostile political environment where angry people are being told the election was stolen from them. And they're being directed to put pressure on those people inside that building. And Donald Trump directs the crowd to march towards the Capitol that day.
Now, when does it get violent? That is a question of substantial investigation. And how much planning went into the violence? And what we know now is that several militia groups and hundreds of people did in fact plan to commit violence that day. Uh, there's a lot of testimony, uh, that federal prosecutors have. There are a lot of guilty pleas, uh, coming out of the various court cases, where... There were some people, obviously, who did get caught up with the mob, caught up in the moment. Maybe they didn't come to D.C. that day to commit violence against anyone, but there were people there who did have that plan and they believe they were carrying out Donald Trump's orders.
If you look at, and I believe the January 6th Committee at the hearings will play this out, uh, in great detail, but there's sort of a call and response dynamic going on between Donald Trump, his public statements, and his Tweets in particular. And then how the, um, the mob and the violent actors respond to them.
For instance, uh, Donald Trump's Tweet on December 19th, where he says, uh, he encourages people to come to D.C. and he says it's going to be wild, that really sets in motion the entire rally. Before that there were no permits filed. There were no travel plans to D.C. All of the sudden you see thousands of actors immediately going to work.
January 6th Goes Primetime Part 1 - Straight White American Jesus - Air Date 6-10-22
[00:08:02] BRADLEY ONISHI - HOST, STRAIGHT WHITE AMERICA JESUS: We had the first hearings from the J-6th Select Committee. Benny Thompson was the chair and spoke a lot. And him and Liz Cheney were really the ones who were upfront and presenting the material, the evidence. There was witness testimony from one of the police officers who was one of the very first to encounter the mob, and also from a documentary filmmaker who provided video footage that had never been seen before.
Let me just jump into a couple things that I think are takeaways, like just things that happened last night that are significant. I think there's a lot more to say in terms of analysis, but I think last night we learned a couple things.
It's very clear that the J-6th committee wants to lay out a case that Trump knew; Trump and his people knew there was no legal basis to challenge the election in conventional ways. That the voter fraud idea was bunk. That the ability for Pence to overturn the election using his role as vice president was outside of legal bounds. And what they did in order to shore this up, and we'll get into the Eastman and the lawyers and that stuff in a minute, but what they did last night to shore this up was they had Trump's people on tape. So we saw Bill Barr. And Bill Barr basically said, Hey, when they brought up the Dominion voting machine fraud idea, there was nothing there, that he called it nonsense. Ivanka Trump said that she followed Bill Barr and she was pretty much he said there was no fraud, and so I'm with him. Alex Cannon, who was a former Trump campaign lawyer, said on video that going back to November, 2020, when they were looking for votes and fraud and issues, he was like, I couldn't find -- I was reporting back to Mark Meadows that I couldn't find anything. So they had Trump's people, one of his kids, his AG, and one of his lawyers all saying there's no basis for this.
So I think there was the legal kind of dismantling, and then there was the presentation of what was an extra-legal conspiracy. And so we've seen this before, we'll talk about it more today.
But the second part of last night to me was an effort to show that the Proud Boys and Oathkeepers had been planning all of this for months, that there was a movement put in place when Trump said, "stand back, stand by" at the debate with Biden, that Proud Boys' numbers tripled after that that set in motion a plan to do what the president needed and to show up where he wanted. And they interpreted that as January 6th. And the Oathkeepers and the Proud Boys leaders met at a parking garage on January 5th, there was some kind of planning. It also showed -- and I'll throw this to you here in just one second, Lee, to get your thoughts -- the video footage also showed just how the 300 or so Proud Boys absolutely skipped former president Trump's speech that day. So if you think about January 6th and you think about that infamous speech and rally at the ellipse where Giuliani and Mo Brooks and Trump and all these people are talking, the Proud Boys didn't even stick [around], they didn't even go to church. They just went to get the punch and the cake after. They just walked to the Capitol and they were ready for battle. It wasn't like they listened to Giuliani. And they were like, okay. Yeah, maybe we should spontaneously walk down there and see what happens.
There's all the evidence that points to: this was planned. And we'll get into this in a second. But this follows on the back that this week, Enrique Tario and a couple of other Proud Boy lieutenants were charged with sedition, charged essentially with a conspiracy to start this insurrection.
Special coverage of House J6 Hearing, Day 3 Part 1 - The BradCast - Air Date 6-16-22
[00:11:29] BRAD FRIEDMAN - HOST, THE BRADCAST: Today's hearing, as I heard it, made clear that not only was it unlawful and unconstitutional for Vice President Pence to overturn the election on his own by refusing to accept, you know, legitimate electoral votes on January 6th, but that everyone knew that, including even the guy who was selling that plan the hardest, attorney John Eastman and his pal, Rudy Giuliani. Again, uh, even they did not believe what they were selling. They all knew that it was wrong, but they did it anyway and so did Donald Trump. Ultimately, I think that was my major takeaway from Thursday's testimony. Yours?
[00:12:11] HEATHER DIGBY: I think. Yeah. I think you're absolutely right. That's what we learned. Was really the lawyers themselves didn't believe the legal theory that they were flogging. And, in fact, there were moments in there which, one of the more surprising ones that nobody's really talking about, but I thought it was interesting, that they asked Eastman, I think it, maybe it was Jacob, who asked him, Well, so what do you think, can any Vice President do this? And he just blatantly said, Well, no, Al Gore couldn't have done it. That wouldn't have done it. And Kamala Harris couldn't do that in 2024, but we want you to do it. I mean that's just outlandishly, just blatantly partisan hackery, that, you know, all the rest of these arguments they were having really seemed superfluous when you realize that's what they were really arguing about. What they were saying, what Eastman, and of course Trump, were saying, we just want you to do this. We've made up some, you know, sort of, uh, legal excuses why you can do it, but we don't believe those either. What we do believe is that you have the power to do it simply because you are there, you can do it. And what's interesting about that is that there is some acknowledgement, and we've never really discussed, what would've happened if he had, right? What were the cascading events that would come from that? Today, for the first time, what we're hearing is that people in the White House were saying, you know, it's gonna be taken up in the streets. There are going to be riots. And the answer to that was, yeah, well, we've had political violence before. And I come back to that same thing that I've said many times on this show before, the night before the insurrection, the night before, January 5th, Pence came to the White House and had a discussion with Trump about this and, this was all in Bob Woodward and Bob Costa's book, that, um, they had a discussion with him and he told Mike Pence, you know, you can just do this. And Pence was arguing with him and saying, No, I do not think one man has the authority to do this. We heard that echoed by all of his legal advisors and Trump said, he's out there, he opens the window, it's cold, you know, they're describing all the details, it's cold outside, he opens the French door, I guess, to the White House and you can hear the ralliers that were out there the night before, and that was the Proud Boys and all those other people, there was a rally on January 5th, and he said you could hear them outside there, kind of talking and yelling and cheering and what have you, and as Pence said I don't have the authority to do this, Trump responded, he listened, he goes, What if these people say you do? And that is really I think what we're leading up to, and I don't know if they're gonna say this explicitly in the hearings or whether or not we're all just gonna have to, you know, sort of read between the lines here, but they were prepared for insurrection, but not the one they got. They were prepared to do this thing. And then of course, there would be riots in the streets, these 78 million people who just had their election stolen from them were going to react against, and that in the insurrection that they were planning for.
[00:14:58] DEZI DOYEN - PRODUCER, THE BRADCAST: Yeah. And that, that would give Trump the opportunity to, uh, declare martial law and do all kinds of other mischief.
[00:15:04] BRAD FRIEDMAN - HOST, THE BRADCAST: Which goes back to the reason why, uh, the Nancy Pelosi and so forth were concerned about militarizing the Capitol at the time, because they were worried that the military would actually turn against them perhaps, or that Donald Trump, at least, would order the military to turn against them.
The Jan. 6 Insurrection Understanding The Big Picture Part 2 - Fresh Air - Air Date 6-9-22
[00:15:22] TERRY GROSS - HOST, FRESH AIR: A significant portion of the first hearing will focus on the Proud Boys, of the first public hearing by the House Select Committee. The Proud Boys are a far right group, five members, including the former leader, Enrico Tario, were indicted on Monday of seditious conspiracy. Um, what does that mean and why is it so consequential?
[00:15:43] LUKE BROADWATER: Well, it gets beyond the, uh, idea that this was a spontaneous attack, that it was just a mob that got outta control, people got too excited that day. Uh, this gets to actually the planning of, essentially, political violence. Um, the one thing that's interesting for me to look at, and I think the Committee as well is the connections the Proud Boys have to Republican politics and connecting the violent extremists and the militia groups with, uh, the Republican Party and Republican, uh, political actors. So for instance, Enrique Tario, and some of the Proud Boys are members of Latinos for Trump. So they were sort of brought into the Trump campaign as a way to motivate supporters and get certain voting blocks to support the President. At the same time, these same people, according to federal prosecutors, are planning a seditious attack on the government. So you have, um, and I think you see a similar thing with the Oathkeepers, where you have the Oathkeepers providing security for Roger Stone, an ally of Donald Trump. And then those same Oathkeepers are seen as part of a very organized force marching into the Capitol that day. So you're seeing an overlap between people in Republican politics and also people as part of these militia or right-wing extremist groups. And I think we're gonna see a lot of exploring and investigation of those themes at these hearing.
[00:17:27] TERRY GROSS - HOST, FRESH AIR: Yeah, well, the Proud Boys and the Oathkeepers are becoming very closely aligned and kind of intermeshed with part of the Republican Party. So, for instance, in Miami-Dade County, the Proud Boys, several Proud Boys have become part of local politics. About a half a dozen current and former members of the Proud Boys have seats on the Miami-Dade Republican Executive Committee. Um, has anything like that happened before where people from such a far right group have become embedded in the Republican establishment of local politics?
[00:18:00] LUKE BROADWATER: That really is a shocking development. I mean we're talking about a chapter of the Republican Party, which was once a stronghold of the Bush family, now has five current or former Proud Boys, uh, involved. But we're seeing more and more of this, Terry, across the country. The leader of the Republican Party in Wyoming, a fierce opponent of Liz Cheney, is a member of the Oathkeepers. I did a story shortly after the attack on the Capitol where I looked at members of Congress, um, and their connections to these militia groups and it actually isn't very hard to find examples where members of Congress go to Proud Boy meetings or go to Oathkeeper meetings or, uh, go to join events or have the Oathkeepers provide security for them, or the Proud Boys provide security for them. So it is very much, um, it has been allowed and perhaps even encouraged to bring in these militia groups and bring in these extremist groups into the right flank of the Republican Party.
January 6th Goes Primetime Part 2 - Straight White American Jesus - Air Date 6-10-22
[00:19:05] BRADLEY ONISHI - HOST, STRAIGHT WHITE AMERICA JESUS: Okay. I wanna talk about theater a little bit more, Leah, and talk about Fox News.
[00:19:11] DR. LEAH PAYNE: Haha. Yes.
[00:19:12] BRADLEY ONISHI - HOST, STRAIGHT WHITE AMERICA JESUS: And so famously or infamously, Fox News did not show things from last night. If you went to CNN, MSNBC, CBS, NBC, ABC, it was all there. And then, if you had 20 TVs Fox would've been the only one that was doing something different.
Tucker Carlson was on, they did no commercials, Leah. So they were like, we don't wanna give people a reason...
[00:19:31] DR. LEAH PAYNE: That's fascinating.
[00:19:33] BRADLEY ONISHI - HOST, STRAIGHT WHITE AMERICA JESUS: ...to go away from Fox for 90 seconds, find themselves at one of those liberal networks like ABC or NBC, and start watching the J-6th hearings. So they did no commercials, okay. And they did show footage from the hearings, but it wasn't the same perspective. So they were showing the backs of people's heads as they were testifying. When the previously unseen footage of J-6th's insurrection was being aired, they were showing the people's reactions, not the video.
They didn't want the audience to see the actual video. Right? Now, a couple points here, and I'll throw it to you. And I'm really curious what you think, especially given just some of your background in performance, aesthetics and so on is, there's folks, there's a piece in the Washington Post that says there's a big problem here.
And that Fox didn't show it. Fox has Tucker Carlson, gets 3 million people a night and so on and so forth. And that highlights the fact that Democrats just cannot get around that information echo chamber, that the game has been already set and already tilted because through generations of building their media networks and empires, the right in this country has found a way to cordon people off just to make sure they don't actually see the footage that the rest of the country is seeing. So I think that's an issue that's worth talking about.
I also think it's worth talking about something that folks who don't watch Fox News probably don't know: Tucker Carlson's guest last night was Darren Beatty. So Darren Beatty was a White House appointee and a former staffer for Matt Goetz. So this is the guy that was on last night with Tucker Carlson, as these things were happening. What were some things that he was tweeting during the Capitol insurrection on January 6th? He was tweeting this -- and there's some vulgar language and strong language ahead, friends, okay? So he tweeted "Tim Scott needs to learn his place and take a knee to MAGA." Tim Scott is a Black man, a politician. "Black Lives Matter must take a knee to MAGA. They must learn their place. "Ibram Kendi" -- Ibram Kendi is an academic and a public intellectual who writes about anti-racism, also a Black man -- "needs to learn his place and take a knee to MAGA. Kay Cole James of Heritage Foundation needs to learn her natural place and take a knee to MAGA." Darren Beatty writes for something called Revolver News. Revolver News is basically a conspiracy theory site that has among other things pushed the false flag narrative that J-6th was an inside job. So if you go to Revolver.news, which you can if you want but I'll save you the trip, there's a lot of headlines about how j-6th was an inside job, that Stuart Rhodes from the Oathkeepers may be an FBI informant, that certain people on the videos from J-6th are conspicuous. And that if you look closely this, and then if you do that here and then, oh there, it's very clear that the man who had his feet on Nancy Pelosi's desk or yeah, is actually from the FBI. That is who Tucker Carlson had.
So it was not just that they didn't show. It's that, leah, they did no ads, they brought on this man who is a white supremacist and a conspiracy theorist, and that is how Fox News reacted. And I think just speaking of history, we should note that. But I also think in terms of performance and framing and aesthetics, there's a lot there. So any thoughts on, I know, sorry, it's a lot, you don't have to cover it all, but just, what's going through your head as you think about any of that?
[00:22:41] DR. LEAH PAYNE: I hope your listeners appreciate your really excellent instincts about where to go, like how to think through what was happening in the Fox News media world. Because I always -- I want to be careful with my language here -- admiration is an appreciation for the skill level of the folks over at Fox. We can't say enough about that because they understand their audience so well, and they have very creatively figured out how to ensure that the Fox News bubble stays intact, which is no small accomplishment in this world that we live in. So I think you're so right to point out those details, like who did they have on, how did they do their formatting? And the tone, I think is really interesting because the Tucker Carlson tone is just like one straight ragefest. And I think that is probably their best yet in terms of who can compete with police officers at the Capital talking about their experiences. I would never. But if I were a Fox News person, I could totally see why this is the direction that they went.
One of the things that I've been thinking about is about this coordinated effort. A lot of my research, and I know yours too, looks at how these media networks have coalesced and formed cooperating relationships with what we would think of as "the religious right," which that could be defined in many different ways, but also just how the length of these relationships, it goes back much further than television, radio, paper publications.
So you're so right. This is really a longstanding effort.
Special coverage of House J6 Hearing, Day 3 Part 2 - The BradCast - Air Date 6-16-22
[00:24:28] BRAD FRIEDMAN - HOST, THE BRADCAST: The biggest concern was, "oh, they're gonna have a very difficult time if Donald Trump really believed that these things were true," and you're right, these hearings are just dismantling that idea. After Monday's hearing Trump released a pretty silly 12 page rebuttal to the hearings to date. I don't you put yourself through reading it. We did, and we rebutted his dumb rebuttal on our previous BradCast, but one of his complaints that has been echoed on Fox News, or vice versa by the way, is that he isn't allowed to bring rebuttal witnesses to all of this. There's no one to cross examine the committee's witnesses, even though, I should add, that it is a bipartisan committee, but does Trump and I guess Fox News have a point here? Would the case being made by the J6 committee be stronger if that happened, even if, only to take away the bad faith talking point from Trump and his Maga party? Cuz that sort of seems like all they have left at this point. "Oh, it's so political. There's no one there to cross examine witnesses," and so forth.
[00:25:31] HEATHER DIGBY: Oh, they whined about this stuff in committee hearings throughout Trump's presidency and in the impeachment hearings. There's always something, and the fact is, is that he needs to take that up with Kevin McCarthy, because Kevin McCarthy and the whole Republican party in Congress rejected the idea of an independent bipartisan commission, which would've had an equal number. They all would've had to agree on what they were presenting. It all would've been done very differently than this one, and they rejected that idea. That's because Kevin McCarthy wanted to put a bunch of people who were involved in January 6th on the actual committee, and then he ended up taking his ball and going home. So he has no one to blame, but his own people.
But more importantly than that, the witnesses that they are using in this, has there been even one Democrat even appearing in any of these hearings other than the people that are on the panel? And even that it's only been two. It's been Benny Thompson and today it was Congressman Aguilar. It's all Republicans. These are all people, and I guess Trump's out there screaming they're all a bunch of RINOs. But at some point, people in the country have gotta go, "Wait a minute. This is his own staff. These are Republican officials." I guess there was the police, the policewoman, who the capital policewoman who testified in the first hearing. Other than that, though that this has been Republicans making the case.
Now you can call that political if you want, but it's a kind of a strange definition of partisanship in my view. So I don't think they have a leg to stand on that.
[00:27:00] BRAD FRIEDMAN - HOST, THE BRADCAST: I will add, it might be a strange definition of partisanship, but that is what they do. Anyone who would testify against Donald Trump is not a real Republican, they're all RINOs, and even at the end of Thursday's hearings, I don't know what channel you were watching on, I was watching on Fox News today, and at the end of the hearing, Judge Luttig said something like Donald Trump presents a clear and present danger to the United States, but he added that the danger is not so much what he did in 2020, the danger is what he and his supporters are now planning to do in 2024. Over on Fox News constitutional attorney, so called, Jonathan Turley said he was very surprised that the committee would want to become so political, at the end, even though it was actually the conservative judge, Michael Luttig, who raised that point.
And frankly, it's not a political point as I see it, that's about the constitution and democracy, no? I mean, are the American people dumb enough to see all of this as merely a political exercise? Or am I wrong, and that's what it actually is?
[00:28:01] HEATHER DIGBY: I don't know. If you're watching Fox news, what you see is Jonathan Turley saying, oh, it's so political. They put on these partisans here who are just giving the political line, which of course is ridiculous. J. Michael Luttig, they might as well have dredged up Antonin Scalia from the grave and put him up there and had him making those comments. I don't agree with Luttig. I'm sure my colleague here on this program, doesn't agree with Michael Luttig, on many issues, but this is what you call, I don't know, nonpartisanship.
It's not partisan. It's anything but partisan, because you've got that guy making the case that these people were putting their own, Trump was putting his own political future, his own political wellbeing, and the party by the way, was putting their own political wellbeing, above the country.
That's the case that's being made, and it's being made by Republicans and arch conservatives who are making that case. They're gonna say that on Fox, but what are we gonna do? What can you do about that? That's just what they do. And you just gotta carry on and hope that a few people out here in the country are somehow listening or getting some inkling of what's going on and go, "well, that's weird. That's a Republican guy, isn't he?" and hopefully will maybe think a little bit. I don't know. History will certainly show it to be that.
Jan. 6 Hearings Point Finger at Donald Trump. But Federal Prosecutors Havent Gone That Far. - The Intercept - Air Date 6-15-22
[00:29:13] TREVOR AARONSON - REPORTER, THE INTERCEPT: One of the things I'd like to talk about with both of you is this question of the disparity in treatment between the, uh, January 6th defendants and defendants in other types of prosecutions. And so Margo, as you mentioned earlier, you and I work on this database at The Intercept called Trial and Terror, where we track international terrorism, prosecutions, and, uh, you know, federal prosecutions of people alleged to have, you know, literal or ideological connections to Al-Qaeda, ISIS, and other groups. Um, and what we see in those is something very different than what we see in the January 6th cases. You know, and this relates specifically to what you mentioned earlier, where, you know, that we're seeing a large number, if not half of the total in January 6th, being charged with misdemeanors, uh, which is not at all a common charge in terrorism prosecutions. And what we're also not seeing in the January 6th data, compared to terrorism prosecutions, are a common charge that prosecutors bring known as making false statements or otherwise known politically as lying to the FBI. Um, and I was wondering what your thoughts are on this disparity in treatment, um, you know, given that I think we might be seeing something very different if it was a group of alleged ISIS associates who storm the Capitol, or maybe even a, a group of black and brown, Black Lives Matter demonstrators.
[00:30:23] MARGOT WILLIAMS: Well, another difference that I see is that in the charges against the terrorists, the uh international terrorists, there are so many sting cases and here there are no stings. And also, uh, here in the few cases that have gone to a conclusion, we see people who have actually had weapons with them. And weapons, you know, weapons of mass destruction is one of the terrorism charges that could be brought, but it wasn't in this case. So there are differences. I believe that these cases, that similarities are in the rounding up of people who seemingly have little connection to many other things and that both have the kind of charges that, now looking at our cases in the Trial and Terror, they would've been considered misdemeanors except that the extra allegation that people were somehow involved with an overseas group, even though they didn't go overseas, makes it a much tougher charge than being engaged with Oathkeepers or Proud Boys. Although it looks like this week that Oathkeepers and Proud Boys are gonna start having more, uh, prosecutions will be involved with belonging to those groups, even though they're not known as terrorist groups, but in the hearings, they started to make it sound like they're similar to what would be called the terrorist group.
[00:31:55] TREVOR AARONSON - REPORTER, THE INTERCEPT: Yeah. Similarly, Michael, I mean, do, are you seeing disparities in the January 6th prosecutions compared to, you know, your research on J20 or the summer of 2020 prosecutions?
[00:32:04] MICHAEL LOADENTHAL: Yeah. I mean, the comparison between the Floyd prosecutions is I think apt because they're both, you know, somewhat constrained events. But they couldn't have been prosecuted in different ways. You know, the summer of 2020 Floyd cases, you know, really followed some pretty clear patterns of overcharging, an attempt to get plea bargains. We certainly, you know, had a lot of cases that were dropped, especially at the non-federal level, but even at the federal level. We had these, in the Floyd cases we had these seemingly minor, not in all cases but in many cases, seemingly minor crimes, which were sort of saddled with the much larger political, uh, ongoing. So, for example, you'd have a, you know, a document, a statement of facts, document, or an affidavit, which would talk about all of the destruction given to the Portland courthouse. And then when you got to the actual actions of that particular defendant, it was relatively minor. So you had this kind of individual saddled with a much larger and, you know, in a sense, scarier political context.
Here, you have, you know, something different in the capital cases where, you know, as Margo said, about half the people are charged with relatively minor crimes and will never expect to see the inside of a jail cell, let alone a prison sentence.
Um, so, you know, most of these people haven't been sentenced yet, but I just did a quick calculation on our, you know, length of prison sentence variable, and there are so many people that got no prison time that the mathematical average is zero at this point. Um, because you know, most people received no prison time. So I think that that's certainly a major difference, is that, you know, we have a handful of cases in which people have the potential of having multi-year sentences. Whereas in the Floyd cases, if you look just at the summer ones, you know, most of those were pretty steep charges. And again, a lot of them had been pled down, but I think the vigor, if I can say, the vigor through which the Department of Justice and the United States Attorney's Office pursued those cases seems to have been pretty, pretty high. And, you know, the, as Margo said, the kind of investigative complexity of some of the summer 2020 cases was really quite impressive, whereas in the capital cases, you know, most of these things are a combination of monitoring people's own social media, people being snitched on by their friends and relatives, which is by far the most common way people seem to have been caught and, you know, simple geofencing of their phones, and things like that. So the kind of like broad stroke investigative approach of the capital cases, you know, partially cuz everyone's constrained in the same physical area, versus the deep dive investigations of the summer 2020 cases stands out to me as a really odd, uneven allocation of resources.
Generals Warn America's Democracy Is in Danger From the Inside - Thom Hartmann Program - Air Date 6-23-22
[00:34:51] THOM HARTMANN - HOST, THOM HARTMANN PROGRAM: Five retired American generals -- Michael Hayden, James Clapper, Stanley McChrystal, Douglas Lute, and Mark Hurtling -- wrote an op-ed titled, "We fought to defend democracy. This new threat to America now keeps us awake at night." What are they talking about? They're talking about this fascist element that has seized control of the Republican party, principally in the persona of Donald Trump, but broadly -- I mean, Trump could drop dead of one too many cheeseburgers tonight and his movement will live on tomorrow. It no longer needs Donald Trump. In fact, I've been telling you for two years now that Donald Trump is not going to be the nominee of the Republican party in 2024.
It wouldn't surprise me if his son is the nominee for vice president, but I don't think he's gonna be the president.
But the movement that he has created, this fascist movement that he has created in this country, it is growing. Because as I noted in the first hour, fascism is all about violence and the violence that fascism uses actually attracts people. It's the most powerful recruiting tool fascists have is their own violence. Because you get all these insecure men who feel like their lives are dull and ordinary and boring and feel like they're politically impotent -- and perhaps sexually impotent in some cases -- but politically impotent. And the violence gives them meaning. I mean, I realize I'm playing off Chris Hedges. The title of Chris Hedges' book, War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning, but it's absolutely the case. And of course, war is simply violence and fascism is simply war being used in politics and in governance.
These five generals, they wrote, "Today we harbor unprecedented concern for our country and for our democracy. The nation we have defended for decades is in real peril."
Now I'm telling you, when five retired generals come out and say something like that, we damn well better pay attention.
They go on to say, "History teaches us that democracy is never guaranteed, not even here. Our democratic institutions and norms are more vulnerable than ever. If you were to ask us when in our lives we were most likely to be losing sleep at night" -- and keep in mind, these are all men who have been on the battlefield, who have lived through some of the biggest crises in American history: through 9/11, through the assassination of Kennedy, through the Cuban missile crisis, through on and on. They say, "If you were to ask us when in our lives we were most likely to be losing sleep at night, we would all tell you last night and tonight and tomorrow night."
They go on to say, "For those of us devoted to protecting democracies abroad, there comes a time when our efforts seem overshadowed by the erosion of democracy here at home." You get this? This is the point I'm making. And with my op-ed this morning at HartmannReport.Com that talks about, is America getting meaner? That basically fascism is sweeping this land and it is replacing democracy. We have a half a dozen states now that have passed laws saying that it doesn't matter how who the people vote for as president. We, the state legislature, are going to decide how we cast our vote in the electoral college. You've got almost 30 states that have passed laws making it harder for people to vote, explicitly, intentionally, proudly.
Yes, let's whittle down democracy to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub, to paraphrase Grover Norquist.
They go on to say, "And for those of us focused on domestic security," speaking of these five generals, "and for those of us focused on domestic security, the forces of autocracy now trump traditional foreign threats, hands down."
In other words, you have more to fear from the militia driving around your town with a bunch of guys with AR-15s in the back seat, in the back of a pickup truck and big Trump and American flags, you have more to fear from them than from ISIS, from Al-Qaeda, from the Chinese army, from the Russian army, from fill in the blanks.
They go on to point out, "It is no accident" -- I mean, this is their way of writing my op-ed -- "It is no accident," they write in USA Today today. "It is no accident that one in three Americans seem willing to justify political violence as a means of overturning election results."
You get it? These guys are saying, we're talking about you, Donald Trump, and your followers. You have put our democracy at such risk that we, five highly decorated generals, are saying it is a greater threat to the United States than Russian nuclear weapons. It is a greater threat to the United States than 17 Saudis flying airplanes into buildings in New York City. It is a greater threat to the United States than the blind sheik trying to blow up the trade center. It's a greater threat to the United States than the infiltration of our government computer systems by Russian cyber hackers. It's a greater threat to the United States than China militarizing the south China sea and the straits of Taiwan.
It's a greater threat to the United States than Ebola or COVID or monkeypox or whatever.
Trumpism. Fascism. These five generals are saying -- my words, not theirs, but this is the essence of what they are saying is, is here, and is keeping them up at night. And they are saying that this is the greatest threat they have seen in their lifetimes. These are all men in their sixties and seventies.
They end on a voice of hope, I suppose you could say. They say, "A clear majority of Americans favor strengthening our democracy rather than weakening it. Imagine the impact on our lawmakers if each of them heard from each of us, with the simplest of all messages" -- and they're talking about this safe pledge, which is a nice non-partisan initiative, but, frankly, it's not going to do anything. The only way you stop fascists is by outlawing fascism. It's very simple. It's very straightforward.
Guess Which Republican Congressmembers Sought Pardons After Trying to Help Trump Subvert Vote - Democracy Now - Air Date 6-24-22
[00:42:40] AMY GOODMAN: The January 6th committee revealed six members of Congress who supported Trump’s coup attempt sought presidential pardons: Mo Brooks of Alabama, Matt Gaetz of Florida, Louie Gohmert of Texas, Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, and Andy Biggs of Arizona. This is Republican Congressmember Adam Kinzinger.
[00:42:58] REP. ADAM KINZINGER: My colleagues and I up here also take an oath. Some of them failed to uphold theirs, and instead chose to spread the big lie. Days after the tragic events of January 6th, some of these same Republican members requested pardons in the waning days of the Trump administration.
Five days after the attack on the Capitol, Representative Mo Brooks sent the email on the screen now. As you see, he emailed the White House, “pursuant to a request from Matt Gaetz,” requesting a pardon for Representative Gaetz, himself, and unnamed others.
Witnesses told the select committee that the president considered offering pardons to a wide range of individuals connected to the president. Let’s listen to some of that testimony.
[00:43:52] INVESTIGATOR: And was Representative Gaetz requesting a pardon?
[00:43:58] ERIC HERSCHMANN: Believe so. The general tone was we may get prosecuted because we were defensive of the president’s positions on these things. The pardon that he was discussing, requesting, was as broad as you could describe, from beginning — I remember he said, from the beginning of time up until today, for any and all things. Then he mentioned Nixon. And I said, “Nixon’s pardon was never nearly that broad.”
[00:44:30] INVESTIGATOR: And are you aware of any members of Congress seeking pardons?
[00:44:40] CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: I guess Mr. Gaetz and Mr. Brooks, I know, have both advocated for there to be a blanket pardon for members involved in that meeting, and a handful of other members that weren’t at the December 21st meeting, as the preemptive pardons. Mr. Gaetz was personally pushing for a pardon, and he was doing so since early December. I’m not sure why. Mr. Gaetz had reached out to me to ask if he could have a meeting with Mr. Meadows about receiving a presidential pardon.
[00:45:10] INVESTIGATOR: Did they all contact you?
[00:45:10] CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: Not all of them, but several of them did.
[00:45:10] INVESTIGATOR: So, you mentioned Mr. Gaetz, Mr. Brooks.
[00:45:10] CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: Mr. Biggs did. Mr. Jordan talked about congressional pardons, but he never asked me for one. It was more for an update on whether the White House was going to pardon members of Congress. Mr. Gohmert asked for one, as well.
[00:45:37] AMY GOODMAN: That’s Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, in her videotape deposition. Oh, and before her, senior White House legal conseiller Eric Herschmann.
To see Thursday’s full hearing, go to democracynow.org, as well as all five of the hearings in full. The public hearings of the January 6th committee will resume in mid-July.
Top Arizona Republican Testifies He Rejected Trump Plot to Overturn Vote, Then Faced Violent Threats - Democracy Now! - Air Date 6-22-22
[00:46:08] REP. ADAM SCHIFF: After the election, you received a phone call from President Trump and Rudy Giuliani in which they discussed the result of the presidential election in Arizona. If you would, tell us about that call and whether the former president or Mr. Giuliani raised allegations of election fraud.
[00:46:25] SPEAKER RUSTY BOWERS: Thank you. I — my wife and I had returned from attending our church meetings. It was on a Sunday. And we were still in the driveway. And I had received a call from a colleague telling me that the White House was trying to get in touch with her and I, and that she said, “Please, if you get a call, let’s try to take this together.”
Immediately I saw that the White House on my Bluetooth was calling, and I took the call and was asked by the — I would presume, the operator at the White House, if I would hold for the president, which I did. And he — Mr. Giuliani came on first, and niceties. Then Mr. Trump, President Trump, then-President Trump came on, and we initiated a conversation.
[00:47:17] REP. ADAM SCHIFF: And during that conversation, did you ask Mr. Giuliani for proof of these allegations of fraud that he was making?
[00:47:26] SPEAKER RUSTY BOWERS: On multiple occasions, yes.
[00:47:28] REP. ADAM SCHIFF: And when you asked him for evidence of this fraud, what did he say?
[00:47:31] SPEAKER RUSTY BOWERS: He said that they did have proof. And I asked him, “Do you have names?” “For example, we have 200,000 illegal immigrants, some large number, 5,000 or 6,000 dead people, etc.” And I said, “Do you have their names?” “Yes.” “Will you give them to me?” “Yes.” The president interrupted and said, “Give the man what he needs, Rudy.” And he said, “I will.” And that happened on at least two occasions, that interchange in the conversation.
[00:48:04] REP. ADAM SCHIFF: So, Mr. Giuliani was claiming in the call that there were hundreds of thousands of undocumented people and thousands of dead people who had purportedly voted in the election?
[00:48:14] SPEAKER RUSTY BOWERS: Yes.
[00:48:15] REP. ADAM SCHIFF: And you asked him for evidence of that.
[00:48:17] SPEAKER RUSTY BOWERS: I did.
[00:48:18] REP. ADAM SCHIFF: And did he ever receive — did you ever receive from him that evidence, either during the call, after the call or to this day?
[00:48:26] SPEAKER RUSTY BOWERS: Never.
[00:48:30] REP. ADAM SCHIFF: What was the ask during this call? He was making these allegations of fraud, but he had something or a couple things that they wanted you to do. What were those?
[00:48:40] SPEAKER RUSTY BOWERS: The ones I remember were, first, the — that we would hold, that I would allow an official committee at the Capitol so that they could hear this evidence and that we could take action thereafter. And I refused. I said, up to that time, the circus — I called it a circus — had been brewing with lots of demonstrations, both at the counting center, at the Capitol and other places. And I didn’t want to have that in the House. I did not feel that the evidence — granted, in its absence — merited a hearing. And I didn’t want to be used as a pawn, if there was some other need that the — that the committee hearing would fulfill. So, that was the first ask, that we hold an official committee hearing.
[00:49:34] REP. ADAM SCHIFF: And what was his second ask?
[00:49:37] SPEAKER RUSTY BOWERS: I said, “To what end? To what end, the hearing?” And he said, “Well, we have heard, by an official high up in the Republican legislature, that there is a legal theory or a legal ability in Arizona that you can remove the — the electors of President Biden and replace them. And we would — we would like to have the legitimate opportunity through the committee to come to that end and — and remove that.” And I said, “That’s — that’s something I’ve — that’s totally new to me. I’ve never heard of any such thing.” And he pressed that point. And I said, “Look, you are asking me to do something that is counter to my oath, when I swore to the Constitution to uphold it, and I also swore to the Constitution and the laws of the state of Arizona. And this is totally foreign as an idea or a theory to me, and I would never do anything of such magnitude without deep consultation with qualified attorneys.” And I said, “I’ve got some good attorneys, and I’m going to give you their names. But you are asking me to do something against my oath, and I will not break my oath.” And I think that was up to that point.
[00:51:08] REP. ADAM SCHIFF: During the conversation — and you heard, I think, when we played a snippet of Mr. Giuliani calling other state legislators and saying that he was calling as essentially a fellow Republican. Did he make a similar appeal to you or bring up the fact that you shared a similar party?
[00:51:24] SPEAKER RUSTY BOWERS: Whether it was in that call or in a later meeting, he did bring that up more than once.
[00:51:29] REP. ADAM SCHIFF: And how — how would he bring that up?
[00:51:30] SPEAKER RUSTY BOWERS: He would say, “Aren’t we all Republicans here? I would think we would get a better reception. I mean, I would think you would listen a little more open to my suggestions, that we’re all Republicans.”
[00:51:44] REP. ADAM SCHIFF: And this — this evidence that you asked him for that would justify this extraordinary step, I think you said they never produced it. Why did you feel, either in the absence of that evidence or with it, what they were asking you to do would violate your oath to the Constitution?
[00:52:05] SPEAKER RUSTY BOWERS: First of all, when the people — and in Arizona, I believe it’s some 40-plus years earlier, the Legislature had established the manner of electing our officials or the electors for the presidential race. Once it was given to the people, as in Bush v. Gore, illustrated by the Supreme Court, it becomes a fundamental right of the people.
So, as far as I was concerned, for someone to ask me in the — I would call it a paucity. There was no – no evidence being presented of any strength. Evidence can be hearsay evidence. It’s still evidence, but it’s still hearsay. But strong, judicial-quality evidence, anything that would say to me you have a doubt, deny your oath, I will not do that. And on more than — on more than one occasion throughout all this, that has been brought up. And it is a tenet of my faith that the Constitution is divinely inspired, of my most basic foundational beliefs. And so, for me to do that because somebody just asked me to is foreign to my very being. I will not do it.
[00:53:40] AMY GOODMAN: Republican Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers, a longtime Trump supporter, testifying Tuesday to the House January 6th committee. He was questioned by Democratic Congressmember Adam Schiff, who also asked Bowers about threats he and his family faced after he refused Trump’s request to overturn the 2020 election.
[00:54:02] REP. ADAM SCHIFF: Mr. Bowers, I understand that as you flew from Phoenix to Washington yesterday, you reflected upon some passages from a personal journal that you were keeping in December 2020 while all of this was taking place. With your permission, I’m wondering if you would be willing to share one passage in particular with us.
[00:54:22] SPEAKER RUSTY BOWERS: Thank you very much.
It is painful to have friends who have been such a help to me turn on me with such rancor. I may, in the eyes of men, not hold correct opinions or act according to their vision or convictions, but I do not take this current situation in a light manner, a fearful manner or a vengeful manner. I do not want to be a winner by cheating. I will not play with laws I swore allegiance to, with any contrived desire towards deflection of my deep foundational desire to follow God’s will as I believe he led my conscience to embrace. How else will I ever approach him in the wilderness of life, knowing that I ask of this guidance only to show myself a coward in defending the course he let me take — he led me to take?
[00:55:47] REP. ADAM SCHIFF: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Those are powerful words. I understand that taking the courageous positions that you did following the 2020 election in defense of the rule of law and protecting the voters of Arizona resulted in you and your family being subjected to protests and terrible threats. Can you tell us how this impacted you and your family?
[00:56:10] SPEAKER RUSTY BOWERS: Well, as others in the videos have mentioned, we received, my secretaries would say, in excess of 20,000 emails and tens of thousands of voicemails and texts, which saturated our offices, and we were unable to work, at least communicate.
But at home, up ’til even recently, it is the new pattern or a pattern in our lives to worry what will happen on Saturdays, because we have various groups come by, and they have had video panel trucks with videos of me, proclaiming me to be a pedophile and a pervert and a corrupt politician, and blaring loudspeakers in my neighborhood and leaving literature both on my property and — but arguing and threatening with neighbors and with myself.
And I don’t know if I should name groups, but there was a — one gentleman that had the three bars on his chest. And he had a pistol and was threatening my neighbor — not with the pistol, but just vocally. When I saw the gun, I knew I had to get close. And at the same time, on some of these, we had a daughter who was gravely ill, who was upset by what was happening outside. And my wife, that is a valiant person, very, very strong, quiet, very strong woman. So it was disturbing.
Final comments on turning anger into election action
[00:58:24] JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: We've just heard clips today, starting with Fresh Air explaining that the insurrection was merely the last step in a much larger plan. Straight White American Jesus looked at how Trump's own people dismissed the claim of fraud in the election. The Bradcast looked at the lawyers who didn't believe their own theories and the violent backlash Trump was preparing for. Fresh Air took a closer look at the Proud Boys and their growing connections to Trump and the GOP more broadly. Straight White American Jesus discussed Fox News not playing the hearings and the conspiracy theorists they had on instead. The Bradcast explained the organization of the hearings and why the GOP isn't getting equal time. The Intercept examined the investigations and prosecutions following January 6th, compared to the George Floyd protests. And Thom Hartmann discussed the op-ed from five retired generals warning of the threat of autocracy.
That's what everyone heard. But members also heard a bonus clip from Democracy Now! which highlighted a significant piece of testimony describing pressure from the Trump campaign for a civil servant to break their oath to the Constitution.
To hear that and have all of our bonus contents delivered seamlessly into the new members-only podcast feed that y'all receive, sign up to support the show at BestoftheLeft.com/support, or shoot me an email requesting a financial hardship membership, because we don't let a lack of funds stand in the way of hearing more information.
And now, let's just acknowledge that everything feels pretty awful right now. It's okay to feel sad, angry, you know, give yourself a minute to take in everything that's happening. But with the midterm elections just four months away, we have a massively important task at hand where we can channel all of that rage and frustration and hopefully make a real impact.
We are fighting a radicalized form of conservatism right now and cannot afford to give an inch. So, as many problems as they have, Democrats need to hold the House and make advances in the Senate majority. And as more decisions get kicked back to the states, we also need to make waves in state legislatures, secretary of state races, and governorships around the country.
Now with most primary settled, the midterm campaigns are already underway. So if you haven't signed up to be a poll worker, do it. If you haven't started gauging which races are more important this year, get started. If you haven't committed to going door to door, phone banking and volunteering for campaigns in other ways, find those campaigns now. We've included some great resources for you in the show notes to get you on your way to going all in leading up to the midterms. Because as we always say, voting is not enough.
And with that, there's gonna be a brief pause in the production of our regular episodes so that I can work out exactly what I want to say in our 1500th episode. Not to raise expectations, god forbid. It's just that I sort of set a challenge for myself to curate, if you will, some of my thoughts about politics in the world for this milestone episode. And now I actually have to write those thoughts down and then say them into a microphone. So I need to get myself some time to do that.
Now this whole show started as a curation project because I was 23 at the time, and basically the one thing I knew was that I shouldn't be the primary voice on a show because I didn't know enough. But I thought to myself at the time, I'll probably learn some things along the way while doing the show. And if I listen to what other smart people think for long enough, eventually maybe I'll have my own thoughts. And now here we are 1,500 episodes and 16 and a half years later, and I realized, you know what? I think it worked. I did learn some stuff along the way, and I do have some original ideas. And if you've been along for the ride this whole time, then you've probably heard me say a fair number of those thoughts out loud before, but for everyone else, and just for convenience, I figured I'd say as many of them altogether as I can. So stay tuned for that.
As always, keep the comments coming in at 202-999-3991, or by emailing me to [email protected].
That is gonna be it for today. Thanks to everyone for listening. Thanks to Deon Clark and Erin Clayton for their research work for the show and participation in our bonus episodes. Thanks to the Monosyllabic Transcriptionist Trio, Ben, Ken, and Brian for their volunteer work, helping put our transcripts together. Thanks to Amanda Hoffman for all of her work on our social media outlets, activism segments, graphic designing, web mastering, and bonus show cohosting. And thanks to those who support the show by becoming a member or purchasing gift memberships at BestoftheLeft.com/support, through our Patreon page, or from right inside the Apple Podcast app. Membership is how you get instant access to our incredibly good bonus episodes, in addition to there being extra content and no ads in all of our regular episodes, all through your regular podcast player. And as always, if you want to continue the discussion, join our Best of the Left Discord community to discuss the show, the news, other podcasts, commiserate as is sometimes necessary. Links for joining that community are in the show notes, so click on that. And also keep your recommendations coming in: recommendations for anything, anything you find interesting. We never know where inspiration will strike. So if you've heard an interesting podcast episode, seen an interesting video, watched an interesting documentary, met an interesting person in a coffee shop who said something to you, I want to know about it. Send me an email.
So coming to you from far outside the conventional wisdom of Washington, DC, my name is Jay!, and this has been the Best of the Left podcast coming to you twice weekly, thanks entirely to the members and donors to the show from BestoftheLeft.com.