No TrumpsπŸ‘±‍♂️ Newsbites
Three Weeks Inside a Pro-Trump QAnon Chat Room
As President Biden’s inauguration ticked closer, some of Donald Trump’s supporters were feeling gleeful. Mr. Trump was on the cusp of declaring martial law, they believed. Military tribunals would follow, then televised executions, then Democrats and other deep state operatives would finally be brought to justice.

These were honestly held beliefs. Dozens of Trump supporters spoke regularly over the past three weeks on a public audio chat room app, where they uploaded short recordings instead of typing.
In these candid digital confessionals, participants would crack jokes, share hopes and make predictions.

“Look at the last four years. They haven’t listened to a thing we’ve said. Um … there’s going to have to be some serious anarchy that goes on. Otherwise, nothing is going to change.”

... Participants tend to revere Mr. Trump and believe he’ll end the crisis outlined by Q: that the world is run by a cabal of pedophiles who operate a sex-trafficking ring, among other crimes. While the chat room group is relatively small, with only about 900 subscribers, it offers a glimpse into a worrying sect of Trump supporters. Some conspiracists like them have turned to violent language in the wake of Mr. Trump’s electoral loss.

“If the Biden inauguration wants to come in and take your weapons and force vaccination, you have due process to blow them the [expletive] away. Do it.”

... There’s a persistent belief that the online world is somehow not real. Extreme views are too easily dismissed if they’re on the internet. While people might say things online they would never do in person, all it takes is one person for digital conspiracies to take a deadly turn. That should be clear after the Capitol riot, which was largely organized online and resulted in five deaths.

Listening to the conspiracists — unfiltered and in their own voices — makes that digital conversation disturbingly real.

... The Q delusion requires fitting unexpected events into a bigger narrative. The riot in Washington was one such opportunity. The day before, many in the chat room were worried about antifa attacking their friends. Yet it was also clear they wanted a confrontation.

“I wish they’d storm the Congress and the Senate and pull all them treasonous guys out of there.”

As the rally began, participants uploaded dispatches from the ground. The mood was positive, even emotional. In the chat, they shared their real-time reactions as Mr. Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol.

“Patriots are in the building. It’s beautiful.”

And when Mr. Biden went on television to demand an end to the siege, one chatter asked, “Does he not realize President Trump called us to siege the place?”

Another remarked, “Honestly, I think the patriots should have been allowed to go in there, grab those S.O.B.s and pull them out of the building and, you know, have an execution right there.”

But by the next morning, members who had called for the siege had changed their tune. Now it was antifa that was responsible for the Capitol raid and any violence that followed.

... They believed Mr. Trump would use his Washington rally to announce mass arrests and release long-awaited evidence supporting Q’s theories. None of that happened.

... But when Jan. 20 came, Mr. Trump left the White House, rattled off some accomplishments, said, “Have a good life,” then boarded a jet to Mar-a-Lago. Mr. Biden was inaugurated. Nothing they predicted came true.

When Mr. Biden’s inauguration played out as normal, participants were frustrated. By rejecting mainstream news, they embraced liars who fed them exactly what they wanted to hear.

... Listening in, I came to realize what extremism researchers and cult experts have long known to be true: You cannot just destroy a community and expect it to disappear when it is load bearing. If we are to deradicalize Q believers in a Biden era, how will we do it? What can we offer them in its place?
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Republicans Waver on Convicting Donald J. Trump
Unlike Mr. Trump’s last impeachment, when his party quickly rallied behind him, several Republicans, including Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, have signaled they are open to convicting the former president after his mendacious campaign to overturn his election loss turned deadly. That would allow the Senate to take a second vote to bar him from ever holding office again. But at least at the trial’s outset, their numbers fell well short of the 17 Republicans needed to join Democrats to secure a conviction.

A survey by The New York Times on the eve of the trial found that 27 Republican senators had expressed opposition to charging Mr. Trump or otherwise holding him accountable by impeachment. Sixteen Republicans indicated they were undecided, and seven had no response. Most of those opposed increasingly fell back on process-based objections, rather than defending Mr. Trump.

... That Republicans were going to such lengths to avoid discussing Mr. Trump’s actions underscored how precarious their political situation was. Few contest that Mr. Trump bears at least some responsibility for the most violent attack on the seat of American government since the War of 1812, and many privately blame him for costing them control of the House, Senate and White House. But he also remains a popular figure among Republican voters, and many lawmakers fear that he could marshal votes to turn them out of office should they cross him.

... Mr. McConnell, who steered the president to acquittal a year ago, has largely left senators to navigate the proceeding on their own this time. He has made clear through advisers and calls with colleagues that he personally views Mr. Trump’s conduct as impeachable and sees the process as a possible way to purge him from the party and rebuild before the 2022 midterm elections. But he has not committed to voting to convict.

At least a half-dozen or so Republicans appear ready to join him if he does, but dozens of others appear to be unwilling to break from four years of alliance with Mr. Trump.
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Key Republicans went from blaming Trump for the deadly Capitol attack to fighting his impeachment in just 3 weeks
  • Top Republicans have rapidly shifted from blaming Trump for the Capitol attack to bashing Democrats for impeaching him over it.
  • As the initial shock over the riot has faded, the tone from Republicans has changed dramatically.
  • House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy went from saying Trump "bears responsibility" to "everybody" has some responsibility.
In the immediate aftermath of the violent insurrection at the US Capitol, top Republicans who'd been steadfast allies of President Donald Trump ripped into him for inciting the deadly attack. But just a few weeks later, they're already singing a different tune as the Senate prepares for Trump's impeachment trial.

... There was a strong push from congressional lawmakers to rapidly hold Trump accountable in the wake of the Capitol attack, including from some Republicans, and for the impeachment process to occur swiftly.

The article of impeachment has been delivered to the Senate, but Trump's trial has been delayed until February 9. With the trial pushed back, and the initial shock of the events of January 6 fading, a door has opened for Republicans to return to their previous, unwavering support of Trump.

Seventeen Senate Republicans would need to join all 50 Democrats in the upper chamber to convict Trump, which could be followed by a vote (requiring a simple majority) to disqualify the former president from holding office in the future. With no Republicans publicly supporting conviction so far, it seems more and more unlikely enough Republicans will join Democrats to convict him.

And instead of attempting to defend Trump's actions, many Republicans are going after the process and contending that it's unconstitutional to hold an impeachment trial after a president has left office.

"I believe post-presidential impeachments are blatantly unconstitutional," Graham said in a recent tweet.

But there's a historical precedent for doing so, and legal experts have dismissed the notion it's unconstitutional.

"This argument is wrong as a matter of text, structure, historical practice and common sense," Steve Vladeck, a professor at the University of Texas School of Law, wrote in a New York Times op-ed rejecting the GOP argument it's too late to hold an impeachment trial. "And Mr. Trump is the poster child for why, even after he leaves office, such accountability is not just constitutionally permissible but necessary."

"It's ultimately Congress's call — for former officers as much as current ones," Vladeck said.

... The president made a reference to "peacefully" demonstrating during his remarks that day, which a number of House Republicans zeroed in on in Trump's defense, but it was a fleeting moment in an otherwise provocative, lie-filled speech that induced what's been widely characterized as an attempted coup.

Ten Republicans voted to impeach Trump. It was the most bipartisan impeachment of a president in US history. They're already facing primary challenges over the move and heavy criticism from the GOP in their home states. Trump's allies in the House are pushing for GOP Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the number three Republican in the lower chamber, to be ousted as House Republican Conference Chair over her vote to impeach.

Even after leaving the White House in disgrace after instigating a riot that threatened the safety of Congress, Trump's influence over the GOP seemingly remains a steady, potent force.
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Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene expressed support on social media for assassinating top Democrats
  • GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene repeatedly expressed support for assassinating powerful Democrats, CNN reported on Tuesday.
  • In 2018, Greene wrote on Facebook that "the stage is being set" to hang Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
  • In 2019, she liked a Facebook comment suggesting Nancy Pelosi get a "bullet to the head."
A review of hundreds of posts and comments on Greene's Facebook page revealed that in addition to posting far-right conspiracy theories about the "deep state" and Democrats, the Georgia congresswoman also engaged with individuals who called for executing prominent Democratic politicians.

CNN reported that in one Facebook post in April 2018, Greene spread baseless information attacking the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which was one of former President Barack Obama's key policy achievements. Someone posted a comment to the post asking Greene, "Now do we get to hang them ?? Meaning H & O???"

The individual was referring to Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

"Stage is being set," Greene replied, according to CNN. "Players are being put in place. We must be patient. This must be done perfectly or liberal judges would let them off."

Then in January 2019, Greene liked a Facebook comment saying Nancy Pelosi, who had just become House speaker after Democrats regained control of the chamber, should get a "bullet to the head." CNN said that the following month, Greene broadcasted on Facebook Live from Pelosi's office and said that the California Democrat would "suffer death or she'll be in prison" for "treason."

Greene also reportedly expressed support for other Facebook comments that called for the execution of FBI agents. After CNN reached out to the lawmaker, she tweeted out a statement saying, "Over the years, I've had teams of people manage my pages. Many posts have been liked. Many posts have been shared. Some did not represent my views."

She did not deny any specific allegations and did not disavow the comments and Facebook interactions calling for the assassination of her political opponents.

... "If Members wearing overcoats are not allowed on the floor of The United States House of Representatives, why would we allow those who've liked posts calling for the execution of fellow elected officials?" tweeted Rep. Dean Phillips.

New Jersey Rep. Bill Pascrell also spoke out, tweeting, "A sitting republican member of Congress called for President Obama, Speaker Pelosi, and others to be murdered."
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Josh Hawley says he is not running for president in 2024
  • His recent actions — fiery speeches, a new book, and strong defense of President Donald Trump — had given the impression he was starting to audition for the White House.
  • The 2024 GOP field effectively is frozen until Trump publicly announces whether he'll try for a second term or step aside.
Sen. Josh Hawley, the Missouri Republican who led efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, said he isn't going to launch a White House bid in 2024.

"No, I'm not running," Hawley told Insider in a brief hallway interview on Tuesday at the US Capitol before ducking into an elevator. He didn't elaborate.

... If Trump chose to try for a second term, he would enter the Republican presidential primary as the clear front runner and make it difficult for any other Republican to win the primary.

Trump's overall popularity has dipped to historic lows, but he remains very much loved in the Republican Party, and in November, he received the most votes ever for a sitting US president.

The prospect of a Trump 2024 run forces Republicans into a careful dance.

On one end, some of the possible White House contenders will be trying to court the more than 74 million people who voted for Trump in November. On the other end, some will attempt to carve out their own paths and get ready to jump in should Trump not run.

When Insider asked Hawley if he thinks Trump should step aside so other Republicans can make their presidential ambitions known and lay the groundwork for a campaign, he responded, "I don't know, you'd have to ask them. Ask my colleagues."

... Rick Scott, a fellow Republican and junior senator from Florida, also rebuffed speculation he'd seek the presidency.

"I'm not running for president," Scott told Insider
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Mike and Karen Pence are homeless and appear to be couch surfing their way through Indiana
  • Republicans close to former Vice President Mike Pence say they don't know where the former second couple is now living.
  • Pence and his wife Karen haven't owned a home in a decade, and Indiana GOP sources say the former second couple is couch-surfing in the interim between jobs and residences.
  • "He doesn't have a home, he doesn't have anywhere to live," said one Trump advisor.
The speakers set up on the tarmac of the Columbus Municipal Airport belted out the Hoosier State's unofficial song — "Back Home Again in Indiana" — when Mike Pence landed there last week for the first time since he became a former vice president.

"I've already promised Karen we'll be moving back to Indiana come this summer," Pence told the assembled crowd in his hometown that's a little less than an hour's drive south of Indianapolis. "There's no place like home."

But careful Pence watchers couldn't help but notice he never said where "home" will be.

... The Pences haven't owned a home in a decade. Domicile hopping, in fact, has long been part of their lives as Pence charted a course from conservative talk radio host to vice president of the United States.

In 1987, after a trip to see the local Republican kingmaker in Indianapolis, Mike and Karen Pence sold their modest single-family home near Butler University so they could move farther south into Indiana's then-Second Congressional District.

In 1999, after deciding to make his third and ultimately first successful run for Congress, the Pences moved again from Indianapolis. They bought a single family home about an hour's drive south in Edinburgh, Indiana, inside the redrawn boundaries of the state's Second District that he went on to represent.

After winning his 2000 race for Congress, the Pences lived in Washington for about a decade before returning fulltime to Indiana to run for governor. But instead of moving back to the Edinburgh home they had left a decade earlier, they rented in a ritzy enclave on the northeast side of Indianapolis.

Pence's financial disclosures filed when he was a congressman, show that he wasn't paying a mortgage from 2007 onward. However in 2008, Pence reported receiving rental income of at least $2,500 from a residence in Columbus, Indiana.

It's not clear when exactly they sold their Edinburgh residence.

Pence's vice presidential financial disclosure forms — he filed four of them since joining with Trump in July 2016 — do not show him owning any property, including a home in Edinburgh.

... Shortly after the election, the Pences were deciding which aides would stay on with them after he left office. The ex-vice president has also been eyeing a position at the helm of Christian Right colleges like either Hillsdale College in Michigan or the embattled Liberty University in Virginia.

Taking over as president of Liberty University would give Pence a nice paycheck (former Liberty University president Jerry Falwell Jr. earned more than $1 million a year). It would also give him a strong political perch with religious evangelicals as the Republican Party dives deeper into a civil war, two Republicans close to the Pences told Insider.

The Pences' housing situation was more of a bit of Indiana political trivia for years. But it took on new prominence during the pandemic. As Pence and Trump fought to stop states from allowing mail-in voting as a safety measure to protect against the coronavirus, Trump and Pence both cast their ballots by mail.

Trump voted using his private South Florida club as a primary address. Pence voted listing the Indiana governor's mansion as his residence, despite not having lived there in four years. Pence's legal counsel at the time determined that voting under the auspices of the governor's mansion was legal despite the political risk that it looked odd while he and Trump fought mail-in voting.
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YouTube extends Trump suspension, slaps new restrictions on Giuliani
YouTube initially said it was giving Trump his first of three strikes before it would permanently ban him from the site under its content policies, suspending him for a minimum of one week. It extended that suspension last Tuesday for at least another week. But the company offered no timetable for the latest extension, making his suspension effectively indefinite.

“In light of concerns about the ongoing potential for violence, the Donald J. Trump channel will remain suspended,” YouTube spokesperson Ivy Choi said in a statement. “Our teams are staying vigilant and closely monitoring for any new developments.”

YouTube separately said it will temporarily bar Giuliani from participating in a program that allows him to make money off his channel due to repeated violations of its policies against making false claims about widespread voter fraud in the 2020 elections, according to a spokesperson. Giuliani can reapply for the program after 30 days if the issues with his account have been resolved, the spokesperson said.

Trump has now been permanently booted off Twitter, his signature platform, and faces indefinite suspensions from both Facebook and YouTube, cutting him off from three of the most potent means for communication online.
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Trump adds to impeachment defense team with another South Carolina lawyer
The addition of Deborah Barbier, a lawyer with a reputation for tackling high-profile, controversial clients, is the second attorney to join from South Carolina. Last week Trump announced that Butch Bowers, an experienced political attorney who has represented numerous Republican elected officials, including former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, would lead his legal team.

The all-South Carolina legal team has surprised some attorneys, even those in the Palmetto state, but it underscores the outsized influence of one of Trump’s most loyal allies, Sen. Lindsey Graham, the state’s senior Republican senator, who recommended Bowers to Trump. It also highlights the challenges Trump was experiencing in building a legal team as his previous lawyers have largely stepped away from him.

The appointment comes as Trump is struggling to build out his legal defense. In particular, loyalist Rudy Giuliani is not able to represent Trump since he spoke on Jan. 6 whipping up the pro-Trump crowd before they stormed the US Capitol. Others who worked on his previous impeachment team have declined to work on the second team.

Major law firms have also turned down the former president because of the stigma of the insurrection and out of concern they would lose clients, several lawyers told CNN.

“The big firms have too many clients who would say, ‘We’re going to take our business away from you.’ I don’t think Butch Bowers or Debbie Barbier have that concern,” said Robert Foster, a partner with Nelson Mullins in Columbia, where Bowers was a former partner.

Another looming question is whether Trump will pay the lawyers. Three attorneys who spoke with CNN said it was unclear if Trump was seeking to retain lawyers on a pro-bono basis and not pay them retainers or hourly fees. All three of those lawyers said they declined to join the defense team, at least in part because of that issue.
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No TrumpsπŸ‘±‍♂️ Newsbites was formerly Trumpism 🐘 Newsbites.

or Trump-ism

Trumpism refers to the nontraditional political philosophy and approach espoused by US President Donald Trump and his supporters. The term Trumpism can also be used to directly refer to an outrageous or idiosyncratic statement made by Donald Trump.

Trumpisms are Bushisms on steroids.