No Trumps๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍♂️ Newsbites
Republican Ties to Extremist Groups Are Under Scrutiny
A number of members of Congress have links to organizations and movements that played a role in the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol. ... Nearly 150 House Republicans supported President Donald J. Trump’s baseless claims that the election had been stolen from him. But Representative Paul Gosar of Arizona, one of the most far-right members of Congress and a handful of other Republican members of the House had deeper ties to extremist groups who pushed violent ideas and conspiracy theories and whose members were prominent among those who stormed the halls of Congress in an effort to stop certification of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory.

Their ranks include Representative Andy Biggs of Arizona, who like Mr. Gosar was linked to the “Stop the Steal” campaign backing Mr. Trump’s effort to overturn the election’s outcome.

Representative Lauren Boebert of Colorado has close connections to militia groups including the so-called Three Percenters, an extremist offshoot of the gun rights movement that had at least one member who entered the Capitol on Jan. 6.

Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene has promoted the QAnon conspiracy theory, whose adherents were among the most visible of those who stormed the building, and she appeared at a rally with militia groups.

... It is not clear whether any elected officials played a role in directly facilitating the attack on the Capitol, other than helping to incite violence through false statements about the election being stolen from Mr. Trump. Officials have said they are investigating reports from Democrats that a number of House Republicans provided tours of the Capitol and other information to people who might have gone on to be part of the mob on Jan. 6. So far, no evidence has surfaced publicly to back up those claims.

... But in signaling either overt or tacit support, a small but vocal band of Republicans now serving in the House provided legitimacy and publicity to extremist groups and movements as they built toward their role in supporting Mr. Trump’s efforts to subvert the outcome of the 2020 election and the attack on Congress.

Aitan D. Goelman, a former federal prosecutor who helped convict the Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, said that when elected officials — or even candidates for office — took actions like appearing with militia groups or other right-wing groups it “provides them with an added imprimatur of legitimacy.”

... To some degree, the members of Congress have been reflecting signals sent by Mr. Trump.
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2 women charged in Capitol riot said they were 'looking' for Pelosi 'to shoot her in the friggin' brain'
  • Dawn Bancroft and Diana Santos-Smith were arrested and charged in connection to the Capitol riot.
  • The FBI received a tip of a "selfie" video taken at the siege, according to an affidavit.
  • Charges include entering a restricted building, disrupting government business, and disorderly conduct.
On January 12, the Federal Bureau of Investigation received a tip of a "selfie" video purportedly taken by Bancroft during the riot at the US Capitol building. In the video, Bancroft and another woman whom the FBI later identified as Santos-Smith were shown "in the process of attempting to exit the US Capitol building in Washington, DC," according to the affidavit. "We broke into the Capitol…we got inside, we did our part," Bancroft said in the video, according to the criminal complaint. "We were looking for Nancy to shoot her in the friggin' brain but we didn't find her."

About a week after the FBI received the tip, for which they did not identify a source, investigators interviewed Santos-Smith and Bancroft. Santos-Smith initially told investigators that she did not physically enter the Capitol building but admitted that she lied after agents presented the aforementioned video to her. Bancroft said she did enter the building.

Santos-Smith said she and Bancroft attended the protest outside the Capitol with no intention of entering the building until she heard people yelling "they're letting us in," and told investigators that she thought protesters were being allowed to enter the Capitol.

Santos-Smith said she and Bancroft entered the building through a broken window after an entrance door was too crowded, according to the affidavit. As soon as she entered the Capitol, she told investigators that she knew she should not be going inside.

A screenshot of CCTV footage showed one of the women climbing in through the broken window.

After approximately 30 seconds to one minute inside, Santos-Smith claimed that she and Bancroft exited the building from the same window through which they entered. Bancroft relayed a similar story to investigators, according to the criminal complaint.
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Pro-Trump attorney Lin Wood refuses Bar’s order to undergo psychiatric exam
The State Bar’s disciplinary board is investigating Wood under a rule that addresses lawyers’ incapacity from mental illness, alcoholism or other substance abuse, said Paula Frederick, the Bar’s general counsel.

The rule says that when the board determines a lawyer “may be impaired or incapacitated,” it may order medical or psychiatric evaluations and treatment. “That’s what has happened here,” Frederick said.

A lawyer’s refusal to follow the board’s order is “grounds for further proceedings,” the rule says, including emergency suspension of his or her license. Ultimately, a lawyer could be disbarred or face other penalties.
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Legal Pressure on Trump Increases With Judge’s Order in Fraud Inquiry
The order, answering a demand for documents by New York’s attorney general, rejected a bid to shield the records with attorney-client privilege.

A New York judge on Friday increased pressure on former President Donald J. Trump’s family business and several associates, ordering them to give state investigators documents in a civil inquiry into whether the company misstated assets to get bank loans and tax benefits.

It was the second blow that the judge, Arthur F. Engoron of State Supreme Court in Manhattan, had dealt to Mr. Trump’s company in recent weeks.

... On Friday, Justice Engoron went further, saying that even more documents, as well as communications with a law firm hired by the Trump Organization, had to be handed over to Ms. James’s office. In doing so, he rejected the lawyers’ claim that the documents at issue were covered by attorney-client privilege.

The ruling was a fresh reminder that Mr. Trump — who left office about a week ago under the cloud of impeachment and who is headed for a Senate trial on a charge of “incitement of insurrection” after his supporters stormed the Capitol in a violent rampage — faces significant legal jeopardy as a private citizen.

The most serious threats confronting the former president include a criminal investigation by the Manhattan district attorney and the civil inquiry by the attorney general into possible fraud in Mr. Trump’s business dealings before he was elected.

... Investigators in Ms. James’s office have focused their attention on an array of transactions, including a financial restructuring of the Trump International Hotel & Tower in Chicago in 2010 that resulted in the Fortress Credit Corporation forgiving debt worth more than $100 million.

Ms. James’s office has said in court documents that the Trump Organization — Mr. Trump’s main business vehicle — had thwarted efforts to determine how that money was reflected in its tax filings, and whether it was declared as income, as the law typically requires.

... Ms. James’s office is also examining whether the Trump Organization used inflated appraisals when it received large tax breaks after promising to conserve land where its development efforts faltered, including at its Seven Springs estate in Westchester County.
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Jon Stewart is finally on Twitter and jokingly tweets: 'If I do really well on here I get to be President, yes?
  • Jon Stewart finally joined Twitter this week.
  • In his third ever tweet, Stewart appeared to poke fun at former President Donald Trump, who was recently banned from the platform.
  • "So...if I do really well on here I get to be President, yes?" Stewart tweeted.
Stewart has been an extremely vocal proponent of the US government providing assistance to 9/11 first responders who've had health problems linked to toxic substances they were exposed to while working at Ground Zero. He played a central role in the effort to make the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund permanent, traveling to Washington, DC, in June 2019 and excoriating lawmakers for not being supportive of the move.
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Marjorie Taylor Greene warned before the election that Americans would have to shed blood to 'get your freedoms back' if Trump lost
  • GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene warned Americans would have to pay "the price of blood" to "get your freedoms back" if Trump lost the election.
  • Greene has previously endorsed violence against Democratic leaders.
  • Greene has also promoted calls for violence against journalists.
"If this generation doesn't stand up and defend freedom, it's gone," Greene said in a video first reported on by Mother Jones on Friday. "And once it's gone, freedom doesn't come back by itself. The only way you get your freedoms back is it's earned with the price of blood."

The footage was from a late October conversation between gun rights activist Chris Dorr and Greene, a far-right Republican of Georgia, who said that voters had to choose between "freedom" and ending "America as we know it" in the 2020 election.

"This is it: November 3rd, freedom is on the ballot," she said. "You have a choice of either voting for freedom by voting for Donald J. Trump ... or you're going to vote for socialism and vote to completely end America as we know it. This is no joke."

This isn't the first instance of Greene apparently endorsing political violence.

... During a town hall on Tuesday, Greene promoted a suggestion from one of her supporters that journalists, who she refers to as "fake news," should be given "the electric chair."
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Trump-Supporting Illinois Couple Charged in US Capitol Riot
Federal authorities have charged an Illinois couple who posed for a photograph inside the U.S. Capitol decked out in Trump 2020 attire during the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection.

According to a federal criminal complaint, Christina Gerding, 46, and Jason Gerding, 50, of Quincy in western Illinois were arrested Thursday on charges of unlawful entry, disorderly or disruptive conduct on any restricted building or grounds, and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.

In the 11-page complaint, an FBI agent details a raft of evidence linking the couple to the insurrection, much of it provided by the couple themselves on social media.

... The two are at least the fourth and fifth Illinois residents to be arrested for taking part in the assault by a violent mob of pro-Trump supporters.

But they may be the first in which federal authorities have made a direct link between the two and QAnon, a network of adherents to a conspiracy theory centered on the baseless belief that Trump is waging a secret campaign against “deep state” enemies and a child sex trafficking ring run by satanic pedophiles and cannibals.
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Law enforcement veterans say the Capitol siege was just the tip of the iceberg of the 'cult-like' threat far-right extremists pose to the US
  • National security veterans told Insider the Capitol siege was just the tip of the iceberg on threats by white, right-wing extremists.
  • "The threat we're facing right now is not only real but deeply embedded — and cult-like," a former FBI agent told Insider.
  • Another former FBI analyst detailed how extremists are using conspiracies to groom people to commit violence.
Frank Montoya, Jr., a recently retired FBI special agent, told Insider that the Capitiol siege indicates far-right extremism is a "fundamental" threat to national security, even more so than foreign terror groups. Indeed, many of these extremists are white, male US citizens, some with backgrounds in the military, and are less likely to be profiled as a terror threat than those of Middle Eastern descent in the post-9/11 era.

"The threat we're facing right now is not only real but deeply embedded — and cult-like — in our society," Montoya said. "Look at how many military and law enforcement types were involved in the Capitol assault and how many people in Congress supported the effort to overturn a free and fair election on January 6."

If the attack had come from ISIS or Al-Qaeda, "there would be blue-ribbon commissions, legislation, billions of dollars and thousands of employees from across the government thrown at the problem," he added. "The First Amendment and civil liberties are paramount, but far-right extremism isn't about that. It's about insurrection."

... In the wake of the Capitol siege, more than half a dozen federal agencies and entities came under intense scrutiny for failing to anticipate and respond to the threat posed to lawmakers and the electoral process. They included the DHS, the Pentagon, the Justice Department, the FBI, the US Capitol Police, the National Guard, and others.

To that end, experts said, the Biden administration will need to employ a whole-of-government response that treats domestic, far-right extremism as a threat to national security, foreign policy, economic policy, and the overall health of the United States. It will also need to address the blind spot agencies have when addressing threats posed by far-right actors motivated by racist and white supremacist ideologies.

Montoya said the FBI, in particular, has a "huge role" in combating far-right extremism in the US, even absent a domestic terrorism statute.

The bureau "already has the tools and authorities it needs to investigate the kinds of illegal activities far-right extremists engage in," he said. Beyond that, he added, the US intelligence community also has a significant role to play, particularly as it relates to links between far-right extremists within the US's borders and criminal or nation-state supporters overseas.

Then there's the threat from within.

"If you look at law enforcement in the US, there's generally a high risk of these organizations being permeated by white, right-wing extremists," Peterson said. "So it's one thing to issue a notice from the top, but does it actually also point to a fundamental reorganization of the whole entity, as we saw after 9/11? This DHS bulletin points to activities surrounding the inauguration and transition, and it expires in April. So the question is, will they issue a longer-term notice? Because this is a fundamental, long-simmering threat to the US."

... The Biden administration has made clear that it considers far-right, domestic extremism an urgent threat to the nation.

At his inauguration, President Joe Biden singled out the issue, saying, "A cry for racial justice some 400 years in the making moves us. A cry that can't be any more desperate or any more clear. And now a rise of political extremism, white supremacy, domestic terrorism that we must confront and we will defeat."

... Randy Pargman, a senior director at the cybersecurity firm Binary Defense and a former FBI analyst, told Insider the government also needs to take different approaches depending on the type of homegrown actor it's dealing with.

"There are two different groups of people who represent a potential threat to the public. One is a very small group of individuals who are completely dedicated to the cause of violence and have decided that's the way they're going to respond. Their goals are entrenched," he said. "The other group are people who feel disconnected or disenfranchised; they're angry and they feel like something needs to be done, but they haven't gone all the way to committing to acts of violence."

Pargman added that "the goal of the smaller group of violent extremists is to reach out to that larger group of people who are feeling disenfranchised and to communicate with them one-on-one."

"There's a recruiting process, an evaluation process, what you could even call a grooming process where the most violent extremists communicate with the people they're trying to radicalize. Over time, they become that person's trusted source of information," he said. "And then they slowly turn up the temperature. They won't talk about violence early on, but after developing a rapport with that person, they'll start doing things that people in abusive relationships do by cutting that person off from their family and friends and other trusted sources of information. And that person can become radicalized over time and be convinced to participate in much more violent acts."

... "We're already seeing pushback from the GOP in Congress and on Fox News centered around free speech and intolerance," Peterson said. "Another thing we'll likely see is the Second Amendment angle, with Republicans saying the federal government is going to come for your guns. And then the third thing will center on states' rights, whose roots, of course, lay in preserving slavery."
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Joe Biden's administration doesn't trust Boris Johnson because of his ties to Trump
  • Boris Johnson has an uphill battle to shake off his associations with Trump and build a relationship with Biden.
  • Allies of Biden say the prime minister's past comments and ties to Trump are a hurdle to the two men building a strong relationship.
  • "Do I believe that Boris is liked by [the administration]? No," one Biden surrogate told Insider.
It was a sign of quite how keen Boris Johnson is to repair relations with President Joe Biden that his office last week refused multiple requests to criticize Biden's removal of Winston Churchill's bust from the Oval Office.

"The Oval Office is the president's private office and it's up to the president to decorate as he wishes," was the only comment the prime minister's official spokesman would make.

The tone was markedly different from Johnson's reaction to removing the bust by Biden's predecessor Barack Obama back in 2016.

Back then, Johnson, who has written a biography of Churchill, devoted an entire newspaper column to the decision, deriding President Obama's removal of the bust as a "snub" to Britain that was caused by the "part-Kenyan president's ancestral dislike of the British empire."

The line, with its apparent racial connotations, is still remembered by President Biden and his team.

"Joe has a long memory," about such things, one source in Biden's campaign told Insider last year.

Since Biden's victory, Downing Street officials have been keenly talking up the common ground between the UK and the US on issues like climate change, and both sides reported a warm and constructive phone call when the pair spoke for the first time last weekend.

However, Johnson's ties to Trump, both personally and in his political style, remain a source of distrust among Biden's allies.

"Boris has said a lot of stuff," Ashish Prashar, a Biden-Harris campaign surrogate and justice reform advocate who previously worked for Biden, told Insider. "He's aligned himself with people like Steve Bannon. He has been public about his dismissals around President Obama's birth."

Biden's shift towards becoming a more progressive politician also mark him out against Johnson, said Prashar.

He pointed to the president's vocal support for transgender rights, his diverse Cabinet, and his efforts to push through equal marriage legislation in 2012.

"He did the reverse of the trope that you get Conservative as you get older," Prashar said.

Biden last year compared Boris Johnson to a "physical and emotional clone" of Donald Trump, and shaking off those associations is proving to be an uphill battle for Johnson.
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Cable networks are cutting back on contributors as the Trump media frenzy comes to an end
  • Some reporters and commentators in the Trump era made $50,000 to $100,000 or more a year with contributor contracts on CNN and MSNBC.
  • Sources said deals are not getting renewed as TV news networks thin the ranks.
  • Publishing sources expect the market for political books to cool in the Biden era.
CNN and MSNBC have long ended their expensive arms race for political experts and are now declining to renew some existing contributor deals, reporters, agents, and network sources told Insider. The publishing industry is preparing for life after the consumer binge on Trump books.

And reporters who covered the last administration are processing four years of near-constant turmoil as they move on to new stories.

... One agent said that contributors who are getting their contracts reupped are being renewed at flat rates.

It can be difficult to discern who has lost a paid contract, given that people can still appear on the network for free. A knowledgeable CNN source said the network would add new commentators in the next few weeks.

According to four people familiar with the matter, NBC/MSNBC has in recent months pushed contributors to per diem agreements rather than annual contracts. Day rates range between $250-$500, two sources estimated.

... To be sure, reporters don't exactly expect the news cycle grind to a halt. "The unraveling of national and world events is going to continue apace and the Biden era will bring its own unique terrors and tumult for us to peel back layers," Suebsaeng said.

And with that tumult will come a new roster of media beneficiaries. As one agent put it, "As the administration turns, so too do the rewards that journalists will reap."
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‘The perfect target’: Russia cultivated Trump as asset for 40 years – ex-KGB spy
The KGB ‘played the game as if they were immensely impressed by his personality’, Yuri Shvets, a key source for a new book, tells the Guardian

Donald Trump was cultivated as a Russian asset over 40 years and proved so willing to parrot anti-western propaganda that there were celebrations in Moscow, a former KGB spy has told the Guardian.

Yuri Shvets, posted to Washington by the Soviet Union in the 1980s, compares the former US president to “the Cambridge five”, the British spy ring that passed secrets to Moscow during the second world war and early cold war.

... Now 67, Shvets is a key source for American Kompromat, a new book by journalist Craig Unger, whose previous works include House of Trump, House of Putin. The book also explores the former president’s relationship with the disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein.

... Unger describes how Trump first appeared on the Russians’ radar in 1977 when he married his first wife, Ivana Zelnickova, a Czech model. Trump became the target of a spying operation overseen by Czechoslovakia’s intelligence service in cooperation with the KGB.

Three years later Trump opened his first big property development, the Grand Hyatt New York hotel near Grand Central station. Trump bought 200 television sets for the hotel from Semyon Kislin, a Soviet รฉmigrรฉ who co-owned Joy-Lud electronics on Fifth Avenue.

According to Shvets, Joy-Lud was controlled by the KGB and Kislin worked as a so-called “spotter agent” who identified Trump, a young businessman on the rise, as a potential asset. Kislin denies that he had a relationship with the KGB.

Then, in 1987, Trump and Ivana visited Moscow and St Petersburg for the first time. Shvets said he was fed KGB talking points and flattered by KGB operatives who floated the idea that he should go into politics.

The ex-major recalled: “For the KGB, it was a charm offensive. They had collected a lot of information on his personality so they knew who he was personally. The feeling was that he was extremely vulnerable intellectually, and psychologically, and he was prone to flattery.

“This is what they exploited. They played the game as if they were immensely impressed by his personality and believed this is the guy who should be the president of the United States one day: it is people like him who could change the world. They fed him these so-called active measures soundbites and it happened. So it was a big achievement for the KGB active measures at the time.”

... Trump’s election win in 2016 was again welcomed by Moscow. Special counsel Robert Mueller did not establish a conspiracy between members of the Trump campaign and the Russians. But the Moscow Project, an initiative of the Center for American Progress Action Fund, found the Trump campaign and transition team had at least 272 known contacts and at least 38 known meetings with Russia-linked operatives.

... “Trump was the perfect target in a lot of ways: his vanity, narcissism made him a natural target to recruit. He was cultivated over a 40-year period, right up through his election.”
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No Trumps๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍♂️ Newsbites was formerly Trumpism ๐Ÿ˜ 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.