No TrumpsπŸ‘±‍♂️ Newsbites
Alleged 'Oath Keeper' arrested on charges related to Capitol siege once worked for the FBI and still holds a top-level security clearance, lawyer says
  • A lawyer for a man charged for his role in the Capitol siege said he once worked for the FBI.
  • Thomas Caldwell's lawyer requested a pre-trial release Monday on the basis of service-related injuries.
  • Authorities believe Caldwell holds a leadership position in the militia group, the Oath Keepers.
A man who officials say is a leader in the far-right militia group, the Oath Keepers, previously worked for the Federal Bureau of Intelligence and maintains a Top Secret security clearance, his lawyer said Monday.

Thomas Caldwell, 66, was arrested last month and charged with conspiracy related to the Capitol insurrection, after authorities said he was involved in the planning and coordinating of the January 6 attacks.

... Caldwell, who has denied being a member of the Oath Keepers, is a highly awarded Navy veteran who has held a Top Secret security clearance since 1979, his lawyer said in new court documents.

He worked as a section chief for the FBI from 2009 to 2010, the records say. He also operated a consulting firm, performing classified work for various sects of the US Government, including the Drug Enforcement Agency, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the military, according to documents filed in court.

... Members of the Oath Keepers, which has membership numbers in the tens of thousands, claim to fulfill the oath that all military and police officers take to defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. They believe the federal government has been co-opted by a conspiracy trying to strip Americans of their rights, charging documents say.

... Authorities say they obtained Facebook messages that indicated Caldwell played a significant role in securing lodging for fellow oath keepers for the trip and noted that other self-proclaimed oath keepers referred to Caldwell as "Commander."

On the evening of January 6, Caldwell reportedly started a Facebook Live video that appears to have been taken from inside the Capitol building. Later that day, Caldwell sent a Facebook message reading, "Us storming the castle...I am such an instigator!"

Minutes later authorities said he sent another message: "Proud boys scuffled with the cops and drove them inside to hide. Breached the doors. One guy made it all the way to the house floor, another to Pelosi's office. A good time."

Later, he sent a message suggesting the rioters should attack the government at the local level, according to charging documents.

"Lets storm the capitol in Ohio. Tell me when!" he wrote, according to the charging documents.
Read the full article:

A Capitol rioter who boasted about chugging wine from a lawmaker's liquor cabinet has been arrested, FBI says
  • Jason Riddle told a local news station he downed wine from an office during the Capitol riot.
  • The FBI questioned Riddle after that interview and charged him over the January 6 insurrection.
  • FBI agents arrested him Monday.
Jason Riddle, 32, of Keene, New Hampshire, was arrested by FBI special agents in Boston on Monday, according to CBS Boston.

Riddle was charged Friday with illegally entering a restricted building, theft of government property, and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, according to a complaint.

... Riddle told the FBI he "walked into an office and found an open bottle of wine" and "poured himself a glass," the complaint said.

"Riddle then admitted to drinking the wine and then leaving the office after being told to do so by a police officer."

The FBI did not say which lawmaker's office Riddle took the wine from, but said that he also admitted to stealing a copy of "Senate Procedure" from the office.

Riddle then sold the book to another attendee for $40 outside the Capitol, and had also taken a Fox News football from the same office, the FBI said.

In his NBC10 interview, Riddle said he went inside the Capitol because he got swept up in the moment and wanted to experience the scene.

"I just, I just had to see it," he said. "They were smashing computers, and printers, and breaking things, and throwing papers and lamps around."
Read the full article:

Congress is investigating reports that Trump representatives held discussions with Parler about him taking a 40% ownership stake in the app
  • A House committee has asked Parler for information about its reported negotiations with Trump over an ownership stake.
  • Buzzfeed reported that the discussions fell through, and legal experts said they could have violated anti-bribery laws.
  • The committee is also investigating Parler over potential ties to Russian entities.
Congress is looking into reports that Donald Trump's representatives held talks for him to buy an ownership stake in Parler while he was still president, which legal experts say could have violated anti-bribery laws.

The House Committee on Oversight and Reform said Monday it was also investigating Parler's potential ties to foreign entities, citing reports that the far-right social media site allowed Russian disinformation to spread prior to the November 2020 election.

Lawmakers are also looking into the site's connections with the January 6 Capitol riot.

The committee on Monday asked Jeffrey Wernick, Parler's chief operating officer, to send information about the company's stakeholders, creditors, Russian ties, and communication with Trump by February 22.

... By discussing an ownership stake, Trump could have violated anti-bribery laws because he was still in office, legal experts told Buzzfeed. Parler offered him a 40% ownership stake, BuzzFeed's report said, but the negotiations were derailed by the events of January 6.

Parler's site was used by pro-Trump supporters in the run-up to the January 6 Capitol siege, and became a haven for far-right activity and misinformation because of its lax stance on moderating content.

Since the attacks, numerous Parler users have been charged in connection with the riot, Maloney wrote, and in some cases the Department of Justice referred to the threats they had made on Parler.
Read the full article:

Ahead of his impeachment trial, CNN report says Trump remains fixated on getting revenge on Republicans who voted for it
  • Trump's impeachment trial started, but a report says his attention is already on payback.
  • An advisor told CNN Trump wants revenge on members of the House who voted for the trial.
  • Trump likely has broad enough GOP support to avoid being convicted by the Senate.
A Trump advisor told CNN that the former president's new focus is getting back at the ten Republicans who voted with Democrats in the House to bring about the impeachment trial. No House Republicans supported his first impeachment.

CNN reported that Trump refers to the payback as "accountability" for what he views as "going against the people."

Per the CNN report, the Trump advisor acknowledged that such a view was a "twisted" understanding of reality.
Read the full article:

The DOJ dropped a Trump-era lawsuit against Melania's former friend who wrote a tell-all
  • Stephanie Winston Wolkoff published a book about her friendship with Melania Trump last September.
  • The DOJ sued Wolkoff over the book the following month, accusing her of breaking an NDA.
  • The DOJ, now under Biden, dropped the suit on Monday, without giving a reason.
The Justice Department has stopped pursuing legal action against Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, the former friend of Melania Trump who wrote a book about their relationship, according to a notice filed by the department on Monday.

Wolkoff's "Melania and Me: The Rise and Fall of My Friendship with the First Lady" was released in September 2020, and the DOJ sued Wolkoff the following month, claiming that she had broken a nondisclosure agreement by publishing a book.

But in a one-page notice submitted to a Washington, DC, court on Monday, the DOJ gave no reason for dropping the suit.

Wolkoff made a series of claims about the former first lady in her book, including:
  • That Trump wore a jacket emblazoned with the words "I really don't care, do u?" to the US border in 2018 to get media attention.
  • That she tried to stop Ivanka Trump, her stepdaughter, from appearing on TV during the 2017 inauguration.
The DOJ had accused Wolkoff of breach of contract and breach of fiduciary obligations in relation to the book's publication.

It also said that she broke a nondisclosure agreement that she had signed with the White House in August 2017.

"Because of the trust placed in Ms. Wolkoff by the First Lady, and in consideration for access to the White House and sensitive information, Ms. Wolkoff agreed to maintain strict confidentiality regarding this information," the complaint said.

The department had also sought to get all the profits that Wolkoff made from the book transferred into a government trust.

... A DOJ official told Politico: "The Department evaluated the case and concluded that dismissal without prejudice was in the best interests of the United States based on the facts and the law."
Read the full article:

A Georgia teen charged with shoving a police officer in the Capitol riot told his social media followers he was called to DC to 'fight'
  • Bruno Cua, from Georgia, has been charged with assault on a federal officer in the Capitol riot.
  • The 18-year-old was seen on video participating in the insurrection on January 6.
  • He had urged others to "fight" and travel to Washington, DC, in the days before the riot.
In surveillance video from the riot cited by the FBI and video footage published by The New Yorker, Cua can be seen wearing a MAGA hat while wandering the halls of the Capitol and walking through the Senate chamber. In some clips, he appears to be holding a baton, the FBI said.

The FBI said the surveillance footage also showed Cua shoving a plainclothes Capitol Police officer who was standing outside of the Senate chamber.

... In multiple Parler posts shared before the insurrection, Cua referenced plans to travel to Washington, DC, for then-President Donald Trump's "Stop the Steal" rally — the event that descended into the Capitol insurrection.

"President Trump is calling us to FIGHT! His own cabinet, everyone has betrayed him," Cua said in one post, according to screenshots shared by the FBI. "Its Trump & #WeThePeople VS the #deepstate and the #CCP. He knows this is the only way to save our great country, show up #January6th. It's time to take our freedom back the old fashioned way."

In another post, he said the call to fight wasn't a "joke."

"This is where and when we make our stand," he said. "#January6th, Washington DC."

Cua's Parler account has been deactivated, though WSB-TV reported that the teen also encouraged followers to arm themselves with Tasers, pepper spray, and baseball bats for the riot.

... This isn't Cua's first run-in with police — in December police gave him a citation, saying he violated Milton's public disturbance ordinance.

Police said he was cited after officers found him driving his pickup truck around a parking lot while displaying a Trump flag and honking his horn, the Milton Herald reported.
Read the full article:

The insurrection on Capitol Hill directly descends from the legacy of the Brooks Brothers riot and Bush v. Gore
  • The January 6 insurrection on the Capitol had some familiar echoes of the November 2000 uprising on Miami-Dade County's presidential recount, an incident known as the Brooks Brothers riot.
  • Both uprisings took place on a Wednesday and were, in large part, attended by well-off, educated professionals who could afford to riot against vote-counting on a weekday.
  • The Capitol insurrection was both far more far more violent and had more serious physical consequences for the place where the attack occurred.
  • Although unlike the Brooks Brothers rioters, this group failed to stop the counting of votes.
  • Republican political operative Roger Stone, who was involved in the 2000 riot (the extent of his role is disputed), later went on to help engineer President Donald Trump's 2016 win.
  • The experience of Bush v. Gore resulted in higher levels of election litigation and political operatives pushing false assertions of fraud for political gain, but the events pushed the US "far beyond" that legacy, one expert told Insider.
On November 22, 2000, a group of well-dressed Republican protesters descended on a government office building in Miami. They were there to protest the Miami-Dade County Canvassing Board's recount in the disputed presidential race between Democrat Al Gore and Republican George W. Bush. They wanted to stop what they regarded as a steal, and they were prepared to resort to violence to do it.

The Brooks Brothers riot revived a new blueprint for electoral disputes, one that openly deployed violence and intimidation to frighten officials into discarding legitimate votes. Like the January 6 pro-Trump siege on the US Capitol, it was sought to replace the rule of law with mob rule.

And like the most recent brazen assault on democracy, it was orchestrated at the top levels of the GOP. The weapon-toting, MAGA hat-clad insurrectionists of 2021 directly descend from the buttoned-down, stop-the-steal rioters of 2000.

... The incident, which is now often referred to as the Brooks Brothers riot or rebellion, intimidated the board into suspending their already-scaled back recount altogether, resulting in many votes going uncounted and lost in the "what-ifs" of history.

... Both the legacy of birtherism and years of powerful interests pushing false claims that voter fraud was pervasive, particularly in urban and inner-city communities came to a breaking point on January 6. That recent history made it possible for Trump and large sections of the right-wing media ecosystem to succeed in convincing hundreds of the president's supporters that the election was so rigged that they needed to "be there" to stop it.
Read the full article:

5 takeaways from Day 1 of Donald Trump's impeachment trial
While the outcome -- Trump being acquitted on the single charge of incitement of a riot -- seems likely, there are still considerable stakes here. Among them: How potential offenses by future federal elected officials will be treated by Congress and Trump's role within the GOP moving forward.
  • * That video: If you watch only one thing that comes out of the first day of the trial, you need to make it the 13-minute video presented by the Democratic House managers at the start of their argument. It juxtaposed the proceedings in the House and Senate on January 6 with the gathering riot happening outside. It was at turns terrifying, maddening, frustrating and just plain old sad. "I don't know whether to cry or throw up," tweeted CNN contributor Amanda Carpenter about the video. I felt the same way. But I was also left without any doubt that what happened on January 6 could have been much, much worse if the rioters had been able to get their hands on Vice President Mike Pence or any members of Congress. And they didn't miss doing so by much. Whether you love Donald Trump or hate him, spend 13 minutes watching the video. It provides indisputable evidence of the hate that Trump unleashed -- and not only the damage it did but also the damage it might have done.
  • * 2024: Before either side began to make its case, the Senate held a vote on a rule package designed to govern the proceedings. That organizing resolution was the result of weeks of negotiations between leaders of both parties. It was a bipartisan effort. And yet, 11 Republican senators stillvoted against it. And three among those 11 stood out to me: Sens. Ted Cruz (Texas), Josh Hawley (Missouri) and Marco Rubio (Florida). What do they have in common? All three want to run for president in 2024. And all three clearly made the calculation that in order to have a chance at emerging as a favorite of the Trump coalition -- assuming the 45th President doesn't run again -- they needed to not just vote to acquit Trump (as they are all expected to do) but also object to even the idea of having a trial for the former President at all. (It's kind of like this scene from "And Justice for All.") It's worth noting that Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse voted for the rules -- but he is already positioned as running as a sort of anti- or post-Trump candidate.
  • * Rep. Joe Neguse: The Colorado congressman was a litigator in private practice prior to being elected to Congress in 2018. And it sure showed during his breakdown of the key question of the first day of the trial: Is it, in fact, unconstitutional to hold an impeachment trial for a former president? Neguse repeatedly went right to the text of our founding document to make his case that it was, in fact, entirely within the bounds of the Constitution to do so. (Even the textualists among Republican senators had to be at least a little impressed with Neguse's close reading and expert analysis.) For Democrats looking for young stars in the making, Neguse has to be near or at the top of that list after his compelling and convincing performance on Tuesday. At 36 years old, he's got a lot of time to decide what interests him most -- rising through the ranks in the House or running statewide for governor or Senate down the line. But Neguse has the makings of a future face of the national Democratic Party -- and he showed why on Tuesday.
  • * A rough start to the Trump defense: Trump attorney Bruce Castor kicked off the former President's defense with what can only be described as a rambling performance that seemed to lack any sort of, well, point. To the extent I gleaned any sort of strategy within Castor's halting and seemingly ad-libbed defense, it was this: Senators are really great and each of them care a lot about the people they represent. I think. Here's one thing I know: There is NO way that Trump, who undoubtedly was watching -- and critiquing -- every moment of the trial, was pleased with Castor's opening, um, gambit. If Trump could fire a lawyer mid-argument, you can bet he would have fired Castor. All jokes aside, the big takeaway is this: None of the top conservative lawyers wanted to risk their reputations by working for Trump. (Remember that his entire legal team for this trial quit less than two weeks ago.) Bruce Castor's opening statement is what you get when all of the top lawyers bow out. And it's not pretty to look at or listen to.
  • * Disqualify without removal?: I thought one of the most intriguing arguments put forward by the impeachment managers -- Neguse, to be specific -- was that there is nothing in the Constitution that suggests that the Senate couldn't vote to ban Trump from ever running again whether or not he is convicted and, at least technically speaking, removed from office. Which is interesting! Now, to be clear: The Senate is almost certainly not going to do that. Unless Trump is voted guilty by 67 senators -- and it's very, very unlikely he would be -- there is an almost 0% chance that the Senate Democratic majority will hold a vote to disqualify Trump from future office by a simple majority vote.
Read the full article:

GOP Sen. Mike Lee defended Trump's incitement of the deadly Capitol attack by saying 'everyone's entitled to a mulligan'
  • Sen. Mike Lee said Trump deserves a "mulligan" over the Capitol siege.
  • Lee said Trump's January 6 speech wasn't very different from statements made by Democrats.
  • The Utah Republican on Tuesday voted against bipartisan impeachment trial rules.
"Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone's entitled to a mulligan once in a while. And I would hope, I would expect that each of those individuals would take a mulligan on each of those statements because in each instance, they're making it deeply personal," Lee said. "They're ceasing to make it about policy. And instead they're talking about getting up in people's faces and making individuals feel perfectly uncomfortable. And that's not helpful."

"Mulligan" is a golf term, which is often used in a colloquial manner and refers to being given a second chance or extra stroke after making a poor shot. In short, it's a do-over.

Democrats excoriated Lee for suggesting Trump deserves a "mulligan" over the Capitol attack, which led to five deaths — including that of a Capitol Police officer.

Jaime Harrison, the chair of the Democratic National Committee, tweeted in part, "Senator this is not a damn golf game!"
Read the full article:

Trump's impeachment attorney was ruthlessly mocked by political figures on both sides of the aisle over his rambling opening statement
  • One of Trump's impeachment lawyers delivered a rambling opening statement on Tuesday.
  • Bruce Castor Jr. was brutally mocked by political figures across the aisle of his remarks.
  • "There is no argument. I have no idea what he is doing," Alan Dershowitz said.
If Bruce Castor Jr. had a central point or argument during his opening statement at former President Donald Trump's impeachment trial on Tuesday, it was seemingly lost on virtually everyone who listened in.

Political figures on both sides of the aisle broadly expressed confusion about Castor's rambling remarks during which the attorney effectively admitted that he was winging it.

"I'll be quite frank with you, we changed what we were going to do on account that we thought the House managers' presentation was well done," Castor said in a lengthy speech that included myriad references to random historical events. A lot of people apparently noticed.

Alan Dershowitz, who was on Trump's legal team during his first impeachment trial in 2020, in an appearance on the right-wing outlet Newsmax expressed utter bewilderment over Castor's remarks.

"There is no argument. I have no idea what he is doing," Dershowitz said of Castor's opening remarks. "That's not the kind of argument I would have made, I'll tell you that."

Many on Twitter expressed similar sentiments during the trial and Castor was ridiculed by political commentators, legal experts, presidential historians, and veteran journalists.

A number of GOP senators were also critical of Castor and Trump's legal team overall when speaking to reporters after both sides concluded their opening remarks.

... Even though the overwhelming consensus appears to be that Castor failed to offer a compelling defense for Trump, the former president is still expected to be acquitted. Senate Democrats are unlikely to garner the necessary votes from Republicans to convict Trump over his incitement of a deadly insurrection at the US Capitol on January 6.
Read the full article:

Bill Cassidy, a Louisiana Republican, flip-flops his previous vote and sides with Democrats and 5 in GOP to proceed with Trump impeachment
  • Sen. Bill Cassidy joined Democrats in voting to proceed with Donald Trump's impeachment.
  • The Louisiana Republican told reporters he would be an "impartial juror."
  • Cassidy was one of six Republicans to join 50 Democrats in moving forward with the case.
Sen. Bill Cassidy surprised Washington on Tuesday by joining with Democrats and a handful of other Republicans in voting to proceed with Donald Trump's impeachment.

Cassidy, a conservative from Louisiana, had last month sided with a majority of his caucus in seeking to block Trump's second impeachment trial in the Senate, supporting a motion from Sen. Rand Paul disputing the legality of trying someone who no longer holds elected office.

He flipped this week after being underwhelmed by the arguments presented by the former president's attorneys, joining five other Republicans and 50 Democrats in voting to move forward with the Senate trial. Trump stands accused of inciting the US Capitol riot on January 6 that left five people dead in the wake of the former president's false claims about an election he lost.

... "Anyone that listened to those arguments would recognize the House managers were focused," he said. "They relied upon precedent -- upon the opinion of legal scholars. Anyone who listened to President Trump's legal team saw they were unfocused. They attempted to avoid the issue. And they talked about everything but the issue at hand."

Democrats' lead impeachment manager, Rep. Jamie Raskin, opened Tuesday's proceedings with an emotional warning about the consequences if Trump is not held accountable for the actions of his supporters. "This cannot be the future of America," he said. "We cannot have presidents inciting and mobilizing mob violence against our government and our institutions because they refuse to accept the will of the people."
Read the full article:

Trump's attorney clashes with neighbors over whether to evict the former president from Mar-a-Lago
  • A Trump lawyer clashed with neighbors Monday over whether the ex-president can live at Mar-a-Lago.
  • Neighbors say it can't be considered a residence and he shouldn't live there.
  • Trump's attorney threatened more chaos if he moved to an adjacent property.
Top officials in Palm Beach, Florida, met on Zoom to determine whether Trump will be permitted to continue living in Mar-a-Lago, the members-only club he purchased in 1985, where he moved to after his presidential term ended in January.

Ever since Trump changed his legal residence from New York to Florida in 2019 (Florida has lower taxes), his neighbors have openly dreaded him moving there. Some of the neighbors have tried to stop the town of Palm Beach from permitting him to use Mar-a-Lago as his permanent residence, citing a 1993 agreement Trump signed, and evict him.

The agreement, as Insider's Thomas Colson reported, transformed it from a residence to a private club and forbids guests from staying there for more than "three non-consecutive seven day periods" a year.

Mar-a-Lago can be a club or a residence, they argue, but it cannot be both.

Meeting on Zoom Monday, Maggie Zeidman, the president of the Palm Beach Town Council, said the governing body would make a decision on the issue in April. She also said she personally believed Trump should be able to continue to reside at Mar-a-Lago.

But at the urging of the town manager Kirk Blouin — who said he receives "hundreds of emails a day" on the issue — the town attorney, John "Skip" Randolph held a presentation on the legality of the matter. The council also gave an attorney representing Trump a chance to respond, as well as attorneys representing Trump's neighbors and a group called Preserve Palm Beach.

According to Randolph, the 1993 agreement allows "bona fide employees" to use Mar-a-Lago as "living quarters." The question, then, is whether Trump is a Mar-a-Lago employee. The restriction over guests, he said, doesn't apply.

... Philip Johnson, the attorney representing Preserve Palm Beach, said he worried that Trump's residency could welcome some of his more unsavory supporters.

"We feel that this issue threatens to make Mar-a-Lago into a permanent beacon for his more rabid, lawless supporters," Johnson said.

He also said that giving Trump the power to determine who does and doesn't count as a Mar-a-Lago employee was irrational, and that it would effectively permit him to create his own zoning laws.

... Reginald Stambaugh, the lawyer representing Trump's neighbors, said the town of Palm Beach has repeatedly violated the resolution over the decades, not permitting his clients to "peacefully enjoy the privacy afforded to others on the island."

"My clients purchased their homes after the agreement was signed with a reasonable expectation that this legal contract would be honored and enforced by the town," he said.

... Some of Trump's neighbors have suggested he simply move to one of his three other properties near Mar-a-Lago, including one large estate on Woodbridge Road.

Marion told them to be careful what they wished for.

"If former President Trump had to move on to Woodbridge for some reason, there would be barriers across the front of that property," he said. "There would be guards and Secret Service personnel in front of that roadway. There would be dogs sniffing the vehicles and checking in the vehicles every time a resident on Woodbridge were to go home or leave, or their guests came or left."

"It would be a horrible imposition for them if they got what they wanted," he added.
Read the full article:

Trump was 'borderline screaming' and 'deeply unhappy' over his defense lawyers' performance in his impeachment trial, per report
  • Trump was "deeply unhappy" with his lawyers' performance during his impeachment trial on Tuesday.
  • CNN reported that sources close to Trump say the former president was "borderline screaming."
  • The House impeached Trump on a charge of "incitement of insurrection" over the January 6 Capitol riot.
Read the full article:

GOP Sen. Patrick Toomey's son poured money into GameStop during the stock's most volatile stretch — then sold out a day later as his father warned of a 'bubble' market (GME)
  • Sen. Pat Toomey said Jan. 28 the GameStop stock surge "has all of the characteristics of a bubble."
  • Toomey's son that same day sold GameStop stock for between $1,001 and $15,000, per financial disclosures.
  • An ethics watchdog said while the trades are legal, "it sure doesn't look good from the outside."
A high ranking Republican senator's son made a pair of GameStop stock trades as his father cautioned against any further regulation stemming from the Reddit-driven "short squeeze" fiasco, according to US Senate financial disclosure forms reviewed by Insider.

Sen. Pat Toomey's college-aged son purchased up to $15,000 worth of GameStop stock on January 27, then sold it the next day for an amount between $1,001 and $15,000, the disclosures show.

It's unclear whether Toomey's son, Patrick Toomey III, made or lost money. GameStop stock traded between $249 and $380 per share on January 27 and $112.25 and $483 a share on January 28 as the the video game retailer's share price oscillated wildly. The roughly $371 peak-to-trough price swing on January 28 marked the most volatile day in the stock's history.

The transactions happened as the Pennsylvania GOP senator was publicly weighing in on a market craze that roiled Wall Street. On January 28, Toomey released a statement saying the rapid increase in GameStop's stock price "has all of the characteristics of a bubble, and like all investment bubbles in history, this will end poorly for the people buying stock late."

Toomey, who has already announced he's retiring in 2022, also cautioned his fellow lawmakers against overreacting and moving for further regulation of the markets.

... In a statement to Insider, Toomey said that his son made the GameStop trades without his knowledge. Had he known about them, he would have cautioned against getting on the GameStop train.

"Had my son asked for my advice about these trades, I would have told him the same thing I said in numerous print and television interviews: that it's a classic bubble that will end badly for most participants," Toomey said.

But Toomey also defended his son's right to make the stock trades.

"These perfectly legal and non-controversial transactions were made by my adult son in his investment account that he controls exclusively," Toomey said. "He used only public information that was widely available at the time. The trades were made without my knowledge. I disclosed these trades in the ordinary, monthly disclosure of my, and my family's, trading activities, as required by Senate rules."

In addition to GameStop stock, Toomey's son sold shares of Shopify and Tesla in late January, according to the senator's financial disclosure.

Members of Congress are generally required to publicly disclose their own stock trades — as well as those by their spouses and dependent children — within 30-to-45 days of a purchase or sale, depending on the kind of trade made. They are also only required to report those trades in broad ranges.

... Dylan Hedtler-Gaudette, a government affairs manager for the Project on Government Oversight, an ethics watchdog group, told Insider the trades, while entirely legal, underscore the lack of regulation on members of Congress and their families trading stocks.

"He essentially warned against Congress doing anything to prevent this kind of thing from happening again at the same time that his son may have been profiting from the extreme fluctuation in the value of GameStop stock," Hedtler-Gaudette said.

"This may have been entirely coincidental," he added, "but it sure doesn't look good from the outside, especially when the public already has a pretty negative view of Congress and views members of Congress as engaging in corrupt self-dealing as a matter of course."
Read the full article:

YouTube deletes neo-Nazi account that featured an interview with a former member of Congress
  • YouTube removed a neo-Nazi organization from its platform following an inquiry from Insider.
  • The group had recently hosted former Democratic lawmaker Cynthia McKinney.
  • YouTube also removed the personal account of the group's white nationalist leader.
YouTube has nixed the channel of a fascist political organization — and the personal account of one of its leaders — after it used the platform to spread hateful conspiracy theories about Jews running the world. The move came after Insider reached out to the Google-owned property to ask why it was distributing the content.

The neo-Nazi group, which dubbed itself "American Third Position," was led by Angelo John Gage, a former US Marine and an "infamous white nationalist," according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Gage is a long-time far-right extremist and self-styled life coach who used YouTube to rail against Jews.

"Judaism is by far the most disgusting religion, ever," he said in one video. "What makes me sick is how my fellow gentiles bow down to these people."

That content was removed last month by YouTube, which since at least 2015 had permitted Gage to use the site for neo-Nazi propaganda, such as videos claiming that immigration would lead to "white genocide." In his most recent video, Gage deployed the same anti-Semitic rhetoric that got his previous output banned but merely substituted the word "parasites" for "Jews."

YouTube deleted his account altogether after Insider pointed that out. The company declined requests to explain.

As with other far-right extremists, Gage has migrated to lesser-known platforms, such as BitChute, a British video-sharing website that, as Insider previously reported, has appeared to welcome extremist content, having "reached its peak popularity in the immediate aftermath of the attempted coup in Washington, DC."

Gage was kicked off Twitter in January.

His online organization, American Third Position, openly aligns itself with "fascism," and the group's name is itself an old fascist branding effort. It aims to win converts turned off by more explicit Nazi iconography with an ideological platform that ostensibly transcends traditional definitions of "left" and "right," mixing extreme nationalism with populist, anti-corporate appeals to the white working class.

The name was previously used by a neo-Nazi political party in the US led by William Daniel Johnson, a white supremacist and early supporter of Donald Trump who was selected as a 2016 delegate to the Republican National Convention; Gage at one point led the group's youth branch.

Since its launch in August 2020, the American Third Position channel posted 44 videos on everything from GameStop to the Proud Boys, an extremist group whose members helped organize the January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol.

One of its last videos featured a former Democratic six-term member of Congress, Cynthia McKinney. In 2008, McKinney, from Georgia, ran as the Green Party's 2008 nominee for president. McKinney has expressed anti-Semitic views in the past. On social media, she's questioned the number of Jews killed in the Holocaust and lamented Congress's funding of Holocaust education. In her conversation with Gage and other white nationalists, she baselessly claimed that the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump and that Jews had co-opted the Black Lives Matter movement.
Read the full article:

Michigan state Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey caught on video calling Capitol attack a 'hoax'
  • Michigan state Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey was recorded spreading conspiracies about the Capitol riot.
  • The video emerged a day before he was censured by the Hillsdale County Republican Party for "complete surrender" to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
  • In the video, Shirkey defends rioters and makes sexist comments about Whitmer.
Michigan's most powerful Republican state official Mike Shirkey was recorded pushing various conspiracies about the Capitol insurrection on January 6, and making lewd comments about Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

Shirkey was attending a meeting with Hillsdale County Republican Party, a day before the local party would censure him for not standing up to state Democrats and Whitmer.

The video, posted by a group called R.O.A.R (Reclaim Our American Republic), was first reported by the Detroit Metro Times, runs for an hour, and features a tense back-and-forth between the local party officials and Shirkey.

According to the Detroit Free Press, on Tuesday, Hillsdale County Republican Party Chair Daren Wiseley told the outlet that he met with Shirkey alongside Hillsdale County Republican Party secretary Jon Smith and party vice-chair Lance Lashaway. Smith told the Free Press that he recorded and uploaded the video.

On February 4, a day after the video surfaced, the Hillsdale County Republican Party censured Shirkey for supporting a ban on firearms at the Michigan Capitol building, as well as for a "complete and utter surrender to Governor Gretchen Whitmer".

"That's been a hoax from day one. It was all staged," Shirkey tells the officials in the video, adding that the January 6 rioters were not "Trump people." Later in the same video, Shirkey conceded Trump supporters were among the mob but said they were "caught up in the emotion."

In the video, Shirkey pushed another conspiracy about "darker forces" at play around the insurrection. "I think there are people above elected officials," Shirkey said.

One Hillsdale official asks, "George Soros?" and Shirkey responds, "I don't know, people like him. There are puppeteers."

"I think they wanted to have a mess," Shirkey told the officials, implicating Mitch McConnell as well. In the video, the Michigan senate majority leader also expressed frustration at Rudy Giuliani's failed legal efforts in Michigan and concedes that Trump lost Michigan.

In another section of the video, Shirkey also makes sexist comments about Whitmer.

Shirkey said, "we've spanked her hard on budget, spanked her hard on appointments." He then makes a violent joke to one of the officials, saying, "I did contemplate, once or twice, I did contemplate inviting her to a fistfight on the Capitol lawn."

"She might whoop your ass," the county official replies.

Bobby Leddy, a spokesman for Whitmer, told the Free Press: "It's disappointing that Sen. Shirkey is spending his time on political potshots, indulging conspiracy theories, and expressing empathy for the insurrection at the US Capitol building."
Read the full article:

One of Trump's impeachment lawyers reportedly sued the former president last year over his voter fraud claims
  • A Trump impeachment defense lawyer sued Trump over his comments of mail voting fraud last year.
  • Michael van der Veen serves on Trump's defense team during his second impeachment trial this week.
  • A former client of van der Veen said he came off as "anti-Trump" when he hired him two years ago.
Philadelphia lawyer Michael van der Veen sued Trump last year, saying his claims about mail-in voter fraud were made with "no evidence in support" of them, according to The Post report.

According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, van der Veen represented a client who filed a lawsuit against Trump ahead of the 2020 election, accusing him and his administration of suppressing mail-in voting by reorganization efforts in the US Postal Service.

His firm also sent marketing emails accusing the Pennsylvania Republicans of running a campaign to "unfairly and illegally intimidate voters," according to The Inquirer.

"Donald Trump doesn't want you to be able to vote," one August 20 email from van der Veen's firm read, which was obtained by The Inquirer. "It's time to stand up for what's right."

... Justin Hiemstra, a former client of van der Veen, told The Inquirer that van der Veen once described Trump as a "f---ing crook" two years ago. The lawyer represented Hiemstra against charges that Hiemstra tried to steal Trump's tax returns by hacking into a government database, according to The Inquirer.

"I'm not sure if [those comments] were made to make me feel more comfortable, or if they were his actual opinions," Hiemstra told The Inquirer.

He added: "He definitely came off as fairly anti-Trump in the context that I knew him."
Read the full article:

or Trump-ism

Trumpism refers to the nontraditional political philosophy and approach espoused by 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.

Trump, whom many observers consider an anomaly, left the White House by saying, “We will be back in some form.” His legacy is “Trumpism” – a wave of white nationalism.

Trumpisms are Bushisms on steroids.