The Mahablog

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The Mahablog

DoD, Cuccinelli, Alex Jones: Text News

Too much is happening all at once. It’s hard to keep up.

This week CNN reported, “The Defense Department wiped the phones of top departing DOD and Army officials at the end of the Trump administration, deleting any texts from key witnesses to events surrounding the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol, according to court filings.”

The departing officials included former acting Secretary of Defense Chris Miller, former chief of staff Kash Patel, and former Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy. It doesn’t sound as if these people deleted anything from their government-issued phones when they left the DoD; rather, the DoD wiped the phones without making backups first when they were turned in, the article says.

But I do remember that Miller and Patel were part of the plan to replace as many key officials as possible with Trump loyalists in the closing days of the Trump Administration. Miller was acting SecDef from November 9, 2020 to January 20, 2021. He replaced Mark Esper, whom Trump fired on November 9. This was just two days after the 2020 election had been called for Joe Biden. Shortly after that, Kash Patel was named Miller’s chief of staff.

By then, the fake elector plot already was taking shape. (McCarthy was Secretary of the Army from September 2019 to January 20, 2021, so his appointment probably wasn’t connected to the election overturning scheme.)

Note also that both Miller and Patel were accused of blocking cooperation with the Biden transition team.

Also, “Miller, Patel and McCarthy have all been viewed as crucial witnesses for understanding government’s response to the January 6 Capitol assault and former President Donald Trump’s reaction to the breach. All three were involved in the Defense Department’s response to sending National Guard troops to the US Capitol as the riot was unfolding,” CNN reported. This is a part of the January 6 picture that hasn’t been much addressed so far.

A few days ago it was reported that text messages of acting homeland security secretary Chad Wolf and acting deputy secretary Ken Cuccinelli were missing also. You might remember Chad Wolf’s unconstitutional activities in Portland, summer 2020.

And now Cuccinelli has been subpoenaed by a federal grand jury regarding January 6. Cuccinelli strikes me as a guy who would like to just walk away from the mess that is Trump. He’d probably rather not denounce Trump, but I doubt he’s going to take any bullets for him, either.

I’m looking forward to the second season of the January 6 committee hearings. It could be even better than the first season.

Much hilarity ensued yesterday at Alex Jones’s trial when it was revealed Jones’s lawyer accidentally had sent all of his text messages to the prosecuting attorneys. It amounted to several hundred gigabytes of material that revealed a lot of deceptions and withholding of evidence on Jones’s part.

Jones is so screwed. His attorney asked for a mistrial this morning; the judge promptly denied it. This judge is all out of bleeps, I believe. For more on that, see Alex Jones Can’t Pretend His Way Out of This Reality by Charlie Warzel at The Atlantic.

Update: The January 6 committee wants Alex Jones’s texts.

In other news — the Senate voted to allow Sweden and Finland to join NATO. This was a near-unanimous vote. The only holdout was Josh Hawley, who says we can’t waste time on NATO because China is bad. Yeah, he just wanted to draw attention to himself. Before the vote Mitch McConnell addressed the senators and basically advised them that voting against the admissions would be an extremely stupid move, and I guess everybody but Hawley heard him.

Thoughts on the First Night of the Hearings

I believe the only revelation from last night that was completely news to me was that “multiple” GOP lawmakers, including Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), had asked Trump for pardons regarding their role in trying to get him another term. Perry is denying this, of course; I assume the committee has proof. I believe I’d heard some version of the rest of it before. I wasn’t even surprised by Ivanka’s testimony that she believed Bill Barr about the election results over her father. I predicted yesterday that she or Jared might throw Daddy under the bus, or partway under, anyway.

But Jared is in deeper doodoo, it appears. See Rolling Stone, Jared Kushner Wasn’t Just Involved in Trump’s Push to Overturn 2020. He Helped Start It.

According to four people familiar with the matter, in the week following Election Day in early November of that year, Kushner took charge in overseeing the development of plans to keep Trump in office — Kushner just wasn’t publicly ostentatious about it in the way Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani and others were. During that first week, Kushner repeatedly met with Trump and other high-ranking aides to the then-president to discuss and map out possible strategies for multi-pronged legal battles and a scorched-earth messaging war against the victorious Biden campaign, the knowledgeable sources tell Rolling Stone. …

…“Jared was directly involved,” one of these sources, a former senior Trump aide who worked on the effort to nullify the election outcome, said. “There was a [brief] window…when it seemed like he was positioning himself to be the Jim Baker of this fight … It didn’t last long. He backed away from it, but he was there and got his hands dirty like everyone else did.” (Baker, a towering figure in the Republican Party, helmed the legal team for George W. Bush during the chaotic Florida recount that ultimately handed Bush the presidency.)

“Jared helped create what then morphed into the Rudy clown show,” the source added.

Now Jared is trying to wash his hands of the mess, seeing as how he’s running a legitimate olive oil private equity business. But as in most things in his sorry-ass life, Jared screwed it up before he walked away.

There’s a lot of good commentary out there, along with a lot of pathetic excuses on right-wing sites. As I said in a comment yesterday, I think the first two hours of the hearings did what they needed to do, which was to establish that the January 6 insurrection was seriously dangerous and not just a protest that spun out of control. It was an attempt at overturning the election. Trump was in the middle of it, and the Big Lie really is a big lie.

Worth noting — Philip Bump at WaPo says that Trump’s inactions on January 6 may have been the most damning evidence of the night.

Trump, Cheney said during Thursday’s hearing, “did not call his secretary of defense,” “did not talk to his attorney general,” “did not talk to the Department of Homeland Security,” “gave no order to deploy the National Guard that day” and “made no effort to work with the Department of Justice to coordinate and display and deploy law enforcement assets.”

Pence demanded action. Trump demanded nothing.

Why? Why wouldn’t the president want immediate action to stem the violence? Messages from allies were flooding his chief of staff’s phone, demanding he do something. But he didn’t. Why not?

It was Pence, not Trump, who made multiple phone calls demanding that Homeland Security, the Justice Department, and everybody else please send reinforcements to the Capitol. Pence was in danger, of course, so I don’t blame him. He’d also talked to Gen. Mark A. Milley at the Pentagon. Trump did not.

Trump could have done three things on that day. He could have kept pushing the rioters forward, offering more tweets like his one soon after the Capitol was breached disparaging Pence. At the other end of the spectrum, he could have done what Pence did, demanding immediate action to protect the safety of legislators and the security of the Capitol. Or he could have done what he did: little to nothing, avoiding criticism for actively stoking the riot as it was underway while reaping the benefit he enjoyed — seeing his furious supporters fight to keep him in office.

I have a hard time understanding how Trump supporters can’t see they were just being used.

Liz Cheney said that Trump was employing a “sophisticated seven-part plan” to overturn the election, and these would be explored in the future hearings. Here are the seven parts, according to Matt Shuham at TPM:

1. President Trump engaged in a massive effort to spread false and fraudulent information to the American public claiming the 2020 election was stolen from him.

2. President Trump corruptly planned to replace the Acting Attorney General, so that the Department of Justice would support his fake election claims.

3. President Trump corruptly pressured Vice President Pence to refuse to count certified electoral votes in violation of the US Constitution and the law.

4. President Trump corruptly pressured state election officials, and state legislators, to change election results.

5. President Trump’s legal team and other Trump associates instructed Republicans in multiple states to create false electoral slates and transmit those slates to Congress and the National Archives.

6. President Trump summoned and assembled a violent mob in Washington and directed them to march on the US Capitol.

7. As the violence was underway, President Trump ignored multiple pleas for assistance and failed to take immediate action to stop the violence and instruct his supporters to leave the Capitol.

Those who are deeply invested in believing the Big Lie are unlikely to ever admit to the truth. They’ll always find some excuse to cling to. And it’s known Trump is pretty skilled at not leaving his own fingerprints at crime scenes. But let’s hope there are enough people not so invested who will appreciate what the hearings are showing them.