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    Trump challenges media and Democrats to debate his electoral fraud lie

    Trump challenges media and Democrats to debate his electoral fraud lie
    Former president issues typically rambling statement
    Capitol attack: Schiff says Meadows contempt decision soon
    Donald Trump has challenged leading editors and politicians to debate him in public over his lie that Joe Biden beat him in 2020 through electoral fraud.In a typically rambling statement on Sunday, the former president complained about “the heads of the various papers [and] far left politicians” and said: “If anyone would like a public debate on the facts, not the fiction, please let me know. It will be a ratings bonanza for television!”Can the Republican party escape Trump? Politics Weekly Extra – podcastRead moreDespite Trump’s insistence that “the 2020 election was rigged and stolen” – and his well-known fixation on TV ratings – it was not.Even William Barr, an attorney general widely seen as willing to run interference for Trump, publicly stated there was no evidence of widespread electoral fraud.Biden beat Trump by more than 7m in the popular vote and by 306-232 in the electoral college, a result Trump called a landslide when he beat Hillary Clinton by it in 2016. Clinton also beat him in the popular vote.Trump’s proposal of a public debate – which seemed unlikely to bear fruit – extended to what he called “members of the highly partisan unselect committee of Democrats who refuse to delve into what caused the 6 January protest”.The attack on the US Capitol, Trump said, was caused by “the fake election results”.In a way, he was right. It was his lies about the election which led to the deaths of five people around the attack on Congress by a mob seeking to stop certification of Biden’s win, some chanting that Trump’s vice-president, Mike Pence, should be hanged.At a rally near the White House shortly before the riot, Trump told supporters to “fight like hell” in his cause. He was impeached for inciting an insurrection but acquitted when only seven GOP senators found him guilty, not enough to convict.On Sunday, Adam Schiff, the Democratic chair of the House intelligence committee and a member of the 6 January panel, told CNN: “We tried to hold the former president accountable through impeachment. That’s the remedy that we have in Congress. We are now trying to expose the full facts of the former president’s misconduct as well as those around him.”To adapt the Tennessee Republican Howard Baker’s famous question about Richard Nixon and Watergate, the House committee is focusing on what Trump knew about plans for protest and possible violence on 6 January – and when he knew it.00:45Numerous Trump aides and allies have been served with subpoenas. Most, like the former White House strategist Steve Bannon, who has pleaded not guilty to contempt of Congress in the first such case since 1983, have refused to cooperate.‘The goal was to silence people’: historian Joanne Freeman on congressional violenceRead moreSchiff said a decision on a possible contempt charge for Mark Meadows, Trump’s last White House chief of staff, would likely be made in the coming week.It seems unlikely any senior figure in the US media or among Democrats in Congress or state governments will take up Trump’s challenge to debate him in public.Observers including the former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, who helped Trump prepare for his debates against Biden, agree that a near-berserk performance in the first such contest did significant damage to Trump’s chances of re-election.At one point on a chaotic evening in Cleveland in September, Biden was so exasperated as to plead: “Would you shut up, man? This is so unpresidential.”TopicsDonald TrumpUS Capitol attackUS elections 2020US politicsUS CongressUS press and publishingDemocratsnewsReuse this content More

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    Group’s 6 January donation shows Trump’s grip on attorneys general

    Group’s 6 January donation shows Trump’s grip on attorneys generalWatchdogs and ex-prosecutors have strongly criticised the Republican Attorneys General Association’s $150,000 donation A key group of Republican attorneys general that donated $150,000 to co-sponsor the 6 January rally where Donald Trump pushed his false claims of election fraud before the Capitol attack could draw scrutiny from a House committee investigating the events on or in the lead-up to the riot.The group – a part of the Republican Attorneys General Association (Raga) called the Rule of Law Defense Fund – has attracted strong criticism from watchdogs and ex-prosecutors even as Raga looks forward to next year’s midterm elections and many of its members are fighting on numerous fronts against Joe Biden’s agenda.The controversy around Raga appears to be yet another way that Trump and his supporters have increased their grip on more mainstream elements of the Republican party, and involved them in efforts to further their agenda.The RLDF, the policy arm of Raga, ponied up $150,000 for the 6 January rally, and arranged robocalls the day before informing people that “we will march to the Capitol and tell Congress to stop the steal,” a message that was probably reinforced by Texas’s attorney general, Ken Paxton, who told Trump’s rally: “We will not quit fighting.”Watchdog criticism of the Raga policy arm that backed the rally stresses that the group’s funding and robocalls occurred after dozens of court rulings rejected Trump’s claims of fraud. They say it undermines respect for the nation’s laws, as well as departing from the group’s main focus of helping get Republican attorneys general elected.Further, the rally funding and robocalls by the RLDF sparked resignations of high-level officials, including the Raga chairman, the Georgia attorney general, who broached concern about the group’s direction when he stepped down.The controversies about Raga’s rally activities come as the group has received a hefty $5.5m from the dark money Concord Fund since the start of 2020, which can help Republican attorneys general in the 2022 elections, and as many Republican attorneys general including Paxton have filed lawsuits to thwart Biden’s energy, immigration and vaccine policies.The $150,000 check that the RLDF donated to the rally came from the Publix supermarket heir Julie Jenkins Fancelli, funds that ProPublica reported were arranged by the Republican fundraiser Caroline Wren, a “VIP adviser” to the rally who has been subpoenaed by the House committee investigating the 6 January Capitol attack.Asked about scrutiny of Raga and its big donation for the rally, a House select committee spokesperson told the Guardian that it “is seeking information about a number of events that took place in the lead-up to the 6 January attack, including details about who planned, coordinated, paid, or received funds related to those events”.Some watchdog groups deplore Raga’s role in the rally. “It was clear before 6 January that the planned rally was based on lies, partisanship, and disrespect for the rule of law,” Austin Evers, the executive director of American Oversight said in a statement.“That’s what Raga and its corporate sponsors chose to fund. The fact that the rally turned into a violent assault on democracy itself makes Raga’s involvement worse … Raga and its funders should be held accountable.”Likewise, some ex-prosecutors express strong concerns about the message that the robocalls by Raga’s political arm conveyed.“Attorneys general are supposed to support adherence to the law,” said Paul Pelletier, a former acting chief of the fraud section at the DoJ. “By the time of the rally every court in the country had affirmed the lawfulness of the election results and had specifically rejected charges of fraud. At that stage, it seems Raga, by urging protesters to ‘stop the steal’, was simply promoting an unlawful attack on our democracy – the antithesis of their mission.”Raga’s then executive director, who resigned soon after the Capitol attack, denounced the violence by the mob, which resulted in several deaths and ore than 140 injured police officers, and in a sweeping denial stated that neither Raga nor the RLDF had any “involvement in the planning, sponsoring or the organization of the protest”.But campaign finance watchdogs don’t buy Raga’s denial.“Raga’s policy arm and other groups helped organize a rally that preceded a riot and an attack on democracy,” said Sheila Krumholz, the executive director of Open Secrets.The fallout at Raga over its 6 January role increased in April when Chris Carr, the Georgia AG who chaired the overall group, announced suddenly he was stepping down as chair, and noted a “significant difference of opinion” about Raga’s direction in a resignation letter.Later in April, Raga announced that Peter Bisbee, who had overseen the RLDF when the robocalls occurred, was being promoted to become Raga’s executive director.Since Biden took office many Raga members, including Paxton and others from Missouri and Louisiana, have filed a wave of lawsuits to block several Biden priorities.The surge of lawsuits is seen as potentially helpful in the runup to 2022 campaigns when 30 Republican and Democratic attorneys general will be running for re-election after serving four-year terms. In the 2020 elections, Raga for the first time targeted incumbent Democratic attorneys general with ads, and may try to oust Democratic attorneys general who were key Biden allies last year in states such as Pennsylvania and Michigan where Trump and his allies pushed false claims of fraud.While Raga this year witnessed some corporate backers hold back checks after 6 January, its fundraising was bolstered when it pulled in $2.5m, by far its largest contribution and more than a third of the total raised for the first half of 2021, from the dark money Concord Fund, which the Federalist Society executive Leonard Leo helped create.Raga also received $3m in 2020 from the Concord Fund.Raga roped in low-six-figure checks in 2021 from oil and gas giants like Koch Industries and the Anschutz Corp and the Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity.Over the years, Raga has garnered financial support from industries, including fossil fuels and pharmaceuticals, which GOP AGs have backed in major litigation.Trump himself is slated to host a fundraiser next month at his Mar-a-Lago club for Paxton, which appears to underscore his gratitude and the tough re-election campaign the former Raga chairman is facing as three Republican challengers to him have emerged. Those opponents are focusing on Paxton’s legal problems: he was indicted on securities fraud six years ago and the FBI reportedly has been investigating allegations of bribery and other misconduct.Last fall, some of Paxton’s former deputies accused him of improperly helping an Austin real estate developer and donor, prompting more FBI scrutiny.Paxton, who has not been charged, has broadly denied any wrongdoing. Paxton’s office this August released an unsigned 374-page report rebutting the charges of former aides and claiming he was exonerated, but attorneys for the ex-employees responded the report was “full of half truths, outright lies and glaring omissions”.TopicsRepublicansUS Capitol attacknewsReuse this content More

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    Roger Stone and Alex Jones among five to receive Capitol attack subpoenas

    Roger Stone and Alex Jones among five to receive Capitol attack subpoenasHouse select committee expands investigation into planning and financing of rally that preceded 6 January insurrection The House select committee investigating the Capitol attack on Monday issued new subpoenas to five political operatives associated with Donald Trump, including Roger Stone and the far-right media star Alex Jones, as the panel deepens its inquiry into the “Save America” rally that preceded the 6 January insurrection. Trump’s allies think they can defy the Capitol attack panel. History suggests otherwise | Sidney BlumenthalRead moreThe subpoenas demanding documents and testimony expand the select committee’s inquiry focused on the planning and financing of the rally at the Ellipse, by targeting operatives who appear to have had contacts with the Trump White House.House investigators issued subpoenas to the veteran operatives Stone and Jones, Trump’s spokesperson Taylor Budowich, and the pro-Trump activists Dustin Stockton and his wife, Jennifer Lawrence.The chairman of the select committee, Bennie Thompson, said the subpoenas aimed to uncover “who organized, planned, paid for, and received funds related to those events, as well as what communications organizers had with officials in the White House and Congress”.Thompson said in the subpoena letter to Stone that he was being subpoenaed to explain why he had been invited to lead the march to the Capitol on 6 January from the rally at the Ellipse, but curiously did not ultimately attend the rally or go near the Capitol.The chairman also suggested that House investigators were interested in Stone’s connection to the Oath Keepers, the militia group he used as his private security detail before several members stormed the Capitol to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s election win.Stone was also at a “command center” at the Willard hotel in Washington DC on 5 January, where Trump lieutenants strategized late into the night about how to subvert the results of the 2020 election at the joint session of Congress.In the subpoena letter for Jones, the host of the far-right network InfoWars, Thompson raised the fact that he too did not lead the march from the rally from the Ellipse despite being invited to do so, in a potential indication he knew in advance about the Capitol attack.The select committee also subpoenaed Budowich, a Trump spokesperson who sought to set up a social media and advertising campaign to promote attendance at the rally, according to the subpoena letter.Thompson said, citing information on file with the select committee, that Budowich’s efforts extended to directing about $200,000 to rally organizers from unnamed donors “that was not disclosed to the organization to pay for the advertising campaign”.The new detail about Budowich’s involvement in the financing of the rally could suggest that the select committee is aware of intimate connections between organizers and the Trump campaign, and that the level of coordination was deeper than previously known.Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, a member of the select committee, suggested on Saturday that the panel had uncovered new information pertaining to the Capitol attack, telling CNN they had interviewed more than 200 people.The select committee also subpoenaed Stockton and Lawrence, pro-Trump activists who have ties to the ex-president’s former adviser Steve Bannon and allegedly helped organize the rally, according to their subpoena letters.The new subpoenas came after counsel for the select committee said on Monday that allowing Donald Trump to block House investigators from accessing White House records held by the National Archives would threaten the safety of the 2022 and 2024 elections.In court filings with the DC circuit of the US court of appeals, the select committee said the integrity of future elections would be in jeopardy if they were unable to learn everything they could about Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.“The select committee’s task to study and suggest legislation to ensure that January 6 is not repeated, and that our nation’s democracy is protected from future attacks, is urgent,” the House counsel Douglas Letter argued on behalf of the panel.Trump sued last month to stop the select committee from receiving hundreds of pages of White House records from the National Archives, including memos by the former chief of staff Mark Meadows and former deputy White House counsel Pat Philbin, over executive privilege claims.TopicsUS Capitol attackHouse of RepresentativesRoger StonenewsReuse this content More

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    Two quit Fox News over Tucker Carlson’s Capitol attack series

    Two quit Fox News over Tucker Carlson’s Capitol attack seriesCommentators Steve Hayes and Jonah Goldberg cite Fox Nation documentary Patriot Purge in stinging open letter Two Fox News contributors have quit the network over Tucker Carlson’s Patriot Purge, a documentary about the deadly Capitol attack.Kayleigh McEnany’s book claims don’t stand up to assurances that she didn’t lieRead moreIn an open letter, Steve Hayes and Jonah Goldberg said: “Fox News still does real reporting, and there are still responsible conservatives providing valuable opinion and analysis. But the voices of the responsible are being drowned out by the irresponsible.“A case in point: Patriot Purge, a three-part series hosted by Tucker Carlson.”As Hayes and Goldberg noted on the Dispatch, an outlet they founded in 2019, Patriot Purge showed on the Fox Nation streaming service but was promoted on Fox News.The three-part series recycles conspiracy theories about the Capitol attack, in which supporters of Donald Trump attacked Congress on 6 January in an attempt to overturn his election defeat by Joe Biden.Hayes and Goldberg, formerly writers with the Weekly Standard and the National Review, said the series was “presented in the style of an exposé, a hard-hitting piece of investigative journalism. In reality, it is a collection of incoherent conspiracy-mongering, riddled with factual inaccuracies, half-truths, deceptive imagery and damning omissions.”Goldberg told the New York Times he and Hayes had stayed on at Fox News in the hope it would recover independence from Trump.But as goes the Republican party, so goes Fox News. In their resignation letter, Hayes and Goldberg wrote: “Over the past five years, some of Fox’s top opinion hosts amplified the false claims and bizarre narratives of Donald Trump or offered up their own in his service. In this sense, the release of Patriot Purge wasn’t an isolated incident, it was merely the most egregious example of a longstanding trend.”Goldberg told the Times the Carlson documentary was “a sign that people have made peace with this direction of things, and there is no plan, at least, that anyone made me aware of for a course correction.“Now, righting the ship is an academic question. The Patriot Purge thing meant: OK, we hit the iceberg now, and I can’t do the rationalisations any more.”Fox News did not comment. The Times said a spokeswoman “sent data showing that [political] independents” watch the network.NPR cited five sources “with direct knowledge” as saying Hayes and Goldberg’s resignations “reflect larger tumult within Fox News over Carlson’s series … and his increasingly strident stances”. The same report named Bret Baier and Chris Wallace as senior anchors whose objections “rose to Lachlan Murdoch”, the chairman and chief executive of Fox Corporation.Murdoch did not comment. Last week his father, Rupert Murdoch, said it was “crucial that conservatives play an active, forceful role in … debate, but that will not happen if President Trump stays focused on the past. The past is the past, and the country is now in a contest to define the future.”Outcry after Kyle Rittenhouse sits down with Tucker Carlson for Fox News interviewRead moreBut Carlson dominates primetime. He told the Times the resignations of Hayes and Goldberg were “great news” and said: “Our viewers will be grateful.”Carlson is due on Monday to broadcast an interview with Kyle Rittenhouse, the 18-year-old who was found not guilty on all counts on Friday, in his trial for shooting dead two men and wounding another during protests for racial justice in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last year.Carlson has also made a documentary with Rittenhouse, an enterprise Rittenhouse’s lawyer has said he opposed.Hayes told the Times he had been disturbed when a man at a recent event staged by Turning Point USA, a pro-Trump group, asked: “When do we get to use the guns?”“That’s a scary moment,” Hayes said. “And I think we’d do well to have people who at the very least are not putting stuff out that would encourage that kind of thing.”TopicsFox NewsUS television industryUS politicsRepublicansUS Capitol attacknewsReuse this content More

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    ‘What is so hard about saying this is wrong?’, says AOC over Paul Gosar’s violent tweet – video

    Democratic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has blasted Republican House minority leader Kevin McCarthy for failing to condemn the violent tweet of fellow Republican Paul Gosar ahead of a censure vote against him. The Democratic-controlled US House of Representatives was poised to punish a Republican lawmaker over an anime video that depicted him killing Ocasio-Cortez and swinging two swords at President Joe Biden. ‘What is so hard, what is so hard about saying that this is wrong?’ Ocasio-Cortez said. ‘This is not about me. This is not about representative Gosar. But, this is about what we are willing to accept.’ 

    ‘This is not about me,’ AOC says as House debates censuring Paul Gosar over violent video – live More

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    Mnuchin and Pompeo discussed removing Trump after Capitol attack, book claims

    Mnuchin and Pompeo discussed removing Trump after Capitol attack, book claimsTwo cabinet members considered invoking the 25th amendment, new book by the ABC White House correspondent says Donald Trump’s secretary of state and treasury secretary discussed removing him from power after the deadly Capitol attack by invoking the 25th amendment, according to a new book.‘Pence was disloyal at exactly the right time’: author Jonathan Karl on the Capitol attackRead moreThe amendment, added to the constitution after the assassination of John F Kennedy in 1963, provides for the removal of an incapacitated president, potentially on grounds of mental as well as physical fitness. It has never been used.According to Betrayal: The Final Act of the Trump Show, by the ABC Washington correspondent Jonathan Karl, the treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, talked to other cabinet members about using the amendment on the night of 6 January, the day of the attack, and the following day.Removing Trump via the amendment would have required a majority vote in the cabinet. Karl reports that Mnuchin spoke to Mike Pompeo, Trump’s secretary of state and an avowed loyalist.Mnuchin did not comment for Karl’s book, which is published on Tuesday. Karl writes that Pompeo responded only after Karl told Trump the former secretary of state had not done so.“Pompeo through a spokesman denied there have ever been conversations around invoking the 25th amendment,” Karl writes. “The spokesman declined to put his name to the statement.”Karl also reports that Pompeo asked for a legal analysis of the process for invoking the 25th amendment.“The analysis determined that it would take too much time,” Karl writes, “considering that Trump only had 14 days left in office and any attempt to forcefully remove him would be subject to legal challenge.”Karl says Betsy DeVos, the education secretary, and Elaine Chao, transportation, might have supported invoking the 25th amendment but both resigned after the Capitol attack.Chao is married to the Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell – who broke with Trump over the Capitol riot.Karl also says that “while the discussions did happen, the idea that Trump’s cabinet would vote to remove him was, in fact, ludicrous”.Pompeo is among Republicans jostling for position ahead of the 2024 presidential primary but that is a process which demands demonstrations of fealty to Trump, who continues to dominate the party in part by toying with another White House run.Trump is free to do so because he was acquitted at his second Senate impeachment trial, on a charge of inciting the Capitol insurrection.At a rally near the White House on 6 January, Trump told supporters to “fight like hell” to overturn his defeat by Joe Biden, by blocking certification of electoral college results. Trump’s vice-president, Mike Pence, eventually declined to weaponise his role overseeing the vote count, as Trump demanded he should.Karl reports that in the aftermath of the Capitol riot, around which five people died, “at least two cabinet secretaries” asked Pence, who had been holed up at the Capitol as rioters chanted for his hanging, to convene a cabinet meeting.Betrayal review: Trump’s final days and a threat not yet extinguishedRead morePence did not do so, Karl writes, adding that there is no evidence to suggest Pence was involved in 25th amendment discussions.On 7 January, Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker, and Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader in the Senate, formally asked Pence to invoke the 25th amendment. Pence waited five days, then refused.Pence is also a potential candidate for the Republican nomination in 2024.TopicsDonald TrumpMike PompeoTrump administrationUS politicsMike PenceUS Capitol attacknewsReuse this content More

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    Biden-Xi virtual summit: Biden says US and China must 'not veer into conflict' – video

    US president Joe Biden has told Chinese leader Xi Jinping that he hoped to have a candid conversation about human rights and security issues as the two began a meeting meant to lower tensions between the two global superpowers. Biden added that the two leaders must make sure their relations do not veer into open conflict, including by installing ‘common sense’ guardrails. Biden spoke with Xi over a video conference as the two leaders engaged in their most extensive talks since Biden became president in January. Xi said the two sides must increase communication and cooperation to solve the many challenges they face.

    Biden-Xi virtual summit: US president warns nations must not ‘veer into open conflict’ More