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    Supreme court allows Congress to see Donald Trump’s tax returns – as it happened

    The supreme court will allow a congressional committee to receive Donald Trump’s tax returns, the Associated Press reports, ending a three-year battle by the Democratic-led body to see the documents the former president has famously refused to release since his first White House bid.We’ll have more on this developing story as it happens.Three years of court battles came to a close today, when the supreme court allowed the Democratic-led House ways and means committee to receive Donald Trump’s tax returns over the former president’s opposition. Also ending today was Anthony Fauci’s streak of appearances at the White House. The top US public health official who became a household name during the Covid-19 pandemic made his last briefing to reporters before he steps down from the role, and implored Americans to get a booster shot to protect against the virus.Here’s what else happened today:
    Joe Biden extended the pause on federal student loan repayments until 30 June in order to give his administration time to defend his debt forgiveness plan at the supreme court.
    A former top prosecutor on Robert Mueller’s team investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election has some thoughts for how newly appointed special counsel Jack Smith could approach the criminal investigations into Trump.
    Democrat Raphael Warnock has a narrow lead over GOP candidate Herschel Walker in the runoff election for Georgia’s Senate seat scheduled for 6 December.
    Florida’s legislature appears to be moving to change a law that would allow Governor Ron DeSantis make a much-expected run for president.
    Republican senator Lindsey Graham spoke to a special grand jury investigating meddling in Georgia’s 2020 election result, after months of trying to get out of it.
    The NAACP civil rights group is among those cheering Biden’s decision to extent the pause on federal student loan repayments.“In the face of extreme greed and hypocrisy by the far-right, President Biden today is standing up for all Americans – middle-class and low-income families – who carry the heavy burden of student loan debt,” the group’s president Derrick Johnson. “The impact this extension will have in the lives of those who have been targeted by predatory student loans cannot be overstated.”Progressive House Democrat Ro Khanna joined in:This is the right move from @POTUS and a victory for those fighting to cancel student debt. We must cancel debt and make public higher education and trade school free for all. https://t.co/2MoDdLzoPL— Ro Khanna (@RoKhanna) November 22, 2022
    Here’s Joe Biden in his own words, explaining his decision to extend the pause on federal student loan repayment:I’m confident that our student debt relief plan is legal. But it’s on hold because Republican officials want to block it.That’s why @SecCardona is extending the payment pause to no later than June 30, 2023, giving the Supreme Court time to hear the case in its current term. pic.twitter.com/873CurlHFZ— President Biden (@POTUS) November 22, 2022
    Biden first announced the plan in August, and said federal student loan payments would restart in January of next year, and no later. He’s now reversed that, and in the video above, cites recent court rulings putting his loan forgiveness program on hold as the reason.The Biden administration will extend its pause on student loan repayments until 30 June, Bloomberg News reports:WHITE HOUSE TO EXTEND STUDENT LOAN REPAYMENT HALT UP TO JUNE 30per @nancook— Josh Wingrove (@josh_wingrove) November 22, 2022
    The decision comes after Joe Biden’s plan to relieve as much as $20,000 of some borrowers’ federal student loan debt was blocked by a federal court. The White House is appealing that order before the supreme court.Lindsey Graham’s office has released a brief statement after the Republican senator appeared today before a special grand jury investigating attempts by Donald Trump and his allies to meddle in the state’s election results.“Today, Senator Graham appeared before the Fulton County Special Grand Jury for just over two hours and answered all questions. The Senator feels he was treated with respect, professionalism, and courtesy. Out of respect for the grand jury process he will not comment on the substance of the questions,” the statement read.No supreme court justices recorded dissents to the order lifting a stay on an appeals court ruling that allows the House ways and means committee to access Donald Trump’s tax returns.The Democratic-led committee in 2019 requested the then-president’s returns under federal law, saying they were part of their investigation into Trump’s compliance with Internal Revenue Service auditing. Trump has been fighting the matter in court ever since, and supreme court chief justice John Roberts had earlier this month put a stay on the most recent ruling from a federal appeals court in the committee’s favor.The Treasury department is now cleared to hand the documents the ways and means committee. Democrats currently control the House, but will lose it at the start of 2023, when the new Republican majority takes their seats.US supreme court blocks handover of Trump’s tax returns to CongressRead moreThe supreme court will allow a congressional committee to receive Donald Trump’s tax returns, the Associated Press reports, ending a three-year battle by the Democratic-led body to see the documents the former president has famously refused to release since his first White House bid.We’ll have more on this developing story as it happens.Donald Trump is having his day in court as the justice department challenges the appointment of a special master in the Mar-a-Lago case.Politico reports that the appeals panel hearing the matter is skeptical of why an official was appointed to filter out privileged documents from the trove seized by federal agents:HAPPENING NOW: Appeals court panel (with two Trump appointees and a GWB appointee) is sharply critical of Trump effort to save special master process. They think Trump is seeking special pre-indictment treatment as an ex-president.— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) November 22, 2022
    The special master review is seen as an attempt to frustrate and learn details of the investigation into alleged government secrets discovered at the former president’s south Florida resort.On another note:Trump attorney Jim TRUSTY says among the items seized from Trump’s home: a picture of Celine Dion.— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) November 22, 2022
    An interesting development from Florida, where the new leader of the Republican-controlled House appears ready to repeal the state’s “resign to run” law, currently an obstacle to Ron DeSantis’s expected campaign for the White House.As things stand, DeSantis, who was re-elected this month in a landslide to a second term, would have to step down if he were to challenge for his party’s 2024 presidential nomination. His supporters acknowledged as much by chanting “two more years!” at his election night party. Governors in Florida serve four year terms.It’s the same rule that required Charlie Crist, DeSantis’s beaten Democratic opponent, to resign his US House seat earlier this year to challenge him.Politico’s reports that state House speaker Paul Renner says he’s willing to change the law next year, and allow DeSantis to fulfil his four-year term as governor at the same time as pursuing a presidential campaign in 2024.Fla House Speaker @Paul_Renner says he’s willing to change state law during 2023 session so @GovRonDeSantis can run for president without having to resign. Called it a “good idea.”— Gary Fineout (@fineout) November 22, 2022
    And with a compliant, super-majority in both chambers of the state’s legislature, Republicans can pretty much do as they please.The US relationship with Saudi Arabia is still under review despite a Biden administration ruling that the Saudi crown prince has immunity from a lawsuit over the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said today.Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist then living in the United States, was killed and dismembered in 2018 by Saudi agents in the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul, in an operation US intelligence believes was ordered by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Reuters writes.The prince has denied ordering the killing, which has cast a pall over relations between the two countries.Khashoggi’s fiancee has sued the prince in US court, but in a ruling last week, US justice department lawyers concluded that the prince had immunity as a result of having been named prime minister in the Saudi government in September..css-knbk2a{height:1em;width:1.5em;margin-right:3px;vertical-align:baseline;fill:#C70000;}The opinion that we provided does not in any way speak to the merits of the case or the status of the bilateral relationship.
    Our review of that relationship is ongoing,” Blinken told reporters at a news conference in Qatar after an annual US-Qatar strategic dialogue.Blinken also said there were no plans for the prince to visit the United States.Donald Trump today asked a federal court in Florida to provide him and his lawyers with a complete version of the affidavit that federal investigators used to obtain a search warrant for his Florida property in August.Prosecutors are conducting a criminal investigation into the retention of government records at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort after his presidency ended, Reuters reports.The request to unseal the search warrant affidavit was made to US District Judge Aileen Cannon in Florida.A redacted version of the affidavit was made public in August after media organizations sought its release, with sections blacked out that prosecutors said should remain secret.The Justice Department said the redactions included information from “a broad range of civilian witnesses” as well as investigative techniques that, if disclosed, could reveal how to obstruct the probe.US Attorney General Merrick Garland last Friday appointed a special counsel, Jack Smith, to preside over criminal investigations involving the former president after Trump announced he would run for president again.A federal appeals court later today will hear arguments on whether an outside arbiter appointed by Cannon should be allowed to continue a review of documents seized in the search and determine whether any of the records should be kept from criminal investigators.Juror are deliberating over whether to convict five Oath Keepers militia members of seditious conspiracy, in what would be a milestone for the government’s prosecution of alleged January 6 insurrectionists. Meanwhile, Anthony Fauci made what could be his last appearance at the White House podium and asked Americans to get the latest Covid-19 vaccine booster as the holiday travel season arrives.Here’s what else has happened today so far:
    Top House Republican Kevin McCarthy plans a “major” announcement around 4:30 pm eastern time during his visit to El Paso, Texas. This could be the start of a GOP effort to impeach homeland security secretary Alejandro Mayorkas over his handling of the surge in migrants to the US-Mexico border since Joe Biden took office.
    A former top prosecutor on Robert Mueller’s team investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election has some thoughts for how newly appointed special counsel Jack Smith could approach the criminal investigations into Donald Trump.
    Democrat Raphael Warnock has a narrow lead over GOP candidate Herschel Walker in the run-off election for Georgia’s Senate seat scheduled for 6 December.
    Andrew Weissmann was one of the top members on special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s team looking into Russian interference in the 2016 election that brought Trump to power.Now another special prosecutor has been appointed to decide on whether to bring charges against Trump over the January 6 insurrection and the alleged government secrets found at Mar-a-Lago. Writing in the New York Times, Weissmann shares some advice for Jack Smith, the veteran prosecutor appointed to the role.Chief among these is the possibility of Smith bringing charges against Trump – an option Mueller didn’t have, Weissmann says. “Mr. Smith is stepping into a political context very different from the one that confronted Mr. Mueller. Most notably, because of Justice Department policy, Mr. Mueller was forbidden to charge a sitting president. Now that Mr. Trump is a former president, Mr. Smith is not subject to that limitation. (That policy does not apply to presidential candidates like Mr. Trump.),” Weissmann writes.He also notes that Smith has the option of taking a more transparent approach to his investigation than Mueller, who was famously tight-lipped about what he was finding.“Neither the current special counsel regulations nor Justice Department rules require Mr. Smith to take a vow of silence with the American public,” Weissmann writes. “His ability to explain and educate will be critical to the acceptance of the department’s mission by the American public. It will permit Mr. Smith to be heard directly and not through the gauze of pundits and TV anchors; it will allow the public to directly assess Mr. Smith, a heretofore little-known figure; and it will permit Mr. Smith to counteract those strong forces seeking to discredit or misleadingly shape the narrative about the investigations.”Under Joe Biden, the United States passed the first significant piece of legislation to fight climate change and reversed decades of opposition to creating a fund for poor countries suffering the worst effects of global rising temperatures. Now, it’s trying to portray China as the world’s climate change villain – but as Oliver Milman reports, activists aren’t buying it:The US, fresh from reversing its 30 years of opposition to a “loss and damage” fund for poorer countries suffering the worst impacts of the climate crisis, has signaled that its longstanding image as global climate villain should now be pinned on a new culprit: China.Following years of tumult in which the US refused to provide anything resembling compensation for climate damages, followed by Donald Trump’s removal of the US from the Paris climate agreement, there was a profound shift at the Cop27 UN talks in Egypt, with Joe Biden’s administration agreeing to the new loss and damage fund.The US also backed language in the new agreement, which finally concluded in the early hours of Sunday morning after an often fraught period of negotiations between governments, that would demand the phase-out of all unabated fossil fuels, only to be thwarted by major oil-producing nations such as Saudi Arabia and Russia.Despite these stances, the US continued to be the leading target of ire from climate activists who blame it for obstruction and for failing to reckon with its role as history’s largest ever emitter of planet-heating gases. On Friday, the US was given the unwanted title of “colossal fossil” by climate groups for supposedly failing to push through the loss and damage assistance at Cop27.The US delegation in Sharm el-Sheikh chafed at this image, with John Kerry, Biden’s climate envoy, using his closing remarks to shift the focus on to China, now the world’s largest emitter. Kerry said that “all nations have a stake in the choices China makes in this critical decade. The United States and China should be able to accelerate progress together, not only for our sake, but for future generations – and we are all hopeful that China will live up to its global responsibility.” US receives stinging criticism at Cop27 despite China’s growing emissionsRead moreAnthony Fauci is making his final appearance at the White House podium, ahead of his retirement next month as America’s top public health official:.⁦@PressSec⁩ says this is Dr Fauci’s last time at the podium pic.twitter.com/fgeE36pkzD— AlexGangitano (@AlexGangitano) November 22, 2022
    The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984, Fauci became a household name as the public face of the US government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic beginning in early 2020. Here’s where his parting words to reporters gathered at the White House:FAUCI: “So my message and my final message, may be the final message I give you from this podium, is that please for your own safety, for that of your family, get your updated COVID-19 shot as soon as you’re eligible to protect yourself, your family and your community.”— Molly Nagle (@MollyNagle3) November 22, 2022
    Fauci is appearing alongside the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator Ashish Jha to announce the Biden’s administration’s new six-week campaign to encourage Americans to get Covid-19 boosters in anticipation of the holidays.He’s in court, he’s on the campaign trail and he’s once again being investigated by a special prosecutor.Like it or not, Donald Trump will frequently be in the news for the next two years – at least – and the Guardian’s community team would like to hear your thoughts on how reporters should cover the former president. Weigh in at the link below:Tell us: how should the media cover Trump’s 2024 run?Read more More

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    Jury deliberates on Oath Keepers’ January 6 role in seditious conspiracy trial – live

    The Oath Keepers don’t dispute that some of their members were around the Capitol on January 6, but jurors need to believe they entered the building in an attempt to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s election win. Whether prosecutors have succeeded at this will be key to determining if they win a conviction in the seditious conspiracy case. Here’s more from the Associated Press on what’s come out of the trial so far:As angry supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the US Capitol, ready to smash through windows and beat police officers, Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes extolled them as patriots and harked back to the battle that kicked off the American revolutionary war.“Next comes our Lexington,” Rhodes told his fellow far-right extremists in a message on 6 January 2021. “It’s coming.”Jurors will begin weighing his words and actions on Tuesday, after nearly two months of testimony and argument in the criminal trial of Rhodes and four codefendants. Final defense arguments wrapped up late Monday. Hundreds of people have been convicted in the attack that left dozens of officers injured, sent lawmakers running for their lives and shook the foundations of American democracy. Now jurors in the case against Rhodes and four associates will decide, for the first time, whether the actions of any January 6 defendants amount to seditious conspiracy – a rarely used charge that carries both significant prison time and political weight.The jury’s verdict may well address the false notion that the 2020 presidential election was stolen, coming soon after 2022 midterm results in which voters rejected Trump’s chosen Republican candidates who supported his baseless claims of fraud. The outcome could also shape the future of the justice department’s massive and costly prosecution of the insurrection that some conservatives have sought to portray as politically motivated.Failure to secure a seditious conspiracy conviction could spell trouble for another high-profile trial beginning next month of former Proud Boys national chairman Enrique Tarrio and other leaders of that extremist group. The justice department’s January 6 probe has also expanded beyond those who attacked the Capitol to focus on others linked to Trump’s efforts to overturn the election.In the Oath Keepers trial, prosecutors built their case using dozens of encrypted messages sent in the weeks leading up to January 6. They show Rhodes rallying his followers to fight to defend Trump and warning they might need to “rise up in insurrection”.“We aren’t getting through this without a civil war. Prepare your mind, body and spirit,” he wrote shortly after the 2020 election.Jury deliberations begin in January 6 sedition trial of Oath Keepers founderRead moreDemocratic incumbent Raphael Warnock has a slight lead over his Republican challenger Herschel Walker ahead of the 6 December run-off election for Georgia’s Senate seat, a poll released today finds.The survey by AARP Georgia finds Warnock has 51% support over Walker’s 47%. The Democrat has an edge among young voters, while Walker is more popular among people older than 50, which are a large part of the electorate.Walker and Warnock are battling for a Senate seat that Democrats took control of only last year in a special election. While Joe Biden’s allies have secured a majority in Congress’s upper chamber for another two years, a victory by Warnock would pad their margin of control. Republicans, meanwhile, hope Walker’s victory would put them in a better position to retake the chamber in the next elections set for 2024.Top House Republican Kevin McCarthy will make a “major” announcement about homeland security secretary Alejandro Mayorkas today, Fox News reports:NEW: GOP Minority Leader/Speaker elect Kevin McCarthy tells me he will be making a “major” announcement regarding DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas at a press conference in El Paso, TX this afternoon. McCarthy is here w/ a GOP delegation touring the border & meeting w/ BP agents.— Bill Melugin (@BillFOXLA) November 22, 2022
    The announcement will come during McCarthy’s visit to El Paso, Texas, where he will probably draw attention to the surge in migrant arrivals at the US-Mexico border since Joe Biden took office. Republicans have criticized the White House for its handling of the situation, and rightwing lawmakers in Congress have reportedly called for impeachment proceedings against Mayorkas, a rare step to take against a sitting cabinet secretary.McCarthy is hoping to be elected speaker of the House when Republicans take control next year, after winning a majority of seats in the 8 November midterms. But he is scrambling to find the votes after several of the chamber’s most conservative lawmakers said they would not support him.Republican Senator Lindsey Graham will today appear before a special grand jury investigating efforts by Donald Trump’s allies to meddle with Georgia’s election result, Fox 5 Atlanta reports.Graham has fought the subpoena from Fulton county district attorney Fani Willis for months, but exhausted his legal options when the supreme court turned down his challenge earlier this month. The South Carolina lawmaker’s appearance before jurors in an Atlanta courthouse will not be public, but Willis could use evidence he provides to bring charges in the case.The district attorney has said she wants to ask Graham about two calls he made to Georgia’s secretary of state Brad Raffensperger and his officials following the 2020 election, in which he alleged voter fraud in the state and asked about the possibility of “reexamining certain absentee ballots,” Fox 5 reports. Georgia was one of several states whose votes for Joe Biden proved crucial to his election victory two years ago.The Oath Keepers don’t dispute that some of their members were around the Capitol on January 6, but jurors need to believe they entered the building in an attempt to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s election win. Whether prosecutors have succeeded at this will be key to determining if they win a conviction in the seditious conspiracy case. Here’s more from the Associated Press on what’s come out of the trial so far:As angry supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the US Capitol, ready to smash through windows and beat police officers, Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes extolled them as patriots and harked back to the battle that kicked off the American revolutionary war.“Next comes our Lexington,” Rhodes told his fellow far-right extremists in a message on 6 January 2021. “It’s coming.”Jurors will begin weighing his words and actions on Tuesday, after nearly two months of testimony and argument in the criminal trial of Rhodes and four codefendants. Final defense arguments wrapped up late Monday. Hundreds of people have been convicted in the attack that left dozens of officers injured, sent lawmakers running for their lives and shook the foundations of American democracy. Now jurors in the case against Rhodes and four associates will decide, for the first time, whether the actions of any January 6 defendants amount to seditious conspiracy – a rarely used charge that carries both significant prison time and political weight.The jury’s verdict may well address the false notion that the 2020 presidential election was stolen, coming soon after 2022 midterm results in which voters rejected Trump’s chosen Republican candidates who supported his baseless claims of fraud. The outcome could also shape the future of the justice department’s massive and costly prosecution of the insurrection that some conservatives have sought to portray as politically motivated.Failure to secure a seditious conspiracy conviction could spell trouble for another high-profile trial beginning next month of former Proud Boys national chairman Enrique Tarrio and other leaders of that extremist group. The justice department’s January 6 probe has also expanded beyond those who attacked the Capitol to focus on others linked to Trump’s efforts to overturn the election.In the Oath Keepers trial, prosecutors built their case using dozens of encrypted messages sent in the weeks leading up to January 6. They show Rhodes rallying his followers to fight to defend Trump and warning they might need to “rise up in insurrection”.“We aren’t getting through this without a civil war. Prepare your mind, body and spirit,” he wrote shortly after the 2020 election.Jury deliberations begin in January 6 sedition trial of Oath Keepers founderRead moreGood morning, US politics blog readers. A Washington federal jury is starting deliberations in the trial of five members of the Oath Keepers militia, including its founder Stewart Rhodes. The group stands accused of seditious conspiracy, a rarely used charge that prosecutors say is an appropriate way to describe the alleged plot they attempted to carry out on January 6 to stop Joe Biden from taking office. The trial will be an important indicator of if the government can win convictions against the most violent actors in the insurrection, and a verdict could come at any time.Here’s what else is happening today:
    Top House Republican Kevin McCarthy is visiting border patrol personnel in El Paso, Texas. Expect him to talk up the GOP’s plan to address the surge of migrant arrivals at the US-Mexico border when they take control of the House next year, and criticize Joe Biden’s handling of the situation.
    Biden is heading to Nantucket, Massachusetts, this afternoon for the Thanksgiving holiday.
    Anthony Fauci and Covid-19 response coordinator Ashish Jha will appear at the daily White House press briefing at 11.30am eastern time, where they’ll likely talk about the threat of coronavirus during the holiday season. More

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    Republican who voted to impeach Trump re-elected to US House

    Republican who voted to impeach Trump re-elected to US HouseDavid Valadao wins California midterms race, only second member of lower chamber to survive voting to impeach president A Republican who voted to impeach Donald Trump in the House of Representatives has won re-election in California, making him only the second of the 10 to do so still in Congress.David Valadao was called the winner of his competitive race with Democrat Rudy Salas late on Monday, almost two weeks after election day.Republican Adam Kinzinger: election deniers won’t ‘go away organically’Read moreWith his party having already secured control of the House, albeit narrowly, his result was significant only for the survival of his political career after turning on the former president.Other than Dan Newhouse, who swept to victory in his Washington state race, none of the Republicans who voted for Trump’s impeachment last year will serve another term.Most prominent are the two Republican members of the January 6 committee investigating Trump’s failed efforts to remain in office after his 2020 defeat to Joe Biden: Liz Cheney, who was ousted in a primary battle for her Wyoming seat, and Adam Kinzinger, who chose not to seek re-election in Illinois.Of the others, Jaime Herrera Beutler (Washington), Peter Meijer (Michigan) and Tom Rice (South Carolina) were beaten in primaries earlier this year, and Fred Upton (Michigan), Anthony Gonzalez (Ohio) and John Katko (New York) opted for retirement.Valadao released a statement on Monday night thanking his campaign staff and acknowledging his opponent, but not mentioning Trump, or his vote for his impeachment.“I am once again humbled by the Central Valley’s support and faith in me,” the statement said.“I commend Rudy Salas for running a strong campaign and his service to our community in the state assembly.”Valadao’s margin of victory in California’s district 22, where he campaigned on issues including crime, inflation and healthcare, was more than 3%, according to the New York Times.His seat, to which he was first elected in 2012, and recaptured in 2020 after defeat two years earlier, had been a midterms target for Democrats.The Times said Republican political action committees, including the Congressional Leadership Fund aligned to the House minority leader, Kevin McCarthy, spent more than $11m in advertising for Valadao.Trump never significantly engaged in the race, the Associated Press reported, and Valadao, a dairy farmer and son of Portuguese immigrants, had the endorsement of the state party as well as the support of McCarthy, who is seeking to become speaker.Valadao criticized Trump while he was in office for separating migrant families at the US border, and said the former president was a driving force in the 6 January 2021 violence at the US Capitol.Trump’s “inciting rhetoric was un-American, abhorrent, and absolutely an impeachable offense”, Valadao has said.His re-election gives Republicans 219 House seats, one more than needed for control, with Democrats on 212 and only a handful of races remaining to be called.TopicsUS midterm elections 2022US politicsRepublicansUS Capitol attackDonald TrumpnewsReuse this content More

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    Jury deliberations begin in January 6 sedition trial of Oath Keepers founder

    Jury deliberations begin in January 6 sedition trial of Oath Keepers founderJurors will decide if his actions amount to seditious conspiracy, which carries significant jail time As angry supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the US Capitol, ready to smash through windows and beat police officers, Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes extolled them as patriots and harked back to the battle that kicked off the American revolutionary war.“Next comes our Lexington,” Rhodes told his fellow far-right extremists in a message on 6 January 2021. “It’s coming.”Jurors will begin weighing his words and actions on Tuesday, after nearly two months of testimony and argument in the criminal trial of Rhodes and four codefendants. Final defense arguments wrapped up late Monday.Oath Keepers called for ‘violent overthrow’ of US government, trial hearsRead moreHundreds of people have been convicted in the attack that left dozens of officers injured, sent lawmakers running for their lives and shook the foundations of American democracy. Now jurors in the case against Rhodes and four associates will decide, for the first time, whether the actions of any January 6 defendants amount to seditious conspiracy – a rarely used charge that carries both significant prison time and political weight.The jury’s verdict may well address the false notion that the 2020 presidential election was stolen, coming soon after 2022 midterm results in which voters rejected Trump’s chosen Republican candidates who supported his baseless claims of fraud. The outcome could also shape the future of the justice department’s massive and costly prosecution of the insurrection that some conservatives have sought to portray as politically motivated.Failure to secure a seditious conspiracy conviction could spell trouble for another high-profile trial beginning next month of former Proud Boys national chairman Enrique Tarrio and other leaders of that extremist group. The justice department’s January 6 probe has also expanded beyond those who attacked the Capitol to focus on others linked to Trump’s efforts to overturn the election.In the Oath Keepers trial, prosecutors built their case using dozens of encrypted messages sent in the weeks leading up to January 6. They show Rhodes rallying his followers to fight to defend Trump and warning they might need to “rise up in insurrection”.“We aren’t getting through this without a civil war. Prepare your mind, body and spirit,” he wrote shortly after the 2020 election.Three defendants, including Rhodes, took the witness stand to testify in their defense – a move generally seen by defense lawyers as a last-resort option because it tends to do more harm than good. On the witness stand, Rhodes, of Granbury, Texas, and his associates – Thomas Caldwell of Berryville, Virginia, and Jessica Watkins, of Woodstock, Ohio – sought to downplay their actions, but struggled when pressed by prosecutors to explain their violent messages.The others on trial are Kelly Meggs of Dunnellon, Florida, and Kenneth Harrelson of Titusville, Florida. Seditious conspiracy carries up to 20 years behind bars, and all five defendants also face other felony charges. They would be the first people convicted of seditious conspiracy at trial since the 1995 prosecution of Islamic militants who plotted to bomb New York City landmarks.The trial unfolding in Washington’s federal court – less than a mile from the Capitol – has provided a window into the ways in which Rhodes mobilized his group and later tried to reach Trump.‘We must defeat them’: new evidence details Oath Keepers’ ‘civil war’ timelineRead moreBut while authorities combed through thousands of messages sent by Rhodes and his codefendants, none specifically spelled out a plan to attack the Capitol itself. Defense attorneys emphasized that fact throughout the trial in arguing that Oath Keepers who did enter the Capitol were swept up in a spontaneous outpouring of election-fueled rage rather than acting as part of a plot.Jurors never heard from three other Oath Keepers who have pleaded guilty to seditious conspiracy.Over two days on the witness stand, a seemingly relaxed Rhodes told jurors there was no Capitol attack plan. He said he didn’t have anything to do with the guns some Oath Keepers had stashed at a Virginia hotel that prosecutors say served as the base for “quick reaction force” teams ready to ferry an arsenal of weapons across the Potomac River if necessary. The weapons were never deployed.Rhodes, a Yale Law School graduate and former Army paratrooper, said his followers were “stupid” for going inside. Rhodes, who was in a hotel room when he found out rioters were storming the Capitol, insisted that the Oath Keepers’ only mission for the day was to provide security for Trump ally Roger Stone and other figures at events before the riot.That message was repeated in court by others, including a man described as the Oath Keepers’ “operations leader” on January 6, who told jurors he never heard anyone discussing plans to attack the Capitol.A government witness – an Oath Keeper cooperating with prosecutors in hopes of a lighter sentence – testified that there was an “implicit” agreement to stop Congress’s certification, but the decision to enter the building was “spontaneous”.Prosecutors say the defense is only trying to muddy the waters in a clear-cut case. The Oath Keepers aren’t accused of entering into an agreement ahead of January 6 to storm the Capitol.Citing the civil war-era seditious conspiracy statute, prosecutors tried to prove the Oath Keepers conspired to forcibly oppose the authority of the federal government and block the execution of laws governing the transfer of presidential power. Prosecutors must show the defendants agreed to use force – not merely advocated it – to oppose the transfer of presidential power.TopicsUS newsUS politicsThe far rightUS Capitol attacknewsReuse this content More

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    Delaware man sentenced for joining US Capitol riots while on Tinder date

    Delaware man sentenced for joining US Capitol riots while on Tinder dateAfter news of attack was reported on TV at his date’s house, man took Uber to Capitol and climbed through broken window to enter A Delaware man was sentenced to jail time for joining the January 6 Capitol attacks after seeing the violence unfold on a Tinder date’s television.Jeffrey Schaefer was sentenced to 30 days in jail and ordered to pay a $2,000 fine on Friday after prosecutors argued that he participated in the Capitol attacks after watching the rioting happen on TV while at his date’s house.Oath Keepers called for ‘violent overthrow’ of US government, trial hearsRead moreAccording to court filings, Schaefer was initially at the house of a woman he had met on Tinder on 6 January 2021 in Alexandria, Virginia, about 20 minutes outside of Washington DC.Schaefer then reportedly saw the attack on the Capitol on television and called an Uber to take him there so he could participate.When Schaefer arrived at the Capitol, prosecutors say that he climbed a short wall and gained access to the Capitol building through a broken window.Schaefer stayed in the Capitol building for about 28 minutes, chanting with other rioters and taking several photos and videos before exiting.“THIS IS UNREAL,” Schaefer wrote in one Facebook post that included a picture of rioters outside the Capitol.Prosecutors pieced together Schaefer’s time spent in the Capitol based on surveillance footage and social media posts he made leading up to the January 6 riots and while inside the building.During an interview with the FBI in June 2022, Schaefer admitted that he was interested in the rioting before going to see his Tinder date on 6 January.Schaefer was arrested on 13 January 2022. On 2 August 2022, Schaefer pleaded guilty to one count of parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building, with three additional charges against him dropped as part of a plea deal.During his defense argument, Schaefer’s lawyer, Joshua Insley, criticized Donald Trump and said Schaefer was manipulated by lies about the legitimacy of the 2020 election, reported KSL-TV, a local news affiliate.“While Mr Schaefer accepts responsibility for his actions, he was guided and urged every step of the way by no less of an authority than the president of the United States and a majority of Republican senators and congressman that continued to repeat the ‘big lie’ that the election had been stolen by the Democrats,” Insley argued.TopicsUS Capitol attackUS crimeDonald TrumpUS politicsnewsReuse this content More

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    Pence says FBI search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago ‘sent the wrong message’

    Pence says FBI search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago ‘sent the wrong message’Ex-vice-president hopes prosecutors ‘give careful consideration before taking more steps’ in investigating Trump over January 6 Though he believes “no one is above the law,” former US vice-president Mike Pence says he hopes federal prosecutors “give careful consideration before they take any additional steps” in investigating Donald Trump’s role in inciting the rioters who staged the January 6 Capitol attack and tried to hang him.Pence made those remarks Sunday in an interview with the host of NBC’s Meet the Press, Chuck Todd, in which he also said that the FBI “sent the wrong message” with its search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence in August to retake government secrets that were stored there without authorization.According to Pence, Trump was “repeating … what he was hearing from that gaggle of attorneys around him” before the deadly January 6 attack on the Capitol nearly two years ago, which supporters of the president at the time launched in a desperate but unsuccessful attempt to halt the certification of his defeat to Joe Biden in the 2020 election.Trump has been under congressional investigation after telling his supporters – some of whom wanted Pence to stop the certification or hang from a gallows – to “fight like hell” that day, among other things. Biden’s attorney general, Merrick Garland, on Friday appointed a special counsel to weigh charges against Trump for the Capitol attack and the government secrets at Mar-a-Lago, two days after the former president announced that he would again seek the Republican nomination for the White House.But, when asked on Sunday if he thinks Trump committed a crime in connection with the Capitol attack, Pence replied: “I don’t know if it is criminal to listen to bad advice from lawyers” who were consulting the president on efforts to sow distrust about his loss to Biden.As for the Mar-a-Lago search, Pence suggested that federal authorities had not exhausted alternative methods to recoup the secret documents in question. “There had to be many other ways to resolve those issues,” Pence told Todd.The justice department had issued a grand jury subpoena seeking all documents bearing classification markings in Trump’s possession before the Mar-a-Lago search.Trump’s lawyers produced some documents in early June in response to that subpoena. But the justice department subsequently received evidence that other classified documents remained at Mar-a-Lago, leading to the search there on 8 August.Ultimately, Pence said it sent a “wrong” and “divisive” message, particularly “to the wider world that looks to America as the gold standard”.“I want to see the credibility of the [US] justice department restored after years of politicization,” Pence added.Pence’s relatively supportive remarks for Trump cut a contrast with more critical ones that he had leveled against his former running mate in his new memoir, So Help Me God. One part of the memoir says Trump erred by failing to condemn the 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, marked by a deadly police helicopter crash and the murder of a counter-protester.The book also asserts that Trump misstepped by failing to acknowledge Russian meddling in the 2016 election he won over Hillary Clinton, saying that doing so would not have cheapened the victory.Pence also responded to Trump’s latest run for the White House by telling ABC News: “I think we’ll have better choices in the future.” For his part, Pence told ABC he was giving “prayerful consideration” to his possibly competing for the Republican nomination, too.Authorities have linked up to nine deaths to the Capitol attack, including the suicides of officers who were traumatized by having to defend the grounds. More than 800 participants have been charged, including members of violent far-right groups, and many have already been convicted as well as imprisoned for their roles on that day.Pence said on Sunday he was proud that neither chamber of Congress let the Capitol attack derail the certification of the 2020 election’s outcome.“Leaders in both political parties” reached “unanimous agreement that whatever needed to be done, we needed to reconvene the Congress that day and finish our work”, Pence said.TopicsMike PenceUS politicsJanuary 6 hearingsUS Capitol attackUS elections 2024newsReuse this content More

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    So Help Me God review: Mike Pence’s tortured bid for Republican relevance

    So Help Me God review: Mike Pence’s tortured bid for Republican relevanceTrump’s VP is surprisingly critical of the boss whose followers wanted him dead. But surely the presidency won’t be his too After four years at Donald Trump’s side, Mike Pence emerged as the Rodney Dangerfield of vice-presidents: he gets no respect. So Help Me God, his memoir, is well-written and well-paced. But it will do little to shake that impression.Cheney hits back as Pence says January 6 committee has ‘no right’ to testimonyRead moreAt the Capitol on January 6, his boss was prepared to leave him for dead. And yet the Republican rank-and-file yawned. Among prospective presidential nominees, Pence is tied with Donald Trump Jr for third. The GOP gravitates to frontrunners. Pence, once a six-term congressman and governor of Indiana, is not that.As governor, he was dwarfed by his predecessor, Mitch Daniels. On Capitol Hill, he was eclipsed by the late Richard Lugar, also from Indiana and chair of the Senate foreign relations committee, and Dan Coats, another Hoosier senator. On the page, Pence lauds all three. Say what you like, he is unfailingly polite.Coats became Donald Trump’s director of national intelligence and repeatedly pushed back against the president. That cost Coats his job. Pence pushed back less.The former vice-president is a committed Christian with sharp elbows but also a sonorous voice. He has struggled with the tugs of faith and ambition. Family is an integral part of his life. He takes pride in his son’s service as a US marine. Born and raised a Catholic, the 48th vice-president is now one of America’s most prominent evangelicals. So Help Me God is replete with references to prayer. Pence begins with a verse from the Book of Jeremiah and concludes with Ecclesiastes: “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.”Trump picked him as a running mate at the suggestion of Paul Manafort. Unlike Newt Gingrich and Chris Christie, other possible picks, Pence could do “normal”.Time passes. On 3 November 2020, America delivered its verdict on the Trump presidency. Trump lost. By his own admission, Pence was surprised. He refused to believe the polls and mistook the enthusiasm of the base for the entire political landscape. He wrongly believed he would serve another four years, yards from the Oval Office, enjoying weekly lunches with the Man.Instead, two months later, at great personal peril, he accepted reality and abided by his conscience and the constitution. Like Richard Nixon, Walter Mondale, Dan Quayle (another hapless Hoosier) and Al Gore, Pence presided over the certification of an election he had lost.For Pence and those around him, it was a matter of duty and faith. They refused to subvert democracy. Yet along the way Pence flashed streaks of being in two minds politically – as he continues to do. He rebuffed Trump’s entreaties to join a coup but gave a thumbs-up to the turbulence. He welcomed the decision by the Missouri senator Josh Hawley to object to election results.“It meant we would have a substantive debate,” Pence writes. He got way more than that. His own brother, Greg Pence, an Indiana congressman, voted against certification – mere hours after the insurrectionists sought to hang his brother from makeshift gallows. As the mob raged, Greg Pence hid too. After it, the brass ring came first.Among House Republicans, Trump remains emperor. Rightwing members have extracted a pledge that the GOP-controlled House will investigate Nancy Pelosi and the justice department for the purported mistreatment of defendants jailed for invading the Capitol. Pence’s anger and hurt are visible.“The president’s words were reckless, and they endangered my family and everyone at the Capitol building,” he recently said. But in the next breath, he stonewalled the House January 6 committee. Pence told CBS it would set a “terrible precedent” for Congress to summon a vice-president to testify about conversations at the White House. He also attacked the committee for its “partisanship”.Bennie Thompson, the Democratic committee chair, and Liz Cheney, the Republican vice-chair, pushed back hard.“Our investigation has publicly presented the testimony of more than 50 Republican witnesses,” they said. “This testimony, subject to criminal penalties for lying to Congress, was not ‘partisan’. It was truthful.”From Pence, it was a strained attempt to retain political viability. Surely, that train has left the station.Pence’s memoir does deliver a perhaps surprisingly surgical indictment of Trump. The book catalogs Trump’s faults, errors and sins. From Charlottesville to Russia to Ukraine, Pence repeatedly tags him for his shortcomings and missteps.He upbraids Trump for his failure to condemn “the racists and antisemites in Charlottesville by name”, but then rejects the contention Trump is a bigot.Pence risks Trump’s wrath by piling on criticisms of ex-president in new bookRead moreAs for Putin, “there was no reason for Trump not to call out Russia’s bad behaviour”, Pence writes. “Acknowledging Russian meddling” would not have “cheapen[ed] our victory” over Hillary Clinton. On Ukraine, the subject of Trump’s first impeachment, Pence terms the infamous phone call to Volodymyr Zelenskiy “less than perfect”.But even as Putin’s malignance takes center stage, the Trumps refuse to abandon their man. Don Jr clamors to halt aid to Ukraine, the dauphin gone Charles Lindbergh. He tweets: “Since it was Ukraine’s missile that hit our NATO ally Poland, can we at least stop spending billions to arm them now?”These days, Pence leads Advancing American Freedom, a tax-exempt conservative way-station with an advisory board replete with Trump refugees. Kellyanne Conway, Betsy DeVos and Callista Gingrich are there, so too David Friedman and Larry Kudlow. If more than one of them backs Pence in 2024, count it a minor miracle.Rodney Dangerfield is gone. But his spirit definitely lives on – in Mike Pence, of all people.
    So Help Me God is published in the US by Simon & Schuster
    TopicsBooksMike PenceDonald TrumpTrump administrationRepublicansUS politicsUS elections 2020reviewsReuse this content More

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    Oath Keepers called for ‘violent overthrow’ of US government, trial hears

    Oath Keepers called for ‘violent overthrow’ of US government, trial hearsJurors hear closing arguments in seditious conspiracy trial of founder Stewart Rhodes and four associates of far-right group For weeks leading up to 6 January 2021, the Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and four associates of the far-right group discussed using violence to overturn the 2020 presidential election’s outcome, and when rioters started storming the US Capitol they saw an opportunity to do it, a federal prosecutor told jurors on Friday as the seditious conspiracy case wound toward a close.Prosecutor Kathryn Rakoczy said in her closing argument to jurors after nearly two months of testimony in the high-stakes case that Rhodes’s own words show he was preparing to lead a rebellion to keep Democrat Joe Biden out of the White House. Rhodes and his co-defendants repeatedly called for “violent overthrow” of the US government and sprang into action that day, she said.Seditious conspiracy is rarely proven. The Oath Keepers trial is a litmus testRead more“Our democracy is fragile,” Rakoczy said. “It cannot exist without the rule of law, and it will not survive if people dissatisfied with the results of an election can use force and violence to change the outcome.”The closing arguments began in Washington federal court after the final pieces of evidence were presented in the trial alleging Rhodes and his band of anti-government extremists plotted for weeks to interrupt the peaceful transfer of power from Republican Donald Trump to Biden.Rhodes’s attorney sought to downplay his violent rhetoric in the run-up to January 6, describing it as “venting” and insisting there was no agreement or conspiracy. Defense attorney James Lee Bright said Rhodes’s language was focused on persuading Trump to invoke the Insurrection Act over what he saw as a stolen election.Rhodes “wasn’t hiding his opinions, he wasn’t hiding any plans”, Bright told jurors. He was “as open as daylight with every plan on what he was asking President Trump to do”.Evidence presented by prosecutors shows Rhodes and his co-defendants discussing the prospect of violence and the need to keep Biden out of the White House in the weeks leading up to January 6, before stashing a cache of weapons referred to as a “quick reaction force” at a Virginia hotel across the Potomac River.On January 6, Oath Keepers wearing helmets and other battle gear were seen pushing through the pro-Trump mob there and into the Capitol. Rhodes remained outside, like “a general surveying his troops on a battlefield”, a prosecutor told jurors. After the attack, prosecutors said, Rhodes and other Oath Keepers celebrated with dinner at a local restaurant.Defense attorneys have spent weeks hammering prosecutors’ relative lack of evidence that the Oath Keepers had an explicit plan to attack the Capitol. Rhodes, who is from Texas, testified that he and his followers were only in Washington to provide security for rightwing figures including Roger Stone. Those Oath Keepers who did enter the Capitol went rogue and were “stupid”, he said.Rhodes testified that the mountain of writings and text messages showing him rallying his band of extremists to prepare for violence and discussing the prospect of a “bloody” civil war ahead of January 6 was only bombastic talk.The prosecutor sought to rebut suggestions that Rhodes’s rhetoric was simply bluster, telling jurors that his messages weren’t “ranting and raving” but were “deadly serious”.“The way they have appointed themselves to be above the law is why they are here today,” she said. “The sense of entitlement that led to frustration followed by rage and then violence – that is the story of this conspiracy.”Rhodes’s lawyer said his client was back at a hotel room eating chicken wings and watching TV when the first rioters started storming the Capitol. He noted that the Oath Keepers never deployed their “quick reaction force” arsenal.“You’re either the Keystone Cops of insurrectionists, or there is no insurrection,” he told jurors, referring to the inept police officers of silent movies.Two other defendants testified in the case. Jessica Watkins, of Woodstock, Ohio, echoed that her actions that day were “really stupid” but maintained she was not part of a plan and was “swept along” with the mob, which she likened to a crowd gathered at a store for a sale on the popular shopping day known as Black Friday.Defendant Thomas Caldwell, a navy veteran from Virginia, downplayed a chilling piece of evidence: messages he sent trying to get a boat to ferry weapons from Virginia across the Potomac into Washington. He testified that he was never serious about his queries, though he struggled to explain other messages referencing violence on January 6.Two other defendants, Kelly Meggs and Kenneth Harrelson, both from Florida, did not testify. Meggs’s attorney Stanley Woodward argued that there were thousands of people involved, and his client was not among the first people to enter the Capitol. Defense attorneys’ closing statements are expected to continue on Monday.The group is the first among hundreds of people arrested in the deadly Capitol riot to stand trial on seditious conspiracy, a rare civil war-era charge that calls for up to 20 years behind bars upon conviction. The justice department last secured such a conviction at trial nearly 30 years ago and intends to try two more groups on the charge later this year.TopicsUS Capitol attackUS politicsnewsReuse this content More