Infowars host Owen Shroyer overlooked in abortion coverage while Jan. 6 plea deal may be in works

Owen Shroyer has a history of promoting his anti-abortion stance publicly. There is a reported record of his sharing misinformation or outright false information about organizations like Planned Parenthood, including the lie that they engage in human sacrifice rituals. 

This is untrue, like much else that springs forth from Shroyer’s lips or that of his cohort, Alex Jones, the host of the popular right-wing conspiracy program known as InfoWars.

And if people were unfamiliar with Shroyer for InfoWars, or perhaps wouldn’t recognize his face from a public outburst he had during an impeachment inquiry hearing for Trump in 2019—he was hauled out by police—they could also turn to the wealth of public reporting that exists about Shroyer and his very public fight to beat charges related to the attack of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

Owen Shroyer was led out of a public impeachment inquiry hearing for President Donald Trump. 

And yet, when ABC ran World News Tonight on Sunday, the network included a video clip where Shroyer is briefly interviewed about his anti-abortion stance. He is, bizarrely, identified only as a “protester” in the chyron below his name.

Christine Pelosi talks about the Supreme Court's leaked decision on Roe v. Wade, and what Democrats are doing now, on Daily Kos’ The Brief podcast

Noted by Media Matters for America first, what makes the chyron particularly concerning is that less than 24 hours before this interview in Texas by a reporter for ABC’s KVUE affiliate, Shroyer boosted his apperance on Infowars for over an hour. 

During that Infowars program, Shroyer is even seen in clips wearing the same shirt as he did in the ABC interview. He was also carrying a giant picture of a crying baby’s face with him that he apparently cut out, glued to a stick, and held up over his own to taunt pro-abortion rights activists. 

The plain descriptor of Shroyer at the protest is also troublesome because of his history of trolling the abortion rights movement and capitalizing on fears of violence. On the ninth anniversary of the murder of Dr. George Tiller in 2018 by Scott Roeder, for example, Shroyer coordinated a protest in Texas and live-streamed right outside of the Texas Planned Parenthood. 

Meanwhile, Shroyer’s defense attorney made a virtual appearance in federal Washington, D.C., court on Monday afternoon as his client pushes to have criminal charges for Jan. 6 dropped, including entering restricted grounds and disorderly conduct. 

Shroyer, who was arrested in August, has argued that because he is a journalist he should not be charged. His conduct on Jan. 6, he claims, was protected speech under the First Amendment. 

Interestingly, when Shroyer’s Infowars colleague Alex Jones was in divorce court fighting for custody of his children with then-wife Kelly Jones, Alex Jones’s lawyer described Infowars—on the record—as “fake news” and told the judge that Jones was just playing a character. 

Shroyer couched his First Amendment claim in the argument that he was merely trying to calm the mob at the Capitol on Jan. 6 and essentially do crowd control. The judge presiding over his case, U.S. District Judge Tim Kelly, an appointee of former President Donald Trump’s, rejected that bid once before. 

Motion to Dismiss Shroyer Second Attempt by Daily Kos on Scribd

Another status conference for Shroyer was set for June 23, according to an entry on the court docket by Judge Kelly. 

Shroyer’s attorney, Norm Pattis, told Daily Kos in an email Monday, that after the hearing Monday, no plea agreements had been struck yet. 

“We are negotiating,” he said. 

Another plea agreement appears to be well in the works for fellow Infowars staffer Samuel Christopher Montoya.

Montoya—who was reported to the FBI by his family before his arrest last April—was meant to appear in court Monday for a status conference. But late last week, his attorney filed a motion to delay the hearing as a plea agreement was negotiated. 

US Montoya Motion to Continue Hearing by Daily Kos on Scribd

Audio: McCarthy weighed 25th Amendment for Trump in private after Jan. 6

A new audio recording of House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy has reportedly captured him weighing whether to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove then-President Donald Trump from the White House two days after the assault on the Capitol.

With much attention largely trained right now on the Supreme Court after the leak of a draft opinion poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, McCarthy has managed a slight reprieve from the headlines. 

It was just over a week ago that a different series of audio recordings featuring the House GOP leader went public and he was heard, in his own words, telling members of his party that he was prepared to call for then-President Donald Trump’s resignation. 

In those recordings, and now in this new set, McCarthy’s private agony is yet again starkly contrasted against the public support—and cover—that he has ceaselessly heaped upon Trump. 

Related story: Jan. 6 committee may have another ‘invitation’ for Kevin McCarthy

The latest audio recordings—obtained by New York Times reporters Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns as a part of their book, This Too Shall Not Pass and shared with CNN—reportedly have McCarthy considering invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Trump as he listened to an aide go over deliberations then underway by House Democrats. 

Christine Pelosi talks about the Supreme Court's leaked decision on Roe v. Wade, and what Democrats are doing now, on Daily Kos’ The Brief podcast

When the aide said that the 25th Amendment would “not exactly” be an “elegant solution” to removing Trump, McCarthy is reportedly heard interrupting as he attempts to get a sense of his options.  

The process of invoking the 25th Amendment is one not taken lightly and would require majority approval from members of Trump’s Cabinet as well as from the vice president.

“That takes too long,” McCarthy said after an aide walked him through the steps. “And it could go back to the House, right?”

Indeed, it wasn’t an easy prospect.

Trump would not only have to submit a letter overruling the Cabinet and Pence, but a two-thirds majority would have to be achieved in the House and Senate to overrule Trump. 

“So, it’s kind of an armful,” the aide said. 

On Jan. 7, 2021, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called on the president’s allies to divorce themselves from Trump after he loosed his mob on them, Capitol Hill staff, and police. 

“While there are only 13 days left, any day could be a horror show,” Pelosi said at a press conference where she called for the 25th Amendment to be put in motion.

Publicly, McCarthy would not budge.

The House voted 232-197 to approve a resolution that would activate the amendment on Jan. 13.  McCarthy called for censure instead of impeachment through the 25th Amendment. Then, from the floor of the House, McCarthy denounced Trump. 

“The president bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters. He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding,” McCarthy said. 

During the Jan. 8 call, the House GOP leader lamented that impeachment could further divide the nation. He worried it might also inspire new conflicts. He also told the aide he wanted to have Trump and Biden meet before the inauguration.

It would help with a smooth transition, he said. 

In another moment in the recording after discussing a sit-down with Biden where they could talk about ways to publicly smooth tensions over the transition, McCarthy can be heard saying that “he’s trying to do it not from the basis of Republicans” but rather, “of a basis of, hey, it’s not healthy for the nation” to continue with such uncertainty. 

Yet within the scant week that passed from the time McCarthy said Trump bore some responsibility for the attack and the impeachment vote, McCarthy switched gears again. 

He didn’t believe Trump “provoked” the mob, he said on Jan. 21. 

Not if people “listened to what [Trump] said at the rally,” McCarthy said. 

McCarthy met with Trump at the 45th president’s property in Mar-a-Lago, Florida, a week after Biden was inaugurated. Once he was back in Washington, the House leader issued a statement saying Trump had “committed to helping elect Republicans in the House and Senate in 2022.” 

They had founded a “united conservative movement,” he said. 

Trio of Republican lawmakers called up before Jan. 6 committee

Seeking information about their alleged roles in events that led up to the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, the select committee probing the insurrection has now called on Republican Reps. Andy Biggs of Arizona, Mo Brooks of Alabama, and Ronny Jackson of Texas, to cooperate. 

The committee wants Biggs to face multiple questions, including those involving right-wing conspiracy theorist Ali Alexander and Alexander’s claim that Biggs was just one of a handful of sitting lawmakers whoactively worked to stop the peaceful transfer of power. 

Rep. Mo Brooks, who took the stage before Trump incited the mob and called on people to “fight like hell,” is again under the microscope for his remarks. This time, it was a public admission he made while running for the Senate. Brooks declared in March that Trump demanded he overturn the 2020 election. 

And in arguably the most troubling letter the committee issued Monday, in its request to Rep. Ronny Jackson, investigators asked the Texas Republican to pry back the curtain on his potential ties to the extremist Oath Keepers group and its members currently facing trial for seditious conspiracy. 

The requests come as the committee verges on resuming its public hearings on June 9, but they are not formal subpoenas. Investigators have historically aired on the side of caution when it comes to forcing compliance with their congressional colleagues. They have cited concerns over lengthy legal battles they anticipate they would face as the clock on the probe runs down. 

But they have not ruled this option out altogether. Before Monday, previous requests were sent to Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio and Scott Perry of Pennsylvania. Both have refused to cooperate. 

According to investigators, Biggs is taking front row and center now for several reasons, chief among them his alleged relationship with right-wing conspiracy theorist Ali Alexander. 

Last December, over a series of live streams, Alexander boasted that the ‘Stop the Steal’ movement he founded was receiving help from Biggs, then the chair of the House Freedom Caucus. 

Alexander also named Reps. Paul Gosar of Arizona and Mo Brooks of Alabama as instrumental facilitators. 

“We’re the four guys who came up with a Jan. 6 event,” Alexander said in one since-deleted video. 

In another video, as noted by The New York Times, Alexander said:

“We four schemed up putting maximum pressure on Congress while they were voting so that who we couldn’t lobby, we could change the hearts and the minds of Republicans who were in that body, hearing our loud roar from outside,” he said.

Biggs has denied ever meeting with Alexander or talking to him. Biggs did not immediately return a request for comment to Daily Kos on Monday.

Alexander, however, has cooperated with the Jan. 6 committee—along with more than 800 other people—and turned over several records. 

In April, he agreed to appear before a federal grand jury after receiving a subpoena for testimony relevant to the Justice Department’s investigation of Jan. 6.

The right-wing bombast has been mum about details of his cooperation, and when talking to the press, his attorney has underlined Alexander’s disavowal of the violence that unfolded. 

Investigators also want to question Biggs about his conduct on Dec. 21 at the White House where he and other House Freedom Caucus members attended an in-person and prominently advertised meeting with Trump. 

Trump’s then-chief-of-staff Mark Meadows boosted the signal after the meeting, noting he and other attendees were “preparing to fight back against mounting evidence of voter fraud.”

Several members of Congress just finished a meeting in the Oval Office with President @realDonaldTrump, preparing to fight back against mounting evidence of voter fraud. Stay tuned.

— Mark Meadows (@MarkMeadows) December 21, 2020

That meeting, according to the testimony already obtained by the committee, centered on the role then-Vice President Mike Pence could play if he would abandon his constitutional role during certification.

“As you may be aware, a federal judge… recently concluded that President Trump’s effort to pressure the vice president to refuse to count electoral votes likely violated two provisions of federal criminal law,” the committee wrote Monday, referencing a ruling from a federal judge in California.

In that ruling, the committee successfully obtained access to emails from conservative attorney John Eastman, the author of the six-point memo strategizing how to stop the certification. 

Biggs could also answer questions about his push to see “alternate electors” installed for the count. In a text message to Meadows on Nov. 6—just three days after the election and before results were finalized—the Arizona Republican was already pushing a proposal to get Trump’s electors set up in battleground states. 

Biggs acknowledged the scheme was “highly controversial.”

“It can't be much more controversial than the lunacy that we’re sitting out there now. And It would be pretty difficult because he would take governors and legislators with collective will and backbone to do that. Is anybody on the team researching and considering lobbying for that?" Biggs wrote.

Meadows replied: “I love it.”

In the end, election fraud was not found in Arizona or elsewhere. 

There’s also a push by the committee to learn more about a reported effort by House Republicans angling for presidential pardons after Jan. 6.

The committee disclosed Monday that White House personnel have already testified about the issue.

Just ahead of President Joe Biden’s inauguration, it was widely reported that Trump seriously entertained issuing pardons for those tied up in crimes related to Jan. 6. In February, Politico reported that two people familiar with the discussions, including an adviser to Trump, said Trump was worried about possible criminal charges. 

“Is it everybody that had a Trump sign, or everybody who walked into the Capitol” who could be pardoned? Trump reportedly asked. 

The 45th president believed if he pardoned people, they would “never have to testify or be deposed.”

Trump ended up abandoning the idea when he was informed it could cause him new legal headaches and fresh campaign finance scrutiny. His impeachment-worn attorney Pat Cipollone also allegedly threatened to resign if Trump went through with the plan. 

Rep. Ronny Jackson on Monday slammed the request, dubbing the committee “illegitimate” and consumed by a “malicious and not substantive” agenda. He also described the investigation as a “ruthless crusade against President Trump and his allies.”

Jackson was particularly irked, he claimed, because the committee did not seek him out privately first, according to CBS. 

A committee spokesperson did not immediately return a request to Daily Kos.

Jackson’s cooperation is being sought because of his potential relationship with Oath Keepers accused of orchestrating a complex, weaponized conspiracy to stop the nation’s peaceful transfer of power on Jan. 6.

Related: Oath Keepers text expose talk of security details for Trump world figures, more Proud Boys ties

Prosecutors revealed last month that in the trove of text messages seized off Oath Keeper devices, the extremist group members discussed providing a personal security detail to Jackson during the attack. 

Critically, the @January6thCmte also calls on Rep. Ronny Jackson to answer questions about why the extremist Oath Keepers, including leader Elmer Rhodes, discussed him in their encrypted chat and their efforts to protect him because he had "critical data to protect" pic.twitter.com/xqMuzD4Xj9

— Brandi Buchman (@Brandi_Buchman) May 2, 2022

“Dr. Ronnie Jackson on the move,” one message from an unidentified person said. “Needs protection. If anyone inside cover him. He has critical data to protect.”

Other users in the chat worried about Jackson, once  the White House physician to Trump. 

“Hopefully they can help Dr. Jackson,” a text at 3:03 p.m. read. 

Rhodes responded two minutes later. 

“Help with what?” he wrote.

Within the same minute, Rhodes replied again. 

“Give him my cell,” he said. 

As for Mo Brooks, the Alabama Republican is being called up to discuss his comments in March when he appeared to lapse in total fealty to Trump. 

Trump dropped his endorsement of Brooks’s senate run following weeks of lethargic polling.

The former president first backed Brooks a full year in advance of the primary. But in that time, Brooks—looking to shore up more moderate Republicans in a tough race—began to backpedal, much to Trump’s ire. 

Brooks voted against certification on Jan. 6 and even campaigned with life-size Trump posters at his side, according to the Associated Press.

But during a pro-Trump rally in Alabama in August 2021, Brooks urged the crowd to forget about the failures of the previous year’s election. 

“There are some people who are despondent about the voter fraud and election theft in 2020. Folks, put that behind you, put that behind you,” Brooks said. 

He was booed and as noted by reporters on-site, he “nearly lost the crowd” before waffling again. 

”All right, well, look back at it, but go forward and take advantage of it. We have got to win in 2022. We’ve got to win in 2024,” Brooks said. 

Oh boy. Mo Brooks suggested, in seriousness, that those in attendance should accept the results of the 2020 election and move on to the next one … needless to say it did not go well and he nearly lost the crowd 😮 pic.twitter.com/1htgV3QAgm

— Ryan Phillips (@JournoRyan) August 22, 2021

All lawmakers have been asked to set up a time to meet with investigators beginning next week. 

Though it was nearly a foregone conclusion that Reps. Jackson, Brooks, and Biggs would not comply, ultimately, the panel has made clear that forcing testimony from some individuals would not make or break the entire probe given the voluminous evidence already collected.

Jan. 6 committee may have another ‘invitation’ for Kevin McCarthy

The Jan. 6 committee is not done with Kevin McCarthy. 

The leader of Republicans in the House of Representatives and longtime ally to former President Donald Trump will soon find himself on the receiving end of another request to appear before the panel investigating the attack on the U.S. Capitol.

McCarthy was never formally subpoenaed by the committee, but investigators asked that he cooperate voluntarily this January. His refusal to come forward has simmered as options have been explored by the committee behind the scenes on how to go about navigating the legal thicket that is demanding another member of Congress testify under subpoena. 

“We’ve invited him to come earlier before the latest revelation that was reported on tapes. So in all probability, he will be issued another invitation to come just like some other members,” Jan. 6 committee Chairman Bennie Thompson told reporters Tuesday. 

That decision will be made “soon,” Thompson added.

RELATED STORY: The Jan. 6 committee wants you, Kevin McCarthy

Audio recordings of McCarthy obtained by The New York Times over this week have exposed the Republican as a leader on edge, fearful, and prepared to call on Trump to resign after Jan. 6 because he believed the president had some responsibility for the attack. McCarthy has denied making the comments.

Markos and Kerry talk Ukraine and speak with Wisconsin Democratic Party chair Ben Wikler on how hitting back at Republicans helps win elections

But in a phone call four days after the insurrection, McCarthy is reportedly heard openly worrying to GOP leadership about the inflammatory remarks pouring out from fellow lawmakers like Reps. Mo Brooks of Alabama and Matt Gaetz of Florida—among others—who supported Trump’s push to overturn the election. 

Brooks took the stage at the Ellipse on Jan. 6 and called on the president’s supporters to “fight like hell” before they descended on the Capitol. Gaetz used the aftermath of the attack to lash out at fellow Republicans critical of Trump, including Liz Cheney, who is now the Jan. 6 committee vice chair. 

“The other thing I want to bring up and I’m making some phone calls to some members, I just got something sent now about … Matt Gaetz where he’s calling peoples names out … this is serious stuff people are doing that has to stop,” McCarthy said.

“I’m calling Gaetz, I’m explaining to him, I don't know necessarily what to say but I’m going to have some other people call him too … This is serious shit, to cut this out,” McCarthy said.

When Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana pointed out to McCarthy that Gaetz’s remarks bordered on illegality, the House leader acknowledged again the severity of the situation. 

“Well, he’s putting people in jeopardy, he doesn't need to be doing this. we saw what people would do in the Capitol and these people came prepared well with everything else,” McCarthy said.

Gaetz has retreated from McCarthy since the recordings were published. In a statement posted on Twitter, the congressman—who is currently under investigation by the Department of Justice—defended his comments and called McCarthy and Scalise “weak men.”

Gaetz said he was “protecting President Trump from impeachment” while the House GOP leader was defending Rep. Adam Kinzinger and “protecting Liz Cheney from criticism.”

Gaetz has not yet been asked to appear before the Jan. 6 committee thus far—at least not publicly. A spokesman for the committee did not immediately return a request for comment Wednesday. Gaetz also did not immediately return a request for comment to Daily Kos.

Besides McCarthy, the committee has previously issued requests for records and deposition to Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio and Scott Perry of Pennsylvania. Both Republicans have refused to appear voluntarily. 

Details about Jordan and Perry’s conduct in the runup to Jan. 6 have been made more transparent with the recent publication of text messages sent to Trump’s chief of staff at the time, Mark Meadows. 

More than a month after the 2020 election, Perry texted Meadows frantically in search of guidance as the administration sought a path to overturn the election results. 

“Mark, just checking in as time continues to count down. 11 days to 1/6 and 25 days to inauguration. We gotta get going!” Perry wrote on Dec. 26. 

Perry wasn’t just looking for guidance, however—he was also offering some of his own.

It was Perry who spurred Meadows to meet with Jeffrey Clark, an assistant attorney general at the Department of Justice on board with Trump’s claims of rampant election fraud.

According to the testimony that former Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen provided to the Senate Judiciary Committee last year, Trump not only pushed the Department of Justice to discredit the election results, but it was Clark who led a charge to have him ousted so the scheme could be better controlled.

Clark pleaded the Fifth Amendment over 100 times when he finally sat with members of the committee in February following weeks of delays. 

The texts show Perrry also spewed conspiracy theories to Meadows about rigged voting machines and accused the CIA of a cover-up. 

As for Jordan, White House call logs show the Ohio Republican spoke with Trump for roughly 10 minutes on Jan. 6. A text message obtained by the committee and made public in December also appeared to show Jordan sharing legal arguments in support of an unconstitutional pressure campaign leveled at then-Vice President Mike Pence to stop the count.

Jordan said the text was a forward from former Pentagon Inspector General Joseph Schmitz, but it is not clear whether the text was in fact a forward or why it was sent at all, based on what the committee released.

Jordan has been notoriously inconsistent when fielding questions about his engagement with Trump on Jan. 6. 

Both he and Perry voted against the formation of the select committee investigating the attempted overthrow. Both now sit on a shadow committee purporting to analyze the events of Jan. 6.

RELATED STORY: White House Jan. 6 call log confirms what Jim Jordan couldn’t—or wouldn’t

When Thompson told reporters Tuesday that another invitation was due soon for McCarthy, the Mississippi Democrat also did not rule out issuing “invites” to other members of Congress. 

“We’ll make a decision on any others before the week is out,” Thompson told The Hill

When asked if he would skip the second invite for McCarthy and move straight to a subpoena, Thompson said it was “a consideration.” 

According to the Times, in the Jan. 10 GOP leadership call where McCarthy lamented the remarks from Gaetz and Brooks, Cheney was on the line too and raised concerns about Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado publicly tweeting about the movement of lawmakers as they were under siege. 

In other clips, McCarthy is heard asking about whether Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia was involved in any remarks at the Ellipse on Jan. 6. She did not speak at the rally that morning but had spent weeks advocating for Trump and promoting the lie that the election was stolen by Democrats.  

McCarthy is gunning to become speaker of the House should Republicans take the majority. It has been a long-awaited goal for the legislator and may explain the increasingly light touch he has employed with some of the most extreme members in the House and in particular those on the uber conservative House Freedom Caucus. 

When Rep. Paul Gosar was censured and removed from his committees for posting an animated video depicting the murder of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, McCarthy called it an “abuse of power” inflicted by “one-party rule.” 

A month after the insurrection, when Greene posted a sign outside of her Capitol Hill office targeting a fellow lawmaker who is the parent of a transgender child, McCarthy was quiet. 

A few months later in May 2021, when Greene was reportedly stalking Ocasio-Cortez through the halls of Congress and harassing her, McCarthy was quiet.

When Greene spewed conspiracy theories on social media about everything from “staged” school shootings to questioning whether a plane actually hit the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001 to antisemitic rhetoric, she was booted off her committee assignments. 

McCarthy said he was opposed to Greene’s remarks but said in the same breath that her ouster was a Democrat “power grab” and called it “dangerous.” 

When both Gosar and Greene attended a conference organized by white nationalists this February, McCarthy said he spoke to both lawmakers but wouldn’t divulge what, if any, the repercussions might be.  

According to CNN, during a House GOP conference meeting Wednesday morning, McCarthy said his remarks on the calls were merely him “floating scenarios about Trump’s future after Jan. 6.”

He reportedly received a standing ovation.

NEW: Kevin McCarthy just gave a full throated defense of the Nyt tapes during a House GOP conference this morning, saying he was just floating scenarios about Trump’s future after Jan 6, and received a standing ovation, per multiple sources in the room.

— Melanie Zanona (@MZanona) April 27, 2022

McCarthy did not respond to multiple requests for comment by Daily Kos.

Mike Lee has some explaining to do about Jan. 6

In 2020, when a reporter asked Utah Senator Mike Lee about the extent of his involvement in then President Donald Trump’s push to overturn that year’s election results, Lee chalked up his own investment in the president’s scheme to a benign curiosity. 

His recently published text messages to Trump’s former chief of staff Mark Meadows at the time, however, tell a far different story. The texts appear to show Lee pledging himself to find every “legal and constitutional remedy” to assist Trump’s mission. He was quick with a suggestion—like an audit of ballots in swing states—and stumped for Trump to use conspiracy theory peddling lawyer Sidney Powell to take up the cause in court.

And when Lee received a copy of John Eastman’s memo laying out a scheme to pressure Vice President Mike Pence to overturn the election just four days before the insurrection, he publicly derided it as “ridiculous.”

Yet in private, Lee appeared to strongly advocate for that strategy and lamented the hours he otherwise spent searching for ways to “unravel” a pathway to victory for a clearly defeated president. 

RELATED STORY: Texts show they were all for Trump overturning the election—until a lack of key evidence got in the way

Samuel Benson over at Utah’s Deseret News published an article on Wednesday raising questions—and rightly so—over Lee’s track record of conflicting positions. Benson interviewed Lee at length before and after the assault on the Capitol. 

And when CNN published the text messages, Benson followed up, asking for an interview. Where once Lee was willing to speak on the subject at length, he has now clammed up. Instead, he dispatched his spokesman, Lee Lonsberry, to do damage control. 

Lonsberry told Benson: 

“When Senator Lee reviewed evidence and legal arguments related to the 2020 presidential election, his principal concern was for the law, the Constitution, and especially the more than 150 million Americans who voted in that election. From the moment the electoral college cast its votes in mid-December, he made clear that Joe Biden had won, and would within weeks become the 46th president of the United States absent a court order or state legislative action invalidating electoral votes.”

Further, “once it became clear” to Lee that no states would be rescinding their electoral slates, he told Meadows any effort to reverse the election results would “end badly.” 

Lee, Lonsberry said, just wanted to “let the country move on.”

Lee publicly acknowledged that Biden won the Electoral College on Dec. 14, the final deadline for states to send their slate of electors to the National Archives. But he also delicately couched his statement with a nod to Trump’s “fraud” claims.

There were still  “concerns regarding fraud and irregularities in this election remain active in multiple states,” Lee said at the time.

Then-Attorney General Bill Barr had already declared two weeks earlier there was no evidence of widespread voter fraud. Trump too had been on a losing streak in various courts around the U.S.  as his team of attorneys bumbled through lawsuits demanding election results be thrown out or electors decertified. 

Nevertheless, in the two days after Lee proclaimed Biden was the rightful winner, in a text to Meadows, the Utah Republican was still exploring alternatives. 

“Also, if you want senators to object, we need to hear from you on that ideally getting some guidance on what arguments to raise,” Lee wrote on Dec. 16. 

Right up to Jan. 4, the senator was “calling state legislators for hours” and planning to do the same, or so he told Mark Meadows, on Jan. 5. 

“We need something from state legislatures to make this legitimate and to have any hope of winning. Even if they can't convene, it might be enough if a majority of them are willing to sign a statement indicating how they would vote,” Lee fretted to Meadows just a day before.

In the end, but only after Trump incited a mob that stormed the Capitol and hundreds of police officers—including those sworn to protect Lee and others—were violently assaulted and one woman was killed, Lee voted to certify Biden as the winner. 

In his remarks from the House floor on Jan. 6, Lee said his initial speech for proceedings had looked a little different. But, he said, he would keep his message mostly the same. 

“Our job is open and then count. Open, then count. That’s it. That’s all there is to it,” Lee said of electoral college votes.

He noted how he spent “the last few weeks” meeting with lawyers representing “both sides of the issue” and representing the Trump campaign. 

“I didn’t initially declare my position because I didn’t yet have one,” he added. “I wanted to get the facts first and I wanted to understand what was happening.”

However, when Trump was impeached for incitement of insurrection, Lee voted against it. He could not “condone the horrific violence” of Jan. 6, he said. Lee also said he could not condone Trump’s “words, actions or commissions on that day.” 

“But the fact is that the word incitement has a very specific meaning in the law, and Donald Trump’s words and actions on Jan. 6 fell short of that standard,” Lee remarked before also calling the impeachment a “politically suspicious process.”

Less than six months after the insurrection, Lee also opposed to the formation of a bipartisan commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack. He voted against a bill for a bipartisan commission that was equally divided between five Republicans and five Democrats. Both sides, according to the resolution he opposed, would have had equal subpoena power. 

Lee opposed the bill 24 hours after meeting privately with U.S. Capitol Police officers who were attacked as well as Gladys Sicknick, the mother of U.S. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick. Sicknick died one day after the insurrection. A coroner’s office said Sicknick, 42, experienced multiple strokes. 

Prepare to be ‘mesmerized’: An interview with Jan. 6 probe investigator Jamie Raskin

I last interviewed Rep. Jamie Raskin in October 2020, before the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Our conversation was about the guardrails that the Constitution has in place to stop a tyrant from taking power.

There was no mystery about then-President Donald Trump’s position in public. He had spent months vowing fraud would be overwhelming in the impending election. When he took the stage for the very first night of presidential debates with now President Joe Biden, Trump told the world he would not accept any outcome he believed was rigged.

In the days since then, the Select Committee to Investigate the Jan. 6 Attack on the U.S. Capitol was formed and it has unearthed staggering evidence that Donald Trump, the nation’s 45th president, not only incited a mob to a bloody insurrection but perpetrated a fraud on the American public so that he could pull off a coup that would install him into the White House against the will of millions of voters and the Electoral College. 

Recently, I interviewed Rep. Raskin again. He now serves as a member of the Jan. 6 committee, a role that was arguably an unmatched fit not just because of his experience as a constitutional and legal scholar, but because of his direct experience with Trump. Raskin was the lead impeachment manager when Trump was impeached—for the second time.

Telling the story of Jan. 6 is a formidable task and the passing months have revealed increasingly critical nuances and contours emerging from that day’s chaos.

There is evidence of a crime. A federal judge has agreed with the select committee on that count and over the course of a contentious battle for key documents, a judge determined that, at the very least, the “illegality of the plan” orchestrated by Trump and his attorney John Eastman—the architect of a strategy pressuring Vice President Mike Pence to certify bunk electors—was “obvious.” 

Trump and his attorneys stoked claims of bogus election fraud for months and with Eastman, Trump engaged in a “coup in search of legal theory,” Judge David Carter wrote just a month ago. 

Judge David Carter Ruling_Trump Eastman by Daily Kos on Scribd

And yet there is still so much more to come.

There are questions that must be aired out about this attempted coup and its abettors.

When the committee finally resumes its public hearings, which it says will be in May, Rep. Raskin told Daily Kos they will be hearings unlike anything Americans have seen come out of Congress. 

“We believe every American has the right to observe and participate in this. I believe based on what I have seen over the last several months, these hearings will be not just important but mesmerizing to the public,” Raskin said. “Everybody needs to be equipped with the means of intellectual self defense against the authoritarian and fascistic policies that have been unleashed in this country.”

So far, the probe has released limited information about its findings and it has navigated the course of its investigation with deft yet disciplined transparency, despite regular attacks and goading from those perched atop some of the highest branches of power in Congress like House Minority Leader and Trump ally Kevin McCarthy. 

Listen Jennifer Fernandez Ancona from Way to Win explain what how Democrats must message to win on Daily Kos' The Brief podcast with Markos Moulitsas and Kerry Eleveld

The panel of seven Democrats and two Republicans has largely established its intent and findings on the public record through its court filings and subpoenas and from House meetings on Capitol Hill, where they have forwarded criminal contempt of Congress referrals for members of the Trump White House who have obstructed their investigation.

Those referrals for officials like former chief of staff Mark Meadows, ex-adviser Steve Bannon, and others now live with the Department of Justice, a body ensconced in an entirely separate yet similarly painstaking investigation of the Capitol attack, its catalysts, and alleged conspirators. 

“The events of Jan. 6 were breathtaking,” Raskin said by phone, taking a moment to gather his thoughts before considering the scope of what lies ahead. 

A daunting amount of information will be parsed, prioritized, and presented from the 800-plus interviews the panel has conducted and the thousands of pages of records it has secured from a wide array of players spanning the Trump White House to the Trump reelection campaign to extremist right-wing activists and others.

That doesn’t even mention everything that was also sourced from the National Archives following Biden’s waiver of executive privilege over presidential records Trump sought to hide.

That bid by Trump, taken all the way to the Supreme Court, ultimately failed to keep documents like White House call logs hidden and more of Trump’s presidential records continue to flood the committee now. 

RELATED STORY: Let’s talk about the White House call logs from Jan. 6

But until the hearings play out, the public is left to grapple with important information in bits and pieces as investigators occasionally and, likely strategically, highlight portions of their findings at a schedule of their choosing.

Speculation swirls around the committee’s work on a fact-based narrative it is crafting for hearings and that is to be expected.

There are inherent difficulties in this unprecedented undertaking.

“Well, people still have not yet fully understood the distinction between the violent insurrection and the attempted coup. Even with the insurrection, even within the insurrectionary violence, a lot of people think that this was just a rowdy demonstration that got out of hand,” Raskin told Daily Kos. 

And of course, Trump. Raskin added, is “out there telling people his mob greeted officers with hugs and kisses.” 

“So there’s a lot of confusion about what took place. And I think people will come to understand that this was a premeditated and coordinated violent attack on Congress and the vice president in order to thwart the counting of electoral votes,” Raskin said.

But the insurrection is only comprehensible when you understand that it was unleashed as a way to assist this political coup, this inside political coup. Donald Trump and his entourage had been looking for ways to overthrow the 2020 presidential election results for months,” Raskin said. 

What the public hearings will do is tell the story of “every step in that process,” he explained.  

“And it is a harrowing and gripping and utterly sobering story rooted in the events of the day and the weeks before it,” he added.

RELATED STORY: Tick-tock: A timeline of the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol

Millions of Americans have seen footage of rioters beating police, scaling the walls of the nation’s Capitol building, and doing so in everything from homemade to high-grade tactical gear and with makeshift or professional-grade weapons in tow.

Millions of Americans have heard the calls of people shouting for the execution of Pence or House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as the melee erupted. Many people saw the gallows erected by Trump’s supporters on the Capitol lawn. 

But a disconnect seems to persist somehow around how severe and significant Jan. 6 was and remains.

The Pew Research Center, for example, noted this February that more than a year after the attack, fewer Americans believed Trump was responsible for the events of Jan. 6. It was a nearly 10% drop from the year before.

The study found too that people are still largely divided a year later on whether the Jan. 6 probe is even given the “right amount” of attention.

“The difficult thing is that people have a very hard time assimilating something so extreme taking place right at the heart of the Capitol. We saw a violent mob led by insurrectionary violent extremists set upon federal officers and injure and wound and hospitalize more than 150 of them,” Raskin said. 

It was the first time in American history that a violent insurrection interfered with the peaceful transfer of power and counting of electoral votes.

“It nearly toppled our system of government,” Raskin added.

The idea of a coup is “radically unfamiliar” to the bulk of the American population, he noted. 

“We’re just not—we just don’t have a lot of experience with coups in our own society. We think of a coup as something that takes place against a president. Well, this was a coup that was orchestrated by the president against the vice president and against the Congress,” Raskin said. “It’s what political scientists call a self-coup, not the military trying to overthrow a president but a president trying to defeat and vanquish the constitutional process in order to perpetuate his stay in office and power. Donald Trump was trying to seize the presidency for four more years.”

When Judge Carter issued his ruling about Trump and Eastman on March 28, it was a deeply important finding but it did not shift or change the committee’s trajectory, he said. 

It only “solidified” the path they were on.

“It was a powerful warning to the American people about what took place,” he said.

If they missed that warning bell, however, the committee will keep ringing it.

The committee will produce its final report after the hearings are over. Raskin told Daily Kos he hopes it will be a “multimedia report” that will be both easily accessible and digestible. 

It will be composed of the committee’s findings as well as recommendations for legislation that would strengthen many of the weak points in the democratic system that the Trump White House undermined or exploited.

“There’s no reason this report has to be a 500-page document written by a computer somewhere. We can write the report in such a way that it really does wake the country up to the nature of the threats that we’ve just dodged and the threats that remain,” Raskin said. 

To wit, when the committee holds its public hearings, the Justice Department's prosecution of those who stormed the Capitol will keep rolling.

At the top of April, the DOJ announced it had arrested nearly 800 defendants and charged over 250 people so far with serious crimes including assaulting police and using a deadly weapon to injure an officer.  

More than 248 people have entered guilty pleas, copping to misdemeanors and felony charges alike.

The most serious charges— like seditious conspiracy—have been leveled at some of the president’s most ardent supporters, namely the ringleaders and members of domestic extremist networks like the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys.

Trump told the latter group in September 2020 to “stand back and stand by” when asked on a presidential debate stage if he would condemn white supremacy and militia groups.

“Who would you like me to condemn? The Proud Boys? Stand back and stand by. But I’ll tell you what, I’ll tell you what. Somebody’s gotta do something about antifa and the left because this is not a right-wing problem, this is a left-wing problem,” Trump said.

The dog-whistle was well received by Proud Boys and their leader Henry Tarrio. 

“Standing by,” Tarrio responded on Parler. “So proud of my guys right now.”

Others, like Proud Boy Joe Biggs, took it as a direct cue to attack those opposed to Trump.

“Trump basically said to go fuck them up!” Biggs wrote.

The Proud Boys are ecstatic tonight about getting mentioned in the debate tonight. "Trump basically said to go fuck them up! this makes me so happy," writes one prominent Proud Boy. pic.twitter.com/hYA7yQVAOn

— Mike Baker (@ByMikeBaker) September 30, 2020

Tarrio was indicted on March 8 for conspiracy to obstruct congressional proceedings on Jan. 6 as well as several other charges. Biggs—and many other Proud Boys—were indicted alongside him and separately.

Oath Keeper leader Elmer Rhodes's seditious conspiracy trial is currently slated for September. One of the key members in the group charged alongside Rhodes, Alabama Oath Keeper chapter leader Joshua James, has already flipped.

James admitted he was dispatched to the Capitol on Jan. 6 by Rhodes as part of an organized conspiracy to stop proceedings. James told prosecutors he was prepared to use force to keep Trump in power. 

While the committee’s work and the DOJ’s work operate on entirely different tracks and timetables, Raskin said when the committee makes its case to the public, the panel won’t shy away from presenting any of the relevant details shaken loose by the DOJ. 

“To the extent there are factual findings related to these cases, yes, we will be able to use those,” he said. 

Juries will decide the fates of those charged with seditious conspiracy. The Justice Department will decide the fate of those the committee has referred for criminal contempt of Congress. 

These are the facts. 

For those cynical or skeptical about what the committee’s hearings will achieve or accomplish, Raskin offered a message for those feeling faint of heart.

Before speaking, the congressman paused for just a moment.

“Look,” he said, “For the greater part—for the duration of the human species—people have lived under tyrants and dictators and bullies and kings like Vladimir Putin and all of his sycophants around the world. Democracy, democratic self-governance is still a very fragile experiment. And democracy thrives on truth. The people need to be armed with the power that truth will give us.”

U.S. Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn, who endured racial slurs and assault for hours while defending the Capitol to the brink of exhaustion told Daily Kos in a recent interview when it comes to Jan. 6: “The truth is the truth.” 

If people will believe the truth when they hear it, well, he knows it is not for him to decide. 

But he did have one question. 

“How the hell is anyone against finding out the full truth?” Dunn said.

Jan. 6 committee wrestling with criminal referral for Trump

The Jan. 6 committee has amassed so much evidence in the nearly 500 days since Donald Trump incited an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol that congressional investigators are weighing a criminal referral to the Department of Justice for the twice-impeached ex-president. 

Whether they ultimately issue that referral is a question that hangs heavy in the air over the probe and members are internally split on the path ahead, according to a report by The New York Times from Sunday. 

Nonetheless, after some 800 interviews and extensive cooperation from those orbiting the Trump White House and campaign in the runup to Jan. 6,  the committee’s bipartisan leadership has said the evidence strongly indicates Trump illegally obstructed Congress—again—and committed fraud against the American people as he and those who sought to keep him in power worked to pull off a scheme that hinged on his lies about the outcome of the 2020 election.

During an interview on CNN following the Times report, committee Vice Chair Liz Cheney, a Republican ousted from GOP leadership for her participation in the probe, brushed off the notion that division was stewing among members. 

The sources in the Times said some lawmakers on the committee are at odds over whether it is actually necessary to throw their weight behind a criminal referral for the ex-president to the Department of Justice. 

That referral is mostly symbolic as the committee has acknowledged countless times over the last year in court and to the press that it simply does not have the authority to prosecute Trump.

A criminal referral could also potentially trigger a lengthy series of delay tactics from Trump or his allies in Congress that would draw time and resources away from key areas of the probe. 

From the Times:

The members and aides who were reluctant to support a referral contended that making one would create the appearance that Mr. Garland was investigating Mr. Trump at the behest of a Democratic Congress and that if the committee could avoid that perception it should, the people said.

This assessment on optics reflects, at least in part, the scars left in Washington from the deeply contentious and circus-like atmosphere created in the wake of Trump’s first impeachment for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. 

Prosecution in this case, as a matter of constitutional fact, must be left to the proper—and separate—channels at the Department of Justice.

To that end, over the sprawl of its inquiry the select committee has issued subpoenas aplenty and filed lawsuits to claw back or expose various records from integral Trump White House and campaign officials. In this process, it has left a trail of morsels for the Department of Justice to consider as that department conducts its own separate and massive review of Jan. 6.

Take the case of John Eastman, the Trump attorney who wrote a memo proposing how to overturn the election through an unconstitutional pressure strategy involving former Vice President Mike Pence. 

RELATED STORY: Trump led a criminal conspiracy, Jan. 6 lawyers say in court

When a federal judge in California finally reviewed the emails Eastman sought to keep away from the committee during his tenure at Chapman University, the judge found information that led him to believe Trump and Eastman “more likely than not” engaged in a federal crime. 

The ruling was a boon for transparency overall, to be sure, but it also provided the Department of Justice with something deeply important, at least in the eyes of some members of the Jan. 6 committee: A federal judge’s ruling, they reportedly said, would simply mean more in the eyes of Attorney General Merrick Garland. 

Once the committee completes its investigation, it will issue a report on its complete findings and recommendations. That report alone may have so much information and relevant evidence in it that the Department of Justice could use it as its guide to bring criminal charges. 

Rep. Zoe Lofgren, a California Democrat who previously served on both impeachment inquiries for Trump and for former President Bill Clinton, now sits on the Jan. 6 probe. She is of the opinion that a criminal referral isn’t the end all be all to accountability or justice. 

When asked whether the select committee would issue a criminal referral for Trump, Lofgren told the Times, “Maybe we will, maybe we won’t.”

“It doesn’t have a legal impact,” Lofgren said. 

Other panel members like Rep. Elaine Luria of Virginia have been insistent, however, that it is about the principle of the matter, political ramifications of the criminal referral be damned. 

“This committee, our purpose is legislative and oversight, but if in the course of our investigation we find that criminal activity has occurred, I think it’s our responsibility to refer that to the Department of Justice,” Luria recently told MSNBC. 

This weekend, Cheney told CNN “there’s not really a dispute on the committee” over the referral and emphasized that members are working in a “really collaborative way.” 

The committee, reportedly, has not yet met formally to discuss issuing a referral to the Department of Justice for Trump, however, and there may not be a meeting in the mix any time soon. 

Public hearings are expected this summer, potentially in May and June, and according to committee member and Rep. Pete Aguilar, the probe is not interested in “presupposing” what will be in its final report. 

As of April 6, the Department of Justice has made nearly 800 arrests in its investigation of the attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Jan. 6 committee wrestling with criminal referral for Trump

The Jan. 6 committee has amassed so much evidence in the nearly 500 days since Donald Trump incited an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol that congressional investigators are weighing a criminal referral to the Department of Justice for the twice-impeached ex-president. 

Whether they ultimately issue that referral is a question that hangs heavy in the air over the probe and members are internally split on the path ahead, according to a report by The New York Times from Sunday. 

Nonetheless, after some 800 interviews and extensive cooperation from those orbiting the Trump White House and campaign in the runup to Jan. 6,  the committee’s bipartisan leadership has said the evidence strongly indicates Trump illegally obstructed Congress—again—and committed fraud against the American people as he and those who sought to keep him in power worked to pull off a scheme that hinged on his lies about the outcome of the 2020 election.

During an interview on CNN following the Times report, committee Vice Chair Liz Cheney, a Republican ousted from GOP leadership for her participation in the probe, brushed off the notion that division was stewing among members. 

Listen and subscribe to Daily Kos' The Brief podcast with Markos Moulitsas and Kerry Eleveld

The sources in the Times said some lawmakers on the committee are at odds over whether it is actually necessary to throw their weight behind a criminal referral for the ex-president to the Department of Justice. 

That referral is mostly symbolic as the committee has acknowledged countless times over the last year in court and to the press that it simply does not have the authority to prosecute Trump.

A criminal referral could also potentially trigger a lengthy series of delay tactics from Trump or his allies in Congress that would draw time and resources away from key areas of the probe. 

From the Times:

The members and aides who were reluctant to support a referral contended that making one would create the appearance that Mr. Garland was investigating Mr. Trump at the behest of a Democratic Congress and that if the committee could avoid that perception it should, the people said.

This assessment on optics reflects, at least in part, the scars left in Washington from the deeply contentious and circus-like atmosphere created in the wake of Trump’s first impeachment for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. 

Prosecution in this case, as a matter of constitutional fact, must be left to the proper—and separate—channels at the Department of Justice.

To that end, over the sprawl of its inquiry the select committee has issued subpoenas aplenty and filed lawsuits to claw back or expose various records from integral Trump White House and campaign officials. In this process, it has left a trail of morsels for the Department of Justice to consider as that department conducts its own separate and massive review of Jan. 6.

Take the case of John Eastman, the Trump attorney who wrote a memo proposing how to overturn the election through an unconstitutional pressure strategy involving former Vice President Mike Pence. 

RELATED STORY: Trump led a criminal conspiracy, Jan. 6 lawyers say in court

When a federal judge in California finally reviewed the emails Eastman sought to keep away from the committee during his tenure at Chapman University, the judge found information that led him to believe Trump and Eastman “more likely than not” engaged in a federal crime. 

The ruling was a boon for transparency overall, to be sure, but it also provided the Department of Justice with something deeply important, at least in the eyes of some members of the Jan. 6 committee: A federal judge’s ruling, they reportedly said, would simply mean more in the eyes of Attorney General Merrick Garland. 

Once the committee completes its investigation, it will issue a report on its complete findings and recommendations. That report alone may have so much information and relevant evidence in it that the Department of Justice could use it as its guide to bring criminal charges. 

Rep. Zoe Lofgren, a California Democrat who previously served on both impeachment inquiries for Trump and for former President Bill Clinton, now sits on the Jan. 6 probe. She is of the opinion that a criminal referral isn’t the end all be all to accountability or justice. 

When asked whether the select committee would issue a criminal referral for Trump, Lofgren told the Times, “Maybe we will, maybe we won’t.”

“It doesn’t have a legal impact,” Lofgren said. 

Other panel members like Rep. Elaine Luria of Virginia have been insistent, however, that it is about the principle of the matter, political ramifications of the criminal referral be damned. 

“This committee, our purpose is legislative and oversight, but if in the course of our investigation we find that criminal activity has occurred, I think it’s our responsibility to refer that to the Department of Justice,” Luria recently told MSNBC. 

This weekend, Cheney told CNN “there’s not really a dispute on the committee” over the referral and emphasized that members are working in a “really collaborative way.” 

The committee, reportedly, has not yet met formally to discuss issuing a referral to the Department of Justice for Trump, however, and there may not be a meeting in the mix any time soon. 

Public hearings are expected this summer, potentially in May and June, and according to committee member and Rep. Pete Aguilar, the probe is not interested in “presupposing” what will be in its final report. 

As of April 6, the Department of Justice has made nearly 800 arrests in its investigation of the attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Let’s talk about the Trump White House call logs from Jan. 6

Let’s talk about these call logs. 

At the top of this week, The Washington Post and CBS News reported that upon review of official phone logs from the Trump White House given to the Jan. 6 committee, a gap of over seven hours was discovered in then-President Donald Trump’s official daily diary and switchboard record from that day. 

In contrast, on Thursday, CNN reported that “an official review” of those logs—based on anonymous sources familiar with the matter, including a former Obama White House staffer—determined the records were “complete.”

The earlier reported gaps, the source told CNN, were likely due to Trump’s “typical” practice of having staff place calls for him on White House landline phones or using White House-provided cell phones or personal phones. Neither would be traced through the White House switchboard, meaning they would not appear on the log provided to the committee. 

So, what to make of all this? Are the Jan. 6 call logs complete or incomplete? What information is missing? Was there a cover-up?

In this heap of anonymously sourced reporting and analysis tied to the call logs, at least one fact can be safely established today, Friday, the 450th day since the attempted overthrow of the 2020 election: There is a huge amount of information about Trump’s exact conduct during the bloodshed and chaos of Jan. 6 that remains unknown and is in dire need of additional context.

The records published by The Washington Post and CBS cover 11 pages. Six of those pages are the “Presidential Call Log” while five comprise the “Daily Diary of President Donald J. Trump.”

White House Call Log Jan 6 2021 Obtained by WaPo and CBS by Daily Kos on Scribd

The diary will record a president’s movements on a given day. The call log shows call records incoming and outgoing from the White House switchboard or from aides. It will also list the length of a call and a small notation, perhaps, but scant else. 

Under law, both the logs and the diary must be preserved. 

The Trump administration was notoriously bad at maintaining records, and Trump’s penchant for using his cell phone or a staffer’s phone to make or take calls, regardless of how sensitive the subject matter was, is well documented

Recreating the timeline of Jan. 6 has been made more difficult by this, and the gaps in these particular logs raise major questions when compared against the record of Trump’s communication with high-ranking officials or allies before and during the attack.

For example, the logs omit a critical phone call that took place between Trump and then-Vice President Mike Pence that morning. There are also missing records of calls that happened between Trump and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy as well as other Republican lawmakers like Sen. Tommy Tuberville of Alabama and Sen. Mike Lee of Utah.

Those calls happened, and they have been corroborated through court records, committee testimony, or public statements made by those directly involved. To wit, Pence’s National Security Adviser Keith Kellogg testified to the committee that he heard Trump speak to Pence on the phone from the Oval Office on the morning of Jan. 6.

Kellogg said he heard Trump pressure the vice president to go along with the scheme to stop the peaceful transfer of power. Ivanka Trump was also present for that call.

Kellogg’s testimony was corroborated by other witnesses who appeared before the committee and heard the call as well. But there’s no record of that call on the switchboard, a fact that now raises questions over what device Trump used in that moment and why.  

RELATED STORY: Jan. 6 committee requests a meeting with Ivanka Trump

Handwritten notes attached to Trump’s private schedule for Jan. 6 show him having a call with “VPOTUS” at 11:20 AM. The presidential diary for the day meanwhile notes Trump called an “unidentified person” at 11:17 AM on Jan. 6, but the diary fails to mention the 11:20 AM call from his private schedule. And as noted by CNN, neither call was reflected in the White House call log.

McCarthy admitted openly he spoke to Trump on Jan. 6 when he was interviewed by Fox News last April, and he admitted the same to fellow Republican Rep. Jamie Herrera-Beutler months before when Trump was facing impeachment for incitement of insurrection. 

McCarthy said he spoke to Trump in the middle of the afternoon on Jan. 6 as the violence was playing out at the Capitol. The California Republican recalled being under siege and frantically calling Trump for help. He begged the president to “forcefully” call off his supporters. 

But just like the Pence call, there’s no record of the McCarthy call on the official log either. 

RELATED STORY: Kevin ‘Who the F— Do You Think You Are Talking To’ McCarthy may be next on Jan. 6 request list

Trump called Lee during the attack at 2:26 PM, something Lee admitted during Trump’s second impeachment inquiry. Lee said Trump intended to reach Tuberville but dialed the wrong number, so Lee passed his phone off to Tuberville.

When the Alabama senator picked up, he told the president Pence had been removed from Senate chambers just as rioters had stormed the complex.

That call record is missing from the logs, too.

It may seem a small detail now, but as The Guardian has reported, “two sources familiar with the matter” said Lee was called by Trump from a number listed as (202) 395-0000. 

That is a “placeholder number that shows when a call is incoming from a number of White House department phones,” the sources said. 

Since the Lee call is missing from the log, the specter of tampering is now raised. 

An entry not omitted from the logs spurs even more questions: Trump’s 10-minute phone call with Rep. Jim Jordan.

Jordan has been a fierce ally to the ex-president, defending him at every turn and patently refusing to cooperate with the probe. Jordan has also been completely unable or unwilling to keep his story straight about his contact with Trump on the day of the assault.

Last July, when pressed by Fox News host Bret Baier about how many times he spoke to Trump on Jan. 6, Jordan said his chats with Trump happened so often, he couldn’t “remember all the days I talked to the president.”

Within 24 hours Jordan changed his story, this time telling a different reporter he couldn’t recall if he and Trump spoke in the morning or not.

When Jordan appeared for a meeting before the House Rules Committee in October, he told Chairman Jim McGovern he couldn’t recall how many times he spoke to Trump on Jan. 6, but Jordan sputtered: “I talked to the president after the attack.”

According to the traceable call log made public this week, Trump and Jordan spoke for exactly 10 minutes on Jan. 6 starting at 9:24 AM.

If they spoke after the attack, like Jordan said last October, then this particular log does not show it. 

RELATED STORY: White House call log confirms what Jim Jordan couldn’t—or wouldn’t

Assessment of these logs as “complete” may very well be technically accurate if that assessment does not account for the ways Trump bypassed the traceable system or abused procedure. 

The Select Intelligence Committee for the U.S. Senate noted in its 2020 report on Russian interference in the 2016 election that Trump often relied on his bodyguard, Keith Schiller, when he wanted to call Republican operative Roger Stone. Trump, the report stated, would use Schiller’s phone to chat with Stone because he did not want his advisers to know they were speaking.

Sources told the Post and CBS Trump may have used a disposable or “burner” phone on Jan. 6 to evade scrutiny. Trump has denied knowing what a burner phone is, let alone using one.

Yet his former National Security Adviser John Bolton told reporters Trump knows exactly what the devices are, and that would track with reporting by Rolling Stone from November that Team Trump was no stranger to the hard-to-trace devices.

Sources told the magazine that March for Trump and Women for America First organizers used burner phones at length for “crucial planning conversations” about the rally at the Ellipse. The officials, including Kylie and Amy Kremer, allegedly communicated with Trump’s Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, but also with the president’s son and daughter-in-law, Eric and Lara Trump, on the phones.

In its contempt of Congress report for Meadows, the Jan. 6 committee established there was prevalent use of personal devices and encrypted apps by Meadows in service of the president.  

RELATED STORY: Jan. 6 organizers used burner phones for calls with Mark Meadows, Trump family

So far the committee has interviewed and taken depositions from 800 people, including many of those figures who appeared in the Jan. 6 call logs, like Steve Bannon, John Eastman, and Rudy Giuliani. 

The logs show Trump spoke to Bannon at 8:37 AM on Jan. 6 and then with Giuliani, his attorney, not long after at 8:45 AM. Within 10 minutes, Trump called Meadows and then tried to call Pence. 

Pence was unavailable, so Trump left a message with the vice president’s office.

Bannon reportedly asked Trump if Pence was going to attend a breakfast meeting because the men wanted to get Pence on board with their plan to delay or stop the certification. 

Trump also spoke to Fox News host Sean Hannity and right-wing commentator William Bennett. He called then-Sen. David Perdue of Georgia as well, and he also spoke to Kurt Olsen early that morning. Olsen was a champion of Trump’s bogus election fraud conspiracy theories. 

Then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell got a call from Trump too, as did Sen. Josh Hawley. McConnell told the Post he declined Trump’s call on Jan. 6, and Hawley has said he missed the call altogether and that he never spoke to Trump on Jan. 6. 

Stephen Miller haunts the public call logs too; he and Trump spoke for almost half an hour on Jan. 6 from 9:52 AM to 10:18 AM.

After the seven-hour gap of time where no official calls are recorded on Jan. 6, the next bit of action didn’t occur until 6:54 PM when Trump rang up Dan Scavino, his trusted aide and communications director. Scavino has refused to cooperate with the Jan. 6 probe and, along with trade adviser Peter Navarro, was found in contempt of Congress by the Jan. 6 committee. 

A full vote by the House to find them in contempt will be held on April 4.

Ex-prosecutor: Trump is guilty of fraud beyond a reasonable doubt

In the now public resignation letter to Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg from veteran prosecutor Mark Pomerantz, the cards, as they say, are on the table for all to see. 

Pomerantz, a special assistant district attorney in New York, was leading an exhaustive fraud investigation into former President Donald Trump’s finances, ultimately reviewing whether Trump or Trump Organization defrauded bank lenders and tax assessors when disclosing the value of various holdings to secure high-value loans. 

What Pomerantz now openly says he found was proof of Trump’s “guilt beyond a reasonable doubt” and enough evidence to prosecute, which has piled up in Trump’s bogus financial statements and false claims that have compounded year after year.

Related: Prosecutors say exit in Trump fraud case spurred by indictment-shy DA

Pomerantz’s choice to step down, along with fellow prosecutor Carey Dunne, emerged from a deep well of gradually building frustration with Bragg, who had only recently replaced New York District Attorney Cy Vance. 

When The New York Times first reported the resignations, sources effectively told the paper the attorneys left because Bragg had amassed too many doubts that the case could survive a grand jury. 

Pomerantz would not comment to the press in February about his decision to leave. The publication of his letter on Wednesday reverses that course and presents the stakes urgently to the public. 

“The investigation has been suspended indefinitely,” Pomerantz wrote. “Of course, that is your decision to make. I do not question your authority to make it and I accept that you have made it sincerely. However, a decision made in good faith may nevertheless be wrong.” 

He described the failure by Bragg to prosecute—quite baldly—as “misguided and completely contrary to the public interest.”

“Because of the complexity of the facts, the refusal of Mr. Trump and the Trump Organization to cooperate with our investigation, and their affirmative steps to frustrate our ability to follow the facts, this investigation has already consumed a great deal of time. As to Mr. Trump, the great bulk of the evidence relates to his management of the Trump Organization before he became President of the United States. These facts are already dated, and our ability to establish what happened may erode with the further passage of time,” Pomerantz wrote.

When Dunne stepped down, he told fellow attorneys working the case he had to “disassociate” himself from Bragg’s decision because he felt the district attorney was “on the wrong side of history.”

According to a spokesperson for the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, the fraud investigation into Trump and Trump organization continues. 

“A team of experienced prosecutors is working every day to follow the facts and the law. There is nothing we can or should say at this juncture about an ongoing investigation,” spokeswoman Danielle Filson told CBS. 

Alvin Bragg.

But time is of the essence: The grand jury hearing evidence assembled under Pomerantz and Dunne’s scrutiny is set to expire in April. 

Well before they left, they emphasized this deadline repeatedly to Bragg. At a meeting in January, Pomerantz and Dunne told the newly sworn in official that it could take months to present the case. Bragg was reportedly well aware of the stakes—he had met with Pomerantz and Dunne weeks before in December. At that meeting, he reportedly sought an update on the case and appeared eager to pick up where his predecessor left off. 

Once formally in office, Bragg started off receptive to pursuing the path toward an indictment, but that enthusiasm fizzled after New York Attorney General Letitia James announced the state’s civil investigation into Trump and the Trump Organization had turned up new evidence of fraud. That included, according to James, evidence that Trump grossly inflated property valuations to banks as well as the IRS for no fewer than a half dozen entities. 

The Times reported this January:

“Ms. James highlighted details of how she said the company inflated the valuations: $150,000 initiation fees into Mr. Trump’s golf club in Westchester that it never collected; mansions that had not yet been built on one of his private estates; and 20,000 square feet in his Trump Tower triplex that did not exist.”

On the criminal side, Pomerantz and Dunne were struggling to secure a witness for their grand jury that appeased Bragg. He was opposed to proposals calling Trump’s onetime fixer, Michael Cohen, before the grand jury. Bragg cited concerns over Cohen’s trustworthiness. The special prosecutors asked Bragg’s office to consider suspending the grand jury before it expired. 

The clock, however, kept running down, and Pomerantz grew more frustrated with delays. He proposed different strategies to coax Bragg, but those too fell on deaf ears. Pomerantz and Dunne allegedly conceded to Bragg just before their resignations that it would be a hard road to tread toward indictment, but it was a “righteous case that ought to be brought.”

“To the extent you have raised issues as to the legal and factual sufficiency of our case and the likelihood that a prosecution would succeed, I and others have advised you that we have evidence sufficient to establish Mr. Trump’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, and we believe that the prosecution would prevail if charges were brought and the matter were tried to an impartial jury,” Pomerantz wrote to Bragg on Feb. 23. 

He continued: 

“No case is perfect. Whatever the risks of bringing the case may be, I am convinced that a failure to prosecute will pose much greater risks in terms of public confidence in the fair administration of justice. As I have suggested to you, respect for the rule of law, and the need to reinforce the bedrock proposition that “no man is above the law,” require that this prosecution be brought even if a conviction is not certain.”

Daniel Goldman, who served as lead counsel to Trump’s first impeachment inquiry, reacted to Pomerantz’s letter publicly on Twitter on Thursday. Goldman ran for the New York attorney general spot.

Knowing someone committed a crime and proving that crime in court are distinctly different events, Goldman said.

“The easy thing for Bragg to do would be to charge Trump. It certainly would be the politically expedient thing to do,” Goldman said.

Goldman wrote that Bragg, to his credit, has served as a former federal and state prosecutor who led probes into Trump when Bragg worked at the attorney general’s office. The newly elected official should be “applauded,” Goldman added.

Suggestions that Bragg’s decision was reached corruptly were deemed “preposterous,” he said. 

There is a BIG difference between *knowing* somebody committed crimes and *proving* those crimes in court. The problem with this case has always been the evidence of Trump’s knowledge — it is not enough to say “of course he knew.” And Michael Cohen is a tarnished witness. 2/

— Daniel Goldman (@danielsgoldman) March 24, 2022

An attorney for Trump, Ronald Fischetti, told The Guardian that Pomerantz’s departure was just the latest proof that prosecutors didn’t have the goods to indict Trump. Fischetti said Bragg should be “commended” for following the rule of law instead of the rules of politics. 

For Pomerantz, according to his February resignation letter, it was never about politics. 

“I fear that your decision means that Mr. Trump will not be held fully accountable for his crimes. I have worked too hard as a lawyer, and for too long, now to become a passive participant in what I believe to be a grave failure of justice,” he wrote.