Matt Gaetz’s campaign donated $100,000 to a pro-Trump nonprofit on day of Trump’s second impeachment

It's been a while since we've heard news about Rep. Matt Gaetz, which once again raises the question: Why the hell aren't we hearing more news about Matt Gaetz? The Republican congressman is purportedly under investigation for the sex trafficking of a minor, but even that phrase hardly describes what's already publicly known about the case. The crooked Florida Republican and Gaetz pal at the center of the sex trafficking investigation is said to be cooperating with authorities; reporters have been able to contact several of the women involved and they have seemingly confirmed Gaetz's involvement; new stories of cocaine-fueled sex parties, an alleged proclivity to share nude photos of his "dates" with fellow Republicans in the Capitol—there's no end to it.

There was once a time when even half of that would have forced a congresscreature into early retirement, but that was before Republicanism decided that grifting serial rapists were presidential material. Gaetz is looking to stick it out, and has even been going on national tours with other, equally tawdry House Republicans in an effort to God-knows-what.

Fear not, however. While Matt Gaetz is sticking close to Rep. Jim Jordan, the House Republican now famous for not giving a damn whether those around him are committing sex crimes, more additions to the "Matt Gaetz is sketchy as hell" pile continue to be stacked gently on the heap. Many of them involve money, because of course they do.

That brings us to today's new news. Roger Sollenberger at the Daily Beast is reporting on a newly discovered $100,000 donation made by Matt Gaetz's campaign to a bizarre little nonprofit originally formed by pro-Trump Republican Chris Christie, the scandal-plagued former governor of New Jersey, as a Trump-boosting organization. Normally that would be standard-fare political news, but Sollenberger found a whole lot of sketchy under the surface.

Gaetz's campaign made the contribution the very day that Donald Trump's second impeachment trial got underway in the Senate. What's notable about this time period is that it was a time when Gaetz was very publicly giving Trump sloppy kisses of support after evidently failing to procure a much-desired blanket Trump pardon during Trump's last weeks in office. Apparently this behavior extended to funneling $100,000 of campaign funds into a Trump-boosting "nonprofit," but:

• The Gaetz campaign says no, actually it was to support Sarah Huckabee Sanders' bid to be Arkansas governor.

• But the nonprofit has never said it's supporting Sanders, and neither Gaetz nor his campaign have ever donated to Sanders directly.

• And nobody involved with the nonprofit (Christie is no longer associated with it) is willing to say what the group has been doing, and there's no record of them doing anything since August of 2020, and Gaetz appears to be the only politico who's given money to the group.

• And given that the group, "Right Direction America," is a 501(c)4 nonprofit that by law must devote itself primarily to social welfare causes and not politics, the inability of anyone involved to come up with a reason for the group's existence that doesn't hinge on politics makes the whole thing look a bit scammy. Or a lot scammy.

As with seemingly everything else involving Matt Gaetz, we don't know much but everything we do know points in the vague direction of somebody doing a crime. It's a bit odd that the Gaetz campaign forked over $100,000 to a pro-Trump "nonprofit" on the very day of Trump's second impeachment trial, and odder still for the campaign to be insisting that no, Actually it was meant to support a campaign the nonprofit has shown no record of supporting. It's a bit odd that this all came on the heels of frantic negotiations to try to secure a sex crimes pardon from a sex crimes president. It's a bit odd that the nonprofit in question does not seem to meaningfully exist, or do anything, or have any "social welfare" cause to it at all.

If there's one thing we've learned, however, it's that the Gaetz family has a recent history of attracting (alleged) money scammers. A Florida man was just indicted for attempting to extract $25 million from Gaetz's father in a bizarrely premised scheme promising a Trump pardon. Separately, Gaetz and his fiancee claim to have lost $155,000 after the money they wired to purchase a 41-foot yacht "went missing" due to "malicious actors."

And this isn't even the first sketchy cash transfer the Gaetz campaign itself has been involved with: Several months ago, it was discovered that among the mountains of cash the Gaetz campaign doled out in attempts to steer Gaetz through his sex-crime-premised political shipwreck was $20,000 to a Roger Stone company the Department of Justice says the Stone family has been using as a tax dodge.

In short, there's been a lot going on here. It's not out of the realm of possibility that Matt Gaetz and his campaign were simply bamboozled out of $100,000 by someone promising to deliver a new boat with a Roger Stone-delivered presidential pardon stapled to the hull, or were trying to get their hands on $100,000 of Sarah Sanders-produced t-shirts with secret presidential pardons stitched into their laundry tags. You really can't go wrong assuming that the real explanation will be wackier than it first appears, when any new Gaetz story appears. The guy's a walking scandal magnet.

Anyhoo, there you go. There's your new Matt Gaetz news. Do you regret knowing it? Yeah. Yeah, so do I. Federal agents could do us all a nice favor here and get on with indicting Gaetz for, honestly, take your pick, but it appears the Gaetz case has gone into the same unseen wormhole every last Trump investigation went into during his tenure. It might pop back up eventually, somewhere in the vicinity of Alpha Centauri.

A third of states have enacted new voter suppression laws since the Republican insurrection

Last November, a Republican president who oversaw 500,000 unnecessary American deaths and a resulting economic collapse lost his reelection bid. Rather than a begrudging admission that a seemingly delusional compulsive liar with no skills for the job and a record of scandal and chaos was a piss-poor candidate who lost because Americans had lost patience for his bellowing performance art, countless top members of the Republican Party immediately, and at Donald Trump's behest, declared that actually the only reason Republicanism lost at the polls was because the entire world conspired against them to secretly rig the election against Burping Authoritarianism.

As an excuse for a poor performance by a singularly unimpressive buffoon, it would have been merely pathetic. The moment the Republican Party began to act on their own false propaganda, crafting law after law predicated on false "fraud" that all aimed squarely at throwing up new obstacles to voting in communities that voted against them the last time around, it became an attack on democracy itself.

The Brennan Center for Justice now identifies one third of all American states as having passed new laws blocking access to the polls in the months since the last election. That's not laws proposed. That's laws already passed in Republican Party attempts to win future elections by specifically targeting working class, poor, communities of color, and other groups with new restrictions that make voting slightly harder or slightly more complicated.

Because mail-in voting during a deadly pandemic swung sharply against the Republican presidential candidate, mail-in voting is being sharply curtailed by Republican state legislatures. Because early voting and expanded poll hours both have allowed voters a chance to evade hours-long lines on election days—lines which continue to be conspicuously commonplace in neighborhoods of color even as polling places in nearby Republican-leaning communities enjoy more resources and few such delays—Republican legislatures are slashing early voting locations and times so as to force non-Republican leaning voters back into the long lines racist governments had previously engineered.

Other laws have placed new restrictions on providing any help to voters, whether it be help seeking ballots, help returning ballots, or even providing food or water to voters stuck in the hours-long lines that Republican lawmakers have insisted on preserving. New paperwork requirements present new hurdles for working class voters to overcome, hurdles of time, money, or both.

All of it is based on the Big Lie: A Republican Party-backed declaration that the last election was "stolen" from the incompetent Republican candidate, therefore justifying drastic nationwide action to do ... the same sort of vote-suppressing activities that the party has relied on for the last half century.

Federal action is currently being stymied by, of course, the same Republican lawmakers who united to save Trump from impeachment after he goaded violent insurrection with the exact propaganda being used by Republican state legislatures to justify new voter suppression laws now. The conventions of the Senate allow a minority—currently set at 40 senators, after multiple past changes to the number that were each themselves a response to a rump of racist lawmakers blocking past federal action to enforce basic civil rights protections—to block new federal protections giving all communities uniform minimum voting standards.

What's still not getting through the heads of some lawmakers, however, is just how extensive current Republican Party moves to reshape our elections truly are. A third of U.S. states have already seen voters placed under new, suppressive restrictions. Republican Party leaders are continuing to push completely false propaganda asserting that they "won" a presidential election they did not win. House and Senate Republicans continue their attempts to sabotage a probe of the resulting violent insurrection, in large part because any such probe of necessity must document how the party's provably false claims were spread to insurrectionist ears.

Civil rights activists are warning that attempts to "out-organize" new suppressive laws will not necessarily succeed. The point of widespread Republican voter suppression is to knock even the smallest possible fraction of Americans off the voting roles; not every one of the voters affected can be made whole again. Activists are thus beginning to express their frustration with this Democratic dawdling.

There may be a tradition, in the Senate, of using the filibuster to block new civil rights protections so as to allow the efforts of racist state lawmakers to continue unimpeded. There's also a tradition of altering the rules of the filibuster when it is being abused for that purpose.

There may be no more urgent time to protect voting rights than in the aftermath of a violent insurrection premised squarely on overturning an election rather than abide by voters' will. The anti-democratic party that goaded an attempted toppling of government by promoting false claims is using those same false claims to justify new roadblocks between voters and future ballot boxes. Both acts must be rebuffed.

Democrat Rep. Swalwell Spends Tons Of Campaign Cash On Booze, Limos, Expensive Restaurants

A new report from The Daily Caller shows that Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) spent thousands of dollars in campaign funds on alcohol, pricy restaurants, limo services, and the opulent hotel where is wife had previously worked.

In Federal Election Commission reports first reviewed by Fox News, the Swalwell for Congress campaign committee spent roughly $500,000 during the second quarter of 2021, a curious amount of money for a non-election year.

While there have been no accusations of wrong doing, the half-million-dollar spending spree by a congressman in a non-competitive district has raised some eyebrows.

Fox and the New York Post had initially ran headlines that indicated Swalwell’s wife currently works at the hotel in question, but have since updated their pieces.

RELATED: Texas Democrat Compares Threat Of Arrest After Fleeing State To Being A ‘Slave’

Running Up Tabs

Swalwell clearly has expensive tastes and has run up some fairly hefty bills in three months time. Some of those expenses include over $10,000 for limo rides and other luxury car services.

According to FEC records, the Swalwell campaign spent approximately $7,000 on posh restaurants in Washington D.C., and also an additional 13 meals at high-end restaurants in New York City and California. 

In the “food and beverage” category, the campaign bought from Capitol Hill Wine & Spirits, a local D.C. liquor store during seven trips totaling $1,151 for ‘refreshments.’

The Swalwell for Congress campaign was not through. Over $26,000 was spent on expensive hotels, including $20,000 at the Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay, where Swalwell’s wife Brittany was apparently employed as director of sales for the hotel up until 2019. 

Swalwell’s Congressional district regularly votes 70+% Democrat, making his campaign fundraising and spending a pretty sweet gig, if you can get it.

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Checkered Career

Eric Swalwell has been at the center of some recent controversies. In 2020, Swalwell was suspected of having a close relationship with a woman named Fang Fang, who is suspected of being a Chinese spy.

Fang helped to raise campaign funds for Swalwell’s 2014 campaign, and had an intern hired in Swalwell’s D.C. office. Forbes also says that Fang worked as a bundler of sorts for Swalwell, convincing big-money donors to write checks to the campaign.

Recently, Swalwell, along with his wife and several other members of congress took a trip to Qatar paid for by the US-Qatar Business Council.

The group says they are, “dedicated exclusively to enhancing the bilateral business relationship between the US and Qatar.”

The total tab for the trip was $84,621.59. Pictures have also surfaced of the trip of a shirtless Swalwell along with others riding camels.

RELATED: GOP Reps. Demand Explanation For Why Capitol Protesters Are Being Jailed When BLM Protesters Were Not

Outspoken Trump Critic

Eric Swalwell has been one of the most outspoken Democrat critics of former President Donald Trump. He was one of the loudest accusing Trump of colluding with Russia.

He served as a House Impeachment Manager, and in March, filed a lawsuit against Trump, Donald Trump Jr., Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani, and Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL).

The suit claimed that both Trumps, Giuliani, and Brooks should be held liable for any injuries or destruction that Swalwell claimed came from their alleged incitement of the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.

As allegations of an inappropriate relationship with a suspected Chinese spy and alleged campaign fund irregularities surround him, Swalwell continues to serve on the Judiciary and Homeland Security committees.

 

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Gordon Sondland sues government, Mike Pompeo for impeachment-related legal fees

Remember when it was conclusively proven that Donald Trump did a crime? No, not that one, the other one. No, between those two. We're talking about the confirmation, by multiple witnesses called before the House to testify on presidential acts, that Donald Trump slow-walked both military and diplomatic aid to Ukraine, which was fighting off a Russia-backed insurrection after Russian troops invaded and proclaimed ownership of Crimea, because Donald Trump was demanding the Ukrainian government do him specific favors to aid his upcoming campaign.

In a move eerily similar to the Trump campaign's 2016 dalliances with Russian espionage and propaganda campaigns, this time it was Rudy Giuliani, not Paul Manafort, who acted as courier looking to boost the effectiveness of Russian disinformation campaigns looking to damage Trump's most-feared Democratic election opponent. Pro-Russian Ukrainians laundered anti-Biden materials through Giuliani, who broadcast even the weirdest and most ridiculous ones (Secret servers! Russia was unfairly blamed for 2016 election hacking when actually it was Democrats hacking themselves the whole time!) into Donald Trump's own incomprehensibly hollow head; Donald Trump then insisted that Ukrainian government officials announce that they were investigating these very stupid claims, lending them official credence, in exchange for Trump (1) meeting with the Ukrainian president as show of support for the nation's battle against Russian occupation and (2) agreeing to release his hold on congressionally mandated military aid that Trump and his top officials had no legal authority to block in the first place.

During House impeachment investigations, Trump ally, donor, and ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland testified through only a little flopsweat that yes, there was a "quid pro quo" demand from the White House that the Ukrainian government promote the Trump-backed anti-Biden hoax before Trump would agree to meet with the Ukrainian president—a clear abuse of governmental powers to gain something of value to Trump personally. Sondland was one of the few pro-Trump witnesses to even agree to appear before Congress; other key witnesses to the events, including William Barr and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, refused to testify or to produce subpoenaed documents.

Trump and his allies faced no repercussions, however. Senate Republicans near-unanimously refused to hear testimony or evidence in the resulting impeachment trial, because they are corrupt. Only days after those Republicans dismissed the impeachment trial against Trump, Trump fired Sondland and other witnesses who testified to his actions, beginning a large-scale purge of any government officials deemed to be unwilling to cover up future Trump corruption. It was a fascist act from a fascist administration backed, then and now, by a fascist party.

Trump once-ally Gordon Sondland is now suing both the U.S. government and Mike Pompeo. His claim? That Pompeo assured him that the U.S. State Department would cover the legal expenses he incurred in preparing for his congressional testimony, back when Pompeo (himself hiding from Congress) and other Trump allies still believed Sondland would refuse to acknowledge Trump's extortive would-be deal. When he came back from testifying, however, Pompeo demanded his immediate resignation, Trump fired him after he refused to give it, and Pompeo's State Department stiffed him, leaving him with $1.8 million in legal bills.

Or, in other words, the same thing happened to him that has happened to everyone else who ever tried to attach themselves to Trump. Who would have thunk it.

Pompeo, for his part, is scoffing at the lawsuit. Democrats have for some reason declined to enforce Pompeo's testimony now that Pompeo no longer has the whole of Trump's government stonewalling that testimony on his behalf, and Pompeo is currently preparing to jet off to Israel to attend a party honoring an Israeli intelligence official and, presumably, commit another crime or two while he has the chance. He remains of the belief that he is still a force to be reckoned with in Republican politics, despite being made to look like a chump throughout Trump's incompetent reign and despite newer-generation fascist blowhards like Ron DeSantis running circles around him when it comes to kissing Trump's ass and getting Americans pointlessly killed.

Will Sondland get his money back? Who knows. Not from Pompeo, that's for sure. We'll see whether the new Biden administration decides that a Pompeo promise ought to be honored even when Pompeo himself never intended to do so, or whether maybe all involved believe that if you staked nearly $2 million on a promise from Trump's crooked inner circle than maybe that's your problem and not ours.

Judge orders Betsy DeVos to sit for three-hour deposition to explain rejecting loan forgiveness

Former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has been ordered to sit for a three-hour deposition for lawyers handling a class-action lawsuit. The lawsuit, brought on behalf of around 160,000 student loan borrowers, came from the students defrauded by numerous for-profit colleges across the country. These were organizations like Trump University, where Trump settled a civil lawsuit for $25 million in November 2016. DeVos oversaw the 18-month delay and then rejection of student borrowers’ claims while she ran the Department of Education.

Judge William Alsup ruled that while it is very rare for a former Cabinet secretary to be deposed, “exceptional circumstances” in DeVos’ case—and the super shoddy and sketchy gaps in information—meant that she needed to be deposed. The judge agreed with the class-action lawsuit’s attorneys that DeVos had intimate involvement in the decision-making process surrounding these loans, and since there was “sparse” documentation left over from the previous administration, DeVos’ deposition was required.

This is an important decision because the previous administration, whether through incompetence or nefariousness, seems to have kept very weak records of their processes of running government. That’s unacceptable. In fact, that tends to be the reason that former Cabinet secretaries usually don’t get ordered into three-hour depositions—they usually can argue that the information they would be able to provide is documented and available. 

In February, Biden’s Department of Justice filed a defense of DeVos from deposition, citing of all things “harassment” and called the motion “part of a PR campaign that has been central to [the students’] litigation strategy from the outset. It should be rejected and the court should quash the subpoena.” The Department of Justice also put forth the argument that former Cabinet secretaries are generally immune from having to answer questions under oath about their official government work. Alsup did not agree with that assessment.

But Alsup maintained that Cabinet secretaries are still subject to the law. He cited a range of historical precedents for top executive branch officials being forced to respond to subpoenas, including President Richard Nixon having to turn over White House tapes as part of the Watergate scandal and President Bill Clinton having to sit for a deposition in the Paula Jones sexual harassment lawsuit that ultimately led to his impeachment.

Under the Trump administration, DeVos’ Department of Education put a hold on loan forgiveness resolutions for 18 months. During that time, DeVos had to be told by a federal judge that over 150,000 fraud victims’ loan forgiveness was being held up by her and her Department of Education. Even after that order, DeVos continued to block making a decision until finally, DeVos’ Department of Education made sweeping rejections of 94% of the borrower claims being held in abeyance. 

Alsup was overseeing that issue at the time and was justifiably furious with DeVos’ actions and explanation. For months, DeVos and her Department of Education said they were stuck in a backlog, lamenting how hard the work was and how much work they were putting into it all. Then, seemingly with very little explanation according to Alsup at the time, DeVos “charged out of the gate, issuing perfunctory denial notices utterly devoid of meaningful explanation at a blistering pace.”

This led to Alsup squashing the deal between Trump’s Department of Education and the student borrower claimants, and letting their class-action lawsuit go forward. And now here we are. DeVos, like everyone in the Republican swamp, did it to herself.

Judge Alsup left a two week frame within which DeVos’s team can appeal the decision.

Rep. Matt Gaetz is out of friends, drugs, and pimps. Might be time to cut your losses, pal

Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz has long been a terrible, terrible person, which for the past 10 years has been a near-requirement for Republican officeholders in general. He made a name for himself as a rabid partisan of no particular values other than devoted sucking-up; his main contribution to his nation has been a vocal defending of Donald Trump each and every time Trump was caught in some new crookedness. That's it. He's known for that, for launching retaliatory strikes against Trump's enemies, for near-obsessive attempts to ingratiate himself with Dear Golfing Leader, and oh, would you look at that, living a not-so-secret life as a House Republican ultraperv now under investigation for drug-fueled sex trafficking. What are the odds: A man who fetishizes Donald Trump and is joined at the hip to Jim Jordan turned out to be a child rapist? Wow, go figure.

So we are absolutely allowed to enjoy his downfall, and if the man wants to drag this out in order to tarnish or implicate as many of his fellow House Republican sedition-backers as possible then by all means he should knock himself out with that. Do a backflip on the way down, buddy.

The latest humiliation, just so we are all gloriously up to date, is an expected one. Matt Gaetz evidently sought an urgent meeting with Donald Trump "after it was first revealed he was being investigated," says CNN, but was turned down by Trump's aides. Yes, the man who polished Dear Crooked Leader's boots to a shine in multiple impeachment investigations is being cut loose by the Mar-a-Lago crowd.

Now, just to put the proper emphasis on this: If there is any group in Florida that has their pulse on everything corrupt or worth corrupting, it is the denizens of Dear Golfing Leader's For-Profit Living Room and Covid Dispensarium, home of the all-you-can-eat Crime Buffet. The rapist and tax dodger Trump was carried into office by an assembly of small-time and mid-ranking conservative griftologists able to ingratiate themselves because they spoke the same two-bit language; once in office, he was treated as the Jesus of Petty Extortions. This crowd thinks the brown-nosing Matt Gaetz is cooked. This is the crowd that's cutting him loose.

Yeah, he's toast. Already, there's a robo-poll going around Gaetz's district testing names for who in Republicandom should run to replace him. Nobody's fessing up to paying for it, though.

The New York Times has our latest look at Joel Greenberg, the Florida Republican minor officeholder whose goings-on turned his friend Gaetz into a subject of a federal sex trafficking investigation, and the sheer scope of the man's seemingly compulsive crime-doing is ... yeesh. He may be the perfect Florida Republican, a lifetime screwup who spent just enough money to land himself a smalltime elected position in a state that doesn't give a damn about governing to begin with, a belligerent little hack who campaigned on swamp-draining but after taking office immediately seemed to fill his scorecard with every crime he could think of, both petty-ass and prison-worthy. As with every other crook in Florida, he latched onto the Gaetz and Trump crowd because go figure, it turns out sex crimes are one of the key Republican means of bonding, and now it seems he is a bit of a wreck because after f--king up everything else in his life he has a sudden fear of going to Big Boy Jail.

This is a child who would willingly burn every other conservative in Florida if it got him an extra pudding cup in prison lunchlines. He's going to cling to Gaetz's ankles so tenaciously Matt won't be able to board a plane without declaring him luggage.

Here's where things stand: House Republican Matt Gaetz is being probed for the possible sex trafficking of a 17-year-old. Along the way to answering that one last (?) question, people "familiar" with What Gaetz Was Doing have already confirmed to reporters that Gaetz has been openly bragging to his fellow House Republicans about his "conquests" (complete with videotapes); at least once accompanied Greenberg to Greenberg's fake-ID procurement office; "repeatedly" boasted to others about his antics with Greenberg; made at least one apparent sex trip to the Bahamas involving "female escorts" provided by another ally; appears to have assisted in procuring sex for other Republicans; and there are literally Venmo records of Gaetz paying at least three of the women through Greenberg. There's alleged drug use throughout, of course.

Oh, and he sought a "blanket" Trump pardon after he learned, in the last bits of Trump's time in office, that the feds were on to him. Oh, and his (other?) actions while in Congress were so continually grotesque his own staffers were sending videos to other Republicans.

That's not even all of it. That's just the highlights. And House Republicans knew about quite a bit of this, because Matt liked to "brag," and they did nothing because the party is a fascist cult now premised on letting their members get away with crimes.

Unfortunately for Matt Gaetz, he has failed to learn any of the basic lessons of Washington, D.C. Polishing Dear Leader's boots will get you absolutely nothing in return; there is no quid or quo among sociopaths and narcissists. When doing crimes, only do crimes that your associates can keep covered up. Attempt, if at all possible, not to be so universally hated in the nation that every last one of your Not Jim Jordan associates is putting out the popcorn and sitting themselves down on a couch to watch rigor mortis set in on your career.

If the man had an ounce of common sense he'd resign now, if only to make it not quite so spectacularly rewarding for national journalists to squeeze out new detail after new detail while he squirms. Instead, he's promoting seditionist conspiracies and being publicly dim. In times of trouble, some people retrench. Matt here is retrenching.

But Matt Gaetz has been a garbage human being ever since he first slithered out of the Florida swamps like an invasive python, he deserves every bit of it, everyone around him is a garbage human being for not ditching him long before this, and the sooner the Republican base figures out their party is just a crime-fueled sex cult with an advertising budget the better.

Yevgeny Vindman receives Army promotion after Pentagon wipes retaliatory Trump claims from record

During the first of what would become two distinct Donald Trump impeachment trials, Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman became an important witness for doing what none of Trump's surrounding Republican partisans could muster: giving a full, under-oath accounting of the events surrounding Trump's linkage of congressionally mandated military aid to an at-war Ukraine to a brazenly corrupt pressuring of that government to announce an investigation of Rudy Giuliani-pushed conspiracy theories against Trump's presidential election opponent.

For that testimony, both Alexander Vindman and his brother Yevgeny, also a lieutenant colonel, faced the retaliation of the crooked White House. Alexander chose early retirement after Trump and cronies booted him from his post, forcibly escorted from the White House, and blocked him from further military promotion. Yevgeny filed a complaint charging that the White House's identical retaliations against him were spurred not just for his own cooperation with impeachment investigators but his own whistleblower reports against previous episodes of administration crookedness, a complaint that was backed by House Democrats and which is still being probed by the Pentagon's office of inspector general.

There is now at least some small amount of good news to report. Now that conservatism's least-organized organized crime family has been expelled, Army. Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman has been selected for the promotion he was previously due, and will now become a full colonel.

It wasn't necessarily going to turn out this way. Trump's team of crooks retaliated against each of the witnesses against them, in the Vindmans' cases penning new performance reviews designed to squash any military attempt to promote them. While there has yet to be any consequences for those retaliation efforts, the Vindman promotion is a signal that the Pentagon powers-that-be do indeed consider those reviews to have been retaliatory, rather than accurate. And that's a ... surprising amount of common sense from inside the military bureaucracy.

Indeed, Politico reports that Army assistant deputy chief of staff Maj. Gen. Michel Russell determined the evaluations to be "not objective," and in January those retaliatory reviews were wiped from Vindman's record.

As for brother Alex, he remains retired. In a Monday op-ed endorsing defamation lawsuits against conservative media liars, he writes that he made a mistake when he "did not respond forcefully to the threats and defamation" against him by Trump proxies, and that he "should have sued those who amplified [Trump's] campaign of defamation."

"When Fox News stars and more fringe networks like Newsmax and One America News Network make baseless and outrageous claims about “stolen elections,” “communist Democrats,” and “fascist main-stream media,” they are building on lies about individuals,” Vindman wrote. “They are galvanizing extremism on the back of defamation. Too many of those defamed individuals, including myself, have allowed extremist claims to go unanswered."

D.C. attorney general: Trump Jr.’s deposition ‘raised further questions’ about inaugural payments

In January of 2020, Washington, D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine filed a civil complaint against the 58th Presidential Inaugural Committee (Trumps) and the two entities—the Trump Organization, which owns the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., and the Loews Hotel chain, which owned The Madison Hotel in Washington, D.C. in 2017. At issue were the exorbitant rates the Inaugural Committee paid to the hotel for private parties and rooms and spaces that were not even used. Racine pointed to evidence that people within the Inaugural Committee knew the prices were overboard and questioned them at the time. In December, Ivanka Trump had to sit for at least five hours to answer questions. Like a good grifter Trump, she claimed it was all a political witch hunt.

At around the same time Ivanka was being deposed, her older brother Junior was getting phone calls from Racine asking him about a purported $49,358.92 that the Trump Organization was contracted to pay to the hotel connected to the inauguration. It turns out that not only didn’t the Trump Organization pay that money back to itself (in essence)—the nonprofit, donor-funded Presidential Inauguration Committee ended up cutting that check back to the Trumps’ hotel interests. In fact, Trump Jr. may have been the person who forwarded that check on to the Inaugural Committee. Weeeeeeeiiiiird, huh?

Well, it turns out that while many of us were watching the awful sequel impeachment trial of Donald Trump during the week of Feb. 9, Donald Trump, Jr. was having his own deposition with Racine’s office. CNN reports that the Washington, D.C. Attorney General’s office says this new deposition "raised further questions about the nature" of that very same invoice—the one that was forwarded by the Trump Organization to the Trump Inaugural Committee to pay Trump’s hotel.

Will Trump Jr. be able to explain why the Trump Organization’s hotel bill was paid by the Trump Inaugural Committee? Let’s just guess that any excuse given by someone related to Donald Trump at this point is likely going to be less than satisfactory. But that’s not all of Junior and the Trump family’s problems. On Wednesday, the Daily Beast reported that investigators from the Manhattan district attorney’s office have begun focusing more intensely on the Donald’s eldest, least remarkable son, Donald Trump Jr., as well as on Trump’s old buddy and longstanding CFO of the Trump Organization Allen Weisselberg.

Weisselberg has been interviewed by all kinds of law enforcement agencies over the last few years, and was even offered immunity when cooperating in the FBI’s investigation into former Trump attorney Michael Cohen. According to the Daily Beast, the Manhattan investigation—not to be confused with the Washington, D.C. investigation—has “broadened the range of investigation into the Trump family’s assets, and have recruited some extra manpower.” 

The New York investigation comes out of the Donald’s tax filings and Weisselberg has already been deposed at least once by Manhattan prosecutors during the investigation. More recently, sources say that Donald Trump’s properties and the nature of the loans he’s taken out against some of his properties have been examined by the Manhattan district attorney’s office, which is led by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. These investigations are different from the one being conducted by New York Attorney General Letitia James’ office, which is also investigating some of Trump’s sketchy property development loans.

Sources close to Trump say that the New York investigations—as well as all of the numerous other investigations into Trump and his family’s affairs, while on his mind—are being dismissed by the family as a political witch hunt. But maybe there’s a reason why Weisselberg was on everybody’s list of people Donald Trump may try to preemptively pardon before leaving office? Maybe all of these people have secret break-in-case-of-emergency” pardons, as some have speculated? Maybe Trump’s attempt to load up the Supreme Court with ultra-right-wing, underqualified judges hasn’t worked as well as he had hoped in protecting his criminal behavior.

Maybe Trump’s No. 1 motivation for positioning himself to run again in 2024 is the hope that he can once and for all legalize his and his family’s apparent criminal enterprise.

Mitch McConnell protected Trump from consequences, then tried to distance himself from the damage

Here in the new millennium, two district species of Americans have evolved. There are the Americans who, from many years of having it demonstrated to them, know Sen. Mitch McConnell to be dishonest, power-obsessed, and eager to sabotage both nation itself and the lives of its citizens in service of Republican Party power.

And then there's the press, which cannot stomach the thought that the most powerful political figure of recent times is singularly corrupt and dishonest, a man who through relentlessly false claims and rhetorical psychopathies worked diligently to turn the Senate into little more than an exceptionally pompous Fox News show.

On Saturday, Sen. Mitch McConnell gave a rousing speech blasting Donald Trump for a "disgraceful dereliction of duty," among other offenses, agreeing that there was "no question, none," that Trump is "practically and morally responsible" for an insurrection attempt that killed a police officer, injured around 140 others, caused multiple other deaths, and came close to capturing or killing Trump's own vice president and others specifically targeted by Trump as political enemies. As is rote for all McConnell speeches, as anyone with even the slightest knowledge of the body knows, it came immediately after McConnell voted to himself sabotage action against Trump—a sabotage that was deliberate, had taken place over the course of many weeks, and could likely not have succeeded if it were not for McConnell's own dereliction.

McConnell's argument was that a former president cannot be impeached—a theory deemed nonsensical by historians, scholars, and other experts not accessories to Trump's modern fascist movement, and one that the Senate had already explicitly rejected. McConnell's argument was that Democrats—because every single speech in which McConnell defends his party's embrace of a new corrupt, counterfactual, or plainly malevolent act comes with an explanation that Democrats caused it to happen—did not move swiftly enough to impeach Trump after the January 6 insurrection, allowed Trump to leave office, and now his party's bloodstained hands are tied.

But it was McConnell who blocked action while Trump was in office. It was McConnell who refused to call the Senate back to conduct the trial, and who justified the refusal by calling the House's impeachment a "light-speed sham process." Once he had lost the majority and with it, the powers to control the Senate clock, McConnell voted at every turn to block the Senate from hearing the case against Trump. It is McConnell himself inventing yet another New Rule that he now claims stands in the way of impeaching a Republican for violent insurrection; it comes after countless similar New Rules about the Constitution and the Senate that McConnell claimed to have discovered, both small and large.

McConnell declared that a sitting Democratic president could not appoint new Supreme Court justices during the last full year of his term; McConnell declared that a sitting Republican president could do so during his last weeks in office. It is all a farce. We have been here a dozen times before.

McConnell agrees that Trump was responsible for a violent attack on the U.S. Capitol. But he did so too close to the end of his term, and so falls into a new loophole in which presidents are allowed to sit back and watch as a mob hunts his enemies in the U.S. Capitol so long as he gets the timing right.

Like the apocryphal man who murdered his parents, then begged the courts for leniency because he was an orphan, McConnell protected Trump through his last weeks in office, and now says that the delay he himself engineered now prevents the Senate from imposing consequences. Trump is culpable, he is fully willing to declare.

And with that declaration, McConnell singled himself out as willing collaborator.

This is the part of the well-worn program where Sen. Mitch McConnell knows a member of his party has done an unforgivable and evil thing, and thus prepares his dual defenses. To preserve party power and cultivate a base that has grown ever more willing to accept any crime in service to their cause, McConnell maneuvers to sabotage whatever accountability is being attempted. To preserve the money flow from donors horrified that the party would go so far—but who still count tax breaks and corporate deregulation as more urgent needs than flushing out white supremacist-laced, propaganda-fueled fascism—McConnell seeds stories about his personal frustration with the behavior, assures the donor class that he is absolutely not on board with the new horror he himself worked to protect.

It seems when a violent mob comes close to assassinating Sen. Mitch McConnell personally, that will be enough to stir an actual condemnation directly from the man himself. But it will still not, once the heat of the moment has died down and the mob has been dispersed, rouse him to support his country over his party. It is seemingly not in his nature, or in the nature of anyone left in his now-purged party.

Trump campaign paid at least $3.5 million to planners of the Jan. 6 rally

The insurrection on Jan. 6 was planned by Donald Trump and his allies. It did not occur in a vacuum. Trump broadcast long before the election that if he lost he was going to claim the election was stolen from him. Trump's allies were quoted after his loss, anonymously and not, describing what the "plan" was each step of the way, as they alleged invisible fraud in each swing state Trump lost and came up with each new rationale why the votes from those states should be nullified.

After each state certified its vote totals and electors, the Trump team's game plan was, openly, to demand that Congress itself throw out non-Trump electors in sufficient numbers as to nullify the election itself. A large part of this effort consisted of gathering as many far-far-right Trump supporters as possible in Washington on Jan. 6, the date Congress would formally count the electors, explicitly to pressure Congress into throwing out those electors. Trump himself promoted the effort, as House managers in his second impeachment trial laid out tweet-by-tweet, and the event was explicitly timed to turn the assembled crowd, worked into a froth by multiple speakers and finally Trump himself, toward the U.S. Capitol precisely as Congress began counting those votes.

All of this is known and incontestable. It was reported in real time, over the course of months; we all witnessed it.

Though Trump's team has gone to considerably more effort to hide it, we now know that the Jan. 6 event timed to interfere with the counting of electors in Congress was not just promoted by Trump and his campaign, but financed by it as well. New research by OpenSecrets shows that Trump's 2020 campaign and joint fundraising committees made at least $3.5 million in direct payments to those organizing the Jan. 6 event.

This includes a payment to event planners Event Strategies Inc. on Dec. 15, three weeks before the event.

The point is significant because it demonstrates, yet again, two plain facts about the Jan. 6 "rally." First, that the effort to assemble a mass crowd of demonstrators intent on opposing Congress' formalization of the election results, at exactly the point Congress would be doing that formalization, was planned well in advance—including the attendance of the Trump-supporting violent far right. Second, that the effort was heavily financed by the Trump campaign itself, pouring at least millions into a strategy they hoped would nullify the United States election at the very last opportunity to do so, after all their other attempts had failed. This was not Donald Trump, delusional, ranting in the darkness. This was a planned and organized attempt to nullify the election, carried out by his staff, allies, and complicit Republican lawmakers.

It may have been based on brazen lies and propaganda, but it was a real attempt. The crowd was not in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 6 to merely voice their displeasure over the election results. They had been gathered there to interfere with those results.

The "at least millions" part is because, OpenSecrets says, we may never know exactly how much money Trump's campaign and fundraisers channelled into the staging of the Jan. 6 rally and riot. We know that at least $50 million was spent to promote the "Stop the Steal" campaign itself, in the weeks before Jan. 6, but OpenSecrets reports that Trump's campaign used shell companies to hide "hundreds of millions of dollars" in campaign spending. We know they spent it, but we don't know who they paid those hundreds of millions to.

Because this is the Trump family we are talking about, and because they have surrounded themselves with a collection of the seediest grifters the conservative movement has to offer, it is widely speculated that those shell companies are hiding the straight-up theft of campaign money by Trump and others. But it also looks like the companies were used to intentionally hide the full extent of the campaign's financial support for an attempted insurrection.

Which is no more surprising than any of the rest of it, to be sure. Trump and his allies fully intended to overthrow the government if they could, on Jan. 6. They planned it, they provided financing to make it happen, and they used the gathered crowd as the weapon they intended it to be. It was all pre-planned, and just because it failed—as it was almost certain to—does not erase the intent or the harm. There were multiple deaths inside the U.S. Capitol that day. As they were occurring, Trump and Rudy Giuliani were calling senators, using the violence as a tool to help block certification of Joe Biden as the winner, even as Trump refused to intervene to help send rescue teams to the Capitol.

"The call was cut off," reported CNN of a mid-riot call from Trump to Sen. Tommy Tuberville, "because senators were asked to move to a secure location."