Such an abuse’: Bill Barr delivers obvious facts to Fox News about Mar-a-Lago stash of documents

By now, you’ve probably heard that the disgraced former president, Donald Trump, seems to be something of a criminal. No, I’m not talking about his racist landlord violations from the 1970s. No, not his dubious interactions with contractors throughout the 1980s and 1990s. No, not his shady personal bankruptcies of the 1990s and 2000s. No, not even his two impeachments and the fact that there are numerous campaign violations that many believe need more criminal investigations. Trump seems to have broken a slew of laws surrounding the handling, hoarding, and possible treason of taking classified documents to keep at his private golf club and residence at Mar-a-Lago.

The Republican Party, sans a few neocons, is struggling to regain primacy in the toilet bowl that is the Republican Party circling the sewer of fascism. On Friday, former Trump attorney general Bill Barr went on Fox News and took a ginormous rain on the right wing’s parade by making the case—not once, but twice in a two-minute span—that Donald Trump had earned and deserved the search and seizure of government documents from Mar-a-Lago.

Yes, the guy who just a few months ago said he would still vote for Donald Trump were he to run in 2024, the guy who allowed Donald Trump to skate past clear recommendations from Special Counsel Robert Mueller that he should be investigated more thoroughly for breaking federal laws. That Bill Barr. And yes, that Fox News.

RELATED STORY: All you need to read from the memo Barr claimed cleared Trump on obstruction is a single footnote

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Let me premise this by saying that I personally believe Fox News is hedging its bets here. Murdoch and the brain trust at Fox News have already lost favor with Trump after being the news outlet to call Arizona for Biden in 2020. They have had to walk back their full-on dismissal of Trump, as the current GOP leadership didn’t have the backbone to stand up to Trump and offer their base a worthwhile alternative.* Letting Bill Barr come on and slam Trump while vapid hosts made faces and threw softball defenses up is a way for Fox News to have clips if and when Donald Trump ends up in an orange jumpsuit.

On Friday, Barr spoke to two vacuous Fox News mouthpieces and began by pointing out that the idea that Trump could or would make a blanket declassification was ridiculous, and that even if he did, it wouldn’t be much of a defense against any real legal challenges. Barr said he was “skeptical” of that claim in the first place, “because frankly, I think it’s highly improbable; and second, if in fact he sort of stood over scores of boxes, not really knowing what was in them, and said ‘I hereby declassify everything in here,’ that would be such an abuse, show such recklessness, that it is almost worse than taking the documents.”

One Fox deplorable decided the best tactic here was to ask Barr about how the FBI went to Donald Trump’s private residence to get said folders and files. You know, the old GOP chestnut: How could a rich, conservative white guy possibly break the law? Barr did a good job of pointing out that it seemed pretty clear the FBI had a very good idea that there were a lot of very serious documents in a very not-secure location, and Trump wasn’t willingly giving them back.

He then gave a very simple answer that maybe some of the people watching from their MyPillow recliners could maybe understand:

"People say the search was unprecedented. Well, it’s also unprecedented for a president to take classified information and put them in a county club. How long is the government going to try to get that back, you know? They jawbone for a year. They were deceived on the voluntary actions taken. They then went and got a subpoena. They were deceived on that—they feel. And the records are starting to show that they were being jerked around."

"People say this was unprecedented. Well, it's also unprecedented for a POTUS to take all this classified information & put 'em in a country club, ok? And how long is the govt going to try to get that back?" -- Bill Barr bodies Trump on Fox News even as anchors try to defend him

— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) September 2, 2022

*In the GOP leadership’s defense, they have no meaningful alternative to Trump. Trump is worth 1,000 Ted Cruzes or Josh Hawleys because Trump will unashamedly lie about giving conservative voters everything they want (lower health insurance costs, more and better jobs, all the oil they can guzzle). Most Republicans have spent the last few decades attempting to pretend they had policies that might do that in the face of failure after failure.

RELATED STORY: The classified documents in that DOJ photo were all found in Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago office

Rosen testifies behind closed doors on Trump administration coup attempt at Justice Department

The full scope of the Trump administration's efforts to nullify an American presidential election is just beginning to come into view. Trump and his top allies engaged in an orchestrated, three-pronged plan to use federal officials to cast illegitimate doubts on the integrity of the election, explicitly pressure state officials to "find" votes or otherwise alter vote totals, and counter the official congressional acknowledgement of the election's results with an organized mob assembled specifically to "march" to the Capitol and intimidate the lawmakers carrying out that constitutionally mandated process. It was an attempted coup by Trump and his deputies, one that Trump himself continued to press even after that coup had exploded into violence.

The New York Times is now reporting that Trump's acting attorney general, Jeffrey Rosen, gave closed-door testimony to the Senate Judiciary on Saturday. The subject of the testimony was the interactions between Rosen and Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark as Clark attempted, on Trump's behalf, to press the Justice Department into issuing false claims suggesting that they were investigating election "fraud" of the sort that Trump's propagandists were claiming as the reason for Trump's loss. It was untrue, and the top two Justice officials rejected Clark's repeated proposals.

Transparently, it was an attempt by Clark and other Trump allies to throw the nation into chaos by claiming the election was so flawed that its results must be overturned—a claim which Trump's hard-right team believed would force the assembling Congress to erase the election's counted votes and, somehow, reinstall Trump as quasilegal national leader.

All three elements of the plan came perilously close to succeeding. All three were thwarted only because individuals remained in place who believed the plan to be insanity, sedition, or both. It is the efforts by Trump-aligned officials within the federal government, using the tools granted to them by government, that elevate the events culminating in violence on January 6 from insurrection to attempted coup.

In a pivotal decision, Rosen rejected Clark's attempt, leading to yet another internal administration crisis as Trump mulled whether to fire him and install Clark in his position so that the plan could be carried out.

In a Sunday CNN appearance, Senate Judiciary Committee member Sen. Dick Durbin said Rosen had described Trump as being directly involved in Clark's actions. "It was real, very real, and it was very specific."

Significantly, the Times reports that Rosen scheduled his testimony "quickly" so as to allow them to go forward "before any players could ask the courts to block the proceedings." That may be a self-serving interpretation of events. As emptywheel notes, Clark's efforts to overturn the election and Trump's aborted move to fire Rosen and install Clark as acting attorney general was the subject of news reporting in January, even before Trump's second impeachment trial took place. The Senate Judiciary began their requests for documents pertaining to the plan near-immediately, and have been battling the Department of Justice for testimony ever since.

A half-year delay in gaining testimony about a "very real" and "very specific" attempt to overthrow the duly elected next administration by coup does not make it sound like anyone involved is attempting to provide evidence "quickly."

Most significantly of all, perhaps, is that the United States Senate could have investigated the Trump team's plot during the impeachment trial meant to gather evidence and come to judgment on Trump's behavior. For the second time, it did not do so. It avoided examining the evidence, rushing through the trial to again get to the inevitable close of having nearly all Republican lawmakers back Trump's actions, even after they had resulted in violence.

The job now falls to the House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection: The moves Clark, Meadows, and other Trump officials made to falsely discredit the election results were intended to provide the backing by which willing insurrectionists could justify their demands that the Constitution be tossed aside for the sake of Trump's reinstallation. The job also falls to federal investigators who now need to examine—swiftly—the criminality of the schemes.

It was not, however, a "Trump" coup. Donald Trump, a known liar and semi-delusional blowhard, had few government powers that would allow him to singlehandedly erase state election counts or make official his declarations that he had lost, after a disastrous single term, only through "fraud" concocted against him. It required the cooperation of top Republican allies, of Republican Party officials, of lawmakers, and others that would press the false claims and work both within and outside of government to give them false legitimacy. It was a Republican coup, an act of sedition backed with specific acts from Mark Meadows, from Jeffrey Clark, from senators such as Josh Hawley, from state Republican officials who eagerly seized on the conspiracy claims specifically so that they could be used to overturn elections they had lost, and from everyday Republican supporters who decided that the zero-evidence nationalist propaganda they were swallowing up was justification enough to storm the U.S. Capitol by force in an overt attempt to erase a democratic election.

Here we sit, waiting with bated breath as evidence dribbles out describing the full scope of what the entire world saw in realtime, from last November to January: top Republican officials spreading knowingly false, propagandistic claims intended to undermine the integrity of our democratic elections so as to justify simply changing that election's results and declaring themselves the victors. It was a fascist act. It continues in the states, as state Republican lawmakers use the same brazenly false claims peddled by Clark to impose new hurdles to voting meant to keep at least some fraction of the Americans who voted against the party last time from being able to vote at all the next time.

A bit more urgency is required, here.

With a three-pronged plan, Trump’s White House tried to topple our democracy

America has not yet internalized what the last Republican administration did, during the last months of Donald Trump's term of office. The country seems rather insistent on not letting the full scope of it drift into their heads, and every new detail seems to be presented with enough context stripped out to keep it vague.

The new release of Justice Department notes documenting conversations between Trump and his acting attorney general put things in very plain terms. From late December to the violent culmination of events on January 6, the Trump White House engaged in a multi-pronged effort to topple the United States government.

It was intentional. It was supported by top White House aides. It had the explicit goal of nullifying a U.S. presidential election so that the Trump White House could, acting in plain defiance of the rules set out in the Constitution, maintain power. That Trump and his top allies had spent the previous twelve months combing through government to remove those seen as insufficiently "loyal" to the White House's increasingly law-bending edicts may or may not have been precursor, but there's not even a little question about what happened in the last days of December and early days of January.

According to notes taken by deputy attorney general Richard Donoghue, Trump asked acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen to "just say that the election was corrupt," then "leave the rest" to the White House and to Republicans in Congress. (Specifically mentioned by Trump in that call was, among others, Rep. Jim Jordan, who is now scurrying to evade questions about his communications with Trump on the day of the January 6 insurrection.) It was not once or twice: the Trump White House is said to have contacted Rosen and other officials "nearly every day" to pressure the agency to publicly cast doubts on the election.

Trump and others within the White House, including chief of staff Mark Meadows, also began calling Republican election officials in at least Arizona and Georgia to similarly pressure them to alter their vote totals in Trump's favor.

In conjunction with both those efforts, Trump was encouraging members of his base to show up for a "march" on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, scheduled to exactly coincide with the formal congressional acknowledgement of the electoral totals. Trump and his allies sought to assemble as large a crowd as possible, for the specifically cited purpose of pressuring the assembled Congress to overturn the election's outcome.

When the crowd turned violent, Trump did nothing. When Republican lawmakers called him personally to ask him for aid, he belittled and refused them.

The justification for each act was a propaganda campaign by Republican allies that fraudulently claimed non-Republicans had "stolen" the election from the party. Many of those claims were invented out of conspiratorial nothing (from Italian satellite links to ballots with "bamboo" in the paper); others were spiraled out from panicked claims about a somebody who saw a somebody with a something. Each of the propaganda claims were so brazenly false that courtroom judges drop-kicked them out out of evidence near-immediately.

There is nothing that needs teasing out, here. The Trump White House plan was in full view. Donald Trump and his top allies engaged in a multi-pronged, extended, pre-plotted campaign to overthrow the next constitutionally appointed U.S. presidency by falsely claiming the election was invalid; by pressuring the Department of Justice to issue statements further casting doubt on the election's integrity; by calling key election officials and asking them to change reported vote totals on Trump's behalf; by using conspiratorial claims to gather a mob of enraged would-be "patriots" convinced that direct action was needed to "stop the steal" from happening; by asking that crowd to march the Capitol; by rebuffing efforts, during the mob's attack, to call off the now-violent mob.

It was an act of plain sedition, pre-planned and premeditated and orchestrated from inside Trump's own inner circle. It was backed by a majority of House Republicans, multiple of which were in communication with Trump and dozens of whom were allied with the effort to falsely dispute the election's results.

Donald Trump and his top aides engaged in a multipart plan to overthrow the United States government so as to retain power. Put that in your head and let it stew there, because there's simply no denying that it's true.

The new notes from the Department of Justice represent, by themselves, an act of official corruption easily besting Nixon's worst. Asking the Department of Justice to falsely cast doubts on the integrity of a U.S. election that booted you from power is by itself an act that would demand impeachment, if Senate Republicans were not themselves so corrupt as to have allied with the idea. Calling a Georgia election official to ask that official to "find" new votes is a demand that should yet land Trump in prison for a decade or longer. Pointedly ignoring lawmakers asking for assistance as his enraged allies broke through windows and sought out his enemies is the stuff of terrorism, not mere corruption.

It is the three-pronged plan that elevates Trump and his top Republican allies from merely corrupt to outright seditionists. It was a plan intended to erase a U.S. presidential election. It sought out allies in the Department of Justice who would publicly discredit the election, allies in state governments who would change the vote totals, and a public mob that would disrupt the vote count and intimidate public officials into approving a Trump return to power.

It was all one plan, not three. Discredit the election using false claims; use the same false claims to stoke a public anger deep enough to justify tossing out the rule of law, in the name of restoring "order."

It was an attempted fascist takeover, and many of its top orchestrators are still featured prominently on the Sunday news shows. Parts of it came very close to succeeding; had different Republican officials been in different offices, it seems quite possible now that Trump's White House could have found state or county allies willing to alter votes in the manner they were requested. Parts of it were seemingly asinine, inventions of deranged and desperate minds; one has a hard time believing that a congressional declaration that Trump was "somehow" still president would be treated as legitimate by the press, the military, or the public at large, if the declaration had come from lawmakers being literally held hostage by a mob demanding they do so.

It was still an attempt, though. Trump and others within the White House engaged in weeks of effort in attempts to enlist both accomplices within government and a paramilitary force outside it. Trump is a traitor to his country. Any outcome that does not see him rotting in prison for his acts will itself be an affront to our would-be democracy.

‘Six people died’: More than 350 congressional staff members urge Senate to convict Trump

More than 350 congressional staff members signed an open letter Wednesday to the Senate, urging legislators to convict former President Donald Trump for inciting an attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. “As Congressional employees, we don’t have a vote on whether to convict Donald J. Trump for his role in inciting the violent attack at the Capitol, but our Senators do,” the staffers said in the letter. “And for our sake, and the sake of the country, we ask that they vote to convict the former president and bar him from ever holding office again.” Trump called for his supporters to march to the Capitol to block Congress from certifying President Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory last month. “We will never give up,” he said at a Save America rally in Washington, D.C. “We will never concede. It doesn't happen. You don't concede when there's theft involved. Our country has had enough. We will not take it anymore, and that is what this is all about.”

With those words, he effectively ended a 230-year tradition of peaceful transitions of power, the congressional staffers pointed out. “Six people died. A Capitol Police officer—one of our co-workers who guards and greets us every day—was beaten to death,” they said. “The attack on our workplace was inspired by lies told by the former president and others about the results of the election in a baseless, months-long effort to reject votes lawfully cast by the American people.”

Those who signed the letter represent more than 100 offices from the House, 15 from the Senate, and 10 committees, CNN reported. "No one should have to experience something like this in their place of work," an unnamed staff member told CNN before the letter was released. "And I think it's important to tell this part of the story, because it's not just members of Congress who come to work at the Capitol every day. And it's not just staffers who work at the Capitol who were traumatized by what happened. And I think that is a piece of it.

“The trauma is there; the trauma is very real. And anytime that new pieces of information come out, you know, you're kind of re-traumatized.”

Read the workers’ complete letter below:

“We are staff who work for members of the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives, where it is our honor and privilege to serve our country and our fellow Americans. We write this letter to share our own views and experiences, not the views of our employers. But on January 6, 2021, our workplace was attacked by a violent mob trying to stop the electoral college vote count. That mob was incited by former president Donald J. Trump and his political allies, some of whom we pass every day in the hallways at work.

Many of us attended school in the post-Columbine era and were trained to respond to active shooter situations in our classrooms. As the mob smashed through Capitol Police barricades, broke doors and windows, and charged into the Capitol with body armor and weapons, many of us hid behind chairs and under desks or barricaded ourselves in offices. Others watched on TV and frantically tried to reach bosses and colleagues as they fled for their lives.

On January 6, the former President broke America’s 230-year legacy of the peaceful transition of power when he incited a mob to disrupt the counting of electoral college votes. Six people died. A Capitol Police officer—one of our co-workers who guards and greets us every day—was beaten to death. The attack on our workplace was inspired by lies told by the former president and others about the results of the election in a baseless, months-long effort to reject votes lawfully cast by the American people.

Our Constitution only works when we believe in it and defend it. It’s a shared commitment to equal justice, the rule of law, and the peaceful resolution of our differences. Any person who doesn’t share these beliefs has no place representing the American people, now or in the future. The use of violence and lies to overturn an election is not worthy of debate. Either you stand with the republic or against it.

As Congressional employees, we don’t have a vote on whether to convict Donald J. Trump for his role in inciting the violent attack at the Capitol, but our Senators do. And for our sake, and the sake of the country, we ask that they vote to convict the former president and bar him from ever holding office again.”

As Trump’s legal team respectfully resigns, his supporters join Dems in blaming him for Capitol riot

Former President Donald Trump is apparently having some trouble finding legal representation in his upcoming impeachment trial. All five lawyers, including former federal litigators and Trump’s anticipated lead attorneys Butch Bowers and Deborah Barbier, have quit less than two weeks before the trial is scheduled to begin the week of February 8, unnamed sources told CNN. Other attorneys with the good sense to distance themselves from Trump include South Carolina lawyers Johnny Gasser and Greg Harris and Josh Howard, a North Carolina attorney who worked on the Monica Lewinsky investigation during former President Bill Clinton's time in office, CNN reported.

"A person familiar with the situation called it a ‘mutual" decision,’ New York Times correspondent Maggie Haberman tweeted Saturday. "Bowers has been noticeably muted for someone leading a Trump defense, choosing not to talk to most reporters. The person familiar with the situation said there was no chemistry between Bowers and Trump."

Bowers has been noticeably muted for someone leading a Trump defense, choosing not to talk to most reporters. The person familiar with the situation said there was no chemistry between Bowers and Trump.

— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) January 31, 2021

The legal team’s decision to leave reportedly boiled down to a disagreement about legal strategy in the case, with Trump wanting them to argue the clearly unwinnable case that he's a victim of mass election fraud. The reality TV star’s better case is that impeaching a former president is unconstitutional, but even that is a toss-up considering it’s not actually mentioned in the constitution, legal scholars told various news agencies. Trump’s team—and by team, I mean the few remaining people linked to his presidency who aren’t desperately trying to distance themselves from him—is clutching to the constitutionality argument.  

"The Democrats' efforts to impeach a president who has already left office is totally unconstitutional and so bad for our country,” Trump’s former campaign adviser Jason Miller told CNN. “In fact, 45 Senators have already voted that it is unconstitutional. We have done much work, but have not made a final decision on our legal team, which will be made shortly."

Despite GOP sentiments these days that impeaching a former president is unconstitutional, Rep. Matt Gaetz argued the exact opposite point on Twitter Dec. 4, 2019, when Trump suggested former President Barack Obama should be impeached for his stance on healthcare. “You actually can impeach a former President, FWIW”, Gaetz tweeted.

Republican Sen. Tom Cotton said in a statement The Washington Post obtained that the Senate “lacks constitutional authority to conduct impeachment proceedings against a former president.” “The Founders designed the impeachment process as a way to remove officeholders from public office — not an inquest against private citizens,” Cotton said.

The Post’s fact-checking team, however, gave a less definitive analysis:

“Some argue it’s impossible to impeach former officials. Some say it’s possible — if Congress wants to ban them from holding federal office again. One scholar said a definitive answer would come only after a court battle on these issues.

For now, no court appears to have ruled on this question, the text of the Constitution doesn’t spell out the answer, and past practice in Congress is an inconclusive guide.” 

What’s more conclusive is just how much damage Trump did when he made repeated claims of widespread election fraud then challenged his supporters to block Congress from certifying President Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory. “We will never give up. “We will never concede. It doesn't happen,” Trump said at the Save America rally before the riot at the Capitol. “You don't concede when there's theft involved. Our country has had enough. We will not take it anymore, and that is what this is all about.” 

Ten House Republicans joined 222 Democrats in a vote to impeach Trump on January 13, and as it turns out, even supporters of the former president who are charged in connection to the Capitol riot are now arguing Trump made them do it, CNN reportedJacob Anthony Chansley otherwise known as the “QAnon shaman” who appeared horned, shirtless, and draped in bearskin during the riot, said through an attorney that he was "duped" by Trump, according to CNN. Chansley was arrested earlier this month on federal charges of “knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority” and violent entry, and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.

"You become very self-interested very quickly when you've been charged by the Department of Justice," Elie Honig, a former federal litigator and CNN analyst, said on the news network. "Whatever political mission these people thought they were on while invading the Capitol, now that they might get locked up, they'll point the finger wherever they need to. Political goals now go out the window."

RELATED: The second impeachment of Donald Trump is underway, and this time, several Republicans are on board

RELATED: Traitor to democracy was just impeached. Again

RELATED: Federal prosecutors and former senior DOJ officials say video evidence is damning against Trump

Censuring Trump for fomenting a violent insurrection would be ‘unity’ rooted in cowardice

Yeah, how about no. Multiple news reports have Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine taking the lead on feeling out whether or not Republicans would be willing to respond to Donald Trump's attempted overthrow of U.S. government by "censuring" him, rather than holding an impeachment trial. It is a terrible, ridiculous idea and hopefully it has already died a quiet death by the time you reach the end of this sentence.

The thinking appears to be that since the near-unanimous majority of Senate Republicans continue to stand behind Trump even after he demanded a mob march on the Capitol to stop the counting of electoral votes that would confirm Joe Biden's presidential win—a demand that the mob acted on, resulting in multiple deaths inside the building and the near-assassination of lawmakers—perhaps the party of outright treason would be willing to compromise by giving their would-be authoritarian strongman a stern finger-wagging letter.

It's a given that Senate Republicans will vote to acquit Trump, as they did when Trump got caught brazenly extorting the leader of a foreign nation with personal demands intended to help boost his own reelection chances. But, the thinking apparently goes, maybe we can make a nice show of "unity" by having both parties agree that rallying a mob intent on attacking and possibly killing members of the political opposition is somewhat bad—not bad enough to do anything concrete about or to prohibit a person from re-taking office, but certainly bad enough for a note to be dropped into their permanent record.

Screw that. Screw all of that, very much and sincerely.

What Donald Trump attempted, even before the crowd turned violent, was a coup against democracy. He, his allies, and the majority of Republican lawmakers all demanded that the results of a United States election be overturned, based on nothing but nonsensical and provably false claims, and that the will of American voters simply be ignored because the Republican Party did not like the results. It was an act of sedition before the crowd marched over. It was an act of sedition when prominent Republicans peddled hoaxes relentlessly, claiming the election results to be invalid because of conspiracies that not one damn person in America could prove.

Donald Trump may have been acting purely out of malignant narcissism, and may indeed be living inside delusions layered upon delusions in which any and every failure on his part, during his entire adult life, has only happened due to the secret machinations of invisible enemies, but the action he took was unambiguous. He intended to overturn the election results. His allies intended to help him overturn the election results. The House and Senate Republicans who voted to throw out the election results intended to help him overturn the election results.

It was an insurrection against the government, and if there is no stomach among Republican lawmakers for punishing it as such, it is because they were themselves allied with those efforts. They remain allied in a unified attempt to dodge repercussions for attempting to overturn an election that did not go their way.

To be sure, those who acted with treasonous intent against this country are not eager to vote for consequences. That is to be expected. Attempting to compromise with them, finding some common ground where violent insurrection is still acknowledged to be bad so long as the insurrection's chief beneficiary and provocateur is able to skate by without the presentation of evidence against him, is attempting to compromise with those who sought to end the fabled "peaceful transition of power" by party fiat.

The streak is broken. There was no peaceful transition of power. Among a majority inside the party now fully enmeshed in fascist propaganda and plots, there is only begrudging acknowledgement even now that our democracy remains legitimate; on Fox News and in evasive lawmaker interviews, the same hoax theories are still sniffled about, and Republican officials and leaders are taking not making even the barest effort to clarify to their still-addled base voters that Joe Biden won the most votes and electors, that there was no conspiratorial and secret fraud, and that the new Democratic administration is, indeed, a legitimate one.

If Republican senators are going to vote to immunize Trump even from an attempt to overthrow the government, oblige them to cast that vote. There needs to be a list. There needs to be a record.

Fortunately, there appears to be little to no support for allowing Republicans to dodge a trial; this "censure" nonsense is likely to be over before it begins. We're going to get a list of which top Republicans truly believe, even now, that Donald Trump's actions were within the bounds of what America should allow. It will be a long list, and everyone on it will be senators who have betrayed their nation countless times before in their bid to normalize abject corruption in service to Republican power.

House Republicans overwhelmingly stood behind Trump after he incited white supremacist insurrection

The House of Representatives voted to impeach President Donald Trump for a historic second time on Jan. 13, and in the process confirmed that even after he incited a white supremacist insurrection at the Capitol building, an overwhelming majority of Republicans see still no problem with Trump’s conduct. While it is technically correct that the 10 Republican votes in favor of impeachment made it “the most bipartisan one in history,” as described by the The Washington Post, The New York Times, CNN, and others, that’s an extremely low bar to clear. In fact, the vote numbers don’t suggest bipartisanship in any meaningful sense, but rather paint a stark portrait of a political party that has almost unanimously aligned itself with white supremacy and the white backlash to BIPOC political ascendancy. As if to drive home the point, GOP representatives even booed Rep. Cori Bush for denouncing white supremacy during the hearings. Rather than rushing to lionize the handful of Republicans who momentarily broke with the party—and did so only after their own sense of safety was threatened—news coverage needs to reflect these realities.

There are 211 Republicans in the House of Representatives, only 10 of them voted in favor of impeachment. That means over 95% watched as insurrectionists broke into the Capitol with Confederate battle flags held high and white supremacist symbols adorning their bodies as they apparently searched the building for government officials to execute, and decided, “This is fine.” Of course, the overwhelmingly white Republican caucus may have correctly surmised that they weren’t the ones in mortal danger on Jan. 6. Rather, Democratic members of Congress—especially women and Black and brown members—represented the primary targets of the mob’s ire, as newly emerging details have revealed.

The same day the impeachment vote was taken, the Boston Globe reported that as Rep. Ayanna Pressley and her staff barricaded themselves in her office to keep safe from the intruders, they discovered all of the panic buttons in the office had been torn out. On Instagram Live the evening before the vote, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said that during the attack she “had a very close encounter where I thought I was going to die.” Both Pressley and Ocasio-Cortez are part of The Squad, an outspoken group of progressive Black and Latina Democratic representatives elected to the House of Representatives in 2018 and 2020, which also includes Bush and Reps. Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Jamaal Bowman. As highly visible avatars of women and BIPOC’s growing political and demographic power, members of The Squad have long been on the receiving end of racist rhetoric and right-wing death threats. The events of Jan. 6 suggest at least some people had designs on carrying those threats out, possibly even with help from members of Congress who graciously offered “reconnaissance tours” to the insurrectionists. 

The attempted coup also posed a significant risk to a great many Black and brown people who aren’t lawmakers. The residents of Washington, D.C. itself—a largely Black city—along with Congressional support staff and Capitol building custodians had to contend with the trauma of being descended upon by a white supremacist mob, and afterward, were left to clean up the mess that same mob left behind. Overly credulous news coverage praising “principled” Republicans not only threatens to miss the racial realities of where most of the party stands, but also the narrowly circumscribed and race-specific extent of its support for the working class.  

With the looming threat of more insurrectionist violence in the coming days, it is of the highest moral and political significance that so many House Republicans condoned and aided the racist incitement that put the republic, fellow Americans, and the lives of their own Congressional colleagues in serious peril. And because the animating impulses behind the Capitol insurrection won’t wane with the dawn of the post-Trump political era, it’s imperative that we in the media don’t close our eyes to what the impeachment vote actually has to tell us about race, politics, and power in the United States.

Ashton Lattimore is the editor-in-chief of Prism. Follow her on Twitter @ashtonlattimore.

Prism is a BIPOC-led nonprofit news outlet that centers the people, places and issues currently underreported by our national media. Through our original reporting, analysis, and commentary, we challenge dominant, toxic narratives perpetuated by the mainstream press and work to build a full and accurate record of what’s happening in our democracy. Follow us on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram.

Rep. Brian Mast is a craven, repulsive liar, but we can still answer his question

Trump loyalist Florida Rep. Brian Mast is now a traitor to his country, but more to the point he is also dishonest, politically craven, and a garbage human being. So let's dispense with this quickly.

During the impeachment vote, Mast was one of many House Republicans attempting to straddle the thin line of claiming to be outraged by last week's armed insurrection against Congress while still insisting that Donald Trump's role in inciting attempted murders was not impeachable because reasons. The argument was insincere, lie-based, and about what you would expect from one of the traitors who himself egged on violence with hoax claims of election flaws that did not exist.

Indeed, Mast was one of those lawmakers to rise in challenge to the counting of electoral votes on Jan. 6 immediately before a mob entered the building with the intent of capturing or murdering those who would not sign on to the same Trump-promoted false claims. There is a direct line between Mast's lies and multiple deaths, and between Mast's lies and the now-broken chain of "peaceful transition of power" that lasted from the Civil War until the time Brian Mast was elected to Congress. He is a seditionist, and was before the violence began.

One of Mast's pillars of argument was that you could not pin the armed insurrection on Trump because there was no evidence Trump did the thing everyone in the nation saw him doing: "Has any one of those individuals who brought violence to this Capitol been brought here to answer if they did that because of our president?" He said this very smugly, like a stupid person believing themselves to be the first in history to notice that the sun and moon looked to be approximately the same size, and waited for a response that he knew would not come because speeches on the floor of Congress do not generally follow a call-and-response format.

Here ya go, sport. Video of the insurrectionists asserting that they were "invited" into the building by Donald Trump.

Florida Rep. Brian Mast making what seems, to him, to be a dramatic point: Standing silently after asking if any rioters have said that they acted bc of the president. Well.

— Dave Weigel (@daveweigel) January 13, 2021

We done here? Yeah, probably.

There's not going to be the wholesale expulsion of seditionists and traitors responsible for these deaths because the House Republican caucus is a collection of criminals who fully intend to immunize each other even for insurrection—they will purge the non-seditionists like (shudder) Liz Cheney and elevate the most vocal promotors of the party's democracy-attacking lies to ever-higher positions. That’s too bad, but it does not absolve them of the provably false claims that led to murders and now to law enforcement warnings of a new possible era of conservative-stoked terrorism. They are still the insurrection's ringleaders, and it falls on all the rest of us to treat them with the appropriate amount of contempt and disgust for the rest of their lives.

Rep. Brian Mast, your hoaxes and lies led to an attempt on your colleagues' lives. You are a traitor to your nation. And you are in crowded company.

Trump is sorry … that he didn’t do more to support the violent mob of insurrectionists

Democrats in the House have now gathered over 140 names on new articles of impeachment against Donald Trump that will be introduced on Monday. If all goes well, they’ll be voted on the same day. At the same time, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and soon-to-be Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer continue to press Mike Pence to act using the 25th Amendment. However, as more Cabinet members resign and Pence huddles in silence, the odds of that happening seem ever smaller. 

Meanwhile, the Twitterless Trump is casting about for one last desperate act. In addition to Trump, Twitter has been hacking down accounts that have suggested another, even more violent, assault on the capital on Jan. 17 or Jan. 20. Over on Parler, they’ve very definitely not been taking down any efforts to organize an attack on either those dates or Jan. 19. And if there’s one thing that Trump has made clear to his remaining staff, it’s that he’s sorry. Not sorry about arranging and inciting a violent assault on the nation. But sorry that he ever ever told the insurgents to leave the Capitol building.

Trump was ecstatic to see his supporters shoving through barriers, overwhelming an unprepared police force, and taking the Capitol by storm. As the insurrectionists prowled through the halls of Congress in hopes of turning legislators into hostages, and Trump supporters cast down the American flag to raise his own banner, Trump strolled around the White House in excitement. The fact that other people weren’t seeing this as a good thing completely baffled him. It was, after all, exactly what Trump had been wanting for years. 

As The New York Times reports, after a stunned nation recoiled in disgust, and Joe Biden came out to demand that Trump end this rampage by his followers, Trump did take to Twitter to deliver a brief statement—one in which he told the insurrectionists they were “very special” and assured them “I love you.” Even so, Trump did include a statement that the violent criminals who were even then smearing human excrement along the halls of Congress should “go home in peace.”

It’s that last part that Trump regrets.  The part where he told them to leave, and gave some hint that he would allow an orderly transition—though without naming Biden or including the word “peaceful.”

At the end of a week in which his followers attempted a violent overthrow of the American government, the only thing that Trump regrets is that it didn’t work. And that after planning it, bringing in every white supremacist he could find, and shoving them toward Congress, he didn’t do more to cheer for their victory.

There was no peaceful transfer of power; Trump goaded mob into an attack on U.S. Capitol today

A brief roundup of news from today's unprecedented and grimly historic day in this nation's capital city.

• Trump began the day by threatening Vice President Mike Pence and Congress with demands that the election be overturned based on false claims of supposed "fraud." Pence released a statement confirming that he had no unilateral ability to do so.

• Immediately after Trump's remarks to a pro-Trump mob that included members of some of this nation's most infamous violent and fascist groups, the mob marched to the U.S. Capitol and breached police lines to enter and vandalize the building.

House and Senate lawmakers were forced to evacuate the building as pro-Trump traitors pushed through the building. Gunfire was exchanged at one point; one seditionist was shot and killed.

Seditionists roamed through the Capitol for hours, rummaging through offices and taking photographs, while capitol police did little to stop them.

• President-elect Joe Biden was among those who did not waste time with euphemisms, instead calling the pro-Trump attackers "an insurrection."

• After hours of delay to re-secure the U.S. Capitol, Congress resumed debating Republican objections to counting the votes of state electors.

• There may or may not already be movement by Trump's cabinet to immediately remove him from office by declaring him unfit for office as specified in the 25th Amendment.

• As many as 30 House Democrats are already supporting a move to immediately, and again, impeach Donald Trump for his incitement of violence today.

Some among the seditionists apparently intended to take lawmakers hostage, hold show trials, and execute them.

Photos show pro-Trump seditionists inside offices, taking selfies on the evacuated House floor, and vandalizing the building's contents.

• Trump responded to the crowd's assault by telling them "I love you. You're very special."

World leaders condemned the attack on democracy.

• Republican Sen. Josh Hawley, the first senator to announce that he would object to the lawful counting of electoral votes, was condemned by the Kansas City Star for having "blood on his hands."

• The differences between law enforcement's treatment of insurrectionists openly declaring their intent to topple the U.S. government and that of Black Americans who protested police brutality this summer were dramatic, and unforgivable.

• While Trump is undoubtably directly responsible for the attack on the capitol, racist policing enabled it.