Defiant Trump Defends Actions During US Capitol Assault

In this file photo taken on June 30, 2021, former President Donald Trump speaks during a visit to the border wall outside Pharr, Texas. Sergio FLORES / AFP

 

Former President Donald Trump defended his conduct during the US Capitol assault in an incendiary interview published Thursday, saying he did not regret summoning his rioting supporters to Washington.

He told The Washington Post he would have accompanied his ultra-loyal followers as they marched on the complex on January 6 last year, but was stopped by his security detail.

He offered no contrition for whipping up the crowd with bogus claims that victory was stolen from him through widespread fraud — although he was clear in his condemnation of the violence that ensued.

“Secret Service said I couldn’t go. I would have gone there in a minute,” he said, in the wide-ranging interview, adding that it was the largest crowd he had ever spoken to.

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Thousands of Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol last year in an effort to halt the peaceful transfer of power after Joe Biden won a decisive victory in 2020, described by the government as one of the most secure elections in US history.

Trump repeatedly boasted about the “tremendous” size of the crowd at his rally ahead of the riot and glossed over his explosive rhetoric that whipped up the crowd.

“I don’t know what that means, but you see very few pictures. They don’t want to show pictures, the fake news doesn’t want to show pictures,” he said.

The ex-president defended his long silence during the attack, deflecting blame to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, even though she isn’t responsible for policing at the Capitol and was a target of the mob herself.

He also pointed a finger at Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser, who “furiously tried to reach Trump’s team that day,” according to the Post.

“I hated seeing it. I hated seeing it. And I said, ‘It’s got to be taken care of,’ and I assumed they were taking care of it,” Trump said of the violence, which has been linked to at least five deaths.

The interview came after the House of Representatives voted to refer ex-Trump aides Peter Navarro and Dan Scavino for criminal contempt charges on Wednesday for defying congressional subpoenas to testify about the riot.

AFP

New York Man Charged With Threatening To Kill Donald Trump

In this file photo former US President Donald Trump speaks during a briefing at the White House on September 27, 2020, in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP)

 

The US Secret Service arrested a 72-year-old man in New York on Monday after he allegedly phoned them threatening to kill ex-president Donald Trump, a criminal indictment showed.

Prosecutors in Brooklyn say Thomas Welnicki “knowingly and willfully threatened to kill, kidnap, and inflict bodily harm upon” America’s former president.

It alleges that Welnicki told US Capitol Police during an interview in July 2020 that if Trump “loses the 2020 election and refused to step down” he would “acquire weapons and take him down.”

Trump is referred to as “Individual-1” in the indictment.

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Welnicki is also accused of having left two voicemail messages with the Secret Service’s office in Long Island, New York in January last year in which he “threatened to kill” Trump as well as 12 unnamed members of Congress.

“Oh yeah that’s a threat, come and arrest me. I will do anything I can to take out [Individual-1] and his 12 monkeys,” Welnicki, who lives in Queens, is alleged to have said.

Welnicki is also accused of having called the Secret Service’s desk in New York City last November three times from his cell phone, introducing himself by name each time.

“He repeatedly referred to Individual-1 as ‘Hitler’ and stated, ‘I will do everything I can to make sure [Individual-1] is dead,” reads the indictment.

In another call last month he stated that “the new Civil war could break out and taking up arms against the government is justified when ballots don’t matter.”

He added that he used to own a .22 caliber firearm, according to the indictment.

Welnicki was due to be appear in a Brooklyn federal court via videoconference later Monday to be arraigned on the charges.

AFP

Trump ‘Tried To Prevent Peaceful Transfer Of Power’ – Biden

This combination of file pictures created on October 22, 2020 shows US President Donald Trump (L) and former Democratic Presidential candidate and former US Vice President Joe Biden during the final presidential debate at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, on October 22, 2020. JIM WATSON, Morry GASH / AFP
This combination of file pictures created on October 22, 2020, shows ex-US President Donald Trump (L) and  President Joe Biden during the final presidential debate at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, on October 22, 2020. JIM WATSON, Morry GASH / AFP

 

US President Joe Biden accused his predecessor Donald Trump Thursday of attempting to block the democratic transfer of power on January 6, 2021, after losing the presidential election.

“For the first time in our history, a president not just lost an election; he tried to prevent the peaceful transfer of power as a violent mob breached the Capitol,” Biden said in a speech marking the first anniversary of the attack on the US Congress.

“This wasn’t a group of tourists. This was an armed insurrection,” he said.

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In a powerful speech at Congress’s Statuary Hall, one of the very spots where a pro-Trump mob ran amok a year ago, Biden took off the gloves after a year of largely ignoring Trump.

“The former president of the United States of America has created and spread a web of lies about the 2020 election,” Biden said, alluding to Trump’s repeated false claim that the election was stolen from him through fraud — an assertion that many Republicans still embrace.

“He’s done so because he values power over principle because he sees his own interest as more important than his country’s interest,” Biden said.

Biden said the United States and much of the world is locked in a battle between democracy and autocracy.

“I will allow no one to place a dagger at the throat of democracy,” Biden said at the Capitol. “I will stand in this breach. I will defend this nation.”

AFP

US Supreme Court To Hear Challenges To COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates

A healthcare worker prepares to administer a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to a person at a drive-thru site in Tropical Park on December 16, 2021, in Miami, Florida. Joe Raedle/Getty Images/AFP

 

The US Supreme Court is to hear challenges on Friday to President Joe Biden’s bid to impose Covid vaccination mandates on millions of American workers.

After months of public appeals to hesitant or reluctant Americans to get their shots, Biden turned up the pressure in September.

“We’ve been patient, but our patience is wearing thin,” he said.

READ ALSO: Almost 100,000 Children Lost Parents To COVID-19 In Peru

The Democratic president made Covid vaccinations compulsory at businesses that employ 100 workers or more, as well as for health care workers at facilities receiving federal funding.

Unvaccinated employees would have to present weekly negative tests and wear face masks at work.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has given businesses until February 9 to be in compliance with the rules or face the possibility of fines.

The vaccine mandates came under immediate attack from some Republican lawmakers and business owners as an infringement on individual rights and an abuse of government power.

A flurry of lawsuits ensued, and the conservative-majority Supreme Court is holding a special hearing to decide whether the mandates can be implemented while the legal challenges continue.

A decision is expected within a few weeks.

Businesses with 100 employees or more represent about two-thirds of the private sector workforce in the United States, or some 80 million people.

The health care worker mandate would apply to roughly 10 million people.

In a brief submitted to the court on behalf of the Biden administration, Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar said the measures were necessary “confronted with the deadliest pandemic in the nation’s history.”

“Workers are becoming seriously ill and dying because they are exposed to the virus that causes Covid-19,” Prelogar said.

She said the mandates will save more than 6,500 worker lives and prevent more than 250,000 hospitalizations over the course of six months.

‘Irreparable Harm’ 

A group of 26 business associations opposed to the mandates, however, said they will “inflict irreparable harm upon hundreds of thousands of businesses.”

Companies will be forced to pass the costs of testing on to consumers, resulting in “yet higher prices at a time of record inflation,” they argued.

Or businesses will put the costs of testing on unvaccinated employees, they said, “who will quit en masse rather than suffer additional testing costs each week.

“The resulting labor upheaval will devastate already fragile supply chains and labor markets.”

Republican-ruled states led by Missouri said forcing health care workers to be vaccinated “threatens to create a crisis in health care facilities in rural America.”

“The mandate would force millions of workers to choose between losing their jobs or complying with an unlawful federal mandate,” they argued.

The government countered that the number of people who have left their jobs when faced with a vaccination mandate has actually been very low.

At a hospital system in Houston, Texas, for example, just 153 of some 26,000 employees left rather than comply with a vaccination mandate.

Several large US corporations, including meat giant Tyson Foods and United Airlines, imposed vaccination mandates in September without suffering major disruptions.

The Supreme Court has six conservative justices and three liberal justices, and all of them have been vaccinated and received booster shots, according to the court.

The nation’s highest court has previously upheld vaccination mandates imposed on college students and health care workers by local authorities.

But the court has previously curtailed federal actions linked to the pandemic, notably by throwing out a moratorium prohibiting evictions.

If the court blocks the vaccination mandates, it would be a major blow to Biden, who has made bringing the pandemic under control one of his priorities but is battling a surge in cases from the Omicron variant.

Vaccination has become a politically polarizing issue in the United States, where 62 percent of the population are vaccinated.

There have been more than 58 million cases of coronavirus in the United States and more than 830,000 deaths.

AFP

One Year After Assault, US Capitol Still Licking Its Wounds

In this file photo taken on January 6, 2021 riot police push back a crowd of supporters of US President Donald Trump after they stormed the Capitol building in Washington, DC. (Photo by ROBERTO SCHMIDT / AFP)

 

Mourn, or move on? A year after the mob of Donald Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol, lawmakers are trying to heal the deep rifts left behind by the insurrection that sought to overturn the election results. 

“January 6th, 2021 will be forever remembered as a day of enduring infamy, a permanent blemish in the story of American democracy,” said Chuck Schumer, the top Democrat in the Senate, a few days before the anniversary.

“This was aimed at undoing our democracy. Thank God, they failed,” Schumer added.

“They,” in this case, being the crowds of demonstrators in helmets and carrying flags emblazoned with the name “Trump,” and who a year ago stood in the same spot in the Capitol where Schumer was delivering his sober words.

The now infamous Q-Anon guru with his bison headdress and bare chest was among them, brandishing a megaphone.

READ ALSO: [Trumpism Without Trump] The Republican Playbook For 2022?

Divided Memories

A few steps away, a television set has been installed to show the commemorations of the fateful day on Thursday. President Joe Biden is due to speak, one of a series of elected officials sharing their memories of the ordeal.

A conversation between historians is also planned, with the aim of “establishing and preserving the story” of January 6.

Because even within the institution that was stormed, what actually happened is the subject of heated debate.

In recent months, elected officials close to former president Trump have tried to push quite a different story to the one being told by the Democrats.

They say that January 6 was just a symptom of all that has gone wrong, and that those arrested after the assault are “political prisoners.”

With less than a year until crucial mid-term elections, some of their colleagues are making half-hearted pleas to move on.

“We have constituents back home that we need to be working for, our focus needs to be there,” said Republican Joni Ernst, many of whose colleagues have decided to shun Thursday’s events.

 ‘A Lot of Hurt And Harm’

On social media, in press releases, and even in the corridors of this venerable institution, the multiple and conflicting stories spark angry debate. The wounds of January 6 are still very much alive.

“I think there’s still a lot of hurt and harm, but a lot of good has already come,” Democratic Senator Corey Booker told AFP.

The imposing wooden planks covering some of the windows for months have been removed and the broken panes which until recently reminded everyone of the violence of that day in January have finally been replaced.

The US Congress is safe, the Capitol Police chief insisted during a rare press conference on Tuesday.

In the snow, the dome of the Capitol begins to gleam again.

AFP

A Year After Capitol Riot, Americans Fear For Their Democracy – Polls

In this file photo taken on January 6, 2021 riot police push back a crowd of supporters of ex-US President Donald Trump after they stormed the Capitol building in Washington, DC. (Photo by ROBERTO SCHMIDT / AFP)

 

One year after the violent assault on the US Capitol, Americans remain deeply concerned about the health of their democracy, and about a third say violence against the government can sometimes be justified, according to two polls published Sunday. 

The January 6 attack on the seat of Congress, led by supporters of Donald Trump, was “a harbinger of increasing political violence,” and American democracy “is threatened,” according to two-thirds of those surveyed for a CBS News poll.

Meantime, Americans’ “pride” in their democracy has dropped sharply, from 90 percent in 2002 to 54 percent now, a Washington Post/University of Maryland survey found.

With the January 6 anniversary nearing, the polls offer specific causes for concern: CBS found that 28 percent of respondents believe force can be used to defend the result of an election, while 34 percent told The Washington Post that a violent action against the government can sometimes be justified — the largest percentage in decades.

READ ALSO: [Trumpism Without Trump] The Republican Playbook For 2022?

The results underscore the seemingly almost irreconcilable views dividing American society, which President Joe Biden — who took office 14 days after the Capitol rioting — has promised to overcome.

Two-thirds of Trump supporters continue to believe his baseless charge that Biden is not the legitimately elected president.

Trump had addressed thousands of supporters shortly before the Capitol assault, telling them the election had been “rigged” and that they should “fight like hell.”

Some 60 percent of those polled say Trump bears heavy responsibility for the invasion of the Capitol just as lawmakers were set to certify Biden’s victory.

‘Coordinated Effort’

There again, opinion follows partisan lines: 83 percent of Trump voters placed his level of responsibility at only “some” or “none,” the Post survey found.

And 26 percent of Americans want him to run again in 2024, according to CBS.

A select committee of the House of Representatives has spent months working to establish the roles and responsibilities of those who incited or may have organized the protest.

Despite limited cooperation from Trump’s inner circle, the panel has conducted more than 300 interviews and collected thousands of documents.

“We have uncovered some things that cause us real concern, things like people trying to … undermine the integrity of our democracy,” the panel’s chairman, Representative Bennie Thompson, said Sunday on ABC.

“It appeared to be a coordinated effort on the part of a number of people to undermine the election,” he said.

“It could be people in the executive branch. It could be people in the Department of Defense… and some very wealthy individuals.”

He said he would not hesitate to refer any evidence of illegality to the Justice Department.

Liz Cheney, one of only two Republicans on the panel, on Sunday strongly condemned Trump for waiting hours before urging the Capitol rioters to stand down.

He could easily have issued such a call, she told ABC.

“He failed to do so. It’s hard to imagine a more significant and more serious dereliction of duty.”

AFP

Trump Asks Supreme Court To Block Release To Capitol Riot Probe

In this file photo former US President Donald Trump speaks during a briefing at the White House on September 27, 2020, in Washington, DC. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP)

 

Former US President Donald Trump asked the Supreme Court on Thursday to block the release of White House records to a congressional committee investigating the January 6 assault on the Capitol by his supporters.

Trump asked the nation’s highest court to stay a ruling this month by a federal appeals court which rejected his attempt to keep the documents and records secret.

Trump, who has been accused of fomenting the assault on Congress, is seeking to exercise his privilege as a former president to keep White House records and communications that might relate to the attack under wraps.

The appeals court agreed with a lower court this month that ruled President Joe Biden could waive executive privilege on the records so they could be handed over to the panel investigating the violence by Trump supporters.

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In a filing with the Supreme Court, Trump’s lawyers argued that “a former president has the right to assert executive privilege, even after his term of office.”

They condemned the congressional records request as “strikingly broad” and accused the committee in the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives of conducting an investigation of a “political foe.”

“Congress may not rifle through the confidential, presidential papers of a former President to meet political objectives,” Trump’s lawyers said.

“In an increasingly partisan political climate, such records requests will become the norm regardless of what party is in power,” they said.

Trump’s lawyers defended executive privilege, saying it affects “the ability of presidents and their advisers to reliably make and receive full and frank advice, without concern that communications will be publicly released to meet a political objective.”

The US Court of Appeals agreed to delay the release of the White House records until lawyers for the former Republican president could file their appeal to the Supreme Court.

Trump’s lawyers asked the conservative-majority Supreme Court to schedule a hearing on whether the probe request is constitutional and to block release of the documents in the meantime.

In response, the House select committee investigating the Capitol insurrection reportedly asked the Supreme Court to expedite consideration of Trump’s filing, with a House counsel writing to the justices that a delay “would inflict serious injury” on the committee and the public.

Public Interest 

In its ruling, the appeals court said “the right of a former president certainly enjoys no greater weight than that of the incumbent.”

“In this case, President Biden, as the head of the Executive Branch, has specifically found that Congress has demonstrated a compelling need for these very documents and that disclosure is in the best interests of the nation,” the court said.

The appeals court said the public interest was greater than Trump’s own in relation to the records, which are held by the National Archives.

The records are being sought by the House Select Committee investigating the January 6 attempt by hundreds of Trump supporters to block certification of Biden’s November 2020 election victory.

Documents that Trump hopes to block include emails, phone records, briefing materials and other records.

The more than 770 pages include records of his former chief of staff Mark Meadows, his former senior advisor Stephen Miller and his former deputy counsel Patrick Philbin.

Trump has also sought to block the release of the White House Daily Diary — a record of his activities, trips, briefings and phone calls.

Another trove of documents Trump does not want Congress to see includes memos to his former press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, a handwritten note on the January 6 events and a draft text of his speech at the “Save America” rally, which preceded the attack.

AFP

Trump Supporter Gets Five Years In Prison For Capitol Assault

File photo: Supporters of ex-US President Donald Trump protest outside the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC. ALEX EDELMAN / AFP

 

 

A Donald Trump supporter was sentenced to five years in prison for assaulting police officers during the attack on the US Capitol, the harshest punishment yet handed down in the investigation into the January 6 violence.

Robert Scott Palmer, 54,  was seen in videos and photos wearing an American flag jacket decorated with pro-Trump patches and a hat reading “Florida for Trump” as he threw boards, a fire extinguisher and other objects at police outside the Capitol.

READ ALSO: US Capitol Riot Panel Moves To Hold Trump’s Aide In Contempt

He had tried to enter the Capitol but was ultimately pushed back by pepper spray deployed by security officials.

After that, he continued to throw things at officers, until he was hit by a rubber bullet.

Federal judge Tanya Chutkan rejected Palmer’s arguments for leniency of a troubled childhood and a handwritten apology that said that he and others had been duped into attacking the Congress by the former president, whom he called “tyrannical” and “desperate to hold on to power.”

“I realize that we meaning Trump supporters had been lied to,” he wrote.

Prosecutors pointed out that even after his October 4 guilty plea, Palmer continued to defend his actions, labelling police the aggressors on a fundraising website page he set up.

“Palmer purposefully joined a large group of rioters with the specific intent of interfering with the nation’s electoral process,” the prosecutors told the court in a sentencing memo.

“Palmer’s violence was in pursuit of his political goal of subverting a democratic election and the peaceful transition of power.”

The previous stiffest sentence in the Capitol attack was 41 months, given to two men who were charged with obstructing an official proceeding but were not accused of assaulting law enforcement.

More than 700 people have been charged in the attack, most of them for minor offenses like illegally entering the Capitol.

But several dozen face assault and deadly weapons charges as well as conspiracy, which could lead to heavy sentences.

AFP

US Capitol Riot Panel Moves To Hold Trump’s Aide In Contempt

In this file photo taken on October 21, 2020 White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows speaks to the media at the White House in Washington, DC. Olivier DOULIERY / AFP
In this file photo taken on October 21, 2020, ex-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows speaks to the media at the White House in Washington, DC. Olivier DOULIERY / AFP

 

Lawmakers investigating the assault on the US Capitol prepared Monday to vote on recommending criminal contempt charges against Donald Trump’s former chief of staff for refusing to testify.

Mark Meadows has made clear he has no intention of complying with a subpoena to appear before the cross-party January 6 congressional select committee and missed a scheduled deposition for the second time last week.

“Mr. Meadows’s failure to appear for deposition testimony in the face of this clear advisement and warning by the chairman, and after being given a second chance to cooperate with the select committee, constitutes a willful failure to comply with the subpoena,” the committee said.

The panel is investigating Trump’s efforts to overturn his defeat in the 2020 presidential election through an authoritarian campaign that led to the deadly Capitol riot — and the help he got from Meadows.

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Trump’s fourth and final White House chief of staff told the panel he would withhold testimony until his former boss’s claim of “executive privilege,” which allows presidents to keep certain conversations with aides secret, has been resolved.

Investigators maintain Meadows has undermined any right to refuse testimony as the ultra-conservative former congressman is promoting a memoir published last week that includes detailed accounts of January 6 and his conversations with Trump.

An appeals court rejected Trump’s effort last week, agreeing with a lower court ruling that the defeated ex-president had provided no reason why his communications with former aides should be withheld. He was given two weeks to appeal the case to the Supreme Court.

Meadows was Trump’s most senior aide at the time of the riot and was reportedly with the then-president in the White House as the rioters breached the Capitol.

The committee says Meadows “is uniquely situated to provide key information, having straddled an official role in the White House and unofficial role related to Mr. Trump’s reelection campaign.”

Before saying he was no longer willing to cooperate, Meadows voluntarily gave the committee 6,600 pages of records taken from personal email accounts and about 2,000 text messages.

‘Unwise, Unjust And Unfair’ 

The probe released a 51-page document Sunday describing some of that communication, including a January 5 email from Meadows telling an unidentified person the National Guard was on standby to “protect pro Trump people.”

The committee will green-light the contempt citation Monday evening and the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives is expected to vote Tuesday to refer Meadows to the Justice Department to consider charges.

A timetable for that decision has yet to be revealed. If convicted, Meadows could face a six-month prison term for each contempt charge, but more likely a fine.

Accusing the select committee of abusing its powers, Meadows sued its nine members and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi last week, asking a federal court to block enforcement of the subpoenas issued to him and to Verizon for his phone records.

His lawyer George Terwilliger wrote to the panel on Monday to denounce the proposed prosecution as “manifestly unwise, unjust and unfair.”

Thousands of Trump’s supporters, many associated with ultra-nationalist and white supremacist groups, stormed the Capitol 11 months ago in an effort to overturn President Joe Biden’s election victory.

They had been incited by Trump, whose fiery speech earlier that day falsely claiming election fraud and calling on supporters to march on the Capitol and “fight like hell” was the culmination of months of baseless claims about a contest he lost fairly to Biden.

The House voted to recommend charges against ex-White House strategist and right-wing rabble rouser Steve Bannon in October. He faces trial in July on two counts of contempt.

AFP

US Court Rejects Trump Bid To Keep Capitol Riot Documents Secret

Man Bags 15 Years In Prison For N5.2m Fraud
A file photo of a court gavel.

 

A US federal appeals court on Thursday rejected former president Donald Trump’s bid to prevent the release of White House records relating to the January 6 attack on the Capitol.

The appeals court agreed with a lower court ruling that President Joe Biden could waive executive privilege on the records so that they could be handed over to a Congressional panel investigating the violence by Trump supporters.

Trump, who has been accused of fomenting the attack on the US Congress, sought to exercise his privilege as a former president to keep the documents and phone records that might relate to the attack a secret.

READ ALSO: US Senate Blocks Biden Vaccine Mandate

But the court said Biden’s judgment carried more weight in the case.

“The right of a former president certainly enjoys no greater weight than that of the incumbent,” the appeals court said in its ruling.

“In this case, President Biden, as the head of the Executive Branch, has specifically found that Congress has demonstrated a compelling need for these very documents and that disclosure is in the best interests of the nation,” the court said.

Supreme Court Appeal Expected

The ruling did not trigger the immediate release of the records. The appeals court said that Trump’s lawyers would have two weeks to appeal the case to the Supreme Court.

There, Trump’s attorneys are expected to request a new freeze on the release while the high court reviews the unprecedented case.

“Regardless of today’s decision by the appeals court, this case was always destined for the Supreme Court,” said Trump spokeswoman Liz Harrington.

“President Trump’s duty to defend the Constitution and the Office of the Presidency continues, and he will keep fighting for every American and every future administration.”

The appeals court said the public interest was greater than Trump’s own in relation to the records, which are held by the National Archives.

“That public interest is heightened when, as here, the legislature is proceeding with urgency to prevent violent attacks on the federal government and disruptions to the peaceful transfer of power,” it said.

The records are sought by the House Select Committee investigating the January 6 violence, in which hundreds of Trump supporters forced the shutdown of Congress and delayed a joint session to confirm that Joe Biden had won the November 2020 election over Trump and would become president.

“We applaud the Court’s decisive ruling, which respects the Select Committee’s interest in obtaining White House records and the President’s judgment in allowing those records to be produced,” the special committee’s Democratic chairman Representative Bennie Thompson and Republican vice-chair Liz Cheney said in a joint statement Thursday.

Documents that Trump hoped to block include records from his top aides and memos to his former press secretary.

The more than 770 pages include records of his former chief of staff Mark Meadows, his former senior advisor Stephen Miller and his former deputy counsel Patrick Philbin.

Trump had also hoped to block the release of the White House Daily Diary — a record of his activities, trips, briefings, and phone calls.

Another trove of documents Trump does not want Congress to see includes memos to his former press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, a handwritten note on the January 6 events, and a draft text of his speech at the “Save America” rally, which preceded the attack.

“Today, the Courts have once again rejected the former President’s campaign to obstruct Congress’s investigation into the January 6th insurrection,” Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said in a statement after the ruling.

“No one can be allowed to stand in the way of the truth – particularly not the previous President, who incited the insurrection.”

Investigation Advances 

The January 6 committee meanwhile continued to push ahead in its investigation.

Witness and document requests indicate it is seeking to determine whether the White House played a role in encouraging or even plotting the January 6 attack as part of Trump’s effort to prevent Biden from taking office.

Cheney, the committee’s vice-chair, said it had now heard from nearly 300 witnesses, including four on Thursday: former Trump aide and Pentagon official Kash Patel; Ali Alexander, who helped organize the pro-Trump rally at the White House before the Capitol attack; and two others.

When Trump political consultant Steve Bannon refused to testify on his role on January 6, he was held in contempt, and then arrested by the Justice Department.

Next week, the committee is expected to also rule Meadows in contempt for refusing to testify.

“The investigation is firing on all cylinders,” Cheney said on Twitter.

“President Trump is trying to hide what happened on January 6th and to delay and obstruct. We will not let that happen.”

AFP

Trump White House Chief Risks Criminal Charge In Capitol Riot Probe

In this file photo taken on October 21, 2020 White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows speaks to the media at the White House in Washington, DC. Olivier DOULIERY / AFP
In this file photo taken on October 21, 2020, ex-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows speaks to the media at the White House in Washington, DC. Olivier DOULIERY / AFP

 

Donald Trump’s former chief of staff said Tuesday he was no longer willing to cooperate with the probe into January’s assault on the US Capitol, prompting investigators to threaten him with criminal prosecution.

Mark Meadows, who failed to appear before the congressional panel last month, is seen as a key witness to Trump’s role in efforts to overturn the election by undemocratic means.

Having initially snubbed a subpoena to testify before the House of Representatives committee, Meadows later reached an agreement on sharing information with lawmakers — before reversing course again.

READ ALSO: Biden Warns Putin Of ‘Strong’ Western Response To Any Ukraine Attack

“Now actions by the select committee have made such an appearance untenable,” Meadows’ attorney, George Terwilliger, said in a new letter to the committee circulated among US media.

The lawyer said Meadows’ change of mind had come after he learned over the weekend that the committee had “issued wide-ranging subpoenas for information from a third party communications provider.”

“We now have every indication from the information supplied to us last Friday — upon which Mr. Meadows could expect to be questioned — that the select committee has no intention of respecting boundaries concerning executive privilege,” added Terwilliger.

Meadows was serving as Trump’s chief of staff when backers of the former president stormed the US Capitol on January 6 in a bid to halt the certification of Democrat Joe Biden’s presidential election victory.

Trump has invoked “executive privilege” — a carve-out available in theory only to sitting presidents to protect sensitive private exchanges with aides — in a bid to avoid having to turn over documents requested by the committee.

The panel rejected Meadows’ executive privilege claim, noting that the hardline former Republican congressman had provided much detail about the attack, including his conversations with then-president Trump, in a new book.

In an interview aired late Tuesday on conservative broadcaster Fox News, Meadow said that “hopefully the courts can work it out,” adding that he had tried to be accommodating with non-privileged information “while making sure that executive privilege is protected.”

Panel chairman Bennie Thompson and his deputy Liz Cheney said in a statement they planned to go ahead with a deposition of the Trump loyalist scheduled for Wednesday.

“If indeed Mr. Meadows refuses to appear, the select committee will be left no choice but to advance contempt proceedings and recommend that the body in which Mr. Meadows once served refer him for criminal prosecution.”

 ‘Fight like hell’ 

House investigators believe Meadows, former White House strategist Steve Bannon and other Trump advisors and staffers could have information on links between the White House and the mob of Trump supporters that stormed the Capitol.

Bannon was arrested last month on a contempt of Congress charge after refusing his own subpoena and a federal judge sitting for a preliminary hearing Tuesday set July 18 for his trial.

The committee has subpoenaed a number of Trump’s allies, as it closes in on the actions of those involved in planning the rallies in Washington that preceded the assault on Congress.

Trump urged his supporters to march on the Capitol and “fight like hell” in a fiery speech on January 6 that was the culmination of months of baseless fraud claims about a contest he had lost fairly to Biden.

News of the about-face by Meadows came as the watchdog overseeing the US Capitol Police told Congress the agency had not done enough since the assault to guarantee lawmakers’ safety in the event of another attack.

Inspector General Michael Bolton told the Senate Rules Committee that of 200 security upgrades the Capitol Police provided to the inspector general, only 61 had been made.

He said the agency “lacks the overall training infrastructure to meet the needs of the department, the level of intelligence gathering and expertise needed, and an overall cultural change needed.”

“The United States Capitol Police agrees with the inspector general that the department must continue to improve and expand its intelligence and protective capabilities,” the force said in a statement responding to Bolton.

AFP

US Capitol Attack ‘Shaman’ Jailed For 41 Months

In this file photo taken on January 06, 2021 supporters of US President Donald Trump, including member of the QAnon conspiracy group Jacob Anthony Chansley, aka QAnon Shaman (C), enters the US Capitol in Washington, DC.  Saul LOEB / AFP

 

The self-proclaimed “shaman” whose bare chest and horned fur headgear made him the face of the January 6 assault on the US Capitol was sentenced Wednesday to 41 months in prison.

Jacob Chansley, 34, had pleaded guilty to obstruction of an official proceeding after taking part in the storming of the US Senate chamber by supporters of former president Donald Trump.

The court heard how, after entering the chamber, Chansley took then-vice president Mike Pence’s seat on the dais, leaving behind a message saying: “It’s only a matter of time. Justice is coming.”

“Men of honor admit when they’re wrong,” Chansley told the court. “I was wrong for entering the Capitol. I had no excuse.”

In a long, rambling statement, Chansley praised the judge and made references to Jesus Christ, Mahatma Gandhi, Buddha, and US Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

“I’m not an insurrectionist. I’m certainly not a domestic terrorist,” he said.

The sentence matched the stiffest yet meted out to the hundreds of Trump supporters who took part in the assault.

Democrats have labeled the attack an insurrection that sought to block the Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s victory over Trump in the November 2020 presidential election.

Federal prosecutors had sought as much as 51 months in prison for Chansley, a promoter of the QAnon conspiracy theories who had traveled the country appearing at pro-Trump rallies.

600 people charged 

Ahead of the sentencing, Assistant US Attorney Kimberly Paschall played for the court videos of Chansley in the Senate chamber, moments after Pence and senators had been evacuated due to the attack.

In the video, Chansley, carrying a spear with a US flag attached and his face painted in red, white and blue, gives a long howl and shouts “time’s up,” adding an epithet.

“If the defendant had been peaceful on that day, we would not be here… The defendant’s activities were anything but peaceful,” Paschall told the court.

But Chansley’s lawyer Albert Watkins said Chansley has long suffered from diagnosed mental illness and was genuinely remorseful.

“He is accountable and wants to be held accountable,” Watkins said.

Chansley recounted a difficult childhood and family life and said he had been diagnosed with a personality disorder.

He was one of more than 600 people charged over the January 6 attack, which succeeded in delaying for several hours the certification of Biden as the incoming president.

Most of the sentences, mainly for charges of illegal entry into the Capitol, have been fairly light.

But many of the more serious cases, relating to conspiracy and assault on police officers, have yet to be heard.

One assailant, Scott Fairlamb of New Jersey, was sentenced in early November to 41 months in prison after pleading guilty for his part in the attack and for assaulting a police officer.

Also on Wednesday, Trump advisor Steve Bannon pleaded not guilty after his arrest on charges of contempt of Congress for refusing to testify on the violence.

Investigators believe Bannon and other advisors to Trump could have information on links between the White House and the mob that invaded the Capitol.

AFP