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Highland Park Hospital doesn’t see many victims of gun violence. Then July Fourth happened. Here’s how the day unfolded.

Highland Park Hospital doesn’t see many victims of gun violence. Then July 4th happened. Here’s how the day unfolded.Highland Park Hospital doesn’t see many victims of gun violence. Then July 4th happened. Here’s how the day unfolded......»»

Category: topSource: chicagotribuneAug 14th, 2022

Highland Park Hospital doesn’t see many victims of gun violence. Then July Fourth happened. Here’s how the day unfolded.

Highland Park Hospital doesn’t see many victims of gun violence. Then July 4th happened. Here’s how the day unfolded.Highland Park Hospital doesn’t see many victims of gun violence. Then July 4th happened. Here’s how the day unfolded......»»

Category: topSource: chicagotribuneAug 14th, 2022

Insiders say RAINN, the nation"s foremost organization for victims of sexual assault, is in crisis over allegations of racism and sexism

22 current and former staffers said that RAINN, which has deep ties to Hollywood and corporate America, is facing an internal reckoning. Scott Berkowitz, RAINN's co-founder and CEO, began his career in politics, advising former Sen. Gary Hart's 1984 presidential campaign at just 14 years old.RAINN; Kris Connor/Getty Images; Alyssa Powell/Insider22 current and former staffers say the organization favored by Hollywood and corporate America is in crisis. 'How can RAINN be helping survivors externally, when they're traumatizing survivors and their own employees internally?'April Cisneros says the first time she was sexually assaulted at her private Christian college was in 2015, while she was playing piano in the school's conservatory. A music tutor came into the small practice room and began to touch her. The second time, one year later, she remembers waking up in a hotel room near campus after drinks with classmates. One man was forcing his hand into her pants while another ejaculated on top of her. The incidents were devastating, and further compounded by a conservative religious community that lacked empathy for her pain or a framework to understand it. "Maybe it's demons attached to you that attracted this fate," she recalls one pastor telling her. Others placed the blame on her, wondering if she set the right boundaries with men. While studying abroad at Oxford University in 2016, in an effort to get far away from what she suffered back home, Cisneros attempted to take her own life.Soon after, she Googled for help, and the website for the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network, or RAINN, flashed across her computer screen. RAINN, which was founded in 1994 as a nonprofit, bills itself as the nation's largest anti-sexual-violence organization, operating a 24-hour hotline for victims and pushing for state and federal policies to punish sex offenders and support survivors. It has deep ties to corporate America and Hollywood, partnering with Google and TikTok and media like "I May Destroy You" and "Promising Young Woman," both of which center on sexual assault. (Insider itself utilizes RAINN's hotline; our publishing system automatically appends a referral link to RAINN at the bottom of every story about sexual assault.) In 2019, it reported nearly $16 million in revenue. It says its programs have helped 3.8 million people, and 301,455 people called its hotlines last year.The organization was a beacon in a difficult time, and Cisneros soon threw herself into supporting it. She cycled 1,500 miles across the country for a fundraising drive; later, after the Trump administration rolled back Title IX protections for campus-sexual-assault victims, she decided to get involved more directly. April Cisneros biked across the US to raise money for RAINN.April Cisneros"I was so angry," Cisneros told Insider. "I just remember thinking, 'Well, why don't I just, like, go try to be a part of the solution?'" She began working for RAINN in 2018 as a communications associate.But she soon discovered that it looked very different from the inside. Instead of the supportive, inclusive victims' advocacy organization that offered her hope in the depths of her depression, Cisneros found herself in a demoralizing workplace overrun by what she described as racism and sexism. She recalled that during the filming of a video about survivors' stories, her boss asked a participant to smile while recounting a sexual assault. "If you don't," Cisneros remembered her boss saying, "it'll look like you have a bitch face."Cisneros is among 22 current and former RAINN staffers who spoke to Insider and described a roiling crisis over race and gender in the over-200-person-strong nonprofit. These people described a culture in which a routine training was beset by racist caricaturing, executives ignored employees' requests for change, and people who were deemed political risks — including sexual-assault survivors — were silenced. According to these accounts, in one instance, a supervisor badgered an employee during the time she took off to recover from an abortion. In another, an Asian staffer was replaced on a project with a white man after their boss deemed him a better fit because of his race and gender. One staffer sent a resignation letter, obtained by Insider, in which she bemoaned "toxic managerial behavioral patterns" and worried that "young employees like myself, many of them survivors themselves, are currently being treated like their rights at work do not matter, like their comfort and security and health at work doesn't matter, like the skills they bring to work are worthless."RAINN declined to make its founder and president, Scott Berkowitz, available for an interview. In a statement, the group said it had made great strides in diversifying its workplace and addressing the concerns of its employees of color. It accused the current and former staffers who came forward to Insider of providing "incomplete, misleading, and defamatory" information about "a handful of long-outdated and disproven allegations.""RAINN is proud of the work our committed staff do, day in and day out, to support survivors of sexual violence," the statement read. "As an organization, we owe it to our committed staff to provide a work environment where they feel safe, appreciated, and heard … Over the last several years, like most organizations, RAINN has worked to expand and implement comprehensive Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion policies and goals. We regularly update staff on our progress toward achieving those goals, and solicit feedback on potential areas of improvement. While there is always room to build on our efforts, we are continually working to foster an open dialogue between employees and leadership to ensure ideas and concerns can be heard and addressed."RAINN hired Clare Locke LLP, a boutique libel law firm that has gained a reputation for representing clients facing #MeToo allegations, including Matt Lauer and the former CBS News executive Jeffrey Fager, to respond to Insider's inquiries. During Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation hearing, the firm's cofounder Libby Locke came to his defense, writing: "No wonder Judge Kavanaugh is angry. Any man falsely accused of sexual assault would be."When Insider asked RAINN whether Clare Locke's work was consistent with the organization's mission and values, the firm's partner Thomas Clare emailed a statement attributed to RAINN: "Given your questions contained outright lies about RAINN and our staff, and publication of those claims is potentially defamatory, we hired defamation counsel. We recognize we have a right to legal representation, and our attorneys have helped us disprove your ridiculous and libelous allegations."Some RAINN employees fear that the corporate dysfunction has poisoned the work of the largest sexual-violence organization in the country, which they continue to view as crucial, despite their own experiences. "How can RAINN be helping survivors externally when they're traumatizing survivors and their own employees internally?" Cisneros said.How RAINN became Hollywood and corporate America's go-to partner Through savvy marketing and hard work, RAINN has become to sexual assault what Planned Parenthood is to reproductive health: the premier, full-service resource for people struggling with a crisis and the ultimate destination for donations to help people who have been victimized.The global embrace of the #MeToo movement, and the contemporary focus on the depth and pervasiveness of sexual assault, has further aided RAINN's ascension. Companies in crisis often turn to the organization to telegraph their commitment to social responsibility. After dozens of women sued Lyft, claiming they were assaulted by its drivers, the company worked with RAINN to roll out extensive safety initiatives and contributed $1.5 million to its coffers.Hollywood has also embraced the organization. RAINN was cofounded by the Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Tori Amos, who promoted the organization's hotline at her concerts and sat on its advisory board. In 2018, Timotheé Chalamet pledged his earnings from Woody Allen's "A Rainy Day in New York" to groups including RAINN, as did Ben Affleck from productions affiliated with Harvey Weinstein. Christina Ricci, a star of Showtime's breakout hit "Yellowjackets," has served as an official spokesperson since 2007, and the platinum-selling pop artist Taylor Swift has donated to the organization, something it publicized from its social-media accounts.—RAINN (@RAINN) April 8, 2021 But Berkowitz has largely stayed out of the public eye. He began his career as a political wunderkind, advising Sen. Gary Hart's 1984 presidential campaign at just 14 years old. A profile in his grandparents' hometown newspaper in Pennsylvania said he was personally responsible for collecting $100,000 in donations for Hart — a feat achieved in between classes at American University, where he was already a sophomore. After graduation, Berkowitz continued to work in and around politics. His experience in the field, he said in a 2019 interview with RAINN, taught him about the "extent of the problem" of sexual violence in the United States and the opportunity to fill this "service gap.""I knew next to nothing about the issue," Berkowitz said. "It just seemed like a good idea." Christina Ricci has been a RAINN spokeswoman since 2007.Michael Kovac/WireImage/Getty ImagesEarly on, Berkowitz ran the day-to-day operations, and his early fundraising prowess served him well. After a series of sexual assaults at the infamous Woodstock '99 festival, promoters and record labels did damage control by giving RAINN 1% of the proceeds from the festival's CD and video releases. "In raw self-interest, the money and attention that would come from it would allow RAINN to promote the hotline better, provide more counseling, print more brochures," Berkowitz told the Village Voice. RAINN's budget swelled in tandem with its brand. Total revenue rocketed from more than $1.2 million in 2009 to nearly $16 million in 2019. Berkowitz's compensation grew from $168,000 to over $481,000 over the same period. Even though RAINN's tax returns list Berkowitz as its president and indicate that he was paid nearly a half a million dollars in the year ending in May 2020, RAINN says that he is not in fact an employee and does not receive a salary. Instead, for reasons that RAINN did not explain, he is paid through A&I Publishing, a company solely owned by Berkowitz that contracts with RAINN. "Scott Berkowitz is paid solely as an independent contractor through A&I Publishing and does not receive any salary or benefits," it said. "He has never received any employee compensation from RAINN."RAINN's tax records tell a slightly different story. The group has reported paying a total of $561,500 in consulting fees for "strategic and financial oversight" to A&I Publishing from 2001 to 2006, during which time Berkowitz drew no salary from RAINN. Since 2007, though, RAINN has reported directly paying Berkowitz a total of $3,529,000. (RAINN says he "is recused from all board consideration of his compensation.")Over the same period, RAINN also began reporting payments to A&I to service $288,000 in debt that it owed the consultancy at 5% interest. RAINN's tax records don't reflect that the organization ever received any cash from A&I; instead, the loan is described in its 2006 tax return as "issuance of debt for prior year services." RAINN says the loan, which has been repaid, stems from "deferred payment for fees" that RAINN owed A&I "for a number of years."'How does an organization like RAINN make such an egregious mistake?'With the Woodstock '99 deal, Berkowitz struck on a highly successful strategy — corporate penance — and he would often return to it. But he also looked to the public sector for funding opportunities.One of RAINN's largest sources of revenue — $2 million a year — is its contract to run the Department of Defense's Safe Helpline, which offers confidential, anonymous counseling to members of the military who have been affected by sexual violence. Multiple staffers who spoke with Insider said Berkowitz was exceedingly sensitive about maintaining the contract. They said that he had gone to great lengths to stay in the Department of Defense's good graces and that they believe RAINN has at times been overly deferential to its interests. Michael Wiedenhoeft-Wilder in February 2022.Evan Jenkins for InsiderMichael Wiedenhoeft-Wilder, a former flight attendant and roller-rink operator who previously served in the Navy as a medic, said that in 1982, just months after he enlisted, a Navy physician raped him. The doctor, who outranked Wiedenhoeft-Wilder, threatened him with prison time if he came forward. Wiedenhoeft-Wilder said it was the first of multiple sexual assaults he suffered, all of which resulted in a diagnosis of complex post-traumatic stress disorder.Wiedenhoeft-Wilder stayed silent about the assault for nearly 30 years. He became depressed and experienced paranoid suspicions that the government was spying on him, ready to silence him if he ever told the truth about his assault.But decades of therapy empowered Wiedenhoeft-Wilder to eventually come forward. He discovered the Safe Helpline, which then led him to RAINN's Speakers Bureau, a roster of more than 4,000 volunteer survivors who share their stories with the media, student groups, and other organizations. When Wiedenhoeft-Wilder signed up with the bureau, his story was selected for publication on RAINN's website. In October 2019, he worked with April Cisneros, who helped manage the Speakers Bureau, to prepare the story.But the story was abruptly killed. Cisneros said Berkowitz decided to pull Wiedenhoeft-Wilder's account once he realized that it involved an officer assaulting an enlisted man."Once we actually wrote up his story, Scott was like, 'No, we're not even getting into this,'" Cisneros told Insider, adding that Berkowitz refused to send the story to the Department of Defense for review, as it routinely did with accounts of military sexual assault. Cisneros said Berkowitz told members of the communications team that promoting the testimony of a man who had been assaulted by one of his superiors could harm the military's reputation and upset the Department of Defense. Cisneros told Insider she believed that Berkowitz did not want to risk losing the government's funding.Wiedenhoeft-Wilder was shocked. He had spent time with Cisneros revisiting the details of an assault that haunted him for 30 years, all for nothing."I've spent the last several days trying to deal with the devastating news that the article about my military sexual trauma being canceled for someone else," he told Cisneros in an email on October 31 that Insider reviewed. "How does an organization like RAINN make such an egregious mistake? Do you have any idea how this mistake has affected me? It's absolutely devastating. Just one more failure for me.""I feel victimized all over again," he wrote. "What did I ever do to you people to deserve this!"Cisneros, worried about Wiedenhoeft-Wilder's mental health, forwarded the exchange to Berkowitz and Keeli Sorensen, then the vice president of victim services, she said. "Maybe you just tell him you made a mistake," Cisneros recalled Sorensen telling her. She felt Sorensen's suggestion was, in effect, to "[fall] on my sword for RAINN."Cisneros told Insider that she told Wiedenhoeft-Wilder a lie about a scheduling conflict and blamed the mix-up entirely on herself. Wiedenhoeft-Wilder didn't believe her. "I know she wasn't telling me the truth," he told Insider. "I knew it wasn't her fault. It was a really weird, very strange thing to do to someone."Cisneros was heartbroken. She felt that she'd betrayed Wiedenhoeft-Wilder's trust and was distressed because she felt an anti-sexual-violence organization had asked her to deceive a rape victim. "What's so sad is people treat him like he's so paranoid about being silenced by the military, but that paranoia is at least … legitimate," Cisneros said. "And it happened again at RAINN."Sorensen denied having any involvement in the incident and said she was "not authorized in any way to instruct Ms. Cisneros in this matter," adding that Berkowitz had "total authority" with respect to the publication of Wiedenhoeft-Wilder's story. She said she did not know why Berkowitz pulled the testimony."I had no part in the matter," Sorensen said, "but it's my recollection, based on my conversation with Ms. Cisneros, that she had promised Mr. Wiedenhoeft-Wilder that she would publish their story before having secured final approval from Mr. Berkowitz."RAINN also said that if Cisneros had promised Wiedenhoeft-Wilder a spot on its website, it had "no knowledge of that and she was not authorized to make that commitment."Cisneros disputed that. She said that she provided Berkowitz with details of Wiedenhoeft-Wilder's story before reaching out and that he approved. "Scott gave me the greenlight to move ahead with the process if [Wiedenhoeft-Wilder] expressed interest," Cisneros said."We have no recollection as to why this survivor's story did not run in the fall of 2019," RAINN said, adding that some isolated quotes from Wiedenhoeft-Wilder's interview — stripped of their military context — were shared on RAINN's social-media accounts. The statement pointed to other stories from survivors of sexual assault in the military that RAINN had published; none of those featured scenarios in which an attacker outranked their victim.Evan Jenkins for Insider"We are not aware of the Department of Defense expressing concern over RAINN's coverage of military survivors," RAINN said, "nor is it standard practice for RAINN to consult with [the department] regarding the material and resources it publishes unless they directly mention Safe Helpline. RAINN frequently publishes the stories of military survivors and will continue to do so as it works to carry out the organization's mission to eradicate sexual violence from every corner of society."Anxiety around RAINN's relationship with the Department of Defense came up again in 2019. Six former staffers said one RAINN employee felt compelled to frantically retract public comments she had made in support of Black trans victims of violence amid the Trump administration's efforts to expel trans people from the military. The woman suddenly and mysteriously departed the organization on the day her remarks were published.(The woman's identity is known to Insider, which is not naming her because doing so may expose her to professional harm. The woman declined to comment for the record.) On March 7, 2019, to mark International Women's Day, the employee was one of "8 everyday women" featured by The Lily, a women-focused website published by The Washington Post. The Lily post listed the woman's age, background, position at RAINN, and responses to a questionnaire about her favorite fast-food chains and movies. But she came to fear that her seemingly uncontroversial answer to one question could become a professional liability.InsiderThe answer came a few months after the Trump-era transgender military ban went into effect, reanimating debates over trans rights. Two sources told Insider that the woman told them that RAINN's leadership expressed alarm over her contribution to the article and was frustrated that the woman had spoken to the media without getting consent from leadership.One source told Insider that Jodi Omear, then RAINN's vice president of communications, said minutes after reading the article that it was "too controversial" and that she worried it "could jeopardize our contract with the Department of Defense." The source said Omear escalated the article to Berkowitz and the human-resources director, Claudia Kolmer, because she was confident they would feel the same.Omear told Insider that because the former staffer had been under her supervision, it would be "inappropriate" to comment on her exit from the organization.On the day the questionnaire was published, the woman called the reporter at The Lily who'd conducted the interview and asked her to remove the reference to RAINN, as well as her comments about trans people, according to four sources familiar with the situation. The writer agreed. Insider viewed an original version of the interview that contained the employee's affiliation and comments about trans rights; the version currently published online does not.Two former employees said the woman was escorted out of the office by human resources the day the story was published. RAINN said that "it is standard practice that an employee separating from the organization is accompanied by a RAINN human resources representative when leaving the premises in order to collect their office keys, security fob and other credentials," adding that it "reached a separation agreement" with the woman a week after the story was published.One staffer who sat near her described the woman as a "fabulous" employee who was heavily invested in the projects they were set to work on together."It was one of the reasons why it was so shocking," the staffer said. "Like, where'd she go?"In its statement, RAINN claimed that the woman's remarks were an unauthorized attempt to speak on behalf of the Pentagon. "[The RAINN staffer] spoke with a Washington Post reporter on-the-record, on behalf of RAINN and the Department of Defense Safe Helpline, which she was not authorized to do," the statement said. "Contractually RAINN is barred from speaking on behalf of the Department of Defense or Safe Helpline." The Lily billed the interview as an opportunity to "step inside the lives of 8 everyday women." Aside from identifying her employer and job description — a format applied to other women featured in the post — the woman's interview did not touch on RAINN or the Department of Defense. Instead, she answered questions about her favorite body part and what she would change about her upbringing if she could.Still, RAINN said, the woman broke the rules: "The issue at hand centered around a clear violation of RAINN policy. RAINN supports all transgender survivors and has worked to remove the barriers to reporting sexual violence in LGBTQ communities, and to elevate the stories of transgender survivors, particularly for transgender persons of color for whom sexual violence is all too prevalent."Asked why, if that were the case, the woman would ask The Lily specifically to remove her comments about trans victims, RAINN said it was "unaware of any evidence indicating [the woman] was pressured to retract or remove" the comments. "RAINN is always mindful of honoring its contractual obligations not to speak on behalf of the DoD and the Safe Helpline," it said. "The fact someone commented on other subject matter or issues was irrelevant."A white male staffer was deemed a better fitJackii Wang joined RAINN's public-policy team in 2019, hopeful that she could use her experience working in national congressional offices to advance legislation that would help sexual-assault survivors. But she said her boss, RAINN's vice president of public policy, Camille Cooper, instead saddled her with administrative responsibilities like writing greeting cards. Wang said Cooper regularly discounted her ideas and "berated" her when they disagreed on issues the younger staffer considered minor. It became "psychologically terrifying," Wang said. Wang didn't immediately view that as discriminatory — multiple staffers said many of Cooper's employees complained of similar treatment. But during a performance review in December 2019, Wang said, Cooper attempted to explain her perception of Wang as defiant by rattling off stereotypes that Wang felt were "very targeted towards my Asian identity.""Camille asked me questions like, you know, 'Is your family very strict?' 'Do they expect perfectionism from you?' ... 'What was your childhood like?' Do I have problems with authority because of my family background?" Wang told Insider. What started as an implication became explicit, Wang said, when Cooper announced she would pull Wang off a lobbying assignment.Jackii WangDaniel Diasgranados for InsiderAt the time, RAINN was working on a Florida bill that would close a loophole in the state's statute of limitations for teen survivors. Cooper called Wang and another staffer into her office and told the two women she had decided to send a white male colleague in Wang's place, Wang said. Wang asked why."And she was like, 'Well, you know, because he's a white male,'" Wang recalled.Wang was mortified. While she had experience working with Florida legislators, her male colleague wasn't even registered to lobby in the state. Wang and the other staffer said Cooper argued that he would connect better with white conservatives in the state."He can talk about baseball. He can really, like, connect with these men," Cooper said, according to Wang and the other staffer present. "And these men really hate women.""Her reasoning for picking a white man over me for the project is that he'll be received better," Wang said. "But if that's the logic that she's following, then, like, I guess I shouldn't work anywhere because white men are received better everywhere."Neither Cooper nor the man responded to requests for comment.Wang said she reported the incident to Kolmer, the human-resources director, and Berkowitz in March 2020, along with a detailed recounting of other complaints about Cooper's leadership. But Wang said Kolmer never took serious action. When Wang quit that June, she sent Berkowitz a blistering resignation letter. "As you know, she has harassed and bullied every single person on our team, including an intern, and has blatantly discriminated against me," Wang wrote.Berkowitz thanked Wang for her time and for informing him, and asked Kolmer to discuss the issues Wang raised. Cooper continues to serve as a vice president, the face of RAINN's policy arm.RAINN said that Wang was too junior a staffer to lead a statewide lobbying effort and called her claims of discrimination "false and defamatory.""RAINN took Wang's allegations seriously and investigated the matter thoroughly," the statement said. "Ultimately it was determined that the basis of Wang's claims of discrimination were unfounded."RAINN did not deny Wang's claim that Cooper told her a white man would connect better with conservative legislators.Cooper wasn't the only executive to receive complaints. One current staffer and one former staffer described a meeting in which Jessica Leslie, the vice president of victim services, defended Berkowitz's unwillingness to address the concerns of staffers of color."You have to understand where he's coming from," they remember Leslie saying. "I mean, he's a white man, and you're all people of color — like, he's really nervous around you."One of the staffers was furious. "We just wanted to have a conversation. We're not about to berate the man," she told Insider. "This is not true," RAINN said. Its statement said that at a Safe Helpline shift managers meeting, a group of managers asked Leslie if Berkowitz would meet with them. When Leslie asked them to craft an agenda first, RAINN said, the shift managers asked Leslie if Berkowitz wanted an agenda because he was "uncomfortable talking to women of color." "The shift managers created this narrative," RAINN said, "not Leslie."Through an attorney, Leslie said she agreed with RAINN's responses and called the allegations against her "demonstrably baseless."A racist training, a pay disparity, and an email uprisingStaffers of color told Insider that they were often underpaid compared with their white counterparts; one, a nonwhite Latina woman who asked to remain anonymous, said she made $35,000 a year and lived in public housing to keep her head above water. After she quit for a higher-paying opportunity, RAINN filled her job with a white staffer who earned roughly $20,000 more, Cisneros said, adding that the white staffer disclosed her salary. (Three additional sources with knowledge of her salary corroborated Cisneros' account.) RAINN said the salary discrepancy was a result of both the role being "restructured" to include "significantly more responsibility" and the fact that the white staffer had an advanced degree.Four current and former RAINN staffers recalled that after RAINN's white office manager left for a new job, her replacement, a Black woman named Valinshia Walker, was asked to perform janitorial tasks that were not in her predecessor's job description — including scrubbing floors on her hands and knees, washing dishes, and disinfecting conference rooms. "Let me be very clear: [Walker's predecessor] never washed dishes from the sink. Ever," one former staffer said. "Val? You would come in, and Ms. Walker was cleaning the conference room. Like, wiping down all the tables. Spraying down the chairs. Doing the kitchen, she's washing dishes from the sink … You would see her walking around with the mask on and gloves because she literally cleaned. Like a cleaning lady."Walker declined to comment for the record. "The beliefs of your sources are simply not true," RAINN said, adding that Walker was hired as the "office coordinator," which had a different set of responsibilities than the "office manager" she replaced. "Maintaining a clean office has always fallen under the responsibilities of the HR and admin staff as a whole, this includes the office manager and office coordinator," the statement said. "We are not aware of any instances where Walker was asked to handle cleaning responsibilities beyond those that were part of the office coordinator's regular duties."Staffers also recalled what became a notorious and hamfisted mandatory sexual-harassment training in early 2020 led by an outside employment attorney hired by RAINN. According to more than a dozen employees, the attorney used a series of racist stereotypes to illustrate examples during the training."So let's just say, you know, there's Nicki [Minaj] and Cardi B are employees, and they're at their desks, and they start twerking," Cisneros recalled the lawyer saying. "Is that inappropriate workplace behavior?"At one point, Cisneros said, the lawyer proposed a hypothetical scenario in which a Latino-coded man — participants recalled his name was "Jorgé" or "José"—  kissed a coworker. The lawyer asked if the behavior could be appropriate "because this is Latino culture." "Your information regarding this training is inaccurate," RAINN said. "The examples in this legal training were all past legal cases using fictitious names." It added that staff concerns "were immediately addressed and the training was subsequently modified based on their feedback."Sarcia Adkins, a shift manager for the Department of Defense Safe Helpline who attended the training, was furious. She wrote an email to multiple executives, including Sorensen, Kolmer, and Berkowitz, on March 5 demanding action from the organization. "I wanted to get up and walk out at various points and it was one of the more traumatic experiences I've had at RAINN as a woman of color," she wrote. Kolmer acknowledged her complaints and promised to meet with Adkins alongside Berkowitz and Sorensen to discuss changes to the training and her issues with the nonprofit's culture.Adkins said that Kolmer didn't follow up that March but that Sorensen did reach out to schedule a one-on-one meeting. RAINN said Adkins agreed to meet Sorensen but "did not show up, without notification or explanation," and "did not follow up after she skipped the meeting." Several months later, after a former colleague intervened, Adkins did meet with Berkowitz and Sorensen. Adkins told Insider she was underwhelmed. "They pick what they want you to talk about," she said.The dysfunction came to a head during the summer of 2020, after the murder of George Floyd sparked a series of bitter internal conversations about RAINN's track record on race. In June 2020, Berkowitz sent an email with the subject line "A Note to the RAINN Family" to the entire staff. In it, he acknowledged the unrest and pledged to support the company's Black staffers.Sarcia Adkins replied to the email with a list of demands and copied the entire organization. She asked for mandatory cultural-competency training and a commitment to hiring Black employees for leadership positions. (RAINN says that 43% of its top seven staffers are people of color.) Adkins — who has been with RAINN since 2014 — asked Berkowitz why he hadn't reached out following the deaths of Freddie Gray, Sandra Bland, Philando Castile, and dozens of other victims of police violence."RAINN has never been a place [that] acknowledges or uplifts their black staff, not just people of color, and the injustices we face in the world and within the structure of RAINN," Adkins wrote.Following the police killing of George Floyd in 2020, Scott Berkowitz sent an email to staffers acknowledging the resulting unrest and pledging to support the company's Black staffers. But employees at RAINN began responding en masse, including one person who asked why a similar message was not sent after other police killings of Black people.Provided to InsiderIn 2021, in response to the outrage over the George Floyd email, the organization began internally releasing draft proposals on diversity, equity, and inclusion with goals the organization planned to achieve or had already accomplished. The laundry list of objectives, which Insider reviewed, included a plan to "develop new relationships to ensure a diverse pool of internal and external candidates for all open positions" and "collect more data to identify the causes of turnover."But people working in the organization say little has been achieved, or even attempted."Hiring practices are not getting better," said a current RAINN staffer, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation. "There's been no management training. Turnover is horrendous." In its statement, RAINN recounted the diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts it began implementing in 2021, including "expanded recruiting," "revised exit interviews," and "researched training on DEI-related issues.""The summer of 2020 sparked important cultural conversations in companies and organizations across the United States, RAINN among them," the statement said. "As we've seen nationwide, there is more work to be done. Over the past two years, RAINN worked with experts and garnered input from staff to develop and implement Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion policies and goals … Changes implemented to date include increasing diversity within senior management to better reflect our staff diversity and the people we serve, implementing an anonymous third-party ethics hotline where employees can voice concerns without fear of reprisal, offering expanded professional development and internal promotion opportunities, and increasing health and mental health benefits for employees, the four top priorities identified by staff."As evidence of its success in addressing the concerns of its employees of color, RAINN provided Insider an email that Aniyah Carter, a staffer on the Department of Defense Safe Helpline, wrote to the vice president of communications, Heather Drevna, in June 2020. Carter, who is Black, had been one of the most outspoken staffers demanding change at RAINN after Berkowitz's George Floyd email fiasco. When Drevna sent a follow-up email to staff announcing an employee survey and more personal and sick days, Carter replied with a note of thanks."I just want to personally thank you and the senior team for this," she wrote. "It's one thing to listen to and hear us. It's another thing to take action. I am proud of the responses of my colleagues and I am grateful for the swift action from leadership. It is my sincere hope that we continue to make a necessary shift in the right direction. Please let me know if there is any way I can be of assistance."Scott Berkowitz at the "Tina The Tina Turner Musical" Cocktail Reception, co-hosted by Anna Wintour in support of RAINN, on January 31, 2020.Tiffany Sage/BFA/ReutersWhen Insider asked Carter about the email, she said any movement in the right direction quickly stalled."They sent an email and that was it," Carter told Insider. "So my 'sincere hope' was crushed. It's so insulting for me. When this first happened and you were optimistic and gave us the benefit of the doubt, you say it here," she said, mocking RAINN's use of her email. "And it's like, OK, but two years later here we still are. And I've mentioned how I'm frustrated, but you're going to take words from two years ago feeling optimistic about the future and spin it as if that applies to today? Seriously? That was very upsetting because it makes me feel like this is more about optics than, like, how your staff really feels."'OK, well, who's gonna do the press clips?'When April Cisneros arrived at RAINN, she began working for Jodi Omear. Cisneros said she quickly ran up against Omear's domineering management style, which often seemed dismissive of and belittling to other women. Besides the "bitch face" comment, Cisneros said, Omear joked about how office dress codes could reduce the risk of sexual assault by preventing people from wearing provacative outfits. "I understand we're not supposed to blame the victim," Cisneros recalled Omear saying, "but, like, what do you expect to happen if you're in a dimly lit room and people of the opposite sex [are] wearing pants with holes in them?" Omear did not deny making either comment but told Insider that when training people who lacked experience with on-camera work, she directed them to "over-exaggerate facial expressions." She also said she "advocated for casual professional attire across the organization."Cisneros' low point at RAINN occurred in January 2019, when she unexpectedly became pregnant. She decided to take a sick day to visit a doctor. She told Insider she informed Omear the day before and outlined when her unfinished work would be completed.Omear became angry, Cisneros said, demanding to know why she didn't give more notice and insisting on further details. Omear called Cisneros at 9 p.m. demanding answers. Cisneros broke down and told her boss about the surprise pregnancy. According to Cisneros, Omear replied, "OK, well, who's gonna do the press clips?"The next day, as Cisneros met with her doctor, her phone buzzed with calls and texts from Omear. Between the stress of an unplanned pregnancy and Omear's incessant check-ins, Cisneros said, she "started bawling" under the stress.  A day later, Cisneros received a prescription for a two-day medical abortion. She requested an extra day off to recover, but Omear continued to pester her, texting and calling Cisneros for updates on RAINN's monthly marketing report. Cisneros said she finished the report from home while waiting for the bleeding to die down. (A RAINN staffer who was familiar with the incident corroborated Cisneros' version of events.)Omear told Insider that it would be "inappropriate" to comment on Cisneros specifically and did not directly answer a series of questions about Cisneros' allegations. "In general, when working with communications staff, especially in a fast-paced environment on such an important issue, it is/was important to ensure that other team members were able to cover assignments to meet any potential deadlines and organizational needs," she said in an emailed statement.RAINN said that it "was not aware of this incident happening in real time" and that it "supports employees taking time off and does not support managers encroaching on sick time."Omear's conduct was the final straw for Cisneros, and she wrote to human resources to complain. Cisneros said Claudia Kolmer told her in a meeting that the conflict "was a big misunderstanding" and that she should have come clean about her pregnancy sooner. (RAINN said that Kolmer told Cisneros that different managers have different preferences about how they should be notified of sick time and that "Cisneros was never asked to share sensitive personal or medical information.")Dissatisfied, Cisneros unloaded on Omear to Kolmer, accusing her boss of making inappropriate complaints about the loud breathing of a colleague who used a wheelchair and the habit of another colleague, who was blind, of walking into Omear's office by mistake, Cisneros said. (Another former RAINN employee corroborated the complaints to Insider.) Cisneros also said she told Kolmer that Omear made lewd remarks about the attractiveness of a sexual-assault victim set to make a public-service announcement. Omear denied making the lewd comments. She also denied complaining about disabled colleagues but said that she did recall "thanking one of my staff for helping" a blind colleague "when she couldn't find her way around the office."Cisneros rallied the entire RAINN communications department to put together a detailed list of other allegations of inappropriate behavior by Omear, which she collected in a memo for Kolmer and Berkowitz.Omear left RAINN that July, ostensibly to launch her own communications consulting firm. But Cisneros said Berkowitz told her that he had pushed Omear out in response to Cisneros' efforts. "We want you to know we're letting her spin her own story," Cisneros said Berkowitz told her. "But this is a direct result of the conversation you all have with us."The experience nonetheless angered staffers. Cisneros left RAINN the next year.Another colleague, Martha Durkee-Neuman, wrote a scathing resignation letter shortly after Omear announced her exit, addressing it to Omear, Berkowitz, and Kolmer."Jodi leaving of her own accord with no accountability is not justice," Durkee-Neuman wrote, according to a copy of the letter obtained by Insider. "It is not justice for the countless people that she has fired or driven from RAINN. It is not justice to pretend that nothing has happened, that staff were not forced to go to HR over and over and over until something was finally done." "I do not believe any of this work of justice or restoration will happen at RAINN, so unfortunately, this is no longer the right organization for me," she added."After the communications team raised concerns [about Omear] with Claudia Kolmer," RAINN said, "RAINN worked swiftly and diligently to investigate the staff's complaints. RAINN took appropriate action to address the findings of that investigation and Omear separated with RAINN shortly thereafter."Martha Durkee-Neuman's resignation letter.Martha Durkee-Neuman'What is left?' On November 19, 2021, Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted of charges related to the shooting deaths of two people at a civil-rights rally in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Some time later, Leslie, then the interim vice president of RAINN's victim-services department, addressed the organization's Black staffers. "I am deeply saddened by the pain and violence that has continued to plague our Black neighbors and communities," she wrote. "I want to recognize how this may be affecting you, as you navigate your day and the work you do at RAINN." She then touted the racial diversity of the victim-services department.Nearly 18 months had passed since the organization sent around its email about the death of George Floyd. Despite various promises and initiatives, in the eyes of many staffers, little had changed. But here it was again, another email promising to listen to staffers of color. Employees were enraged.Aniyah Carter, the Safe Helpline worker whose email RAINN provided to Insider, reminded her boss that nearly two weeks had passed since the verdict. "By now, we have already had to check in with ourselves so that we can continue our day-to-day lives," she wrote. "And while the opportunity to check in with managers is still absolutely available (and encouraged), the reminder to do so would have been more beneficial if it occurred when this took place." Carter also highlighted the gap she saw between leadership's stated commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion and its on-the-ground support of its employees of color, a sentiment echoed by other staffers who spoke to Insider.Daniel Diasgranados for InsiderFor Cisneros, the repeated failure of the organization to address the concerns of its staff speaks to something darker, and she is worried about how the culture at RAINN is affecting its ability to help abuse survivors."If church can't help, if school can't help, if the police can't help, if the hospital can't help, if my family can't help, my friends can't help — and now this nonprofit that is specifically saying that it's here to help people like me can't help?" she said."Like, what is left?"Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderFeb 25th, 2022

"There"s no getting out of here": Astroworld medics say they were trapped in crowds and unable to radio for help as Travis Scott fans were suffocating

ParaDocs medics who worked Travis Scott's deadly Astroworld festival detailed the tragic sequence of events in their first in-depth interview. The empty stage that hosted the 2021 Astroworld Festival is seen in drone footage days after the tragedy.Nathan Frandino/Reuters ParaDocs medics who worked Travis Scott's deadly Astroworld festival detailed the tragic sequence of events in their first in-depth interviews.  They describe forcing their way into packed crowds and tending to multiple critical victims at a time. The chief dispatcher says the volume of music was so loud that their festival-issued radios became useless. The lead doctor on duty at Travis Scott's Astroworld Festival arrived at 10 a.m. on Nov. 5 at Houston's NRG Park. Almost immediately, she said, "I knew we were in for a shit show." Passing through the gates of the sold-out show three hours before they opened to the public, she watched swarms of teens scaling fences and crashing gates to get inside the park.  "I wasn't nervous," Dr. Danica Barron said later in an interview. "I've done shit shows. All I was thinking is, 'Ok, we're going to have a rough crowd.'"Barron practices festival medicine – an emerging field of mobile emergency medicine focused on tending to drug overdoses, injuries, heat stroke, or any conceivable medical emergency that might arise when tens of thousands of young people come together for days-long events.As the West Coast medical director of ParaDocs Worldwide, a mobile medicine team hired by Astroworld organizers, Barron helped lead a team of more than 70 ParaDocs staffers stationed throughout the festival grounds and inside medical tents. The medic teams ended up treating hundreds of injuries, including 11 people in cardiac arrest. It ended up being one of the deadliest concerts in U.S. history. Ten people died.   Travis Scott performs at the Astroworld Music Festival in Houston on Nov. 5, 2021. The concert ended up being one of the deadliest in U.S. history.Amy Harris/Invision/AP PhotoIn addition to an ongoing criminal investigation by the Houston Police Department, more than 300 lawsuits have been filed against Scott and the festival organizers, including some that also name ParaDocs as a defendant. Paradocs CEO Alex Pollak and other senior staffers dispute claims that they were either overwhelmed or underprepared for the tragedy that unfolded that night. He notes they had enough staff to handle a crowd of 70,000. According to Houston Fire Department logs obtained by USA Today, 50,000 tickets were sold and another 5,000 fans broke in. In their first in-depth interviews since the tragedy, senior staffers on duty that night offered harrowing accounts of how the tragedy unfolded from their perspective.A spokesperson for NRG Park said they were unable to comment "out of respect for pending litigation and ongoing investigations," while ASM Global, which manages events at the park, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Scott's attorney, who argues in legal filings that Scott is "not legally liable" for the tragedy, also did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Concert promoter Live Nation said in a statement to Insider: "We are continuing to cooperate with and support the investigation to determine what happened so that the Houston community can get the answers they want and deserve."  "The crowd was like a vice" The Astroworld Festival schedule called for the gates to open at 1 p.m. and for various opening acts to perform between 2 and 8 p.m. Then, after an intermission, Scott was set to take the stage at 8:45.ParaDocs senior staffers said they have extensive experience with violent, unpredictable crowds, and, after Astroworld, the senior staff was headed to Orlando for a huge electronic dance music festival.Dr. Danica Barron, the West Coast medical director of ParaDocs Worldwide, was the lead doctor on duty that day.Published with permissionThe company has staffed previous Travis Scott concerts, which were known to be especially wild as the rapper whipped his fans into a frenzy that he dubbed "raging." Twice before, Scott has pleaded guilty to charges arising from his conduct onstage. He pleaded guilty to a reckless conduct charge after urging fans to rush the stage at a Lollapalooza festival in Chicago in 2015, and again to a disorderly conduct charge in the wake of a 2017 Arkansas concert. Barron is one of the most seasoned festival medicine doctors in the U.S. Licensed to practice medicine in multiple states that host big festivals, she has worked more than a hundred music festivals since 2015. She grew up in Los Angeles, graduated from Yale Medical School, and returned to the West Coast, where she spent more than a decade as an emergency room doctor at various West Coast hospitals.  She's trained in tactical combat and casualty medicine, and certified as an "expedition doctor" with a diploma in wilderness medicine.Barron, a mom of three, lights up at my first mention of live music."Oh my God! I used to go to raves all the time," she said. "Love it, love it, love it. Backstage passes, EDM raves, Coachella. I'll hit anything! Classical music concerts, anything live. I love seeing live music, period. Jazz festivals. Whatever is live? I'm there."Barron met ParaDocs CEO Alex Pollak when they worked together at a festival in Texas in 2017, and he brought her on. "We kind of know what we're going to see because we've worked so many festivals," said Pollak. "It's a very specialized thing – knowing the drugs and the trends."The ParaDocs team (from left): medic Damary Chavez, COO Leo Vanegas, CEO Alex Pollack, medic supervisors Zach Chan and Kevin Villatoro, and chief dispatcher Jon Saltzman.Anna Watts for InsiderBy late afternoon, Barron's team in the main medical tent was busy treating relatively routine festival injuries – "fence jumpers and lots of lacerations from people throwing bottles at each other," she said. Houston Fire Department logs from that night obtained by the Houston Chronicle indicate that Houston police were racing to stop one large crowd from scaling a fence while another group tried to crash the main gate. Still, as Scott prepared to take the stage just after 9 p.m, things inside the main medical tent were under control.Drowned in Sound On the other side of the park, inside the festival command center, ParaDocs' chief dispatcher Jon "Salty" Saltzman sat in front of a bank of security camera screens. Alongside nearly two dozen local law enforcement, festival security and dispatchers, it was his job to manage ParaDocs' medic teams.Saltzman, 43, a veteran New York City EMT who wears thick-rimmed black glasses beneath a shock of snow white hair, had been having a routine day up to that point as well. "Busy, but routine," he said.Fans at the Astroworld Festival on Nov. 5, 2021, hours before the tragedy unfolded.Omar Vega/FilmMagicBut outside in the darkness, dangerous swells were forming in tightly-packed sections closest to the main stage, particularly the south quadrant. All afternoon, much of the crowd had been centered around the second "Thrills" stage where the day's opening acts performed. But after opening act SZA's set ended at around 8 p.m., masses of teens surged towards the main "Chills" stage to see Scott. Around 8:30 p.m., a 30-minute countdown clock appeared on the main stage, drawing thousands of teens to press in closer and closer to the stage. At 9:02 p.m., Scott's show kicked off in a dazzling blaze of pyrotechnics that sent streams of fire bursting up into the night sky over Houston. "They were packed so tight the crowd was like a vice," Barron would later observe. "and they couldn't breathe. When it becomes that intense, they can't inhale anymore." 'This is only going to get worse'Saltzman and his dispatchers had been anticipating the typical 30 to 45 minute "rush hour [of patients]" as soon as Scott took the stage. It happened at most festivals, he said, usually at the beginning of the pulse-racing final act. Moments after Scott's set began, Saltzman's team took a report of three people suffering smoke inhalation from the fireworks near the front of the stage. Saltzman began routine radio check-ins with his forward triage supervisors. Each ParaDocs medic had been assigned a radio by Astroworld's festival organizers. The Motorola radios were standard issue and familiar to all of his medics. When he reached supervisor Zach Chan, who was in the south quadrant, Saltzman was caught off guard when he got a report of "multiple critical patients.""It wasn't what he said, but it was how he said it," Saltzman recalled. "Knowing him the way I do, I heard something in his voice that triggered something in me." "Oh, shit," Saltzman thought to himself. "And that's when the snowball started for us in the command center." Suddenly, garbled reports of critically-injured patients began pouring in. "It was too loud for crews to hear me – the speakers they're carrying in those radios are only so large. And when they tried to call me, all I got was noise. It was so loud the microphone kit [in the radios] couldn't distinguish between a voice yelling and the decibels of a music festival."Saltzman and his two dispatchers pulled out maps of the festival area, "trying our best to weed through all the chaos and come up with something tangible. The more I tried, the worse it got." Jon Saltzman, the ParaDocs paramedic.Anna Watts for Insider"There's a point where there's just so much chaos and there's so little communication that I have to just accept that they're working on their own," Saltzman said. Between songs, Saltzman's dispatchers would receive a report they could partially distinguish, and request a location to try and send help, only to be met with silence. Soon it became clear why: the medics in the crowd were using both hands to administer CPR.   "I'm their backup, their lifeline," he continued. "That is how those patients get from the ground in the middle of hell to the medical tent where they can get the care they need. And they can't get there! I'm literally standing there, and I'm the one who's responsible for getting them to that tent, and I can't get them there." When Saltzman and his two dispatchers had what they thought were three distinct reports of cardiac arrests – a casualty level they'd never seen before at a music festival - he knew he had to do something drastic. "We're in the beginning of his set - there's two hours to go. I took a step back and thought, 'This is only going to get worse.'" Saltzman said he told the festival dispatcher they should shut down the festival. "He looked at me and I go, 'I know. I don't have any authority to go this far. But this is uncharted territory. The only way we're going to save these people is to get everyone the fuck out of the grounds. You need to shut this down.'"At 9:38 p.m. – 36 minutes after Scott took the stage – the Houston Fire Department declared a mass casualty incident (MCI), a crisis level triggered when on-site medical teams become overwhelmed by the number or severity of patient injuries and require outside assistance. Still, the concert continued. 'Everyone Was Just Screaming'Chan and Kevin Villatoro, another senior ParaDocs medic, were stationed near the front of the stage when Scott began his set. A flaming bird appeared on a screen high above the stage as a church organ bellowed. Scott, a Houston native who had launched Astroworld in 2018, emerged on stage yelling "Let's go!" As he launched into his first song, four columns of flames shot up on either side of him in front of the stage as tens of thousands of teens bounced in rhythm. A staff medic came rushing over and shouted over the pounding bass. "I need help! I need help!" she shouted over the pounding bass. "My partner's being assaulted!"  Chan and Villatoro raced behind her down the passageway to an area behind the south quadrant. Security had already responded to the assault when they arrived, and the two supervisors treated their colleague and sent him to the main medical tent. But now something more serious was unfolding. Panicked concertgoers were pouring over the barriers and into the area reserved for medical and security personnel seeking medical help, Chan said. ParaDocs supervisors don't carry medical equipment – they oversee teams in the field. But with all the medics either tending to injured concertgoers or trapped somewhere in the crowd, there was no one else to turn to and they got to work.Zach Chan, a supervisor with ParaDocs.Anna Watts for Insider"Everyone was just screaming for help," Chan recalled. "I would have to grab them and [say], 'Look, I need you to take a second to tell me what's wrong.' If it was serious enough to take precedent over someone I'm currently treating, I would help them first. If not, I'd sit them down and say, 'Give me two minutes and let me get back to you.' It was pretty upsetting."Chan, the son of one of the first Asian-American paramedics in the New York City fire department, found a young woman lying on the ground, struggling to breathe and too weak to walk. He sent Villatoro and another supervisor back to the medical tent to retrieve collapsible stretchers. Five minutes passed. Chan now had four critical patients in need of transport – three struggling to breathe and one with severe trauma, he said. Where were the stretchers?Chen's radio crackled to life with multiple reports of unconscious patrons and teens being crushed beneath crowds. He said he knew then that the stretchers weren't coming. He rushed to the nearest security guard."'Dude, I don't care what you do,' he remembers saying. 'I need to move these four people right now.' The guards complied, forcing a pathway through the crowd. "We ended up just throwing them over our backs, and we just ran them to our medical pen," Chan said. At the medical tent, Chan was approached by a frantic teen with yet another report of a possible cardiac arrest and he charged back into the south quadrant."Honestly, looking back on it now? People call us heroes but I just feel like we were idiots," Chan said. "Once I was in the crowd, alone, I just thought to myself, 'I fucked up. There's no getting out of here.'" A moment from the third annual Astroworld Festival at NRG Park on Nov. 05, 2021.Rick Kern/Getty ImagesWhen he finally arrived at the location, he found fellow medics performing CPR on three patients. Chan decided to try and make it back to the medical tent for more stretchers, but the crowd was too dense. He pushed and pushed but moving through it was impossible. Suddenly, the music stopped and he could hear Scott speaking from the stage. The mass of bodies momentarily relaxed, and Chan saw his moment. He burst into the crowd, hoping to make it out to the medical tent. As he charged forward, Chan said he could hear Scott say "something like 'make the ground shake.'" (It was approximately 9:29 p.m, according to a Houston Chronicle timeline, the second time in five minutes that Scott had stopped the show. What he actually said "I wanna make this motherfucking ground shake, goddammit!")As soon as the music resumed, the crowd exploded anew into a frenzied mosh pit. Chan was propelled backwards. "I got about 10 or 15 feet because I'm 300 pounds and I had a running start. That's not something I would ever normally do – barrel through a crowd like that - but this was a life-or-death situation at that point," Chan said. "I ended up getting punched and kicked by the kids, and the next thing I knew I was back in the little CPR circle." He turned to a fellow supervisor, "and I just said "'We're fucked.'"  Earlier this month, Scott said in an interview with radio host Charlamagne tha God that he didn't learn until after the concert was over what had happened and did not hear fans' cries for help and to stop the show."I stopped it a couple times to just make sure everybody was OK. And I really just go off the fans' energy as a collective, call and response. I just didn't hear that," he said."You got lights, you got sound, you got pyro, you got your in-ears, you got your mic, got your music, you got [a] band, there's all types of stuff going on," he said at another point. "Everything kind of just sounds the same and at the end of the day you just hear music. 'There's somebody dead in the crowd!'Villatoro didn't return to Chan's position because as he and another supervisor ran back to the medical tent, they were diverted by something even more urgent.A young man had burst from the crowd, screaming for their attention:  "There's somebody dead!" he shouted. "There's somebody dead in the crowd!" The area in front of the main stage sectioned the sea of fans into four quadrants with a narrow passageway between hardened metal barriers reserved for security and medics. The man led them towards the main stage and about a third of the way up the center passageway that separated the south and east quadrants. He was pointing into the south quadrant. This was the most densely-populated section of the concert and, according to a Washington Post investigation, where the majority of the deaths occurred. Astroworld fans were divided into quadrants. The southern quadrant (bottom left) was where most of the deaths occurred, according to a Washington Post investigation.Nathan Frandino/ReutersMounting the barricades, the two supervisors plunged into the crowd and forged a path through the pulsating forest of bodies. Finally, they spotted a young man on the ground. He was unresponsive. When Villatoro couldn't get a pulse, he said, he began performing CPR. Kneeling over his patient, Villatoro glanced up at one point and saw a small patch of light. There, lit up by cell phone flashlights, he saw the bodies of two more young men. A dizzying sensation seized him. As a child, Villatoro, 31, suffered asthma attacks so severe he was regularly rushed from his Woodside, Queens elementary school in ambulances. That's what got him interested in medicine in the first place. The terrifying sensation of suffocating had never fully left him, and it gripped him now as he knelt in a field strewn with bodies."Everything seemed to happen at once," Villatoro recalled. "It was just a total shock. I just went into autopilot mode." He leapt off the ground and ran towards the two men to check for vital signs. He and the other medic split up and "just [went] straight into compressions."Villatoro's heart was racing, the music thundering overhead. He tried to think. As volunteers came forward he directed them to take turns performing CPR – one person performing compressions while another administers breath. "There was no hearing, no conversation to be had," he said. "Just a lot of yelling and pointing and instinct." On his knees in the dirt, with no stretchers or transport equipment, he could neither get his patients out nor leave them. He was trapped."I'm not going to say that I've been in EMS for a very long time," Villatoro said. "But that was the scariest moment of my life. I actually feared for my life for the first time, honestly."  He had never seen three cardiac arrests in patients so young with no obvious signs of  trampling - pushed-in faces, broken necks - and he surmised they'd been crushed by the crowd while on their feet. Villatoro said he tried repeatedly to call in his location, but he couldn't hear anything over the music. He tried his cell phone but he couldn't get a signal. Kevin Villatoro, a senior ParaDocs medic.Anna Watts for InsiderAround him, Villatoro began to notice that fans were locking arms to form a daisy chain around him and the other medics. "That wall of people was the only thing keeping (the crowd) from crushing us," said Villatoro, who at six feet and 265 pounds is one of the largest medics on the ParaDocs senior staff.  "Even for someone like me, at that point? It didn't matter if I were the Mountain," he said. "While you were crouched down on the ground, doing CPR, you are below the line of sight of anybody. And honestly, the daisy chain was the only thing that was protecting us. Had one person slipped, had people started getting riled up again, and they started pushing in, we would have been easily swept over like a wave."More than 20 minutes passed, Villatoro said, before he finally got through and radioed in his grim report. He took a breath, momentarily relieved. Help would be on the way now, he recalled thinking. During a break between songs, he pressed his radio to his ear, waiting for news of arriving medics.  "Instead, I just started hearing, 'we have another one down,' and then 'another one down.'" Villatoro said he was beginning to lose hope when, finally, he saw the chain of people open and a group of Houston police came pouring through with transport and medical equipment.'Do I tell them to leave? Do I tell them to stop?'Back in the command center, it was clear to Saltzman that people were suffocating inside the crowd, but he couldn't pinpoint where it was happening. He knew his medics and supervisors were going against their most basic training by rushing into dangerous situations without any of the operational communications for which they normally rely on him. And if they went in to help and got trapped, he couldn't get them out. The conflicting impulses tore at him.  "To be sitting there in the command [center] in a nice cushy seat and a desk with a laptop, watching it on the monitors and hearing the chaos going on out there," he recalled. "What do you do I tell them? Do I tell them to leave? Do I tell them to stop?"Like other senior ParaDocs medics, Saltzman is sensitive to criticism that his team failed at their jobs. "Did we do the best we could? Yeah, we went above and beyond. From day one, you're always taught [to care for] yourself, your partner and the patient, in that order, period. And every single one of these guys out in the field, every one of our EMTs, every one of our operations officers, for the greater good, violated rule number one – putting themselves in harm's way."About 30 minutes into Scott's set, Saltzman said he gazed up at the security camera screens and spotted something that made him nauseous. "Everybody kind of looked up and said, 'is that what I think it is?' A vehicle being used as a field ambulance was transporting a critical patient, fighting its way through the crowd as laughing teenagers danced on the roof."I can see one of my [medics] on the back doing CPR, literally underneath someone standing on the golf cart as it's moving … jumping up and down and dancing." —Chaudhary Parvez (@ChaudharyParvez) November 6, 2021 "At the human level, this was disgusting. I watched the entire thing. And I had a moment and I snapped and needed to walk out of the command center. "'Yeah, this is chaos,' he thought as he lit a cigarette. "But it kind of hit me that this was like a failure of human decency and humanity."'Wave after wave after wave'On the other side of the park, Barron's field hospital was filling up."People had been coming in earlier with trample injuries," Barron said. "Some girl had her eye crushed in. Another had their neck stamped pretty bad. Another had abdominal pain. So we knew the crowd was rough." She just didn't know how rough. Soon, three critical patients were brought in with no pulse. Barron's team had just finished treating an apparent opioid overdose and at first "we didn't know if it was more overdoses, or what," she said. "None of them had physical trauma – stepped on faces or chests," she said. "But their pupils were fixed and dilated, meaning they had been anoxic" – deprived of oxygen for an extended period of time, a symptom common to both opiate overdoses and asphyxiation.Barron said she personally intubated at least six of the cardiac arrest patients that came through her field hospital that night, she said. Three days after the tragedy, Harris County medical examiners completed autopsies on eight of the 10 people who ultimately died, but said that causes of death "remain unknown," according to the Houston Chronicle, and that final determinations could take weeks.What wasn't immediately apparent became achingly clear in the aftermath: people being crushed so hard by crowds that many suffocated on their feet. It was something none of the ParaDocs medics or doctors had ever seen at a music festival before. Damary Chavez, a ParaDocs medic.Anna Watts for Insider'Maybe this is all going to end'One of the medics, 24-year-old Damary Chavez, was at a secondary medical tent when a distraught couple came in claiming someone had lost consciousness in the crowd. She followed them toward the southern quadrant. As the crowd got thicker she stopped the man and proposed that she hang on to his hoodie so she wouldn't lose him in the crowd. Leo Vanegas, a medic and ParaDocs's chief operations officer, was already administering CPR, and Chavez joined in so that they could turns.Nearby, a distraught young man told her he was going to climb onto a nearby camera platform to try to stop the show. "People were just freaking out," Chavez said.In a viral video clip from the concert, two fans can be seen climbing the platform and frantically begging the camera operators to "stop the show." At about 9:30 p.m., the music paused briefly and Chavez thought that would finally calm the crowd down enough so that she could get her patient out of the crowd. The memorial outside NRG Park in Houston a few days after the of the 2021 Astroworld Festival.Alex Bierens de Haan/Getty Images"'Maybe they're going to stop the music. Maybe this is all going to end," she thought, hopefully. "But then you just hear [Travis Scott] say, 'Let's make the ground shake!' – and that's when more fear comes. That's when you panic. 'Are these people going to start jumping and dancing again?'"The crowd exploded anew, with bodies bouncing off each other. "All these people are being crushed," she recalled. "Everyone's falling on top of each other."Crouched over her patient, fighting for space, Chavez could hear cries piercing the darkness. "Help! Help!" Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderDec 17th, 2021

Visiting the gulag where my grandfather was tortured, but didn"t officially exist

My grandfather was held at Bulgaria's most notorious gulag. This summer, I saw it for the first time. A Belene survivor crosses the bridge across the Danube that connects the town of Belene and Persin island in 2015. Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP via Getty Images) This summer, Tana Ganeva traveled to Belene, Bulgaria's most notorious prison camp, where her grandfather was held in the 1950s. Bulgaria has effectively buried the history of its Communist-era gulags, where thousands were starved, tortured, and killed. Ganeva's grandfather attempted to escape Bulgaria four times, before making it to California. See more stories on Insider's business page. The island of Persin is a bird-watcher's paradise. Set on the Danube River, which divides Bulgaria and Romania, it's a nature park covered in wetlands and home to hundreds of rare bird species: the spoonbill, the pygmy cormorant, the corncrake, as well as herons, eagles, storks, and pelicans. Amid the natural beauty, it's jarring to consider that this was the location of a concentration camp where thousands of Bulgarian political prisoners were brutalized and killed from 1949 to 1953 - and in some cases for years after that. Though it's officially known as Belene after the quiet Bulgarian village that sits 750 feet away on the mainland, old-timers here call it by another name: the Island of Death.My stepgrandfather, Georgi Tutunjiev, was sent here at age 24 and spent four years and three months interred at Belene after someone (he suspected his ex-wife) told the authorities of his plan to escape the country. In his notebooks - he had planned to write a memoir about Belene but never did before he died in 2011 at 87 - he remembered the place as "brutal facilities for re-education," where he'd endured "indescribable physical and psychological abuse." He finally managed to escape Bulgaria in 1966 and settle with my grandma in California. In 1989, my parents and I left Bulgaria and joined my grandparents in California, thanks to the family-reunification policy. While many survivors of trauma shut down, my grandfather never stopped talking about the gulag. He seemed to have an unending loop of stories about Belene. For my immediate family, it could be exhausting, and we were alarmed to discover his extensive gun collection, which my grandmother gamely dismissed as a coping mechanism. But guests who came to the house were often riveted by his dark tales, which he mixed with his sense of humor. "Jeko! The Communistie shot you!" he'd shout at his terrier mix, and the dog would sprawl on his back, playing dead. An aerial view of Persin island. The gulag was known as Belene, after the nearby town. Tsvetomir Nikolaev I've come to the town of Belene on a brutally hot day in August for a tour of the Island of Death. I meet Nedyalka Toncheva, who works for the Belene Island Foundation, a nonprofit that organizes tours of the island, close to the bank of the Danube.We cross a rickety water bridge on foot and then jump aboard a Jeep driven by a 24-year-old Belene native named Peter. Toncheva, who is 35, is passionate and knowledgeable about the island's flora and fauna. Every few minutes, she tells Peter to stop the car to point out a roosting stork or a water eagle. She talks about her plans to make Persin a tourist destination comparable to Borovets, a ski resort with luxury hotels in the Rila mountains; or Koprivchitsa, a living museum honoring the Bulgarian rebels who mounted an uprising in 1876 against the Ottoman Empire.In the three decades since the fall of communism, Bulgaria has effectively buried the history of its many gulags, which operated mostly in the 1950s during the early, and most violent, days of Communist rule in the country. In Belene itself, many lower-level guards came from the village and a former mayor was also the gulag's first superintendent. It's not surprising that the village doesn't advertise its history.After 1989, survivors who had been forced to sign documents promising to never talk about the camps started speaking out. For a brief time, they became the subjects of documentaries and newspaper profiles. But soon, the consensus was that it was better to move on. An interior minister tasked with investigating the camps instead secretly ordered a purge of thousands of pages of documents - 40% of the government record. While Bulgaria's defeat of the Ottomans is central to the national identity, and much is made of the fact that Bulgaria saved its Jews during the Holocaust, the memory of the Communist era is more fraught. Georgi Tutunjiev, the author's grandfather, in around 1977. Tana Ganeva Peculiar for a tour, most of our stops lead us to what's not left of the camp. The shacks where prisoners slept have been razed - there's no trace of them.At the entrance, in what is now an open field, an inscription says, "To be human is to have dignity." From inside the camp - what would have been visible to the internees - the engraving says, "If the enemy doesn't surrender, he is destroyed." But no one I've talked to knows whether it's the original or has been recreated. There are a few abandoned, falling-apart buildings, but those were built in 1959, six years after the camp's official (but not real) closing, when it was converted into a prison, in part to kill rumors that it had operated as a secret gulag. Todor Zhivkov, the Communist premier who took power in 1954 and stayed on until 1989, reopened it in the 1980s to detain Muslims who refused to take on Slavic names in place of their own - a disastrous bid to assimilate them. I ask Toncheva whether there's a list of everyone who was held in the camp. I'm thinking of my grandfather and wondering whether there's any documentation. She tells me everyone who comes here for the camp asks the same question."There's no way to know, no list," Toncheva says, apologetic. "There's almost no proof the camp even existed."'Perfectly calculated by Satan himself'The first contingent of 300 men arrived at the Belene camp in the summer of 1949, five years after the 1944 Communist coup. My grandfather, then 24, arrived that first winter. A camp for women was founded on an adjacent island soon after.It was modeled after Josef Stalin's gulags in Siberia. Most of the prisoners had been dragged from their homes by the military police and sent here without trial. (Estimates vary, but 20,000 to 40,000 people were thought to be murdered by the Bulgarian Communist Party.) Even Stalin eventually warned them to scale down the killing of prominent oppositional figures or risk creating martyrs.The first wave of prisoners had to hack through the unpopulated island and build small shacks that were so crowded the prisoners didn't have room to lie down. In his history of the camp, Borislav Skotchev wrote that the island was dotted with towers manned by guards with machine guns. A survivor of Belene during a commemoration ceremony in 2015. Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP via Getty Images) The men held here included the former leader of the Social Democrats, Orthodox priests (many in their 70s), and the mayor of Bulgaria's capital, Sofia. Tsveti Ivanov, the editor of the newspaper Svoboden Narod, or Free People, was sent to Belene after serving 10 months in prison. He was beaten so brutally that he got tetanus from his wounds and died in the compound. Much of what we know about the place comes from survivors' memoirs. They were fed a thin soup, sometimes with a handful of beans thrown in. Their bread ration - moldy or stale when it made its way to them - was small, and could be withheld by the guards as punishment. Sometimes they got tea. My grandfather told me that, in the winter, both the soup and the tea were given to them already frozen.When Toncheva takes us on a brief walk to go look at storks, the ground gives off wet heat, and brambles and thorns claw at us, as if the island is alive and doesn't want us there. I think of the people who had to work days and nights, in sweltering summers, devoured by mosquitoes. It's unbelievable that anyone survived.An internal CIA document described the grim situation of starving prisoners. "A frequent sight is that of a prisoner eating raw green leaves and roots," it said. "To be caught doing this, however, would result in 10 days in detention in a dungeon for such an offense." The lucky ones got packages from family, though those were often taken by guards. Many had little choice but to choke down the rotting carcasses of wild cats, killed and skinned for their fur by the villagers, or pick through horse dung for undigested barley. According to a CIA information report from March 13, 1952, during one brutal winter 30 prisoners died of cold or starvation."It was an Inferno circle, perfectly calculated by Satan himself," Liliana Pirinchiva, one of the female survivors of Belene, wrote in her memoir. "We were reduced to skeletons." A group of Bulgarian anarchists. Tsvetana Dzhermanova Then there were the guards, who brought an especially sadistic approach to their work. Some would chase packs of prisoners on horseback, letting their rifles off "as if we were a flock of sheep," wrote Stefan Botchev, a survivor. When he got a severe case of scabies, the mites burrowing into his skin, he was locked up in a shed alone because the guards didn't want him to infect the cows. He recalled seeing a beating so severe that a prisoner's spine was broken, turning him into a "reptile crawling on the ground."Kouni Genchev Kounev, the chairman of the Bulgarian Youth Agrarian Union who also survived Belene, recalled one especially brutal punishment, in which the guards would pull back a prisoner's head and strike him in the trachea. They called it the "sword stroke."Years later, Krum Horozov, a survivor, would draw water colors of the camp from memory - it's virtually the only visual documentation that exists. In 2011, six years before his death, Horozov wrote: "And when we die, which will be soon, who will remember what happened on that island in the 1950s, and will they know that people were sent there without a trial and sentence?"Lilia Topouzova, a historian in Toronto who writes about the history and the memory of the camps, recalls meeting Horozov at an academic conference; he was trying to give away copies of his drawings of Belene to university students, but they avoided him as if he were a pesky street vendor.The CricketAt 93, Tsvetana Dzhermanova is the last known survivor of the women's camp, which was known as Shturets, or Cricket. We're sitting outside her home in the mountain village of Leskovets, and she's talking so fast I wonder how she manages to breathe.She smiles and laughs a lot, and she reminds me of my grandfather, who also spoke with the speed of a motorboat, frantic to tell his story."I promised to outlive the Communistie, and here I am!" she boasts. (My grandfather also took an understandable delight at outliving the Communistie. "I survived the Communistie, but I won't survive old age," he once told me, when I was 25 and had no idea about either.) Tsvetana Dzhermanova. Tsvetana Dzhermanova Dzhermanova was an anarchist in the 1950s, and still is today. "That's my personal ideology," she says. "I'm not sure humans are evolved enough to make either anarchism or socialism work the way they should, but for me, anarchism is it. Because I value freedom, family, friendship, and love."When she first heard about anarchism as a teenager, she asked her mother what it meant. "Anarchists are the people all regimes persecute," her mother had replied. That sold her. Dzhermanova joined a village group. She had no designs on power (detesting it) and mostly spent her time reading anarchist literature and working on a community vegetable garden. She estimates that 800 anarchists from the town were swept up in a night and sent to the gulags."We sang songs while we worked," Dzhermanova tells me. "That helped." Last spring the sprightly nonagenarian made the three-hour trip to Belene to speak with a group of students about the camps. "They had no idea about this. They were really surprised," she says. "No one had ever talked to them about it, and they don't learn about it in school."'Out of Fashion'Toncheva and our driver, Peter, walk through a falling-down building that was constructed in 1959, in part to hide evidence of the camp. It's covered in bird shit. Plant life is taking over its rotted remnants, and old decayed furniture has been abandoned here and there. We talk about how nobody talks about the camp.Peter tells us that despite having spent almost his entire life roughly 750 feet from Persin, in Belene village, he learned about the camp only two weeks earlier, when Toncheva hired him as a driver for her tours."To think they only gave them bread and water, and made them work so hard," he says, shaking his head in disbelief. A crumbling building built on the site of Belene. Stoyan Nenov/Reuters As far as Toncheva knows, no one from her family was held here, but she remembers asking her grandmother about the island when she was a teenager and again after reading the memoirs of survivors. "Shhh. Don't talk so much about this," her grandmother would say. "You don't want to bring trouble."There are rumors of a mass grave near Persin. Mikhail Mikailev, the head of the Belene Island Foundation, wants to find it. But money for the equipment required to find and dig up the remains eludes this two-person staff.Unlike Peter and Toncheva, my parents, who were born in the mid-1950s and grew up in Bulgaria, tell me that in the 1970s and 1980s, all their friends in Sofia knew about Belene. "We all heard the stories," my mother says.But for the authorities, maintaining official denial was worth murder.In 1969, the celebrated Bulgarian writer Georgi Markov defected to the West, where he wrote about the regime's abuses. In one essay, Markov described traveling on a boat down the Danube and approaching Belene. "I remembered how, feet dangling over the edge of the boat, a youth with a guitar once sang a strange song: Danube, white river, how quiet you flow / Danube, black river, what anguish you know." A view of Persin island. Tsvetomir Nikolaev On a rainy afternoon in London, a man jabbed the tip of his umbrella into Markov's leg. Later, Markov noticed what looked like a small bug bite but didn't think much of it. A few days later he was dead, most likely poisoned by the Bulgarian secret service.Before my visit to Belene, I met Topouzova, the historian, over Zoom to talk about the erasure of the camps in Bulgaria's consciousness. While former generals wrote best-sellers, the owner of a prominent bookstore dismissed any interest in survivors' memoirs - they were "out of fashion," he had told her.It was gaslighting in its purest form. And it showed how we're all so prone to the "just world" fallacy, a phenomenon where if something is too horribly unjust, the human brain just kind of moves on. It's not all that hard to bury inconvenient truths."It turned out that aging men and women with fragmented memories of bygone violence did not make for the faces of change," Topouzova wrote in a recent paper titled "On Silence and History" for the American Historical Association. "The interned were rendered nonexistent - their experiences and memories fated to vanish along with the files." A pile of stonesNations define themselves by their monuments. The memorial in downtown Manhattan demands that we never forget the victims of 9/11. In the past few years, American activists have torn Confederate statues from their perches, signaling a break with the passive acceptance of the history of slavery. Yet grappling with unpleasant history isn't easy. It was only in 2018 when a museum honoring the Black victims of lynching opened in Alabama. The 1619 Project, which posits that the history of the United States is rooted in slavery, has spurred a massive backlash. School districts have banned children's books about Rosa Parks. Vaunted democracies are as likely to try to bury inconvenient truths as former communist states. At an exhibition in Sofia in 2009, Belene survivors look at images of the gulag's victims. Stoyan Nenov/Reuters In Bulgaria, there are monuments everywhere. From the smallest village to Sofia, the heroes of Bulgaria's uprising against the Ottoman Empire are eternalized in stone. In Plovdiv, a giant sculpture overlooks Bulgaria's second-largest city that honors "Alyosha," an everyman Soviet soldier who helped "liberate" Bulgaria in the 1940s - even though many Bulgarians see that period as Soviet imperialism, much like the Ottoman Empire's 500 years of occupation.The victims of Belene and the other camps have no such honor. The Belene foundation does the best it can. They helped organize an art exhibit, where Korozov's pencil drawings were tacked onto the walls of the decaying structures that had been erected to mask evidence of the gulag. A man places photos of famous victims of Soviet policy in front of the Monument to the Soviet Army in Sofia, Bulgaria in 2014. Hristo Vladev/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images There is one modest monument on the island. It's an abstract stone structure, and you'd have no idea what it was if you didn't already know the history. The original idea was to build a monument that listed the names of all the known internees, something like the Vietnam wall on the Mall in Washington. But the survivors and their families who pooled their resources to build it ran out of money, and no one, including the Bulgarian government, stepped in to help. (The survivors also hoped to open a museum and to recreate the shacks where they were held, but that hasn't happened either.)My grandfather's escape Dzhermanova, the 93-year-old anarchist - and eternal optimist, apparently - has hope that younger people will dig up the buried history.As for my grandfather, his ex-wife (or whoever it was who betrayed him to the authorities) was right that he wanted to escape Bulgaria.After his release from Belene in 1953, that resolve was so much stronger. "After 4 years and three months in the Island of Death, I became determined to go to my real home: America," he explained in his notebooks. The author with her grandfather and grandmother, Tsvetana Tutunjieva. Tana Ganeva As he detailed it, it would take four harrowing attempts. Soon after his release from Belene, he managed to make it into Yugoslavia during a "sabor" - a temporary loosening of borders so family and friends in the two countries could see each other. But he got caught and was thrown into a Yugoslavian jail.From there, he organized an inmate breakout after bribing the guard dog, Jeko, with his dinner. But he and the other prisoners were caught in the woods, and the Yugoslavian authorities gave them up to the Bulgarian authorities in exchange for 10 cows. "They weren't even very good cows - scrawny," he wrote.Several years later, he tried to cross Bulgaria's mountainous border into Greece, but he was caught once again.Finally, he made it into Austria and then Germany by clinging to the underside of a freight train. And then on to California, where he gave his new dog a familiar name: Jeko.Tana Ganeva writes about policing, prisons and criminal justice. She's currently working on a book about escapees from the Soviet bloc. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderSep 27th, 2021

The Island of Death: Visiting the gulag where my grandfather was tortured, but didn"t officially exist

My grandfather was held at Bulgaria's most notorious gulag. This summer, I saw it for the first time. A Belene survivor crosses the bridge across the Danube that connects the town of Belene and Persin island in 2015. Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP via Getty Images) This summer, Tana Ganeva traveled to Belene, Bulgaria's most notorious prison camp, where her grandfather was held in the 1950s. Bulgaria has effectively buried the history of its Communist-era gulags, where thousands were starved, tortured, and killed. Ganeva's grandfather attempted to escape Bulgaria four times, before making it to California. See more stories on Insider's business page. The island of Persin is a bird-watcher's paradise. Set on the Danube River, which divides Bulgaria and Romania, it's a nature park covered in wetlands and home to hundreds of rare bird species: the spoonbill, the pygmy cormorant, the corncrake, as well as herons, eagles, storks, and pelicans. Amid the natural beauty, it's jarring to consider that this was the location of a concentration camp where thousands of Bulgarian political prisoners were brutalized and killed from 1949 to 1953 - and in some cases for years after that. Though it's officially known as Belene after the quiet Bulgarian village that sits 750 feet away on the mainland, old-timers here call it by another name: the Island of Death.My stepgrandfather, Georgi Tutunjiev, was sent here at age 24 and spent four years and three months interred at Belene after someone (he suspected his ex-wife) told the authorities of his plan to escape the country. In his notebooks - he had planned to write a memoir about Belene but never did before he died in 2011 at 87 - he remembered the place as "brutal facilities for re-education," where he'd endured "indescribable physical and psychological abuse." He finally managed to escape Bulgaria in 1966 and settle with my grandma in California. In 1989, my parents and I left Bulgaria and joined my grandparents in California, thanks to the family-reunification policy. While many survivors of trauma shut down, my grandfather never stopped talking about the gulag. He seemed to have an unending loop of stories about Belene. For my immediate family, it could be exhausting, and we were alarmed to discover his extensive gun collection, which my grandmother gamely dismissed as a coping mechanism. But guests who came to the house were often riveted by his dark tales, which he mixed with his sense of humor. "Jeko! The Communistie shot you!" he'd shout at his terrier mix, and the dog would sprawl on his back, playing dead. An aerial view of Persin island. The gulag was known as Belene, after the nearby town. Tsvetomir Nikolaev I've come to the town of Belene on a brutally hot day in August for a tour of the Island of Death. I meet Nedyalka Toncheva, who works for the Belene Island Foundation, a nonprofit that organizes tours of the island, close to the bank of the Danube.We cross a rickety water bridge on foot and then jump aboard a Jeep driven by a 24-year-old Belene native named Peter. Toncheva, who is 35, is passionate and knowledgeable about the island's flora and fauna. Every few minutes, she tells Peter to stop the car to point out a roosting stork or a water eagle. She talks about her plans to make Persin a tourist destination comparable to Borovets, a ski resort with luxury hotels in the Rila mountains; or Koprivchitsa, a living museum honoring the Bulgarian rebels who mounted an uprising in 1876 against the Ottoman Empire.In the three decades since the fall of communism, Bulgaria has effectively buried the history of its many gulags, which operated mostly in the 1950s during the early, and most violent, days of Communist rule in the country. In Belene itself, many lower-level guards came from the village and a former mayor was also the gulag's first superintendent. It's not surprising that the village doesn't advertise its history.After 1989, survivors who had been forced to sign documents promising to never talk about the camps started speaking out. For a brief time, they became the subjects of documentaries and newspaper profiles. But soon, the consensus was that it was better to move on. An interior minister tasked with investigating the camps instead secretly ordered a purge of thousands of pages of documents - 40% of the government record. While Bulgaria's defeat of the Ottomans is central to the national identity, and much is made of the fact that Bulgaria saved its Jews during the Holocaust, the memory of the Communist era is more fraught. Georgi Tutunjiev, the author's grandfather, in around 1977. Tana Ganeva Peculiar for a tour, most of our stops lead us to what's not left of the camp. The shacks where prisoners slept have been razed - there's no trace of them.At the entrance, in what is now an open field, an inscription says, "To be human is to have dignity." From inside the camp - what would have been visible to the internees - the engraving says, "If the enemy doesn't surrender, he is destroyed." But no one I've talked to knows whether it's the original or has been recreated. There are a few abandoned, falling-apart buildings, but those were built in 1959, six years after the camp's official (but not real) closing, when it was converted into a prison, in part to kill rumors that it had operated as a secret gulag. Todor Zhivkov, the Communist premier who took power in 1954 and stayed on until 1989, reopened it in the 1980s to detain Muslims who refused to take on Slavic names in place of their own - a disastrous bid to assimilate them. I ask Toncheva whether there's a list of everyone who was held in the camp. I'm thinking of my grandfather and wondering whether there's any documentation. She tells me everyone who comes here for the camp asks the same question."There's no way to know, no list," Toncheva says, apologetic. "There's almost no proof the camp even existed."'Perfectly calculated by Satan himself'The first contingent of 300 men arrived at the Belene camp in the summer of 1949, five years after the 1944 Communist coup. My grandfather, then 24, arrived that first winter. A camp for women was founded on an adjacent island soon after.It was modeled after Josef Stalin's gulags in Siberia. Most of the prisoners had been dragged from their homes by the military police and sent here without trial. (Estimates vary, but 20,000 to 40,000 people were thought to be murdered by the Bulgarian Communist Party.) Even Stalin eventually warned them to scale down the killing of prominent oppositional figures or risk creating martyrs.The first wave of prisoners had to hack through the unpopulated island and build small shacks that were so crowded the prisoners didn't have room to lie down. In his history of the camp, Borislav Skotchev wrote that the island was dotted with towers manned by guards with machine guns. A survivor of Belene during a commemoration ceremony in 2015. Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP via Getty Images) The men held here included the former leader of the Social Democrats, Orthodox priests (many in their 70s), and the mayor of Bulgaria's capital, Sofia. Tsveti Ivanov, the editor of the newspaper Svoboden Narod, or Free People, was sent to Belene after serving 10 months in prison. He was beaten so brutally that he got tetanus from his wounds and died in the compound. Much of what we know about the place comes from survivors' memoirs. They were fed a thin soup, sometimes with a handful of beans thrown in. Their bread ration - moldy or stale when it made its way to them - was small, and could be withheld by the guards as punishment. Sometimes they got tea. My grandfather told me that, in the winter, both the soup and the tea were given to them already frozen.When Toncheva takes us on a brief walk to go look at storks, the ground gives off wet heat, and brambles and thorns claw at us, as if the island is alive and doesn't want us there. I think of the people who had to work days and nights, in sweltering summers, devoured by mosquitoes. It's unbelievable that anyone survived.An internal CIA document described the grim situation of starving prisoners. "A frequent sight is that of a prisoner eating raw green leaves and roots," it said. "To be caught doing this, however, would result in 10 days in detention in a dungeon for such an offense." The lucky ones got packages from family, though those were often taken by guards. Many had little choice but to choke down the rotting carcasses of wild cats, killed and skinned for their fur by the villagers, or pick through horse dung for undigested barley. According to a CIA information report from March 13, 1952, during one brutal winter 30 prisoners died of cold or starvation."It was an Inferno circle, perfectly calculated by Satan himself," Liliana Pirinchiva, one of the female survivors of Belene, wrote in her memoir. "We were reduced to skeletons." A group of Bulgarian anarchists. Tsvetana Dzhermanova Then there were the guards, who brought an especially sadistic approach to their work. Some would chase packs of prisoners on horseback, letting their rifles off "as if we were a flock of sheep," wrote Stefan Botchev, a survivor. When he got a severe case of scabies, the mites burrowing into his skin, he was locked up in a shed alone because the guards didn't want him to infect the cows. He recalled seeing a beating so severe that a prisoner's spine was broken, turning him into a "reptile crawling on the ground."Kouni Genchev Kounev, the chairman of the Bulgarian Youth Agrarian Union who also survived Belene, recalled one especially brutal punishment, in which the guards would pull back a prisoner's head and strike him in the trachea. They called it the "sword stroke."Years later, Krum Horozov, a survivor, would draw water colors of the camp from memory - it's virtually the only visual documentation that exists. In 2011, six years before his death, Horozov wrote: "And when we die, which will be soon, who will remember what happened on that island in the 1950s, and will they know that people were sent there without a trial and sentence?"Lilia Topouzova, a historian in Toronto who writes about the history and the memory of the camps, recalls meeting Horozov at an academic conference; he was trying to give away copies of his drawings of Belene to university students, but they avoided him as if he were a pesky street vendor.The CricketAt 93, Tsvetana Dzhermanova is the last known survivor of the women's camp, which was known as Shturets, or Cricket. We're sitting outside her home in the mountain village of Leskovets, and she's talking so fast I wonder how she manages to breathe.She smiles and laughs a lot, and she reminds me of my grandfather, who also spoke with the speed of a motorboat, frantic to tell his story."I promised to outlive the Communistie, and here I am!" she boasts. (My grandfather also took an understandable delight at outliving the Communistie. "I survived the Communistie, but I won't survive old age," he once told me, when I was 25 and had no idea about either.) Tsvetana Dzhermanova. Tsvetana Dzhermanova Dzhermanova was an anarchist in the 1950s, and still is today. "That's my personal ideology," she says. "I'm not sure humans are evolved enough to make either anarchism or socialism work the way they should, but for me, anarchism is it. Because I value freedom, family, friendship, and love."When she first heard about anarchism as a teenager, she asked her mother what it meant. "Anarchists are the people all regimes persecute," her mother had replied. That sold her. Dzhermanova joined a village group. She had no designs on power (detesting it) and mostly spent her time reading anarchist literature and working on a community vegetable garden. She estimates that 800 anarchists from the town were swept up in a night and sent to the gulags."We sang songs while we worked," Dzhermanova tells me. "That helped." Last spring the sprightly nonagenarian made the three-hour trip to Belene to speak with a group of students about the camps. "They had no idea about this. They were really surprised," she says. "No one had ever talked to them about it, and they don't learn about it in school."'Out of Fashion'Toncheva and our driver, Peter, walk through a falling-down building that was constructed in 1959, in part to hide evidence of the camp. It's covered in bird shit. Plant life is taking over its rotted remnants, and old decayed furniture has been abandoned here and there. We talk about how nobody talks about the camp.Peter tells us that despite having spent almost his entire life roughly 750 feet from Persin, in Belene village, he learned about the camp only two weeks earlier, when Toncheva hired him as a driver for her tours."To think they only gave them bread and water, and made them work so hard," he says, shaking his head in disbelief. A crumbling building built on the site of Belene. Stoyan Nenov/Reuters As far as Toncheva knows, no one from her family was held here, but she remembers asking her grandmother about the island when she was a teenager and again after reading the memoirs of survivors. "Shhh. Don't talk so much about this," her grandmother would say. "You don't want to bring trouble."There are rumors of a mass grave near Persin. Mikhail Mikailev, the head of the Belene Island Foundation, wants to find it. But money for the equipment required to find and dig up the remains eludes this two-person staff.Unlike Peter and Toncheva, my parents, who were born in the mid-1950s and grew up in Bulgaria, tell me that in the 1970s and 1980s, all their friends in Sofia knew about Belene. "We all heard the stories," my mother says.But for the authorities, maintaining official denial was worth murder.In 1969, the celebrated Bulgarian writer Georgi Markov defected to the West, where he wrote about the regime's abuses. In one essay, Markov described traveling on a boat down the Danube and approaching Belene. "I remembered how, feet dangling over the edge of the boat, a youth with a guitar once sang a strange song: Danube, white river, how quiet you flow / Danube, black river, what anguish you know." A view of Persin island. Tsvetomir Nikolaev On a rainy afternoon in London, a man jabbed the tip of his umbrella into Markov's leg. Later, Markov noticed what looked like a small bug bite but didn't think much of it. A few days later he was dead, most likely poisoned by the Bulgarian secret service.Before my visit to Belene, I met Topouzova, the historian, over Zoom to talk about the erasure of the camps in Bulgaria's consciousness. While former generals wrote best-sellers, the owner of a prominent bookstore dismissed any interest in survivors' memoirs - they were "out of fashion," he had told her.It was gaslighting in its purest form. And it showed how we're all so prone to the "just world" fallacy, a phenomenon where if something is too horribly unjust, the human brain just kind of moves on. It's not all that hard to bury inconvenient truths."It turned out that aging men and women with fragmented memories of bygone violence did not make for the faces of change," Topouzova wrote in a recent paper titled "On Silence and History" for the American Historical Association. "The interned were rendered nonexistent - their experiences and memories fated to vanish along with the files." A pile of stonesNations define themselves by their monuments. The memorial in downtown Manhattan demands that we never forget the victims of 9/11. In the past few years, American activists have torn Confederate statues from their perches, signaling a break with the passive acceptance of the history of slavery. Yet grappling with unpleasant history isn't easy. It was only in 2018 when a museum honoring the Black victims of lynching opened in Alabama. The 1619 Project, which posits that the history of the United States is rooted in slavery, has spurred a massive backlash. School districts have banned children's books about Rosa Parks. Vaunted democracies are as likely to try to bury inconvenient truths as former communist states. At an exhibition in Sofia in 2009, Belene survivors look at images of the gulag's victims. Stoyan Nenov/Reuters In Bulgaria, there are monuments everywhere. From the smallest village to Sofia, the heroes of Bulgaria's uprising against the Ottoman Empire are eternalized in stone. In Plovdiv, a giant sculpture overlooks Bulgaria's second-largest city that honors "Alyosha," an everyman Soviet soldier who helped "liberate" Bulgaria in the 1940s - even though many Bulgarians see that period as Soviet imperialism, much like the Ottoman Empire's 500 years of occupation.The victims of Belene and the other camps have no such honor. The Belene foundation does the best it can. They helped organize an art exhibit, where Korozov's pencil drawings were tacked onto the walls of the decaying structures that had been erected to mask evidence of the gulag. A man places photos of famous victims of Soviet policy in front of the Monument to the Soviet Army in Sofia, Bulgaria in 2014. Hristo Vladev/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images There is one modest monument on the island. It's an abstract stone structure, and you'd have no idea what it was if you didn't already know the history. The original idea was to build a monument that listed the names of all the known internees, something like the Vietnam wall on the Mall in Washington. But the survivors and their families who pooled their resources to build it ran out of money, and no one, including the Bulgarian government, stepped in to help. (The survivors also hoped to open a museum and to recreate the shacks where they were held, but that hasn't happened either.)My grandfather's escape Dzhermanova, the 93-year-old anarchist - and eternal optimist, apparently - has hope that younger people will dig up the buried history.As for my grandfather, his ex-wife (or whoever it was who betrayed him to the authorities) was right that he wanted to escape Bulgaria.After his release from Belene in 1953, that resolve was so much stronger. "After 4 years and three months in the Island of Death, I became determined to go to my real home: America," he explained in his notebooks. The author with her grandfather and grandmother, Tsvetana Tutunjieva. Tana Ganeva As he detailed it, it would take four harrowing attempts. Soon after his release from Belene, he managed to make it into Yugoslavia during a "sabor" - a temporary loosening of borders so family and friends in the two countries could see each other. But he got caught and was thrown into a Yugoslavian jail.From there, he organized an inmate breakout after bribing the guard dog, Jeko, with his dinner. But he and the other prisoners were caught in the woods, and the Yugoslavian authorities gave them up to the Bulgarian authorities in exchange for 10 cows. "They weren't even very good cows - scrawny," he wrote.Several years later, he tried to cross Bulgaria's mountainous border into Greece, but he was caught once again.Finally, he made it into Austria and then Germany by clinging to the underside of a freight train. And then on to California, where he gave his new dog a familiar name: Jeko.Tana Ganeva writes about policing, prisons and criminal justice. She's currently working on a book about escapees from the Soviet bloc. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderSep 25th, 2021

Some Nuns and Bishops Are Taking on the U.S.’s Biggest Gunmaker. It May Take Years for Them to Succeed

An unlikely group of activists is going head to head with gunmaker Smith & Wesson It was her years as a teacher in the Seattle-area Catholic School system that made Sister Judy Byron particularly sensitive to gun violence. “We had fire drills in Washington, we had earthquake drills, but never in my wildest imagination would I ever have thought someone would have come in with a firearm to the school where I was,” she says. And then came the school shooting at Columbine, and years later, Sandy Hook. “I remember thinking at the time, if we don’t do something now, when we’ve murdered all those little first graders, we never will. And of course we didn’t.” [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] She knew more could be done by one of the biggest stakeholders in gun violence: gunmakers. “Every time there’s an incident you hear from everyone—even the NRA will put out a statement—but we never hear anything from the firearms manufacturers,” says Byron, who is an Adrian Dominican Sister, an order of about 400 nuns with a motherhouse in Michigan. “They have to be part of the solution to this.” Almost a decade after Sandy Hook but only months after horrific shootings in Buffalo, New York and Uvalde, Texas, Byron, together with an unlikely group of activists, is going head to head with the U.S.’s biggest gun manufacturer, Smith & Wesson. On Sept. 12, the storied gunmaker held its annual shareholder meeting online. Along with the usual run-of-show for these events—re-electing board members, ratifying some salaries, approving an omnibus stock plan and officially re-installing its auditors—shareholders were asked to vote on Item 5, a proposal to get the gun manufacturer to adopt a comprehensive human rights policy. Byron and her band of investors sought to encourage the company to take a look at the way its business operations may impinge on the rights of others. The proposal did not pass, but Byron seems undaunted. “We will continue engaging these two firearm manufacturers,” she says, pointing to recent victories her group has had with a similar vote at Sturm Ruger, and as part of the consortium who asked major credit card companies to start to give gun sales a particular merchant code, which they have now agreed to do. “Many, many groups got involved in pushing [the credit card companies],” she says. With the firearm manufacturers, we seem to be only the only investors that are really engaging them on these issues.” Read More: The Inside History of How Guns Are Marketed and Sold in America Byron is the leader of a consortium of 14 religious shareholders, the Northwest Coalition for Responsible Investment, who have hatched an ambitious—and possibly quixotic—plan to open another avenue for conversation about the fraught issue of gun ownership in America, which despite dozens of deadly incidents since Sandy Hook has been stuck in a cycle of finger-pointing and inaction. While most of the members of the Coalition are other religious orders, and thus unlikely gun investors, they seek to use shareholder power to nudge gun companies into reckoning with the effect of firearms in America. The effort stems from conversations Byron had in 2016 with the Interfaith Coalition for Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), a mix of faith-based and ethics-based investors who together have about $4 trillion in managed assets, and who have long used investment as a form of engagement with the corporate America. The unusual shareholder initiative is non-binding and seemed modest enough. It asked that the company “adopt a comprehensive policy articulating its commitment to respect human rights,” and requested “a description of proposed due diligence processes to identify, assess, prevent and mitigate actual and potential adverse human rights impacts.” Elaine Thompson—APSister Judy Byron, director and coordinator of the Northwest Coalition for Responsible Investment, in her office in Seattle, March 2018. The proponents of the policy say that Smith & Wesson needs to explore and communicate the risks it may be facing—and thus shareholders may be facing—as a manufacturer of a dangerous product. These include reputational risks, that people will suddenly find the stock abhorrent and sell their shares after a horrific event involving a product the company makes (the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High Schoolshooter in Parkland, Florida used a Smith & Wesson weapon); financial risk, that the company will be sued and have to pay damages—as Remington was and did—and legal risks, that a change in gun laws may one day limit the company’s profitability. Smith & Wesson’s board asked shareholders to vote against the proposal. “Our lens for this is that they need to take a very holistic look at their policies, procedures, products and practices,” says Laura Krausa, System Director of Advocacy Programs for for CommonSpirit, and another member of the coalition, who was also one of the lead petitioners at Sturm Ruger. “They need to have a third-party auditing firm really talk with the wide spectrum of stakeholders to understand where they have some rights risks that could impact their bottom line.” Daniel Brenner—The New York Times/ReduxLaura Krausa, director of advocacy for CommonSpirit, a nonprofit hospital chain, at her home in Wheat Ridge, Colo., in May 2022. In its advice to shareholders, Smith & Wesson said that it had already taken steps to identify and manage any financial risks it faced and that the originators of the proposal have a gun-control agenda rather than the best interest of shareholders at heart. The shareholder activists disagree. “We believe, honestly, that reasonable and sensible solutions to prevent gun violence and to promote gun safety both can and should peacefully coexist with the Second Amendment,” says Krausa. Smith & Wesson declined several interview requests made by TIME to its media representative Whether as a result of this tactic or the increased regulatory scrutiny weapons manufacturers have been under since President Biden came into office, Smith & Wesson has recently gone on the offensive, stepping up its communications with its shareholders and customers, releasing several documents about its products, procedures and operating principles. On Aug. 15 CEO Mark Smith came out swinging on social media, accusing the “government and its lobbying partners in the media” of causing “the surge in violence and lawlessness” and then “shifting the blame on to Smith & Wesson” and other gun companies and gun owners. Making the religious case for gun control Many Christians are guns-rights supporters, but the group attempting to influence Smith & Wesson say their faith has led them the other way. Krausa works in violence prevention and shareholder advocacy for Commonspirit, a large non-profit health system associated with the Catholic church, with about 1000 clinics in 21 states. She sees engagement with gun companies as part of a larger approach to addressing the violence that often sends victims through Commonspirit’s doors. “Obviously, one reason we’re very interested in this is that we see this coming into our facilities,” she says. “Gun violence is rampant. In FY ’21, we had 3,200 incidences of injuries that came into our facilities. The cost of that is $32 million. And the human cost is far worse.” Like Byron, she feels that gun manufacturers are the missing piece in the struggle to lower gun violence. “There’s a lot of people trying to solve this problem,” she says. “But so far, the gun manufacturers haven’t joined that group. And because they do happen to make the product that is part of the problem, it seems very reasonable that they should come to the table and discuss solutions as well, and really look at how rights are being violated or potentially violated by their products.” Reverend Doug Fisher, an Episcopal Bishop in the western Massachusetts, and another member of the shareholder group, also got involved after the shooting at Sandy Hook, when some local church leaders formed Bishops United Against Gun Violence. In 2012, they started trying to help craft state and federal legislation to address what he calls “the absolute public health crisis of gun violence.” Progress in that area stalled, says Fisher, “and so we thought, ‘Well, maybe if we get in dialogue with the gun manufacturers, we can invite them to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem.” And so the Episcopal church took gun companies off the list of stocks it would not hold and became weapons investors. Progress on engaging the gun companies, however, has been slow. The first shareholder proposal at Smith & Wesson was in 2018, asking for a gun safety report. It passed, but the groups felt the resultant report was half-hearted and shoddily done, mostly copied off the internet rather than reflecting any original thinking. The human rights policy was proposed in 2019 and again in 2021, each time garnering a slightly larger percentage of votes; last year, 44% of shareholders were in agreement. The percentage of shareholders who voted for it this time is not yet available. Byron says executives from Smith & Wesson met with representatives from the group several times, but the two sides have been unable to persuade each other of the merits of their position. This frustrates her. “You know, even Philip Morris International has a human rights policy,” she says. One advantage the faith-based proponents have is that, as people who believe in eternity, they are prepared to play the long game. The ICCR was founded when the Episcopal church bought shares in General Motors in 1971 and asked it to disinvest from South Africa, which it eventually did. It took apartheid another 23 years to fall. The movement has more recently worked with hotel chains on trafficking and pharmaceutical companies on HIV and AIDS drugs as well as campaigns around racial justice and environmental protection. They lose more than they win, but sometimes the losses are all they need. After an unsuccessful shareholder vote at Gilead Sciences in the early 2000s, the pharmaceutical firm nevertheless decided to make its HIV drugs more available in developing countries. “[The company] really became a leader in addressing HIV AIDS,” says Byron. More recently, in February 2021, a shareholder proposal for a human rights report at food giant Tyson was voted down by investors, but by the end of the year, after the ICCR indicated its intention to try again, the food giant agreed to have an independent party conduct just such an audit. Read More: When There’s Talk of Gun Control, Gunmakers Play the Jobs Card. They’re Often Bluffing Byron, the kind of nun who favors Hawaiian shirts, tries to be even-handed about what Smith & Wesson is doing. “One good thing they do that I wouldn’t have known [before meeting the corporate secretary] is they don’t let any of their product be shown in video games—the shooter video games kids use,” she says. But she cannot hide her disbelief that the firearms manufacturer couldn’t do more. Her group would like them to “really look at that supply chain and see if there are any places where guns are disappearing or being sold where they shouldn’t be sold,” and “to look at how they market the products and who they market them to, and where they market them now.” Her biggest ask, however, is for better safety features. “We get the same song and dance all the time about why technology doesn’t work in guns,” she says. “In the future I see that guns will have to be technologically smart.” She uses the example of passcodes and facial recognition on smartphones. “You know, if you couldn’t use my cell phone here on my desk, there’s no reason why if I had a gun on my desk, you should be able to pick it up and use it. I mean, it’s just, I don’t think it makes sense in this age.” Fisher says improving its products’ safety features would make Smith & Wesson a better company. “Car companies are always trying to make their cars safer,” he says. “I can safely pull out of the parking lot outside right now because there’s a rearview camera. Why can’t gun companies do the same thing? Why can’t they do things to make their products safer?” This is a particularly sensitive point for Smith & Wesson, since a former CEO, Ed Shultz, agreed to start to develop more safety mechanisms in 2000, in return for the withdrawal of lawsuits against the company mounted by several states. The reaction was brutal: gun wholesalers and many small retailers boycotted the brand, the company was dropped by its law firm and sold by its British owners, Shultz was forced out and the plan was dropped. Ever the nun, Byron is sympathetic to the company’s travails. “That trauma is in their DNA,” she says. “They feel that, you know, they’re not gonna make that mistake again.” But she points to the example of Edward Stack, the CEO of Dick’s Sporting Goods, another company in which the shareholder activists invested and had more success. By the time they met with him, Stack had already been moved to act by the 2018 Parkland shooting. He removed large-capacity magazines and rifles from stores. The blowback was also intense; 65 employees quit straight away and sales dropped. But the company recovered and retail giants Walmart and Kroger made similar moves not long afterwards. “All it takes is, you know, a leader who really sees what the problem is and what they could do about it,” says Byron. Ed Shultz’s departure was 22 years ago, before the tragedies at Sandy Hook, Parkland and Uvalde, Texas. Recent surveys have shown an increasingly large majority of Americans favor stricter gun laws. Can things change? “We needed the support of the major investors like BlackRock and Vanguard,” says Byron. “We won’t know until they publish their votes if they supported the resolution.” Smith & Wesson’s largest investors are institutional fund managers such as BlackRock, Vanguard and the hedge fund Renaissance Technologies. Both the activist group and Smith & Wesson have met with these investors’ representatives on several occasions, as well as with governance groups that advise shareholders, such as Glass Lewis and Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS). When a similar proposal requesting a human rights impact study passed at Sturm Ruger in June, that company’s CEO, Christopher Killoy, blamed the institutional investors, who “blindly followed the guidance” of governance groups. Both Glass Lewis and ISS recommended voting in favor of the proposal at Smith & Wesson this year. But they also recommended that the last time it didn’t pass, in 2021. Scott Keller—The Daily Times/APSmith and Wesson President and CEO Mark Smith, left, and Tennessee Governor Bill Lee prepare for a ground breaking ceremony for the new Tennessee location for the firearms manufacturer, November 2021 in Alcoa, Tenn. Until recently, business had been good for gun manufacturers, including Smith & Wesson. Although it just reported a large drop in sales for the quarter, it’s coming off a bumper season. In the first year of the pandemic, Smith & Wesson’s revenues increased by 27%. For the fiscal year that ended in April, the company had $875 million in sales, it says, with a gross profit margin of 43%. And the board is clearly happy with its new-ish CEO. Since he was appointed in 2020, Smith has had a 77% raise in his base salary, according to ISS, which, with other incentives, has taken his earnings to $2.8 million. The vote at Ruger took place shortly after 19 elementary school students and two teachers were killed in Uvalde, and it’s unclear if, in the absence of such a tragedy, shareholders felt as motivated to call on the gun companies to reexamine their role. It’s also unclear if such a non-binding proposal is worth the investment the shareholders have put in. Byron believes it is and says that the ICCR is planning a strategy session at their fall meeting at the end of September. In 2020, according to the CDC, there were more than 45,000 firearm-related deaths in the U.S.—about 124 people a day. That’s about 12% more Americans than died from car crashes, and half as many as died from drug overdoses. More than half of those gun deaths were suicides and more than 40% were homicides. “We have 400 million guns [in America] now,” she says. “It’s gonna take more than my lifetime to change this, but you know, we just have to do something.” Sept. 13: This story has been updated to reflect the results of the shareholder meeting......»»

Category: topSource: timeSep 13th, 2022

Some Nuns and Bishops Are Taking on the U.S.’s Biggest Gunmaker. They May Succeed

An unlikely group of activists is going head to head with gunmaker Smith & Wesson on Sept. 12. It was her years as a teacher in the Seattle-area Catholic School system that made Sister Judy Byron particularly sensitive to gun violence. “We had fire drills in Washington, we had earthquake drills, but never in my wildest imagination would I ever have thought someone would have come in with a firearm to the school where I was,” she says. And then came the school shooting at Columbine, and years later, Sandy Hook. “I remember thinking at the time, if we don’t do something now, when we’ve murdered all those little first graders, we never will. And of course we didn’t.” [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] She knew more could be done by one of the biggest stakeholders in gun violence: gunmakers. “Every time there’s an incident you hear from everyone—even the NRA will put out a statement—but we never hear anything from the firearms manufacturers,” says Byron, who is an Adrian Dominican Sister, an order of about 400 nuns with a motherhouse in Michigan. “They have to be part of the solution to this.” Almost a decade after Sandy Hook but only months after horrific shootings in Buffalo, New York and Uvalde, Texas, Byron, together with an unlikely group of activists, is going head to head with the U.S.’s biggest gun manufacturer, Smith & Wesson. On Sept. 12, the storied gunmaker will hold its annual shareholder meeting online. Along with the usual run-of-show for these events—re-electing board members, ratifying some salaries, approving an omnibus stock plan and officially re-installing its auditors—shareholders will be asked to vote on Item 5, a proposal to get the gun manufacturer to adopt a comprehensive human rights policy. Byron and her band of investors seek to encourage the company to take a look at the way its business operations may impinge on the rights of others. Read More: The Inside History of How Guns Are Marketed and Sold in America Byron is the leader of a consortium of 14 religious shareholders, the Northwest Coalition for Responsible Investment, who have hatched an ambitious—and possibly quixotic—plan to open another avenue for conversation about the fraught issue of gun ownership in America, which despite dozens of deadly incidents since Sandy Hook has been stuck in a cycle of finger-pointing and inaction. While most of the members of the Coalition are other religious orders, and thus unlikely gun investors, they seek to use shareholder power to nudge gun companies into reckoning with the effect of firearms in America. The effort stems from conversations Byron had in 2016 with the Interfaith Coalition for Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), a mix of faith-based and ethics-based investors who together have about $4 trillion in managed assets, and who have long used investment as a form of engagement with the corporate America. The unusual shareholder initiative is non-binding and seems modest enough. It asks that the company “adopt a comprehensive policy articulating its commitment to respect human rights,” and asks for “a description of proposed due diligence processes to identify, assess, prevent and mitigate actual and potential adverse human rights impacts.” Elaine Thompson—APSister Judy Byron, director and coordinator of the Northwest Coalition for Responsible Investment, in her office in Seattle, March 2018. The proponents of the policy say that Smith & Wesson needs to explore and communicate the risks it may be facing—and thus shareholders may be facing—as a manufacturer of a dangerous product. These include reputational risks, that people will suddenly find the stock abhorrent and sell their shares after a horrific event involving a product the company makes (the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High Schoolshooter in Parkland, Florida used a Smith & Wesson weapon); financial risk, that the company will be sued and have to pay damages—as Remington was and did—and legal risks, that a change in gun laws may one day limit the company’s profitability. Smith & Wesson’s board has asked shareholders to vote against the proposal. But Sturm Ruger’s board opposed a similar initiative brought by members of the same group in June. And it passed with almost two thirds of the vote. “Our lens for this is that they need to take a very holistic look at their policies, procedures, products and practices,” says Laura Krausa, the assistant director of advocacy programs for Commonspirit Health, another member of the coalition, who was also one of the lead petitioners at Sturm Ruger. “They need to have a third-party auditing firm really talk with the wide spectrum of stakeholders to understand where they have some rights risks that could impact their bottom line.” Daniel Brenner—The New York Times/ReduxLaura Krausa, director of advocacy for CommonSpirit, a nonprofit hospital chain, at her home in Wheat Ridge, Colo., in May 2022. In its advice to shareholders, Smith & Wesson says that it has already taken steps to identify and manage any financial risks it faces and that the originators of the proposal have a gun-control agenda rather than the best interest of shareholders at heart. The shareholder activists disagree. “We believe, honestly, that reasonable and sensible solutions to prevent gun violence and to promote gun safety both can and should peacefully coexist with the Second Amendment,” says Krausa. Smith & Wesson declined several interview requests made by TIME to its media representative Whether as a result of this tactic or the increased regulatory scrutiny weapons manufacturers have been under since President Biden came into office, Smith & Wesson has recently gone on the offensive, stepping up its communications with its shareholders and customers, releasing several documents about its products, procedures and operating principles. On Aug. 15 CEO Mark Smith came out swinging on social media, accusing the “government and its lobbying partners in the media” of causing “the surge in violence and lawlessness” and then “shifting the blame on to Smith & Wesson” and other gun companies and gun owners. Making the religious case for gun control Many Christians are guns-rights supporters, but the group attempting to influence Smith & Wesson say their faith has led them the other way. Krausa works in violence prevention and shareholder advocacy for Commonspirit Health, a large non-profit health system associated with the Catholic church, with about 1000 clinics in 21 states. She sees engagement with gun companies as part of a larger approach to addressing the violence that often sends victims through Commonspirit’s doors. “Obviously, one reason we’re very interested in this is that we see this coming into our facilities,” she says. “Gun violence is rampant. In FY ’21, we had 3,200 incidences of injuries that came into our facilities. The cost of that is $32 million. And the human cost is far worse.” Like Byron, she feels that gun manufacturers are the missing piece in the struggle to lower gun violence. “There’s a lot of people trying to solve this problem,” she says. “But so far, the gun manufacturers haven’t joined that group. And because they do happen to make the product that is part of the problem, it seems very reasonable that they should come to the table and discuss solutions as well, and really look at how rights are being violated or potentially violated by their products.” Reverend Doug Fisher, an Episcopal Bishop in the western Massachusetts, and another member of the shareholder group, also got involved after the shooting at Sandy Hook, when some local church leaders formed Bishops United Against Gun Violence. In 2012, they started trying to help craft state and federal legislation to address what he calls “the absolute public health crisis of gun violence.” Progress in that area stalled, says Fisher, “and so we thought, ‘Well, maybe if we get in dialogue with the gun manufacturers, we can invite them to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem.” And so the Episcopal church took gun companies off the list of stocks it would not hold and became weapons investors. Progress on engaging the gun companies, however, has still been slow. The first shareholder proposal at Smith & Wesson was in 2018, asking for a gun safety report. It passed, but the groups felt the resultant report was half-hearted and shoddily done, mostly copied off the internet rather than reflecting any original thinking. The human rights policy was proposed in 2019 and again in 2021, each time garnering a slightly larger percentage of votes; last year, 44% of shareholders were in agreement. Since then, Byron says executives from Smith & Wesson have met with representatives from the group several times, but the two sides were unable to persuade each other of the merits of their position. This frustrates her. “You know, even Philip Morris International has a human rights policy,” she says. One advantage the faith-based proponents have is that, as people who believe in eternity, they are prepared to play the long game. The ICCR was founded when the Episcopal church bought shares in General Motors in 1971 and asked it to disinvest from South Africa, which it eventually did. It took apartheid another 23 years to fall. The movement has more recently worked with hotel chains on trafficking and pharmaceutical companies on HIV and AIDS drugs as well as campaigns around racial justice and environmental protection. They lose more than they win, but the losses are all they need. After an unsuccessful shareholder vote at Gilead Sciences in the early 2000s, the pharmaceutical firm nevertheless decided to make its HIV drugs more available in developing countries. “[The company] really became a leader in addressing HIV AIDS,” says Byron. More recently, in February 2021, a shareholder proposal for a human rights report at food giant Tyson was voted down by investors, but by the end of the year, after the ICCR indicated its intention to try again, the food giant agreed to have an independent party conduct just such an audit. Read More: When There’s Talk of Gun Control, Gunmakers Play the Jobs Card. They’re Often Bluffing Byron, the kind of nun who favors Hawaiian shirts, tries to be even-handed about what Smith & Wesson is doing. “One good thing they do that I wouldn’t have known [before meeting the corporate secretary] is they don’t let any of their product be shown in video games—the shooter video games kids use,” she says. But she cannot hide her disbelief that the firearms manufacturer couldn’t do more. Her group would like them to “really look at that supply chain and see if there are any places where guns are disappearing or being sold where they shouldn’t be sold,” and “to look at how they market the products and who they market them to, and where they market them now.” Her biggest ask, however, is for better safety features. “We get the same song and dance all the time about why technology doesn’t work in guns,” she says. “In the future I see that guns will have to be technologically smart.” She uses the example of passcodes and facial recognition on smartphones. “You know, if you couldn’t use my cell phone here on my desk, there’s no reason why if I had a gun on my desk, you should be able to pick it up and use it. I mean, it’s just, I don’t think it makes sense in this age.” Fisher says improving its products’ safety features would make Smith & Wesson a better company. “Car companies are always trying to make their cars safer,” he says. “I can safely pull out of the parking lot outside right now because there’s a rearview camera. Why can’t gun companies do the same thing? Why can’t they do things to make their products safer?” This is a particularly sensitive point for Smith & Wesson, since a former CEO, Ed Shultz, agreed to start to develop more safety mechanisms in 2000, in return for the withdrawal of lawsuits against the company mounted by several states. The reaction was brutal: gun wholesalers and many small retailers boycotted the brand, the company was dropped by its law firm and sold by its British owners, Shultz was forced out and the plan was dropped. Ever the nun, Byron is sympathetic to the company’s travails. “That trauma is in their DNA,” she says. “They feel that, you know, they’re not gonna make that mistake again.” But she points to the example of Edward Stack, the CEO of Dick’s Sporting Goods, another company in which the shareholder activists invested and had more success. By the time they met with him, Stack had already been moved to act by the 2018 Parkland shooting. He removed large-capacity magazines and rifles from stores. The blowback was also intense; 65 employees quit straight away and sales dropped. But the company recovered and retail giants Walmart and Kroger made similar moves not long afterwards. “All it takes is, you know, a leader who really sees what the problem is and what they could do about it,” says Byron. Ed Shultz’s departure was 22 years ago, before the tragedies at Sandy Hook, Parkland and Uvalde, Texas. Recent surveys have shown an increasingly large majority of Americans favor stricter gun laws. Can the shareholders succeed now? Smith & Wesson’s largest investors are institutional fund managers such as BlackRock, Vanguard and the hedge fund Renaissance Technologies. Both the activist group and Smith & Wesson have met with these investors’ representatives on several occasions, as well as with governance groups that advise shareholders, such as Glass Lewis and Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS). When a similar proposal requesting a human rights impact study passed at Sturm Ruger in June, that company’s CEO, Christopher Killoy, blamed the institutional investors, who “blindly followed the guidance” of governance groups. Both Glass Lewis and ISS have recommended voting in favor of the proposal at Smith & Wesson this year. But they also recommended that last year, when it didn’t pass. Scott Keller—The Daily Times/APSmith and Wesson President and CEO Mark Smith, left, and Tennessee Governor Bill Lee prepare for a ground breaking ceremony for the new Tennessee location for the firearms manufacturer, November 2021 in Alcoa, Tenn. In the meantime, business is good for gun manufacturers, including Smith & Wesson. Most analysts that follow the company’s stock recommend buying in. In the first year of the pandemic, Smith & Wesson’s revenues increased by 27%. For the fiscal year that ended in April, the company had $875 million in sales, it says, with a gross profit margin of 43%. And the board is clearly happy with its new-ish CEO. Since he was appointed in 2020, Smith has had a 77% raise in his base salary, according to ISS, which, with other incentives, has taken his earnings to $2.8 million. The vote at Ruger took place shortly after 19 elementary school students and two teachers were killed in Uvalde, and it’s unclear if, in the absence of such a tragedy, voters will feel as motivated to call on the gun companies to reexamine their role. It’s also unclear if such a non-binding proposal is worth the investment the shareholders have put in. Byron believes it is. In 2020, according to the CDC, there were more than 45,000 firearm-related deaths in the U.S.—about 124 people a day. That’s about 12% more Americans than died from car crashes, and half as many as died from drug overdoses. More than half of those gun deaths were suicides and more than 40% were homicides. “We have 400 million guns [in America] now,” she says. “It’s gonna take more than my lifetime to change this, but you know, we just have to do something.”.....»»

Category: topSource: timeSep 10th, 2022

Trump Derangement Syndrome Is Going To Get Worse

Trump Derangement Syndrome Is Going To Get Worse Authored by Mark Bauerlein via The Epoch Times, Never in my lifetime have so many people been so obsessed with one man. People despised Nixon; they cheered or reviled Reagan, and they revered or dismissed Obama, but none of those responses comes close to the mania attached to Donald Trump. I mean the hate side, not the adoration. The former feeling and the cult it spawns dwarfs the latter. Liberals mock the idol worship they find among Trump’s supporters, but while Trumpists smile and cheer and vote for the man, liberals abhor him with a passion three times as fierce. It’s visceral, fanatical, knee-jerk. If nearly the entire psychology profession didn’t suffer from the condition to greater or lesser degrees, it would be a likely subject for diagnosis, particularly given the unself-conscious way in which the victims of Trump Derangement Syndrome act out their animus.  It doesn’t occur to the diseased ones to ask why they can’t get the Orange-Haired Man out of their heads. They hate him; they loathe him; they fear him . . . We get it nonstop; we hear them; they can’t stop saying so. But the expression doesn’t bring them any relief—not that we can see. Their exasperation only grows and sputters. Voicing what one feels deep inside is supposed to ease the feeling, to externalize it and let the anger, love, bitterness, joy, etc. flow, not be dammed up within. One of Freud’s patients called it “the Talking Cure,” when he asked her to speak, just speak of anything that pops into her mind, and she and other patients found that they did feel a little better once the session concluded. But those with TDS don’t. He lingers in their heads. Like a bad penny, he won’t go away. Nothing that has happened has “disappeared” him. Jeb Bush couldn’t beat him, nor could Hillary, the Mueller Team, Avenatti and Stormy, Vindman and House Democrats, or The Washington Post, NPR, and MSNBC. Not even the 2020 defeat, January 6th, and Liz Cheney’s hearings have removed him from the body politic. If anything, the Mar-a-Lago raid will only ensure his continuance. Martyrs have sticking power. The prospect of Trump 2024 appears ever more likely, and if the inconceivable happened once (November 2016), it can happen again.  If Trumpist candidates for Congress do well in the midterms, the agony will only intensify. The media’s reaction as the results of that dark day six years ago unfolded was shock and incredulity.  This time, if Republicans take the House and lots of Trumpy types prevail, we will see a different reaction. Liberal elites now know that “it can happen here,” which leads them past incredulity and toward resolve. He must be stopped! He and his enablers are demons, cretins, bigots, and monsters. They are not fellow citizens and ordinary Americans. They are something else—odd, frightening, unenlightened, vandals, and barbarians. I have seen liberals of sterling egalitarian profile speak of the ones who go to Trump rallies in terms one usually reserves for bugs in the woodwork. Now, in 2022, liberals and progressives and Never Trumpers believe they have tolerated these dunces and villains long enough. They’re out of patience. No more generosity, no more pluralism. Hence, it’s OK with them to withhold from Trump the rights of free speech, due process, innocence-until-proven-guilty. It is downright extraordinary to see how liberals have flipped on principle now that Trump and his backers have persisted. The intelligence agencies liberals used to suspect and decry earn liberal praise when they target the ex-president. Traditional liberal sympathy with the working class dissipates when Trump wins the lion’s share of that voting bloc. Liberals flatter themselves as cosmopolitical and nonjudgmental, able to mingle with diverse others, jumping from culture to subculture with relaxed facility. But put them amidst a group of MAGA souls and the blood pressure rises—they can’t converse, and any escape route will do. It would be laughable if not for the power of the cancel. Irrationality rightly gets shuttled off for professional help, but when college students stomp into their president’s office irate at an essay a professor wrote against woke activism, and the president bows and commiserates, the tantrum worked. When a corporate chain bends to a few Twitter posts demanding that produce be withdrawn from its shelves because it’s offensive to the posters, the spirit of the First Amendment is broken. Donald Trump is the ultimate rationale for this abandonment of American tolerance. Liberals have made him into the embodiment of all the social evils of racism, nativism, etc. He’s done them a favor, offering them a concrete focus for resentments and worries otherwise hazy and fluctuating. Anxiety lessens when it can find an object. It wants to attach to something, and the attachment eases the uncertainty. Trump gives them psychological relief even as they huff and puff at the sound of his voice. Which means that liberals don’t want to give him up. Every day we watch the obsession continue, the conversation eventually turning to Orange-Man-Bad whether the topic be Biden, Russia, gas prices, or COVID.  No person, no thing, and no event in living memory has so unified and mobilized liberals and their institutions—not even 9/11. That attack 21 years ago produced ample debate and divisions on both sides—on the right and the left (for example, Bush conservatives vs. Pat Buchanan conservatives). This time, however, with Trump, there is no debate on the left, no dissenting voices. In their eyes, he is beyond discussion, outside the world of ideas and policy. The Overton Window doesn’t include him. To witness him still in the public sphere, drawing crowds to his rallies and endorsing candidates who proceed to win, is infuriating. They love to hate him, but the hate nonetheless takes a toll on their hearts. They know they’re being illiberal, and so they have to cast him as a demon to justify it. Don’t expect liberals to resolve this dilemma before November. The pain will only get worse—especially if Trump candidates poll well. Smart populist conservatives such as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis aggravate the problem. He spotlights liberal illiberalism and moves forward to squelch it. His popularity, along with Trump’s, widens the public square to include them both, which means that liberals must address them as a political force, not a demonic one. I just read a Tweet from former-Clinton cabinet member Robert Reich calling DeSantis a fascist, but the charge has no force. Liberal outrage is spent. The rabid indignation gets chuckles from everyone except the True Believers, the ones who cling to their outrage as a psychological crutch. That will bring on more manic behavior, more delusion on the left.  Be ready for it. Tyler Durden Fri, 08/26/2022 - 23:55.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeAug 27th, 2022

Thomas Piketty Wants To Bring Back Communism In The Guise Of Democratic Socialism

Thomas Piketty Wants To Bring Back Communism In The Guise Of Democratic Socialism Authored by Mark Thornton via The Mises Institute, Thomas PikettyA Brief History of Equality Harvard University Press, 2022 Thomas Piketty’s Brief History is the fourth installment of his assault on economic inequality, following as it does the best-selling Capital in the Twenty-First Century and Capital and Ideology. The third, Time for Socialism: Dispatches from a World on Fire, 2016–2021, is just a collection of popular articles based on which the New York Times dubbed Piketty a “vaguely left-of-center” economist. This slim fourth volume from Harvard University Press calls for far-reaching socialist policies to establish economic equality. It is a siren song of communism: “economic justice” without any cost or noteworthy harm to society. The primary reason for my concern with Piketty and this book is the relative influence of Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto (written with Frederick Engels) versus his Kapital: A Critique of Political Economy. The Manifesto was short, on point, and politically actionable while Kapital was long, jargony, filled with footnotes, and nebulous concerning political action. Indeed, Marx’s view of history told Kapital readers to sit tight for generations and suffer, while the Manifesto was an immediate call to arms around the world! In terms of relevance, the Manifesto’s ten-point program would become the political action platform for democratic socialists worldwide and public policy in leading nations by 1917. In contrast, the highly improbable Marxist takeover of Russia had no blueprint from Kapital, led to one economic disaster after another, and ended in failure, as Ludwig von Mises predicted. Piketty may have at least learned that lesson and advocates a social-democratic-type takeover. All of Piketty’s books are terrible from an economic perspective. Most importantly, all are as dangerous to political economy as Marx’s books were catastrophic to hundreds of millions of people, especially the lower-income people Marx and Piketty propose to help. The brevity of this book makes it potentially the most socially devastating of the four. Brief History Up until two centuries ago, more than 95 percent of humanity lived in “extreme poverty.” That number had fallen to about one-third of the global population by the end of the 1980s and is now less than 10 percent, and still falling, all during a period of rapid population increase. This is one of the most important facts you can say about the entire history of humanity, and yet it seems not widely known—and how it was achieved is completely lost on Piketty. Piketty gives no indication to me that he is an economist or any kind of disinterested objective scientific observer. However, his statistic- and chart-filled books give the impression of a scientific basis for his policy conclusion. Piketty is a Marxist, an advocate for communism, but all in the guise of a conventional democratic socialism. However, his dedication of the book reminds readers of the Manifesto’s finale. He does admit that the last quarter millennium has also been a powerful movement toward greater economic equality, but he largely ignores how the enormous, sustained increase in the standard of living was achieved. It just happened. He does want readers to understand his views that this improvement was not the result of capitalism, that sociopolitical systems are just a matter of democratic choice, and that various forms of socialist and union agitation are to be credited with economic progress. His beliefs, which the intelligentsia and other second-hand dealers of ideas widely share, fly in the face of the facts. Individual rights, free markets, and freedom to trade created the opportunity for economic growth, wages above subsistence, and greater economic equality. Capitalism improved conditions for labor, hurt the wealthy and powerful in a comparative sense, and led to the emergence of the entrepreneurial, or bourgeois, class. The Industrial Revolution shifted the entire focus of the economy’s structure of production from the nobility’s demands to the workers’ needs; of this there is little doubt. It made people more equal, economically and otherwise, compared to the medieval system of authorities and serfs or even twentieth-century communism. Instead, Piketty would like to attribute all these good developments to political action and uprisings. While there is a tinge of truth here, the main driver of all improvement is capitalism, even with all its political warts and injustices. It is just as clear that even most “Marxist” events, such as the French and Russian Revolutions, were driven by the emerging bourgeois and entrepreneurial classes, broadly conceived as the middle class, not the peasants. Piketty ignores these facts and allies himself with the social democratic notion that outcomes can be achieved with a variety of voting systems and political choices regarding the nature of property systems, so that capitalism is no longer necessary. Furthermore, he believes that the equality that has been achieved is due to “conflicts and revolts against injustice” (p. 10), which is clearly not the case. For example, things like modern unions, socialist-leaning political parties, and “progressive” political platforms emerged after the surge of economic development and the spread of equality, not before. Indeed, the Industrial Revolution started in England after the political powers to control labor, capital, and trade were dissipated, not augmented. Piketty also writes about politics and tactics in a way that might puzzle readers not intimately familiar with Marxist dogma and dialogue. However, make no mistake about it: Marxist, socialist, and progressive leaders, and the policies they advocate, are inherently violent, and they are not interested in pursuing scientific truth. They prefer that their opposition offer no resistance and ask no questions. Piketty’s recommendations knit together a system that helps guarantee no institutional chance of losing power, elections, and legislative majorities for the social democratic parties. In terms of violence, of course, the favorite progressive policies, such as those in the Communist Manifesto’s ten-point program, are highly coercive and potentially violent. The ten points can be distilled into taking your land, income, and inheritance; i.e., “nationalizing” banking, communication, transportation, and the means of production; forced labor and resettlement; and all-encompassing cradle-to-grave propaganda. Piketty extends his assault on history by declaring that progress—i.e., national wealth—exists. He fails to explain how that comes to be or is sustained, even though economists, at least since the time of Richard Cantillon and Adam Smith, have long considered it the essential question for economics to answer. Piketty also doesn’t explain why there was essentially no or little progress and often extreme inequality in the previous thousands of years. Instead, Piketty wants to measure progress with education and health attainment statistics, which he attributes to the beginnings of the welfare state. He makes this claim even though education and healthcare were available to those outside the nobility long before the welfare state existed. Indeed, there were little education or healthcare opportunities before capitalism, and both metrics increased quickly with the movement toward freer markets. He tries to hide his subterfuge by displaying global and average statistics that disguise important national and marginal changes that would be more enlightening about freedom’s benefits, such as the remarkable increase in real wage rates in England during the nineteenth century. Even with the undeniable progress toward more equality, Piketty’s personal view is that inequality remains “extremely high,” and he finds a problem with economic growth because he sees it as caused by population growth and global warming. He sees population growth rates as unsustainable and harmful. But does any serious social scientist see current population growth rates as a problem or perpetually sustainable? In our age of capitalism, population growth is now seen as more a matter of individual choice, not some mystical unknown or biological imperative. Social scientists have moved closer to the economic theory of population, first sketched out by Cantillon, and have moved on to the existing problems of declining population growth rates, declining populations, and the unbalanced demographics that have resulted from government policies in advanced economies such as China and Japan. Malthus is dead and has been for a long time. At one point, Piketty attacks his own approach of using government statistics such as income measures, gross domestic product, and consumer price indices, as well as statistical averages and aggregates, as problematic for his purpose. Indeed, colleagues of mine have reexamined these government statistics, found them extremely misleading, and upon proper recalculation have found that most of the statistics propagated are monumental misrepresentations of reality in terms of economic inequality. Instead, Piketty asks us to examine consumption, not money income, to assess inequality. But other economists have already done so, and their findings indicate that inequality in the US is much less a problem than the misleading income and poverty statistics suggest. It is unclear how shifting focus to global warming and the “infernal life” it has wrought can save Piketty’s analysis or his policy agenda. The quality and integrity of that data are clearly bad, the science is deeply tarnished by government funding, and it is obvious to other scientists, engineers, and economists that capitalist and wealthy countries don’t face the imminent dangers, that global warming theorists allege, such as rising sea levels, but that noncapitalist economies might be negatively impacted if and when these dangers do emerge. Piketty is an enemy of private property rights, which even most non-Austrian economists consider a necessary condition for prosperity. He does note that property is now more evenly divided than it was two centuries ago, before capitalism, but he seems unconcerned about how a middle class might have developed and flourished during that time. He thinks the question of ownership and control is a purely political one without substantive economic and legal ramifications. His whole discussion of these matters amounts to making wealth a Marxist-spawned whipping boy for even more progressive-income, wealth, and inheritance taxes and an ever-expanding welfare state. Piketty does oppose colonialism and slavery, but he would no doubt be surprised to learn that it was liberals like Adam Smith (the philosopher of human happiness and empathy toward fellow citizens) that led the opposition to such institutions. He does quote Smith in these chapters, not as an opponent of colonialism and slavery, but as a strong supporter of Marxism’s nemesis, property rights! If you properly understand capitalism as the union of market forces and the state, then the state has expanded and defended slavery, while market forces are what led to its withering away in both ancient and modern times. I can think of no other episode that better explains the state’s role in slavery than Piketty’s own country’s response to the slave revolt in Haiti, but that is a lesson lost on him. Most remarkable of all is Piketty’s explanation for what he calls the “great redistribution,” which he dates from 1914–1980 (before World War I to when Reagan became US president and Thatcher became prime minister of the United Kingdom). He does say that this period was “no piece of cake” but that it ushered in progressive income taxation and the welfare state, thus creating the heavenly transformation of capitalism into increased economic equality, only to be set back by small steps toward market liberalization after 1980. US statistics do indicate that after World War II, the middle class grew, that poverty shrank until President Johnson’s War on Poverty began in the mid-1960s, and that income inequality declined—to create what others have called the “Great Leveling.” Statisticians and accountants, including Piketty, have done yeoman-like work trying to estimate what happened to the numbers during this period. As fascinating as all that tinkering is for economists, it misses the bigger points regarding cause and effect. The “leveling” occurred largely because of all the death, dislocation, and reduced family formation caused by World War I, the Spanish flu, the Great Depression, and World War II. When appalling numbers of young people die or are economically depressed, the subsequent number of births decreases. This leads to higher wage rates and results in a compressed, or leveled, income distribution. Under capitalism, real wage rates can and do increase, poverty declines, people get rich, and economic opportunity and equality improve without massive waves of death and destruction. In contrast, Piketty sees progressive taxation and the welfare state as true salvation. He wants much more of both, in the form of a democracy that produces “progressive” increases in state power. You do not have to read too much between his lines to see that Piketty wants a complete Marxist state without the bad image of Marxism’s past economic failures, mass starvations, and genocides. Conclusions Piketty is a Marxist who has written a great deal on income distribution to promote income redistribution and other Marxist goals. He exhibits no knowledge of economics and economic theory except that implied by the construction of economic statistics. His proposed solutions are implicitly violent, destructive, and unable to achieve the desired results. His books have been robust sellers by academic standards. Yet I am hard pressed to know of anyone who has read them, including all the economists I know and even people who work on this topic. I know a couple of younger economists who have read some of his coauthored papers. Who bought these books? Who read them? Why did they get so little academic attention—serious reviews and critiques from economists? As a result, Piketty and his backers, largely unchallenged, have provided academic cover for socialism, higher taxes, and greater welfare spending to gain widespread acceptance. Tyler Durden Sun, 08/14/2022 - 10:30.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeAug 14th, 2022

Disaster on Denali: What happens when adventure-seekers are in over their heads?

What really happened on Denali, North America's tallest peak, on the day a 31-year-old mountaineer from Canada fell 1,000 feet? Hokyoung Kim for InsiderNone of them noticed the fall. One moment, Adam Rawski was with them on the mountain. The next, he was gone.It was May 24, 2021, around Day 15 of their trek up Denali, North America's tallest peak. There was Grant Wilson and Sarah Maynard, Alaska natives and close friends since high school who were now in their early 20s; Rawski, a 31-year-old clean technology executive from Canada, who had befriended them on the mountain a week earlier; and Dr. Jason Lance, a 48-year-old radiologist from Utah who had paired up with Rawski at the last minute after both of their climbing partners turned back.The four had hoped to summit that day. But Rawski was exhausted and showing signs of altitude sickness. He couldn't go any further. Just over a thousand feet from the summit, they had no choice but to stop and turn back.Now on the descent, at around 18,200 feet, they had just crossed Denali Pass, a relatively flat, open snowfield with sweeping views of the Alaska Range and surrounding wilderness. In front of them lay the Autobahn, a notoriously dangerous icy slope that descends 1,000 feet. At least 13 deadly falls have been recorded here since 1980.The Autobahn's terrain can vary from rock solid ice to several feet of snow. If climbers lose their footing and fall, there's nothing to slow their momentum and prevent a fast and almost certainly fatal tumble down the slope. It's said some German climbers died at this spot years ago, which is how it became known as the Autobahn — as in, Germany's highway with no speed limit.Perhaps the most dangerous thing about the Autobahn is that it doesn't look very dangerous. It's steep enough to cause climbers to fall with great speed, but not so steep that all climbers exercise proper caution. The park service strongly encourages roping up with protection at this spot, but every year, teams ignore that advice. If the slope was just a bit steeper, it's likely fewer climbers would take the risk.Most falls on the Autobahn happen on the descent, when climbers are exhausted, having just pushed for the summit after two weeks on the unforgiving mountain, perhaps slightly impaired by the effects of altitude, and quite possibly a little cocky from having made it this far. Despite his condition, Rawski was not roped up. Standing at the top of the Autobahn, the others had scattered a bit. Wilson had stepped out of sight for a bathroom break. Maynard was slightly downhill from Lance. And then, Rawski was gone.As Maynard would tell me later, her mind raced through the possibilities: "Is he so hypoxic that he is taking his clothes off and wandering around? Is he so delusional that he's going for another summit attempt? Does his stomach hurt so bad that he's puking somewhere or just huddled up?"Then she heard Lance: "Oh, fuck." She followed his eyes down to the bottom of the Autobahn, 1000 feet below. There, Rawski's body in his bright blue puffer was lying, motionless.It was quiet, with no wind. But Maynard hadn't heard a thing. "That's what was so spooky and haunting," she said. "I didn't hear his ice axe hit the ground. I didn't hear his body tumble. I didn't hear a yelp from him."Maynard and Wilson huddled under a rock, all but certain their friend was dead. They held each other, and cried.Amazingly, Rawski didn't die that day. He's one of the only climbers known to have survived a fall down the Autobahn. But that's not where the story ends. What none of them knew then was that five months later, one of them would be criminally charged and brought before a judge — and they'd all have to relive the worst day of their lives.The Great OutdoorsWhen throngs of novice adventurers take on challenges without the proper training or expertise, disaster often follows — which is part of the story of what happened on Denali last May.Visits to America's national parks have exploded in recent years as more and more people seek out wild, majestic places to visit and color their Instagram feeds. More than 600,000 people came to Denali National Park in 2019, a 65% increase from 2000. Things were quiet in 2020 due to COVID-19, but by 2021 the mountain was nearly as busy as before the pandemic, with 1,007 climbers attempting to summit.Shortly after Rawski's fall, Denali's park rangers, all of them expert mountaineers, took the extraordinary step of publishing a finger-wagging report. "We have seen a disturbing amount of overconfidence paired with inexperience in the Alaska Range," they said, warning climbers that mountaineering in the Lower 48 doesn't necessarily prepare you for the high-altitude and extreme conditions of the Alaskan wilderness.A clear morning view of Denali from inside the national park.C. Fredrickson Photography/Getty ImagesDenali soars 20,310 feet above sea level and, for some mountaineers, is considered a stepping stone to Mount Everest (though without the help of Sherpas). Its official title was changed from Mt. McKinley in 2015, when Denali, the name given to the mountain by Alaskan Natives — meaning "the tall one" or "the great one" — was restored.The peak is located among 6 million acres of protected wilderness. To reach the mountain, climbers hop on a small plane in Talkeetna, a tiny town south of the park, and fly over 75 miles of terrain that changes from lush greenery to jagged granite and snow-covered slopes.They're dropped off at Denali's base camp, located on the Kahiltna Glacier, at 7,200 feet elevation — already 1,000 feet higher than Mount Washington, the tallest peak of New Hampshire's White Mountains. From there, the expedition to the summit and back usually takes 17 to 21 days.Typically only about half of the climbers attempting Denali every year will reach the summit. Determining whether or not a climber is prepared to take on Denali is difficult even for rangers and guides.Temperatures can dip below -40 degrees Fahrenheit. Climbers face snow storms, freezing rain, 100 mph winds, and blazing sunlight. The gear weighs over 100 pounds and includes clothes, tents, stoves, skis, or snowshoes, crampons, protective equipment, and a sled to haul it all. Climbers take on steep vertical grades and glacier travel, during which they can encounter crevasses that go hundreds of feet deep into the ice — and that's all on top of the sheer physical challenge of climbing a mountain at an altitude few humans ever experience.Base Camp on the Kahiltna Glacier in Denali National Park. Mountaineers climbing Denali, the highest mountain in North America, are dropped off here by ski planes, visible in photo.Getty ImagesThere are specific skill sets climbers should have, like snow and ice climbing, glacier travel, cold-weather camping, and exceptional cardiovascular fitness. But even then, it is hard to gauge if a person is ready.The most basic measure for whether or not a climber is prepared — physically, technically, psychologically — for a Denali expedition is straightforward: Would you attempt what you are doing if you were alone on this mountain?If the answer is no, you shouldn't be there.A shared passionMaynard and Wilson teamed up to tackle Denali in late 2020.The two were high school classmates in Fairbanks, the largest and coldest city in Alaska's Interior region and the closest city to Denali. It's known for being one of the best places to see the northern lights, and for long summer days when the sun never sets.They both ran cross country, traveling with the team to faraway meets on weekends, and were part of a large friend group of cross country skiers. But they bonded most over their shared passion for mountaineering.They stayed close even after Maynard moved to Montana to get a degree in exercise science and work as a ski instructor, keeping up with each other's adventures through texts and social media, and planned excursions whenever their schedules aligned. Whenever Maynard returned home to Alaska, she'd check in with Wilson. "I'm always trying to get invited on his adventures because he stays busy," she said. Wilson has lived in Alaska his whole life. When not climbing, skiing, surfing, or recreating outdoors in some capacity, he worked as a commercial fisherman in Bristol Bay."I grew up winter camping with my family and doing wintertime hunting and all these things that I feel like was preparation leading up to this Denali climb," Wilson told me. They had both skied pristine backcountry landscapes and conquered peaks in Alaska and elsewhere. They had lots of training with rope systems, including on past climbs and through courses. Neither had much experience above 14,000 feet.But having grown up in Alaska, Denali always loomed large. It's a famously challenging expedition for any mountaineer, but, more than that, it's their home mountain."My grandpa used to take me out of school on bluebird days" — clear, sunny days that follow a night of snowfall, Maynard told me. "He's a pilot and he would fly me around Denali.""One time he got close enough that you could see the climbers. And I remember that moment just being like, 'Wow.'"Base CampIn early May of 2021, Maynard and Wilson finally stepped out onto Kahiltna Glacier.The plan was to tackle the West Buttress, Denali's most popular, and least technical, route. It's a 15-mile journey to the summit, gaining more than 13,000 feet in elevation along the way. As with the other camps higher up the mountain, base camp has room for dozens of tents but no physical infrastructure.From camp to camp, climbers make their way up the mountain in strategic bursts. Moving too quickly can be dangerous. Climbers will take full days to wait out bad weather, rest, and acclimatize to the higher altitudes as the air gets thinner and thinner.There's also some essential backtracking. To lighten the load they're carrying, climbers will bury some of their gear in the snow, marking it with a flag, and then double back for it once they've set up camp higher up the mountain.  When the mountain is busy, especially in late spring when there's near round-the-clock sunlight, the camps come alive, forming makeshift towns. Killing time at the camps is part of the experience, and can involve kicking around a hacky sack, doing yoga, or getting to know other climbers.One morning, still early on the route, Maynard and Wilson were flying kites when they first met Adam Rawski. Rawski, tall with dark hair, was about a decade older and lived on Canada's west coast. He worked as the VP of finance at a clean technology company in Vancouver, and spent as much time as he could in the wilderness. "Backcountry skiing, downhill mountain biking, rock climbing, ice climbing," he would tell me later. "You name it, I would do it." After climbing most major peaks in the Pacific Northwest — including Mount Rainier, which at 14,417 feet, is considered a precursor to Denali — he decided to take on "the great one." He had come to Alaska with a fellow climber from back home. Rawski was a friendly presence at the camps, going out of his way to meet other climbers. "I would just walk around and say hi to people," he said.  He and his partner started out around the same time as Maynard and Wilson, so the teams were moving up the mountain at a similar pace. During rest periods, Rawski would join them for a game of cards. One day, when Maynard and Wilson needed butter, Rawski gave them some of his. "We made friends with him pretty quickly," Maynard told me.When they reached 14 Camp — one of two potential launching pads to take the summit — there was a problem: Rawski's partner had decided to pull out.A new partner for the upper mountainAt 14,200 feet — just shy of the height of Mount Whitney, the highest peak in the Lower 48 — 14 Camp marks the start of what rangers call the upper mountain. From here, the weather gets even more unpredictable and climbers are more likely to face relentless whiteout conditions — as well as unbearable wind, altitude sickness, frostbite, or hypothermia.Many climbers reach 14 Camp and decide not to go any further. Others, eager to minimize the time spent lugging heavy equipment in this increasingly desolate and punishing environment, store their gear here and — skipping the final resting spot, High Camp, at 17,200 feet — make their final push to the summit. This goes against park rangers' recommendation. Climbers who do not have prior experience above 14,000 feet in arctic conditions have "no real conception of how their body will respond to such stresses," they explained in the report published days after Rawski's fall. "There are very few mountaineers capable of moving fast enough to accomplish this safely." Setting up camp at High Camp gives climbers more time to acclimate to the higher elevation and makes for a shorter trek to and from Denali's summit. Despite this, the report said, more climbers were choosing the more dangerous route of trying to summit from 14 Camp.Sarah Maynard making her way along the 16,000 ft ridge of Denali during an early morning attempt to reach the summit.Grant WilsonThe issue had been compounded, the rangers said, by the reshuffling that's all too common at 14 Camp. Climbers who want to continue even after their teammates bow out end up forming new teams. (The risk of a crevasse fall, sickness, or serious accident are too high to make solo climbing a safe option.)But team dynamics is one of the biggest factors impacting safety and success on a Denali expedition. Strangers won't know the skill level or risk tolerance of their teammates, or be able to spot when the other person is sick or exhausted. "In many cases, these determined climbers end up forming loose coalitions with other individuals who they have just met for the first time and who are equally summit-driven," the report said."Collectively, this is a recipe for disaster."This was the position that Rawski found himself in that day. He heard that Jason Lance, a military vet who had served in Afghanistan and a father of four from Mountain Green, Utah, was also looking for a partner. The two teamed up and decided to push for the summit the next day. (Lance declined multiple interview requests from Insider and did not respond to a detailed list of questions.)"It was a very last-minute, hasty decision," Rawski later said."In hindsight, probably not the best idea."Summit day: 'Push through it and get by'A few hours after midnight on May 24, Rawski and Lance left 14 Camp and set off for the summit. Aided by the almost constant daylight, they figured the early start would give them enough time to summit and capitalize on the clear weather.A couple hours later, Maynard and Wilson also set off from 14 Camp. At around 9 a.m., they stopped to rest at High Camp and ran into Rawski and Lance.Immediately it was clear to them that Rawski was not himself. He was quiet, dehydrated, and had diarrhea. Another team that was staying at High Camp was boiling snow into potable water for Rawski to drink.Rawski told me he remembers being dehydrated and exhausted, but at the time didn't think his condition was especially worrisome. "I've been tired in that sort of situation before in the past. So I was sort of like, 'Push through it and get by.'"Maynard and Wilson — who were meeting Lance for the first time — both said they wondered if Rawski was better off turning back, but decided it wasn't their place to push it."When somebody's that sick, you don't continue with the original plan." Wilson told me later. "Jason Lance, as his partner that day, should have made some serious adjustments to their plan knowing how dehydrated Adam was."After some time resting at High Camp, Lance and Rawski resumed the climb, as did Maynard and Wilson.Adam Rawski finishing a dangerously exposed portion of the climb known as the Autobahn.Grant WilsonAt 18,200 feet, Maynard and Wilson stopped at Denali Pass and took a minute to enjoy the breathtaking views. "We were kind of geeking out, looking around and going, 'Oh my gosh, there's the Hayes Range' and 'Oh, there's Hunter,'" Maynard said. "It was really cool, being from Alaska, to just kind of be on top and see all the ranges that we recreate in."A short while later, Maynard and Wilson caught up to Rawski and Lance. Lance motioned to them to huddle up. Turning to Maynard, he suggested that she and Rawski turn back together, and that Lance and Wilson continue up the mountain as a pair. As Maynard remembers it, Lance said, "Sarah, I see you've slowed down. Why don't you take Adam down? Why don't you guide him down and Grant and I can go for the summit."She and Wilson were incredulous. This was their mountain. Who was Lance, not even an Alaskan, to boss them around, Wilson told me later. "It was like, dude, look, we're young, but we're not idiots here."But even as they shut the idea down, they were getting increasingly concerned about Rawski. He was clearly out of it but still saying he wanted to keep going. "Was I experiencing symptoms of altitude sickness? Maybe, I just couldn't realize it myself," Rawski told me later.So, they kept going, letting Rawski set the pace. Wilson later described it as a "zombie march."Then, according to Maynard and Wilson, Lance started moving faster, slowly pushing ahead of the group. "We stayed on either side of Adam, and Jason just got farther and farther and farther ahead, until he disappeared over a little pass," Wilson said. "It wasn't verbalized. There was no discussion involved. It was quite obvious what was going on." Lance was ditching them with his partner and going for a solo summit attempt.Lance later disputed this account, saying he went up ahead in hopes of waving down another team, climbers Maynard knew from Montana. But Maynard said he didn't say that at the time and, in any event, she was in radio contact with her friends.I asked Rawski about whether or not he felt Lance had abandoned him. "I don't really feel like he abandoned me too much," Rawski said. Lance, he said, "just felt like more of that sort of lone wolf who wanted to make it to the summit, no matter how, whether it be solo or with the group." At 19,200 feet, .2 miles from the summit, Maynard and Wilson decided they had to turn back. Lance was out of sight, Rawski was in bad shape, and they too were starting to slow down.But first, the three of them paused to look around and take it all in, their high point on Denali. "For the first time in the day, Adam kind of seemed like himself for a little bit. He asked us to take some videos of him," Wilson said.Rawski wanted to take a video for his girlfriend. Maynard remembered him playfully shouting out his love from the highest point on the continent."I was able to look back and see my hometown, where I've seen Denali on the horizon for most of my life," Wilson said. "That was a really amazing feeling."The fallMaynard guided Rawski as the three climbers began their descent. Around every 100 feet, Rawski would have to sit down, and his stomach hurt so badly that he wasn't able to eat or drink anything, Maynard and Wilson said.By the time they reached Denali Pass, Lance — having apparently abandoned his own summit attempt — caught back up with them. Maynard and Wilson figured they would return to their original configuration: Maynard and Wilson, Rawski and Lance.Ahead of them lay the Autobahn.To catch themselves in the case of a fall, climbers jam long, T-shaped pieces of metal called pickets several feet into the ice or snow. They secure a carabiner to the picket, run a rope through it, and attach the rope to their harness. If they trip, the rope goes taught and breaks the fall.Once again, they were going against the advice of Denali's park rangers. Maynard and Wilson planned to ski down the Autobahn, during which they would not use ropes. But Lance and Rawski planned to down climb it, traversing at a downward angle. They were not roped into protection."We had the rope. We had the pickets. We had our carabiners. We had everything," Rawski said. "But from what I recall, Jason was in a bit more of a rush to get down there. So I think we decided to opt out of roping up." In hindsight, he said, this was clearly a mistake. At the time he weighed the benefits and risks and decided not to waste time arguing.Climbers taking on the exposed headwall above 14 Camp. Rangers and volunteers fix lines for climbers to offer protection. In the event that a climber stumbles, the lines will arrest the fall.Grant WilsonIronically, it's the less experienced climbers on Denali who are more likely to descend the Autobahn without the protection of ropes.Tucker Chenoweth, Denali's South District ranger who oversees rescues on Denali, told me he would never do that section of the climb without protection. In his experience, climbers who have mastered rope skills won't think twice about using them "because it's not a hindrance to them.""But if you're not good at it, then it's a pain," he said. Indeed, no one who has died on the Autobahn was roped up with protection.There was also the matter of altitude. "Altitude can give you a somewhat intoxicated feeling, where things don't seem as important as they are," Chenoweth told me. "Even if you're climatized, you're feeling the effects of altitude sickness that challenges not only your physical ability, but your decision-making ability." At this point, Maynard was positioned slightly lower on the pass than Lance. She clipped herself into a picket before grabbing her skis. Wilson was briefly out of sight after just stepping away from the group to go to the bathroom.Lance was standing a bit higher and around a slight ledge.Maynard was pulling on her skis when all of a sudden Lance shouted down to her: "Where's Adam?""I thought he was climbing up to you," Maynard said. At first they thought maybe he had also gone to the bathroom, but when Wilson returned a few minutes later he was alone."That's the hard part about splitting partners," Wilson would tell me. "It's like, 'Whose problem is this incapacitated climber? We're handing him back off now, who's taking care of him?'"They started calling out for Rawski: "Adam! Adam! Where'd you go?"Lance was the one who spotted him, lying at the bottom of the Autobahn some 1,000 feet below. It didn't seem possible that he could have survived. Wilson thought he was going to puke.Lance was carrying Rawski's Garmin inReach, a satellite communications device, and used it to request a rescue crew.From the top of the Autobahn, there was nothing more they could do for Rawski. And they still had to get themselves down safely.A risky rescueGuides at High Camp who saw the fall alerted the park service within seconds of Rawski landing at the bottom of the Autobahn. Helicopter pilot Andy Hermansky was sitting at Base Camp, twiddling his thumbs, when he got the call. He wouldn't normally be there. The helicopter would normally be parked in Talkeetna. But he had flown a team of scientists up to take some glacial samples and was just waiting for them.Hermansky made a quick stop at 14 Camp to pick up Chris Erickson, a Denali ranger and law enforcement officer who was on the mountain. In the more than ten years they worked together on Denali, the two teamed up on many rescues. They'd become close friends, hanging out even in the off-season and attending each other's birthday parties.The average response time for a rescue helicopter can be several hours. But between the good luck of Rawski falling in full view of High Camp, the helicopter being close by, and the skilled maneuvering of the rescue team, this rescue happened with extraordinary speed — which is very likely why Rawski is alive to talk about it. A ranger waiting to be picked up by a helicopter in Denali National Park. Rangers patrol the mountain between Base Camp and the summit. Helicopter rescues are called only if there's a direct threat to life, limb, or eyesight.Menno Boermans/Getty ImagesThe environment on the upper mountain is inherently dangerous for helicopters, and there wasn't a flat surface close to Rawski to allow for a regular landing. Instead, Hermansky decided to try a high-risk maneuver that's common in snowy mountain terrains.Hovering near Rawski, Hermansky carefully lowered the helicopter so only the front part of the skids were touching the ground, while the back parts remained in the air. The helicopter blades chopped through the air just a few feet from the ground. Hermansky gave Erickson a quick nod, signaling conditions were safe enough to go through with the rescue.With the helicopter in that position, Erickson slowly crawled out onto the skids, careful not to make a sudden weight transfer that would cause Hermansky to lose control, and then onto the ground.Within 30 minutes of Rawski's fall, Erickson was at his side — "frankly shocked," Erickson would tell me later, to find Rawski alive."I fully expected him to be dead," Erickson said. He motioned to a mountain guide — also a friend of his — who had seen the fall from High Camp and trekked over. Together, the two of them did an overhead body press and were able to load Rawski into the helicopter. Erickson carefully climbed back in, and they were off."I've dealt with colder rescues. I've dealt with windier rescues, I've dealt with rescues at a higher elevation," Erickson would say later.But the thing that made this rescue exceptional? Time.'Can't descend safely. Patients in shock.'Up at the top of the Autobahn, time was working against Rawski's climbing companions. Around 16 hours had now passed since Maynard and Wilson set off from 14 Camp, which was a long time to spend at such high altitude. They were exhausted. As Wilson, Maynard, and Lance watched the rescue from atop Denali Pass, they were also in a state of disbelief. Wilson remembers thinking that the helicopter, hovering so far below, almost looked like a toy. "We were just trying to comprehend that they were loading our friend's body onto a helicopter," he said.When Lance proposed calling in another rescue — this one for the three of them — Maynard and Wilson said they considered it. "Of course we were like, 'Yeah, I want a rescue. We just watched someone die. Maybe the slope is too unsafe to down climb,'" Maynard said.But they quickly snapped out of it. "No one's coming for us," she remembers Wilson saying, with so much emotion. "We have to get ourselves down."Lance was set on a rescue. "I paid the climbing fee. I paid for this rescue," he kept saying, according to Maynard and Wilson. (A permit to climb Denali costs $395. The fee goes towards training and maintaining ranger and volunteer patrols on the mountain, providing critical mountaineering information to climbers, and keeping the area clean.) Lance sent a message to a third-party emergency response service, saying that, while none of them were injured, they didn't have the necessary equipment to descend. Rawski had fallen with the pickets. (The park service unofficially maintains pickets on the Autobahn, but climbers are told not to rely on them and be prepared to place their own.)A reply came back, saying he should contact the park service directly. He did that next. "The helicopter cannot come to your location and is not flying any more tonight," the park service replied. "Do you have a rope with you? Your only option tonight is descent." Lance persisted. "Cant decend safely," he wrote. "Patients in shock. Early hypothermia. Cant you land east of pass?"This wasn't true. Neither Maynard and Wilson were in medical shock or hypothermic, and they said they never suggested to Lance that they were. They were getting colder, especially after standing around for so long, and wanted to start descending, but Lance refused. Maynard and Wilson have estimated that they spent a total of three hours in that spot, trying to convince Lance to down climb with them. When they finally said they were leaving, with or without Lance, he agreed to go.From High Camp, guides could see the trio descending and radioed Erickson.Lance's message had in fact gotten the rangers' attention. The park service is explicit that climbers must be self-sufficient and stresses that a rescue should only be requested in the case of a direct threat to life, limb, or eyesight. Even then, a rescue is not guaranteed, as rescuer safety is a top priority. It's not uncommon for the park service to turn down a rescue request.But Lance's message made their situation sound like a true emergency, since medical shock can be fatal. Lance, a radiologist, would likely know that.It was too dangerous to attempt a helicopter rescue at the top of the Autobahn, so Erickson had dispatched a helicopter to drop off supplies for them to set up camp where they were.Unbeknownst to Lance, Maynard, and Wilson, a helicopter was on its way when they finally budged from their location. But since rangers' protocol is that climbers are never told to expect a helicopter — doing so could make a dangerous situation worse, and climbers have died waiting around for a promised rescue — they assumed all they could do was start down climbing.Maynard and Wilson described the two hours the group spent descending the Autobahn essentially as a rescue of Lance. They both said he didn't appear to have a handle on rope skills, and that he kept leaving far too much slack in the lines in between them. Maynard, concerned for their safety, kept shouting at Lance to keep the rope tight.When they finally arrived at High Camp sometime after 10 p.m., Denali guides greeted them with food and camping gear. But the next chapter of their ordeal was just beginning.Maynard and Wilson said they listened, flabbergasted, as Lance told the guides how the two Alaskans had been in serious need of a rescue. But, between their exhaustion and the fact that they still had to share a tent with him that night, they didn't bother correcting him.Jason Lance in the tent with mountain guides who had provided him, Sarah Maynard, and Grant Wilson with food and shelter at High Camp after their ordeal.Grant WilsonThe next day, Erickson met them at 14 Camp and questioned them about what had happened. Maynard and Wilson said they were not in shock or hypothermic on Denali Pass. When Erickson asked Lance about this, Lance — according to Erickson — insisted that as a doctor he would recognize signs of hypothermia before the climbers and that he "did not need to be lectured on hypothermia."When Erickson asked Lance to hand over Rawski's personal items, including his inReach device, Lance retreated into his tent. It would later be alleged that Lance had used this time to delete the original message where he said the group required equipment, but not medical attention. After several requests from Erickson, Lance eventually handed over the device.The three were told they were free to return to the base of the mountain. Maynard and Wilson avoided Lance the rest of the descent.Lance's storyOn November 9 — six months after the climb — Lance was charged with three misdemeanor counts: violating a lawful order of a government employee, interfering with a rescue operation, and making a false report.The prosecutor said Lance's actions displayed a "selfishness and indifference to the scarcity of public safety and rescue resources that is unacceptable anywhere, let alone on the tallest peak in North America."In April, in exchange for pleading guilty to the first count, the other two charges were dropped. Lance was banned from Denali for five years and ordered to pay $10,000 — half to the government, half as a charitable donation to the nonprofit Denali Rescue Volunteers.Appearing in court on the day of Lance's sentencing, Wilson and Erickson both gave extensive testimony about everything that happened that day on Denali — how Lance had pushed ahead, how he'd behaved toward Rawski, despite his fragile state. Even though the charges related to Lance's actions after Rawski's fall, it was clear that Lance's behavior throughout the last leg of their climb was of interest to the court.Finally, it was Lance's turn to address the court. And, naturally, he painted a very different picture of himself than the one the others had presented. He opened by saying the day's events had been "life-changing" – "You know, life-changing for me and, you know, tragic in Adam's case."Lance insisted he always had the group's safety at top of mind. When he separated from the others on the ascent, he said he was just trying to get a good vantage point to wave down another team for help."I had no intention of summiting and ditching the party," he said.After Rawski's fall, and as they tried to collect themselves atop Denali Pass, he said that the three of them, himself included, were experiencing emotional trauma. It reminded him of being in Afghanistan during his 14 years in the military."We would see people come in being shot or witnessing bombings, IED explosions, and whatnot. And it was not uncommon to see people who had witnessed a traumatic event go into psychological shock. And that's clearly what was going on here," he said.His immediate concern was that Rawski had fallen with the pickets, and said that was why he had first radioed for help. He said communicating on the clunky satellite device was like typing into a cell phone from the 1990s. As the hours passed, he said, his concerns about shock and hypothermia were genuine."I had to make a choice, based on what information we had," Lance said, adding that Maynard and Wilson are the same age as his kids. "If my kids were up here with somebody else, what would I have them do? I was reluctant to make that descent until I had exhausted every other means of getting us safely off there."Ultimately, Lance realized the helicopter wasn't coming, and that they could either sit there and freeze to death or make a risky descent. "Make no mistake, that descent was unsafe," he said.When I asked Erickson what he made of Lance's defense, or the idea that his decision-making at that altitude could not be trusted, he didn't buy it. He said rangers work in those conditions everyday, often making high-stakes decisions."We're not superheroes," he said. "We don't acclimatize better or worse than anyone else."As for the charge he pleaded guilty to — violating Erickson's order to hand over the inReach device — Lance said it wasn't clear to him it was an official request and that, either way, he felt he needed it for the remainder of his descent, for safety reasons, even though the device was Rawski's.Lance claimed his interactions with Erickson amounted to a clash of personalities, and that Erickson simply wasn't interested in hearing his thoughts on how the park service could handle things better. "I was tired. I was stressed. And, frankly, I just — I didn't want to really talk to him," Lance said.While Lance stopped short of apologizing, he said he hopes in the future in situations like this he "would have kind of a cooler head."Early morning sunrise on the Alaska Range. Denali's "summit shadow" (left) casting over the Kahiltna and Mt. Foraker (right), North America's sixth tallest peak.Grant WilsonThe aftermathWhen they made it off Denali, Maynard and Wilson visited the hospital in Anchorage. Rawski was unconscious in the ICU and it fell on them to tell his loved ones what happened. Instead of flowers, they left a stick of butter at his bedside — a wink at how Rawski had helped them out early in the climb.Rawski was in a coma for two months. He had broken ribs, collapsed lungs, fractured spinal bones, a broken talus and humerus, and nerve damage in his arm. When he finally emerged from the coma and learned what happened — he says he can remember everything up to about five minutes before the fall — he felt like he was reading about another person. "You're like, 'Oh, what an amateur. They didn't know what they were doing,'" he told me. "'The Adam I know would never do that.'"After seven months in the hospital, he was released in December, but the road to recovery is long.In the months since, his walking has improved substantially, and he can even muster a "very awkward jog." He hopes to get back to being the active, outdoorsy person he was before the fall, but he's not sure what exactly that will look like."I think the most difficult thing was, in the past year, my whole identity was changed," he said, again switching into the third person narrator of his story: "The biggest thing was just sort of accepting that changed identity and trying to pretty much redefine who Adam should be."Maynard and Wilson have also spent the last 14 months working through what went wrong on the mountain that day."I was passionate about guiding before and now, more than ever," Wilson said. "I feel called to be on the mountain… making sure that the same things don't happen that happened to Adam."Maynard went through months of therapy to confront the guilt she felt over not hearing Rawski fall or making sure he was roped up. "Even now, every day I relive it," she said. "It's the exact same moment of clipping myself into the picket at the Autobahn, and then looking over and Adam's gone."Despite the many things she thinks Lance did wrong, she says she can't help but sympathize with him.She chalked up Lance's actions to an "ignorance of climber responsibility and his heightened sense of self importance.""I came across a photo of him in one of the reports that has come out recently and I honestly didn't recognize him without the look of desperation on his face," she said. "He was definitely just trying anything and everything to find the magic words to get off the mountain."Rawski's fall was just one of about 20 search and rescue efforts the park service completed on Denali in the 2021 season, mostly for frostbite or extreme altitude sickness. Two incidents were fatal. Chenoweth said the outdoor climbing boom has resulted in a noticeable shift in the types of people arriving at Denali — more summit chasers, fewer wilderness seekers. It's easy for climbers to forget that in remote corners of the earth like Denali, more often than not, you're on your own. Though Denali is an extreme example, it highlights a disconnect that often exists when humans flee from the comforts and safety of modern society and head outdoors. The places we visit are still wild. And while that doesn't mean we shouldn't go, we should treat them with the reverence they deserve when we do.Climbers typically fly to Alaska on a commercial airplane. They take a shuttle to a hotel and go grocery shopping for supplies. They hop on a smaller plane and get dropped off in the wilderness. Even when they arrive, there are other climbers on the glacier, fostering a deceiving sense of safety in numbers. Better and cheaper satellite communications devices have also helped create a "false sense of security."Most climbers taking on Denali wouldn't be able to get back to civilization if the plane never came back to pick them up, Chenoweth said."They lose this sense of scale and I think people don't quite recognize how deep in the wilderness they are."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJul 22nd, 2022

The night the Lord of the Skies got away

In 1985, US agents had a chance to stop Mexico's top drug lord. Years later, evidence from that night proved valuable in a way no one could predict. Reuters; John Moore/Getty Images; Rachel Mendelson/InsiderOne night in 1985, US agents may have had a chance to stop the rise of Mexico's most powerful drug lord — a chance they quickly gave up without knowing it. But the evidence gathered that night would prove valuable in a way no one could predict. If he'd blinked he might have missed them.The pair of cars were parked window to window, just off the side of Highway 67, nine miles north of the tiny border town of Presidio, Texas. As David Ramirez cruised by in his dun-colored U.S. Border Patrol sedan, the night sky outside the range of headlights was so pitch-black that he could have been forgiven for not spotting the vehicles.    Ramirez guessed that something was up. Slowing the cruiser, he banged a quick U-turn and headed back. "They were on the side of the road, at that time of night, in that area, which was known for drug trafficking," Ramirez recalled. "And there wasn't any other traffic. We were out there in a patrol vehicle and we saw maybe two other vehicles in a three-hour time span."It was May 1985, and Ramirez had only been with the Border Patrol for two and a half years. But at a posting as remote as southwest Texas, where only a handful of agents were stationed at the time, that qualified him to train the new guy. So, in the passenger seat sat his partner for the evening, a trainee agent learning the ropes as they cruised along this ribbon of pebbles, dust, and potholes masquerading as a state highway.As Ramirez maneuvered his patrol car, two pairs of headlights came on, two engines rumbled to life, and two cars peeled out. A late-model pickup truck went first, and, following closely behind, a big-body, white Mercury Grand Marquis. They were headed south, toward Presidio, and toward Mexico.Ramirez spun the cruiser around once again and sped off in pursuit, flashing his red-and-blues to signal the drivers to stop. The two vehicles ignored him.The Mercury wasn't going that fast, 60, maybe 70 miles-per-hour, but it acted as a sort of rearguard, allowing the driver of the pickup truck to put more and more distance between himself and the Border Patrol agents giving chase. This went on for a while, five minutes maybe. Finally, with the pickup truck out of sight, the driver of the Mercury eased to the side of the road and crunched to a stop. Ramirez knew it was a feint designed to let the other driver — and whatever cargo he might be carrying — get away. But he also knew that at the end of that road, just before the international port of entry, was a Border Patrol station. He radioed ahead for agents to be on the lookout, and turned his focus to the Mercury.Carefully opening his door, Ramirez climbed out of the cruiser, unclasped the snap on his holster, and drew his .38-caliber service revolver, holding it at a downward angle. It had been dark for hours, but in these parts even after midnight  in late spring can be mind-bendingly hot. The thermostat hovered around 95 degrees and the night air hung heavy like a blanket. As Ramirez approached the Mercury from the driver-side door, his heart rate quickened. The ambient sounds of the desert night, the buzz of insects and snuffling of wild javelinas, receded into the background. His training — and his survival instinct — kicked in to guide him. The trainee, armed with a shotgun, mirrored the more experienced agent and sidled toward the car from the passenger side. Speaking in Spanish through the rolled down window, the driver had an easy-does-it, friendly manner. With the trainee standing back, Ramirez holstered his revolver and requested the suspect's documents. The driver obliged.One was a border-crossing card, issued by the Immigration and Naturalization Service, that allowed Mexicans living close to the border to cross back and forth for errands and jobs.The other document identified the driver as an agent of the Federal Security Directorate, or DFS, a powerful — and phantasmagorically corrupt — branch of Mexico's federal law enforcement. For Ramirez, this didn't prove the man was a cop. The DFS was notorious for its connections to drug traffickers, and its agents were known to hand out fake badges to the smugglers they worked with. But he couldn't be sure the man wasn't a cop.Ramirez asked the man if he had any weapons, and the driver said no, no guns. But peering into the Marquis, Ramirez could see a box of ammo sitting on the passenger seat, clear as day. He asked again. No weapons? You sure about that?David Ramirez (r); John Moore/Getty Images; Rachel Mendelson/InsiderThe driver made no attempt to keep the lie going and admitted that, sure, he had a small gun in the trunk. On Ramirez' orders, the driver opened the door and walked around to the rear to pop the trunk. The "small gun" turned out to be a loaded AR-15 assault rifle.Ramirez eyed the driver more closely now. He stood about six feet tall, trim and lanky, and dressed like a well-heeled cowboy, with nice boots and well-fitting clothes. Despite everything, he seemed relaxed. Ramirez gave the driver a careful patdown and, finding no other weapons on him, escorted him back to the Border Patrol cruiser and directed him into the back seat, locking him in there but deciding not to place him in handcuffs, given the DFS badge."In any law enforcement, I would say there's a certain courtesy you give to [other] law enforcement," Ramirez told me. "As a young agent, I didn't really know how to deal with it. I was naive."The trainee took the keys to the Mercury and started back to the station at the Presidio-Ojinaga border. Ramirez followed. In the backseat, the driver sat – quiet, calm, no fuss.The man's name, according to his INS card and DFS badge, was Amado Carrillo Fuentes.The Lord of the Skies Within a decade of that traffic stop, Amado would be the most significant drug trafficker in Mexico. His knack for using airplanes to smuggle huge quantities of drugs earned him the nickname "el señor de los cielos," the Lord of the Skies, and, to this day, he is easily the most prolific and most powerful drug lord the country has ever seen. His would be a household name in Mexico and a curse on the lips of U.S. federal agents tasked with fighting the narcotics trade. Another two decades after that, he would feature prominently as the absurdly white-washed protagonist of the Netflix series Narcos: Mexico. But on the night David Ramirez encountered him on that desolate stretch of Highway 67, Amado was just one trafficker among many. Not a nobody, certainly, but his photo wouldn't yet be on any police bulletin boards, nor his name in any newspapers.Amado was then 28 years old, and for years he had found a comfortable niche for himself in the growing drug empire run by his uncle — a fearsome brute named Ernesto "Don Neto" Fonseca — Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo, and Rafael Caro Quintero. Like nearly all major drug traffickers of the era — including Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán Loera, who was born around the same time as Amado — they all hailed from the northwestern state of Sinaloa. But they ran their operation out of the city of Guadalajara, and became known as the Guadalajara cartel. As the demand for cocaine began to surge in the late 1970s and exploded in the early 1980s, most cocaine headed to the U.S. from Colombia, across the Caribbean, and into Florida. But as the DEA and the Coast Guard cracked down on that route, the Colombians needed a new way of getting drugs north The syndicate that Don Neto, Félix Gallardo, and Caro Quintero operated, which previously focused on heroin and marijuana and was well positioned to offer an alternative route to their new friends in Colombia, was busy forging contacts with Colombian cocaine suppliers. Within a few years, the Mexican traffickers had become an integral link in the chain that saw cocaine travel by air from its roots high in the Andes to labs in the jungles of Colombia to local smugglers in Mexico, and finally to an eager customer base in the United States. Using the staggering infusion of cash that came along with their new specialty in moving cocaine, the Guadalajara network was able to bring most of the major drug traffickers in Mexico under a unified protection racket negotiated by Félix Gallardo and overseen by the DFS and other federal police agencies.Amado, who was quickly gaining a reputation for being cool-headed and having a talent for forging political connections, played a key role in this transformation of the drug game, coordinating cargo planes, loaded down with hundreds — and later thousands — of kilos of coke, to clandestine air strips in northern Mexico.An act of supreme recklessnessEverything changed, however, just a few months before Amado was stopped in southwest Texas. In February 1985, a group of gunmen snatched a young DEA agent named Enrique "Kiki" Camarena off the streets of Guadalajara, tortured and murdered him along with a pilot who'd worked with the DEA, and dumped their bodies on a distant ranch. Amado Carrillo Fuentes (c). Henry Romero/Reuters; Rachel Mendelson/InsiderThe brutal kidnapping, torture, and murder of a U.S. federal agent was an act of supreme recklessness and the consequences were sweeping. By April, Don Neto and Caro Quintero were in prison, Félix Gallardo was in hiding, and the network they had carefully built and paid a fortune to protect was in disarray, cracking under the pressure of a vengeful United States, and the obligatory, if belated, efforts of Mexican cops. (Just this month, on July 15, Caro Quintero was arrested in Mexico in a joint U.S.-Mexican operation. In 2013, while serving a 40-year sentence for the murders, a Mexican court had ordered Caro Quintero released. U.S. officials immediately sought to re-arrest him, adding him to the FBI's Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list, but Caro Quintero went into hiding. During the operation on July 15, 14 marines died when their Black Hawk helicopter crashed outside the city of Los Mochis. A few days after the re-capture of Caro Quintero, in a seemingly unrelated move, Félix Gallardo officially trademarked his own name, apparently for a fashion brand.)Mid-level traffickers who were lucky or savvy enough to escape the dragnet exploited a sudden power vacuum and set up territorial fiefdoms, negotiating new protection pacts with corrupt officials and continuing to traffic all the cocaine, heroin, and marijuana that North Americans could sniff, shoot up?, or smoke.Amado was one of those survivors, but he couldn't stay in Guadalajara. So he headed to Ojinaga, just across the border from Presidio, Texas, where he joined forces with a rough-and-tumble smuggler named Pablo Acosta. The Wild West At the northern extreme of the Chihuahuan Desert and the southwest extreme of Texas, Presidio sits just east of Ojinaga — rather than the proverbial "north of the border," as the Rio Grande runs south there. Located just to the south and east lies Big Bend National Park, and with its canyons, culverts, and deep ravines scored into the earth over millennia, the landscape is such a godsend to smugglers of all kinds that it could almost seem as if it was created for that express purpose.   For as long as the border has divided Presidio and Ojinaga, this remote land has been a causeway for smugglers looking to take advantage of prohibition in the U.S. — first of alcohol, later of marijuana and heroin, and finally cocaine — and of Mexico's booming black market for illegally imported commercial goods that resulted from the country's high tariffs.David Ramirez, a native of of El Paso, arrived in Presidio in 1982, shortly after joining the Border Patrol. He could almost count his fellow agents on two hands, and together they were tasked with patrolling not only the port of entry, with its wooden, two lane bridge crossing the river, but also the vast desert landscape stretching out on either side. (It was still many years before the Border Patrol would morph into the veritable army that polices the border today, with its drones, seismic motion sensors, and agents more numerous than the armies of more than a dozen small nations.) "We often had no radio comms, and all of Big Bend [National Park] to deal with," Ramirez recalled. "It was like the Wild West."Ramirez and his fellow agents may have had the might of the U.S. government at their backs, but down in Presidio, with the drug trade in overdrive, they were tilting at windmills.It wasn't like they could rely much on the Mexican authorities across the border either. The dirty and not so well-kept secret of the drug trade in Mexico is that it is inextricably tied to and controlled by extra-official protection rackets run by corrupt members of the country's business, political, and judicial elite. Just like every other lucrative smuggling corridor along the border, Ojinaga was controlled by a local boss. For much of the 1970s, that person had been Manuel Carrasco; when he eventually ran afoul of too many people he fled town and with time — and after a few shootouts — control passed to an up-and-coming trafficker named Pablo Acosta. 'He's their guy'According to the journalist Terrence Poppa, who chronicled the rise and fall of Acosta in his 1991 book "Drug Lord," Acosta came to power in Ojinaga in the late 1970s or early 1980s, and by 1982 he was either directly involved with, or charging a tax on, all illegal merchandise flowing across the border.Acosta, like Amado, was treated to a sympathetic portrayal in Narcos: Mexico. The actor Gerardo Taraceno plays Acosta up as a sentimental, old-school cowboy — reckless and violent at times, sure, but living by a code of honor and harboring a sentimental streak to boot. This flies in the face of all available evidence. Poppa — and a number of sources I spoke with who either investigated Acosta or did business with him — said that the real-life Acosta was a brutal thug, quick to mete out violence and shocking cruelty against anyone he saw as a threat. He shot men down in the street in broad daylight, subjected people to brutal torture, and was said to have once strapped a rival to the back of his pickup truck and dragged him to his bloody, horrible death. And as the years wore on, Acosta grew ever more erratic, thanks in part to his growing number of enemies and also to his fondness for basuco, a crude cocaine paste that he sprinkled into cigarettes and smoked around the clock.He was, in other words, the polar opposite of Amado. Little is known of Amado and Acosta's working relationship, one the young face of the drug trade to come and the other the proud, battle-scarred avatar of what came before. Amado was there not to do Acosta's bidding but to look after the interests of his uncle's syndicate in Guadalajara, which was increasingly coordinating shipments of cocaine on behalf of the Colombians and moving it through Ojinaga. David Ramirez (r); Rachel Mendelson/InsiderOne player who had the opportunity — or misfortune — to see that dynamic up close was Don Henry Ford, Jr, a former drug trafficker working in the region in the '70s and '80s."Amado Carrillo was never working for Pablo Acosta, not for one fucking day," Ford told me. "He represents the big guys down there, the cartel, he's their guy."When Pablo Acosta was finally gunned down in a raid by Mexican police in the tiny village of his birth in 1987, rumors immediately proliferated that Amado had paid a corrupt police commander $1 million to take him out. Unrepentant cowboyIf Ramirez that night in 1985 saw the amiable, confident face that Amado showed when being detained, Don Henry Ford Jr., two years prior, saw something closer to the real Amado — the careful balance of friendly and ruthless with which Amado gained the trust of business partners and government benefactors, while rooting out potential traitors and rivals.Ford grew up on a Texas ranch a few hundred miles north of the border, but as his family's business started to fail in the late 1970s he began to drift down to Mexico, making trips back and forth across the border in search of easy money and unlimited weed."You may consider one side Mexico and one the U.S., but it ain't either. It's the border," Ford told me recently when I reached him by phone. "People in Presidio and Ojinaga have more in common with each other than with anyone in Washington or Mexico City."By the time I talked to him, Ford had been out of the drug game for decades. The beginning of the end had come in 1986 when he was arrested in Texas but then managed to escape and spend a year or so as an honest-to-god fugitive outlaw, laying low in a tiny communal ejido south of the border, guarding multi-ton shipments of Colombian weed in a cave with just a rifle by his side. In 1987, he was caught while moving about a hundred pounds of weed in southern Texas and ended up serving seven years of a 15-year sentence before being released on good behavior — after which he spent another few years under tight restrictions, pissing in a cup for his parole officer as many as three times a week. As much as he hated giving up those years to prison and parole, Ford knows how lucky he was: less than a year after his second arrest, in 1988, the US eliminated parole for federal offenses and introduced mandatory minimums for large-scale drug trafficking. If he'd been busted any later, he could have spent the rest of his life behind bars, as did many drug traffickers — particularly Black and Brown people — sentenced amid the drastic ramping up of the U.S. war on drugs.He put that life behind him — raised kids, raised cattle, and even put aside some land and a business to pass on to his children. But he still has the spark of an outlaw in his voice. Even his email address, which includes the words "unrepentant cowboy," makes clear that he remains resolutely nonconformist. The south Texas ranch where Ford spends his days is so remote that his cell phone barely gets a signal. When we spoke, his voice crackled out of earshot every time he moved in the wrong direction or when he sat down.Ford had a rather haphazard start as a drug trafficker, running into some greedy cops on his first trip to Mexico who were happy to relieve him of his seed money and send him packing. But before long he found a knack for the business, and developed a lucrative operation trading with a loose network of marijuana growers and wholesalers, trafficking hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of dollars in weed at a time.He did most of his business in the state of Coahuila, east of Acosta's territory in Chihuahua, where he could work without having to deal with Acosta, who he knew by reputation to be a fickle and violent man. Years later, Ford would find that out firsthand, when he was attacked by men he believes to have been working for Acosta, and interrogated at length by a man he believes to be Acosta himself. He believes it to have been Acosta because he was blindfolded, and Ford is not one to say things he's not 100% sure of. (I had to take Ford's word on this incident, as there's no record of it aside from Ford's memory of the experience, and Acosta is not around to confirm it.)But before his near-death encounter with Acosta, it was in Coahuila, in the home of his main connect, a guy named Oscar, that he first met Amado around 1983.Their first meeting was just in passing; Amado was one of several cowboy-looking guys milling about during a visit to the home of his partner, where Ford was visiting on one of his many trips south to score wholesale loads of weed. Amado was dressed, like the rest of the guys, in wide-cut polyester pants and the boots popular with Mexican cowboys with a high, slanted Spanish riding heel."He didn't look like anybody extraordinary at all, he looked like Oscar was giving him some work on the farm," Ford told me. "He wasn't wearing a bunch of gold jewelry and shit that would give away the sense of being wealthy. His boots were worn."For most of his career, Ford had stuck to marijuana. And even in the early years of the cocaine boom he said he could see the effect that the introduction of cocaine was having on the business of smuggling. Guys he had known to be sworn pacifists motivated by peace and love as much as money, began carrying weapons, acting all jittery."All of a sudden it was like Miami Vice," he recalled. But he wasn't so altruistic as to turn down good business, and it soon became clear to him that the real money was in cocaine. He wanted in. So he made some inquiries and was told the person to talk to was Amado — that quiet guy in cowboy boots he'd met once a while back.The meeting happened sometime in 1983, just Ford, his cousin, his partner Oscar, and Amado in a motel room in the city of Torreon, in the southern reaches of Coahuila. It started off well enough — like many meetings between drug traffickers, it was mostly a chance to size each other up. Amado brought with him some of the product he had on hand, and for a few hours, the wirey Texan and the Sinaloan trafficker hung out, drank, sniffed cocaine, and chatted pleasantly. Just as Ramirez would observe later, Ford recalled Amado as a smooth customer, calm and collected but friendly. Even a few drinks and a few lines deep, Amado kept his wits about him."He did a lot more listening than he did talking," Ford said.Ford liked that, and he told Amado that he didn't have any interest in working with a hothead like Acosta."I told him 'If you're like that, I don't wanna do business with you,'" Ford said. "I'm interested in fuckin' moving some drugs and making some money."Ford and Amado didn't make a deal that night, but Ford said they agreed to "something tentative." When it was time for Amado to go, but he left the remaining coke as a gift, more where that came from, and Ford and his cousin set about enjoying it.Rachel Mendelson/InsiderA few hours later, as they were trying to sleep off their coke jitters, there came a series of thunderous knocks on the door, bam-bam-bam, and chaos descended on them. A team of heavily armed men rushed into the hotel room. They wore no uniforms, but they moved with such trained precision that Ford immediately took them for cops of some sort. Over the next few hours, he said, they questioned the pair relentlessly."This motherfucker did this to see if I was a cop," Ford said. "He didn't trust us, and decided he was gonna find out who we were."He never saw Amado again.200 miles from El PasoTwo years or so after Ford met him in Torreon, Amado sat patiently in the Border Patrol station in Presidio with agent David Ramirez. The other driver, the one Amado had slowed down to let escape, had made it to the point of entry. His car was clean and, after showing his ID — along with a DFS badge like Amado's — the agents who spoke to him had nothing to charge him with, and let him cruise back into Mexico. (In an interview, Ramirez told me ruefully that he had written the man's name down in his notebook but later lost it, and the question of the man's identity piques his curiosity to this day.)As for Amado, Ramirez may not have caught him trafficking drugs in flagrante, nor had he proven any collusion with the driver of the pickup truck. But there was the AR-15 he'd found in the trunk. For a nonresident of the United States, it was a serious crime to be in possession of a loaded assault rifle. If charges were brought, it could have earned him a few solid years in a federal prison. No one knew it then, but that could have put a serious crimp in Amado's upward trajectory. But that wasn't the purview of the Border Patrol. If they were going to hold Amado, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms — 200 miles away in El Paso — would have to get involved. If they agreed, someone would have to come in from El Paso, a four-hour drive away, bring Amado back, and then take him to magistrate court in Pecos, another two-hour drive from El PasoRamirez made the call, and waited. In the meantime, in case Amado would be charged, Ramirez fingerprinted the suspect, and took a couple mugshots.By now it was around three in the morning. Amado had been pretty quiet as they drove into Presidio, but sitting in the Border Patrol station, he started to open up a bit more, chatting with Ramirez, even boasting a bit as they made small talk to kill time."The guy, once again, had not a worry in the world," Ramirez said. "Real easy guy, and you know it was strange, he offered a lot of info, like that his uncle was Don Neto and that Caro Quintero was his partner."It might seem strange that an experienced heavy in the drug trade would brag about his connections to a well-known trafficker like Don Neto and the notorious killer of a federal agent like Caro Quintero, but the code of silence only applies to the saps at the bottom of the totem pole, or to the civilians ensnared in the web of violence, corruption, and extortion that funnels money up to the bosses. For the guys making the real money, the relationship with law enforcement is a lot more fluid, with a lot more give and take. Perhaps Amado saw an opportunity to cultivate a contact, pocket a card that he could play at a later date. Or maybe he just knew that no ATF agents were getting their asses out of bed at three in the morning and driving all the way to Presidio and back to book him. Much more likely was that he'd be back in Mexico by sun-up no matter what he said to Ramirez.An hour passed, and then Ramirez got word from the Bureau that they weren't going to bother with this one. Coming all that distance to Presidio, it was too much trouble. So he let Amado go. Ramirez held on to the box of ammo, but Amado drove back into Mexico a free man with the illegal AR-15 in his trunk.'You can't live in what-ifs'Looking back to that night in Presidio in 1985, It's hard to fathom how it was possible that agents of the federal government had one of the top drug traffickers in Mexico in their custody and didn't even know it. But according to Ramirez, that was par for the course back then. "At that time, in that area, there was no intelligence collection. It was very primitive," he said. "We were patrol, we weren't really trained for intelligence gathering. Unfortunately that was the attitude back then."Ramirez doesn't pester himself much wondering how things might have gone if the ATF had bothered to haul Amado in. "He coulda done some time, sure," Ramirez replied when I pushed the point. "But you can't live in what-ifs."After that night in 1985, Ramirez would see Amado from time to time around town on the other side of the border. Ramirez would mostly avert his gaze so as not to make eye contact with the man whose night he'd ruined. He saw him at the border crossing too, and from the way Amado carried himself there, Ramirez said he could tell Amado had pull among Mexican officials."He was a charismatic kinda guy," Ramirez recalled. "He made friends with the inspectors there on the U.S. side, the Customs inspectors and the immigration inspectors, invited them to his ranch and they would go over and come back and tell about the cookouts and the time they had." One of the inspectors even invited Ramirez to the party. Ramirez politely declined.Whatever scrutiny caused him to flee Guadalajara did not appear to have followed Amado to Ojinaga, according to Ramirez. "He wasn't hiding! I mean he was out in the open," Ramirez said with some bemusement.In the years that followed, Amado continued to plot his deliberate, careful rise to power. That evening he spent with Ramirez would go down as his only known brush with US authorities — or at least the only one in which he was a suspected criminal rather than a guy asking Customs inspectors over for lunch. Alongside other major traffickers of his generation, like "El Chapo" in Sinaloa and Sonora and the Arellano-Félix brothers in Tijuana, Amado expertly navigated every power vacuum that presented itself — or triggered power vacuums himself. By the late 1980s Amado had moved his base of operations to Ciudad Juárez, the sprawling metropolis that sits across the river from El Paso, where the multiple ports of entry allow a far greater amount of train, truck, and car traffic — and contraband — than Ojinaga ever could. It was there that Amado truly came into his own, controlling organized crime in the city so tightly that normal, everyday street crime became a rarity, lest criminals incur the wrath of the henchmen tasked with keeping things quiet and orderly. David Ramirez had left Presidio as well, transferring to his hometown of El Paso, where he began doing undercover work investigating trafficking networks alongside Mexican cops. He saw firsthand the control that Amado exercised in the city.He even saw Amado once. Ramirez was in Juárez, eating breakfast with some Mexican colleagues, including a federal police commander, when who walks in but Amado, surrounded by a swarm of burly, heavily armed guards. Amado made a beeline for their table and greeted the commander warmly as Ramirez studied his food and preyed that he wouldn't be recognized. "I thought 'oh shoot, this is the guy I arrested!'" Ramirez recalled. "Everybody says they're looking for him, and he's right there!" Once again, though, Ramirez's hands were tied: no matter how much the U.S. might want its hands on Amado, he was out of reach in Mexico, where his massive web of bribes and political connections made him largely untouchable. Still, even if Ramirez's actions did nothing to stop Amado's rise to power, it wasn't all for naught.The Lord of the Skies is deadOn July 3, 1997, Amado Carrillo Fuentes entered Hospital Ángeles Santa Mónica in the ritzy Mexico City neighborhood of Polanco. Amado had had a rough time of it recently, and it would have shown, his voracious cocaine habit and relentless workload taking their toll on his face and his increasingly heavy frame. The hospital was under heavy security, with an entire wing shut down for the guest of honor's privacy. Reuters; Rachel Mendelson/InsiderAmado was by now the undisputed public face of the drug trade in Mexico, with mansions all over the country and countless men doing his bidding. Being the boss is great for a guy like Amado, but not if everyone knows it. In Juárez he and his henchmen had worked hard to keep his name out of the papers, intimidating and threatening journalists and even discouraging singers from composing narcocorridos, the norteño ballads penned in honor of prominent drug traffickers that form an important role in the folk history of organized crime in Mexico. But when you amass power and wealth like Amado had, you can only remain in the shadows for so long. Things had really taken a turn for Amado that February, when one of his most important guardian angels — General Jesús Héctor Gutierrez Rebollo, Mexico's drug czar  — was arrested and publicly accused of collaboration with Amado. Just a few months earlier, Guttierrez Rebollo had been feted in Washington, described by his American counterpart as "a guy of absolute, unquestioned integrity." So it was with a deeply embarrassed vengeance that the attention of both governments now trained itself on Amado.Amado knew as well as anyone that a drug lord's days are numbered as soon as he becomes a liability to the government. By multiple accounts, Amado started looking for an exit almost immediately. He bought property in Chile, moved money abroad, and was even rumored to have approached contacts in the government to offer a massive bribe in exchange for his freedom to retire in anonymity.On July 3, he checked in under a fake name at the hospital in Polanco to undergo plastic surgery to alter his features. (Or, it was rumored later, for a bit of liposuction. It may have been both.)He was never seen alive again.The next day, July 4, about two miles away from the hospital in the similarly posh Lomas Altas neighborhood, Fourth of July festivities were underway at the fortress-like mansion that was home to the U.S. Ambassador to Mexico. Diplomats and dignitaries, bureaucrats and spooks were spread out across the lawn, mingling with their spouses. Among the revelers were a handful of agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration, who, as Amado might have suspected, had been racing to pin down Amado before he could vanish.Their day off came to a sudden end when one of the DEA agents got a call. According to his source, Amado had succumbed to an overdose on the operating table and the body was headed for burial in his home state of Sinaloa.The call kicked off a furious race by U.S. and Mexican officials alike desperate to confirm the drug lord's death. Rumors were swirling that it was all a lie, that Amado couldn't possibly be dead, and to quiet this talk Mexican officials would a few days later take the extraordinary step of laying out Amado's body — puffy by now; his skin a ghastly grey-green — for a viewing at a government building in Mexico City, inviting journalists to show his corpse to the world.Meanwhile, a young intelligence officer for the DEA named Larry Villalobos was racking his brains to think of a way to confirm that the body was Amado's.Then it hit him: the fingerprints. Villalobos had worked for a while as a fingerprint technician with the FBI before joining the DEA, and, prior to his posting in Mexico City, he had been stationed at the DEA field office in El Paso, where he'd helped build a dossier on Amado. As part of his research, he had learned of Amado's brief detention by Border Patrol agent David Ramirez back in 1985, and he knew Ramirez had taken Amado's mugshot and fingerprints. Villalobos made some calls, and it wasn't long before Ramirez found himself awoken by the ring of his telephone. Amado may not have been worth getting out of bed for when Ramirez called the ATF back in 1985, but he sure was now.."They called me about 3 or 4 o'clock in the morning, wanting to know if I still had his prints," Ramirez recalled rather matter-of-factly. "So I dug 'em up and I sent 'em to him."In Mexico City, Villalobos received a fax of the prints and headed to the morgue to compare them with those belonging to the corpse.They were a match.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJul 22nd, 2022

Fiona Hill talks Ukraine, January 6, Trump, Republicans, and 2024: "We"re in a mess"

"It's a part of our democracy where we can all hold opposing views. That's important. Trump was not doing that," Hill told Insider Fiona Hill,arrives to testify before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on November 21, 2019.Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images Fiona Hill recently spoke to Insider about Ukraine, Putin, January 6, Trump, and more. Hill said the war in Ukraine has global ramifications and could spark conflicts elsewhere. She also issued dire warnings about the state of US democracy. As the top Russia expert on the National Security Council under the Trump administration, Fiona Hill had a front-row seat to Russian President Vladimir Putin's efforts to manipulate former President Donald Trump. Hill also watched Trump attempt to emulate autocrats like Putin. In 2019, Hill was thrown into the national spotlight as a key witness during the House impeachment inquiry into Trump's dealings with Ukraine.Insider recently spoke with Hill about the Ukraine war, Russia, Putin, the January 6 hearings, Trump, Republicans and the future of US democracy. The conversation revealed how all of these issues are tied together.Editor's Note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity. INSIDER: In November, you told me that Putin was "deadly serious" about neutralizing Ukraine. At the time, there was a fair amount of skepticism about whether Russia would actually invade. You were ultimately correct. But what's been most surprising to you about how the Ukraine war has unfolded so far? Hill: It was clear he was going to do something military to me — but it wasn't clear he was going to try for a full-on invasion. They went full-on, everything at once, which was a bit of a surprise. But I think that's kind of the surprise for Putin as well. They miscalculated, right? They obviously thought — the Russians, Putin, the people around him who planned this adventure with him — that this "special military operation" would be over in a matter of days. And it wasn't. Everyone's surprised by that. The Ukrainians are surprised by it, because they managed to fend it off. Clearly, Putin's surprised by it. But it was clearly because the planning was not for a full-on, full-scale, grinding war that we're seeing now. The surprising element for a lot of people is that it has gone beyond these confines of a much shorter, sharper conflict. It's obvious to all of us that [Putin] massively miscalculated.INSIDER: It's clear that there were major miscalculations here, and the early days of the war were fairly embarrassing for Russia and for Putin. But we're beginning to see Russia make progress in the eastern Donbas region. And the Russian economy, while not exactly in the best shape, has managed to stay afloat. Is the tide turning in Putin's favor?Hill: He wants us to think that. We have to be very careful about that. That's becoming kind of the conventional wisdom — that he can wait us out. It's that whole idea of time and tide. There's that old expression "time and tide wait for no man" — not even for Vladimir Putin. Because he wants us to basically capitulate at this point. He doesn't want this dragging on, either. So all of these statements that Putin is saying like "we haven't even started yet, the worst is yet to come," it's meant to have Ukraine and everybody else just sort of give up now. This is classical medieval siege mentality, right?This is a guy whose father went through the siege of Leningrad. He's thinking in siege-like mentalities, laying siege to all of us. Just basically saying, "I'm going to wait you all out. You cannot prevail because I've got all the time in the world." And that's just not true.The problem becomes one of maintaining the military equipment and everything over the longer term. They're going to be cannibalizing equipment.We're seeing them reverting back, not just to the tactics of earlier times, but the equipment of earlier times. Pulling lots of things out of the scrapyard or cold storage. There's a lot of speculation about how long it will take for them to replenish the equipment that's lost. Russia's got a lot of problems, and over the longer term.We see signs of desperation there in terms of just trying to bring more people in without having a full-on mobilization that would bring in the kids of elites in Moscow and St. Petersburg, etc.INSIDER: In light of these questions regarding whether Russia actually has the manpower and weaponry to continue waging this war in the long-term, where do you see this war going? What are Putin's objectives at this stage of the conflict? Hill: His objectives have not changed. Putin wants to find a way of subjugating Ukraine one way or another. He might take what he can get in the short-term and medium-term. One of the big risks is that if he manages to get some kind of nominal control of the Donbas — Donetsk and Luhansk. But then there might be some kind of effort to create an operational pause for regrouping.And then it just results in a renewal of conflict when the Russians feel that they're in a good position to press ahead again. There are going be ramifications from this war for a very long time. It's an epoch-making war in many respects. It's shaping a whole set of interactions. The war in Chechnya was very similar. For years that went on and it shaped a lot of the dynamics within Russia itself and in neighboring countries. The war in Ukraine has a global reach, global implications — with the food security, Russia's nuclear sabre rattling, Putin running around to Turkey and Iran and reaching out to China for support. This is a conflict already with global dimensions. INSIDER: Putin has offered a series of shifting justifications for the Ukraine war. He's portrayed it as an effort to reclaim lands that he views as historically Russian. He's also framed it as the beginning of the end of a US-led world order. What does he really believe?Hill: Both, because he thinks that the US is an imperial power that has been occupying Europe because it's an outside power. He says it all the time. He's been saying it for forever. The Soviets said it as well — that the US was alien to Europe.The US — we always think of ourselves as liberators, right? World I, World War II, coming in to liberate Europe from the destruction by Germany. And we did occupy Germany. We did occupy Europe. There were US bases all over the place. And there still are in the United Kingdom, Germany, and Italy, and other places. And the US military is present in NATO, etc. At the end of the Cold War, the Soviet Union/Russia was forced to pull out. Pulling its military back from everywhere. But the US didn't go anywhere. So that's the Putin argument the whole time — the US is an imperial power, we have to get rid of it. Really, what Putin wants to be is the dominant power in Europe.INSIDER: When we spoke in November, you said Putin had an upper hand over the West and the only way this would change was if there's a "collective, forceful, diplomatic response." Does Putin still have the upper hand?Hill: Putin was never so powerful as on February 22nd and 23rd, or in November when he was massing those forces and he was putting all this pressure and everybody's running around trying to appease him and placate him. And then he goes in and he does this. Then everyone has to respond to that and he loses that power of coercion and persuasion.INSIDER: Do you think that the West has the political will to maintain the support that Ukraine needs to withstand Russia? Hill: Well, Putin doesn't think we have. And we can nay-say ourselves into not having it, either. I think it's up to us. What's going on in Ukraine is much larger than Ukraine and Russia, or NATO or the European Union. The food security, knock-on effects of energy, the precedent Putin is setting for similar activities elsewhere. This is really one of those massively transformative conflicts now. People freak out when you use the idea of World War III, but it's that epoch-changing war. There's been many of them in European history. Putin's trying to basically say that all of the history of the past several centuries in Europe doesn't count. All that counts is Putin's version of events — that Ukraine belongs to Russia. What about all the other countries in the world that have come out of multiethnic states or empires?INSIDER: When you learn about the history of World War I in high school, they teach you about the "powder keg of Europe." All of the right elements were there for it to explode, but everyone seemed to be looking the other way. Is that the kind of moment we're in?Hill: We're in it. Look at what's happening with food security and famine. I've used the idea of Putin as the four horsemen of the apocalypse in some of my presentations.Death, famine, destruction, pestilence. This is what Putin's creating here, and it's now on a global scale.INSIDER: Do you think there's a real risk of direct conflict or fighting between the major powers? Hill: There's always a risk. There's a risk of this sparking off other conflicts, just like the Arab Spring did. The Arab spring was initially triggered off by food prices from food shortages and rising inflation and unemployment. And if Putin's war in Ukraine compounds problems we've already had from COVID and other things that are happening, that compounding effect can spark off conflicts in other places. It doesn't have to be between the great powers.I want to be very careful about this because, of course, Putin wants us to believe that this is a proxy war with NATO. He's telling everybody else it is, but it's a war of conquest. INSIDER: What are the stakes if Ukraine loses and Putin gets what he wants?Hill: The stakes are it helps make the case for China with Taiwan. We all worry about that. These things are all fused together now. There's also a real risk of a rift internationally. It's a different form of rift. It's not across Europe, but it's kind of globally with the West and then Russia with the rest. All the countries caught in the middle of all of this and all these sort of knock-on effects of realignments as a result. Is Russia going to reconstruct Ukraine? Hell no. What happens to Ukrainian agriculture? What happens to millions of Ukrainians stuck somewhere else?You just then take out of play, in the same way that Afghanistan and Iraq and other places were taken out of play, a very large country that was contributing a great deal to global markets, commodities, etc. The potash, the fertilizer, all the grain, sunflower oil, all kinds of things there. The weakening of Europe overall as a result of all of this. Russia becomes incredibly weakened over the longer term, too. A win for Putin is a pretty Pyrrhic victory. He'll take it. But everything that people have achieved in Russia in terms of building real businesses, all the steps Russia's taken forward in alleviating poverty, building up a private sector for the last 30 years — is out the window. INSIDER: And a win in Ukraine is really key to Putin's survival politically and maybe even existentially?Hill: Yes. This is why he's trying to tell us that time is on his side when actually it isn't really so much. INSIDER: President Joe Biden has repeatedly said there's a global fight between democracy and autocracy, and has presented the Ukraine war as part of this. Meanwhile, America's democracy isn't in the best shape. Have you been following the January 6 hearings? Do you think they're having an impact? Hill: Yes and yes. But it doesn't mean that everybody else is watching and is being persuaded.There's a lot of people who just won't believe it, no matter what's presented to them.We've become so polarized and partisan. Biden tried to tap toward the center and pull others together, but he hasn't succeeded. Maybe the argument could be that he couldn't possibly succeed given the weight of all the problems. There's just been so much polarization and it doesn't just date back to Trump, it dates back even further. But, of course, the way he handled all this made it infinitely worse. Biden couldn't possibly — against the backdrop of an ongoing pandemic and everything else that's happening — have turned this around. But we always expect that the silver bullet is going to come from the man in the White House, rather than from people doing things for themselves. I guess that's what the January 6 committee is trying to get across here. I personally think they've done a pretty good job. Liz Cheney, Adam Kinzinger, they're playing those roles, but not getting anybody to stand up as well. Liz Cheney has not stopped being a conservative or a Republican in her defense of our democracy. And it's been weird to see this support for her from Democrats when they probably disagree with her on pretty much every policy issue.But everybody should stand up. It's a part of our democracy where we can all hold opposing views. That's important. Trump was not doing that, he was just basically standing up for himself. And this is what's happening in the case of Putin and Russia. Where you get unchecked power, where there's no consultation, and there's no kind of system of checks and balances. When you get to a situation where there is no institutional check on someone's power, that's the kind of thing you get — somebody could then just declare war. If you got somebody like Trump — we all know that he was running around saying "bomb this person" — if he managed to stay in power and blast through all of the institutional checks and balances, we might be in that situation, too. INSIDER: In your book, you wrote that Trump may have paved the way for someone who's a little less insecure and more capable to "pull a Putin" in America. Based on the current political climate, how worried are you that someone will "pull a Putin" in the US in the near future?Hill: I'm very concerned about it.A lot of people are still running on the back of the lie that the January 6th committee has really tried very hard to refute. Some of the people who will run — and maybe most of those people beat Trump — have not refuted what he's said and never recognized Biden as a legitimate president. Some people have said that might have been our last fair election in 2020. And it's disastrous because that means that a portion of the population will always believe that whoever got elected is illegitimate. And that's a recipe for communal violence and ultimately we could end up in a civil conflict here. Maybe it's at the local level. Maybe it's not at the national level. Or it's inter-communal violence.It's like Northern Ireland. When trust in the different communities and authorities breaks down to such an extent that just people just start fighting with each other. We've already got it. We've already got that happening.INSIDER: Some academics have already said that the US is in a civil conflict or at least a slow-moving civil war. Do you agree?Hill: I've said that myself at times and I've dialed it back a bit. We've got a lot of communal violence. So, we're already kind of in that. But we may have just become ungovernable by many of the things that have happened here. I don't think we'd end up in the kind of conflict that we had between the states — the Union and the Confederacy — back in the day. But people's sense of the civil and civic ways of resolving disputes are out the window. When you get people storming the US Capitol or storming the capitol of different states, for example, thinking about taking the governor hostage, mass violence that's targeted — in some cases against racial groups like we saw Buffalo — this whole atmosphere where everyone's on edge and feeling that they need to resolve the disputes themselves, you're just in really big trouble. However you define it, you're in big trouble.When you go abroad, people just can't believe it. People say to me, "The US is out of control."Our leadership is really tarnished. And that will have negative effects on the US as well because we won't be able to press our interests and the interests of our population internationally.INSIDER: You've said that if Trump is elected again, it's the end of US democracy. But what if someone else who is Trumpian, and who has embraced his false statements on the election, wins in 2024? Hill: If any of these other people who want to present themselves as a Republican candidate win on that basis, it's equally as bad. And it's disastrous if Trump wins on that basis, but also anybody else who's basically helped enable this or perpetuate it and is tapping into it. I am not a partisan person, but it's a little bit hard to take a neutral stance. When I was in the UK, for example, people described the Republican party as a charismatic satanic death cult.[The GOP] seems to be trying to undermine democracy, at least a large number of its members do, particularly on the congressional side. INSIDER: A lot of experts have accused the GOP of embracing authoritarianism. Is the Republican party authoritarian?Hill: It's getting all the hallmarks. This is not the Republican party old. We can also be very critical of the Democrats, but the Democrats are not trying to undermine the overall democratic system. Right now it has to be said that the Republican party, the congressional Republican party, so it seems, so it would appear, is hellbent on undermining democracy to exert minority rule. My reading of the Constitution and all of the writings of the Founding Fathers is they were trying to prevent tyranny of all kinds — including the tyranny of the minority, not just the tyranny of the majority. And they never envisioned this kind of party over country, or individual in the case of Trump. He doesn't care about the Republican party. He says it doesn't exist. We're in a mess, but it doesn't mean to say that we have to be. And you know, that gets back to the whole point about the January 6th committee and how it's talked about more broadly and getting a bit of empathy back in politics.INSIDER: Are Democrats meeting the moment in terms of countering this assault on democracy?Hill: I don't think any of us are meeting the moment. We're all in this together. If we want to still have this democracy, we've all got to work at it. So yeah, they've got to step up, but the rest of us have got to step up as well. Everybody's individually got to think about what can they do in this moment, and really look at things long and hard about the kind of country that they want to live in. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytJul 16th, 2022

Shinzo Abe assassination as it happened: Party of the former prime minister dominates parliamentary election following his assassination

Abe, who stepped down in 2020, was shot during a campaign attack on Friday, July 8, 2022. A 41-year-old man was arrested at the scene. Former Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.Pool/Getty Images Shinzo Abe, Japan's former leader, is dead after being shot during a campaign event Friday, July 8, 2022. The assassination has shocked Japan, a nation with one of the world's lowest gun-crime rates. The suspect is said to have worked in the Japanese navy and had gun training. Japan's right-wing Liberal Democratic Party dominates parliamentary election following the assassination of Shinzo Abe, who led the party for 8 consecutive yearsFumio Kishida, Japan's prime minister and president of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), places a rose on an LDP candidate's name, to indicate a victory in the upper house election, at the party's headquarters in Tokyo, Japan, on Sunday, July 10, 2022.Toru Hanai / Pool/Anadolu Agency via Getty ImagesJapan's right-wing Liberal Democratic Party dominated the country's parliamentary election just two days after  former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was assassinated. On July 8, Abe was killed in the Western city of Nara during a campaign speech by a man who used a homemade gun.During Sunday's House of Councillors election, Kyodo News reported the LDP and its coalition partner Komeito secured more than 75 seats, giving the parties a majority in the 248-member upper chamber of parliament.Read Full StoryPossible Moonies link to the assassination of Shinzo Abe. Suspect was motivated by anger towards a religious group he blamed for mother's bankruptcy, reports say.Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam's Kilo Pier on December 27, 2016 in Honolulu, Hawaii.Kent Nishimura/Getty ImagesThe man arrested on suspicion of fatally shooting former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday might have been motivated by anger towards the controversial religious group known as the Moonies, reports say.Suspect Yamagami Tetsuya, 41, told investigators he believed the Japanese leader was linked to a religious group that he blamed for his mother's financial problems, according to Japanese newspaper The Mainichi Shimbun.Read Full StoryShinzo Abe's body arrives in Tokyo after he was fatally shotA hearse transporting the body of former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe arrives at his residence in Tokyo on July 9, 2022.Kazuhiro NOGI / AFPShinzo Abe's body was brought back to Tokyo on Saturday.The day prior, Abe was in Nara giving a campaign speech when he was shot by a former member of Japan's navy.Abe's body was carried in a black hearse as he arrived at his home in Shibuya where mourners lowered their heads as the vehicle passed. Killing shocks country unused to gun violenceThe assassination of a former prime minister is all the more shocking due to the rarity of gun violence in Japan."There could be some Japanese people who go their entire lives and never really handle a gun or see a gun in the open," Iain Overton, who runs Action on Armed Violence, a London-based research group that aims to reduce gun violence, told Insider."There is no fear of gun violence anywhere," Overton said. "There's no drive-by shootings, there's no road rage. There's no mass shootings in schools."In 2021, there was only one shooting death in the country.The man suspected of killing former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe used what appears to be a homemade gun. That's at least in part due to how difficult it is to legally own a gun in Japan, where a license requires testimonies from friends and family, as well as a background check and mental health exam.Read Full StoryBiden 'outraged' after Abe is assassinated at campaign eventPresident Joe BidenSTEFANI REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty ImagesPresident Joe Biden on Friday condemned the assassination of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.The US president said he is "stunned, outraged, and deeply saddened" by the 67-year-old's death during a campaign event in the western Japanese city of Nara."This is a tragedy for Japan and for all who knew him," Biden said in a statement. Read More Video shows the moment before Abe's assassinationStill from Japanese TV footage showing Shinzo Abe assassination suspect standing behind Abe moments before the shooting in Nara, western Japan, on July 8, 2022. Illustration by Insider.Nippon TV 24/InsiderVideos taken moments before Shinzo Abe's assassination show the shooting suspect standing closely behind the former Japanese leader with little visible security.The footage — which appeared to be from a bystander — showed a gunman walking slowly toward Abe, raising his gun and immediately firing two shots.Security guards tackled the man to the ground moments after the attack. He appeared to be wearing a grey shirt, cargo pants, and a white face mask.Police said the shooting suspect shot Abe from around 10 feet away using a homemade gun.Read Full StoryShinzo Abe assassination shocks Japan, which had one of the world's lowest rates of gun crimeFormer Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's assassination has shocked Japan, a country with one of the world's lowest rates of gun crime and strict laws around procuring firearms.This graph above shows Japan's firearm homicide rates between 1990 and 2019 compared to the US.People can't buy handguns in Japan, only shotguns and air rifles, as Insider previously reported.Procuring those weapons also requires a number of steps, including passing a mental-health evaluation and a background check that includes interviews with friends and family.Read Full StoryShinzo Abe assassination suspect spent 3 years in the Japanese navy and had trained with gunsScreenshot from social-media video shows the moment gunfire rings out during Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's campaign speech in Nara, western Japan, on July 8, 2022.Takenobu Nakajima via ReutersJapanese police said they arrested a 41-year-old man on suspicion of attempted murder and seized a weapon, the Asahi Shimbun newspaper reported. NHK, citing defense-ministry sources, reported that the suspect worked for Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Force — or the Japanese navy — for three years until 2005, during which he was trained with guns.Read Full StoryShinzo Abe was only confirmed as speaker one day before event where he was killed, deepening questions around assassinationAbe after arriving for his speech in Nara, Japan, on July 8, 2022.Twitter @makichanman37 via ReutersFormer Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's campaign visit on Friday morning was only confirmed late the night before, the BBC reported. That detail raises questions about how his killer was able to act so quickly.Abe was giving a speech near a train station in the western city of Nara at around 11:30 a.m. local time when he was shot twice from behind.Police arrested a 41-year-old man at the scene and seized a weapon, the Asahi Shimbun newspaper said. Officials did not immediately suggest a motive or comment on any planning around the attack.Read Full StoryPhoto shows seemingly home-made gun used to kill AbeA still showing the gun purportedly used to shoot former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on July 8, 2022.NHKImages of the gun purportedly used to shoot former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe show a rudimentary, seemingly home-made device that nonetheless was able to kill.Japan's public broadcaster NHK broadcast images of the weapon seen lying on the road near the site of the attack. Other close-up images of the gun have spread across Japanese social media. The gun appears to be homemade and rudimentary: two metal barrels attached to a wooden board with black tape. It is is extremely hard to obtain guns in Japan, with the country boasting some of Asia's strictest gun laws. Handguns are banned and citizens can only buy shotguns and air rifles, pending a stringent background check.Read Full StoryShinzo Abe dead at 67Shinzo Abe in August 28, 2020.Frank Robichon/Pool/AFP/Getty ImagesFormer Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has died after being shot on the campaign trail. He was 67.He was shot around 11:30 a.m. local time Friday while giving a speech in Nara, a western Japanese city 35 kilometers south of Kyoto. He was immediately airlifted to Nara Medical University Hospital without vital signs of life, hospital officials told a Friday news conference. Abe had lost a lot of blood, and medics attempted to resuscitate him and give him blood transfusions, the officials said, per The Washington Post.He was confirmed dead at 5:03 p.m., the hospital said.Read Full StoryPhotos and videos show chaos on the scene following the attackFormer Japan PM Shinzo AbePhoto by KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP via Getty ImagesPhotos and videos circulating on Twitter captured the chaotic scene that unfolded after former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was shot during a campaign trail speech on Friday.He had been campaigning for Sunday's upper house election in the city of Nara in western Japan.A Twitter video using footage from Japanese public broadcaster NHK depicted what appears to be the moment Abe was shot.In the video, Abe can be seen giving a speech before two loud gunshots ring out. Within seconds, officials can be seen tackling a man in a grey shirt to the ground. The video then zooms in on what appears to be two cylinders wrapped in black tape on the ground.Read Full StoryDoctors are working 'very hard' to save Abe, current prime minister saysJapanese Prime Minister Fumio KishidaBehrouz Mehri, Pool/Getty ImagesJapanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said that doctors are working "very hard" to save former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's life after the latter was shot in Nara city on Friday.During a press conference, a visibly distraught Kishida said Abe was in "critical condition" and that he was praying for the former leader's survival."I would like to use the most extreme words available to condemn this act," Kishida added, describing the shooting as "barbaric."He said that all Japanese Cabinet members who were on the campaign trail ahead of Sunday's Upper House elections have been told to Tokyo.Read Full Story Political leaders from around the world shocked by the shooting, share reactionsFormer Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo AbePhoto by Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty ImagesCurrent and past political leaders from around the world have reacted with shock to the news of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's shooting on Friday.US Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel said he was "saddened" by the shooting and praised Abe for being "an unwavering ally" of the US. Meanwhile, Israeli Ambassador to Japan Gilad Cohen expressed his concern for Abe and commemorated the latter's commitment to building diplomacy between their nations. "One of Japan's leading leaders, Abe, was the driving force behind the building of today's friendly relations between Israel and Japan, and the strong bond between the two countries would not have been possible without his presence," Cohen tweeted.Former President Donald Trump also shared his thoughts on the incident, describing Abe as a "truly great man and leader.""He was a true friend of mine and, much more importantly, America. This is a tremendous blow to the wonderful people of Japan, who loved and admired him so much," said Trump in a post on his Truth Social platform.Insider took at some of the reactions from leaders worldwide to the incident.Read Full StoryFootage from scene shows security officers tackling man to the ground—BNO News (@BNONews) July 8, 2022Footage from NHK News showed security officers at the scene of Friday's shooting tackling a man to the ground.In the clip, two loud bangs can be heard before the officers are seen apprehending a man dressed in brown pants and a t-shirt. A zoomed-in shot also shows what appears to be a device comprised of two pipes wrapped in black tape lying on the road.According to local reports, a 41-year-old man was arrested at the scene over the incident.Read Full StoryAuthorities say Abe suffered a gunshot wound to his neck and has bleeding in his chestFormer Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe.Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty ImagesFormer Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe suffered a gunshot wound to the right side of his neck during Friday's attack, Kyodo News reported, citing information from Japan's Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications.Abe, who was airlifted to a hospital in Nara, also has "subcutaneous bleeding in his left chest," per the outlet.The former Japanese leader was shot on Friday while delivering a speech in Nara. Authorities have arrested a 41-year-old man in connection with the incident.Read Full StoryVideo shows Abe being airlifted to a hospital in Nara—Bloomberg Quicktake (@Quicktake) July 8, 2022A video tweeted by Bloomberg following the shooting of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday showed medical personnel transporting him to a hospital in Nara via helicopter.Read Full StoryFormer Japanese PM Shinzo Abe shotFormer Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe collapsed while making a speech in the city of Nara, around one hour from Kyoto, according to local media reports.Japanese news outlet NHK reported that Abe was seen falling to the ground bleeding at around 11.30 a.m. local time. NHK reported that its reporter heard a gunshot going off in the vicinity while Abe was speaking. The former prime minister appeared to be showing no vital signs after the attack, Kyodo News reported, citing information from the Japanese authorities.NHK shared what appeared to be a video of the scene, which showed chaos and smoke, and what looked to be people surrounding a prone Abe. Read Full StoryRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJul 11th, 2022

Some Amazon Sellers Are Dreading Prime Day

It's hard out there for an Amazon seller At the beginning of the pandemic, when people were shut inside indefinitely and shopping constantly, e-commerce seemed unstoppable. Brick-and-mortar stores were filing for bankruptcy after bankruptcy, and waves of analysts predicted that consumers would completely change how they shopped, moving permanently online. People like Mike Beckham, who sell products on Amazon, prepared for that change by ordering containers full of inventory—stainless steel drinkware, in his case—from Asia, to ensure he would have something for customers to buy. But the pandemic-driven e-commerce boom has slowed, and that’s causing a lot of pain for the companies—big and small—that could not have predicted that the end would come so soon. Now, as Amazon’s Prime Day—the two-day bonanza where sellers like Beckham offer big deals—approaches, those incorrect predictions mean that a lot of these companies selling you stuff are actually losing money on the deal. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] Read more: The Surprising Thing That Could Help Ease Inflation “I feel like I’m on the front lines of retail Armageddon,” says Beckham, CEO of the company Simple Modern. “Mid-2020 to 2021 was the easiest time to be in e-commerce because there was just so much demand, and such a captive audience. From mid-2021 to now is probably the toughest year I’ve ever seen.” The slowdown is affecting Amazon, too. Last quarter, Amazon experienced its slowest quarter of revenue growth in 21 years, and its share price is down 32% year to date. The company spent big to double its warehouse space over the past two years just in time for demand to slow. But Amazon has a slew of other money-making businesses, including Amazon Web Services, meaning it can afford to lose money in its e-commerce business. The third-party sellers like Beckham who make up nearly two-thirds of Amazon sales don’t have that luxury. “They’re all victims of increased expectations based on what happened in the pandemic,” says Andrew Lipsman, principal analyst covering retail and e-commerce at Insider Intelligence. E-commerce sales jumped a whopping 36% from 2019 to 2020, and then grew 18% the next year, according to Insider Intelligence. In 2022, Lipsman predicts they will grow slower than 10% for the first time in years. It would be one thing if consumer demand were just slowing. That’s something all retailers have to face. But Amazon sellers are facing an influx of costs. That’s partly because the e-commerce giant raised fees in January, February, and April of this year, and then in May added an extra fee for items that had been sitting around too long in warehouses. It’s also because 2020 made e-commerce seem like such a sure bet that more than 200,000 new sellers from around the world joined Amazon in 2020, a 45% increase from 2019. All those new sellers drove up advertising rates, since they were competing for limited spots. And they competed for customers, trying to offer the lowest prices even as their costs rose. “Sellers are increasingly feeling the squeeze from all ends, given the heightened competition in the marketplace, rising ad costs, rising input costs, and a softening e-commerce market,” Lipsman says. Typically, retailers figure out how much stuff to order based on how much shoppers bought in previous years and the trends of the previous few quarters. But the pandemic changed shopping so abruptly that “you’re pretty much flying blind,” says Beckham. “No one had any idea what to expect. Nobody has any sense of how long we’re in this alternative universe—it’s not just COVID, but also that people are buying different things than they did.” The pandemic-induced retail bonanza also contributed to the transportation nightmares that clogged shipping lanes and idled trucks at ports. Third-party sellers and big retailers like Target and Walmart who ordered more and more to satiate consumer demand couldn’t get it to the U.S. fast enough. Scared of missing what they were sure would be a lucrative holiday season in 2021, they paid tens of thousands of dollars to get their products to warehouses on time. But then, of course, consumer demand started to slow, as inflation took a bigger bite out of Americans’ paychecks. Retail sales actually fell in December of 2021, which is unusual for the holiday season. As a result, Amazon sellers were left with warehouses full of products no one wanted. “At one point we had too many jars of [the toy] Brain Flakes that we just had pallets and pallets literally in our office against the wall,” says Mike Molson Hart, the CEO of Viahart, which sells toys on Amazon. “We had kickboards stacked up three, four pallets high.” The excess inventory is one of the biggest problems Amazon sellers are dealing with right now, since storing stuff that consumers don’t want is prohibitively expensive. Getting rid of goods often means forking over more money to Amazon, to pay for advertising or influencer marketing. Read more: Why Is Everything More Expensive Right Now? Let This Stuffed Giraffe Explain Kea Babies, which sells baby products online, ran out of inventory in May of 2020, and dramatically upped its orders to compensate, says Ivan Ong, the company’s co-founder. Now, Kea Babies is overstocked on everything, incurring $300,000 in extra storage fees in the fourth quarter of last year. Warehousing in Los Angeles, where its products are stored, is about $40 a pallet, so the company is paying to move its stock to Las Vegas, where storage costs are lower. The company also ended up paying a liquidator to get rid of some products. Kea Babies is running sales on Prime Day to get rid of some of its extra stuff, but that can be a losing proposition for many companies. Molson Hart, the Viahart owner, says that increased costs this year mean that Prime Day deals wouldn’t be profitable for him. For instance, he has a year and a half supply of a game called Goodminton, but has already lowered the price to $10.99 from $12.99 per unit, even as Viahart’s costs went up about 30%. In 2020, Molson Hart made $4 gross profit for each Goodminton set; this year, he is making 84 cents, before expenses.   Courtesy of Mike Molson Hart Viahart’s warehouse has many years supply of some toys and games because of the shopping slowdown. “Our margins are getting compressed, we’re making less and less money, and so if we want to use Prime Day to clear that stock, we basically have to lose money,” he says. Molson Hart predicts a lot of third-party sellers will go out of business, or quit Amazon altogether. That could lead to a worse shopping experience on Amazon, says Lipsman, the retail analyst. Without as much competition between sellers, shoppers may see higher prices, more advertising, and fewer products in stock. “I’ve personally done some searches where the sponsor results have misdirected me towards products that did not have the features that I wanted,” Lipsman says. “The consumer experience, in some respects, has degraded.”” It doesn’t help sellers that Amazon has raised fees as its own sales slowed. In its most recent earnings call, chief financial officer Brian Olavsky said the company was passing on more costs to third-party sellers to offset inflation. Amazon increased the fulfillment fees it charges sellers in January. It raised storage fees in February. In April, it added a 5% fuel and inflation surcharge. And beginning in May, it introduced an “aged inventory surcharge” that adds costs for products that have been in warehouses for 271 days to a year. The fuel and inflation surcharge is temporary, the company said in a statement provided to TIME, and the other increases are just a part of Amazon’s annual fee changes. Amazon says it is launching more programs to help sellers succeed, and that fulfillment by Amazon is still 70% cheaper than other services offering two-day delivery. Still, the last six months have made some Amazon sellers question their future on the site. Brandon Young, who sells toys on Amazon and who also runs a class helping people sell goods on the site, says he thinks Amazon sellers are going to have a hard time competing with brick and mortar retailers like Walmart on cheaper goods. At the beginning of this year, Amazon changed the way it charges for shipping, so that light but bulky items cost significantly more. A toy bucket that used to cost $3.54 to ship now costs twice that, he says. So he’s had to raise prices. A bucket he sold for $11 now goes for $18, when it would go for $5 at Walmart. As a result, his sales on these types of products are down 80%. And it’s not just buckets. “I can come up with a number of products that are significantly down or dead compared to retail,” he says. (Amazon says it made the change to be consistent with industry standards, and that it affects a small number of products.) Pessimistic about short-term prospects on Amazon, sellers like Young are starting to go back into retail stores. Young, who says 99% of his sales are on Amazon, says it’s risky to depend so much on one site. So he’s reaching out to hundreds of small brick-and-mortar stores across the country. He’s also keeping his eye on the trend of live-streaming e-commerce, where Internet celebrities host a sales event and, in China, have sold billions of dollars worth of goods. That, not Amazon, may be the future of e-commerce, he believes. Read more: Andy Jassy on Figuring Out What’s Next for Amazon It may be hard for shoppers to imagine Amazon being replaced by anything, much less brick-and-mortar stores or Internet celebrities. But new trends in retail aren’t always easy to predict. A little more than two decades ago, Amazon’s business model was met with skepticism by some. The financial publication Barron’s ran a cover story headlined Amazon.BOMB at the time that proclaimed “the idea that Amazon founder and then CEO Jeff Bezos pioneered a new business paradigm is silly.” That not only proved to be wrong but also shows how hard it is to know how anyone will shop two decades from now, which companies will rise and fall, and how many containers full of stainless steel drinkware any company should order at any given time......»»

Category: topSource: timeJul 11th, 2022

Expert on White House chiefs of staff says Mark Meadows "absolutely owns" the title of "worst" chief in history after ex-aide"s damning testimony

Author Chris Wipple says that what Meadows and Trump did on January 6, 2021, makes the Nixon Watergate figures "look like choir boys." Then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows looks on in the Oval Office in April 2020.Evan Vucci/AP Chris Whipple says he stands by his view that Mark Meadows was the worst White House chief of staff. Whipple, who wrote about the post's history, says Meadows is worst than the infamous H.R. Haldeman. "The Watergate figures really look like choir boys compared to Trump, and Meadows, and their gang," Whipple said. Author Chris Whipple, who has interviewed dozens of White House chiefs of staff, said that Cassidy Hutchinson's shocking testimony before the House January 6 committee has made it abundantly clear that Mark Meadows is by far the "worst" White House chief of staff in history. In the wake of Hutchinson's damning testimony about her former boss' inaction around the Capitol riot, Whipple argued that not even Richard Nixon's Watergate cronies compare."It used to be a fairly stiff competition for the worst chief of staff in history, but Meadows absolutely owns it," Whipple told Insider in a Thursday interview of Trump's fourth chief.Hutchinson, a former top aide to Meadows, painted a jaw-dropping portrait of her boss appearing non-plussed by an insurrection unfolding just blocks away, an attack stoked by President Donald Trump's campaign to overturn the election."The rioters are getting really close. Have you talked with the president?" Hutchinson told the committee she asked Meadows as the riot was unfolding.According to Hutchinson, Meadows replied: "'No, he wants to be alone right now.'"Hutchinson further described repeated attempts to convince one of the most powerful people in America's government that he should be concerned about a violent attempt to storm the Capitol, where Meadows served four terms in the House. "I start to get frustrated because I sort of felt like I was looking at a bad car accident about to happen where you can't stop it but you want to be able to do something," she said. "I remember thinking in that moment, 'Mark needs to snap out of this and I don't know how to snap him out of this but he needs to care.'"This image, Whipple said, in particular, Meadows' muted response to the violence will become the lasting one of Meadows' legacy. "I used to think the defining lasting image of Mark Meadows would be mugging for Don Trump's Jr.'s video camera in the tent at the Ellipse right before Trump went out to incite a mob to attack the Capitol," Whipple said. "I now think the defining image of Meadows is the guy sitting on the couch in the White House chief's office scrolling through his phone while a violent mob attacks Capitol Police that day."During her testimony, Hutchinson often portrayed Meadows as sitting on his couch and scrolling through his phone. In one instance, she said, Meadows didn't look up as he mused that "things might get real, real bad on January 6."Calling Meadows the worst chief in history means elevating Trump's final chief over H. R. Haldeman, Nixon's chief of staff during the Watergate burglary and subsequent attempts at a cover-up. Haldeman, who served 18 months in prison for his role, dubbed himself Nixon's "son-of-a-bitch."Mark Meadows struggled even in an admittedly tough role, Whipple says.Then-Acting White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and Cassidy Hutchinson, one of his top aides, walk through the Capitol in March 2020.Chip Somodevilla/Getty ImagesWhipple said it's even more clear to him, following Hutchinson's testimony, that Meadows was far worse than Haldeman. The extent of what the public knows about Meadows' conduct has only grown since the January 2021 Washington Post op-ed where Whipple first declared that he was the worst chief in history."The Watergate figures really look like choir boys compared to Trump, and Meadows, and their gang," Whipple said. "That was before now the most serious political scandal in American political history, but it pales in comparison to a president who sends an armed mob against the Capitol knowing that they are armed, knowing that there will be violence. And with a chief of staff who at best just shrugs and looks the other way and at worst was a co-conspirator."A spokesperson for Meadows did not respond to Insider's request for comment. In a statement to NBC News, Ben Williamson, a former aide to Meadows, who is now Meadows' spokesman, disputed any notion that Meadows didn't care about the attack on the Capitol."I've worked for Mark Meadows for 7 years — any suggestion he didn't care is ludicrous," Williamson wrote in a text message to NBC earlier this week. "And if the committee actually wanted answers as to that question, they could've played my interview where I outlined to them how Meadows immediately acted when I told him of initial violence at the Capitol that day. They seem more interested in hearsay, speculation, and conjecture as a means of smearing people, and it's obvious why."Meadows initially cooperated with the January 6 committee's probe, turning over thousands of text messages that detail the extent to which lawmakers and even Fox News hosts pleaded with the White House to get Trump to calm the mob. But since then, Meadows has refused repeatedly to provide more documents or testify about the texts.  The House later held Meadows in contempt, though the Justice Department has reportedly determined it won't prosecute him for his refusal.Whipple wrote the literal book on White House chiefs of staff.ABC's George Stephanopoulos interviews author Chris Whipple in 2017Heidi Gutman/Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty ImagesWhipple literally wrote the book on what it's like to be the president's top aide. In "The Gatekeepers: How the White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency," Wipple traced the post's history starting with President Dwight D. Eisenhower's Sherman Adams, nicknamed the "Abominable No-Man."The job has only become more critical as the modern presidency has ballooned the size of the executive office. It can be so stressful that Dick Cheney blamed his first heart attack on the job. James A. Baker, who Whipple and other historians have argued was one of the most effective to ever hold the title, has said that only the president is more powerful than their chief."I've said oftentimes that being White House chief of staff is perhaps the second most powerful job in Washington, D.C. I think that's true. But so much depends upon your relationship with your present," Baker told NPR in 2017 during a  joint interview with Whipple.Trump went through more chiefs of staff than any other one-term president or even any president in just their first term. Whipple admits that those who took on the job faced "mission impossible" in placating a mercurial president. But even judged on this curve, Whipple says Meadows still falls woefully short."What he wanted is what he got ultimately in Mark Meadows, which is sycophant," Whipple said of Trump's approach to the job. "I think he was less a chief of staff than a kind of glad-handing maitre d' who tried to please Trump in every way. And, in fact, he told basically everybody what they wanted to hear, not just Trump. He was and is a spinless character and the polar opposite of the best chiefs."Other former Trump staffers have also gone after Meadows too. In her memoir, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway deemed that Meadows "did not match the moment" despite billing himself as a "chief's chief." Trump himself lashed out at the North Carolinian after Meadows wrote in his own book that Trump contracted COVID-19 before the first presidential debate. (Meadows spokesperson later claimed it was a misunderstanding about a false positive rapid test and that Trump didn't have COVID during the debate.)It's now up to President Joe Biden's administration to figure out how to respond to what the January 6 committee is uncovering . But Whipple doesn't expect this to be the end of what Americans learn about what really happened in the West Wing under Trump's watch.Reince Priebus, who had just left Trump's White House when "The Gatekeepers" was published, made a remark to Whipple that has proved eerily more prescient as time goes on."Take everything you've heard and multiply it by 50," Priebus said of the early heady days of the Trump administration. Whipple will write about Biden's presidency in the forthcoming "The Fight of His Life."Before this week, Whipple pointed out, few people even in Washington knew who Hutchinson was. "I have no doubt there is much more to emerge. Think about where we were on Monday as opposed to the end of the day Tuesday when Cassidy Hutchinson was finished," Whipple said. "I don't think we're at the end of the road by any means."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytJul 4th, 2022

Jan. 6 live updates: Trump rattles off a dozen livid social media posts as ex-aide gives explosive testimony to Jan. 6 panel

The House select committee is investigating the Capitol riot and the role Donald Trump and his allies played in trying to overturn the 2020 election. Lawmakers listen as an image of a Trump campaign donation banner is shown behind them during a House January 6 committee hearing.Susan Walsh/AP The House committee investigating the Capitol riot held a surprise hearing on Tuesday. Cassidy Hutchinson, an aide under former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, testified. Hutchinson said that Trump knew supporters were armed and even tried to get to the Capitol himself. Trump rattles off a dozen livid social media posts as ex-aide gives explosive testimony to Jan. 6 panelA trailer for a documentary that centers on Trump and January 6 was released by Discovery Plus.Seth Herald/Getty ImagesFormer President Donald Trump on Tuesday unleashed a dozen social media posts in the wake of the testimony of a former top White House aide before the January 6 committee, calling the staffer a "total phony," "third rate social climber' and suggesting she was a "whacko" because of her handwriting."There is no cross examination of this so-called witness. This is a Kangaroo Court!" Trump wrote on his social media platform.In another post, he said that her "body language is that of a total bull…. artist. Fantasy Land!"Read MoreA former Trump White House chief of staff says the latest January 6 hearing provided 'stunning' new evidence of potential criminalityWASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 05: U.S. President Donald Trump (R) and Acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney (L) listen to comments during a luncheon with representatives of the United Nations Security Council, in the Cabinet Room at the White House on December 5, 2019 in Washington, DC.Mark Wilson/Getty ImagesTuesday's congressional hearing on the insurrection was a "very, very bad day" for the former president, former Trump White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said.The hearing featured a former White House aide testifying that Donald Trump knew some protesters were armed before they marched to the US Capitol — and that his own top advisors asked for pardons after the January 6 riot."A stunning 2 hours," Mulvaney, a onetime Trump loyalist, posted on Twitter following the testimony of Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to Mark Meadows, who succeeded Mulvaney as Trump's White House chief of staff.Keep ReadingA Capitol Police officer injured on January 6 said 'our own president set us up'US Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell wipes his eye as he watches a video being displayed during a House select committee hearing on the Jan. 6 attack on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, July 27, 2021.Jim Bourg/Pool via APA US Capitol Police officer injured during the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol told HuffPost's Igor Bobic "our own president set us up" during the sixth public hearing of the House commitee investigating the Capitol riot. Sgt. Aquilino Gonell, an Army veteran who was in the room during Tuesday's hearing, testified before Congress last year about the injuries he suffered while defending the Capitol. Gonell underwent surgery and was moved to desk duty as a result of the injuries he sustained to his foot and shoulder while being physically attacked by rioters during the Capitol siege."I just feel betrayed," Gonell told Bobic on Tuesday. "The president should be doing everything possible to help us and he didn't do it. He wanted to lead the mob and wanted to lead the crowd himself ... he wanted to be a tyrant." Read MoreCongressman says Trump sent police to the Capitol to be 'potentially slaughtered'Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as people try to storm the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.Brent Stirton/Getty ImagesDemocratic Rep. Ruben Gallego said US Capitol cops were 'sent to be potentially slaughtered' on January 6 after a former White House staffer gave stunning testimony that former President Donald Trump knew that protesters were armed and heading to the Capitol. "If it wasn't because of this brave 25-year-old woman, we wouldn't even know what was happening," the Arizona lawmaker told reporters at the hearing on Thursday, referring to Cassidy Hutchinson. "This is a very sad moment in our country right now."Read Full StoryFormer top White House aide says Trump's attacks on Pence 'disgusted' herFormer Trump White House aide Cassidy HutchinsonJacquelyn Martin/APFormer top Trump White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson said ex-President Donald Trump's attacks on then-Vice President Mike Pence during the Capitol riot "disgusted" her."I remember feeling frustrated, disappointed, and really, it felt personal, I was really sad," she testified when asked for her reaction to Trump's praise of the rioters on January 6, 2021. "As an American, I was disgusted. It was unpatriotic, it was un-American. We were watching the Capitol building get defaced over a lie." Read Full StoryLiz Cheney shares evidence of witness tampering at Jan. 6 hearingUS Representative Liz CheneyPhoto by OLIVIER DOULIERY/POOL/AFP via Getty ImagesJanuary 6 panel vice chair and GOP Rep. Liz Cheney shared two messages purportedly received by witnesses before their testimony that she said are signs of witness tampering.Cheney shared two messages that she said witnesses had received ahead of their depositions. The witnesses, who Cheney didn't name, subsequently shared the messages with the committee.In one, a witness received a phone call: "[A person] let me know you have your deposition tomorrow. He wants me to let you know that he's thinking about you. He knows you're loyal, and you're going to do the right thing when you go in for your deposition," the caller allegedly said.Witness tampering is a federal crime.Read MoreEx-White House aide said she wanted Mark Meadows to 'snap out of it' during Capitol riotFormer White House chief of staff Mark Meadows.AP Photo/Andrew HarnikTrump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows' former top aide testified that she wanted him to "snap out it" and pay attention to the chaos unfolding at the Capitol building on January 6, 2021.During her testimony before the January 6 committee, Cassidy Hutchinson said she saw Meadows on his couch on his phone as rioters stormed the Capitol building and fought with police.Hutchinson said she asked Meadows: "The rioters are getting really close. Have you talked with the president?"Meadows allegedly replied: "No, he wants to be alone right now."Read Full StoryRudy Giuliani and Mark Meadows both sought pardons from TrumpRudy Guiliani and Mark MeadowsGetty ImagesDonald Trump's lawyer and ex-mayor Rudy Giuliani as well as the president's Chief of Staff Mark Meadows both sought pardons after the Capitol riot on January 6, 2021.That's according to explosive testimony from Meadows' aide during a House hearing investigating the insurrection.Read Full Story Trump threw dishes and flipped tablecloths 'several times' while at the White House: former aideCassidy Hutchinson, a former top aide to Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, testifies before the January 6 committee in Washington, DC, on June 28, 2022.Brandon Bell/Getty ImagesFormer President Donald Trump's temper flared "several times" in the White House, a former top aide says, recounting how he threw dishes and flipped tablecloths in the White House dining room."There were several times throughout my tenure with the chief of staff that I was aware of him [Trump] either throwing dishes or flipping the tablecloth to let all the contents of the table go onto the floor and likely break or go everywhere," said former aide Cassidy Hutchinson.After one outburst, Hutchinson said she had to wipe ketchup off the wall.KEEP READINGFox News host: Trump throwing his lunch isn't 'wholly out of character'Fox News host Martha MacCallum downplayed new revelations about former President Donald Trump's violent outbursts while he attempted to overturn the 2020 election.Former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson testified that Trump threw a plate in the White House dining room after he found out former Attorney General Bill Barr publicly said there was no evidence of widespread voter fraud, leaving "ketchup dripping down the wall."MacCallum said the alleged outburst didn't sound "wholly out of character," even as a Fox News colleague called the revelations "stunning."Read Full StoryDonald Trump says he 'hardly' knows the former top aide who gave damning testimony against himDonald TrumpChet Strange/Getty ImagesFormer President Donald Trump called the ex-White House aide who gave damning testimony about his actions on January 6 "bad news" and said he "hardly" knew her."I hardly know who this person, Cassidy Hutchinson, is, other than I heard very negative things about her (a total phony and "leaker") ...," Trump wrote in part on his social media platform, Truth.Read Full StoryMike Flynn pleaded the 5th when asked whether the violence on January 6 was justifiedFormer National Security Advisor Michael Flynn at a campaign event in Brunswick, Ohio on April 21, 2022.Dustin Franz/Getty ImagesMike Flynn, a former 3-star general and Trump's national security advisor, waited over a minute before pleading the Fifth Amendment when asked if violence during the Capitol riot was justified.During a House panel on the insurrection, committee vice chair Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming aired a clip of Flynn appearing to struggle with the question.Flynn also refused to say whether he supported the peaceful transition of power.Read MoreTrump threw his lunch at the wall after Barr said there wasn't widespread voter fraud: ex-aideCassidy Hutchinson, a top former aide to Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, testifies during the sixth hearing by the House Select Committee on the January 6th insurrection in the Cannon House Office Building on June 28, 2022 in Washington, DC.Andrew Harnik-Pool/Getty ImagesA former top White House aide testified that ex-President Donald Trump threw his lunch at a wall after then-Attorney General Bill Barr told him there was no evidence of widespread voter fraud."There was ketchup dripping down the wall and there was a shattered porcelain plate on the floor," Cassidy Hutchinson testified on Tuesday before a House panel investigating the Captiol riot on January 6, 2021.Read Full StoryTrump said Mike Pence 'deserves it' as Capitol rioters chanted that he should be hung: ex-aideDonald Trump and former US Vice President Mike Pence in the Brady Briefing Room at the White House on April 2, 2020, in Washington, DC.MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty ImagesFormer President Donald Trump defended Capitol rioters who were chanting to hang Vice President Mike Pence during the Capitol riot, a top White House aide testified."Mike deserves it," Trump allegedly said, according to testimony from ex-aide Cassidy Hutchinson.Donald Trump also said that the rioters storming the Capitol building "weren't doing anything wrong." Read Full StoryEx-aide says top GOP Rep. Kevin McCarthy warned White House officials that Trump shouldn't go to the Capitol on January 6President Donald Trump (R) speaks as he joined by House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) (L) in the Rose Garden of the White House on January 4, 2019 in Washington, DC.Alex Wong/Getty ImagesFormer White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson testified that top House Republican Kevin McCarthy called White House advisors on January 6, 2021, warning that then-president Donald Trump should not come to the US Capitol.Hutchinson told a House panel that she got a call from McCarthy after Trump's speech on the Ellipse that day. McCarthy wasn't convinced that Trump wasn't planning to make his way to the Capitol building."Well, he just said it on stage, Cassidy. Figure it out. Don't come up here," she testified he said in the call.Read Full StoryTrump lunged at his driver and demanded to be taken to the Capitol on January 6.Former President Donald Trump.AP Photo/Joe MaioranaFormer President Donald Trump lunged at his driver and tried to grab the steering wheel on January 6, 2021, as he demanded to be taken to the Capitol building as his supporters were marching away from his speech that morning, a former aide testified.Cassidy Hutchinson, a former top aide to the then-White House chief of staff, told a House panel investigating the Capitol riot that a Secret Service agent relayed the story of what happened to her.Hutchinson said that Trump "said something to the effect of 'I'm the effing president, take me up to the Capitol now.' "Read Full StoryTrump knew the January 6 crowd was armed, but said 'they're not here to hurt me,' aide testifiesDonald TrumpSeth Herald/Getty ImagesA former White House aide said Donald Trump knew that his supporters were armed on January 6 hours before they stormed the Capitol building."I don't fucking care that they have weapons. They're not here to hurt me," Trump said the morning of the insurrection at the US Capitol, according to former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson.Hutchinson said Trump was incensed that there were gaps in the crowd of his speech on January 6.Read Full StoryTrump was 'fucking furious' armed supporters couldn't get to his speech: former aideFormer White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson.Brandon Bell/Getty ImagesAn ex-White House aide testified that President Donald Trump was "fucking furious" that people in the MAGA crowd weren't able to get to his speech on January 6, 2021 because they were carrying weapons.Trump was insistent that security remove the metal detectors outside the White House so more people with weapons could get into the grounds, former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson told the House panel investigating the insurrection.She also quoted the president as saying: "Take the fucking mags away. Let my people in. They can march to the Capitol from here."READ FULL STORY Feds seized John Eastman's phoneJohn Eastman testifies before the House Ways and Means Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 4, 2013.Charles Dharapak/APAnother big development emerged Monday in the widening federal criminal probe into Donald Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election.This one involves federal agents who seized the phone of John Eastman, a conservative lawyer who advised Trump during his failed bid to stop the inauguration of Joe Biden. Eastman made the feds' move public in a filing with a New Mexico federal court, seeking the return of property from the government.According to his filing, FBI agents acting on behalf of DOJ's internal watchdog stopped Eastman as he was leaving a restaurant in New Mexico on June 22, taking his phone.Read Full StoryCassidy Hutchinson in the spotlightCassidy Hutchinson’s testimony is shown during the fifth January 6 committee hearing on June 23, 2022.Demetrius Freeman-Pool/Getty ImagesCassidy Hutchinson is the surprise lead witness for Tuesday's sixth hearing of the House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection.The former top aide under then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows is a direct witness to many of the events and discussions of interest to the panel.She's given the committee several important pieces of information, including the six GOP House members who sought pardons from Trump and that the president told Meadows he agreed with rioters demands to "hang" Vice President Mike Pence.Read Full Story Select committee announces surprise hearing.January 6 committee chair Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi speaks to reporters following the committee’s fifth hearing on June 23, 2022.Brandon Bell/Getty ImagesThe Jan. 6 select committee announced it would hold a sixth hearing to start Tuesday at 1 p.m. ET during the congressional recess and despite previous statements that it would hold its next hearings in July.A committee advisory said it would present "recently obtained evidence" and feature witnesses, whom it did not name.Read Full StoryKamala Harris said she commended her vice presidential predecessor Mike Pence for 'courage' in certifying Biden as president despite Trump's pressureVice President Kamala Harris.Al Drago-Pool/Getty ImagesVice President Kamala Harris said Monday that she commended former Vice President Mike Pence for certifying Joe Biden as president on January 6 despite him facing tremendous pressure by former President Donald Trump to overturn the election. "I think that he did his job that day," Harris said in a CNN interview after reporter Dana Bash asked her whether her opinion of Pence had changed. "And I commend him for that because clearly it was under extraordinary circumstances that he should have not had to face. And I commend him for having the courage to do his job."This month the House Select Committee probing the January 6 Capitol attack has detailed how Trump tried to push Pence not to recognize Biden's victory in the days leading up to January 6, 2021. Trump wanted Pence to "send back" slates of electors for Biden back to their states in order to overturn his election loss. But Pence put out an open letter saying he didn't have the authority to take such actions, and his role in the certification process was largely ceremonial.Read Full StoryKevin McCarthy says it's 'all good' between him and Trump as the former president fumes about the lack of Republicans on the Jan. 6 committee: 'The right decision was the decision I made'Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and President Donald Trump.Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times/POOL/Getty ImagesHouse Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said on Monday that everything is good between him and Donald Trump as the former president publicly questions whether it was wise to keep more Republicans off of the House January 6 committee."The right decision was the decision I made," McCarthy told Fox News' Dana Perino. "If other people change their opinion, read the rules and I think they'll come back to the same conclusion." The former president and McCarthy have talked recently, according to the top House Republican. When Perino asked if things were "all good?" McCarthy responded, "Oh, all good. Yes."McCarthy repeated his long-held defense of the decision, arguing that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would have only selected Republicans that would have fit her views. The California Republican then named three of the 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Trump as examples of people Pelosi would have supported.Read Full StoryHow to watch the House January 6 committee hearings on the Capitol attackVideo featuring former President Donald Trump’s White House senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner is played during a hearing by the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol in the Cannon House Office Building on June 13, 2022 in Washington, DC. Stepien, who was scheduled to testify in person, was unable to attend due to a family emergency. The bipartisan committee, which has been gathering evidence for almost a year related to the January 6 attack at the U.S. Capitol, will present its findings in a series of televised hearings. On January 6, 2021, supporters of former President Donald Trump attacked the U.S. Capitol Building during an attempt to disrupt a congressional vote to confirm the electoral college win for President Joe Biden.Photo by Alex Wong/Getty ImagesThe House Select Committee Investigating the January 6 Insurrection at the US Capitol is bringing to light its findings from a year's worth of work with a series of public hearings this summer. The select committee, formed in May 2021, has nine members, seven Democrats, including Chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson, and two Republicans, Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger. Its members and staff have spent the past year conducting hundreds of closed-door interviews, poring over hundreds of thousands of documents, and parsing phone and email records to reconstruct how President Donald Trump and his allies sought to overturn his 2020 election loss before a mob of pro-Trump rioters breached the US Capitol in an effort to stop the final certification of the 2020 election. Five public hearings, including one in primetime, have already taken place, and one more hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, June 28. Read Full StoryJanuary 6 hearing takeaways: Pardon pleas, more Bill Barr, and a riveting account of how Trump turned to the Justice Department and a loyal lawyer to 'help legitimize his lies'TheBill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)Spanning more than two hours in the late afternoon, the House January 6 committee's fifth public hearing captured the drama that unfolded inside the Justice Department and White House as Trump looked to some of the country's most senior and important law enforcement officials to help him remain in power.READ FULL STORYMatt Gaetz 'personally' pushed for a pardon from Trump 'from the beginning of time up until today, for any and all things,' Trump officials testifyRepublican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida at the White House on May 8, 2020.Anna Moneymaker-Pool/Getty ImagesThe January 6 committee aired a series of video testimonies from former Trump administration officials detailing which Republican members of Congress sought pardons from former President Donald Trump at the end of his term as he and his allies exhausted different avenues to stay in power.Most prominently featured: Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida.According to various officials who spoke with the committee, Gaetz began pushing for a pardon well before other Republicans who were involved in the attempt to overturn the 2020 election."Mr. Gaetz was personally pushing for a pardon, and he was doing so since early December," said Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, in testimony aired by the committee on Thursday.READ FULL STORYFox News cut away from the Jan. 6 hearing minutes before testimony by Trump aides about GOP lawmakers who sought pardonsPlaque at the entrance to Fox News headquarters in New YorkErik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty ImagesJust as former Department of Justice Officials were detailing how they threatened to resign en masse if former President Donald Trump went ahead with his efforts to overturn the 2020 election results, Fox News cut away to air its previously scheduled talk show, "The Five."CNN and MSNBC aired the hearings in full, which ended with Rep. Adam Kinzinger listing six GOP lawmakers whom Trump aides testified sought pardons in the administration's final weeks.Other than the first of the five hearings so far, Fox News has carried the proceedings without commercial breaks, save for recesses during the proceedings.READ FULL STORYDOJ officials threatened to resign if Jeffrey Clark was appointed Attorney GeneralJeff ClarkYuri Gripas-Pool/Getty ImagesTop officials at the US Department of Justice threatened to resign if former President Donald Trump succeeded in making loyalist Jeff Clark the acting Attorney General, per testimony before the January 6 committee on Thursday.Richard Donoghue, former acting deputy attorney general, said that the pledge to resign was made on a phone call in the wake of reports that Trump was considering installing Clark, who at the time was promoting unfounded conspiracy theories about the 2020 election."They would resign en masse if the president made that change," Donoghue told the committee. "All without hesitation said they would resign."At least six GOP members of Congress sought pardons after January 6, 2021, per testimony from a former White House aideRep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., joined from left by Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, and Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., speaks at a news conference about the treatment of people being held in the District of Columbia jail who are charged with crimes in the Jan. 6 insurrection, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021.J. Scott Applewhite/APCassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, testified Wednesday before the January 6 House panel that at least six House members asked the White House for a pardon following the Capitol siege.According to Hutchinson, Republican Reps. Matt Gaetz of Florida, Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Mo Brooks of Alabama, Andy Biggs of Arizona, Louie Gohmert of Texas, and Scott Perry of Pennsylvania requested pardons.The former White House aide added that GOP Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio asked for an "update on whether the White House is going to pardon members of Congress" but did not personally ask for one.Keep Reading Trump suggested sending letter to states alleging 2020 election fraud, a former acting Attorney General Jeff Rosen testifiedFormer acting Attorney General Jeff Rosen has already testified about Trump's efforts to pressure DOJ.Yuri Gripas-Pool/Getty ImagesFormer acting Attorney General Jeff Rosen said on Thursday that then-President Donald Trump suggested that the Justice Department send letters to state legislatures in Georgia and other states alleging that there was voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election despite knowing there was no such evidence.Rosen told lawmakers on the House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection that during Trump's final days in office, the former president and his campaign suggested several strategies for the Justice Department to overturn the presidential election results. These tactics included filing a lawsuit with the Supreme Court, making public statements, and holding a press conference."The Justice Department declined all of those requests that I was just referencing because we did not think they were appropriate based on the facts and the law, as we understood," Rosen said.Read MoreA former Trump DOJ official testified that former President Donald Trump urged him and other officials to 'just say the election was corrupt'Notes from Richard Donoghue displayed at the January 6 committee's hearing on June 23, 2022.Screenshot / C-SPANThe January 6 committee on Thursday displayed scans of notes taken by Richard Donoghue, then the acting deputy attorney general serving out the final days of the Trump administration.One note, displayed as Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois led the committee's questioning, included an apparent plea from then-President Donald Trump to "just say the election was corrupt" and "leave the rest to me and the [Republican] congressmen."Read Full StoryBill Barr says he's 'not sure we would have had a transition at all' to Biden if DOJ hadn't investigated Trump's baseless voter fraud claimsFormer Attorney General Bill Barr and former President Donald TrumpDrew Angerer/Getty ImagesFormer Attorney General William Barr said he was "not sure we would have had a transition at all" if the Justice Department had not investigated Donald Trump's claims of widespread voter fraud and found them baseless.In a closed-door deposition, Barr suggested to the House committee investigating the January 6 attack that Trump might not have left office voluntarily if DOJ had not proactively examined the election fraud claims ahead of Joe Biden's inauguration. Read Full Story'You would be committing a felony'Eric Herschmann spoke to the Jan. 6 committee on Thursday.Senate Television via APFormer White House attorney Eric Herschmann told the committee that he brutally mocked a plan from a Trump loyalist to hijack control of the Justice Department in a last-ditch effort to overturn the 2020 election."And when he finished discussing what he planned on doing, I said, 'good, fucking, excuse me, f-ing, a-hole, congratulations you just admitted that your first step or act you would take as attorney general would be committing a felony and violating rule 6c," Herschmann told the panel, per an excerpt of his previously private deposition that was released on Thursday.Read Full Story  Fast times in the CapitolActor Sean Penn and DC Metropolitan Police Department officer Daniel Hodges at the January 6 committee hearing on Capitol Hill on June 23, 2022.AP Photo/Jacquelyn MartinSean Penn is in the House.The actor and well known Hollywood activist made an unexpected appearance at the fifth hearing of the House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection. "I'm just here to observe — just another citizen," Penn told a CNN reporter. "I think we all saw what happened on January 6 and now we're looking to see if justice comes on the other side of it."Read Full StoryLiz Cheney is mailing instructions to Democrats on how to change parties and vote for her in Wyoming's GOP primaryU.S. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) Vice Chairwoman of the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol, delivers remarks during a hearing on the January 6th investigation on June 9, 2022.Win McNamee/Getty ImagesAs Rep. Liz Cheney faces a tough reelection battle in Wyoming, she's turning to Democrats in her home state to help her chances in the August 16 Republican primary.Cheney's campaign has mailed instructions to Wyoming Democrats on how to change their party affiliation to vote for the incumbent congresswoman, The New York Times reported on Thursday. Under Wyoming law, voters must be registered as a Democrat or a Republican in order to vote in that party's primary election. Read Full StoryFeds search home of former top Trump DOJ officialJeff ClarkYuri Gripas-Pool/Getty ImagesWe've got a major development that surfaced Thursday into what appears to be a widening federal investigation into Donald Trump's bid to overturn the 2020 presidential election.Federal investigators on Wednesday searched the Northern Virginia home of Jeff Clark, a former top Justice Department official who became the go-to Trump ally trying to push DOJ into backing the then-president's baseless claims about voter fraud.ABC News first reported this, and a DOJ spokesperson has since confirmed to Insider's Ryan Barber that law enforcement activity did indeed happen in the Washington DC suburb where Clark lives. The spokesperson wouldn't comment on the nature of the activity or about any specific individuals.Expect to hear Clark's name a couple times or more during Thursday's House select committee hearing as the panel examines Trump's efforts to use DOJ in his bid to stop Joe Biden from being sworn in as the country's 46th president.Read Full Story#unprecedentedA trailer for a documentary that centers on Trump and January 6 was released by Discovery Plus.Seth Herald/Getty ImagesHere's something that doesn't show up on the internet very often: a 30-second trailer for a new three-part documentary taking people behind the scenes of Donald Trump's presidency and the January 6 insurrection.But that's exactly what landed online late Wednesday via Discovery+, which shows footage of the new series titled "Unprecedented." The clip features Trump and his adult children Ivanka, Donald Trump Jr., and Eric Trump and closes with the ex-president himself agreeing to discuss the riot at the US Capitol. —discovery+ (@discoveryplus) June 23, 2022House January 6 investigators have the documentary footage too, courtesy of a subpoena that Politico reported about. And Trump allies were apparently in the dark about the filming, with one texting Rolling Stone: "what the fuck is this?"Read Full Story Hearings to resume at 3 p.m. ET Thursday with testimony expected from former DOJ officialsFormer Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen.Yuri Gripas-Pool/Getty ImagesThe January 6 commission's fifth hearing is expected to start at 3 p.m. Thursday, with testimony expected from former Trump-administration Justice Department officials. They are:Jeffrey Rosen, former acting attorney generalRichard Donoghue, former acting deputy attorney generalSteven Engel, former assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal CounselRosen served as acting attorney general in the final weeks of Trump's presidency. He previously told the committee how he came under persistent pressure from Trump to have the DOJ back Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election, as Insider's C. Ryan Barber reported.Toward the end of his presidency, Trump considered ousting Rosen and installing Jeffrey Clark, a supporter of the bogus voter-fraud claims, in his place, but ultimately decided not to after officials threatened to resign if he went through.Analysis: Trump shot himself in the foot by opposing a bipartisan Jan. 6 commission because now he has no allies to defend him in scathing public hearingsLawmakers listen as an image of a Trump campaign donation banner is shown behind them during a House January 6 committee hearing.Susan Walsh/APAs the House's January 6 committee lays out in devastating detail Donald Trump's effort to overturn his defeat in the 2020 election, the former president is turning his anger on House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Trump has complained about McCarthy's decision to boycott the panel, with the former president telling the Punchbowl newsletter on Wednesday: "Republicans don't have a voice. They don't even have anything to say."But Trump has no one but himself to blame for the situation, one of his Republican critics pointed out, as he was the one who opposed the formation of a bipartisan commission equally split between Republicans and Democrats to investigate the riot. Read Full StoryTrump is hate-watching every Jan. 6 hearing and almost screams at the TV because he feels nobody is defending him, report saysDonald TrumpJoe Raedle/Getty ImagesFormer President Donald Trump is hate-watching the January 6 committee hearings, incensed because he believes nobody is defending him, according to The Washington Post.Trump is at "the point of about to scream at the TV" as he tunes in to each hearing, one unnamed close advisor told the paper. Another in his circle, also unnamed, told the paper that Trump continually complains that "there's no one to defend me" at the hearings, which have attracted huge amounts of media coverage.Per The Post, Trump's anger centers on House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who boycotted the committee at its formation, passing up the chance to put pro-Trump figures on the panel.Read Full StoryDOJ issued subpoenas to alleged fake Trump electors and a Trump campaign official, reports sayA general view shows a House January 6 committee hearing on Capitol Hill on June 9, 2022.Mandel Ngan/POOL/AFP via Getty ImagesThe Justice Department expanded its investigation into the Capitol riot after issuing subpoenas to a would-be Trump elector in Georgia and a Trump campaign official who worked in Arizona and New Mexico, The Washington Post and The New York Times reported Wednesday.Arizona, Georgia, and New Mexico are among the seven battleground states where a failed effort to overturn the election took place by appointing pro-Trump electors.The news comes after Rep. Adam Schiff said the House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection obtained evidence that former President Donald Trump was involved in the aforementioned scheme.Read Full StoryTrump aides didn't know someone was filming Trump on January 6 until the House committee got the footage: reportsPresident Donald Trump listens as Jared Kushner speaks in the Oval Office of the White House on September 11, 2020.Andrew Harnik/AP PhotoAides to Donald Trump had no idea a documentary maker filmed the former president on January 6, 2021, until the House committee investigating that day subpoenaed the footage, reports said. The existence of the footage by UK documentarian Alex Holder was first reported by Politico on Tuesday.The outlet said that Holder complied with the House committee request and handed over several months of footage of Trump up to and including January 6. The New York Times reported that many top Trump advisors were surprised by news of the project, which was known to only a small circle of close Trump aides.Read Full StoryIvanka Trump claimed to believe Trump's false voter-fraud theories but later told Jan. 6 panel she didn't, report saysIvanka Trump.Drew Angerer/Getty ImagesIvanka Trump claimed to believe former President Donald Trump's false voter-fraud theories in a December 2020 interview, directly contradicting her testimony to congressional investigators earlier this year, a new report says.In April 2022, Trump had told the House committee investigating the Capitol riot that she had "accepted" former Attorney General Bill Barr's assessment that Donald Trump's claims of election fraud were wrong.But according to The New York Times, Ivanka Trump told the documentary filmmaker Alex Holder on December 10, 2020 — nine days after Barr made the assessment that supposedly swayed her — that she supported her father's efforts to challenge the 2020 election results.She said Trump should "continue to fight" the 2020 election results because Americans were questioning the "sanctity of our elections."Read Full StoryElection worker testifies that conspiracy theorists tried to citizen's arrest her grandmother after lies from Trump, GiulianiWandrea "Shaye" Moss, a former Georgia election worker, is comforted by her mother Ruby Freeman, right, during the House January 6 committee's hearing.AP Photo/Jacquelyn MartinA Georgia election worker testified that her grandmother faced a citizen's arrest by a group of election deniers who tried pushing their way into her house due to election lies told by former President Donald Trump and former personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.Wandrea "Shaye" Moss, an election worker in Fulton County, Georgia, told lawmakers during a January 6 select committee hearing that she and her mother Ruby Freeman, who worked as a short-term election worker in 2020, were among the workers counting ballots at State Farm Arena in Atlanta. When Giuliani and Trump accused those workers of orchestrating election fraud, Moss said her family faced death threats and were pushed out of town, living in Airbnbs for two months around January 6 at the FBI's recommendation.Moss said she endured racist harassment as well, adding that a group of people influenced by the election conspiracies showed up to her grandmother's house and tried to perform a citizen's arrest.Read Full StoryWhere's Pat Cipollone?Former White House Counsel Pat CipolloneAlex Wong/Getty ImagesPaging Pat Cipollone.The former White House counsel under then-President Donald Trump is now front and center as a top witness the House committee investigating the January 6 insurrection still wants to hear from.That's according to Rep. Liz Cheney, who publicly called Tuesday for Cipollone to testify about evidence the committee has collected showing that he "tried to do what was right" as  Trump pushed to overturn the 2020 election.Cheney also noted that the House panel is also "certain" Trump doesn't want Cipollone to testify. His previous job as Trump's top White House attorney could complicate the matter, though as Insider's Ryan Barber points out in his story, Bill Barr did participate in its investigation.Read Full StorySexualized texts, a break-in and doxxingsGeorgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger is sworn in to testify on Tuesday before the House select committee investigating the January 6 attack on the US Capitol.Jacquelyn Martin/AP PhotoTuesday's House select committee featured jaw-dropping testimony from election officials who detailed the threats they faced after refusing to go along with then President Donald Trump's bid to overturn the 2020 election results.One big dose of it came from Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who explained how he received texts from all over the US and eventually his wife became a target of harassment too. "My wife started getting the texts and hers typically came in as sexualized texts, which were disgusting," Raffensperger said during his testimony before the January 6 committee. "You have to understand that Trish and I met in high school and we have been married over 40 years now. They started going after her I think to probably put pressure on me: 'Why don't you just quit and walk away?'" Raffensperger also testified about Trump supporters who broke into the home of his daughter-in-law, a widow with two children. And he said his phone and email were doxxed, meaning that someone had posted the number and email publicly so that people would message him. Read Full StoryDeath threatsWandrea ArShaye “Shaye” Moss, a former Georgia election worker, is sworn in before January 6 committee on June 21, 2022.Kevin Dietsch/Getty ImagesA Black former Georgia election worker delivered stark testimony on Tuesday about the racist and deadly threats that came when President Donald Trump publicly attacked her and her mother amid his drive to overturn the 2020 election results.Insider's Bryan Metzger has more on the remarks from Wandrea ArShaye "Shaye" Moss, a veteran election official in Fulton County who ended up on the receiving end of myriad threats after Rudy Giuliani specifically named her and her mom when speaking to the Georgia state Senate."They included threats, a lot of threats wishing death upon me," Moss said. "Telling me that, you know, I'll be in jail with my mother, and saying things like, 'Be glad it's 2020 and not 1920.'" Read Full Story'We were just kind of useful idiots'Former President Donald Trump speaks during a rally in Delaware, Ohio, on April 23, 2022.Drew Angerer/Getty Images"We were just kind of useful idiots, or rubes at that point."That's a quote from former Donald Trump 2020 campaign staffer Robert Sinner describing to the House January 6 investigators his displeasure with a scheme to overturn now-President Joe Biden's 2020 victory in Georgia.Sinner's remarks were broadcast in a video recording shown during Tuesday's select committee hearing, Insider's John Dorman reports.Read Full Story Suspicious package found outside House hearing roomThe House panel investigating the January 6 insurrection.Photo by Jabin Botsford-Pool/Getty ImagesThe House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection kept on going Tuesday despite a suspicious package being found right outside the hearing room where the panel was meeting.Insider's Lauren Frias reported that the US Capitol Police officials did issue an all-clear about an hour after first sending out its alert. The police advised staff and visitors on the premises to stay away from the area during the incident. A Fox News producer tweeted that the package appeared to be an unattended backpack on top of a walker outside of the House building.Read Full Story'Do not give that to him'Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and former Vice President Mike Pence.Drew Angerer and Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty ImagesGOP Sen. Ron Johnson sought to deliver a slate of "alternate" electors to then-Vice President Mike Pence ahead of the counting of votes during a Joint Session of Congress on January 6, 2021.That's according to a series of eye-catching text messages first displayed by the January 6 committee on Tuesday, Insider's Bryan Metzger reported."Johnson needs to hand something to VPOTUS please advise," Sean Riley, Johnson's chief of staff, wrote of the materials that were related to "alternate" electors from two contested Midwestern states that Democratic nominee Joe Biden had narrowly carried: Michigan and Wisconsin. "What is it?" replied Chris Hodgson, a legislative aide to Pence."Alternate slate of elector for MI and WI because archivist didn't receive them," Riley replied."Do not give that to him," Hodgson replied.Read Full StoryRudy admitted to not having election fraud evidenceRudy Giuliani, former lawyer for President Donald Trump.William B. Plowman/NBC/NBC Newswire/NBCUniversal via Getty ImagesRudy Giuliani admitted to not having any evidence of election fraud after the 2020 presidential election despite repeatedly claiming he did, according to the Republican speaker of the Arizona state House."My recollection, he said, 'We've got lots of theories, we just don't have the evidence,'" Russell "Rusty" Bowers, the Arizona official, said in describing a conversation with then-President Donald Trump's personal attorney.Bowers, a Trump supporter, was testifying on Tuesday before the House January 6 select committee to recount his interactions with Giuliani and the Trump legal team surrounding the events of the last presidential election.He called the Trump team "a tragic parody" and compared them to the 1971 comedy "The Gang Who Couldn't Shoot Straight."Read Full Story A very real threat to the 2022 midtermsCouy Griffin, a central figure in a New Mexico county's refusal to certify recent election results based on debunked conspiracy theories about voting machines, has avoided more jail time for joining the mob that attacked the US Capitol.AP Photo/Gemunu AmarasingheThe House select committee's January 6 hearings have spotlighted the very real threat to future US elections, including the midterms coming up this November.That's the big takeaway from a story by Insider's Grace Panetta published Tuesday that looks at how a court had to intercede after New Mexico county commission initially refused to certify results from the state's June 7 primary."The election denial movement pushed by Trump and his allies that spurred so many to attack the Capitol on January 6 has now fanned out to county commissions, town halls, and polling places around the country, presenting wholly novel burdens on election officials and new threats to the health of American democracy," Grace wrote.Read Full StoryTrump is ready to abandon attorney John Eastman after he was criticized in committee hearings, report saysJohn Eastman at a pro-Trump rally on January 6, 2021.Jim Bourg/ReutersFormer President Donald Trump sees no reason to defend the conservative attorney John Eastman, Rolling Stone reported.The decision the outlet relayed came in light of the heavy scrutiny of Eastman in the Congressional Jan. 6 committee hearings, which detailed his role helping Trump try to overturn the 2020 election.Eastman wrote a memo detailing a last-ditch plan for Vice President Mike Pence to block Joe Biden's certification as president on January 6, 2021, at the Congressional proceeding which was interrupted by the Capitol riot.Citing two sources close to Trump, the outlet reported that the committee's focus on Eastman in its public hearings had bothered Trump, and that Trump has started distancing himself from the attorney.READ FULL STORYFull list of witness testifying on June 21Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers is among those scheduled to testify in the committee's June 21 hearing.AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, FileInsider's Warren Rojas has a roster of those scheduled to appear in the committee's public hearings. See the full list below.Read Full StoryJan. 6 committee subpoenas filmmaker who interviewed Trump before and after the riotTrump speaks to supporters from the Ellipse near the White House on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC.Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty ImagesThe January 6 committee sent a subpoena to Alex Holder, a documentary filmmaker who interviewed Trump before and after the Capitol riot, Politico's Playbook newsletter reported Tuesday.The existence of this footage had never been reported before, and Holder is expected to fully cooperate with the panel, Playbook reported.Holder also spent several months interviewing members of Trump's family, including his children Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump, and Eric Trump, and his son-in-law Jared Kushner, Playbook reported.The subpoena asked Holder to provide any raw footage he might have from the Capitol riot and interviews with Trump, his family, and former Vice President Mike Pence, as well as any footage he has of discussions about voter fraud in the 2020 election.Trump boasts he's been impeached twice and screams 'nothing matters!' amid ongoing January 6 hearingsFormer President Donald Trump gives the keynote address at the Faith and Freedom Coalition during their annual conference on June 17, 2022, in Nashville, Tennessee.Seth Herald/Getty ImagesFormer President Donald Trump on Friday bragged that he was impeached twice, while recycling his false claims about the 2020 election and attacking former Vice President Mike Pence and former Attorney General William Barr.Delivering a speech to the Faith and Freedom Coalition in Nashville, the former president said Pence didn't have the courage to embrace his effort to overturn the election and mocked Barr for being "afraid" of getting impeached."What's wrong with being impeached? I got impeached twice and my poll numbers went up," Trump said.Read Full StoryGinni Thomas says she 'can't wait' to talk to Jan. 6 committee after it asks for interview over her efforts to overturn 2020 electionGinni ThomasChip Somodevilla/Getty ImagesGinni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, said she "can't wait' to talk to the House January 6 commission after it asked to interview her over her efforts to overturn the 2020 election."I can't wait to clear up misconceptions. I look forward to talking to them," Thomas told the right-wing news site The Daily Caller. She did not say what those misconceptions might be.Her comments come after the House Select Committee investigating the Capitol riot announced that it had requested an interview with her. Rep. Bennie Thompson, the committee's chairman, said the panel wanted to talk to her "soon," Axios reported.Thomas faces scrutiny over her connections to former President Donald Trump's attempts to overturn the 2020 election. Read Full StoryEven on the day of the Capitol riot, Rudy Giuliani was still doubtful if Mike Pence had the power to overturn the election, says ex-Trump lawyerRudy Giuliani.Jacquelyn Martin/APEric Herschmann, a former Trump White House lawyer, revealed on Thursday that even on the morning of the Capitol riot, Rudy Giuliani was still debating whether then-Vice President Mike Pence had the power to overturn the votes in the 2020 election. Herschmann's testimony was aired on Thursday during the third of six public hearings organized by the January 6 committee investigating the Capitol riot. Thursday's session centered on the pressure exerted by the Trump camp in a bid to get Pence to overturn the vote.Herschmann said he received a call "out of the blue" from Giuliani on the morning of January 6, 2021, concerning what Pence's role would be that day."And, you know, he was asking me my view and analysis and then the practical implications of it," Herschmann said, who described the call as an "intellectual discussion." "And when we finished, he said, like, 'I believe that, you know, you're probably right.'" Read Full StoryMike Pence's former lawyer said he warned Trump's camp that overturning votes would lead to the 2020 election being 'decided in the streets'Then-US President Donald Trump arrives with then- Vice President Mike Pence for a "Make America Great Again" rally in Michigan on November 2, 2020.PhoPhoto by Brendan Smialowski / AFP via Getty ImagesA lawyer for former Vice President Mike Pence said that he strongly disagreed with conservative lawyer John Eastman about the Trump camp's plan to overturn the 2020 election result and warned Eastman that it might lead to violence in the streets.Testifying on Thursday before the January 6 panel investigating the Capitol riot, Greg Jacob said he had spoken to Eastman on January 5, 2021. During their conversation, Jacob said he expressed his "vociferous disagreement" with the plan for Pence to overturn the electoral vote on behalf of former President Donald Trump and send the votes back to their respective states. "Among other things, if the courts did not step in to resolve this, there was nobody else to resolve it," Jacob testified. Read Full StoryDemocracy on the brinkPeople arrive before a hearing of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, June 16, 2022.Drew Angerer/Pool Photo via APAmerican democracy was on the brink like no time ever before.That's the lede paragraph from Insider's Grace Panetta in her story that sums up the biggest takeaways from Thursday's historic and marathon third public hearing of the House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the US Capitol.Grace writes that the two lead witnesses, Greg Jacob and Michael Luttig, were steeped in legal expertise and constitutional scholarship as they explained at a granular and methodical level why neither the Electoral Count Act nor the 12th Amendment permitted then-Vice President Mike Pence to unilaterally reject Electoral College votes for President-elect Joe Biden.Then-President Donald Trump and one of his personal legal advisors, John Eastman, were pushing the vice president to do exactly that in a break with all of US history. Read Full StoryMAGA world a "clear and present danger to American democracy"Michael Luttig, a retired federal judge who was an adviser to former Vice President Mike Pence, looks at Greg Jacob, former counsel to Vice President Mike Pence, as he testifies before the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, June 16, 2022.J. Scott Applewhite/AP PhotoFormer President Donald Trump and his supporters remain a "clear and present danger to American democracy."Those were the startling words of Michael Luttig, a retired federal judge who has long been championed by Republicans. He made them near the end of Thursday's marathon House select committee hearing into the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the US Capitol.Luttig, who advised then-Vice President Mike Pence about his ceremonial role on January 6, also went on to say Trump world is being more than blunt about its plans to manipulate the results of the next election for the White House. "The former president and his allies are executing that blueprint for 2024 in open and plain view of the American public," Luttig testified, per Insider's Warren Rojas. Read Full Story'1 more relatively minor violation' of election law...please?Former Trump legal adviser John EastmanAP Photo/Susan WalshIt's perhaps one of the biggest bombshells to come out of Thursday's House select committee hearing on the Capitol insurrection: a Trump lawyer putting in writing a request to break the law.The no-no came from John Eastman, who sent an email at 11:44 p.m. on the night of January 6, 2021, repeated his demand that Vice President Mike Pence halt the proceedings to certify the 2020 election and send it back to the states for a period of 10 days."So now that the precedent has been set that the Electoral Count Act is not quite so sacrosanct as was previously claimed, I implore you to consider one more relatively minor violation and adjourn for 10 days to allow the legislatures to finish their investigations, as well as to allow a full forensic audit of the massive amount of illegal activity that has occurred here," Eastman wrote to Pence lawyer Greg Jacob.Insider's Jake Lahut writes that the Eastman email was sent after Jacob and the then-vice president's staff and family, had been sheltering in place in a secure location during the riot.Read Full StoryEastman asked Giuliani to be added to Trump's pardon listJohn Eastman appeared onstage with Rudy Giuliani at the pro-Trump rally that preceded the January 6 attack on the Capitol.Jim Bourg/ReutersThe House panel investigating the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the Capitol made some news on Thursday by disclosing evidence that conservative lawyer John Eastman wanted to get added to lame-duck President Donald Trump's pardon list.Eastman was pushing to overturn the 2020 election, and as Insider's Oma Seddiq reports, his efforts prompted an email to personal Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani. "I've decided I should be on the pardon list, if that is still in the works," Eastman wrote  to Giuliani, according to Rep. Pete Aguilar, a lawmaker on the January 6 panel who read the email during Thursday's hearing. Eastman ultimately did not receive a pardon. Read Full StoryAides say Trump called Pence 'P-word' and 'wimp' on Jan. 6 callTrump and Pence at a White House event on July 13, 2020.AP Photo/Evan VucciThe language got pretty profane in the White House on the morning of January 6, 2021, Insider's Bryan Metzger reports.That's according to former aides who testified to the House select committee investigating the Capitol insurrection about a call then-President Donald Trump made to Mike Pence, his vice president."I remember hearing the word 'wimp'. Either he called him a wimp — I don't remember if he said, 'you are a wimp, you'll be a wimp' — wimp is the word I remember," said Nicholas Luna, a former assistant to Trump.Julie Radford, who served as Ivanka Trump's chief of staff, told the committee that Ivanka told her that the president "just had an upsetting conversation with the Vice President" in which he called Pence "the P-word."Read Full Story'Secret' MAGA back channel Jan. 6 investigators are teasing is also Oath Keepers' legal defenseStewart Rhodes, founder of the citizen militia group known as the Oath Keepers speaks during a rally outside the White House in Washington, on June 25, 2017.Susan Walsh/APThe House January 6 investigators keep on teasing how there'll soon be upcoming testimony that reveals secret coordination between Trumpworld and extremist groups.But as Insider's Laura Italiano points out in a new story, the Oath Keepers have long boasted of such a back channel.In fact, leader and founder Elmer Stewart Rhodes and other members of the pro-Trump militia are staking their seditious-conspiracy defense case on these yet-described communications with rally organizers.Read Full StoryCruz wanted the ex-judge testifying against Trump as a SCOTUS justiceRepublican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and retired Judge Michael Luttig.AP Photos/Manuel Balce Ceneta and Susan WalshThere's an interesting twist to the retired conservative federal Judge Michael Luttig testifying as a key witness in Thursday's January 6 committee hearing.Insider's Bryan Metzger dug up video from the 2016 GOP presidential primary debates showing Luttig was once named by Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas as an ideal Supreme Court nominee.—bryan metzger (@metzgov) June 16, 2022 Bryan writes that it was "yet another example of just how much former President Donald Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results has divided the conservative legal world."Read Full Story   DOJ: House's 'failure' to share transcripts hurting Jan. 6 investigationsTrump supporters clash with police and security forces as people try to storm the Capitol on January 6, 2021 in Washington.Brent Stirton/Getty ImagesMore public tension is emerging between the Justice Department and the House panel investigating the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the US Capitol.Insider's Ryan Barber has the details on a new letter sent Wednesday from the top US attorney in Washington DC to the House panel. There, the DOJ official says that the House panel has complicated criminal cases with its 'failure' to turn over interview transcripts to prosecutions.DOJ is looking for access to more than 1,000 interviews the congressional panel has conducted during its months-long examination of the Capitol attack and former President Donald Trump's effort to overturn the 2020 election.Read Full StoryJudge Luttig: If Pence tossed valid electoral votes it would have been 'a revolution'Michael Luttig, a retired federal judge who was an adviser to former Vice President Mike Pence, testifies Thursday to the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.AP Photo/Susan WalshSome really powerful testimony to start Thursday's January 6 select committee hearing from former federal judge J. Michael Luttig.In his opening remarks, he told the panel investigating the insurrection at the US Capitol that Vice President Mike Pence overturning the 2020 election would've pushed the country into 'the first constitutional crisis since the founding of the republic.'"That declaration of Donald Trump as the next president would have launched America into what I believe would have been tantamount to a revolution within a constitutional crisis in America which in my view would have been the first constitutional crisis since the founding of the Republic," Luttig told lawmakers during a hearing Thursday. Read Full StoryFormer Pence counsel says 'the law is not a plaything' for presidentsVice President Mike PenceScott J. Applewhite/APMike Pence's former counsel Greg Jacob is a lead witness in Thursday's third public hearing for the House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol.In his written statement submitted before the hearing, Jacob called serving the vice president "the honor of a lifetime," while also warning that the rule of law is "not a plaything" for political leaders to bend per their whim."The law is not a plaything for presidents or judges to use to remake the world in their preferred image," he wrote. "Our Constitution and our laws form the strong edifice within which our heartfelt policy disagreements are to be debated and decided."Insider's Grace Panetta has more on Jacob's testimony and spells out why he was a key figure in rebuffing the intense pressure campaign and efforts to compel Pence to obstruct or meddle with the count. Read Full StoryJanuary 6 committee says it will 'soon' seek interview with Ginni ThomasConservative activist Ginni Thomas and January 6 committee chair Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi.AP Photos/Susan Walsh and J. Scott ApplewhiteConservative activist Ginni Thomas, the wife of conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, should be expecting an interview request soon from the House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol."We think it's time that we, at some point, invite her to come talk to the committee," Rep. Bennie Thompson, the Democratic chair of the panel, told Axios' Andrew Solender. He added that the invitation would come "soon."Thomas has recently come under scrutiny for her role in seeking to overturn the 2020 election, including emailing Trump lawyer John Eastman and pressuring 29 state legislators in Arizona to overturn the state's 2020 election results.Read Full Story  Meet the former Trump attorney starring in the January 6 hearingEric Herschmann, former White House attorney, speaks with the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol on June 13, 2022.(House Select Committee via APAnyone remember Eric Herschmann? The White House attorney burst into the national spotlight defending President Donald Trump during his first Senate impeachment trial way back in the early pre-pandemic days of 2020.Now he's back, but for a very different reason.That's the story that Oma Seddiq just delivered for Insider readers ahead of Thursday's House January 6 hearing profiling Herschmann. He's been in the news as video clips make the rounds of his testimony where he talks about warning Trump and his allies after the presidential election that there was no proof the race was rigged and stolen, and their efforts may be illegal. In addition to his colorful language, Herschmann has drawn notice because he gave his deposition in a room with a baseball bat hanging on the wall and the word "JUSTICE" inscribed on it in bold, white letters. Observers also have noted a large painting behind him of a panda, by the artist Rob Pruitt, is similar to one that appeared in the 2015 erotic drama "50 Shades of Grey."Read Full StoryNick Quested explains how it felt to testify before the January 6 committeeBritish filmmaker Nick Queste.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJun 28th, 2022

Jan. 6 live updates: Trump defended Capitol rioters chanting to hang Pence, ex-aide testifies

The House select committee is investigating the Capitol riot and the role Donald Trump and his allies played in trying to overturn the 2020 election. Lawmakers listen as an image of a Trump campaign donation banner is shown behind them during a House January 6 committee hearing.Susan Walsh/AP The House committee investigating the Capitol riot is holding a surprise hearing at 1 p.m. ET Tuesday. Cassidy Hutchinson, an aide under former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, is testifying. Rudy Giuliani and Mark Meadows both wanted pardons after the Capitol riot, she said. Rudy Giuliani and Mark Meadows both sought pardons from TrumpRudy Guiliani and Mark MeadowsGetty ImagesDonald Trump's lawyer and ex-mayor Rudy Giuliani as well as the president's Chief of Staff Mark Meadows both sought pardons after the Capitol riot on January 6, 2021.That's according to explosive testimony from Meadows' aide during a House hearing investigating the insurrection.Read Full Story Trump threw dishes and flipped tablecloths 'several times' while at the White House: former aideCassidy Hutchinson, a former top aide to Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, testifies before the January 6 committee in Washington, DC, on June 28, 2022.Brandon Bell/Getty ImagesFormer President Donald Trump's temper flared "several times" in the White House, a former top aide says, recounting how he threw dishes and flipped tablecloths in the White House dining room."There were several times throughout my tenure with the chief of staff that I was aware of him [Trump] either throwing dishes or flipping the tablecloth to let all the contents of the table go onto the floor and likely break or go everywhere," said former aide Cassidy Hutchinson.After one outburst, Hutchinson said she had to wipe ketchup off the wall.KEEP READINGDonald Trump says he 'hardly' knows the former top aide who gave damning testimony against himDonald TrumpChet Strange/Getty ImagesFormer President Donald Trump called the ex-White House aide who gave damning testimony about his actions on January 6 "bad news" and said he "hardly" knew her."I hardly know who this person, Cassidy Hutchinson, is, other than I heard very negative things about her (a total phony and "leaker") ...," Trump wrote in part on his social media platform, Truth.Read Full StoryMike Flynn pleaded the 5th when asked whether the violence on January 6 was justifiedFormer National Security Advisor Michael Flynn at a campaign event in Brunswick, Ohio on April 21, 2022.Dustin Franz/Getty ImagesMike Flynn, a former 3-star general and Trump's national security advisor, waited over a minute before pleading the Fifth Amendment when asked if violence during the Capitol riot was justified.During a House panel on the insurrection, committee vice chair Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming aired a clip of Flynn appearing to struggle with the question.Flynn also refused to say whether he supported the peaceful transition of power.Read MoreTrump threw his lunch at the wall after Barr said there wasn't widespread voter fraud: ex-aideCassidy Hutchinson, a top former aide to Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, testifies during the sixth hearing by the House Select Committee on the January 6th insurrection in the Cannon House Office Building on June 28, 2022 in Washington, DC.Andrew Harnik-Pool/Getty ImagesA former top White House aide testified that ex-President Donald Trump threw his lunch at a wall after then-Attorney General Bill Barr told him there was no evidence of widespread voter fraud."There was ketchup dripping down the wall and there was a shattered porcelain plate on the floor," Cassidy Hutchinson testified on Tuesday before a House panel investigating the Captiol riot on January 6, 2021.Read Full StoryTrump said Mike Pence 'deserves it' as Capitol rioters chanted that he should be hung: ex-aideDonald Trump and former US Vice President Mike Pence in the Brady Briefing Room at the White House on April 2, 2020, in Washington, DC.MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty ImagesFormer President Donald Trump defended Capitol rioters who were chanting to hang Vice President Mike Pence during the Capitol riot, a top White House aide testified."Mike deserves it," Trump allegedly said, according to testimony from ex-aide Cassidy Hutchinson.Donald Trump also said that the rioters storming the Capitol building "weren't doing anything wrong." Read Full StoryEx-aide says top GOP Rep. Kevin McCarthy warned White House officials that Trump shouldn't go to the Capitol on January 6President Donald Trump (R) speaks as he joined by House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) (L) in the Rose Garden of the White House on January 4, 2019 in Washington, DC.Alex Wong/Getty ImagesFormer White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson testified that top House Republican Kevin McCarthy called White House advisors on January 6, 2021, warning that then-president Donald Trump should not come to the US Capitol.Hutchinson told a House panel that she got a call from McCarthy after Trump's speech on the Ellipse that day. McCarthy wasn't convinced that Trump wasn't planning to make his way to the Capitol building."Well, he just said it on stage, Cassidy. Figure it out. Don't come up here," she testified he said in the call.Read Full StoryTrump lunged at his driver and demanded to be taken to the Capitol on January 6.Former President Donald Trump.AP Photo/Joe MaioranaFormer President Donald Trump lunged at his driver and tried to grab the steering wheel on January 6, 2021, as he demanded to be taken to the Capitol building as his supporters were marching away from his speech that morning, a former aide testified.Cassidy Hutchinson, a former top aide to the then-White House chief of staff, told a House panel investigating the Capitol riot that a Secret Service agent relayed the story of what happened to her.Hutchinson said that Trump "said something to the effect of 'I'm the effing president, take me up to the Capitol now.' "Read Full StoryTrump knew the January 6 crowd was armed, but said 'they're not here to hurt me,' aide testifiesDonald TrumpSeth Herald/Getty ImagesA former White House aide said Donald Trump knew that his supporters were armed on January 6 hours before they stormed the Capitol building."I don't fucking care that they have weapons. They're not here to hurt me," Trump said the morning of the insurrection at the US Capitol, according to former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson.Hutchinson said Trump was incensed that there were gaps in the crowd of his speech on January 6.Read Full StoryTrump was 'fucking furious' armed supporters couldn't get to his speech: former aideFormer White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson.Brandon Bell/Getty ImagesAn ex-White House aide testified that President Donald Trump was "fucking furious" that people in the MAGA crowd weren't able to get to his speech on January 6, 2021 because they were carrying weapons.Trump was insistent that security remove the metal detectors outside the White House so more people with weapons could get into the grounds, former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson told the House panel investigating the insurrection.She also quoted the president as saying: "Take the fucking mags away. Let my people in. They can march to the Capitol from here."READ FULL STORY Feds seized John Eastman's phoneJohn Eastman testifies before the House Ways and Means Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 4, 2013.Charles Dharapak/APAnother big development emerged Monday in the widening federal criminal probe into Donald Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election.This one involves federal agents who seized the phone of John Eastman, a conservative lawyer who advised Trump during his failed bid to stop the inauguration of Joe Biden. Eastman made the feds' move public in a filing with a New Mexico federal court, seeking the return of property from the government.According to his filing, FBI agents acting on behalf of DOJ's internal watchdog stopped Eastman as he was leaving a restaurant in New Mexico on June 22, taking his phone.Read Full StoryCassidy Hutchinson in the spotlightCassidy Hutchinson’s testimony is shown during the fifth January 6 committee hearing on June 23, 2022.Demetrius Freeman-Pool/Getty ImagesCassidy Hutchinson is the surprise lead witness for Tuesday's sixth hearing of the House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection.The former top aide under then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows is a direct witness to many of the events and discussions of interest to the panel.She's given the committee several important pieces of information, including the six GOP House members who sought pardons from Trump and that the president told Meadows he agreed with rioters demands to "hang" Vice President Mike Pence.Read Full Story Select committee announces surprise hearing.January 6 committee chair Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi speaks to reporters following the committee’s fifth hearing on June 23, 2022.Brandon Bell/Getty ImagesThe Jan. 6 select committee announced it would hold a sixth hearing to start Tuesday at 1 p.m. ET during the congressional recess and despite previous statements that it would hold its next hearings in July.A committee advisory said it would present "recently obtained evidence" and feature witnesses, whom it did not name.Read Full StoryKamala Harris said she commended her vice presidential predecessor Mike Pence for 'courage' in certifying Biden as president despite Trump's pressureVice President Kamala Harris.Al Drago-Pool/Getty ImagesVice President Kamala Harris said Monday that she commended former Vice President Mike Pence for certifying Joe Biden as president on January 6 despite him facing tremendous pressure by former President Donald Trump to overturn the election. "I think that he did his job that day," Harris said in a CNN interview after reporter Dana Bash asked her whether her opinion of Pence had changed. "And I commend him for that because clearly it was under extraordinary circumstances that he should have not had to face. And I commend him for having the courage to do his job."This month the House Select Committee probing the January 6 Capitol attack has detailed how Trump tried to push Pence not to recognize Biden's victory in the days leading up to January 6, 2021. Trump wanted Pence to "send back" slates of electors for Biden back to their states in order to overturn his election loss. But Pence put out an open letter saying he didn't have the authority to take such actions, and his role in the certification process was largely ceremonial.Read Full StoryKevin McCarthy says it's 'all good' between him and Trump as the former president fumes about the lack of Republicans on the Jan. 6 committee: 'The right decision was the decision I made'Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and President Donald Trump.Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times/POOL/Getty ImagesHouse Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said on Monday that everything is good between him and Donald Trump as the former president publicly questions whether it was wise to keep more Republicans off of the House January 6 committee."The right decision was the decision I made," McCarthy told Fox News' Dana Perino. "If other people change their opinion, read the rules and I think they'll come back to the same conclusion." The former president and McCarthy have talked recently, according to the top House Republican. When Perino asked if things were "all good?" McCarthy responded, "Oh, all good. Yes."McCarthy repeated his long-held defense of the decision, arguing that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would have only selected Republicans that would have fit her views. The California Republican then named three of the 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Trump as examples of people Pelosi would have supported.Read Full StoryHow to watch the House January 6 committee hearings on the Capitol attackVideo featuring former President Donald Trump’s White House senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner is played during a hearing by the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol in the Cannon House Office Building on June 13, 2022 in Washington, DC. Stepien, who was scheduled to testify in person, was unable to attend due to a family emergency. The bipartisan committee, which has been gathering evidence for almost a year related to the January 6 attack at the U.S. Capitol, will present its findings in a series of televised hearings. On January 6, 2021, supporters of former President Donald Trump attacked the U.S. Capitol Building during an attempt to disrupt a congressional vote to confirm the electoral college win for President Joe Biden.Photo by Alex Wong/Getty ImagesThe House Select Committee Investigating the January 6 Insurrection at the US Capitol is bringing to light its findings from a year's worth of work with a series of public hearings this summer. The select committee, formed in May 2021, has nine members, seven Democrats, including Chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson, and two Republicans, Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger. Its members and staff have spent the past year conducting hundreds of closed-door interviews, poring over hundreds of thousands of documents, and parsing phone and email records to reconstruct how President Donald Trump and his allies sought to overturn his 2020 election loss before a mob of pro-Trump rioters breached the US Capitol in an effort to stop the final certification of the 2020 election. Five public hearings, including one in primetime, have already taken place, and one more hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, June 28. Read Full StoryJanuary 6 hearing takeaways: Pardon pleas, more Bill Barr, and a riveting account of how Trump turned to the Justice Department and a loyal lawyer to 'help legitimize his lies'TheBill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)Spanning more than two hours in the late afternoon, the House January 6 committee's fifth public hearing captured the drama that unfolded inside the Justice Department and White House as Trump looked to some of the country's most senior and important law enforcement officials to help him remain in power.READ FULL STORYMatt Gaetz 'personally' pushed for a pardon from Trump 'from the beginning of time up until today, for any and all things,' Trump officials testifyRepublican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida at the White House on May 8, 2020.Anna Moneymaker-Pool/Getty ImagesThe January 6 committee aired a series of video testimonies from former Trump administration officials detailing which Republican members of Congress sought pardons from former President Donald Trump at the end of his term as he and his allies exhausted different avenues to stay in power.Most prominently featured: Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida.According to various officials who spoke with the committee, Gaetz began pushing for a pardon well before other Republicans who were involved in the attempt to overturn the 2020 election."Mr. Gaetz was personally pushing for a pardon, and he was doing so since early December," said Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, in testimony aired by the committee on Thursday.READ FULL STORYFox News cut away from the Jan. 6 hearing minutes before testimony by Trump aides about GOP lawmakers who sought pardonsPlaque at the entrance to Fox News headquarters in New YorkErik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty ImagesJust as former Department of Justice Officials were detailing how they threatened to resign en masse if former President Donald Trump went ahead with his efforts to overturn the 2020 election results, Fox News cut away to air its previously scheduled talk show, "The Five."CNN and MSNBC aired the hearings in full, which ended with Rep. Adam Kinzinger listing six GOP lawmakers whom Trump aides testified sought pardons in the administration's final weeks.Other than the first of the five hearings so far, Fox News has carried the proceedings without commercial breaks, save for recesses during the proceedings.READ FULL STORYDOJ officials threatened to resign if Jeffrey Clark was appointed Attorney GeneralJeff ClarkYuri Gripas-Pool/Getty ImagesTop officials at the US Department of Justice threatened to resign if former President Donald Trump succeeded in making loyalist Jeff Clark the acting Attorney General, per testimony before the January 6 committee on Thursday.Richard Donoghue, former acting deputy attorney general, said that the pledge to resign was made on a phone call in the wake of reports that Trump was considering installing Clark, who at the time was promoting unfounded conspiracy theories about the 2020 election."They would resign en masse if the president made that change," Donoghue told the committee. "All without hesitation said they would resign."At least six GOP members of Congress sought pardons after January 6, 2021, per testimony from a former White House aideRep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., joined from left by Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, and Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., speaks at a news conference about the treatment of people being held in the District of Columbia jail who are charged with crimes in the Jan. 6 insurrection, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021.J. Scott Applewhite/APCassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, testified Wednesday before the January 6 House panel that at least six House members asked the White House for a pardon following the Capitol siege.According to Hutchinson, Republican Reps. Matt Gaetz of Florida, Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Mo Brooks of Alabama, Andy Biggs of Arizona, Louie Gohmert of Texas, and Scott Perry of Pennsylvania requested pardons.The former White House aide added that GOP Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio asked for an "update on whether the White House is going to pardon members of Congress" but did not personally ask for one.Keep Reading Trump suggested sending letter to states alleging 2020 election fraud, a former acting Attorney General Jeff Rosen testifiedFormer acting Attorney General Jeff Rosen has already testified about Trump's efforts to pressure DOJ.Yuri Gripas-Pool/Getty ImagesFormer acting Attorney General Jeff Rosen said on Thursday that then-President Donald Trump suggested that the Justice Department send letters to state legislatures in Georgia and other states alleging that there was voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election despite knowing there was no such evidence.Rosen told lawmakers on the House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection that during Trump's final days in office, the former president and his campaign suggested several strategies for the Justice Department to overturn the presidential election results. These tactics included filing a lawsuit with the Supreme Court, making public statements, and holding a press conference."The Justice Department declined all of those requests that I was just referencing because we did not think they were appropriate based on the facts and the law, as we understood," Rosen said.Read MoreA former Trump DOJ official testified that former President Donald Trump urged him and other officials to 'just say the election was corrupt'Notes from Richard Donoghue displayed at the January 6 committee's hearing on June 23, 2022.Screenshot / C-SPANThe January 6 committee on Thursday displayed scans of notes taken by Richard Donoghue, then the acting deputy attorney general serving out the final days of the Trump administration.One note, displayed as Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois led the committee's questioning, included an apparent plea from then-President Donald Trump to "just say the election was corrupt" and "leave the rest to me and the [Republican] congressmen."Read Full StoryBill Barr says he's 'not sure we would have had a transition at all' to Biden if DOJ hadn't investigated Trump's baseless voter fraud claimsFormer Attorney General Bill Barr and former President Donald TrumpDrew Angerer/Getty ImagesFormer Attorney General William Barr said he was "not sure we would have had a transition at all" if the Justice Department had not investigated Donald Trump's claims of widespread voter fraud and found them baseless.In a closed-door deposition, Barr suggested to the House committee investigating the January 6 attack that Trump might not have left office voluntarily if DOJ had not proactively examined the election fraud claims ahead of Joe Biden's inauguration. Read Full Story'You would be committing a felony'Eric Herschmann spoke to the Jan. 6 committee on Thursday.Senate Television via APFormer White House attorney Eric Herschmann told the committee that he brutally mocked a plan from a Trump loyalist to hijack control of the Justice Department in a last-ditch effort to overturn the 2020 election."And when he finished discussing what he planned on doing, I said, 'good, fucking, excuse me, f-ing, a-hole, congratulations you just admitted that your first step or act you would take as attorney general would be committing a felony and violating rule 6c," Herschmann told the panel, per an excerpt of his previously private deposition that was released on Thursday.Read Full Story  Fast times in the CapitolActor Sean Penn and DC Metropolitan Police Department officer Daniel Hodges at the January 6 committee hearing on Capitol Hill on June 23, 2022.AP Photo/Jacquelyn MartinSean Penn is in the House.The actor and well known Hollywood activist made an unexpected appearance at the fifth hearing of the House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection. "I'm just here to observe — just another citizen," Penn told a CNN reporter. "I think we all saw what happened on January 6 and now we're looking to see if justice comes on the other side of it."Read Full StoryLiz Cheney is mailing instructions to Democrats on how to change parties and vote for her in Wyoming's GOP primaryU.S. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) Vice Chairwoman of the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol, delivers remarks during a hearing on the January 6th investigation on June 9, 2022.Win McNamee/Getty ImagesAs Rep. Liz Cheney faces a tough reelection battle in Wyoming, she's turning to Democrats in her home state to help her chances in the August 16 Republican primary.Cheney's campaign has mailed instructions to Wyoming Democrats on how to change their party affiliation to vote for the incumbent congresswoman, The New York Times reported on Thursday. Under Wyoming law, voters must be registered as a Democrat or a Republican in order to vote in that party's primary election. Read Full StoryFeds search home of former top Trump DOJ officialJeff ClarkYuri Gripas-Pool/Getty ImagesWe've got a major development that surfaced Thursday into what appears to be a widening federal investigation into Donald Trump's bid to overturn the 2020 presidential election.Federal investigators on Wednesday searched the Northern Virginia home of Jeff Clark, a former top Justice Department official who became the go-to Trump ally trying to push DOJ into backing the then-president's baseless claims about voter fraud.ABC News first reported this, and a DOJ spokesperson has since confirmed to Insider's Ryan Barber that law enforcement activity did indeed happen in the Washington DC suburb where Clark lives. The spokesperson wouldn't comment on the nature of the activity or about any specific individuals.Expect to hear Clark's name a couple times or more during Thursday's House select committee hearing as the panel examines Trump's efforts to use DOJ in his bid to stop Joe Biden from being sworn in as the country's 46th president.Read Full Story#unprecedentedA trailer for a documentary that centers on Trump and January 6 was released by Discovery Plus.Seth Herald/Getty ImagesHere's something that doesn't show up on the internet very often: a 30-second trailer for a new three-part documentary taking people behind the scenes of Donald Trump's presidency and the January 6 insurrection.But that's exactly what landed online late Wednesday via Discovery+, which shows footage of the new series titled "Unprecedented." The clip features Trump and his adult children Ivanka, Donald Trump Jr., and Eric Trump and closes with the ex-president himself agreeing to discuss the riot at the US Capitol. —discovery+ (@discoveryplus) June 23, 2022House January 6 investigators have the documentary footage too, courtesy of a subpoena that Politico reported about. And Trump allies were apparently in the dark about the filming, with one texting Rolling Stone: "what the fuck is this?"Read Full Story Hearings to resume at 3 p.m. ET Thursday with testimony expected from former DOJ officialsFormer Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen.Yuri Gripas-Pool/Getty ImagesThe January 6 commission's fifth hearing is expected to start at 3 p.m. Thursday, with testimony expected from former Trump-administration Justice Department officials. They are:Jeffrey Rosen, former acting attorney generalRichard Donoghue, former acting deputy attorney generalSteven Engel, former assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal CounselRosen served as acting attorney general in the final weeks of Trump's presidency. He previously told the committee how he came under persistent pressure from Trump to have the DOJ back Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election, as Insider's C. Ryan Barber reported.Toward the end of his presidency, Trump considered ousting Rosen and installing Jeffrey Clark, a supporter of the bogus voter-fraud claims, in his place, but ultimately decided not to after officials threatened to resign if he went through.Analysis: Trump shot himself in the foot by opposing a bipartisan Jan. 6 commission because now he has no allies to defend him in scathing public hearingsLawmakers listen as an image of a Trump campaign donation banner is shown behind them during a House January 6 committee hearing.Susan Walsh/APAs the House's January 6 committee lays out in devastating detail Donald Trump's effort to overturn his defeat in the 2020 election, the former president is turning his anger on House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Trump has complained about McCarthy's decision to boycott the panel, with the former president telling the Punchbowl newsletter on Wednesday: "Republicans don't have a voice. They don't even have anything to say."But Trump has no one but himself to blame for the situation, one of his Republican critics pointed out, as he was the one who opposed the formation of a bipartisan commission equally split between Republicans and Democrats to investigate the riot. Read Full StoryTrump is hate-watching every Jan. 6 hearing and almost screams at the TV because he feels nobody is defending him, report saysDonald TrumpJoe Raedle/Getty ImagesFormer President Donald Trump is hate-watching the January 6 committee hearings, incensed because he believes nobody is defending him, according to The Washington Post.Trump is at "the point of about to scream at the TV" as he tunes in to each hearing, one unnamed close advisor told the paper. Another in his circle, also unnamed, told the paper that Trump continually complains that "there's no one to defend me" at the hearings, which have attracted huge amounts of media coverage.Per The Post, Trump's anger centers on House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who boycotted the committee at its formation, passing up the chance to put pro-Trump figures on the panel.Read Full StoryDOJ issued subpoenas to alleged fake Trump electors and a Trump campaign official, reports sayA general view shows a House January 6 committee hearing on Capitol Hill on June 9, 2022.Mandel Ngan/POOL/AFP via Getty ImagesThe Justice Department expanded its investigation into the Capitol riot after issuing subpoenas to a would-be Trump elector in Georgia and a Trump campaign official who worked in Arizona and New Mexico, The Washington Post and The New York Times reported Wednesday.Arizona, Georgia, and New Mexico are among the seven battleground states where a failed effort to overturn the election took place by appointing pro-Trump electors.The news comes after Rep. Adam Schiff said the House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection obtained evidence that former President Donald Trump was involved in the aforementioned scheme.Read Full StoryTrump aides didn't know someone was filming Trump on January 6 until the House committee got the footage: reportsPresident Donald Trump listens as Jared Kushner speaks in the Oval Office of the White House on September 11, 2020.Andrew Harnik/AP PhotoAides to Donald Trump had no idea a documentary maker filmed the former president on January 6, 2021, until the House committee investigating that day subpoenaed the footage, reports said. The existence of the footage by UK documentarian Alex Holder was first reported by Politico on Tuesday.The outlet said that Holder complied with the House committee request and handed over several months of footage of Trump up to and including January 6. The New York Times reported that many top Trump advisors were surprised by news of the project, which was known to only a small circle of close Trump aides.Read Full StoryIvanka Trump claimed to believe Trump's false voter-fraud theories but later told Jan. 6 panel she didn't, report saysIvanka Trump.Drew Angerer/Getty ImagesIvanka Trump claimed to believe former President Donald Trump's false voter-fraud theories in a December 2020 interview, directly contradicting her testimony to congressional investigators earlier this year, a new report says.In April 2022, Trump had told the House committee investigating the Capitol riot that she had "accepted" former Attorney General Bill Barr's assessment that Donald Trump's claims of election fraud were wrong.But according to The New York Times, Ivanka Trump told the documentary filmmaker Alex Holder on December 10, 2020 — nine days after Barr made the assessment that supposedly swayed her — that she supported her father's efforts to challenge the 2020 election results.She said Trump should "continue to fight" the 2020 election results because Americans were questioning the "sanctity of our elections."Read Full StoryElection worker testifies that conspiracy theorists tried to citizen's arrest her grandmother after lies from Trump, GiulianiWandrea "Shaye" Moss, a former Georgia election worker, is comforted by her mother Ruby Freeman, right, during the House January 6 committee's hearing.AP Photo/Jacquelyn MartinA Georgia election worker testified that her grandmother faced a citizen's arrest by a group of election deniers who tried pushing their way into her house due to election lies told by former President Donald Trump and former personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.Wandrea "Shaye" Moss, an election worker in Fulton County, Georgia, told lawmakers during a January 6 select committee hearing that she and her mother Ruby Freeman, who worked as a short-term election worker in 2020, were among the workers counting ballots at State Farm Arena in Atlanta. When Giuliani and Trump accused those workers of orchestrating election fraud, Moss said her family faced death threats and were pushed out of town, living in Airbnbs for two months around January 6 at the FBI's recommendation.Moss said she endured racist harassment as well, adding that a group of people influenced by the election conspiracies showed up to her grandmother's house and tried to perform a citizen's arrest.Read Full StoryWhere's Pat Cipollone?Former White House Counsel Pat CipolloneAlex Wong/Getty ImagesPaging Pat Cipollone.The former White House counsel under then-President Donald Trump is now front and center as a top witness the House committee investigating the January 6 insurrection still wants to hear from.That's according to Rep. Liz Cheney, who publicly called Tuesday for Cipollone to testify about evidence the committee has collected showing that he "tried to do what was right" as  Trump pushed to overturn the 2020 election.Cheney also noted that the House panel is also "certain" Trump doesn't want Cipollone to testify. His previous job as Trump's top White House attorney could complicate the matter, though as Insider's Ryan Barber points out in his story, Bill Barr did participate in its investigation.Read Full StorySexualized texts, a break-in and doxxingsGeorgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger is sworn in to testify on Tuesday before the House select committee investigating the January 6 attack on the US Capitol.Jacquelyn Martin/AP PhotoTuesday's House select committee featured jaw-dropping testimony from election officials who detailed the threats they faced after refusing to go along with then President Donald Trump's bid to overturn the 2020 election results.One big dose of it came from Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who explained how he received texts from all over the US and eventually his wife became a target of harassment too. "My wife started getting the texts and hers typically came in as sexualized texts, which were disgusting," Raffensperger said during his testimony before the January 6 committee. "You have to understand that Trish and I met in high school and we have been married over 40 years now. They started going after her I think to probably put pressure on me: 'Why don't you just quit and walk away?'" Raffensperger also testified about Trump supporters who broke into the home of his daughter-in-law, a widow with two children. And he said his phone and email were doxxed, meaning that someone had posted the number and email publicly so that people would message him. Read Full StoryDeath threatsWandrea ArShaye “Shaye” Moss, a former Georgia election worker, is sworn in before January 6 committee on June 21, 2022.Kevin Dietsch/Getty ImagesA Black former Georgia election worker delivered stark testimony on Tuesday about the racist and deadly threats that came when President Donald Trump publicly attacked her and her mother amid his drive to overturn the 2020 election results.Insider's Bryan Metzger has more on the remarks from Wandrea ArShaye "Shaye" Moss, a veteran election official in Fulton County who ended up on the receiving end of myriad threats after Rudy Giuliani specifically named her and her mom when speaking to the Georgia state Senate."They included threats, a lot of threats wishing death upon me," Moss said. "Telling me that, you know, I'll be in jail with my mother, and saying things like, 'Be glad it's 2020 and not 1920.'" Read Full Story'We were just kind of useful idiots'Former President Donald Trump speaks during a rally in Delaware, Ohio, on April 23, 2022.Drew Angerer/Getty Images"We were just kind of useful idiots, or rubes at that point."That's a quote from former Donald Trump 2020 campaign staffer Robert Sinner describing to the House January 6 investigators his displeasure with a scheme to overturn now-President Joe Biden's 2020 victory in Georgia.Sinner's remarks were broadcast in a video recording shown during Tuesday's select committee hearing, Insider's John Dorman reports.Read Full Story Suspicious package found outside House hearing roomThe House panel investigating the January 6 insurrection.Photo by Jabin Botsford-Pool/Getty ImagesThe House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection kept on going Tuesday despite a suspicious package being found right outside the hearing room where the panel was meeting.Insider's Lauren Frias reported that the US Capitol Police officials did issue an all-clear about an hour after first sending out its alert. The police advised staff and visitors on the premises to stay away from the area during the incident. A Fox News producer tweeted that the package appeared to be an unattended backpack on top of a walker outside of the House building.Read Full Story'Do not give that to him'Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and former Vice President Mike Pence.Drew Angerer and Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty ImagesGOP Sen. Ron Johnson sought to deliver a slate of "alternate" electors to then-Vice President Mike Pence ahead of the counting of votes during a Joint Session of Congress on January 6, 2021.That's according to a series of eye-catching text messages first displayed by the January 6 committee on Tuesday, Insider's Bryan Metzger reported."Johnson needs to hand something to VPOTUS please advise," Sean Riley, Johnson's chief of staff, wrote of the materials that were related to "alternate" electors from two contested Midwestern states that Democratic nominee Joe Biden had narrowly carried: Michigan and Wisconsin. "What is it?" replied Chris Hodgson, a legislative aide to Pence."Alternate slate of elector for MI and WI because archivist didn't receive them," Riley replied."Do not give that to him," Hodgson replied.Read Full StoryRudy admitted to not having election fraud evidenceRudy Giuliani, former lawyer for President Donald Trump.William B. Plowman/NBC/NBC Newswire/NBCUniversal via Getty ImagesRudy Giuliani admitted to not having any evidence of election fraud after the 2020 presidential election despite repeatedly claiming he did, according to the Republican speaker of the Arizona state House."My recollection, he said, 'We've got lots of theories, we just don't have the evidence,'" Russell "Rusty" Bowers, the Arizona official, said in describing a conversation with then-President Donald Trump's personal attorney.Bowers, a Trump supporter, was testifying on Tuesday before the House January 6 select committee to recount his interactions with Giuliani and the Trump legal team surrounding the events of the last presidential election.He called the Trump team "a tragic parody" and compared them to the 1971 comedy "The Gang Who Couldn't Shoot Straight."Read Full Story A very real threat to the 2022 midtermsCouy Griffin, a central figure in a New Mexico county's refusal to certify recent election results based on debunked conspiracy theories about voting machines, has avoided more jail time for joining the mob that attacked the US Capitol.AP Photo/Gemunu AmarasingheThe House select committee's January 6 hearings have spotlighted the very real threat to future US elections, including the midterms coming up this November.That's the big takeaway from a story by Insider's Grace Panetta published Tuesday that looks at how a court had to intercede after New Mexico county commission initially refused to certify results from the state's June 7 primary."The election denial movement pushed by Trump and his allies that spurred so many to attack the Capitol on January 6 has now fanned out to county commissions, town halls, and polling places around the country, presenting wholly novel burdens on election officials and new threats to the health of American democracy," Grace wrote.Read Full StoryTrump is ready to abandon attorney John Eastman after he was criticized in committee hearings, report saysJohn Eastman at a pro-Trump rally on January 6, 2021.Jim Bourg/ReutersFormer President Donald Trump sees no reason to defend the conservative attorney John Eastman, Rolling Stone reported.The decision the outlet relayed came in light of the heavy scrutiny of Eastman in the Congressional Jan. 6 committee hearings, which detailed his role helping Trump try to overturn the 2020 election.Eastman wrote a memo detailing a last-ditch plan for Vice President Mike Pence to block Joe Biden's certification as president on January 6, 2021, at the Congressional proceeding which was interrupted by the Capitol riot.Citing two sources close to Trump, the outlet reported that the committee's focus on Eastman in its public hearings had bothered Trump, and that Trump has started distancing himself from the attorney.READ FULL STORYFull list of witness testifying on June 21Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers is among those scheduled to testify in the committee's June 21 hearing.AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, FileInsider's Warren Rojas has a roster of those scheduled to appear in the committee's public hearings. See the full list below.Read Full StoryJan. 6 committee subpoenas filmmaker who interviewed Trump before and after the riotTrump speaks to supporters from the Ellipse near the White House on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC.Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty ImagesThe January 6 committee sent a subpoena to Alex Holder, a documentary filmmaker who interviewed Trump before and after the Capitol riot, Politico's Playbook newsletter reported Tuesday.The existence of this footage had never been reported before, and Holder is expected to fully cooperate with the panel, Playbook reported.Holder also spent several months interviewing members of Trump's family, including his children Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump, and Eric Trump, and his son-in-law Jared Kushner, Playbook reported.The subpoena asked Holder to provide any raw footage he might have from the Capitol riot and interviews with Trump, his family, and former Vice President Mike Pence, as well as any footage he has of discussions about voter fraud in the 2020 election.Trump boasts he's been impeached twice and screams 'nothing matters!' amid ongoing January 6 hearingsFormer President Donald Trump gives the keynote address at the Faith and Freedom Coalition during their annual conference on June 17, 2022, in Nashville, Tennessee.Seth Herald/Getty ImagesFormer President Donald Trump on Friday bragged that he was impeached twice, while recycling his false claims about the 2020 election and attacking former Vice President Mike Pence and former Attorney General William Barr.Delivering a speech to the Faith and Freedom Coalition in Nashville, the former president said Pence didn't have the courage to embrace his effort to overturn the election and mocked Barr for being "afraid" of getting impeached."What's wrong with being impeached? I got impeached twice and my poll numbers went up," Trump said.Read Full StoryGinni Thomas says she 'can't wait' to talk to Jan. 6 committee after it asks for interview over her efforts to overturn 2020 electionGinni ThomasChip Somodevilla/Getty ImagesGinni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, said she "can't wait' to talk to the House January 6 commission after it asked to interview her over her efforts to overturn the 2020 election."I can't wait to clear up misconceptions. I look forward to talking to them," Thomas told the right-wing news site The Daily Caller. She did not say what those misconceptions might be.Her comments come after the House Select Committee investigating the Capitol riot announced that it had requested an interview with her. Rep. Bennie Thompson, the committee's chairman, said the panel wanted to talk to her "soon," Axios reported.Thomas faces scrutiny over her connections to former President Donald Trump's attempts to overturn the 2020 election. Read Full StoryEven on the day of the Capitol riot, Rudy Giuliani was still doubtful if Mike Pence had the power to overturn the election, says ex-Trump lawyerRudy Giuliani.Jacquelyn Martin/APEric Herschmann, a former Trump White House lawyer, revealed on Thursday that even on the morning of the Capitol riot, Rudy Giuliani was still debating whether then-Vice President Mike Pence had the power to overturn the votes in the 2020 election. Herschmann's testimony was aired on Thursday during the third of six public hearings organized by the January 6 committee investigating the Capitol riot. Thursday's session centered on the pressure exerted by the Trump camp in a bid to get Pence to overturn the vote.Herschmann said he received a call "out of the blue" from Giuliani on the morning of January 6, 2021, concerning what Pence's role would be that day."And, you know, he was asking me my view and analysis and then the practical implications of it," Herschmann said, who described the call as an "intellectual discussion." "And when we finished, he said, like, 'I believe that, you know, you're probably right.'" Read Full StoryMike Pence's former lawyer said he warned Trump's camp that overturning votes would lead to the 2020 election being 'decided in the streets'Then-US President Donald Trump arrives with then- Vice President Mike Pence for a "Make America Great Again" rally in Michigan on November 2, 2020.PhoPhoto by Brendan Smialowski / AFP via Getty ImagesA lawyer for former Vice President Mike Pence said that he strongly disagreed with conservative lawyer John Eastman about the Trump camp's plan to overturn the 2020 election result and warned Eastman that it might lead to violence in the streets.Testifying on Thursday before the January 6 panel investigating the Capitol riot, Greg Jacob said he had spoken to Eastman on January 5, 2021. During their conversation, Jacob said he expressed his "vociferous disagreement" with the plan for Pence to overturn the electoral vote on behalf of former President Donald Trump and send the votes back to their respective states. "Among other things, if the courts did not step in to resolve this, there was nobody else to resolve it," Jacob testified. Read Full StoryDemocracy on the brinkPeople arrive before a hearing of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, June 16, 2022.Drew Angerer/Pool Photo via APAmerican democracy was on the brink like no time ever before.That's the lede paragraph from Insider's Grace Panetta in her story that sums up the biggest takeaways from Thursday's historic and marathon third public hearing of the House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the US Capitol.Grace writes that the two lead witnesses, Greg Jacob and Michael Luttig, were steeped in legal expertise and constitutional scholarship as they explained at a granular and methodical level why neither the Electoral Count Act nor the 12th Amendment permitted then-Vice President Mike Pence to unilaterally reject Electoral College votes for President-elect Joe Biden.Then-President Donald Trump and one of his personal legal advisors, John Eastman, were pushing the vice president to do exactly that in a break with all of US history. Read Full StoryMAGA world a "clear and present danger to American democracy"Michael Luttig, a retired federal judge who was an adviser to former Vice President Mike Pence, looks at Greg Jacob, former counsel to Vice President Mike Pence, as he testifies before the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, June 16, 2022.J. Scott Applewhite/AP PhotoFormer President Donald Trump and his supporters remain a "clear and present danger to American democracy."Those were the startling words of Michael Luttig, a retired federal judge who has long been championed by Republicans. He made them near the end of Thursday's marathon House select committee hearing into the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the US Capitol.Luttig, who advised then-Vice President Mike Pence about his ceremonial role on January 6, also went on to say Trump world is being more than blunt about its plans to manipulate the results of the next election for the White House. "The former president and his allies are executing that blueprint for 2024 in open and plain view of the American public," Luttig testified, per Insider's Warren Rojas. Read Full Story'1 more relatively minor violation' of election law...please?Former Trump legal adviser John EastmanAP Photo/Susan WalshIt's perhaps one of the biggest bombshells to come out of Thursday's House select committee hearing on the Capitol insurrection: a Trump lawyer putting in writing a request to break the law.The no-no came from John Eastman, who sent an email at 11:44 p.m. on the night of January 6, 2021, repeated his demand that Vice President Mike Pence halt the proceedings to certify the 2020 election and send it back to the states for a period of 10 days."So now that the precedent has been set that the Electoral Count Act is not quite so sacrosanct as was previously claimed, I implore you to consider one more relatively minor violation and adjourn for 10 days to allow the legislatures to finish their investigations, as well as to allow a full forensic audit of the massive amount of illegal activity that has occurred here," Eastman wrote to Pence lawyer Greg Jacob.Insider's Jake Lahut writes that the Eastman email was sent after Jacob and the then-vice president's staff and family, had been sheltering in place in a secure location during the riot.Read Full StoryEastman asked Giuliani to be added to Trump's pardon listJohn Eastman appeared onstage with Rudy Giuliani at the pro-Trump rally that preceded the January 6 attack on the Capitol.Jim Bourg/ReutersThe House panel investigating the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the Capitol made some news on Thursday by disclosing evidence that conservative lawyer John Eastman wanted to get added to lame-duck President Donald Trump's pardon list.Eastman was pushing to overturn the 2020 election, and as Insider's Oma Seddiq reports, his efforts prompted an email to personal Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani. "I've decided I should be on the pardon list, if that is still in the works," Eastman wrote  to Giuliani, according to Rep. Pete Aguilar, a lawmaker on the January 6 panel who read the email during Thursday's hearing. Eastman ultimately did not receive a pardon. Read Full StoryAides say Trump called Pence 'P-word' and 'wimp' on Jan. 6 callTrump and Pence at a White House event on July 13, 2020.AP Photo/Evan VucciThe language got pretty profane in the White House on the morning of January 6, 2021, Insider's Bryan Metzger reports.That's according to former aides who testified to the House select committee investigating the Capitol insurrection about a call then-President Donald Trump made to Mike Pence, his vice president."I remember hearing the word 'wimp'. Either he called him a wimp — I don't remember if he said, 'you are a wimp, you'll be a wimp' — wimp is the word I remember," said Nicholas Luna, a former assistant to Trump.Julie Radford, who served as Ivanka Trump's chief of staff, told the committee that Ivanka told her that the president "just had an upsetting conversation with the Vice President" in which he called Pence "the P-word."Read Full Story'Secret' MAGA back channel Jan. 6 investigators are teasing is also Oath Keepers' legal defenseStewart Rhodes, founder of the citizen militia group known as the Oath Keepers speaks during a rally outside the White House in Washington, on June 25, 2017.Susan Walsh/APThe House January 6 investigators keep on teasing how there'll soon be upcoming testimony that reveals secret coordination between Trumpworld and extremist groups.But as Insider's Laura Italiano points out in a new story, the Oath Keepers have long boasted of such a back channel.In fact, leader and founder Elmer Stewart Rhodes and other members of the pro-Trump militia are staking their seditious-conspiracy defense case on these yet-described communications with rally organizers.Read Full StoryCruz wanted the ex-judge testifying against Trump as a SCOTUS justiceRepublican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and retired Judge Michael Luttig.AP Photos/Manuel Balce Ceneta and Susan WalshThere's an interesting twist to the retired conservative federal Judge Michael Luttig testifying as a key witness in Thursday's January 6 committee hearing.Insider's Bryan Metzger dug up video from the 2016 GOP presidential primary debates showing Luttig was once named by Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas as an ideal Supreme Court nominee.—bryan metzger (@metzgov) June 16, 2022 Bryan writes that it was "yet another example of just how much former President Donald Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results has divided the conservative legal world."Read Full Story   DOJ: House's 'failure' to share transcripts hurting Jan. 6 investigationsTrump supporters clash with police and security forces as people try to storm the Capitol on January 6, 2021 in Washington.Brent Stirton/Getty ImagesMore public tension is emerging between the Justice Department and the House panel investigating the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the US Capitol.Insider's Ryan Barber has the details on a new letter sent Wednesday from the top US attorney in Washington DC to the House panel. There, the DOJ official says that the House panel has complicated criminal cases with its 'failure' to turn over interview transcripts to prosecutions.DOJ is looking for access to more than 1,000 interviews the congressional panel has conducted during its months-long examination of the Capitol attack and former President Donald Trump's effort to overturn the 2020 election.Read Full StoryJudge Luttig: If Pence tossed valid electoral votes it would have been 'a revolution'Michael Luttig, a retired federal judge who was an adviser to former Vice President Mike Pence, testifies Thursday to the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.AP Photo/Susan WalshSome really powerful testimony to start Thursday's January 6 select committee hearing from former federal judge J. Michael Luttig.In his opening remarks, he told the panel investigating the insurrection at the US Capitol that Vice President Mike Pence overturning the 2020 election would've pushed the country into 'the first constitutional crisis since the founding of the republic.'"That declaration of Donald Trump as the next president would have launched America into what I believe would have been tantamount to a revolution within a constitutional crisis in America which in my view would have been the first constitutional crisis since the founding of the Republic," Luttig told lawmakers during a hearing Thursday. Read Full StoryFormer Pence counsel says 'the law is not a plaything' for presidentsVice President Mike PenceScott J. Applewhite/APMike Pence's former counsel Greg Jacob is a lead witness in Thursday's third public hearing for the House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol.In his written statement submitted before the hearing, Jacob called serving the vice president "the honor of a lifetime," while also warning that the rule of law is "not a plaything" for political leaders to bend per their whim."The law is not a plaything for presidents or judges to use to remake the world in their preferred image," he wrote. "Our Constitution and our laws form the strong edifice within which our heartfelt policy disagreements are to be debated and decided."Insider's Grace Panetta has more on Jacob's testimony and spells out why he was a key figure in rebuffing the intense pressure campaign and efforts to compel Pence to obstruct or meddle with the count. Read Full StoryJanuary 6 committee says it will 'soon' seek interview with Ginni ThomasConservative activist Ginni Thomas and January 6 committee chair Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi.AP Photos/Susan Walsh and J. Scott ApplewhiteConservative activist Ginni Thomas, the wife of conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, should be expecting an interview request soon from the House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol."We think it's time that we, at some point, invite her to come talk to the committee," Rep. Bennie Thompson, the Democratic chair of the panel, told Axios' Andrew Solender. He added that the invitation would come "soon."Thomas has recently come under scrutiny for her role in seeking to overturn the 2020 election, including emailing Trump lawyer John Eastman and pressuring 29 state legislators in Arizona to overturn the state's 2020 election results.Read Full Story  Meet the former Trump attorney starring in the January 6 hearingEric Herschmann, former White House attorney, speaks with the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol on June 13, 2022.(House Select Committee via APAnyone remember Eric Herschmann? The White House attorney burst into the national spotlight defending President Donald Trump during his first Senate impeachment trial way back in the early pre-pandemic days of 2020.Now he's back, but for a very different reason.That's the story that Oma Seddiq just delivered for Insider readers ahead of Thursday's House January 6 hearing profiling Herschmann. He's been in the news as video clips make the rounds of his testimony where he talks about warning Trump and his allies after the presidential election that there was no proof the race was rigged and stolen, and their efforts may be illegal. In addition to his colorful language, Herschmann has drawn notice because he gave his deposition in a room with a baseball bat hanging on the wall and the word "JUSTICE" inscribed on it in bold, white letters. Observers also have noted a large painting behind him of a panda, by the artist Rob Pruitt, is similar to one that appeared in the 2015 erotic drama "50 Shades of Grey."Read Full StoryNick Quested explains how it felt to testify before the January 6 committeeBritish filmmaker Nick Queste.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJun 28th, 2022

Jan. 6 live updates: Trump knew the January 6 crowd was armed but still wanted metal detectors removed, former White House aide testifies

The House select committee is investigating the Capitol riot and the role Donald Trump and his allies played in trying to overturn the 2020 election. Lawmakers listen as an image of a Trump campaign donation banner is shown behind them during a House January 6 committee hearing.Susan Walsh/AP The House committee investigating the Capitol riot is holding a surprise hearing at 1 p.m. ET Tuesday. Cassidy Hutchinson, an aide under former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, is testifying. Trump knew the MAGA crowd on January 6 was armed, Hutchinson testified on Tuesday.  Trump was 'fucking furious' armed supporters couldn't get to his speech: former aideFormer White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson.Brandon Bell/Getty ImagesAn ex-White House aide testified that President Donald Trump was "fucking furious" that people in the MAGA crowd weren't able to get to his speech on January 6, 2021 because they were carrying weapons."I don't fucking care that they have weapons. They're not here to hurt me," Trump said the morning of the insurrection at the US Capitol, according to former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson.Trump was also insistent that security remove the metal detectors outside the White House so more people with weapons could get into the grounds, Hutchinson told the House panel investigating the insurrection. She also quoted the president as saying: "Take the fucking mags away. Let my people in. They can march to the Capitol from here."READ FULL STORY Feds seized John Eastman's phoneJohn Eastman testifies before the House Ways and Means Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 4, 2013.Charles Dharapak/APAnother big development emerged Monday in the widening federal criminal probe into Donald Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election.This one involves federal agents who seized the phone of John Eastman, a conservative lawyer who advised Trump during his failed bid to stop the inauguration of Joe Biden. Eastman made the feds' move public in a filing with a New Mexico federal court, seeking the return of property from the government.According to his filing, FBI agents acting on behalf of DOJ's internal watchdog stopped Eastman as he was leaving a restaurant in New Mexico on June 22, taking his phone.Read Full StoryCassidy Hutchinson in the spotlightCassidy Hutchinson’s testimony is shown during the fifth January 6 committee hearing on June 23, 2022.Demetrius Freeman-Pool/Getty ImagesCassidy Hutchinson is the surprise lead witness for Tuesday's sixth hearing of the House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection.The former top aide under then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows is a direct witness to many of the events and discussions of interest to the panel.She's given the committee several important pieces of information, including the six GOP House members who sought pardons from Trump and that the president told Meadows he agreed with rioters demands to "hang" Vice President Mike Pence.Read Full Story Select committee announces surprise hearing.January 6 committee chair Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi speaks to reporters following the committee’s fifth hearing on June 23, 2022.Brandon Bell/Getty ImagesThe Jan. 6 select committee announced it would hold a sixth hearing to start Tuesday at 1 p.m. ET during the congressional recess and despite previous statements that it would hold its next hearings in July.A committee advisory said it would present "recently obtained evidence" and feature witnesses, whom it did not name.Read Full StoryKamala Harris said she commended her vice presidential predecessor Mike Pence for 'courage' in certifying Biden as president despite Trump's pressureVice President Kamala Harris.Al Drago-Pool/Getty ImagesVice President Kamala Harris said Monday that she commended former Vice President Mike Pence for certifying Joe Biden as president on January 6 despite him facing tremendous pressure by former President Donald Trump to overturn the election. "I think that he did his job that day," Harris said in a CNN interview after reporter Dana Bash asked her whether her opinion of Pence had changed. "And I commend him for that because clearly it was under extraordinary circumstances that he should have not had to face. And I commend him for having the courage to do his job."This month the House Select Committee probing the January 6 Capitol attack has detailed how Trump tried to push Pence not to recognize Biden's victory in the days leading up to January 6, 2021. Trump wanted Pence to "send back" slates of electors for Biden back to their states in order to overturn his election loss. But Pence put out an open letter saying he didn't have the authority to take such actions, and his role in the certification process was largely ceremonial.Read Full StoryKevin McCarthy says it's 'all good' between him and Trump as the former president fumes about the lack of Republicans on the Jan. 6 committee: 'The right decision was the decision I made'Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and President Donald Trump.Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times/POOL/Getty ImagesHouse Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said on Monday that everything is good between him and Donald Trump as the former president publicly questions whether it was wise to keep more Republicans off of the House January 6 committee."The right decision was the decision I made," McCarthy told Fox News' Dana Perino. "If other people change their opinion, read the rules and I think they'll come back to the same conclusion." The former president and McCarthy have talked recently, according to the top House Republican. When Perino asked if things were "all good?" McCarthy responded, "Oh, all good. Yes."McCarthy repeated his long-held defense of the decision, arguing that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would have only selected Republicans that would have fit her views. The California Republican then named three of the 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Trump as examples of people Pelosi would have supported.Read Full StoryHow to watch the House January 6 committee hearings on the Capitol attackVideo featuring former President Donald Trump’s White House senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner is played during a hearing by the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol in the Cannon House Office Building on June 13, 2022 in Washington, DC. Stepien, who was scheduled to testify in person, was unable to attend due to a family emergency. The bipartisan committee, which has been gathering evidence for almost a year related to the January 6 attack at the U.S. Capitol, will present its findings in a series of televised hearings. On January 6, 2021, supporters of former President Donald Trump attacked the U.S. Capitol Building during an attempt to disrupt a congressional vote to confirm the electoral college win for President Joe Biden.Photo by Alex Wong/Getty ImagesThe House Select Committee Investigating the January 6 Insurrection at the US Capitol is bringing to light its findings from a year's worth of work with a series of public hearings this summer. The select committee, formed in May 2021, has nine members, seven Democrats, including Chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson, and two Republicans, Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger. Its members and staff have spent the past year conducting hundreds of closed-door interviews, poring over hundreds of thousands of documents, and parsing phone and email records to reconstruct how President Donald Trump and his allies sought to overturn his 2020 election loss before a mob of pro-Trump rioters breached the US Capitol in an effort to stop the final certification of the 2020 election. Five public hearings, including one in primetime, have already taken place, and one more hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, June 28. Read Full StoryJanuary 6 hearing takeaways: Pardon pleas, more Bill Barr, and a riveting account of how Trump turned to the Justice Department and a loyal lawyer to 'help legitimize his lies'TheBill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)Spanning more than two hours in the late afternoon, the House January 6 committee's fifth public hearing captured the drama that unfolded inside the Justice Department and White House as Trump looked to some of the country's most senior and important law enforcement officials to help him remain in power.READ FULL STORYMatt Gaetz 'personally' pushed for a pardon from Trump 'from the beginning of time up until today, for any and all things,' Trump officials testifyRepublican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida at the White House on May 8, 2020.Anna Moneymaker-Pool/Getty ImagesThe January 6 committee aired a series of video testimonies from former Trump administration officials detailing which Republican members of Congress sought pardons from former President Donald Trump at the end of his term as he and his allies exhausted different avenues to stay in power.Most prominently featured: Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida.According to various officials who spoke with the committee, Gaetz began pushing for a pardon well before other Republicans who were involved in the attempt to overturn the 2020 election."Mr. Gaetz was personally pushing for a pardon, and he was doing so since early December," said Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, in testimony aired by the committee on Thursday.READ FULL STORYFox News cut away from the Jan. 6 hearing minutes before testimony by Trump aides about GOP lawmakers who sought pardonsPlaque at the entrance to Fox News headquarters in New YorkErik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty ImagesJust as former Department of Justice Officials were detailing how they threatened to resign en masse if former President Donald Trump went ahead with his efforts to overturn the 2020 election results, Fox News cut away to air its previously scheduled talk show, "The Five."CNN and MSNBC aired the hearings in full, which ended with Rep. Adam Kinzinger listing six GOP lawmakers whom Trump aides testified sought pardons in the administration's final weeks.Other than the first of the five hearings so far, Fox News has carried the proceedings without commercial breaks, save for recesses during the proceedings.READ FULL STORYDOJ officials threatened to resign if Jeffrey Clark was appointed Attorney GeneralJeff ClarkYuri Gripas-Pool/Getty ImagesTop officials at the US Department of Justice threatened to resign if former President Donald Trump succeeded in making loyalist Jeff Clark the acting Attorney General, per testimony before the January 6 committee on Thursday.Richard Donoghue, former acting deputy attorney general, said that the pledge to resign was made on a phone call in the wake of reports that Trump was considering installing Clark, who at the time was promoting unfounded conspiracy theories about the 2020 election."They would resign en masse if the president made that change," Donoghue told the committee. "All without hesitation said they would resign."At least six GOP members of Congress sought pardons after January 6, 2021, per testimony from a former White House aideRep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., joined from left by Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, and Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., speaks at a news conference about the treatment of people being held in the District of Columbia jail who are charged with crimes in the Jan. 6 insurrection, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021.J. Scott Applewhite/APCassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, testified Wednesday before the January 6 House panel that at least six House members asked the White House for a pardon following the Capitol siege.According to Hutchinson, Republican Reps. Matt Gaetz of Florida, Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Mo Brooks of Alabama, Andy Biggs of Arizona, Louie Gohmert of Texas, and Scott Perry of Pennsylvania requested pardons.The former White House aide added that GOP Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio asked for an "update on whether the White House is going to pardon members of Congress" but did not personally ask for one.Keep Reading Trump suggested sending letter to states alleging 2020 election fraud, a former acting Attorney General Jeff Rosen testifiedFormer acting Attorney General Jeff Rosen has already testified about Trump's efforts to pressure DOJ.Yuri Gripas-Pool/Getty ImagesFormer acting Attorney General Jeff Rosen said on Thursday that then-President Donald Trump suggested that the Justice Department send letters to state legislatures in Georgia and other states alleging that there was voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election despite knowing there was no such evidence.Rosen told lawmakers on the House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection that during Trump's final days in office, the former president and his campaign suggested several strategies for the Justice Department to overturn the presidential election results. These tactics included filing a lawsuit with the Supreme Court, making public statements, and holding a press conference."The Justice Department declined all of those requests that I was just referencing because we did not think they were appropriate based on the facts and the law, as we understood," Rosen said.Read MoreA former Trump DOJ official testified that former President Donald Trump urged him and other officials to 'just say the election was corrupt'Notes from Richard Donoghue displayed at the January 6 committee's hearing on June 23, 2022.Screenshot / C-SPANThe January 6 committee on Thursday displayed scans of notes taken by Richard Donoghue, then the acting deputy attorney general serving out the final days of the Trump administration.One note, displayed as Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois led the committee's questioning, included an apparent plea from then-President Donald Trump to "just say the election was corrupt" and "leave the rest to me and the [Republican] congressmen."Read Full StoryBill Barr says he's 'not sure we would have had a transition at all' to Biden if DOJ hadn't investigated Trump's baseless voter fraud claimsFormer Attorney General Bill Barr and former President Donald TrumpDrew Angerer/Getty ImagesFormer Attorney General William Barr said he was "not sure we would have had a transition at all" if the Justice Department had not investigated Donald Trump's claims of widespread voter fraud and found them baseless.In a closed-door deposition, Barr suggested to the House committee investigating the January 6 attack that Trump might not have left office voluntarily if DOJ had not proactively examined the election fraud claims ahead of Joe Biden's inauguration. Read Full Story'You would be committing a felony'Eric Herschmann spoke to the Jan. 6 committee on Thursday.Senate Television via APFormer White House attorney Eric Herschmann told the committee that he brutally mocked a plan from a Trump loyalist to hijack control of the Justice Department in a last-ditch effort to overturn the 2020 election."And when he finished discussing what he planned on doing, I said, 'good, fucking, excuse me, f-ing, a-hole, congratulations you just admitted that your first step or act you would take as attorney general would be committing a felony and violating rule 6c," Herschmann told the panel, per an excerpt of his previously private deposition that was released on Thursday.Read Full Story  Fast times in the CapitolActor Sean Penn and DC Metropolitan Police Department officer Daniel Hodges at the January 6 committee hearing on Capitol Hill on June 23, 2022.AP Photo/Jacquelyn MartinSean Penn is in the House.The actor and well known Hollywood activist made an unexpected appearance at the fifth hearing of the House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection. "I'm just here to observe — just another citizen," Penn told a CNN reporter. "I think we all saw what happened on January 6 and now we're looking to see if justice comes on the other side of it."Read Full StoryLiz Cheney is mailing instructions to Democrats on how to change parties and vote for her in Wyoming's GOP primaryU.S. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) Vice Chairwoman of the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol, delivers remarks during a hearing on the January 6th investigation on June 9, 2022.Win McNamee/Getty ImagesAs Rep. Liz Cheney faces a tough reelection battle in Wyoming, she's turning to Democrats in her home state to help her chances in the August 16 Republican primary.Cheney's campaign has mailed instructions to Wyoming Democrats on how to change their party affiliation to vote for the incumbent congresswoman, The New York Times reported on Thursday. Under Wyoming law, voters must be registered as a Democrat or a Republican in order to vote in that party's primary election. Read Full StoryFeds search home of former top Trump DOJ officialJeff ClarkYuri Gripas-Pool/Getty ImagesWe've got a major development that surfaced Thursday into what appears to be a widening federal investigation into Donald Trump's bid to overturn the 2020 presidential election.Federal investigators on Wednesday searched the Northern Virginia home of Jeff Clark, a former top Justice Department official who became the go-to Trump ally trying to push DOJ into backing the then-president's baseless claims about voter fraud.ABC News first reported this, and a DOJ spokesperson has since confirmed to Insider's Ryan Barber that law enforcement activity did indeed happen in the Washington DC suburb where Clark lives. The spokesperson wouldn't comment on the nature of the activity or about any specific individuals.Expect to hear Clark's name a couple times or more during Thursday's House select committee hearing as the panel examines Trump's efforts to use DOJ in his bid to stop Joe Biden from being sworn in as the country's 46th president.Read Full Story#unprecedentedA trailer for a documentary that centers on Trump and January 6 was released by Discovery Plus.Seth Herald/Getty ImagesHere's something that doesn't show up on the internet very often: a 30-second trailer for a new three-part documentary taking people behind the scenes of Donald Trump's presidency and the January 6 insurrection.But that's exactly what landed online late Wednesday via Discovery+, which shows footage of the new series titled "Unprecedented." The clip features Trump and his adult children Ivanka, Donald Trump Jr., and Eric Trump and closes with the ex-president himself agreeing to discuss the riot at the US Capitol. —discovery+ (@discoveryplus) June 23, 2022House January 6 investigators have the documentary footage too, courtesy of a subpoena that Politico reported about. And Trump allies were apparently in the dark about the filming, with one texting Rolling Stone: "what the fuck is this?"Read Full Story Hearings to resume at 3 p.m. ET Thursday with testimony expected from former DOJ officialsFormer Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen.Yuri Gripas-Pool/Getty ImagesThe January 6 commission's fifth hearing is expected to start at 3 p.m. Thursday, with testimony expected from former Trump-administration Justice Department officials. They are:Jeffrey Rosen, former acting attorney generalRichard Donoghue, former acting deputy attorney generalSteven Engel, former assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal CounselRosen served as acting attorney general in the final weeks of Trump's presidency. He previously told the committee how he came under persistent pressure from Trump to have the DOJ back Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election, as Insider's C. Ryan Barber reported.Toward the end of his presidency, Trump considered ousting Rosen and installing Jeffrey Clark, a supporter of the bogus voter-fraud claims, in his place, but ultimately decided not to after officials threatened to resign if he went through.Analysis: Trump shot himself in the foot by opposing a bipartisan Jan. 6 commission because now he has no allies to defend him in scathing public hearingsLawmakers listen as an image of a Trump campaign donation banner is shown behind them during a House January 6 committee hearing.Susan Walsh/APAs the House's January 6 committee lays out in devastating detail Donald Trump's effort to overturn his defeat in the 2020 election, the former president is turning his anger on House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Trump has complained about McCarthy's decision to boycott the panel, with the former president telling the Punchbowl newsletter on Wednesday: "Republicans don't have a voice. They don't even have anything to say."But Trump has no one but himself to blame for the situation, one of his Republican critics pointed out, as he was the one who opposed the formation of a bipartisan commission equally split between Republicans and Democrats to investigate the riot. Read Full StoryTrump is hate-watching every Jan. 6 hearing and almost screams at the TV because he feels nobody is defending him, report saysDonald TrumpJoe Raedle/Getty ImagesFormer President Donald Trump is hate-watching the January 6 committee hearings, incensed because he believes nobody is defending him, according to The Washington Post.Trump is at "the point of about to scream at the TV" as he tunes in to each hearing, one unnamed close advisor told the paper. Another in his circle, also unnamed, told the paper that Trump continually complains that "there's no one to defend me" at the hearings, which have attracted huge amounts of media coverage.Per The Post, Trump's anger centers on House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who boycotted the committee at its formation, passing up the chance to put pro-Trump figures on the panel.Read Full StoryDOJ issued subpoenas to alleged fake Trump electors and a Trump campaign official, reports sayA general view shows a House January 6 committee hearing on Capitol Hill on June 9, 2022.Mandel Ngan/POOL/AFP via Getty ImagesThe Justice Department expanded its investigation into the Capitol riot after issuing subpoenas to a would-be Trump elector in Georgia and a Trump campaign official who worked in Arizona and New Mexico, The Washington Post and The New York Times reported Wednesday.Arizona, Georgia, and New Mexico are among the seven battleground states where a failed effort to overturn the election took place by appointing pro-Trump electors.The news comes after Rep. Adam Schiff said the House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection obtained evidence that former President Donald Trump was involved in the aforementioned scheme.Read Full StoryTrump aides didn't know someone was filming Trump on January 6 until the House committee got the footage: reportsPresident Donald Trump listens as Jared Kushner speaks in the Oval Office of the White House on September 11, 2020.Andrew Harnik/AP PhotoAides to Donald Trump had no idea a documentary maker filmed the former president on January 6, 2021, until the House committee investigating that day subpoenaed the footage, reports said. The existence of the footage by UK documentarian Alex Holder was first reported by Politico on Tuesday.The outlet said that Holder complied with the House committee request and handed over several months of footage of Trump up to and including January 6. The New York Times reported that many top Trump advisors were surprised by news of the project, which was known to only a small circle of close Trump aides.Read Full StoryIvanka Trump claimed to believe Trump's false voter-fraud theories but later told Jan. 6 panel she didn't, report saysIvanka Trump.Drew Angerer/Getty ImagesIvanka Trump claimed to believe former President Donald Trump's false voter-fraud theories in a December 2020 interview, directly contradicting her testimony to congressional investigators earlier this year, a new report says.In April 2022, Trump had told the House committee investigating the Capitol riot that she had "accepted" former Attorney General Bill Barr's assessment that Donald Trump's claims of election fraud were wrong.But according to The New York Times, Ivanka Trump told the documentary filmmaker Alex Holder on December 10, 2020 — nine days after Barr made the assessment that supposedly swayed her — that she supported her father's efforts to challenge the 2020 election results.She said Trump should "continue to fight" the 2020 election results because Americans were questioning the "sanctity of our elections."Read Full StoryElection worker testifies that conspiracy theorists tried to citizen's arrest her grandmother after lies from Trump, GiulianiWandrea "Shaye" Moss, a former Georgia election worker, is comforted by her mother Ruby Freeman, right, during the House January 6 committee's hearing.AP Photo/Jacquelyn MartinA Georgia election worker testified that her grandmother faced a citizen's arrest by a group of election deniers who tried pushing their way into her house due to election lies told by former President Donald Trump and former personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.Wandrea "Shaye" Moss, an election worker in Fulton County, Georgia, told lawmakers during a January 6 select committee hearing that she and her mother Ruby Freeman, who worked as a short-term election worker in 2020, were among the workers counting ballots at State Farm Arena in Atlanta. When Giuliani and Trump accused those workers of orchestrating election fraud, Moss said her family faced death threats and were pushed out of town, living in Airbnbs for two months around January 6 at the FBI's recommendation.Moss said she endured racist harassment as well, adding that a group of people influenced by the election conspiracies showed up to her grandmother's house and tried to perform a citizen's arrest.Read Full StoryWhere's Pat Cipollone?Former White House Counsel Pat CipolloneAlex Wong/Getty ImagesPaging Pat Cipollone.The former White House counsel under then-President Donald Trump is now front and center as a top witness the House committee investigating the January 6 insurrection still wants to hear from.That's according to Rep. Liz Cheney, who publicly called Tuesday for Cipollone to testify about evidence the committee has collected showing that he "tried to do what was right" as  Trump pushed to overturn the 2020 election.Cheney also noted that the House panel is also "certain" Trump doesn't want Cipollone to testify. His previous job as Trump's top White House attorney could complicate the matter, though as Insider's Ryan Barber points out in his story, Bill Barr did participate in its investigation.Read Full StorySexualized texts, a break-in and doxxingsGeorgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger is sworn in to testify on Tuesday before the House select committee investigating the January 6 attack on the US Capitol.Jacquelyn Martin/AP PhotoTuesday's House select committee featured jaw-dropping testimony from election officials who detailed the threats they faced after refusing to go along with then President Donald Trump's bid to overturn the 2020 election results.One big dose of it came from Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who explained how he received texts from all over the US and eventually his wife became a target of harassment too. "My wife started getting the texts and hers typically came in as sexualized texts, which were disgusting," Raffensperger said during his testimony before the January 6 committee. "You have to understand that Trish and I met in high school and we have been married over 40 years now. They started going after her I think to probably put pressure on me: 'Why don't you just quit and walk away?'" Raffensperger also testified about Trump supporters who broke into the home of his daughter-in-law, a widow with two children. And he said his phone and email were doxxed, meaning that someone had posted the number and email publicly so that people would message him. Read Full StoryDeath threatsWandrea ArShaye “Shaye” Moss, a former Georgia election worker, is sworn in before January 6 committee on June 21, 2022.Kevin Dietsch/Getty ImagesA Black former Georgia election worker delivered stark testimony on Tuesday about the racist and deadly threats that came when President Donald Trump publicly attacked her and her mother amid his drive to overturn the 2020 election results.Insider's Bryan Metzger has more on the remarks from Wandrea ArShaye "Shaye" Moss, a veteran election official in Fulton County who ended up on the receiving end of myriad threats after Rudy Giuliani specifically named her and her mom when speaking to the Georgia state Senate."They included threats, a lot of threats wishing death upon me," Moss said. "Telling me that, you know, I'll be in jail with my mother, and saying things like, 'Be glad it's 2020 and not 1920.'" Read Full Story'We were just kind of useful idiots'Former President Donald Trump speaks during a rally in Delaware, Ohio, on April 23, 2022.Drew Angerer/Getty Images"We were just kind of useful idiots, or rubes at that point."That's a quote from former Donald Trump 2020 campaign staffer Robert Sinner describing to the House January 6 investigators his displeasure with a scheme to overturn now-President Joe Biden's 2020 victory in Georgia.Sinner's remarks were broadcast in a video recording shown during Tuesday's select committee hearing, Insider's John Dorman reports.Read Full Story Suspicious package found outside House hearing roomThe House panel investigating the January 6 insurrection.Photo by Jabin Botsford-Pool/Getty ImagesThe House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection kept on going Tuesday despite a suspicious package being found right outside the hearing room where the panel was meeting.Insider's Lauren Frias reported that the US Capitol Police officials did issue an all-clear about an hour after first sending out its alert. The police advised staff and visitors on the premises to stay away from the area during the incident. A Fox News producer tweeted that the package appeared to be an unattended backpack on top of a walker outside of the House building.Read Full Story'Do not give that to him'Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and former Vice President Mike Pence.Drew Angerer and Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty ImagesGOP Sen. Ron Johnson sought to deliver a slate of "alternate" electors to then-Vice President Mike Pence ahead of the counting of votes during a Joint Session of Congress on January 6, 2021.That's according to a series of eye-catching text messages first displayed by the January 6 committee on Tuesday, Insider's Bryan Metzger reported."Johnson needs to hand something to VPOTUS please advise," Sean Riley, Johnson's chief of staff, wrote of the materials that were related to "alternate" electors from two contested Midwestern states that Democratic nominee Joe Biden had narrowly carried: Michigan and Wisconsin. "What is it?" replied Chris Hodgson, a legislative aide to Pence."Alternate slate of elector for MI and WI because archivist didn't receive them," Riley replied."Do not give that to him," Hodgson replied.Read Full StoryRudy admitted to not having election fraud evidenceRudy Giuliani, former lawyer for President Donald Trump.William B. Plowman/NBC/NBC Newswire/NBCUniversal via Getty ImagesRudy Giuliani admitted to not having any evidence of election fraud after the 2020 presidential election despite repeatedly claiming he did, according to the Republican speaker of the Arizona state House."My recollection, he said, 'We've got lots of theories, we just don't have the evidence,'" Russell "Rusty" Bowers, the Arizona official, said in describing a conversation with then-President Donald Trump's personal attorney.Bowers, a Trump supporter, was testifying on Tuesday before the House January 6 select committee to recount his interactions with Giuliani and the Trump legal team surrounding the events of the last presidential election.He called the Trump team "a tragic parody" and compared them to the 1971 comedy "The Gang Who Couldn't Shoot Straight."Read Full Story A very real threat to the 2022 midtermsCouy Griffin, a central figure in a New Mexico county's refusal to certify recent election results based on debunked conspiracy theories about voting machines, has avoided more jail time for joining the mob that attacked the US Capitol.AP Photo/Gemunu AmarasingheThe House select committee's January 6 hearings have spotlighted the very real threat to future US elections, including the midterms coming up this November.That's the big takeaway from a story by Insider's Grace Panetta published Tuesday that looks at how a court had to intercede after New Mexico county commission initially refused to certify results from the state's June 7 primary."The election denial movement pushed by Trump and his allies that spurred so many to attack the Capitol on January 6 has now fanned out to county commissions, town halls, and polling places around the country, presenting wholly novel burdens on election officials and new threats to the health of American democracy," Grace wrote.Read Full StoryTrump is ready to abandon attorney John Eastman after he was criticized in committee hearings, report saysJohn Eastman at a pro-Trump rally on January 6, 2021.Jim Bourg/ReutersFormer President Donald Trump sees no reason to defend the conservative attorney John Eastman, Rolling Stone reported.The decision the outlet relayed came in light of the heavy scrutiny of Eastman in the Congressional Jan. 6 committee hearings, which detailed his role helping Trump try to overturn the 2020 election.Eastman wrote a memo detailing a last-ditch plan for Vice President Mike Pence to block Joe Biden's certification as president on January 6, 2021, at the Congressional proceeding which was interrupted by the Capitol riot.Citing two sources close to Trump, the outlet reported that the committee's focus on Eastman in its public hearings had bothered Trump, and that Trump has started distancing himself from the attorney.READ FULL STORYFull list of witness testifying on June 21Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers is among those scheduled to testify in the committee's June 21 hearing.AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, FileInsider's Warren Rojas has a roster of those scheduled to appear in the committee's public hearings. See the full list below.Read Full StoryJan. 6 committee subpoenas filmmaker who interviewed Trump before and after the riotTrump speaks to supporters from the Ellipse near the White House on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC.Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty ImagesThe January 6 committee sent a subpoena to Alex Holder, a documentary filmmaker who interviewed Trump before and after the Capitol riot, Politico's Playbook newsletter reported Tuesday.The existence of this footage had never been reported before, and Holder is expected to fully cooperate with the panel, Playbook reported.Holder also spent several months interviewing members of Trump's family, including his children Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump, and Eric Trump, and his son-in-law Jared Kushner, Playbook reported.The subpoena asked Holder to provide any raw footage he might have from the Capitol riot and interviews with Trump, his family, and former Vice President Mike Pence, as well as any footage he has of discussions about voter fraud in the 2020 election.Trump boasts he's been impeached twice and screams 'nothing matters!' amid ongoing January 6 hearingsFormer President Donald Trump gives the keynote address at the Faith and Freedom Coalition during their annual conference on June 17, 2022, in Nashville, Tennessee.Seth Herald/Getty ImagesFormer President Donald Trump on Friday bragged that he was impeached twice, while recycling his false claims about the 2020 election and attacking former Vice President Mike Pence and former Attorney General William Barr.Delivering a speech to the Faith and Freedom Coalition in Nashville, the former president said Pence didn't have the courage to embrace his effort to overturn the election and mocked Barr for being "afraid" of getting impeached."What's wrong with being impeached? I got impeached twice and my poll numbers went up," Trump said.Read Full StoryGinni Thomas says she 'can't wait' to talk to Jan. 6 committee after it asks for interview over her efforts to overturn 2020 electionGinni ThomasChip Somodevilla/Getty ImagesGinni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, said she "can't wait' to talk to the House January 6 commission after it asked to interview her over her efforts to overturn the 2020 election."I can't wait to clear up misconceptions. I look forward to talking to them," Thomas told the right-wing news site The Daily Caller. She did not say what those misconceptions might be.Her comments come after the House Select Committee investigating the Capitol riot announced that it had requested an interview with her. Rep. Bennie Thompson, the committee's chairman, said the panel wanted to talk to her "soon," Axios reported.Thomas faces scrutiny over her connections to former President Donald Trump's attempts to overturn the 2020 election. Read Full StoryEven on the day of the Capitol riot, Rudy Giuliani was still doubtful if Mike Pence had the power to overturn the election, says ex-Trump lawyerRudy Giuliani.Jacquelyn Martin/APEric Herschmann, a former Trump White House lawyer, revealed on Thursday that even on the morning of the Capitol riot, Rudy Giuliani was still debating whether then-Vice President Mike Pence had the power to overturn the votes in the 2020 election. Herschmann's testimony was aired on Thursday during the third of six public hearings organized by the January 6 committee investigating the Capitol riot. Thursday's session centered on the pressure exerted by the Trump camp in a bid to get Pence to overturn the vote.Herschmann said he received a call "out of the blue" from Giuliani on the morning of January 6, 2021, concerning what Pence's role would be that day."And, you know, he was asking me my view and analysis and then the practical implications of it," Herschmann said, who described the call as an "intellectual discussion." "And when we finished, he said, like, 'I believe that, you know, you're probably right.'" Read Full StoryMike Pence's former lawyer said he warned Trump's camp that overturning votes would lead to the 2020 election being 'decided in the streets'Then-US President Donald Trump arrives with then- Vice President Mike Pence for a "Make America Great Again" rally in Michigan on November 2, 2020.PhoPhoto by Brendan Smialowski / AFP via Getty ImagesA lawyer for former Vice President Mike Pence said that he strongly disagreed with conservative lawyer John Eastman about the Trump camp's plan to overturn the 2020 election result and warned Eastman that it might lead to violence in the streets.Testifying on Thursday before the January 6 panel investigating the Capitol riot, Greg Jacob said he had spoken to Eastman on January 5, 2021. During their conversation, Jacob said he expressed his "vociferous disagreement" with the plan for Pence to overturn the electoral vote on behalf of former President Donald Trump and send the votes back to their respective states. "Among other things, if the courts did not step in to resolve this, there was nobody else to resolve it," Jacob testified. Read Full StoryDemocracy on the brinkPeople arrive before a hearing of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, June 16, 2022.Drew Angerer/Pool Photo via APAmerican democracy was on the brink like no time ever before.That's the lede paragraph from Insider's Grace Panetta in her story that sums up the biggest takeaways from Thursday's historic and marathon third public hearing of the House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the US Capitol.Grace writes that the two lead witnesses, Greg Jacob and Michael Luttig, were steeped in legal expertise and constitutional scholarship as they explained at a granular and methodical level why neither the Electoral Count Act nor the 12th Amendment permitted then-Vice President Mike Pence to unilaterally reject Electoral College votes for President-elect Joe Biden.Then-President Donald Trump and one of his personal legal advisors, John Eastman, were pushing the vice president to do exactly that in a break with all of US history. Read Full StoryMAGA world a "clear and present danger to American democracy"Michael Luttig, a retired federal judge who was an adviser to former Vice President Mike Pence, looks at Greg Jacob, former counsel to Vice President Mike Pence, as he testifies before the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, June 16, 2022.J. Scott Applewhite/AP PhotoFormer President Donald Trump and his supporters remain a "clear and present danger to American democracy."Those were the startling words of Michael Luttig, a retired federal judge who has long been championed by Republicans. He made them near the end of Thursday's marathon House select committee hearing into the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the US Capitol.Luttig, who advised then-Vice President Mike Pence about his ceremonial role on January 6, also went on to say Trump world is being more than blunt about its plans to manipulate the results of the next election for the White House. "The former president and his allies are executing that blueprint for 2024 in open and plain view of the American public," Luttig testified, per Insider's Warren Rojas. Read Full Story'1 more relatively minor violation' of election law...please?Former Trump legal adviser John EastmanAP Photo/Susan WalshIt's perhaps one of the biggest bombshells to come out of Thursday's House select committee hearing on the Capitol insurrection: a Trump lawyer putting in writing a request to break the law.The no-no came from John Eastman, who sent an email at 11:44 p.m. on the night of January 6, 2021, repeated his demand that Vice President Mike Pence halt the proceedings to certify the 2020 election and send it back to the states for a period of 10 days."So now that the precedent has been set that the Electoral Count Act is not quite so sacrosanct as was previously claimed, I implore you to consider one more relatively minor violation and adjourn for 10 days to allow the legislatures to finish their investigations, as well as to allow a full forensic audit of the massive amount of illegal activity that has occurred here," Eastman wrote to Pence lawyer Greg Jacob.Insider's Jake Lahut writes that the Eastman email was sent after Jacob and the then-vice president's staff and family, had been sheltering in place in a secure location during the riot.Read Full StoryEastman asked Giuliani to be added to Trump's pardon listJohn Eastman appeared onstage with Rudy Giuliani at the pro-Trump rally that preceded the January 6 attack on the Capitol.Jim Bourg/ReutersThe House panel investigating the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the Capitol made some news on Thursday by disclosing evidence that conservative lawyer John Eastman wanted to get added to lame-duck President Donald Trump's pardon list.Eastman was pushing to overturn the 2020 election, and as Insider's Oma Seddiq reports, his efforts prompted an email to personal Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani. "I've decided I should be on the pardon list, if that is still in the works," Eastman wrote  to Giuliani, according to Rep. Pete Aguilar, a lawmaker on the January 6 panel who read the email during Thursday's hearing. Eastman ultimately did not receive a pardon. Read Full StoryAides say Trump called Pence 'P-word' and 'wimp' on Jan. 6 callTrump and Pence at a White House event on July 13, 2020.AP Photo/Evan VucciThe language got pretty profane in the White House on the morning of January 6, 2021, Insider's Bryan Metzger reports.That's according to former aides who testified to the House select committee investigating the Capitol insurrection about a call then-President Donald Trump made to Mike Pence, his vice president."I remember hearing the word 'wimp'. Either he called him a wimp — I don't remember if he said, 'you are a wimp, you'll be a wimp' — wimp is the word I remember," said Nicholas Luna, a former assistant to Trump.Julie Radford, who served as Ivanka Trump's chief of staff, told the committee that Ivanka told her that the president "just had an upsetting conversation with the Vice President" in which he called Pence "the P-word."Read Full Story'Secret' MAGA back channel Jan. 6 investigators are teasing is also Oath Keepers' legal defenseStewart Rhodes, founder of the citizen militia group known as the Oath Keepers speaks during a rally outside the White House in Washington, on June 25, 2017.Susan Walsh/APThe House January 6 investigators keep on teasing how there'll soon be upcoming testimony that reveals secret coordination between Trumpworld and extremist groups.But as Insider's Laura Italiano points out in a new story, the Oath Keepers have long boasted of such a back channel.In fact, leader and founder Elmer Stewart Rhodes and other members of the pro-Trump militia are staking their seditious-conspiracy defense case on these yet-described communications with rally organizers.Read Full StoryCruz wanted the ex-judge testifying against Trump as a SCOTUS justiceRepublican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and retired Judge Michael Luttig.AP Photos/Manuel Balce Ceneta and Susan WalshThere's an interesting twist to the retired conservative federal Judge Michael Luttig testifying as a key witness in Thursday's January 6 committee hearing.Insider's Bryan Metzger dug up video from the 2016 GOP presidential primary debates showing Luttig was once named by Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas as an ideal Supreme Court nominee.—bryan metzger (@metzgov) June 16, 2022 Bryan writes that it was "yet another example of just how much former President Donald Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results has divided the conservative legal world."Read Full Story   DOJ: House's 'failure' to share transcripts hurting Jan. 6 investigationsTrump supporters clash with police and security forces as people try to storm the Capitol on January 6, 2021 in Washington.Brent Stirton/Getty ImagesMore public tension is emerging between the Justice Department and the House panel investigating the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the US Capitol.Insider's Ryan Barber has the details on a new letter sent Wednesday from the top US attorney in Washington DC to the House panel. There, the DOJ official says that the House panel has complicated criminal cases with its 'failure' to turn over interview transcripts to prosecutions.DOJ is looking for access to more than 1,000 interviews the congressional panel has conducted during its months-long examination of the Capitol attack and former President Donald Trump's effort to overturn the 2020 election.Read Full StoryJudge Luttig: If Pence tossed valid electoral votes it would have been 'a revolution'Michael Luttig, a retired federal judge who was an adviser to former Vice President Mike Pence, testifies Thursday to the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.AP Photo/Susan WalshSome really powerful testimony to start Thursday's January 6 select committee hearing from former federal judge J. Michael Luttig.In his opening remarks, he told the panel investigating the insurrection at the US Capitol that Vice President Mike Pence overturning the 2020 election would've pushed the country into 'the first constitutional crisis since the founding of the republic.'"That declaration of Donald Trump as the next president would have launched America into what I believe would have been tantamount to a revolution within a constitutional crisis in America which in my view would have been the first constitutional crisis since the founding of the Republic," Luttig told lawmakers during a hearing Thursday. Read Full StoryFormer Pence counsel says 'the law is not a plaything' for presidentsVice President Mike PenceScott J. Applewhite/APMike Pence's former counsel Greg Jacob is a lead witness in Thursday's third public hearing for the House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol.In his written statement submitted before the hearing, Jacob called serving the vice president "the honor of a lifetime," while also warning that the rule of law is "not a plaything" for political leaders to bend per their whim."The law is not a plaything for presidents or judges to use to remake the world in their preferred image," he wrote. "Our Constitution and our laws form the strong edifice within which our heartfelt policy disagreements are to be debated and decided."Insider's Grace Panetta has more on Jacob's testimony and spells out why he was a key figure in rebuffing the intense pressure campaign and efforts to compel Pence to obstruct or meddle with the count. Read Full StoryJanuary 6 committee says it will 'soon' seek interview with Ginni ThomasConservative activist Ginni Thomas and January 6 committee chair Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi.AP Photos/Susan Walsh and J. Scott ApplewhiteConservative activist Ginni Thomas, the wife of conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, should be expecting an interview request soon from the House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol."We think it's time that we, at some point, invite her to come talk to the committee," Rep. Bennie Thompson, the Democratic chair of the panel, told Axios' Andrew Solender. He added that the invitation would come "soon."Thomas has recently come under scrutiny for her role in seeking to overturn the 2020 election, including emailing Trump lawyer John Eastman and pressuring 29 state legislators in Arizona to overturn the state's 2020 election results.Read Full Story  Meet the former Trump attorney starring in the January 6 hearingEric Herschmann, former White House attorney, speaks with the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol on June 13, 2022.(House Select Committee via APAnyone remember Eric Herschmann? The White House attorney burst into the national spotlight defending President Donald Trump during his first Senate impeachment trial way back in the early pre-pandemic days of 2020.Now he's back, but for a very different reason.That's the story that Oma Seddiq just delivered for Insider readers ahead of Thursday's House January 6 hearing profiling Herschmann. He's been in the news as video clips make the rounds of his testimony where he talks about warning Trump and his allies after the presidential election that there was no proof the race was rigged and stolen, and their efforts may be illegal. In addition to his colorful language, Herschmann has drawn notice because he gave his deposition in a room with a baseball bat hanging on the wall and the word "JUSTICE" inscribed on it in bold, white letters. Observers also have noted a large painting behind him of a panda, by the artist Rob Pruitt, is similar to one that appeared in the 2015 erotic drama "50 Shades of Grey."Read Full StoryNick Quested explains how it felt to testify before the January 6 committeeBritish filmmaker Nick Queste.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJun 28th, 2022

Jan. 6 live updates: Committee announces surprise hearing on Tuesday to reveal "recently obtained evidence"

The House select committee is investigating the Capitol riot and the role Donald Trump and his allies played in trying to overturn the 2020 election. Lawmakers listen as an image of a Trump campaign donation banner is shown behind them during a House January 6 committee hearing.Susan Walsh/AP The House committee investigating the Capitol riot is holding a surprise hearing at 1 pm EST Tuesday. Lawmakers will present "recently obtained evidence" and feature witnesses, whom they did not name. Congress is on recess, and the chair had earlier said there'd be no more hearings until July. Select committee announces surprise hearing.January 6 committee chair Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi speaks to reporters following the committee’s fifth hearing on June 23, 2022.Brandon Bell/Getty ImagesThe Jan. 6 select committee announced it would hold a sixth hearing to start Tuesday at 1pm ET during the congressional recess and despite previous statements that it would hold its next hearings in July.A committee advisory said it would present "recently obtained evidence" and feature witnesses, whom it did not name.Read Full StoryJanuary 6 hearing takeaways: Pardon pleas, more Bill Barr, and a riveting account of how Trump turned to the Justice Department and a loyal lawyer to 'help legitimize his lies'TheBill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)Spanning more than two hours in the late afternoon, the House January 6 committee's fifth public hearing captured the drama that unfolded inside the Justice Department and White House as Trump looked to some of the country's most senior and important law enforcement officials to help him remain in power.READ FULL STORYMatt Gaetz 'personally' pushed for a pardon from Trump 'from the beginning of time up until today, for any and all things,' Trump officials testifyRepublican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida at the White House on May 8, 2020.Anna Moneymaker-Pool/Getty ImagesThe January 6 committee aired a series of video testimonies from former Trump administration officials detailing which Republican members of Congress sought pardons from former President Donald Trump at the end of his term as he and his allies exhausted different avenues to stay in power.Most prominently featured: Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida.According to various officials who spoke with the committee, Gaetz began pushing for a pardon well before other Republicans who were involved in the attempt to overturn the 2020 election."Mr. Gaetz was personally pushing for a pardon, and he was doing so since early December," said Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, in testimony aired by the committee on Thursday.READ FULL STORYFox News cut away from the Jan. 6 hearing minutes before testimony by Trump aides about GOP lawmakers who sought pardonsPlaque at the entrance to Fox News headquarters in New YorkErik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty ImagesJust as former Department of Justice Officials were detailing how they threatened to resign en masse if former President Donald Trump went ahead with his efforts to overturn the 2020 election results, Fox News cut away to air its previously scheduled talk show, "The Five."CNN and MSNBC aired the hearings in full, which ended with Rep. Adam Kinzinger listing six GOP lawmakers whom Trump aides testified sought pardons in the administration's final weeks.Other than the first of the five hearings so far, Fox News has carried the proceedings without commercial breaks, save for recesses during the proceedings.READ FULL STORYDOJ officials threatened to resign if Jeffrey Clark was appointed Attorney GeneralJeff ClarkYuri Gripas-Pool/Getty ImagesTop officials at the US Department of Justice threatened to resign if former President Donald Trump succeeded in making loyalist Jeff Clark the acting Attorney General, per testimony before the January 6 committee on Thursday.Richard Donoghue, former acting deputy attorney general, said that the pledge to resign was made on a phone call in the wake of reports that Trump was considering installing Clark, who at the time was promoting unfounded conspiracy theories about the 2020 election."They would resign en masse if the president made that change," Donoghue told the committee. "All without hesitation said they would resign."At least six GOP members of Congress sought pardons after January 6, 2021, per testimony from a former White House aideRep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., joined from left by Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, and Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., speaks at a news conference about the treatment of people being held in the District of Columbia jail who are charged with crimes in the Jan. 6 insurrection, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021.J. Scott Applewhite/APCassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, testified Wednesday before the January 6 House panel that at least six House members asked the White House for a pardon following the Capitol siege.According to Hutchinson, Republican Reps. Matt Gaetz of Florida, Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Mo Brooks of Alabama, Andy Biggs of Arizona, Louie Gohmert of Texas, and Scott Perry of Pennsylvania requested pardons.The former White House aide added that GOP Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio asked for an "update on whether the White House is going to pardon members of Congress" but did not personally ask for one.Keep Reading Trump suggested sending letter to states alleging 2020 election fraud, a former acting Attorney General Jeff Rosen testifiedFormer acting Attorney General Jeff Rosen has already testified about Trump's efforts to pressure DOJ.Yuri Gripas-Pool/Getty ImagesFormer acting Attorney General Jeff Rosen said on Thursday that then-President Donald Trump suggested that the Justice Department send letters to state legislatures in Georgia and other states alleging that there was voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election despite knowing there was no such evidence.Rosen told lawmakers on the House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection that during Trump's final days in office, the former president and his campaign suggested several strategies for the Justice Department to overturn the presidential election results. These tactics included filing a lawsuit with the Supreme Court, making public statements, and holding a press conference."The Justice Department declined all of those requests that I was just referencing because we did not think they were appropriate based on the facts and the law, as we understood," Rosen said.Read MoreA former Trump DOJ official testified that former President Donald Trump urged him and other officials to 'just say the election was corrupt'Notes from Richard Donoghue displayed at the January 6 committee's hearing on June 23, 2022.Screenshot / C-SPANThe January 6 committee on Thursday displayed scans of notes taken by Richard Donoghue, then the acting deputy attorney general serving out the final days of the Trump administration.One note, displayed as Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois led the committee's questioning, included an apparent plea from then-President Donald Trump to "just say the election was corrupt" and "leave the rest to me and the [Republican] congressmen."Read Full StoryBill Barr says he's 'not sure we would have had a transition at all' to Biden if DOJ hadn't investigated Trump's baseless voter fraud claimsFormer Attorney General Bill Barr and former President Donald TrumpDrew Angerer/Getty ImagesFormer Attorney General William Barr said he was "not sure we would have had a transition at all" if the Justice Department had not investigated Donald Trump's claims of widespread voter fraud and found them baseless.In a closed-door deposition, Barr suggested to the House committee investigating the January 6 attack that Trump might not have left office voluntarily if DOJ had not proactively examined the election fraud claims ahead of Joe Biden's inauguration. Read Full Story'You would be committing a felony'Eric Herschmann spoke to the Jan. 6 committee on Thursday.Senate Television via APFormer White House attorney Eric Herschmann told the committee that he brutally mocked a plan from a Trump loyalist to hijack control of the Justice Department in a last-ditch effort to overturn the 2020 election."And when he finished discussing what he planned on doing, I said, 'good, fucking, excuse me, f-ing, a-hole, congratulations you just admitted that your first step or act you would take as attorney general would be committing a felony and violating rule 6c," Herschmann told the panel, per an excerpt of his previously private deposition that was released on Thursday.Read Full Story  Fast times in the CapitolActor Sean Penn and DC Metropolitan Police Department officer Daniel Hodges at the January 6 committee hearing on Capitol Hill on June 23, 2022.AP Photo/Jacquelyn MartinSean Penn is in the House.The actor and well known Hollywood activist made an unexpected appearance at the fifth hearing of the House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection. "I'm just here to observe — just another citizen," Penn told a CNN reporter. "I think we all saw what happened on January 6 and now we're looking to see if justice comes on the other side of it."Read Full StoryLiz Cheney is mailing instructions to Democrats on how to change parties and vote for her in Wyoming's GOP primaryU.S. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) Vice Chairwoman of the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol, delivers remarks during a hearing on the January 6th investigation on June 9, 2022.Win McNamee/Getty ImagesAs Rep. Liz Cheney faces a tough reelection battle in Wyoming, she's turning to Democrats in her home state to help her chances in the August 16 Republican primary.Cheney's campaign has mailed instructions to Wyoming Democrats on how to change their party affiliation to vote for the incumbent congresswoman, The New York Times reported on Thursday. Under Wyoming law, voters must be registered as a Democrat or a Republican in order to vote in that party's primary election. Read Full StoryFeds search home of former top Trump DOJ officialJeff ClarkYuri Gripas-Pool/Getty ImagesWe've got a major development that surfaced Thursday into what appears to be a widening federal investigation into Donald Trump's bid to overturn the 2020 presidential election.Federal investigators on Wednesday searched the Northern Virginia home of Jeff Clark, a former top Justice Department official who became the go-to Trump ally trying to push DOJ into backing the then-president's baseless claims about voter fraud.ABC News first reported this, and a DOJ spokesperson has since confirmed to Insider's Ryan Barber that law enforcement activity did indeed happen in the Washington DC suburb where Clark lives. The spokesperson wouldn't comment on the nature of the activity or about any specific indiviuals.Expect to hear Clark's name a couple times or more during Thursday's House select committee hearing as the panel examines Trump's efforts to use DOJ in his bid to stop Joe Biden from being sworn in as the country's 46th president.Read Full Story#unprecedentedA trailer for a documentary that centers on Trump and January 6 was released by Discovery Plus.Seth Herald/Getty ImagesHere's something that doesn't show up on the internet very often: a 30-second trailer for a new three-part documentary taking people behind the scenes of Donald Trump's presidency and the January 6 insurrection.But that's exactly what landed online late Wednesday via Discovery+, which shows footage of the new series titled "Unprecedented." The clip features Trump and his adult children Ivanka, Donald Trump Jr., and Eric Trump and closes with the ex-president himself agreeing to discuss the riot at the US Capitol. —discovery+ (@discoveryplus) June 23, 2022House January 6 investigators have the documentary footage too, courtesy of a subpoena that Politico reported about. And Trump allies were apparently in the dark about the filming, with one texting Rolling Stone: "what the fuck is this?"Read Full Story Hearings to resume at 3 p.m. ET Thursday with testimony expected from former DOJ officialsFormer Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen.Yuri Gripas-Pool/Getty ImagesThe January 6 commission's fifth hearing is expected to start at 3 p.m. Thursday, with testimony expected from former Trump-administration Justice Department officials. They are:Jeffrey Rosen, former acting attorney generalRichard Donoghue, former acting deputy attorney generalSteven Engel, former assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal CounselRosen served as acting attorney general in the final weeks of Trump's presidency. He previously told the committee how he came under persistent pressure from Trump to have the DOJ back Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election, as Insider's C. Ryan Barber reported.Toward the end of his presidency, Trump considered ousting Rosen and installing Jeffrey Clark, a supporter of the bogus voter-fraud claims, in his place, but ultimately decided not to after officials threatened to resign if he went through.Analysis: Trump shot himself in the foot by opposing a bipartisan Jan. 6 commission because now he has no allies to defend him in scathing public hearingsLawmakers listen as an image of a Trump campaign donation banner is shown behind them during a House January 6 committee hearing.Susan Walsh/APAs the House's January 6 committee lays out in devastating detail Donald Trump's effort to overturn his defeat in the 2020 election, the former president is turning his anger on House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Trump has complained about McCarthy's decision to boycott the panel, with the former president telling the Punchbowl newsletter on Wednesday: "Republicans don't have a voice. They don't even have anything to say."But Trump has no one but himself to blame for the situation, one of his Republican critics pointed out, as he was the one who opposed the formation of a bipartisan commission equally split between Republicans and Democrats to investigate the riot. Read Full StoryTrump is hate-watching every Jan. 6 hearing and almost screams at the TV because he feels nobody is defending him, report saysDonald TrumpJoe Raedle/Getty ImagesFormer President Donald Trump is hate-watching the January 6 committee hearings, incensed because he believes nobody is defending him, according to The Washington Post.Trump is at "the point of about to scream at the TV" as he tunes in to each hearing, one unnamed close advisor told the paper. Another in his circle, also unnamed, told the paper that Trump continually complains that "there's no one to defend me" at the hearings, which have attracted huge amounts of media coverage.Per The Post, Trump's anger centers on House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who boycotted the committee at its formation, passing up the chance to put pro-Trump figures on the panel.Read Full StoryDOJ issued subpoenas to alleged fake Trump electors and a Trump campaign official, reports sayA general view shows a House January 6 committee hearing on Capitol Hill on June 9, 2022.Mandel Ngan/POOL/AFP via Getty ImagesThe Justice Department expanded its investigation into the Capitol riot after issuing subpoenas to a would-be Trump elector in Georgia and a Trump campaign official who worked in Arizona and New Mexico, The Washington Post and The New York Times reported Wednesday.Arizona, Georgia, and New Mexico are among the seven battleground states where a failed effort to overturn the election took place by appointing pro-Trump electors.The news comes after Rep. Adam Schiff said the House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection obtained evidence that former President Donald Trump was involved in the aforementioned scheme.Read Full StoryTrump aides didn't know someone was filming Trump on January 6 until the House committee got the footage: reportsPresident Donald Trump listens as Jared Kushner speaks in the Oval Office of the White House on September 11, 2020.Andrew Harnik/AP PhotoAides to Donald Trump had no idea a documentary maker filmed the former president on January 6, 2021, until the House committee investigating that day subpoenaed the footage, reports said. The existence of the footage by UK documentarian Alex Holder was first reported by Politico on Tuesday.The outlet said that Holder complied with the House committee request and handed over several months of footage of Trump up to and including January 6. The New York Times reported that many top Trump advisors were surprised by news of the project, which was known to only a small circle of close Trump aides.Read Full StoryIvanka Trump claimed to believe Trump's false voter-fraud theories but later told Jan. 6 panel she didn't, report saysIvanka Trump.Drew Angerer/Getty ImagesIvanka Trump claimed to believe former President Donald Trump's false voter-fraud theories in a December 2020 interview, directly contradicting her testimony to congressional investigators earlier this year, a new report says.In April 2022, Trump had told the House committee investigating the Capitol riot that she had "accepted" former Attorney General Bill Barr's assessment that Donald Trump's claims of election fraud were wrong.But according to The New York Times, Ivanka Trump told the documentary filmmaker Alex Holder on December 10, 2020 — nine days after Barr made the assessment that supposedly swayed her — that she supported her father's efforts to challenge the 2020 election results.She said Trump should "continue to fight" the 2020 election results because Americans were questioning the "sanctity of our elections."Read Full StoryElection worker testifies that conspiracy theorists tried to citizen's arrest her grandmother after lies from Trump, GiulianiWandrea "Shaye" Moss, a former Georgia election worker, is comforted by her mother Ruby Freeman, right, during the House January 6 committee's hearing.AP Photo/Jacquelyn MartinA Georgia election worker testified that her grandmother faced a citizen's arrest by a group of election deniers who tried pushing their way into her house due to election lies told by former President Donald Trump and former personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.Wandrea "Shaye" Moss, an election worker in Fulton County, Georgia, told lawmakers during a January 6 select committee hearing that she and her mother Ruby Freeman, who worked as a short-term election worker in 2020, were among the workers counting ballots at State Farm Arena in Atlanta. When Giuliani and Trump accused those workers of orchestrating election fraud, Moss said her family faced death threats and were pushed out of town, living in Airbnbs for two months around January 6 at the FBI's recommendation.Moss said she endured racist harassment as well, adding that a group of people influenced by the election conspiracies showed up to her grandmother's house and tried to perform a citizen's arrest.Read Full StoryWhere's Pat Cipollone?Former White House Counsel Pat CipolloneAlex Wong/Getty ImagesPaging Pat Cipollone.The former White House counsel under then-President Donald Trump is now front and center as a top witness the House committee investigating the January 6 insurrection still wants to hear from.That's according to Rep. Liz Cheney, who publicly called Tuesday for Cipollone to testify about evidence the committee has collected showing that he "tried to do what was right" as  Trump pushed to overturn the 2020 election.Cheney also noted that the House panel is also "certain" Trump doesn't want Cipollone to testify. His previous job as Trump's top White House attorney could complicate the matter, though as Insider's Ryan Barber points out in his story, Bill Barr did participate in its investigation.Read Full StorySexualized texts, a break-in and doxxingsGeorgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger is sworn in to testify on Tuesday before the House select committee investigating the January 6 attack on the US Capitol.Jacquelyn Martin/AP PhotoTuesday's House select committee featured jaw-dropping testimony from election officials who detailed the threats they faced after refusing to go along with then President Donald Trump's bid to overturn the 2020 election results.One big dose of it came from Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who explained how he received texts from all over the US and eventually his wife became a target of harassment too. "My wife started getting the texts and hers typically came in as sexualized texts, which were disgusting," Raffensperger said during his testimony before the January 6 committee. "You have to understand that Trish and I met in high school and we have been married over 40 years now. They started going after her I think to probably put pressure on me: 'Why don't you just quit and walk away?'" Raffensperger also testified about Trump supporters who broke into the home of his daughter-in-law, a widow with two children. And he said his phone and email were doxxed, meaning that someone had posted the number and email publicly so that people would message him. Read Full StoryDeath threatsWandrea ArShaye “Shaye” Moss, a former Georgia election worker, is sworn in before January 6 committee on June 21, 2022.Kevin Dietsch/Getty ImagesA Black former Georgia election worker delivered stark testimony on Tuesday about the racist and deadly threats that came when President Donald Trump publicly attacked her and her mother amid his drive to overturn the 2020 election results.Insider's Bryan Metzger has more on the remarks from Wandrea ArShaye "Shaye" Moss, a veteran election official in Fulton County who ended up on the receiving end of myriad threats after Rudy Giuliani specifically named her and her mom when speaking to the Georgia state Senate."They included threats, a lot of threats wishing death upon me," Moss said. "Telling me that, you know, I'll be in jail with my mother, and saying things like, 'Be glad it's 2020 and not 1920.'" Read Full Story'We were just kind of useful idiots'Former President Donald Trump speaks during a rally in Delaware, Ohio, on April 23, 2022.Drew Angerer/Getty Images"We were just kind of useful idiots, or rubes at that point."That's a quote from former Donald Trump 2020 campaign staffer Robert Sinner describing to the House January 6 investigators his displeasure with a scheme to overturn now-President Joe Biden's 2020 victory in Georgia.Sinner's remarks were broadcast in a video recording shown during Tuesday's select committee hearing, Insider's John Dorman reports.Read Full Story Suspicious package found outside House hearing roomThe House panel investigating the January 6 insurrection.Photo by Jabin Botsford-Pool/Getty ImagesThe House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection kept on going Tuesday despite a suspicious package being found right outside the hearing room where the panel was meeting.Insider's Lauren Frias reported that the US Capitol Police officials did issue an all-clear about an hour after first sending out its alert. The police advised staff and visitors on the premises to stay away from the area during the incident. A Fox News producer tweeted that the package appeared to be an unattended backpack on top of a walker outside of the House building.Read Full Story'Do not give that to him'Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and former Vice President Mike Pence.Drew Angerer and Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty ImagesGOP Sen. Ron Johnson sought to deliver a slate of "alternate" electors to then-Vice President Mike Pence ahead of the counting of votes during a Joint Session of Congress on January 6, 2021.That's according to a series of eye-catching text messages first displayed by the January 6 committee on Tuesday, Insider's Bryan Metzger reported."Johnson needs to hand something to VPOTUS please advise," Sean Riley, Johnson's chief of staff, wrote of the materials that were related to "alternate" electors from two contested Midwestern states that Democratic nominee Joe Biden had narrowly carried: Michigan and Wisconsin. "What is it?" replied Chris Hodgson, a legislative aide to Pence."Alternate slate of elector for MI and WI because archivist didn't receive them," Riley replied."Do not give that to him," Hodgson replied.Read Full StoryRudy admitted to not having election fraud evidenceRudy Giuliani, former lawyer for President Donald Trump.William B. Plowman/NBC/NBC Newswire/NBCUniversal via Getty ImagesRudy Giuliani admitted to not having any evidence of election fraud after the 2020 presidential election despite repeatedly claiming he did, according to the Republican speaker of the Arizona state House."My recollection, he said, 'We've got lots of theories, we just don't have the evidence,'" Russell "Rusty" Bowers, the Arizona official, said in describing a conversation with then-President Donald Trump's personal attorney.Bowers, a Trump supporter, was testifying on Tuesday before the House January 6 select committee to recount his interactions with Giuliani and the Trump legal team surrounding the events of the last presidential election.He called the Trump team "a tragic parody" and compared them to the 1971 comedy "The Gang Who Couldn't Shoot Straight."Read Full Story A very real threat to the 2022 midtermsCouy Griffin, a central figure in a New Mexico county's refusal to certify recent election results based on debunked conspiracy theories about voting machines, has avoided more jail time for joining the mob that attacked the US Capitol.AP Photo/Gemunu AmarasingheThe House select committee's January 6 hearings have spotlighted the very real threat to future US elections, including the midterms coming up this November.That's the big takeaway from a story by Insider's Grace Panetta published Tuesday that looks at how a court had to intercede after New Mexico county commission initially refused to certify results from the state's June 7 primary."The election denial movement pushed by Trump and his allies that spurred so many to attack the Capitol on January 6 has now fanned out to county commissions, town halls, and polling places around the country, presenting wholly novel burdens on election officials and new threats to the health of American democracy," Grace wrote.Read Full StoryTrump is ready to abandon attorney John Eastman after he was criticized in committee hearings, report saysJohn Eastman at a pro-Trump rally on January 6, 2021.Jim Bourg/ReutersFormer President Donald Trump sees no reason to defend the conservative attorney John Eastman, Rolling Stone reported.The decision the outlet relayed came in light of the heavy scrutiny of Eastman in the Congressional Jan. 6 committee hearings, which detailed his role helping Trump try to overturn the 2020 election.Eastman wrote a memo detailing a last-ditch plan for Vice President Mike Pence to block Joe Biden's certification as president on January 6, 2021, at the Congressional proceeding which was interrupted by the Capitol riot.Citing two sources close to Trump, the outlet reported that the committee's focus on Eastman in its public hearings had bothered Trump, and that Trump has started distancing himself from the attorney.READ FULL STORYFull list of witness testifying on June 21Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers is among those scheduled to testify in the committee's June 21 hearing.AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, FileInsider's Warren Rojas has a roster of those scheduled to appear in the committee's public hearings. See the full list below.Read Full StoryJan. 6 committee subpoenas filmmaker who interviewed Trump before and after the riotTrump speaks to supporters from the Ellipse near the White House on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC.Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty ImagesThe January 6 committee sent a subpoena to Alex Holder, a documentary filmmaker who interviewed Trump before and after the Capitol riot, Politico's Playbook newsletter reported Tuesday.The existence of this footage had never been reported before, and Holder is expected to fully cooperate with the panel, Playbook reported.Holder also spent several months interviewing members of Trump's family, including his children Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump, and Eric Trump, and his son-in-law Jared Kushner, Playbook reported.The subpoena asked Holder to provide any raw footage he might have from the Capitol riot and interviews with Trump, his family, and former Vice President Mike Pence, as well as any footage he has of discussions about voter fraud in the 2020 election.Trump boasts he's been impeached twice and screams 'nothing matters!' amid ongoing January 6 hearingsFormer President Donald Trump gives the keynote address at the Faith and Freedom Coalition during their annual conference on June 17, 2022, in Nashville, Tennessee.Seth Herald/Getty ImagesFormer President Donald Trump on Friday bragged that he was impeached twice, while recycling his false claims about the 2020 election and attacking former Vice President Mike Pence and former Attorney General William Barr.Delivering a speech to the Faith and Freedom Coalition in Nashville, the former president said Pence didn't have the courage to embrace his effort to overturn the election and mocked Barr for being "afraid" of getting impeached."What's wrong with being impeached? I got impeached twice and my poll numbers went up," Trump said.Read Full StoryGinni Thomas says she 'can't wait' to talk to Jan. 6 committee after it asks for interview over her efforts to overturn 2020 electionGinni ThomasChip Somodevilla/Getty ImagesGinni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, said she "can't wait' to talk to the House January 6 commission after it asked to interview her over her efforts to overturn the 2020 election."I can't wait to clear up misconceptions. I look forward to talking to them," Thomas told the right-wing news site The Daily Caller. She did not say what those misconceptions might be.Her comments come after the House Select Committee investigating the Capitol riot announced that it had requested an interview with her. Rep. Bennie Thompson, the committee's chairman, said the panel wanted to talk to her "soon," Axios reported.Thomas faces scrutiny over her connections to former President Donald Trump's attempts to overturn the 2020 election. Read Full StoryEven on the day of the Capitol riot, Rudy Giuliani was still doubtful if Mike Pence had the power to overturn the election, says ex-Trump lawyerRudy Giuliani.Jacquelyn Martin/APEric Herschmann, a former Trump White House lawyer, revealed on Thursday that even on the morning of the Capitol riot, Rudy Giuliani was still debating whether then-Vice President Mike Pence had the power to overturn the votes in the 2020 election. Herschmann's testimony was aired on Thursday during the third of six public hearings organized by the January 6 committee investigating the Capitol riot. Thursday's session centered on the pressure exerted by the Trump camp in a bid to get Pence to overturn the vote.Herschmann said he received a call "out of the blue" from Giuliani on the morning of January 6, 2021, concerning what Pence's role would be that day."And, you know, he was asking me my view and analysis and then the practical implications of it," Herschmann said, who described the call as an "intellectual discussion." "And when we finished, he said, like, 'I believe that, you know, you're probably right.'" Read Full StoryMike Pence's former lawyer said he warned Trump's camp that overturning votes would lead to the 2020 election being 'decided in the streets'Then-US President Donald Trump arrives with then- Vice President Mike Pence for a "Make America Great Again" rally in Michigan on November 2, 2020.PhoPhoto by Brendan Smialowski / AFP via Getty ImagesA lawyer for former Vice President Mike Pence said that he strongly disagreed with conservative lawyer John Eastman about the Trump camp's plan to overturn the 2020 election result and warned Eastman that it might lead to violence in the streets.Testifying on Thursday before the January 6 panel investigating the Capitol riot, Greg Jacob said he had spoken to Eastman on January 5, 2021. During their conversation, Jacob said he expressed his "vociferous disagreement" with the plan for Pence to overturn the electoral vote on behalf of former President Donald Trump and send the votes back to their respective states. "Among other things, if the courts did not step in to resolve this, there was nobody else to resolve it," Jacob testified. Read Full StoryDemocracy on the brinkPeople arrive before a hearing of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, June 16, 2022.Drew Angerer/Pool Photo via APAmerican democracy was on the brink like no time ever before.That's the lede paragraph from Insider's Grace Panetta in her story that sums up the biggest takeaways from Thursday's historic and marathon third public hearing of the House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the US Capitol.Grace writes that the two lead witnesses, Greg Jacob and Michael Luttig, were steeped in legal expertise and constitutional scholarship as they explained at a granular and methodical level why neither the Electoral Count Act nor the 12th Amendment permitted then-Vice President Mike Pence to unilaterally reject Electoral College votes for President-elect Joe Biden.Then-President Donald Trump and one of his personal legal advisors, John Eastman, were pushing the vice president to do exactly that in a break with all of US history. Read Full StoryMAGA world a "clear and present danger to American democracy"Michael Luttig, a retired federal judge who was an adviser to former Vice President Mike Pence, looks at Greg Jacob, former counsel to Vice President Mike Pence, as he testifies before the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, June 16, 2022.J. Scott Applewhite/AP PhotoFormer President Donald Trump and his supporters remain a "clear and present danger to American democracy."Those were the startling words of Michael Luttig, a retired federal judge who has long been championed by Republicans. He made them near the end of Thursday's marathon House select committee hearing into the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the US Capitol.Luttig, who advised then-Vice President Mike Pence about his ceremonial role on January 6, also went on to say Trump world is being more than blunt about its plans to manipulate the results of the next election for the White House. "The former president and his allies are executing that blueprint for 2024 in open and plain view of the American public," Luttig testified, per Insider's Warren Rojas. Read Full Story'1 more relatively minor violation' of election law...please?Former Trump legal adviser John EastmanAP Photo/Susan WalshIt's perhaps one of the biggest bombshells to come out of Thursday's House select committee hearing on the Capitol insurrection: a Trump lawyer putting in writing a request to break the law.The no-no came from John Eastman, who sent an email at 11:44 p.m. on the night of January 6, 2021, repeated his demand that Vice President Mike Pence halt the proceedings to certify the 2020 election and send it back to the states for a period of 10 days."So now that the precedent has been set that the Electoral Count Act is not quite so sacrosanct as was previously claimed, I implore you to consider one more relatively minor violation and adjourn for 10 days to allow the legislatures to finish their investigations, as well as to allow a full forensic audit of the massive amount of illegal activity that has occurred here," Eastman wrote to Pence lawyer Greg Jacob.Insider's Jake Lahut writes that the Eastman email was sent after Jacob and the then-vice president's staff and family, had been sheltering in place in a secure location during the riot.Read Full StoryEastman asked Giuliani to be added to Trump's pardon listJohn Eastman appeared onstage with Rudy Giuliani at the pro-Trump rally that preceded the January 6 attack on the Capitol.Jim Bourg/ReutersThe House panel investigating the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the Capitol made some news on Thursday by disclosing evidence that conservative lawyer John Eastman wanted to get added to lame-duck President Donald Trump's pardon list.Eastman was pushing to overturn the 2020 election, and as Insider's Oma Seddiq reports, his efforts prompted an email to personal Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani. "I've decided I should be on the pardon list, if that is still in the works," Eastman wrote  to Giuliani, according to Rep. Pete Aguilar, a lawmaker on the January 6 panel who read the email during Thursday's hearing. Eastman ultimately did not receive a pardon. Read Full StoryAides say Trump called Pence 'P-word' and 'wimp' on Jan. 6 callTrump and Pence at a White House event on July 13, 2020.AP Photo/Evan VucciThe language got pretty profane in the White House on the morning of January 6, 2021, Insider's Bryan Metzger reports.That's according to former aides who testified to the House select committee investigating the Capitol insurrection about a call then-President Donald Trump made to Mike Pence, his vice president."I remember hearing the word 'wimp'. Either he called him a wimp — I don't remember if he said, 'you are a wimp, you'll be a wimp' — wimp is the word I remember," said Nicholas Luna, a former assistant to Trump.Julie Radford, who served as Ivanka Trump's chief of staff, told the committee that Ivanka told her that the president "just had an upsetting conversation with the Vice President" in which he called Pence "the P-word."Read Full Story'Secret' MAGA back channel Jan. 6 investigators are teasing is also Oath Keepers' legal defenseStewart Rhodes, founder of the citizen militia group known as the Oath Keepers speaks during a rally outside the White House in Washington, on June 25, 2017.Susan Walsh/APThe House January 6 investigators keep on teasing how there'll soon be upcoming testimony that reveals secret coordination between Trumpworld and extremist groups.But as Insider's Laura Italiano points out in a new story, the Oath Keepers have long boasted of such a back channel.In fact, leader and founder Elmer Stewart Rhodes and other members of the pro-Trump militia are staking their seditious-conspiracy defense case on these yet-described communications with rally organizers.Read Full StoryCruz wanted the ex-judge testifying against Trump as a SCOTUS justiceRepublican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and retired Judge Michael Luttig.AP Photos/Manuel Balce Ceneta and Susan WalshThere's an interesting twist to the retired conservative federal Judge Michael Luttig testifying as a key witness in Thursday's January 6 committee hearing.Insider's Bryan Metzger dug up video from the 2016 GOP presidential primary debates showing Luttig was once named by Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas as an ideal Supreme Court nominee.—bryan metzger (@metzgov) June 16, 2022 Bryan writes that it was "yet another example of just how much former President Donald Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results has divided the conservative legal world."Read Full Story   DOJ: House's 'failure' to share transcripts hurting Jan. 6 investigationsTrump supporters clash with police and security forces as people try to storm the Capitol on January 6, 2021 in Washington.Brent Stirton/Getty ImagesMore public tension is emerging between the Justice Department and the House panel investigating the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the US Capitol.Insider's Ryan Barber has the details on a new letter sent Wednesday from the top US attorney in Washington DC to the House panel. There, the DOJ official says that the House panel has complicated criminal cases with its 'failure' to turn over interview transcripts to prosecutions.DOJ is looking for access to more than 1,000 interviews the congressional panel has conducted during its months-long examination of the Capitol attack and former President Donald Trump's effort to overturn the 2020 election.Read Full StoryJudge Luttig: If Pence tossed valid electoral votes it would have been 'a revolution'Michael Luttig, a retired federal judge who was an adviser to former Vice President Mike Pence, testifies Thursday to the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.AP Photo/Susan WalshSome really powerful testimony to start Thursday's January 6 select committee hearing from former federal judge J. Michael Luttig.In his opening remarks, he told the panel investigating the insurrection at the US Capitol that Vice President Mike Pence overturning the 2020 election would've pushed the country into 'the first constitutional crisis since the founding of the republic.'"That declaration of Donald Trump as the next president would have launched America into what I believe would have been tantamount to a revolution within a constitutional crisis in America which in my view would have been the first constitutional crisis since the founding of the Republic," Luttig told lawmakers during a hearing Thursday. Read Full StoryFormer Pence counsel says 'the law is not a plaything' for presidentsVice President Mike PenceScott J. Applewhite/APMike Pence's former counsel Greg Jacob is a lead witness in Thursday's third public hearing for the House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol.In his written statement submitted before the hearing, Jacob called serving the vice president "the honor of a lifetime," while also warning that the rule of law is "not a plaything" for political leaders to bend per their whim."The law is not a plaything for presidents or judges to use to remake the world in their preferred image," he wrote. "Our Constitution and our laws form the strong edifice within which our heartfelt policy disagreements are to be debated and decided."Insider's Grace Panetta has more on Jacob's testimony and spells out why he was a key figure in rebuffing the intense pressure campaign and efforts to compel Pence to obstruct or meddle with the count. Read Full StoryJanuary 6 committee says it will 'soon' seek interview with Ginni ThomasConservative activist Ginni Thomas and January 6 committee chair Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi.AP Photos/Susan Walsh and J. Scott ApplewhiteConservative activist Ginni Thomas, the wife of conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, should be expecting an interview request soon from the House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol."We think it's time that we, at some point, invite her to come talk to the committee," Rep. Bennie Thompson, the Democratic chair of the panel, told Axios' Andrew Solender. He added that the invitation would come "soon."Thomas has recently come under scrutiny for her role in seeking to overturn the 2020 election, including emailing Trump lawyer John Eastman and pressuring 29 state legislators in Arizona to overturn the state's 2020 election results.Read Full Story  Meet the former Trump attorney starring in the January 6 hearingEric Herschmann, former White House attorney, speaks with the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol on June 13, 2022.(House Select Committee via APAnyone remember Eric Herschmann? The White House attorney burst into the national spotlight defending President Donald Trump during his first Senate impeachment trial way back in the early pre-pandemic days of 2020.Now he's back, but for a very different reason.That's the story that Oma Seddiq just delivered for Insider readers ahead of Thursday's House January 6 hearing profiling Herschmann. He's been in the news as video clips make the rounds of his testimony where he talks about warning Trump and his allies after the presidential election that there was no proof the race was rigged and stolen, and their efforts may be illegal. In addition to his colorful language, Herschmann has drawn notice because he gave his deposition in a room with a baseball bat hanging on the wall and the word "JUSTICE" inscribed on it in bold, white letters. Observers also have noted a large painting behind him of a panda, by the artist Rob Pruitt, is similar to one that appeared in the 2015 erotic drama "50 Shades of Grey."Read Full StoryNick Quested explains how it felt to testify before the January 6 committeeBritish filmmaker Nick Queste.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytJun 27th, 2022

The taboo around Russia bombing hospitals is fading and the WHO needs to do more, international legal expert says

Russia has targeted humanitarian corridors and "double-tap strikes"– bombing a hospital and the subsequent rescue operation – in Syria and Ukraine. A destroyed hospital building on April 26, 2022 in Novyi Bykiv, Ukraine.Alexey Furman/Getty Images Russia may start to face consequences for bombing hospitals, according to an expert. Gissou Nia, an international human rights lawyer, said that the world is still moving too slow. In Syria, Russia helped with about 600 attacks on hospitals. In Ukraine, it has bombed over 200.  For decades, international human rights protocols were created and enshrined to protect the bombing of civilian hospitals during wartime – until the war in Syria, and more recently, in Ukraine. "We see that that taboo is now gone," said Gissou Nia, an international human rights lawyer with the Atlantic Council, who co-authored a report in June urging the international community to do more to hold Russia to account for what international human rights groups have said is a cruel campaign of bombing hospitals in Syria and Ukraine.In just the first 100 days of the war in Ukraine, Russian forces have attacked approximately 200 hospitals, according to the World Health Organization. In a grim parallel, during the Syrian war, 600 medical facilities were attacked, according to Physicians for Human Rights. The US, too has bombed medical facilities in Afghanistan, but Nia said the difference is Russia's systematic campaign of hitting medical centers.Months into Russia's war in Ukraine, a top commander who oversaw bombing campaigns in Syria – dubbed the Butcher of Syria – was tapped to lead in Ukraine. Russia has also targeted humanitarian corridors and employed "double-tap strikes" – bombing a healthcare facility and the subsequent rescue operation – in both Syria and Ukraine. "I think this really shows that Russian forces and the Russian state really tested out the limits of what they could do in Syria," Nia told Insider.Russia has denied that it has targeted hospitals in either country.In their report, the Atlantic Council said that the pattern of attacking hospitals during wartime "undermines long-established and hard-won provisions under international humanitarian law that are intended to protect civilians during conflict."Nia argues that with Russia's war in Ukraine, the problem is rapidly getting worse. And international organizations such as the World Health Organization, the International Criminal Court, and the United Nations are not responding quickly enough, the authors said. Nia, who also works with the ICC around Iran's abuses of human rights, spoke to Insider about how the taboo around Russia's actions is fading and offered potential legal solutions for justice and prevention. This interview has been edited for clarity. Based on the research that you've done and the strategy that Russia has taken in Syria and Ukraine, is Syria the first real conflict where those kind of attacks on medical facilities became systematic, or was there also, specific to Russia, a history of that before as well?I think Syria is, unfortunately, the example of where these centuries-long protections in international humanitarian law were really eroded. It's definitely where we've seen, I think, the worst scale. One thing that really sticks out to me is that we know how grave the situation in Syria was in terms of the breadth and the range of crimes that were committed by the Syrian government, by its allies and also the non-state actors in the conflict. But there were more than 600 attacks on healthcare facilities in the course of that conflict, that of course involved the Assad Regime, but then later the Russians.This is something that you also wrote extensively about in the report, but what recourse do you think the international community has, especially given that Russia has had the seat on the security council and blocked a lot of those efforts that would've gone through the security council?I think it's no secret that obviously the international community has failed with respect to preventing atrocity crimes in Syria, and to some degree on the accountability side as well. We debated whether it was even worth putting a recommendation to the security council, given the structure and the challenges there. But what would be interesting is to really look at how some of the human rights bodies at the UN can elevate this issue.There has to be more of a focus with respect to what the World Health Organization is doing. The WHO has their toe in starting to be a little more stern in language and posture on these attacks, but it's really quite something that they're stopping short of really calling out who the actual perpetrators are. I think they'll even say that it's because they're focused on humanitarian goals. But we think with the current state of play, that's not really acceptable. Certainly, from a data collection standpoint, there's a lot of things that could be improved and that doesn't cause problems for them in terms of detailed information about attacks, including the locations and descriptions, impact on the facility, and access to care.I think the real reason that we wanted to put out this brief was to really focus on the accountability point, because there's been a lack of legal accountability for what happened in Syria since 2014 – that the Syrian government was attacked in healthcare. But over what is almost a decade, there's been little to no accountability. There's different reasons for that, including some of the evidentiary challenges in intentionality, because these are the crimes that are happening in conflict and the laws of war, as you know, they do permit death, right? So it's always a challenge. I think without direct admissions that Russian forces are actually intending to target hospitals, you have to prove that through the patterns. So that's why we spend a bit of time in the brief identifying the different patterns that seem to suggest that facilities are actually purposely being targeted as a method of warfare.Then we go into how that could feed into different cases being built to actually hold some of these alleged perpetrators accountable, but also, some recommendations on the legal frameworks that exist in national systems. So in any jurisdictions that have universal jurisdiction-type laws or have civil litigation that has extra territorial application, we really need to ensure that those laws are able to prosecute and/or hold accountable perpetrators for these crimes. There's a lot of gaps in those laws.I wanted to follow up on that point a little bit around universal jurisdiction and some of the trials that we've seen successfully prosecuted in Koblenz and the former Syrian intelligence officers. What has been stopping international war crimes trials around these attacks on hospitals, whether they be in Syria or Ukraine?One of the biggest blockages has really been this inability to go after Russian perpetrators. Because even if you go after Syrian government perpetrators that were involved in attacks on healthcare, then the elephant in the room would be like, "Well, why are the Russians not on the dock for this?" So any indictment really needs to reflect the full range of charges, including against what may have happened in Syria, if Wagner Group is involved, what happened in Libya. So I actually think that's the main reason that we didn't see accountability for this sort of crime from a political standpoint. I think this is now a unique moment where European prosecutors who have opened up structural investigations in their countries, those that are working on joint investigative teams and the ones that are also working hand-in-hand with investigators from the International Criminal Court, they're specifically looking at alleged Russian perpetrators, and so there's an ability to now go after them for the full range of crimes. Some of those alleged Russian perpetrators who maybe were commanders and aerial forces that were bombing Mariupol, let's say might also bear responsibility for having bombed Aleppo in 2016.One thing that I'll note that's connected to that, and it's something that we raise in the brief, is that there's obviously a lot of discussions around the freezing, the seizure, and the possible liquidation of Russian state assets and Russian oligarch assets. There's a big discussion around using that for Ukraine's reconstruction. We do believe that part of those monies if they are indeed liquidated ... needs to go to reparations for victims, and that is not only Ukrainian victims; that's also Syrian victims who have suffered violations by the same perpetrator groups. We think any mechanism that's established to do that needs to factor in that recovery. That could be for victims of hospital attacks. What do you think is the boldest strategy being pursued right now? That could include the ICC inquiry as well. I know that ICC inquiry, when it comes to Syria, can be a little bit difficult because Syria's not a member.Well, it's interesting that you mentioned the ICC because in terms of crimes against humanity of deportation, persecution, and other inhumane acts – if any of these crimes were completed in the territory of Jordan, there is a pathway.So basically if Syrian refugees fled to Jordan, then the jurisdictional argument is that then jurisdiction applies, and so you're looking at a very narrow slice of the Syrian conflict, but those folks who flee, the argument is that there are coercive acts that were committed that forced them to flee. Coercive acts can include things like detention. It can also include attacks on healthcare, and so there is actually a way for the ICC Office of the Prosecutor to look at attacks on healthcare in the Syrian conflict, if those constituted the coercive acts that caused Syrian refugees to flee to Jordan.In terms of other bold strategies, what we see with Ukraine is a really welcome development in terms of the justice response. We saw 43 member states of the ICC actually referring the matter to the prosecutor to get him to open an investigation into the situation in Ukraine – that's unprecedented. Prior to that, the highest number of state member state referrals was Venezuela. That was six or seven states, I believe, and that was seen as a lot.So to have this kind of state involvement is a really good sign. It shows that the go-to response was a justice response and that's so important. As part of the strategies of European prosecutors, of Ukrainian prosecutors – because they're the ones that have already commenced and closed trials, right? – they're going to be doing a lot of these trials domestically. And that the ICC and other international justice players all look at attacks on hospitals and elevate that within the justice discussion, I think is key.I guess that's a big difference between Ukraine and Syria too, is that within Syria, there was really no ongoing hope of trying any of those cases within the Syrian justice system, because it's allied with the Russians. But Ukraine is facing an occupying force, and is able to build those cases within Ukraine's borders, and within its own judicial system.Yeah. It makes a big difference in a few ways. Ukraine could give a declaration of jurisdiction to the International Criminal Court. They did so back in 2014. They had two declarations and that was about Crimea. So it was about other things, but they've had this ongoing declaration of jurisdiction. They're not an ICC member state, but they are authorized to let the prosecutor have jurisdiction, so they did that. Obviously, you wouldn't see the Assad regime giving a voluntary declaration of jurisdiction.It also allows access to crime scenes, so I think you see that international independent investigators are given access to visit Boucha and different crime scenes in Ukraine, that kind of access to independent international investigators is obviously not allowed in many regions of Syria, of course; some others maybe, but no government-held part of Syria. So that also affects the forensics that are collected and what evidence can be collected, so there are differences definitely. There's a range of reasons why this is being facilitated a bit more easily in Ukraine, but part of it is that the state is asking for this and cooperating.What do you hope that readers understand about the effect of bombing healthcare facilities? Attacking hospitals and healthcare more broadly just compounds the already existing pain of war. To attack them when they're at their most vulnerable, and then to attack the healthcare providers that are trying to mitigate the worst aspects of these conflicts, this is just really beyond the pale offense. So the globe does need to take this more seriously, because we should be doing everything we can to mitigate civilian harms. We completely failed to do that in Syria, and I do worry that in Ukraine, some of those patterns are repeating because that impunity was there. And the cycle needs to stop now.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJun 26th, 2022