Trump charged with impeachment count as FBI warns of armed protests | Tom McCarthy, David Smith and Lauren Gambino/The Guardian

Donald Trump is facing a historic second impeachment after Democrats in the House of Representatives formally charged him with one count of “incitement of insurrection” over the Capitol Hill riot. Five people died in the attack last week, including a police officer, which Trump prompted when he told supporters to “fight like hell” in his attempt to overturn election defeat by Joe Biden. Emerging video footage has revealed just how close the mob came to a potentially deadly confrontation with members of Congress. On Monday, security officials scrambled to ensure that Biden’s inauguration next week would not be marred by further violence. The US Secret Service will begin carrying out its special security arrangements for the inauguration this Wednesday, almost a week earlier than originally planned, although on Monday afternoon the acting secretary of homeland security, Chad Wolf, abruptly resigned, just days after calling the Capitol invasion “sickening”. Earlier, ABC News said it had obtained an internal FBI bulletin which detailed plans for “armed protests” and calls for the “storming” of state, local and federal courthouses and buildings across the country if Trump was removed from power before then. On Capitol Hill, the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, said on Monday that she would move forward with impeaching Trump if Vice-President Mike Pence did not remove him from office under the 25th amendment to the US constitution. “The president’s threat to America is urgent, and so too will be our action,” she said in a statement.

Full Article: Trump charged with impeachment count as FBI warns of armed protests | US news | The Guardian

Editorial: Pre-Nazi Germany tells us the fight to save American democracy is just beginning | Michael Brenner/The Washington Post

A mob of several thousand outraged people rampaged through the streets of the city after a long rambling speech by their leader inciting them to do so. Some used violence. Windows were broken, shots were heard, there was bloodshed. The leader of the pack demanded the political swamp be drained. After a tumultuous few hours, order was restored and elected officials emerged from their hiding places. No, this is not Washington, D.C., Jan. 6, 2021. This was Munich, Nov. 8, 1923. The instigators did not come to Munich to support a president who was voted out of office. They did not gather in front of the nation’s seat of power, but rather started their rally in a beer cellar where a young Adolf Hitler seized control after silencing the politicians and the crowd assembled there with a pistol shot to the ceiling. Obviously, the circumstances surrounding the storming of the U.S. Capitol are very different from those of the Munich Beer Hall Putsch. But Germany during the 1920s offers crucial lessons for us today about how democracies become imperiled. Germany’s democracy was young, but the majority of the population stood behind it in the early 1920s. Yet, humiliated by defeat in World War I and plagued by an unprecedented economic crisis, a growing minority resorted to lies and conspiracy theories, such as the stab-in-the-back myth, which blamed scapegoats like Jews and socialists rather than the military for losing the war.

Full Article: Pre-Nazi Germany tells us the fight to save American democracy is just beginning – The Washington Post

National: Supreme Court won’t fast-track Trump challenges to election results | Robert Barnes/The Washington Post

As expected, the Supreme Court refused Monday to fast-track a batch of challenges to the presidential election filed by President Trump and his allies. The rejections came without comment or noted dissent and were formal notifications of what already had become clear. Some of the petitions asking for the court to move quickly were filed in early December, and the court had not even called for responses from officials in the states where the results were challenged. President-elect Joe Biden will be sworn in Jan, 20, and the cases presumably will become moot after that. Among the cases the court declined to expedite were Trump v. Biden and Trump v. Boockvar, which challenged the results in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, respectively. Other cases filed by Trump allies objected to the outcomes in Michigan and Georgia. The Supreme Court has uniformly rejected challenges to the election results. On Dec. 11, it dismissed a bid by Trump and the state of Texas to overturn the results in those four battleground states won by Biden, blocking the president’s legal path to reverse his reelection loss. The court’s unsigned order was short, and it denied Texas’s request to sue the states over how they conducted their elections. Texas has not shown it has a legal interest “in the manner in which another state conducts its elections,” the order said. It dismissed all pending motions about the case.

Full Article: Supreme Court won’t fast-track Trump challenges to election results – The Washington Post

National: Dominion lawsuit could be just start of legal action against Trump allies | Tonya Riley/The Washington Post

Dominion Voting Systems is suing pro-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell for more than $1.3 billion in damages, according a lawsuit filed in D.C. federal court by the company Friday. The company says that Powell has caused significant damage to its reputation and value by spreading unfounded conspiracy theories about it, including alleged ties to deceased Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chávez and rigging the election for President-elect Joe Biden. The lawsuit is seeking an injunction to remove all of Powell’s statements determined to be false and defamatory. The unprecedented lawsuit could be just the first domino in a chain of lawsuits against Trump allies who have spread misinformation about voter fraud — possibly including Donald Trump himself. In its complaint, Dominion accuses Powell of working “in concert” with like-minded media outlets and allies. Dominion’s lawyer Tom Clare told reporters last week the lawsuit against Powell “is just the first in a series of legal steps.” (The lawsuit also names her law firm and the organization she set up to fundraise for her litigation.) Dominion sent more than 20 individuals and media companies retraction demands or letters last month asking them to preserve relevant evidence. The recipients included Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani and pro-Trump news network One America News. Those requests are often a precursor to litigation. “To be clear, none of this would have been possible without other individuals and without other media outlets that have their own responsibility,” Clare said. “And we’re looking at all of them.”

Full Article: The Cybersecurity 202: Dominion lawsuit could be just start of legal action against Trump allies – The Washington Post

National: ES&S voting machine company sends threats | Andrew Appel/Freedom to Tinker

For over 15 years, election security experts and election integrity advocates have been communicating to their state and local election officials the dangers of touch-screen voting machines. The danger is simple: if fraudulent software is installed in the voting machine, it can steal votes in a way that a recount wouldn’t be able to detect or correct. That was true of the paperless touchscreens of the 2000s, and it’s still true of the ballot-marking devices (BMDs) and “all-in-one” machines such as the ES&S ExpressVote XL voting machine (see section 8 of this paper*). This analysis is based on the characteristics of the technology itself, and doesn’t require any conspiracy theories about who owns the voting-machine company. In contrast, if an optical-scan voting machine was suspected to be hacked, the recount can assure an election outcome reflects the will of the voters, because the recount examines the very sheets of paper that the voters marked with a pen. In late 2020, many states were glad they used optical-scan voting machines with paper ballots: the recounts could demonstrate conclusively that the election results were legitimate, regardless of what software might have been installed in the voting machines or who owned the voting-machine companies. In fact, the vast majority of the states use optical-scan voting machines with hand-marked paper ballots, and in 2020 we saw clearly why that’s a good thing. In November and December 2020, certain conspiracy theorists made unsupportable claims about the ownership of Dominion Voting Systems, which manufactured the voting machines used in Georgia. Dominion has sued for defamation. Dominion is the manufacturer of voting machines used in many states. Its rival, Election Systems and Software (ES&S), has an even bigger share of the market. Apparently, ES&S must think that amongst all that confusion, the time is right to send threatening Cease & Desist letters to the legitimate critics of their ExpressVote XL voting machine. Their lawyers sent this letter to the leaders of SMART Elections, a journalism+advocacy organization in New York State who have been communicating to the New York State Board of Elections, explaining to the Board why it’s a bad idea to use the ExpressVote XL in New York (or in any state). ES&S’s lawyers claim that certain facts (which they call “accusations”) are “false, defamatory, and disparaging”, namely: that the “ExpressVote XL can add, delete, or change the votes on individual ballots”, that the ExpressVote XL will “deteriorate our security and our ability to have confidence in our elections,” and that it is a “bad voting machine.”

Full Article: ESS voting machine company sends threats

National: False fraud claims fanned Capitol riot. Now they’re fueling GOP efforts to restrict voting. | Ronald Brownstein/CNN

Even after President Donald Trump’s disproven allegations of voter fraud fueled last week’s deadly assault on the US Capitol, Republicans across an array of swing states are still touting his baseless allegations to advance measures that would make it tougher to vote. When Congress voted last week, in the immediate aftermath of the Trump-fueled riot, to finalize the Electoral College results declaring Joe Biden the winner of November’s election, bipartisan majorities in both the House and Senate joined dozens of courts around the country in concluding that there was not meaningful fraud in the election. But despite those findings, Republicans in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Texas and likely other states including Michigan and Wisconsin are moving to roll back access to mail balloting, eliminate drop boxes, toughen voter identification laws and erect other barriers to the ballot in the name of improving voter security and restoring “faith” in the outcome. “We are seeing a continued use of the voter fraud lie and thoroughly debunked conspiracy theories over the integrity of this election to drive a vote suppression agenda,” says Wendy Weiser, who directs the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law.

Full Article: Republicans still push false fraud claims to restrict voting – CNNPolitics

National: The GOP’s sudden and convenient distancing from Trump’s voter fraud claims | Aaron Blake/The Washington Post

The passengers and crew of the sinking ship that is the Trump administration are scurrying. After the failure of President Trump and his allies to overturn the 2020 election led to a violent attempted insurrection at the Capitol, plenty of Republicans who were unable to locate voices to speak out against him and his conspiracy theories for the past four years are suddenly finding their moral indignation strong enough to do so. That’s perhaps understandable, given the historic nature of what we saw Wednesday. As many have noted, though, it’s also thoroughly convenient now that Trump is finally, officially a lame duck. Resigning or speaking up with two weeks to go in an administration is a great way to insulate yourself from blame while forfeiting little more than the support of an outgoing president’s most devoted supporters and perhaps a single paycheck. And if there was one telling moment when it comes to how quickly Trump’s allies have evolved this week, it came Thursday from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.). In an interview, Cruz distanced himself from Trump’s comments. “I think yesterday, in particular, the president’s language and rhetoric crossed the line, and it was reckless,” Cruz told a local ABC station. “I disagree with it, and I have disagreed with the president’s language and rhetoric for the last four years.” Cruz added: “If you looked to what I have said, you will not find me say the same language or rhetoric.” Cruz was one of two ambitious GOP senators with potential 2024 designs — the other being Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) — who spearheaded the unprecedented attempt to reject the certified results from states which Trump narrowly lost. And he has something of a point: The defense of Trump’s election challenge often didn’t actually involve vouching for his far-flung conspiracy theories about voter fraud and the election being definitively “stolen.”

Full Article: GOP now conveniently disputes Trump’s voter fraud claims – The Washington Post

National: State Capitols ‘on High Alert,’ Fearing More Violence | Neil MacFarquhar and Mike Baker/The New York Times

It was opening day of the 2021 legislative session, and the perimeter of the Georgia State Capitol on Monday was bristling with state police officers in full camouflage gear, most of them carrying tactical rifles. On the other side of the country, in Olympia, Wash., dozens of National Guard troops in riot gear and shields formed a phalanx behind a temporary fence. Facing them in the pouring rain was a small group of demonstrators, some also wearing military fatigues and carrying weapons. “Honor your oath!” they shouted. “Fight for freedom every day!” And in Idaho, Ammon Bundy, an antigovernment activist who once led his supporters in the occupation of a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon, showed up outside the statehouse in Boise with members of his organization carrying “wanted” posters for Gov. Brad Little and others on charges of “treason” and “sedition.” “At a time of uncertainty, we need our neighbors to stand next to and continue the war that is raging within this country,” Mr. Bundy’s group declared in a message to followers. Officials in state capitals across the country are bracing for a spillover from last week’s violent assault on the U.S. Capitol, with legislatures already becoming targets for protesters in the tense days around the inauguration of the incoming president, Joseph R. Biden Jr.

Full Article: State Capitols ‘on High Alert,’ Fearing More Violence – The New York Times

Editorial: The only way to save American democracy now | Richard L. Hasen/Slate

What’s next to save American democracy? The events of the past week have left many in this country reeling and worried seriously for the fate of democratic governance in the United States. In one of the most destructive acts in American political history, President Donald J. Trump on Wednesday exhorted his supporters, some armed, to march to the Capitol as Congress began the formal task of counting Electoral College votes to confirm the election of his opponent, Joe Biden. Trump supporters stormed the Capitol building, leading to a bloody rampage and the death of a Capitol Hill police officer and four others. Members of Congress, staff, and journalists rightly feared for their lives from this domestic terrorism, as gangs of masked Trump supporters swarmed the House and Senate chambers carrying zip-tie handcuffs intended for our nation’s leadership. The Senate chamber was desecrated, as was the office of the speaker of the House. Trump supporters smeared feces in the halls of Congress. National Guard troops were delayed as reinforcements, reportedly because the president refused to authorize them, increasing the terror and damage. And after order was restored following this unprecedented assault on the seat of American governance, eight Republican senators and 139 Republican members of Congress still voted to sustain bogus objections to the Electoral College votes from Pennsylvania and Arizona. The Trump-based objections were based upon false claims of voter fraud and election irregularities. All of this occurred in the aftermath of the Georgia Senate elections, in which voters elected a Black preacher and a Jewish son of immigrants in runoff elections on Tuesday, flipping control of the Senate to Democrats—and after which Georgia Republicans plotted ways to make voting more difficult in future elections.

Full Article: The only way to save American democracy now.

Editorial: The Roots of Josh Hawley’s Rage | Katherine Stewart/The New York Times

In today’s Republican Party, the path to power is to build up a lie in order to overturn democracy. At least that is what Senator Josh Hawley was telling us when he offered a clenched-fist salute to the pro-Trump mob before it ransacked the Capitol, and it is the same message he delivered on the floor of the Senate in the aftermath of the attack, when he doubled down on the lies about electoral fraud that incited the insurrection in the first place. How did we get to the point where one of the bright young stars of the Republican Party appears to be at war with both truth and democracy? Mr. Hawley himself, as it happens, has been making the answer plain for some time. It’s just a matter of listening to what he has been saying. In multiple speeches, an interview and a widely shared article for Christianity Today, Mr. Hawley has explained that the blame for society’s ills traces all the way back to Pelagius — a British-born monk who lived 17 centuries ago. In a 2019 commencement address at The King’s College, a small conservative Christian college devoted to “a biblical worldview,” Mr. Hawley denounced Pelagius for teaching that human beings have the freedom to choose how they live their lives and that grace comes to those who do good things, as opposed to those who believe the right doctrines. The most eloquent summary of the Pelagian vision, Mr. Hawley went on to say, can be found in the Supreme Court’s 1992 opinion in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Mr. Hawley specifically cited Justice Anthony Kennedy’s words reprovingly: “At the heart of liberty,” Kennedy wrote, “is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.” The fifth century church fathers were right to condemn this terrifying variety of heresy, Mr. Hawley argued: “Replacing it and repairing the harm it has caused is one of the challenges of our day.” In other words, Mr. Hawley’s idea of freedom is the freedom to conform to what he and his preferred religious authorities know to be right. Mr. Hawley is not shy about making the point explicit. In a 2017 speech to the American Renewal Project, he declared — paraphrasing the Dutch Reformed theologian and onetime prime minister Abraham Kuyper — “There is not one square inch of all creation over which Jesus Christ is not Lord.” Mr. Kuyper is perhaps best known for his claim that Christianity has sole legitimate authority over all aspects of human life.

Full Article: Opinion | The Roots of Josh Hawley’s Rage – The New York Times

Editorial: Trump Has Made America a Laughingstock | Ivan Krastev/The New York Times

Donald Trump promised to make the world respect and fear America. In the end, he accomplished neither. He has made a laughingstock of America and its democracy. Nobody could blame Russian, Chinese or Iranian leaders for thoroughly enjoying what they saw on Jan. 6 as a mob incited by the president ransacked the Capitol. The scenes looked like something out of a “color revolution,” the street protests in Ukraine and Georgia that toppled governments and sent shivers of fear down many authoritarians’ spines: irate citizens, propelled by social media, protesting what they viewed as fraudulent elections and calling for democracy, draped in the American flag. The only difference was that this time it was not an opposition candidate but a sitting American president protesting a “rigged election,” and the storming took place in the United States. There is already an abundance of commentary on the impact of Mr. Trump’s mutiny on American democracy. We can only hope that the attack on Congress was the final battle of the last Civil War, not the beginning of a new one. The 19th-century German chancellor Otto von Bismarck is often said to have asserted that “God has a special providence for fools, drunkards and the United States of America.” If he was right, we have reason to believe that America will eventually transcend its current crisis. But what happens in the meantime?

Full Article: Opinion | Trump Has Made America a Laughingstock – The New York Times

California: FBI, Sacramento-area law enforcement prepare for possible violence at Capitol | Sam Stanton/The Sacramento Bee

Federal law enforcement officials, hate-crime specialists and social media platforms are warning of the possibility of nationwide attacks at state capitols and in Washington, D.C., in the days leading up to the Jan. 20 inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden. One federal law enforcement source said Monday that authorities had no specific information about planned activities at California’s state Capitol, where weekly protests have been staged since election day by supporters of President Donald Trump and his false claims that voter fraud cost him the White House. But the source, who was not authorized to speak publicly, confirmed to The Sacramento Bee that FBI field offices nationwide have been alerted to the possibility of violence through Inauguration Day and have set up command posts to interact with state and local law enforcement, including the California Highway Patrol, which has jurisdiction over the state Capitol. “The CHP is all over this,” the source said. “The bottom line is, certainly law enforcement is all over this and will be prepared.” Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday that the Capitol has “a heightened, heightened level of security” and that a decision on whether to activate the National Guard would be made “as needed.” “Everybody is on a high alert in terms of making sure that everybody is safe and protected,” Newsom said. “People’s free speech can be advanced, but there’s no violence.”

Full Article: FBI, CHP on alert at CA Capitol for inauguration violence | The Sacramento Bee

District of Columbia: Several Capitol police officers suspended, more than a dozen under investigation over actions related to rally, riot | Aaron C. Davis, Rebecca Tan and Beth Reinhard/The Washington Post

Several U.S. Capitol Police officers have been suspended and more than a dozen others are under investigation for suspected involvement with or inappropriate support for the demonstration last week that turned into a deadly riot at the Capitol, according to members of Congress, police officials and staff members briefed on the developments. Eight separate investigations have been launched into the actions of Capitol officers, according to one congressional aide who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the status of the internal review. In one of the cases, officers had posted what Capitol Police investigators found to be messages showing support for the rally on Wednesday that preceded the attack on the complex, including touting President Trump’s baseless contention that the election had been stolen through voter fraud, the aide said. Investigators in another instance found that a Capitol officer had posted “inappropriate” images of President-elect Joe Biden on a social media account. The aide declined to describe the photographs. The scrutiny of the Capitol Police comes amid intensifying recriminations over why the complex was insufficiently protected when thousands of Trump supporters converged on Washington to protest the congressional action to certify Biden’s win. On Sunday, former Capitol police chief Steven Sund, who resigned after the attack, told The Washington Post in an interview that congressional security officials rebuffed his efforts to put the D.C. National Guard on standby before the joint session.

Full Article: Several Capitol police officers suspended, more than a dozen under investigation over actions related to rally, riot – The Washington Post

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp: Photo ID rule for Georgia absentee ballots ‘front and center’ in 2021 Legislature | Greg Bluestein/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Gov. Brian Kemp strongly endorsed adding photo ID requirements for absentee ballots on Monday at the start of a legislative session that’s sure to be shaped by a debate over voting laws after epic turnout helped Democrats flip Georgia in the race for president and sweep the Senate runoffs. In an interview, the Republican said he is “reserving judgment” on a series of proposals that seek to end at-will absentee voting, ban ballot drop boxes and restrict state officials or outside groups from sending out absentee ballot applications. But Kemp said he unequivocally supported measures to tighten voter ID laws for mail-in ballots, which Republicans have targeted after record turnout helped Joe Biden capture Georgia, snapping 24 years of GOP presidential wins, and Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock swept Senate runoffs. “It’s a simple way to make sure that type of voting is further secured, and it’s a good first place to start,” Kemp said, adding: “It’s completely reasonable in this day and time, and in light of what’s going on, it would give all voters peace of mind and wouldn’t be restrictive.” He’s found common cause with Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who wants to eliminate a voter’s signatures as the main verification method for an absentee ballot and replace it with options that could include requiring a voter to submit a copy of his or her driver’s license or an ID number with the ballot.

Full Article: Brian Kemp: Photo ID rule for Georgia absentee ballots ‘front and center’ in 2021 Legislature

Michigan Attorney General claims wins in ongoing presidential election fraud cases | Gus Burns/MLive.com

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s Office claimed victories in two separate court rulings Monday related to unresolved election fraud lawsuits. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it won’t expedite the hearing of a federal lawsuit filed by President Donald Trump voters against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, the city of Detroit and others related to unfounded election fraud claims. “The Supreme Court’s decision put another nail in the coffin on the bogus claims of widespread fraud in Michigan’s election,” Nessel said following the decision Monday. The second ruling involves a motion filed in a state lawsuit by attorneys for William Bailey of Central Lake in Antrim County, who claims Dominion Voting Systems ballot tabulation machines contributed to inaccurate and potentially corrupted election results. Judge Kevin Elsenheimer of the 13th Circuit Court in Antrim County on Dec. 6 granted Bailey permission to further analyze the county’s 22 tabulation machines. Bailey and his counsel then requested the identities of their selected analysts be withheld from the public. Elsenheimer denied that request, according to the AG’s Office. Antrim County’s failure to properly update its Dominion voting software initially resulted in incorrect reports of unofficial results, but the error was captured and corrected within two days. Once it was realized the totals generated by the county-level software didn’t match the precinct results, Antrim County Clerk Sheryl Guy, a Republican, said she and her staff manually reentered results from about 30 feet of printout “tapes” from each of her 16 precincts and 15 townships.

Full Article: Michigan AG claims wins in ongoing presidential election fraud cases – mlive.com

New Jersey: Hardware, software bugs derail push for early voting | Jeff Pillets/NJ Spotlight News

Officials across New Jersey agree that 2020’s mostly mail-in election — the biggest and most complex in state history — was also the most successful, as 4.5 million people voted safely in the midst of a public-health crisis. Lawmakers had hoped to build on that success by moving quickly with a plan that would bring early in-person voting to New Jersey as soon as this year’s gubernatorial primary, scheduled for June 8. Early voting already takes place in more than half the states, but for now the bill is stalled. To make early voting happen, New Jersey needs to update its voter registration system. That system is a complex web of computer servers and software linking all 21 counties with agencies in Trenton, including the division of elections, Motor Vehicle Commission and central offices for state courts, corrections and human services. It’s supposed to keep accurate track of registered voters and their addresses. But documents reviewed by New Jersey Spotlight News, as well as interviews with election officials across the state, show that persistent bugs in the state network continue to undermine the voting process and frustrate frontline election workers. Periodic reports generated by KNOWiNK, the St. Louis-based voting-tech startup that receives $1.6 million a year to maintain the state system, list dozens of recurring technical issues that stymied county election workers as they worked to send out mail-in ballots and upload votes.

Full Article: Hardware, software bugs derail NJ push for early voting | NJ Spotlight News

North Carolina: Despite More Absentee Ballots, 2020 Election Had Lower Rejection Rate | Michael Falero/WFAE

North Carolina election officials knew there would be difficulties during the 2020 election, with the pandemic and a historic rise in absentee-by-mail voting. But new data show these obstacles didn’t lead to a higher rate of rejected mail ballots. Turn back the clock to North Carolina’s primary in March 2020, and the rate of rejection for absentee-by-mail ballots was nothing to be proud of: 9.1%. It might have been seen as a bad omen for the general election in November. But new data from the State Board of Elections show at most 2.4% of all absentee-by-mail ballots were rejected. That number doesn’t mean each one of those voters didn’t end up voting successfully, and the true rejection rate could be lower. For example, a voter could have received a damaged ballot and called their county elections board to ask for a new one. The old ballot would still count as rejected, but the voter would receive a new ballot to vote. In all, 993,648 absentee-by-mail ballots were accepted with no problems, and 7,947 ballots were accepted after voters fixed them through the state’s ballot curing process. Karen Brinson Bell, executive director for the North Carolina State Board of Elections, believed the low rate of rejected ballots this year is the result of proactive efforts by election officials around the state.

Full Article: Despite More Absentee Ballots, NC’s 2020 Election Had Lower Rejection Rate | WFAE 90.7 – Charlotte’s NPR News Source

Tennessee congressman introducing resolution to abolish Electoral College | WMC

Representative Steve Cohen, D-Tennessee, announced Friday plans to introduce a resolution to abolish the Electoral College saying the presidency should be decided by the popular vote. The congressman is Chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. He introduced a joint resolution calling for an end to the Electoral College at the beginning of the previous Congress in 2019. A news release from his office calls the Electoral College an “archaic institution” that has in the last two decades twice given the White House to a candidate who did not win the popular vote, “defeating the will of the American people.” “The Americans expect and deserve the winner of the popular vote to win office,” reads a statement from the congressman. “More than a century ago, we amended our Constitution to provide for the direct election of U.S. Senators. It is past time to directly elect our President and Vice President. The Electoral College is a vestige of the 18th Century when voters didn’t know the candidates who now appear daily on their television screens. Wednesday’s mayhem at the Capitol shows that efforts can be made to manipulate the Electoral College vote using falsehoods and shenanigans by ambitious politicians. The President should always be elected by the people, not the politicians, and the Electoral College allows politicians to make the ultimate decision. It is well past time to do away with this anachronistic institution and guarantee a fair and accurate vote for President.” Cohen also cited the pro-Trump supporters who rioted at the U.S. Capitol Wednesday to interrupt certification of the Electoral College vote.

Full Article: Tennessee congressman introducing resolution to abolish Electoral College

Texas Republicans were the most likely to use mail-in voting four years ago. Here’s how that flipped in the last election. | Karen Brooks Harper/The Texas Tribune

Democratic voters in Texas were more likely to cast their ballots by mail than Republican voters in the last election. Today, that may sound like a forgone conclusion, but that wasn’t the case four years ago. Absentee ballots, which only certain groups of Texans are eligible to use, have traditionally been a tool utilized by the GOP, and in 2016, counties reported that higher percentages of Republican voters cast absentee ballots than Democratic voters. The reason for the swap? It came from the top. Experts and political operatives note that President Donald Trump spent months attacking the credibility of mail-in voting to his Republican base while national and state Democrats launched their largest-ever push to support the method as a safe option to vote in the pandemic. Other factors at play this election season in Texas included an increase in participation by younger voters who lean Democratic, many of them college students living out of state. Democrats also were more likely to take coronavirus risks and precautions more seriously, leading them to look for ways to stay out of the polls during the pandemic, experts on both sides of the aisle said. In total, Texans cast 1 million absentee ballots before Election Day, up from less than 500,000 in 2016, according to the Texas secretary of state’s office. Martha Griffin, an Austin science educator who supported Joe Biden, said she voted absentee by claiming a disability caused by a chronic condition doctors said was brought on by COVID-19, which makes her dizzy easily and unable to stand for long periods, among other issues. She was also afraid of being contagious or contracting the virus again after being diagnosed in May. “When it came time to think about how to vote, I was kind of terrified,” said Griffin, 61, who was still suffering symptoms of COVID-19 in November, which qualified her for mail-in balloting.

Full Article: Texas Democrats were more likely to mail-in vote than Republicans in 2020 election | The Texas Tribune

West Virginia GOP Lawmaker Derrick Evans Resigns After Getting Arrested For Participating In U.S. Capitol Riot – NowThis

A newly elected state Republican official from West Virginia has resigned after being arrested and charged by federal authorities for illegally entering the U.S. Capitol last week as part of the pro-Trump mob. Derrick Evans, who was sworn in to the West Virginia House of Delegates in December, was arrested Friday after his own livestreamed videos on social media showed him entering the Capitol as part of the mob. By Saturday, facing increasing calls for his removal, Evans resigned. He was one of several state GOP lawmakers who participated in the insurrection at the Capitol, a deadly riot that has left at least 5 people dead, including one Capitol police officer. Lawmakers from at least 7 states including West Virginia, Missouri, and Tennessee have been identified as participants in Wednesday’s attempt to overturn the democratic process of certifying Joe Biden as the president-elect. All of those who participated or claimed they were there to observe are now facing calls to resign. Before his arrest, Evans claimed that he was there as an “independent member of the media” (his attorney claimed he’s an “amateur journalist”) and tried to distance himself from violent rioters. But his own now-removed video livestreamed to his Facebook page, “Derrick Evans – The Activist,” shows him wearing a helmet and saying to camera, “We’re going in.” Once the crowd broke into the Capitol, Evans said on video, “We did it! Derrick Evans is in the Capitol!” Evans told others in the Capitol not to vandalize property, saying, “This is our house, and we respect it.” He also ignored a request from an officer to exit the building, shouting in response, “Patriots inside, baby!”

Full Article: GOP Lawmaker Resigns After Getting Arrested For Participating In U.S. Capitol Riot – NowThis

Wisconsin GOP Group Condemned for ‘Prepare for War’ Website Message | Brendan Cole/Newsweek

With the U.S. reeling from the aftermath of the insurrection in the U.S. Capitol by some supporters of President Donald Trump, a GOP group in Wisconsin is under fire for a message on its website that urges conservatives to “prepare for war.” At the top of the website of the St. Croix Republican Party is the Latin phrase “Si vis pacem, para bellum.” The GOP group from the northwest of the Badger State says the message, which means “If you want peace, prepare for war,” had been online before the protests last Wednesday. On the front of the group’s website, which it describes as a “digital battlefield” and whose banner reads “Patriots: God, guns freedom, liberty,” the St. Croix Republicans say that “never before has the mission of the Conservative patriot been so clear.” It claims that over the last four years, the Democrats had worked with the “Marxist left and a complicit mass media” to overturn the 2016 election and accused the party of “changing the rules of the game” in the 2020 election cycle.

Full Article: Wisconsin GOP Group Condemned for ‘Prepare for War’ Website Message

Dominion sues pro-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell, seeking more than $1.3 billion | Emma Brown/The Washington Post

Dominion Voting Systems on Friday filed a defamation lawsuit against lawyer Sidney Powell, demanding more than $1.3 billion in damages for havoc it says Powell has caused by spreading “wild” and “demonstrably false” allegations, including that Dominion played a central role in a fantastical scheme to steal the 2020 election from President Trump. For weeks, Powell has claimed that Dominion was established with communist money in Venezuela to enable ballot-stuffing and other vote manipulation, and that those abilities were harnessed to rig the election for former vice president Joe Biden. In a 124-page complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Dominion said its reputation and resale value have been deeply damaged by a “viral disinformation campaign” that Powell mounted “to financially enrich herself, to raise her public profile, and to ingratiate herself to Donald Trump.” The defendants named in the lawsuit include Powell, her law firm and Defending the Republic, the organization she set up to solicit donations to support her election-related litigation. In an interview, Dominion CEO John Poulos said the lawsuit aims to clear his company’s name through a full airing of the facts about the 2020 election. Poulos said he would like the case to go to trial rather than settle. “We feel that it’s important for the entire electoral process,” he said. “The allegations, I know they were lobbed against us . . . but the impacts go so far beyond us.”

Full Article: Dominion sues pro-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell, seeking more than $1.3 billion – The Washington Post

Georgia: Trump pressured an elections investigator in call legal experts say could amount to obstruction | Amy Gardner/The Washington Post

President Trump urged Georgia’s lead elections investigator to “find the fraud” in a lengthy December phone call, saying the official would be a “national hero,” according to an individual familiar with the call who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the conversation. Trump placed the call to the investigations chief for the Georgia secretary of state’s office shortly before Christmas — while the individual was leading an inquiry into allegations of ballot fraud in Cobb County, in the suburbs of Atlanta, according to people familiar with the episode. The president’s attempts to intervene in an ongoing investigation could amount to obstruction of justice or other criminal violations, legal experts said, though they cautioned a case could be difficult to prove. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger had launched the inquiry following allegations that Cobb election officials had improperly accepted mail ballots with signatures that did not match those on file — claims that state officials ultimately concluded had no merit. In an interview with The Washington Post on Friday, Raffensperger confirmed that Trump had placed the Dec. 23 call. He said he was not familiar with the specifics of what the president said in the conversation with his chief investigator, but said it was inappropriate for Trump to have tried to intervene in the case. “That was an ongoing investigation,” Raffensperger said. “I don’t believe that an elected official should be involved in that process.” The Post is withholding the name of the investigator, who did not respond to repeated requests for comment, because of the risk of threats and harassment directed at election officials.

Full Article: Trump pressured a Georgia elections investigator in call legal experts say could amount to obstruction – The Washington Post

National: Outgoing Capitol Police chief: House, Senate security officials hamstrung efforts to call in National Guard | Carol D. Leonnig, Aaron C. Davis, Peter Hermann and Karoun Demirjian/The Washington Post

Two days before Congress was set to formalize President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund was growing increasingly worried about the size of the pro-Trump crowds expected to stream into Washington in protest. To be on the safe side, Sund asked House and Senate security officials for permission to request that the D.C.…

National: Justice Dept. Open to Pursuing Charges Against Trump in Inciting Riot | Katie Benner/The New York Times

The Justice Department said on Thursday that it would not rule out pursuing charges against President Trump for his possible role in inciting the mob that marched to the Capitol, overwhelmed officers and stormed the building a day earlier. “We are looking at all actors, not only the people who went into the building,” Michael Sherwin, the U.S. attorney in Washington, told reporters. Mr. Sherwin was asked whether such targets would include Mr. Trump, who exhorted supporters during a rally near the White House, telling them that they could never “take back our country with weakness.” Propelled by Mr. Trump’s baseless claims of election irregularities, the protesters had gathered to demonstrate against Congress’s certification of Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s Electoral College victory and moved on to the Capitol after the president’s rally. Mr. Sherwin said he stood by his statement. “We’re looking at all actors,” he said. “If the evidence fits the elements of a crime, they’re going to be charged.” His comments were an extraordinary invocation of the rule of law against a president who has counted on the Justice Department to advance his personal agenda, and they came as former Trump officials and others condemned Mr. Trump’s actions. Former cabinet officials including Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Attorney General William P. Barr, once one of the president’s most important defenders, blamed him for Wednesday’s violence. Several officials resigned, and even some Republican lawmakers said Mr. Trump had gone too far.

Full Article: Justice Dept. Open to Pursuing Charges Against Trump in Inciting Riot – The New York Times

National: Trump’s Effort To Overturn The Election Should Be Investigated Like 9/11 | John F. Harris/Politico

What exactly has happened within top levels of the United States government since the presidential election of Nov. 3, 2020? Once the transfer of power to President-elect Joseph Biden is complete on Jan. 20, the immediate crisis will pass. But the questions about the actions of President Donald Trump and his surrogates in what now counts as one of the two or three most dangerous transitions in U.S. history will remain. No previous transition has raised similar doubts about whether the executive branch, including the military, is being run with a clear and lawful chain of command, with a psychologically competent individual at the top. It is imperative that a multitude of urgent questions be answered in a comprehensive way, by an independent body with subpoena power to review documentary evidence and compel testimony under oath. The crisis Trump initiated needs to be examined with the equivalent of the 9/11 Commission established after the 2001 terrorist attacks. At first blush, the comparison may seem overwrought. Obviously, nothing that has happened in the past ten weeks — including the grotesque and deadly mob takeover of the Capitol during the official certification of Biden’s victory — is of the same horrific, history-altering magnitude of 9/11. The similarity flows from the way that both events demand public understanding and accountability. Both events represented attacks on the basic functioning of U.S. institutions. Both revealed vulnerabilities in our customs and procedures that many people did not sufficiently appreciate until disaster struck.

Full Article: Trump’s Effort To Overturn The Election Should Be Investigated Like 9/11 – POLITICO

Narional: Code deployed in US cyber-attack linked to suspected Russian hackers | Andrew Roth/The Guardian

A Moscow-based cybersecurity company has reported that some of the malicious code employed against the US government in a cyber-attack last month overlaps with code previously used by suspected Russian hackers. The findings by Kaspersky investigators may provide the first public evidence to support accusations from Washington that Moscow was behind the biggest cyber-raid against the government in years, affecting 18,000 users of software produced by SolarWinds, including US government agencies. However, investigators from Kaspersky have cautioned that the code similarities do not confirm that the same group is behind both attacks. According to findings, published by the investigators Georgy Kucherin, Igor Kuznetsov, and Costin Raiu, a “backdoor” called Sunburst used to communicate with a server controlled by the hackers resembled another hacking tool called Kazuar, which had previously been attributed to the Turla APT (advanced persistent threat) group. Attacks by Turla have been documented from at least 2008, when the group was believed to have infiltrated US Central Command. Later, Turla was implicated in attacks on embassies in a number of countries, ministries, utilities, healthcare providers, and other targets. Several cybersecurity companies have said they believe the hacking team is Russian, and an Estonian intelligence report from 2018 says the group is “tied to the federal security service, FSB”. US intelligence agencies last week released a joint statement accusing Moscow of launching the attack, which they said was “ongoing” more than a month after being made public. Moscow has denied responsibility for the attack.

Full Article: Code deployed in US cyber-attack linked to suspected Russian hackers | Espionage | The Guardian

National: Trump’s voter fraud lies encouraged a riot. GOP allies are still giving them oxygen. | Jane C. Timm/NBC

After a mob stormed the Capitol based on President Donald Trump’s election fraud lie, some top Republican allies have called for peace while still leveling the same baseless claims of widespread voter fraud that fanned the flames of violence. In almost the same breath as he condemned the rioters who temporarily disrupted Congress‘ normal process of affirming President-elect Joe Biden’s win, Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri., the first Republican to announce his intention to object to the certification, suggested that Biden’s victory was illegitimate. “We do need an investigation into irregularities, fraud,” Hawley said before staring directly into the camera in a video that his office would promptly upload to YouTube and saying: “We do need a way forward together. We need election security reforms.” In a statement, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, condemned the violence, too. Still, he said, his calls for an investigation into voter fraud were the “right thing to do” before adding, “I very much wish Congress had not set aside these concerns.”

Source: Trump’s voter fraud lies encouraged a riot. GOP allies are still giving them oxygen.

National: Election gambit blows up on Hawley and Cruz | Marianne Levine, Holly Otterbein and Burgess Everett/Politico

Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz have positioned themselves as heirs to President Donald Trump’s base. But their decision to embrace Trump’s election challenge is fueling major blowback — even as they remain largely unrepentant after this week’s deadly riot. Following the insurrection at the Capitol, the potential 2024 presidential candidates are facing Democratic calls to resign and charges from their own party that they incited violence in the name of political opportunism. Cruz said that such allegations were “ludicrous.” “What I was doing was the exact opposite of inciting violence,” the Texas Republican said in an interview. “What I was doing is debating principle and law and the Constitution on the floor of the United States Senate. That is how we resolve issues in this country without resorting to violence.” Hawley, who was photographed fist pumping protesters before they raided the Capitol, declined to be interviewed for this story. In questioning the election results, the senators aligned themselves with Trump and his most hard-core supporters’ baseless claims of widespread voter fraud. Some in Trumpworld are still cheering them on, and they may ultimately win support from the party’s base if they run for president. But after rioters stormed the Capitol in a bid to halt certification of Joe Biden’s election, Hawley and Cruz are facing immediate consequences. Hawley’s political patron, former Sen. John Danforth (R-Mo.), turned on him, calling his support the “biggest mistake I’ve ever made.” His top donor, David Humphreys, said he should be censured. Hawley’s book publisher dropped him, interfering with a key element of many presidential campaigns. Cruz, meanwhile, is facing a redux of the backlash he received for egging on a shutdown in 2013 over a failed effort to defund Obamacare.

Full Article: Election gambit blows up on Hawley and Cruz – POLITICO

Editorial: I verified voters’ signatures. It’s too easy to disqualify them. | Catherine Hervey/The Washington Post

When President Trump spent an hour on Saturday trying to shake down Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find 11,780 votes,” he insisted that proper signature verification would unearth “at least a couple of hundred thousand” that didn’t match the voter rolls. “Compare it to two years ago, four years ago, six years ago, you know, or even one,” he said, “And you’ll find that you have many different signatures.” Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) had reportedly already tried a similar angle with Raffensperger, seeming to suggest it might be possible to toss ballots from counties with higher rates of signature disparities. Each of these efforts to invalidate votes reminded me of the angry words of one frustrated man separated from me by a plexiglass barrier while I was working as a volunteer election judge in Lombard, Ill., at the end of October: “What I think you should do is look at my ID and see that I am who I say I am.” My job that day was to take voters’ basic information, verify that the signature they provided matched the one the county had on file, and program the access cards each voter inserted into the machine. My fellow election judge and I had decided that the signature this man had provided wasn’t a close enough match to the one we had on file. He was holding his driver’s license in his right hand, the strongest possible proof of his identity. It made no sense to him that I was squinting at his hastily rendered signature instead of his government-issued photo ID. I attempted to explain what might happen to the electronically captured image of his signature after his vote was cast. The machine beside me would print a copy of it, which would go into a box by my elbow and eventually be returned to the county election division. If someone on a politician’s team pulled it out later and didn’t consider it a match, the party this man was registered to could lose a vote. His driver’s license would be no help in that scenario. “I want to make sure that doesn’t happen,” I said, “and I believe you are who you say you are.”

Full Article: I verified voters’ signatures. It’s too easy to disqualify them. – The Washington Post