Hutchinson’s testimony raises fresh questions about Secret Service’s handling of Jan. 6

ABC News

Hutchinson’s testimony raises fresh questions about Secret Service’s handling of Jan. 6

Lucien Bruggeman and Josh Margolin – June 30, 2022

A former White House aide’s stunning testimony before the House panel investigating the Capitol attack indicated that the U.S. Secret Service may have had advanced warning of the potential for violence at the Capitol, raising new questions about the agency’s planning ahead of the riot and actions taken by agents on Jan. 6.

Cassidy Hutchinson, a top deputy to then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, told lawmakers on Tuesday that the security team guarding then-President Donald Trump and senior White House officials were aware there was a serious threat posed by some descending on Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6, when Trump was planning to address a rally to support his baseless accusations that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him.

In Hutchinson’s telling, the agency famous for its teams of bodyguards, sharpshooters and hyper-skilled drivers was aware that among the throngs headed to Washington were some who were planning to carry a variety of weapons and military gear, and were seeking to target members of Congress and breach the Capitol building.

MORE: Jan. 6 hearing witness: Irate Trump grabbed wheel, demanded to go to Capitol

If so, the Secret Service apparently failed to coordinate effectively with law enforcement partners, the public, or congressional leaders to strengthen the security posture — and instead ferried a number of people under their protection to the Capitol complex with little more than their personal security details.

The Secret Service declined to answer questions from ABC News.

If true, the lapse in security — laid out on national television during a committee session Tuesday — represents perhaps the most glaring evidence to date that the Secret Service, responsible for guarding key political figures and their families, failed at its most basic responsibilities in how it dealt with Trump’s rally and the meetings of the House and Senate on Jan. 6, according to John Cohen, a former ranking Department of Homeland Security official who is now an ABC News contributor.

“It appears that senior officials at the White House were not only aware of plans to march on the U.S. Capitol, but also appeared to be planning for the president to join,” Cohen said, citing another of Hutchinson’s allegations. “This testimony raises highly disconcerting questions about what the Secret Service knew about this event and why more wasn’t done to prepare.”

PHOTO: A video of President Trump's motorcade leaving the January 6th rally on the Ellipse is displayed as Cassidy Hutchinson testifies in a public hearing of the House Select Committee investigating the January 6 Attack on Capitol, June 28, 2022. (Pool via Reuters)
PHOTO: A video of President Trump’s motorcade leaving the January 6th rally on the Ellipse is displayed as Cassidy Hutchinson testifies in a public hearing of the House Select Committee investigating the January 6 Attack on Capitol, June 28, 2022. (Pool via Reuters)

Notoriously tight-lipped about their job and how they do it, the Secret Service is under renewed focus this week after Hutchison, 26, alleged shocking new details about the president’s interactions with his security agents on Jan. 6 and how they were so concerned about possible violence at the Capitol that they refused Trump’s directive to drive him there.

“The president said something to the effect of, ‘I’m the effing president, take me up to the Capitol now’ — to which Bobby [Engel, the head of Trump’s security detail], responded, ‘Sir, we have to go back to the West Wing,'” Hutchinson testified she was told by Tony Ornato, a senior Secret Service official who was at the time White House deputy chief of staff for operations.

Trump, responding to Hutchinson’s testimony, said, “I hardly know who this person, Cassidy Hutchinson, is, other than I heard very negative things about her (a total phony and ‘leaker’).”

Hutchinson also testified that in the days leading up to Jan. 6, Meadows at one point said, “Things might get real, real bad on Jan. 6.”

And on the morning of Trump’s planned speech at the Ellipse, just south of the White House grounds, Hutchinson said, Trump was made aware of individuals with weapons seeking to attend his rally and that many of them declined to pass through security checkpoints because they would have needed to surrender their weapons. Frustrated that those requirements were suppressing the size of the crowd, Trump suggested that the metal detectors be removed, Hutchinson testified.

MORE: Key takeaways from Cassidy Hutchinson’s bombshell testimony to Jan. 6 committee

Cohen said that, as concerned as he was about those developments, he was most troubled by the picture Hutchinson’s testimony painted of possible failures on the part of the Secret Service, an agency Cohen has worked closely with since it was folded in to DHS after the 9/11 terror attacks.

“Hutchinson’s testimony raises serious questions regarding security planning by the Secret Service on Jan 6. that will need to be answered,” Cohen said. “Did the Service leadership have advanced notice of the planned march on the Capitol? Did they have advanced notice of the president’s intent to join the crowd?”

Hutchinson said that Ornato, whom she described as “the conduit for security protocol between White House staff and the United States Secret Service,” was aware of possible violence planned for Jan. 6 in the preceding days — and alerted Meadows and Trump on the morning of Jan. 6.

Even with this information allegedly circulating among senior White House staff, the Secret Service ferried at least three of its protectees to travel to the Capitol — Vice President Mike Pence, Second Lady Karen Pence, and incoming Vice President Kamala Harris, who was still a senator from California — without supplementing their details with additional agents or coordinating with other agencies to shore up protection.

Ornato, a longtime Secret Service employee, currently serves as a senior official in the agency’s training branch. The Jan. 6 committee has expressed interest in interviewing him, and the Secret Service has said he is available to testify under oath, but did not provide further details.

PHOTO: Cassidy Hutchinson, a top former aide to Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, testifies during the sixth hearing by the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the Capitol, June 28, 2022. (Brandon Bell/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Cassidy Hutchinson, a top former aide to Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, testifies during the sixth hearing by the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the Capitol, June 28, 2022. (Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

Law enforcement officials have broadly characterized Jan. 6 as an intelligence failure, claiming that Washington’s myriad of law enforcement agencies did not fully grasp the threat landscape — despite warnings that appeared on social media in the weeks leading up the rally.

Secret Service officials have also said that local officials did not ask DHS to establish a special national security designation for the Jan. 6 sessions of Congress, so their hands were tied — though Cohen said DHS and the Secret Service don’t have to wait for local officials to reach out if they are aware of active threats.

Hutchinson’s testimony indicated that the Secret Service either had advanced warning of the threats and failed to notify others and formulate an appropriate response plan — or they were misled by White House officials who had a clearer understanding of the potential for violence and neglected to alert the appropriate agencies, Cohen said.

“These security lapses may not have been a result of incompetence, but instead due to deliberate actions taken by senior White House officials,” Cohen said. “If this information was not provided to the Secret Service, or if it was and the Secret Service failed to expand security operations, that would be highly disconcerting.”

Don Mihalek, a former senior Secret Service agent who is now an ABC News contributor, said the “interplay of information” among senior White House staff and protective agents about possible threats happens regularly — but that agents cannot prevent a protectee from doing their job, except in the rare instance of a specific and credible threat.

Mihalek said he believes the breakdown in coordination between agencies handicapped the Secret Service’s planning and response as protesters marched on the Capitol building. He defended agents’ decision to allow Pence, his wife, and Harris travel freely to the Capitol, despite possibly knowing the risk in advance.

MORE: Rep. Liz Cheney ‘confident’ in Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony

“Nobody has a crystal ball,” Mihalek said. “There’s always a threat environment, and the Secret Service’s job is to mitigate threats as much as possible — and they don’t have the authority to override a protectee’s movement, outside of citing a credible and specific threat.”

In the wake of her appearance on Capitol Hill, Hutchinson has faced a deluge of criticism from Trump associates and supporters who have questioned her credibility. Republican Rep. Liz Cheney told “This Week” co-anchor Jonathan Karl in an exclusive interview that she has full faith and confidence in Hutchinson’s word.

“I am absolutely confident in her testimony,” Cheney told Karl in a wide-ranging interview set to air in full on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” this Sunday. “The Committee is not going to stand by and watch her character be assassinated by anonymous sources, and by men who are claiming executive privilege.”

The campaign to discredit Cassidy Hutchinson has begun

Los Angeles Times

The campaign to discredit Cassidy Hutchinson has begun

Nolan D. McCaskill, Freddy Brewster – June 29, 2022

Cassidy Hutchinson, an aide to then White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, is sworn-in during a House Select Committee hearing to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the US Capitol, in the Cannon House Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on June 28, 2022. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)
Cassidy Hutchinson, former aide to Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, before her testimony Tuesday to the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. (Mandel Ngan / AFP/Getty Images)

In the hours after Cassidy Hutchinson delivered bombshell testimony to the Jan. 6 committee Tuesday, former President Trump and his allies rushed to attack the former White House staffer.

Hutchinson, who served as an aide to then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, told the panel that Trump was aware that some of his supporters were armed when he urged them to march to the Capitol. She also testified that Anthony Ornato, then the deputy White House chief of staff, told her the president was so “irate” that the Secret Service would not drive him to the Capitol that he reached for the steering wheel and lunged at an agent.

Trump and his allies have seized on media reports of unnamed Secret Service sources rejecting those statements to paint Hutchinson’s sworn testimony as unreliable. So far, though, none of the people who have disputed Hutchinson’s story have done so under oath.

Now members of the Jan. 6 committee, Hutchinson’s lawyer and several of Hutchinson’s former Trump administration colleagues are challenging her critics to follow the 25-year-old’s lead and testify before Congress under penalty of perjury.

“The lies and fabricated stories being told to the partisan Highly Unselect Committee, not only by the phony social climber who got caught yesterday, but by many others, are a disgrace to our, in serious decline, Nation,” Trump wrote Wednesday morning on his social media platform, Truth Social.

“No cross examination, no real Republicans, no lawyers, NO NOTHING. Fake stories and an all Fake Narrative being produced, with ZERO pushback allowed. Unselects should be forced to disband. WITCH HUNT!”

An anonymous Secret Service official told CNN that Ornato denies telling Hutchinson that Trump grabbed the steering wheel or an agent.

“The agents are prepared to say under oath that the incident itself did not occur,” the official told the network. CNN’s anonymous source did not dispute that Trump was furious that he was not being driven to the Capitol.

Anthony Guglielmi, a spokesman for the Secret Service, would not confirm the CNN report to The Times, saying only that the federal law enforcement agency “has been cooperating fully with the select committee since its inception in spring of 2021 and we will continue to do so including by responding formally and on the record to the committee regarding new allegations that surfaced in [Tuesday’s] testimony.”

Trump’s backers have also spread inaccurate claims about the plausibility of the steering wheel story. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) retweeted a graphic of the “Beast,” the presidential limousine, which appeared to illustrate how passengers are separated from the driver.

“Cassidy Hutchinson lied and the @January6thCmte held a special hearing [Tuesday] to broadcast her lies,” Greene wrote. “In ’23, every single one of them need to be held accountable for what they are putting Pres Trump, his admin, & Republicans through on the people’s dime. Enough of this.”

Trump was actually transported in an SUV, not the Beast, on the morning of Jan. 6, a video played by the committee shows.

Jody Hunt, a former assistant attorney general under Trump who’s now working as Hutchinson’s legal counsel, called on others with knowledge of her testimony to come forward and testify under oath. “Ms. Hutchinson testified, under oath, and recounted what she was told,” Hunt tweeted. “Those with knowledge of the episode also should testify under oath.”

Other Trump White House officials who leaped to Hutchinson’s defense also challenged her critics to come testify under oath. Alyssa Farah Griffin, former Vice President Mike Pence’s press secretary and White House strategic communications director, described Hutchinson as a “friend.”

“To anyone who would try to impugn her character, I’d be glad to put you in touch w/ @January6thCmte to appear UNDER OATH,” she said, highlighting the fact that skeptics of Hutchinson’s testimony have been able to dispute it publicly without penalty of perjury.

“Anyone downplaying Cassidy Hutchinson’s role or her access in the West Wing either doesn’t understand how the Trump WH worked or is attempting to discredit her because they’re scared of how damning this testimony is,” added Sarah Matthews, a former deputy press secretary.

“For those complaining of ‘hearsay,’ I imagine the Jan. 6 committee would welcome any of those involved to deny these allegations under oath.”

Former acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said Meadows, Ornato and Robert Engel, the head of Trump’s Secret Service detail and the agent Trump reportedly lunged toward, should be prepared to testify as well.

“This is explosive stuff,” Mulvaney tweeted. “If Cassidy is making this up, they will need to say that. If she isn’t they will have to corroborate. I know her. I don’t think she is lying.”

Committee members also stood by Hutchinson.

“I found Cassidy Hutchinson to be a thoroughly credible witness, telling us what she saw, what she heard,” Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank) told MSNBC. “She was very careful to differentiate when she was a participant in the conversation or actions were related to her by others.”

“Cassidy Hutchinson is one of the most brave and honorable people I know,” Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) wrote in one tweet. He added in another: “Watching the desperation of Trump world to discredit the brave Cassidy Hutchinson reminds me of…. Everything trump does when he is busted and cornered.”

Punchbowl News reported Wednesday that Hutchinson was a target of alleged witness intimidation from Trump world.

At Tuesday’s hearing, Committee Vice Chair Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) displayed two examples of what she described as attempts to influence what witnesses told the committee.

One statement said that “they have reminded me a couple of times that Trump does read transcripts and just to keep that in mind.”

In another statement, a person was told, “He knows you’re loyal, and you’re going to do the right thing when you go in for your deposition.”

Kinzinger says Hutchinson has ‘more courage than most in GOP’

The Hill

Kinzinger says Hutchinson has ‘more courage than most in GOP’

Mychael Schnell – June 30, 2022

Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) on Thursday said former Trump White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson, who testified before the House Jan. 6 select committee this week, has “more courage than most” in the Republican Party.

Hutchinson, who previously worked as a special assistant to Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, appeared before the Jan. 6 panel on Tuesday, where she answered questions under oath about what went on in the White House before, during and after the Capitol riot.

Hutchinson’s public testimony was a surprise — the committee announced the hearing 24 hours before it was slated to begin, after panel members said presentations would be put on pause until July. Before her public testimony on Tuesday, Hutchinson spoke to select committee investigators behind closed doors four times.

Kinzinger, one of the two Republican lawmakers serving on the committee, called Hutchinson, now 26, a “hero” and “a real patriot.”

“I want to again say, Cassidy Hutchinson is a hero and a real patriot (not a faux ‘patriot’ that hates America so much they would attempt a coup.),” Kinzinger wrote on Twitter Thursday.

“Of course they will try to bully and intimidate her. But she isn’t intimidated.  More courage than most in GOP,” he added.

During an appearance on CBS’s “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” Wednesday night, Kinzinger, a frequent critic of his GOP colleagues and the Republican Party, said Hutchinson was “showing far more courage than her boss, and showing far more courage than 99.8 percent of Republican members of Congress, or 100.”

Among the shocking revelations Hutchinson delivered during her public hearing was that Trump allegedly knew the crowd at his Ellipse speech was armed, but did not care because they were “not here to hurt me,” the ex-aide recalled the then-president saying. Trump, knowing the crowd had weapons, still directed his supporters to march to the Capitol, she said.

Hutchinson, however, is now facing scrutiny for part of her testimony pertaining to a car ride Trump took after his speech at the Ellipse on Jan. 6. Hutchinson said she was told that Trump, angry he was not allowed to go to the Capitol with his supporters, lunged for the steering wheel of the presidential vehicle in which he was riding.

The ex-aide said Robert Engel, the head of Trump’s security detail, grabbed the president’s arm and instructed him to take his hand off the steering wheel.

“Trump then used his free hand to lunge at Bobby Engel,” Hutchinson told the committee.

Hutchinson said she learned of the incident from Tony Ornato, then deputy White House chief of staff. She also said Engel was in the room when Ornato was telling the story, and noted that the head of security did not refute any details.

Trump denied lunging at the Secret Service on Thursday, telling Newsmax in an interview “who would do that? I would grab a Secret Service person by the throat?”

Additionally, multiple outlets are now reporting that Ornato first heard of the alleged incident during the hearing, and that Engel and the driver of the vehicle are prepared to testify that Trump did not physically attack or assault them, or lunge at the steering wheel.

But Hutchinson is standing by her testimony, and lawmakers on the select committee are emphasizing her credibility.

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), the vice chairwoman of the committee, told ABC News in an interview that she is “absolutely confident” in Hutchinson’s testimony.

A number of Republican figures have testified before the Jan. 6 select committee in both public and private settings, including Hutchinson, Arizona state House Speaker Rusty Bowers, former Trump White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany and members of the Trump family.

Others, however, have stonewalled the committee. Former Trump White House adviser Peter Navarro and former Trump White House strategist Stephen Bannon have both been indicted for contempt of Congress after they defied subpoenas from the panel.

The committee made its latest bid for cooperation on Wednesday, when it subpoenaed former White House counsel Pat Cipollone. He previously met with committee investigators in April, but did not participate in a formal recorded deposition.

Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and Cheney said they were interested in hearing from Cipollone after their investigation “revealed evidence that Mr. Cipollone repeatedly raised legal and other concerns about President Trump’s activities on Jan. 6 and in the days that preceded.”

“While the Select Committee appreciates Mr. Cipollone’s earlier informal engagement with our investigation, the committee needs to hear from him on the record, as other former White House counsels have done in other congressional investigations,” they added.

Supreme Court Rules 6-3 That the Planet Should Burn

Rolling Stone

Supreme Court Rules 6-3 That the Planet Should Burn

Ryan Bort – June 30, 2022

Sulphur Fumes Pour Out of the Smokestacks of the Olin Mathieson Chemical Plant 07/1972 Lake Charles, LA - Credit: HUM Images/Universal Images Group/Getty Images
Sulphur Fumes Pour Out of the Smokestacks of the Olin Mathieson Chemical Plant 07/1972 Lake Charles, LA – Credit: HUM Images/Universal Images Group/Getty Images

The Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that the Environmental Protection Agency cannot regulate how much climate pollution power plants emit under the Clean Air Act. The court ruled 6-3, along idealogical lines, with Chief Justice John Roberts writing the majority opinion.

“Capping carbon dioxide emissions at a level that will force a nationwide transition away from the use of coal to generate electricity may be a sensible ‘solution to the crisis of the day,” Roberts wrote. “But it is not plausible that Congress gave the EPA the authority to adopt on its own such a regulatory scheme … A decision of such magnitude and consequence rests with Congress itself, or an agency acting pursuant to a clear delegation from that representative body.”

More from Rolling Stone

West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency stemmed from the Clean Air Act, an Obama-era law that mandated certain emissions regulations. West Virginia was one of several fossil-fuel-rich states to sue the EPA over the regulations, leading the Supreme Court to rule that the Clean Power Plan (the part of the Clean Air Act that called for emissions regulations) must be suspended until the courts could upheld its legality. The Trump administration issued its own industry-friendly plan that may have even increased emissions, but it never went into effect, either. The courts struck the Affordable Clean Energy plan down just as the former president was leaving office.

It’s now up to the Biden administration to propose a replacement. It will be severely limited in its ability to do so thanks to the Supreme Court’s ruling on Thursday.

Elena Kagan authored the dissenting opinion. “Whatever else this Court may know about, it does not have a clue about how to address climate change,” the liberal justice wrote. “The Court appoints itself — instead of Congress or the expert agency — the decision maker on climate policy. I cannot think of many things more frightening.”

The court ruling marks another victory for a conservative effort to thwart climate action on a federal level. Using the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gas emissions was at best a backup plan, as Democrats had initially hoped to curb climate emissions via comprehensive climate legislation. Under President Obama, Democrats pitched a market-based “cap-and-trade” carbon emissions plan. Progressives objected to it, but it was favored by industry groups and a centrist coalition who said the approach would bring Republicans along. The bill died in the Senate amid near-unanimous GOP opposition.

The Obama administration subsequently turned its attention to using the Clean Air Act to address the electricity sector’s contribution to climate change, but the fossil fuel lobby has fought it at every step, culminating in their victory Thursday.

Democratic leaders have excoriated the court for the decision. “The Republican-appointed majority of the MAGA Court is pushing the country back to a time when robber barons and corporate elites have complete power and average citizens have no say,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.)

President Biden, who has largely staked his presidency on taking on the climate crisis, called the ruling a “devastating decision.”

“While this decision risks damaging our nation’s ability to keep our air clean and combat climate change, I will not relent in using my lawful authorities to protect public health and tackle the climate crisis,” the president said in a statement.

U.S. Supreme Court expands state power over Native American tribes


U.S. Supreme Court expands state power over Native American tribes

Lawrence Hurley – June 29, 2022

The U.S. Supreme Court building is seen in Washington

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday dramatically increased the power of states over Native American tribes and undercut its own 2020 ruling that had expanded tribal authority in Oklahoma, handing a victory to Republican officials in that state.

In a 5-4 decision authored by conservative Justice Brett Kavanaugh, the court ruled in favor of Oklahoma in its bid to prosecute Victor Castro-Huerta, a non-Native American convicted of child neglect in a crime committed against a Native American child – his 5-year-old stepdaughter – on the Cherokee Nation reservation.

Until now, states generally lacked jurisdiction over such crimes, which were prosecuted by the federal government.

The change of course only two years after the July 2020 ruling in a case called McGirt v. Oklahoma was made possible by conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s October 2020 appointment by Republican former President Donald Trump to replace the late liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who had been in the majority in that decision.

Conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch, as he did in 2020, joined the court’s liberal bloc on Wednesday in favor of Native American interests, but its expanded conservative majority meant that this time he was in the minority.

“To be clear, the court today holds that Indian country within a state’s territory is part of a state, not separate from a state,” Kavanaugh wrote in a decision that scholars of Native American law said was a major departure from longstanding precedent.

Kavanaugh added that “under the Constitution and this court’s precedents, the default is that states may exercise criminal jurisdiction within their territory.”

In the McGirt decision, the court recognized about half of Oklahoma – much of the eastern part of the state – as Native American reservation land beyond the jurisdiction of state authorities. That ruling, criticized by Governor Kevin Stitt and other Republicans, meant that many crimes on the land in question involving Native Americans would need to be prosecuted in tribal or federal courts.

Castro-Huerta’s lawyer, Zachary Schauf, said the ruling was “devastating” for his client and others affected but glad the court had not overruled the McGirt decision.

“We look forward to continuing the fight for tribal sovereignty, in Oklahoma and nationwide,” Schauf added.

Wednesday’s ruling affects Oklahoma and could be extended to other states. About 20 states where tribal reservations are located could seek new authority to exert criminal jurisdiction over crimes committed by non-Native Americans against native Americans on Native American land.

That includes western states with large Native American populations including Arizona and New Mexico.

Arizona State University law school professor Stacy Leeds, an expert on Native American legal issues, said the ruling upended “the entire field of federal Indian law” that was based on the assumption that Congress decided the extent of state power over tribes.

“It seems to invite the state in – not by action of the federal government or consent of the tribe. Somehow the states have now magically acquired inherent state jurisdiction,” Leeds added.


Writing in dissent, Gorsuch called Wednesday’s ruling a “grim result for different tribes in different states,” but said its impact could still be limited by individual treaties and laws passed by Congress.

“One can only hope the political branches and future courts will do their duty to honor this nation’s promises even as we have failed today to do our own,” Gorsuch added.

Thirty-five states are home to federally recognized tribes, according to the National Congress of American Indians. Before the Supreme Court ruling, 16 had already been given authority by Congress to assert jurisdiction over at least some tribal land for crimes involving Native Americans.

Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor, a Republican, said that as a result of the McGirt ruling many crimes were not being prosecuted by federal authorities.

“Now the state prosecutors can take up the slack and get back to what we have been doing for 113 years,” O’Connor added.

The state already prosecutes crimes committed in the affected land in which no Native Americans are involved. Tribal courts handle crimes committed by and against Native Americans.

Chuck Hoskin, principal chief of Cherokee Nation, said that the justices had ignored court precedent and “basic principles” of law.

Tribes had welcomed the McGirt ruling as a recognition of their sovereignty. The Supreme Court in January rejected Oklahoma’s request to outright overturn it.

Castro-Huerta was convicted in state court of neglecting his stepdaughter, who has cerebral palsy and is legally blind, and sentenced to 35 years in prison. The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals last year threw out that conviction because of the 2020 precedent. Castro-Huerta by then was already indicted for the same underlying offense by federal authorities, transferred to federal custody and pleaded guilty to child neglect. He has not yet been sentenced.

(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Will Dunham)



Supreme Court Rules That States Can Prosecute Non-Native Americans Who Commit Crimes on Tribal Land

Luke Trevisan – June 29, 2022

Tribal Water
Tribal Water

AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty

A divided Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that states now have the authority to prosecute crimes committed by non-Natives on tribal land when the victim is Native American.

The high court’s 5-4 decision follows a plead by Oklahoma lawmakers, led by Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt, to revisit a landmark verdict in 2020 which saw SCOTUS side with Indigenous sovereignty and reserved the right to prosecute these crimes to federal and tribal officials.

In a 5-4 decision of the 2020 McGirt v. Oklahoma ruling, with Justice Neil Gorsuch penning the majority opinion, he maintained that Oklahoma did not possess the authority nor jurisdiction to prosecute McGirt, an individual who was convicted by the state for sex abuse crimes and is a member of the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma.

The new arguments were centered around Victor Castro-Huerta, a non-Native who was charged by state prosecutors for the malnourishment of his disabled 5-year-old stepdaughter, who is Native-American and a member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma.

Crucially, the court acknowledged when it accepted Castro-Huerta’s case that it rejected the state’s request to overturn the McGirt ruling in its entirety, and it has only agreed to reconsider the jurisdictional issue. The court noted this is specifically for cases in “Indian Country” where the victim is Native American and the defendant is not.

RELATED: Justice Sonia Sotomayor Admits Potential for SCOTUS to Make ‘Mistakes’ but Explains Why She Still Has ‘Faith’

An important precedent established in the court’s 2020 decision is that a significant portion of eastern Oklahoma is still an American Indian reservation. The ruling mandated that the state is unable to prosecute Native Americans accused of crimes on tribal lands that include most of Tulsa, Oklahoma’s second-largest city and also one of the most dangerous metro areas in the United States.

A major component in both McGirt v. Oklahoma and Castro-Huerta’s case is the fact that federal officials have conceded they lack the resources to prosecute the totality of crimes that have fallen on their laps.

Justice Kavanaugh, a dissenter in the 2020 ruling, weighed in and stated, if the court rules against the state, “it’s going to hurt Indian victims,” he said.

Kannon Shanmugam, an attorney representing the state of Oklahoma, emphatically denounced the high court’s previous verdict, stating that only the federal government possesses the authority to prosecute crimes in almost half the state, which poses a substantial problem and leaves criminals on the street.

On the contrary, Sarah Hill, who serves as attorney general for the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, blasted SCOTUS’ decision to revisit the issue, stating, “prior to the decision in McGirt, Oklahoma had never attempted to assert jurisdiction over non-Indians who committed crimes against Indians,” adding that Oklahoma was trying to “create as much chaos and doubt as possible.”

A key swing vote in the case was Justice Amy Coney Barrett, the only current member who did not sit on the court when they debated the McGirt case. The associate justice sided with the majority.

Notably, Coney Barrett replaced Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg after her death, who sided with the majority in McGirt v. Oklahoma, emphasizing the importance of a single justice.

RELATED: Jim Obergefell, Whose Landmark Case Legalized Gay Marriage, Says ‘I Have to Keep Fighting’ as Roe Is Overturned

In the majority’s explanation Wednesday, the five justices stressed that extending prosecutorial jurisdiction to the state would not impede on tribal independence.

“Here, the exercise of state jurisdiction would not infringe on tribal self-government. And because a State’s jurisdiction is concurrent with federal jurisdiction, a state prosecution would not preclude an earlier or later federal prosecution. Finally, the State has a strong sovereign interest in ensuring public safety and criminal justice within its territory, including an interest in protecting both Indian and non-Indian crime victims,” the verdict read.

The verdict will be widely viewed as an attack on the sovereignty of tribal lands and a breach of agreements between the government and Native American tribes, as the McGirt ruling previously solidified several treaties between the two sides.

Hill weighed in after that ruling, stating, “It’s incredibly important to the tribe to preserve the maximum amount of sovereignty that we have because that’s how we protect our communities.”

Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said in a statement Wednesday: “With today’s decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against legal precedent and the basic principles of congressional authority and Indian law.”

As the court’s dynamics continue to shift, many previously ruled upon cases could be reviewed by the high court, with verdicts continuing to change.

Justice Neil Gorsuch fumes that the Supreme Court ‘failed’ to ‘honor this Nation’s promises’ as it rolled back tribal authority in Oklahoma


Justice Neil Gorsuch fumes that the Supreme Court ‘failed’ to ‘honor this Nation’s promises’ as it rolled back tribal authority in Oklahoma

Jake Epstein and Oma Seddiq – June 29, 2022

Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch is seen in the House chamber during President Donald Trump's State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on January 30, 2018.
Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch.Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call
  • The Supreme Court Wednesday authorized Oklahoma to handle certain crimes on Native American land.
  • Justice Neil Gorsuch blasted the ruling, saying it “failed” to “honor this Nation’s promises.”
  • A 2020 ruling said only tribal and federal authorities could prosecute crimes in the jurisdiction.

Justice Neil Gorsuch on Wednesday blasted the Supreme Court for handing states more power over Native American land, saying the ruling failed to “honor this Nation’s promises.”

The nation’s highest court delivered a victory to state authorities, declaring that Oklahoma officials had jurisdiction over crimes involving non-Native Americans in Native American territory.

The 5-4 majority opinion, written by Justice Brett Kavanaugh, received the votes of Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Amy Coney Barrett. Gorsuch and the court’s three liberal justices — Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor — dissented.

“Truly, a more ahistorical and mistaken statement of Indian law would be hard to fathom,” Gorsuch wrote in a fiery dissenting opinion.

Wednesday’s ruling limits a Supreme Court decision handed down two years ago that said a large chunk of eastern Oklahoma was considered Native American reservations, meaning only tribal and federal authorities — not state officials — could handle criminal prosecutions on that land.

Gorsuch authored that 2020 ruling, and the court’s liberal wing joined him then as well, forming the majority at the time. But now, the court has an expanded 6-3 conservative majority. Gorsuch, who’s from Colorado, has had a track record of standing up for tribal rights in his opinions.

“One can only hope the political branches and future courts will do their duty to honor this Nation’s promises even as we have failed today to do our own,” Gorsuch wrote in his dissent.

The case, known as Oklahoma v. Castro-Huerta, concerned Victor Castro-Huerta, a non-Native American who was convicted by state authorities of neglecting his 5-year-old stepdaughter, a Native American, in Cherokee Nation territory. An Oklahoma appeals court tossed out his conviction after the 2020 Supreme Court ruling. Federal authorities then stepped in and charged Castro-Huerta, who pleaded guilty. He has not been sentenced.

The state’s Republican governor, Kevin Stitt, celebrated Wednesday’s ruling as a “clear victory for all four million Oklahomans, the state of Oklahoma, and the rule of law.”

“Justice has been delayed and denied to thousands of Native victims in our state for no reason other than their race. Now Oklahoma law enforcement can help uphold and enforce the law equally, as we have done for over a century,” he said in a statement.

The head of the Cherokee Nation on Wednesday said he was “disappointed” in the Supreme Court’s decision.

“The dissent today did not mince words — the Court failed in its duty to honor this nation’s promises, defied Congress’s statutes, and accepted the ‘lawless disregard of the Cherokee’s sovereignty,'” Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said in a statement.

Cassidy Hutchinson says she was ‘scared’ about Trump’s plan to go to the Capitol on Jan. 6

Yahoo! News

Cassidy Hutchinson says she was ‘scared’ about Trump’s plan to go to the Capitol on Jan. 6

David Knowles, Senior Editor – June 28, 2022

Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to Donald Trump’s White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, testified before the House select committee on Tuesday that she was “scared” when she learned about plans for Trump to go to the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, to press his assertion that he had not lost the 2020 election.

Hutchinson, a key witness in the Jan. 6 select committee’s investigation into the Capitol riot and the former president’s role in it, recounted a Jan. 2 meeting with then-Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani.

“As Mr. Giuliani and I were walking to his vehicle that evening, he looked at me and said something to the effect of, ‘Gosh, are you excited for the 6th? It’s going to be a great day.’ And I remember saying, ‘Rudy, can you explain what’s happening on the 6th?’” Hutchinson testified. “He responded something to the effect of, ‘We’re going to the Capitol. It’s going to be great. The president is going to be there, he’s going to look powerful. He’s going to be with the members. He’s going to be with the senators. Talk to the chief about it, talk to the chief about it. He knows about it.’”

Cassidy Hutchinson testifies at a House select committee hearing on Tuesday.
Cassidy Hutchinson testifies at a House select committee hearing on Tuesday. (Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters)

The testimony provided the first eyewitness account that the Trump White House had indeed planned for the then president to personally go to the U.S. Capitol in his bid to block the certification of the Electoral College vote showing he had lost.

Hutchinson continued her testimony, saying she then returned to the West Wing and asked Meadows about Giuliani’s comments.

“I just had an interesting conversation with Rudy, Mark. Sounds like we’re going to go to the Capitol,” she told Meadows. “He didn’t look up from his phone and said something to the effect of, ‘There’s a lot going on, Cass, but I don’t know, things might get real, real bad on January 6th.”

Meadows, who perhaps had more direct knowledge of Trump’s intentions than any other White House staff member, initially provided text messages to the committee, then refused to testify further in the investigation.

Cassidy Hutchinson during her prerecorded testimony as seen at the House select committee hearing.
Hutchinson in her prerecorded testimony as seen at the House select committee hearing on Tuesday. (House TV)

Hutchinson told the committee that learning of the plan for Trump to go to the Capitol, where his supporters would later stage a riot in an effort to block the certification of the election, frightened her.

“In the days before January 2nd I was apprehensive about the 6th. I had heard general plans for a rally. I had heard tentative movements to potentially go to the Capitol, but when hearing Rudy’s take on January 6th and then Mark’s response, that was the first, that evening was the first moment that I remember feeling scared and nervous for what could happen on January 6th, and I had a deeper concern for what was happening with the planning aspects of it.”

U.S. Supreme Court takes aim at separation of church and state


U.S. Supreme Court takes aim at separation of church and state

Lawrence Hurley and Andrew Chung – June 28, 2022

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The conservative-majority U.S. Supreme Court has chipped away at the wall separating church and state in a series of new rulings, eroding American legal traditions intended to prevent government officials from promoting any particular faith.

In three decisions in the past eight weeks, the court has ruled against government officials whose policies and actions were taken to avoid violating the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment prohibition on governmental endorsement of religion – known as the “establishment clause.”

The court on Monday backed a Washington state public high school football coach who was suspended by a local school district for refusing to stop leading Christian prayers with players on the field after games.

On June 21, it endorsed taxpayer money paying for students to attend religious schools under a Maine tuition assistance program in rural areas lacking nearby public high schools.

On May 2, it ruled in favor of a Christian group that sought to fly a flag emblazoned with a cross at Boston city hall under a program aimed at promoting diversity and tolerance among the city’s different communities.

The court’s conservative justices, who hold a 6-3 majority, in particular have taken a broad view of religious rights. They also delivered a decision on Friday that was hailed by religious conservatives – overturning the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion nationwide – though that case did not involve the establishment clause.

Cornell Law School professor Michael Dorf said the court’s majority appears skeptical of government decision-making premised on secularism.

“They regard secularism, which for centuries has been the liberal world’s understanding of what it means to be neutral, as itself a form of discrimination against religion,” Dorf said of the conservative justices.

In Monday’s ruling, conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote that the court’s aim was to prevent public officials from being hostile to religion as they navigate the establishment clause. Gorsuch said that “in no world may a government entity’s concerns about phantom violations justify actual violations of an individuals First Amendment rights.”


It was President Thomas Jefferson who famously said in an 1802 letter that the establishment clause should represent a “wall of separation” between church and state. The provision prevents the government from establishing a state religion and prohibits it from favoring one faith over another.

In the three recent rulings, the court decided that government actions intended to maintain a separation of church and state had instead infringed separate rights to free speech or the free exercise of religion also protected by the First Amendment.

But, as liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote in the Maine case, such an approach “leads us to a place where separation of church and state becomes a constitutional violation.”

Opinions vary over to how much flexibility government officials have in allowing religious expression, whether by public employees, on public land or by people during an official proceeding. Those who favor a strict separation of church and state are concerned that landmark Supreme Court precedents, including a 1962 ruling that prohibited prayer in public schools, could be imperiled.

“It’s a whole new door that (the court) has opened to what teachers, coaches and government employees can do when it comes to proselytizing to children,” said Nick Little, legal director for the Center for Inquiry, a group promoting secularism and science.

Lori Windham, a lawyer with the religious liberty legal group Becket, said the court’s decisions will allow for greater religious expression by individuals without undermining the establishment clause.

“Separation of church and state continues in a way that protects church and state. It stops the government from interfering with churches but it also protects diverse religious expression,” Windham added.

Most of the religious-rights rulings in recent years involved Christian plaintiffs. But the court also has backed followers of other religions including a Muslim woman in 2015 who was denied a retail sales job because she wore a head scarf for religious reasons and a Buddhist death row inmate in 2019 who wanted a spiritual adviser present at his execution in Texas.

The court also sided with both Christian and Jewish congregations in challenges based on religious rights to governmental restrictions such as limits on public gatherings imposed as public safety measures during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nicole Stelle Garnett, a Notre Dame Law School professor who joined a brief filed with the justices backing the football coach, said the court was merely making clear that governments must treat religious people the same as everyone else.

Following Monday’s ruling, many issues relating to religious conduct in schools may be litigated anew under the court’s rationale that the conduct must be “coercive” in order to raise establishment clause concerns.

“Every classroom,” Garnett said, “is a courtroom.”

(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley and Andrew Chung; Editing by Will Dunham and Scott Malone)

Reznikov reports on the thousands of Ukrainian Armed Forces fighters who are training abroad: We learn fast

Ukrayinska Pravda

Reznikov reports on the thousands of Ukrainian Armed Forces fighters who are training abroad: We learn fast

Alona Mazurenko  – June 28, 2022

Ukrainian Minister of Defence Oleksii Reznikov has reported that thousands of Ukrainian defenders have mastered the use of weapons provided by Western partners, and their training is still ongoing. He said Ukrainian fighters learn quickly, and any weapon becomes even more effective in the hands of Ukrainian Armed Forces.

Source: Oleksii Reznikov on Facebook

Quote: “We’re learning. We learn fast. We will master aviation and other types of high-tech weapons just as quickly. Those who doubted this have already changed their minds.

Any weapon becomes even more effective in the hands of our soldiers. We will drive the occupying terrorists out of our land. Victory will be on our side.”

Details: The Minister stated that the Ukrainian army is being equipped with powerful modern military machinery and weapons.

Ukrainian fighters are undergoing training in the UK, Italy, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, France and Germany.

In addition, a basic general military training course for Ukrainian Armed Forces servicemen was launched this week with the support of the United Kingdom.

Oleksii Reznikov said that the first few hundred Ukrainian servicemen had already arrived for training, and the project overall was designed to train thousands of Ukrainian Armed Forces soldiers.

Ukrainian military personnel abroad are acquiring basic skills in operating M777 and AHS Krab 155-mm-calibre artillery systems and M142 HIMARS, M270 and MARS II multiple rocket launchers.

Ukrainian military personnel are also undergoing training in operating Gepard 1A2 self-propelled anti-aircraft guns, Sandown-class minehunters, and VAB and M80-A combat vehicles. Training is also being provided for Ukrainian specialists in air reconnaissance and surveillance, and specialists in explosives disposal and demining, including underwater.

Reznikov said that thousands of servicemen of the Armed Forces of Ukraine have been trained abroad to use and operate foreign-made weapons and military equipment since April.

Ukrainian fighters have already mastered the M777, FH-70, ACS M109, Caesar and Panzerhaubitze 2000 155-mm artillery systems, the M142 HIMARS multiple rocket launcher, the AHS Krab self-propelled artillery system, and a significant number of armored combat vehicles, including the M113, FV-103, Bushmaster, Senator, Mastiff, Husky and Wolfhound.

‘They’re Not Here to Hurt Me’: Trump Urged Secret Service to Allow Armed Supporters into January 6 Address, Witness Testifies

‘They’re Not Here to Hurt Me’: Trump Urged Secret Service to Allow Armed Supporters into January 6 Address, Witness Testifies

Brittany Bernstein – June 28, 2022

A former White House aide testified on Tuesday that former president Trump urged Secret Service to allow his armed supporters to attend the speech he delivered on January 6, 2021, ahead of the Capitol riot.

“I don’t f***ing care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me. Take the f***ing mags away,” Trump said, according to Cassidy Hutchinson, apparently referring to metal detectors — or magnometers — that were deterring armed Trump supporters from entering the cordoned-off area where he was speaking.

Hutchinson, who was an aide to Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows, testified before the House select committee on the Capitol riot that Trump said at the time, “Let my people in. They can march to the Capitol from here. Let the people in. Take the f***ing mags away.”

White House deputy chief of staff Tony Ornato apparently warned Meadows on January 6 that the crowd seemed ready for violence, with some supporters arriving armed with knives, guns, bear spray, body armor, spears and flagpoles. Hutchinson testified that Meadows did not look up from his phone to address Ornato, asking only if he had informed Trump. Ornato replied that he had.

Hutchinson testified that Meadows “almost had a lack of reaction” to the Capitol insurrection.

She said that Trump grew irate when Secret Service told him he would not be allowed to visit the Capitol after his remarks, and tried to grab the wheel from the driver.

She testified that Ornato told her that when Trump got into his presidential vehicle, known as the “beast,” the president was “under the impression from Mr. Meadows that off-the-record movement to the Capitol was still possible and likely to happen” but that Secret Service agent Bobby Engel “had more information.”

Hutchinson said Engel then told the president that they could not head to the Capitol because the Secret Service weren’t prepared and that it wasn’t secure.

“The president had a very strong, very angry response to that,” Hutchinson testified. “Tony described him as being irate. The president said something to the effect of, ‘I’m the effing president, take me up to the Capitol now.’”

“Bobby responded, ‘Sir, we have to go back to the West Wing,’” she testified. “The president reached up toward the front of the vehicle to grab at the steering wheel. Mr. Engel grabbed his arm and said, ‘Sir, you need to take your hand off the steering wheel. We’re going back to the West Wing. We’re not going to the Capitol.’ Mr. Trump then used his free hand to lunge towards Bobby Engel and when Mr. Ornato recounted this story to me, he motioned toward his clavicles.”

Earlier in the day, White House lawyers urged speechwriters not to include talk about marching to the Capitol in Trump’s address, Hutchinson testified.

She said Trump wanted to say things like, “Fight for Trump,” “We’re going to march to the Capitol,” and other words about Vice President Mike Pence.

White House lawyer Eric Herschmann said it would be “foolish” to indulge some of Trump’s requests. White House counsel Pat Cipollone said it would be a mistake to march to the Capitol, according to Hutchinson.

“We’re going to get charged with every crime imaginable if we make that movement happen,” Hutchinson quoted Cipollone as saying ahead of January 6. 

She testified that House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy called her after Trump said he was marching to the Capitol.

“He sounded rushed and also frustrated and angry at me,” she testified of McCarthy, who allegedly told her, “Don’t come up here.”

Hutchinson’s testimony came during a surprise hearing that the committee announced just one day earlier, saying it would be “to present recently obtained evidence and receive witness testimony.”

Trump’s former acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney called the testimony “explosive” and said he believes Hutchinson is telling the truth.

“My guess is that before this is over, we will be hearing testimony from Ornato, Engle, and Meadows,” he said. “This is explosive stuff.  If Cassidy is making this up, they will need to say that. If she isn’t they will have to corroborate. I know her. I don’t think she is lying.”

The committee currently has two more hearings scheduled for July as the Democrat-led panel works to make its case that Trump plotted to undermine American democracy.