Oath Keepers’ Rhodes guilty of Jan. 6 seditious conspiracy

Associated Press

Oath Keepers’ Rhodes guilty of Jan. 6 seditious conspiracy

Lindsay Whitehurst, Alanna Durkin Richer and Michael Kunzelman

November 30, 2022

FILE - Stewart Rhodes, founder of the citizen militia group known as the Oath Keepers speaks during a rally outside the White House in Washington, on June 25, 2017. Rhodes was convicted Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022, of seditious conspiracy for a violent plot to overturn Democrat Joe Biden’s presidential win, handing the Justice Department a major victory in its massive prosecution of the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)
Stewart Rhodes, founder of the citizen militia group known as the Oath Keepers speaks during a rally outside the White House in Washington, on June 25, 2017. Rhodes was convicted Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022, of seditious conspiracy for a violent plot to overturn Democrat Joe Biden’s presidential win, handing the Justice Department a major victory in its massive prosecution of the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)
Attorneys for Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes, James Lee Bright, center left, and Edward Tarpley, left, speak to members of the media outside the Federal Courthouse following a verdict in the Rhodes trial in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022. Rhodes was convicted of seditious conspiracy for a violent plot to overturn Democrat Joe Biden's presidential win, handing the Justice Department a major victory in its massive prosecution of the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Attorneys for Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes, James Lee Bright, center left, and Edward Tarpley, left, speak to members of the media outside the Federal Courthouse following a verdict in the Rhodes trial in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022. Rhodes was convicted of seditious conspiracy for a violent plot to overturn Democrat Joe Biden’s presidential win, handing the Justice Department a major victory in its massive prosecution of the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
FILE - This artist sketch depicts the trial of Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes, left, as he testifies before U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta on charges of seditious conspiracy in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, in Washington, Nov. 7, 2022. Rhodes was convicted of seditious conspiracy on Nov. 29. (Dana Verkouteren via AP, File)
 This artist sketch depicts the trial of Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes, left, as he testifies before U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta on charges of seditious conspiracy in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, in Washington, Nov. 7, 2022. Rhodes was convicted of seditious conspiracy on Nov. 29. (Dana Verkouteren via AP, File)
A federal jury convicted five members of the Oath Keepers on a variety of charges Tuesday in connection with the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. (AP Graphic)
A federal jury convicted five members of the Oath Keepers on a variety of charges Tuesday in connection with the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. (AP Graphic)
A man holding a sign that reads "Stop Hating Each Other Because You Disagree" refuses to move from behind The attorneys for Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes Edward Tarpley, right, and James Lee Bright, center, as they speak to members of the media outside the Federal Courthouse following a verdict in the Stewart Rhodes trial in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022. Rhodes was convicted of seditious conspiracy for a violent plot to overturn Democrat Joe Biden's presidential win, handing the Justice Department a major victory in its massive prosecution of the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
A man holding a sign that reads “Stop Hating Each Other Because You Disagree” refuses to move from behind The attorneys for Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes Edward Tarpley, right, and James Lee Bright, center, as they speak to members of the media outside the Federal Courthouse following a verdict in the Stewart Rhodes trial in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022. Rhodes was convicted of seditious conspiracy for a violent plot to overturn Democrat Joe Biden’s presidential win, handing the Justice Department a major victory in its massive prosecution of the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
U.S. Capitol Police Sgt. Harry Dunn leaves federal court following a verdict in the Rhodes trial in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022. Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes was convicted Tuesday of seditious conspiracy for a violent plot to overturn Democrat Joe Biden's presidential win, handing the Justice Department a major victory in its massive prosecution of the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
U.S. Capitol Police Sgt. Harry Dunn leaves federal court following a verdict in the Rhodes trial in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022. Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes was convicted Tuesday of seditious conspiracy for a violent plot to overturn Democrat Joe Biden’s presidential win, handing the Justice Department a major victory in its massive prosecution of the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes was convicted Tuesday of seditious conspiracy for a violent plot to overturn President Joe Biden’s election, handing the Justice Department a major victory in its massive prosecution of the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection.

A Washington, D.C., jury found Rhodes guilty of sedition after three days of deliberations in the nearly two-month-long trial that showcased the far-right extremist group’s efforts to keep Republican Donald Trump in the White House at all costs.

Rhodes was acquitted of two other conspiracy charges. A co-defendant — Kelly Meggs, who led the antigovernment group’s Florida chapter — was also convicted of seditious conspiracy, while three other associates were cleared of that charge. Jurors found all five defendants guilty of obstruction of an official proceeding: Congress’ certification of Biden’s electoral victory.

The verdict, while mixed, marks a significant milestone for the Justice Department and is likely to clear the path for prosecutors to move ahead at full steam in upcoming trials of other extremists accused of sedition.

Rhodes and Meggs are the first people in nearly three decades to be found guilty at trial of seditious conspiracy — a rarely used Civil War-era charge that can be difficult to prove. The offense calls for up to 20 years behind bars.

It could embolden investigators, whose work has expanded beyond those who attacked the Capitol to focus on others linked to Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election. U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland recently named a veteran prosecutor, Jack Smith, to serve as special counsel to oversee key aspects of a probe into efforts to subvert the election as well as a separate investigation into the retention of classified documents at Trump’s Florida estate, Mar-a-Lago.

Garland said after the verdict that the Justice Department “is committed to holding accountable those criminally responsible for the assault on our democracy on January 6, 2021.”

“Democracy depends on the peaceful transfer of power. By attempting to block the certification of the 2020 presidential election results, the defendants flouted and trampled the rule of law,” Steven M. D’Antuono, assistant director in charge of the FBI Washington Field Office, said in an emailed statement. “This case shows that force and violence are no match for our country’s justice system.”CAPITOL SIEGEJan. 6 panel interviews ex-Secret Service agent Tony OrnatoJury deliberates for 2nd day in Oath Keepers sedition case2 Illinois sisters get probation after Capitol riot pleasMontana man gets 3 years in prison for role in Capitol riot

Using dozens of encrypted messages, recordings and surveillance video, prosecutors made the case that Rhodes began shortly after the 2020 election to prepare an armed rebellion to stop the transfer of presidential power.

Over seven weeks of testimony, jurors heard how Rhodes rallied his followers to fight to defend Trump, discussed the prospect of a “bloody” civil war and warned the Oath Keepers may have to “rise up in insurrection” to defeat Biden if Trump didn’t act.

Defense attorneys accused prosecutors of twisting their clients’ words and insisted the Oath Keepers came to Washington only to provide security for figures such as Roger Stone, a longtime Trump ally. The defense focused heavily on seeking to show that Rhodes’ rhetoric was just bluster and that the Oath Keepers had no plan before Jan. 6 to attack the Capitol.

Rhodes intends to appeal, defense attorney James Lee Bright told reporters. Another Rhodes lawyer, Ed Tarpley, described the verdict as a “mixed bag,” adding, “This is not a total victory for the government in any way, shape or form.”

“We feel like we presented a case that showed through evidence and testimony that Mr. Rhodes did not commit the crime of seditious conspiracy,” Tarpley said.

On trial alongside Rhodes, of Granbury, Texas, and Meggs, were Kenneth Harrelson, another Florida Oath Keeper; Thomas Caldwell, a retired Navy intelligence officer from Virginia; and Jessica Watkins, who led an Ohio militia group.

Caldwell was convicted on two counts and acquitted on three others, including seditious conspiracy. His attorney, David Fischer, called the verdict “major victory” for his client and a “major defeat” for the Justice Department. He also said he would appeal the two convictions.

Jury selection for a second group of Oath Keepers facing seditious conspiracy charges is scheduled to begin next week. Several members of the Proud Boys, including the former national chairman Enrique Tarrio, are also scheduled to go to trial on the sedition charge in December.

In an extraordinary move, Rhodes took the stand to tell jurors there was no plan to attack the Capitol and insist that his followers who went inside the building went rogue.

Rhodes testified that he had no idea that his followers were going to join the mob and storm the Capitol and said he was upset after he found out that some did. Rhodes said they were acting “stupid” and outside their mission for the day.

Prosecutors said the Oath Keepers saw an opportunity to advance their plot to stop the transfer of power and sprang into action when the mob started storming the Capitol. The Capitol attack was a “means to an end” for the Oath Keepers, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathryn Rakoczy told jurors in her closing argument.

Accountant testifies Trump claimed decade of huge tax losses

Associated Press

Accountant testifies Trump claimed decade of huge tax losses

Michael R. Sisak – November 22, 2022

Donald Bender, left, a former accountant for Donald Trump, arrives at Manhattan criminal court, Monday, Nov. 21, 2022, in New York. Prosecutors in the Trump Organization's criminal tax fraud trial rested their case Monday earlier than expected, pinning hopes for convicting Donald Trump's company largely on the word of two top executives who cut deals before testifying they schemed to avoid taxes on company-paid perks. (AP Photo/Michael Sisak)
Donald Bender, left, a former accountant for Donald Trump, arrives at Manhattan criminal court, Monday, Nov. 21, 2022, in New York. Prosecutors in the Trump Organization’s criminal tax fraud trial rested their case Monday earlier than expected, pinning hopes for convicting Donald Trump’s company largely on the word of two top executives who cut deals before testifying they schemed to avoid taxes on company-paid perks. (AP Photo/Michael Sisak)
FILE - Former President Donald Trump announces he is running for president for the third time at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla., Nov. 15, 2022. The Supreme Court has cleared the way for the handover of former President Donald Trump's tax returns to a congressional committee after a three-year legal fight. The Democratic-controlled House Ways and Means Committee had asked for six years of tax returns for Trump and some of his businesses, from 2015 to 2020. The court's order Tuesday, Nov. 22 leaves no legal obstacle in the way. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)
 Former President Donald Trump announces he is running for president for the third time at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla., Nov. 15, 2022. The Supreme Court has cleared the way for the handover of former President Donald Trump’s tax returns to a congressional committee after a three-year legal fight. The Democratic-controlled House Ways and Means Committee had asked for six years of tax returns for Trump and some of his businesses, from 2015 to 2020. The court’s order Tuesday, Nov. 22 leaves no legal obstacle in the way. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)
Trump Legal Troubles

NEW YORK (AP) — Donald Trump reported losses on his tax returns every year for a decade, including nearly $700 million in 2009 and $200 million in 2010, his longtime accountant testified Tuesday, confirming long-held suspicions about the former president’s tax practices.

Donald Bender, a partner at Mazars USA LLP who spent years preparing Trump’s personal tax returns, said Trump’s reported losses from 2009 to 2018 included net operating losses from some of the many businesses he owns through his Trump Organization.

“There are losses for all these years,” said Bender, who was granted immunity to testify at the company’s criminal tax fraud trial in Manhattan.

The short exchange amounted to a rare public discussion of Trump’s taxes — which the Republican has fought to keep secret — even if there was no obvious connection to the case at hand.

A prosecutor, Susan Hoffinger, questioned Bender briefly about Trump’s taxes on cross examination, at one point showing him copies of Trump tax paperwork that the Manhattan district attorney’s office fought for three years to obtain, before moving on to other topics.

The Trump Organization, the holding company for Trump’s buildings, golf courses and other assets, is charged with helping some top executives avoid income taxes on compensation they got in addition to their salaries, including rent-free apartments and luxury cars. If convicted, the company could be fined more than $1 million.

Trump is not charged in the case and is not expected to testify or attend the trial. The company’s former finance chief testified that he came up with the scheme on his own, without Trump or the Trump family knowing. Allen Weisselberg, testifying as part of a plea deal, said the company also benefited because it didn’t have to pay him as much in salary.

Bender’s testimony came on a day full of Trump-related legal drama, including the U.S. Supreme Court clearing the way for Congress to get six years worth of tax returns for Trump and some of his businesses.

Also Tuesday, the judge in New York Attorney General Letitia James’ civil fraud lawsuit against Trump and his company set an October 2023 trial date; a federal appeals court heard arguments in the FBI’s Mar-a-Lago documents investigation; and Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Trump ally, testified before a Georgia grand jury probing alleged 2020 election interference.

Bender’s tax loss testimony echoed what The New York Times reported in 2020, when it obtained a trove of Trump’s tax returns. Many of the records reflected massive losses and little or no taxes paid, the newspaper reported at the time.

The Times reported Trump paid no income tax in 11 of the 18 years whose records it reviewed, and that he paid just $750 in federal income tax in 2017, the year he became president. Citing other Trump tax records, The Times previously reported that in 1995 he claimed $915.7 million in losses, which he could have used to avoid future taxes under the law at the time.

Manhattan prosecutors subpoenaed Bender’s firm in 2019, seeking access to eight years of Trump’s tax returns and related documents, finally getting them after a protracted legal fight that included two trips to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Bender handled tax returns and other financial matters for Trump, the Trump Organization and hundreds of Trump entities starting in the 1980s. He also prepared taxes for members of Trump’s family and other company executives, including Weisselberg and Weisselberg’s son, who managed a company-run ice rink in Central Park.

Weisselberg, who pleaded guilty in August to dodging taxes on $1.7 million in extras in exchange for a five-month jail sentence, testified that he hid company-paid extras such as Manhattan apartments and Mercedes-Benz cars from his taxable income by having the company’s comptroller, Jeffrey McConney, reduce his salary by the cost of those perks.

Bender testified that Weisselberg kept him the dark on that arrangement — and that he only found out about it from prosecutors last year.

But emails shown in court Tuesday suggested that McConney tried to loop him in as early as 2013, with attached spreadsheets listing Weisselberg’s pay and reductions for extras, including Trump-paid tuition for his grandchildren’s private schooling.

Bender, who testified that he got numerous emails from Trump executives daily, said he didn’t recall seeing those messages. If he had, he said: “We would have had a serious conversation about continuing with the client.”

Mazars USA LLP has since dropped Trump as a client. In February, the firm said annual financial statements it prepared for him “should no longer be relied upon” after James’ office said the statements regularly misstated the value of assets — an allegation at the heart of her lawsuit.

Trump blamed Bender and Mazars for the company’s troubles, writing on his Truth Social platform last week: “The highly paid accounting firm should have routinely picked these things up – we relied on them. VERY UNFAIR!”

Bender testified that he put the onus on Weisselberg to fix any problems as scrutiny of the Trump Organization intensified after Trump’s election in 2016 and advised him to stop one dubious practice: the company’s longstanding, tax-saving habit of paying executive bonuses as freelance income.

The accountant said he told Weisselberg: “If there is anything bothering you, even if there’s the slightest chance, we have to set the highest standards so the company should be, effectively, squeaky clean.”

Trump Family’s Newest Partners: Middle Eastern Governments

The New York Times

Trump Family’s Newest Partners: Middle Eastern Governments

Eric Lipton and Maggie Haberman – November 21, 2022

Former President Donald Trump during his election night party at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla. on Nov. 8, 2022. (Josh Ritchie/The New York Times)
Former President Donald Trump during his election night party at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla. on Nov. 8, 2022. (Josh Ritchie/The New York Times)

WASHINGTON — When former President Donald Trump returned briefly last week to his office at Trump Tower in New York, he was joined by his son Eric Trump and the top executive of a Saudi Arabian real estate company to sign a deal that creates new conflict-of-interest questions for his just-launched presidential campaign.

The deal is with a Saudi real estate company that intends to build a Trump-branded hotel, villas and a golf course as part of a $4 billion real estate project in Oman. The agreement continues a practice that had been popular for the Trump family business until Trump was elected president — selling branding rights to an overseas project in exchange for a generous licensing fee.

But what makes this project unusual — and is sure to intensify the questions over this newest transaction — is that by teaming up with the Saudi company, Trump is also becoming part of a project backed by the government of Oman itself.

The deal leaves Trump, as a former president hoping to win the White House again, effectively with a foreign government partner that has complex relations with the United States, including its role in trying to end the war in Yemen and other important foreign policy agenda items for Washington.

The deal Trump signed was with Dar Al Arkan, the Saudi-based real estate company that is leading the project in collaboration with the government of Oman, which owns the land. It is the second deal signed recently between Trump and his family that has direct financial ties to a Middle East government.

The Trump Organization also hosted the Saudi-government-backed LIV Golf tournaments at family-owned golf clubs in New Jersey and Florida. The Saudi government’s $620 billion Public Investment Fund has financed the LIV Golf effort, which then paid venues like Trump National Doral in Miami and Trump National Golf Club Bedminster in New Jersey to host two of its tournaments this year.

The Trump administration, including Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, had close ties with Saudi Arabia during Trump’s tenure in the White House. Kushner has also received financial support from the Saudi government, a $2 billion investment in his newly formed private equity firm, Affinity Partners.

Before being elected president, Trump and his family had signed deals to license the Trump name in locations including Indonesia, Turkey, the Philippines, Dubai, India, Panama and Canada, and it owns golf resorts in Scotland and Ireland. One planned skyscraper deal in Dubai, announced in 2005, involved Nakheel, a Dubai-government-controlled real estate company. But that project was eventually abandoned.

Eight months before Trump entered the presidential race in 2015, the family company announced plans to license its name for a 33-story hotel in Baku, Azerbaijan, and the partner there was the son of a government minister. That project was also ultimately abandoned.

Elsewhere, the Trump Organization’s foreign deals generally did not directly involve a financial role by a foreign government, or at least any public acknowledgment of direct foreign government financing or a major land contribution, according to an examination of the transactions by The New York Times.

During Trump’s time in the White House, Trump International Hotel in Washington was frequently a destination for foreign government officials, including delegations in town for planned meetings with Trump. The governments of Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey and China each spent money at the hotel, according to documents that his former accounting firm turned over to Congress. The hotel received more than $3.75 million from foreign governments from 2017 to 2020, the House investigators estimated.

The Trump Organization has asserted that it paid all profits from these hotel stays to the Treasury Department through annual voluntary payments.

But this new deal — in which the Trump Organization benefits from land or financial capital provided by foreign governments — only elevates the potential for a conflict of interest to emerge, as Trump continues his dual roles as a White House candidate and business executive, ethics lawyers said.

“This is yet another example of Trump getting a personal financial benefit in exchange for past or future political power,” said Kathleen Clark, a law professor at Washington University in St. Louis. “The Saudis and Oman government may believe that giving Trump this licensing deal will benefit them in the future, should Trump become president again. This deal could be a way to ensure that they will be in Trump’s good graces.”

The Aida project in Oman is slated to be built 20 minutes outside the capital city of Muscat, on a series of hills overlooking the Arabian Sea on land controlled by the Omani Company for Development and Tourism, an Oman-government-owned tourism agency. It will include 3,500 luxury villas, two hotels with a total of 450 rooms and a golf course, as well as various restaurants and stores.

The project is part of what the government there is calling Oman Vision 2040 to try to diversify the small nation’s economy by building new hotels and golf courses and other tourist attractions. Officials in Oman did not respond Sunday to a request for comment on the project, nor did representatives for Dar Al Arkan, which is one of Saudi Arabia’s largest real estate companies.

Relations between the United States and Oman were not nearly as warm during Trump’s tenure as they were with Saudi Arabia. Oman declined to sign the agreement, called the Abraham Accords, that normalized relations between other Middle East nations and Israel.

Executives at Riyadh-based Dar Al Arkan sent out a news release Sunday confirming the deal with Trump Organization for the new project in Oman, while also distributing photos of Donald and Eric Trump at Trump Tower in New York with executives from Dar Al Arkan.

It is one of the first times since Trump was elected president that he has publicized his role in a new family real estate deal. The Trump family stopped signing new international deals after Trump was elected. The real estate deal with the Saudi partner in Oman is the first since he left the White House.

Ziad El Chaar, CEO of Dar Al Arkan Global, who attended the deal-signing event, used to work at Damac Properties, the Trump family’s partner in Dubai, where the family has licensed its name to what is known as Trump International Golf Club Dubai and Trump Estates at DAMAC Hills, a gated community adjacent to the fairways.

“We are confident the relationship with Trump will further enhance the beauty of Aida and attract investors from around the world looking to be part of an exceptional project,” El Chaar said in the statement released on Sunday.

Eric Trump, in a statement, said that the family company did not believe the new deal represented a conflict, and since the time his father was in office, it has worked to avoid any such conflicts. “We are excited to expand our golf and hotel portfolio in this incredible location,” he said Sunday. “It is going to be an exceptional project.”

Steven Cheung, a spokesperson for Donald Trump’s campaign, responded to questions about the Oman deal, or whether the former president will be more involved with his business now, with a statement attacking the Biden administration.

The Oman deal was announced just as Trump was kicking off his third campaign for the White House, and while the Trump family, and Trump himself, are the target of a collection of civil and criminal investigations, including tax fraud charges against the Trump Organization and its long-serving chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg.

If the company is convicted, it will face fines and potential blowback from lenders and business partners that might shy away from doing business with a felon; a conviction could also present new political challenges for Trump. But the maximum possible fine in the tax fraud case is only $1.62 million, a small amount for the company. In his most recent financial disclosure report, filed in early 2021 as Trump left the White House, Trump reported assets worth at least $1.3 billion.

U.S. Supreme Court rejects challenge to Republican-drawn Texas electoral district


U.S. Supreme Court rejects challenge to Republican-drawn Texas electoral district

Andrew Chung – November 21, 2022

FILE PHOTO: The U.S. Supreme Court building is seen in Washington

(Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday turned away an appeal by Black and Hispanic voters accusing the Republican-led Texas legislature of intentionally redrawing a state Senate district to diminish their political clout, part of broader challenge to congressional and state legislative maps in the state.

The justices declined to review a ruling by a three-judge federal district court panel denying an injunction against the reconfigured state Senate district sought by the challengers. The plaintiffs have argued that the district’s redrawn boundaries resulted from intentional racial discrimination against them in violation of the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment guarantee of equal protection under the law.

The dispute centers on a state Senate district that includes part of the city of Fort Worth in north-central Texas.

The district is currently held by Democratic state Senator Beverly Powell. But she dropped her re-election bid last April, calling the race “unwinnable” because of the way the legislature had redrawn the district’s boundaries. Following the Nov. 8 election, the newly configured district will be represented by Republican Phil King, who ran unopposed.

Black and Hispanic plaintiffs sued after the Texas legislature approved new electoral maps in 2021. They argued that they had been “splintered” into other Senate districts where they will be “overpowered” by white voters.

While Powell’s state Senate district was previously confined within a single county, it is now spread across seven others that the three-judge panel said are “populated mostly by rural Anglos who tend by a large margin to vote Republican.”

Redistricting, carried out each decade after the completion of the U.S. census, is an increasingly contentious process in the United States. It is typically controlled by politicians already in office who may draw lines for partisan gain.

The Supreme Court in 2019 blocked federal courts from reviewing claims of so-called partisan gerrymandering, a practice that according to critics warps democracy by crafting electoral districts in a way that reduces the voting power of some voters while boosting the clout of others.

The Texas case represents one of many legal challenges to reconfigured electoral maps around the country.

The Supreme Court is set to hear arguments in a major case on Dec. 7 that could prevent state courts from second-guessing state legislatures’ rules and maps for federal elections.

The Texas lawsuit is one of several that have been consolidated before the three-judge panel. President Joe Biden’s administration sued Texas over the new maps last December. The panel denied an injunction that would have blocked the use of the newly devised district boundaries. In its ruling last May, the panel agreed that, given racially polarized voting patterns, the new map has a disproportionate impact resulting in “the loss of a seat in which minorities were able to elect candidates they preferred.”

But the court said there was no direct evidence that the legislature was motivated by an intent to racially discriminate.

In their appeal to the Supreme Court, the plaintiffs said resolution was needed prior to the 2024 election.

(Reporting by Andrew Chung in New York; Editing by Will Dunham)

Sandy Hook families sued Alex Jones. Then he started moving money around.

The Washington Post

Sandy Hook families sued Alex Jones. Then he started moving money around.

Jonathan O’Connell, The Washington Post – November 21, 2022

FILE – Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones takes the witness stand to testify at the Sandy Hook defamation damages trial at Connecticut Superior Court in Waterbury, Conn. Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022. On Friday, Oct. 21, Jones has asked a Connecticut judge to throw out a nearly $1 billion verdict against him and order a new trial in a lawsuit by Sandy Hook families over Jones’ lies that the 2012 Newtown school shooting was a hoax.(Tyler Sizemore/Hearst Connecticut Media via AP, Pool, File) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Alex Jones was losing in court.

Parents of children killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School had sued him and his media company for defamation after he repeatedly claimed the 2012 massacre in Connecticut was a hoax. Fans of the Infowars host had harassed and threatened grieving families. By the summer of 2020, two of the lawsuits weren’t going his way.

As the potential for damages mounted, Jones began moving millions of dollars out of his company, Free Speech Systems, and into companies controlled by himself, friends or relatives, according to a Washington Post review of financial statements, depositions and other court records. The transfers potentially put those funds out of reach of the Sandy Hook plaintiffs.

Between August 2020 and November 2021, Free Speech Systems signed promissory notes – essentially IOUs – for $55 million to cover what it said were past debts to a company called PQPR Holdings that Jones owns with his parents, according to financial records filed in court by Jones’s attorneys. PQPR, which is managed by Jones’s father, a dentist, had bought tens of millions of dollars in supplements for Jones that he then sold on his show, the records say. A lawyer for Free Speech systems has said in court that the debt accrued unnoticed due to sloppy bookkeeping.

This year, Jones started paying his personal trainer $100,000 a week to help ship supplements and other merchandise, a Free Speech Systems attorney said in court. A company managed by Jones’s sister and listed as a “supplier or vendor” was paid $240,000, financial records show.

Courts have awarded the Sandy Hook families nearly $1.5 billion in damages against Jones, including $45.2 million in a Texas case in August and $965 million in a Connecticut case two months later. On Nov. 10, the judge in the Connecticut case ordered Jones to pay an additional $473 million in punitive damages, including $323 million for legal fees. Jones has said on his show that he plans to appeal.

The IOUs and other recent transactions helped tip Free Speech Systems into bankruptcy in July, according to Jones’s court filings. An accountant hired by Jones calculated that Free Speech Systems had $79 million in liabilities at the end of May and only $14 million in assets, court records show. As a result, the Sandy Hook families could be left vying with other creditors – including the companies tied to Jones himself – to collect.

The bankruptcy court will ultimately determine which creditors are paid and how much. It is examining whether the promissory notes to PQPR and other transactions are legitimate. Attorneys for PQPR have argued in court that it should be paid before unsecured creditors, a category that would include the Sandy Hook plaintiffs.

Attorneys for the Sandy Hook families contend in a separate suit filed in April in Texas state court that PQPR is “not actually an independent business” and that Jones has engaged in fraudulent transfers to shield his wealth. They have argued in bankruptcy court that Jones began moving money out of Free Speech Systems only after he began to face legal setbacks in the defamation cases.

“In the middle of this lawsuit, they started documenting debts that had no evidence of existing beforehand,” Sandy Hook attorney Avi Berkowitz said in an interview.

A Justice Department trustee whose role in the bankruptcy case is to ensure the integrity of the process also has criticized the agreement to pay PQPR. “We, the U.S. Trustee, we do have concerns with the underlying transaction,” attorney Ha Nguyen told the court, according to a transcript. An agency spokeswoman declined to comment.

Alex Jones, his personal attorney, and attorneys for Free Speech Systems and PQPR did not respond to requests for comment or to detailed lists of questions from The Post. David Jones, Alex Jones’s father, and an attorney representing him also did not respond to requests for comment.

Jones and his father have said in court proceedings that PQPR was created in 2013 for liability protection as Jones got into the supplement business and as his father took on a management role. The accountant hired by Jones told the bankruptcy court that PQPR was a legitimate business that shared responsibility with Jones’s main company for “setting up supply chains, obtaining required governmental certifications, negotiating with vendors, procuring and paying for product, and overhead.”

Raymond Battaglia, a lawyer for Free Speech Systems, has said that as the Infowars brand ballooned, and millions of dollars poured in, the family-run business never adopted “appropriate management and accounting controls,” and so it failed to note the debt that had built up to PQPR.

“This is kind of like the garage band that became the boy band overnight, and had his girlfriend running the books, and the head roadie being the business manager,” Battaglia said in August in the bankruptcy case.

On their own, the corporate structures were not unusual, said bankruptcy experts. Many small-business owners create separate but related entities to organize and protect their wealth. Experts say the fact that the entities do not have any employees, offices or owners other than Jones and his parents does not mean they are not legitimate businesses.

The issue, said Jay L. Westbrook, a University of Texas bankruptcy law professor, is whether the court rules the transfers of wealth were made in the ordinary course of business. “At the end the of the day, the question is whether these are valid payments,” Westbrook said.

The Post examined financial records, depositions and other documents from the court cases to trace the flows of money around Free Speech Systems and establish the ownership of the other companies that were involved. The analysis shows that the transfers echoed financial moves Jones made almost a decade earlier, when divorce proceedings jeopardized his fortune, according to sealed court records from the divorce case obtained by The Post.

Infowars has made Jones a wealthy man, to a degree that has become apparent only because of the Sandy Hook litigation. In August testimony, an expert hired by the Sandy Hook families estimated Jones’s net worth at between $135 million and $270 million. Jones has disputed the plaintiffs’ estimations of his wealth.

“I don’t have all this money they’ve made up,” he said recently.

The supplement business tied to PQPR is the engine of Jones’s fortune, according to financial records Jones submitted in bankruptcy, often generating 2,000 to 3,000 orders a day, according to court testimony. Among the offerings are Survival Shield X-3 iodine spray, DNA Force Plus capsules and Super Male Vitality dietary supplement.

Of the $65 million in income Free Speech Systems had in 2021, the vast majority came from supplement sales, according to those records.

Berkowitz said his clients may be willing to settle with Jones for less money if it meant Jones would end his broadcasting career.

“If he wants to agree to some sort of terms that hold him accountable for all he’s done, we’ll be open to listening,” Berkowitz said. “Whether that means walking away from public life, to paying Sandy Hook families in full, the Sandy Hook families are not going to stop until Jones is held accountable.”

Jones, 48, has said he will keep fighting no matter what.

“They want us off air, that’s their goal,” he said during one show last month. “You’ve got my commitment. I’m not backing down.”

– – –

Jones grew up in Texas, first in Dallas and then in Austin. He has said his early thinking was shaped when, as a high school student, he read the book “None Dare Call it a Conspiracy” by a member of the far-right John Birch Society. Jones was 19 in 1993 when federal agents raided the Branch Davidians’ compound in Waco, north of Austin, leading to a prolonged standoff that ended with 76 dead. He went to Austin Community College for a time but left after growing bored, he told the Austin-American Statesman.

He told the newspaper that his anger toward big government stemmed from problems his father and his grandparents had with the IRS. “That’s where the venom comes from with me,” he said.

Jones started his broadcasting career with a public access TV show in Austin in the early 1990s. Several years later, a local FM radio station gave him a show after his father agreed to sponsor it, according to an accounting expert Jones hired in bankruptcy filings.

By the late 1990s, dozens of stations nationwide carried his show.

On air, Jones called the Branch Davidians victims of “a government coverup of its violation of the First Amendment,” and he asked listeners to send donations to help the sect build a new church and memorial. He wore a pin to the 1999 groundbreaking that said “You burn it, we build it,” according to the Associated Press. He was 25.

Jones railed against the government, the media and what he called the New World Order. He claimed that major world events were not what they seemed – and often that they were manufactured crises, staged to serve as pretexts to accomplish the goals of a secret cabal of globalists and multinational corporations.

In 1999, Jones registered the site infowars.com. As the internet era took off, he launched a subscription-only streaming video service and began selling videos, books and T-shirts, according to bankruptcy records. In 2007 he incorporated Free Speech Systems and created a series of other companies that held intellectual property and film rights, splitting ownership with his then-wife, Kelly, whom he had met at the public access station.

According to records obtained by The Post, in 2009 Free Speech Systems took in $6.2 million in revenue, including $2.6 million in merchandise sales, $1.6 million in advertising and $1.2 million from his streaming video site.

A few years later, Jones’s business was booming, but his marriage was failing.

In the fall of 2013 – two months before Kelly filed for divorce – Jones and his father created a series of companies, including PQPR, which they said in depositions were aimed at protecting Jones from legal liability as he grew his business. PQPR was owned by two other companies, which in turn were owned by Jones or his parents, a representative of Free Speech Systems said in a deposition filed in the bankruptcy case.

PQPR was worth $4.4 million in 2014, according to an accountant Jones hired in the divorce case, records show. Accountants working for Kelly Jones said it was worth as much as $6.2 million.

Alex Jones recounted during a June deposition in one of the defamation cases that they created the companies after he spoke with attorneys familiar with the Food and Drug Administration, the federal agency that regulates dietary supplements. “For liability protection issues, you know, it’s good to have a separate company that then does all of the compliance, buys the products, does all of that,” he said.

Jones’s father said in a deposition filed in the divorce case that Jones recruited him to leave dentistry in order to help professionalize operations and protect the company from liability. “He wanted to be sure that the entities that had been created were up and running properly, that they were legally constituted, that they were doing business as they were supposed to do,” he said, according to a court transcript.

Jones’s ex-wife has alleged that he created the companies as the couple was headed to divorce in order to protect his money, much as the Sandy Hook plaintiffs now accuse him. “Our marriage was absolutely terrible at that time. We were in negotiations for us to break up,” she said in an interview with The Post. “So he did that to hide his assets for when we broke up.”

Records from the divorce case are sealed. It was not clear from the documents obtained by The Post if the court ever directly examined that allegation.

Before the divorce, Kelly was part owner of the main Infowars company and several original affiliates, holding stakes ranging from 49.5 percent to 51 percent, according to records from the divorce case. A 2015 divorce rendition grants her no interest in PQPR or in what were then the newly created companies. Her name does not appear on any of their registration documents.

Those companies all have a stake in Jones’s biggest revenue source: The supplements that he promotes as a way for viewers to improve their health and keep his show running. The supplement sales dramatically boosted his business, according to bankruptcy filings and former employees.

The profit margin on supplements ranges from between three and five times their cost, far more than most of the products he sells, according to the filings. Free Speech Systems often collects $70 million to $80 million annually, according to the accounting expert Jones hired, and it took in more than $500 million in revenue from 2012 to 2022.

Josh Owens, who worked as a video editor at Infowars from 2013 to 2017, said he helped Jones with his first advertisement for an iodine supplement. “Everything changed after that,” he said. “It snowballed after that. It was pretty quickly creating new products, selling new products.”

– – –

In 2018, three years after his divorce was finalized, Sandy Hook families filed a series of lawsuits against Jones. They recounted how he had claimed that the parents were “crisis actors” and that the event was staged to further gun-control efforts.

Jones sought to have the cases thrown out. The day before an appeals court rejected his motion to have one of the cases dismissed, Jones signed a promissory note to PQPR for $29.6 million on Aug. 13, 2020. He also agreed to provide all of his company’s assets and revenue as collateral for the debt to PQPR, according to a contract Jones and his father signed.

On Sept. 27, 2021, a trial court in Texas ruled that Jones had violated the rules of the discovery process by failing to turn records over to the plaintiffs. Four days later, Jones signed an agreement to send PQPR $11,000 per day to cover the alleged debt outlined in the promissory note. On Nov. 10, Jones signed a secondary promissory note saying, in effect, that he had discovered another unpaid debt to PQPR, this time for $25.3 million.

Jones was also taking money out of the company for himself, records from the court cases show. By the end of 2021, he had withdrawn $61.9 million, according to the records. Jones’s attorneys have said in court that the withdrawals occurred over 15 years, and that half that amount was used to pay taxes. The plaintiffs’ attorneys have suggested the withdrawals may have been meant to prevent Sandy Hook families from accessing the money.

In February of this year, Jones transferred ownership of his Austin home – appraised at $2.8 million – into his wife’s name, according to county property records.

His personal trainer, Patrick Riley, in March created a logistics company, Blue Asension Logistics, to pack and ship supplements and other merchandise ordered by Infowars fans. The company hired nearly all of its employees from Infowars and uses the same Infowars warehouse, rent-free, to fulfill the orders, according to Riley’s testimony in the bankruptcy case. Jones agreed to pay him $400,000 upfront and then $105,000 per week, according to bankruptcy records.

Riley did not respond to voice mails seeking comment. He testified that he is the sole owner of the company.

An attorney for the Sandy Hook families, Marty Brimmage, said “this is not an arms-length transaction,” during an Aug. 12 hearing. “It isn’t even close.”

Battaglia argued that, while Riley may be friends with Jones, his business was independent. “Does Mr. Riley have a relationship with Mr. Jones? Absolutely. Is he an insider? No,” Battaglia said in the hearing.

In May and June, Free Speech Systems made six payments totaling $240,000 to a company managed by Jones’s sister, Marleigh Jones Rivera, according to bankruptcy records. The records do not specify who owns the company or the nature of its business.

Marleigh Jones Rivera did not respond to requests for comment.

On Nov. 10, the Connecticut judge temporarily blocked Jones from accessing the company’s money beyond what he needs for “ordinary expenses.”

The bankruptcy judge in Texas, Christopher M. Lopez, is expected to determine whether Jones engaged in fraudulent tactics designed to wall off assets from creditors. If the court finds that he did, the money that has been paid out or committed as debt could be divvied among creditors, said Georgetown University law professor Adam J. Levitin, an expert in corporate bankruptcy.

Levitin said the most likely scenario may be that Free Speech Systems chooses to liquidate, which would likely mean Jones forgoing the rights to all his films, brands and intellectual property, the Infowars name included. “There is nothing beyond a real Hail Mary route for him to avoid liability at this point,” he said.

In one of the defamation courts, Jones apologized to the Sandy Hook families and said he now believes the killings did occur. On his show, he remains defiant.

“I don’t lose sleep at night about giving them a billion dollars,” he said at a news conference he held in Connecticut in October. “They just misrepresent how much money I have. It’s a total fraud.”

House GOP pushes Hunter Biden probe despite thin majority

Associated Press

House GOP pushes Hunter Biden probe despite thin majority

Colleen Long – November 18, 2022

FILE - House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Calif., right, and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., arrive to speak with members of the press after a House Republican leadership meeting, Nov. 15, 2022, on Capitol Hill in Washington. McCarthy won the House Speaker nomination from his colleagues, while Scalise was voted majority leader. Even with their threadbare House majority, Republicans doubled down this week on using their new power to investigate the Biden administration and in particular the president’s son. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, of Calif., speaks during a news conference, Nov. 15, 2022, after voting on top House Republican leadership positions, on Capitol Hill in Washington. The Republican Party’s narrow capture of the House majority is poised to transform the agenda in Washington, empowering GOP lawmakers to pursue conservative goals and vigorously challenge the policies of President Joe Biden and his administration. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Even with their threadbare House majority, Republicans doubled down this week on using their new power next year to investigate the Biden administration and, in particular, the president’s son.

But the midterm results have emboldened a White House that has long prepared for this moment. Republicans secured much smaller margins than anticipated, and aides to President Joe Biden and other Democrats believe voters punished the GOP for its reliance on conspiracy theories and Donald Trump-fueled lies over the 2020 election.

They see it as validation for the administration’s playbook for the midterms and going forward to focus on legislative achievements and continue them, in contrast to Trump-aligned candidates whose complaints about the president’s son played to their most loyal supporters and were too far in the weeds for the average American. The Democrats retained control of the Senate, and the GOP’s margin in the House is expected to be the slimmest majority in two decades.

“If you look back, we picked up seats in New York, New Jersey, California,” said Mike DuHaime, a Republican strategist and public affairs executive. “These were not voters coming to the polls because they wanted Hunter Biden investigated — far from it. They were coming to the polls because they were upset about inflation. They’re upset about gas prices. They’re upset about what’s going on with the war in Ukraine.”

But House Republicans used their first news conference after clinching the majority to discuss presidential son Hunter Biden and the Justice Department, renewing long-held grievances about what they claim is a politicized law enforcement agency and a bombshell corruption case overlooked by Democrats and the media.

“From their first press conference, these congressional Republicans made clear that they’re going to do one thing in this new Congress, which is investigations, and they’re doing this for political payback for Biden’s efforts on an agenda that helps working people,” said Kyle Herrig, the founder of the Congressional Integrity Project, a newly relaunched, multimillion-dollar effort by Democratic strategists to counter the onslaught of House GOP probes.

Inside the White House, the counsel’s office added staff months ago and beefed up its communication efforts, and staff members have been deep into researching and preparing for the onslaught. They’ve worked to try to identify their own vulnerabilities and plan effective responses. But anything the House seeks related to Hunter Biden, who is not a White House staffer, will come from his attorneys, who have declined to respond to the allegations.

Rep. James Comer, incoming chairman of the House Oversight Committee, said there are “troubling questions” of the utmost importance about Hunter Biden’s business dealings and one of the president’s brothers, James Biden, that require deeper investigation. He said they were examining the president, too.

“Rooting out waste, fraud and abuse in the federal government is the primary mission of the Oversight Committee,” said Comer, R-Ky. “As such, this investigation is a top priority.”

Republican legislators promised a trove of new information this past week, but what they have presented so far has been a condensed review of a few years’ worth of complaints about Hunter Biden’

Hunter Biden joined the board of the Ukrainian gas company Burisma in 2014, around the time his father, then vice president, was helping conduct the Obama administration’s foreign policy with Ukraine. Senate Republicans have said the appointment may have posed a conflict of interest, but they did not present evidence that the hiring influenced U.S. policies, and they did not implicate Joe Biden in any wrongdoing.

Republican lawmakers and their staff for the past year have been analyzing messages and financial transactions found on a laptop that belonged to Hunter Biden. They long have discussed issuing congressional subpoenas to foreign entities that did business with him, and they recently brought on James Mandolfo, a former federal prosecutor, to assist with the investigation as general counsel for the Oversight Committee.

The difference now is that Republicans will have subpoena power to follow through.

“The Republicans are going to go ahead,” said Tom Davis, a Republican lawyer who specializes in congressional investigations and legislative strategy. “I think their members are enthusiastic about going after this stuff … there are a lot of unanswered questions. Look, the 40-year trend is parties under-investigate their own and over-investigate the other party. It didn’t start here.”

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre dismissed the GOP focus on investigations as “on-brand” thinking.

“They said they were going to fight inflation, they said they were going to make that a priority, then they get the majority and their top priority is actually not focusing on the American family, but focusing on the president’s family,” she said.

Even some newly elected Republicans are pushing back against the idea.

“The top priority is to deal with inflation and the cost of living. … What I don’t want to see is what we saw in the Trump administration, where Democrats went after the president and the administration incessantly,” Rep.-elect Mike Lawler of New York said on CNN.

Hunter Biden’s taxes and foreign business work are already under federal investigation, with a grand jury in Delaware hearing testimony in recent months.

While he never held a position on the presidential campaign or in the White House, his membership on the board of the Ukrainian energy company and his efforts to strike deals in China have long raised questions about whether he traded on his father’s public service, including reported references in his emails to the “big guy.”

Joe Biden has said he’s never spoken to his son about his foreign business, and there are no indications that the federal investigation involves the president.

Trump and his supporters, meanwhile, have advanced a widely discredited theory that Biden pushed for the firing of Ukraine’s top prosecutor to protect his son and Burisma from investigation. Biden did indeed press for the prosecutor’s firing, but that was a reflection of the official position of not only the Obama administration but many Western countries and because the prosecutor was perceived as soft on corruption.

House Republicans also have signaled upcoming investigations into immigration, government spending and parents’ rights. White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Chris Wray have been put on notice as potential witnesses.

Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, incoming Judiciary Committee chairman, has long complained of what he says is a politicized Justice Department and the ongoing probes into Trump.

On Friday, Garland appointed a special counsel to oversee the Justice Department’s investigation into the presence of classified documents at Trump’s Florida estate as well as key aspects of a separate probe involving the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection and efforts to undo the 2020 election.

Trump, in a speech Friday night at his Mar-a-Lago estate, slammed the development as “the latest in a long series of witch hunts.”

Of Joe and Hunter Biden, he asked, “Where’s their special prosecutor?”

Matt Mackowiak, a Republican political strategist, said it’s one thing if the investigations into Hunter Biden stick to corruption questions, but if it veers into the kind of mean-spirited messaging that has been floating around in far-right circles, “I don’t know that the public will have much patience for that.”

Associated Press Writer Eric Tucker contributed to this report.

Arizona county board delays certifying election results

Associated Press

Arizona county board delays certifying election results

Bob Christie – November 18, 2022

FILE – Maricopa County, Ariz., ballots cast in the 2020 general election are examined and recounted by contractors working for Florida-based company, Cyber Ninjas, in Phoenix on May 6, 2021. At least one recount will be on tap in Arizona after the counting from the Nov. 8, 2022, midterm elections ends. Once Arizona’s counties certify their results in the coming days as scheduled, a recount will be triggered in at least one statewide race. (AP Photo/Matt York, Pool, File) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

PHOENIX (AP) — The board overseeing a southeastern Arizona county whose Republican leaders had hoped to recount all Election Day ballots on Friday delayed certifying the results of last week’s vote after hearing from a trio of conspiracy theorists who alleged that counting machines were not certified.

The three men, or some combination of them, have filed at least four cases raising similar claims before the Arizona Supreme Court since 2021 seeking to have the state’s 2020 election results thrown out. The court has dismissed all of them for lack of evidence, waiting too long after the election was certified or asking for relief that could not be granted, in increasingly harsh language.

But Tom Rice, Brian Steiner and Daniel Wood managed to persuade the two Republicans who control the Cochise County board of supervisors that their claims were valid enough for them to delay the certification until a Nov. 28 deadline.

They claimed the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission allowed certifications for testing companies to lapse, and that voided the certifications of vote tabulation equipment used across the state.

That came despite testimony from the state’s elections director that the machines and the testing company were indeed certified.

“The equipment used in Cochise County is properly certified under both federal and state laws and requirements,” state Elections Director Kori Lorick told the board. “The claims that the SLI testing labs were not properly accredited are false.”

The move is the latest drama in the Republican-heavy county in recent weeks, which started when GOP board members Tom Crosby and Peggy Judd voted to have all the ballots in last week’s election counted by hand to determine if the machine counts were accurate.

Crosby also defended a lawsuit he and Judd filed against the county elections director earlier this week seeking to force the hand-count. They dropped the case against Lisa Marra on Wednesday.

“If our presenters’ request is met by the proof that our machines are indeed legally and lawfully accredited, then indeed we should accept the results,” Crosby said. “However, if the machines have not been lawfully certificated, then the converse is also true. We cannot verify this election now.”

Crosby and Judd then voted to delay certification, with Crosby saying he believed Wood, Steiner and Rice needed to be provided proof since they were “the experts.”

Democratic Supervisor Ann English was powerless to overrule them.

The delay potentially jeopardizes state certification, set for Dec. 5, and at least one statewide recount.

Lorick issued a statement after the vote vowing legal action to force the board to accept the results. Under Arizona law the formal election canvass can’t be changed by the elected county boards — their only role is to accept the numbers as they are tallied by their elections departments.

“If they fail to do so, the Secretary (of State) will use all available legal remedies to compel compliance with Arizona law and protect Cochise County voters’ rights to have their votes counted,” Lorick said.

All 15 Arizona counties face the same Nov. 28 deadline, but there is no sign others are considering similar defiance.

Once the state certifies the results Dec. 5, there will be a recount in at least one statewide race.

That contest, between Republican Abraham Hamadeh and Democrat Kris Mayes for attorney general, is so close that a recount is certain. As of Friday night, Mayes was less than 600 votes ahead with fewer ballots remaining to be counted than the margin for a mandatory recount, which will be about 12,500 votes.

“It’s going to be close, and every vote matters,” Mayes said in a brief interview. “And obviously we’re headed into a recount, one way or another.”

One other statewide race also is within the margin for a recount, but incumbent Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman conceded to Republican Tom Horne on Thursday. Horne is a former schools chief who served two years as attorney general before losing the 2014 primary. He was more than 9,000 votes ahead on Friday.

Horne criticized Hoffman for embracing progressive teaching and promised to shut down any hint of “critical race theory,” which is not taught in state schools but is a hot-button issue for social conservatives.

Judd had said Wednesday she would move to clear the way for the state recount.

“We’ve had to step back from everything we were trying to do and say, OK, we’ve got to let this play out,” Judd told The Associated Press. “Because it’s the last thing we want to do to get in (Marra’s) way.”

There has been no evidence of widespread fraud or manipulation of voting machines in 2020 or during this year’s midterm elections.

Arizona recount laws were changed this year. The previous margin for a mandatory recount was 1/10 of 1%. It is now 0.5%.

This story was first published on November 18, 2022. It was updated on November 19, 2022 to correct the spelling of the name of the Democratic attorney general candidate to Kris Mayes.

Extremists in Uniform Put the Nation at Risk

The Editorial Board – Nov. 13, 2022

Credit…Justin Metz

This editorial is the second in a series, “The Danger Within,” urging readers to understand the danger of extremist violence and possible solutions. Read more about the series in a note from Kathleen Kingsbury, the Times Opinion editor.

On May 29, 2020, Steven Carrillo decided that his moment to take up arms against the government had arrived.

It was a Friday in downtown Oakland, Calif., and at 9:44 p.m., Mr. Carrillo opened the sliding door of a white van and, according to court documents, opened fire with a rifle at the Ronald V. Dellums Federal Building and courthouse. Officer David Patrick Underwood was killed inside a guard booth, and his partner was seriously injured. The van sped away into the night.

About a week later, Mr. Carrillo, who was tied to the antigovernment paramilitary boogaloo movement, was arrested after he ambushed and murdered a police officer and wounded several others with homemade explosives and an assault rifle in another attack some 60 miles away. Mr. Carrillo wasn’t just linked to an antigovernment paramilitary group; he was also an active-duty sergeant in the Air Force. This summer, he was sentenced to 41 years in prison for attacking agents of the government he’d sworn to protect and defend.

There has been a steady rise in political violence in the United States — from harassment of election workers and public officials to the targeting of a Supreme Court justice to an attack on the husband of the speaker of the House of Representatives and, of course, the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6. An alarming number of Americans say that political violence is usually or always justified, and this greater tolerance for violence is a direct threat to democratic governance.

America needs to reduce this threat. In recent years, the majority of political violence has come at the hands of members of right-wing extremist groups or unaffiliated adherents of their white supremacist and antigovernment ideologies. This editorial board argued in the first of this series that better enforcement of state and federal laws banning private paramilitary activity could help dismantle some of the groups at the vanguard of this violence.

One of the most troubling facts about adherents of extremist movements is that veterans, active-duty military personnel and members of law enforcement are overrepresented. One estimate, published in The Times in 2020, found that at least 25 percent of members of extremist paramilitary groups have a military background.

Still, only a tiny number of veterans or members of the active-duty military or law enforcement will ever join an extremist group. Their overrepresentation is partly due to extremist groups focusing on recruiting from these populations because of their skills. But the presence of these elements within the ranks of law enforcement is cause for extra concern. Of the more than 900 people arrested in connection with the Jan. 6 attacks, 135 had military or law enforcement backgrounds. The Program on Extremism at George Washington University found that among those in policing, 18 are retired, and six are active. One Capitol Police officer who was not on the scene that day but was aware of the attack later advised a participant on how to avoid being caught.

For decades, police departments, the Pentagon and the Department of Veterans Affairs have known about the problem, yet they have made only halting progress in rooting out extremists in the ranks.

Jan. 6 changed that. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin was so alarmed by the events of that day that he ordered all military commands to reinforce existing regulations prohibiting extremist activity and to query service members about their views on the extent of the problem. The Defense Department standardized its screening questionnaires for recruits and changed its social media policies, so that liking or reposting white nationalist and extremist content would be considered the same as advocating it. Service members could face disciplinary action for doing so. The department also began preparing retiring members to avoid being recruited by extremist groups.

But those reforms were more easily ordered than executed. A department inspector general report released this year found that the Pentagon’s sprawling bureaucracy was unable to identify the scope of the problem across the services because it used numerous reporting systems that were not interconnected. Commanders often didn’t have a clear understanding of what was prohibited. As a result, the department “cannot fully implement policy and procedures to address extremist activity without clarifying the definitions of ‘extremism,’ ‘extremist,’ ‘active advocacy’ and ‘active participation,’” the report concluded.

After 20 years of the war on terrorism, the country is now seeing many veterans joining extremist groups like the Proud Boys.

The end of wars and the return of the disillusioned veterans they can produce have often been followed by a spike in extremism. The white power movement grew after the end of the Vietnam War, with veterans often playing leading roles. Antigovernment activity climbed in the 1990s after the first Iraq war, culminating in the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City by Timothy McVeigh, an Army veteran who had served in Operation Desert Storm. “These groups can give disaffected veterans a sense of purpose, camaraderie, community once they leave military service,” said Cassie Miller, an extremism researcher at the Southern Poverty Law Center.

In 2012, Andrew Turner ended his nine-year Navy career at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center with a shattered hand and loathing of the government. He’d served around the world, from South Korea to Iraq, and the experience had left him disabled and furious. “When the military was done with me, they threw me on a heap. I took it personally and was so angry,” he said in an interview.

In 2013 a fellow service member suggested that he check out a group called the Oath Keepers. Mr. Turner, then 39, joined the Maryland chapter, paid his dues and “initially felt that esprit de corps that I’d missed from the military,” he said. He felt a bond and even spent time with the group’s founder, Stewart Rhodes, who is currently on trial and charged with seditious conspiracy for his role in the Jan. 6 attacks. (Mr. Rhodes has denied ordering the group to attack the Capitol and stop the certification of the 2020 election results, as the government contends.) There’s a photo of them at the World War II Memorial in Washington, holding an Oath Keepers banner.

But Mr. Turner soon realized that the group was not the apolitical, service-oriented veterans’ association he thought it to be. In private online forums, discussions were full of racist language, and members flirted with violence. He walked away after six months. “It’s easy to find vulnerable people at their weakest moments. I was naïve, but if anyone joins the Oath Keepers today, they know exactly what they’re getting into,” he said.

Experts in the field recommend some basic steps the military should take that could make a difference. Better training, counseling and discussion of the true nature of extremism are vital and must start long before service members retire and need to continue after they do. Better staff training and better funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs are also critical to meeting this challenge, so that members who are struggling can be coaxed down a different path.

While the military can exert fairly strict control over men and women in uniform, civilian law enforcement agencies face a different set of challenges in addressing extremists or extremist sympathizers in the ranks.

At least 24 current and former police officers have been charged with crimes in relation to the Jan. 6 attacks, and dozens of others have been identified as part of the crowd at the Capitol. Some officers who participated wanted things to go further than they did. “Kill them all,” Peter Heneen, a sheriff’s deputy in Florida, texted another deputy during the attack. The streets of the capital, he wrote, needed to “run red with the blood of these tyrants.”

Experts who track the tactics of extremist movements have been sounding the klaxon about the growing presence of antigovernment and white supremacist groups in law enforcement for years. “Although white supremacist groups have historically engaged in strategic efforts to infiltrate and recruit from law enforcement communities, current reporting on attempts reflects self-initiated efforts by individuals, particularly among those already within law enforcement ranks, to volunteer their professional resources to white supremacist causes with which they sympathize,” an F.B.I. intelligence assessment concluded in 2006.

Last year a leaked membership roster of the Oath Keepers, a violent paramilitary group involved in the Jan. 6 attacks that recruits police officers and military personnel, included some 370 members of law enforcement and more than 100 members of the military, according to an Anti-Defamation League Center on Extremism analysis. An investigation by Reuters this year found that several police trainers around the country — who together have trained hundreds of officers — belong to extremist paramilitary groups or expressed sympathy for their ideas. One trainer, for instance, posted on social media that government officials disloyal to Donald Trump should be executed and that the country was on the brink of civil war.

A recent investigation by the Marshall Project found that hundreds of sheriffs nationwide are part of or are sympathetic to the ideas behind the constitutional sheriffs movement, which holds that sheriffs are above state and federal law and are not required to accept gun laws, enforce Covid restrictions or investigate election results. The Anti-Defamation League describes the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association as an “antigovernment extremist group whose primary purpose is to recruit sheriffs into the antigovernment ‘patriot’ movement.”

Identifying members of extremist groups and those sympathetic to their ideology to make sure they don’t join the thin blue line in the first place should be a priority for departments and governments nationwide. Yet most departments don’t have explicit prohibitions on officers joining extremist paramilitary groups, according to a 2020 study by the Brennan Center for Justice.

Since Jan. 6, however, some states have successfully pushed for reforms. This fall, California passed a law that requires law enforcement agencies to screen candidates for participation in groups that promote hate crimes or genocide. In April, Minnesota’s police officer standards board proposed a series of rule changes, including barring people who belong to or support extremist groups from getting a law enforcement license. Public hearings‌, which are set to be held‌ on those changes, deserve support. Other states and communities should look closely at these measures as a model.

Prosecutors in communities all over the United States also have a powerful tool already at their disposal: cross-examination during criminal trial. All defendants in criminal cases have a constitutional right to know about potentially exculpatory evidence. If an arresting officer is a member of a hate group or expresses extremist beliefs, that should be a subject of cross-examination by the defense.

If prosecutors were more aggressive about vetting police officers for extremist views, “defendants will get fairer trials, the public will be informed of problem officers through public trials, and police and prosecutors get the opportunity to identify problematic police officers and take action to rid the force of these officers,” wrote Vida Johnson, a professor at Georgetown Law, in a 2019 law review article.

Americans have a nearly unlimited right to free speech and association, and any effort to stop extremist violence must ensure that those rights are protected. Reforms should be carefully structured to avoid the abuses that occurred in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks — the violations of civil liberties, mass surveillance and the accelerated militarization of the police, to name a few. But protecting freedom of expression need not stand in the way of tackling extremism in police departments.

Officers around the country have rightly been fired for racist or extremist actions. But punishment for harboring extremist sympathies is a finer line, because Americans have the right to believe what they like. So, the treatment of officers with extremist beliefs and extremist connections is often uneven. This year, a New York prison guard who belonged to a right-wing hate group was ultimately fired — not just for membership but also for trying to smuggle hate literature into the prison. This may be a useful model in determining where extremist ideology crosses the line to actions that can be addressed by law or regulation.

Other recent attempts to root out extremism have been less clear-cut. An unidentified police officer in Chicago was given a four-month suspension but was not dismissed after it was discovered that he had ties to the Proud Boys. Last month, a police officer in Massachusetts was found to have been involved in the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va. He resigned, and the district attorney announced an investigation into all closed and pending cases he had worked on.

Coordinating the efforts of the nation’s roughly 18,000 law enforcement agencies has been notoriously difficult. Federal standards or even guidelines about how to deal with extremism — in recruiting officers, disciplining existing ones or even sharing information — would go a long way toward harmonizing law enforcement’s response. But carrying out such changes would require both local attention to detail and the political will to do so. It would also require staffing law enforcement with people committed to the rule of law, rather than rule by force. As one congressional staff member working on homeland security issues put it: “People have to decide this is a priority. We can’t legislate hearts and minds.”

Across the board, extremists and their sympathizers, whether they act on their beliefs or just spread them, erode the public’s trust in the institutions that are designed to keep the country safe. Extremists bearing badges can put at risk ongoing police investigations by leaking confidential information. In the military, extremists pose a threat to good order and discipline. In law enforcement, extremists — particularly white supremacists — pose a threat to the people they are meant to protect, especially people of color. In federal agencies, extremists can compromise national security and make our borders even less secure. Protecting those institutions and the nation they serve demands urgent action.

Gov. Stitt claims Oklahoma for Jesus, but Tuesday showed America is still a secular nation – for now.


Gov. Stitt claims Oklahoma for Jesus, but Tuesday showed America is still a secular nation – for now.

Aldous J. Pennyfarthing – November 10, 2022 

Abortion rights activists hold signs reading "Abortion is Healthcare" as they rally in Miami, Florida, after the overturning of Roe Vs. Wade by the Supreme Court on June 24, 2022. (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP) (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images)

If there’s one big takeaway from Republicans’ tepid showing on Tuesday, it’s that women don’t want Jesus as their OB-GYN. I mean, he was a carpenter, after all. It really doesn’t translate. And it’s a totally different set of tools. Well, in most of the country, anyway. Not so sure about Oklahoma.

In the days leading up to the midterms, Republicans were pretty confident that they’d ride the inflation steamroller to a decisive congressional sweep. Instead, two days later, control of both houses remains in doubt, and the GOP is gobsmacked. Of course, religious extremism—mostly in the form of cruel and draconian abortion restrictions—played a big role in that belly flop. Have they learned their lesson? Pretty doubtful, since many of them have a really long way to go when it comes to fully endorsing religious diversity and the equal rights of nonbelievers.

Case in point: Gov. Kevin Stitt, who won reelection in ruby red Oklahoma on Tuesday, was filmed before the election claiming Oklahoma for Jesus. The whole state. Not just the churches and the Hobby Lobbys. Everything.

RELATED: Five Tribes endorse Hofmeister, call Stitt ‘most anti-Indian governor in the history of’ Oklahoma


STITT: “Father, we just claim Oklahoma for you. Every square inch, we claim it for you in the name of Jesus. Father, we can do nothing apart from you. We [wind noise] battle against flesh and blood, against principalities of darkness. Father, we just come against that, we just loose your will over our state right now in the name of Jesus. … We just thank you, we claim Oklahoma for you, as the authority that I have as governor, and the spiritual authority and the physical authority that you give me. I claim Oklahoma for you, that we will be a light to our country and to the world right here on stage. We thank you that your will is done on Tuesday and, Father, that you will have your way with our state, with our education system, with everything within the walls behind me and the rooms behind me, Lord, that you will root out corruption, you will bring the right people into this building, Father, from now on.”

“Are you there, God? It’s me, MAGA-rat. Can you maybe dial down the wind for a second until Gov. Stitt finishes shredding the First Amendment? That’s too much cacophony all at once, brother. Thanks!” 

Now, it’s pretty bold—not to mention exclusionary and wildly inappropriate—for a sitting governor to claim an entire state for a single deity. Can we maybe set aside one synagogue and maybe an ashram or two for someone other than Jesus? Jesus doesn’t step foot in synagogues anyway, except maybe to ask for directions to Kirk Cameron’s house. But these folks have long had trouble imagining what it might be like to walk in someone else’s shoes—and they’re really not keen on secular government, which is supposed to represent everyone, whether they believe in Kevin Stitt’s god or not.

Of course, if Stitt wants to lay his grubby hands on Oklahoma on behalf of Jesus, he better get moving, because he’s running out of time. Tuesday made clear that Americans as a whole don’t want too much religion sprinkled in with their politics, and new polling backs that up.

Pew Research survey conducted in September and released two weeks before the election found that while 45% of Americans want the U.S. to be a “Christian nation,” far fewer want religion to encroach on the political sphere. And while Christian nationalism is rising, it’s still running up against a firewall of church-state separation.

Overall, six-in-ten U.S. adults – including nearly seven-in-ten Christians – say they believe the founders “originally intended” for the U.S. to be a Christian nation. And 45% of U.S. adults – including about six-in-ten Christians – say they think the country “should be” a Christian nation. A third say the U.S. “is now” a Christian nation.

At the same time, a large majority of the public expresses some reservations about intermingling religion and government. For example, about three-quarters of U.S. adults (77%) say that churches and other houses of worship should not endorse candidates for political offices. Two-thirds (67%) say that religious institutions should keep out of political matters rather than expressing their views on day-to-day social or political questions. And the new survey – along with other recent Center research – makes clear that there is far more support for the idea of separation of church and state than opposition to it among Americans overall.

While it’s alarming that so many Americans think the Founders intended the U.S. to be a Christian nation (narrator: they didn’t), it’s a relief that most would still rather leave secular matters up to secular authorities. And it’s reasonably safe to assume that this is the high-water mark for religious fervor in this country. Gallup has been tracking religious sentiment in the U.S. for decades, and the number of people who claim to have no religious affiliation—currently at 21%—has steadily increased over the years. As recently as 1985, that number was just 1%. Meanwhile, the nation’s share of Christians continues to fall. 

Could Tuesday be one of the first indications that the noxious religious-political stew that charlatans like the Rev. Jerry Falwell started cooking up in the ‘80s is finally about to spoil? They’ve brought us to the brink, but it appears they’ve gone as far as they possibly can if they want to keep dipping their fungal right-wing evangelical toes in our secular humanist soup. 

Of course, that’s assuming they don’t take control by force and turn us into Gilead overnight. But that seems less likely now, even with this dude still looming out there:


Yeah, I didn’t want you to get too comfortable just yet. Sorry. Now do your best to enjoy the sad remainder of your now-squalid lives. I’ll see myself out.

Vote like your life depends on it, because it does!

The Tarbabys Blog

John Hanno – November 7, 2022

To American’s who still believe in Democracy and in the Democratic institutions that have sustained our Republic as a beacon for the world to admire and emulate, this is not the election to take a pass on.

To all the true Republicans who have been drummed out of your party or have fled the MAGA insanity, please take a stand for representative government.

To all eligible voters who are turned off by the toxic state of our political system, refusing to vote will only make that worse. Sometimes, even a small number of votes in close elections can make a critical difference.

To those who believe they’re not political or aren’t the least bit interested in our political systems, believe that every moment of your family’s existence is impacted by politics, both good and bad. And your vote could make our two party Democratic system much better, and more responsive and accountable.

Erstwhile Republican’s Rep. Liz Cheney, Rep Adam Kinzinger and others have been sounding the autocratic alarm bells even before trump and his MAGAnian conspirators commandeered the Grand Old Party and turned it into the wholly owned trump cult militia, that swarmed, assaulted, terrorized, pummeled and even killed Capitol police officers on January 6,2021, in a futile but consequential attempt to overthrow our Democratic government.

And where would we be if they had succeeded?

The hundreds of state laws republicon legislatures already authored and implemented to restrict voting rights and Democratic representative government would have already become the law of the land.

A women’s right to chose what happens to her body and reproductive rights would have been turned back to the 19th century, in all of America; with no exceptions for rape, incest or the life of the mother. Children as young as ten years old would have been forced to carry another child to birth.

The progress made by workers to improve labor’s rights and increase their diminishing wage value would have been overturned.

Progress made on fighting global warming and the remarkable improvements in alternative energy, would be pushed to the back burners of history.

trump and his republicon party sycophant’s march towards personal wealth enrichment would again be front and center of any legislation or executive orders. His gold tipped sharpie would again be busy rewarding the trump family criminal enterprises and the republicon’s most generous donors.

The separation of church and state would be but a distant memory; and they would proclaim White Christian dogma and the bible as governing principles. Many other parts of our constitution would be in jeopardy, all but the Second Amendment.

I could go on all day, pointing out the chaos created the last time trump held power, but I’ll conclude with reminding voters about the scores of criminal types in trump’s administration, who were forced to resign, were fired, went to prison, were indicted, pardoned or ended up in the right wing media.

Republican’s stated plans if they take control of congress, is to hold the government budget hostage until they get concessions on cutting, or eliminating altogether, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. But the safety net assault probably won’t stop there, continued support for programs like food stamps and even military and humanitarian support for Ukraine’s war with Russia are also on the MAGA chopping block.

And the extreme members of a republicon controlled House of Representatives will have as its main goal, a two year long investigation of a long list of their political opponents. Any progress the Democrats and the Biden administration have made addressing America’s critical problems over the last two years, will have to take a back seat to political witch hunts and futile attempts to overturn that progress.

And all this just so they can make permanent, the enormous tax cuts that trump and the republicon’s in congress awarded to their rich benefactors, the last time they held control. America’s colossal wealth disparity between the 1% and all the rest will again be on steroids.

For those who emphatically believe MAGA World is synonymous with freedom, believe me: “Freedom is just another word for, nothing left to lose”

If you paid close attention to the videos of Russian citizens protesting Putin’s “Special Operation” in the streets of Moscow and St. Petersburg, you couldn’t help but notice there wasn’t one single assault weapon or high capacity magazine in sight, and no hunting rifle, handgun or even a pea shooter. Why? Because it’s against putin’s laws to have those weapons in public, if at all. And what we call our First Amendment Rights to say anything that comes to mind, forget it in Putin’s Russia or trump’s America. I remember one courageous Russian women holding up a blank sign, apparently afraid to call Putin’s invasion of Ukraine a war, for fear of the consequential 15 year prison term, yet still wanting to register her displeasure. Unfortunately it didn’t succeed, within 2 or 3 minutes, 4 or 5 security troops dressed in black whisked her, and her blank protest sign, off and into a police van headed for the gulag.

It’s no secret that trump and many congressional republicons admire and support war criminal Vladimir Putin and his invasion and genocide against the Democratic people of Ukraine. They admire strongmen fascists and autocrats like putin and trump and denigrate Joe Biden as weak. Apparently raining down missiles and rockets on innocent civilians, on schools and medical facilities, on apartments, libraries, and shopping centers, killing and maiming children, women, and disabled old folks is manly, but also isn’t a bridge too far for this new MAGAnian cult, as long as the reward is omnipotent power and wealth. Mass graves are just necessary collateral damage.

For those who believe the republicon’s are better on the economy or will do a better job fixing inflation, I’ll repost this November 4th, David Rothkopf and Bernard Schwartz article from the Daily Beast.

Republicans Are Bad for the Economy. Here’s Why.

According to a wave of recent polls, the economy is the dominant issue on the minds of Americans going into next week’s elections.

recent Pew poll concluded nearly eight in 10 voters said the economy will be “very important” to their voting decisions. Another such poll, by ABC News and Ipsos, showed that almost half of respondents cited either the economy or inflation as the issue about which they were most concerned. The poll indicated that concerns about the economy and inflation are “much more likely to drive voters towards Republicans.”

But that impulse is not only ill-considered, every bit of available evidence makes clear that the GOP is the wrong party to which to turn if you seek better U.S. economic performance in the future.

In fact, it is not close. When it comes to the economy, the GOP is the problem and not the solution. If anything, it is a greater obstacle to our economic well-being today than it has ever been.

At the same time, the economic record of President Joe Biden and the Democrats is not just consistent—in creating jobs, reducing the deficit, and enhancing our competitiveness—during the past two years their record has been one of extraordinary, often record-breaking success.

History tells a very stark tale. Ten of the last 11 recessions began under Republicans. The one that started under former President Donald Trump and the current GOP leadership was the worst since the Great Depression–and while perhaps any president presiding over a pandemic might have seen the economy suffer, Trump’s gross mismanagement of COVID-19 clearly and greatly deepened the problems the U.S. economy faced. Meanwhile, historically, Democratic administrations have overseen recoveries from those Republican lows. During the seven decades before Trump, real GDP growth averaged just over 2.5 percent under Republicans and a little more than 4.3 percent under Democrats.

Republicans have also historically presided over huge expansions in the U.S. deficit, while Democrats (since Bill Clinton’s administration) have overseen dramatic deficit reduction. Ronald Reagan more than doubled the deficit from $70 billion to more than $175 billion. George H.W. Bush nearly doubled that to $290 billion. Clinton ended his administration with a $128.2 billion surplus.

George W. Bush inherited that… and left office with a record deficit of more than $1.4 trillion. Obama reduced that by very nearly $1 trillion. Each of Donald Trump’s last two years in office saw federal budgets with deficits of over $3 trillion. In fact, in total, the national debt rose almost $8 trillion during Trump’s time in office. According to ProPublica, it was the third biggest such increase in U.S. history—after George W. Bush and Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War years.

What about job creation?

The U.S. lost jobs under Trump and created relatively few under George W. Bush. Of the 14 presidents since World War II, seven were Democrats and seven were Republican. Of the seven with the highest job creation rates, six were Democrats. Of the seven with the lowest job creation rates, six were Republicans.

There’s No Democrat Equivalent to GOP Election Deniers’ Scumbaggery

What about now? Biden and the current Democratic Congress have created more jobs than the past three Republican administrations combined.

The job creation rate in 2021 was the most ever in a single year. GDP growth in 2021 was the highest since 1984. This year, the unemployment rate fell to 3.5 percent, its lowest level in 50 years. As part of that, we are seeing record low unemployment for Blacks and Latinos.

Ok, you might say, but what about inflation?

Rising prices are a real problem for many Americans. But the origins of inflation have very little to do with the Biden administration or the Congress. Inflation is a global problem that is related, according to economists, primarily to supply chain problems associated with COVID, Vladimir Putin’s escalation of the war in Ukraine, and corporate profiteering.

Dems Do Big F*cking Deals, the GOP Does Fake Big Dick Energy

What makes the Republican focus on this issue so shockingly hypocritical is that Trump’s mismanagement of the COVID crisis, his support for Putin, and Republicans’ protection of Big Oil (and big businesses) actually helped create the conditions that have driven prices up. Further, Republicans unanimously opposed every single measure by the Biden administration to reduce prices and help those hit by inflation—including the landmark Inflation Reduction Act’s efforts to lower drug costs and to help those hardest hit.

Meanwhile, the U.S. just reported stronger than expected growth in the last quarter and the price of gasoline, an oft-cited sign of inflation, has been falling for months.

At the same time, a substantial majority within the GOP have sought to block virtually every single new economic measure proposed or passed by Biden and the Democratic Congress. That includes the America Recovery Act that lifted millions out of poverty and drove job creation, the Chips and Science Act to enhance competitiveness, and even the so-called “Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill” which garnered the support of fewer than half of the GOP caucus in the Senate.

You might assume that if the GOP opposed these initiatives but were critical of what Biden was doing, that they had alternative plans that they have presented to the American people. But, you would be wrong. In fact, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has bragged that he would not even discuss his agenda until after the election. They have no inflation plan. And the plans they’ve said they admire—like that of the United Kingdom’s prime minister-for-a-second Liz Truss—have been a catastrophe.

The last time the Republicans were in charge, during the Trump years, they passed precisely one significant piece of economic legislation, a tax cut that benefited the very rich at the expense of everyone else and, as we have established, helped explode the federal budget deficit.

Putin’s Last Hope to Win in Ukraine Is a GOP Victory in November

Republicans are just plain bad at managing the economy. They have been for as long as anyone who is alive can remember. And they continue to be—although they are achieving previously unattained new levels of cynicism and obstructionism that make the current crowd of Republicans look even worse than their very unsuccessful predecessors.

History and data make it clear that Democrats are good for the economy—while Republicans, especially the current Republicans in Congress, are not.

Up next for the Republicans are plans to cut Medicare and social security, plans to increase costs for average Americans on a wide variety of fronts, and they’re even contemplating reducing support for Ukraine—at a critical moment in its war to defend its democracy and stop the Russian aggression that threatens not only them, but the West.

Republicans have done a great job fooling voters into thinking that their simplistic economic philosophies of tax cuts and minimal regulation are “good for business.” But facts, history, and logic show otherwise.

David Rothkopf and Bernard Schwartz conclude their case with: If you care about the economy, want to fight inflation, want to create jobs, want a better life for your family, want to preserve democracy, and want to defend your fundamental rights, then you should vote for the Democrats.


John Hanno: And if you’re still inclined to reverse the remarkable progress made by the Biden administration and the Democrat’s thin margin in congress over the last 2 years, and also willing to turn over your children’s and grandchildren’s future to these wannabe Putin like autocrats, think about this latest bit of news:

The world’s richest person and Twitter’s new owner, Elon Musk, implored his more than 110 million followers on Monday to support Republicans in Tuesday’s U.S. midterm elections, saying that Republican control of Congress would act as a balance against Democrats and the Biden administration. Could it be because of the Biden administration and Democrats proposals to tax billionaires and give more tax incentives to union-made electric vehicles. Musk’s Tesla does not have any unions at its U.S. factories. Apparently the world’s richest person doesn’t have enough billions of dollars to pay income taxes, pay prevailing union wages or to live comfortably. That should tell you exactly where this MAGA cult is headed.

Democracy and the big lie are on the ballot today. trump has endorsed those more than 250 election deniers running to thwart one person one vote, free and fair elections. Overwhelm these Democracy deniers with a monumental blue wave.

Like I said, vote November 8th like your and your families lives depends on it, because it surely does.

John Hanno, The Tarbabys Blog