Editor’s Choice: Scroll below for our monthly blend of mainstream and alternative November 2021 news and views
Note: Excerpts are from the authors’ words except for subheads and occasional “Editor’s notes” such as this.
- New York Times, Live Updates: ‘Climate Change Is ‘Ravaging the World,’ Biden Tells Summit; ‘We Are Digging Our Own Graves,’ U.N. Leader Warns
- Washington Post, Pandemic slowly wanes in U.S., bringing hope and uncertainty
- Washington Post, Investigation: How Trump’s 187 minutes of inaction led to Jan. 6 bloodshed, Washington Post Staff
- Washington Post, Investigation: Red Flags: FBI, other agencies failed to heed red flags weeks ahead of Jan. 6
- The Hill, WaPost won’t publish full Trump response due to ‘unrelated, inflammatory claims‘
- Palmer Report, Opinion: Ugly new Michael Flynn scandal surfaces, Bill Palmer
- Proof, Investigative Commentary: GOP Senate Candidate Tells FBI He Has Evidence Michael Flynn Is Working With Foreign Intelligence As Part of Treasonous Plot to Overthrow Federal Government, Seth Abramson
- Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Investigative Commentary: Durham’s phony investigation a waste of scant DOJ resources, Wayne Madsen
U.S. Elections, Budget Bills, Governance
- Washington Post, Justice Dept. tells Supreme Court abortion law threatens constitutional rights
- Washington Post, Opinion: Take the win, Democrats, and don’t look back, E.J. Dionne Jr.
- New York Times, Manchin Refuses to Endorse Safety Net Bill, Dampening Hopes of a Quick Vote
- New York Times, Both Parties Await Result in Virginia, and What It Bodes for the Battles Ahead, Jonathan Martin
- Washington Post, Va. went big for Biden, but on eve of another election, many voters say Democrats have not delivered
- Washington Post, Analysis: Nearly 4 in 10 who say election was stolen from Trump say violence might be needed to save America, Aaron Blake
- Washington Post, Biden seizes on G-20 summit to reverse Trump’s approach to world problems
- Washington Post, Treasury Secretary Yellen expresses openness to defusing debt ceiling without GOP votes
Virus Victims, Responses
- Washington Post, White House finalizes vaccine requirement rule, expects to release details this week
- Washington Post, Anti-vaccine protesters warn of possible violence over mandates for children
- New York Times, Opinion: No, Vaccine Mandates Aren’t an Attack on Freedom, Paul Krugman
- Unz Review, Investigation and Commentary: What America’s 17 Intelligence Agencies Won’t Say About the Origins of Covid, Ron Unz
- New York Times, N.Y.C.’s vaccination rate for city workers climbs to 91 percent, and 9,000 are put on unpaid leave
- New York Times, Judge Blocks Chicago’s Police Vaccine Mandate, For Now
- New York Times, Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, tested positive for the coronavirus
- Washington Post, FDA delays decision on Moderna vaccine for adolescents
- New York Times, Opinion: Not Everyone in New York Wanted the Coronavirus to Lose, Mara Gay
- New York Times, Live Updates: New York City Begins Enforcing Vaccine Mandate
- Charlotte Observer, Editorial: Richard Burr shouldn’t be NC’s senator
- Washington Post, Firefighters threaten New York state senator over mandate as city braces for possible staff shortage
- Worldometer, World & U.S. Coronavirus Case Totals: U.S. Deaths: 766,299
- Washington Post, 221.8 million U.S. vaccinated
- Washington Post, Maryland man pleads guilty to operating fake Moderna website, charging people to buy advance vaccines
U.S. Courts, Law, Business, Race
- Washington Post, Supreme Court embarks on most dramatic reckoning for abortion rights in decades
- New York Times, Supreme Court Tries to Tame Unruly Oral Arguments, Adam Liptak
- Washington Post, Supreme Court won’t hear case seeking more transparency from secretive surveillance court
- New York Times, Live Business Updates: Barclays C.E.O. to Step Down After Jeffrey Epstein Inquiry
- New York Times, Banks Tried to Kill Crypto and Failed. Now They’re Embracing It (Slowly)
- Washington Post, Supreme Court will hear cases that could undercut Biden’s goals on climate, immigration
More On Trump Insurrection Attempt, Election Claims
- Washington Post, Trump seeks to block hundreds of pages from Jan. 6 panel
- Washington Post, Marshall Islands pleads with world leaders to stop the 60,000-person nation from drowning
- New York Times, Biden Faces Tough Tests on G20 Summit’s Final Day
- New York Times, Rivals on World Stage, Russia and U.S. Quietly Seek Areas of Accord
- New York Times, At Saudi Investment Conference, Trump Allies Remain Front and Center
- New York Times, He Brokered Apartheid’s End. Can He Save South Africa’s Liberation Party?
- Future of Freedom Foundation, Opinion: The Silence of CIA Media Assets on the JFK Cover-Up, Jacob G. Hornberger
- New York Times, The TV Hit That Wasn’t
New York Times, Live Updates: ‘Climate Change Is ‘Ravaging the World,’ Biden Tells Summit; ‘We Are Digging Our Own Graves,’ U.N. Leader Warns, Staff Reports, Nov. 1, 2021. António Guterres, the U.N. secretary general, opened the conference with a blistering critique of the world’s failure to unite to address global warming; “We are standing at an inflection point in world history,” President Biden said in a speech, calling the need for action a moral imperative. Here’s the latest.
The COP26 summit is beginning with a parade of speeches by leaders under pressure to take action on climate change. It’s a key moment for efforts to curb dangerous warming, but expectations are low after decades of missed opportunities. Watch live.
At a crucial moment to tackle climate change, the United Nations’ COP26 summit kicked off in Glasgow on Monday with speeches by world leaders who are under increasing pressure to limit the rise in global temperatures.
The opening ceremony began at noon local time (8 a.m. Eastern) with remarks by Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain and others. President Biden was expected to address the gathering in the afternoon, the first of two days of speeches by leaders.
Mr. Johnson, the leader of the host nation, issued an urgent appeal for commitments to phase out the use of coal, speed the transition to electric vehicles, stop deforestation and send money to developing nations that face the gravest risks from a warming planet.
“It’s one minute to midnight on that doomsday clock, and we need to act now,” Mr. Johnson said.
Yet expectations for the annual gathering — which was canceled last year because of the pandemic — are low, owing to more than two decades of missed opportunities to sharply reduce emissions. Scientists say that nations must make an immediate, sharp pivot away from fossil fuels if they hope to avoid the most catastrophic effects of climate change.
The goal is to prevent the average global temperature from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius compared with levels before the Industrial Revolution. That is the threshold beyond which scientists say the dangers of global warming — such as deadly heat waves, water shortages, crop failures and ecosystem collapse — grow immensely.
On Sunday, leaders of the Group of 20 wealthy nations agreed to “pursue efforts” to keep the 1.5-degree target within reach. But it is clear that nations are falling short. In related news:
- Boris Johnson warns that it’s ‘one minute to midnight’ as the climate summit opens.
- U.S. officials slam an absent China as the summit kicks off.
- Biden’s Glasgow pitch: This time, the U.S. is serious about climate change.
- Europe hopes its climate proposals will set an example.
- China’s push to burn more coal puts climate goals at risk.
- What to watch for on Monday at COP26.
- Covid looms in the background of the COP26 summit.
- Russian and Chinese leaders are among the notable no-shows.
Washington Post, Pandemic slowly wanes in U.S., bringing hope and uncertainty, Joel Achenbach and Yasmeen Abutaleb, Nov. 1, 2021 (print ed.). More than 1,000 people on average are still dying of covid-19 every day in the United States. However, the country has entered a new phase of the pandemic in which people are adapting to the persistent presence of an endemic but usually nonlethal pathogen.
The pandemic isn’t over. But new cases nationally have dropped below 75,000 a day, less than half the number in August. The United States will soon reopen land borders to vaccinated visitors and lift several international travel restrictions. More than 2 million people boarded flights last Sunday, not too far from pre-pandemic travel levels.
Kids, many of them newly vaccine-eligible, are back in school, with no massive surge of new coronavirus infections. Some older students, forced to mask, wear their face coverings as if they were chin guards.
The holidays are coming, and it won’t be like 2020 this time. It’s already obvious in the Halloween decorations, so over-the-top it looks like people are overcompensating for last year’s depressed trick-or-treating.
The pandemic appears to be winding down in the United States in a thousand subtle ways, but without any singular milestone, or a cymbal-crashing announcement of freedom from the virus.
- Nearly 5 million people have died of covid-19
- Inside Russia’s ‘fourth wave’: Record deaths, deep frustration and plenty of blame
Washington Post, How Trump’s 187 minutes of inaction led to Jan. 6 bloodshed, Washington Post Staff, Nov. 1, 2021. For more than three hours, the president resisted entreaties from Republican lawmakers and numerous advisers to urge the mob to disperse, a delay that contributed to harrowing acts of violence.
President Donald Trump had just returned to the White House from his rally at the Ellipse on Jan. 6 when he retired to his private dining room just off the Oval Office, flipped on the massive flat-screen television and took in the show. At the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, thousands of his supporters were wearing his red caps, waving his blue flags and chanting his name.
Live television news coverage showed the horror accelerating minute by minute after 1:10 p.m., when Trump had called on his followers to march on the U.S. Capitol. The pro-Trump rioters toppled security barricades. They bludgeoned police. They scaled granite walls. And then they smashed windows and doors to breach the hallowed building that has stood for more than two centuries as the seat of American democracy.
Reported by Jacqueline Alemany, Hannah Allam, Devlin Barrett, Emma Brown, Aaron C. Davis, Josh Dawsey, Peter Hermann, Paul Kane, Ashley Parker, Beth Reinhard, Philip Rucker, Marianna Sotomayor and Rachel Weiner. Written by Philip Rucker, Visuals and design by Phoebe Connelly, Natalia Jiménez-Stuard, Tyler Remmel and Madison Walls.
Washington Post, Investigation: Red Flags: FBI, other agencies failed to heed red flags weeks ahead of Jan. 6, Written by Aaron C. Davis, with staff colleagues; Visuals and design by Phoebe Connelly, Featured Nov. 1, first published Oct. 31, 2021 (interactive). As President Donald Trump propelled his supporters to Washington, law enforcement officials received a cascade of alerts that people were planning to target a joint session of Congress, a Post investigation found.
This investigation is based on interviews with more than 230 people and thousands of pages of court documents and internal law enforcement reports, along with hundreds of videos, photographs and audio recordings. Some of those who were interviewed spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private discussions or sensitive information.
While the public may have been surprised by what happened on Jan. 6, the makings of the insurrection had been spotted at every level, from one side of the country to the other. The red flags were everywhere.
One of the most striking flares came when a tipster called the FBI on the afternoon of Dec. 20: Trump supporters were discussing online how to sneak guns into Washington to “overrun” police and arrest members of Congress in January, according to internal bureau documents obtained by The Post. The tipster offered specifics: Those planning violence believed they had “orders from the President,” used code words such as “pickaxe” to describe guns and posted the times and locations of four spots around the country for caravans to meet the day before the joint session. On one site, a poster specifically mentioned Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) as a target.
- Law enforcement officials did not respond with urgency to a cascade of warnings about violence on Jan. 6
- Pentagon leaders had acute fears about widespread violence, and some feared Trump could misuse the National Guard to remain in power
- The Capitol Police was disorganized and unprepared
- Trump’s election lies radicalized his supporters in real time
The head of intelligence at D.C.’s homeland security office was growing desperate. For days, Donell Harvin led a team that spotted warnings that extremists planned to descend on the Capitol and disrupt the electoral count. and his team had spotted increasing signs that supporters of President Donald Trump were planning violence when Congress met to formalize the electoral college vote, but federal law enforcement agencies did not seem to share his sense of urgency.
On Saturday, Jan. 2, he picked up the phone and called his counterpart in San Francisco, waking Mike Sena before dawn.
Sena listened with alarm. The Northern California intelligence office he commanded had also been inundated with political threats flagged by social media companies, several involving plans to disrupt the joint session or hurt lawmakers on Jan. 6.
He organized an unusual call for all of the nation’s regional homeland security offices — known as fusion centers — to find out what others were seeing. Sena expected a couple dozen people to get on the line that Monday. But then the number of callers hit 100. Then 200. Then nearly 300. Officials from nearly all 80 regions, from New York to Guam, logged on.
In the 20 years since the country had created fusion centers in response to the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Sena couldn’t remember a moment like this. For the first time, from coast to coast, the centers were blinking red. The hour, date and location of concern was the same: 1 p.m., the U.S. Capitol, Jan.
Harvin asked his counterparts to share what they were seeing. Within minutes, an avalanche of new tips began streaming in. Self-styled militias and other extremist groups in the Northeast were circulating radio frequencies to use near the Capitol. In the Midwest, men with violent criminal histories were discussing plans to travel to Washington with weapons.
Forty-eight hours before the attack, Harvin began pressing every alarm button he could. He invited the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Homeland Security, military intelligence services and other agencies to see the information in real time as his team collected it. He took another extreme step: He asked the city’s health department to convene a call of D.C.-area hospitals and urged them to prepare for a mass casualty event.
Harvin was one of numerous people inside and outside of government who alerted authorities to the growing likelihood of deadly violence on Jan. 6, according to a Washington Post investigation, which found a cascade of previously undisclosed warnings preceded the attack on the Capitol. Alerts were raised by local officials, FBI informants, social media companies, former national security officials, researchers, lawmakers and tipsters, new documents and firsthand accounts show.
Palmer Report, Opinion: Ugly new Michael Flynn scandal surfaces, Bill Palmer, right, Nov. 1, 2021. Even though Donald Trump made a point of giving a blanket pardon to convicted felon Michael Flynn (above left) in December of 2020, pardons don’t cover future crimes. So all eyes have been on Flynn this year to see whether he’s decided to commit more felonies.
This weekend a Pennsylvania Senate candidate claimed that representatives of Michael Flynn asked him for help on an extortion plot to try to blackmail public officials into supporting 2020 election audits. The candidate claims that he gave the evidence to federal investigators:
Three things stand out here as notable. First, the election audits took place awhile ago. So why is this candidate just now publicly announcing that he turned over the evidence awhile back? As a Republican candidate, this announcement certainly doesn’t help him. He must be expecting that the story was about to come out anyway.
Second, the key word here is “evidence.” This means the Feds don’t merely have to take this guy’s word for it; he’s got something like emails or recordings and he’s already turned them over.
Finally, the big question here is whether this evidence shows that Michael Flynn himself was involved in the plot, or merely people claiming to be representing him. If this candidate’s claims are true and his evidence is solid, you can expect criminal indictments against whoever was involved. Reaching out to a political candidate in furtherance of an extortion plot is a felony, whether any actual extortion was attempted or not.
Trump-supporting former law school dean John Eastman, left, helps Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani inflame pro-Trump protesters in front the White House before the insurrection riot at the U.S. Capitol to prevent the presidential election certification of Joe Biden’s presidency on Jan. 6, 2021 (Los Angeles Times photo).
The Hill, WaPost won’t publish full Trump response due to ‘unrelated, inflammatory claims,’ Dominick Mastrangelo, Nov. 1, 2021. The Washington Post said it will not publish former President Trump’s response to a new investigative series it published this week about the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol because the statement contained irrelevant and unfounded claims about the attack and election integrity.
“The Post investigation was based on interviews with 230 people and thousands of pages of court documents and internal law enforcement reports, along with hundreds of videos, photographs and audio recordings,” the newspaper said in an introduction to the three-part series published on Monday. “The Post provided Trump a list of 37 findings reported as part of its investigation.”
A Trump spokesman, Taylor Budowich, provided the outlet a statement. The Post said the statement was “a lengthy written response that included series of unrelated, inflammatory claims that The Post is not publishing in full.”
The Post noted that Budowich said the former president “greatly objected” to all of the newspaper’s findings, dismissing it as “fake news” and describing people who carried out violence at the Capitol that day as “agitators not associated with President Trump.”
The full statement the Post decided not to include also stated the 2020 presidential election was rigged, an assertion that has been widely debunked by government officials and office holders from both parties.
The Post’s investigation examined the weeks leading up to the Jan. 6 riot. It said Trump, his legal representatives and his political allies pushed misleading claims about electoral fraud that contributed to the events that day. It also looked at the extent to which law enforcement officials failed to adequately prepare for the attack on the Capitol.
Critics of the former president in Congress and in media have said his claims about a “rigged” election directly led to the violence on Jan. 6.
“The media’s obsession with the January 6th protest is a blatant attempt to overshadow a simple fact: there is no greater threat to America than leftist journalists and the Fake News, which has avoided a careful examination of the fraudulent 2020 election,” a portion of the statement from Budowich that the Post did publish reads. “The media, just like the Democrats, do not want to see secure and honest elections. Instead of reporting the facts, outlets like the Washington Post sow division, hate, and lies, like it is doing with this story.”
Last week, The Wall Street Journal defended publishing a letter to the editor from Trump that alleged widespread voter fraud in Pennsylvania, but called his claims “bananas.”
“The progressive parsons of the press are aflutter that we published a letter to the editor Thursday from former President Trump, objecting to our editorial pointing out that he lost Pennsylvania last year by 80,555 votes,” the Journal said. “We trust our readers to make up their own minds about his statement. And we think it’s news when an ex-President who may run in 2024 wrote what he did, even if (or perhaps especially if) his claims are bananas.”
A poll conducted in June found one-third of Americans believe the election was not conducted fairly and a majority of Republicans have indicated in other polls they firmly stand behind Trump, with many saying they wish to see him run for president again.
Proof, Investigative Commentary: GOP Senate Candidate Tells FBI He Has Evidence Michael Flynn Is Working With Foreign Intelligence As Part of Treasonous Plot to Overthrow Federal Government, Seth Abramson, Nov. 1, 2021. The stunning allegation is as yet uncorroborated, but holds indicia of reliability. Flynn’s Texas-billionaire-funded Patriot Caucus may indeed be plotting to use extortion to reinstall Trump as POTUS.
First, there was the video. Then an email and social media blitz aimed at journalists around the country. Then a Salon article. Then a Newsweek article.
No one knew what to make of it all, and perhaps we still don’t. A current Republican candidate for the United States Senate from Pennsylvania, Everett Stern, is claiming that he was approached by agents from Michael Flynn’s Patriot Caucus—funded by Texas billionaire Al Hartman—who told him they’re working with active intelligence agents from both domestic and foreign intelligence agencies to acquire dirt on state and federal politicians. Their goal? To extort those politicians into pushing to audit and decertify Joe Biden’s November 2020 election victory and reinstal Donald Trump as president. Stern says that he was given the impression that the Patriot Caucus did not care if illegal means were used to acquire or deploy the intelligence they sought.
Stern now says he has evidence of these contacts, and provided it to law enforcement.
If true, Stern’s allegations could well amount to treason—and not just in the lay sense, but the statutory one. Working with agents of a hostile nation to bring down the U.S. government would indeed be akin to an act of war against the United States, and so providing aid and comfort to a foreign hostile engaged in such an act of war (let alone directing the effort) might well be Treason.
Given Flynn’s illicit activities since 2015—catalogued in detail in Proof of Collusion (Simon & Schuster, 2018), Proof of Conspiracy (Macmillan, 2019), and Proof of Corruption (Macmillan, 2020)—one certainly can’t say it would be out of character for Flynn. Not only did former president Barack Obama go out of his way to tell Trump that he should not hire Flynn because of information the federal government had about Flynn’s activities abroad; not only did the former president thereafter fire Flynn following a scandal related to his contacts abroad; Flynn was then indicted by DOJ for lying to the FBI about his contacts with hostile foreign nationals involved in election interference.
The Proof Trilogy exhaustively detailed Flynn’s clandestine contacts with Israeli intelligence, with these contacts being specifically on the subject of illegal election interference. More recently, Flynn and the rest of Team Kraken (including Sidney Powell, Joe diGenova, Victoria Toensing, Jenna Ellis, Rudy Giuliani, and Patrick Byrne) claim to have worked with a Venezuelan defector who they could only have encountered through the auspices of their ally Eduardo Bolsonaro (son of fascist Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro) and Brazilian intelligence. The subject of their work with the supposed defector? Yet again, illicit election interference.
In short, Stern’s allegations are not just plausible but fit a pattern. But are they true?
Other Indicia of Reliability
Certainly, by going public not only with his allegations but the fact that he is now in contact with the FBI, Stern has ended his career in the Republican Party. This itself is one indication of the accuracy of his allegations, as he’s destroying his political hopes along with risking his personal safety in making the allegation he has made. Indeed, one wonders if one of the reasons Stern decided to make a public announcement is to ensure his own safety by making Flynn’s plot public and assuring anyone who aims to harm him that he has already provided what information he has to federal authorities.
Stern also has a professional history that lends some credibility to his allegations. He has been a successful whistleblower combating international money laundering; when he announced his run for Senate, his primary opponent was now-retiring U.S. Senator Pat Toomey, a Trump enemy (Toomey voted to impeach Trump the second time) who Stern says was one of the main targets of the Patriot Caucus; and because Stern runs a domestic intelligence firm—and because he at first ran in opposition to Toomey—he does appear to be exactly the sort of Republican who Flynn and his team would have approached as part of an extortion-cum-treason plot against America.
Stern has a long history in intelligence, which began with an unsuccessful bid to join the CIA and continues on in his work with Tactical Rabbit, his business intelligence firm. Tactical Rabbit is precisely the sort of business intelligence firm that Michael Flynn himself tried to set up (The Flynn Group), and with which he has had contacts over election interference in the past (in the form of the now-defunct Israeli business intelligence firm Psy Group, at the time run by pro-Trump foreign national Joel Zamel, who shares an attorney with the Trump family and has since confessed to the now-incarcerated George Nader that he illegally interfered in the 2016 presidential election on Trump’s behalf). Flynn’s intelligence contacts are in many instances based in Texas—as the Proof books confirm at length—making the alleged involvement of a Texas billionaire in this supposed scheme unsurprising.
As for the details of the scheme itself, it basically matches everything we have heard from Flynn’s own mouth. The returned lieutenant general took, in 2020, a hard turn into the QAnon sphere—even swearing an oath to the QAnon “movement” publicly (see below)—which turn has as one of its core premises that the Biden administration is illegal and that Donald Trump remains the true President of the United States.
Flynn has been aggressively supportive of the ongoing battleground-state “audit” movement that Stern says Flynn’s treasonous plot was intended to advance, and Flynn himself has already freely acknowledged working with a hostile domestic intelligent agent—the aforementioned (alleged) Venezuelan “defector”—to overturn the election that put Biden in office. So it’s difficult to imagine, as to Stern’s claims, any allegation this extraordinary that is also, simultaneously, not just plausible but in line with all of the public, major-media-published evidence we have.
What Happens Now
The FBI has been unbearably slow in holding anyone in Trumpworld to account—this is so well documented and publicly complained of that little more need be said about it except to note that after impeccably credentialed former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele supplied the FBI with potentially damning information about Trump from highly placed Russian sources in mid-2016, the FBI’s response was to lie to the New York Times in an October 2016 pre-election report and say that it had no evidence of illicit ties between Trump and Russian agents. It turned out that such ties were legion and that this information could’ve been critical to voters in October 2016.
More recently, anonymous FBI agents told Reuters that the FBI had no evidence of connections between Trump and the January 6 insurrectionists; that report too has now been determined to be false and has been rejected by the DOJ, though as with the October 2016 Times report it in the meantime provided much comfort and aid to the current crop of pro-Trump loyalists both inside and outside of Washington, DC.
So what can we expect the FBI to do with information that a top Trump adviser—in the past and still—is in contact with foreign intelligence agents in a bid to do exactly what the Russians tried to do in 2016 and domestic insurrectionists tried to do in 2020 and 2021: determine the outcome of a national election whose winner many federal law enforcement agents would like to be Donald Trump? Just as Steele ultimately went to the media due to inaction by the FBI, now Stern appears to feel as though just going to the FBI is insufficient to warn the country of what’s happening right now.
Proof notes that a DOJ IG report from Michael Horowitz confirmed the presence of virulently pro-Trump pockets within the FBI—the sort of rogue FBI agents (i.e., the very sort of domestic intelligence agents Flynn now says he is working with) who the former DIA chief aided in October 2016, alongside the aforementioned Rudy Giuliani and Joe diGenova, to try to interfere in the 2016 presidential election by blackmailing Jim Comey into reopening the Hillary Clinton email case (which Comey, partly due to this illicit pressure, ultimately did, costing Clinton the election).
In short, we’ve seen this story before: Flynn working with domestic and foreign intel operatives to try to artificially ensure a specific election result, and using extortion as a means to his treacherous end. And we’ve also seen before a very well-credentialed whistleblower convinced that the FBI is unwilling to act against Flynn—or Trump.
And why shouldn’t the FBI believe, once again, that Flynn and Trump are impossible to stop, after DOJ dropped a slam-dunk Making False Statements case against Flynn post-conviction and then watched as Trump pardoned him?
It’s not clear what will come of this. It’s likely that once again journalists—particularly independent journalists—will have to do the work of uncovering a plot by Flynn that the FBI and DOJ are unable or unwilling to pursue to its conclusion. While Proof may or may not to be the independent media outlet for the job, as it’s currently focused on the January 6 investigation rather than benighted efforts by Trump loyalists to undo a presidential election that under no circumstances can be undone, the coverage of the Stern press conference by Salon and Newsweek is at least one sign that we will be hearing far more about all this in the media in the days, weeks, and months to come.
Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Investigative Commentary: Durham’s phony investigation a waste of scant DOJ resources, Wayne Madsen, left, Nov. 1, 2021. Attorney General Merrick Garland, right, who has become the least popular member of President Biden’s Cabinet, is continuing to allow a holdover special prosecutor from the Trump administration to engage in a costly and time-consuming “investigation” of absolutely nothing rising to a level of criminality.
On October 19, 2020, just a few weeks prior to the 2020 election, U.S. Attorney for Connecticut John Durham was secretly appointed by then-Attorney General William Barr as special counsel to investigate Trump’s alleged “Russia Hoax.” Durham was originally tasked by Barr in April 2019 to investigate the Justice Department’s ongoing internal probe of federal law enforcement surveillance activities of the Trump campaign for connections to Russia. Trump falsely insisted that the investigation was a “witch hunt.”
Durham has been permitted by Garland to continue with a fool’s errand of an investigation that has resulted in two dubious indictments. It is clear that Durham’s targets now include the 2016 Hillary Clinton campaign, the Robert Mueller investigation of that campaign, and anything else that Durham (and his puppeteer Trump) decides is worthy. Garland has failed to show any desire to order Durham to wrap up his investigation or be shown the door.
Essentially, Durham has become a new Ken Starr. Starr was the independent Whitewater counsel who began an investigation into Bill Clinton’s involvement in an Arkansas real estate deal and ended with a dubious probe of Clinton for receiving a blowjob in the Oval Office from White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
Durham has been using the Justice Department to conduct a far-right and conspiracy theory-laden crusade against Trump’s political foes. It is Durham who has misused his special prosecutor position for his own political goals and interests
U.S. Elections, Budget Bills, Governance
Washington Post, Justice Dept. tells Supreme Court abortion law threatens constitutional rights, John Wagner, Ann E. Marimow and Mariana Alfaro, Nov. 1, 2021. As justices heard two challenges to the Texas law, the U.S. solicitor general argued that “no constitutional right is safe” if the law is allowed to stand. But conservative judges sharply questioned the rationale for the request to block it.
- ‘No constitutional right is safe’ if Texas law remains in effect, DOJ says
- Kavanaugh characterizes Justice Department lawsuit against Texas abortion law as ‘irregular’ and ‘unusual’
- Roberts questions whether Justice Department is seeking ‘an injunction against the world’
Washington Post, Opinion: Take the win, Democrats, and don’t look back, E.J. Dionne Jr., right, Nov. 1, 2021 (print ed.). Celebrate victory. Explain what you’ve achieved. Defend it from attack. Change the public conversation in your favor. Build on success to make more progress.
And for God’s sake, don’t moan about what might have been.
President Biden and Democrats in Congress are on the cusp of ending their long journey through legislative hell by enacting a remarkable list of practical, progressive programs.
This will confront them with a choice. They can follow the well-tested rules for champions of social change. Or they can repeat past mistakes by letting their opponents define what they have done and complain about the things left undone.
A victory by Republican Glenn Youngkin in Tuesday’s Virginia governor’s race would unleash recriminations guaranteed to make this task even harder. If Democrat Terry McAuliffe hangs on to win, it will be Republicans forced into soul-searching about the steep costs of their continuing fealty to Donald Trump.
But however it turns out, the Virginia contest should force Democrats to confront the imperative of shifting the terms of the political debate. In a state Biden carried by 10 points, Youngkin managed to dominate the campaign’s final weeks with a shameful focus on critical race theory — which is not taught anywhere in the state — and the suppression of challenging books in high school curriculums.
Youngkin’s trafficking in racial backlash could work as well as it did, because Democrats have fallen short in fulfilling one of the most important aspirations of the Biden era. They hoped that politics could be defined more by how government can get useful things done and less by manufactured issues that promote moral panic among conservatives and sharpen divisions around race, immigration and culture.
Passing Biden’s program and defending it successfully offer all wings of his party the best opportunity they will have to push the day-to-day dialogue toward the tangible and the achievable.
New York Times, Manchin Refuses to Endorse Safety Net Bill, Dampening Hopes of a Quick Vote, Emily Cochrane, Nov. 1, 2021. Senator Joe Manchin, a crucial swing vote, demanded more time to evaluate the economic and fiscal ramifications of the $1.85 trillion plan. The Democratic senator, a crucial swing vote, demanded more time to evaluate the economic and fiscal ramifications of the $1.85 trillion plan, frustrating plans for a House vote this week.
Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia all but dashed hopes for quick votes this week on President Biden’s domestic agenda, saying on Monday that he would not endorse a $1.85 trillion social policy and climate package without ample time to consider its economic and fiscal ramifications.
During an appearance at the Capitol, Mr. Manchin, a crucial Democratic swing vote, condemned liberals in the House who have refused to vote for a separate $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure plan without a final deal on the domestic policy plan, saying their tactics would not pressure him into swallowing his grave reservations about the safety net measure.
His comments poured cold water on plans by House Democratic leaders to quickly complete talks on the safety net bill and bring both measures to a vote this week, leaving the fate of Mr. Biden’s top two priorities up in the air again. They also undercut the president’s assertion that an outline of the social policy and climate plan that he presented last week had the backing of all 50 Democratic and independent senators.
“While I have worked hard to find a path to compromise, it is obvious compromise is not good enough for some in Congress,” Mr. Manchin said, reading from prepared remarks. “It’s all or nothing, and their position doesn’t seem to change unless we agree to everything. Enough is enough.”
New York Times, Both Parties Await Result in Virginia, and What It Bodes for the Battles Ahead, Jonathan Martin, Nov. 1, 2021 (print ed.). Republicans hope to hit on a recipe for renewal, while Democrats worry that a loss could force them to defend seats in blue states next year.
During one of the most hectic weeks of her speakership — as she sought to unite her fractious party and corral two sweeping pieces of legislation — Nancy Pelosi made time for a meeting in her Capitol suite with a group of Democratic lawmakers from New Jersey and Virginia bearing an urgent message of their own.
They warned Ms. Pelosi that if the candidates for governor in those two states, particularly former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, left, in liberal-leaning Virginia, were to lose on Tuesday, it could have a cascading effect on the party, prompting Democrats to pull back from President Biden and his ambitious agenda, and perhaps even drive some to retirement.
Mr. McAuliffe’s strategy of relentlessly linking his Republican rival, Glenn Youngkin, right, to Donald J. Trump represents the best test yet of how much of a drag the former president still exerts on his party in blue and purple states. At the same time, Mr. Youngkin’s fancy footwork regarding Mr. Trump — avoiding his embrace without alienating him or his base — and his attacks on Mr. McAuliffe over the role of parents in schools will indicate if G.O.P. candidates can sidestep Trumpism by drawing attention to what they argue is Democratic extremism on issues of race and gender.
To Republicans, Virginia represents the promise of renewal, the chance to rebuild their party in a fairly forbidding state — and without having to make the difficult choice of fully embracing or rejecting Mr. Trump. Addressing supporters near a farmer’s market in Old Town Alexandria Saturday morning, Mr. Youngkin said his victory would send “a shock wave across this country.”
Suffering yet another loss here, though, would make it clear to Republicans that they cannot continue to delay their internal reckoning over the former president and that, even in exile, his unpopularity remains the party’s biggest impediment.
Because Mr. Biden carried the state by 10 points last year, and Mr. McAuliffe began the race with an advantage befitting the former governor he is, the most significant implications in Virginia are for Democrats. The party is also haunted by recent history: Their loss in the 2009 Virginia governor’s race — the last time Democrats controlled the White House and both chambers of Congress — foreshadowed the party’s electoral wipeout the following year.
Should Mr. McAuliffe lose or barely win, moderates will demand immediate passage of the infrastructure bill. Liberals will argue that the Democratic Party, and democracy itself, are in such a parlous state that they must push through new voting laws. And strategists across the party’s ideological spectrum will be made to contend with a political playing field in the midterm elections that stretches deeper into blue America.
- Washington Post, Va. went big for Biden, but on eve of another election, many voters say Democrats have not delivered, Cleve R. Wootson Jr., Nov. 1, 2021.
- Washington Post, Virginia governor’s race a toss-up as Election Day nears, Post-Schar School poll finds
- Palmer Report, Opinion: Here’s the thing about those new bombshell poll numbers in the Virginia Governor race, Bill Palmer
- New York Times, Glenn Youngkin Was a Traditional Republican. Then He Became a Culture Warrior
- Washington Post, Democrats race to finalize $1.75 trillion spending bill for House vote
Washington Post, Analysis: Nearly 4 in 10 who say election was stolen from Trump say violence might be needed to save America, Aaron Blake, Nov. 1, 2021. During the 2016 campaign, a presidential candidate named Donald Trump warned of the dangers of a small, radicalized portion of the country resorting to what it viewed as justified violence. In pushing his proposal to ban all Muslim immigrants, Trump cited polling from a like-minded immigration group.
“Most recently, a poll from the Center for Security Policy released data showing 25 percent of [Muslims] polled agreed that violence against Americans here in the United States is justified as a part of the global jihad,” Trump said in a statement.
Other, high-quality polling showed significantly lower levels of support among Muslims for potentially justified violence. But even if we take this one at face value, what does all that say about what Trump has wrought?
A poll released Monday by the Public Religion Research Institute is the latest to show that, even after the tumultuous events of Jan. 6, a large number of Republicans — 3 in 10 — believe violence might be justified “to save our country.”
What this poll adds to the dialogue is how much that overlaps with belief about a stolen election. Among those who believe the 2020 election was stolen from Trump, support for justified violence rises to 39 percent.
Washington Post, Biden seizes on G-20 summit to reverse Trump’s approach to world problems, Annie Linskey, Chico Harlan and Seung Min Kim, Nov. 1, 2021 (print ed.). President Biden sought to reverse key policies and approaches of former president Donald Trump during this weekend’s summit of the Group of 20, and attempted to ensure those reversals would stay in place even if there is a change in American leadership.
Biden lifted steel and aluminum tariffs enacted by Trump that had caused friction between the U.S. and the European Union. He huddled with allies on how to reinvigorate talks aimed at preventing Iran from securing a nuclear weapon, which the last administration had abandoned. He forged an agreement aimed at ensuring corporations pay more taxes.
And he struck a deal with other nations to end government funding of new coal-fired power plants, part of a broader agenda to curtail climate change and reclaim international leadership on a topic Trump eschewed.
“The United States of America is the most critical part of this entire agenda,” Biden said at a Sunday news conference, responding to a suggestion that the U.S. return to global leadership remains in doubt. “Everyone sought me out. Everyone wanted to know what our views were.” Biden spoke at La Nuvola, an airy building in a complex outside the heart of the city that housed the meeting of the world’s major economic powers.
But as Biden sought to showcase his leadership on the global stage, the president’s standing at home has grown more precarious, with Trump sending increasingly stronger signals that he will seek the White House again.
Just 42 percent of Americans approve of the job Biden is doing, according to a new NBC poll. One of his political allies is struggling in what was expected to be an easy victory in a gubernatorial race in Virginia. Biden has so far been unable to pass his legislative agenda, though he hopes that will happen this week.
Washington Post, Treasury Secretary Yellen expresses openness to defusing debt ceiling without GOP votes, Jeff Stein, Nov. 1, 2021. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Sunday said Democrats should be willing to approve a fix to the nation’s debt ceiling without GOP support if necessary, an approach senior Democrats ruled out during a recent standoff over the issue.
In an interview aboard a government airplane between Rome and Dublin, Yellen, right, castigated Republicans for refusing to help raise the debt limit but acknowledged Democrats may be able to address the issue without GOP support through the Senate budget procedure known as reconciliation.
Senior Democratic leaders were adamant that the debt ceiling be resolved on a bipartisan basis last month. Senate Republicans have uniformly insisted that Democrats should alone be responsible for raising the nation’s debt limit. Congress probably will face a deadline of Dec. 3 to act, though the exact date is uncertain.
Senior Biden aides privately explored whether payments could continue even if U.S. breached debt ceiling
The stalemate brought the U.S. within weeks of a potentially catastrophic default last month, forcing Treasury to deploy “emergency measures” to prevent funds from running out. “Should it be done on a bipartisan basis? Absolutely. Now, if they’re not going to cooperate, I don’t want to play chicken and end up not raising the debt ceiling. I think that’s the worst possible outcome,” Yellen told The Washington Post. “If Democrats have to do it by themselves, that’s better than defaulting on the debt to teach the Republicans a lesson.”
While condemning the Republican approach as “completely irresponsible,” Yellen also expressed openness to Democrats using the part of the reconciliation procedure called “Section 304” to resolve the debt ceiling impasse to circumvent the filibuster. Senate Democrats on the budget committee previously ruled out that approach.
The debt ceiling sets the maximum amount that the U.S. can borrow under the law. But Congress has also approved spending laws requiring the federal government to run a national debt in excess of this limit. Economists say that breaching the debt ceiling and failing to pay the U.S. government’s outstanding debts — an unprecedented event — would rattle world markets and could plunge the U.S. into an economic recession.
Other Recent Headlines:
- Washington Post Magazine, God, Trump and the Closed-Door World of the Council for National Policy, Robert O’Harrow Jr.
- Washington Post, In a setback for Black Lives Matter, mayoral campaigns shift to ‘law and order’
- Washington Post, Frequency of violent threats on Capitol Hill unnerves staffers
- New York Times, Analysis: Joe Biden’s Big Gamble, Michael D. Shear and Jim Tankersley
- New York Times, These are the key provisions in President Biden’s $1.85 trillion proposal
- Washington Post, Editorial: The president’s plan is imperfect, but a big step forward for the country
Virus Victims, Responses
Washington Post, White House finalizes vaccine requirement rule, expects to release details this week, Eli Rosenberg, Nov. 1, 2021. The rule, which is already drawing fierce opposition from anti-vaccine factions, is one of the Biden administration’s most ambitious attempts to combat the pandemic.
The coming federal rule that will require private companies in the United States to mandate vaccinations or regular testing among their staffs has been finalized by the White House, in advance of its likely public release this week.
The Department of Labor said Monday morning that the Office of Management and Budget had completed its regulatory review of the rule, called an emergency temporary standard. The rule is one of the Biden administration’s most ambitious attempts to increase vaccination rates to corral the pandemic, after the Delta surge this summer showed the country’s continued vulnerability to the ravages of the virus.
It was drafted by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration under orders from the White House. The rule will apply to companies that have more than 100 employees, and it has already been drawing fierce opposition, both in and out of court, from the anti-vaccine faction of the country’s right wing. A number of Republican attorneys general have vowed to challenge the rule once it is made public.
Washington Post, Anti-vaccine protesters warn of possible violence over mandates for children, Jaclyn Peiser, Nov. 1, 2021. Hundreds of Staten Island residents holding anti-vaccine signs and waving American flags gathered on Sunday across the street from where New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) was scheduled to speak at a campaign event for local Democrats. The crowd was angry about New York City’s vaccine mandate for municipal workers, which takes full effect on Monday.
But one attendee had another worry — that the city, like the state of California, will force children to get the coronavirus vaccine. So he offered an unnerving warning.
“If they’re going to push this on the kids … I can guarantee you one thing: Town halls and schools will be f—ing burned to the ground,” the man said in a video posted by freelance journalist Oliya Scootercaster.
The crowd clapped, cheered, banged on drums and raised their American flags.
The protest on Sunday comes as conflicts over mask and vaccine mandates grow more violent across the United States. School board meetings have devolved into vitriol and chaos, while teachers, medical workers and flight attendants have been assaulted and harassed for enforcing state and federal guidelines.
New York Times, Opinion: No, Vaccine Mandates Aren’t an Attack on Freedom, Paul Krugman, Nov. 1, 2021. The Delta surge in Covid-19 seems to be receding. That’s good news, and not just because fewer people are dying. Fear of infection was one reason the economic recovery hit an air pocket in the third quarter. Resuming normal life will be a huge relief.
But the U.S. right is, in effect, trying to keep the pandemic going. We talk a lot about misinformation on social media, some of which — surprise! — appears to be the product of Russian disinformation. However, the role of the right-wing establishment has surely been far more important. Fox News serves up anti-vaccine messages almost every day. Republican governors have tried to ban vaccine mandates not just by local governments and school districts but by private businesses. Multiple Republican attorneys general have filed suit to stop federal vaccine mandates.
The expressed rationale for all this activity is that it’s about protecting freedom. In reality, while there are several reasons for vaccine resistance, politics is a significant driver of the agitation. A successful vaccination campaign could mean a successful Biden administration, and the right is determined to prevent that, no matter how many avoidable deaths result from vaccine sabotage. It’s noteworthy that Fox has a very strict vaccination policy for its own employees.
Still, the case against vaccine mandates, however disingenuous, needs to be answered on the merits. Yet I at least have rarely seen the case against a right to refuse vaccination fully explained, even though you could hardly come up with a better example than Covid-19 vaccination if you wanted to design a hypothetical situation in which arguments for freedom of choice don’t apply. And I think it’s worth spelling out exactly why.
First, personal choice is fine — as long as your personal choices don’t hurt other people. I may deplore the quality of your housekeeping, but it’s your own business; on the other hand, freedom doesn’t include the right to dump garbage in the street.
Unz Review, Investigation and Commentary: What America’s 17 Intelligence Agencies Won’t Say About the Origins of Covid, Ron Unz, right, Featured Nov. 1, 2021. As everyone familiar with media operations is well aware, late Friday afternoon is the best time to release new information intended to attract minimal attention. A perfect example of this came a couple of days ago in the distribution of America’s newly declassified intelligence report by the National Intelligence Council on the origins of Covid.
Back in August, a sudden media frenzy on the possible lab origins of the virus that had killed so many hundreds of thousands of Americans pressured the Biden Administration into tasking our 17 separate intelligence agencies with determining the origins of the disease. But their comprehensive “We Don’t Know!” was hardly the answer long sought by the American public, nor the best justification for their many tens of billions of dollars in annual funding.
So for obvious reasons, the intent was to slip the results into the public arena with as little notice as possible, and this was largely achieved, with the short resulting articles in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal buried deep on the inside pages, with correspondingly little attention from the rest of the global media as well.
But for those who bothered to read past the headlines, the government report (shown at left) was a mixture of sensible conclusions and understandable silence. The total number of America’s proliferating intelligence agencies is now approaching a score, and although they disagreed on numerous issues, there were some points of unanimity. Among other things, they claimed that the structure of the virus provided no evidence that it had been bioengineered, while greatly softening that seemingly important conclusion by noting that modern bioengineering techniques are extremely difficult to detect.
Over the last year, various pro-China partisans sometimes supported by China’s own media organs have highlighted scientific studies around the world that seemingly found traces of Covid infections in other countries long before the original outbreak in Wuhan, suggesting that the outbreak originally began elsewhere. But because of various technical flaws and methodological uncertainties, the report found this evidence quite doubtful, a conclusion very similar to my own.
The report repeats the standard view that original outbreak began no later than November 2019, and a much more significant conclusion became the headline in the WSJ‘s print edition: “Report Says China Lab Was Likely Unaware of Virus Pre-Outbreak.”
For more than a year, individuals aligned with former Trump CIA Director and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, right, have repeatedly claimed that secret intelligence information existed demonstrating that the Wuhan outbreak may have reached large-scale proportions or at least come to the attention of Chinese officials long before the generally accepted late December date. However, no such material is mentioned anywhere in this report, indicating that it doesn’t exist. Instead, our 17 intelligence agencies seem to strongly support the current timeline, agreeing that the Wuhan lab and the Chinese government probably first became aware of the new disease when the number of infections grew substantial, near the very end of the 2019 calendar year.
Given the natural political constraints upon these professional American intelligence analysts, I think their product was the best that could be expected under the circumstances. For obvious reasons, they completely excluded any discussion of some of the striking anomalies that have been a major focus of my own analysis over the last 18 months, an analysis that very strongly suggests that the Covid outbreak was the result of an American biowarfare attack against China (and Iran), probably carried out by rogue elements of our national security establishment.
New York Times, N.Y.C.’s vaccination rate for city workers climbs to 91 percent, and 9,000 are put on unpaid leave, Joseph Goldstein, Ashley Southall and Emma G. Fitzsimmons, Nov. 1, 2021. New York City started to enforce its Covid vaccine mandate for municipal workers on Monday, and about 9,000 workers who refused to get vaccinated were placed on unpaid leave.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Monday that the vaccination rate for city workers continued to climb, reaching 91 percent, and that the city was running smoothly despite the absences.
“We’re not seeing disruptions to any city services,” he said, before urging workers to get vaccinated and return to work.
City officials said that they were coping with the reduction in workers without a significant slowdown of city services. With measures like shuffling firefighters between companies and extending the workday for sanitation workers, city agencies have been shoring up coverage.
New York Times, Judge Blocks Chicago’s Police Vaccine Mandate, For Now, Mitch Smith, Nov. 1, 2021. Because the police are unionized, an arbitrator must weigh in first, before Chicago can require its officers to be immunized, an Illinois judge ruled. The city had set a Dec. 31 deadline. New York City began enforcing a vaccine mandate. And the known global Covid death toll surpassed 5 million.
The ruling was a blow to Mayor Lori Lightfoot and a victory for the city’s police union. Here’s the latest on the pandemic.
A judge in Chicago blocked the city on Monday from enforcing a Dec. 31 vaccine mandate for police officers until the issue can be addressed in arbitration. The ruling was a blow to Mayor Lori Lightfoot and a victory for a police union that has been engaged in an increasingly vitriolic battle with City Hall over the rule.
Judge Raymond W. Mitchell of the Cook County Circuit Court said that as unionized employees, police officers had a right to have their objections to the mandate heard by an arbitrator before the requirement takes effect. If an arbitrator were to rule against the city after the vaccine mandate was being enforced, the judge wrote, there would be little recourse for officers who got vaccinated under duress.
“An award of back pay or reinstatement cannot undo a vaccine,” Judge Mitchell wrote. “Nothing can.”
Across the country, police unions have fought requirements that their members get vaccinated, sometimes leading to fears of mass resignations, as in Los Angeles County, Calif., where the sheriff has warned of a potential exodus.
The opposition to vaccination mandates has come even though nearly 500 American law enforcement officers have died from work-related Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page — far more than have died from any other work-related cause in the last two years. On Monday, thousands of New York City employees, including police officers, were placed on unpaid leave for failing to get vaccinated by the city’s deadline.
In Chicago, Judge Mitchell’s ruling left in place a requirement for officers to report their vaccination status to the city, which the police union has opposed, and to undergo regular testing if not vaccinated.
“The reporting obligation itself is a minimal intrusion particularly considering that police officers are already obligated to provide medical information to their employer,” the judge wrote.
About 71 percent of Chicago Police Department employees had reported their vaccination status to the city by last week, by far the lowest rate of any city department. Around 7,300 police employees said they were vaccinated, while about 1,700 said they were not. More than 3,000 others had not provided their status. John Catanzara, the president of the Fraternal Order of Police in Chicago, which represents rank-and-file officers, had suggested that his members ignore the order and risk discipline or loss of pay.
New York Times, Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, tested positive for the coronavirus, Katie Rogers, Updated Nov. 1, 2021. Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary who earlier in the week said that she would not join President Biden on a diplomatic trip to Europe because of a family emergency, said on Sunday that she had tested positive for the coronavirus.
“While I have not had close contact in person with the president or senior members of the White House staff since Wednesday,” Ms. Psaki said, “I am disclosing today’s positive test out of an abundance of transparency. I last saw the president on Tuesday, when we sat outside more than six feet apart, and wore masks.”
Ms. Psaki, right, said that members of her household had tested positive for the virus earlier in the week, and quarantined once she learned that they had contracted the virus. She tested negative on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday before testing positive on Sunday. Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House principal deputy press secretary, traveled on the trip while Ms. Psaki stayed home and went into quarantine.
“Thanks to the vaccine, I have only experienced mild symptoms, which has enabled me to continue working from home,” Ms. Psaki said. “I will plan to return to work in person at the conclusion of the 10-day quarantine following a negative rapid test,” Ms. Psaki said, “which is an additional White House requirement, beyond C.D.C. guidance, taken out of an abundance of caution.”
Washington Post, FDA delays decision on Moderna vaccine for adolescents, Laurie McGinley, Nov. 1, 2021 (print ed.). The agency says the review will take until at least January, according to the company.
The agency needs more time to evaluate whether the shot increases the risk of a rare cardiac side effect, the company said. Moderna also said it would delay asking the FDA for authorization of its vaccine for children 6 to 11 years old.
Moderna, a Cambridge, Mass., biotechnology company, said in a news release that the FDA indicated it will take until at least January to complete the review of Moderna’s application for use in 12- to 17-year-olds. The agency told the vaccine maker Friday evening it needed more time to analyze emerging international data on the risk of myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle that in rare instances occurs after vaccination.
The agency’s action comes after several countries, including Japan and Nordic nations, raised concerns that the Moderna vaccine increases the risk of myocarditis in men 18 to 30. In Finland and Sweden, authorities have recommended against the use of Moderna for men younger than 30.
New York Times, Opinion: Not Everyone in New York Wanted the Coronavirus to Lose, Mara Gay, right, Nov. 1, 2021 (print ed.). For nearly a year now, a small team of officials from City Hall and the public health department have pored over detailed reports about how vaccine misinformation has spread through New York City.
A review of over eight months worth of these “misinformation bulletins” obtained by The Times reveals that the city has collected exhaustive intelligence about the misunderstandings and conspiracy theories surrounding Covid-19 and swirling through the five boroughs. The project aimed to help tailor Covid-19 vaccine drives to New York’s diverse and sometimes insular communities and beat back the virus to push the city toward normalcy.
The misinformation reports — the vast majority of which come from public social media posts — also offer a fascinating historical accounting: a glimpse into what New Yorkers were reading, watching and at times misunderstanding about the disease that upended their city.
Overall, the effort is a case study in what effective city government can do, and what public health demands in 2021.
The reports were only necessary because not everyone has been rooting for the coronavirus to lose.
In January and February of this year, the city found leaflets aimed at the Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn that wrongly suggested the Covid-19 mRNA vaccines could change a person’s DNA and were only 0.5 percent effective.
In March, the city’s Polish community was treated to false claims that the mRNA vaccines were designed to “annihilate Christianity and the Polish Nation.” A city report in March described a rumor prevalent in New York’s Haitian neighborhoods that the vaccines were created to reduce the Black population.
In July, the project’s analysts were monitoring vaccine misinformation being shared by the writer Alex Berenson, a former New York Times employee. In August, the analysts made note of “misleading” claims by Oren Barzilay, who heads the union representing the Fire Department’s emergency medical workers.
Each of these bits of misinformation was reported to the city’s Vaccine Command Center, a high-level group at City Hall created to help oversee New York’s vaccination drive.
For almost a year now, the Vaccine Command Center has commissioned regular reports on such misinformation. The intelligence in the reports is compiled by a team of about 15 people inside the city health department, a handful of other city officials and the research firm GroupSense. The reports are then given to city officials involved in New York’s vaccination effort.
Mayor Bill de Blasio’s spokesperson, Danielle Filson, said the city undertook the project because “understanding the specifics of myths is critical to dispelling them and educating the public with facts grounded in scientific reality.”
“New Yorkers deserve to know the truth and when it comes to matters as high-stakes as the vaccine — it’s our moral imperative to make sure they have it,” Ms. Filson wrote to me in an email.
Some reports suggest that some of the anti-vaccine activity spotted online had roots in disinformation campaigns that were linked to the Russian government. On June 8, GroupSense analysts said they agreed with the assessment of another research firm, known as Graphika, that an anti-vaccine cartoon posted to a website devoted to promoting far-right conspiracy theories was “consistent with a pro-Russian disinformation campaign.” That campaign was attributed to people linked to the St. Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency.
The effort has identified conspiracy theories in at least a dozen languages, from Spanish to Urdu. Among the spookiest lies: Vaccinated people have developed boils; vaccines magnetize the body; “deep state operatives” developed the vaccines together with the military. All nonsense.
The reports, which have not been made public, draw a distinction between misinformation — the unintentional spreading of inaccurate information — and disinformation, which is not only inaccurate but likely malicious.
New York Times, Live Updates: New York City Begins Enforcing Vaccine Mandate, Staff Reports, Nov. 1, 2021. Thousands of municipal workers who refused to get their shots are likely to be placed on leave. Here’s the latest on the pandemic.
Thousands of city workers who refused to get their shots are likely to be placed on leave. Thailand relaxes its border rules, allowing fully immunized tourists from 63 countries to visit without quarantine.
Here’s what you need to know:
- Thousands of New York City workers face suspension as a vaccine deadline arrives.
- Covid looms in the background of the COP26 summit.
- Thailand reopens to tourists from 63 countries without requiring quarantine.
- Some Australians are allowed to return home as border rules ease.
Charlotte Observer, Editorial: Richard Burr shouldn’t be NC’s senator, Editorial Board, Nov. 1, 2021 (print ed.). North Carolina just got another reminder of Richard Burr’s COVID betrayal: NC Sen. Richard Burr, his brother-in-law under investigation for insider trading.
The Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating Sen Richard Burr, a North Carolina Republican, and his brother-n-law for insider trading. They dumped stock before the market dropped in March 2020 as the COVID pandemic hit.
Richard Burr, right, has been cleared in one investigation into possible insider trading in the early days of the pandemic, but another probe has unearthed new problems for North Carolina’s senior U.S. senator. And as new revelations reminded us this week, his worst transgression might not be what he did when COVID-19 first threatened his state and country. It’s what he didn’t do.
New details arose Thursday regarding a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation into possible insider trading by Burr. According to an SEC filing first reported by ProPublica, Burr possessed “material nonpublic information” regarding the incoming economic impact of the virus when he dumped roughly $1.6 million in stocks in February 2020. After doing so, he called his brother-in-law, the filing says — and the very next minute, Burr’s brother-in-law called his stock broker.
Burr’s big sale was previously the subject of an investigation by the Justice Department, who informed the senator in January that it would not pursue charges against him. But he — and his brother-in-law — remain under investigation by the SEC. And despite having an estimated net worth of $7.4 million in 2018, Burr has been raising big money to help foot his hefty legal bills.
Thirty-three current or former U.S. senators, as well as other sitting members of Congress, have contributed to the Richard Burr Legal Expense Trust Fund as of September, the News & Observer reported. The fund has raised more than $524,000 and paid $565,000 to Latham & Watkins, a major law firm.
Perhaps Burr thought that the stain of his actions would wash away with time. It hasn’t. We said last year that Burr’s actions were an affront to North Carolinians and embarrassing to the state, and nothing has changed our mind. Regardless of whether the SEC concludes that his actions were criminal, he has failed as a public servant, profiting off of a deadly virus while failing to convey to the public the seriousness of the threat it posed.
A reminder of Burr did and didn’t do: According to reports last year, members of Congress had been receiving “ominous, classified warnings” from U.S. intelligence agencies about the danger posed by COVID as early as January and February. Publicly, Burr was co-authoring op-eds reassuring the public that the United States was prepared to confront the virus. Privately, though, he seemed to be suggesting otherwise.
Fourteen days after dumping his stocks, Burr also warned members of the Tar Heel Circle, a nonpartisan group of North Carolina businesses and organizations, at a February 2020 luncheon that the coronavirus would spread rapidly, and that it was “probably more akin to the 1918 pandemic.” Still, he didn’t share that assessment with the general public, even as then-president Donald Trump downplayed the situation, hindering the nation’s early pandemic response.
Richard Burr’s troubles are not going away. So why isn’t he?
His assessment wasn’t wrong. As of September, COVID-19 has surpassed the 1918 Spanish flu to become the deadliest pandemic in American history, with 743,000 lives lost thus far. Still, Burr has yet to take responsibility for not sharing that knowledge publicly, or for using it to benefit financially. He’s offered little through public statements but has claimed that he “relied solely on public news reports to guide my decision regarding the sale of stocks on February 13.”
That’s something the SEC filing seems to dispute. Though Burr has long planned to step down in 2022, he ought to consider taking an earlier retirement. No matter what happens during the last year of his term, he will continue to be a politician who broke his commitment to serve and protect us when we needed him most. North Carolinians deserved better than that.
Worldometer, World & U.S. Coronavirus Case Totals (updated Nov. 1, 2021), with some governments reporting lower numbers than the totals here and some experts saying the numbers are far higher, as the New York Times reported in India’s true pandemic death toll is likely to be well over 3 million, a new study finds:
World Cases: 247,562,959, Deaths: 5,017,039
U.S. Cases: 46,823,938, Deaths: 766,299
Indian Cases: 34,285,814, Deaths: 458,470
Brazil Cases: 21,810,855, Deaths: 607,860
Washington Post, At least 221.8 million U.S. vaccinated, as of Nov. 1, 2021, measuring the number of people who have received at least one dose of the vaccine. This includes more than 192.6 million eligible persons, 58%, fully vaccinated.
Washington Post, Maryland man pleads guilty to operating fake Moderna website, charging people to buy advance vaccines, Andrea Salcedo, Nov. 1, 2021. On Friday, Odunayo “Baba” Oluwalade — one of three men accused of using the fake website to sell coronavirus vaccines at $30 per dose — pleaded guilty to federal wire fraud conspiracy in connection with the scheme.
Oluwalade, a Maryland resident, pleaded to conspiring with others to obtain access to a bank account used in the fraud scheme. Oluwalade, 25, also admitted that he knew the bank account would be used for a fraud scheme, though he denied being aware of the specifics, the U.S. attorney’s office in the District of Maryland said in a statement.
Related Recent Headlines:
- New York Times, F.D.A. Clears First Coronavirus Vaccine for 5- to 11-Year-Olds
- New York Times, Supreme Court Won’t Block Maine’s Vaccine Mandate for Health Care Workers
- New York Times, Live Updates: Vaccines offer more protection than prior infection, a C.D.C. study found
- Associated Press via Washington Post, Russia hits new record for coronavirus infections
- Washington Post, Air Force is first military branch to face rejection of vaccine mandate as thousands avoid shots
- New York Times, Children Drive Britain’s Longest-Running Covid Surge
- New York Times, Live Updates: Case numbers in Europe are surging as winter approaches
- New York Times, Opinion: Cowards, Not Crazies, Are Destroying America, Paul Krugman
U.S. Courts, Law, Business, Race
Washington Post, Supreme Court embarks on most dramatic reckoning for abortion rights in decades, Robert Barnes, Nov. 1, 2021 (print ed.). The Supreme Court will face a bramble of unsettled legal questions when it reviews Texas’s most-restrictive-in-the-nation abortion law Monday, but the inquiry itself is evidence of a changed court whose view of abortion as a constitutional right is in doubt.
2021 Election: Complete coverage and analysis
Monday’s hastily scheduled hearing opens the most dramatic month for reproductive rights at the Supreme Court in three decades. That was when a surprising majority of Republican-nominated justices did the unexpected and affirmed rather than renounced the right to abortion established in Roe v. Wade in 1973.
Such an outcome this time around — as the court considers the Texas law and, on Dec. 1, a Mississippi ban on abortion after 15 weeks, far earlier than current Supreme Court precedent allows — would be a bitter disappointment for antiabortion activists who feel this is their chance.
Supreme Court against declines to stop Texas abortion law, but grants review
“For two generations, the U.S. Supreme Court has tied the hands of states to enact laws protecting unborn children and their mothers,” Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the antiabortion group Susan B. Anthony List, said of the Texas legislation. “It is time to restore this right to the people and update our laws.”
Abortion-rights supporters, meanwhile, say the court’s action will have immense consequences, beginning with the Texas law, known as S.B. 8.
“The outcome of this case will define the future of our constitutional democracy,” said Sam Spital, director of litigation at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, which is supporting abortion providers and a Justice Department lawsuit against Texas.
“Absent the Supreme Court’s intervention, S.B. 8’s model for openly defying precedent set by the highest court in our land will metastasize — and not just with respect to abortion rights,” he said. “Many of our constitutional rights will be in grave danger.”
- Washington Post, Opinion: ‘No decision of this Court is safe’: What’s at stake in the Texas abortion case, Ruth Marcus
Washington Post, Supreme Court won’t hear case seeking more transparency from secretive surveillance court, Robert Barnes and Spencer S. Hsu, Nov. 1, 2021. The Supreme Court on Monday declined to decide whether the public has at least a limited right to review the decisions of a largely secret federal surveillance court whose influence has been growing.
The justices turned down a request from the American Civil Liberties Union and others to review a ruling that denied access to decisions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC). That court said it lacked authority even to consider a public claim under the First Amendment to its secret decision-making.
Justices Neil M. Gorsuch and Sonia Sotomayor said the case, ACLU v. United States, should have been reviewed.
Congress enacted the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in 1978 to regulate domestic surveillance in national security investigations, such as monitoring suspected spies and terrorists.
Investigators must convince a FISC judge that a target for eavesdropping is probably an agent of a foreign power, but targets can include Americans and any communication in which one party touches U.S. soil.
Groups ask Supreme Court for access to surveillance court’s opinions
Privacy advocates have criticized the court as a rubber stamp, because judges hear only the government’s request. Most subjects never know they are targets or what the government told the judge. In 2019, for instance, judges approved 952 applications in whole or with modifications, while denying 58 in whole or in part.
After leaks from Edward Snowden in 2013 showed widespread, bulk collection of phone calls and emails, Congress in 2015 required the government to review any significant opinions for public release.
But the ACLU argued that such reviews are conducted by executive-branch officials, not a court, and that the government believes release of opinions before June 2015 is not required, although it has released several.
Besides other free-speech advocates, the ACLU’s challenge was supported by news organizations, including The Washington Post, and some former high-level national security experts.
One group included former director of national intelligence James R. Clapper Jr., former CIA director John Brennan, and Donald B. Verrilli Jr., who was solicitor general under President Barack Obama.
Their brief said it is not enough for the executive branch to decide which opinions may be released, and that there is no reason the public cannot see properly redacted versions of the court’s actions.
“The basic, longstanding premise of public access to judicial opinions does not cease to apply merely because the judicial opinions of the FISC relate to surveillance, intelligence, and national security,” they wrote.
In a short dissent, Gorsuch said they had a point.
The government makes “the extraordinary claim that this Court is powerless to review the lower court decisions even if they are mistaken,” he wrote in an opinion joined by Sotomayor. “On the government’s view, literally no court in this country has the power to decide whether citizens possess a First Amendment right of access to the work of our national security courts.”
“If these matters are not worthy of our time, what is?” Gorsuch asked.
New York Times, Supreme Court Tries to Tame Unruly Oral Arguments, Adam Liptak, right, Nov. 1, 2021. The court, which is hearing major cases on abortion and guns, has revised its procedures to make sure that all justices are heard.
Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Clarence Thomas may not agree about much, but they have both said the Supreme Court’s oral arguments have been plagued by too many interruptions. A few years ago and again this fall, the court took steps to address their concerns.
After a 2017 study showed that female justices were disproportionately interrupted by their male colleagues and by male lawyers, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. took action, Justice Sotomayor said in a video conversation last month at New York University’s law school.
“That study had a great impact,” Justice Sotomayor said.
“I know there is often discussion about how much influence research has on the courts,” she said. “In the case of that study, I think it had an enormous impact. I know that after reports of that finding came out that our chief judge was much more sensitive.”
Chief Justice Roberts, she said, started “playing referee when interruptions happened and ensuring that people got back to the judges who were interrupted.”
Justice Thomas, right, is also no fan of interruptions, saying the lawyers arguing before the court should be allowed to make their case without being bombarded with questions.
“If I invite you to argue your case, I should at least listen to you,” he told a bar association in Richmond, Va., in 2000.
After the justices were ousted from their courtroom last year by the pandemic, they heard arguments by telephone, asking questions one at a time in order of seniority. It was both civilized and a little inert. Justice Thomas was a full participant.
When the justices returned to their courtroom last month, after an absence of about 18 months, the court announced a new format, one that showed, if nothing else, that the justices were giving a lot of thought to how to conduct arguments that are both probing and polite.
They settled on a hybrid model, supplementing the familiar free-for-all questioning with a round of optional one-at-a-time questions, proceeding in order of seniority, once per lawyer.
The justices also appear to have agreed among themselves to let Justice Thomas ask the first questions during the main part of the arguments, and he did so almost without exception in the nine arguments the court heard in October.
New York Times, Live Business Updates: Barclays C.E.O. to Step Down After Jeffrey Epstein Inquiry, Staff Reports, Nov. 1, 2021. British regulators investigated the ties between the bank executive and the disgraced financier. Here’s the latest business news.
- British regulators investigated the ties between the bank executive and the disgraced financier.
- American Airlines canceled more than 1,200 flights over the weekend.
- The Fed’s tapering decision and fresh data on jobs: The week in business.
- Saudi Aramco reports a $30 billion quarterly profit as oil prices soar.
- Old power equipment is slowing the adoption of clean energy and electric cars.
New York Times, Banks Tried to Kill Crypto and Failed. Now They’re Embracing It (Slowly), Emily Flitter, Nov. 1, 2021. Digital payments are forcing the financial system to evolve. Banks feel their power waning and want to regain control.
In 2014, as regulators in New York were exploring ways to control Bitcoin, executives at Wall Street’s biggest banks fretted that regulating cryptocurrencies would also legitimize them — and that could threaten the finance industry. So they tried to sow doubt.
At the World Economic Forum in Davos that year, Jamie Dimon, the chief executive of JPMorgan Chase, the nation’s largest bank, called Bitcoin a “terrible” store of value that was also being used for illicit purposes. At a meeting to discuss violations of Iran sanctions, H. Rodgin Cohen, the finance industry’s pre-eminent lawyer, warned the state’s regulators that the federal government was “very worried” about Bitcoin and its use.
Those efforts failed. New York’s Department of Financial Services began issuing licenses for Bitcoin businesses in 2015. There are now more than 75 million users of Bitcoin, up from around three million seven years ago, and the number of digital currencies has exploded. Globally, 220 million people use cryptocurrencies, according to a July report by Crypto.com.
“Most people agree that in the future — it might be 10 or 20 or years or it might be sooner — effectively all assets are going to be in a digital format,” said Thomas Olsen, a partner at Bain & Company who advises financial firms on cryptocurrencies and other digital asset matters.
New York Times, U.S. Military Jury Condemns Terrorist’s Torture and Urges Clemency, Carol Rosenberg, Nov. 1, 2021 (print ed.). Seven senior officers rebuked the government’s treatment of an admitted terrorist in a handwritten letter from the jury room at Guantánamo Bay.
Seven senior U.S. military officers who sentenced a terrorist to 26 years in prison last week after hearing graphic descriptions of his torture by the C.I.A. wrote a letter calling his treatment “a stain on the moral fiber of America.”
The rebuke of the U.S. government’s treatment of Majid Khan, a suburban Baltimore high school graduate turned Qaeda courier, was contained in a two-page handwritten letter urging the senior Pentagon official overseeing the war court to grant clemency. It was signed by seven of the eight members of the sentencing jury — six Army and Navy officers and a Marine, using their juror numbers.
The panel of active-duty officers was brought to Guantánamo Bay last week to hear evidence and decide a sentence of 25 to 40 years. Deliberations began after Mr. Khan spent two hours describing in grisly detail the violence that C.I.A. agents and operatives inflicted on him in dungeonlike conditions in prisons in Pakistan, Afghanistan and a third country, including sexual abuse and mind-numbing isolation, often in the dark while he was nude and shackled.
“Mr. Khan was subjected to physical and psychological abuse well beyond approved enhanced interrogation techniques, instead being closer to torture performed by the most abusive regimes in modern history,” according to the letter, which was obtained by The New York Times.
The panel also responded to Mr. Khan’s claim that after his capture in Pakistan in March 2003, he told interrogators everything, but “the more I cooperated, the more I was tortured,” and so he subsequently made up lies to try to mollify his captors.
“This abuse was of no practical value in terms of intelligence, or any other tangible benefit to U.S. interests,” the letter said. “Instead, it is a stain on the moral fiber of America; the treatment of Mr. Khan in the hands of U.S. personnel should be a source of shame for the U.S. government.”
In his testimony on Thursday night, Mr. Khan (shown in a 2018 photo by the Center for Constitutional Rights) became the first former prisoner of the C.I.A.’s so-called black sites to publicly describe in detail the violence and cruelty that U.S. agents used to extract information and to discipline suspected terrorists in the clandestine overseas prison program that was set up after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
In doing so, Mr. Khan also provided a preview of the kind of information that might emerge in the death penalty trial of the five men accused of plotting the Sept. 11 attacks, a process that has been bogged down in pretrial hearings for nearly a decade partly because of secrecy surrounding their torture by the C.I.A.
The agency declined to comment on the substance of Mr. Khan’s descriptions of the black sites, which prosecutors did not seek to rebut. It said only that its detention and interrogation program, which ran the black sites, ended in 2009.
- New York Times, For First Time in Public, a Detainee Describes Torture at C.I.A. Black Sites, Carol Rosenberg
Other Recent Headlines:
- Washington Post, Detained immigrants were paid candy or $1 a day for labor. They’re owed $17 million, a jury says
- New York Times, Jury Awards $10 Million to White Male Executive in Discrimination Case
- Associated Press via Tampa Bay Times, Investigation: Still no charges in prison beating death of Whitey Bulger 3 years later
More On Trump Insurrection Attempt, Election Claims
Washington Post, Trump seeks to block hundreds of pages from Jan. 6 panel, Amy B Wang, Oct. 31, 2021 (print ed.). According to a court filing, some of the materials Donald Trump is trying to withhold include emails, call logs, briefing lists and the draft of a Jan. 6 speech.
Former president Donald Trump is trying to withhold nearly 800 pages of documents from the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection, according to a court filing made Saturday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
In the filing, a National Archives and Records Administration director outlined the specific documents Trump is seeking to block from the House select committee, which months ago ordered the former president to provide records of all his actions and activities on Jan. 6. The bipartisan panel is investigating the storming of the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob trying to stop the certification of President Biden’s electoral college win, an attack that resulted in five deaths and left some 140 members of law enforcement injured.
According to a sworn declaration from John Laster, director of the White House liaison division at NARA, Trump is trying to assert executive privilege over 46 pages of records from the files of former chief of staff Mark Meadows, former senior adviser Stephen Miller, former deputy counsel Patrick Philbin and Brian de Guzman, the former director of White House information services.
Those records include “daily presidential diaries, schedules, appointment information showing visitors to the White House, activity logs, call logs, and switchboard shift-change checklists showing calls” to Trump and former vice president Mike Pence; they also include drafts of speeches about Jan. 6 and three handwritten notes about Jan. 6 from Meadows, the filing stated.
Trump is also trying to exert executive privilege over 656 pages of records from a second batch of files, which include “pages from multiple binders containing proposed talking points” for former White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, “presidential activity calendars and a related handwritten note” for Jan. 6, draft text of a presidential speech for the Save America March on Jan. 6, a handwritten note from Meadows listing “potential or scheduled briefings and telephone calls concerning the January 6 certification and other election issues,” and a draft executive order on the topic of election integrity, the filing stated.
From a third batch of records, Trump is seeking to block 68 pages that include a draft proclamation honoring the Capitol Police and officers Brian D. Sicknick and Howard Liebengood, who died after the insurrection; “an email chain originating from a state official regarding election-related issues”; a memo regarding a potential lawsuit against several states Biden won; “talking points on alleged election irregularities in one Michigan county; and a document ordering various actions about election security.
The filing was in response to — and shed more light on — a lawsuit Trump filed this month against the select committee and the National Archives in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, seeking to block the disclosure of records related to his whereabouts, communications and activities that day.
“The Committee’s request amounts to nothing less than a vexatious, illegal fishing expedition openly endorsed by Biden and designed to unconstitutionally investigate President Trump and his administration,” Trump’s lawsuit stated. “Our laws do not permit such an impulsive, egregious action against a former president and his close advisors.”
Attorneys for both the Department of Justice and the House select committee, which also filed a response this week to Trump’s lawsuit, proposed that the former president’s motion for a preliminary injunction on disclosing these materials be denied. A U.S. district judge has set a hearing on the matter for Nov. 4. The committee’s subpoena has a Nov. 12 deadline to turn over the requested records.
“Mr. Trump’s broad claims of executive privilege are unprecedented and deeply flawed,” lawyers for the House select committee wrote in their filing. “Here, Mr. Trump’s conclusory interest must give way to the Select Committee’s urgent need for the records, as President Biden has likewise determined.”
Exerting additional pressure on Trump, on Thursday, 66 former members of Congress — including 44 Democrats and 22 Republicans — filed a brief opposing Trump’s attempt to shield documents from the Jan. 6 committee, arguing that Congress “has broad legislative powers grounded in multiple constitutional clauses to enact legislation to respond to the heretofore unimagined vulnerabilities in our constitutional system illustrated by last winter’s events.”
Former Congress members file brief opposing Trump’s attempt to shield Jan. 6 records
“If Congress fails to win this case, then you might as well pack up Congress and let them go home because this is fundamental to our checks and balances and the rule of law in this country,” former congressman Tom Coleman (R-Mo.), an outspoken Trump critic who signed the brief, told The Washington Post on Friday. “I can’t think of a better legislative reason for getting information than to get to the facts and get to the bottom of an insurrection against the United States government.”
For nearly a year, Trump has falsely claimed that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him, and the former president has continued to push Republican-led audits of election results and sow doubt in the integrity of elections around the country. There has been no evidence of widespread voter fraud that would have changed the results of the election.
Trump has continued to insist he will exert executive privilege to resist any cooperation with the House select committee, referring to a legal theory that sitting presidents and their aides have invoked to shield themselves from past congressional inquiries. As a former president, however, Trump would need the Biden administration to assert executive privilege. Biden months ago indicated he will probably share with Congress information about Trump’s activities on Jan. 6 if asked.
Other Recent Related Headlines:
- Washington Post, Investigation: During Jan. 6 riot, Trump attorney told Pence team the vice president’s inaction caused attack on Capitol, Josh Dawsey, Jacqueline Alemany, Jon Swaine and Emma Brown
- Washington Post, Draft opinion article: Pence aide Greg Jacob’s denounces Trump’s outside lawyers
- Washington Post, Opinion: Republicans on the insurrection? Don’t confuse them with the facts, Colbert I. King
- Palmer Report, Opinion: The Durham probe is finally backfiring on Donald Trump, Bill Palmer
U.S. President Joe Biden, left, is shown greeting French President Emmanuel Macron, second right, during a group photo at the G20 summit in Rome, on Oct. 30, 2021. The two-day Group of 20 summit was the first in-person gathering of leaders of the world’s biggest economies since the COVID-19 pandemic started. (Associated Press photo by Evan Vucci, Pool.)
New York Times, Biden Faces Tough Tests on G20 Summit’s Final Day, Staff Reports, Nov. 1, 2021 (print ed.). Climate change and Covid vaccines are expected to dominate talks. President Biden met with Turkey’s leader, amid tensions over arms sales. Here’s the latest.
Fresh off a win on Saturday with a global corporate tax agreement and some progress toward restoring the nuclear accord with Iran, President Biden returned for the final day of the Group of 20 summit on Sunday facing far more difficult challenges, including pressure to take stronger action on climate change and to make concrete progress on delivering Covid vaccines to the poorest countries.
The difficult agenda facing the leaders of 20 of the wealthiest nations, their first in-person meeting since the pandemic began, illustrated a widening divide with developing countries. Those nations have argued that industrialized countries have hoarded vaccines and squandered decades of opportunities to slow the warming of the planet.
After the summit in Rome, Mr. Biden and other leaders will travel to Glasgow for a United Nations climate conference, where they will confront demands from scientific experts and many developing countries to rapidly reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases blamed for heating the planet. The talks in Glasgow, known as COP26, come as the U.N. warns of a looming climate catastrophe and are shaping up as a test of whether global cooperation is even possible to address a crisis that does not recognize national borders.
A senior administration official told reporters on Saturday evening that American negotiators were pushing for concrete progress from the summit on reducing methane emissions, decarbonizing the global power sector and ending international financing for coal projects.
Washington Post, Marshall Islands pleads with world leaders to stop the 60,000-person nation from drowning, Ellen Francis, Nov. 1, 2021. A World Bank report identified the nation as one of the first whose existence will be threatened by rising sea levels.
Rising sea levels could sink buildings and flood much of the Marshall Islands, but the country’s climate envoy refuses to accept the scenario experts describe as a looming reality: She wants world leaders to step up.
Complete coverage from the COP26 U.N. climate summit
“I don’t think it should be acceptable to any person in this world to write off a country,” Tina Stege told Sky News at the COP26 summit that started Monday in Glasgow, Scotland, where dozens of heads of state and government are gathering Monday for climate negotiations.
Her country doesn’t have the luxury of waiting. The central Pacific island nation, home to nearly 60,000 people, is already reeling from droughts and flooding while it prepares what she calls “a survival plan.”
But like many of the countries hit hardest by climate change, the Marshall Islands needs help and money. While developed nations had pledged more than a decade ago to mobilize $100 billion a year by 2020 to help poorer ones cope with climate impacts, they have fallen short, according to the United Nations.
New York Times, Rivals on World Stage, Russia and U.S. Quietly Seek Areas of Accord, Anton Troianovski and David E. Sanger, Nov. 1, 2021 (print ed.). There have been a series of beneath-the-surface meetings between the two countries as the Biden administration applies a more sober approach to relations.
As world leaders met at the Group of 20 summit this weekend in Rome, Mr. Biden did not even get the chance to hash things out with his Russian counterpart face to face because President Vladimir V. Putin, citing coronavirus concerns, attended the event remotely.
Yet beneath the surface brinkmanship, the two global rivals are now also doing something else: talking.
The summit between Mr. Biden and Mr. Putin in June in Geneva touched off a series of contacts between the two countries, including three trips to Moscow by senior Biden administration officials since July, and more meetings with Russian officials on neutral ground in Finland and Switzerland.
New York Times, He Brokered Apartheid’s End. Can He Save South Africa’s Liberation Party? John Eligon and Lynsey Chutel, Updated Nov. 1, 2021. President Cyril Ramaphosa has a reputation as a great negotiator and consensus builder. Now he must persuade voters to stick with the party of Nelson Mandela.
Mr. Ramaphosa, a 68-year-old wealthy former business investor, ascended to the nation’s highest political office three years ago on a reputation as an exceptional negotiator and consensus builder.
He was anointed by Nelson Mandela to help broker the end of apartheid. Two decades later, Mr. Ramaphosa outmaneuvered his predecessor, Jacob Zuma, to win control of the governing African National Congress — and the country.
New York Times, At Saudi Investment Conference, Trump Allies Remain Front and Center, Kate Kelly, Nov. 1, 2021 (print ed.). But the Biden administration sent only a deputy commerce secretary to the high-profile gathering, amid shifts in global politics and diplomatic strains.
The wealthy and the powerful of the financial world descended on the Ritz-Carlton in Riyadh this past week for Saudi Arabia’s annual investment conference, a reminder that even amid shifting politics, diplomatic strains and pandemic constraints, money is a surefire magnet.
Executives hugged and fist-bumped in the lobby of the hotel, where four years ago the kingdom’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, confined hundreds of his nation’s elites in an anti-corruption crackdown. They sipped coffee and mineral water in the hotel’s cafes.
They piled into a string of black sedans for dinners with clients and colleagues around Riyadh. They even made jovial conversation in the Ritz’s makeshift clinic, where the queue for the Covid-19 tests required to return home to other countries stretched at times to an hour or more.
But global politics poked through at times.
In sideline conversations, some U.S. business leaders spoke in stage whispers of the drugging and dismemberment of the dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018 — a killing that an American intelligence report concluded had been approved by the crown prince, known by his initials, MBS. Yet when the crown prince made a brief appearance at the conference on Tuesday, he was welcomed with a standing ovation.
Other recent headlines:
- Washington Post, As Biden rolls back Trump policies, G-20 allies join bid to revive Iran nuclear deal
- Washington Post, Russian troop movements near Ukraine prompt concern in U.S., Europe
- Washington Post, Protests sweep across Sudan as international backlash against coup intensifies
- Washington Post, Dutch woman accused of financing terrorist group appears in Virginia court
Future of Freedom Foundation, Opinion: The Silence of CIA Media Assets on the JFK Cover-Up, Jacob G. Hornberger, Nov. 1, 2021. One of the funniest aspects of President Biden’s decision to continue the CIA’s cover-up of the national-security establishment’s regime-change operation on November 22, 1963, has been the silent reaction of the mainstream media. Ordinarily, the CIA’s journalistic assets would have gone into action by now, publishing editorials and op-eds supporting Biden’s decision to grant the CIA’s demand for continued secrecy on grounds of “national security.”
What’s the reason for the silence? I suspect that despite their extreme loyalty to the CIA, they’re all too embarrassed to make such a ludicrous argument. Better to remain silent and hope the whole controversy just goes away.
By the time of Oliver Stone’s movie JFK in 1991, the CIA and the rest of the U.S. national-security establishment had kept their assassination-related records secret for some 30 years. They said that “national security” required such secrecy, notwithstanding their claim that a lone-nut communist former U.S. Marine had killed President Kennedy.
People didn’t buy it. Stone’s movie induced a massive public outcry against continued secrecy. In one of those rare instances in which Congress is forced by public pressure to act against the wishes of the Pentagon and the CIA, Congress enacted the JFK Records Act of 1992, which forced the national-security establishment to disclose their long-secret assassination-related records.
To enforce the law, Congress called the Assassination Records Review Board into existence. From 1993 to 1998, the ARRB forced the release of thousands of long-secret records, oftentimes over the vehement objections of the Pentagon and the CIA.
As a result of those disclosures in the 1990s, the United States did not fall into the ocean. The communists did not take control over the United States. Cuba did not invade Miami. The dominoes did not fall in Southeast Asia.
What did happen, however, is that the ARRB lifted the shroud of secrecy that the national-security establishment had placed over the autopsy that it had conducted on the body of President Kennedy a few hours after the assassination. The records revealed one reason why the military and the CIA had wanted to keep their assassination-related records secret forever: The autopsy they conducted was fraudulent to the core.
As I have repeatedly emphasized, there is no innocent explanation for a fraudulent autopsy, especially given that the scheme was launched at Parkland Hospital immediately after Kennedy was declared dead. See my two books The Kennedy Autopsy and The Kennedy Autopsy 2. Also see Douglas Horne’s excellent video presentation at our conference last spring on the Kennedy assassination as well as his watershed five-volume book Inside the Assassination Records Review Board.
Unfortunately, however, there was a flaw in the law. The law gave the national-security establishment another 25 years of secrecy if the release of certain records posed “an identifiable harm to the military defense, intelligence operations, law enforcement, or the conduct of foreign relations that is of such gravity that it outweighs the public interest in disclosure.”
The ARRB went out of existence in 1998 and, therefore, it wasn’t around to enforce the law when that 25-year deadline materialized in 2017 during the Trump administration. Trump surrendered to the CIA’s demand for continued secrecy and pushed the secrecy deadline into 2021.
Not surprisingly, Biden has also now surrendered to the CIA’s demand for continued secrecy. Like Trump, he says that the release of the records will threaten “national security” by posing “an identifiable harm to the military defense, intelligence operations, law enforcement, or the conduct of foreign relations that is of such gravity that it outweighs the public interest in disclosure.”
Will the remaining records contain a “smoking gun” confession of the national-security establishment’s regime change on November 22, 1963. Of course not. No one would be so stupid as to put such a confession in writing and then turn it over to the National Archives.
But the records undoubtedly contain incriminating pieces of the puzzle that will further fill out the regime-change mosaic, just as the ARRB’s forced disclosure of the medical evidence in the 1990s established the existence of a fraudulent autopsy.
Let me give you another example of this phenomenon. In 2017, a few of the secret records that were released under Trump disclosed a secret memorandum from FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover that was dated November 24, 1963, the day that Jack Ruby assassinated Lee Harvey Oswald. The memo stated: “The thing I am concerned about, and so is Mr. Katzenbach, is having something issued so we can convince the public that Oswald is the real assassin.”
Oswald was referring to U.S. Deputy Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach, who himself issued a memorandum to presidential aide Bill Moyers on November 25, 1963, stating, “The public must be satisfied that Oswald was the assassin; that he did not have confederates who are still at large; and that the evidence was such that he would have been convicted at trial.”
Three questions naturally arise:
1. How in the world could two of the nation’s top law-enforcement officers be certain that Oswald assassinated the president within just two or three days of the assassination, especially given that Oswald was not only proclaiming his innocence but also claiming he was being framed for the crime?
2. Even if Oswald was involved in the crime, how in the world could anyone be certain that he didn’t have confederates without weeks or even months of investigation, especially since the Dallas treating physicians had said that Kennedy’s throat wound was an entry wound, which necessarily meant a shot having been fired from the president’s front?
3. How would the release of Hoover’s memo back in the 1990s possibly have threatened “national security” or possibly posed “an identifiable harm to the military defense, intelligence operations, law enforcement, or the conduct of foreign relations that is of such gravity that it outweighs the public interest in disclosure”?
It couldn’t have, which meant that the national-security establishment lied to the ARRB when they used that excuse to keep the Hoover memo secret.
New York Times, The TV Hit That Wasn’t, John Koblin, Nov. 1, 2021. There was hype for the FX series “American Crime Story: Impeachment.” But it won’t be available on any major streaming platform for another 10 months.
It was one of the most dramatic episodes of the season. Monica Lewinsky, the heroine of “American Crime Story: Impeachment,” strikes an immunity deal with federal prosecutors, and President Bill Clinton admits to having had an affair to a grand jury and the nation as a whole. The episode also brought Hillary Clinton, portrayed by Edie Falco, to center stage for the first time.
The only thing missing was a big viewing audience.
“American Crime Story: Impeachment,” a series that attracted lots of media coverage before its September premiere, airs on the FX cable network Tuesdays at 10 p.m. Last week’s episode ranked 15th in the ratings for cable shows that day, tied with ESPN’s “Around the Horn” and MTV’s “Teen Mom.”
Produced by Ryan Murphy, “American Crime Story: Impeachment” has a lot going for it, including an A-list cast (Clive Owen, Sarah Paulson, Beanie Feldstein, Ms. Falco) and the sumptuous production touches that Mr. Murphy’s fans have come to expect of his shows.
The last two seasons of the anthology series, which tackles a new subject each time out, won Emmys for best limited series. And although Variety criticized the current installment as an “overwrought rehash,” the reviews overall were “generally favorable,” according to the website Metacritic.
So why hasn’t the show landed with viewers in a big way? Why isn’t it a regular part of Twitter’s top trending topics? The answer lies in the fact that “American Crime Story: Impeachment” is not available on any major streaming platform and won’t be for another 10 months.
The same was true for the initial rollouts of the previous seasons. But millions of viewers have cut the cord since then, ditching cable for some combination of Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, Amazon Prime, HBO Max, AppleTV+ and other services.
Fans of “American Crime Story: Impeachment” who miss an episode can still stream it, but only if they are armed with their cable-subscription user names and passwords. And in 2021, a show that’s not easy to stream risks becoming almost invisible.
Other media-related recent headlines:
- Washington Post, Opinion: VIPs expect special treatment. At Wikipedia, don’t even ask, Noam Cohen
- Insider.com, QAnon influencer who accused Democrats of being pedophiles turned out to be a convicted child molester
- New York Times, Opinion: The Metaverse Is Mark Zuckerberg’s Escape Hatch, Kevin Roose
- New York Times, Roger Goodell’s Pay for Two Years Reached Nearly $128 Million