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New interviews show how Capitol rioters came dangerously close to acting on threats against lawmakers

February 12, 2021 in Blogs

By Joshua Kaplan

This story was originally published by ProPublica.

ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for The Big Story newsletter to receive stories like this one in your inbox.

Series:
The Insurrection

The Effort to Overturn the Election

The riot squad defending the embattled entrance to the west side of the U.S. Capitol was surrounded by violence. Rioters had clambered up the scaffolding by the stage erected for the inauguration of President Joseph Biden. They hurled everything they could get their hands on at the cops beneath: rebar, plywood, power tools, even cans of food they had frozen for extra damage.

In front of the cops, a mob was mounting a frontal assault. Its members hit officers with fists and baseball bats. They grabbed at weapons slung from the officers’ waists. They unleashed a barrage of M-80 firecrackers. Soaked in never-ending streams of bright orange bear spray, the officers choked on plumes of acrid smoke that singed their nostrils and obscured their vision.

One officer in the middle of the scrum, a combat veteran, thought the rioters were so vicious, so relentless, that they seemed fueled by methamphetamine. To his left, he watched a chunk of steel strike a fellow officer above the eye, setting off a geyser of blood. A pepper ball tore through the air over his shoulder and exploded against the jaw of a man in front of him. The round, filled with chemical irritant, ripped the rioter’s face open. His teeth were now visible through a hole in his cheek. Blood poured out, puddling on the pavement surrounding the building. But the man kept coming.

The combat veteran was hit with bear spray eight times. His experience overseas “was nothing like this,” he said. “Nothing at all.”

Over the last several weeks, ProPublica has interviewed 19 current and former U.S. Capitol Police officers about the assault on the Capitol. Following on the dramatic video of officers defending the building that House lawmakers showed during the first day of the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, the interviews provide the most detailed account to date of a most extraordinary battle.

The enemies on Jan. 6 were Americans: thousands of people from across the country who had descended on …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Republicans are on the verge of a dangerous choice against democracy

February 12, 2021 in Blogs

By John Stoehr

It must be said, ahgain, the question is settled. A bipartisan majority of the members of the United States Senate voted this week to declare that the upper chamber of the United States Congress has the authority to conduct a trial of an impeached former president. In a democracy, the majority wins. The minority doesn’t have to be happy about it. It is free to fight another day. But a democratic community—a union, as I prefer—will fail when members refuse to subordinate their interests to the majority’s. To put it another way, those who refuse are, and are rightly identified as, dangerous.

Dangerous people sit in the Senate. Some Republicans are refusing to concede to the will of the Senate’s majority, same as Donald Trump refused to concede to the majority of the American electorate. The question of whether the chamber has the authority has been settled, but some of them keep insisting it’s not. “My view is unchanged as to whether or not we have the authority to do this, and I’m certainly not bound by the fact that 56 people think we do,” said Senator Roy Blunt, Republican of Missouri. “I get to cast my vote, and my view is that you can’t impeach a former president. And if the former president did things that were illegal, there is a process to go through for that.”

If you’re willing to stand by while the Russians assault our sovereignty, you’re probably willing to stand by while armed seditionaries assassinate a dozen of your political enemies.

Blunt says he’s not bound. He’s wrong. He is bound—or should be. That’s the point of a democracy. The choice is his, though. He can’t be forced to behave democratically. He must decide freely. He and the other 43 Republican senators who voted to say prosecuting a former president is unconstitutional can choose not to be bound if they wish. But they can’t say, at the same time, that they serve all of the American people. They can’t say, at the same time, that they are in allegiance with our republican form of government and our democratic community. They can’t say, at the same time, that they are honoring their sworn oaths. While you, me and everyone else are constrained by laws, rules, norms, ethics and common sense decency, these Republicans are refusing to be constrained. And in denying e pluribus unum, they are making …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Chuck Todd accuses Trump's defense team of ignoring 'the real elephants in the room' in the trial

February 12, 2021 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson

During Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial, his defense team has insisted that the former president never called for violence during his speech at the “Save America Rally” in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 6 — that he never encouraged anything other than peaceful protest. But when NBC News’ Chuck Todd discussed the trial with his colleague, Lester Holt, on Friday, he stressed that such claims ignore the totality of what Trump said the day a mob violently attacked the U.S. Capitol Building.

Todd told Holt, “They are trying to isolate the Jan. 6 speech. They are trying to ignore everything else about it. They’re trying to ignore all the tweets around it.”

Another talking point from Trump’s defenders has been that Democrats have also used heated rhetoric at times. And Todd dismissed that argument as disingenuous “whataboutism.”

“It’s clearly designed to the deepest of the sort of prime-time, talk radio base of the Republican Party….. and look, that’s the animated part of this base,” Todd told Holt. “That is the Trump base. They’re not trying to address any of the real elephants in the room right now, and maybe that is their fast track to acquittal. But they’re not actually addressing any of the real accusations that have been made against the former president.”

…read more

Source: ALTERNET

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MSNBC host says Trump's lawyer ‘lied’ about impeachment managers' evidence

February 12, 2021 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson

During former President Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial, Democratic House impeachment managers have presented video from Jan. 6 that was previously unreported. And on Friday, one of Trump’s impeachment attorneys, David Schoen, alleged that his defense team hadn’t been aware of the “so-called new evidence.” But MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace is saying that according to one of her sources, the impeachment managers did share that evidence with Trump’s team before the trial started.

Schoen complained, “Why was this footage never seen before? Shouldn’t the subject of an impeachment trial — this impeachment trial — President Trump, have the right to see the so-called new evidence against him?”

CSPAN tweeted:

But Wallace, on Friday, told her MSNBC colleague Brian Williams that she had some “new reporting” from “a source familiar with the impeachment managers’ preparations and their communications with Donald Trump’s defense team.”

Wallace explained, “They tell me this, quote, ‘Every piece of evidence, including new videos — I think he’s talking about the security videos — ‘were given to the defense team before the trial. They could have played them. He lied — he turns out to be Mr. Shoen — when he said they never saw them. That was part of the rules we voted on, that they had to have those.’”

Other reporters confirmed Wallace’s report:

Wallace, a Never Trump conservative who served in President George W. Bush’s administration before joining MSNBC, went on to tell Williams that “apparently,” Trump’s team also had the “security video” that impeachment managers presented during the trial earlier this week.

…read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Why a GOP senator's accidental revelation about Trump's attacks on Mike Pence matter

February 12, 2021 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick

On Friday, former President Donald Trump’s lawyers wrapped up their brief arguments in defense of their client in less than four of the 16 hours they had available to them. In that time, they skirted over many of the arguments the impeachment managers have made for conviction; they instead tried to deflect blame for Trump’s alleged “incitement of insurrection” on Jan.6 by pointing to Democrats who used similar language, even though that came in contexts where no such similar violence was unleashed.

Trump’s lawyers largely skipped over a key part of the managers’ case: the former president’s attacks on former Vice President Mike Pence and the peril he was under. This feature of the case because particularly relevant this week after the House impeachment managers’ arguments on Wednesday, because Alabama Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville revealed a new and surprising detail about his communication with the then-president that could shed light on Trump’s state of mind during the Jan. 6 attack.

Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah had already explained that he had received a phone call from Trump during the attack while in the Senate chamber. That call came a little after 2 p.m. Trump hadn’t meant to call Lee, but instead wanted to talk to newly elected Sen. Tommy Tuberville of Alabama. So Lee gave his phone to Tuberville.

It’s not entirely clear what they discussed, though Rudy Giuliani was later recorded leaving a message that he thought was for Tuberville pleading with the senator to delay the count of the Electoral College votes. But on Wednesday, after a minor dispute about the events, Tuberville told reporters how the phone call ended.

“I said, ‘Mr. President, they just took the vice president out, I’ve got to go,’” Tuberville said.

This is significant. According to the Washington Post‘s construction of the timeline, Pence was removed from the Senate chamber at 2:13 p.m. So we can infer that that’s about the time when Tuberville told Trump that Pence had been evacuated.

It was just about 10 minutes later, at 2:24 p.m., when Trump tweeted the following:

Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify. USA demands the truth!

Many, including the impeachment managers, have pointed to this tweet …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Who Is Cupid?

February 12, 2021 in History

By Laura Schumm

And how did he become the unofficial mascot of Valentine’s Day?

The mention of Cupid typically conjures up images of a cherubic infant wielding a bow and arrow, but this wasn’t always the case. Long before the Romans adopted and renamed him—and way before his association with Valentine’s Day—Cupid was known to the Greeks as Eros, the handsome god of love.

One of the first authors to mention Eros (circa 700 B.C.) was Hesiod, who described him in “Theogony” as one of the primeval cosmogonic deities born of the world egg. But later accounts of the lineage of Eros vary, describing him as the son of Nyx and Erebus; or Aphrodite and Ares; or Iris and Zephyrus; or even Aphrodite and Zeus—who would have been both his father and grandfather.

WATCH: Clash of the Gods on HISTORY Vault

Armed with a bow and a quiver filled with both golden arrows to arouse desire and leaden arrows to ignite aversion, Eros struck at the hearts of gods and mortals and played with their emotions. In one story from ancient Greek mythology, which was later retold by Roman authors, Cupid (Eros) shot a golden arrow at Apollo, who fell madly in love with the nymph Daphne, but then launched a leaden arrow at Daphne so she would be repulsed by him.

In another allegory, Cupid’s mother, Venus (Aphrodite), became so jealous of the beautiful mortal Psyche that she told her son to induce Psyche to fall in love with a monster. Instead, Cupid became so enamored with Psyche that he married her—with the condition that she could never see his face. Eventually, Psyche’s curiosity got the better of her and she stole a glance, causing Cupid to flee in anger. After roaming the known world in search of her lover, Psyche was eventually reunited with Cupid and granted the gift of immortality.

In the poetry of the Archaic period, Eros was represented as a studly immortal who was irresistible to both man and gods. But by the Hellenistic period, he was increasingly portrayed as a playful, mischievous child. Because of his associations with love, 19th-century Victorians—credited with popularizing Valentine’s Day and giving the holiday its romantic spin—began depicting this cherubic version of Cupid on Valentine’s Day cards in a trend that has persisted until this day.

READ MORE: The History of Valentine’s Day

…read more

Source: HISTORY