6:13 AM 1/16/2021 - Will Trump face criminal prosecution? | United States edges closer to 24 million coronavirus cases | ‘Stunning and disturbing’: Ex-intel chief reacts... | Was Capitol mob attack an inside job | Where did COVID-19 come from?

6:13 AM 1/16/2021

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In the final days of his presidency, Donald Trump may have exposed himself to a criminal prosecution after he leaves the White House.

First he repeatedly pressured a state official to “find” enough votes to overturn his defeat in Georgia in the 2020 election. Then he incited a violent pro-Trump mob Wednesday to storm and ransack the U.S. Capitol in an unsuccessful attempt to prevent Congress’ counting of electoral votes confirming President-elect Joe Biden’s victory. Five people died in the rioting, including one Capitol Police officer.

Even after repeatedly pushing the limits of presidential power and surviving an impeachment, his last-ditch bid to hold on to power through intimidation and insurrection has dramatically increased the odds he will face a criminal investigation and possibly the first-ever prosecution of an ex-president.

Legal experts say only a criminal prosecution could hold Trump fully accountable for his actions.

Though the Democratic-led House is moving toward a possible second impeachment this week, chances of a Senate conviction of Trump — which would bar him from running for office again — remain unclear and would almost certainly occur only after he left office.

“The facts currently known warrant a criminal investigation of the president and others who were involved in inciting the insurrection at the Capitol,” said Mary B. McCord, a former Justice Department official and Georgetown University law professor. “Whether charges should be brought will depend on the results of that investigation and considerations of prosecutorial discretion, but accountability is important in the face of such grievous and dangerous abuses of power and privilege.”

But pressing criminal charges against a former U.S. president would take the nation into uncharted territory.

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The law against “seditious conspiracy” makes it a crime for “two or more persons … in any place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States to conspire to overthrow, put down or to destroy by force the government of the United States … or by force to prevent, hinder or delay the execution of any law of the United States, or by force to seize, take or possess any property of the United States.” A conviction could lead to fines or up to 20 years in prison.

Federal law also makes it a crime to fraudulently tamper with the “tabulation of ballots.” In an hourlong recorded phone call Jan. 2, Trump pressed Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “recalculate” votes to make him the winner.

The Justice Department has long maintained that a president may not face criminal prosecution while in office because it would interfere with his duties. But constitutional experts say a former president has no such immunity.

“I think it’s clear that after a president leaves office, he can be tried for a crime he committed while he was president,” said University of Chicago law professor David A. Strauss. “The Constitution itself says that if he’s impeached, convicted and removed from office, he can then be tried for a crime.”

The Supreme Court in the 1982 case of Nixon vs. Fitzgerald ruled an ex-president cannot be sued for damages for his official actions — in this instance, for the firing of a Pentagon whistleblower. But the justices have not confronted the question of whether an ex-president is shielded from being charged with criminal conduct committed while in office.

Until this month, many lawyers who were highly critical of Trump were nevertheless opposed to prosecuting him for actions he had taken up to that point in his tenure, such as allegations he obstructed justice in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s inquiry into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. They feared such charges would be seen by many as partisan and politically divisive.

But Trump’s use of his office to attempt to overturn his electoral defeat crossed the line for many.

“We have a long history, developed most recently from the aftermath of the Nixon administration, of keeping politics separate from federal law enforcement and not using the power of the federal government to investigate and punish one’s political opponents. That norm needs to be taken seriously,” said Elizabeth Wydra, president of the Constitutional Accountability Center, a progressive legal group in Washington.

“But Trump’s lawlessness is so blatant, and so threatening to our constitutional democracy, that letting him escape accountability could be even worse for the country.”

“One step in the right direction,” she said, “is Biden’s repeated commitment to keep the White House separate from the Justice Department’s charging decisions.” Biden has said the Justice Department will have the independent capacity to decide who gets prosecuted.

Randall Eliason, a former prosecutor who teaches at George Washington University, said he changed his mind about the wisdom of prosecuting Trump over the last two weeks.

“Generally we should be very reluctant to suggest that a new administration should prosecute an outgoing president for actions taken while in office. That’s routinely done in some other countries, but has never been done here,” he said. “If we are going to break that precedent, there has to be a very compelling reason. I think Trump’s actions in inciting the riot meet that standard. Not only are they outrageous and potentially criminal, but they have nothing to do with the legitimate exercise of his presidential powers. There’s no risk here that we would be criminalizing mere policy or political differences.”

Biden may not share that view. He said often during the campaign that he wanted to look forward, not back, and that he would leave any decision on whether to prosecute Trump to his attorney general. He has appeared cool to Democratic calls for a second impeachment.

Last week, Biden named veteran Judge Merrick Garland, a respected former federal prosecutor, to lead the Justice Department, which presumably will make any final decision about whether to prosecute Trump.

Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank), a former federal prosecutor who led the Democrats’ 2019 impeachment, said the incoming attorney general will face a complex decision. “He’ll have to examine issues of proof. And he’ll have to consider the gravity of the offense and the need for the country to heal,” he said in an interview Saturday.

The acting U.S. attorney in Washington, Michael Sherwin, a Trump appointee, said his office is already building a criminal case around Wednesday’s attack, starting with those who stormed the Capitol.

“Those are the people that obviously breached the Capitol, created violence and mayhem there and then exited,” he told reporters last week. “But yes, we are looking at all actors here, OK? Not only the people that went into the building. All options are on the table.”

Trump has reportedly considered granting himself a pardon for any crimes he committed. Legal scholars are divided on whether the president’s power extends that far. Many predict such a move would backfire.

Trump would be seen as admitting he committed serious crimes necessitating a pardon. And the Justice Department is not likely to stand aside and allow such a precedent to go unchallenged because it might suggest that a future president with criminal tendencies could steal billions, sell national secrets or even murder opponents, and then walk away scot-free.

In fact, if Trump were to pardon himself, federal prosecutors might be more likely to charge him with a crime, some experts say. Doing so would then require judges and ultimately the Supreme Court to decide whether the president has an absolute power to commit crimes with impunity.

Times staff writer Noah Bierman contributed to this report.

The post How likely is it that Trump will face criminal prosecution? first appeared on The Jibaro News - jibaronews.com.

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In a case of French fascism, portents of a pro-Trump mob  Forward
Trump's presidency not just a blip in US foreign policy  FOX13 Memphis

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  1. There are no extra COVID-19 vaccines doses left to send to states, despite Trump's health officials promising to release more 3 days ago  Yahoo News
  2. U.S. hospitals flooded with COVID-19 patients while millions receive vaccine  CBC News: The National
  3. In New Jersey, Smokers Can Get Covid Vaccine  The New York Times
  4. Abbott: Texas hit COVID vaccine milestone after 'key pivots' on eligibility, mass vaccination centers  Fox News
  5. CDC: New virus variant will have 'rapid growth' in US at beginning of this year  KCRA Sacramento
  6. View Full Coverage on Google News


  1. Where did COVID-19 come from?  USA TODAY
  2. The Coronavirus Is Evolving Before Our Eyes  The Atlantic
  3. Illinois researchers say they've identified new COVID-19 variant likely originating in Houston  KHOU 11
  4. World-renowned expert Ben Neuman shares which COVID vaccine he'd take, given the choice  Houston Chronicle
  5. Andrew Hayward: We have entered a dangerous new phase of the pandemic - The BMJ  The BMJ
  6. View Full Coverage on Google News
The FBI has found no evidence of Antifa involvement in the mob, but the idea has taken root in many right-wing circles.
Feds warn extremists may be emboldened to carry out additional attacks after Capitol insurrection  CNN
World Leaders Express Horror at U.S. Capitol Attack  The New York Times
'Assault On U.S. Democracy': World Leaders React To Mob Violence At U.S. Capitol  Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty
China and Russia could exploit chaos in the U.S. after Capitol riot, says a national security expert  CNBC
Biden nominates David Cohen to key CIA post | TheHill  The Hill
The News And Times Blogs Network – newsandtimes.netThe News And Times Blogs Network - newsandtimes.net

Selected Articles In Brief - 5:25 PM 1/15/2021


‘Stunning and disturbing’: Ex-intel chief reacts to new details about Capitol attackers 

‘Stunning and disturbing’: Ex-intel chief reacts to new details about Capitol attackers
Federal prosecutors say Capitol rioters intended to ‘capture and assassinate’ elected officials – WPTV.com
Trump to hold departure ceremony at Joint Base Andrews on morning of Biden inauguration – USA TODAY
Global coronavirus death toll reaches 2 million people
“fbi reform” – Google News: Murders Rose in 2020 But Experts Warn Against Drawing Big Conclusions – The Appeal
Army: Up to 25,000 National Guard in DC for Biden inauguration
DC cop assaulted in Capitol riots, shocking images show – New York Post
Trump grants clemency to 20 people, including three former GOP members of Congress and two men convicted in the Russia probe – The Washington Post
Members of Congress Claim Trump Riots an Inside Job
Analysis: Is Trump’s grip on the GOP slipping?
Europe faces curfews and lockdowns amid fears of virus variants
Pfizer temporarily reduces European deliveries of vaccine – STLtoday.com
State Police working with National Guard, local police, FBI to secure Michigan’s Capitol – RADIO.COM
Man seen smoking cigar during Capitol siege arrested: FBI – KGO-TV
Florida Man Plotted Attack on Pro-Trump Protesters at State Capitol: FBI – NBC 6 South Florida
Trump to hold departure ceremony at Joint Base Andrews on morning of Biden inauguration
Cuomo takes parting shot at Trump admin, targets ‘reclamation’ of SALT funds – Fox News
Pelosi’s press conference on the insurrection and the next steps – Roll Call
Josh Hawley, who led Senate efforts to overturn the election results, is being targeted by a super PAC.
“Trump FBI file” – Google News: Criminal charges filed against Jenna Ryan, Frisco real estate broker who was part of Capitol mob – The Dallas Morning News

Michael Novakhov's favorite articles on Inoreader
Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper discusses the attack on the Capitol and what to do about the extremists who have fallen for President Donald Trump's election lies.
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‘Our world has reached a heart-wrenching milestone’ says United Nations chief António Guterres

More than two million people have now lost their lives to the Covid-19 pandemic worldwide, with United Nations chief António Guterres lamenting the impact of the “vicious virus”.

“Our world has reached a heart-wrenching milestone,” the Portuguese politician announced on Friday in a video marking the moment.

Continue reading...
Army: Up to 25,000 National Guard in DC for Biden inauguration
posted at 21:19:56 UTC by tlejeune@thehill.com (Ellen Mitchell) via The Hill: Defense Policy
As many as 25,000 National Guard troops will be in Washington, D.C., for President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration next week, the Army confirmed on Friday.The Defense Department authorized up to 25,000 service members — an increase of 5,000 from...
Members of Congress Claim Trump Riots an Inside Job
posted at 21:33:45 UTC by David Pakman Show via David Pakman Show

--Members of Congress, including Ayanna Pressley and James Clyburn, believe that some kind of inside involvement must have been necessary for the Trump Capitol riots to happen as they did
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In the wake of a mini-rebellion among House Republicans -- 10 of whom sided with Democrats to impeach Donald Trump this week -- there are some signs that the death grip that the President has maintained over the GOP may be slipping.
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Trump had already announced he would skip Biden’s inauguration, breaking with more than a century of tradition.
The group, JOSH — or “Just Oust Seditious Hacks” — was started by former staff members of the Democratic senator Mr. Hawley ousted.

» 'Stunning and disturbing': Ex-intel chief reacts to new details about Capitol attackers
» Federal prosecutors say Capitol rioters intended to 'capture and assassinate' elected officials - WPTV.com
» Trump to hold departure ceremony at Joint Base Andrews on morning of Biden inauguration - USA TODAY
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The News And Times Information Network - Blogs By Michael Novakhov - thenewsandtimes.blogspot.com
Two rioters claim Capitol officer told them, ‘It’s your house now,’ FBI says  The Washington Post

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The FBI on Friday arrested a Florida Army veteran on charges of plotting to violently disrupt protests at the state Capitol leading up to President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration on Wednesday.

Daniel Baker, 33, wanted to encircle protesters at the state Capitol and confine them with guns, U. S. Attorney Lawrence Keefe and the FBI said. Baker, a former U.S. Army Airborne infrantryman who was kicked out of the service in 2007, had issued “a call to arms” seeking others to join the him on Sunday, according to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court. Armed protests in opposition to the election results are planned for all 50 state capitals this weekend.

“This is an armed COUP and can only be stopped by an armed community!“ Baker wrote in a flyer posted online, the complaint alleges. “If you're afraid to die fighting the enemy, stay in bed and live.”

The allegations: Baker, who lives in Tallahassee, had been working in recent days to identify rioters who joined the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol last week, the complaint alleges. “Yall better hope the cops find you before we do cuz I believe in torturing prisoners for information,“ he wrote in one post, the FBI said. “Yall better turn yourselves in cuz we dont intend to involve the cops.”

Baker, previously featured in a Vice News documentary, can be seen in You Tube videos with a variety of guns, including those with large magazines. He traveled across the U.S. in 2020 to participate in numerous protests, including joining the self-declared autonomous zone in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle, the complaint alleges.

In 2017, Baker joined the People’s Protection Units, a group fighting in Syria against ISIS and the Turkish government. People’s Protection Units is designated by the U.S. government as a "foreign terrorist organization.“

The arrest: Baker was arrested Friday morning without incident with help from Tallahassee police and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. He was charged with transmitting an interstate communication “containing a threat to kidnap any person or threat to injure the person of another.“

“Extremists intent on violence from either end of the political and social spectrums must be stopped, and they will be stopped,” Keefe said in a statement. “We will not stop in our efforts to detect, deter, and disrupt anyone else planning to incite or commit violence.”

What’s next: In a statement Friday, Tallahassee Mayor John Dailey urged Gov. Ron DeSantis to deploy National Guard troops in the city this weekend, saying “we cannot risk being underprepared for the potential threat posed by those who wish to attack the citadel of democracy in our state and who may have been emboldened by the events of last week.“

“I am hopeful that we don’t experience any violence in the capital city this weekend or next week, but hope is not a plan and so we must remain vigilant and be prepared,” Dailey said.

Tallahassee City Hall and the Leon County Courthouse will be closed next week through Inauguration Day because of concerns about possible violence involving the inauguration. State legislative leaders have told House and Senate members and their aides to avoid the state Capitol on Sunday. DeSantis has said violent protests will not be tolerated.

“If anything is disorderly, we’re going to act very quickly,” the Republican governor said earlier this week. “If there’s any type of disorder, we’ll have the reinforcements there.”

  1. Norway adjusts advice after vaccine deaths but isn't alarmed  ABC News
  2. 23 die in Norway after receiving Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine: officials  New York Post
  3. Pfizer vaccine delay comes as Canada battles surge in COVID-19  Reuters
  4. Why were US media silent on Pfizer vaccine deaths?: Global Times editorial  Global Times
  5. Know the facts on the COVID vaccine  New York Daily News
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