The National Rifle Association spent $22 million in legal costs over the course of the first five months of 2021, according to Bloomberg News. They will likely surpass their record legal spending of $40 million in 2020.
The NRA has been fighting legal challenges from the New York Attorney General over the fraud and misuse of funds that the organization endured under the leadership of President Wayne LaPierre. In their attempt to flee legal accountability, the NRA attempted to file for bankruptcy and restart the group in Texas where they'll have protection from Republican officials.
It didn't work.
"Legal costs were the nonprofit's largest single expense after membership activities in the five months through May, when a judge rejected the gun-rights group's bid to reorganize through bankruptcy," the report said, citing documents they obtained. "While there's no guarantee legal expenses will continue to rise at the same rate, they've accelerated since 2018, according to tax filings. That's when staff members began expressing concerns about practices that have since led to costly disputes."
The report also noted that the NRA has struggled to reach its peak donations achieved in 2016. Since that year their donations fell 21 percent by 2019. Unaudited numbers for 2020 show further declines.
"The NRA continues to manage its finances in the best interests of its members," said NRA managing director of public affairs Andrew Arulanandam in a statement. "Importantly, the NRA emerged from the pandemic better situated than most nonprofits and advocacy groups."
Former federal prosecutor Elie Honig speculated with Michael Cohen that Tom Barrack could reasonably be tried for treason after his off-the-books work for the UAE.
Barrack was arrested this month on the allegations that he was acting as a foreign agent when he was trying to influence former President Donald Trump. Another word for a "foreign agent" is a spy. For people like Barrack, if one is working with another country on lobbying the United States or attempting to influence policy, they must register with the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). Barrack didn't do that.
The law dates back to 1938 and aims to track the work and finances from other countries to impact the United States.
"There's potential treason here more so than even just FARA," said Cohen. "If you can break that down for me."
"Yeah. You know," Honig began, "the essence of a FARA charging foreign agents registration act charges essentially that a person was acting as a secret agent. I mean, not to de-glamorize James Bond or anything but that's essentially what a secret agent is, and if you look at the DOJ press release, one of the official quotes from one of the prosecutors in charge of this case, is that Barrack betrayed, the word is 'betrayed' in the press release, betrayed, they actually say betrayed Donald Trump. They say a country and several officials including the candidate or the former president, but obviously, it's Donald Trump."
He went on to explain whether or not he thinks Barrack would be likely to be charged with treason. The full episode of Cohen's "Mea Culpa" podcast will be available here at midnight.
Hear the clip below:
Morally, of course, the worst part about the Republican response to the House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection is that they're trying to undermine the group's work at the behest of Donald Trump, the man who incited the violent riot in a last-ditch effort to throw out the results of his 2020 election loss. But I fully admit that, on a purely personal level, I'm deeply disgusted by just what sniveling cowards Republicans are being as they go about this.
Perhaps the most grating fact is that not one person in the party, not even the loudest mouthed jackasses or most shamelessly fascistic Republicans, will just come right out and say it: They don't like the January 6 commission because they disagree with the committee's basic premise that fascist insurrections are bad. Instead, Americans are being treated to a whirlwind of deflection, gaslighting, victim-blaming, and even victim-mockery — all in an attempt to fill the discourse with noise meant to give Republicans the space to back Trump while pretending that doesn't include backing his attempted coup of the 2020 election or any coups he may attempt in the future.
Republican leadership in the House of Representatives kicked off the efforts to undermine the hearing early on Tuesday, with a bizarre press conference that involved Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York playing the your-fault-for-wearing-a-short-skirt card against Rep. Nancy Pelosi, accusing the San Francisco Democrat of bearing "responsibility as Speaker of the House for the tragedy that occurred on January 6th."
GOP Rep. Liz Cheney says Rep. Elise Stefanik should be ashamed for blaming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for the Jan.… https://t.co/eH7WKr9wkQ— The Lead CNN (@The Lead CNN) 1627422845.0
Pelosi, of course, was actually one of the primary targets of the insurrectionists, who were braying for her blood and ransacking her office in a frenzy of misogynistic loathing for one of the highest-ranking woman in the federal government.
But once the hearing itself got underway, the evidence presented exposed the GOP's gambit as the pathetic grasping that it was.
Metropolitan police officer Daniel Hodges — the victim of a vicious assault as rioters attempted to crush him in a door that day — reminded observers that there "were over 9,000 of the terrorists out there with an unknown number of firearms." It's a joke to argue, as Republicans are, that some minor tweaking of Capitol security was going to overcome what Capitol Police officer Aquilino Gonell memorably described as "a medieval battlefield."
After the powerful hearing, the deflections from Republican leaders got even dumber.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio both pretended to reporters that they were too busy to watch the hearing, the Washington Post reported, and Stefanik refused to say if she watched it. She somehow still had opinions about the thing she won't say she watched. Stefanik went on Fox News to complain that the hearing is about "trying to shame over 70 million Americans who were standing up for constitutional and election integrity," which is, of course, Republicans' code for Trump's Big Lie.
The shamelessness of Stefanik is breathtaking. She's defending conspiracy theories meant to bolster the belief that Trump is entitled to stay president despite losing an election, but doesn't have the courage to come right out and admit it, hiding instead behind voters who supposedly believe those conspiracy theories. Words like "integrity," in Stefanik's mouth, simply mean the opposite of their commonly held definition in American English. Stefanik and other Republican leaders continue to make apologies for the Big Lie and minimize the insurrection, but like cowards, they are pretending this somehow isn't the moral equivalent of supporting Trump's efforts to overturn the election or the violence that resulted from it. This is really one of those rare moments in life where there's no nuanced middle ground. Continuing to support Trump means supporting fascist insurrection, and no rhetorical games played by Republicans can change that.
Still, the dumb games go on, and not just with Republican leadership.
On Fox News, the networks' top primetime hosts rolled out more sleazy rhetorical techniques to signal support for Trump's Big Lie and the insurrection, all without having the courage to come right out and say what they meant bluntly. Instead, they mostly mocked the police officers who testified. Tucker Carlson sneeringly suggested the officers were exaggerating the trauma of January 6, while Laura Ingraham called the hearing "performance art." They're counting on viewers not watching the hearing in the first place. If they had, they would have heard that one of the police officers suffered a heart attack and traumatic brain injury, another had an emotional breakdown, another was seen on video being crushed in a door, and another provided photos of his extensive injuries from that day.
The most overtly fascist fringe of the Republican party is, it must be said, gliding closer to coming right out and saying they think that January 6 was a good thing.
As Zachary Petrizzo of Salon reported Tuesday, Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-GA, Matt Gaetz, R-Fl, Louie Gohmert, R-Tx., and Paul Gosar, R-Az., attempted to hold a press conference as counterprogramming to the hearing, in which arrested insurrectionists were portrayed as "political prisoners." The presser fell apart, however, when protesters made a mockery of the situation. But while these folks are generally treated as a "fringe" of the party, it's important to remember they are on exactly the same page as Trump himself. And he has been spouting the same talking points painting the insurrectionists as the good guys.
But even Trump is too much of a coward to come right out and say that he thinks violent insurrection is good. Instead, he's been in full gaslighting mode for months, denying that the riot was even a riot, instead saying, "it was zero threat" and that the insurrectionists were "hugging and kissing the police and the guards." For his part, officer Gonell directly retorted during the hearing Tuesday, "I'm still recovering from those 'hugs and kisses' that day that he claimed that so many rioters, terrorists, were assaulting us with."
Trump's attempted coup failed. But Republicans in state governments across the country are lining up to make sure, next time he tries to steal an election, he succeeds. What's going on here is not mysterious. All these Republicans are betting that Trump will soon ascend to the dictatorial powers he aspires to, and they want a piece of the pie when that happens. But, until the day comes that a newly inaugurated Trump is declaring January 6 a federal holiday of the glorious revolution, they continue to fear that it's bad politics to just come out in favor of fascist insurrections. So here we are, in a sea of gaslighting and deflection and victim-blaming. Because Republicans aren't just villains — they're cowards.
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