“It was an awesome, awesome day," former state Republican legislator Anthony Kern told attendees about being at the Capitol on Jan. 6.
Kern, who lost in 2020 but is again running for the legislature, has said he never breached the Capitol. However, footage reviewed by the Arizona Mirror shows that Kern was present at other parts of the Capitol breached by protesters. During his speech before the crowd, Kern said he arrived two hours after everything “serious" happened.
The Mirror's analysis determined that Kern arrived shortly after 3 p.m. By that time, the protest had been violent for some time and Trump supporters had already broken into the Capitol in some places, while others were in the process of breaking into the Capitol.
Saturday's rally was one of many across the country organized by Look Ahead America, which is run by former Trump campaign aide Matt Braynard. Arizona's rally came a week after a rally Braynard planned in Washington, D.C., largely fizzled.
Approximately half of the audience in attendance at the Arizona rally were members of the Proud Boys, which the SPLC designates as a hate group. So far, 19 members of the Proud Boys have been indicted in relation to the events of Jan. 6, with one indictment suggesting that there may have been coordination between many of the groups.
Their presence was a boon for GOP Rep. Walt Blackman, R-Snowflake.
“The Proud Boys came to one of my events and that was one of the proudest moments of my life," Blackman said to the crowd. Blackman is running for Congress in the 1st District.
One of the speakers, Micajah Jackson, is facing federal charges for storming the Capitol on Jan. 6. The FBI alleges that Jackson participated in a march alongside members of the Proud Boys chapter from Arizona and that he knowingly entered the Capitol without permission.
Jackson claimed on Saturday that the Jan. 6 riot was a setup “coup" by the FBI, the Capitol Police, D.C. Police, Black Lives Matter, antifa, Democratic activists and the “radical U.S. government."
“That's disgusting, that is KGB stuff right there going on," Jackson said. A woman in the crowd shouted back, “It's demonic!"
FBI Director Christopher Wray has said that there is no evidence that far left groups participated in the violent events of Jan. 6.
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Blackman was the only elected official who spoke, a last-minute change from how the event was promoted. It originally billed GOP legislators Rep. Mark Finchem and Sen. Wendy Rogers as speakers, as well as a controversial figure named “American Greyson" Arnold.
Arnold has used his social media pages to post memes lauding Nazis as the “pure race" and lament the American victory in World War II. He also called Adolf Hitler a “complicated historical figure." Another time, he posted the logo of Stormfront, the first major hate site on the internet that was founded by Don Black, the former leader of the Alabama Ku Klux Klan. The logo is the Celtic Cross, a common white supremacist symbol, emblazoned with the words “White Pride World Wide." “God is on our side because our fight is righteous," he declared.
Shortly after the Mirror inquired about these posts, an event spokeswoman said Arnold was no longer a speaker at the event. However, he still attended the event and was seen with local anti-mask agitator Ethan Schmidt.
Jackson wasn't the only speaker who was arrested by the FBI for their involvement in the events of Jan. 6.
Couy Griffin of Cowboys for Trump was arrested for one count of knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful entry. Griffin claims he didn't know the area was off-limits and has said he wasn't there to disrupt anything.
Another speaker also had connections to the insurrection. Jeff Zink, who is running for Congress against Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego, has a son who was arrested for trespassing, assault and damaging property. Zink has said that his son is falsely accused, but the FBI contends that photos from his son's own Facebook page and security camera footage put his son at the scene and show him damaging property.
Zink condemned the destruction and said anyone who did that rightfully deserves to be in prison — but his son does not.
“Somebody else came in and stole what was supposed to be a peaceful protest," Zink said, adding that the Jan. 6 protest that preceded the violent insurrection was not about “Trump or Biden." In fact, it was organized by Trump's allies and was solely focused on disputing and overturning the 2020 election, which Trump lost to Joe Biden.
“You're guilty until proven Democrat," Zink said to cheers from the crowd.
Arizona Mirror is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Arizona Mirror maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Jim Small for questions: email@example.com. Follow Arizona Mirror on Facebook and Twitter.
Under the leadership of then-Director Mike Pompeo, the CIA in 2017 reportedly plotted to kidnap—and discussed plans to assassinate—WikiLeaks founder and publisher Julian Assange, who is currently imprisoned in London as he fights the Biden administration's efforts to extradite him to the United States.
Citing conversations with more than 30 former U.S. officials, Yahoo News reported Sunday that "discussions over kidnapping or killing Assange occurred 'at the highest levels' of the Trump administration."
According to Yahoo:
The conversations were part of an unprecedented CIA campaign directed against WikiLeaks and its founder. The agency's multipronged plans also included extensive spying on WikiLeaks associates, sowing discord among the group's members, and stealing their electronic devices.
While Assange had been on the radar of U.S. intelligence agencies for years, these plans for an all-out war against him were sparked by WikiLeaks' ongoing publication of extraordinarily sensitive CIA hacking tools, known collectively as "Vault 7," which the agency ultimately concluded represented "the largest data loss in CIA history."
President Trump's newly installed CIA director, Mike Pompeo, was seeking revenge on WikiLeaks and Assange, who had sought refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy since 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden on rape allegations he denied. Pompeo and other top agency leaders "were completely detached from reality because they were so embarrassed about Vault 7," said a former Trump national security official. "They were seeing blood."
Yahoo's reporting makes clear that Assange is not the only journalist U.S. officials have attempted to target in recent years. During the Obama presidency, according to Yahoo, "top intelligence officials lobbied the White House to redefine WikiLeaks—and some high-profile journalists—as 'information brokers,' which would have opened up the use of more investigative tools against them, potentially paving the way for their prosecution."
"Among the journalists some U.S. officials wanted to designate as 'information brokers' were Glenn Greenwald, then a columnist for The Guardian, and Laura Poitras, a documentary filmmaker, who had both been instrumental in publishing documents provided by [NSA whistleblower Edward] Snowden," Yahoo reported.
In a statement to Yahoo, Poitras called the intelligence officials' efforts "bone-chilling and a threat to journalists worldwide."
Trevor Timm, executive director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, said in a statement that "these new revelations, which involve a shocking disregard of the law, are truly beyond the pale."
"The CIA is a disgrace," said Timm. "The fact that it contemplated and engaged in so many illegal acts against WikiLeaks, its associates, and even other award-winning journalists is an outright scandal that should be investigated by Congress and the Justice Department. The Biden administration must drop its charges against Assange immediately. The case already threatens the rights of countless reporters."
The Trump Justice Department charged Assange with 17 counts of violating the Espionage Act for publishing classified documents, something journalists do often. Despite urgent pleas from press freedom advocates, the Biden administration has refused to drop the charges and continued its predecessor's attempt to extradite the WikiLeaks founder.
As Poitras wrote in an op-ed for the the New York Times last year, "It is impossible to overstate the dangerous precedent Mr. Assange's indictment under the Espionage Act and possible extradition sets: Every national security journalist who reports on classified information now faces possible Espionage Act charges."
"It paves the way for the United States government to indict other international journalists and publishers. And it normalizes other countries' prosecution of journalists from the United States as spies," Poitras noted. "To reverse this dangerous precedent, the Justice Department should immediately drop these charges and the president should pardon Mr. Assange."
A Texas Republican urged people to 'read the bill' to prove voter suppression — so John Oliver did it
The main story on "Last Week Tonight's" first show of the season called the GOP's bluff on their voter suppression laws.
State Rep. Matt Schaffer, a Republican from Tyler Texas went on television to tell people upset over the GOP's voter suppression bill to "read the bill. There's no voter suppression. Read the bill and show me what person who is eligible to vote who will not be able to vote. You can't find it."
So, that's what John Oliver did. In fact, his staff read all of them. While Schaffer wants the name of a person in the bill who can't vote like Brian or Steve, what is in the bill is barrier after barrier specifically targeting Democratic voters in Democratic areas of the Republican-run state of Texas.
In particular, the bill in his state gets rid of any 24-hour ballot drop boxes that were put in place during the pandemic so people didn't have to risk their lives to cast a ballot. The precincts where those were used the most proved that 56 percent of the people who used those methods of voting were people of color. The "drive-through voting," which let people drive to the polling place and vote from the safety of their car, was extremely popular as well with 53 percent of the users being people of color.
Oliver went on to show absurd debate discussion where the state House speaker, Texas Rep. Dade Phelan, banned the use of "racism" from the floor when debating the racist voter suppression law that targeted people of color.
Arizona Republican state Rep. Travis Grantham was so triggered by a Democrat alleging that the GOP didn't want "colored people" to vote. After being called out for his use of the term "colored people," he moved to "protect" his tweets from the public.
"Oh, f*ck all the way off," Oliver said in response to his complaint while reading a rule book.
So, when Matt Schaffer says the point to the person who won't be able to vote, those groups in Harris County are pretty specific.
Oliver then move to Georgia state Sen. Burt Jones, who told CNN that voting is a "privilege" that "you can put forth a little bit of effort trying to cast your ballot." The reporter explained that voting was a "right" in America, not a privilege. Jones, who embraces QAnon conspiracies, is now running for letting governor of Georgia.
A North Carolina voter suppression bill moved to mandate that the voter I.D.s that could be used were the ones almost exclusively used by white people. The court, in that case, ruled that the bill aimed to "target African Americans with almost surgical precision..."
Even in the case of Arizona, the Republicans held a partisan audit, run by a supporter of former President Donald Trump and ultimately found that Trump lost by more than 300 votes than initially thought. The audit proved that Trump was an even bigger loser than they knew before. Still, the Arizona Republicans passed laws to restrict voting rights to "protect" against the fraud they couldn't find.
Oliver closed by telling Joe Biden that this should be the only thing that matters because if people can't vote Democrats will continue to lose up and down the ballot. At the same time, Black activists who are fighting against these feel abandoned by a president who was supposed to be on their side.
See the full video below:
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