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White supremacist groups saw Trump's dinner with Nick Fuentes as a huge propaganda victory: extremism expert
Donald Trump's claim that he didn't know who the white nationalist Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes was when he sat down to dinner with him at Mar-a-Lago just before Thanksgiving is not particularly credible, according to The Washington Post's Greg Sargent, who goes on to say that even if it's true that Trump didn't know who Fuentes was, he "handed white supremacists and white-power activists a major propaganda coup."
Speaking to Sargent, Kathleen Belew, who tracks white supremacist factions, said that these movements are best described as "white power" rather than "white supremacist."
"White power is a concentrated but very violent subset within the broader web of white supremacy," Belew said. "White power is better thought about as a connected movement of groups and activists who are overtly racist and interested in using violence to create an all-white ethnostate, society, or even nation. Sometimes they think about an all-white planet."
Belew went on to say that Fuentes' dinner with Trump was a huge propaganda victory for white power groups because it shows that the political mainstream can be radicalized. "It’s meant to show that the government is not all powerful, and that there are enough like-minded people to rise against it."
She added that white power groups saw the Jan. 6 Capitol riot as a "stunning act of propaganda."
"We saw upticks in recruitment drives. And the lack of condemnation of those events by the mainstream Republican Party really showed these activists that there is plenty more space for them in our political process."
Read the full interview over at The Washington Post.
The Trump Org.'s own lawyers almost impeached their witness during the trial on Monday.
"Defense lawyer Susan Necheles said [Trump accountant Donald Bender], a partner at Mazars USA LLP who spent years overseeing tax returns for Trump’s hundreds of entities, 'surprised' her when he testified that he didn’t actually do much work on the company’s tax returns," the Associated Press reported Monday afternoon.
Bender said that he delegated some of the work to others in the firm.
“That answer surprised me because it’s just not true,” Necheles said after Bender and the jury left the courtroom for lunch.
She wanted permission to confront Bender with records showing that "he spent more time working on tax returns for the Trump Corporation" than he testified under oath. The defense lawyers stopped short of saying she sought to undermine his credibility before the jury.
“I don’t want to impeach the witness. I don’t want to call him a liar,” Necheles said. “That’s impeaching the witness.”
The report noted that Judge Juan Manuel Merchan is already annoyed with Trump's defense team after they filed a Sunday night motion.
“I believe I’ve bent over backward to allow both defendants to prepare a defense,” Merchan told the Trump Corp. and Trump Payroll Corp. lawyers. “I don’t believe that means I have to let you throw everything at the jury and see what sticks.”
The scheme involves Trump funneling cars, tuition, housing and other benefits to employees and not reporting it on taxes. Trump has talked about it on his social media site saying that they're "fringe benefits" and that they happen under corporations all the time and he's being singled out.
"The D.A. case against two small Trump entities has fallen apart. Even the Media is saying so," Trump asserted without providing any evidence. "There has never been a 'Fringe Benefits' case such as this brought before. Did a long time executive pay tax on the use of a company car, or a company apartment, or payments (not even taken by us as a tax deduction!) for the education of his grandchildren? For this, he gets handcuffs and jail?"
In court, however, Trump's legal team has claimed that they didn't know it was happening and that their CFO Allen Weisselberg went rogue. Trump then blamed Bender for not catching the scheme.
The highly paid accounting firm should have routinely picked these things up - we relied on them. VERY UNFAIR!" he exclaimed.
National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby pushed back after Fox News correspondent Peter Doocy suggested that President Joe Biden rather companies drill for oil in Venezuela than the United States.
At a White House press briefing on Monday, Doocy reframed news that the U.S. government had lifted some oil sanctions in Venezuela because of humanitarian concerns.
"Why is it President Biden would rather let U.S. companies drill for oil in Venezuela than here in the U.S.?" Doocy asked.
"That's not an accurate take," Kirby replied diplomatically.
"Earlier this month, he said no more drilling!" Doocy exclaimed.
"The president has issued 9,000 permits for drilling on U.S. federal lands," Kirby pointed out. "9,000 being unused. There are plenty of opportunities for oil and gas companies to drill here in the United States."
"Our expectation is that there won't be a whole lot of oil coming out of there and it will have to be shipped to the United States," he added.
"Does the president think there is some benefit to the climate to drill oil in Venezuela and not here?" Doocy pressed.
"It has nothing to do with a benefit to the climate," Kirby said of the sanctions relief. "Again, there are 9,000 unused permits here in the United States on federal land that oil and gas companies can and should take advantage of. 9,000! And we're talking about one there in Venezuela."
Watch the video below from Fox News. You can also watch at this link.