CHARLESTON, S.C. — Former South Carolina bank CEO Russell Laffitte was found guilty Tuesday night on all six counts of conspiracy, bank and wire fraud and misapplication of bank funds, ending a three-week trial that also put disgraced attorney and accused murderer Alex Murdaugh in the spotlight. The jury pool of seven men and five women deliberated for almost 11 hours before rendering their verdict, which was announced in a hushed courtroom around 9:30 p.m. As the clerk of court read the six verdicts, Laffitte sat silently between his two lawyers, Bart Daniel and Matt Austin. About 15 family m...
Stories Chosen For You
On CNN Wednesday, reporter Sara Sidner outlined how the conviction of Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes for seditious conspiracy is unlikely to put an end to his brand of extremism.
Some experts have suggested the conviction will be a disaster for the ability of far-right paramilitaries to recruit. However, Sidner argued, Rhodes successfully cast himself as a victim of the system to followers, even comparing himself to Nelson Mandela, the legendary South African leader who spent years incarcerated for his movement to end the racist apartheid regime.
"You have reported quite a bit on these far-right groups; do you think these convictions do anything to deter those who might carry out acts like this?" asked anchor Alex Marquardt.
"It depends on who you're talking about," said Sidner. "In some cases, these people who have been convicted who a jury of their peers convicted in this case with plenty of evidence to go off of, some will be looked at as martyrs, we saw it in the court case as this case was going on. There are people there who stand with — they call themselves the January 6th Defenders, who believe they're being railroaded. There's no way to make that accusation in this case because the jury came back with a hodgepodged decision, not everyone was guilty of everything, but everyone was guilty of something."
Despite this, Sidner continued, Rhodes has built a persecution narrative for himself.
"You will see a leader like Stewart Rhodes has already, while he was in jail awaiting this trial — he already made himself into, in his own mind, a martyr, talking and likening himself to Nelson Mandela, talking about a dictatorship, how you have to fight for your rights even if that means you go to jail. Believe me when I say, these ideas they're not gone. They may be pushed down a bit in this particular group. But the ideas are still there. And they are still dangerous."
Sara Sidner says Stewart Rhodes compared himself to Nelson Mandela www.youtube.com
On CNN Wednesday, congressional correspondent Manu Raju reported that Republicans are still struggling to wrangle the votes for House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) to be elected Speaker when the new Republican majority comes into the House at the start of next year.
This comes after Republicans severely underperformed expectations in the 2022 midterms, where many political analysts foresaw a "red wave" that could net Republicans dozens of new seats, but where they are on track to win fewer than 10.
"On the future majority side, the House leadership fight is not settled," said anchor Alex Marquardt. "It's not a foregone conclusion that Kevin McCarthy will be Speaker. What's the latest?"
"Because of the narrow margins, Republicans are expected to have 222 seats in the new Congress," said Raju. "In order to be elected Speaker, you need 218 votes. All Democrats are expected to vote against Kevin McCarthy and vote for Hakeem Jeffries instead. So he has to expect all but four Republicans to vote for him. There are several Republicans threatening to vote against him. Some are hard nos, like Congressman Matt Gaetz, says he will not vote for him whatsoever, Andy Biggs, a congressman from Arizona, suggested that perhaps he would be a hard no as well, he ran against him in the interim Republican leadership elections, he lost the nomination for Speaker to Kevin McCarthy himself."
Ultimately, said Raju, it all comes down to whether McCarthy can lock down enough of the votes from similar hardline Republicans.
"McCarthy is trying to pick up votes one by one," said Raju. "There are members asking for certain concessions, they want more power over the leadership, key committee assignments. Allies hope they can win votes one by one and get to 218. But they don't deny it's going to be a tough slog. It can be messy. They're not denying the possibility if he doesn't get 218 votes on the first ballot, potentially it could go to a second ballot or a third."
Watch below or at this link.
Manu Raju says Kevin McCarthy is scrambling for Speaker votes www.youtube.com
House Minority Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy in an angry letter to Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) warned the Chairman of the U.S. House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack that his role will end on January 3 and it is "imperative that all information collected be preserved." The California Republican congressman had a dramatically different position on Donald Trump's unlawful retention of well over ten thousand items from the White House, including at least 300 documents with classified markings, including some classified at the highest levels.
McCarthy, who is running to be Speaker of the House but is facing strong opposition from some of the GOP caucus, nevertheless is acting as if he will wield the gavel.
His letter, angry and accusatory in tone, also strongly suggests Republicans will hold their own hearings on the January 6 attack on the Capitol and on democracy, but with a vastly different focus.
"The American people chose Republicans to lead the 118th Congress," McCarthy's letter begins. "On January 3, 2023, your work as Chairman of the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol will come to an end," McCarthy told Thompson in his letter, which was reported on by CBS News.
"For those reasons, I remind you and your staff on the Committee to preserve all records collected and transcripts of testimony taken during your investigation in accordance with House Rule VII. As the Chairman, regardless of who may be directing the work of the Committee, you are responsible for the work done by its members and staff."
Some have suggested that Thompson could transfer some or all of the Committee's work product – all transcripts and other evidence – to the Senate.
McCarthy continued with his angry attack.
"It is clear based on recent news reports that even your own members and staff of the Committee have no visibility into the totality of the investigation. Some reports suggest that entire swaths of findings will be left out of the Committee's final report. You have spent a year and a half and millions of taxpayers' dollars conducting this investigation."
House Republicans, including McCarthy, spent million dollars on six Benghazi investigations, the last one of which McCarthy admitted was designed to harm former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's presidential aspirations.
"Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping," McCarthy bragged in 2015.
Unlike his defense of ex-president Donald Trump unlawfully removing and retaining at Mar-a-Lago approximately 13,000 items belonging to the National Archives from the White House, McCarthy warned Thompson the Committee's work does not belong to the Chairman.
"It is imperative that all information collected be preserved not just for institutional prerogatives but for transparency to the American people," McCarthy wrote. "The official Congressional Records do not belong to you or any member, but to the American people, and they are owed all of the information you gathered - not merely the information that comports with your political agenda."
That's actually false.
The Committee has undoubtedly uncovered government secrets, including national security information, classified information, and information, for example, the Secret Service needs to keep secret to allow it to continue to secure its protectees. It also has entered into agreements with witnesses that prevent it from releasing those documents, transcripts, and other evidence to the public.
Politico's senior legal affairs reporter Kyle Cheney says, "Kevin McCarthy’s letter demanding that the Jan. 6 committee preserve its records is mostly nonsense because the committee is planning to release all but a few of its transcripts."
McCarthy continued, warning: "Although your Committee's public hearings did not focus on why the Capitol complex was not secure on January 6, 2021, the Republican majority in the 118th Congress will hold hearings that do so."
He then served up what some might say is a threat.
"The American people have a right to know that the allegations you have made are supported by the facts and to be able to view the transcripts with an eye toward encouraged enforcement of 18 USC 1001."
18 U.S. Code § 1001 is the federal statute that makes it a crime to knowingly make false statements.
McCarthy had a very different take when the U.S. Dept. of Justice executed a legal search warrant of Donald Trump's Florida residence and resort, Mar-a-Lago, to retrieve government-owned materials, including classified documents.
"Joe Biden and the politicized Dept. of Justice launched a raid on the home of his top political rival, Donald Trump," McCarthy said on Sept. 1. "That is an assault on democracy."
"Joe Biden and the politicized Department of Justice launched a raid on the home of his top political rival, Donald Trump. That is an assault on democracy."
— House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, before Biden gives remarks in Philadelphia, attacks the lawful Mar-a-Lago search pic.twitter.com/qDwPSzrYs8 — The Recount (@therecount) September 1, 2022
Watch the videos above or at this link.