'My god!' Merrick Garland shocked when GOP’s Marsha Blackburn asks if angry parents are like Timothy McVeigh

Attorney general Merrick Garland was shocked when Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) asked whether he considered conservative parents to be domestic terrorists like the white supremacists who blew up a federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995.

The Tennessee Republican, like her GOP colleagues before her, questioned Garland over his Oct. 4 memo directing the Department of Justice to investigate threats against school officials over critical race theory and coronavirus safety measures, but her question surprised the attorney general.

"I have to tell you that it is with much disappointment that I have watched the DOJ be so politicized," Blackburn said, "and the way things have been carried out when you look at the memo to parents, you heard a lot about that today, and it's because we're hearing a lot about that, and I just have to ask you, knowing that you really helped bring to justice those that caused the Oklahoma City bombings, would you really, honestly put parents in the same category as a Terry Nichols or a Timothy McVeigh?"

Garland was aghast at the suggestion.

"My god, absolutely not," he said.

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WATCH: Merrick Garland bursts into laughter at GOP senator's question

Attorney General Merrick Garland laughed at a Republican senator's question during a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.

Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA), like every other GOP senator before him, used his allotted time to pepper Garland with questions about an Oct. 4 memo directing the Department of Justice to investigate threats against local school board members after a national organization asked President Joe Biden for federal intervention.

"The National School Board Association sent the letter to the White House and the White House promptly called you and said, 'Sic the FBI on parents at school board hearings, and that's what I mean," Kennedy said. "The White House is the prophet here and you're just the vessel, correct?"

Garland insisted he did not coordinate with the White House on the memo, which he said reflected his own views on protecting public officials from violence and threats while protecting parents' rights, but Kennedy pressed on.

"I get that, I heard your testimony," Kennedy said. "Were you worried you'd be fired if you didn't issue the memorandum?"

Garland laughed out loud before continuing.

"I'm not -- I signed on this memorandum on my own," Garland said. "I said from the very beginning, I've taken this job to protect the Department of Justice and make independent determinations with respect to prosecution, and I will do that."

Merrick Garland bursts into laughter at GOP senator's question youtu.be

Merrick Garland knocks down GOP conspiracy theories one after another in Senate hearing

Attorney General Merrick Garland knocked down one right-wing conspiracy theory after another as Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) questioned him during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.

The Iowa Republican pressed the attorney general to explain a memo issued earlier this month explaining how the Justice Department would work with state and local authorities to investigate violent threats against school board officials, which Grassley compared to "something that will come out of some communist country."

"The memo is only about violence and threats of violence," Garland said. "It makes absolutely clear in the first paragraph that spirited debate about policy matters is protected under our Constitution. That includes debate by parents criticizing the school board. That is welcome, the Justice Department protects that kind of debate. The only thing we're concerned about, senator, is violence and threats of violence against school officials, school teachers, school staff, just like we're concerned about those kind of threats against senators, members of Congress, election officials, in all of those circumstances we are trying to prevent the violence that sometimes occurs after threats."

Garland explained that the FBI assessed reports of threats or violence against school board members, weighted against First Amendment protections, and made referrals where appropriate to state or local authorities, but he didn't know anything about Grassley's claims about school officials accessing the private data of parents who oppose the teaching of so-called critical race theory.

"I don't know about that," Garland said. "But the Justice Department certainly does not believe in anybody's personal information should be accessed in that way. If there is a federal offense involved or state or local offense involved, then, of course, those should be reported."

Merrick Garland knocks down GOP conspiracy theories one after another in Senate hearing youtu.be

Jan. 6 panel delays request for about 50 pages of Trump records to avoid legal battle: 'We're in a hurry'

The House select committee is temporarily backing off on its request for some of Donald Trump's White House records.

The National Archives have already determined the documents were relevant to the panel's Jan. 6 investigation, but lawmakers and aides say they want to avoid a possibly lengthy negotiation over records related to the U.S. Capitol riot that might be legitimately protected by executive or attorney-client privilege, reported Politico.

"We're in a hurry," said panel member Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA). "We don't want to get hung up."

House investigators decided to "defer" their request after discussions with President Joe Biden's White House, but it's not clear whether the pause came at the administration's request or based on the panel's own analysis.

"We are not acknowledging privilege in any of these cases — especially because President Biden is failing to assert an executive privilege — and we don't think that trying to overthrow the U.S. government is something that triggers executive privilege," said panel member Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD). "It's hard to see that as part of the official duties of a president."

Trump has made sweeping claims of executive privilege over all of his White House records, but Biden has rejected most of those requests, and a spokesman for the panel said the deferred request for these documents was temporary.

"The Select Committee has not withdrawn its request for those records and will continue to engage with the executive branch to ensure we get access to all the information relevant to our probe," said committee spokesman Tim Mulvey.

It's not clear what this particular set of documents cover, and the decision to delay the request does not seem to be based on a privilege claim by the twice-impeached one-term president, and White House counsel Dana Remus told the National Archives it should provide any of those 50 pages when the panel asks for them.

"In the course of the accommodation process between Congress and the Executive Branch, the select committee has deferred its request for the following responsive records," Remus wrote to archivists.

Kyle Rittenhouse judge won’t let prosecutors call two people he killed victims — but defense can call them rioters

A Wisconsin judge imposed new restrictions on prosecutors but granted Kyle Rittenhouse's defense lawyers a bit more latitude in describing the murder case to jurors.

The 18-year-old Rittenhouse is set to go on trial Nov. 1 in the fatal shootings of Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber during an Aug. 25, 2020, protest against the Kenosha police shooting of a Black man, Jacob Blake, but a judge barred prosecutors from using the word "Victim" to describe those two men and a third, Gaige Grosskreutz, who was wounded in the incident, reported the Associated Press.

"The word 'victim' is a loaded, loaded word," said Kenosha County Circuit Court Judge Bruce Schroeder. "'Alleged victim' is a cousin to it."

The judge denied a prosecution request to bar defense attorneys from using similarly loaded language in reference to Rosenbaum, Huber and Grosskreutz, saying Rittenhouse's lawyers may present evidence suggesting the men were engaged in crimes at the time of the shootings.

"If more than one of them were engaged in arson, rioting, looting, I'm not going to tell the defense you can't call them that," the judge said.

Schroeder also ruled that use-of-force expert John Black, who defense attorneys want to call as a witness, may not testify about Rittenhouse's state of mind but rejected a prosecution request to block his testimony, saying jurors didn't need an expert to understand what happened.

Assistant district attorney Thomas Binger said he wouldn't call his own expert witness if Schroeder testified only about the timeline of events in the fatal shootings, and defense attorney Mark Richards agreed to that arrangement.

Schroeder will allow prosecutors to show a video of police telling Rittenhouse and other armed militia members they appreciated their presence and tossed the teen a bottle of water, which defense attorneys argued would show that officers didn't believe he was acting recklessly, but the judge disagreed with prosecutors that the evidence was irrelevant.

"If the jury is being told, if the defendant is walking down the sidewalk and doing what he claims he was hired to do and police say good thing you're here, is that something influencing the defendant and emboldening him in his behavior?" Schroeder said. "That would be an argument for relevance."

Trump-loving lawmakers must be investigated for assisting Capitol rioters -- because they clearly had inside help: columnist

The U.S. Department of Justice must investigate reports that members of Congress and their staffers had extensive contacts with two organizers of the "Stop the Steal" rallies that preceded the Jan. 6 insurrection.

The organizers claim they met directly with Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and Paul Gosar (R-AZ) and staffers for Reps. Andy Biggs (R-AZ), Lauren Boebert (R-CO), Mo Brooks (R-AL), Madison Cawthorne (R-NC) and Louie Gohmert (R-TX), and justice correspondent Elie Mystal wrote in The Nation that the Justice Department must determine what role any of them might have played in coordinating the deadly riot.

"The Department of Justice should be leading the criminal investigation into the attack on the Capitol," Mystal wrote. "That is the entity that can not merely catalog but actually punish the insurrectionists."

Congress has a constitutional duty to subpoena documents and testimony about the riots to help pass new laws to ensure another attack cannot happen, but only the Justice Department can hold the conspirators accountable -- and so far, Mystal argued, they have not.

"We know the Justice Department is shirking its responsibilities and leaving Congress to do all the heavy lifting, because we have a good idea of whom its investigators haven't interviewed," he wrote. "There is no credible way to investigate the events of January 6 unless investigators talk to key players like Steve Bannon, former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, and others in the Trump orbit (like Don Jr.) who may have played a role in planning the event. Any investigation that was seriously committed to getting to the truth would have already interviewed Mike Pence, key congresspeople's staffs, and the congresspeople who had telephone conversations with Trump on the day of the coup attempt."

It's clear the department hasn't gone after those individuals because they haven't gone on Fox News to complain, and Mystal said investigators must learn who helped plot the insurrection because it's obvious that someone in the know gave that assistance.

"The failure of the DOJ to investigate the planning of the putsch is all the more shameful given the publicly available evidence that the insurrectionists may have had help on the inside," Mystal wrote.

Some of the rioters went straight to the Senate parliamentarian's office, which is difficult to find without directions, and ransacked the place with a specific goal in mind.

"The insurrectionists somehow got there and began looking for the hard copies of the electoral votes that Congress was meant to certify that day," Mystal wrote. "Had they gotten their hands on those votes, even for a moment, they would have broken the chain of custody of the Electoral College count and at least delayed the certification of the election, as was their goal."

New Jersey man flips out when questioned about apparent KKK figures in his Halloween display

Some neighbors are upset about a New Jersey man's Halloween decorations that resemble robed Ku Klux Klan members on his lawn.

The man's property has multiple "no trespassing" signs to go along with figures that might appear to be ghosts if not for the Confederate flags across the yard in rural Jackson Township, reported WNBC-TV.

"I'd like to think it's just a ghost," said neighbor Doreen Koptyra. "If it was just a ghost, it'd be fine, but now that you have the flag up, that's not acceptable."

The TV station attempted to contact the man for comment, but he said only that he's had the decorations for years and then swore at the media crew.

"No, get the f*ck out," he shouted across the yard.

The man then moved an SUV to block the view from Toms River Road and made an obscene gesture at the photographer, but the crew managed to speak with his neighbor across the street about the display, which didn't bother her.

"It's Halloween, people put decorations out, it is what it is," said neighbor Jeannette Benz. "I think Halloween is Halloween."

Capitol rioter disavows Trump in bid to leave jail: ‘He should be ostracized from any political future’

An accused U.S. Capitol rioter has been allowed to return home as he awaits trial because a federal judge believes he's more likely to become further radicalized in jail.

Thomas Sibick, who is accused of assaulting D.C. metropolitan police officer Michael Fanone and stealing his radio and badge, was ordered released Tuesday morning by Judge Amy Berman Jackson after he disavowed former president Donald Trump and agreed not to watch any TV news or look at social media, reported HuffPost's Ryan Reilly.

"[The attack was] a disgrace to our nation that left a scar Trump is ultimately responsible for," Sibick wrote in a court filing. "[Trump] is not a leader and should be ostracized from any political future, what he honestly needs to do is go away!"

"The shame, dishonor, and regret endured are without question the worst emotions ever experienced," Sibick added. "I disagree with what occurred that fateful day, especially the trauma suffered by Officer Michael Fanone, it is without question unconscionable."

Corrections officers praised Sibick's conduct while jailed and commended him for getting vaccinated, and the judge asked what "inputs" drove him to violently storm the Capitol with other Trump supporters.

"It was Fox News," Sibick told the judge.

Jackson barred him from watching the conservative network and other political TV programming, and released him home confinement in his parents' custody until trial, in part, to keep him away from other rioters jailed in the so-called "patriot wing" of the D.C. Correctional Treatment Facility.

Officer Michael Fanone rips right-wing Republicans who claim to ‘love police’ — but not the ones hurt on Jan. 6

Officer Michael Fanone bashed right-wing Republicans who align themselves with police but seem unconcerned with accountability for the Donald Trump supporters who harmed officers during the U.S. Capitol riot.

The Washington, D.C., metropolitan police officer appeared Tuesday on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," where he condemned lawmakers who he believes are lying about the Jan. 6 insurrection and refusing to hold the former president and his allies accountable for stoking the violence with false claims about the election.

"It's interesting to see, obviously, the individuals who I guess were politically affiliated with the left kind of, well, they did demonize police officers, and I mean there were crimes perpetrating by law enforcement officers in this country that were outrageous, and there's a history of racism going back, you know, a long, long time in this country," Fanone said. "Unfortunately, historically speaking, law enforcement played a part in that, and I'm the first person who wants to be part of that conversation going forward. I don't believe that police officers are above reproach, but I also don't believe that all police officers are evil. In fact, I think it's one of the most honorable, selfless professions that a person can aspire to be a part of."

"At the same time, watching the right handle officers who responded to the Capitol and saying, 'Oh, we love police, we just don't love those police' -- I'm not stupid," Fanone added. "Like, I see it for what it is, and it's pandering, and I don't want to be pandered to. I want to have an honest conversation, and I think we're not engaging in an honest conversation in this country with regards to a lot of things, one of them being police reform. Policing and police reform, the conversation, I look at it kind of like a Rubik's cube. All of the stakeholders -- police officers, management, politicians, media and the communities -- all need to engage in that conversation honestly. Just like all sides of a Rubik's cube, if it doesn't all match and everybody is not all in, we're just verbally masturbating."

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‘They’re laughing at you’: Dem lawmaker says Republicans are using Trump like a ‘cheap mistress’

Congressional Democrats are trying to drive a wedge between Donald Trump and the Republican Party.

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) appeared on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" to discuss the ongoing negotiations on the Build Back Better infrastructure bill, but first he discussed a new ad taken out by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee highlighting the distance some GOP candidates are trying to put between themselves and the twice-impeached one-term president.

"We want to point out something to Donald Trump," Maloney said, "which is, Donald, they're laughing at you on Capitol Hill. They use you like some cheap mistress for their purposes, then they laugh at you behind their back. They run away from you when they try to talk to voters in swing districts. We think the former president should know that the Republican Party is using him to raise money but making fun of him behind his back and trying to distance themselves."

"Look at what [Glenn] Youngkin is trying to do in Virginia, trying to have it both ways," Maloney added, "and he really isn't invited to their party because they know they can't justify their support."

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Newly minted evangelicals are more interested in Trump than Jesus: political scientist

More and more white Americans are identifying themselves as evangelical since Donald Trump became president, but one scholar says that development is more of a political trend than a religious awakening.

A recent report from the Pew Research Center revealed the number of self-identified evangelical Christians grew between 2016 and 2020, but that growth did not correspond with an increase in church attendance and came with an increasingly conservative tilt, wrote political scientist Ryan Burge for the New York Times.

"The number of self-identified evangelicals has likely not increased over the last few years because evangelicals have been effective at spreading the Gospel and bringing new converts to the church," Burge wrote. "What is drawing more people to embrace the evangelical label on surveys is more likely that evangelicalism has been bound to the Republican Party. Instead of theological affinity for Jesus Christ, millions of Americans are being drawn to the evangelical label because of its association with the G.O.P."

Just 16 percent of all self-identified evangelicals in 2008 said they never or seldom attended church, but that number jumped to 27 percent last year, and about a third of those non-churchgoing evangelicals in 2008 said they were politically conservative, while that number rose to about 50 percent in 2019.

"Those who became evangelical between 2016 and 2020 had much warmer views of President Trump than those who didn't feel warmly toward him," wrote Burge, a professor at Eastern Illinois University. "The evidence points in one direction: For many Americans, to be a conservative Republican is to be an evangelical Christian, regardless of if they ever attend a Sunday service."

More people who have no attachment to Protestant Christianity are describing themselves as evangelicals, including Catholics, Mormons, Orthodox Christians, and even Muslims and Hindus, but those non-Protestant evangelicals tend to be more religiously devout than their GOP-leaning Protestant counterparts.

"The rapid rise of the nonreligious and non-Protestant evangelical has meant that the tradition did not fade in any significant way over the last decade," Bruge wrote. "But instead, what it means to be evangelical is being radically remade. It used to be that when many people thought about evangelicalism, they conjured up an image of a fiery preacher imploring them to accept Jesus. Now the data indicate that more and more Americans are conflating evangelicalism with Republicanism — and melding two forces to create a movement that is not entirely about politics or religion but power."

Trump could face ‘McMafia’ probe of Scottish golf course if judge signs off

Donald Trump could face a thorough investigation into his purchase of a golf course in Scotland if a judge decides the government can use a new anti-money laundering tool to probe the transaction.

Lord Sandison, the judge overseeing the case, will hold a two-day hearing to decide whether to issue an unexplained-wealth order to investigate the former U.S. president's $60 million purchase of Turnberry in 2014, reported The Daily Beast.

"Do we continue to ignore the towering cloud of suspicion over Trump Turnberry?" said Nick Flynn, legal director of a watchdog group that has been pressing the Scottish government to act.

The advocacy group Avaaz wants to the government to open a so-called "McMafia" investigation to determine how Trump came up with $60 million in cash to purchase the storied golf resort while his casino business Trump Entertainment Resorts, in which he held a 10-percent stake, was filing for bankruptcy.

"He has been an absentee owner of Trump Turnberry since he bought it, and with the financial losses being made year-on-year, the Trump Organization has been as successful at running the resort as the founder was at being president," said Scottish legislator Colin Smyth earlier this year during a parliament meeting.

Golf Recreation Scotland Limited, which runs the resort, has lost millions of dollars every year since Trump purchased the property, according to publicly available corporate statements filed in the United Kingdom, but the business claim to have poured $150 million into renovations on the foundering operation.

A spokeswoman for the operation insisted everything was above board and complained the probe was politically motivated.

"This is political game-playing at its worst and a terrible waste of taxpayers' money which further damages Scotland's reputation as a serious country to invest in and do business," Sarah Malone, executive vice president of Trump International Scotland, told The Daily Beast. "We have developed and operate two globally acclaimed, multi-award winning, visitor destinations in Scotland and make a significant contribution to the Scottish leisure and tourism economy. This latest attempt to undermine that investment is an utter disgrace."

Facebook quickly leads users from Melania Trump to QAnon and white genocide: whistleblower

Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen confirmed reports that new users can be quickly led to extremist content by the site's algorithm.

A researcher employed by the social media company set up a fake account showing interest in politics, parenting, Christianity, Fox News and Donald Trump, and within two days the algorithm was recommending groups dedicated to QAnon and other conspiratorial content that violated Facebook's own rules.

"Facebook has said it takes two to tango," Haugen told a U.K. parliamentary committee Monday. "Nick Clegg wrote a post back in March saying, 'don't blame us for the extreme content you see on Facebook. You chose your friends, you chose your interests, it takes two to tango. When you make a brand-new account and you follow some mainstream interests, for example, Fox News, Trump, Melania, it will lead you very rapidly to QAnon, it will lead you very rapidly to white genocide content."

"But this isn't just true on the right, it's true on the left, as well. These systems lead to amplification and division, I think you're right -- it's a question of, like, the system wants to find the content that will make you engaged more and that is extreme, polarizing content."

"Facebook is very good at dancing with data," she added. "They have very good communicators and the reality is, like, the business model is leading them to dangerous actions."

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Conservative views driving young people away from organized religion: 'They have no reason to go'

Half of young people report feeling disconnected from their religious backgrounds, according to a new report.

A new survey found that half of people ages 13 to 25 think that religious institutions care little for the issues that matter deeply to them, such as racial justice, gender equity, immigration rights, income inequality and gun control, and that may be driving a decline in membership for several denominations, reported the Wall Street Journal.

"I don't accept the teachings when it comes to discrimination," said Christian Camacho, a 22-year-old who grew up in a conservative Catholic family in Minneapolis. "I know a fair number of young people who don't go to church, not because they will be discriminated against — they just have no reason to go."

The report released Monday by the Springtide Research Institute found that about 71 percent of young people say they care about LGBTQ rights, but feel that 44 percent of religious communities share their concern.

"Younger people are more open," said Zaina Qureshi, a 16-year-old from Massachusetts whose father is Muslim and her mother is Catholic. "I don't associate myself with any institutional church."

The survey found that most young people -- 78 percent -- consider themselves spiritual, although only 47 percent belong to a religious community and only 23 percent attend religious services on a weekly basis.

"Our data show a clear disconnect between young people and religious institutions. But even with this disconnect, our data don't reveal a loss of interest in spiritual and religious questions among young people, or even a loss of faith," the Springtide Research Institute report stated.

"I hear what priests and pastors say at the pulpit and say to myself, 'No, that is not what I believe in my heart,'" said Jesse Brodka, a 22-year-old special education teacher from Buffalo who remains part of the Catholic Church despite his frustration over its social teachings. "The fact that the Christian faith has become a symbol of judgment speaks to that gap between religious organizations and the non-judgment that we value as young people."

Trump called Willard Hotel 'war room' as allies plotted coup on 'eerie' night before Capitol riot: author

Donald Trump called into the "war room" set up at the Willard Hotel as some of his chief allies coordinated efforts to block the certification of Joe Biden's election win, according to a reporter who was present.

Washington Post reporter Robert Costa, co-author of the book "Peril" with his colleague Bob Woodward, was outside the hotel on Jan. 5 as Rudy Giuliani, Steve Bannon and others gathered inside ahead of the "Save America" rally, and only now does he recognize the significance of what happened at that time.

"To this day I wish I had banged a little harder on that door, because it was a freezing cold night," Costa told MSNBC's "Morning Joe." "I was roaming around, and it was -- I still remember we talked about it as we were writing it because we didn't know. When you write a book, it takes months to understand the context of what's happening, what actually happened. But that night was eerie."

"We didn't know at the time that Trump's over at the White House, pounding into [vice president Mike] Pence in the one-on-one Oval Office meeting, and then after it doesn't go well for Trump, he calls into the Willard War room, and this is the key thing we found for 'Peril,'" Costa added. "It's not just a Willard war room happening in an isolated way across the street. The president is calling in, Trump's calling in. He's coordinating this effort to speak for Pence. Remember, late at night as you detailed earlier, Trump's issuing a statement saying Pence agrees with me. He's effectively taking over the vice presidency, at least in terms of the public message. This is all just hours before the insurrection."

Woodward said, based on the evidence they've already gathered, that Trump and his allies appear to have committed at least one crime.

"We talked recently with a Republican, former Republican head of the criminal division in the Justice Department, who said there is a lay-down case just in what we know," Woodward said. "It's 18 U.S. Code, section 371. I'm sorry this sounds technical, but it is. It's a law that says it's a crime to defraud the government in any deceptive way, and that's exactly what they did here."

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