Trump’s post-presidency absence baffles supporters: ‘A lot of people have felt abandoned’

Millions of Americans believe the election was stolen, and hundreds of Donald Trump's supporters stormed into the Capitol to overturn that loss, but experts are optimistic that the worst may be over -- for now.

Recent studies have found that Trump's most dedicated supporters are "cooling out" and drawing away from politics rather than simmering in their post-election anger, and the former president's disappearance from public life after his Twitter ban may have something to do with that, reported The Guardian.

"I think a lot of people have felt abandoned," said sociologist Arlie Hochschild, who is conducting interviews in eastern Kentucky. "Trump did not pardon [the Capitol rioters]. He went away, disappeared into silence. They feel like: 'Wait a minute: why isn't he speaking up for us? Why isn't he defending us?'"

A small minority of the Trump supporters she's interviewing feel paranoid about big government under President Joe Biden, but most of them have let go of their emotional attachment to the idea of election fraud.

"[On Jan. 6 they] had felt proud, patriotic, defending democracy, and in a day's time that had turned around to dishonor, criminalization," Hochschild said. "They were put down. The law was looking for them."

Hochschild isn't terribly concerned about another round of political violence anytime soon, but she still sees that risk in the long term.

"I do feel there are a lot of people whose position is extreme," she said. "I just don't see it mobilized at this point."

WATCH: Michigan parents try to pound their way into school board meeting to demand mask-free classrooms

More than 50 parents showed up for a Michigan school board meeting demanding an end to mask rules inside classrooms despite a statewide surge in new coronavirus infections.

The parents began banging on the doors to the auditorium where the Hudsonville Board of Education meeting was held Thursday evening after many of them were denied entrance due to social distancing requirements, and one mother said she didn't understand why parents weren't allowed into school buildings, reported MLive.

"The fact that there's no parents keeping an eye on teachers and what's going on, there's so much potential for wrong things to happen," said Jeanette Schuiteman.

"It doesn't make any sense to me," Schuiteman added. "Students are coming into contact with us and coming into contact with all the other students, so it's as if I were already coming into contact with the students because my students are in the school. So it seems like a silly rule that doesn't make a lot of sense."

Schuiteman, who has five children in district schools, said she believes masks are "physically not healthy" and the decision to wear them should be left up to individual families.

"I think that's a decision that a parent should be able to make given the harmful side effects that might occur because of it," she said. "There is not really any scientific evidence to back up the effectiveness of masks for transmitting a virus."

Michigan leads the nation in COVID-19 cases, and officials say school outbreaks and new cases in young people are helping to drive the surge.

"Our parents' voices are extremely important for us to understand the pulse of the community, but right now it's not enough for us to get rid of masks," said superintendent Doug VanderJagt. "As soon as it becomes an option, that's a different conversation, but right now it's not."

Parents chanted "let us in" after they were locked out of the capacity meeting until security guards asked them to go outside, and VanderJagt said he regretted the scheduling.

"If we knew there was going to be 400 people that wanted to get in here, we'd have just had the meeting online," he said. "We didn't know how many to expect, otherwise we could have had a bigger venue and gone outside or virtual."

Hudsonville parents urge school officials to make masks optional

Christian finance guru runs company like a 'religious cult' and mocks employees for COVID-19 concerns: Lawsuit

A former employee claims Christian financial guru Dave Ramsey ran his company as a "religious cult" and purposefully put workers at risk from the coronavirus.

The personal finance adviser and radio host was named in a lawsuit against his Tennessee-based Lampo Group, which provides Financial Peace University materials to churches across the country, filed by former video editor Brad Amos that alleges he was fired for objecting to Ramsey's views on the COVID-19 pandemic, reported Religion News Service.

"Plaintiff was terminated for failing to follow Defendant's particular view that taking precautions other than prayer against COVID infection would make a person fall out of God's favor," the complaint states.

The company, which does business as Ramsey Solutions, held a mostly maskless in-person Christmas party, according to the complaint, which also alleges that Ramsey mocked mask wearers as "wusses" and prohibited employees from working at home during much of the pandemic.

Amos' wife and son are at high risk from the virus, and the complaint says even the spouses of company employees were required to support Ramsey's views on the pandemic.

Ramsey threatened to fire an employee who filed an OSHA complaint over pandemic concerns, according to the complaint.

"So whoever you are, you moron, you did absolutely no good, except piss me off," Ramsey told employees at a May 2020 all-staff meeting previously reported by RNS. "You are not welcome here if you are willing to do stuff like that. If you are really scared and you really think that leadership is trying to kill you … please, we love you. Just leave. We really don't want you here."

Another former employee, Caitlin O'Connor, is also suing Ramsey Solutions for allegedly firing her for being pregnant and unmarried, and the company defended the termination by saying she was fired for having premarital sex, which seven other employees had lost their jobs over since 2016.

"I've got a right to tell my employees whatever I want to tell them," Ramsey says on the company's website. "They freaking work for me."

Ramsey frequently boasts about his company's "godly" values, although he defended his protégé Chris Hogan after admissions of extramarital affairs until his frequent guest host resigned last month over unspecified violations of company policies.

'I will never forgive them': Lawmakers, reporters and police remain traumatized by Capitol riots 100 days later

The U.S. Capitol insurrection was 100 days ago, and those who lived through the assault on democracy are still processing the trauma they experienced.

Lawmakers, staffers, police officers, reporters and Capitol employees recalled the fear and anger they felt as Donald Trump's supporters violently stormed into the building in an effort to overturn the former president's election loss, and they continue to struggle with the memories from that day.

"They destroyed things here, broke windows, you know, a mess, but things don't matter to me," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told NBC's Frank Thorpe V. "But seeing the dramatic effect it had on my staff is something that will live with me forever, and for which I will never forgive them."

"They failed," she added. "They failed in stopping the certification of a president of the United States, and they did so because members had the courage to come back."

Capitol police officers lost one of their own that day, and two others took their own lives in the days that followed, but they want Americans to remember that they succeeded in protecting lawmakers and democracy.

"We didn't fail," said Officer Anthony Booth. "We protected every member of Congress, not one member of Congress was hurt with a scratch that day … We protected every staffer that was in here, everybody was accounted for, nobody was hurt. The only casualties we had were obviously officers, but at the end of the day, we did our job."

Many others remain angry about the attempt to subvert democracy, which was encouraged by Trump and some of his Republican congressional allies.

MSNBC's Morning Joe rips Jim Jordan's 'sheer idiocy' about Dr. Fauci: 'You have to be a moron to believe it'

MSNBC's Joe Scarborough ripped Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) for spreading "idiocy" and "lies" about Dr. Anthony Fauci.

The Ohio Republican berated the esteemed epidemiologist during a House Coronavirus Crisis Subcommittee hearing, and the "Morning Joe" host bashed Jordan for undermining public health by spreading conspiracy theories about the pandemic.

"The lies continue, the scapegoating still continues," Scarborough said. "No personal liberties were taken away. The Supreme Court has reviewed cases, the courts have reviewed cases. It's just, it's sheer idiocy playing for the lowest common denominator."

Republicans have been attacking Fauci since the beginning of the pandemic over his suggestions to mitigate the spread of the deadly virus, and Scarborough said that has cost thousands of American lives.

"You have to be a moron to believe it, but there are, I guess, a lot of morons out there," Scarborough said. "Something called 'Plandemic,' where they get somebody to come in just makes things up whole cloth, suggesting he killed people during the AIDS epidemic. It's all filled with lies, and yet people are stupid enough to believe it."

"Jim Jordan peddles those lies, and peddles the suggestion that Anthony Fauci somehow is the problem instead of a coronavirus that's spread across America and killed 550,000 people," he added.

Scarborough said he personally knows educated people who believe the pandemic is fake and that doctors are risking their careers by lying about COVID-19 deaths for profit.

"Really intelligent people I have known my entire life who run actual operations actually believe that doctors are lying on death certificates, and putting that somebody died of COVID, because their hospital would make more money," Scarborough said.

"These aren't people stepping, you know, out of a cave, chewing tobacco and, like, have never gone to school," he added. "That's one of the great lies of this Trump populism, that it's all a certain group of uneducated, you know, teeming masses. No, no -- a lot of the people that I have to talk to every day, that believe these stupid lies, they're really intelligent. They're really wealthy and they are in a cult and they can't break out of it."

04 16 2021 07 26 21

Republicans ‘doubling down on proven loser’ Trump in Senate races: Conservative columnist

Donald Trump cost Republicans the White House and their majorities in the Senate and House in the last five years, but the GOP still sees the 74-year-old ex-president as the future of the party.

The twice-impeached one-term president is the favorite for the 2024 nomination should he choose to run, and conservative Matt Lewis lamented in a new Daily Beast column that Republicans are jetting off to Mar-A-Lago for fundraisers and racing to out-Trump one another in their own campaigns.

"After a drubbing in November followed by a violent and violently stupid insurrection attempt in January, they are doubling down on a proven loser," Lewis wrote. "It's just weird to have the guy who just LOST the presidency remain the party's undisputed leader. In our lifetime, one-term presidents (not to mention losing nominees) have been pushed out the door faster than Milli Vanilli. In 1981, nobody was clamoring for more Jimmy Carter. But Republicans just can't quit the former president — no matter how much grief he has caused them (and the nation)."

"To paraphrase Homer Simpson's toast to alcohol," he added, "they see Donald Trump as the cause of, and the solution to, all of the party's problems."

Lewis pointed to Ohio's crowded GOP Senate race, where early frontrunners J.D. Vance and Josh Mandel are dialing up the bigotry and culture war trolling to win over Trump voters.

"Whether it's Republicans schlepping to Florida to bend the knee, likely 2024 presidential candidates deferring to him, or a new crop of U.S. Senate candidates falling all over themselves (and, in one case, being escorted out of a hotel) for the chance to touch the hem of his garment, you have to ask yourself why, since nothing good comes for anyone else from getting anywhere near him," Lewis wrote.

GOP megadonors looking beyond Trump for 2024 — and they have a favorite

A new favorite has emerged among possible Republican presidential successors to Donald Trump.

Wealthy GOP donors are lining up behind the 2022 re-election campaign for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is moving past former vice president Mike Pence and other potential contenders should Trump choose to sit out the 2024 presidential race, reported Politico.

"He's in the top tier, should he choose to run for president," said Art Pope, a conservative donor and chair of the influential Bradley Foundation.

Republican donors appreciate DeSantis' refusal to institute strict measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, and they see him as a potentially more attractive version of the last president.

"[He's] a nicer version of Trump," said Joanne Zervos, a New York City donor who specifically mentioned DeSantis' handling of the pandemic.

DeSantis aides insist he's focused on his re-election campaign, but the governor is building a nationwide donor network that resembles the foundation George W. Bush built for his 2000 presidential campaign during his own re-election race for Texas governor two years earlier.

"[He] has a major political future in the Republican Party," said Don Tapia, who served as Trump's ambassador to Jamaica and will host a DeSantis fundraiser at his Arizona home. "[He's a] strong candidate I would truly look at."

GOP's Lauren Boebert ripped to shreds for whining about Supreme Court expansion: 'Trump literally packed the courts!'

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) joined the growing chorus of Republicans raging against the prospect of expanding the U.S. Supreme Court now that conservatives have successfully stacked the deck in their favor.

Democrats have introduced legislation to expand the high court by four seats to match the number of district courts and correct an "out-of-balance" 6-3 tilt after GOP leader Mitch McConnell blocked one nomination and rushed another in the Trump era, and Republican lawmakers cried foul.

Other social media users thought that was awfully rich coming from Boebert, of all people.

'Unambiguous collusion': New sanctions prove 'Trump campaign chief in league with Russian intel'

The U.S. Department of Treasury sanctioned a longtime associate of Paul Manafort, and filled in one of the larger blanks in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of Donald Trump's ties to Russia.

The Biden administration sanctioned Konstantin Kilimnik, a Ukrainian-Russian associate of Manafort, for sharing sensitive polling data and campaign strategies with the Kremlin during the 2016 campaign -- which linked findings in investigations by Mueller and the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Legal experts and others who followed the Mueller probe and other investigations into alleged Russian collusion felt vindicated by the news.

A mystery left over from Mueller's Russia investigation just got solved

Paul Manafort's longtime associate Konstantin Kilimnik was sanctioned by the U.S. government for providing polling data to Russian intelligence during the 2016 election.

The Russian-Ukrainian political consultant was indicted in 2018 as part of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation for carrying out election interference on behalf of the Kremlin, and the Treasury Department state for the first time Thursday that Kilimnik had provided Russia with sensitive polling data before the 2016 election, reported Axios.

That completes a key link between Mueller's investigation and one conducted by the Senate Intelligence Committee, which found that Donald Trump's campaign chairman Paul Manafort tried to pass sensitive internal polling data and campaign strategy to Kilimnik.

The committee obtained some information that suggested Kilimnik "may have been connected" to Russia's hacking and leaking of Democratic emails, but those findings were largely redacted in the public report.

Kilimnik, who is wanted by the FBI for obstruction of justice, provided sensitive data to Russian intelligence as part of his efforts to blame Ukraine for the hacks and return former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych to power.

Manafort, who was pardoned by Trump in the final weeks of his presidency, worked as a political consultant to Yanukovych for nearly a decade.

Navy SEAL insists he and his son left Capitol before riot -- but videos and photos show otherwise

A former Navy SEAL insists he and his son left the Capitol grounds before it was breached during the Jan. 6 insurrection -- but photos and videos show otherwise.

Shannon Rusch admits to marching on the Capitol alongside prominent Proud Boys members, but The Daily Beast reported evidence to dispute his protestations that he and his son did not take part in the siege.

"Video footage shows his son picking up what appears to be a dropped police baton as scuffles with cops intensified outside the building," the website reported. "Later, he is seen with the baton inside the Capitol, minutes after the building was first breached. And the ex-SEAL posted a video of himself on Capitol grounds on Jan. 6 with other Proud Boys, one of whom announced that 'we just stormed the fucking Capitol.' The ex-SEAL ... responds with approval."

The photo and video evidence was identified by a team led by John Scott-Railton, a senior researcher at the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab and the investigative group Deep State Dogs, and shows Rusch's son Trevor McDonald entered the Capitol around 2:15 p.m. with a first wave of Proud Boys to go inside.

Rusch posted photos of himself and his 21-year-old son in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 4 and 5, saying they had gone to protest Donald Trump's election loss and stand in "defiance of tyranny and to celebrate American freedom," tagging a number of conservative public figures in the social media posts.

"There is no one I'd rather be here with than my son for this historic event," Rusch tweeted on Jan. 5. "The calm before the strom.... [sic]"

McDonald can be seen in photos and videos from Jan. 6 wearing the same distinctive plaid jacket and red sweatshirt as he wore in his father's posts, and footage shows him picking up a dropped police baton during a clash with officers outside the Capitol and then holding the same weapon as he entered the building among the first group of rioters.

Video recorded by a livestreamer shows him shouting "woo" into the camera as he walked past inside the Capitol.

So far no evidence has turned up showing his father inside the Capitol, and neither man has been charged with a crime related to the insurrection.

Florida company peddling bogus 'miracle' bleach cure for COVID-19 on Facebook and Amazon

A Florida company is peddling a notorious industrial bleach solution as a "miracle cure" for new variants of the coronavirus.

Chlorine dioxide, a dangerous chemical compound used in textile and paper manufacturing, has previously been marketed as a cure for cancer, HIV/AIDS and even autism, and now Miami-based Oclo Nanotechnology Science is making the so-called "miracle mineral solution" in a makeshift laboratory and selling it as a cure for COVID-19, reported The Guardian.

"B117 [is a] new variant of coronavirus, the most contagious and dangerous in the United States," the company states in advertising copy. "Rescuing chlorine dioxide and its great curative potential against pathogens."

The Food and Drug Administration warns the bleach product is potentially dangerous and possibly life-threatening, and the agency has tried to shut down other efforts to market the chemical as a COVID-19 treatment throughout the pandemic.

The FDA previous took down the Florida-based Genesis II "church" that sold MMS as a "sacrament" to cure the deadly virus, and "bishop" Mark Grenon and his four sons are jailed in Miami and Colombia awaiting extradition to the U.S. on fraud conspiracy and other charges.

Oclo is run by Cuba native Ricardo Garcia, a self-described "research and development scientist" and real estate agent.

He's also offering via social media and online marketplaces to transport bleach in enema form to Europe for $680 per liter as a treatment for autism.

The Guardian contacted those tech companies about Garcia's products, and eBay blocked the Oclo page within hours, although Amazon described the company as an "independent business" subject to site policies and Facebook did not reply.

'He's just an idiot to us': Matt Gaetz blacklisted by Fox News and shunned by Trump allies

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) has been informally blacklisted by Fox News after trying to loop host Tucker Carlson into his sex trafficking scandal during an appearance last month.

The Florida Republican angered network brass after seemingly trying to turn Carlson into an exonerating witness, which made the popular prime time host visibly uncomfortable on air, and Fox News insiders told The Daily Beast that Gaetz was "going to be excommunicado for a while."

"It's highly unlikely you'll see him on again anytime soon," one network insider told the website.

Carlson was reportedly "livid" that Gaetz tried to implicate him during the interview, but staffers and hosts are trying to walk a fine line between keeping the embattled lawmaker at arm's length without angering viewers who love the loyal ally to former president Donald Trump.

Gaetz hasn't appeared on Fox News since the late March appearance on Carlson's show, and the network has barely mentioned his name as the scandal continues to swirl around him.

Even Trump was critical of Gaetz's actions during the interview, where he asked Carlson whether he remembered him bringing a 17-year-old companion on dinner date with the broadcaster and his wife.

"What was he thinking?" Trump asked in the days afterward, according to one person with direct knowledge of the matter. "What the hell was he thinking?"

However, another source told the website that Trump has privately expressed a willingness to help Gaetz by branding damaging reports as "fake" news, but the former president and his allies have discussed ways to insulate themselves from the lawmaker via phone calls and group messages reviewed by The Daily Beast.

"[Matt Gaetz] used to be a useful idiot," said one person involved in those conversations. "Now, he's just an idiot to us."

Jerry Falwell Jr's son out as vice president at Liberty University

Liberty University moved even further away from its scandal-plagued former president Jerry Falwell Jr.

The evangelical university confirmed to Politico that his son Trey Falwell was "no longer employed" as vice president or any other position at Liberty eight months after his father resigned over allegations of inappropriate behavior and financial misconduct.

University spokesman Scott Lamb told the website the younger Falwell was pushed out this week but declined to provide additional details, and he also declined to say whether Jerry Falwell Jr.'s other son, Wesley, or his daughters-in-law were still employed by the university.

"[Liberty] does not answer questions about personnel," he said.

Jerry Falwell Jr., the namesake son of the university's founder, has hinted at a possible return, but Liberty's acting president seemed to throw cold water on that possibility.

"No Liberty University employee at any level is permitted to communicate with Jerry Falwell, Jr. or Becki Falwell about university matters," acting president Jerry Prevo told university employees.

Capitol cop cleared by DOJ in fatal shooting of Trump supporter Ashli Babbitt during Jan. 6 riot

The U.S. Department of Justice will not file charges against a U.S. Capitol police officer who fatally shot a woman during the Jan. 6 insurrection.

The officer has been cleared of criminal wrongdoing for fatally shooting Air Force veteran Ashli Babbitt as she tried to breach a set of doors leading to the Speaker's Lobby, just outside the House chamber where some lawmakers were sheltered during the violent siege, reported the Washington Post.

Investigators said there was not enough evidence to prove the 35-year-old Babbitt's civil rights were violated, and said it was reasonable for the officer to believe he was firing in self-defense or to defend members of Congress and their aides.

Prosecutors did not release the officer's name.

Cell phone video from inside the Capitol shows Babbitt and a group of Donald Trump's supporters trying to break through barricaded doors with a helmet, their feet and a flagpole.

An officer wearing a suit and surgical mask then fired a single shot as Babbitt, who was wearing a Trump flag as a cape, tried to crawl through a broken glass pane into the Speaker's Lobby, and she later died from her wound.

"The investigation revealed no evidence to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the officer willfully committed a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 242," the Justice Department said in a statement. "Specifically, the investigation revealed no evidence to establish that, at the time the officer fired a single shot at Ms. Babbitt, the officer did not reasonably believe that it was necessary to do so in self-defense or in defense of the Members of Congress and others evacuating the House Chamber. Acknowledging the tragic loss of life and offering condolences to Ms. Babbitt's family, the U.S. Attorney's Office and U.S. Department of Justice have therefore closed the investigation into this matter."

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