President Biden has a higher approval rating than Trump ever had in four years, surging to a 62% approval. Ari Melber reports on how Biden is picking up some GOP support and strong grassroots support. Melber also reveals how the Biden bounce shows D.C. pundits were wrong in early predictions.
A criminal probe of Trump is heading to a grand jury in Georgia this week. The Fulton County District Attorney is seeking subpoenas for witnesses and documents in the investigation into whether Trump and his associates committed election fraud. MSNBC’s Ari Melber is joined by NYU law professor Melissa Murray to break down the crimes the DA is investigating, including solicitation of election fraud and conspiracy.
- Business Insider
Last week, the US Supreme Court rejected Trump's effort to keep his tax returns hidden from the Manhattan District Attorney.
- Business Insider
Austin's most expensive home, a 9-acre lakefront estate, just sold to an unknown buyer as tech workers rush to the Texas city
The glass-walled home comes with a private lagoon, an outdoor infinity pool, and a three-story guest house.
This is an excerpt from a special report on the rise of the “Blue Lives Matter” effort, documenting evidence that some political operatives have exploited the effort for an agenda distinct from "defending" police, featuring harrowing videos showing how Trump and MAGA fans brutally attacked, injured and tried to kill police at the Jan. 6 insurrection. MSNBC’s Ari Melber highlights videos from inside the riot and accounts from officers themselves, in addition to showing how this documented conduct undercuts
- Business Insider
Former White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany says she was shocked that Trump's January 6 rally turned violent
Law-enforcement agencies had warned of violence before the "Stop the Steal" rally in Washington, DC, on January 6.
MSNBC's Ari Melber reports on the breaking news that President Biden has accepted Neera Tanden's request to withdraw her nomination to be Director of the Office of Management and Budget.
- The New York Times
At 1:51 p.m. on Jan. 6, a right-wing radio host named Michael D. Brown wrote on Twitter that rioters had breached the U.S. Capitol — and immediately speculated about who was really to blame. “Antifa or BLM or other insurgents could be doing it disguised as Trump supporters,” Brown wrote, using shorthand for Black Lives Matter. “Come on, man, have you never heard of psyops?” Only 13,000 people follow Brown on Twitter, but his tweet caught the attention of another conservative pundit: Todd Herman, who was guest-hosting Rush Limbaugh’s national radio program. Minutes later, he repeated Brown’s baseless claim to Limbaugh’s throngs of listeners: “It’s probably not Trump supporters who would do that. Antifa, BLM, that’s what they do. Right?” What happened over the next 12 hours illustrated the speed and the scale of a right-wing disinformation machine primed to seize on a lie that served its political interests and quickly spread it as truth to a receptive audience. The weekslong fiction about a stolen election that former President Donald Trump pushed to his millions of supporters had set the stage for a new and equally false iteration: that left-wing agitators were responsible for the attack on the Capitol. Sign up for The Morning newsletter from the New York Times In fact, the rioters breaking into the citadel of American democracy that day were acolytes of Trump, intent on stopping Congress from certifying his electoral defeat. Subsequent arrests and investigations have found no evidence that people who identify with antifa, a loose collective of anti-fascist activists, were involved in the insurrection. But even as Americans watched live images of rioters wearing MAGA hats and carrying Trump flags breach the Capitol — egged on only minutes earlier by a president who falsely denounced a rigged election and exhorted his followers to fight for justice — history was being rewritten in real time. Within hours, a narrative built on rumors and partisan conjecture had reached the Twitter megaphones of pro-Trump politicians. By day’s end, Laura Ingraham and Sarah Palin had shared it with millions of Fox News viewers, and Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida had stood on the ransacked House floor and claimed that many rioters “were members of the violent terrorist group antifa.” Nearly two months after the attack, the claim that antifa was involved has been repeatedly debunked by federal authorities, but it has hardened into gospel among hard-line Trump supporters, by voters and sanctified by elected officials in the party. More than half of Trump voters in a Suffolk University/USA Today poll said that the riot was “mostly an antifa-inspired attack.” At Senate hearings last week focused on the security breakdown at the Capitol, Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., repeated the falsehood that “fake Trump protesters” fomented the violence. For those who hoped Trump’s don’t-believe-your-eyes tactics might fade after his defeat, the mainstreaming of the antifa conspiracy is a sign that truth remains a fungible concept among his most ardent followers. Buoyed by a powerful right-wing media network that had just spent eight weeks advancing Trump’s baseless claims of voter fraud, pro-Trump Republicans have succeeded in warping their voters’ realities, exhibiting sheer gall as they seek to minimize a violent riot perpetrated by their own supporters. If anyone was responsible for desecrating the Capitol, Johnson said in a radio interview as the violence was unfolding that day, “I would really question whether that’s a true Trump supporter or a true conservative.” In a telephone interview last week, Johnson delivered a handful of unsubstantiated or false statements that dovetail with much of the right-wing disinformation about the riot circulating online and on conservative radio and television programs. The senator said that while most of the people arrested at the Capitol were right-wing Trump supporters, he had not reached any conclusions about the political affiliations of those responsible for planning it. He said he had “seen videos of other people claiming to be antifa” preparing in their hotel rooms. “I don’t know if any of that’s been verified,” Johnson added. A Lie That Outraced the Truth A review of media activity in the immediate aftermath of the Jan. 6 riot reveals just how quickly the right-wing media machine, first online and then on radio and cable TV, advanced the fiction about antifa’s supposed involvement. The conspiracy gained new momentum after The Washington Times, a right-wing newspaper, published an online article shortly before 2:30 p.m. claiming that a facial recognition firm had identified antifa activists in the crowd at the Capitol. The newspaper corrected the article less than 24 hours later after its claims were proved false — but not before the story made an enormous impact. The article eventually amassed 360,000 likes and shares on Facebook, according to CrowdTangle, a tool owned by Facebook and used for analyzing social media. From 4 p.m. to 5 p.m., the antifa falsehood was mentioned about 8,700 times across cable television, social media and online news outlets, according to Zignal Labs, a media insights company. “Remember, Antifa openly planned to dress as Trump supporters and cause chaos today,” said one tweet that collected 41,100 likes and shares. Snopes, the online fact-checking outlet, had already debunked the false antifa narrative — but its story attracted only 306 likes and shares on Twitter at the time, an indication of how difficult it is for fact-checking efforts to gain traction over the original falsehood. Gaetz, the pro-Trump congressman, was a superspreader of the Washington Times article; his Facebook post about it collected 27,000 interactions. And Ingraham cited the article on Twitter and on her prime-time Fox News show. (By contrast, a BuzzFeed News article that refuted the Washington Times story collected only 18,000 interactions on Facebook.) Rumors require a receptive audience to take hold, and Trump’s supporters had long been primed to accept a baseless claim that antifa — relentlessly portrayed by the president as a dangerous terror group — had instigated the violence, rather than their fellow MAGA fans. In May, Trump announced that the United States would declare antifa a domestic terrorist group, despite lacking clear authority to do so. Falsehoods about busloads and planeloads of antifa activists traveling the nation to sow violence became a common trope on right-wing internet sites, even prompting some Americans to ask local law enforcement for help. At the first presidential debate in September, seen by 73 million people, Trump said, “Somebody’s got to do something about antifa and the left.” (In the same answer, Trump declined to condemn the Proud Boys, a far-right extremist group that has endorsed violence.) This drumbeat meant that the notion of left-wing activists disrupting the Electoral College to embarrass Trump might not have seemed far-fetched to the president’s supporters — even those in Congress. Hours after the attack, Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama, a Republican who had served as a warm-up speaker for Trump at the pre-riot rally, promoted the false antifa claims on national television. “We did have some warning that there might be antifa elements masquerading as Trump supporters in advance of the attack on the Capitol,” Brooks told Fox Business host Lou Dobbs. He amplified his baseless claim the next morning in a Twitter thread that was retweeted nearly 19,000 times. “Evidence, much public, surfacing that many Capitol assaulters were fascist ANTIFAs, not Trump supporters,” Brooks wrote, providing no evidence. “Time will reveal truth. Don’t rush to judgment.” In an interview last week, Brooks admitted that he had not verified his information before airing it publicly. But he insisted that several members of Congress — whom he would not identify — had warned him about an antifa presence in Washington, prompting him to sleep in his congressional office for two nights preceding Jan. 6. Brooks now says that the role of antifa and Black Lives Matter “appears to be relatively minimal compared to the roles of more militant elements of other groups.” He said in the interview that he had “very frequently cautioned that the information that we’re getting is incomplete, preliminary” — a caveat that went unmentioned in his incendiary tweets at the time. An Activist's Arrest and More Disinformation There is no question that the violent and sudden nature of the Capitol riot created a fire hose of partial and sometimes conflicting information from an array of sources, generating confusion for the lawmakers, journalists and Americans watching from home as they struggled to make sense of what transpired. Several major news outlets, for example, including The New York Times, initially reported that a Capitol Police officer, Brian Sicknick, died after being struck with a fire extinguisher by a rioter. Those reports were based on early information from law enforcement officials. Weeks later, the Times updated its reporting on Sicknick’s death after investigators began to suspect he had been sprayed in the face by some kind of irritant rather than struck by an object. On Friday, the FBI said it had pinpointed an assailant who attacked Sicknick with bear spray, but investigators had yet to identify the attacker by name. Unlike those reports, the antifa narrative had a clear ideological component. The political leanings of the rioters are not in question. Court filings in many of the criminal cases stemming from the attack quote pro-Trump rioters explicitly denying that antifa was involved and instead emphasizing their own participation, portraying it as an act of patriotism. To date, there is no evidence in case filings that any individual associated with antifa has been charged. Ingraham, who told Fox News viewers about “antifa sympathizers” at the riot, later shared on Twitter that the Washington Times article she cited had been debunked; she did not issue an on-air correction. Herman, the Limbaugh guest host who speculated about antifa, wrote in an email Saturday that “it was clear a large group of Trump supporters entered the Capitol and assaulted people.” But he continued to assert, falsely, that antifa activists had plotted to impersonate Trump supporters. Of the 290 people who have been charged in the attack, at least 27 are known to have ties to far-right extremist groups like the Oath Keepers or the Proud Boys. Others have links to neo-Confederate and white supremacist entities or are clear supporters of the conspiracy movement QAnon. The vast majority expressed a fervent belief that Trump was the election’s rightful winner. On Jan. 8, the FBI said there was no evidence that supporters of antifa, who have been known to aggressively counterprotest white supremacist demonstrations, had participated in the Capitol mob. And on Jan. 13, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the Republican House minority leader, spoke at Trump’s impeachment trial and declared, “Some say the riots were caused by antifa. There’s absolutely no evidence of that, and conservatives should be the first to say so.” But the next day, the arrest of a protester named John Sullivan prompted yet another surge in right-wing media about antifa and the riot. Sullivan called himself an “activist” from Utah, and CNN introduced him, inaccurately, as a “left-wing activist” when he appeared on the network on Jan. 6. (He had sold footage to CNN and other news outlets that showed the shooting of Ashli Babbitt, a rioter who died inside the Capitol.) The conspiracy site Gateway Pundit and Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s lawyer, seized on Sullivan’s arrest to again blame antifa in posts that collected tens of thousands of likes and shares on Facebook and Twitter. In reality, Sullivan was an attention seeker whose politics were fungible and seemingly shifted based on which protest he was attending at the time, according to activists from Seattle, Salt Lake City and Portland, Oregon, who had issued warnings about him months before the Capitol riot. On Jan. 8, the founder of Black Lives Matter Utah said that Sullivan “never has been and never will be” a member of the group. (“John is not affiliated with any organization,” Steven Kiersh, a lawyer for Sullivan, said Friday.) But the facts about Sullivan did not spread as far as the falsehoods. YouTube videos featuring Sullivan prompted the Oregon Republican Party to adopt a resolution Jan. 19 asserting that there was “growing evidence” the Jan. 6 violence was a “false flag” operation intended “to discredit President Trump, his supporters, and all conservative Republicans.” The resolution was written by Solomon Yue, a longtime Republican National Committee member, who said in an interview that he based it on videos of Sullivan offering tips on how to disguise oneself at a protest. Yue said he also used his own knowledge of “Battle of the Bulge,” a 1965 Henry Fonda film in which German soldiers disguise themselves as U.S. troops. Thanks to the YouTube clips and the movie analogy, the Oregon state party “understood what I meant by ‘false flag,’” Yue said, referring to a scheme to deceive enemies by adopting a fake identity. Yue said he hoped others would consider alternate explanations for the Jan. 6 attack. “If I can pull those videos from the internet and raise the issue, I think other Americans can do the same,” he said. Many pro-Trump Americans have already reached their own conclusions about the violence on Jan. 6. Jason Franzen, 46, a Trump voter who works in carpentry in Thorp, Wisconsin, said he was convinced that the former president’s enemies planned and carried out the attack. “I don’t want to point fingers, but my gut tells me that there were some higher-up Democrats who were instigating the whole thing,” said Franzen, who said he gets his news from Facebook and right-wing cable network One America News. “My gut has been right a lot of times, so I’m just going to go with my gut.” “I am pro-Trump,” Franzen added, “but I still want the truth.” This article originally appeared in The New York Times. © 2021 The New York Times Company
- The Independent
John Brennan says ‘there are so few Republicans in Congress who value truth, honesty, and integrity’
Paying ransoms to kidnappers is fuelling the mass abduction of students in northern Nigeria, analysts say.
- Associated Press
A Polish court on Tuesday acquitted three activists who had been accused of desecration and offending religious feelings for producing and distributing images of a revered Roman Catholic icon altered to include the LGBT rainbow. The posters, which they distributed in the city of Plock in 2019, used rainbows as halos in an image of the Virgin Mary and the baby Jesus.
- The Independent
Trump asks supporters for more money in CPAC speech after raising $250 million for his Stop the Steal campaign
Trump’s CPAC speech was his first public event since leaving office in January 2021
- The State
“I got away with things others were shot or arrested for,” the man said in a text message, according to court documents.
The comic legends told Jimmy Kimmel that Louie Anderson was cast in the classic 1980s comedy because he was one of three names given to them.
- LA Times
Op-Ed: It's official. Mohammed bin Salman is responsible for Jamal Khashoggi's murder. Hold him accountable
President Biden's failure to punish the Saudi crown prince defies justice and weakens the rule of law everywhere.
Turkey's government plans to shut down the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), the ruling AK Party's deputy parliament chairman was quoted as saying on Tuesday, the most senior official to endorse nationalist demands for its closure. President Tayyip Erdogan's government and its nationalist MHP allies accuse the HDP of links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), accusations that escalated after Ankara said Turkish captives were killed by the PKK in Iraq last month. The MHP have repeatedly called for the HDP's closure over links to the PKK, which Turkey, the European Union, and United States designate a terrorist organisation.
- Associated Press
When Eddie Murphy made the original “Coming to America,” he was, almost indisputably, the funniest man in America. Murphy was at the very height of his fame, coming off “Beverly Hills Cop II” and the stand-up special “Raw.” Arsenio Hall, Murphy’s longtime friend and co-star in “Coming to America,” remembers them sneaking out during the shoot to a Hollywood nightclub while still dressed as Prince Akeem and his loyal aide Semmi.
- LA Times
Sunday's Golden Globes were partly virtual, which explains why Catherine O'Hara, Daniel Kaluuya and Tracy Morgan had some technical difficulties.
The United States on Tuesday imposed sanctions to punish Russia for what it described as Moscow's attempt to poison opposition leader Alexei Navalny with a nerve agent last year, in President Joe Biden's most direct challenge yet to the Kremlin. The sanctions against seven senior Russian officials, among them the head of its FSB security service, and on 14 entities marked a sharp departure from former President Donald Trump's reluctance to confront Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman may have been spared direct punishment after a U.S. intelligence report implicated him in the killing of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, but he has not emerged unscathed. The declassified report, based on CIA intelligence, concludes that the prince approved an operation to "capture or kill" Khashoggi, who was murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018. President Joe Biden's decision to publish a report that his predecessor Donald Trump had set aside brings with it a broad refocusing of Washington's stance on dealing with the kingdom, on its human rights record, and on its lucrative arms purchases.