Trump news - live: Don Jr mocked for first Truth Social post as Biden releases Jan 6 White House visitor logs

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As the launch of Donald Trump’s new social media site Truth Social draws near, Donald Trump Jr is being ridiculed over what purports to be his father’s first post on the platform.

As shared by the ex-president’s son, the post – reading “Get Ready! Your favorite President will see you soon!” – indicates that the design of Truth Social is almost a carbon copy of the Twitter interface, from which Trump senior was banned after the 6 January insurrection. In response, many users have pointed out the irony of the Trump family having to promote an anti-Twitter platform on Twitter itself.

Meanwhile, Joe Biden has disregarded another of Donald Trump’s claims of “executive privilege” and ordered the release of White House visitor logs leading up to and including 6 January 2021. The records will be made available by the National Archives to the House select committee investigating the deadly attack on the US Capitol, this as the panel’s work advances fast on multiple fronts.

The committee is issuing subpoenas to people in Mr Trump’s orbit at an increasingly fast clip, in particular focusing on people involved in efforts to send fake slates of pro-Trump electors to Washington as part of the effort to subvert the election result.

Key Points

  • Accounting firm: Trump financial statements aren’t reliable

  • Special counsel John Durham accuses Clintons of trying to infiltrate Trump Towers servers

  • Trump used secret service agent’s phone to call Melania

  • Democrats reportedly express frustration with Biden's Build Back Better legislation

  • Rudy Giuliani reportedly in talks to testify before 6 Jan committee

Trump claims New York investigation is ‘racist'

16:43 , Andrew Naughtie

New York Attorney General Letitia James has risen rapidly up the ranking on Donald Trump’s list of enemies over the last few months, and has now entered perhaps the top 10 as her investigation into the former president’s finances takes yet another turn.

Mr Trump’s latest broadside against her goes beyond his boilerplate claim that her probe of his property dealings is a witch hunt (though he does use that term) and tips over into a nebulous conspiracy theory about ”the Hillary Clinton run District Attorney’s Office of Manhattan”.

Here’s an excerpt:

“After five years of constant bombardment, this political and racist attack must stop. Look to the murderers, drug dealers and rapists instead. The actions of the AG and DA, including the Radical Left Westchester County DA who was a Trump hating contributor at MSNBC, reveal the vile and malicious intent that underlies the nonstop barrage of insults and threats aimed at me and the Trump Organization, including their years-long review of over nine million pages of documents that go far beyond the Statute of Limitations”

Read more below.

Trump calls the New York Attorney General’s probe into him ‘racist’

Republican v Republican in Texas AG primary

16:10 , Andrew Naughtie

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton – a hardline right-winger who spoke at Donald Trump’s “stop the steal” rally on 6 January 2021 – has fired an opening salvo in his fight to hold his office against three Republican challengers.

His target is Congressman Louie Gohmert, another hardcore Trumpist who subscribes to the idea that the last election was stolen. Mr Gohmert has made much of Mr Paxton’s legal problems (he has been under indictment since 2015), and in return, the incumbent is hitting him for his poor attendance at his job in DC.

Here’s a glimpse into a race that promises to keep getting nastier:

More on the Durham release that’s got Trumpworld in a frenzy

15:45 , Andrew Naughtie

Law & Crime has published this explainer on what the recent court filing from John Durham really means. The coverage from Fox News and other right-wing outlets has been feverish, but mainstream outlets have kept the story more at arm’s length – largely because the filing in question does not in fact mean what many on the right are claiming it does.

Josh Hawley denies mug showing him with fist raised is “pro-riot"

15:15 , Andrew Naughtie

Missouri Senator Josh Hawley, who along with Ted Cruz formally objected to the 2020 election result even after the 6 January attack, is selling a mug featuring the infamous fist-pump he offered to the crowd of Trump supporters outside the Capitol as he arrived for the certification process that day.

Speaking to the Huffington Post, Mr Hawley has insisted that the mug – which bears the words “SHOW-ME STRONG!” – is not “pro-riot”.

“At the time that we were out there, folks were gathered peacefully to protest, and they have a right to do that,” he told the site. “They do not have a right to assault cops.”

Read more below:

Jan 6 investigation: why every minute matters

14:40 , Andrew Naughtie

CBS’s Scott MacFarlane, who is covering the criminal cases from the 6 January riot as closely as any other reporter, explains why the timing of the Oath Keepers’ arrival at the Capitol matters so much – down to just a handful of minutes...

Read Biden administration’s order that Trump’s visitor logs be released

14:20 , Andrew Naughtie

Joe Biden has dismissed Donald Trump’s claim that executive privilege should shield White House visitor logs from the scrutiny of the 6 January committee – and as the documents begin their journey to the panel’s desks, the letter relaying the president’s decision has been released.

Jan 6 committee homes in on fake “electors"

13:45 , Andrew Naughtie

Given the Republicans are widely expected to take back the House this November, the 6 January committee quite probably has less than a year to conclude its work – and it is evidently wasting no time, rapidly expanding the list of people it wants to give evidence.

Along with the White House records now being turned over with Joe Biden’s clearance, the committee is now “seeking records and testimony from former campaign officials and other individuals in various states who we believe have relevant information” on a plan to complicate and subvert the certification of the 2020 election by submitting fake slates of pro-Trump “electors” from swing states.

Andrew Feinberg has the story.

January 6 committee subpoenas Trump fake elector plotters

Long read: why Mark Meadows’ Jan 6 text messages are so important

13:07 , Andrew Naughtie

As the 6 January committee gathers reams of evidence in its attempt to establish exactly what happened at the Capitol a year ago, the Washington Post has put together this fascinating deep dive into texts sent to then-chief of staff Mark Meadows as the insurrection unfolded.

The story contains comments from members of the panel themselves, as well as members of their staff.

One member of the panel, Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Va.), described the texts as “key to the investigation — they tie things together and there’s an immediacy to the texts” that provide more context and spontaneous information than a standard email.

“You can tease out the facts and learn more about personal relationships,” Luria said, noting that text messages often allow investigators to see how familiar people are with each other and how they interact in real time.

Meadows and other senders and recipients of the texts declined to comment for this story.

Read the piece below.

Oath Keepers founder to ask for release from custody as he awaits 6 January prosecution

12:35 , Andrew Naughtie

Stewart Rhodes, the leader of the extremist Oath Keepers militia group, will today be asking for release from pre-trial detention. He and several of his compatriots face charges of seditious conspiracy related to the Capitol attack, and their cases promise to be some of the most serious since the insurrection happened.

To understand more about Mr Rhodes, his organisation and their alleged role in the events of 6 January, dive into this long read from The Independent’s Richard Hall.

How Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes went from ballroom dancing to sedition charges

Biden orders release of White House visitor logs to 6 January panel

12:07 , Andrew Naughtie

Donald Trump has repeatedly tried to invoke executive privilege to keep documents and records out of reach of the 6 January select committee, but so far, he has had no success. He now faces another setback: Joe Biden is ordering that the National Archives release White House visitor logs from the waning days and weeks of Mr Trump’s time in office.

According to the New York Times, this includes “entries in visitor logs showing appointment information for individuals who were processed to enter the White House complex, including on Jan. 6, 2021”.

Read more below:

Biden rejects Trump’s privilege defence to avoid turning over White House logs

Biden orders release of White House visitor logs to 6 January panel

12:07 , Andrew Naughtie

Donald Trump has repeatedly tried to invoke executive privilege to keep documents and records out of reach of the 6 January select committee, but so far, he has had no success. He now faces another setback: Joe Biden is ordering that the National Archives release White House visitor logs from the waning days and weeks of Mr Trump’s time in office.

According to the New York Times, this includes “entries in visitor logs showing appointment information for individuals who were processed to enter the White House complex, including on Jan. 6, 2021”.

Read more below:

What will happen to Trump’s “fake electors”?

11:39 , Andrew Naughtie

Developments continue in the slow-burning story of the pro-Trump “electors” from various swing states who submitted official-looking but false documents claiming Mr Trump had been re-elected.

As just one strand of the effort to overturn Joe Biden’s victory, the apparently co-ordinated effort to disrupt the Electoral College process is under investigation by the 6 January select committee – and speaking on MSNBC last night, former federal prosecutor Glenn Kirschner explained that the individuals who put their names to the plan (among them several elected Republican officials) could well be facing criminal charges.

The Truth will out

11:36 , Andrew Naughtie

The launch of Donald Trump’s long-awaited social network, Truth Social, is apparently drawing near despite reports of delays. As Trump fans prepare for the arrival of the app’s beta version, Donald Trump Jr has shared what purports to be his father’s first post on the new platform:

Other, more complete screenshots circulating among Trump fans show an interface that’s more or less a direct clone of Twitter, from which the former president was banned after the 6 January Capitol attack. The provenance of the images, however, is not entirely clear.

Truth Social will compete with other conservative-friendly platforms like Gab and Gettr, the latter of which has former Trump aide Jason Miller as its CEO. Its early publicity has made much of its supposedly anti-censorship, free speech-first philosophy; however, it will also reportedly use third-party artificial intelligence software to filter out undesirable posts.

ICYMI: Sarah Palin loses defamation lawsuit

11:00 , Andrew Naughtie

Former Alaska governor, vice presidential candidate and proto-Trumpian populist Sarah Palin has lost a defamation case she brought against the New York Times over a 2017 article that drew a link between a map put out by her political action committee and the shooting of Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.

Both judge and jury rejected Ms Palin’s case, saying her legal team had failed to prove that the defendants had shown “actual malice”, the standard used in libel cases against public figures.

Read more on the verdict here:

Jury reaches verdict in Sarah Palin’s defamation case against The New York Times

Report: what chance do Democrats have against Republicans?

09:40 , Andrew Naughtie

According to Politico, the DCCC – the campaign organization for House Democrats – has warned members that unless they confront the GOP’s “culture war” attacks head-on, they could be doomed to lose by wide margins.

If Democrats don’t answer Republican hits, the party operatives warned, the GOP’s lead on the generic ballot balloons to 14 points from 4 points — a dismal prediction for Democrats when the GOP only needs to win five seats to seize back the majority. But when voters heard a Democratic response to that hit, Republicans’ edge narrowed back down to 6 points, giving candidates more of a fighting chance, especially since those numbers don’t factor in Democrats going on the offensive.

Read the full report below.

Trump team banging the “crooked Hillary” drum once again

08:43 , Andrew Naughtie

A late-night email from Donald Trump’s “Save America” indicates just how hard the former president and his allies are prepared to push the misrepresented news about John Durham’s investigation.

The allegation of “spying” that Mr Trump and right-wing media like Fox News have been claiming was “worse than Watergate” does not in fact match the facts of the filing that drew attention. The “news” contained in the filing did not say the White House had been “infiltrated” or that the matters at issue took place while Mr Trump was president – and more than that, most of the story – which does not in fact directly involve Hillary Clinton or her campaign – was publicly known last autumn.

Nonetheless, here’s the fundraising email Mr Trump has sent round:

Crooked Hillary is BACK. What Hillary Clinton and the Radical Left Democrats did with respect to spying on a President of the United States, even while in office, is a far bigger crime than Watergate.

It will be interesting to see how it was covered by the media and what Mitch McConnell and the RINOs will be doing about it. The fact is: this is an insult to the Republican Party, but a far greater insult to our Nation. The Democrats will do what they always do: DENY DENY DENY, and the Fake News media will cover for them as usual. YOU have the only opinion that matters to President Trump, Andrew, so we need to know:


Senate narrowly confirms Biden’s FDA pick

07:26 , Sravasti Dasgupta

The Senate has narrowly confirmed president Joe Biden’s pick to lead the Food and Drug Administration, Dr Robert Califf.

In a 50-46 vote on Tuesday, the Senate confirmed Dr Califf, a cardiologist and prominent medical researcher, for a second stint leading the FDA.

He had briefly headed the FDA during the end of president Barack Obama’s administration.

The FDA has been without a permanent leader for more than a year despite playing a central role in the Covid-19 pandemic response.

As the new FDA chief, Dr Califf faces a host of pending decisions at the agency, which regulates products that make up an estimated one fifth of all US consumer spending, including prescription and over-the-counter drugs, medical devices, tobacco products and most foods.

“He (Dr Califf) brings to this critical post a lifetime of knowledge and the institutional experience that will ensure he hits the ground running,” said White House press secretary Jen Psaki in a statement.

(FILE) Senate confirms Robert Califf as new FDA chief (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
(FILE) Senate confirms Robert Califf as new FDA chief (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Trump links Chinatown murder to probe into his taxes

06:59 , Sravasti Dasgupta

Former president Donald Trump has brought up the murder of a Chinatown woman as he lashed out at the New York District Attorney and Attorney General for allegedly harassing his accounting firm Mazars USA that severed ties with him.

Read the full story here:

Trump links Chinatown murder to probe into his taxes after Mazar’s exit

Trump Organization reinstated in DC AG’s case against Trump’s inaugural committee

06:48 , Sravasti Dasgupta

A court in Washington DC has reinstated the Trump Organization as a defendant in the DC attorney general Karl Racine’s case against former president Donald Trump’s inaugural committee.

On Monday, DC Superior Court Judge Yvonne Williams reversed an earlier decision to dismiss the case against the Trump Organization.

The court is expected to set a trial schedule on Thursday. The case accuses Mr Trump’s Presidential Inaugural Committee of misusing non-profit funds to pay for event space at the Trump Hotel along with other transactions.

Through the case Mr Racine also alleges that the committee paid a debt owed by the Trump Organization.

“The case will now proceed to trial fully intact as it was originally brought,” said a spokesperson for Mr Racine to CNN.

Donald Trump’s organisation owns the Turnberry gold course (Andrew Milligan/PA) (PA Archive)
Donald Trump’s organisation owns the Turnberry gold course (Andrew Milligan/PA) (PA Archive)

Trump’s first statement since accounting firm cut ties

05:00 , Sravasti Dasgupta

Former president Donald Trump has issued his first statement since his accounting firm Mazars USA cut ties.

On Wednesday Mr Trump said: “We have a great company with fantastic assets that are unique, extremely valuable and, in many cases, far more valuable than what was listed in our Financial Statements.

“Anyone with even a minor degree of financial acumen would recognise that these Statements of Financial Condition, prepared for the Trump Organisation, are not audited-Which is also prominently highlighted in the Disclaimer Declaration on page one and two of the documents themselves.

“My company has among the best real estate and other assets everywhere in the world, has significant amounts of cash, and has relatively very little debt, which is totally current.”

He added that Mazars has cut ties with him due to “vicious intimidation tactics” by the New York Attorney General and the District Attorney.

“Mazars has been threatened, harassed, and insulted like virtually no other firm has ever been. They were essentially forced to resign from a great long-term account by the prosecutorial misconduct of a highly political, but failed, gubernatorial candidate Letitia James.”

Former congressman retweets message mocking Trump for ‘b****ing’ about Clinton ‘spying'

04:15 , John Bowden

Former Republican congressman Justin Amash, who left the party over his disputes with former President Donald Trump and the general direction of the GOP, retweeted a conservative columnist who mocked the ex-president and his allies on Monday for complaining about Hillary Clinton’s allies supposedly “spying” on his administration and campaign.

The original tweet from Washington Examiner contributor Brad Polumbo read: “So many of the elected Republicans bitching about how Hilary spied on Trump also voted to reauthorize the Patriot Act. Unless they’ve issued a mea culpa about that and are working to repeal the mass surveillance of Americans they can shove their Daddy Trump crocodile tears.”

Mr Amash, whose district is now represented by another anti-Trump Republican, Peter Meijer, added in his own quote tweet: “Trump himself signed legislation to reauthorize the Patriot Act—and FISA!”, referring to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act as well as the legislation which allowed warantless international and domestic phone tapping of Americans and others.

Legal battle looms for Trump’s finances

04:01 , Sravasti Dasgupta

New York attorney general Letitia James will go to court on Thursday seeking to enforce a subpoena for Mr Trump’s testimony in a civil investigation.

Ms James she says uncovered evidence his company used “fraudulent or misleading” valuations of his properties to get loans and tax benefits.

On Monday a court filing showed that Trump’s accounting firm recently advised him to stop using financial statements it prepared on his behalf.

Earlier on Wednesday, the former president’s son Eric Trump hit out at the attorney general after Trumps’ accounting firm cut ties.

Mr Trump tweeted that attorneys “will be in front of a New York Judge outlining the blatantly unethical behaviour of Tish James the NY Attorney General” on Thursday after Mazars’ announcement was made public in a court filing on Monday.

The Independent’s Gino Spocchia has more:

Eric Trump vows revenge after accountancy firm ditches family

Biden touts legal victory of Newtown parents

03:45 , John Bowden

President Joe Biden issued a statement late Tuesday afternoon celebrating a legal victory achieved by parents of nine children killed during the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary.

In his remarks, Mr Biden also pointed out that the victory showed that legal shielding for firearms manufacturers was not absolute.

“They have demonstrated that state and city consumer protection laws – like Connecticut’s Unfair Trade Practices Act – provide an opportunity to hold gun manufacturers and dealers accountable for wrongdoing despite the persistence of the federal immunity shield for these companies,” he said.

The Biden administration has faced calls from gun control activists like those involved with the March For Our Lives to take more action at the administrative level to battle gun violence and mass shootings, particularly this week which marks the fourth anniversary of the deadly mass shooting in Parkland, Florida.

Biden: US cannot verify Russian troops are pulling back

03:15 , John Bowden

President Joe Biden warned in a national address on Tuesday that war between Ukraine and Russia remains very possible, stating that the US cannot verify Russian claims to be withdrawing some military forces from the region.

Mr Biden reiterated during the address that the US’s response to any attack would be swift and damaging.

“We have not yet verified the Russian military units are returning to their home bases. Indeed, our analysts indicate that they remain very much in a threatening position,” he said. “The fact remains right now Russia has more than 150,000 troops and circling Ukraine and Belarus and along Ukraine’s border and invasion remains distinctly possible.”

Read more from The Independent’s Andrew Feinberg:

Biden says Russian attack on Ukraine ‘still very much a possibility’

Jan 6 committee wants Pennsylvania Republican to spell out his ‘agitator’ conspiracy

02:15 , John Bowden

Lawmakers on the January 6 committee revealed on Tuesday that they want a Republican state senator in Pennsylvania who was present during the Capitol riot to explain to them what he meant when he claimed to see “agitators” fighting with law enforcement during the riot.

To state Sen Doug Mastriano, the committee wrote that it “understand[s]” he was “present during the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, and that you witnessed ‘agitators...getting in the face of the police’ and ‘agitators...start pushing the police up the [Capitol] steps’”.

“We would like to better understand these and other statements, events that you witnessed or in which you participated, and communications we believe you may have had with national, state, and local officials and others about the outcome of the November 2020 election and the events of January 6, 2021,” wrote committee chairman Rep Bennie Thompson.

Read more from The Independent’s Andrew Feinberg:

January 6 committee subpoenas Trump fake elector plotters

Los Angeles becomes latest city to ease Covid restrictions

01:45 , John Bowden

Los Angeles is the latest city to choose to ease Covid-19 restrictions in response to falling case numbers following the spread of the Omicron variant over the winter and late fall.

Residents will now be able to go maskless at large outdoor events as well as at outdoor activities put on by K-12 schools and childcare facilities.

The move comes as the CDC continued to recommend masking, but the Biden administration cautions that the federal guidance is under review. Many jurisdictions led by Democrats now appear to be moving in a similar direction on mask orders and, in some cases, vaccine mandates.

The Independent’s Graeme Massie has more:

Los Angeles to lift outdoor mask mandate as Covid cases continue to fall

The Onion mocks ‘cannibal terrorist’ Sarah Palin after court defeat

01:15 , John Bowden

Satire news site The Onion took a shot at Sarah Palin after the former Alaska governor lost her battle with The New York Times in court this week.

Ms Palin was unable to convince either a judge or a jury that the Times’s editorial linking her political group to the shooting of former Rep Gabby Giffords was not done with “actual malice”. As a result, her defamation trial ended this week unless she plans to mount a long-shot appeal.

On Tuesday, The Onion took the opportunity to do some more unfounded linking of Ms Palin to controversial topics, dubbing her a “cannibal terrorist” in a tweet.

Conway says Trump’s accounting firm ditching him is worse than getting impeached

00:45 , John Bowden

Conservative attorney George Conway weighed in on news that the Trump Organization was being dropped by its accounting firm which had identified 10 years’ worth of statements as unreliable.

Mr Conway, a longtime critic of the ex-president, called the news worse for the former president than his two impeachments. He also predicted that it would be “next to impossible” for Mr Trump’s company to find a new willing firm as its accountant.

Read more from The Independent:

Conway says Trump’s accounting firm ditching him is worse than getting impeached

Billionaire tech investor funding dating app for Trump supporters who can’t find love in liberal cities

00:15 , John Bowden

Trump-supporting billionaire Peter Thiel is funding a project that could appeal to conservatives spurned from Tinder or Bumble for their support of Donald Trump.

He’s putting $1.5 million into an initial seed funding round for The Right Stuff, a conservative-targeted dating app that hopes to be an alternative for those who want to date in line with their right-leaning beliefs.

The venture follows his investment in Rumble, an alternative to other mainstream social media platforms that also seeks to target conservative audiences.

Read more from The Independent:

Billionaire Peter Thiel funding dating app for Trump supporters

Hillary Clinton ignores shouted questions about Durham allegations

Tuesday 15 February 2022 23:45 , John Bowden

Former 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was confronted by a reporter on Monday about the allegations raised by John Durham claiming that a lawyer who had formerly worked for her campaign was involved in an effort to search White House data for connections between Donald Trump and Russia by exploiting a business relationship with the Trump administration.

Ms Clinton ignored the shouted questions, while giving the reporter a small wave.

Republicans furious over Durham allegations

Tuesday 15 February 2022 23:15 , John Bowden

Republicans lawmakers continued to issue furious statements on Tuesday after Justice Department special counsel John Durham alleged in court filings that a company contracted to work with the Trump White House exploited its relationship to search for information some employees thought could link Donald Trump to Russia.

Sen Chuck Grassley wrote that he was “outraged” by the allegation, and claimed that the Clinton campaign had been proven to have spied on the Trump campaign.

But a deep dive by The Associated Press reveals that the truth is a little more complicated than Mr Grassley’s assertion:

EXPLAINER: How the latest Trump-Russia filing generated buzz

Jan 6 committee subpoenas Republicans involved in ‘alternate electors’ effort

Tuesday 15 February 2022 22:59 , John Bowden

The January 6 committee moved on Tuesday to issue a new round of subpoenas. The latest batch target various conservative state-level figures accused of involvement in a scheme to send “alternate electors”, which are not allowed under the Constitution, to Washington in the hopes that the Senate would recognize their votes for Donald Trump instead of Joe Biden.

Among the latest targets are Kelli Ward, head of Arizona’s Republican Party, as well as Pennsylvania state Sen Doug Mastriano.

Read more at the Select Committee’s website:

Legal analyst: ‘No future president’ will have reason to obey the law if Trump gets off

Tuesday 15 February 2022 21:55 , John Bowden

Glenn Kirschner, a veteran former prosecutor and current legal analyst on MSNBC and YouTube, warned on Monday that “no future president” would have a reason to obey the law if former President Donald Trump was not held accountable for his actions.

Mr Trump is currently facing a criminal investigation into his efforts to overturn Georgia’s state election results in 2020 as well as a wholly separate effort by the New York state attorney general to prosecute his company for allegedly hiding the value of its assets for tax purposes.

“To be clear, if the DOJ fails to prosecute Trump & his corrupt associates for their many crimes, no future politician or high government official will have any reason whosoever to obey the law. Such a failure will have us slouching toward the end of our republic,” Mr Kirschner tweeted.

Tuesday 15 February 2022 21:33 , John Bowden

Virginia’s lieutenant governor gaveled a state Senate session to order on Monday with her high heel after the gavel went missing.

Winsome Sears, the state’s first female lieutenant governor, told reporters afterwards that “[o]ne shoe can change your life. Just ask Cinderella.”

Read more from The Independent:

Virginia Lt gov uses high heel to gavel Senate to order

GOP conspiracy theorist who ruined $600k worth of voting machines running for Colorado Secretary of State

Tuesday 15 February 2022 20:45 , John Bowden

The Republican Trump acolyte who is accused of helping other Trump supporters steal voting machine passwords thereby costing the state hundreds of thousands of dollars is hoping voters will put her control of the state’s entire election system.

Embattled Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters declared her candidacy on Monday; she is battling a several-term incumbent in Secretary of State Jena Griswold, a Democrat, but could potentially receive a boost to her long-shot campaign in the form of an endorsement by former President Donald Trump, who is set on filling key state positions with Republicans who would theoretically carry out his demands to interfere in election processes should Mr Trump run and receive less votes than his opponent in 2024 or a future election.

The Independent’s Andrew Feinberg has more on Ms Peters’ candidacy:

GOP conspiracy theorist running for Colorado Secretary of State

Protests erupt at state capitols against election fraud conspiracists

Tuesday 15 February 2022 20:28 , John Bowden

Demonstrators were at the state capitols of Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio and Florida on Tuesday calling for Republicans who supported Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the election to be banned from running for office under a provision of the Constitution preventing insurrectionists from serving in government.

Among the members of Congress being targeted by the effort are Reps Jim Jordan, Matt Gaetz, and Scott Perry.

Read more from The Independent:

Protests at state capitols call for election conspiracists to be banned from ballots

Jury agrees with judge’s ruling in New York Times case

Tuesday 15 February 2022 19:44 , John Bowden

A jury handed Sarah Palin her second defeat in as many days on Tuesday when it found The New York Times not liable for defaming her with an editorial that falsely linked her political action committee to the Gabby Giffords shooting.

The jury’s ruling came a day after the judge in the case indicated that he would dismiss the lawsuit given that Ms Palin had not demonstrated that a standard of actual malice had been met in the lawsuit, given that the Times had corrected the editorial shortly after its publication.

Ms Palin can appeal, but a judge’s dismissal on top of the jury’s verdict would indicate that her chance for success is low.

Biden to address nation on Ukraine, Russia

Tuesday 15 February 2022 18:25 , John Bowden

President Joe Biden will give a national address on the state of tensions between Ukraine and Russia as the US has warned that a Russian attack could occur imminently. Russia’s government has denied such plans.

Mr Biden will speak at 3:30 p.m. est, and is expected to reiterate his promise to enact punishing economic consequences against Moscow in the event of an invasion or violence breaking out.

Sandy Hook parents settle lawsuit with Remington gun manufacturer

Tuesday 15 February 2022 18:10 , John Bowden

Parents of nine children who were killed in the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., settled a multimillion-dollar lawsuit with the manufacturer of a rifle used in the attack.

Representatives for the plaintiffs announced the news at a press conference on Tuesday, stating that they had won a $73 mn judgement from the firearm manufacturer, whose “Bushmaster XM15-E2S rifle” was used in the deadly mass shooting carried out by Adam Lanza.

Plaintiffs argued that the gun, which is styled like an AR-15, was marketed to vulnerable young men.

Kinzinger vs Gabbard on Durham investigation

Tuesday 15 February 2022 17:08 , Andrew Naughtie

Former Democratic congresswoman and presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard, whose anti-establishment left-wing politics have an idiosyncratic bent to say the least, has celebrated John Durham’s investigation into the Trump-Russia probe as a blow against “the likes of Hillary Clinton and her co-conspirators in the mainstream media & security state who work to undermine our democracy from within”.

As Fox News pushes its own narrative of a recent filing from John Durham, which the network falsely claims implicates Hillary Clinton in a full-on domestic spying operation, Ms Gabbard finds a critic in her former colleague, Republican Adam Kinzinger.

Another House Democrat retires

Tuesday 15 February 2022 16:45 , Andrew Naughtie

House Democrats have yet another departure on their hands: New York Democrat Kathleen Rice, who said in a statement today that “it has been the honor of my life to serve as a prosecutor, district attorney, and US Representative in my beloved home state of New York”.

Ms Rice adds to an alarmingly high number of Democrats heading for the exit rather than seeking re-election – a major headache for the party as it tries to minimise its losses in what could be a brutal midterm year.

Trump staffer’s conservative dating app gets billionaire’s support

Tuesday 15 February 2022 16:22 , Andrew Naughtie

A dating app catering to right-wing users interested in meeting ideological fellow travellers has drawn the backing of Peter Thiel, the conservative tech billionaire who’s contributed millions of dollars to right-wing candidates in recent years.

The Right Stuff was started by John McEntee, a former aide to Donald Trump.

Here’s a write-up from Axios’s Jonathan Swan.

Long read: How Stewart Rhodes ended up taking the Oath Keepers to the Capitol

Tuesday 15 February 2022 15:40 , Andrew Naughtie

Out of the hundreds of criminal cases to have resulted from the Capitol insurrection, one of the most important is that of Stewart Rhodes, leader of the extremist Oath Keepers militia movement. He and several of the group’s members have been charged with seditious conspiracy for an alleged plot to “oppose the lawful transfer of presidential power by force”, and criminal proceedings are drawing near.

The Independent’s Richard Hall remembers interviewing him in Washington just after the presidential election – but well after he had embarked down the road of conspiracy theory that culminated in the attack on the Capitol.

On 7 November, when I spoke with Rhodes in DC, he seemed calm but resolute. When I put it to him that there was no evidence to demonstrate there had been widespread fraud he didn’t get angry, but it was clear he wasn’t used to being challenged.

“That’s not true. You have definitive proof. When you say there’s no evidence, you don’t know what you’re talking about,” he told me.

“But these are circumstantial small scale things but no evidence of widespread voter fraud that could turn an election,” I replied.

“It’s all over the country. You gotta take your blinders off man. You’ve got a political bias,” he said, which I refuted, to no avail.

Read the full piece below:

How Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes went from ballroom dancing to sedition charges

Eric Trump on the warpath after Mazars drops his family's business

Tuesday 15 February 2022 15:08 , Andrew Naughtie

Donald Trump’s son Eric, who serves as an executive vice president of the Trump Organization, has vented his anger at the accountancy firm that’s dropped the Trump family after a years-long relationship.

Tweeting yesterday, he once again laid into New York Attorney General Letitia “Tish” James for “blatantly unethical behavior” – and later, on Fox News, he railed against prosecutors “that go after my father every single day for nothing, right? Just because he’s clearly the frontrunner for 2024”.

Mazars, the accounting firm that’s backed away from the Trumps, sent a message to the Trump Organization last week that reportedly read:

“While we have not concluded that the various financial statements, as a whole, contain material discrepancies, based upon the totality of the circumstances we believe our advice to you to no longer rely upon those financial statements is appropriate”.

Read more below:

Eric Trump vows revenge after accountancy firm ditches family

Poll: Two-thirds of Americans don’t want Trump back

Tuesday 15 February 2022 14:34 , Andrew Naughtie

Joe Biden may be worryingly unpopular given the goodwill with which he entered office, but there’s one bit of good news for him today: according to new data from CBS, only 35 per cent of Americans want Donald Trump to stand again.

It remains true that seven in 10 Republicans are keen to see the former president back on the ballot – but that in itself raises the prospect of a big gap between the GOP primary electorate and the country writ large. And that’s exactly the sort of problem that normal political parties are keen to avoid.

Jade Bremner has the story.

Most Americans don’t want Trump to run in 2024

What’s lurking in the records held at Trump Tower?

Tuesday 15 February 2022 14:02 , Andrew Naughtie

As his longtime accounting firm drops him and disowns his company’s financial statements, Donald Trump is fighting on numerous fronts to stop New York Attorney General Letitia James from accessing his paperwork. And key among the documents in question are two dozen filing cabinets stored on the 26th floor of Trump Tower in Manhattan.

According to Business Insider’s Laura Italiano, the records are thought to stretch back decades. Read her full report below.

ICYMI: Robert Mueller considered charging Donald Trump Jr

Tuesday 15 February 2022 13:34 , Andrew Naughtie

A newly published version of Robert Mueller’s report into the 2016 Trump campaign’s alleged ties to Russia reveals that the special counsel considered charging the president’s oldest son with crimes related to hacked data obtained by Wikileaks.

According to a less-redacted version of the report obtained by Buzzfeed News, Donald Trump Jr attempted to gain access to a website denouncing his family’s alleged ties to Russia via a password stolen by hackers and published by Wikileaks.

John Bowden has the story.

Mueller considered charging Donald Trump Jr with computer crimes, report reveals

Conservative former judge on efforts

Tuesday 15 February 2022 13:10 , Andrew Naughtie

A conservative former federal appeals court judge has penned a searing op-ed for the New York Times in which he makes the case for reforming the Electoral Count Act – a piece of legislation that many in Congress argue needs clarification in order to stop a future authoritarian president trying to overturn an election result.

In his essay, J. Michael Luttig writes:

It is hardly overstatement to say that the future of our democracy depends on reform of the Electoral Count Act. Republicans and Democrats need to put aside their partisan differences long enough to fix this law before it enables the political equivalent of a civil war three years hence. The law is offensive to Republicans in constitutional and political principle, officiously aggrandizing unto Congress the constitutional prerogatives of the states. It is offensive to Democrats because it legislatively epitomizes a profound threat in waiting to America’s democracy. The needed changes, which would meet the political objectives of both parties, should command broad bipartisan support in any responsible Congress. For Republicans in particular, these changes are sleeves off their vests.

Come to think of it, the only members in Congress who might not want to reform this menacing law are those planning its imminent exploitation to overturn the next presidential election.

Read the full article here.

George Conway: Trump accountants’ abandonment “calamitous"

Tuesday 15 February 2022 12:40 , Andrew Naughtie

Lincoln Project co-founder and exuberant Trump critic George Conway has given his view on the news that the Trump Organization has been essentially disowned by longtime accounting firm Mazars:

NYC vaccine mandates see only tiny proportion of city workforce laid off

Tuesday 15 February 2022 12:10 , Andrew Naughtie

Rows over vaccine mandates for public employees have engulfed liberal and conservative states and cities alike. Among them is New York City, where a mandate for municipal workers met with furious outrage – but it seems fears of massive forced layoffs may have been overblown.

According to Mayor Eric Adams, 1,428 workers have been terminated for failing to get a first dose of vaccines. It sounds like a large number, but in fact, it amounts to less than 1 per cent of the city’s public workforce.

Alex Woodward has more:

NYC fires 1,430 municipal workers for failing to get vaccinated against Covid

Trump ‘encouraged’ far-right French presidential candidate

Tuesday 15 February 2022 11:34 , Andrew Naughtie

A senior campaign official for Eric Zemmour, a far-right candidate standing in this year’s French presidential election, says that Donald Trump called the controversial public figure to tell him “not to give in, hold firm, stay courageous” – this “after Donald Trump's office responded positively to our various requests”.

Mr Zemmour, who is notorious for trafficking in racist ideas and was last month fined for inciting race hate, is running toe-to-toe with nationalist Marine Le Pen and the more mainstream Valérie Pécresse for the chance to challenge Emmanuel Macron in the election’s second round.

Ms Le Pen made it into the second round runoff with Mr Macron in 2017, but lost to him by 33 points.

Here’s a profile of Mr Zemmour from John Rentoul:

Just what is fuelling Eric Zemmour’s bid for the French presidency? | John Rentoul

ICYMI: Judge dismisses Sarah Palin’s lawsuit while jury deliberates

Tuesday 15 February 2022 11:10 , Andrew Naughtie

It seems Sarah Palin – a pioneer of the Trumpian style of populist politics – has failed in her defamation case against the New York Times over a 2017 editorial that drew a link between the shooting of Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and a map of “target” districts put out by her political action committee.

Even though the jury is still deliberating its verdict, US District Judge Jed Rakoff said in a courtroom that “I think that there is one essential element that plaintiff has not carried its burden with – the portion of actual malice relating to belief in falsity or reckless disregard in falsity.

“The law sets a very high standard, the court finds that that standard has not been met.”

Alex Woodward has more:

Judge rules against Sarah Palin in New York Times defamation case as jury deliberates

Republican official who ‘breached election security' running for Secretary of State

Tuesday 15 February 2022 10:30 , Andrew Naughtie

While no evidence has ever been produced to back up claims of organised voter fraud benefiting Joe Biden in 2020, there have been several incidents of individual voters breaking the law in support of Donald Trump. There have also been incidents in which Republican state officials took part in efforts to throw out the result – and one such official is now climbing the electoral ladder herself.

Tina Peters, the Republican clerk and recorder for Mesa County, Colorado, is accused of allowing an unauthorised person to clone hard drives from voting machines used in the last presidential election, and a judge subsequently banned her from accessing the county’s voting machines before last year’s elections.

But now, she is running for Secretary of State – a position that would make her Colorado’s top election official. And as if her politics were in any doubt she announced her run on none other than Steve Bannon’s openly insurrectionist War Room podcast.

Read the full story from Colorado Public Radio below.