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Yet Another Trump “Indictment”: Fitch Blames Jan. 6 for U.S. Credit Downgrade

“It just is a reflection of the deterioration in governance.”

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Pro-Trump protesters gather in front of the Capitol Building on January 6, 2021.

In a weird stroke of irony, the U.S. government’s credit rating was downgraded the same day that Donald Trump was indicted for a historic third time. A top official confirmed Wednesday that part of the reason for the downgrade was increased political divisions, as evidenced by the January 6 insurrection.

Credit ratings agency Fitch downgraded the United States to AA+ from AAA on Tuesday, a move that surprised investors but was nearly lost in the flurry of Trump getting indicted for attempting to overturn the 2020 election. Fitch predicted the U.S. would see fiscal deterioration over the next three years and cited “the erosion of governance … over the last two decades that has manifested in repeated debt limit standoffs and last-minute resolutions.”

But another major reason for the downgrade was the dramatic increase in political polarization, seen in the January 6 attack, Reuters reported Wednesday, citing Fitch senior director Richard Francis. The ratings agency met with Treasury officials ahead of the downgrade and highlighted the implications of the riot for America’s credit rating.

“It was something that we highlighted because it just is a reflection of the deterioration in governance, it’s one of many,” Francis told Reuters. “You have the debt ceiling, you have Jan. 6. Clearly, if you look at the polarization with both parties … the Democrats have gone further left and Republicans further right, so the middle is kind of falling apart.”

The fact that the downgrade was announced the same day Trump was indicted is likely a coincidence, but the connection between the two events is still significant. Trump faces four counts that include conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to corruptly obstruct an official proceeding, obstruction of and attempt to obstruct an official proceeding, and conspiracy against the right to vote.

Hundreds of people who descended on Washington to try to stop the certification of votes have said they were responding to a call from Trump. Nearly 200 people who were charged in the January 6 insurrection said they were answering a Trump tweet urging people to attend a “big protest” in the nation’s capital. Almost 100 more specifically said Trump’s speech to the crowd that day prompted them to storm the Capitol.

So it turns out that Trump, who promised a strong economy, has actually cost the U.S. standing in the global market.

Trump’s Legal Team Just Blew a Big Hole in His Third Indictment Defense

Trump lawyer John Lauro responded to the indictment news by admitting the crimes that Trump is charged with.

Dustin Franz for The Washington Post/Getty Images

Donald Trump’s lawyer has apparently decided that the best response to the former president’s historic third indictment is to just admit that he committed crimes.

Trump was charged Tuesday for attempting to overturn the 2020 presidential election. He faces four counts that include conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to corruptly obstruct an official proceeding, obstruction of and attempt to obstruct an official proceeding, and conspiracy against the right to vote.

Part of the indictment hinges on the allegation that Trump knew full well he had lost the election but continued to urge his supporters to subvert it via unlawful means. This included demanding that Vice President Mike Pence delay certifying the nation’s votes and send in fake electors to falsely certify Trump had won certain states. Trump’s lawyer John Lauro admitted as much on CNN.

The final ask that Mr. Trump made to Vice President Pence was simply, ‘Pause the voting.’ There’s nothing inherently unconstitutional or illegal about that,” Lauro told CNN’s Kaitlin Collins Tuesday night. “In fact, he had an opinion from a very well-known constitutional scholar that said that’s fine; that that’s legal.”

Except it was not fine: Under the Electoral Count Act, the vice president’s job is more ceremonial than anything else, and Pence did not have the right to delay certification. What’s more, Team Trump knew it.

According to the indictment, one of the unnamed co-conspirators, suspected to be Trump lawyer John Eastman, pressed Pence to violate the ECA. “I implore you to consider one more relatively minor violation [of the ECA] and adjourn for 10 days to allow the legislatures to finish their investigations, as well as to allow a full forensic audit of the massive amount of illegal activity that has occurred here,” the co-conspirator said in an email.

Lauro also admitted on national television that Trump tried to use a slate of fake electors.

“What’s the unlawful means? There was an effort to get alternate electors, which is a protocol that was used in 1960 by John Kennedy. And it was a protocol that was constitutionally accepted,” he insisted. “So there’s nothing wrong about that.”

Lauro is referring to the 1960 election between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon. Kennedy had clearly won, but Hawaii’s results, which showed Nixon won by just 140 votes, were in doubt. The state’s vote underwent a recount, which was still going by December 19 that year, when presidential electors were legally required to cast their ballots. Three electors cast their votes for Nixon, and three alternate electors cast their votes for Kennedy.

Trump’s allies have often cited this instance in arguing there was nothing wrong with the fake electors, but the difference is that the Hawaii recount legitimately flipped the state’s results to Kennedy. A judge ruled that the Kennedy electors were legitimate, and, moreover, it was important they had already cast their votes because it ensured the votes could be counted.

Trump, on the other hand, was trying to flip states he had unequivocally lost—not to mention trying to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of voters. And now his legal team is basically admitting it.

Team Trump Was Prepared to Use the Military to Stay in Power

Trump’s third indictment spells out how his team considered using the Insurrection Act to quash protests after a stolen election.

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Jeffrey Clark, a top Justice Department official under then-President Donald Trump, suggested using military power to keep Trump in power despite his loss in the 2020 election.

Trump’s third indictment on Tuesday cites a January 3, 2021, exchange between Clark, who is referred to as “Co-Conspirator 4,” and White House deputy counsel Patrick Philbin. A month earlier, Philbin had warned Trump that “there is no world, there is no option in which you do not leave the White House on January 20th.”

Philbin also warned Clark that there was no fraud in the 2020 election, and if Trump tried to remain in office anyway, there would be “riots in every major city in the United States.”

To that, Clark simply responded: “Well … that’s why there’s an Insurrection Act.”

The Insurrection Act, which has been used only a handful of times in the last century, authorizes the U.S. president to deploy the military domestically to quell a rebellion or uprising.

The law has been criticized as being “dangerously vague” and “ripe for abuse.” (You may recall a New York Times op-ed in 2020 from Senator Tom Cotton, encouraging Trump to use the Insurrection Act to stop the Black Lives Matter protests sweeping the country.) Because of the way the law is written, Americans basically have to trust that the president will not abuse the powers of the Insurrection Act.

As we can see in Trump’s third indictment, he could not be trusted in that regard. His advisers were planning to stage a coup, and also preparing to use the military to quash protests if that coup failed.

Top Trump Adviser Warned About “Conspiracy Shit Beamed Down From the Mothership”

Trump knew he was lying in 2020—and his third indictment has all the receipts.

Donald Trump
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Donald Trump

Donald Trump knew that the 2020 election was legitimate, but he tried to overturn the vote results anyway. And his record-breaking third indictment has all the proof.

In fact, a top adviser warned about the efforts to overturn the election quite clearly: “I’ll obviously hustle to help on all fronts, but it’s tough to own any of this when it’s all just conspiracy shit beamed down from the mothership,” an unnamed senior campaign adviser wrote in an email on December 8, 2020, referring to Trump’s “Elite Strike Task Force” led by Rudy Giuliani.

Trump was charged for his role in the January 6 insurrection and other attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election. He faces four counts that include conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to corruptly obstruct an official proceeding, obstruction of and attempt to obstruct an official proceeding, and conspiracy against the right to vote.

The indictment hinges on the fact that Trump allegedly knew the whole time that there was no fraud in the election but continued to insist that there was. This wasn’t just some innocent slipup, and multiple people around Trump repeatedly tried to warn him.

Still, Trump insisted that fraudulent ballots had been cast and that electronic voting machines were switching votes to Democratic.

“These claims were false, and the Defendant knew that they were false,” the indictment said. “In fact, the Defendant was notified repeatedly that his claims were untrue—often by the people on whom he relied for candid advice on important matters, and who were best positioned to know the facts—and he deliberately disregarded the truth.”

People including then–Vice President Mike Pence and senior Justice Department officials, whom Trump had appointed, repeatedly told him there was no evidence of fraud, according to the indictment. So did the director of national intelligence, another Trump appointee, and the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, which Trump signed into existence in 2018.

Senior White House attorneys, whom Trump had picked, said there was no fraud, while staffers on his reelection campaign had already warned him he stood very little chance of winning. State-level allies repeatedly told him there was no evidence of fraud, and state and federal courts rejected every lawsuit that Trump and his allies filed to try to overturn the election results, informing him the suits were baseless.

Ignoring the truth for his preferred reality is becoming something of a habit for Trump. Special counsel Jack Smith had already indicted Trump for mishandling classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate. But Trump has repeatedly insisted that all the material he brought to Florida was already declassified, and anyway, being president enabled him to declassify documents at will, including “just by thinking about it.”

But a president can’t do that, and Trump knew it. In an audio recording of a July 2021 meeting, Trump admits that he had classified material and could not declassify it because he no longer holds office. In another leaked recording of the same meeting, Trump says he has a classified Pentagon document but he can’t show it to the people there. His acknowledgment that he couldn’t show the document to others demonstrates that he knew full well that he wasn’t able to declassify documents at whim.

Trump Whines About Being in Nazi Germany After Third Indictment

Trump was charged with trying to overthrow an election, but sure.

Donald Trump
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Donald Trump was indicted Tuesday for a record third time, and you could say he seems to be taking it very well. If by “well,” you mean “comparing being held accountable to the Holocaust.”

Trump was charged for his role in the January 6 insurrection and other attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election. He faces four counts that include conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to corruptly obstruct an official proceeding, obstruction of and attempt to obstruct an official proceeding, and conspiracy against the right to vote.

“This is nothing more than the latest corrupt chapter in the continued pathetic attempt by the Biden Crime Family and their weaponized Department of Justice to interfere with the 2024 Presidential Election,” his campaign said in a statement on Truth Social.

“But why did they wait two and a half years to bring these fake charges, right in the middle of President Trump’s winning campaign for 2024?” the statement continued.

“The answer is, election interference! The lawlessness of these persecutions of President Trump and his supporters is reminiscent of Nazi Germany in the 1930s, the former Soviet Union, and other authoritarian, dictatorial regimes. President Trump has always followed the law and the Constitution, with advice from many highly accomplished attorneys.”

But if Trump has always “followed the law and the Constitution,” then explain his ever-growing pile of legal troubles. The twice-impeached president has been charged with business fraud in New York for his alleged role in making hush-money payments to Stormy Daniels. He also has been charged with keeping national defense information without authorization, making false statements, and conspiring to obstruct justice.

Trump is likely to be indicted in Georgia in the next few weeks for his role in trying to overturn the 2020 presidential election—despite a failed attempt to block that probe. And he has been found liable of sexual abuse and defamation, and sued for defamation again.

This Is the Big One: Donald Trump Indicted for Trying to Overthrow the 2020 Election

Donald Trump has been indicted a third time.

Donald Trump
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Third time’s the charm? Donald Trump was indicted Tuesday for a whopping third time, adding to an already sweeping list of charges against him.

Trump was charged for his role in the January 6 insurrection and other attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election. He faces four counts that include conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to corruptly obstruct an official proceeding, obstruction of and attempt to obstruct an official proceeding, and conspiracy against the right to vote.

Six co-conspirators were also mentioned, but their names were not listed in the indictment.

In the very beginning of the indictment, Jack Smith calls out Trump for his refusal to accept the election results.

“The defendant, Donald J. Trump, was the forty-fifth President of the United States and a candidate for reelection in 2020,” the indictment states. “The Defendant lost the 2020 election.”

The indictment also notes that Trump knowingly spread lies about election fraud: “These claims were false, and the Defendant knew that they were false. But the Defendant repeated and widely disseminated them anyway—to make his knowingly false claims appear legitimate, create an intense national atmosphere of mistrust and anger, and erode public faith in the administration of the election.”

Trump was warned in July that he was a target in special counsel Jack Smith’s investigation into efforts to reverse the election. The twice-impeached, thrice-indicted, and liable for sexual abuse and defamation former president is now forcing Republicans to answer the question: Is someone charged with trying to overthrow democracy fit to serve?

Until now, Republicans have been up in arms, rushing to Trump’s defense. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy suggested the potential indictment was because Trump was polling well, while Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene called Smith a “weak little bitch.”

Trump has been charged with business fraud in New York for his alleged role in making hush-money payments to Stormy Daniels. He also has been charged with keeping national defense information without authorization, making false statements, and conspiring to obstruct justice. And he is still under investigation in Georgia for his role in trying to overturn the 2020 presidential election—despite an attempt to block that probe.

This piece has been updated.

Oops! Trump’s Michigan Allies Charged With Voting Machine Tampering in 2020

Two prominent Republicans in Michigan are facing criminal charges for their role in trying to overthrow the election.

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Two Trump allies in Michigan have been charged in an investigation into the improper acquisition of voting machines in 2020 as part of an attempt to overturn the presidential election.

Matthew DePerno, whom Donald Trump endorsed in his unsuccessful campaign for attorney general last year, and former state Representative Daire Rendon were both charged Monday, according to online court records.

DePerno, whose name was misspelled as “DeParno” in the records, was charged with two counts of undue possession of a voting machine, one count of conspiracy for undue possession of a voting machine, and one count of conspiracy for unauthorized access. Rendon was charged with one count of conspiracy for undue possession of a voting machine and one count of false pretenses.

State Attorney General Dana Nessel launched the investigation in February last year. But she handed the reins to special prosecutor D.J. Hilson a few months later after DePerno, who was running against Nessel for attorney general, came under scrutiny.

Other people still under investigation include Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf and Doug Logan, the former head of Cyber Ninjas, a pro-Trump data security firm that oversaw a controversial (and, as it turns out, entirely unnecessary) 2020 election review in Arizona.

The charges against Rendon and DePerno relate to attempts by Trump allies to acquire voting machines. There are investigations into similar efforts across the country, as pro-Trump activists tried to access the voting data and prove the election had been rigged against the former president. One such investigation is in Georgia and could factor into the highly anticipated indictment of Donald Trump for trying to overturn the state’s election results.

In Michigan, four clerks in three different counties gave voting machines to third parties. The machines were taken to Detroit, where a group of men broke into them and performed “tests” on them, according to Nessel’s office. The group returned the machines weeks or even months later, after the clerks became nervous.

Nessel has been steadily cracking down on election deniers. Last month, she charged 16 people, including top members of the state’s Republican Party, with felony for pretending to be electors in the 2020 presidential election.

Kamala Harris Torpedoes Ron DeSantis’s Shameless Invite to Debate Black History

“They insult us in an attempt to gaslight us, in an attempt to divide and distract our nation with unnecessary debates.”

Kamala Harris
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Vice President Kamala Harris

Kamala Harris is not interested in talking about Black history with Ron DeSantis.

The vice president rejected DeSantis’s invite to discuss the state’s new horrendous Black history curriculum, which requires teaching students that enslaved people learned valuable skills thanks to slavery.

“Well I’m here in Florida, and I will tell you there is no roundtable, no lecture, no invitation we will accept to debate an undeniable fact: There were no redeeming qualities of slavery,” Harris said Tuesday at the 20th Women’s Missionary Society of the African Methodist Episcopal Church Quadrennial Convention in Orlando.

“Right here in Florida, they plan to teach students that enslaved people benefited from slavery,” she continued. “They insult us in an attempt to gaslight us, in an attempt to divide and distract our nation with unnecessary debates, and now they attempt to legitimize these unnecessary debates with a proposal that most recently came in of a politically motivated roundtable.”

Florida’s new Black history curriculum has been met with backlash due to its extreme revisionism.

The Florida State Board of Education approved new social studies standards last month that say middle school students should learn that “slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit.” Other language says high school students should be taught that Black people were also perpetrators of violence during race massacres.

DeSantis has gone above and beyond in watering down Black history, both in Florida and beyond. He successfully got the College Board to revise its A.P. African American studies course after threatening to ban the curriculum in Florida. The new curriculum stripped many of the sections that DeSantis had complained about, including the work of prominent Black queer writers and a section on the Black Lives Matter movement.

Last week, Florida’s Department of Education also approved the use of school curriculum from PragerU, a right-wing group that downplays the horrors of slavery and dismisses any acknowledgment of racism (especially against Black Americans) throughout U.S. history.

Harris made clear Tuesday that she has no interest in any of this.

“As I said last week, when I was again here in Florida, we will not stop calling out and fighting back against extremist so-called leaders who try to prevent our children from learning our true and full history,” she said. “And so, in this moment, let us remember, it is in the darkness that the candle shines most brightly.”

Florida’s New School Curriculum Is Designed to Make Kids Conservative

The right-wing group behind the newly approved school materials is proud of its agenda.

Scott Olson/Getty Images

The Florida Department of Education has approved a set of educational materials created by PragerU, a right-wing group that has explicitly stated it wants to indoctrinate children.

PragerU is not an accredited academic institution. Rather, it’s a conservative advocacy group cloaked in the guise of scholars that are best known for spreading disinformation on climate change, questioning the role of slavery as the pretext for the Civil War, and generally dismissing any acknowledgment of racism (especially against Black Americans) throughout American history.

But according to the group’s founder, conservative radio host Dennis Prager, it’s actually OK to indoctrinate kids … as long as you’re making them conservative.

“We are in the mind-changing business, and few groups can say that,” Prager says in a promotional video for PragerU. He repeated the same thing again at the Moms for Liberty conference in Philadelphia last month, noting that it’s “fair” to say PragerU indoctrinates kids.

“It’s true we bring doctrines to children,” Prager told the right-wing audience. “But what is the bad about our indoctrination?”

Florida is the first state to approve PragerU’s ersatz curriculum in K-12 schools, despite Governor Ron DeSantis’s repeated insistence that kids needed to be protected from indoctrination.

The exception for PragerU perhaps makes sense when you take a closer look at its content. Many of its videos are narrated by right-wing personalities like Tucker Carlson, Ben Shapiro, and Candace Owens. The subject material is as bad as you’d expect.

In one five-minute video history lesson, two kids travel back in time to meet Christopher Columbus, who reassures them that violence against Indigenous and Black people is OK.

“Well, in our time we view slavery as being evil and terrible,” one of the kids tells him.

“Ah. Magnifico! That’s wonderful,” the fictional Columbus responds. “I am glad humanity has reached such a time. But you said you’re from 500 years in the future? How can you come here to the fifteenth century and judge me by your standards from the twenty-first century?”

Columbus tells the kids that slavery was “no big deal” and that “being taken as a slave is better than being killed.”

In fact, downplaying the harms of slavery is a common theme in PragerU’s content. In another video, a cartoon Booker T. Washington tells the time-traveling kids that slavery is bad but “it’s been a reality everywhere in the world.”

“America was one of the first places on earth to outlaw slavery,” he adds. (America was actually one of the last countries to do so.)

Other videos push pro-cop propaganda, celebrate the benefits of British colonialism, dispute the reality of climate change, and praise the apartheid state of Israel.

PragerU CEO Melissa Streit has defended the group’s content as “pro-American ideology.”

“The ideology that we promote is a pro-American ideology, the ideology of which America was essentially built upon that has created this nation,” she told The Orlando Sentinel. “But we are not a political enterprise, we are a pro-American enterprise.”

Right-Wing Billionaires Are Funneling Money to Stop Ohio’s Abortion Ballot

Conservative donors far from Ohio are pulling all the stops to try to doom the abortion ballot.

A protester holds a placard that reads "We will not go back" in support of abortion rights, Dayton, Ohio, May 2022. Other protesters stand nearby.
Whitney Saleski/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images
A protester holds a placard in support of abortion rights, Dayton, Ohio, May 2022.

Right-wing donors across the country are pouring money into Ohio to try to influence a special August referendum and ultimately block enshrining abortion protections in the state constitution.

Abortion is currently legal in Ohio until about 22 weeks, although not for lack of GOP efforts after Roe v. Wade was overturned. Ohioans will vote in November on a constitutional amendment that would allow people to decide for themselves about all reproductive health. The state could only restrict abortion access after a doctor determines the fetus is viable, or could survive outside the uterus. And even then, abortions can be performed if the patient’s health or life is at risk.

Ohio currently requires only a simple majority of votes to amend the constitution. But Republicans have pulled out all the stops in trying to block the abortion amendment. So first, Ohioans will vote in August on a measure that would raise the threshold for constitutional amendments to a 60 percent vote.

The main “yes” campaign committee calling for the higher threshold, Protect Our Constitution, has raised a little more than $4.85 million, per a financial filing first reported in the Ohio Capital Journal.

Nearly all of that—$4 million—came from Richard Uihlein, a billionaire right-wing megadonor in Illinois. Other contributions have come from Georgia, Tennessee, and Washington, D.C. In total, only 14 percent of the money raised (less than $700,000) has come from within Ohio.

Three other “yes” groups have also raised millions of dollars primarily from far afield. One of those groups, Protect Women Ohio Action, is actually based in Virginia. Its primary donor is the Concord Fund, also known as the Judicial Crisis Network, a D.C.-based organization that backs conservative judges. Protect Women Ohio Action’s two other major donors are Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America and the Catholic Church.

To be fair, it’s a similar picture on the opposing side, which has raised $14.8 million. Only about 16 percent of those funds came from Ohio donors, while the rest came from left-leaning philanthropic organizations and a Silicon Valley psychiatrist and philanthropist named Karla Jurvetson.

Still, it’s notable that right-wing donors outside of Ohio are so determined to stop people from changing their own constitution. If the “yes” groups prevail, they could block abortion protections in the fall. GOP lawmakers insist that raising the threshold is not about abortion, but Secretary of State Frank LaRose gave the game away in June, saying, “This is 100 percent about keeping a radical pro-abortion amendment out of our constitution.”

All of these right-wing efforts may still fail, because they completely ignore the will of the people. A USA Today Network/Suffolk University poll released in July found that only 26 percent of Ohio voters support increasing the amount of votes needed to amend the constitution, while 57 percent oppose it.

Another poll, released last week by the same organizations, found that 58 percent of Ohioans support the amendment to guarantee access to reproductive services, while just 32 percent oppose it. The support crosses party lines, with a third of Republicans backing the amendment, as well as 85 percent of independent women—a crucial voter demographic.