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U.S. Senator Rob Portman, who urged fellow Republican Donald Trump to speak out against the violence of his supporters, announced on Monday that he will not seek re-election in 2022, citing deepening political divisions. Portman, who entered the Senate a decade ago, said the divisions had made it "harder to break through the partisan gridlock and make progress." Portman, 65, addressed Trump, while he was still president, after the former president's supporters rampaged through the Capitol on Jan. 6, leading the House of Representatives to impeach Trump on a charge of inciting an insurrection.
- The New York Times
Rudy Giuliani, the personal lawyer to former President Donald Trump, conceded Friday night that an associate had sent an email to campaign officials asking that Giuliani be paid $20,000 a day for his work after the Nov. 3 election, but he insisted he was unaware of it at the time. Giuliani acknowledged in a brief phone interview that his associate, Maria Ryan, had sent the email shortly after Election Day. But he maintained that she consulted with another associate, Larry Levy, about what Giuliani should ask for from the campaign while Giuliani was out of town. A copy of the email, reviewed by The New York Times, showed that she sent it from a Giuliani Partners email account. Sign up for The Morning newsletter from the New York Times “Mr. Giuliani began working the case in the wee hours of the morning on November 4,” Ryan wrote. “He has a team in Washington working out of rented hotel rooms.” She wrote that the company was working on an engagement letter, and that instead of $2,000 an hour, “we will contract for $20,000 a day which will include all of the expenses for Mr. Giuliani and his staff.” The request was sent to at least three campaign officials at a time when the campaign was raising large sums of money for a legal fund to fight the election results. When the Times asked about the fee request in November, Giuliani denied it. He had maintained it was a “lie” that he requested such a fee from the president, even as recently as Friday afternoon on his radio show. “I did not do that,” he said. In the phone interview Friday night, after the Times asked his spokesperson about Ryan’s email, Giuliani said that he told the White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, and Trump, of the $20,000 amount, “It’s ridiculous, I don’t want to be paid.” Giuliani said he did not recall precisely when he had that conversation. And it was unclear whether he was aware that Ryan had sent the email when the Times first asked him about the fee request. “I never had a single expectation of being paid a penny,” Giuliani said, adding that he’s had a few expenses reimbursed but nothing more. He faulted Trump’s other advisers and blasted them as “incompetent” leading up to the election. “I feel extremely bad that I’m portrayed as some kind of money-grubbing ambulance chaser,” Giuliani said. “I represented him out of my sense of commitment,” he continued. “I didn’t see anything about this that was going to lead to great wealth. I did see a lot about this that was going to lead to great torture.” This article originally appeared in The New York Times. © 2021 The New York Times Company
The U.S. Senate is set to vote on Janet Yellen's nomination as the first woman Treasury secretary on Monday, putting her quickly to work with Congress on President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief proposal. Yellen on Friday sailed through with a unanimous approval vote in the Senate Finance Committee, indicating that she has enough votes to easily win confirmation. Republicans pledged to work with her despite expressing concerns about Biden's massive spending and tax hike plans.
- Yahoo News Video
A U.S. voting machine company filed a $1.3 billion lawsuit against former President Donald Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani, accusing him of defamation in what it called his "big lie" campaign about widespread fraud in the presidential election, court documents on Monday showed.
It's been one cruel decade since Egyptians dared to disrupt the status quo of living in a suffocating police state. The first month of 2011 was marked by the early days of Egypt's uprising, part of a wave of Arab Spring protests that many saw as brave, hopeful and inevitable. Now, with a pandemic capping off a decade of violence, horror and mass displacement in the Middle East, the protests in Tahrir Square are, at best, consciously forgotten by skeptical Egyptians as a naïve footnote or, at worst, cursed as original sin. Many of the ills that made Egypt ripe for an uprising in 2011 have only been exacerbated in 2021: the lack of jobs, the lack of political participation and the utter lack of freedom. Under President Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi, Egypt has outdone itself as a prolific jailer and executioner — Human Rights Watch recently estimated the number of political prisoners at 60,000 and rising. According to activists, the government has also deployed a persistent campaign aimed at framing the revolution as the harbinger of Egypt's myriad woes and the reason it has been "brought to its knees." Egypt is now a country where the "Tahrir people" — as they're pejoratively referred to by supporters of the regime — are either out of the country, if they haven't been arrested, or keeping a silent vigil. Many of them find it "very, very painful" to revisit those two and a half weeks in 2011, says celebrated Egyptian novelist and commentator Ahdaf Soueif, who participated in the protests. According to Soueif, they "keep the 18 days in a place where they can be safe, where we protect them against accusations of having been a collective hallucination," she said in an interview with CBC Radio's Ideas. "I hope the day will come when we draw inspiration again from those 18 days." Weeks of demonstrations It took 18 days of protests in Tahrir Square for the uprising to bring down Egypt's longstanding strongman president, Hosni Mubarak. Defying predictions of certain failure, the protesters took over the square, bringing Christian, secular and Islamist Egyptians — as well as affluent and poor citizens — together in idealistic common cause. WATCH | Anti-government protesters clash with pro-Mubarak protesters in Tahrir Square in early 2011: After Mubarak's fall, the country saw a military council take charge, followed by the election of a president from the Muslim Brotherhood, vast counter-revolutionary protests, a military coup and the subsequent massacre of hundreds or more at a Muslim Brotherhood sit-in in August 2013. The 2011 protests spread beyond Egypt to neighbouring Libya — currently all but a failed state — as well as Syria, which was plunged into a horrific civil war that has seen intervention from the region and abroad and has killed tens of thousands and displaced many more. Other countries swept up in the Arab Spring are either in the grip of violence (like Yemen) or in a repressive political vice-grip (Bahrain or the UAE). Only Tunisia, where the wave of protests began, appears to be on a relatively peaceful path of post-revolution political reform. Hard as it may be to talk about Tahrir, given the loss of life and the crackdowns, some veterans of the revolution insist there is something to be salvaged from its ashes. "Yes, society has changed," said Soueif, who wrote a book about the protests called Cairo: My City, Our Revolution. "Everybody believes that something different is absolutely necessary, but [they] don't quite know how to go about getting it." But while there may have been subtle positive consequences from the uprising — like a greater awareness of the rights that have been denied to many people — she cautioned, "I really hesitate to say it because the price has been so high and continues to be so high." On top of what happened to so many Tahrir activists, Soueif's blogger nephew and activist niece are currently in prison. Last year, Soueif was briefly arrested herself for protesting the conditions in their prison during COVID-19. Greater politicization The Tahrir revolution may have laid the groundwork for future action, whenever conditions permit it. For example, it has led to mass politicization among Egyptians, says journalist and blogger Hossam el-Hamalawy, a longtime blogger and activist who was also involved in the 2011 protests and helped document them. One major lesson from that time is that "public squares do not bring down dictators and do not change regimes," he said from Berlin, where he now lives. "The real power is in the factories, it's in the workplaces and it's in the civil service offices." Countless strikes were going on during the revolution and workers were "chanting the same chants that we were chanting in Tahrir… and they declared their solidarity with the revolution," said el-Hamalawy. "That's when I knew that … we're going to win. Victory was on our doorstep." But ultimately, there was no victory. WATCH: Tahrir Square protests lead to political stalemate: Destined to fail? Activists say they found themselves wedged between forces much larger and more organized than they could hope to be — namely, an Islamist vision of the country espoused by the well-established Muslim Brotherhood; the military's iron grip; and the geopolitics of the region, which has long favoured dictators who insisted real democracy was not compatible with stability. There was also the very practical problem of organizing a leaderless movement and marshalling it beyond the streets. The cracks showed immediately after those 18 days. "This was a missed opportunity," said Khaled Fahmy, an Egyptian historian and professor of modern Arabic studies at the University of Cambridge. He happened to be in Egypt when the protests started. Unusually for a historian, he was both an observer and a participant during a revolutionary moment. "There was no attempt to think, OK, now Tahrir — then what? How do you transform this into a movement?" Decades of military and one-party rule in Egypt have made it difficult for national opposition parties to flourish. Another lasting injury from longtime repression, said Fahmy, "is [our] inability … to imagine another world" in which the state as it is today did not exist. That meant the absence of a model of a more open society to point to in Egypt's history. Does all that mean the revolution was destined to fail? "If the revolution had been adopted and protected by the people who had the guns and given the space to work through these decisions and these visions that were coming from the ground up, then it would have worked and we would have had something amazing," said Ahdaf. Tahrir Square's role Beyond serving as the site of protest, Tahrir Square itself provided space and inspiration for discussion of ground-level proposals for an "ideal" Egypt that might have seen the light of day had there been a way to channel them into practice. One example, said Fahmy, was the idea of a demilitarized police force that would be designed to serve the people rather than the state — a novel idea for modern-day Egypt. A far more basic achievement for the square was that it brought people together to talk. "This sounds banal," said Fahmy, but not in a place like Egypt. "Our cities, our country, our political system is designed in a way to deprive us of not only free speech but the ability to listen to others." That kind of conversation is the starting point of compromise, he added. Fahmy believes the revolution continues, at least on some level. The 2011 protests, he said, "is one phase." Soueif agrees. But not el-Hamalawy. "No, it's not ongoing. The revolution got defeated," el-Hamalawy said. "There will be another revolution, but not anytime soon, I'm afraid." Contested legacy Indeed, even among those who participated in the Tahrir revolution, the lessons and the legacy are contested. After years of instability and the return of fear, the old argument that stability trumps freedom resonates among many Egyptians and others throughout the region. That resonance is unsurprising given the state of the Middle East after the protests spread and crackdowns of varying levels of brutality ensued. The message from Egypt's rulers now — as it was during Mubarak's time — is "give up your freedoms and we will give you security," said Fahmy. "It's a Faustian deal and many people accepted that. And the result is that people have not only given up freedoms, they've given up their dreams. That's the most dangerous thing." But el-Hamalawy said Tahrir's legacy cannot be forgotten wholesale. Because of the internet, "the whole visual memory of the revolution, it is saved," he said. "Now there is a younger generation that's growing up and on YouTube, they know quite well that their older brothers were protesting in Tahrir. "The memory is there. Tahrir is there. And it will remain there." This episode of CBC Ideas was produced by Nahlah Ayed and Menaka Raman-Wilms.
- The New York Times
BERLIN — When insurrectionists stormed the Capitol in Washington this month, far-right extremists across the Atlantic cheered. Jürgen Elsässer, editor of Germany’s most prominent far-right magazine, was watching live from his couch. “We were following it like a soccer match,” he said. Four months earlier, Elsässer had attended a march in Berlin, where a breakaway mob of far-right protesters tried — and failed — to force their way into the building that houses Germany’s Parliament. The parallel was not lost on him. Sign up for The Morning newsletter from the New York Times “The fact that they actually made it inside raised hopes that there is a plan,” he said. “It was clear that this was something bigger.” And it is. Adherents of racist far-right movements around the world share more than a common cause. German extremists have traveled to the United States for sniper competitions. American neo-Nazis have visited counterparts in Europe. Militants from different countries bond in training camps from Russia and Ukraine to South Africa. For years far-right extremists traded ideology and inspiration on societies’ fringes and in the deepest realms of the internet. Now the events of Jan. 6 at the U.S. Capitol have laid bare their violent potential. In chatter on their online networks, many disavowed the storming of the Capitol as amateurish bungling. Some echoed falsehoods emanating from QAnon-affiliated channels in the United States claiming that the riot had been staged by the left to justify a clampdown on supporters of President Donald Trump. But many others saw it as a teaching moment — about how to move forward and pursue their goal of overturning democratic governments in more concerted and concrete ways. It is a threat that intelligence officials, especially in Germany, take seriously — so much so that immediately after the U.S. violence, German authorities tightened security around the Parliament building in Berlin, where far-right protesters — waving many of the same flags and symbols as the rioters in Washington — had tried to force their way in Aug. 29. President Joe Biden has also ordered a comprehensive assessment of the threat from domestic violent extremism in the United States. For now, no concrete plans for attacks have been detected in Germany, officials said. But some worry that the fallout from the events of Jan. 6 have the potential to further radicalize far-right extremists in Europe. “Far-right extremists, corona skeptics and neo-Nazis are feeling restless,” said Stephan Kramer, head of domestic intelligence for the eastern German state of Thuringia. There is a dangerous mix of elation that the rioters made it as far as they did and frustration that it did not lead to a civil war or coup, he said. Meeting Online and in Person It is difficult to say exactly how deep and durable the links are between the U.S. far-right and its European counterparts. But officials are increasingly concerned about a web of diffuse international links and worry that the networks, already emboldened in the Trump era, have become more determined since Jan. 6. A recent report commissioned by the German foreign ministry describes “a new leaderless transnational apocalyptically minded, violent far-right extremist movement” that has emerged over the past decade. Extremists are animated by the same conspiracy theories and narratives of “white genocide” and “the great replacement” of European populations by immigrants, the report concluded. They roam the same online spaces and also meet at far-right music festivals, mixed martial arts events and far-right rallies. “The neo-Nazi scenes are well-connected,” said Kramer, the German intelligence official. “We’re not just talking about likes on Facebook. We’re talking about neo-Nazis traveling, meeting each other, celebrating together.” The training camps have caused anxiety among intelligence and law enforcement officials, who worry that such activity could lay the groundwork for more organized and deliberate violence. Two white nationalists, who attended a paramilitary camp run by the extremist Russian Imperial Movement outside of St. Petersburg, were later accused by Swedish prosecutors of plotting bombings aimed at asylum-seekers. Last year, the U.S. State Department designated the Russian Imperial Movement a terrorist organization, the first white nationalist group to receive the label. In 2019, the FBI director, Christopher Wray, warned that American white supremacists were traveling overseas for training with foreign nationalist groups. A report that year by the Soufan Center, a nonpartisan think tank, found that as many as 17,000 foreigners, many of them white nationalists, had traveled to Ukraine to fight on both sides of the separatist conflict there. Most were Russians, but among them were several dozen Americans. Sometimes they inspire one another to kill. The hate-filled manifestos of Anders Breivik, who killed 77 people in Norway in 2011, and Dylann Roof, an American white supremacist who killed nine Black parishioners in South Carolina four years later, influenced Brenton Harrison Tarrant, who in 2019 livestreamed his murder of more than 50 Muslims in Christchurch, New Zealand. Tarrant’s manifesto, titled “The Great Replacement,” in turn inspired Patrick Crusius, who killed 22 people in El Paso, Texas, as well as a Norwegian gunman who was overpowered as he tried to shoot people at a mosque in Oslo, Norway. Many far-right extremists immediately interpreted Jan. 6 as both a symbolic victory and a strategic defeat that they need to learn from. Elsässer, editor of Compact magazine, which Germany’s domestic intelligence agency classifies as extremist, described the storming of the Capitol as “an honorable attempt” that failed because of inadequate planning. “The storming of a parliament by protesters as the initiation of a revolution can work,” he wrote the day after the riot. “But a revolution can only be successful if it is organized. When it’s crunchtime, when you want to overthrow the regime, you need a plan and a sort of general staff.” Among those feeling encouraged by the mobilization seen Jan. 6 was Martin Sellner, the Austrian head of Europe’s far-right Generation Identity movement, who preaches nonviolence but has popularized ideas like “the great replacement.” After the storming of the Capitol, Sellner wrote, “The anger, pressure and the revolutionary mood in the camp of the patriots is in principle a positive potential. Even though it fizzled out pointlessly in the storm on the Capitol, leaving behind no more than a few memes and viral videos, one could form an organized and planned approach out of this mood for a more effective resistance.” Sellner, who said in an interview that Trump would be even more galvanizing in opposition, personifies the reach of an increasingly global movement with his close links to activists across Europe and the United States. He is married to Brittany Pettibone, an American alt-right YouTube star who has interviewed prominent European extremists like British nationalist Tommy Robinson. Robinson met virtually with the U.S. leader of the far-right Proud Boys, Enrique Tarrio, for a 1 1/2-hour-long conversation Nov. 19 that was billed as a unity summit to discuss the outcome of the U.S. election. The men spoke of their common struggle against liberals, antifa (a loosely affiliated group of far-left anti-fascism activists) and the big-tech companies that had barred both men from their platforms. They also spoke of the U.S. presidential election outcome in existential terms, warning that if the right failed to preserve the presidency for Trump, it risked annihilation. The Democrats, Robinson said at one point, are going to “replace you like we’ve been replaced. The borders will open, and they’ll replace you with foreign people.” Gaining Traction in Germany Several members of the Proud Boys, whom Trump famously told to “stand back and stand by,” were among those who stormed the Capitol. On Oct. 19, the Proud Boys shared on one of their Telegram groups that they had seen “a huge uptick in support from Germany over the last few months.” “A high percentage of our videos are being shared across Germany,” read a message in the Telegram group that was also translated into German. “We appreciate the support and we are praying for your country. We stand with the German nationalists who do not want migrants destroying their country.” Over the past three months, the Proud Boys posted several videos of German police officers confronting left-wing protesters in Berlin. In two of the videos, which feature the police violently beating a protester, the Proud Boys cheered the violence. Although they mocked Trump as “a total failure” after he disavowed the Capitol rampage and left the White House, they have voiced support for far-right groups in other countries including France, Poland and Turkey. And as America has exported QAnon conspiracy theories across the Atlantic, European conspiracy theories and disinformation are also making their way to the United States. Within days of the U.S. election, German QAnon followers were spreading disinformation that they said proved that the vote had been manipulated from a CIA-operated server farm in Frankfurt, although millions of votes were cast by paper mail-in ballots. The disinformation, which German researcher Josef Holnburger traced back to a German-language account, was amplified by at least one local chapter of Alternative for Germany, the far-right political party known by its German initials, AfD. It also ended up being highlighted by U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert and Rudy Giuliani, the Trump ally and former mayor of New York City. From there, it went viral — a first for a German QAnon conspiracy in the United States, Holnburger said. The transnational links are inspirational rather than organizational, said Miro Dittrich, an expert on far-right extremist networks. “It’s not so much forging a concrete plan as creating a violent potential,” he said. Yet experts remain skeptical of the potential to forge more durable trans-Atlantic relations among far-right groups. Almost all such attempts since World War II have failed, said Anton Shekhovtsov, an expert on the European far-right at the University of Vienna. Most recently, Steve Bannon, the architect of Trump’s successful 2016 presidential bid, toured Europe several years ago trying to knit together populist nationalist parties like Marine Le Pen’s National Rally in France and Alternative for Germany. “It was a fiasco,” Shekhovtsov said. Differing Expectations There’s even division among far-right followers about whether such alliances are valuable or viable. For many, the idea of an international nationalist movement is an oxymoron. “There is a common mood and an exchange of ideas, memes and logos,” said Sellner, the Austrian far-right campaigner. “But the political camps in Europe and America are very different.” Rinaldo Nazzaro, founder of the international white-nationalist group The Base, now lives in self-imposed exile in St. Petersburg, Russia, but said he has no interest in forging ties with Russian nationalist groups. “Nationalists in America must do the heavy lifting themselves,” he said. “Outside support could only be supplemental, at best.” Others, like Matthew Heimbach, an organizer of the 2017 violent far-right protest in Charlottesville, Virginia, disagree. “American members of the far-right and white nationalist groups have been trying to get Europe to return their calls for a decade now,” he said in an interview. With some success, he spent years working to forge alliances with like-minded groups in the Czech Republic, Germany and Greece. He even hosted a delegation from the Russian Imperial Movement in 2017, several years before the United States declared it a terrorist organization. Members of the group, which runs paramilitary-style camps to train Russian and foreign nationalists in military tactics, spent two weeks in the United States and traveled extensively. Photographs of the trip show Heimbach and one of the group’s leaders, Stanislav Shevchuk, posing with a Russian imperial flag in front of the White House and the U.S. Capitol. Heimbach, who denounced the Jan. 6 Capitol riot and claims to have renounced white nationalism, said he had also taken his Russian guests to Dollywood and the Country Music Hall of Fame in Tennessee. The trip, Shevchuk later wrote, “opened my eyes to a different alt-right America and I was convinced that we Russians had a lot in common with them.” This article originally appeared in The New York Times. © 2021 The New York Times Company
Officials in President Joe Biden's administration tried to head off Republican concerns that his $1.9 trillion pandemic relief proposal was too expensive on a Sunday call with Republican and Democratic lawmakers, some of whom pushed for a smaller plan targeting vaccine distribution. "It seems premature to be considering a package of this size and scope," said Republican Senator Susan Collins, who was on the call with Brian Deese, director of the White House's National Economic Council, and other top Biden aides.
Donald Trump's former White House press secretary Sarah Sanders will announce plans on Monday to run for governor of Arkansas, a source familiar with the situation said on Sunday. Sanders will announce on video her intention to seek the Republican nomination for the November 2022 election, the source added. The current governor, Republican Asa Hutchinson, is constitutionally barred from seeking a third term.
- The New York Times
WASHINGTON — When Rep. Scott Perry joined his colleagues in a monthslong campaign to undermine the results of the presidential election, promoting “Stop the Steal” events and supporting an attempt to overturn millions of legally cast votes, he often took a back seat to higher-profile loyalists in President Donald Trump’s orbit. But Perry, R-Pa., played a significant role in the crisis that played out at the top of the Justice Department this month, when Trump considered firing the acting attorney general and backed down only after top department officials threatened to resign en masse. It was Perry, an outspoken member of the hard-line Freedom Caucus, who first made Trump aware that a relatively obscure Justice Department official, Jeffrey Clark, acting chief of the civil division, was sympathetic to Trump’s view that the election had been stolen, according to former administration officials who spoke with Clark and Trump. Sign up for The Morning newsletter from the New York Times Perry introduced the president to Clark, whose openness to conspiracy theories about election fraud presented Trump with a welcome change from the acting attorney general, Jeffrey Rosen, who stood by the results of the election and had repeatedly resisted the president’s efforts to undo them. Perry’s previously unreported role, and the quiet discussions between Trump and Clark that followed, underlined how much the former president was willing to use the government to subvert the election, turning to more junior and relatively unknown figures for help as ranking Republicans and Cabinet members rebuffed him. Perry’s involvement is also likely to heighten scrutiny of House Republicans who continue to advance Trump’s false and thoroughly debunked claims of election fraud, even after President Joe Biden’s inauguration this past week and as Congress prepares for an impeachment trial that will examine whether such talk incited the Capitol riot. It is unclear when Perry, who represents the Harrisburg area, met Clark, a Philadelphia native, or how well they knew each another before the introduction to Trump. Former Trump administration officials said it was only in late December that Clark told Rosen about the introduction brokered by Perry, who was among the scores of people feeding Trump false hope that he had won the election. But it is highly unlikely that Trump would have known Clark otherwise. Department officials were startled to learn that the president had called Clark directly on multiple occasions and that the two had met in person without alerting Rosen, those officials said. Justice Department policy stipulates that the president initially communicates with the attorney general or the deputy attorney general on all matters, and then a lower-level official if authorized. As the date for Congress to affirm Biden’s victory neared, Perry and Clark discussed a plan to have the Justice Department send a letter to Georgia state lawmakers informing them of an investigation into voter fraud that could invalidate the state’s Electoral College results. Former officials who were briefed on the plan said that the department’s dozens of voter fraud investigations nationwide had not turned up enough instances of fraud to alter the outcome of the election. Perry and Clark also discussed the plan with Trump, setting off a chain of events that nearly led to the ouster of Rosen, who had refused to send the letter. After The New York Times disclosed the details of the scheme Friday, the political fallout was swift. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., incoming chairman of the Judiciary Committee, told the Justice Department in a letter Saturday that he would investigate efforts by Trump and Clark to use the agency “to further Trump’s efforts to subvert the results of the 2020 presidential election.” Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., the majority leader, said that it was “unconscionable that a Trump Justice Department leader would conspire to subvert the people’s will.” He called on the department’s inspector general, Michael Horowitz, to investigate “this attempted sedition.” Horowitz has already opened an investigation into whether Trump administration officials improperly pressured Byung J. Pak, who abruptly resigned this month as the U.S. attorney in Atlanta after being pressed to take actions related to the election, according to a person briefed on the inquiry. Durbin is investigating that matter as well. Trump also tried to force Justice Department officials, including Rosen and the acting solicitor general, Jeffrey Wall, to file a lawsuit before the Supreme Court that would challenge Biden’s victory, according to a person briefed on the request. One of Trump’s outside lawyers even drafted a brief for the department to file to the court. Department officials and the White House counsel, Pat Cipollone, told Trump that the plan would fail for several reasons, including the fact that the department did not have the grounds to challenge the outcome, the person said. The fight between Trump and Justice Department officials over the Supreme Court filing was first reported by The Wall Street Journal. The episode with Clark and Perry is yet another example at impeachment managers’ disposal as they put together their case that Trump should be disqualified from holding office again. Clark declined to comment on his relationship with Perry, and he categorically denied devising any plan to oust Rosen. He said there had been “a candid discussion of options and pros and cons with the president” that had been inaccurately described by The Times, but he declined to provide details. He declined to say anything more about his conversations with Trump or Justice Department lawyers because of “the strictures of legal privilege.” Asked whether his conversations with the president had violated the department policy governing contact with the president, he said that senior lawyers at the agency provided legal advice to the White House as part of their duties. “All my official communications were consistent with law,” he said. Clark, a member of the conservative Federalist Society, had been appointed acting head of the civil division in September. He also oversaw the department’s environmental and natural resources division, where he had worked under President George W. Bush. Neither Perry nor his top aides responded to repeated requests for comment. Some Senate Republicans, including Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, have grown increasingly worried that if they do not intervene and distance themselves from Trump, the havoc wreaked by the former president could hurt Republicans’ political fortunes for years to come. The episode amounts to an unwelcome reminder that damaging information around his presidency could continue to emerge even though Trump is no longer in office. And Perry’s role in the discussions could further escalate tensions in the House, where Democratic lawmakers were already livid at Republicans for fanning the flames before the Capitol riot, with some rank-and-file members calling for the expulsion of lawmakers who led efforts to overturn the election. The pressure that Trump placed on the Justice Department, including any plan that he may have considered to remove Rosen, also raises legal questions for him. Trump’s duty as president was to ensure that “laws be faithfully executed for the benefit of the country,” and efforts to interfere in the election could be considered a violation of his constitutional duty, said Neil Eggleston, a partner at Kirkland & Ellis and a White House counsel under President Barack Obama. There is little chance that a Justice Department letter sent to Georgia lawmakers would have prompted the state to invalidate its Electoral College votes. But the plan was consistent with the posture Perry had taken since November, when he began to falsely claim that there had been rampant fraud in the election, and throughout it all, Perry has remained defiant. Facing calls to resign over his role in the efforts to overturn the election, Perry issued a one-word response: “No.” Perry, a retired brigadier general in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard and an Iraq War veteran, has been scrutinized for his openness to the conspiratorial. He baselessly suggested that the 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas by a lone gunman could have been influenced by “terrorist infiltration through the southern border” and refused to support a resolution that condemned QAnon, a pro-Trump conspiracy movement. ( Perry said he believed that the resolution infringed on individuals’ right to free speech and that he did not personally subscribe to the movement.) An early supporter of the “Stop the Steal” campaign, Perry was one of 126 House Republicans who joined a legal brief in December supporting an extraordinary lawsuit seeking to overturn Biden’s victory. And he joined over two dozen of his colleagues who urged Trump to direct William Barr, the attorney general, to “investigate irregularities in the 2020 election.” He objected on behalf of 79 other House Republicans to certifying Pennsylvania’s electoral results, and was among 139 House Republicans who voted to reject Biden’s electoral victory, even though he later acknowledged Biden as president-elect. The plan that Perry devised with Clark set off a crisis at the Justice Department. When Clark approached Rosen with the Georgia letter at the end of December, Rosen refused to send it, according to four former administration officials. On Jan. 3, Clark notified Rosen that he would be taking his job at Trump’s behest. As Rosen prepared to meet Trump later that day and fight for his job, his top deputies, including the acting deputy attorney general, Richard Donoghue, and his outgoing chief of staff, Patrick Hovakimian, convened the department’s senior leaders on a conference call, according to five former officials with knowledge of the call. They told the department leaders that Rosen’s job was in jeopardy because of Clark’s machinations and said they would resign if Rosen was removed. They ended the call by asking their colleagues to privately consider what they would do if that happened. Over the next 15 minutes, all of them emailed or texted Hovakimian, saying that they would quit. While Rosen, Donoghue and other top department and White House lawyers spent nearly three hours with Trump and Clark, debating the merits of sending the letter to Georgia lawmakers, Hovakimian drafted an email to the department’s senior leaders, including those who were not aware of what was transpiring at the White House, in anticipation of Rosen’s removal, according to two people briefed on the letter. In it, he explained that Rosen had resisted Trump’s repeated calls to use the department’s law enforcement powers for improper ends and that the president had removed him, according to a person who reviewed the email. He wrote that he and Donoghue were resigning immediately and encouraged his colleagues to think hard about what they would do and to always act in the interests of the United States. When Hovakimian received word that Rosen had been allowed to stay, he drafted a new email that he sent to the anxiously awaiting officials: Rosen and the cause of justice had won. This article originally appeared in The New York Times. © 2021 The New York Times Company
- The New York Times
They call themselves the “Sisters of the Strange Sorority.” They have a playlist that includes “I’m Every Woman” and “Hit the Road, Jack,” and they have never all met in person. But they are inextricably bound by a man who used to be president, a man whom each has accused of sexual misconduct, a man who remains embroiled in lawsuits with three of them, and whose successor they had gathered to watch take the oath of office this week. “I’m giddy. I’m a combination of numb and giddy,” said Natasha Stoynoff, a journalist who, with six other women who have accused Donald Trump of sexual assault and misconduct, gathered digitally Wednesday to celebrate the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. Stoynoff was wearing a T-shirt that said IMPEACHED. Sign up for The Morning newsletter from the New York Times It was Stoynoff who formed this group. The women had all read one another’s stories, reported in various outlets, and a few of them had met. But it was not until 2019, three years after Stoynoff had first written her story for People, that she met E. Jean Carroll — with an assist from George Conway, a lawyer and the husband of Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s senior counselor. “I had emailed to thank him for sticking up for us,” Stoynoff, 56, said of Conway. “And then, two days later, he bumped into E. Jean at a party.” Carroll, a journalist and advice columnist, accused Trump of raping her in a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room in the mid-1990s, which he has denied, and for which she is suing him for defamation. Trump has denied each of the women’s accusations. Conway introduced the two women. Soon they were in touch with others: Alva Johnson, a former Trump campaign staffer; Kristin Anderson, a photographer; Rachel Crooks, who recently ran for Ohio state legislature; Jill Harth, a makeup artist; and Samantha Holvey, a former Miss USA contestant. They communicated by text message, email and — since the pandemic — on Zoom. The women gathered recently to “welcome” the newest member to their strange club: Amy Dorris, a former model, who came forward in an article in The Guardian in September. She asked the other women on the call, “Is it just me, or have any of you ever gotten death threats?” They talked on Zoom on election night for hours. Karena Virginia, a yoga instructor and life coach who was the 10th woman to accuse Trump after the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape was leaked during the 2016 presidential campaign, told everyone to bring a candle, matches and an “object from nature” — which they would use for a blessing. And they gathered on Zoom Wednesday, Inauguration Day, emotional as they closed one part of a chapter none of them wanted to be a part of. They burned sage. “We’re melded together in an odd way,” said Carroll, 77, who was wearing a string of pearls to honor Harris. “So it’s a very strange tie.” On this day, it was seven of them: Stoynoff in Canada and Carroll in New York; Johnson, who once ran outreach and development for the Trump campaign — she sued Trump in 2019 for gender and racial discrimination, as well as sexual harassment — from Georgia. (The two parties are in arbitration.) There was Anderson, 50, the photographer, from Los Angeles, who has said Trump assaulted her in the early 1990s at a nightclub in New York, and Crooks, 37, who has described, repeatedly, her run-in with Trump in an elevator at age 22. Harth, a makeup artist, dialed in toward the end; she was mourning her mother’s death. Holvey, the former Miss USA contestant who spoke up before the 2016 election, noted that she had “tried to warn the country” about Trump, but that he was elected anyway. They were an animated bunch — “cutting, brilliant women,” as Carroll described them, “who see the world very clearly.” Recently, Carroll has been writing profiles of each of the women and their encounters with the former president, feeling that their stories had been stripped of color in order to forefront facts. “They don’t like people to fall on them and say, ‘You poor thing,’” Carroll said of the group’s members. “These are living, beating heart women. They’re hilarious! They’re all characters. And they all get pissed off.” But on Wednesday, they collectively struck a healing, ritualistic note. “The abuser who has been in charge of this country is finally gone,” Anderson said as part of a blessing, explaining that she doesn’t use the “T-word,” as she calls the former president, because “I don’t even think he deserves that.” Crooks had prepared a poem, called “Bye-Don,” which she read aloud. “Dismissed by the world / As if they didn’t care, / The weight of it all / Was sometimes hard to bear.” Johnson, 44, took out her former business card with the TRUMP campaign logo in bold lettering on the front, and seared the edge with a lighter. “With our blessings, may he not ever hold public office ever again,” she said, holding it up so the other women could see. “May he be held accountable for every wrong doing that he’s done.” She added more flame. “This is for every woman that has ever been ignored.”It wasn’t exactly closure. Carroll, for one, doesn’t believe in the concept. “I understand that closure can heal a hurt and soothe a pain — but it’s not for me,” she said. “What I want is for him to say he lied. That he was in that room in Bergdorf’s.” (She may in fact still get that day in court.) But it was something. “For me, as soon as Lady Gaga started singing the national anthem, I felt the pent-up emotions from four years starting to leave our bodies,” Stoynoff said. “This is part one of closure, and there are more parts to come.” This article originally appeared in The New York Times. © 2021 The New York Times Company