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Justice Dept. Bars LGBT Publication Reporter From DOJ Group’s Pride Event Honoring Gavin Grimm

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Spokesperson Falsely Claims These Events Are ‘Traditionally’ Closed to the Press

The Dept. of Justice barred a longtime journalist for the Washington Blade from covering an annual pride celebration hosted by DOJ Pride, an employee group, honoring Gavin Grimm Wednesday. Grimm is a transgender activist whose case against his high school school district reached but was rejected by the Supreme Court. Chief Political and White House reporter Chris Johnson, whose daily beat frequently includes asking LGBT-related questions during what used to be daily White House press briefings, reports not only was he barred, he was “ejected” from the event.

“Similar celebrations under the Obama administration were open to the media,” Johnson reports.

An Obama-era U.S. Attorney confirmed these events had been open to the press previously:

“Dozens of employees — among them LGBT attorneys within the Justice Department and federal law enforcement officials — attended the event, which was titled ‘Solidarity through Pride’ and held in the Great Hall of the Justice Department building,” Johnson reports.

He also noted the Trump administration’s action, which appears to be unprecedented, on Twitter.

In response, Buzzfeed Legal Editor Chris Geidner said that a Justice Dept. spokesperson tells him that unless the Attorney General of Deputy Attorney General are present, the events are closed to the press.

But that is false, as HuffPost senior reporter Ryan J. Reilly noted, pointing to two events in the same space that were not attended by the Attorney General or Deputy Attorney General yet were open to the press:

Last week Buzzfeed’s Geidner reportedDOJ Pride — the department’s group for LGBT employees and their allies — plans to present Gavin Grimm with its Gerald B. Roemer Community Service Award” at what was today’s event. 

It’s unclear if the DOJ wanted to keep block that from the public, but Grimm indeed was present.

“DOJ Pride, an organization of LGBT Justice Department employees, recognized Gavin Grimm’s ‘outstanding contributions to the LGBT community’ during a ceremony in the building’s Great Hall, where department attorneys and employees lined up to hug him and offer congratulations and thanks,” the AP just reported, noting “reporters were forced to leave” the event.

“Given that today’s administration is largely hostile to LGBT people and especially dangerous to LGBT youth, the gravity of receiving an award from DOJ itself, specifically the pride alliance within it, is not lost on me at all,” Grimm told The Associated Press after the ceremony, which reporters were forced to leave. “It’s beautifully symbolic of the fact that there are still people working for equality in every corner of the world, and they will continue to do so no matter what happens.”

“There are good people in the DOJ, they’ve always been here, and always will be here, no matter what kind of administration comes above them,” Grimm said.

The AP notes that Attorney General Jeff Sessions “was absent from Wednesday’s event.”

Activists have long viewed Sessions as someone who has not been supportive of advances in LGBT rights.”

Kristen Clark, the President & Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law posted this photo to Twitter:

It remains unclear why the press was removed from the event, but the Trump administration has made clear its opposition to LGBT civil rights in general. Also, the administration, including the President, this week have displayed a heightened desire to attack the media as “fake news.” President Trump several days this week did just that. Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders made national headlines Tuesday after a local reporter chastised her for being inflammatory, while reminding her her job is to answer the questions reporters ask. 

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Meadows Allegedly Behind Possible Attempt at Witness Intimidation of Cassidy Hutchinson: Reports

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Cassidy Hutchinson, the former aide and advisor to Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, may be the victim of attempted witness intimidation, and the person who may have attempted to intimidate her may be her former boss.

The Guardian on Friday reports “Hutchinson received at least one message tacitly warning her not to cooperate with the House January 6 select committee from an associate of former chief of staff Mark Meadows.”

That message, according to both CNN and The Guardian, was delivered at the direction of Mark Meadows, according to sources both news outlets cite.

READ MORE: Secret Service Agents Confirm Details Hutchinson Shared About Trump Demanding to Be Taken to US Capitol Jan. 6

One of the messages that the U.S. House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack posted at the end of Hutchinson’s testimony read: “[A person] let me know you have your deposition tomorrow. He wants me to let you know that he’s thinking about you. He knows you’re loyal, and you’re going to do the right thing when you go in for your deposition.”

According to The Guardian, “The redaction was ‘Meadows,’ the sources said.”

READ MORE: Trump Declares Hutchinson ‘Totally Discredited’ as Former Aide Says Someone in His Orbit Tried to Influence Her Testimony

CNN similarly reports: “One of [the] people who may have been trying to influence Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony did so at the behest of former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, according to multiple sources familiar with information gathered by the House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, insurrection.”

Citing multiple sources CNN reports “the ‘person’ referred to in the message, which was redacted in the version projected on a screen during the hearing, was Meadows.”

Former FBI assistant director for counterintelligence Frank Figliuzzi Friday afternoon on MSNBC said there is “no question” that message constitutes “an attempt to intimidate a witness. No question about it,” he stressed.

“When you then add that to the fact that it appears that they provided, her initial attorney to her, Cassidy Hutchinson, you now have a without a doubt, predication to open a federal witness tampering investigation,” Figliuzzi added.

Thursday on Twitter Figliuzzi wrote: “This is witness tampering. Cassidy Hutchinson was the target. They picked the wrong young woman.”

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Secret Service Agents Confirm Details Hutchinson Shared About Trump Demanding to Be Taken to US Capitol Jan. 6

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Secret Service agents are coming forward to say for months after the January 6 insurrection they heard stories very similar to the account former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson said she was told by a Trump loyalist and White House aide. The right-wing pro-Trump propaganda machine latched on to parts of her story in which she said she was told the outgoing president lunged at an agent, and “grabbed at” the steering wheel of the presidential limo, which on January 6 was an SUV.

Trump “angrily demanded to go to the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, and berated his protective detail when he didn’t get his way,” CNN reports, citing “two Secret Service sources who say they heard about the incident from multiple agents, including the driver of the presidential SUV where it occurred.”

That directly supports Hutchinson’s remarks before the U.S. House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack in her surprise bombshell testimony Tuesday. “The sources tell CNN that stories circulated about the incident,” CNN adds, “in the months immediately afterward the US Capitol attack and before she testified this week.”

CNN also reports that “one source, a longtime Secret Service employee, told CNN that the agents relaying the story described Trump as ‘demanding’ and that the former President said something similar to: ‘I’m the f**king President of the United States, you can’t tell me what to do.’ The source said he originally heard that kind of language was used shortly after the incident.”

Hutchinson had told the Committee a Trump aide, Anthony Ornato, had told her Trump got into the presidential limo, which was not “The Beast,” as right-wing propagandists are claiming, but an SUV, and said: “I’m the f-ing president! Take me up to the Capitol now!”

That closely echoes what agents told CNN.

RELATED: Trump Declares Hutchinson ‘Totally Discredited’ as Former Aide Says Someone in His Orbit Tried to Influence Her Testimony

“The president reached up towards the front of the vehicle to grab at the steering wheel,” Hutchinson also told the Committee, citing Ornato as her source. “Mr. Engel grabbed his arm, said, ‘Sir, you need to take your hand off the steering wheel. We’re going back to the West Wing. We’re not going the Capitol.’”

“Mr. Trump then used his free hand to lunge towards Bobby Engel,” Hutchinson then added. “When Mr. Ornato had recounted this story to me, he had motioned towards his clavicle.”

Watch CNN’s report from Friday below or at this link:

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Biden Blasts ‘Extremist’ Supreme Court and Promises to Protect Women Traveling Across State Lines to Obtain an Abortion

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Calling the U.S. Supreme Court “extremist,” President Joe Biden held a virtual roundtable with nine Democratic governors Friday afternoon to discuss options in the wake of six conservative justices stripping the civil right of abortion from Americans. Biden promised he will protect women traveling across state lines to obtain an abortion and will protect women’s rights to FDA-approved abortion drugs.

The President, fresh off his NATO trip, called the Court overturning Roe v. Wade a “terrible extreme decision in my view, upending lives and impacting on the health and safety of millions of women.”

“I share the public outrage that this extremist court has committed to moving America backwards with fewer rights, less autonomy, and politicians invading the most personal decisions,” he added, echoing remarks he made in Madrid about the Court. The President warned that “if they expand on this decision” it will impact “men as well.”

RELATED: Biden Blasts ‘Outrageous’ US Supreme Court – Calls to Change Filibuster to Codify Roe and Privacy Into Law

“As I’ve said last week, this is not over. Last week, I announced two specific actions. First, if extremist governors try to block a woman from traveling from her state that prohibits her from seeking medical help she needs to a state that provides that care the federal government will act to protect her bedrock rights through the Attorney General’s Office. Second, if states try to block a woman from getting medication the FDA has already approved and has been available for more than 20 years, my administration will act and protect that woman’s right to that medication.”

The President warned that “ultimately, Congress is going to have to act to codify Roe into federal law. But as I said yesterday, the filibuster should not stand in the way of us being able to do that. But right now, we don’t have the votes from the Senate to change the filibuster on them at the moment. That means we need two more votes.”

“The choice is clear: either elect federal senators and representatives who will codify Roe or Republicans who will elect the House and Senate will try to ban abortions nationwide. Nationwide. This is going to go one way or the other after November. So let’s remember, the reasoning of this decision has an impact much beyond Roe and to the right to privacy more generally. Justice Thomas himself said that under the reasoning of this decision that the court should reconsider marriage equality and contraception and there’s a lot at stake here.”

RELATED: ‘We Are the Christian Taliban’: White Nationalist Declares Far Right’s Goal Is Turning US Into ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’

Watch the president below or at this link:

 

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