Family Research Council president Tony Perkins has just been appointed to a two-year term on a federal government commission tasked with investigating and reporting on international religious freedoms violations.
Perkins will be a commissioner on the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), an independent body that has a history of advancing the agenda of America’s Evangelical Christian movement.
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) made the appointment of Perkins to the USCIRF, according to a statement from FRC.
Perkins for decades has headed the Family Research Council, a far right wing faith-based organization that appears on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of active anti-gay hate groups. He and his organization have a long history of spreading false information about LGBTQ people.
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‘Moral Turpitude’: Trump Coup Memo Author John Eastman Now Facing 11 Counts of Alleged Ethics Violations – and Disbarment
John Eastman, the far-right attorney, disgraced former law professor, former clerk to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, and current chairman of the anti-LGBTQ National Organization For Marriage (NOM) is facing eleven counts of alleged ethics violations, and disbarment, by California state bar regulators. Among the allegations, “intentional acts of moral turpitude, dishonesty, or corruption.”
As The New York Times reported last fall, “after the November election, Mr. Eastman wrote the memo for which he is now best known, laying out steps that Vice President Mike Pence could take to keep Mr. Trump in power — measures Democrats and anti-Trump Republicans have likened to a blueprint for a coup.”
So has the U.S. House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack, which late last month referred Eastman – in the same breath as Donald Trump – to the Dept. of Justice for possible prosecution on criminal charges, including obstruction of an official proceeding and conspiracy to defraud the United States.
“We believe that the evidence described by my colleagues today and assembled throughout our hearings warrants a criminal referral of former President Donald J. Trump, John Eastman, and others…” — @RepRaskin #January6thCommitteeHearings pic.twitter.com/Baa1jxsx8k
— Defend Democracy Project (@DemocracyNowUS) December 19, 2022
On Thursday, Bloomberg News reported California state bar regulators “say they will seek to strip” Eastman of his law license.
“The Notice of Disciplinary Charges alleges that Mr. Eastman violated this duty in furtherance of an attempt to usurp the will of the American people and overturn election results for the highest office in the land — an egregious and unprecedented attack on our democracy — for which he must be held accountable,” the State Bar of California’s Chief Trial Counsel George Cardona said in a statement. “Eastman has not been charged with any crimes to date.”
“The 11 charges arise from allegations that Eastman engaged in a course of conduct to plan, promote, and assist then-President Trump in executing a strategy, unsupported by facts or law, to overturn the legitimate results of the 2020 presidential election by obstructing the count of electoral votes of certain states,” the State Bar of California’s statement adds.
Law & Crime’s Adam Klasfeld further explains that Cardona “intends to seek Eastman’s disbarment for alleged violations of Business and Professions Code section 6106, which punishes making false and misleading statements that constitute acts of ‘moral turpitude, dishonesty, and corruption.'”
Last week The New York Times described Eastman as “a chief architect of Donald Trump’s effort to reverse his election loss,” but it is his fellow Republican attorneys who delivered the judgment on his skills.
“Many White House lawyers expressed contempt for Mr. Eastman, portraying him as an academic with little grasp of the real world,” The Times reported. “Greg Jacob, the legal counsel to former Vice President Mike Pence, characterized Mr. Eastman’s legal advice as ‘gravely, gravely irresponsible,’ calling him the ‘serpent in the ear’ of Mr. Trump. Eric Herschmann, a Trump White House lawyer, recounted ‘chewing out’ Mr. Eastman. Pat A. Cipollone, the chief White House counsel, is described calling Mr. Eastman’s ideas ‘nutty.'”
It wasn’t just Republican attorneys in the Trump White House.
During the January 6 insurrection, Eastman, certainly no silent architect, stood at the same podium Donald Trump would speak at, and delivered a fiery speech alongside Rudy Giuliani. Six days later his colleagues at Chapman University demanded his firing.
The disbarment may be the least of Eastman’s self-inflicted woes.
“He has been drawn into the criminal investigation into election interference in Atlanta, which is nearing a decision on potential indictments,” according to The Times, also adding that the “F.B.I. seized his iPhone.”
Watch the videos above or at this link.
This article was updated at 5:41 PM ET with details reported by Law & Crime, including references to “moral turpitude.”
Bombshell NYT Report Reveals Bill Barr’s Special Counsel Opened ‘Secret’ Financial Crimes Probe Into Trump But Never Prosecuted
Special Counsel John Durham, appointed by then-Attorney General Bill Barr, uncovered possible financial crimes by Donald Trump but made no attempt to prosecute them, The New York Times reveals in massive, bombshell report published Thursday after a months-long investigation.
“Mr. Barr and Mr. Durham never disclosed that their inquiry expanded in the fall of 2019, based on a tip from Italian officials, to include a criminal investigation into suspicious financial dealings related to Mr. Trump. The specifics of the tip and how they handled the investigation remain unclear, but Mr. Durham brought no charges over it,” The Times’ Charlie Savage, Adam Goldman, and Katie Benner report.
The “potentially explosive tip linking Mr. Trump to certain suspected financial crimes” came during a trip Barr and Durham, his special counsel, took together. They “decided that the tip was too serious and credible to ignore.”
But, “Mr. Durham never filed charges, and it remains unclear what level of an investigation it was, what steps he took, what he learned and whether anyone at the White House ever found out. The extraordinary fact that Mr. Durham opened a criminal investigation that included scrutinizing Mr. Trump has remained secret.”
That’s just one aspect of The Times’ extensive and disturbing report.
It also reveals that there was little justification for Barr to install Durham as a special counsel to investigate what Trump wrongly maintained was an unjustifiable investigation into his ties to Russia.
In fact, The Times “found that the main thrust of the Durham inquiry was marked by some of the very same flaws — including a strained justification for opening it and its role in fueling partisan conspiracy theories that would never be charged in court — that Trump allies claim characterized the Russia investigation.”
In another shocking revelation, The Times reports Durham “used Russian intelligence memos — suspected by other U.S. officials of containing disinformation — to gain access to emails of an aide to George Soros, the financier and philanthropist who is a favorite target of the American right and Russian state media.”
The Times does not explain how Durham obtained the Russian disinformation.
“Mr. Durham used grand jury powers to keep pursuing the emails even after a judge twice rejected his request for access to them. The emails yielded no evidence that Mr. Durham has cited in any case he pursued.”
Attorneys on Durham’s team apparently had significant qualms with his actions, leading at least two to resign.
“There were deeper internal fractures on the Durham team than previously known,” The Times reports. “The publicly unexplained resignation in 2020 of his No. 2 and longtime aide, Nora R. Dannehy, was the culmination of a series of disputes between them over prosecutorial ethics. A year later, two more prosecutors strongly objected to plans to indict a lawyer with ties to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign based on evidence they warned was too flimsy, and one left the team in protest of Mr. Durham’s decision to proceed anyway. (A jury swiftly acquitted the lawyer.)”
BARR THREATENED NSA
The Times also reports that Attorney General Barr bought into Trump’s false claims that there had been “no collusion” between the Trump camp and Russia.
Importantly, The Times states point-blank that the Mueller Report “detailed ‘numerous links between the Russian government and the Trump campaign,’ and it established both how Moscow had worked to help Mr. Trump win and how his campaign had expected to benefit from the foreign interference.”
According to The Times’ account, “soon after giving Mr. Durham his assignment,” in May of 2019, “Mr. Barr summoned the head of the National Security Agency, Paul M. Nakasone, to his office. In front of several aides, Mr. Barr demanded that the N.S.A. cooperate with the Durham inquiry.”
The NSA is a wholly separate entity from the Dept. of Justice. It is an agency under the Dept. of Defense and reports to the powerful Director of National Intelligence (DNI).
Barr apparently did not care, and, “repeating a sexual vulgarity, he warned that if the N.S.A. wronged him by not doing all it could to help Mr. Durham, Mr. Barr would do the same to the agency.”
DURHAM TRIED TO SCUTTLE A REPORT’S FINDING THAT TRUMP-RUSSIA INVESTIGATION WAS WARRANTED
“Mr. Durham’s team spent long hours combing the C.I.A.’s files but found no way to support the allegation” that the investigation into Trump and Russia was the result of some anti-Trump deep state operation.
Barr and Durham actually “traveled abroad together to press British and Italian officials to reveal everything their agencies had gleaned about the Trump campaign and relayed to the United States, but both allied governments denied they had done any such thing. Top British intelligence officials expressed indignation to their U.S. counterparts about the accusation, three former U.S. officials said.”
The Dept. of Justice’s Inspector General’s investigation found there was, in fact, sufficient cause for the DOJ to have opened up the Trump-Russia investigation, contrary to Barr’s personal beliefs.
So he tried to have that finding removed from the final report.
The Times reports that “the broader findings contradicted Mr. Trump’s accusations and the rationale for Mr. Durham’s inquiry,” which should have shut down what ultimately became Durham’s four-year long investigation that netted almost nothing.
The DOJ Inspector General, Michael Horowitz, “found no evidence that F.B.I. actions were politically motivated. And he concluded that the investigation’s basis — an Australian diplomat’s tip that a Trump campaign adviser had seemed to disclose advance knowledge that Russia would release hacked Democratic emails — had been sufficient to lawfully open it.”
So Barr tried to discredit Horowitz’s report.
“Minutes before the inspector general’s report went online, Mr. Barr issued a statement contradicting Mr. Horowitz’s major finding, declaring that the F.B.I. opened the investigation “on the thinnest of suspicions that, in my view, were insufficient.” He would later tell Fox News that the investigation began “without any basis,” as if the diplomat’s tip never happened.”
Read the entire Times report here.
This report has been updated to correct the name of the special counsel. It is John Durham not Robert Durham.
Ending Roe Was Just the Beginning: Anti-Choice Activists Are Working to Ban Abortion Rights Nationwide
In a bright pink, purple, and red-lit ballroom in downtown Washington, D.C., last Thursday, anti-choice activists gathered to listen to prominent activists in the anti-choice movement.
“For 49 years, our role has been to influence five people on the court,” said Maureen Ferguson, a senior fellow for The Catholic Association. “Now, we have to persuade 330 million.”
The comment marked a shift in focus for the anti-choice movement. With the dismantlement of Roe v. Wade last summer, the anti-choice movement’s focus has shifted from the Supreme Court to a bevy of other places: state legislatures, Congress, and the court of public opinion.
Of course, the movement has already been hard at work in all those arenas. Trigger laws were set in place to ban abortion in scores of states after Roe was overturned, the new Republican Congress immediately set about trying to pass national anti-abortion legislation, and the March for Life has always targeted young Catholic kids in their messaging about abortion to change public opinion for the future. But their biggest goal—getting five sympathetic justices to the high court to dismantle the right to abortion—had been completed.
The panel, dubbed “Capitol Hill 101,” was a kickoff to the March for Life being held the following day and started, of course, with celebration.
“All the justices deserve our praise,” said Robert P. George, a Princeton University professor, contributor to the Federalist Society, and the author of an amicus brief in support of anti-choice petitioners in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned Roe.
But there were limitations, George said: Justice Samuel Alito’s opinion “only went part of the way to vindicate the Constitution. … The Supreme Court did not declare the right of the unborn, but it did declare that Roe took away the right to legislate.” He pointed to the fifth section of the 14th Amendment, arguing that that “the equal protection of the laws” applies to “any person,” including the “unborn.” In an amicus brief George had submitted in Dobbs, he argued that states should be required to treat abortion as homicide.
The next panelist, Maureen Ferguson, tackled what she called “disinformation” from abortion-rights activists. “The abortion moment has flooded the national debate with disinformation,” she said, focusing on 10 talking points.
“No. 1: Women will die,” Ferguson said. “False. Every pro-life law contains a life for the mother exception.”
This goes against what medical professionals say. Jen Villavicencio, a physician with the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, told Forbes that “as the forced pregnancies now continue to term”—including those with life-threatening complications—“we will see more people die.” The New York Times recently reported that exceptions to abortion bans are rarely granted, even to women who qualify under state law.
And there are plenty in the pro-life movement—including representatives of organizations sitting in that ballroom—who are seeking to do away with the life of the mother exception. As The Atlantic’s Mary Zeigler reports:
Anti-abortion-rights groups, like Pro-Life Wisconsin, have described the “life of the mother” exception as unnecessary and wrong. The Idaho GOP just approved a platform with no lifesaving exception. Republican candidates like Matthew DePerno, the Republican running to be Michigan’s attorney general, oppose all exceptions to abortion bans, and that includes to save a mother’s life. Conservative states are rushing to eliminate or narrow existing exceptions to their laws. Powerful groups like Students for Life, Feminists for Life, and the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG) argue that “abortion is never medically necessary” and that doctors should always be punished for intentionally taking a fetal life.
Despite numerous outlets reporting that some women are being denied miscarriage treatment because hospitals are worried of running amok of new anti-abortion laws, Ferguson claimed that nothing of the sort was happening and that “every doctor knows the difference between miscarriage and abortion.”
She also said that women would not be thrown in jail with the end of Roe. But there are male lawmakers who are seeking to do just that. Throughout the country, a faction of self-proclaimed “abolitionists” are eager to punish women who receive an abortion with prison time. In Louisiana, one piece of legislation that would land women who have abortions “with the same criminal consequences as one who drowns her baby” made it one step closer to becoming a law, CNN reported.
Ferguson also claimed in vitro fertilization was not a target of the anti-choice movement, arguing that Roe’s decision was very narrow and only applied to abortion. But the following minute, she went on to claim that we know exactly when life begins—“at the fusion of sperm and egg.” Of course, by that definition, in vitro fertilization would be a target for the anti-choice movement, as it fuses sperms and eggs in a petri dish, picks the best embryo to implant and often discards the others.
Other panelists representing the Susan B. Anthony List and the Senate Pro-Life Caucus spoke about the need to pass federal legislation to limit abortion and encouraged attendees to pester their lawmakers to pass anti-choice legislation.
As the panel wound down, George urged attendees to “keep the baby in view. And we’ll win.”
Ferguson followed his lead by encouraging attendees to download the sound of an embryo at six weeks, so they could play the sound to anyone they speak to who favors abortion rights. “Well, here’s what a baby’s heartbeat sounds like at six weeks,” she said, playing the audio for the ballroom from her phone.
As the panel closed, attendees, which included hundreds of high school students, funneled out of the ballroom to the March for Life Expo. At the entrance was a booth for Alliance Defending Freedom, a multimillion-dollar anti-choice, anti-LGBTQ litigation shop, handing out free swag to excited students. ADF was central to the overturning of Roe and represented Mississippi in the Supreme Court case; its lawyers have previously bragged that they helped write the Mississippi law as part of their strategy to ban all abortions in the country.
Across from them was the Heritage Foundation, which handed out a packet of flyers and advertised a raffle for a prize of $500. Concerned Women for America advertised their Young Women for America program. Focus on The Family—a platinum sponsor of the March for Life and whose activists worked behind the scenes to get right-wing judges nominated to the federal court—had another stand, while GiveSendGo, the Christian fundraising site, also had a booth featuring a cash grab, a handwritten prize wheel, and a timeline of its company that featured its decision to offer a crowdfunding platform for Kyle Rittenhouse.
This article was originally published by Right Wing Watch and is republished here by permission.
Image: Drew Petrimoulx / Shutterstock
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