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116 Lawmakers Call for End to Transgender Military Service Ban

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116 members of Congress sent a letter Wednesday to Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Attorney General William Barr to call for the elimination of the ban on open transgender military service. This follows the June 15, 2020 Supreme Court ruling that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects LGBTQ people from workplace discrimination. Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (WA-01) spearheaded the initiative.

“This policy is an attack on transgender service members who are risking their lives to serve our country and it should be reversed immediately,” DelBene said.

On April 12, 2019, the Trump administration banned transgender individuals from serving openly in the military. The discriminatory policy denies transgender people the ability to enlist in the military and puts transgender troops at risk of being discharged for living openly. It also denies them transition-related health services.

“In light of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling…we urge the Department of Defense (DOD) to immediately update its policies to eliminate the ban on open transgender military service,” lawmakers wrote in the letter. “Additionally, to prevent further harm to transgender service members, we urge the DOD to instruct the Department of Justice (DOJ) to negotiate the end to litigation challenging the ban.”

“It’s past time for the Trump administration to end its ban on transgender troops serving openly,” said Mara Keisling, Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. “The policy is hateful and discriminatory, and puts at risk our country’s national security by purging brave transgender people from the military despite their honorable service to the American people. The administration must move quickly to right this wrong and protect transgender members of the military.”

“It’s crucial that the Department of Defense remove this unconstitutional transgender military ban and ensure any qualified patriot is able to serve,” said Modern Military Association of America Interim Executive Director Jennifer Dane. “Thousands of transgender service members have already more than proven themselves with honor and distinction, and this discriminatory barrier that has nothing to do with their ability to accomplish the mission must be taken down. We are thankful for Congresswoman Suzan DelBene’s leadership, and we urge the Department of Defense to take swift action.”

The transgender service ban was put in place against the recommendations of several former Surgeons General. Additionally, the country’s preeminent health care organizations, including the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, and the American Medical Association, have all affirmed that transgender people can competently serve in the military.

The letter was signed by Representatives Alma S. Adams, Ph.D. (NC-12), Colin Allred (TX-32), Karen Bass (CA-37), Ami Bera, M.D. (CA-07), Donald S. Beyer Jr. (VA-08), Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), Lisa Blunt Rochester (DE-At-large), Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01), Julia Brownley (CA-26), Salud O. Carbajal (CA-24), Ed Case (HI-01), Sean Casten (IL-06), Kathy Castor (FL-14), Joaquin Castro (TX-20), Judy Chu (CA-27), David N. Cicilline (RI-01), Gilbert R. Cisneros, Jr. (CA-39), Yvette D. Clarke (NY-09), Emanuel Cleaver, II (MO-05), Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12), Gerald E. Connolly (VA-11), Jim Cooper (TN-05), Joe Courtney (CT-02), Angie Craig (MN-02), Charlie Crist (FL-13), Sharice L. Davids (KS-03), Danny K. Davis (IL-07), Madeleine Dean (PA-04), Peter A. DeFazio (OR-04), Diana DeGette (CO-01), Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11), Debbie Dingell (MI-12), Eliot L. Engel (NY-16), Anna G. Eshoo (CA-18), Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Bill Foster (IL-11), Ruben Gallego (AZ-07), Jesús G. “Chuy” García (IL-04), Sylvia R. Garcia (TX-29), Jimmy Gomez (CA-34), Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ-03), Deb Haaland (NM-01), Alcee L. Hastings (FL-20), Jahana Hayes (CT-05), Brian Higgins (NY-26), Jim Himes (CT-04), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-At-large), Jared Huffman (CA-02), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Henry C. “Hank” Johnson (GA-04), William R. Keating (MA-09), Joseph P. Kennedy, III (MA-04), Ro Khanna (CA-17), Daniel T. Kildee (MI-05), Derek Kilmer (WA-06), Ron Kind (WI-03), Ann McLane Kuster (NH-02), Rick Larsen (WA-02), John B. Larson (CT-01), Barbara Lee (CA-13),  Andy Levin (MI-09), Ted W. Lieu (CA-33), Zoe Lofgren (CA-19), Alan Lowenthal (CA-47), Stephen F. Lynch (MA-08), Tom Malinowski (NJ-07), Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18), Betty McCollum (MN-04), A. Donald McEachin (VA-04), James P. McGovern (MA-02), Gregory W. Meeks (NY-05), Grace Meng (NY-06), Gwen S. Moore (WI-04), Joseph D. Morelle (NY-25), Seth Moulton (MA-06), Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (FL-26), Jerrold Nadler (NY-10), Grace F. Napolitano (CA-32), Joe Neguse (CO-02),  Ilhan Omar (MN-05), Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06), Jimmy Panetta (CA-20), Chris Pappas (NH-01), Donald M. Payne Jr. (NJ-10), Scott Peters (CA-52), Mark Pocan (WI-02), David E. Price (NC-04), Mike Quigley (IL-05), Jamie Raskin (MD-08), Kathleen M. Rice (NY-04),  Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40), Tim Ryan (OH-13), Linda T. Sánchez (CA-38), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), Adam B. Schiff (CA-28), Bradley S. Schneider (IL-10), Kim Schrier, M.D. (WA-08), José E. Serrano (NY-15), Albio Sires (NJ-08), Thomas R. Suozzi (NY-03), Mark Takano (CA-41), Mike Thompson (CA-05), Dinna Titus (NV-01), Lori Trahan (MA-03), David Trone (MD-06), Lauren Underwood (IL-14), Nydia M. Velázquez (NY-07), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23), Peter Welch (VT-At-large), Jennifer Wexton (VA-10), Susan Wild (PA-07), and John Yarmuth (KY-03).

A copy of the letter can be found here.

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What Cassidy Hutchinson’s Testimony Means for Criminal Prosecution of Donald Trump: Report

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Former White House senior aide Cassidy Hutchinson revealed some new information to the House Select Committee investigating the attack on Congress and the attempt to overthrow the election.

One question being asked by the New York Times, however, is whether the information she gave was enough to aid in a potential criminal prosecution of former President Donald Trump.

Among the things she told the committee was that as Trump went onstage Jan. 6 to speak to the rally crowd he knew that there were people in the audience with weapons, including guns. Instead of trying to deescalate the crowd, she said that he wanted the supporters brought closer and allowed in even if they had weapons that wouldn’t normally make it through metal detectors.

“Legal experts said the testimony provided more evidence to support a possible criminal prosecution, as it suggested that Mr. Trump was aware of the potential for violence but went on to urge his supporters to head to the Capitol,” wrote the Times analysis.

IN OTHER NEWS: Company fired workers who refused to take part in daily Christian prayer ritual: lawsuit

Trump then called on the crowd to “fight like hell” and told them that he would lead them to the Capitol in a powerful march.

“And after this, we’re going to walk down, and I’ll be there with you, we’re going to walk down, we’re going to walk down,” he said, repeating the phrase. “Anyone you want, but I think right here, we’re going to walk down to the Capitol, and we’re going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women, and we’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them. Because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength and you have to be strong. We have come to demand that Congress do the right thing and only count the electors who have been lawfully slated, lawfully slated.”

The Times pointed that the Justice Department said that it doesn’t have an explicit investigation focusing on Trump. There is, however, evidence that the DOJ is moving swiftly on the fake electors’ scandal. Meanwhile, Trump legal adviser John Eastman was raided by federal agents, including FBI agents, who took his phone to turn it over to the Justice Department Inspector General. That is an indication that there’s an internal investigation happening over the role some lawyers like Jeffrey Clark played in the attempt to overthrow the election.

Meanwhile, the Justice Department has captured many of those who came after Congress on Jan. 6 and interviews with them reveal that they’re placing the blame squarely on Donald Trump. Some said that Trump called them to Washington and to the Capitol for Jan. 6.

READ MORE: Roger Stone hints at July Trump announcement: ‘DeSantis needs to stick to his knitting’

“Ms. Hutchinson’s testimony could place Mr. Trump into a conspiratorial relationship with members of the mob, lawyers said, suggesting that he pushed them into action even though he was aware that they presented an immediate threat,” wrote the Times.

Hugo Lowell, reporter for The Guardian, explained that Hutchinson’s comments “marked a new degree of apparent consciousness of guilt among Trump’s closest advisers – in addition to that of at least half a dozen Republican congressmen and the Trump lawyer John Eastman – or fear that they might have committed a crime.

He went on to explain that “in raising Giuliani’s interest in a pardon, Hutchinson also testified that Trump’s former attorney may have also been central to a crime with respect to his seeming knowledge of what the far-right Oath Keepers and Proud Boys groups were planning for January 6.”

The idea that the White House knew about the involvement of the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys “raised the spectre that the former president’s then-attorney [Giuliani] was broadly aware of the intentions of two far-right groups.” Many of the groups’ members have since been arrested and charged with seditious conspiracy.

Harvard Law School professor Laurence Tribe urged the DOJ to be forthcoming about its intentions to dodge the implications of politicization.

Founder and executive director of Protect Democracy Ian Bassin noted that the idea of attempting to intimidate witnesses is a potential criminal offense for Trump. If the people relaying the message to Hutchinson and the other witness are investigated for being part of that it’s unclear if they will implicate the president.

Sol Wisenberg, a former deputy to special counsel Ken Starr, told the Times that it’s clear Trump has criminal culpability.

Read the other questions that the Times said Hutchinson raised with her testimony.

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Secret Service Agent Called Protestors Tear-Gassed During Trump Bible Photo Op ‘Rioters’ and ‘Anarchists’: Report

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A U.S. Secret Service agent referred to the tear-gassed peaceful protestors gathered in Lafayette Park across from the White House in June of 2020 as “rioters,” “anarchist[s],” and, apparently, “Anti American Thugs” as he or she wrote fondly of then-President Donald Trump.

The revelation comes via veteran journalist Andrew Beaujon, a senior editor at Washingtonian, who obtained a redacted email in response to his Freedom of Information Act request. Beaujon posted a screenshot of the email Wednesday, apparently in an effort to show Secret Service agents are not non-partisan. Two allegedly are pushing back against Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony from Tuesday, before the U.S. House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack. Through a source the agents who were close to Trump are reportedly claiming he did not grab the steering wheel or lunge at one of his Secret Service drivers.

Hutchinson testified she was told by an agent Trump “grabbed at the steering wheel” and lunged at the agent’s “clavicle.”

READ MORE: Trump ‘Wanted to Walk Into the House With an Armed Mob’ Says Yale Historian

Beaujon tweeted: “About that Secret Service pushback: Here’s a redacted message from someone in the Uniformed Division, White House Branch, in response to my FOIA for Secret Service emails during the 2020 protests by the White House.”

“I have been out their [sic] on the front lines face to face with the rioters/anarchist[s],” the email reads. “Yesterday President Trump proudly walked across Lafayette Park going to the recently damaged St. John’s Church. Together with high ranking administration officials the President was photographed with Bible in hand in front of the Church. After the photo he marched backed to the White House symbolizing Anti American Thugs.”

While the wording is strange it seems clear the agent is a supporter of Donald Trump and opposed U.S. citizens exercising their First Amendment rights, just as they were being gassed.

READ MORE: Trump So Determined to Go to the Capitol He ‘Grabbed at the Steering Wheel’ From Secret Service: Aide

One year after the incident, during which Trump was highly-criticized, an Inspector General’s report raised additional questions, as Vox reported in June of 2021.

One senior White House official at the time said the Trump White House was “celebrating” the tear-gassing of the protestors.

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Legal Experts Urge Committee to Subpoena Ginni Thomas After She Backs Away From Testifying

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Legal experts are encouraging the House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack to subpoena far right-wing activist and lobbyist Ginni Thomas, now that she is backing out from appearing barely weeks after saying she “looks forward” and “can’t wait” to testify.

In an 8-page letter, her attorney says he needs “a better justification for why Mrs. Thomas’s testimony is relevant,” The Washington Post reports.

The Committee has been interested in speaking with her since at least last summer but had declined to invite or subpoena Thomas, the spouse of a sitting U.S. Supreme Court Justice. After evidence of email correspondence between her and the infamous “coup memo” author John Eastman, the Committee said they would like to talk with her.  She quickly told the right-wing Daily Caller she “can’t wait to clear up misconceptions. I look forward to talking to them.”

Virginia Thomas, who goes by “Ginni,”  is a longtime and powerful name in Washington who actively, according to reports, pushed dozens of state and federal officials to overturn the 2020 presidential election. Her attorney says he sees no reason for her to speak with the Committee.

“Mrs. Thomas has expressed a willingness to try to come before the Committee as a means of clearing her name,” Thomas’ attorney Mark Paoletta wrote in a letter, HuffPost adds. “But, based on my understanding of the facts … I do not believe there is currently a sufficient basis to speak with Mrs. Thomas.”

Former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance, now a law professor and MSNBC/NBC News legal analyst, is calling for Thomas to be subpoenaed.

“Thomas said she’d testify during the uproar,” Vance said via Twitter. “Now, she’s hoping to duck under the radar with so much other news. She should be subpoenaed like any other witness & if she fails to appear, treated like Bannon and Navarro, as she has no privilege to avoid testimony.”

Attorney, MSNBC anchor, and legal analyst Katie Phang tweeted, “SUBPOENA her. Now.”

Seth Abramson, an attorney and author said: “Only by issuing a subpoena to Ginni Thomas *now* does Congress have a chance of being able to work through her inevitable legal challenges and refer her to DOJ for a Criminal Contempt indictment *before* a possible handover of Congress to the insurrectionists in early 2023.”

Miranda Yaver, PhD, a political science professor who teaches courses on law at Wheaton also tweeted, “Subpoena Ginni Thomas.”

 

Image by Gage Skidmore via Flickr and a CC license

 

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