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Nazis’ Lawyers Accuse Charlottesville Victims of Being Communist Sympathizers in Sixth Day of Wild Trial

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Virginia — As the second witness in the landmark lawsuit against white nationalist organizers of the 2017 Unite the Right rally took the stand on Monday, defendants sought to discredit the victims of violence that engulfed the city in August 2017 by attempting to make strained connections to violent left-wing counter-protesters and communists.

During jury selection, several prospective jurors expressed negative opinions about “antifa,” revealing how deeply right-wing conspiracy theories falsely portraying left-wing, antiracist activists as uniformly violent have become entrenched since the election of Donald Trump. Lawyers for the plaintiffs were able to get several of the prospective jurors with the most extreme views of “antifa” struck.

Defense counsel began cross-examination of Devin Willis, a plaintiff who was an 18-year-old African-American student at the University of Virginia in August 2017, on Monday morning. Willis and fellow plaintiff Natalie Romero, who testified on Oct. 29, were the only people of color among a group of counter-protesters who were surrounded by a torch-bearing mob as they linked arms around the statue of Thomas Jefferson on the University of Virginia campus on Aug. 11, 2017.

White nationalists in the mob yelled, “Go back to where you came from,” made monkey noises at them, and hurled lit torches at their feet.

A member of the Black Student Alliance at the University of Virginia, Willis helped organize a respite area in nearby McGuffey Park, where antiracist counter-protesters could find food and water, listen to poetry or take time for meditation, during the day of the Unite the Right rally on Aug. 12, 2017.

Defendants questioned him about the language in a press release announcing the project by asking him to distinguish between “nonviolent civil protest” and “direct action.” Through cross-examination, the defendants attempted to cast the respite effort in a sinister light by highlighting the fact that Willis also went to what was then Emancipation Park and stood with a group of people who attempted to block the white nationalists from traversing the street.

Richard Spencer, the one-time figurehead of the alt-right movement, asked Willis if his intention of maintaining a “safe space” at McGuffey Park would “have included blocking people from traveling to a permitted rally.”

“I don’t think so,” Willis replied. “The first thing is the safe space was in McGuffey Park. I think what you’re referring to took place somewhere else.”

But Willis also rejected the defendants’ attempt to characterize his participation in the blockade as “direct action,” instead describing it as “a symbolic gesture,” similar to when he joined counter-protesters to surround the Jefferson statue the previous evening.

“That’s why there was space left to walk around,” he added.

Bryan Jones, counsel for the two League of the South defendants, used his cross-examination of Willis to attempt to undermine the plaintiffs’ characterization of themselves as peaceful counter-protesters. Jones presented images of the counter-protesters blocking Market Street adjacent to Emancipation Park that included at least two individuals holding sticks or flagpoles. Others in the line were wearing red bandannas, which Jones suggested in his cross-examination were indicative of support for communism.

Willis acknowledged on the stand that he joined what Jones called “this human barricade” on at least two occasions.

During direct examination, Willis had testified that he had witnessed people using sticks and poles as weapons to hit people near Emancipation Park. When Jones showed Willis a photo of person who appeared to be a counter-protester in the human chain holding a flagpole, Willis acknowledged that it was consistent with, as Jones worded it, “the type of weapons you saw used during the confrontation and conflict that day.”

Willis also identified co-plaintiff Romero in a photograph of people on the line.

Jones referenced Romero’s earlier testimony when she said that white nationalists spit at her and threw her against a police car next to Emancipation Park on the morning of Aug. 12. She testified that she couldn’t understand why they assaulted her because there was plenty of room to go around her.

“If someone were to say that Natalie was only standing on the side of the road, that would be incorrect, wouldn’t it?” Jones asked.

“I don’t think that invalidates the other thing she said,” Willis responded.

Jones also questioned Willis about red bandannas worn by people in the line blocking Market Street.

“You didn’t realize that there were communist supporters?” Jones asked.

“I wasn’t really paying much attention to that,” Willis replied.

Jones’s questioning also sought to shift blame for the violence from the defendants to members of law enforcement, who stood on the sideline as hand-to-hand combat raged on the Market Street on the morning of Aug. 12, before declaring the event an unlawful assembly and ordering people to leave.

Jones contrasted the police handling of Unite the Right with their response to a rally a month earlier by the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. Willis agreed with Jones that the Klan rally was relatively uneventful and that there was a significant police presence at the earlier rally, in comparison with Unite the Right. In contrast to Unite the Right, during the Klan rally, police kept the two groups separated.

“Could it be that one of the reasons you experienced violence at the August rally is that you were standing with other counter-protesters blocking a roadway, but in July you didn’t do that?” Jones asked.

Willis responded: “I don’t think standing in the roadway is an invitation to be attacked, but you could say that, yes.”

Before the trial started, Jones had unsuccessfully sought to introduce the 220-page Heaphy Report, an independent review of the breakdown of order during the Unite the Right rally that was commissioned by the former city manager, into evidence in entirety.

The Heaphy Report concluded that the city of Charlottesville failed to protect both free expression and public safety on Aug. 12, 2017.

“The city was unable to protect the right of free expression and facilitate the permit holder’s offensive speech,” the report said. “This represents a failure of one of government’s core functions — the protection of fundamental rights. Law enforcement also failed to maintain order and protect citizens from harm, injury and death.”

Timothy Heaphy, the lead author of the report, is a former US attorney for the Western District of Virginia who was recently hired as chief investigative counsel for the US House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the US Capitol.

The plaintiffs have argued that the Unite the Right organizers sought to use the report “as a central pillar in their defense at trial” in an effort “to shift the blame of their racially motivated violence onto others.”

Judge Moon turned down the defendants’ request, ruling the report inadmissible as hearsay.

The defendants are likely to sharpen questions about plaintiffs allegedly impeding their access to Emancipation Park, where they held a permit for a rally, when the Rev. Seth Wispelwey takes the stand. Wispelwey, who is a plaintiff in the case, organized a response from clergy. As Wispelwey and other clergy members, including Professor Cornel West, marched arm-in-arm to Emancipation Park, white nationalists charged through them, knocking Wispelwey into a bush.

Defendant Christopher Cantwell, a neo-Nazi podcaster, took the defendants’ efforts to link plaintiffs to violent left-wing activists a step further by extensively questioning Willis about various individuals who counter-protested the Aug. 11 torch march. At one point, Cantwell asked Willis to name the people who were in the car with him when he traveled to campus to counter-protest the torch march. During his direct examination, Willis had explained that when the white nationalists attacked them at the Jefferson statue he covered his face to avoid being doxed.

Responding to Cantwell’s question on Monday about his fellow counter-protesters, he told the court: “I’m hesitant to name them. Some of them live here.”

“You have to name them,” Judge Moon told Willis.

Plaintiffs’ counsel asked to approach the bench for a conference.

Cantwell resumed his line of questioning, and Willis asked if he had to respond.

“This is your lawsuit, and this is information they need to ask,” Moon said.

Cantwell, whose legal strategy has occasionally earned the scorn of counsel for his fellow defendants, has aggressively cross-examined the first two plaintiff-witnesses, running the risk of alienating jurors who sympathize with the injuries they incurred during the weekend of violence. At times, Cantwell’s courtroom comments have seemed more directed towards his white nationalist podcast audience than the court.

 

Jordan Green covers right-wing extremism for Raw Story. A Kentucky native, he now lives in North Carolina, where he spent 16 years writing for alt-weeklies and freelancing for the Washington Post and other publications.

Image: Peter Cvjetanovicm (Twitter)

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Dem Wants Probe Into Allegations of Congress Members Drinking During Contempt Hearing

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House Oversight Republicans held a contempt of Congress hearing for Attorney General Merrick Garland while lawmakers allegedly were drinking alcohol and acting “pretty ugly” during Thursday night’s proceedings. Now, they are the ones accused of behavior “embarrassing to our institution” by Ranking Member Jamie Raskin (D-MD), who wants an investigation.

“Members of the panel ultimately advanced a contempt of Congress resolution against Attorney General Merrick Garland on a party-line vote, but the far more striking takeaway was the personal attacks and theatrics lobbed between lawmakers in both parties — as Chair James Comer (R-Ky.) struggled unsuccessfully to gain control for more than an hour,” Politico reported Friday, adding: “both Republicans and Democrats acknowledged some members had been drinking that evening.”

Who was drinking remains a secret.

“A House Republican described the hearing as ’embarrassing’ and ‘a four -alarm dumpster fire,'” Axios reported. “The session quickly devolved into chaos, with Democrats blasting the GOP for postponing the hearing so several members could visit former President Trump’s trial and Republicans heckling them in response.”

One Democrat during the hearing spoke up.

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Ranking Member Raskin “said it was ’embarrassing to our institution’ and that he ‘constantly’ instructs his members to maintain a ‘high level of dignity and respect and decorum.'”

“We have some members in the room who are drinking inside the hearing room … who are not on this committee,” alleged Rep. Melanie Stansbury (D-NM).

The Hill adds that Congressman Raskin said, “I didn’t see the drinking,” and that “the gentlelady from New Mexico, Melanie Stansbury raised it, she said there are members drinking in the room, and that’s something that is worth investigating if there was in fact drinking taking place.”

One unnamed House Republican told Axios, “This place is so stupid.”

The evening’s events quickly took a bad turn when U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), violating decorum, interrupted Ranking Member Raskin barely 30 seconds into his remarks.

Watch below or at this link.

READ MORE: ‘Partisan Insurrectionist’: Calls Mount for Alito’s Ouster After ‘Stop the Steal’ Scandal

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Will Trump Testify at Trial? ‘Absolutely’ Is Now a ‘No Decision’ Yet

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The State of New York’s prosecution of Donald Trump is nearing it end, as Judge Juan Merchan announced late Thursday afternoon final arguments could begin on Tuesday. But one question remains: Will the ex-president who is facing 34 felony charges in the election interference, falsification of business records, and hush money cover-up case, testify in his defense?

Just over one month ago Trump was asked that question. He quickly responded, “Yeah I would testify, absolutely.”

Trump appeared resolved.

READ MORE: Ex-Florida GOP Chair’s Efforts to Recruit 3-Way Partners for Anti-LGBTQ Wife Revealed: Report

“I’m testifying. I tell the truth. I mean, all I can do is tell the truth. And the truth is that there is no case,” he said, as NBC News reported.

NBC added last week that Trump “told Newsmax two weeks ago that he would testify ‘if necessary,’ and on Tuesday he said in an interview with Spectrum News 1 Wisconsin that he would ‘probably’ take the stand, adding that he ‘would like to.'”

But when Judge Merchan asked Todd Blanche, Trump’s attorney, on Thursday, the answer was very different.

“That’s another decision that we need to think through,” he said, according to the Associated Press.

But Politico’s Erica Orden reported, “Blanche says Trump hasn’t made a final decision about whether to testify.”

Last week, as the question of Trump’s testifying loomed large, U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) insisted he would not.

“It’s over. Donald Trump has a right to not testify. Yet he PROMISED he would. Now it’s clear he won’t. The jury can’t consider this. But you can. He is chickenshit and you should conclude he’s guilty as hell.”

On Wednesday, attorney George Conway addressed the topic, saying, “If he doesn’t testify, it’s because he’s scared.”

He also said, “in a million years, I would never tell him to testify. I would tell him not to testify.”

Watch the video above or at this link.

READ MORE: Trump Wails His Judge Was Appointed by ‘Democrat Politicians’ – That’s False

 

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Ex-Florida GOP Chair’s Efforts to Recruit 3-Way Partners for Anti-LGBTQ Wife Revealed: Report

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A stunning police report reveals how Christian Ziegler, the now-ousted Florida Republican Party chair, would head out to bars to scope out and recruit women as possible three-way sex partners for himself and his stridently anti-LGBTQ wife, Moms for Liberty co-founder Bridget Ziegler.

The disgraced Florida power couple’s ménage à trois sex scandal made national headlines after an accusation of rape against Christian Ziegler came from one of their three-way sexual partners, an allegation he denied. After an investigation no charges were filed.

Christian Ziegler lost his high-paying job as the Florida GOP chairman, but his wife Bridget has refused to resign from her elected position on a school board, as well as from her position on the state board that now oversees the Walt Disney World special district. Bridget Ziegler, who is seen as an architect of Governor Ron DeSantis’ “Don’t Say Gay” law, reportedly is best friends with Florida First Lady Casey DeSantis, and was appointed to the special district role by the Florida GOP governor.

The Sarasota Police Dept. report, according to the Florida Trident, “recounts how Christian Ziegler went ‘on the prowl’ in bars for women to bring home to Bridget, a Sarasota County School Board member who has backed a number of anti-LGBTQ measures at both the state and local level, for threesome encounters. While at the bars, Christian would surreptitiously photograph prospective women and text the photos to Bridget for approval, according to the report.”

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Some of the details are salacious.

“There were numerous text messages between Bridget and Christian where they are on the prowl for a female and Bridget is directing him to numerous different bars in search of a female that they are both interested in,” the report reads, according to The Trident. “During these conversations Christian is secretly taking photographs of women in the bars and sending them to Bridget asking her if she wants this one or that one. Bridget is telling him to pretend to take pictures of his beer, so they don’t see him taking pictures of them. She tells him ‘Don’t come home until your dick is wet.’”

The Zieglers are in court trying to block the release of the text messages and other media, alleging in a lawsuit against the Sarasota Police Dept. and the State Attorney’s Office that “release of those records would cause ‘great humiliation and harm to their individual reputations’ if released and therefore should be destroyed.”

“The suit specifically addresses the contents of Christian Ziegler’s cell phone, his social media accounts, web browsing history, and the video he made of the sexual encounter with the alleged rape victim,” the Trident reports.

Meanwhile, despite her own actions and after months of laying low, Bridget Ziegler is back on her anti-LGBTQ crusade.

“At last week’s school board meeting, Ziegler introduced a highly contentious resolution to ignore protections for LGBTQ students afforded by a new federal Title IX rule,” the Trident also reports. “The resolution, which followed a DeSantis legal challenge to Title IX at the state level, claims the new rule would cause ‘disastrous impacts to girls and women’s safety in restrooms, locker rooms, and sports.’ It passed by a 4-1 vote despite the fact it could lead to a federal investigation, expensive litigation, and the loss to the school district of roughly $50 million in federal funds.”

READ MORE: Trump Appears to Violate Gag Order After Judge Threatened ‘Incarceration’

 

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