RIGHT WING EXTREMISM
As Pete Buttigieg Surveys East Palestine Train Derailment Even Fox News Admits Elaine Chao ‘Never’ Visited an Accident
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg Thursday traveled to East Palestine, Ohio, to visit the scene of the Norfolk Southern train derailment.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has toured the site of the train derailment and toxic spill in East Palestine, Ohio https://t.co/W5o1dAG3E0 pic.twitter.com/I4YfJGWH5A
— CNN (@CNN) February 23, 2023
The attacks in recent months against Secretary Buttigieg by Republicans and right-wing media figures have been almost relentless.
Within hours of the Norfolk Southern train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) inspectors arrived at the scene. Also within hours the Biden administration sent officials from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Dept. of Transportation. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has been coordinating with Ohio as well as federal officials. President Joe Biden spoke with Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, offering assistance and support – which the Republican governor rejected.
Governor DeWine, up until just one week ago, had rejected additional federal assistance, and refused to declare the area a disaster. In fact, it was only after Democratic U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio issued a statement demanding Governor DeWine “officially declare a disaster in East Palestine and seek the full support of the federal government to bolster the state of Ohio’s ongoing clean-up efforts,” did the GOP governor do so.
Just one day earlier Gov. DeWine told MSNBC he did not see a need for additional federal assistance, even though President Biden had called him and offered it.
Gov. DeWine on his conversation with President Biden about the train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio:
“What I said to the president is, ‘If we need additional help, we’ll tell you, but the people who have been in here from the federal government are doing a very good job.’” pic.twitter.com/istTpwjzhN
— Morning Joe (@Morning_Joe) February 15, 2023
One day after Gov. DeWine finally requested federal assistance, the White House in a statement said, “the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced they are deploying a team of medical personnel and toxicologists to conduct public health testing and assessments. The team will support Federal, state, and local officials already on the ground to evaluate individuals who were exposed or potentially exposed to chemicals and help ensure timely communications to the public.”
President Biden again called Governor DeWine this week, from Poland, just after delivering a speech in Warsaw.
Despite all these efforts from the Biden administration and wider federal government, high-profile elected Republicans and right-wing media critics have gone so far as to attack Secretary Buttigieg. U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) has repeatedly attacked Buttigieg, even calling on him to resign over the Norfolk Southern train derailment. U.S. Rep. Warren Davidson (R-OH) called for Buttigieg to be impeached, simply for not going to the scene of the accident.
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MSNBC‘s Steve Benen earlier his week, reporting that there are around 1000 train derailments annually, noted that “politicians have not generally responded to any of these modern derailments by going after the U.S. secretary of Transportation, but in the wake of the Norfolk Southern freight train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, earlier this month, a striking number of Republicans have decided to blame the disaster on Pete Buttigieg.”
Indeed, perhaps the most critical has been Fox News propagandist Tucker Carlson, who has repeatedly attacked Buttigieg over the Norfolk Southern train derailment. In this one short clip Carlson falsely claimed the water was not being tested (it was and is), made homophobic remarks – calling Buttigieg “flamboyantly incompetent” – and almost “evil.”
Tucker Carlson on Pete Buttigieg’s response to the toxic chemical release in East Palestine, Ohio:
“There’s never been a cabinet secretary this flamboyantly incompetent, and this so obviously uncaring, almost to the point of evil.” pic.twitter.com/aqn1gebT7m
— The Post Millennial (@TPostMillennial) February 15, 2023
But even Fox News‘ morning crew, ahead of his visit to East Palestine this morning, defended Transportation Secretary Buttigieg – at least somewhat – by admitting that not once during her four years as Trump’s Secretary of Transportation did Elaine Chao ever visit the scene of an accident.
“During the Trump administration apparently even when there were derailments, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao never visited the sites,” Fox News host Steve Doocy pointed out. Moments later, Brian Kilmeade claimed, “There was nothing that equated to this during the Trump administration.”
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Steve Doocy: “During the Trump administration apparently even when there were derailments, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao never visited the sites …”
Brian Kilmeade later says, “There was nothing that equated to this during the Trump administration.” pic.twitter.com/4brD5dFYhj
— The Recount (@therecount) February 23, 2023
And earlier in the program Kilmeade, a top Trump supporter and top Biden critic, admitted he was “stunned” by the number of train derailments, previously “knew nothing” about them, and called for regulations – regulations that the Obama administration put in place that the Trump administration removed. Donald Trump personally bragged about removing regulations.
I am continuing to get rid of costly and unnecessary regulations. Much work left to do but effect will be great! Business & jobs will grow.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 3, 2017
On Tuesday, another Fox News host, Bret Baier, also pointed out the discrepancy in how Republicans are attacking Buttigieg for not going to the derailment site earlier.
“There is this political moment and there is a lot of criticism of the Transportation Secretary,” Baier said, as Mediate reports. “Politico pointing out that Secretary Buttigieg will visit there… Quote, ‘He’s also expected to meet with DOT officials who arrived on the ground within hours of the derailment.’ They point out, ‘It is exceedingly rare for a transportation secretary to visit the site of a train derailment, especially one that resulted in no fatalities.’”
“There were train derailments in the Trump administration that actually had fatalities that didn’t have a visit by Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao,” Baier said. “But this seems to have some momentum about the administration and its reaction to this derailment in particular.”
Mediate notes that “Hume added that Biden’s trip to Ukraine is more than justified because it involves the security of the U.S. He said that ‘substantively, it doesn’t make much difference’ whether Biden visits the derailment site.”
Just this week Gizmodo published a list of “America’s Worst Toxic Train Disasters,” and a December 2020 accident in Washington made the list. That was during the Trump administration, and Elaine Chao was the Transportation Secretary.
This article has been updated to add reporting from Mediaite.
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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM
Trump Appeals After Judge Agrees With Special Counsel on Crime-Fraud Exception and Requires His Attorney to Testify
Donald Trump’s attorneys have appealed a ruling that requires one of his lawyers to testify before a grand jury investigating his unlawful removal, retention, and refusal to return classified documents from the White House.
Attorneys for the Special Counsel “said there is evidence of a deliberate effort not to turn over all the material covered by the subpoena,” The Washington Post reports, citing people familiar with the matter.
U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell had reportedly agreed with Special Counsel Smith that there is sufficient evidence proving Donald Trump may have committed a crime via his attorneys, and ruled his attorney must testify before a grand jury. The ruling, which was not made public, was handed down Friday night, NBC News reported Wednesday afternoon.
Judge Howell “ruled in favor of applying the ‘crime fraud’ exception to Trump’s attorney-client privilege and ordered Trump lawyer Evan Corcoran to testify before the federal grand jury.”
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Trump’s attorneys have already appealed the ruling.
“People familiar with the matter said an appeals panel has already begun reviewing the decision, after Trump’s lawyers appealed,” The Washington Post adds. “The extraordinarily quick timeline suggests that the judges — all nominated by Democratic presidents — intend to rule swiftly.”
Trump could take his case all the way to the Supreme Court, but The Post says it’s “not clear he would have a much better chance of success there.”
According to an NBC News report from October, Corcoran directed another Trump attorney, Christina Bobb, to sign the letter claiming a thorough search of Mar-a-Lago had been made and all classified or “sensitive” documents had been returned. That was proven untrue after federal agents, executing a search warrant, recovered hundreds of documents with classified markings.
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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM
‘Complete Dog Whistle’: Experts Say Trump Sending Coded Message to Far-Right With Location of Next Rally
As Donald Trump continues his recently launched campaign for 2024, his next stop is raising the eyebrows of some experts who say it’s a deliberate message to the far-right, AZ Central reported.
Trump plans to hold a rally this Saturday in the city of Waco, Texas — on the anniversary of the infamous ATF siege that ended in the fiery deaths of cult leader David Koresh and over 80 of his followers, including 25 children.
The event has been a rallying point for many in far-right anti-government movements, including Timothy McVeigh, who carried out the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City in 1995, which caused the deaths 198 people, including 19 children. The Waco siege has also been the catalyst for a wave of anti-government conspiracy theories since then. It also is central to many pro-2nd Amendment advocates, since the ATF initially carried out a raid on Koresh’s compound accusing him and his group of stockpiling illegal weapons.
Experts speaking to AZ Central say that’s exactly why Trump chose Waco.
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“Waco is hugely symbolic on the far right,” said Heidi Beirich, co-founder of the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism. “There’s not really another place in the U.S. that you could pick that would tap into these deep veins of anti-government hatred – Christian nationalist skepticism of the government – and I find it hard to believe that Trump doesn’t know that Waco represents all of these things.”
“Waco has a sense of grievance among people that I know he’s (Trump’s) got to be trying to tap into,” Beirich said. “He’s being unjustly accused, like the Branch Davidians were unjustly accused – and the deep state is out to get them all.”
Deputy director for data analytics at the Southern Poverty Law Center, Megan Squire, was a little more direct.
“Give me a break! There’s no reason to go to Waco, Texas, other than one thing – in April,” Squire said. “I can’t even fathom what’s what that’s about other than just a complete dog whistle – actually forget dog whistle, that is just a train whistle to the folks who still remember that event and are still mad about it.”
RIGHT WING EXTREMISM
‘Chilling’: Law Enforcement ‘Seriously’ Investigating Threats Ahead of Possible Trump Indictment Says Top WaPo Reporter
Ahead of a possible indictment of Donald Trump, law enforcement agencies are investigating “chilling” threats, including against Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, according to top Washington Post investigative reporter Carol Leonnig.
Leonnig was careful to say she is not aware of any of the threats being deemed credible, but also noted that “all sorts of law enforcement agencies” seem to be taking much more interest than some agencies did in the weeks before the January 6, 2021 insurrection.
“I have received copies and screenshots and internal documents and emails flagging concerns about specific protests, investigations into specific online threats that have been made that are not yet determined to be ‘credible and likely to occur’ but have been chilling nonetheless in terms of the threats that have been made about killing certain people,” Leonning, a Pulitzer-Prize winning author, said Tuesday on MSNBC’s “Deadline: White House.”
“Claims of, you know, ‘Alvin Bragg needs to needs to die,’ and claims online that could just be, you know, bravado, but are being seriously investigated and checked into this time around, ones that were not checked into as clearly at all in the weeks before January 6, despite significant warnings to the FBI about what these threats meant.”
Mirroring Leonnig’s reporting, Rolling Stone, citing law enforcement reports, on Tuesday noted: “Violent extremists are advocating lethal attacks and proclaiming their willingness to die for the cause.”
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“U.S. Capitol Police, the D.C. Fusion Center, and the Federal Highway Administration have all circulated warnings about the uptick in online threats over the past 48 hours. The bulletins and threat assessments detail some of the online threats and discussions about the use of specific tactics and methods for carrying out attacks — including online discussions about lethal attacks if Trump is arrested.”
On Saturday in an explosive series of social media posts Donald Trump urged his supporters to “protest” and “take our nation back.”
That “announcement was met with an immediate increase in violent online rhetoric and expressed threats toward government and law enforcement targets perceived as participating in a political persecution of the former president, as well as calls for ‘Civil War’ more generally.”
The DC Fusion Center, which analyzes threats, in a report stated it “assesses that potential criminal justice actions taken toward a former US president — or actions perceived to be taken toward the former president — remain a ‘line in the sand’ for [Domestic Violent Extremist] communities and thus have the potential to manifest in violence toward government targets or political officials,” Rolling Stone added.
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