An ABC News bombshell report revealing then-Vice President Mike Pence had, at one point, decided to not preside over the January 6 joint congressional session to certify the results of the 2020 presidential election is once again bringing up questions about remarks U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) had made one day before the event, which some interpreted as him announcing he, and not the Vice President, would be presiding over the proceedings. Grassley later denied the claim.
The ABC News report includes conversations Special Counsel Jack Smith’s team had in closed-door sessions with Pence, including the former vice president’s notes they obtained from the National Archives.
“According to sources, one of Pence’s notes obtained by Smith’s team shows that, days before Pence was set to preside over Congress certifying the election results on Jan. 6, 2021, he momentarily decided that he would skip the proceedings altogether, writing in the note that there were ‘too many questions’ and it would otherwise be ‘too hurtful to my friend.’ But he ultimately concluded he had a duty to show up,” ABC News reported.
The report added that their “sources said, with the pressure on Pence mounting, he concluded on Christmas Eve — just for a moment — that he would follow Trump’s suggestion and let someone else preside over the proceedings on Jan. 6.”
“Speaking with Smith’s team, Pence insisted his loyalty to President Trump at the time never faltered — ‘My only higher loyalty was to God and the Constitution,’ sources described Pence as telling them.”
“‘Not feeling like I should attend electoral count,’ Pence wrote in his notes in late December. ‘Too many questions, too many doubts, too hurtful to my friend. Therefore I’m not going to participate in certification of election.'”
ABC’s report is prompting questions about U.S. Senator Grassley’s remarks on January 5, 2021, when he said he would be presiding over the Senate the following, fateful day.
Back in September, the Washington Post’s Aaron Blake revisited that event, which in 2021 sparked rumors and speculation.
“Asked whether former president Donald Trump’s legal team had any discussions about Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) presiding over the certification of the 2020 election on Jan. 6, 2021, rather than Vice President Mike Pence, [Trump coup memo author John] Eastman declined to answer, citing attorney-client privilege with Trump,” The Post reported, referring to Eastman’s legal testimony in a disbarment proceeding. “The moment drew renewed attention to one of the bigger unanswered questions about Jan. 6: How extensive was the effort to get Pence to step aside?”
“While Grassley has denied any outreach about whether he would preside on Jan. 6, an email obtained by the [U.S. House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack] shows that one of his staff members asked Pence’s office on Dec. 23, 2020, about such a scenario.”
“‘ … Is there any reason to believe that your boss will not preside over the electoral college vote count,’ Grassley aide James Rice wrote, as recounted in Jan. 6 committee transcripts, ‘leaving my boss in the spot as [president pro tem]?'”
“Pence aide Paul Teller responded that ‘it’s not a zero percent chance of that happening.'”
But The Post concluded, “the suggestion that this was a concerted effort to get rid of Pence remains unsubstantiated.”
In October of 2022, the Des Moines Register also looked that that event from January 5.
“As the counting of electoral votes neared, reporters asked Grassley how he planned to vote on election certification, the Iowa newspaper reported.
“’If the vice president isn’t there, and we don’t expect him to be there, I will be presiding over the Senate and obviously listening to the debate without saying anything,’ [Grassley] said on a call with agriculture reporters Jan. 5, 2021. ‘You’re asking me how I’m going to vote. I’m going to listen to that debate on what my colleagues have to say during that debate and decide how to cast my vote after considering the information before me.'”
The Register added, “Taylor Foy, a spokesperson for Grassley, quickly issued a clarification to the media the same day, saying Grassley was talking about possibly presiding over the Senate debate if Pence happened to step out. The House and Senate needed to meet separately to consider objections to the electoral count in individual states before convening a joint session of Congress.”
Regardless of the Grassley issue, many have served up sharp criticism of Pence after learning he at one point had decided to not execute his constitutional responsibilities, even if he ultimately did perform his duty.
“A regular Profile in Courage,” presidential historian Michael Beschloss sarcastically declared.
“I myself would never want to upset a good friend who wishes to see me hung by an angry armed mob,” conservative attorney George Conway said mockingly.
“The most important takeaway from the ABC News story re: Pence hedging on whether he should preside over the counting of the Electoral College votes on January 6, is that the pressure campaign on Pence to unlawfully and unilaterally upend the election was not entirely ineffective,” observed professor of law Anthony Michael Kreis.
“Remember that Mike Pence, who didn’t want to carry out the Constitutional oath he took that ended with the words ‘So Help Me God’ shamelessly titled his book about the events ‘So Help Me God.’ The man’s always been a shameless fraud,” declared political scientist David Darmofal.
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Arrested Again: Ex-FBI Informant and GOP Former Star Witness Alexander Smirnov
Alexander Smirnov, the former FBI informant who was arrested just eight days ago and charged with lying to the Bureau about Joe Biden and Hunter Biden, has again been arrested, his lawyers state in an emergency court filing Thursday.
Smirnov allegedly used Russian intelligence to smear the Bidens, falsely claiming both Joe Biden and Hunter Biden had each accepted $5 million bribes. His claims were the basis of House Republicans’ impeachment investigation into President Biden.
But as NBC News’ Tom Winter reported, it’s a “mystery,” at least for now, why Smirnov was arrested again, his lawyers say, on the same charges as the first time.
Winter says earlier today at his attorneys’ offices in Las Vegas, Nevada, “Apparently agents showed up with a valid arrest warrant out of the Central District of California and took him into custody, but according to his attorneys, it was for the same exact indictment and the same exact charges that he had been previously hit with.”
CNN adds that the warrant “this time” was “signed by federal district Judge Otis Wright, who will oversee the criminal case out of California.”
The federal government asked for Smirnov to be detained but a magistrate judge allowed him to be released last week.
Winter reports that Smirnov’s attorneys say “they would like to know why” he was re-arrested, “and there’s no indication on the docket that the judge has granted some sort of emergency motion to remand him, basically to pull him off the streets because he’s violated his agreement.”
“So a bit of a mystery at this point,” Winter adds.
CNN notes that after his first arrest, “Smirnov was released by Magistrate Judge Daniel Albregts in Nevada on Tuesday with several conditions, including GPS monitoring and the surrender of his two passports.”
Politico’s Kyle Cheney posted the arrest warrant. See it below or at this link.
JUST IN: Alexander SMIRNOV, the former FBI informant charged with feeding false info about the Bidens, has been rearrested despite a magistrate’s release order.
— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) February 22, 2024
Image: Screenshot of Smirnov with his face hidden from camera view
‘Reached His Limits’: Engoron ‘Brings the Hammer Down’ on Trump Attorney
New York State Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron has refused a “last ditch effort” from Donald Trump’s attorney to delay imposing the $355 million judgment in Attorney General Letitia James’ civil business fraud case against the ex-president.
“Once the judgment is officially entered, it will start the 30-day clock for Trump to file an appeal. During that period, Trump will need to put up cash or post bond to cover the $355 million and roughly $100 million in interest he was ordered to pay the state,” CNN reports.
MSNBC legal correspondent Lisa Rubin pointed to an email Judge Engoron sent Trump’s attorney Clifford Robert that reads in part, “You have failed to explain, much less justify, any basis for a stay.”
On social media Rubin notes, “Judge Engoron has reached his limits. It appears that he has signed the judgment and that all that needs to happen now is for the clerk to enter it.”
On-air at MSNBC, Rubin explained that Trump’s attorney asked Engoron “to stay the judgment without Donald Trump having to post a bond.”
Robert, according to Rubin, tried to use “a technicality in New York Civil Practice saying they should have filed a motion and they didn’t file a motion, they should have given us notice. We should have been able to counter propose our own judgment.”
Engoron, she continues, asked, “‘What exactly are you objecting to?’ And when Trump’s lawyers couldn’t articulate beyond a small but meaningful error with respect to the calculation of interest for Allen Weisselberg, that was the only real error that they identified. They couldn’t come up with anything else.”
“That’s when Engoron sort of dropped the hammer on them and said, ‘look, enough is enough. You have given me no reason for a stay.”
Rubin notes that at this point, “We’re just waiting for the clerk to start that 30 day clock.”
Nikki Haley Just Laid the Groundwork to Endorse Donald Trump
Down in the polls by double digits, former Trump UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, who recently took off the kid gloves and has been battering her Republican opponent Donald Trump, just laid the groundwork to endorse the man she calls “unstable and unhinged,” by labeling President Joe Biden “more dangerous.”
“I think what’s really important is to know that the majority of Americans dislike Donald Trump and Joe Biden,” Haley told NPR’s Steve Inskeep in remarks that aired Thursday (audio below). “So we think that there needs to be an alternative.”
“While critical of both men — who she called ‘too old’ to be president — she said ‘Biden is more dangerous’ due to his management of immigration and the economy,” NPR reports. “Haley hinted that, if Biden and Trump were to face a rematch, she would back Trump if he wins the Republican presidential nomination.”
Trump, despite facing 91 criminal felony charges and civil judgments totaling possibly more than a half-billion dollars (including accruing interest,) is beating Haley, the former South Carolina governor. FiveThirtyEight‘s national polling average puts Trump at 77.7% and Haley at 16.4%. Even in her home state, Donald Trump is trouncing Nikki Haley, 63% to 35% in one recent poll, and 63% to 34% in another.
Haley did beat the one-term twice-impeached four-times indicted ex-president in January fundraising, a feat some strategists say will allow her to stay in the race longer.
Haley is going directly after Trump, and “launched her sharpest attack yet Tuesday, describing him as getting ‘more unstable and unhinged,'” AFP reported.
“He’s getting meaner and more offensive by the day,” she added. “He’s completely distracted, and everything is about him. He’s so obsessed with his demons in the past that he can’t focus on the future Americans deserve.”
She did not stop there.
“It’s not normal to spend $50 million dollars in campaign contributions on personal court cases,” Haley told supporters. “It’s not normal to threaten people who back your opponent, and it’s not normal to call on Russia to invade NATO countries.”
And yet, despite promising her base she will stay in the race even after South Carolina, and despite attacking Trump, Haley is now paving the way to endorse her former boss.
“I have a lot of concerns about Trump regaining the presidency. I have even more concerns about Joe Biden being president. I mean, you look at both of these men and all they have done is given us chaos, all they have given us is division,” Haley told NPR. “We need to starting bringing normalcy back to America and that’s why I think we need to have a new generational leader that focuses on the solutions of the future instead of all the issues of the past.”
Haley “compared the ex-president to a ‘bully,’ and stressed that he failed to obtain significant portions of the electorate in Iowa and New Hampshire.
“People don’t like when he goes off the teleprompter and says crazy things like he’d rather take Putin’s side over our allies,” she said. “People don’t like it when he mocks the military. People don’t like it when he calls people names.”
Some think an endorsement from Haley for Donald Trump won’t come.
“Haley endorsing Trump would be career ending for her. MAGA will never support her now. You can’t staddle this. You are either Trump or Never Trump. There is no middle ground between Liz Cheney and Donald Trump,” says former Washington State lawmaker and former state GOP chair Chris Vance, who opposes Donald Trump and describes himself as “a politically homeless Never Trump Conservative.”
Listen to Haley’s remarks to NPR below or at this link.
Image: Haley and Trump in 2020.
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