The Big Story
The investigation into the Jan. 6 insurrection — and, more specifically, into what former President Trump was doing when a mob of his supporters overran the U.S. Capitol — accelerated this week, with new public documents, new subpoenas, and a new court ruling.
American Oversight published records we obtained from the Justice Department listing top officials’ phone calls from the day of the attack. The call logs show a flurry of communications throughout the afternoon and evening of Jan. 6, including several calls with the White House and White House attorneys. Handwritten logs from then-acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen also appear to show calls with congressional leaders, the acting secretary of defense, and Vice President Pence.
Meanwhile, the House select committee investigating the attack issued new rounds of subpoenas this week to Trump allies and former administration officials.
- On Monday, the committee sent subpoenas to a number of people who worked for Trump’s reelection campaign or advised Trump in the days leading up to the riot, including John Eastman, the lawyer who had drawn up the memo outlining how Vice President Pence could attempt to overturn the election results.
- The committee followed up the next day with another set of subpoenas to top officials in the Trump White House, including assistants who were with him the day of the attack, as well as Stephen Miller, Kayleigh McEnany, and John McEntee.
- McEntee, who had risen to the head of the Presidential Personnel Office (thanks to loyalty above experience) was “Trump’s man through and through,” ABC News correspondent Jonathan Karl wrote this week. “McEntee and his enforcers made the disastrous last weeks of the Trump presidency possible.”
- Jeffrey Clark, the former DOJ official who conspired with the former president in an attempt to use the Justice Department to overturn Trump’s election loss, met with the committee this week, but refused to answer any substantive questions. His lawyer cited Trump’s ongoing legal effort to shield White House records from Congress.
But Trump’s efforts to stonewall the investigation hit a snag on Tuesday when a federal judge ruled that the select committee could access relevant records, including communications and other White House documents.
- Trump had argued the records were protected by executive privilege, despite President Biden having determined that Congress could see the materials.
- Trump’s “position that he may override the express will of the executive branch appears to be premised on the notion that his executive power ‘exists in perpetuity,’” Judge Tanya Chutkan said. “But Presidents are not kings, and Plaintiff is not President.”
Investigating the Wisconsin Election Investigation
Of course, the refusal to accept that Trump is no longer president, based on conspiracy theories and lies, is what has fed numerous election “investigations” and “audits” in the states, including the one underway in Wisconsin.
- Last week, in American Oversight’s lawsuit for records related to the partisan investigation, a Wisconsin court ordered the State Assembly and Speaker Robin Vos to release within 10 days certain documents held by the contractors conducting the inquiry.
- Michael Gableman, the attorney heading the inquiry, has continued to reject calls for transparency, refusing to disclose who all is working on the taxpayer-funded review.
- U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson on Wednesday called upon Republican state lawmakers to take over elections and to tell election officials to disregard the work of the bipartisan Wisconsin Elections Commission, whose members have been under political attack by Republicans, including Vos.
Georgia Open Records Settlement
American Oversight recently reached a landmark settlement with the office of Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger regarding its open records policy. The agreement includes reforms “designed to remedy the inconsistencies, delays, and breakdowns in communications that prevent records requesters from accessing what is rightfully theirs,” said American Oversight’s executive director Austin Evers.
- If you want to ask Austin questions about the power of public records requests, what we’ve uncovered about partisan ballot reviews, and how we can use facts to fight back against attacks on democracy, join us for a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” next Thursday, Nov. 18, at 12:30 p.m. EST.
On the Records
Texas and the Pandemic
A letter released to American Oversight shows that on Nov. 19, 2020, Texas Gov. Abbott asked Trump for continued funding and authority for pandemic support by the Texas National Guard. In the letter, Abbott acknowledged the surge in cases in Texas at the time, and said the National Guard extension was “critical to ensuring the safety and health of our citizens as Texas aggressively responds to a surge in COVID-19 cases.” During a news conference that same day, Abbott ruled out any statewide business restrictions to address the pandemic.
National Guard Border Deployment
We obtained more records from the Arkansas National Guard pertaining to the deployment of troops to the U.S.-Mexico border this summer and fall. The records show the political stunt has cost Arkansas taxpayers an estimated $503,159.64.
Other Stories We’re Following
Jan. 6, Voting Rights, and the Big Lie
- Jan. 6 White House rally organizers lawyer up — with help from Trump’s powerful friends (Rolling Stone)
- Deposition video shows Trump allies under oath discussing debunked election fraud claims (CNN)
- Reuters unmasks Trump supporters terrifying U.S. election officials (Reuters)
- Active-duty police in major U.S. cities appear on purported Oath Keepers rosters (NPR)
- Embattled election chief in Georgia’s Fulton County resigns (CNN)
- Corporations calling for voting rights bill donated to Republicans who blocked it, watchdog says (NBC News)
- Justice Department files lawsuit against Texas’s new voting restrictions (Washington Post)
- Deep in Trump country, a Michigan town mistrusts all elections, except its own (Bridge Michigan)
The Coronavirus Pandemic
- Coronavirus infections rise in northern states, Mountain West, as holidays near (Washington Post)
- Moderna and U.S. at odds over vaccine patent rights (New York Times)
- Tyson Foods faces new legal challenges over its pandemic response (Iowa Capital Dispatch)
- Covid gets even redder: The partisan gap in deaths has grown larger (New York Times)
- Federal government cuts ties with troubled vaccine maker (New York Times)
- Pfizer says Covid-19 pill cut hospital, death risk by 90 percent (Associated Press)
- Pfizer and BioNTech seek FDA authorization for Covid-19 vaccine booster for all adults (CNN)
- Federal judge rules Texas schools can issue mask mandates (New York Times)
- The White House estimates almost a million children ages 5 to 11 have gotten Covid vaccine shots so far (New York Times)
- At least 13 Trump officials illegally campaigned while in office, federal investigation finds (Washington Post)
- A secret tape made after Columbine shows the NRA’s evolution on school shootings (NPR)
- Immigration attorneys say they won’t be complicit in the Biden administration’s relaunched ‘Remain in Mexico’ program (BuzzFeed News)
- State Dept. report on missing gifts finds poor oversight (New York Times)
- Lobbying firms connected to Biden White House are flourishing under new administration (ABC News)
- ‘I think we should throw those books in a fire’: Movement builds on right to target books (Washington Post)
In the States
- Goddard, Kan., school district orders 29 books removed from circulation (KMUW Wichita)
- Gov. Abbott seeks standards to prevent ‘obscene content’ in schools, citing book on gender identity (Dallas Morning News)
- Outside groups spend big on Pennsylvania Supreme Court race (Sludge)
- The Texas Railroad Commission is a ‘captive agency’ (Texas Observer)
- Oklahoma jail officers played ‘Baby Shark’ on repeat as a ‘torture tactic,’ federal lawsuit says (Washington Post)
- Noem contradicts labor secretary on meeting with daughter (Associated Press)
- ‘Stop the coercion’: DeSantis has new plan to beat Biden’s Covid mandates (Politico)
- Professors sue University of Florida, claiming free speech restraints (Washington Post)
- Wisconsin elections chief says audit report needs correcting (Associated Press)
- Jim Jordan allies upset over GOP’s own proposed Ohio redistricting (Forbes)
- After heated debate, Senate passes GOP voting maps (Wisconsin Examiner)
- How maps reshape American politics (New York Times)
- Gerrymandering surges as states redraw maps for House seats (Associated Press)