My day's work is done. Time to hit the egg nog. - Corey
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THE BIG NEWS
Ready for a Little Light Reading on the Attack on Democracy?
The full 800-page final report of the House committee investigating Donald Trump's Jan. 6, 2021 coup attempt was supposed to have been released yesterday, but for some unknown reason, it's publishing today instead. (In lieu of the report, the committee released several dozen deposition transcripts last night.) Closer readers of the newsletter may recall that committee staff were not happy with how the report's focus shifted, in large part due to pressure from the panel's co-chair, Republican Rep. Liz Cheney, away from broader GOP complicity and law enforcement failures and onto Trump as an individual. And indeed, per the Associated Press summary, the final report states that "the central cause of January 6th was one man, former President Donald Trump, who many others followed." According to Politico, the report will also include sections on attempts by "foreign adversaries" to capitalize on Trump's lies, and about possible campaign finance violations related to Trump's "Stop the Steal" insurrection rally. We'll fill you in on the juicy details in the days ahead.
Separately, the New York Times reports that Sean Hannity testified under oath in a defamation lawsuit against his employer, Fox News, that he "did not believe...for one second" the lies from Trump's team about the 2020 election being stolen. Hannity's deposition, the Times says, "is among the strongest evidence yet to emerge publicly that some Fox employees knew that what they were broadcasting was false." Meanwhile, the Washington Post reports that prior to its August search of Mar-a-Lago aimed at recovering stolen classified documents, the FBI "was wary of the remote possibility of a 'blue on blue' confrontation — between the federal agents searching the location and the Secret Service agents who guard the former president." Sounds like a Secret Service problem! Yet another one, I mean.
Finally, journalists are digging in to Trump's taxes, released by House Democrats Tuesday night. You'll be shocked to learn that you probably paid more in taxes than the corrupt former president. Per Politico, Trump kept his tax bills down by claiming massive business losses year after year: "In 2016, he paid $750. The following year he again paid just $750. In 2020, he paid nothing." No doubt his personal accounting was as reliable as the bookkeeping at the Trump Organization, convicted early this month on criminal fraud charges.
MORE STORIES TO WATCH
Zelenskyy Gets a Hero's Welcome in D.C., Asks for More Aid
Before cameras in the Oval Office yesterday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy presented President Joe Biden with a medal from a front-line soldier who requested Biden receieve it in thanks for previous advanced weapons deliveries; Biden called the gift "undeserved, but much appreciated." Earlier in the day, the White House announced another $1.8 billion in military aid for Ukraine's defense, including one Patriot guided missile battery. In the evening, Zelenskyy addressed a joint session of Congress, after telling members privately that to deny further aid would mean Ukraine loses the war. Meanwhile in Russia, Aspiring Tsar Vladimir Putin said he was putting no limit on military spending and the defense minister announced plans to increase the size of the fighting force by 50 percent, from 1 million to 1.5 million, in part by raising the age range for conscription.
ABC News Producer Did Dirty Work for Corporate Clients
Here's a wild story from National Public Radio about a freelance producer for ABC News who was secretly moonlighting as a corporate fixer. According to NPR's investigation, Kristen Hentschel used her ABC News business card to ambush, harass, and intimidate politicians in Florida who advocated for environmental policies that threatened the bottom line of the clients for her other employer, a shady consulting firm called Matrix LLC. Those clients included a sugar conglomerate and the utility company, Florida Power & Light. Former ABC News David Westin said the story "goes to the very heart of why people no longer have the same confidence and trust in the news media as they once did. They suspect this is going on anyway, and for it to actually go on confirms their worst suspicions." That's probably true, and ABC looks terrible here, but for what it's worth this person would've been fired from every newsroom I've ever worked in.
- GOP Election Denier, Georgia Rep. Drew Ferguson, Voted Illegally Ferguson, who supported Trump's 2021 coup attempt, voted three times this year in a county he no longer lives in, which is against the law in the state. via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
- Taliban Bans Women from Afghan Universities "My heart has been bleeding since I heard those words," a 23-year-old political science student says. via Al-Jazeera.
- Peru's Congress Takes Step Toward Early Elections Under a plan approved Tuesday with support from caretaker president Dina Boluarte, elections scheduled for 2026 would be held in April 2024. via the Associated Press.
- Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema Loses Access to Democratic Voter Data "She chose to forfeit the Democratic Party infrastructure, so it's only right that no Democratic staffer, consultant or vendor should work with her," says a former Sinema spokesperson now working to defeat her. via HuffPost.
That's how much personal profit Adair, Iowa police chief Bradley Wendt made selling illegal fully automatic machine guns he purchased using public funds, claiming they were needed for his small town's three-person department. According to a federal indictment covered by the Washington Post, Wendt, who also owns a gun store, is "also accused of mounting a heavy machine gun on top of his personal vehicle, a Humvee."
ON THE SHOW TODAY
12/22: Emma hosts Karen Levy, assistant professor of information sciences at Cornell University, to discuss her recent book Data Driven: Truckers, Technology, and the New Workplace Surveillance.
DON'T MISS MR CLIPS
I am aware the picture makes it very easy to guess.
"Now you know how it feels," the poor little baby cries.
"I'm like Radiohead for donors. You can't really explain why I'm good, but everyone knows that I'm good at it."
-- Data for Progress founder Sean McElwee speaking to an interviewer about his unique skill-set. The board of the progressive polling firm fired McElwee over his dubious relationship with FTX crypto conman Sam Bankman-Fried and his practice of gambling on the outcome of campaigns. Two Bankman-Fried associates pleaded guilty yesterday to fraud-related charges in New York.
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