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What To Do When You're Stopped By Police - The ACLU & Elon James White

What To Do When You're Stopped By Police - The ACLU & Elon James White

Know Anyone Who Thinks Racial Profiling Is Exaggerated? Watch This, And Tell Me When Your Jaw Drops.

This video clearly demonstrates how racist America is as a country and how far we have to go to become a country that is civilized and actually values equal justice. We must not rest until this goal is achieved. I do not want my great grandchildren to live in a country like we have today. I wish for them to live in a country where differences of race and culture are not ignored but valued as a part of what makes America great.

Monday, January 25, 2021

‘It’s About Freedom From Fear’: Deportations Loom Despite Biden Executiv...

New Rule: Hello, Douchebags! | Real Time with Bill Maher (HBO)

Mitch McConnell 'plays the long game' to retain some power as it slips away | US Senate | The Guardian

Mitch McConnell 'plays the long game' to retain some power as it slips away

"By Daniel Strausstheguardian.com4 min

For Mitch McConnell, the top Republican in the Senate, the first few days of Joe Biden’s presidency has not been about fighting the new Democratic majority in government, it’s been about gaming out how much power he now has.

McConnell, the leader of Senate Republicans for over a decade, now finds himself in the position every caucus leader dreads: out of power in the chamber, in charge of a somewhat unruly bunch of politicians, and under pressure over how to handle the impeachment of the last Republican president.

Just as McConnell became the Senate minority leader last week, he was confronted with two pressing concerns: retaining power through early negotiations with counterpart Chuck Schumer, the new Senate majority leader, and figuring out how to proceed on the impeachment trial of Donald Trump, which is set to begin in early February.

It’s a unique predicament for a senator regarded by Republicans as a strategic mastermind of Senate procedure and one reviled by Democrats for obstructionism.

Democrats often point to McConnell’s vow to make then-president Barack Obama a “one term president” as the perfect encapsulation of him. Republicans like to highlight that McConnell was able to usher through over 230 conservative judges onto the federal judiciary. And all the while the ultra-savvy Kentucky Republican has staved off criticism from the insurrectionist elements of his party – like Senator Ted Cruz of Texas.

McConnell, now once again in the minority, will have to deal with anti-establishment colleagues like Cruz and Missouri senator Josh Hawley. Those two senators led the challenge to certifying Joe Biden’s victory that resulted in a mob invading Capitol Hill. McConnell has butted heads with Cruz and allies before and emerged victorious while effectively isolating the Texas senator as punishment. As his caucus knows, losing in a fight with McConnell has its consequences.

But the situation now is different. McConnell has been in ongoing negotiations with Schumer over rules for the Senate over the next two years and added protections for the filibuster, one of the most valuable and powerful stalling tools for the party in the minority in the Senate. The filibuster is a legislative maneuver that allows any senator to delay or even block legislation through ongoing debate unless 60 senators agree to end debate. The 60 senator threshold, especially in a partisan and evenly split Senate makes it especially difficult to advance legislation.

He and other Republicans are weighing how to proceed on impeaching Trump. McConnell and other Republican leaders were horrified both by the certification challenge and it further undermined the already strained ties between McConnell and Trump. Privately, McConnell has indicated that he’s at least more open to a Trump impeachment conviction which could facilitate barring him from becoming president again.

“The mob was fed lies. They were provoked by the president and other powerful people,” McConnell said earlier this week.

But it’s unclear whether there’s the seventeen votes needed among Republicans for the Senate to convict Trump and how fraught with peril it might be for Republicans who do support impeachment. Some are already lobbying McConnell to move forward, even as the few House Republicans who supported impeachment in their chamber face primary challenges and growing blowback.

But for McConnell, the priority is the Senate as an institution. McConnell wants assurances from Democrats that the filibuster will be protected.

“I think that it’s necessary and it protects both parties,” said Ashlee Rich Stephenson, the political director for the Chamber of Commerce. “And we’re supportive of that.”

He has made this argument openly and in internal negotiations with Schumer.

“The legislative filibuster is a crucial part of the Senate, leaders like President Biden himself have long defended it,” McConnell said during a speech on the Senate floor on Thursday.

McConnell is essentially on the defensive now. He is not in total control of the Senate rules and has to partially rely on the threat of the filibuster to fight for Republican priorities. It’s a reality McConnell hasn’t had to deal with for years.

But McConnell enters his new role as minority leader with a relatively strong relationship with Joe Bidenl. Aides to both lawmakers note their long history together from when Biden was also a senator. There are indications that they are in closer collegial contact than is publicly known.

But even in the minority Republicans stress that McConnell is retaining two signature traits. He is an institutionalist, they say, which is partially what spurred him to criticize the blame Trump after rioters invaded the Capitol.

“Everybody who’s spent anytime watching his career knows that at the end of the day he’s an institutionalist. In the darkest days of the post-election period the institutions did their jobs,” said a former top McConnell aide. “The courts did their job, even the Trump appointed judges and he made doggone sure that the Senate is going to do its job. Of course when the riots happened he made sure that they’re going to come back and finish the job. And I think that he’s viewing it through that lens here. If you can’t say that leaving an armed insurrection against one body – one branch of government it is an impeachable offense, shame on you.”

Scott Reed, a former senior political strategist for the US Chamber of Commerce, said McConnell is focused on the next two election cycles rather than the next two days.

“He plays the long game,” Reed said. “He does not play the short next few months game at all. He’s playing ’22 and ’24 today.”

That means, Reed added, that McConnell will “hold strongest on the thing he cares about the most which is the filibuster rule. Because that’s how you stop bad stuff from happening. That will drive his thinking.”

Mitch McConnell 'plays the long game' to retain some power as it slips away | US Senate | The Guardian

This is a self-inflicted wound by willfully ignorant people who ignore science, do not wear masks, and socially distance and travel to see friends and relatives against scientific advice. How stupid can people be?


'Racism is in the bones of our nation': Will Joe Biden answer the 'cry' for racial justice?

'Racism is in the bones of our nation': Will Joe Biden answer the 'cry' for racial justice?

Demonstrators protest the death of George Floyd as they gather on the East side of the US Capitol in Washington on 3 June 2020.
Demonstrators protest the death of George Floyd as they gather on the East side of the US Capitol in Washington on 3 June 2020. Photograph: Jacquelyn Martin/AP

Activists are hopeful but cautious as president acknowledges ground shifted in the US after the police killing of George Floyd

Last modified on Mon 25 Jan 2021 03.02 EST

In his first few minutes as America’s new president, Joe Biden made a promise so sweeping that it almost seemed to deny history. “We can deliver racial justice,” Biden pledged to his factious nation. It wasn’t a commitment presented in any detail as he moved on to asserting that America would again be the leading force for good in the world, a claim that draws its own scrutiny.

But Biden acknowledged that the ground has shifted over demands for racial justice in the US following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last May and the violent white nationalism of Donald Trump.
“A cry for racial justice some 400 years in the making moves us. The dream of justice for all will be deferred no longer,” said Biden. “And now, a rise in political extremism, white supremacy, domestic terrorism that we must confront and we will defeat.”

The coronavirus pandemic has compounded the urgency given its disproportionate toll on minority communities because of economic inequality and a healthcare system that underserves the poor. But what does it mean to deliver racial justice? And how far does any American president have the power to do such a thing?

The anger that burst out of Minneapolis and fueled a surge in Black Lives Matter protests after video of a police officer squeezing the life out of Floyd by kneeling on his neck for nearly nine minutes drew an unusual degree of support across the country. Opinion polls showed most Americans were outraged by the killing and backed police reform, even if that diminished with the violence that accompanied some of the protests and with calls to “defund the police”.

But Jeanelle Austin, an African American activist who lives a few blocks from where Floyd was killed and who tends his memorial constructed piecemeal in the street, said that the early promises of police reform in Minneapolis have come to little.
“Nothing has really changed. That’s why we’re still filling the street,” she said. “They’ve only offered verbiage in terms of what they want to do or the ideas that they have. We haven’t seen anything concrete in terms of reforming the Minneapolis police department.”

President Joe Biden delivers his inaugural address on the Capitol on 20 January: ‘A cry for racial justice some 400 years in the making moves us. The dream of justice for all will be deferred no longer.’
President Joe Biden delivers his inaugural address on the Capitol on 20 January: ‘A cry for racial justice some 400 years in the making moves us. The dream of justice for all will be deferred no longer.’Photograph: Rob Carr/Getty Images

Shortly after Floyd’s death, Minneapolis city council voted to dismantle the city’s police force and to replace it with a system that shifted away from the use of armed officers in non-life threatening situations. But the police department remains in place albeit with an $8m cut in funding, less than 5% of the total budget, redirected to violence prevention and the recruitment of mental health specialists.

The city council also backed away from cutting the number of police officers after the city’s mayor threatened to veto the measure because of a recent surge in gun violence. Austin, director of the Racial Agency Initiative, hasn’t given up on forcing change locally but is looking to Biden to make the difference.

“Racism is deep within the DNA and the bones of the structures of our nation, and so it is a tall order for any one person to change it. Now, the president has a lot more power than anyone else to be able to set right some of the systems and policies and structures,” she said.

“It will be interesting to see which systems Biden plans on addressing head on because race impacts everything. The police, the education system, the financial system, the housing system, the criminal justice system, the health care system. He’s going to have to decide what he’s going to push.”

Within hours of taking office, Biden signed an executive order “on advancing racial equity” requiring federal agencies to investigate whether their policies create barriers in areas such as access to housing and food assistance.

Arisha Hatch, vice-president of Color of Change, a civil rights group, welcomed the “shift in tone” but said the new president will be held to account by African American voters who delivered victories in cities that decided the election. 

“What we’re hoping for is longer term systemic change which will carry us beyond the executive orders issued over the next several days,” she said. 

“I don’t take for granted that change is hard. My hope is that we’re in and surviving through a transformational moment. My hope is that people are looking for and moving towards serious change, that they understand the desperate and urgent need that people have. And that they understand their ability to stay in power will be determined by their ability to deliver over the next years.”

How to deliver is widely debated. Hatch wants to see Biden immediately address the pressing issues of the pandemic’s impact on the black community and police reform. Others, including Dreisen Heath of Human Rights Watch’s US programme, want to see a deeper reckoning. 

Demonstrator gather to protest the death of George Floyd near the White House on 30 May 2020.
Demonstrator gather to protest the death of George Floyd near the White House on 30 May 2020.Photograph: Evan Vucci/AP

“What Biden could do first is make good on his promise to study reparations for the black community. Legislation is already in place that would establish an expert federal commission to study the legacy of slavery, not just the slave trade, but the ongoing impacts in ongoing harms that are visible in access in lack of access to healthcare, lack of access to food, lack of access to housing, and so forth. And that commission would develop direct proposals for how to provide redress and repair,” said Heath. 

Austin is hopeful but cautious. She wants to take Biden’s commitments at face value but Barack Obama’s presidency serves as a warning about putting too much confidence in one leader to bring about change. She said that continued popular protest and pressure will be required to keep the political momentum.

Still, Austin draws hope from Biden appointing the most diverse cabinet in US history and the election of Kamala Harris as vice-president. 

“She is very important because Biden is still a white man. He has been groomed to view the world through the lens of a white male. Now is also the most powerful man in our country and we’re still looking at white male power,” she said. 

“So Vice-President Kamala Harris is huge in terms of being able to advise the president as to an experience that he has never had; he has never lived in a black body. He doesn’t know firsthand what it is like to be black in America. But it’s also going to be crucial for her to listen because she still doesn’t embody everybody’s experience. There are certain privileges that she has had, that other people who may even look like her had never had.” 

Still, given last year’s Black Lives Matter protests, Heath said the demand for police reform will remain to the fore, and she is concerned about Biden’s track record. “We want to keep military grade equipment out of our communities, we want to hold police departments, prosecutors offices and jails and prisons accountable for discriminatory and unlawful practices,” said Heath. 

“Biden has his own legacy of being an ally to law enforcement, of increasing the policing footprint. We want to see that footprint decrease and ending close involvement with people experiencing mental health crises, ending any police involvement in enforcement of immigration laws, not having police work as social workers in a capacity that they’re not trained to do.” Heath pointed to the 21st century policing plan created after the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri following the killing of Michael Brown by a police officer. 

A former Minneapolis mayor RT Rybak, is pushing for his city to embrace that plan.
“My hope is that it won’t just be about status quo. The 21st century policing plan is to my mind a playbook with specific steps on training, hiring, mental health. One of the key pieces would be would be national effort to create a new type of community service officer and recruit young people of colour into that that new style of public safety officer,” he said. 

“Part of the problem with dealing with policing is it’s convenient to isolate that issue, but it’s so deeply tied to every other part of injustice in our society. Housing, economic opportunity and education. An administration focused on racial justice is probably the most important thing we can do to have peace in our communities, because you can’t have that without justice.”

'Racism is in the bones of our nation': Will Joe Biden answer the 'cry' for racial justice?

Trump made 30,573 false or misleading claims as president. Nearly half came in his final year.

Trump made 30,573 false or misleading claims as president. Nearly half came in his final year.

"He overstated the “carnage” he was inheriting, then later exaggerated his “massive” crowd and claimed, despite clear evidence to the contrary, that it had not rained during his address. He repeated the rain claim the next day, along with the fabricated notion that he held the “all-time record” for appearing on the cover of Time magazine.

And so it went, day after day, week after week, claim after claim, from the most mundane of topics to the most pressing issues.

Over time, Trump unleashed his falsehoods with increasing frequency and ferocity, often by the scores in a single campaign speech or tweetstorm. What began as a relative trickle of misrepresentations, including 10 on his first day and five on the second, built into a torrent through Trump’s final days as he frenetically spread wild theories that the coronavirus pandemic would disappear “like a miracle” and that the presidential election had been stolen — the claim that inspired Trump supporters to attack Congress on Jan. 6 and prompted his second impeachment.

The final tally of Trump’s presidency: 30,573 false or misleading claims — with nearly half coming in his final year.

For more than 10 years, The Fact Checker has assessed the accuracy of claims made by politicians in both parties, and that practice will continue. But Trump, with his unusually flagrant disregard for facts, posed a new challenge, as so many of his claims did not merit full-fledged fact checks. What started as a weekly feature — “What Trump got wrong on Twitter this week” — turned into a project for Trump’s first 100 days.  Then, in response to reader requests, the Trump database was maintained for four years, despite the increasing burden of keeping it up.

The database became an untruth tracker for the ages, widely cited around the world as a measuring stick of Trump’s presidency — and as of noon Wednesday it was officially retired.

Whether such a tracker will be necessary for future presidents is unclear. Nonetheless, the impact of Trump’s rhetoric may reverberate for years.

“As a result of Trump’s constant lying through the presidential megaphone, more Americans are skeptical of genuine facts than ever before,” presidential historian Michael Beschloss said.

An assessment of the Fact Checker database shows the dramatic escalation in the rate of Trump’s dishonesty over time. Trump averaged about six claims a day in his first year as president, 16 claims day in his second year, 22 claims day in his third year — and 39 claims a day in his final year. Put another way, it took him 27 months to reach 10,000 claims and another 14 months to reach 20,000. He then exceeded the 30,000 mark less than five months later.

Trump made false claims about just about everything, big and small, so the Fact Checker database provides a window into his obsessions (and the news cycle) at the time. When he felt under siege or in trouble, he responded by trying to craft an alternative reality for his supporters — and to viciously attack his foes. Nearly half of the false claims were communicated at his campaign rallies or via his now-suspended Twitter account.

Claims about immigration spiked just before the 2018 midterm elections, as Trump unsuccessfully tried to keep the House of Representatives in GOP hands with exaggerated claims about “caravans” of undocumented immigrants approaching the border. Then in late 2019 he responded to the uproar over a phone call in which he urged Ukraine’s president to announce an investigation of former vice president Joe Biden with more than 1,000 false and misleading claims on the issue in just four months.

False and misleading claims about the coronavirus pandemic emerged in 2020, so that by year’s end he had made more than 2,500 coronavirus-related claims — more than all of his trade claims over four years, even though trade has been one of the animating features of his presidency. Trump touted phony metrics to claim he successfully defeated the virus, pitched ineffective “cures” and constantly attacked former president Barack Obama for alleged failures, such as leaving a “bare cupboard” of ventilators (there were almost 17,000) and bungling the response to the swine flu pandemic in 2009-2010 (the response was considered a success).

In October, Trump was largely quiet for six days as he recovered from his own bout with covid-19. But even so, he made nearly 4,000 false or misleading claims that month, an average of 150 a day on the days he was not ill.

In speech after speech, he laid the groundwork for challenging the election, making baseless claims of potential election fraud, while attacking Biden as a mental incompetent — and a “grimy, sleazy and corrupt career politician” — who could not possibly emerge as the victor.

“It’s going to be a fraud,” Trump told Sean Hannity of Fox News a month before voters went to the polls. “This is a terrible thing that’s happening to our country.”

After his election defeat, Trump spoke or tweeted about little except to offer lies about a stolen election, even as he or his supporters lost more than 60 court cases as judges repeatedly rejected his claims as bogus. After Nov. 3, he made more than 800 false or misleading claims about election fraud, including 76 times offering some variation of “rigged election.”

At his Jan. 6 speech at the Ellipse, in which he incited the attack on the Capitol, Trump made 107 false or misleading claims, almost all about the election.

The aftermath of what Biden and other Democrats now call the “big lie” hovers over Washington as both parties figure out whether there can be a return to a shared set of facts undergirding national debate, or whether one of the major political parties will remain captive to the sorts of conspiracy theories that marked so many of Trump’s final year of claims.

The events of Trump’s final weeks demonstrated the extent to which his alternate reality became woven into the fabric of the Republican Party, with the majority of GOP lawmakers voting against certifying Biden’s victory even after the pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol.

One hallmark of Trump’s fibs was his willingness to constantly repeat the same claims, no matter how often they had been debunked. One-fifth of his nearly 2,500 claims about the economy was the same falsehood — that he was responsible for creating the greatest economy in U.S. history. After the coronavirus outbreak tanked the economy, he amped up the rhetoric to say he had created the greatest economy in world history. Neither claim is true; under just about every metric, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Lyndon B. Johnson and Bill Clinton had more robust economies during their presidencies. Even before the pandemic, Trump’s economy was already faltering because of his trade wars, with the manufacturing sector in a technical recession.

Nearly 300 times Trump falsely said that he passed the biggest tax cut in history. Even before his tax cut was crafted, he promised that it would be the biggest in U.S. history — bigger than President Ronald Reagan’s in 1981. Reagan’s tax cut amounted to 2.9 percent of the gross domestic product, and none of the proposals under consideration came close to that level. Yet Trump persisted in this fiction even when the tax cut was eventually crafted to be the equivalent of 0.9 percent of the gross domestic product, making it the eighth-largest tax cut in 100 years. 

Trump’s penchant for repeating false claims is demonstrated by the fact that the Fact Checker database has recorded about 750 instances in which he has repeated a variation of the same claim at least three times.

The Fact Checker also tracked Three- or Four-Pinocchio claims that Trump has said at least 20 times, earning him a Bottomless Pinocchio. Trump completed his term with 56 of those entries, including three — about the “rigged election,” allegations that Dominion voting machines changed votes and the falsehood that GOP poll watchers were denied access to vote-counting — that only emerged in the final months of his presidency.

The Bottomless Pinocchio list gives a rough approximation of the types of major falsehoods Trump said during his presidency. Roughly 25 percent exaggerated about his accomplishments, and 15 percent misled about his policies. Another 15 percent dissembled about the Russia investigation or the probe into the Ukraine phone call. Roughly 10 percent each were fibs made out of whole cloth, attacks on people he considered foes, falsehoods about the coronavirus, phony claims about the election, or false statements about Biden and his proposals.

As the 2020 election neared, Trump nearly 50 times falsely reassured his supporters that Mexico was footing the $15 billion bill for his barrier along the southern border. U.S. taxpayers are paying, mostly via money Trump diverted from authorized military construction projects. This was perhaps Trump’s most famous campaign promise — during the 2016 campaign, he said more than 200 times that Mexico would pay for the wall — so he simply pretended he had fulfilled it in an effort to reassure his base that he had succeeded.

Many repeated claims just barely missed the cutoff for a Bottomless Pinocchio, such as the claim that he repealed a provision of the U.S. tax code that prohibits religious organizations from endorsing or opposing political candidates. (All he did was issue a toothless executive order, but he obviously thought it was so important to evangelical groups that he falsely claimed he achieved one of their key political objectives.)

Trump rarely abandons his falsehoods, so as he neared the end of his presidency his campaign rallies became longer and longer. Each speech had a familiar pattern. He would cycle through various grievances about the investigation by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III and the impeachment over his Ukraine call. He trashed Obama, various Democrats and of course Biden. He falsely extolled his achievements in trade, foreign policy, the economy and immigration. He offered false assurances about the pandemic and warned darkly about fraud in the upcoming election.

The growth of falsehoods over the course of Trump’s presidency is illustrated by one remarkable statistic.

The Fact Checker team recorded 492 suspect claims in Trump’s first 100 days. Just on Nov. 2, the day before the 2020 election, Trump made 503 false or misleading claims as he barnstormed across the country in a desperate effort to save his presidency.

The database website has a search engine that will quickly locate suspect statements made by Trump. Readers can also isolate claims by time period, subject or venue.

Maintaining the database over four years required detailed examination of every Trump speech, news conference, press gaggle, campaign rally and interview, as well as more than 25,000 tweets. The fact checks of Trump’s statements in the database amount to about 5 million words.

The database includes any statement that might merit two or more Pinocchios under The Fact Checker’s rating scale. Trump often would repeat the same falsehood two or more times in a speech but only one instance of a claim per venue would be counted. The database did not include Facebook posts because they were often duplicative of tweets and likely staff-generated. The tally also generally did not count retweets, except for retweets of false or misleading videos.

The fact checks in the Trump database were written by a team that also included Salvador Rizzo, Meg Kelly and Michelle Ye Hee Lee. Graphics reporter Leslie Shapiro created the database website."

Trump made 30,573 false or misleading claims as president. Nearly half came in his final year.

After Capitol riot, police chiefs work to root out officers with ties to extremist groups

After Capitol riot, police chiefs work to root out officers with ties to extremist groups

A Capitol Police officer passes by damage done to the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Jan. 7.

"The revelation that the Capitol mob — covered in emblems of extremist groups — included off-duty law enforcement officers possibly assisted by working police is escalating pressure on sheriffs and police chiefs nationwide to root out staff with ties to white supremacist and far-right armed groups.

Law enforcement leaders have faced criticism in the past for failing to police their own officers’ involvement with extremist groups. However, the selfie photos that off-duty officers took inside the Capitol during the violent siege, which left one police officer dead and dozens of others injured, were a wake-up call for many who have long denied the extent of the problem within policing.

National Sheriffs’ Association President David Mahoney said many police leaders have treated officers with extremist beliefs as outliers and have underestimated the damage they can inflict on the profession and the nation.

“We saw the anti-government, anti-equality and racist comments coming out during the Obama administration. Shame on us for representing it as freedom of speech and for not recognizing it was chiseling away at our democracy,” Mahoney said in an interview. “As we move forward, we need to make sure we are teaching our current staff members that they must have the courage to speak out when they know about another deputy’s or officer’s involvement. There should be no reference to the thin blue line.”

The Capitol riot came as law enforcement officials already face a tense national landscape following last year’s protests against policing, calls to cut their funding and a broader reckoning on racial injustice. Then the mob stormed the Capitol, prompting criticism about how police treated the largely White crowd and then anger when allegations emerged that officers were among their ranks.

More than a dozen off-duty law enforcement officers were allegedly part of the Jan. 6 mob and are under investigation, according to a Washington Post analysis using news accounts and police and FBI reports. At least a dozen Capitol Police officers are also under investigation for possibly playing a role in the rioting by assisting or encouraging the mob.

Another 14 off-duty officers, who do not appear to have entered the Capitol, attended the preceding rally held by then-President Donald Trump that was advertised by extremist groups on social media. The event drew tens of thousands to Washington to fight the election results that made Joe Biden the 46th U.S. president. Local and federal law enforcement warned in the run-up that it could lead to violence.

Law enforcement leaders across the nation are talking to cadets and veteran officers about the need to report colleagues who have aligned themselves with white supremacists or far-right militants. The leaders are considering policies that would expressly prohibit officers from affiliating with such groups.

They are also discussing ways to conduct deeper background checks on recruits, so such extremists are blocked from entering the profession. Some police experts suggest hiring outside experts to help scour social media sites.

The FBI, they say, could also play a greater role in helping to identify and remove local law enforcement officers with ties to extremists by making better use of intelligence gathered from its own investigations.

“They know who these bad apples are,’’ said Michael German, a former FBI agent who worked domestic terrorism cases. “They learn about them when they are investigating white supremacists and militia groups.”

Some of the flags seen during the Jan. 6 Capitol siege symbolize support for far-right causes, white supremacy and anti-government militias. (The Washington Post)

However, legal experts and police watchdogs said they are wary of the promise for change. Many in law enforcement have committed to similar reforms in the past after police killed Black Americans, including the 2014 fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and last year’s fatal choking of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

“These officers are hiding in plain sight, and law enforcement is so reluctant to do anything about it,” Vida Johnson, a law professor at Georgetown University, said. “And until they’re willing to . . . discipline officers, this is going to continue to be a problem, and it’s one that’s completely destabilizing the country and putting us at risk.”

Johnson also pointed to the legal obstacles unions can present when police chiefs attempt to discipline or fire officers for misconduct. Efforts to remove officers are routinely challenged by unions and resolved by arbitrators who often are reluctant to deviate from the history of how sheriff and police departments have dealt with members who have been affiliated with these groups.

Focus on hiring

Art Acevedo, president of the Major Cities Chiefs Association, said the attack on the Capitol may make the task of firing officers with such affiliations easier but agrees with union leaders that the greatest success could come from blocking them from ever becoming a part of the force.

He is heartened that recruits are getting the message.

“A brand new cadet, first week in the academy, openly bragged that they were part of the Aryan Brotherhood. Another cadet notified us. That is how emboldened some of these folks are right now,” Acevedo, who is police chief at the Houston Police Department, said. “Needless to say, this cadet is no longer with us. We are looking to see what we failed to check before he entered the academy.”

On Tuesday, Acevedo paced in front of a group of cadets on their first day of the academy, shouting about his anger over the riot in the Capitol like a preacher at a tent revival.

He asked if they had heard about Tam Dinh Pham, a former Houston police officer who allegedly joined the violent mob that entered the Capitol and was charged recently with federal crimes by the Justice Department.

In a fiery call and response that was posted on Twitter days later, Acevedo warned the cadets that such conduct will not be tolerated.

“If anyone in this room right now believes that anyone needed to be in that Capitol building, they need to check out now! Understand me?”

“You will not survive in this department with that mind-set. You understand that?”

“Is there room for hate?”

“Is there room for discrimination?”

“Is there room for militia in this department or any other police department?”

Acevedo’s voice lowered, telling the cadets this was something “I had to get off my chest.”

“I think we are all pretty pissed off right now that we have cops thinking it’s okay to storm our nation’s Capitol,” he said. “Those people are absolute traitors to our nation, to our oath of office.”

According to an FBI affidavit, Pham told agents that he went to the rally because he wanted to “see history” and eventually climbed over barricades and went into the Capitol. Acevedo learned of Pham’s actions through an anonymous tip he received via email the day after the riot. Acevedo said they have found no evidence of Pham being part of a hate or armed group, but the investigation is ongoing. The Post has been unable to reach Pham for comment.

Acevedo said his department does a thorough job of looking for such affiliations among officers but acknowledged that such efforts are uneven among the 18,000 police departments in the nation, which function autonomously.

Acevedo also said anonymous online platforms on the “dark web” are making such investigations impossible, even for departments with sufficient resources. He expects the move away from public platforms like Facebook and Twitter to grow rapidly in response to the FBI arrests of those who rioted at the Capitol.

This month, Acevedo was asked by the House Oversight and Reform Committee to explain what actions police chiefs are taking, and responded by asking for help. For years, law enforcement officials have asked for passage of a federal law that would require such platforms to have a “back door” that law enforcement can access if they have “a legitimate investigative need and a court order” to gain entry.

“Congress’s failure to act has enabled industry giants to flaunt the law and operate with impunity,” Acevedo wrote in response.

This debate over encryption has simmered for years, with privacy advocates and technology executives defending encryption as a necessary protection and arguing that giving law enforcement these back doors would weaken security overall.

The degree to which white supremacist and far-right armed groups have otherwise infiltrated police and sheriff departments is unknown. Johnson, the law professor at Georgetown University, said it is “the million dollar question.”

Lynda R. Williams, national president of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, said she was “sad and disappointed” but not surprised to learn police were allegedly among the Capitol rioters.

“That just goes to show: We all put on our badge, but you really don’t know the person that’s besides you,” said Williams, a former deputy assistant director of the U.S. Secret Service. “In 30 years of law enforcement, any time I needed backup or assistance . . . the last thing I wanted to be concerned about was if this person has my back.”

Black officers around the country are “absolutely” looking around their departments and wondering what they might not know about the people they work with and their viewpoints, she said.

“In law enforcement, we see things through a different lens,” Williams said. “Now it’s giving you another thought that you never had to think about, like, ‘Could he? Could she? Are they?’”

Patrick Yoes, national president of the Fraternal Order of Police, said he does not view extremism among police as a widespread problem but believes better screening of job candidates is warranted. For veteran officers, more robust and confidential mental health services are needed, he said, so officers do not become easy recruiting targets for the groups.

“Most of us have one or two traumatic events in our life. Officers can have 60 or 70. We really need to recognize the stresses of this job,” Yoes said.

Speech boundaries

Police departments that are able to root out these rogue officers have a difficult challenge in deciding where to draw the line on officer expression, said Will Aitchison, a labor and employment attorney based in Portland, Ore., who primarily represents law enforcement in labor negotiations.

“It’s a bit of a more subtle one than most people are thinking: The challenge is going to be regulating what can constitutionally be regulated but not going so far as to violate the officers’ free speech,” Aitchison told The Post.

Aitchison said most officers, and even police unions, would probably welcome revisions to departmental policy when it comes to what kind of expression is permitted versus punishable.

Over the last several years, departments around the country have struggled to define the boundaries around speech — including tattoos, social media posts and group membership — that community members view as objectionable or as evidence of bias but nonetheless protected.

In 2016, Ian Hans Lichterman, a Philadelphia police officer, caused an uproar when he was photographed in his short-sleeved patrol uniform that prominently showed his forearm tattoos that resembled Nazi imagery.

He was cleared of wrongdoing since the department didn’t have a tattoo policy on the books. The city later crafted one that banned “offensive, extremist, indecent, racist and sexist tattoos on any part of the body” over the police union’s objections.

Lichterman and the Philadelphia Police Department did not respond to requests for comment.

Last year, the Sanford Police Department in North Carolina parted ways with an officer after an anonymous Twitter account published social media posts that indicated the officer, Michael Lankford, was part of a pro-Confederacy group.

Lankford could not be reached for comment, and the Sanford Police Department did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

In some cases, officers have turned in their own for making blatant threats.

The night of the Capitol siege, a sheriff’s deputy in Florida’s Polk County, angered by police fatally shooting someone in the mob, texted a colleague that they needed to “make the streets of D.C. run red with the blood of the tyrants” and “kill them all,” Sheriff Grady Judd said. The colleague reported the exchange, and the deputy was charged with making written threats to kill.

“You can’t police a society if you don’t first police yourselves,” Judd said. “Words matter, and threatening words to hurt, to kill, are not acceptable.”

Razzan Nakhlawi, Rachel Weiner, Julie Tate and Jennifer Jenkins contributed to this report."

After Capitol riot, police chiefs work to root out officers with ties to extremist groups

Divisions Harden in Senate as It Prepares to Receive Impeachment Article

Divisions Harden in Senate as It Prepares to Receive Impeachment Article

"Mitt Romney indicated that he believed the charge against former President Donald J. Trump was impeachable, while Marco Rubio called a trial “stupid.”

“I believe that what is being alleged and what we saw, which is incitement to insurrection, is an impeachable offense,” Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, said on CNN on Sunday.
Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

WASHINGTON — Lawmakers on Sunday burrowed into dueling positions over the impending impeachment trial of former President Donald J. Trump, deepening the schisms in an already divided Senate a day before the House will deliver its charge to lawmakers there.

Senator Mitt Romney of Utah, the only Republican who voted to convict Mr. Trump in his first impeachment trial, said on Sunday that he believed the former president had committed an impeachable offense, and that the effort to try him even after he left office was constitutional.

“I believe that what is being alleged and what we saw, which is incitement to insurrection, is an impeachable offense,” Mr. Romney said on “State of the Union” on CNN. “If not, what is?”

But even as Mr. Romney signaled his openness to convicting Mr. Trump, other Senate Republicans made clear that they opposed even the idea of a trial and would try to dismiss the charge before it began. Taken together, the comments underscored the rift that the riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6 and the ensuing fallout have created in the Republican conference, as senators weighed whether they would pay a steeper political price for breaking with the former president or for failing to.

Though the House will transmit the article of impeachment on Monday, Senate leaders agreed on Friday to delay the trial for two weeks, giving President Biden time to install his cabinet and Mr. Trump’s team time to prepare a defense. But the plan also guarantees that the trial will dominate Mr. Biden’s crucial first days in office, and it could inflame partisan tensions even as the president is pushing a message of unity.

Some Senate Republicans, including Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, have grown increasingly worried that if they do not intervene to distance themselves from Mr. Trump, their ties to the former president could hurt the party’s political fortunes for years. Others, skirting the question of whether Mr. Trump committed an impeachable offense, have argued that holding a Senate trial for a president who has already left office would be unconstitutional, and would further divide the nation.

Debatable: The sharpest arguments on the most pressing issues of the week.

Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, called holding a trial “stupid” and “counterproductive,” likening it to “taking a bunch of gasoline and pouring it on top of the fire.”

“The first chance I get to vote to end this trial," he said, “I’ll do it because I think it’s really bad for America.”

In an interview on “Fox News Sunday” with Chris Wallace, Mr. Rubio compared the transition of power to that of President Richard M. Nixon.

“The first chance I get to vote to end this trial, I’ll do it because I think it’s really bad for America,” Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, said on “Fox News Sunday.”
for The New York Times

“In hindsight, I think we would all agree that President Ford’s pardon was important for the country to be able to move forward,” Mr. Rubio said, “and history held Richard Nixon quite accountable for what he did as a result.”

Asked if he thought Mr. Trump had committed an impeachable offense, Senator Mike Rounds, Republican of South Dakota, called it “a moot point” and argued that pursuing an impeachment trial against a former president would be both unconstitutional and a waste of time.

“If we start working on an impeachment, which it looks like we’re going to end up doing, we’ve only got a couple of weeks here in which to work actually through and allow this president an opportunity to form a cabinet,” Mr. Rounds said on “Meet the Press” on NBC. “A lot of us would prefer to maybe work through those issues instead.”

Representative Madeleine Dean, Democrat of Pennsylvania and one of the impeachment managers who will try the case against Mr. Trump, said on Sunday that she expected the trial to “go faster” than his trial in 2020, which lasted 21 days.

“Some people would like us to turn the page: ‘Oh, let’s move on,’” Ms. Dean said on “State of the Union.” “We must remember, I believe, that this impeachment trial, I hope conviction, ultimate disqualification, are the very first powerful steps toward unity.”

Ms. Dean declined to say whether impeachment managers would include a New York Times report on Friday that Mr. Trump had considered firing the acting attorney general while in office to wield the Justice Department’s power to try to force state lawmakers in Georgia to overturn its presidential election results. But the impeachment managers have previously signaled that they intend to present a relatively straightforward case, with the siege that played out in public view at the heart of their case.

Mr. Romney, citing both the Capitol riot and an hourlong call Mr. Trump placed to the Georgia secretary of state pressuring him to overturn the election results, said the allegations already in the article of impeachment “themselves are of a sufficient nature that the American people are outraged.”

The delay to the start of the trial also means that lawmakers will continue consideration of another coronavirus stimulus package. A bipartisan group of lawmakers, including Mr. Romney, met on Sunday with Brian Deese, Mr. Biden’s top economic aide, to discuss the administration’s proposed $1.9 trillion bill. Republicans have largely spurned that offer, balking at the cost.

“I’m open to that discussion. I want to hear what the White House has to say,” Mr. Romney said. “But at the same time, I think people recognize it’s important that we don’t borrow hundreds of billions — actually trillions of dollars from the Chinese — for things that may not be absolutely necessary.”

Chris Cameron contributed reporting."

Divisions Harden in Senate as It Prepares to Receive Impeachment Article