Republican prosecutors can subpoena phone data to hunt down 'evidence' of possible abortions

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We are about to see a new wave of anti-abortion terrorism and violence, thanks to a Supreme Court majority that believes individual rights not only ought to flip around according to the whims of each new election but that if the U.S. Constitution makes things awkward, the states can designate private-citizen bounty hunters and evade whatever else the courts might say about it.

Sen. Ron Wyden is dead right when he warns that we’re about to see a new era in which women who seek abortions or who might seek abortions are going to have their digital data hunted down. Much of the hunting will be by Republican-state prosecutors looking to convict women who cross state lines into better, less trashy states to seek abortions that are now illegal in New Gilead. But in states like Texas, it’s likely to be private anti-abortion groups gathering up that data—not just to target women seeking abortion, but as potential source of cash. The $10,000 bounty on Texas women who get abortions after six weeks turns such stalking into a potentially lucrative career.

Sen. Wyden to Gizmodo: “The simple act of searching for ‘pregnancy test’ could cause a woman to be stalked, harassed and attacked. With Texas style bounty laws, and laws being proposed in Missouri to limit people’s ability to travel to obtain abortion care, there could even be a profit motive for this outsourced persecution.”

It’s not just that Republican prosecutors can subpoena data records of pregnant women looking for, for example, evidence that they might have looked up “pregnancy test” or “abortion pills” or “my remaining civil rights.” All of those would constitute “evidence” that woman who had a miscarriage might not have “wanted” her pregnancy—thus paving the way for criminal charges. It’s happened before, despite Roe, and after Roe falls will likely become a rote fixture of red-state prosecutions.

We’re likely to to see such subpoenas become a primary way for conservative state prosecutors to “prove” that American women crossing state lines did so to obtain now-criminalized abortions. “Even a search for information about a clinic could become illegal under some state laws, or an effort to travel to a clinic with an intent to obtain an abortion,” Electronic Privacy Information Center president Alan Butler told The Washington Post.

Republican states have already been examining ways to criminalize such travel. It’s coming, and American women will find that the phones they use to look up reproductive health questions can also be used by prosecutors to hunt them down for asking the wrong questions.

Bounty hunters looking for women to target may not have those same subpoena powers—though heaven knows what the future will bring, in a theocratic state that finds its best legal wisdom from colonial era witch hunters—but they will have the power of extremely amoral data tracking companies on their side. It was revealed just days ago that data broker SafeGraph, slivers of which may be hidden on your own phone inside apps that quietly collect and sell the information they gather on you, specifically offers tracking data for phones visiting Planned Parenthood providers—including the census tracks visitors came from and returned to.

For just $160, SafeGraph has been selling that data to anyone willing to buy it. It’s a trivial investment for bounty hunters eager to cross-reference such clues to find who to next target. It’s also a valuable tool for would-be domestic terrorists, of the sort that are going to be once again emboldened by a Supreme Court nod to their beliefs that not only should abortion be banned, but that activists are justified in attacking those that think otherwise. Nobody can plausibly think far-right violence will decrease, in the bizarre landscape in which they have finally achieved victory in half the states while being rebuffed by the others. It has never happened that way. It never will.

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Thursday, May 5, 2022 · 7:15:16 PM +00:00 · Hunter

Another data miner, Placer, tracks Planned Parenthood visitors to their homes and provides the routes they took. Among the apps mining data for Placer is popular tracking app “Life360.”

The maps also showed people’s routes that they took to and from Planned Parenthood clinics. One in Texas showed people coming from schools, university dorms, and visiting a mental health clinic after. The free tier offered tracking to homes — the paid tier offered workplaces.

— alfred 🆖 (@alfredwkng) May 5, 2022

Biden reportedly caught off guard by Supreme Court leak; here's how the administration can catch up

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If the Washington Post is to be believed, we’ve got a big problem, because if the White House wasn’t prepared for the news that the Supreme Court is poised to end federal abortion rights start, they have a serious lack of understanding of the reality in which we live.

“Biden officials spent much of Tuesday panicked as they realized how few tools they had at their disposal, according to one outside adviser briefed on several meetings,” the Post reports. “While officials have spent months planning for the possibility the court would overturn the landmark ruling,” the Post reports, “the leaked document caught the White House off guard.” It shouldn’t have. A leak is unusual, yes, but the only surprise in the contents is just how bloodthirsty Justice Samuel Alito is in coming after abortion, and ultimately all the other 20th century rights the court established.

“We will be ready when any ruling is issued,” Biden said in a statement Tuesday. Will they? Because they really should have seen this coming, and been prepared with some ideas by now. The fact that they pivoted to deficit reduction, of all things, as the message for Wednesday doesn’t inspire a whole lot of confidence that they’ll be ferocious in this fight. That they’ll be creative and that they will try everything to fix this, to tell the majority of Americans who support abortion rights that we’ve got a powerful ally in the fight.

Back in February, Shefali Luthra of The 19th News reported on the executive actions Biden can take. First, expand access to medication abortion, something the Food and Drug Administration can do. “The most significant thing the Biden administration has done is through the FDA, and the most significant things the Biden administration will be able to do going forward are through the FDA,” Mary Ziegler, a law professor at Florida State University who studies abortion, told Luthra.

Christine Pelosi talks about the Supreme Court’s leaked decision on Roe v. Wade, and what Democrats are doing now, on Daily Kos’ The Brief podcast

The FDA has already acted to expand the availability of medication abortion. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, it allowed for the pills to be prescribed virtually, via telemedicine, and provided through the mail. It also allowed online-only providers to mail the pills to patients in other states, including those with restrictive abortion laws. Those rules have been made permanent.

The two-pill regimen for medication abortion has been safely used for two decades, and now accounts for more than half of all abortions in the U.S., according to the Guttmacher Institute. It’s approved for use up to 10 weeks, though it’s been demonstrated safe to use beyond 10 weeks, up to 20. In Great Britain, it’s used up to nearly 24 weeks.

“There is some support for the idea that states cannot ban FDA-approved medication,” Greer Donley, an assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh Law School, told the 19ths Luthra. “This is a novel legal argument. Maybe it would mean states cannot ban the sale of medication abortion, which would mean states must allow abortion up to 10 weeks.”

Forced birth groups are of course focusing on getting states to enact restrictions on medication abortion, and while there’s no precedent for FDA guidance to supersede state restrictions, it’s worth forcing the challenge.

The EMAA [Exanding Medication Abortion Access] Project has been having preliminary conversations with the administration, its director Kirsten Moore told the LA Times Jennifer Haberkorn. One thing they’re considering is pressing insurers to cover the drugs. “There is no obvious, one, two, three things to solve the problem,” she said. “We’re going to have to be really creative. And it may only be helpful on the margins—which may be important margins.”

Online providers of the medication are also getting creative. Aid Access, one of the sites, uses European healthcare providers and a pharmacy in India to provide the pills. It’s a relatively inexpensive option at $110, but takes up to four weeks. Another provider, PlanCPills.org has been gaming out the options for people in every state.

For instance, a patient in Texas—where abortion is banned after fetal cardiac activity is detected, or about 6 weeks of pregnancy—could – https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2021-09-17/is-this-legal-texans-scramble-to-get-abortions-out-of-state – drive across the border –  into New Mexico and conduct a telehealth appointment with a doctor there. The pills can be shipped to a friend in New Mexico or a temporary mailbox the patient has set up in the state and forwarded to Texas. Or a patient could stay in Texas and directly buy the drugs from an online pharmacy at a cost of $200 to $500.

Another option for the federal government: federally-sponsored clinics or leases to abortion clinics on public lands. Located on federal lands, the clinics could be exempt from state laws. They could also be located on tribal lands, where tribal leaders would allow them.

“It is possible that clinics can operate on federal lands without having to follow state law. That has to be explored. The federal government needs to push the envelope,” David Cohen, a professor at Drexel University’s Kline School of Law, told Luthra. “It’s not a slam-dunk legal argument, but these are the kinds of things that need to be tried.”

Audio: McCarthy weighed 25th Amendment for Trump in private after Jan. 6

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A new audio recording of House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy has reportedly captured him weighing whether to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove then-President Donald Trump from the White House two days after the assault on the Capitol.

With much attention largely trained right now on the Supreme Court after the leak of a draft opinion poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, McCarthy has managed a slight reprieve from the headlines. 

It was just over a week ago that a different series of audio recordings featuring the House GOP leader went public and he was heard, in his own words, telling members of his party that he was prepared to call for then-President Donald Trump’s resignation. 

In those recordings, and now in this new set, McCarthy’s private agony is yet again starkly contrasted against the public support—and cover—that he has ceaselessly heaped upon Trump. 

Related story: Jan. 6 committee may have another ‘invitation’ for Kevin McCarthy

The latest audio recordings—obtained by New York Times reporters Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns as a part of their book, This Too Shall Not Pass and shared with CNN—reportedly have McCarthy considering invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Trump as he listened to an aide go over deliberations then underway by House Democrats. 

Christine Pelosi talks about the Supreme Court’s leaked decision on Roe v. Wade, and what Democrats are doing now, on Daily Kos’ The Brief podcast

When the aide said that the 25th Amendment would “not exactly” be an “elegant solution” to removing Trump, McCarthy is reportedly heard interrupting as he attempts to get a sense of his options.  

The process of invoking the 25th Amendment is one not taken lightly and would require majority approval from members of Trump’s Cabinet as well as from the vice president.

“That takes too long,” McCarthy said after an aide walked him through the steps. “And it could go back to the House, right?”

Indeed, it wasn’t an easy prospect.

Trump would not only have to submit a letter overruling the Cabinet and Pence, but a two-thirds majority would have to be achieved in the House and Senate to overrule Trump. 

“So, it’s kind of an armful,” the aide said. 

On Jan. 7, 2021, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called on the president’s allies to divorce themselves from Trump after he loosed his mob on them, Capitol Hill staff, and police. 

“While there are only 13 days left, any day could be a horror show,” Pelosi said at a press conference where she called for the 25th Amendment to be put in motion.

Publicly, McCarthy would not budge.

The House voted 232-197 to approve a resolution that would activate the amendment on Jan. 13.  McCarthy called for censure instead of impeachment through the 25th Amendment. Then, from the floor of the House, McCarthy denounced Trump. 

“The president bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters. He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding,” McCarthy said. 

During the Jan. 8 call, the House GOP leader lamented that impeachment could divide the nation more. He worried it might also inspire new conflicts. He also told the aide he wanted to have Trump and Biden meet before the inauguration.

It would help with a smooth transition, he said. 

In another moment in the recording after discussing a sit-down with Biden where they could discuss ways to publicly smooth tensions over the transition, McCarthy can be heard saying that “he’s trying to do it not from the basis of Republicans.”

But rather, “of a basis of, hey, it’s not healthy for the nation” to continue with such uncertainty. 

Yet within the scant week that passed from the time McCarthy said Trump bore some responsibility for the attack and the impeachment vote, McCarthy switched gears again. 

He didn’t believe Trump “provoked” the mob, he said on Jan. 21. 

Not if people “listened to what [Trump] said at the rally,” McCarthy said. 

McCarthy met with Trump at the 45th president’s property in Mar-a-Lago, Florida a week after Biden was inaugurated. Once he was back in Washington, the House leader issued a statement saying Trump had “committed to helping elect Republicans in the House and Senate in 2022.” 

They had founded a “united conservative movement,” he said. 

Don't look now, but Stacey Abrams is mowing down Gov. Kemp's financial lead

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Things are looking pretty good in the Georgia governor’s race.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Democratic powerhouse Stacey Abrams, even with a late start entering the race, is nipping at the heels of Gov. Brian Kemp when it comes to campaign contributions.

Between February and April, Abrams raised $11.7 million, collecting contributions from over 187,000 donors, the AJC reports. And at the end of the reporting period, she claimed over $8 million in the bank.

But, just as the state enters midterms, and after a leaked draft of the U.S. Supreme Court opinion to overturn Roe v. Wade, according to The Washington Post, the Abrams camp temporarily paused fundraising, and instead began raising money for pro-choice groups in the state—The Feminist Women’s Health Center, SisterSong, ARC Southeast, Planned Parenthood Southeast, and others.

RELATED STORY: Stacey Abrams turns tables on Gov. Kemp, files suit to use law he signed for himself in her favor

“This moment demands action, so I will be blunt: The abomination of that leaked opinion is coming to find every one of us,” Abrams wrote in a campaign email. “Women in Georgia and across this country. LGBTQ+ and disabled people. And particularly those of color or low-income. This is a terrifying time for our nation.”

Co-founder of Sister District, Gaby Goldstein, joins The Downballot to discuss what Democrats in the states are doing to protect abortion rights

According to the Associated Press, Kemp has reported $10.7 million in cash on hand, down from $12.7 million as of Jan. 31. Kemp’s had to spend big in the battle against Sen. David Perdue and his other Republican rivals. Abrams has spent over $9 million in TV, radio, and digital ads in the last five months, AJC reports. 

In late April, a federal judge ruled in favor of Abrams to block Georgians First, Kemp’s leadership committee, from raising unlimited money for him until he became the official GOP nominee on May 24. The rule applies equally to Abrams; until the primary is over she is unable to raise money from her leadership committee.

Perdue hasn’t released his financial records, but according to AJC, his last report ended with an underwhelming $1 million in the bank, despite backing from former President Trump.

Meanwhile, in the Sen. Raphael Warnock battle against the assumed GOP nominee and COVID-spray salesman, Herschel Walker in November, in mid-April, the AJC reported that Warnock broke records as he collected $13.6 million in the first quarter of 2022. Walker ended 2021 with around $5 million in the bank.

Border Patrol has not been counting all migrants who've died along the border, watchdog says

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Border Patrol agents have not been counting the total number of migrants who’ve died attempting to cross the harsh southern borderlands, the non-partisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) said in a new report. Some immigrant rights advocates have estimated that as many as 10,000 migrants have died from exposure and other elements within the last two decades, a number significantly higher than what border officials have stated. The watchdog report confirms the fears of many: they just haven’t been counting them.

“Border Patrol has not collected and recorded, or reported to Congress, complete data on migrant deaths, or disclosed associated data limitations,” the office said. The Tucson sector highlighted in the report is representative of the border agency’s overall negligence.

RELATED STORY: Border Patrol policies kill hundreds of migrants each year—and they were designed to

“Border Patrol sector officials from the four sectors we contacted told us that they coordinate with external entities—such as medical examiners—when remains are discovered,” the report said. But investigators said that a collaborative effort between the Pima County Medical Examiner’s Office and humanitarian organization Humane Borders, Inc. recorded higher numbers than border officials in the region.

While investigators highlight the implementation of the Missing Migrant Program in 2017 “to help rescue migrants in distress and reduce migrant deaths along the southwest border,” they note the agency “does not have a plan to evaluate the program overall.” But actions by border agents indicate that while there’s a program to aid distressed immigrants in name, the action has been continued harassment.

Take No More Deaths, a humanitarian organization with one goal: To prevent the agonizing deaths of migrants in the desert, where temperatures commonly rise into the triple digits. But the group has been repeatedly harassed by border agents throughout multiple administrations, most recently last summer. The year prior, the same tactical unit that harassed anti-police violence protesters in Portland helped raid No More Deaths’ humanitarian aid station. 

This escalation began when the organization released shocking footage of grinning border agents destroying jugs of water left for migrants in the desert. Humanitarian workers had said containers were being routinely tampered with by human hands. While racist border vigilante extremists have eagerly confessed to some of the destruction, human rights groups had suspected Border Patrol as well. The footage proved them right.

“The practice of destruction of and interference with aid is not the deviant behavior of a few rogue border patrol agents, it is a systemic feature of enforcement practices in the borderlands,” No More Deaths and La Coalición de Derechos Humanos said in the report. Warning: The following footage is disturbing.

It is a fact that harsh immigration policies have helped led to this tragic death toll. The common misconception is that stricter policies make a more secure border, but deterrence policies beginning in the mid-1990s have only killed migrants, by knowingly pushing them into more and more dangerous terrain. “Of course, the U.S. government knew that Prevention Through Deterrence would send people to their deaths,” researcher John Washington told Rewire’s Tina Vasquez in 2016.

“If you look at the strategic plan for Prevention Through Deterrence, it is clearly stated that they were going to use the landscape as an ally,” Washington continued in the report. “Everything that’s outlined implies greater suffering. These are people in charge of the Southwest border, of course they knew that walking for five days in these conditions would kill people.” 

Earlier we noted Border Patrol’s Missing Migrant Program, which is supposed to aid migrants in crisis. Vasquez reported last year that advocates have led their own initiative, with a similar goal of aiding missing migrants. But she said that when advocates have fielded urgent calls to border officials, they have frequently gone ignored.

“In 63% of all distress calls referred to Border Patrol by crisis line volunteers, the agency did not conduct any confirmed search or rescue mobilization whatsoever—this includes 40% of cases where Border Patrol directly refused to take any measures in response to a life-or-death emergency.”

Count Stephen Miller’s anti-asylum Title 42 among failed border policies, experts have said. The policy, which may or may not end at the end of this month depending on a GOP-led lawsuit, has only resulted in higher apprehensions at the border. “That is because under Title 42, individuals who are expelled to Mexico within hours after apprehension can simply try again a second or third time in hopes of getting through.” And sometimes through ways that may cost them their lives.

RELATED STORIES: ‘Ongoing pattern of harassment and surveillance’: CBP is still tormenting humanitarian volunteers

BORTAC unit that terrorized Portland just helped raid a humanitarian medical camp at border

Border Patrol agents are destroying lifesaving jugs of water left for migrants in the desert

'It’s wild': Black nurse sues hospital after she was targeted with unjust criminal charges

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A Black nurse is suing a hospital about 15 miles east of Denver in the city of Aurora after she says she was discriminated against and targeted with a manslaughter charge for doing her job and even going above and beyond what was required of her. DonQuenick Joppy named the Medical Center of Aurora (TMCA); HealthONE, which owns the medical center; and employees at the center, Katie Weihe and Bonnie Andrews, in a lawsuit filed April 22.

Ultimately, the charges Joppy faced in connection with the death of a 94-year-old patient in 2019—“manslaughter, negligent death of an at-risk person and neglect of an at-risk”—were dropped by the Colorado Attorney General’s Office “in the interest of justice,” according to a motion The Denver Post obtained. “It’s wild,” Joppy said in an interview the newspaper cited. “My life has been turned upside down … I never killed anyone. I’m a great nurse.”

RELATED STORY: Don’t forget Elijah McClain: Forced into chokehold, injected for looking ‘sketchy.’ He is dead now

Spelled out in Joppy’s complaint:

1. During her employment with TMCA Ms. Joppy, a Black nurse, was subjected to verbal and nonverbal slights or microagressions designed to marginalize, segregate and undermine her based on stereotypical and harmful views of Black professionals.

2. TMCA unlawfully denied Ms. Joppy training and transfer opportunities, refused to investigate her complaints of race discrimination, placed her on an unwarranted Performance Improvement Plan (“PIP”), isolated her from colleagues, then ultimately terminated her employment because of her race and because she engaged in protected activity.

3. In a final blow to Ms. Joppy, in an effort to have her professional nursing license revoked and end her career, TMCA, Andrews and Weihe, in a “take no prisoners” approach, maliciously caused felony manslaughter charges to be brought against Ms. Joppy for the death of a patient known to have died from natural causes.

Joppy was terminated on June 4, 2019 after working for the hospital for two years and receiving an Excellence Award from the American Heart Association for performing CPR and saving a patient’s life her first year on the job. She also received a positive performance review for her work from July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018, according to the suit.

“In spite of the positive performance review, patient care comments and other awards and accolades, Ms. Joppy’s treatment by the overwhelmingly non-Black management in the ICU was racially biased and on many occasions the Charge Nurses would publicly and openly yell at Ms. Joppy undermining her in a humiliating and demeaning manner,” Joppy’s attorney stated in the suit. “None of the non-Black nurses were treated in this manner.”

In the incident that led to Joppy’s termination, she was told to make room in an understaffed intensive care unit for a critically ill patient dying in the hospital’s emergency room, according to the suit. Joppy hadn’t cared for the patient before but she was assigned as his nurse before her shift’s end at 7 AM, her attorney spelled out in the suit.

According to the complaint, when the doctor ordered Joppy verbally to prepare the patient for “versed and morphine” and to assume “end of life” measures, Joppy contacted the respiratory therapist on duty to carry out the doctor’s order.

When the therapist arrived, he told Joppy he was busy and would give her directions for turning off the ventilator, which she followed, according to the suit. The therapist returned later to disconnect the patient’s ventilator, and he died of “septic shock due to pneumonia and bowel infarction; acute renal failure,” according to the death certificate cited in the lawsuit.  

A supervising nurse who, according to the suit, showed animosity to Joppy in the past questioned how she responded in the incident, sparking the hospital’s investigation. It ultimately determined that it was “standard practice for nurses to ensure orders are being followed as received and entered” and “no order was placed into the chart until after the patient had deceased.”

The hospital also claimed Joppy should have waited for the respiratory therapist to disconnect the ventilator, and the medical center even cited as grounds for her termination, “staying after her assigned shift continuing to provide care to the patient unnecessarily”—a common practice of nurses, according to the suit.

Rachel Robinson, a spokesperson for the medical center, tried to dismiss Joppy’s allegations in a statement The Denver Post obtained on Tuesday.

“The lawsuit that has been filed against The Medical Center of Aurora is without merit and is a tactic by a disgruntled former colleague,” she said in the statement.

Jennifer Robinson, Joppy’s attorney, told The Denver Post Joppy has struggled to find stable housing and ceased work as a nurse, although her license is active.

“I took this case on because I thought it was particularly egregious that they would do this to someone’s life,” Robinson said. “She’s pretty much homeless now and hasn’t recovered since all of this happened. Who is going to hire a nurse who has manslaughter charges against her, even if they are dropped? It’s just not cool to treat people this way.”

One million

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In the standard image displayed at the top of a Daily Kos story, on an average browser, there are fewer than 500,000 pixels. The image used for this story contains exactly 1 million pixels, but you’ll have to open it in another page if you want to see them all. And of course, even then you can’t see them all, not really. They’re just a sea of sameness. Just a mass of dark where there could be light. Just points that show nothing where there could be something.

Like the one million people missing from the United States at this moment due to COVID-19.

There is really no way to show you what that loss looks like. No doubt there are, right at this moment, people making a valiant effort to do so. Somewhere shoes or cups or caps or some other items of everyday life are being arranged carefully on a field. Somewhere signs are being made with a scale and resolution that can genuinely provide some sense of what this number looks like when measured in human beings. Those efforts are, of course, symbolic, but that doesn’t mean they are worthless. Done well, such efforts can deliver a profundity and a physicality that the words “one million” simply don’t deliver.

This is a number so large that it falls into that the same well as those we use when describing the universe. These dinosaur fossils are 65 million years old. This galaxy is 10 million light years away. We nod along when told such things, but we don’t grasp them. Not really. Just like we can’t begin to grasp what it means to have one million people absent from the life of the nation. One million voices lost to the conversation. One million … one million.

Listen to Mark Sumner talk about the pandemic on Daily Kos’ The Brief

This doesn’t seem the time to review the awful decisions that brought us here. Everyone is far too aware of the lies, the distortion, and the sheer indifference. The downplaying of the threat. The false promises of a miracle cure. The long, deliberate effort to undermine the advice of those who saw what was coming.

Instead, try another form of memorial. Spend one minute and imagine it was you. If you’re young, imagine what impact your loss would have to your parents, your siblings, your friends, your coworkers. If you’re older, imagine your absence in the lives of your children or what it would mean to your partner. Take one minute and imagine a you-shaped hole, not just in the events of today, but every day to come. Forever.

Then multiply that by one million.

Oath Keeper abandons Elmer Rhodes, offers damning evidence for seditious conspiracy case

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On Jan. 6, after the mob receded from the Capitol, Oath Keeper Wiliam Todd Wilson sat in a hotel room less than a mile away and listened as Elmer Rhodes attempted to call someone who he thought could connect him to then-President Donald Trump.

After a violent, failed day, the leader of their extremist network implored this individual to tell Trump that groups like theirs were on the ready to forcibly stop the nation’s transfer of power. 

Related story: Seditious Oath Keeper cries as judge accepts another guilty plea from extremist network

This is the account of William Wilson, the leader of the Oath Keeper’s North Carolina division. On Wednesday, he pleaded guilty to seditious conspiracy and obstruction of an official proceeding for his part in what Department of Justice prosecutors have described as a well-orchestrated, fully weaponized conspiracy. 

Oath Keeper William Todd Wi… by Daily Kos

Rhodes has pleaded not guilty and awaits trial. Around him meanwhile, his former compatriots are turning their backs to seek reduced sentences at an increasing clip. Wison’s plea marks the third Oath Keeper to flip and subsequently up the ante on Rhodes who is facing possible decades in prison should a jury convict. 

According to the 45-year-old Wilson, during the call with someone appearing to serve as a Trump intermediary—the individual was not named in court records—Rhodes was left flat.

He would not be patched through to Trump. Wilson recalled that an apparently tense Rhodes turned to his fellow Oath Keepers gathered at the Phoenix Hotel and remarked: “I just want to fight.”

Wilson’s guilty plea is added to those entered by fellow Oath Keepers Joshua James of Alabama and Brian Ulrich of Georgia in the seditious conspiracy case. Wilson, however, was not indicted by a federal grand jury first, unlike James and Ulrich. Instead, he flipped voluntarily. This is a strong indicator that Wilson has been cooperating with the Justice Department for some time.

Statement of Offense Willia… by Daily Kos

Wilson was one of many Oath Keepers from neighboring states who arrived in D.C. in advance of Jan. 6 and prepared to lay siege.

Christine Pelosi talks about the Supreme Court’s leaked decision on Roe v. Wade, and what Democrats are doing now, on Daily Kos’ The Brief podcast

He arrived in Vienna, Virginia, on Jan. 5 and stowed weapons at the Hilton Garden Inn Hotel including an AR-15-type rifle, a pistol, ammunition, and body armor. Wilson also carried a pocket knife and chemical irritants like pepper spray and brought along a large wooden stick he intended to use as a weapon. 

When coming to Washington, he traveled with Rhodes. During the rioting, Wilson has admitted to charges that he plowed through the west side of the Capitol only to force open the Rotunda doors and usher in a column of Oath Keepers to join the fray. 

The Justice Department argues that this moment had been in the works since right after the 2020 election. Enraged over Trump’s lies about rampant fraud in the results, Rhodes, his indictment noted, wanted Trump to invoke the Insurrection Act.

If he did, the Oath Keepers would have a series of “quick reaction force” teams lined up in nearby hotels with weapons to aid him. 

Between Jan. 4 and Jan. 6 alone, Wilson said he and Rhodes spoke dozens of times with their co-conspirators to finalize their plans. As Wilson made the drive, he texted members of a “DC Op Jan. 6 21” encrypted channel. 

“It’s going to hit the fan tonight!” he wrote. 

In fact, it would take a few more hours yet. 

Once they breached the barricades on Jan. 6, Wilson said he and Rhodes, and others steadily advanced through a chaotic scene. Rhodes told the group they were “in the midst of a ‘civil war” and moving in a stack formation, the Oath Keepers attempted to force their way deeper inside the building. Wilson, at times, filmed the assault. 

When it was over, and Wilson, Rhodes, and other co-conspirators found themselves back at the Phoenix Hotel, the inability to connect with Trump directly seemed to fill the ringleader with a new rage. 

In an encrypted Signal chat seized by prosecutors, Rhodes warned that “patriots entering their own Capitol to send a message to the traitors is NOTHING compared to what’s coming.” [Emphasis original]

After meeting for dinner to discuss the longer fight ahead—what Rhodes allegedly said was going to be akin to the American Revolutionary War—the Oath Keepers agreed to destroy any incriminating evidence and scrub their devices. They went their separate ways. 

Weeks later, after Wilson had returned to North Carolina, he told prosecutors he chucked his phone into the ocean. 

At present, Rhodes and nine other defendants charged with seditious conspiracy have pleaded not guilty. But they are far from the only Oath Keepers involved or charged with crimes connected to Jan. 6. There is another group of seven Oath Keepers and their affiliates also poised to face trial for conspiracy. The Rhodes group goes to trial in July; the second group is expected to go to trial in the fall.

Rhodes has maintained that Oath Keepers who were in D.C. on Jan. 6 and charged with violence went off-script. He has argued that they were there if Trump invoked the Insurrection Act, but also to provide security details to Trump’s associates like Roger Stone. 

Related Story: Oath Keeper: I was ready to protect Trump by force

Twitter offers House Judiciary Republicans an education on the Constitution

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Boy, did the Republicans of the House Judiciary Committee own the libs in the wake of the leak showing the Supreme Court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade. 

“Still trying to find the word ‘abortion’ in the Constitution,” the committee Republicans tweeted. Quite the devastating argument … if you’ve never read the Constitution.

RELATED STORY: Top Republican talking point on leaked Supreme Court draft is one for the ages

Twitter users were quick to respond with a long, long list of other things that aren’t in the Constitution. Among them:

  • Woman or women
  • God, Jesus, Christ, Christian, or Bible
  • Marriage
  • Family or child
  • Filibuster
  • Nine. Or for that matter any specified number of Supreme Court justices.
  • Corporations or corporate personhood
  • Student loans
  • Police

The list goes on. Some users also pointed to places where the Constitution specifically said that it was not a full and complete list of all rights, starting with the entire Ninth Amendment: “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

But that’s not all:

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons” Further proof Republicans don’t see women as people. https://t.co/iUJ9wFlBRC

— VoteVets (@votevets) May 4, 2022

Life – to save the mother. Liberty – right to choose. Pursuit of Happiness – to not have others make choices about your life. Next question. Try to make it a difficult one this time https://t.co/EON8vSED0v

— RichieMuenster (@RichieMuenster) May 4, 2022

Whether the House Judiciary Republicans were trying to get attention by making a completely ludicrous statement or were counting on their followers not knowing a damn thing about the Constitution—and both things are equally possible, as is some combination of the two—it’s nonetheless a telling attempt. Being completely dishonest is their only option here. 

On the other hand, at least this tweet wasn’t trying to downplay an actual insurrection by claiming that a leaked document is The Real Insurrection.

Contribute now to support abortion funds providing financial assistance to people seeking abortion care.

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Abbott threatens to challenge SCOTUS 1982 decision ensuring free public education for all kids

This post was originally published on this site

It doesn’t take the keenest observer to realize that the U.S. Supreme Court’s inclination to reverse Roe v. Wade was just the tip of the iceberg.

If the leaked draft opinion from Justice Samuel Alito told us anything, it was that the conservative majority could absolutely pave the way for the loss of other significant and established rulings: same-sex marriage, interracial marriage, and literally any right not explicitly granted in the Constitution by name. And who but Texas Gov. Greg Abbott would step up to seize the worst possible opening.

In an interview on The Joe Pags Show, Abbott said he would consider challenging a Supreme Court decision ensuring that all children have a right to public education—regardless of immigration status, the Austin American-Statesman reports.

RELATED STORY: Texas conservatives have gone rogue, paying Big Lie lackeys to investigate citizens for voter fraud

“Texas already long ago sued the federal government about having to incur the costs of the education program, in a case called Plyler versus Doe,” Abbott told conservative radio host Joe “Pags” Pagliarulo during a phone interview. “And the Supreme Court ruled against us on the issue. … I think we will resurrect that case and challenge this issue again because the expenses are extraordinary and the times are different than when Plyler versus Doe was issued many decades ago.”

Plyler v. Doe was a 1982 landmark decision making it unconstitutional to deny any student a free public education, whether the student is undocumented or not.

“By a 5-4 vote, the Court found that any resources which might be saved from excluding undocumented children from public schools were far outweighed by the harms imposed on society at large from denying them an education,” the American Immigration Council website reads. 

But for Republican lawmakers such as Abbott, going after the rights of undocumented students to have an education isn’t really the point for the GOP. The point is to go after public education in general. Conservatives are using buzzwords such as “CRT,” “grooming,” and “social-emotional learning” in an attempt to dismantle public education in favor of vouchers for charter schools, religious schools, or private schools.

Conservatives are taking many of their policy cues on schools from a small southern Michigan Christian school called Hillsdale College. It is quite literally at the epicenter of book banning movements, anti-vaxxer and CRT communities, climate-science deniers, and Republican legislation.

Hillsdale College offers school boards and right-wing policymakers a template for conservative curriculums and attacks on liberalism. The institution espouses that the Jan. 6 insurrection was a hoax and that, according to outstanding reporting from Salon, Russian president Vladimir Putin is a “hero to populist conservatives around the world.”

Reversing Roe v. Wade is an attack on reproductive rights, but more than that it’s a gateway drug for a conservative, rigid, and uneducated nation under extremist minority rule.

As for Roe’s reversal as a bellwether for more challenges? Columnist with The Washington Post, Megan McArdle, dismissed any notion that the landmark civil rights decision Loving v. Virginia could be next, tweeting: “Similarly, it is not 1950. In Georgia, 13-14% of Atlanta and Augusta couples are now interracial! Even in the Deep South, outlawing interracial marriage would be a lift… But also, is Clarence Thomas going to vote to let states outlaw his marriage?”

Similarly, it is not 1950. In Georgia, 13-14% of Atlanta and Augusta couples are now interracial! Even in the Deep South, outlawing interracial marriage would be a lift. But also, is Clarence Thomas going to vote to let states outlaw his marriage?

— Megan McArdle (@asymmetricinfo) May 5, 2022

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted that “gay marriage” and “civil rights” might be next up on the Court’s reversals.

As we’ve warned, SCOTUS isn’t just coming for abortion – they’re coming for the right to privacy Roe rests on, which includes gay marriage + civil rights. Manchin is blocking Congress codifying Roe. House has seemingly forgotten about Clarence Thomas. These 2 points must change https://t.co/5Isec0osV0

— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) May 3, 2022

The day after the leak went public, Laurence Tribe, a legal scholar tweeted that if Roe is overturned, the next “predictable” steps would be a “roll back rights to contraception, same-sex marriage, sexual privacy, and the full array of textually unenumerated rights long taken for granted.”

Predictable next steps after the Alito opinion becomes law: a nationwide abortion ban, followed by a push to roll back rights to contraception, same-sex marriage, sexual privacy, and the full array of textually unenumerated rights long taken for granted. https://t.co/l1s0K8NJss

— Laurence Tribe (@tribelaw) May 3, 2022