Posts tagged with "Intimidation"

Lawsuit: Trump and Giuliani conspired to violate KKK Act by inciting insurrection

February 17, 2021

On Tuesday, Febraury 16, ABC News reported that Representative Bennie Thompson (D-Missouri), the chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, is suing former President Donald Trump and his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani for conspiring to incite the Capitol riots in January.

According to Raw Story, the complaint reads as follows: “The Defendants each intended to prevent, and ultimately delayed, members of Congress from discharging their duty commanded by the United States Constitution to approve the results of the Electoral College in order to elect the next President and Vice President of the United States,” said the complaint. “Pursuing a purpose shared by Defendants Trump and Giuliani as well as Defendant Proud Boys, Defendant Oath Keepers played a leadership role of the riotous crowd and provided military-style assistance sufficient to overcome any Capitol Police resistance.”

The unusual lawsuit relies on novel legal reasoning under the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871, which prohibits efforts to “prevent any person from discharging their duties by force, intimidation, or threat.” It would be the first time this law is used as a penalty against a former president, if the suit is successful—although he is being sued as a private citizen rather than in his official capacity.

“With the benefit of not having to prove criminal allegations beyond a reasonable doubt, the civil lawsuit, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., on behalf of Thompson in his personal capacity by the NAACP and civil rights law firm Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll, sought unspecified compensatory and punitive damages,” said the report. “The lawsuit is suing Trump in his personal capacity, alleging that he acted outside the scope of his office when inciting the rioters.”

Trump appeared at a rally immediately before the rioters stormed the Capitol, telling the demonstrators to “fight like hell.” Giuliani further said that America should have “trial by combat” over the election results, Raw Story reports.

The former president’s role in inciting the riot, and his refusal to call off his supporters once the violence began, was the core issue in his second impeachment trial—which ended in acquittal but saw a record number of senators cross over to vote against a president of their own party.

Research contact: @RawStory

CNN exclusive: Vindman to retire; blames White House campaign of bullying and retaliation

July 9, 2020

You talk, you walk: Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman—a key witness in Donald Trump’s impeachment inquiry—is retiring from the U.S. Army after more than 21 years of military service because he believes that his future in the armed forces “will forever be limited” due to political retaliation by the president and his allies, his lawyer told CNN exclusively Wednesday, July 8.

Vindman has endured a “campaign of bullying, intimidation, and retaliation” spearheaded by the president following his testimony in the impeachment inquiry last year, according to his attorney, Ambassador David Pressman.

Vindman delivered explosive testimony during public impeachment hearings that Trump’s push for Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden was “inappropriate” and that he knew “without hesitation” that he had to report it.

Vindman said that he reported his concerns out of a “sense of duty,” and he defended his fellow witnesses from what he described as “reprehensible” attacks.

News of Vindman’s retirement marks the culmination of a months-long saga dating back to his public testimony in November, CNN said.

Trump fired Vindman as the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council in February and also ousted his twin brother who also played a key role in impeachment proceedings while serving at the White House as an NSC lawyer.

In recent weeks, the controversy has centered around allegations that the White House was attempting to block Vindman’s upcoming military promotion to the rank of colonel.

“The President of the United States attempted to force LTC Vindman to choose: Between adhering to the law or pleasing a President. Between honoring his oath or protecting his career. Between protecting his promotion or the promotion of his fellow soldiers,” Pressman said in a statement to CNN.

“These are choices that no one in the United States should confront, especially one who has dedicated his life to serving it,” he added, noting that Vindman “did what the law compelled him to do; and for that he was bullied by the President and his proxies.”

Top Pentagon leaders, including Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, have insisted that Vindman is not being targeted for political reasons, but a source familiar with his decision said military officials have communicated to Vindman that the White House has sought to become involved in the promotion process.

In response, Vindman was told that that there have been discussions within the Department of Defense about sending his name forward on a “list of one” or holding his name back until after the election to avoid impacting the promotions of other service members, the source said.

It is “absurd and frightening” for the White House to be involved in promotions at this level, the source added.

Research contact: @CNN

Keep your head down: Tilting your chin toward your neck can make you seem more dominant

August 16, 2019

Does somebody you know make you feel as if he or she is “head and shoulders above you” in confidence and ability?  Findings of a study recently conducted at the University of British Columbia in Canada indicate that when a conversational partner arches his eyebrows and tilts his chin downward, the effect can be intimidating.

In fact, even “… a neutral face—a face with no muscle movement or facial expression—appears to be more dominant when the head is tilted down,” researchers Zachary Witkower and Jessica Tracy explained in an article published in the June edition of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

This effect is caused by the fact that tilting one’s head downward leads to the artificial appearance of lowered and V-shaped eyebrows—which in turn elicit perceptions of aggression, intimidation, and dominance.”

Although researchers have investigated how facial muscle movements, in the form of facial expressions, correlate with social impressions, few studies have specifically examined how head movements might play a role. Witkower and Tracy designed a series of studies to investigate whether the angle of head position might influence social perception, even when facial features remain neutral.

In one online study with 101 participants, the researchers generated variations of avatars with neutral facial expressions—using three head positions: tilted upward ten degrees, neutral (0 degrees), or tilted downward ten degrees.

The participants judged the dominance of each avatar image, rating their agreement with statements including “This person would enjoy having control over others” and “This person would be willing to use aggressive tactics to get their way.”

The results showed that participants rated the avatars with downward head tilt as more dominant than those with neutral or upward-titled heads.

A second online study, in which 570 participants rated images of actual people, showed the same pattern of results.

Additional findings revealed that the portion of the face around the eyes and eyebrows is both necessary and sufficient to produce the dominance effect. That is, participants rated downward-tilted heads as more dominant even when they could only see the eyes and eyebrows; this was not true when the rest of the face was visible, and the eyes and eyebrows were obscured.

Two more experiments indicated that the angle of the eyebrows drove this effect—downward-tilted heads had eyebrows that appeared to take more of a V shape, even though the eyebrows had not moved from a neutral position, and this was associated with perceptions of dominance.

“In other words, tilting the head downward can have the same effect on social perceptions as does lowering one’s eyebrows—a movement made by the corrugator muscle, known as Action Unit 4 in the Facial Action Coding System—but without any actual facial movement,” say Witkower and Tracy. “Head tilt is thus an ‘action unit imposter’ in that it creates the illusory appearance of a facial muscle movement where none in fact exists.”

Ultimately, Witkower and Tracy note, these findings could have practical implications for our everyday social interactions: “People often display certain movements or expressions during their everyday interactions, such as a friendly smile or wave, as a way to communicate information,” they said, adding, “Our research suggests that we may also want to consider how [they] hold their head during these interactions, as subtle head movements can dramatically change the meaning of otherwise innocuous facial expressions.”

Research contact: zak.witkower@psych.ubc.ca