Posts tagged with "Salon"

Why did Lauren Boebert lead a late-night tour of the U.S. Capitol three weeks before January 6?

August 5, 2021

On the night of December 12, last year—the day of the first Stop the Steal rally in Washington, D.C., and three weeks ahead of the January 6 Capitol insurrection—several guests of then-Representative-elect Lauren Boebert (R-Colorado) received  exclusive after-hours tour of the Capitol building from the far-right firebrand, Raw Story reports.

There are several unanswered questions about this visit, which appears to have violated normal Capitol protocol in various ways. It’s not clear who authorized it, since Boebert was not yet a member of Congress and had no official standing in D.C. It’s perhaps even stranger that it occurred on a Saturday night, when the Capitol complex is closed.

Later, in the aftermath of the January 6 attack, Boebert repeatedly denied rumors that she had offered “reconnaissance tours” to would-be rioters shortly before that event. But her ambiguous comments appeared to avoid any specific discussion of this unexplained December tour.

According to materials reviewed by Salon, the December 12 tour led by Boebert involved various parts of the Capitol complex, including the staircase in the Senate’s empty Brumidi Corridors, Senate room S-127 and the Senate briefing room, as well as the then-vacant Capitol Rotunda.

A maskless Capitol Police officer accompanied Boebert’s mother and teenage son to the observation deck at the top of the Capitol Dome for a photo taken by a fourth person—presumably Boebert herself. This is the culmination of any Capitol tour—only available to visitors hosted by a member of Congress—and involves an arduous climb up roughly 300 steep and winding stairs to reach the high perch overlooking the city.

Boebert’s guests were clearly enjoying themselves, but everything about their presence on the observation deck alongside a Capitol Police officer remains unexplained. As mentioned above, the rules for observation deck tours stipulate that a member of Congress and an official guide must accompany each group that climbs the Capitol Dome. There’s no indication that either a member or a guide was present on this occasion.

Furthermore, spots for such tours are not readily available, with only eight reservations available on any given day. It’s true that Boebert was a member-elect at the time, but that’s an important distinction: She certainly was not a sworn member of Congress and had no office, no staff, and no official status in the Capitol complex. It’s even more puzzling that this tour took place on Saturday night. The guidelines for member-led Capitol tours state they are only available on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and also that all visitors must sign liability waivers; and all tours must be led by official Capitol guides, not Capitol Police officers.

U.S. Capitol Police didn’t immediately return Salon’s request for comment on this story.

After Representative Pramila Jayapal (D-Washington), and other lawmakers accused Boebert of “involvement in instigating and aiding the violent riot at the Capitol Building” after January 6, Boebert responded by saying that she hadn’t given tours to anyone but her family during the 117th Congress, which began on January 3, the day she was sworn in as a member.

Her choice of words was notably specific, and potentially significant: “I haven’t given a tour of the U.S. Capitol in the 117th Congress to anyone but family,” she said, specifically not addressing the unauthorized tour she seems to have given during the 116th Congress.

Research contact: @RawStory

New TrumpWorld social media site, Gettr, is hacked, mocked, and trolled with Hedgehog porn

July 9, 2021

Former Trump spokesperson Jason Miller launched a new social media platform called Gettr late last week, only to see it quickly mocked online, particularly for its uninspired name.

Following the flops of such right-wing sites as Gab, Parler, and Mike Lindell’s Frank, Miller presented Gettr  to the public as a way to solve conservatives’ S problems on social media—but, the launch encountered a series of challenges, from hackers scraping troves of users’ private data to leftists trolling the platform with NSFW Sonic the Hedgehog content, Salon reports. 

Last Thursday, Politico was the first to report on Gettr’s plans to go live. A team of former Trump campaign associates helped to kickstart the new right-wing app, which announced itself as aimed at “fighting cancel culture, promoting common sense, defending free speech, challenging social media monopolies, and creating a true marketplace of ideas.” 

While ridicule indeed followed, many in TrumpWorld showed up at the half-developed website, including Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk, former Trump White House aide Sebastian Gorka, and a plethora of former Trump campaign staffers.

Soon thereafter, The Daily Beast uncovered that Miller’s entire venture was being funded by fugitive Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui, aka Miles Kwok, who is friendly with various TrumpWorld figures, most notably Steve Bannon. But before the dust even got a chance to settle, Gettr became the target of hackers who saw the site security as laughable.

According to Salon, on the morning of July 4—the day the site was slated for its grand launch— the site was hacked by a somewhat friendly hacker who defaced usernames on top accounts, including those of former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo; American Conservative Union chairman Matt ;Republican Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene; and Jason Miller, himself.

“JubaBaghdad was here, follow me in twitter :),” the hacker wrote, as first reported by Salon. The hacker told Salon that the breach took him less than 20 minutes to carry out in subsequent conversations. “Took from me 20 minutes to find them. And I’m sure I can find more if I spent more time,” the anonymous hacker shared. 

The following day, on Monday, the hacker reached back out to Salon with a lengthy list of other points of concern on Gettr, including “a dangerous bug in their API server,” which the hacker said was an access point where he was able to uncover information including “email, birthdate, and location.”

The hacker, known on Twitter as “JubaBaghdad,” offered as proof that he or she was able to access accurate information scraped from this Salon reporter’s Gettr account, created only days earlier. The hacker stressed that Gettr remains open to attacks.

Miller didn’t respond to Salon’s request for an interview, nor to the offer of answering questions by email.

In public statements, Miller has claimed that Gettr was poised to challenge the “woke tyranny” of Big Tech, a major villain in the conservative universe.

“GETTR is a direct challenge to the social media oligarchs from Silicon Valley, and what better day to declare independence from their woke tyranny than July 4th?” Miller declared. “GETTR is the marketplace of ideas. We will not cancel people for their political opinions, and GETTR offers far more features and better technology than anything else out there.”

But this sales pitch evidently made little impact on Donald Trump, Miller’s former boss, who evidently has no plans to join the right-wing platform anytime soon.

Research contact: @Salon

Bunny, the dog that can ‘talk,’ starts asking existential questions

May 12, 2021

When Bunny, TikTok’s beloved talking Sheepadoodle, stared at herself in a mirror and asked “Who this?” using her augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) device’s buttons, many followers believed she was having an existential crisis. Since then, the Internet-famous dog seemingly has become more interested in her own, dare we say,“sense of self,” Salon reports.

More recently on April 24, Alexis Devine, Bunny’s human parent—an artist based in Tacoma, Washington—has posted a video of Bunny pressing a button for “dog,” then a second button for “what,” a third button for “dog” and a fourth one for “is.” “Dog what dog is?” Devine narrated.

“This is happening so frequently that I’m going to add the buttons ‘animal’ ‘same’ and ‘different,'” Devine wrote in the caption which accompanied the Instagram post. 

The canine Bunny, who has 6.5 million followers on TikTok, is one of nearly 2,600 dogs and 300 cats enrolled in a project called “They Can Talk.” The study’s aim is to understand if animals can communicate with humans through AAC systems. AAC systems—such as Bunny’s giant labeled buttons that speak a single word when pressed—originally were designed to help humans with communication disorders. Yet they have been adapted to be used in language experiments with animals, such as the study Bunny is enrolled in, which is led by Federico Rossano, director of the Comparative Cognition Lab at the University of California–San Diego.

In Rossano’s study, participants receive instructions on how to set up their AAC buttons for their pets; generally, pets begin with easy words like “outside” and “play.” Pet parents set up cameras to constantly monitor the animals when they are in front of their boards—data that then is sent to the lab so that researchers examine what they say.

Now, Bunny’s followers have become obsessed with the notion that her language-learning is making her develop some kind of self-awareness. Is that possible?

And if so, does learning language have something to do with it?

“The question here is, is this a behavior that has been trained — like, look, I’m going to show you this individual here, this is ‘you’ or ‘dog,’ and don’t be afraid of it, and then over time the dog learns that,” Rossano told Salon. “Or to what degree is this spontaneous?”

If it is spontaneous, the research around the ethology for canines could get really interesting. Scientific evidence has previously suggested that dogs don’t recognize themselves in the mirror. The so-called mirror test is used to determine whether an animal has the ability of visual self-recognition, and is considered a marker of intelligence in animals. Elephants, chimpanzees, and dolphins are among the animals who have passed the test, but dogs typically don’t.

That might suggest dogs possess a lack of self-awareness. However, separate studies have shown that dogs can recognize their own scent, which hints at the opposite.

Péter Pongrácz, PhD, an associate professor in the Department of Ethology at Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest, Hungary, was curious if the standard mirror test was sufficient enough to determine whether or not dogs have “self-representation”—which, as Pongrácz explained, is what ethologists prefer to call “self-awareness” in animals. This curiosity led Pongrácz and a team of researchers to study dogs’ “self-representation” in a test called “the body as an obstacle.” As a behavioral test, the dogs were tasked with picking up an object and giving it to their owners while standing on a small mat. However, the object was attached to the mat, forcing the dogs to leave the mat in order to lift the object.

“Dogs came off the mat more frequently and sooner in the test condition, than in the main control condition, where the object was attached to the ground,” the researchers write in a paper published in the peer-reviewed journal Scientific Reports published by Nature. “This is the first convincing evidence of body awareness through the understanding of the consequence of own actions in a species where previously no higher-order self-representation capacity was found.”

Pongrácz told Salon via email that the “body as an obstacle test” is more suitable for dogs, and perhaps, theoretically, could be for more species because animals are then forced “to negotiate physical challenges where their bodies can impede their actions.” Pongrácz added that mental capacity is “complicated” and should be thought of as something that consists of “several building blocks.”

“Dogs are large bodied, fast moving animals that live in a complex environment and they have a well-developed cognitive capacity; therefore, it was reasonable to hypothesize that they would benefit from being capable of understanding that they ‘have a body’ that can interact with the environment,” Pongrácz said.

“As our test proved this, yes, we can say that dogs are aware of their body—and, as body-awareness is part of the complex self-representation system, yes, they can be considered as being self-aware,” he added.

As an online spectator observing her, it is hard to deny that Bunny isn’t becoming more curious about what “dogs” are, as she has been recorded wandering over to her word board pressing “dog” and then “what.” Another time, she asked “dog” and then “why,” which humans might interpret as her asking why she’s a dog. Devine says on Instagram that this line of questioning occurs “regularly” now.

But as Rossano said, the tricky part is sussing out what is learned behavior and what is Bunny’s own doing. And that’s a separate question from whether the AAC device has influenced her sense of self. After all, as Pongrácz said, mental capacity is comprised of building blocks; language may be just another block.

“I think there’s a good reason to believe that Bunny is probably capable of a sense of self and recognizing herself in the mirror, but to what degree is spontaneous versus learned over repeated exposures, I would say it’s more likely to be the latter than the former,” Rossano said, adding that “self-awareness” wasn’t something they were interested in measuring at first in the “They Can Talk” study. But now, that’s changed.

“We know that language helps not just communicate with others, but also helps us categorize; and it also gives us some sense of consistency and continuity over time,” Rossano said. In other words, self-awareness and language could be connected, as

Rossano said a new, key interest of his study is whether or not dogs have a sense of

Research contact: @Salon

Report: Trump campaign siphoned donor money to his debt-strapped businesses after election loss

February 10, 2021

New financial disclosures have raised myriad questions about the Trump campaign’s post-election spending following #45’s loss to President Joe Biden last November, Salon reports.

Based on campaign finance disclosures, Trump’s re-election campaign spent at least $81,000 in donor money on Trump’s businesses. In addition, the Trump joint fundraising committee—which split its donations with the Republican National Committee—spent another $331,000 in donor funds following the election, according to an analysis by Forbes.

Trump and Republicans plowed millions into his businesses during and after his time in office, Salon notes: All told, the campaign paid at least $2.8 million to the Trump Organization and the joint fundraising committee spent another $4.3 million on Trump’s businesses between January 20, 2017 and December 31, 2020.

Specifically, Salon notes, the joint committee spent more than $300,000 for space, lodging and catering at Trump’s hotel business in the wake of his election loss. The campaign also spent tens of thousands to rent space at Trump Tower after November 3.

The campaign and the joint committee each also separately paid more than $30,000 for air travel to DT Endeavor, a company believed to be owned by Trump.

Trump has as much as $1 billion in business debt that will soon come due. A New York Times investigation into years of his tax returns showed that he has reported hundreds of millions in losses in recent years.

The campaign also reported paying $6,037 to Arizona State Representative Mark Finchem, a Republican who pushed to overturn Trump’s electoral defeat in the state, the Arizona Republic first reported. Finchem, who is not a lawyer, was paid for “legal consulting” in a “recount” effort through a company he did not include in his most recent financial disclosure, according to the campaign’s filings.

Finchem told the Republic that the payment was for costs related to “crowd control and security” for a meeting he held with Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani at a hotel on Nov. 30 about unfounded claims of election-rigging.

He later promoted the Trump rally that preceded the deadly January 6 Capitol riot and was set to speak outside the Capitol that day, according to the Arizona Republic.

Finchem, who said he never got within 500 yards of the Capitol building, posted a photo of a mob of Trump supporters on the Capitol steps, writing that it is “what happens when the People feel they have been ignored, and Congress refuses to acknowledge rampant fraud.”

Now, Newsweek reports, Arizona legislators are considering expelling Finchem from office—claiming he violated his oath and undermined democracy by attending the rally and promoting unfounded allegations of election fraud.

State Representative César Chávez, a Phoenix Democrat, filed an ethics complaint last month, arguing that Finchem’s social media posts “demonstrate beyond any doubt that he was participated in the insurrection in Washington, D.C. and supported others in their efforts.”

The left-leaning watchdog group Accountable.US said the financial disclosure suggested that Trump was “paying state legislators” to join his “two-month crusade to try and stay in power.”

“Mark Finchem must explain this payment from the Trump campaign and how it influenced his official work as a legislator to try and overturn a free and fair election,” a spokesperson told the Arizona Republic.

Meanwhile, Salon reports, while the latest disclosures shed some light on the campaign’s post-election spending, Trump is still sitting on much of the cash he raised from supporters—ostensibly meant to fund his election legal challenges. Trump raised more than $170 million after the election, after bombarding supporters with fundraising appeals; but most of the money went to a fundraising committee he set up after his defeat rather than his legal efforts.

Research contact: @Salon

Democrats are poised to retake the Senate: Warnock wins, Ossoff leads in Georgia runoffs

January 7, 2021

Democrats appear all but assured of retaking the Senate in with an electrifyingly clear victory in one Georgia runoff election and a likely win in the other, Salon reports.

Indeed, the Associated Press has projected the Reverend Raphael Warnock, pastor of Atlanta’s historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, as the winner of his runoff election against Senator Kelly Loeffler (R); while Democrat Jon Ossoff holds a narrow lead over Republican incumbent Senator David Perdue (R) in their race, with most of the outstanding votes likely to come from heavily Democratic counties.

Warnock was projected to defeat Loeffler at around 2 a.m. (ET), and now holds a lead of around 52,000 votes with 98% of ballots counted, Salon notes.

Warnock holds a 1.2% lead that The New York Times projects to grow closer to 2% once all of the results are in, putting the race well clear of recount territory.

As of midday on Wednesday, the Ossoff race still was too close to call, although the Democrat was in the lead. Compared to Warnock, Ossoff leds Perdue by a much narrower margin of less than 16,000 votes, or 0.36%, although the outstanding votes are expected to push his lead closer to 1%, according to the Times forecast. Perdue can request a recount if the race finishes within 0.5%.

Decision Desk HQ, which provides election data to various news outlets, called the race for Ossoff at around 2 a.m. (ET) but the Associated Press and other major news sources still view the race as too close to call.

According to Salon, the night marks a stark reversal from November’s election and from decades of the state’s electoral history. Although President-elect Joe Biden became the first Democratic presidential candidate to carry the state in nearly 30 years, Perdue led Ossoff by about 88,000 votes in November but just failed to reach the 50% threshold needed to win outright. Biden’s victory margin over President Donald Trump was less than 12,000 votes, and it appears certain that both Democrats in the Senate runoffs will win by significantly more than that.

If Ossoff holds on, the Democrats would control 50 seats in the Senate. That would put them in the majority once Vice President-elect Kamala Harris takes over as president of the Senate and will give Democrats control of both chambers of Congress and the White House for the first time since early in Barack Obama’s first term.

“We were told that we couldn’t win this election,” Warnock said Tuesday in a victory speech delivered remotely on video. “But tonight we proved that with hope, hard work and the people by our side, anything is possible.”

Ossoff’s campaign manager Ellen Foster predicted that “when all the votes are counted we fully expect that Jon Ossoff will have won this election.”

Research contact: @Salon

Why Pence cannot ‘save’ Trump on January 6

January 31, 2020

Vice President Mike Pence has come under heavy pressure from President Donald Trump to back an unconstitutional scheme to overturn his Electoral College defeat (306-232) in a joint session of Congress on January 6. According to multiple reports, advisers have repeatedly had to explain to the president that the vice president’s role is merely ceremonial, Salon reports.

In addition to losing the general election by 7 million votes, Trump has lost every legal challenge after failing to show evidence of widespread fraud or irregularities and is now “laser-focused” on January 6, Igor Derysh of Salon notes.

Indeed, the outgoing president views the joint session of Congress as his “last stand for overturning the electoral outcome,” multiple administration officials told The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman. Trump has demanded that Pence “act” to stop the ratification of the Electoral College, according to CNN.

Trump has raged at Pence and top White House officials in recent days as they have pushed back on his doomed scheme and would view Pence carrying out his constitutional duty and validating the election result as “the ultimate betrayal,” according to Axios’ Jonathan Swan.

This pressure arguably puts Pence in a bind, since legally he cannot do anything to affect the result. The vice president reportedly plans to flee Washington for his first overseas trip since the coronavirus pandemic began right after the session.

“Pence’s constitutional role is to ‘open’ the certificates. That’s it,” said Harry Litman, a former Justice Department official and constitutional law expert at UCLA. “Not to certify. Not even technically to count. He has no way even to purport to change the count. It’d be like saying the Oscar presenters get to decide who wins best picture.”

Research contact: @Salon

Go with the Flowbee: George Clooney reveals how he cuts his hair

December 11, 2020

With salons largely closed, male grooming has been in freefall since the start of the spring lockdown—and DIY haircuts have proven less-than-successful for many who no longer cut a dashing profile.

However, one Hollywood star has shown that—even in a global pandemic and, in fact, even before that—bad hair is not the great equalizer we hoped it would be, The Guardian reports.

George Clooney, the 59-year-old actor and human rights activist, has admitted to successfully cutting his own hair at home using a device called a Flowbee—an electrically powered vacuum cleaner attachment for cutting hair that has been on the market since 1988,

“My hair’s really like straw, so it’s easy,” Clooney recently told CBS Sunday Morning.

According to Clooney—twice voted People magazine’s sexiest man alive—the $139.95 (£103) contraption is so reliable that he has been using it for more than 22 years—and not simply during 2020. “My haircuts take literally two minutes,” he said, adding that its speed and efficiency had afforded him time to stain the garage doors, mop the floors and do much of the family’s washing during lockdown in their Los Angeles home.

The Flowbee was a defining product of the 1980s infomercial boom in the US. It was designed in 1988 by Rick Hunts, a San Diego carpenter who was moved to invent the product after using his industrial vacuum cleaner to suck sawdust out of his hair. Hunts initially created and sold the gadget from his garage. But it was live demonstrations at a local county fair that edged him towards success, before global fame soon beckoned him, in the form of late-night TV demonstrations. By 2010, more than 2 million Americans had bought one.

But times have changed and, more recently, the product has needed a “spokesperson” like Clooney to remind Americans that it still exists: Google searches for Flowbee took off following Clooney’s weekend admission and the Flowbee website itself crashed, The Guardian reports.

But while his endorsement will no doubt lend invaluable celebrity cachet to the brand’s image, largely unchanged since the 1980s, the Clooney effect is not in fact wholly responsible for the product’s recent success: The lack of personal services during the pandemic and the sharp increase in bad hair days are two major factors.

As early as mid-March, the Flowbee had sold out on Walmart’s website and on Amazon. It is not available in the UK, according to Fortune magazine; and  Amazon says it doesn’t know when the item will be back in stock.

Research contact: @guardian

Business is booming for psychics during the pandemic

September 3, 2020

With a high-stakes presidential election; a life-threatening viral outbreak; a nationwide social uprising, widespread unemployment; and wildfires, tornadoes, hurricanes, and floods to worry about, Americans are looking for answers. And if they cannot get any reassurance from the usual sources, a psychic or astrologer simply will have to do.

Since the quarantine began shutting down large swaths of the economy, astrologers, spiritual guides, tarot card readers and psychics have seen an uptick in business, Salon reports.

According to Google search trends, entries for “psychic” jumped to a one-year high during the week of March 8—just when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) began issuing some guidance on COVID-19.

Likewise, business review and aggregator site Yelp published an Economic Impact Report that noted that its “Supernatural Readings” business category was up 140%.

Leslie Hale has been offering astrology readings since the late 1990s. She joined Keen.com, an online “spiritual advisor network” in 2001, and told Salon that currently her business is up about 30%. (Likewise, Keen.com told Salon they are experiencing a vast increase in traffic as of late.) Hale said usually she had 10 to 15 calls a day, but during the pandemic it’s been anywhere between 20 and 30.

“There has never been a time like this,” Hale told Salon of her 21-year astrologer career. “I think everybody wants to know if their life is going to go on, and if there’s anything in the future they have to look forward to.”

It makes sense that average people are seeking clarity in uncertain times. New Age spiritual practices have become increasingly popular over the last several years, in part due to its endorsement from the wellness industry and decline in religious affiliation among younger Americans. According to Pew Research data from 2018, an estimated 6 out of 10 American adults accept at least one “New Age belief,”

While in the past, spiritualism meant looking for connection with the dead, today it is more about seeking assurance. Alicia Butler, a 38-year-old freelance writer, usually turns to tarot card readings for comfort. She told Salon during the pandemic they’ve been especially helpful.

“It’s definitely a source of comfort right now,” Butler, who is quarantining with her parents, told Salon. “If things don’t reopen and we don’t have a vaccine or something, am I going to just be 13 again and living with my parents, and not growing emotionally or professionally ever again?”

“I mean, it’s basically somebody telling you that everything’s gonna be okay,” Butler added.

Nathalie Theodore, JD, LCSW, a psychotherapist in Chicago, told Salon it makes sense that some would turn to psychics or tarot card readers during this time.

“Uncertainty is something that many of us struggle with and, for some, it can cause a tremendous amount of anxiety,” Theodore said. “Fear of the unknown can send us into a downward spiral of negative thinking and imagining worst case scenarios.”

Theodore added that one of the hardest parts of this pandemic is not knowing how long it will last or what our lives will look like once it ends.

Hale, the psychic, said the number one question she gets from clients is when they will find a romantic partner.

“The biggest concern of most of the people who call me is still their relationship,” Hale said. “People want to know, ‘when I am going to be able to go out and meet someone special again?'”

She believes that inquiry is tied to loneliness.

“During this time of social isolation, I think people are lonely . . . . of course we have technology but that’s not the same thing as sitting across the table from someone,” Hale said.

Research contact: @Salon

Trump campaign aide paid $20,000 a month by Bannon’s shifty We Build the Wall organization

September 2, 2020

Senior Trump campaign official Jason Miller appears to have been paid about $20,000 a month for work done for We Build the Wall, the supposed nonprofit organization co-founded by former Trump strategist Steve Bannon, according to public court filings obtained by Salon.

Bannon was arrested along with three others—and charged with defrauding hundreds of thousands of donors who contributed to the fundraising campaign for the “ private border wall”—the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York announced on August 20, according to a report by The Hill.

The We Built the Wall nonprofit — now reportedly under investigation in connection with the federal charges against Bannonstarted paying Miller the same month that Bannon’s associates learned they were under federal investigation, court documents and public reports show.

The Trump campaign has not disclosed any payments to Miller since news of his hiring broke in June, Salon notes—nor has the campaign disclosed any salary payments to campaign manager Bill Stepien, according to mandatory federal filings. Publicly available court documents obtained by Salon together with Federal Election Commission (FEC) records suggest that the campaign is paying Miller $35,000 a month, apparently through non-public indirect transactions.

Although prosecutors do not explicitly name Bannon’s nonprofit in the indictment, the document describes “Non-Profit-1” as predating the crowdfunding campaign and being dedicated to promoting “economic nationalism and American sovereignty.” This would appear to describe the Bannon-founded nonprofit called Citizens of the American Republic (COAR), which first filed a tax return in 2017. Its website says the group “seeks to advance the ideals of Economic Nationalism and American Sovereignty.”

Miller co-hosted a podcast with Bannon for COAR, reportedly beginning in October 2019.

In an August 23 interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Miller told host Chuck Todd that although he had worked for COAR, he had not been interviewed by government investigators. “I have not, and from public reports it looks like this investigation was going long before the podcast even started, the podcast and the radio show that I co-hosted with Steve,” Miller said.

While the exact timeline of the federal investigation is not a matter of public record, the Florida Agriculture Commissioner reportedly opened a probe into We Build the Wall in May 2019, but had not been contacted by SDNY investigators despite referring elements of the case to the FBI.

Prosecutors in the Southern District of New York have charged Bannon, along with co-defendants Brian Kolfage, Andrew Badolato and Timothy Shea, with running a multimillion-dollar fraud and money laundering scheme, in which they secretly siphoned millions of dollars in payments from their We Build the Wall crowdfunding campaign through a shell company as well as an unnamed nonprofit.

The group disguised the allegedly unlawful transactions with fake invoices to hide their own personal takes, according to the indictment.

Bannon denies the charges.

Research contact: @Salon

Republicans send North Carolina voters mail-in ballot materials featuring photo of Trump’s face

August 20, 2020

A number of voters in North Carolina  recently received brochures encouraging them to fill out mail-in ballot requests—and the brochures featured a large photograph of President Donald Trump’s face, Salon reports.

“ARE YOU GOING TO LET THE DEMOCRATS SILENCE YOU?” the mailer, sent by North Carolina Trump Victory, the joint field operation of Trump’s re-election team and the Republican National Committee, asks in large block font. “ACT NOW TO STAND WITH PRESIDENT TRUMP.”

The brochure goes on to request “immediate action” to “ensure your right to securely vote Absentee.” Next to a picture of a smiling Trump, the mailer says: “Stand with President Trump. Request your absentee ballot today.”

The president and a number of his Republican allies have routinely pushed the falsehood that voting by mail invites rampant fraud—although Trump, himself, has voted by mail a number of times.

CNN’Ana Cabrera reported last Wednesday, August 12, that the Palm Beach County elections board had delivered Trump and first lady Melania Trump mail-in ballots to Mar-a-Lago (which they had then filled out and returned).

Trump vowed in an on-air interview the next day that he would block crucial U.S. Postal Service (USPS) funding, citing concerns about universal mail-in voting. “They need that money in order to have the Post Office work, so it can take all of these millions of ballots,” he told Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo on Thursday, August 13. “If they don’t get those two items, that means you can’t have universal mail-in voting. Because they’re not equipped.”

On his Twitter account, however, President Trump encouraged the use of mail-in ballots in Florida in a post on August 4, saying, “Whether you call it Vote by Mail or Absentee Voting, in Florida, the election system is Safe and Secure, Tried and True. Florida’s Voting system has been cleaned up (we defeated Democrats attempts at change), so in Florida I encourage all to request a Ballot * Vote by Mail!”

:Chandler Carranza, of Gaston County, North Carolina, told CNN that was the reason he laughed when he received the campaign mailer last Thursday.

“The irony is very thick and definitely not lost on me,” Carranza said. “Trump has been saying mail-in ballots will bring fraud to the election, but absentee ballots are legit. Which is it? It can’t be both ways. I laughed because if the campaign actually took information from other times they have reached out to me, they’d know I won’t vote for Trump despite being a registered Republican.”

Research contact: @Salon