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Trump is on trial for inciting an insurrection. What about the 12 people who spoke before him?

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Trump is on trial for inciting an insurrection. What about the 12 people who spoke before him?

Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) was one of two members of Congress to take the stage, where he urged “American patriots” to “start taking down names and kicking ass.” Donning a red hat that said “Fire Pelosi,” he decried Democrats as “socialists” and his fellow Republicans as “weak-kneed,” warning that “we American patriots are going to come right at them.”

He faced blowback only days later when two House Democrats, New Jersey’s Tom Malinowski and Florida’s Debbie Wasserman Schultz, filed a motion to censure Brooks for his comments. Brooks refused to apologize and fired back in a lengthy statement in which he said he was being subject to Orwellian censorship. He called himself a “square” who never smokes or drinks and has never had any problems with the law. The resolution never made it out of the House Ethics Committee.


Katrina Pierson

Former Trump campaign adviser

Katrina Pierson has a long history with Trump’s base. She was his spokesperson during the 2016 campaign and has deep roots in the tea party movement, and she invoked those ties when she took the rally stage.

“The Republican politicians down there, have forgotten what the tea party movement did,” she said. “Americans will stand up for themselves and protect their rights, and they will demand that the politicians that we elect will uphold those rights, or we will go after them.”

She clarified on stage that she meant the base would go after Republicans at the ballot box. She urged supporters to campaign hard in 2022 and 2024 to vote out members who didn’t support Trump’s election challenges.

But her role in the rally wasn’t limited to what she said. The New York Times reported that Pierson served as a liaison between the White House and rally organizers, potentially giving her insider knowledge should congressional Democrats opt to call witnesses as part of the Senate trial.


Amy Kremer

Chairwoman, Women for America First

Another tea party activist-turned-Trump surrogate, Amy Kremer was one of the driving organizers for the rally. She moderated the “Stop the Steal” Facebook group, created by the pro-Trump group “Women for America First,” which corralled members to gather in Washington on Jan. 6. The group was shut down for spreading misinformation — a move Kremer angrily denounced from the rally stage.

She offered up conspiracy theories of a stolen election and a corrupt media in cahoots to keep Trump out of office. She also prodded Republican lawmakers to vote to challenge the election result and “punch back from Donald Trump.”

Kremer later denounced the Capitol rioters, but shifted blame for the violence to the left.

“Unfortunately, for months the left and the mainstream media told the American people that violence was an acceptable political tool,” she said in a statement after the rioters attacked the Capitol. “They were wrong. It is not.”


Vernon Jones

Former member, Georgia House of Representatives

Then-State Rep. Vernon Jones, a Democrat in the Georgia House of Representatives, switched parties on the rally stage, saying he was “coming home to the Grand Old Party.”

“I’m ready to go home to the party of Frederick Douglass. I’m ready to go home to the party of South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott. Today, I’m coming home,” he said.

He warned Democrats not to fight Trump’s election challenge, saying “they’ve awakened a sleeping giant” among the president’s base. He thanked MyPillow CEO and ardent Trump supporter Mike Lindell for guiding him away from “these demon Democrats.”

Jones was one of the rare Democrats to endorse Trump in the lead-up to the 2020 election — a decision that pushed him to nearly resign from the Georgia Legislature in April 2020. But he stood by his endorsement and tweeted at the time that “an uprising is near.”

Jones withdrew from the June 9 Democratic primaries in his district and left the state Legislature soon after the “Stop the Steal” rally.


Ken Paxton

Texas Attorney General

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton told the rally audience that other states, particularly Georgia, had “capitulated” by acknowledging Biden as the winner. He said he would keep fighting the election results, even though his attempt to sue other states over their elections had been rejected by the Supreme Court only weeks before.

After the Capitol riots, Paxton was the only state attorney general not to sign a statement condemning the violence. He denounced the riots separately, but falsely claimed the mob was filled with leftist agitators masquerading as Trump supporters. Democrats in the Texas Legislature called for an investigation into Paxton’s role in the riots.

Paxton is also tangled up in other potential legal woes amid allegations in October of corruption, with calls from his own staff to resign.


Lara and Eric Trump

Daughter-in-law and son of President Donald Trump

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New York City said it would purge its DNA database. A year later, it’s expanded.

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New York City said it would purge its DNA database. A year later, it’s expanded.

“They’re doing it at a snail’s pace on the removal, and they’re adding people more quickly. It really neutralizes any sense of reform,” said Terri Rosenblatt, supervising attorney of the DNA Unit at Legal Aid.

Advocates are pushing for state legislation that would ban New York City and other municipalities from maintaining their own DNA databases. The state maintains its own, more limited DNA tracking system, which includes only people convicted of crimes.

“A year ago, the NYPD promised to reform its shameful practice of collecting and indexing DNA from people — including children as young as 12 — who have not been convicted of a crime,” Rosenblatt said. ”These numbers show that the NYPD can’t be trusted. Legislators must act now to end genetic stop and frisk, which disproportionately culls the DNA of Black and Latinx people, by shutting down the city’s rogue DNA index.”

Police brass have described DNA as a crucial tool in solving violent crimes.

“We have a responsibility to use available technology and scientific advancements in a constitutional and legal way in order to protect the communities we serve,” Chief of Detectives Rodney Harrison said at the hearing last year. “Law enforcement, the defense bar, and the courts have acknowledged DNA testing’s unparalleled ability to both exonerate the wrongly accused and identify the guilty.”

The city’s database was built up over more than two decades and expanded rapidly in the last few years. As of the promised reforms last year, about a quarter of the people in it — or 8,000 profiles — had not been convicted of a crime. That includes people who were questioned but never charged, or charged but not convicted.

DNA is collected by the NYPD and stored in a database maintained by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. The statistics show that 2,826 profiles have been flagged for removal by NYPD, while 1,042 of those have had all paperwork completed and been fully removed by the medical examiner.

The NYPD reports that it has reviewed 8,000 suspect profiles as of the end of 2020 and recommended removing 2,826 of them while keeping 5,174 in place. Of those they opted to keep, 5,030 are “designated offenders” convicted of felonies or penal law misdemeanors, while 134 are suspects in ongoing investigations or prosecutions. There are another 10 where no judicial conclusion was reached.

The profiles that have been flagged for removal, but not yet fully deleted, are no longer compared to forensic material found at crime scenes, according to the medical examiner’s office.

“Those who have been directly affected by violent crime appreciate the role DNA analysis as a tool plays in giving them answers and ultimately delivering justice. As of December, there were almost 3,000 DNA samples flagged for removal from the local database,” said OCME spokesperson Aja Worthy-Davis. “This ongoing process is technically complex, and accuracy is essential, however with consideration to public concerns we have effectively removed access to those cases in the process of elimination. We have kept our partners updated on this process throughout, and will continue to do so.”

The NYPD did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

In addition to removing old profiles, the announced reforms include limiting the collection of DNA from minors, who will only have DNA taken if they’re suspected in a felony, sex crime, gun crime or hate crime.

The plan also included a new consent form giving subjects more information about how their genetic information will be used before they sign off. Some people agree to give a DNA sample, while others have it taken under a court order or from what cops call abandoned property, such as a water bottle or cigarette.

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Perdue rules out Georgia Senate comeback in 2022

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Perdue rules out Georgia Senate comeback in 2022

Former Republican Sen. David Perdue will not run for Senate in 2022, he said in a statement Tuesday, ruling out another campaign in Georgia less than two months after losing a runoff election for a second term.

The decision comes just a week after Perdue filed a statement of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission and said publicly that he was considering another campaign in 2022. Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock, who won a special election against former GOP Sen. Kelly Loeffler in January, is on the ballot again next year for a full term.

“This is a personal decision, not a political one,” Perdue said in the statement announcing that he would not run. “I am confident that whoever wins the Republican primary next year will defeat the Democrat candidate in the General election for this seat, and I will do everything I can to make that happen.”

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Native Americans Finally Have a Cabinet Nominee. Will an Adopted Tlingit Take Her Down?

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Native Americans Finally Have a Cabinet Nominee. Will an Adopted Tlingit Take Her Down?

“They don’t know what it means to be an Indian,” Williams said of these elected officials from his party. “An old Indian proverb would say: ‘walk a mile in his moccasins.’ Then maybe they’d come to that understanding.”

Normally, voting against the nomination of a progressive environmentalist would a be a no-brainer for an Alaska Republican like Murkowski. Her state more or less runs on oil, which most years contributes as much as 90 percent of Alaska’s Unrestricted General Fund. Only about 3 percent of Alaskans work in the oil and gas industry, but all residents who have lived in the state for a year and intend to stay get paid an annual dividend based on industry revenues. In 2020, that was $992 in every Alaskan’s pocket. The Biden administration’s policies are designed, in part, to move beyond this oil-centric status quo, and Haaland, who went to the camps erected in the path of the Dakota Access Pipeline in 2016 and cooked green chili stew for demonstrators, has been an outspoken champion of them. If she weren’t Native, this would probably be an easy decision for Murkowski. But the senator’s personal connection and electoral dependence on Native voters makes it a lot more complicated.

And American Indians are taking notice of the fight. “Opposition to her appointment would send a message that we’re not worthy of such a high office,” said Paulette Moreno, the Grand President of the Alaska Native Sisterhood. “And that message is not one that should be shared with the world.”

Across the country, Haaland is beloved by First Peoples. Her nomination has galvanized the Indigenous with the hope of representation, and it’s not lost on these voters that the leaders of the Grand Old Party are lining up against them. The National Congress of American Indians has written a letter to senators, urging them to confirm Haaland and has created a template so that tribal leaders across the country can do the same.

When a Republican House member urged Biden to withdraw his nomination of Haaland, five tribes in the congressman’s district wrote him a letter saying: “This historic nomination is more important to us and all of Indian country than any other Cabinet nomination in recent history. … Your opposition to the first and only American Indian ever nominated to a Cabinet position is likely to reverberate across Indian country.”

Gerald Gray, the Chairman of the Little Shell Tribe of North Dakota, criticized Senate Republicans’ statements and said that it was “time to put the partisan politics aside, stop calling every Democrat a ‘radical’ and get things moving in Interior.” In Daines’ state of Montana, where, like Alaska, Native voters comprise a significant part of the electorate, the Rocky Mountain Tribal Leaders Council erected two billboards last week emblazoned with Haaland’s image: one in Billings and another in Great Falls. “Deb Haaland’s confirmation brings hope for Indigenous communities and the United States to have a true steward of natural resources that is in this high-ranking position,” said Ronnie Jo Horse, executive director of Western Native Voice, a Native voting rights group active in the state. “Montana’s Native voters are watching,” added her deputy Tajin Perez. “Senator Daines has the opportunity to do what’s right for all Montanans and all Americans.”

More Natives, like Williams’ old friend Ron Allen, the chairman of the Jamestown S’Klallam tribe and former president of the National Congress of American Indians, who once served as an advisor to John McCain’s presidential campaign, are reconsidering their support for Republicans. “My folks, they would refer to me as the token Republican Indian,” he said. “I would joke back with them that I switched to ‘I’ for ‘Indian.’” Perhaps that’s a sign of the times. The Native American Caucus in Congress is comprised of six members: three Democrats, three Republicans. And Native voters are less likely than voters of other races to identify with either party. But, as Republicans move against Haaland and Indian Country, that partisan balance may be slipping into the past, as Native voters increasingly align themselves with the Democratic Party and as tribal leaders find their conservative friends in Washington aren’t so friendly when it counts.

So far, the Tlingit and Alaska Natives I talked to aren’t too worried about Murkowski. She’s a senator, maverick and auntie because of them, after all. Since voting to convict Trump, she has faced threats of censure from Republicans in her home state, and former governor Sarah Palin is reportedly considering a primary challenge.

With all that in mind, the Tlingit and Indigenous insiders I interviewed expect Murkowski to ask Haaland some tough questions about energy policy, but ultimately to honor Biden’s choice for Interior. “I believe that she’s a woman of integrity and that she’s fair and that she will balance out the weight of the message of sister Haaland’s potential nomination,” said Moreno. Still, they’re not taking any chances, writing and calling Murkowski’s office to express how meaningful this vote is to them.

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