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FBI Arrests Retired Firefighter Accused Of Throwing Fire Extinguisher At Capitol Police

A retired firefighter was arrested Thursday amid allegations that he threw a fire extinguisher at U.S. Capitol Police officers during last week’s violent insurrection in the halls of Congress.

Robert Sanford, 55, of Pennsylvania, turned himself in to the FBI this week and faces four charges: assaulting a police officer, disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, unlawfully entering the Capitol and civil disorder. Three of those charges are felonies, and Sanford was ordered held without bail.

Sanford retired from the Chester Fire Department, near Philadelphia, last year. A week after the riot, a friend contacted federal investigators to turn Sanford in, saying he had known him for years and that Sanford had confessed “he was the person the FBI was looking for” after the agency sent out public appeals to help identify rioters.

Federal officials told a judge that Sanford appeared to throw a “red object” during the riot in video footage obtained after the attack. The riot left five people dead, including one Capitol Police officer (the charges against Sanford are not related to the death of Officer Brian Sicknick, who was also attacked with a fire extinguisher and later died).

“The object appears to strike one officer, who was wearing a helmet, in the head,” the FBI said in a court filing of Sanford’s alleged acts. “The object then ricochets and strikes another officer, who was not wearing a helmet, in the head. The object then ricochets a third time and strikes a third officer, wearing a helmet, in the head. Immediately after throwing the object, the Subject moves quickly in the opposite direction.”

The FBI had asked for the public's help in identifying this man, now believed to be Robert Sanford of Pennsylvania.



The FBI had asked for the public’s help in identifying this man, now believed to be Robert Sanford of Pennsylvania.

Sanford’s lawyer told The Associated Press that his client was “caught up in the mob mentality.” The attorney has asked for Sanford to be released on bail, pointing to his long career as a firefighter.

Prosecutors also noted that a search warrant executed at Sanford’s home uncovered a shirt bearing markings linked to the far-right Proud Boys, although his lawyer denied his client owned such an item.

The FBI has received more than 126,000 tips as federal agents scour video footage for evidence to charge those who broke that law during the insurrection. Dozens have been arrested, including a man on Thursday who was photographed in the Capitol holding a Confederate battle flag.

Sanford’s case will be prosecuted in Washington, D.C.

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Politics

Trump Gets A Painful Reminder Of His Loss To Biden Right Outside His Window

Washington, D.C., is preparing for next week’s inauguration ― and President Donald Trump is going to find one sign of the transition very hard to ignore.

That’s because it’s an actual sign ― visible from his windows in the White House residence as workers put up bunting across the street with the names of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris

Workers adjust the bunting on a riser across from the White House on Thursday. 



Workers adjust the bunting on a riser across from the White House on Thursday. 

Similar bunting is going up around Washington, along what would have been the traditional parade route, although this year most of the festivities will be virtual: 

Workers erect "Biden-Harris" bunting on a press riser Thursday along what would have been the inaugural parade route near the



Workers erect “Biden-Harris” bunting on a press riser Thursday along what would have been the inaugural parade route near the White House.

Crowds are being discouraged in Washington amid the twin threats of the coronavirus pandemic and the violence in Washington last week carried out by Trump supporters. Threats of violence before and on Inauguration Day are also being taken seriously.

Trump has said he will not attend the inauguration. 

CNN reported Thursday that he is planning to leave the White House on the morning of the event via Marine One from the South Lawn. 

Vice President Mike Pence has said he will attend the inauguration. 

Trump has said “a new administration will be inaugurated” but has not otherwise acknowledged Biden’s victory and spent months spewing false claims about the election results, filing fruitless lawsuits and attempting to pressure local officials into “finding” votes to overturn the results.  

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Politics

Since The Capitol Attack, Trump’s Approval Rating Has Plummeted At A Record Rate

Welcome to Pollapalooza, our weekly polling roundup.

Poll(s) of the week

In the wake of the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol, public opinion is souring quickly on President Trump as he enters the final days of his term. Not only do a majority of Americans blame him for the riot at the Capitol and favor removing him from office, but his job approval rating has fallen faster in recent days than at any point in his presidency.

According to FiveThirtyEight’s approval tracker, 39.4 percent of Americans approve of the job Trump is doing as president, while 56.3 percent disapprove (a net approval rating of -16.8 percentage points). On Jan. 6, the day of the Capitol attack, Trump’s net approval rating stood at -10.3 points, which means his net approval rating has fallen 6.5 points in just eight days.

It turns out that’s the biggest drop in Trump’s net approval that our tracker has ever recorded. To put this into perspective, there have been only two other times when Trump’s net approval rating fell by at least 5 points over an eight-day period: once in February 2017, after he issued executive orders to begin construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and to suspend the refugee program and prohibit entry for visitors from seven predominantly Muslim countries, and then again in March 2017, after Republicans began their legislative efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. But the lack of sharp drops in Trump’s rating outside of these two episodes isn’t all that stunning, considering that both positive and negative opinions of him are largely baked in.

But now Trump’s tumbling approval rating suggests he is losing some support among his party base and swing voters (his approval rating among Democrats was already abysmal). Take Morning Consult/Politico’s latest survey, which found Trump’s net approval at +51 points among Republicans and -35 points among independents; these numbers might not sound that bad, especially among Republicans, but they were down 15 points among both Republicans and independents from mid-December. Quinnipiac University’s new poll also put Trump’s net approval among Republicans at +51, a decrease from +80 in early December, while independents fell to -37 from -15 in the same period. Additionally, a new survey from Marist College on behalf of PBS NewsHour found Trump at +56 among Republicans and -20 among independents, both down from +83 and -14, respectively, in Marist’s early December poll.

There’s also evidence of Trump’s image suffering in polling on impeachment and whether he should be removed from office. Back during Trump’s first impeachment in late 2019 and early 2020, net support for his removal never grew beyond +4. But now net support for removal stands at about +11, with about 53 percent of Americans supporting it and 42 percent opposing it. And while it’s still true that a majority of Republicans do not support Trump’s impeachment, the same pattern we observed in Trump’s approval rating (a dip among Republicans) is true here as well. The first time Trump was impeached, less than 10 percent of Republicans backed removing him from office, compared with 15 percent now. Among independents, the magnitude of the shift is similar, up from the low 40 percent range to 48 percent. And, once again, Democrats overwhelmingly back removal.

As Trump continues to falter, it’s worth noting just how atypical this trend is for a president in his last couple of months in office. Outgoing presidents often get at least a little bump in approval, regardless of whether they were popular or unpopular. For instance, President Barack Obama’s net approval rating rose from about +8 after the 2016 election to almost +20 when Trump took office, while President George W. Bush’s net approval rating rose from -43 in November 2008 to about -30 going into Obama’s inauguration in January 2009. Even President George H.W. Bush, the last incumbent president to lose reelection before Trump, saw his net approval go from -23 after the election to +18 by the time he left the White House. It’s hard to imagine such a huge shift in this more polarized era, but Trump’s net approval has definitely declined more than his predecessors’.

While commentators have often called Trump “Teflon Don” because few of his actions seem to stick and perceptibly alter public opinion, this has its limits. Inciting an attack on the American government is pretty damaging: It has caused a rapid decline in his approval rating, prompted more than half of Americans to support his removal from office, and even impelled 10 House Republicans to back his impeachment — the most members of a president’s party to ever do so.

Other polling bites

  • Americans are understandably concerned about the direction of the country given last week’s news. To that point, Morning Consult found that 81 percent felt the country was on the wrong track, while just 19 percent thought the country was headed in the right direction. These figures mark the most bearish responses to this question in Morning Consult’s polling over Trump’s entire presidency.
  • White identity and grievance politics played a major role in the attack on the Capitol, and 69 percent Americans said they view white supremacists as a very serious (52 percent) or somewhat serious (17 percent) problem, according to new polling from YouGov. Just 21 percent said they were not a very serious problem or not a problem at all. However, broken down by party, Republicans were much more equivocal, with 44 percent calling white supremacists a problem and 49 percent saying they aren’t. And despite the severity of last week’s events, these numbers — overall and by party — are mostly unchanged from those in an August 2019 YouGov survey.
  • Gallup’s annual report on Americans’ ideological views found that more people identified as conservative and moderate than liberal in 2020, in keeping with findings from previous years. According to the pollster, 36 percent described themselves as conservative, 35 percent as moderate and 25 percent as liberal, numbers that were largely unchanged from 2019. Overall, Republicans were more likely to be ideologically similar, with 75 percent identifying as conservative, whereas Democrats were a bit more mixed, as only 51 percent identified as liberal.
  • Americans continue to experience a lot of online harassment, according to a new report from the Pew Research Center. Forty-one percent of U.S. adults said they’ve been attacked in some way, which was identical to Pew’s 2017 polling, but this time there was a reported increase in harassment across six specific types of abuse. Of the two less serious types, almost a third of Americans reported offensive name-calling and a quarter reported attempts at “purposeful embarrassment.” Among the four more serious types, about one in 10 reported some sort of stalking, sustained harassment or sexual harassment, while 14 percent said they’d received physical threats.
  • As COVID-19 vaccination ramps up, Gallup’s latest polling found that 65 percent of Americans would agree to be vaccinated if they were offered an FDA-approved vaccine at no cost, compared with 35 percent who wouldn’t. However, there was a pretty big partisan split over taking the vaccine: 83 percent of Democrats agreed to be vaccinated while only 45 percent of Republicans and 59 percent of independents said the same. Since Gallup began polling on this question in July 2020, Democrats have been far more likely to say they’d accept a vaccination, save for a period in September 2020 when Democratic receptiveness fell sharply, possibly in response to Trump’s claims that a vaccine could be ready by Election Day.
  • Trump’s incendiary use of social media led Twitter and other social media companies to suspend him from their platforms. Morning Consult polling found that 39 percent of Americans felt that approach was “exactly right,” while 33 percent felt it went too far and 28 percent felt it didn’t go far enough. There was a large partisan split over support for these moves, too, with 69 percent of Republicans saying the suspensions went too far, and 43 percent of Democrats saying they didn’t think they went far enough. And even though half of all respondents thought that Trump’s social media accounts should have been suspended earlier, only 15 percent of Republicans agreed compared with 77 percent of Democrats.
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Politics

These 10 Billionaires Went All-In Trying To Get Donald Trump Re-Elected

Mother Jones illustration; Getty, Michael Brochstein/Getty

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Dozens of major companies, from Amazon to Walmart, have rushed to distance themselves from President Donald Trump following last week’s mob attack on Capitol Hill. Some have done the same with other GOP politicians who behaved despicably by parroting the president’s election fraud lies, and then officially (and opportunistically) taking steps to overturn the results of a overwhelmingly fair and democratic presidential election.

The companies in question appear to have concluded that supporting a twice-impeached president and his minions is not the greatest look for their brands. Most have, at least temporarily, halted political giving to the so-called “Coup Caucus.” But it was the financial support of those same Republicans by corporations and dozens of individual billionaires that enabled this mess in the first place.

The Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) has long been interested in how wealthy donors use their political influence to enrich themselves—a strategy that has worked out rather well during the pandemic. Both parties, of course, have billionaires in their corners, the biggest of whom, reflecting the nation’s partisan divide, now give exclusively (or nearly so) to one side or the other.

On the Republican side, IPS’s Chuck Collins and Omar Ocampo have compiled a list of 63 billionaires, with estimated combined assets of almost $244 billion, who helped bankroll this post-election fiasco by giving generous personal contributions to Trump Victory—the joint fundraising venture set up between the Trump 2020 campaign and the Republican National Committee after the 2018 midterms to secure the re-election of Trump and his congressional loyalists. This group represents just a fraction of America’s estimated 788 billionaires, but its steadfast support has been enough to put—and keep—many a reality-denying scoundrel in office.

Here’s a guide to the Top 10 billionaire Trump Victory donors, plus a few bonus bagmen, based on IPS’s research and data from the Federal Election Commission campaign finance database. All donations below are for the 2020 election cycle, and with a few minor exceptions, all went to Republicans. Figures are rounded and include contributions in the name of the billionaire’s current spouse.

Kelcy Lee Warren
Net worth (est.):
$2.9 billion
Source of wealth: Gas pipelines; Chair and CEO of Energy Transfer Partners
Giving to Trump Victory (2020 cycle): $2.3 million
Overall federal giving (2020 cycle): $17 million
Fun fact: When he’s not busy bickering with activists over projects like the Dakota Access Pipeline, Warren enjoys writing melancholy country ballads

Isaac Perlmutter
Net worth (est.):
$5.8 billion
Source of wealth: retired CEO of Marvel Entertainment
Trump Victory: $1.9 million
Overall: $26 million
Fun fact: In August 2018, ProPublica revealed that Perlmutter and two fellow members of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club were given leave to dictate doings at the Veterans Affairs department, where they “hovered over public servants without any transparency, accountability or oversight.” The three men spoke daily with VA officials “reviewing all manner of policy and personnel decisions.” And VA “officials travelled to Mar-a-Lago at taxpayer expense to hear their views. ‘Everyone has to go down and kiss the ring’ a former administration official said.” 

Kenny Troutt
Est. net worth:
$1.5 billion
Source of fortune: telecom; founded Excel Communications
Trump Victory: $1.9 million
Overall: $5 million
Fun fact: Troutt owns a 2,400-acre Kentucky thoroughbred farm whose notable pedigree includes 2010 Derby winner Super Saver, 2010 Belmont Stakes winner Drosselmeyer, 2016 Belmont Stakes winner Creator, and Justify, the horse that took the 2018 Triple Crown. Alas, Troutt backed the wrong horse in 2020. 

Robert Duggan
Net worth (est.): $2.6 billion
Source of fortune: biotech and investing; former CEO of Pharmacyclics
Trump Victory: $1.6 million
Overall: $4.3 million
Fun fact:
Duggan is a devoted Scientologist, and one of the Church of Scientology’s top donors, if not its biggest, with total contributions exceeding $360 million. “I’m not looking for bragging rights,” he told the Tampa Bay Times in 2019. “I read something from [Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard] every day and I apply it all throughout my life.”

Steve Wynn
Net worth (est.): $3 billion
Source of fortune:
casinos; developed the Mirage, the Golden Nugget, and the Bellagio, among others
Trump Victory:
$1.5 million
Overall:
$15 million
Fun fact: Wynn resigned as a Republican National Committee finance chair in January 2018 after a Wall Street Journal report revealed allegations of sexual harassment against him.

Phillip Gene Ruffin
Net worth (est.): $2.3 billion
Source of fortune: casinos; owns Treasure Island and Circus Circus
Trump Victory: $1.4 million
Overall:
$2.7 million
Fun fact: Ruffin, co-owner of the Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas, had Trump as best man at his third wedding. In October 2016, Ruffin told Fox News’ Lou Dobbs that Trump’s handshake is “better than any contract.”  

Diane Hendricks
Net worth (est.):
$8 billion
Source of fortune:
roofing materials; she and her late husband cofounded ABC Supply
Trump Victory: $1.2 million
Overall: $10 million 
Fun fact: Hendricks—Wisconsin’s wealthiest woman, and said to be America’s wealthiest “self-made” woman—was also among the top donors to Scott Walker, the state’s anti-union Republican governor. She also reportedly gave Walker $500,000 to fend off a 2012 recall attempt. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel later reported that Hendricks paid zero in state taxes from 2012 to 2014.    

Sheldon Adelson
Net worth (est.):
~$36 billion
Source of fortune:
casinos; founded Las Vegas Sands Corp.
Trump Victory:
$1.2 million
Overall: $220 million
Fun fact: Although Sheldon died this past week, he and his wife, Miriam, were not merely Donald Trump’s top donors—they led the pack in all federal giving during the 2020 cycle. Sheldon’s heirs certainly won’t starve. Some time back, Bloomberg reported that the Adelsons deployed a series of complex trusts to transfer at least $7.9 billion to them, thereby avoiding $2.8 billion in federal gift and estate taxes. 

Daniel Andrew Beal
Net worth (est.): $7.5 billion 
Source of fortune:
banking; founded Beal Bank
Trump Victory:
$1.2 million
Overall:
$1.6 million
Fun fact: Beal, a numbers whiz, is known in math circles for sponsoring a prize related to a formula called the Beal Conjecture. If you can prove or disprove it, he will give you $1 million. (Trump did not solve the conjecture, of course, but he managed to get lots of Beal’s cash anyway.)

David Duffield
Net worth (est.):
$13.3 billion 
Source of fortune:
software; cofounded PeopleSoft and Workday
Trump Victory:
$1.2 million
Overall: $2 million
Fun fact:
In 1994, Duffield and his wife, Cheryl, created a $300 million fund—later named in honor of their late miniature schnauzer—to facilitate the fostering, adoption, and spaying or neutering of cats and dogs. From the eponymous Maddie’s Fund website: “While playing together in the living room one evening, they made her a promise: If they ever had any money, they would use it to help companion animals and the people who love them, so they could experience the same joy they had with Maddie.”   

John Paulson
Net worth (est.):
$4.2 billion
Source of fortune:
Hedge funds
Trump Victory:
$831,372
Overall:
$2.9 million
Fun fact: The former Trump advisor, who cashed in by betting against subprime mortgages in the run-up to the Great Recession, famously sent an angry letter to his daughters’ upper-crust private school, complaining that their assigned reading amounted to “anti-white indoctrination” and promising to stop his family’s donations. 

Robert Wood Johnson IV
Net worth (est.):
$2.5 billion
Source of fortune:
inheritance (Johnson & Johnson)
Trump Victory:
$925,000
Overall:
$3.6 million
Fun fact:
“Woody” Johnson is Trump’s ambassador to the U.K. and the owner of the Jets football team. Back in 2006, Senate investigators accused Johnson and others of taking part in a tax scam that cheated the Treasury out of some $300 million. (The scheme involved buying up about $2 billion in capital losses that the men then allegedly used to erase taxable gains from selling stock.) Johnson claimed his lawyers told him the scheme was “consistent” with the tax codes, according to the Washington Post, but in the wake of an IRS challenge, he agreed to pay all taxes due, with interest.  

Stephen Schwarzman
Net worth (est.):
~$21 billion
Source of fortune:
private equity; cofounded the Blackstone Group
Trump Victory:
$355,000
Overall:
$45 million
Fun fact:
In August 2010, after the Obama administration proposed raising the tax rate on carried interest, a loophole that allows fund managers pay far less taxes on the investment profits they take as compensation than ordinary workers pay on their wages, Schwarzman was upset. He likened the plan to “a war,” adding: “It’s like when Hitler invaded Poland in 1939.” (He later apologized.)

Ronald Steven Lauder
Net worth (est.):
$5.2 billion
Source of fortune:
inheritance (Estée Lauder Companies)
Trump Victory:
$100,000
Overall: $5.5 million
Fun fact:
A 2011 New York Times investigation revealed Lauder’s extensive use of sophisticated tax avoidance schemes, including once-popular tactics that the IRS had come to view as abusive. The Times also noted that, of Lauder’s more than $600 million worth of stock in the family cosmetics business, nearly $400 million was being used as collateral to secure various lines of credit: “Many financial planners consider it imprudent for principal shareholders in a company to borrow against their stock. But it remains a popular way for wealthy taxpayers to get cash out of their holdings without selling and paying taxes.”

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Trump’s State Department Had a “Humiliating” Lack of Diversity. Can Joe Biden Fix It?

Mother Jones illustration; Wikimedia Commons

On Friday October 23, the State Department quietly decided to halt all “training programs related to diversity and inclusion.” For department employees, it was a fitting bookend to a presidential administration that has been hostile to the idea of diversity and uninterested in challenging the stereotype of US diplomats as “pale, male, and Yale.” 

As Donald Trump nears the end of his term, he leaves behind an ambassadorial corps that is whiter than it’s been in more than 40 years. Only five of Trump’s 189 ambassadorial appointees were Black. No president since John F. Kennedy has appointed fewer Black ambassadors than Trump, according to research compiled by Carlton McLellan, a senior fellow at the Association of Black American Ambassadors.

The three presidents preceding Trump—Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Cinton—appointed more Black ambassadors than all other presidents since Harry Truman. Trump’s numbers fare poorly even when compared to other one-term presidents. George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter both appointed 16 Black ambassadors, more than three times as many as Trump. Gerald Ford appointed just 5 Black ambassadors, but because he only made 97 total appointments, his percentage of appointees who were Black (5.2 percent) was double Trump’s (2.6 percent). 

Trump’s disinterest in diversifying the diplomatic corps is not limited to just ambassadors. His State Department currently has zero under secretaries of State or assistant secretaries who are Black, The only Black appointee who served under Trump in one of these high-level roles is Mary Elizabeth Taylor, who resigned as assistant secretary for legislative affairs during the nationwide protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor by police. Trump’s response to the protests, she wrote in a resignation letter, “cut sharply against my core values and convictions.”

Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley, a former US ambassador to Malta, told me that the absence of any Black appointees among the department leadership was “humiliating” and reflective of the Trump administration’s lack of interest in diversifying its ranks. “The fact that that is currently the case means somebody has to be okay with that,” she said. 

Under former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s watch, department officials discriminated against an Iranian American policy official on the basis of ethnicity, meriting a harsh condemnation from the State Department inspector general (who Tillerson’s successor, Mike Pompeo, later fired). Brian Hook, the State official at the center of the scandal, was later given a high-profile role coordinating Iran policy for Pompeo. 

“The tone is set at the top,” Akunna Cook, a former Foreign Service Officer for nearly a decade, told me. “If you have a president who is saying all kinds of racist things, and a secretary of State who is toeing the party line, you’re not going to have a State Department that reflects the values of inclusion.”

The State Department’s woeful representation of Black and minority employees cannot just be laid at Trump and Pompeo’s feet, even though the problem has worsened under their watch. The Foreign Service has long been unrepresentative of the country despite federal law mandating that it reflect “the cultural and ethnic diversity of the United States.” In 1983, Black officers made up just 4.8 percent of the Foreign Service, the Associated Press reported. By 2002, that figure climbed to 6 percent and, in 2018, to 7 percent. The representation of Latino and Asian service members is similarly low—comprising 5 percent and 4 percent, respectively, of the Foreign Service in 2002, 7 percent and 6 percent in 2018.

Trump did not create this problem, but his egregious lack of interest in addressing it has only heightened the concern for career staff, who plan to push Joe Biden’s incoming administration to make it a priority. Biden can diversify the department’s leadership and ambassador ranks, but fixing the Foreign Service requires addressing problems that extend back decades and have persisted through presidential administrations from both parties.  

In the early 1990s, the State Department attempted to improve the recruitment and retention of underrepresented FSOs through programs like the Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship. Though it has been credited with “attracting talented minority students” to the Foreign Service, its impact did not meaningfully improve the department’s lack of diversity. In 2002, the department added a separate, similar fellowship named after former New York lawmaker Charles Rangel. Most of the half-dozen Black FSOs interviewed for this article entered State as either a Pickering and Rangel fellow and all praised the programs—with some reservations. The programs help recruit a more diverse group of entry-level FSOs, but it doesn’t guarantee that they stay or fully eradicate a culture that still largely privileges white men.

Between 2002 and 2018, white, entry-level FSOs were promoted at a rate higher than comparable FSOs from a racial or ethnic minority group, according to a Government Accountability Office report released last year. Entry-level Black FSOs were less likely to be promoted than either white, Latino, or Asian FSOs.

A few months after GAO published its report, an FSO based in Juarez named Tianna Spears wrote a blog post highlighting the racism she’d encountered as part of her job. Spears’ story, which later prompted a New York Times article, described how Customs and Border Protection officers would pull her over during routine border crossings for spurious, racist reasons. Patrice Johnson, a management analyst who recently left the State Department after nearly 15 years, said Spears’ article resonated with her and other Black FSOs who have at times felt “like I don’t belong belong here.” In response to the post, State officials started a dialogue with employee affinity groups to address concerns about diversity and inclusion, but one employee involved told me that the groups were only given a few weeks to hastily assemble recommendations. Instead of bringing in outside consultants or involving diversity professionals, the department put the burden on affinity groups for coming up with solutions. “I have no training in promoting diversity and inclusion beyond the fact that I happen to be nonwhite,” said the employee, who served on the board of an affinity group for several years. “We are short-changing our efforts if we rely on nonspecialists to handle this.” 

In September, following weeks of pressure from State Department employees, Pompeo announced a 50 percent expansion of the Pickering and Rangel fellowships. “That is entirely insufficient,” a former FSO, who graduated from the Pickering program, said. “For me, I thought it was a lazy cop-out, so that they wouldn’t have to have the difficult conversations on how to identify and address and resolve systemic racism throughout the Foreign Service.”

In response to a list of questions, a State Department spokesperson said, “The Department has taken—and continues to take—many concrete steps to increase the diversity of our workforce and foster a more inclusive organization which includes undertaking an employee-led process to craft a new Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plan (DISP), which focuses on the Department’s current and future efforts in creating a diverse and inclusive workforce, while addressing potential barriers.”  This plan, which includes a more robust exit survey program and a diversity requirement for promotion boards, was well-received by some employee advocacy groups.

But the current and former employees who spoke with me for this article all said the lack of a chief diversity officer has hindered efforts at lasting change. “You have essentially this scattered system of responsibility for issues of diversity, which all summed up, leads to nobody being responsible,” the current staffer involved with an employee affinity group said. Legislation co-sponsored last month by Reps. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) and Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) would create a chief diversity officer and mandate that a liaison from each bureau be appointed to focus on diversity and inclusion. 

No one expects the State Department to change overnight when Biden is inaugurated, but creating a chief diversity officer is one of several structural issues his administration could address to make diversity more of a paramount focus at State, though that role would need congressional sign off. The American Academy of Diplomacy, an employee advocacy group, released a list of recommendations in December, including a mandatory review process “for all supervisory officers” and stronger accountability measures “for supervisors and managers who discriminate.” Diversity “at all levels, including senior leadership” will be a priority for Biden and his Secretary of State nominee Antony Blinken, transition spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement. Already Biden has won the appreciation of some longtime State employees by nominating Linda Thomas-Greenfield, a 35-year veteran of the Foreign Service and advocate for diversifying its ranks, as US ambassador to the United Nations.

Still, the effects of Trump’s abominable record on diversity could linger, making it more difficult for ambassadors to convincingly push foreign leaders to crack down on discrimination in their own countries. “If we mistreat marginalized [communities] or sideline minorities in this country, our message goes over like a lead balloon,” Charles Ray, a former ambassador to Zimbabwe and Cambodia, told me. 

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We Need 20,000 National Guard Troops For Trump’s ‘Peaceful’ Transfer Of Power

How many deadly invasions of the US Capitol does it take to get Washington officials to take the threat of rightwing terrorism seriously? Just the one, apparently, because the security arrangements for Joe Biden’s inauguration next Wednesday will include deployment of more than 20,000 National Guard members to the DC area, including the perfectly normal sight of Guard troops sacked out on rest breaks on the floors of the Capitol itself, while the House of Representatives voted yesterday to impeach Donald Trump a second time.

Rep Seth Moulton (D-Massachusetts) called attention to the weird irony during the hearing:

Rep. Moulton, who was decorated for his service in the Iraq War, could probably identify with the Guard troops resting in the Capitol, like any soldiers might when on a mission to protect an endangered US ally. Particularly since Politico and other outlets are reporting that the National Guard members sent to DC received briefings telling them to watch out for improvised explosive devices that might be used by Trumpers in the nation’s capital.

Also, we should add that the Guard isn’t actual doing a Bel Bivouac Devoe in the Capitol, as the Washington Post helpfully explains:

The guardsmen were resting between shifts, D.C. Guard officials said in a statement, stressing that they were not sleeping on the floor because of a lack of sleeping arrangements. Local hotels are accommodating the service members, officials said.

We suppose the brass decided something had to be done to politely let people know they can stop offering to send cots and yoga mats to the Capitol. Also, coverage of the Guard in DC has been careful to note that virtually all the soldiers are careful to wear masks, which is more than we can say for roughly half the legislators they’re supposed to be protecting.


So here we are, following an attempted coup by followers of a defeated “president” who refused to accept that another candidate won the election. The seat of our legislature looks like a government ministry occupied by invaders, or more accurately, by peacekeepers sent to ensure the orderly transition of power under the recent election — and to protect it from heavily armed insurgents. The real invaders were driven off a week ago, but we have to bring in a show of force, to make sure they don’t show up again in an improvised war caravan.

What a country!

This isn’t the first time troops have been inside the Capitol; during the Civil War, Union troops were actually using the building, whose dome was still under construction, as a barracks. The sight of those uncouth volunteers shocked some of the more genteel members of the House and Senate.

The troops back then had discipline problems that sound more like some of the vandalism the Trumpers got up to:

Emotions ran high. At one point, they boiled over when soldiers discovered the desk of Jefferson Davis, the former Mississippi senator and newly elected president of the Confederacy.

The men took their bayonets to the wooden workspace of the Southerner, but were stopped by Senate doorkeeper Isaac Bassett, he recalled in his memoir.

“I ran in among them and told them it was not his desk, that it belonged to the government,” he wrote.

“You were put here to protect, and not to destroy!” he shouted at the troops. “They stopped immediately and said I was right, they thought it belonged to Jefferson Davis.”

Far more civilized than the people looking to lynch Mike Pence and Nancy Pelosi.

Oddly, I’m not especially freaked out by the sight of soldiers in the Capitol, and not simply because I’d rather see actual Guard members there than paramilitaries and Captain Moroni cosplayers, like Shartacus here, who think they’re part of God’s plan:

I understand the case for unease over all this: America shouldn’t be a place where the Guardia Nacional is needed to make sure the election isn’t overturned by a bunch of armed thugs. And especially not when those armed thugs have been called to DC by the candidate who refuses to accept the results of the vote. That stuff belongs in Graham Greene novels, not on the cable news. (Also, yes, I recognize just how absurd it is to use terms evoking “banana republics,” most of which came into being with the help of US imperialism in the first place.)

I guess part of my lack of freaking out is the sense that Donald Trump’s dreams of becoming a strongman — like his pals Rodrigo Duterte and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan — were thwarted, and because there’s at least some certainty the National Guard will pick up and go home once Joe Biden is sworn in.

At least, assuming those IED briefings were only preventative measures, and we don’t see something even more horrible than the January 6 invasion happen next Wednesday, or this weekend. The whole idea here is to have plans in place, like road closures and all those National Guard people, to discourage domestic terrorists who were able to waltz right into the Capitol last week. (Those guys are terrible dancers.)

The Washington Post offers some encouraging evidence that the Trumpistas, for all their talk of coming back to DC to stop Joe Biden from taking office, may be paying attention to the presence of the Guard troops:

Officials and analysts monitoring online posts and message threads said some far-right groups appeared to be backing down from plans to come to Washington in coming days, at least in part owing to the National Guard and law enforcement presence.

Some rightwing groups are even using their most potent improvised bullshit rhetoric to warn followers away from DC next week, the Post says, by claiming that “protests planned for Sunday in D.C. and in state capitals are part of a ‘false flag’ operation meant to lure them into the hands of law enforcement.” The Post helpfully adds that that’s not really true.

Still, let’s hope that represents some kind of trend, and that the same people who went from bragging about how they were going to defeat communism by overthrowing the election will now think twice, without having to actually face federal charges, or, now, National Guard troops with loaded weapons. And let’s hope none of those weapons are needed for anything but being there as a last resort.

Ultimately, cheesily patriotic though it sounds, I’m also glad the Guard is in Washington because its members are on America’s side. Look at these fine young Americans!

Other guardsmen marveled at the decor and munched on pizza delivered by lawmakers. Some Black troops posed for a photo in front of a statue of Rosa Parks in the Capitol Rotunda.

Just look at them, in this photo posted to Twitter by the New York Times’s Emily Cochrane.

That’s pretty good shorthand for the exact opposite of what last week’s traitors wanted.

[Politico / WaPo / WaPo]

Yr Wonkette is supported entirely by reader donations. If you can, please donate $5 to $10 a month so mama can keep the housecar running and charge up the laptop after the wind knocked out all the electricity for miles. Yes, even with solar.

Do your Amazon shopping through this link, because reasons.

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FBI Arrests Retired Firefighter Accused Of Throwing Fire Extinguisher At Capitol Police

A retired firefighter was arrested Thursday amid allegations that he threw a fire extinguisher at U.S. Capitol Police officers during last week’s violent insurrection in the halls of Congress.

Robert Sanford, 55, of Pennsylvania, turned himself in to the FBI this week and faces four charges: assaulting a police officer, disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, unlawfully entering the Capitol and civil disorder. Three of those charges are felonies, and Sanford was ordered held without bail.

Sanford retired from the Chester Fire Department, near Philadelphia, last year. A week after the riot, a friend contacted federal investigators to turn Sanford in, saying he had known him for years and that Sanford had confessed “he was the person the FBI was looking for” after the agency sent out public appeals to help identify rioters.

Federal officials told a judge that Sanford appeared to throw a “red object” during the riot in video footage obtained after the attack. The riot left five people dead, including one Capitol Police officer (the charges against Sanford are not related to the death of Officer Brian Sicknick, who was also attacked with a fire extinguisher and later died).

“The object appears to strike one officer, who was wearing a helmet, in the head,” the FBI said in a court filing of Sanford’s alleged acts. “The object then ricochets and strikes another officer, who was not wearing a helmet, in the head. The object then ricochets a third time and strikes a third officer, wearing a helmet, in the head. Immediately after throwing the object, the Subject moves quickly in the opposite direction.”

The FBI had asked for the public's help in identifying this man, now believed to be Robert Sanford of Pennsylvania.



The FBI had asked for the public’s help in identifying this man, now believed to be Robert Sanford of Pennsylvania.

Sanford’s lawyer told The Associated Press that his client was “caught up in the mob mentality.” The attorney has asked for Sanford to be released on bail, pointing to his long career as a firefighter.

Prosecutors also noted that a search warrant executed at Sanford’s home uncovered a shirt bearing markings linked to the far-right Proud Boys, although his lawyer denied his client owned such an item.

The FBI has received more than 126,000 tips as federal agents scour video footage for evidence to charge those who broke that law during the insurrection. Dozens have been arrested, including a man on Thursday who was photographed in the Capitol holding a Confederate battle flag.

Sanford’s case will be prosecuted in Washington, D.C.

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Politics

Trump Gets A Painful Reminder Of His Loss To Biden Right Outside His Window

Washington, D.C., is preparing for next week’s inauguration ― and President Donald Trump is going to find one sign of the transition very hard to ignore.

That’s because it’s an actual sign ― visible from his windows in the White House residence as workers put up bunting across the street with the names of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris

Workers adjust the bunting on a riser across from the White House on Thursday. 



Workers adjust the bunting on a riser across from the White House on Thursday. 

Similar bunting is going up around Washington, along what would have been the traditional parade route, although this year most of the festivities will be virtual: 

Workers erect "Biden-Harris" bunting on a press riser Thursday along what would have been the inaugural parade route near the



Workers erect “Biden-Harris” bunting on a press riser Thursday along what would have been the inaugural parade route near the White House.

Crowds are being discouraged in Washington amid the twin threats of the coronavirus pandemic and the violence in Washington last week carried out by Trump supporters. Threats of violence before and on Inauguration Day are also being taken seriously.

Trump has said he will not attend the inauguration. 

CNN reported Thursday that he is planning to leave the White House on the morning of the event via Marine One from the South Lawn. 

Vice President Mike Pence has said he will attend the inauguration. 

Trump has said “a new administration will be inaugurated” but has not otherwise acknowledged Biden’s victory and spent months spewing false claims about the election results, filing fruitless lawsuits and attempting to pressure local officials into “finding” votes to overturn the results.  

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Politics

We Need 20,000 National Guard Troops For Trump’s ‘Peaceful’ Transfer Of Power

How many deadly invasions of the US Capitol does it take to get Washington officials to take the threat of rightwing terrorism seriously? Just the one, apparently, because the security arrangements for Joe Biden’s inauguration next Wednesday will include deployment of more than 20,000 National Guard members to the DC area, including the perfectly normal sight of Guard troops sacked out on rest breaks on the floors of the Capitol itself, while the House of Representatives voted yesterday to impeach Donald Trump a second time.

Rep Seth Moulton (D-Massachusetts) called attention to the weird irony during the hearing:

Rep. Moulton, who was decorated for his service in the Iraq War, could probably identify with the Guard troops resting in the Capitol, like any soldiers might when on a mission to protect an endangered US ally. Particularly since Politico and other outlets are reporting that the National Guard members sent to DC received briefings telling them to watch out for improvised explosive devices that might be used by Trumpers in the nation’s capital.

Also, we should add that the Guard isn’t actual doing a Bel Bivouac Devoe in the Capitol, as the Washington Post helpfully explains:

The guardsmen were resting between shifts, D.C. Guard officials said in a statement, stressing that they were not sleeping on the floor because of a lack of sleeping arrangements. Local hotels are accommodating the service members, officials said.

We suppose the brass decided something had to be done to politely let people know they can stop offering to send cots and yoga mats to the Capitol. Also, coverage of the Guard in DC has been careful to note that virtually all the soldiers are careful to wear masks, which is more than we can say for roughly half the legislators they’re supposed to be protecting.


So here we are, following an attempted coup by followers of a defeated “president” who refused to accept that another candidate won the election. The seat of our legislature looks like a government ministry occupied by invaders, or more accurately, by peacekeepers sent to ensure the orderly transition of power under the recent election — and to protect it from heavily armed insurgents. The real invaders were driven off a week ago, but we have to bring in a show of force, to make sure they don’t show up again in an improvised war caravan.

What a country!

This isn’t the first time troops have been inside the Capitol; during the Civil War, Union troops were actually using the building, whose dome was still under construction, as a barracks. The sight of those uncouth volunteers shocked some of the more genteel members of the House and Senate.

The troops back then had discipline problems that sound more like some of the vandalism the Trumpers got up to:

Emotions ran high. At one point, they boiled over when soldiers discovered the desk of Jefferson Davis, the former Mississippi senator and newly elected president of the Confederacy.

The men took their bayonets to the wooden workspace of the Southerner, but were stopped by Senate doorkeeper Isaac Bassett, he recalled in his memoir.

“I ran in among them and told them it was not his desk, that it belonged to the government,” he wrote.

“You were put here to protect, and not to destroy!” he shouted at the troops. “They stopped immediately and said I was right, they thought it belonged to Jefferson Davis.”

Far more civilized than the people looking to lynch Mike Pence and Nancy Pelosi.

Oddly, I’m not especially freaked out by the sight of soldiers in the Capitol, and not simply because I’d rather see actual Guard members there than paramilitaries and Captain Moroni cosplayers, like Shartacus here, who think they’re part of God’s plan:

I understand the case for unease over all this: America shouldn’t be a place where the Guardia Nacional is needed to make sure the election isn’t overturned by a bunch of armed thugs. And especially not when those armed thugs have been called to DC by the candidate who refuses to accept the results of the vote. That stuff belongs in Graham Greene novels, not on the cable news. (Also, yes, I recognize just how absurd it is to use terms evoking “banana republics,” most of which came into being with the help of US imperialism in the first place.)

I guess part of my lack of freaking out is the sense that Donald Trump’s dreams of becoming a strongman — like his pals Rodrigo Duterte and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan — were thwarted, and because there’s at least some certainty the National Guard will pick up and go home once Joe Biden is sworn in.

At least, assuming those IED briefings were only preventative measures, and we don’t see something even more horrible than the January 6 invasion happen next Wednesday, or this weekend. The whole idea here is to have plans in place, like road closures and all those National Guard people, to discourage domestic terrorists who were able to waltz right into the Capitol last week. (Those guys are terrible dancers.)

The Washington Post offers some encouraging evidence that the Trumpistas, for all their talk of coming back to DC to stop Joe Biden from taking office, may be paying attention to the presence of the Guard troops:

Officials and analysts monitoring online posts and message threads said some far-right groups appeared to be backing down from plans to come to Washington in coming days, at least in part owing to the National Guard and law enforcement presence.

Some rightwing groups are even using their most potent improvised bullshit rhetoric to warn followers away from DC next week, the Post says, by claiming that “protests planned for Sunday in D.C. and in state capitals are part of a ‘false flag’ operation meant to lure them into the hands of law enforcement.” The Post helpfully adds that that’s not really true.

Still, let’s hope that represents some kind of trend, and that the same people who went from bragging about how they were going to defeat communism by overthrowing the election will now think twice, without having to actually face federal charges, or, now, National Guard troops with loaded weapons. And let’s hope none of those weapons are needed for anything but being there as a last resort.

Ultimately, cheesily patriotic though it sounds, I’m also glad the Guard is in Washington because its members are on America’s side. Look at these fine young Americans!

Other guardsmen marveled at the decor and munched on pizza delivered by lawmakers. Some Black troops posed for a photo in front of a statue of Rosa Parks in the Capitol Rotunda.

Just look at them, in this photo posted to Twitter by the New York Times’s Emily Cochrane.

That’s pretty good shorthand for the exact opposite of what last week’s traitors wanted.

[Politico / WaPo / WaPo]

Yr Wonkette is supported entirely by reader donations. If you can, please donate $5 to $10 a month so mama can keep the housecar running and charge up the laptop after the wind knocked out all the electricity for miles. Yes, even with solar.

Do your Amazon shopping through this link, because reasons.

Categories
Politics

FBI Arrests Retired Firefighter Accused Of Throwing Fire Extinguisher At Capitol Police

A retired firefighter was arrested Thursday amid allegations that he threw a fire extinguisher at U.S. Capitol Police officers during last week’s violent insurrection in the halls of Congress.

Robert Sanford, 55, of Pennsylvania, turned himself in to the FBI this week and faces four charges: assaulting a police officer, disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, unlawfully entering the Capitol and civil disorder. Three of those charges are felonies, and Sanford was ordered held without bail.

Sanford retired from the Chester Fire Department, near Philadelphia, last year. A week after the riot, a friend contacted federal investigators to turn Sanford in, saying he had known him for years and that Sanford had confessed “he was the person the FBI was looking for” after the agency sent out public appeals to help identify rioters.

Federal officials told a judge that Sanford appeared to throw a “red object” during the riot in video footage obtained after the attack. The riot left five people dead, including one Capitol Police officer (the charges against Sanford are not related to the death of Officer Brian Sicknick, who was also attacked with a fire extinguisher and later died).

“The object appears to strike one officer, who was wearing a helmet, in the head,” the FBI said in a court filing of Sanford’s alleged acts. “The object then ricochets and strikes another officer, who was not wearing a helmet, in the head. The object then ricochets a third time and strikes a third officer, wearing a helmet, in the head. Immediately after throwing the object, the Subject moves quickly in the opposite direction.”

The FBI had asked for the public's help in identifying this man, now believed to be Robert Sanford of Pennsylvania.



The FBI had asked for the public’s help in identifying this man, now believed to be Robert Sanford of Pennsylvania.

Sanford’s lawyer told The Associated Press that his client was “caught up in the mob mentality.” The attorney has asked for Sanford to be released on bail, pointing to his long career as a firefighter.

Prosecutors also noted that a search warrant executed at Sanford’s home uncovered a shirt bearing markings linked to the far-right Proud Boys, although his lawyer denied his client owned such an item.

The FBI has received more than 126,000 tips as federal agents scour video footage for evidence to charge those who broke that law during the insurrection. Dozens have been arrested, including a man on Thursday who was photographed in the Capitol holding a Confederate battle flag.

Sanford’s case will be prosecuted in Washington, D.C.