Trump news – live: Democrats believe chances of Garland charging ex-president over Capitol riots are high

·26 min read

Democrats believe Attorney General Merrick Garland has enough evidence to charge Donald Trump for his role in inciting the Capitol riots.

Several Democratic senators said the Department of Justice was likely to prosecute Mr Trump for the 6 January attacks, but stressed they held no inside knowledge of the investigation.

Tim Kaine, of Virginia, said he believed Mr Trump’s actions were illegal and that the DOJ has “all of the evidence at their disposal,” The Hill reported.

Connecticut senator Richard Blumenthal said his conduct was forming part of the FBI probe and “perhaps is criminal.”

Meanwhile, Mr Trump is under fire for sharing the false claim that white people are being discriminated against in the distribution of Covid-19 treatments at his rally in Arizona on Saturday.

“The left is now rationing life-saving therapeutics based on race, discriminating against and denigrating, just denigrating white people to determine who lives and who dies,” he told supporters.

Mr Trump also railed against enemies including Joe Biden and retiring GOP Congressman John Katko, one of the only 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach the 45th president after the 6 January attack on the US Capitol.

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Key points

  • Trump holds first 2022 rally in Arizona

  • Trump attacks Democrats, disloyal Republicans at rally in Arizona

  • First sedition charges handed down in Capitol riot cases

  • Trump wholeheartedly embraces ‘Fedsurrection’ conspiracy theory for January 6

Attendees waited hours to leave Trump rally as fans lash out on social media

21:34 , Bevan Hurley

Donald Trump’s Arizona rally on Saturday left many of his supporters frustrated after some were left waiting around for hours before they could leave.

The vast majority of the attendees appeared to enjoy Mr Trump’s first rally of 2022, as was evidenced by the crowd’s enthusiastic responce to his speech. As ever, it featured his greatest hits of falsehoods and lies about the supposedly stolen 2020 Presidential election, allegations which have been repeatedly disproven.

And yet, for all that those statements went down well with his fans, what transpired after Mr Trump left the stage certainly did not. Soon after he finished his speech, a number of people took to social media to complain that they were not allowed to leave the site of the rally for several hours.

Tom Fenton has the full story.

Attendees waited hours to leave Trump rally as fans lash out on social media

Trump can’t say what Republicans should do if they retake Congress

20:45 , Bevan Hurley

Speaking to far-right network Newsmax, Donald Trump didn’t offer an answer when asked what Republican’s first move should be if they retake the Congress in the 2022 midterms.

Instead, he attacked his Democratic rival Joe Biden’s record on Afghanistan and immigration.

Trump is briefing insiders that DeSantis is too dull to be President

20:00 , Bevan Hurley

Florida governor Ron DeSantis has been touted as Donald Trump’s chief rival for the GOP Presidential nomination in 2024.

However, the former President has been briefing associates that Mr DeSantis has no realistic chance of beating him in the 2024 GOP primary due to his “dull personality”.

Tom Fenton has the story.

Trump is briefing insiders that DeSantis is too dull to be president

Analysis: Five takeaways from Donald Trump’s rally in Arizona

19:15 , Bevan Hurley

Donald Trump raged against his enemies in the Republican Party, as well as President Joe Biden and the media during his first campaign rally of 2022.

The Independent’s Eric Garcia and John Bowden analyse Mr Trump’s conspiracy-laden speech and some chilling messages from his endorsed candidates.

Five takeaways from Donald Trump’s rally in Arizona

Antisemitic terror in the US

18:37 , Andrew Naughtie

This weekend’s deadly hostage incident at a Texas synagogue came at a time when racial, religious and antisemitic hate crimes are at an all-time high in the US. Rabbi Charlie Cytron Walker has described how he was able to deal with the situation in his synagogue thanks to training he had received on handling violent situations:

And as Masada Siegel writes for The Independent, many American Jews are being reminded year after year that they still have to be vigilant in the face of lethal threats.

My Jewish father taught me to use a gun. I didn’t think I’d have to teach my own son

‘Of all the places for it to happen, my first Trump rally’

18:15 , Bevan Hurley

MAGA supporters who were blocked from leaving Donald Trump’s rally in Arizona on Saturday until the event had finished have taken to social media to complain.

A woman who claimed to be attending her first Trump rally said she was considering filing a lawsuit after she was barred blocked from exiting the carpark by the Secret Service.

“I have never had my freedom restricted like this in my life and of all the places for it to happen, my first Trump rally.”

Others claimed they had been “held hostage”, and that there were no restrooms available to stranded rallygoers.

‘The content of shameless characters'

17:42 , Bevan Hurley

Financial Times associate editor Edward Luce says he finds it jarring how Martin Luther King’s legacy is co-opted by people who “bitterly oppose” everything the late civil rights leader stood for.

Calling the FBI out on Martin Luther King

17:12 , Andrew Naughtie

Jezebel editor-in-chief Laura Bassett picks up on another tin-eared tribute to Dr King today:

What happened at Trump’s Arizona rally?

16:35 , Andrew Naughtie

Donald Trump’s rally in Arizona this weekend saw him repeating many of his usual falsehoods about the supposed theft of the 2022 election, as well as pondering 6 January conspiracy theories that have gained a new foothold on the right.

It was the sort of performance that has some mainstream Republicans worried that the former president could wreck their messaging for this year’s midterm elections by focusing on his own grievances. John Bowden and Eric Garcia have this rundown:

Five takeaways from Donald Trump’s rally in Arizona

Son of Martin Luther King Jr: “I will not accept empty promises in pursuit of my father’s dream"

16:15 , Andrew Naughtie

Martin Luther King III, the son of the civil rights hero whose life is celebrated today, has issued a call for action rather than just remembrance of his father’s work.

MLK Day: Mitch McConnell in hot water for tribute

15:49 , Andrew Naughtie

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell earlier posted a sombre tribute to Martin Luther King Jr., writing: “Nearly 60 years since the March on Washington, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s message echoes as powerfully as it did that day. His legacy inspires us to celebrate and keep building upon the remarkable progress our great nation has made toward becoming a more perfect union.”

Given the senator’s position on assorted civil rights issues, and in particular proposals to shore up the Voting Rights Act against right-wing assaults, much of the reaction has seen him accused of hypocrisy – one user writing that “it was guys like you he was protesting against”.

Read more:

McConnell bombarded over voting rights stance after posting MLK Day tribute

A new Republican rift: Trump vs DeSantis

15:28 , Andrew Naughtie

Reports are spreading that Donald Trump has a new bee in his bonnet: the ascent of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. Increasingly popular among Republican voters, Mr DeSantis routinely tops polls of non-Trump GOP 2024 presidential candidates – and now, Mr Trump appears to be angry that he is getting too much attention.

Axios reports that while Mr Trump isn’t especially worried that his sometime protege could beat him in a future primary, he is angry that the governor isn’t giving him the deference he thinks he deserves ahead of the next election. Mr Trump has also taken veiled digs at him for not declaring publicly whether he has been fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

Trump is briefing insiders that DeSantis is too dull to be president

Other reports, however, say that Mr Trump is genuinely perturbed that another Republican could rise to the heights of popularity Mr DeSantis enjoys, and that he may indeed have something to fear. The New York Times reports a telling exchange with longtime conservative provocateur Ann Coulter:

“Trump is demanding to know Ron DeSantis’s booster status, and I can now reveal it,” Ms. Coulter wrote on Twitter. “He was a loyal booster when Trump ran in 2016, but then he learned our president was a liar and con man whose grift was permanent.”

In an email, Ms. Coulter, herself a part-time Florida resident, put a finer point on what makes Mr. DeSantis’s rise unsettling for the former president. “Trump is done,” she wrote. “You guys should stop obsessing over him.”

Trump’s false claim about racism and Covid-19 treatment

15:05 , Andrew Naughtie

Here is the section of Trump’s Arizona rally in which the former president falsely claimed that healthcare providers in New York are deliberately sending white people to “the back of the line” for Covid-19 treatment.

Virginia’s new Republican governor signed 11 executive orders on his first day in office

Saturday 15 January 2022 22:30 , Alex Woodward

Virginia’s incoming Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin signed 11 executive orders after he was sworn into office on Saturday, including a repeal of a mask mandate and revoking a Covid-19 vaccine requirement for state workers.

He also banned “critical race theory” in schools and pledge to investigate “wrongdoing” in Loudon County, which has been ground zero for right-wing culture wars over the teaching of racism in public schools.

He also is withdrawing the state from an 11-state agreement to curb emissions.

Hillary Clinton invokes MLK’s criticism of ‘white moderates’ after Manchin and Sinema reject filibuster reform

Saturday 15 January 2022 22:10 , Alex Woodward

Hillary Clinton has invoked Martin Luther King Jr’s criticisms of “the white moderate “ in what appeared to be a thinly veiled rebuke of Democrats Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema after they rejected President Joe Biden’s urgent demands to change Senate filibuster rules that block passage of federal voting rights legislation.

She added: “This is a subtweet.”

Her tweet comes as voting rights advocates rally over the weekend in advance of the federal holiday recognising the late civil rights leader’s birthday.

Pro-Trump ‘propaganda’ channel One America News Network to lose its biggest TV distributor

Saturday 15 January 2022 21:45 , Alex Woodward

America's biggest satellite television provider has said it will cut the pro-Trump news channel One America News Network from its service, dealing a severe blow to one of the former president's most stalwart cheerleaders.

DirecTV, a distributor with about 15 million subscribers that is 70 per cent owned by the US telecoms giant AT&T, announced on Friday that it would not renew its contract with OANN when the current one expires. following “a routine internal review”.

Io Dodds reports:

Pro-Trump ‘propaganda’ outlet One America News Network to lose biggest distributor

Photos from Trump’s first rally of 2022

Saturday 15 January 2022 21:33 , Alex Woodward

The former president will hold his first rally of 2022 in Florence, Arizona, a state that has become a hotbed of election fraud conspiracy theories with a host of candidates for several public offices vying for his endorsement, as midterm campaigns are well underway.

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)
 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)
 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

QAnon leaders join Trump rally crowd

Saturday 15 January 2022 21:04 , Alex Woodward

8chan administrator Jim Watkins and QAnon influencer Michael Protzman – who has amplified the conspiracy theory that the resurrection of JFK Jr is instrumental to Trump’s return to office – are attending Trump’s rally in Arizona on Saturday night, where a crowd started lining up overnight.

Other familiar Trump rally faces are documenting their visit, which is being broadcast by far-right media networks like One America News Network and Right Side Broadcasting Network.

Biden invokes voting rights protections in MLK Day proclamation

Saturday 15 January 2022 19:30 , Alex Woodward

In his proclamation recognising 2022’s Martin Luther King Jr Day, the president told Americans to reflect on the achievements of the civil rights movement and “continue his unfinished struggle.”

“That is why the Congress must pass federal legislation to protect the right to vote – a right that is under attack by a sinister combination of voter suppression and election subversion,” the president wrote, echoing his remarks against the wave of restrictive legislation passed by GOP state legislators in 2021.

“Just as in Dr King’s time, there are those who now say that change would be too disruptive and that these urgent needs can wait,” Mr Biden wrote. “But we must resist complacency, summon new resolve to advance the cause of freedom and opportunity, and do our part to bend the arc of the moral universe toward justice. This is the cause of our time. ... We all must find the courage to keep pushing forward in our struggle to realize Dr King’s dream for a freer, fairer, and more just society.”

Voting rights advocates rally in Phoenix to pressure Sinema on filibuster

Saturday 15 January 2022 19:24 , Alex Woodward

As a host of election deniers and conspiracy theorists prepare to take the stage in rural Florence, Arizona, voting rights advocates are rallying about 70 miles away in Phoenix to push the state’s Democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinema to adopt filibuster reform to pass federal legislation to protect the right to vote.

Activists also led a march and heard from Martin Luther King III, the oldest son of the late civil rights leader.

The march demands Arizona residents “call on Senator Sinema to urgently pass federal voting rights legislation and ensure that the Jim Crow filibuster does not stand in the way,” Mr King said in a statement.

The US recognises Martin Luther King Jr Day on Monday.

Trump takes shot at Arizona governor

Saturday 15 January 2022 18:47 , Alex Woodward

The day before his appearance in the state, Trump hit out at Arizona Governor Doug Doucey, a frequent target of the former president after he signed off on the results of the 2020 presidential election, while Trump allies continue to baselessly insist the results were fraudulent.

“Rumors are that Doug Ducey, the weak RINO Governor from Arizona, is being pushed by Old Crow Mitch McConnell to run for the U.S. Senate,” Trump said in a statement. “He will never have my endorsement or the support of MAGA Nation!”

Doucey has not indicated whether he plans to run for a Senate seat. He has no plans to attend Trump’s event.

Pence equates federal voting rights legislation with Capitol attack

Saturday 15 January 2022 17:28 , Alex Woodward

In an op-ed in The Washington Post, former VP Mike Pence condemned the mob that “ransacked the Capitol, largely to try to get Congress and me, as the president of the Senate, to use federal authority to overturn results of the presidential election that had been certified by all 50 states.”

He then characterised Republican attempts to restrict ballot access and consolidate electoral oversight into the hands of GOP-dominated legislatures as “measures to try to restore confidence in the integrity of our elections” in the wake of the attack.

He then accused Biden and congressional Democrats of leading “another power grab” with federal voting rights legislation, by using the “memory of Jan 6” to defend breaking up the filibuster.

That federal legislation would create national framework for voter registration, mail-in ballots, early voting and voter ID laws. It would also make Election Day a holiday, combat attempts to strip oversight from nonpartisan election authorities, and protect election workers from harassment and violence.

He compared such efforts to an attack on the Capitol that sought to stop the certification of votes representing millions of Americans, as a mob chanted that they were there to “hang” him.

He also falsely claimed that “the notion that Congress would break the filibuster rule to pass a law equaling a wholesale takeover of elections by the federal government is inconsistent with our nation’s history and an affront to our constitution’s structure.”

The US constitution gives Congress the ability to set rules for federal elections.

2020 election deniers take centre stage at Trump’s Arizona rally

Saturday 15 January 2022 16:39 , Alex Woodward

Trump is heading to Arizona, a hotbed of GOP-led conspiracy theories about the 2020 presidential election, where a figure central to the QAnon movement is running for Congress, election deniers are vying for major government posts that play critical roles in electoral oversight, and a far-right congressman accused of fantasizing about murdering Democrats has not faced any repurcussions in office.

The former president has made clear that fealty to his baseless narrative that the election was rigged against him is critical to earning his endorsement.

On the guest list at his rally on Saturday night: Kari Lake, a candidate for Arizona governor; US Reps Paul Gosar, Andy Biggs and Debbie Lesko; and Mike Lindell, among the most notorious election fraud conspiracy theorists who spent millions on a spurious campaign to overturn the results.

What is seditious conspiracy?

Saturday 15 January 2022 08:30 , Oliver O'Connell

The US Justice Department’s efforts to hold those responsible for the 6 January insurrection shifted into a higher gear this week with the unsealing of a 48-page indictment against Oath Keepers founder Elmer Stewart Rhodes and 10 other members of his right-wing militia group.

All but Mr Rhodes and another defendant – Edward Vallejo of Phoenix – had previously been charged with crimes for their roles in the worst attack on the Capitol since British troops commanded by Major General Robert Ross set it ablaze in 1814.

Prosecutors have filed criminal charges against more than 730 people over the year that has passed since the attack, but the indictment of Mr Rhodes and his alleged co-conspirators stands out because it charges them under a rarely used provision of law that can be found in the chapter of the US criminal code titled “Treason, Sedition, and Subversive Activities”.

What is seditious conspiracy and why is it a big deal?

Trump complains about Democratic push to end filibuster four years after calling for Republicans to do it

Sunday 16 January 2022 04:58 , John Bowden

The president’s remarks took at contradictory turn Saturday evening as Mr Trump addressed the ongoing push by Democrats including President Joe Biden to weaken the Senate’s filibuster provision and allow voting rights legislation to reach the floor for a vote.

He quipped during his speech that Democrats were trying to “knock out the filibuster and get things approved”, adding that the provision’s survival was “hanging by a thread.

But the ex-president was much more opposed to the rule itself when he was in office, and tweeted about it several times before he was banned from the platform.

"If Republican Senate doesn't get rid of the Filibuster Rule & go to a simple majority, which the Dems would do, they are just wasting time!" he wrote in 2017.

ICYMI: Oath Keepers leader charged for role in Jan 6 riot

Saturday 15 January 2022 06:30 , Oliver O'Connell

Elmer Stewart Rhodes, the founder of the right-wing militia group known as the Oath Keepers, has been arrested and charged with seditious conspiracy for his role in the 6 January attack on the US Capitol, according to the Department of Justice.

Oath Keepers leader arrested and charged for role in Jan 6 riot

United Blue America?

Saturday 15 January 2022 05:30 , Oliver O'Connell

When you crunch the numbers, a ‘national divorce’ between blue and red states starts looking pretty good — for Democrats, writes Benedict Cosgrove.

Republicans are flirting with secession. That might be a good idea — for Democrats

Texas AG given days to hand over Jan 6 texts

Saturday 15 January 2022 04:30 , Oliver O'Connell

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has been given four days to hand over his digital communications from 6 January or face a lawsuit, the Travis County district attorney has stated.

Jade Bremner reports.

Texas Attorney General given four days to hand over Jan 6 texts

Interview: Mary Trump - From 2024 predictions to Donald’s psychological deterioration

Saturday 15 January 2022 03:30 , Oliver O'Connell

Mary Trump, Donald Trump’s niece, spoke to The Independent’s Andrew Feinberg about her uncle’s mental deterioration and possible 2024 run for president.

Mary Trump interview: From 2024 predictions to Donald’s psychological deterioration

Ray Epps: The Capitol riot figure who disappeared from the FBI’s wanted list

Saturday 15 January 2022 02:30 , Oliver O'Connell

Justin Vallejo reports.

Who is Ray Epps? The FBI’s Capitol riot figure who has not been charged

Jan 6 committee subpoenas records from social media giants

Saturday 15 January 2022 01:30 , Oliver O'Connell

The House select committee investigating the 6 January insurrection has issued subpoenas to Twitter, Reddit, and the parent companies of YouTube and Facebook for information “relating to the spread of misinformation, efforts to overturn the 2020 election, domestic violent extremism, and foreign influence in the 2020 election” after the companies spurned prior voluntary requests.

Andrew Feinberg reports.

January 6th committee subpoenas records from Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Reddit

ICYMI: New texts show Laura Ingraham worried about further violence after Capitol riot

Saturday 15 January 2022 00:30 , Oliver O'Connell

Fox News host Laura Ingraham worried about further violence after the Capitol riot on 6 January last year, a newly released text message has revealed.

Six days after the insurrection, on 12 January, Ingraham wrote to the then-Chief of Staff in the Trump White House, Mark Meadows, to ask him to urge then-President Donald Trump to speak to his supporters and dissuade them from mounting armed protests against the election results at state capitols across the country.

Gustaf Kilander and Tom Fenton report.

Laura Ingraham worried about further violence after Jan 6, text message reveals

Biden approval rating sinks to near Trump’s at same point in presidency

Friday 14 January 2022 23:30 , Oliver O'Connell

As Joe Biden approaches the first anniversary of his presidency, his approval rating is dwindling. It’s now approaching levels comparable to former President Donald Trump at the same time in his term.

Gustaf Kilander reports.

Biden’s approval rating almost as low as Trump’s was at same point in presidency

Texas attorney general must hand over Jan 6 texts

Friday 14 January 2022 19:59 , Oliver O'Connell

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has been given four days to hand over his digital communications from 6 January or face a lawsuit, the Travis County district attorney has stated.

Mr Paxton spoke at the pro-Trump rally ahead of the US Capitol attack and aided Donald Trump in his efforts to overturn the result of the 2020 election.

Jade Bremner reports.

Texas Attorney General given four days to hand over Jan 6 texts

Daily Show: RIP ‘no sedition charges'

Friday 14 January 2022 19:20 , Oliver O'Connell

Trump celebrates Katko not running again

Friday 14 January 2022 17:53 , Oliver O'Connell

The former president told supporters: “Great news, another one bites the dust. Katko, from Upstate New York, is gone!”

Texas GOP official in hot water over Capitol riot texts

Friday 14 January 2022 16:03 , Andrew Naughtie

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who spoke at a rally on 6 January in advance of the attack on the Capitol, has been given four days to hand over his digital communications from the day or face a lawsuit.

The complaint against him claims that he has failed to comply with the Texas Public Information Act, which subjects his official communications to public release.

Jade Bremner has the story:

Texas Attorney General given four days to hand over Jan 6 texts

Friday 14 January 2022 15:37 , Andrew Naughtie

The Bulwark’s Amanda Carpenter, a former Ted Cruz aide turned merciless Trump critic, writes that the sedition charges brought against members of the Oath Keepers are a major blow to one of the key right-wing lines on the Capitol attack – that the lack of sedition or insurrection charges proved there was nothing there.

On the contrary, she writes, the indictment against the Oath Keepers “describes a series of very disturbing actions by people who had carefully laid plans for war”.

Read more below:

Can the Democrats hold the Senate?

Friday 14 January 2022 15:15 , Andrew Naughtie

The Independent’s Eric Garcia foresees trouble for the Democrats’ wafer-thin majority in the upper chamber of Congress:

Proud Boy charged with 6 January offences cries in court as judge revokes his pretrial release

Friday 14 January 2022 14:55 , Andrew Naughtie

Law & Crime reports on the case against Joshua Pruitt, a Proud Boy who was captured on video inside the Capitol on 6 January. Having repeatedly violated conditions of a court-ordered curfew while under an eight-count indictment.

The article quotes him making tearful statements at the hearing:

“I’m sorry,” Pruitt began, audibly crying as he spoke. “I went through hell over the last year.” Pruitt described being fired from one job, and said that on at least one occasion he couldn’t make it back home due to a snow storm.

“I’m trying to do things right,” he told [US District Judge Timothy] Kelly. “But I’m being attacked left and right. I get death threats all the time. This is what I’m dealing with right now. I get lied about in the media, I’m working with lawyers to work on that.”

Read more here:

Trump enemy’s name circulates in Senate race speculation

Friday 14 January 2022 14:29 , Andrew Naughtie

One of the handful of senior Republicans to stand up to Donald Trump after the 2020 election was Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, who rejected the baseless claim that his state’s vote was deliberately manipulated in favour of Joe Biden.

While Mr Ducey has previously said he is not considering a run for another office, a report in Politico has stoked speculation that he could run enter the Republican Senate primary to challenge Democrat Mark Kelly this November. That would throw a major curveball into the Arizona election itself and the national Senate game more widely – but reaction to the story has been mixed.

Congressman who tweeted Nazi-vaccine comparison loses press aide

Friday 14 January 2022 14:05 , Andrew Naughtie

According to Capitol Hill reporter Taylor Popielarz, Congressman Warren Davidson has lost his communications director over a tweet from his office’s official account that compared vaccine mandates to policies enacted by the Nazi Party.

After a public outcry, the congressman has since apologised for drawing the parallel.

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