Support For Domestic Terrorism Has Grown In The Era Of Trump
Over the weekend, we covered the arrest of 31 Nazis preparing to launch an attack against an LGBTQ pride event at a park in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. We left off after they were taken into custody, booked and tossed into jail cells but before they were due to arraigned. So... let's catch up with these Patriot Front Trumpists. Remember, at the time, all the authorities said is that they found a smoke-bomb but wouldn't comment on other weapons the group had. Publicly, they still won't. I spoke to a reporter from the local newspaper who's covering the story and she told me the sheriff refuses to say if there were or were not guns involved.
Brynn Tannehill describes herself in her Twitter profile as a "Senior defense analyst at a think-tank. Author of two books (American Fascism most recent). Former naval aviator. Spouse. Parent. Harbinger of doom." Her HuffPo bio describes her as "originally from Phoenix, Ariz. She graduated from the Naval Academy with a B.S. in computer science in 1997. She earned her Naval Aviator wings in 1999 and flew SH-60B helicopters and P-3C maritime patrol aircraft during three deployments between 2000 and 2004. She served as a campaign analyst while deployed overseas to 5th Fleet Headquarters in Bahrain from 2005 to 2006. In 2008 Brynn earned a M.S. in Operations Research from the Air Force Institute of Technology and transferred from active duty to the Naval Reserves. In 2008 Brynn began working as a senior defense research scientist in private industry. She left the drilling reserves and began transition in 2010. Since then she has written for OutServe magazine, The New Civil Rights Movement, and Queer Mental Health as a blogger and featured columnist. Brynn and her wife Janis currently live in Springfield, VA, with their three children." Her latest book (2021) is American Fascism: How the GOP Is Subverting Democracy. I want to share a Twitter thread she wrote yesterday after speaking with a law enforcement professional in Idaho: "We narrowly avoided a massacre in Coeur d'Alene. The 31 Patriot Front (read: white supremacist fascists responsible for Charlottesville) were planning for massive violence, not just confrontation. The 31 PF members had blunt instrument weapons and were planning on bludgeoning people attending Pride. I'm told that most, if not all, also had concealed firearms. This was for dealing with anyone at who was armed, or fought back. What stopped them was two lucky breaks:
1. A hotel employee who saw them saddling up, and called the police
2. The Coeur d'Alene police didn't side with PF, and took the call seriously. If they'd been in the tank with Patriot Front (like in Kenosha) it would have been horrific.
I'm told that (three) of the Patriot Front people are going to be charged with illegal firearms possession, because they were felons. I was worried about mass violence at Pride going into this. I was right. Law enforcement is monitoring a surge in right wing 'chatter' against LGBT people. I've been predicting for a while that as things deteriorate, groups like Patriot Front, 3 Percenters, Proud Boys, etc... will increasingly function as Sturmabteilung. This becomes increasingly possible as Law Enforcement is infiltrated, or captured, by the right wing."
This morning, the Idaho Statesman updated the drama in Coeur d'Alene with a disturbing story about threats against the police who made the arrests.
The police department received 149 phone calls on Monday morning about the arrests, including one from as far away as Norway, White said. He said they were a ”50/50 split,” between local calls of support for the police and anonymous angry calls from those upset about the arrests. White confirmed that users on far-right social media platforms have doxxed Coeur d’Alene officers, publicly identifying them and publishing personal information about them online.
“The other 50%, who are completely anonymous, who want nothing more than to scream and yell at us and use really choice words, offered death threats against myself and other members of the police department merely for doing our jobs,” White said.
At least one person who was not a member of the press showed up to Monday’s conference to falsely claim the group detailed by police were actually members of the FBI. His words echoed a conspiracy theory that has been making its way around the internet. White quickly shut down the accusation.
“To be very clear here, these were not law enforcement officers that we arrested,” White said. “These were members of the hate group Patriot Front.”
Mayor Jim Hammond, who was sworn into office in January, also took the podium. It was his first press conference as mayor. He brought up Coeur d’Alene’s history of once being home to a neo-Nazi compound, insisting that the city had since become a place that “respects and welcomes everyone.”
There is no place for people like this in normal 21st Century society. "The purpose of government," he said, "is to legislate morality." I guess that's what they teach in his church.
How do we have monsters like these-- the 31 are all out on bail and are expected to show up back in Coeur d'Alene for arraignment next month-- running around the country, armed domestic terrorists? Time Magazine ran a feature by Molly Ball this morning, How the 'MAGA Squad' Is Building Power to Control the Next Congress. "Torching the news cycle," wrote Ball, "is what [Florida sex trafficker Matt] Gaetz and [Marjorie Traitor] Greene love to do. They are constantly in the headlines for their attention-getting antics, outrages and feuds. The pair have defended the Jan. 6 rioters, promoted countless conspiracy theories, hobnobbed with white nationalists and picked fights with colleagues on both sides of the aisle. Their own Republican colleagues have called them 'unserious,' clowns, bigots, and worse. The humorist Dave Barry called them 'Trump’s inner circle of trusted wack jobs.'"
Gaetz and Greene are the ringleaders of the GOP’s most hard-core, pro-Trump congressional faction. The MAGA Squad, as you might call them, is not a formal caucus, but its numbers are growing-- despite the impending departure of one prominent member, Rep. Madison Cawthorn, who lost his North Carolina primary after scandals ranging from insider-trading allegations to lewd videos. The group includes freshmen members like Lauren Boebert, who accused a Muslim colleague of being a member of the “Jihad Squad,” as well as longer-serving representatives like Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, who pushed Trump’s Department of Justice to throw out electoral votes after the 2020 election, and Paul Gosar of Arizona, who has extensive ties to white nationalists and once posted an animated video showing him murdering Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez with a sword. There’s Representative Andy Biggs of Arizona, who allegedly helped plan the Jan. 6 rally that preceded the Capitol riot, and Mo Brooks of Alabama, who spoke at the rally. Several members have been subpoenaed by the Jan. 6 Committee, which is also investigating Representative Barry Loudermilk for leading what some have called a “reconnaissance” tour of the closed Capitol on Jan. 5, 2021. There have long been rabble-rousing right-wingers in Congress, but this group makes the Freedom Caucus seem tame.
To Republicans trying to convince voters to hand them power this November by seeming sensible, sober and interested in governing, they’re a constant headache and distraction. The Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, has described Greene’s “loony lies and conspiracy theories” as a “cancer for the Republican Party.” Not that the MAGA Squad care what the GOP Establishment thinks: Back before Twitter permanently banned her for spreading Covid misinformation, Greene shared a tweet calling Kevin McCarthy-- the leader of her own party in the House-- a “feckless cunt.”
...Most political observers expect Republicans to win the House in November, putting McCarthy in line to be the next Speaker. But to win that position, McCarthy will need the backing of 218 of his colleagues. There are currently 208 Republicans in the chamber, and election handicappers project the party will win another 15 to 20 seats. Depending on how many they gain, McCarthy is likely to need the support of even some of the party’s most extreme members. “At this point, not knowing the size of the potential majority, leadership is about keeping all the frogs in the wheelbarrow, even if some of the frogs are pretty ugly,” says a former GOP leadership aide who estimates there are about a dozen members of the “real cray cray.”
Particularly if the majority is a narrow one, the MAGA Squad will have ample leverage-- and McCarthy has been acting like he knows it. For a time, McCarthy made a feeble effort to rein in his party’s nut jobs and conspiracy theorists. Now he seems more eager to curry favor with them. Last year, he condemned Greene for comparing mask mandates to the Holocaust; more recently, when Greene was kicked off Twitter, he issued a fiery statement in her defense. When the New York Times released audio recordings of McCarthy privately condemning Trump and expressing alarm at the rhetoric of Gaetz, Greene and Boebert in the aftermath of Jan. 6, the House Republican leader rushed to make amends with his members.
The MAGA Squad has spent the past year building their power, and now they’re preparing to wield it. If McCarthy-- or any other Republican-- wants to be Speaker, he’s going to have to go through them. And he’s not getting their votes without meeting their demands, which could include things like prosecuting Fauci, ousting Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, or even impeaching President Biden. The purpose, they say, isn’t amassing power for themselves. It’s shaping the agenda-- and reshaping what the Republican Party stands for.
...Gaetz, Greene and their fellow travelers argue it would be a mistake to see them merely as a thorn in McCarthy’s side. In fact, these days, they’re pretty pleased with him. When Greene was kicked off her committees, she demanded McCarthy promise to retaliate by removing some Democrats from committees once Republicans take the majority. He immediately agreed. When Gaetz proposed that the prospective Republican majority focus every House committee on oversight of the Biden Administration, McCarthy soon began touting the same idea-- in practically the same words. When McCarthy made a recent trip to the southern border, Greene was among the members invited to tag along.
“I frankly have more animosity and disappointment with Kevin McCarthy for enabling her than Marjorie Taylor Greene herself,” says a GOP congressional aide. “She’s accruing power and forcing leadership to be subservient to her. She knows really well how to wield power.” Why vote against a man you’ve already got wrapped around your little finger?
“The critique of McCarthy is not that he has ignored us, or pretended like we don’t exist,” Gaetz adds with a broad grin. “In fact, he’s highly responsive to us.”
The MAGA Squad: They’re here. They’re weird. And pretty soon, they may be in control of the GOP Congress-- if they aren’t already.