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Trump’s former White House counsel says he felt ‘frustrated, perturbed, trapped’ when Trump asked him to help fire Mueller

Trump McGahn
Trump and Don McGahn.
  • Trump's ex-White House counsel said he felt "frustrated, perturbed, trapped" when Trump asked for his help firing Mueller.
  • He also said that he tried to "get off the phone" when Trump raised the subject.
  • Don McGahn made the comments while testifying to Congress last week about the Mueller probe.
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Former White House counsel Don McGahn testified to Congress last week that he felt "trapped" when then President Donald Trump asked him to help engineer the removal of the special counsel Robert Mueller during the Russia investigation.

McGahn was a central witness in Mueller's inquiry into whether Trump obstructed justice as part of the Russia probe. Last week, in closed-door testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, McGahn recounted what it was like when Trump called him in 2017 and asked him to direct then acting attorney general Rod Rosenstein to fire Mueller.

Mueller's report said that after Trump made his demands clear, McGahn told the president that he would look into it. Sarah Istel, the judiciary committee's lead counsel, asked McGahn about those comments last week.

"'McGahn said he told the president that he would see what he could do,'" Istel said, reading from Mueller's final report. "Do you recall saying that to the president?"

"I did say that, yeah," McGahn replied.

"Did you intend to see what you could do?" she asked.

"No," he said.

"Then why did you say that to the president?" Istel asked.

"I was trying to get off the phone," McGahn said.

Istel later asked McGahn whether he felt concerned about his own potential liability and whether his involvement in orchestrating Mueller's removal could make him a target of the obstruction investigation.

McGahn said he was, adding, "I was concerned about, if I were going to reach out to Rod, Rod's reaction, how it would be perceived after the fact, and that it would cause potential eventualities to occur that would not be in anybody's interests, including my own."

"To answer the question you asked before, I did not want to insert myself into something that would cause me to be my own - that would compromise my own ability to remain as counsel," he said.

Istel also asked McGahn how he felt after he got off the phone the second time Trump asked him to order Rosenstein to remove Mueller.

"Oof," McGahn replied. "Frustrated, perturbed, trapped. Many emotions." He also said he felt "concerned."

When Istel asked him to elaborate why he felt that way, McGahn replied, "Felt trapped because the president had the same conversation with me repeatedly, and I thought I conveyed my views and offered my advice, and we were still having the same conversation."

He continued: "And I figured, at some point, he'd want to have that conversation again. And, at that point, I wasn't exactly sure how - how to navigate that one, so I felt that I was trapped."

"We kept having the same conversation, so he wasn't taking the answer the first time or subsequent times," McGahn said.

Indeed, as Mueller's final report said, McGahn felt so cornered by Trump's repeated demand that he decided to resign.

"McGahn spoke with the President twice and understood the directive the same way both times, making it unlikely that he misheard or misinterpreted the President's request," the report said. "In response to that request, McGahn decided to quit. He called his lawyer, drove to the White House, packed up his office, prepared to submit a resignation letter with his chief of staff, told [then-White House Chief of Staff Reince] Preibus that the President had asked him to 'do crazy shit.'"

McGahn ultimately stayed on as White House counsel but resigned in October 2018, six months before Mueller's report was released to the public.

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Trump’s former White House counsel testified that there was ‘never really a good beginning, middle, and end’ to their conversations

WASHINGTON D.C., May 21, 2019 -- Then White House counsel Don McGahn reacts in the audience during the confirmation hearing for Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C., the United States, on Sept. 4, 2018. The White House on Monday instructed former counsel Don McGahn to defy a congressional subpoena and skip a hearing scheduled for Tuesday relating to the Russia probe. (Xinhua/Ting Shen) (Xinhua/Ting Shen via Getty Images)
Don McGahn.
  • Trump's ex-White House counsel testified that there was no good "beginning, middle, and end" to their conversations.
  • "You rarely leave conversations with President Trump," he said. "It's just - especially when you're the counsel. You're always kind of around."
  • McGahn was a key figure in the Mueller probe and said Trump told him to "do crazy s---" to stop the investigation.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Former White House counsel Don McGahn told Congress this month that there was never a good "beginning, middle, and end" to his conversations with Donald Trump when Trump was president.

McGahn served as White House counsel for nearly two years before resigning in October 2018. He was a central witness in the special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into whether Trump obstructed justice in the FBI's Russia probe. After months of battling Congress's requests for testimony, McGahn finally appeared behind closed doors last week. The House Judiciary Committee released a transcript of McGahn's testimony on Wednesday.

At one point, the lead counsel for the House Judiciary Committee asked McGahn about one of the episodes Mueller highlighted in his report connected to the obstruction probe. Specifically, Trump told McGahn in the midst of the Russia investigation that he wanted to fire Mueller. McGahn refused and said doing so could be "another fact used to claim of obstruction of justice."

The committee's counsel, Sarah Istel, asked McGahn what other facts he was referring to during that conversation.

McGahn mentioned other data points in the obstruction probe including Trump's firing of FBI director James Comey and his efforts to stop Comey from investigating former national security advisor Michael Flynn.

McGahn stopped short of saying these instances definitively constituted obstruction but said he was concerned about how they could be perceived by the public.

After some back and forth about the semantics of McGahn's claim that firing Mueller could be "another fact" used to claim he obstructed justice, Istel asked McGahn about his assessment that Trump could face the "biggest exposure" from his efforts to hamper Comey's investigation into Flynn.

McGahn said he didn't remember if he specifically used the word "exposure" but specified that he didn't believe Comey's removal was a legal issue for Trump because the president has the power to fire the FBI director.

"The real issues were more around former Director Comey's recounting of meetings" and conversations he had with Trump, during which Trump asked him to lay off of investigating Flynn and demanded Comey's loyalty.

"That was more, as a lawyer, where I was looking to alert the president," McGahn said.

Istel then asked McGahn how he ended that conversation with Trump.

"No, I don't recall. No," he said. "You rarely leave conversations with President Trump. There's never really a good beginning, middle, and end. It's just - especially when you're the counsel. You're always kind of around."

Indeed, McGahn's name surfaced several times in Mueller's report, including once when the special counsel detailed his reaction to Trump's directive that Mueller be fired.

"McGahn spoke with the President twice and understood the directive the same way both times, making it unlikely that he misheard or misinterpreted the President's request," the report said. "In response to that request, McGahn decided to quit. He called his lawyer, drove to the White House, packed up his office, prepared to submit a resignation letter with his chief of staff, told [then-White House Chief of Staff Reince] Priebus that the President had asked him to 'do crazy s---.'"

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AG Garland defends the DOJ’s decision to endorse controversial Trump-era moves, saying there isn’t ‘one rule for friends and another for foes’

Merrick Garland
Demetrius Freeman/Getty Images
  • AG Merrick Garland defended the DOJ's decision to back several "controversial" Trump-era decisions.
  • The DOJ's actions drew sharp criticism from Democrats and Trump critics who demanded transparency.
  • But Garland said on Wednesday that there isn't "one rule for friends and another for foes."
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Attorney General Merrick Garland on Wednesday addressed the Justice Department's decision to back some "controversial" Trump-era decisions, including its move to defend Trump in a defamation lawsuit brought by a woman who accused him of rape, and its move to shield an internal memo related to Trump from the public.

Democrats and Trump critics have sharply criticized the department over those decisions, but Garland said during a congressional budget hearing Wednesday that there is "not one rule for friends and another for foes."

"The job of the Justice Department in making decisions of law is not to back any administration, previous or present," Garland told lawmakers at a Senate appropriations subcommittee hearing about the 2022 budget. "Our job is to represent the American people. And our job in doing so is to ensure adherence to the rule of law, which is a fundamental requirement of a democracy or a republic or a representative democracy."

He went on to note that the foundation of the rule of law "is that like cases be treated alike, there not be one rule for Democrats and another for Republicans, that there not be one rule for friends and another for foes."

"It is not always easy to apply that rule," Garland said. "Sometimes it means that we have to make a decision about the law that we would never have made and that we strongly disagree with as a matter of policy. But in every case, the job of the Justice Department is to make the best judgment it can as to what the law requires."

Garland's testimony stood in sharp contrast to that of Bill Barr, who made headlines during his tenure as attorney general for going to bat for Trump and frequently turning the department into a mouthpiece for the Trump White House.

One of the episodes at the center of the controversy Garland addressed Wednesday relates to an Office of Legal Counsel memo that Barr used to clear Trump of obstruction-of-justice following Mueller's investigation.

Barr's decision ignited a firestorm and accusations that he was shielding Trump from being held accountable for his myriad efforts to obstruct Mueller's investigation, which were outlined at length in the special counsel's final report of his findings.

Barr cited the OLC's memo in a letter justifying his decision-making process in the obstruction investigation. Last month, US District Judge Amy Berman Jackson accused Barr of misleading the public and ordered the Justice Department to release the document in its entirety.

Shortly after, the Justice Department under Garland announced its intention to appeal Jackson's ruling, saying that "irreparable harm" would be caused by the release of the full document.

It also addressed Jackson's assessment that the government's briefs related to the Mueller report and the OLC memo "incorrectly described the nature of the decisional process in which the Attorney General was engaged."

"In retrospect, the government acknowledges that its briefs could have been clearer, and it deeply regrets the confusion that caused," the department said in its filing requesting an appeal, adding that government lawyers "did not intend to mislead the Court" and that "imprecision in its characterization of the decisional process" did not warrant the full release of the memo.

The Justice Department's decision to appeal Jackson's ruling was one of several that have put it at loggerheads with the Biden White House.

Last week, the department came under fire when it was reported that it continued the Trump administration's behind-the-scenes efforts to obtain the email logs of several New York Times reporters. After Biden came out in opposition to the practice, the department reversed course and said it would no longer seize reporters' records.

And earlier this week, the Justice Department again sent shockwaves through legal and political circles when it said it would continue defending Trump in the defamation lawsuit brought by the former columnist E. Jean Carroll, who alleges that Trump raped her.

The White House sharply criticized the decision and confirmed that the Justice Department did not consult it before moving forward.

"While we are not going to comment on this ongoing litigation, the American people know well that President Biden and his team have utterly different standards from their predecessors for what qualify as acceptable statements," White House spokesperson Andrew Bates said.

C. Ryan Barber contributed reporting.

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Mueller and his top deputies will teach a law school class about their investigation into Trump and Russia

robert mueller
Former Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller arrives to testify before Congress on July 24, 2019, in Washington, DC.
  • Mueller and his deputies will teach a University of Virginia law course about the Russia probe.
  • The course will be taught by three senior members of Mueller's team, UVA said.
  • Mueller will also participate in the class, which will be taught in the fall and consist of six sessions.
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The former special counsel Robert Mueller will participate in a short course at the University of Virginia School of Law this year focusing on his investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 US election.

UVA announced that the course will be taught by Aaron Zebley, Jim Quarles, and Andrew Goldstein, who worked for Mueller in the special counsel's office. Zebley was his deputy counsel, Quarles was senior counsel, and Goldstein served as senior assistant special counsel.

The course will be taught in the fall and consist of six sessions, UVA said.

"I was fortunate to attend UVA Law School after the Marine Corps, and I'm fortunate to be returning there now," Mueller said in UVA's announcement. "I look forward to engaging with the students this fall."

Mueller served as FBI director from 2001 until 2013 and later worked in the private sector. He returned to public service in 2017, when he was tapped to serve as special counsel in the FBI's investigation into whether Russia meddled in the 2016 race and if the Trump campaign conspired with the Russian government to tilt the race in Donald Trump's favor.

During the two years that he spearheaded the special counsel's office, Mueller ran a tight ship that rarely, if ever, leaked and spoke mainly through indictments and other court filings.

Still, his office regularly made headlines for its laser focus on the Trump White House and the way it treated Trump's inner circle like an organized crime enterprise. The Russia probe resulted in 199 criminal charges, 37 indictments or guilty pleas, and five prison sentences.

Mueller's 448-page final report did not conclude that the Trump campaign conspired with the Kremlin, but it did establish "that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome, and that the Campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts."

But the special counsel's most notable findings stemmed from his parallel investigation into whether Trump sought to obstruct the Russia investigation. Mueller did not make a "traditional prosecutorial judgment" about whether or not Trump committed a crime, citing a 1973 Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel memo saying a sitting president cannot be indicted.

Moreover, the special counsel's team outlined 11 possible instances of obstruction and said that Trump's myriad efforts failed largely because those around him refused to carry out his orders.

"If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state," the report said. "Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, however, we are unable to reach that judgment."

These findings will make up a central thread in the UVA course that members of Mueller's team - and the former special counsel himself - will teach in the fall.

"The course will focus on a key set of decisions made during the special counsel's investigation," the school's announcement said. "Instructors will talk about the legal and practical context for those decisions in a discussion format, and walk through the challenges and trade-offs when making decisions in a high-profile investigation."

The anouncement went on to say that the class will look at the investigation chronologically and will include Mueller's appointment as special counsel. Students will also gain insights into other factors related to the investigation, like the Justice Department's relationship with Congress, Mueller's approach to dealing with the White House, and the "importance of the Roger Stone prosecution," referring to the indictment of the longtime GOP strategist and top Trump ally.

The end of the class will touch on "presidential accountability and the role of special counsel in that accountability," UVA said.

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The FBI reportedly learned in 2019 that Russia was using Rudy Giuliani as a tool to spread election disinformation

AP Rudy Giuliani
Rudy Giuliani at a news conference at the Republican National Committee headquarters on November 19.
  • The FBI reportedly learned that Russia was using Rudy Giuliani to spread disinformation before the 2020 election.
  • US officials warned the White House in 2019 about Giuliani's vulnerability to Russian intel, but Trump shrugged it off.
  • He's now the target of a federal criminal investigation into whether he violated lobbying laws.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Editor's note: A previous version of this article stated, based on The Washington Post's reporting, that the FBI warned Giuliani that he was the target of a Russian influence operation. The Post has since retracted that detail, and Insider has updated this story accordingly.

The FBI became aware in late 2019 that the Russian government was using former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani as a tool to spread disinformation about the Biden family ahead of the 2020 election, The Washington Post reported.

In the months leading up to the election Giuliani was a fixture on conservative airwaves, where he repeatedly amplified bogus conspiracy theories accusing the candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter of having corrupt ties to Ukraine. He also pushed the lie that Ukraine and not Russia interfered in the 2016 election, a talking point that can be traced back to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The Post reported that the FBI learned that the far-right network One America News was also a target of the Russian disinformation campaign.

Giuliani serves as former President Donald Trump's personal attorney, and his actions were said to be so alarming to US officials that they warned the White House and Trump after Giuliani traveled to Kyiv in December 2019 that Russia was using him to funnel disinformation to US audiences before the 2020 election.

Four former officials familiar with the matter told The Post the warnings to the White House were based on several sources, including intercepted communications. The intercepts are said to have shown that during the Ukraine trip Giuliani communicated with people who had ties to Russian intelligence.

He made the trip as part of his effort to dig up dirt related to Hunter Biden's work for the Ukrainian natural-gas company Burisma Holdings. One of the people he met with was the Ukrainian politician Andriy Derkach. The US government has since sanctioned Derkach and described him as an "active Russian agent."

The Post reported that the intercepted communications raised red flags with US officials who worried that Russian officials were using Giuliani as a conduit to feed disinformation to Trump. After the White House was warned about the possibility, the report said, then national security advisor Robert O'Brien told the president to approach any information Giuliani gave him with caution.

Trump shrugged off the warnings, according to The Post. On Wednesday, the FBI raided Giuliani's apartment and office in Manhattan and seized his electronic devices as well as a computer belonging to his personal assistant, Jo Ann Zafonte. Zafonte was served with a grand-jury subpoena, and The New York Times reported that the feds also raided the Washington, DC, home of one of Giuliani's associates and a fellow attorney, Victoria Toensing.

The raids mark an aggressive new phase in a long-running criminal investigation into whether Giuliani broke foreign-lobbying laws through his dealings with Ukraine. The Times later reported that at least one of the search warrants sought evidence about the abrupt firing of Marie Yovanovitch as the US ambassador to Ukraine.

Specifically, prosecutors are said to be examining whether Giuliani was working on behalf of the Ukrainian prosecutor general Yuriy Lutsenko while pushing for Yovanovitch's dismissal.

Yovanovitch appeared for a nine-hour, closed-door deposition on Capitol Hill related to the first impeachment inquiry into Trump. In her opening statement, she said then-Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan told her that she "had done nothing wrong" but that there was a "concerted campaign" to remove her.

Giuliani and his lawyer have denied any wrongdoing, and his attorney described the FBI's raids as "legal thuggery." The former New York mayor also a statement saying he was targeted because of a "corrupt double standard" and alleging that investigators were ignoring purported illicit activities on the part of Hunter Biden.

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Trump says Rudy Giuliani is a ‘great patriot’ and skewers the FBI raids on him as ‘very unfair’

Rudy Giuliani Donald Trump
Rudy Giuliani and Donald Trump together in November 2016.
  • Trump praised Rudy Giuliani as a "great patriot" and said the FBI's raids on him were "very unfair."
  • "It is so terrible when you see the things going on in our country with the corruption and the problems, and then they go after Rudy Giuliani," he told Fox's Maria Bartiromo.
  • Giuliani is the second Trump lawyer to be the target of a federal criminal investigation.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Former President Donald Trump defended his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, as a "great patriot" on Thursday and said the FBI's raids on him as "very unfair."

"He just loves this country, and they raid his apartment," Trump told Fox Business' Maria Bartiromo in an interview. "It's like a double standard like I don't think anybody's ever seen before. It's very, very unfair. Rudy is a patriot who loves this country."

The FBI on Wednesday executed search warrants on Giuliani's Manhattan apartment and office, as well as on the home of Victoria Toensing, one of his associates in Washington, DC. Agents seized Giuliani's electronic devices and a computer belonging to his longtime personal assistant, Jo Ann Zafonte. They also served Zafonte with a subpoena to testify before a federal grand jury in May.

Executing a search warrant on a lawyer is an extraordinary step that requires approval from a federal magistrate judge, and Wednesday's developments marked a significant turning point in the long-running criminal investigation into whether Giuliani violated foreign lobbying laws in his dealings with Ukraine.

"I don't know what they're looking for or what they're doing. They say it had to do with filings of various papers and lobbying files. Well, did Hunter file? Did Biden file?" Trump said Thursday, referring to President Joe Biden and his son. "Because they did a lot of work with other countries. To the best of everyone's knowledge, they didn't file."

There is no evidence that the president had illicit business dealings in foreign countries. Hunter Biden, meanwhile, revealed in December that federal prosecutors are investigating his financial affairs.

"It's a very, very unfair situation," Trump repeated on Thursday. "It is so terrible when you see the things going on in our country with the corruption and the problems, and then they go after Rudy Giuliani. It's very sad, actually."

The New York Times first reported in 2019 that the Manhattan US attorney's office was conducting a criminal probe into Giuliani's business dealings. Specifically, investigators are said to be examining whether he violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), which requires that American citizens notify the Justice Department of any contacts they have with foreign governments or officials, and if they interact with the US government or media at the direction of those officials.

The investigation into the former New York mayor is also said to include a counterintelligence aspect, which indicates that the FBI may view him as a national security threat.

Giuliani, for his part, spearheaded a months-long, behind-the-scenes effort to influence US policy vis-a-vis Ukraine, an endeavor that ultimately led to Trump's first impeachment in 2019.

He was also in contact with several Russian and Ukrainian political operatives as part of a public quest to dig up dirt on the Bidens ahead of the 2020 election. Giuliani's actions were so alarming to US officials that, according to The Washington Post, they warned the White House that Russian intelligence agencies were using Giuliani to funnel disinformation to Trump.

Giuliani's lawyer, Bob Costello, slammed the FBI's raids Wednesday as "legal thuggery" and said his client had done nothing wrong. Giuliani's son Andrew also leapt to his father's defense, telling reporters, "If this can happen to the former president's lawyer, this can happen to any American."

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AOC reacts to Derek Chauvin verdict, says the fact that George Floyd had to die ‘to be seen and valued is not justice’

AOC
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
  • AOC tweeted that Derek Chauvin's conviction on multiple counts of murder and manslaughter was not justice.
  • "That a family had to lose a son, brother and father; that a teenage girl had to film and post a murder, that milions across the country had to organize and march just for George Floyd to be seen and valued is not justice," AOC tweeted.
  • "And this verdict is not a substitute for policy change," she added.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez weighed in Tuesday after the former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted on multiple counts of murder and manslaughter related to the death of George Floyd.

"That a family had to lose a son, brother and father; that a teenage girl had to film and post a murder, that milions across the country had to organize and march just for George Floyd to be seen and valued is not justice," Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. "And this verdict is not a substitute for policy change."

After deliberating for fewer than 11 hours, a Minnesota jury found Chauvin guilty of second degree murder, third degree murder, and manslaughter in Floyd's death.

Floyd, who was 46 years old, died last May after Chauvin knelt on his neck for more than nine minutes during an arrest while Floyd pleaded for his life and said he couldn't breathe.

Ocasio-Cortez was one of several lawmakers who reacted to Chauvin's conviction Tuesday.

"This feels different for our community, justice feels new and long overdue," tweeted Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar. She also tipped her hat to the state's attorney general, Keith Ellison, whose office prosecuted Chauvin. "Rejoice, my beloved community. Grateful to @AGEllison, jurors, and everyone who made this possible. Alhamdulillah!!"

"No joy today," tweeted Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York. "Just relief."

Rep. Maxine Waters of California struck a similar chord, saying, "Someone said it better than me: I'm not celebrating. I'm relieved."

Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressley tweeted: "Black men, I love you, and you deserve to grow old."

Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina said in a statement that there was "no question" in his mind "that the jury reached the right verdict."

"While this outcome should give us renewed confidence in the integrity of our justice system, we know there is more work to be done to ensure the bad apples do not define all officers - the vast majority of whom put on the uniform each day with integrity and servant hearts," the statement continued.

Chauvin's conviction capped weeks of emotionally charged testimony from dozens of witnesses, law enforcement officials, bystanders, and medical professionals about the circumstances surrounding Floyd's death. The prosecution and defense made closing arguments on Monday, and the jury deliberated for ten hours and 27 minutes before the court announced it had reached a verdict.

Chauvin now faces up to 40 years in prison.

"I feel relieved today that I finally have the opportunity ... for hopefully getting some sleep," Floyd's brother, Philonise, said at a news conference Tuesday after the verdict was read.

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GOP Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Paul Gosar create ‘America First Caucus’ that emphasizes ‘Anglo-Saxon political traditions’

Marjorie Taylor Greene
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene.
  • GOP Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Paul Gosar formed the "America First Caucus," Punchbowl News reported.
  • The group will reportedly emphasize "common respect for uniquely Anglo-Saxon political traditions."
  • It will also push racist lies about immigration and foreign aid and parrot Trump's conspiracy theories about the election.
  • Rep. Matt Gaetz, who is facing a federal sex-trafficking investigation, said he'll join the caucus.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Two Republican lawmakers worked together to create an "America First Caucus" that emphasizes "common respect for uniquely Anglo-Saxon political traditions" and infrastructure that "befits the progeny of European architecture," Punchbowl News reported on Friday.

Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Paul Gosar collaborated to form the far-right caucus, whose aim is to "follow in President Trump's footsteps, and potentially step on some toes and sacrifice sacred cows for the good of the American nation," according to a document obtained by Punchbowl News.

GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz, who is currently facing a federal sex-trafficking probe, announced his "proud" support for the group, tweeting, "We will end wars, stop illegal immigration & promote trade that is fair to American workers." Other Trump loyalists on Capitol Hill, like Reps. Barry Moore and Louie Gohmert, have also agreed to join the caucus, Punchbowl News reported.

"America is a nation with a border, and a culture, strengthened by a common respect for uniquely Anglo-Saxon political traditions," the document said in a section outlining its views on immigration.

It went on to say, without citing any evidence, that "societal trust and political unity are threatened when foreign citizens are imported en-masse into a country, particularly without institutional support for assimilation and an expansive welfare state to bail them out should they fail to contribute positively to the country."

The document also pushed the lie that immigrants who came to the US before 1965 were "more educated, earned higher wages, and did not have an expansive welfare state to fall back on when they could not make it in America and thus did not stay in the country at the expense of the native-born."

  • Fact check: The Pew Research Center noted in a 2018 study that "the estimated 44 million immigrants in the United States are better educated than ever, due in part to rising levels of schooling in many of the countries they came from and an influx of high-skilled workers to the U.S. in recent years, especially from Asia."

The document's section on infrastructure said the caucus will "work towards an infrastructure that reflects the architectural, engineering and aesthetic value that befits the progeny of European architecture," and criticized the US government for "sending trillions of dollars out the door to support the infrastructure of other nations - even to countries that hate the United - with nothing to show for it."

On foreign aid, the document said it would be "unwise" for the US to send financial and military support to other countries because it represents an "entanglement that rarely provides any benefit to our citizens."

  • Fact check: This view stands in stark contrast to what experts in the field say. As George Ingram, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute, wrote in 2019, "there is hard evidence that development and humanitarian programs produce considerable results," including a sharp decline in extreme poverty over the last three decades; a significant decrease in maternal, infant, and child mortality rates; an increase in global life expectancy; and the eradication of diseases like smallpox and a steep drop in cases of polio and malaria.
  • Sending foreign assistance also bolsters US national security "by supporting allies in promoting regional and global stability and peace," Ingram wrote, and it shores up "national economic progress and stability, which can make it more viable for citizens to remain at home rather than migrate to other countries."

The America First Caucus' mission statement also parroted many of Trump's lies about the 2020 election and voter fraud, saying, "Recent election results demonstrate a compromised integrity of our elections and made our election system a subject of global mockery."

It went on to falsely claim that "federal elections have been undermined by using voting machines that are readily compromised and illegally accessed whereby results appear manipulated, voters are disenfranchised, and faith in our system eroded." The document added: "Mail-in voting, long recognized as subject to fraud, has become normalized."

  • Fact check: As Business Insider has reported, the 2020 election was the safest and most secure in US history. Trump and Republicans filed dozens of lawsuits challenging the election results in battleground states that President Joe Biden won, and the GOP either lost every case or it was dismissed for a lack of standing. The Department of Homeland Security under Trump also publicly refuted his conspiracy theories and confirmed that the 2020 election was the "most secure in American history."

Punchbowl News said that Gosar's office did not respond to requests for comment. A spokesperson for Greene accused "dirty backstabbing swamp creatures" of leaking "gossip to borderline tabloids," and added: "Be on the look out for a public release for the America First Caucus platform when it's released publicly very soon."

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WATCH: Maxine Waters erupts at Jim Jordan and tells him to ‘respect the chair and shut your mouth’ during COVID-19 hearing

jim jordan
Rep. Jim Jordan
  • Rep. Maxine Waters erupted at Rep. Jim Jordan during a House subcommittee hearing on COVID-19.
  • Jordan sparred with Dr. Fauci, repeatedly interrupted the chairman, and went over his speaking time.
  • Waters then told Jordan to "respect the chair and shut your mouth."
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

California Rep. Maxine Waters erupted at Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan on Thursday while the Republican lawmaker was berating Dr. Anthony Fauci during a House subcommittee hearing on the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jordan has frequently made headlines for his loaded, and often misleading, criticisms of Fauci, who is the US's top infectious disease expert.

Waters intervened on Thursday as Jordan was in the middle of grilling Fauci, telling the Republican lawmaker to "respect the chair and shut your mouth."

"I just want to know, when do Americans get their First Amendment liberties back?" Jordan asked Fauci after going on an extended rant about what he described as arbitrary and overreaching restrictions on daily life.

"You're making this a personal thing, and it isn't," Fauci said before Jordan cut him off.

"Your recommendations carry a lot of weight, Dr. Fauci. We just had the chair of the Financial Services Committee said she loves you and you're the greatest thing in the world," Jordan said, referring to Waters.

The California congresswoman then jumped in, asking Jordan if he would yield his time to her, which he refused to do.

"Can I answer the question, please?" Fauci said. "My recommendations are not a personal recommendation. It's based on the CDC guidance, which is underscored -"

"And I'm asking the questions," Jordan said as he cut Fauci off. "What measures have to be attained before Americans get their First Amendment liberties back?"

"I just told you that," Fauci said, to which Jordan responded, "No, you haven't given anything specific."

Fauci then noted that there are currently about 60,000 new COVID-19 infections recorded in the US per day, "which is a very large risk for a surge. We're not talking about liberties, we're talking about a pandemic that has killed 560,000 Americans. That's what we're talking about."

Jordan said he didn't disagree with that and that he understood "how serious that is," but added: "I also understand it's pretty serious when businesses have been shut down, people can't go to church, people can't assemble in their own homes with their friends, with their families, people can't go to a loved one's funeral, people can't get to their government, petition their representative to redress their grievances."

"I want to know when Americans will get those First Amendment liberties back," the lawmaker said as he pressed Fauci.

"You just said people cannot assemble in their own homes. They can. That's a CDC recommendation for vaccinated people," Fauci said.

"Not last fall they couldn't," Jordan shot back, at which point Fauci said he couldn't hear what Jordan said.

The subcommittee's chairman, Rep. Jim Clyburn, then noted that Jordan's time to ask questions had run out and noted that Americans could take a step toward "getting our liberties back" when "90% of the members of the United States Congress get vaccinated."

Jordan interjected and said he wanted to hear Fauci's thoughts on the matter. "Give me some objective standards ... What are the numbers?"

"Where does it get to? When it comes down, what number do we get our liberties back? Tell me the number," Jordan asked, referring to the rate of new COVID-19 infections.

Clyburn repeatedly banged his gavel while the Ohio congressman was speaking to signal that his time was up, and then recognized Waters.

"I'd like my question answered!" Jordan shouted as Waters said she was reclaiming her speaking time.

"Mr. Chairman, I don't want you to answer my question, the American people want Dr. Fauci to answer the question," he said, as Waters cut him off.

"Your time expired, sir," the California lawmaker said. "You need to respect the chair and shut your mouth."

Clyburn then stepped in, saying, "Don't worry about this. We're going to handle this."

He turned to Jordan and added, "I think Mr. Jordan knows me very well, and he knows full well that we're going to handle this. Your time has expired."

Watch the exchange below:

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Matt Gaetz’s indicted associate Joel Greenberg has been cooperating against him since last year, report says

Matt Gaetz
Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., is seen during a break in the House Judiciary Committee hearing on policing practices and law enforcement accountability in the Capitol Visitor Center on Wednesday, June 10, 2020.
  • Joel Greenberg has been cooperating against Rep. Matt Gaetz since last year, NYT reported.
  • Greenberg reportedly told investigators that he and Gaetz had interactions with women who were given cash or gifts in exchange for sex.
  • Gaetz has been embroiled in a political firestorm since The Times reported that he was being investigated over whether he broke sex trafficking laws.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Joel Greenberg, a former Florida tax collector and close associate of GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz, has been cooperating with federal investigators since last year, The New York Times reported Tuesday.

Greenberg has given investigators information about an "array of topics," the report said, including encounters that he and Gaetz allegedly had with women who were given cash and gifts in exchange for sex.

The Justice Department first indicted Greenberg last June, and he resigned from his government position shortly after. Since then, he's been charged with 33 counts, including carrying out the sex trafficking of a minor between the ages of 14 and 17.

Gaetz, meanwhile, has been embroiled in a political firestorm since The Times reported last month that the Justice Department was investigating him as part of the Greenberg inquiry. In particular, the feds are said to be looking into whether Gaetz had sex with a minor and violated sex trafficking laws.

The Florida Republican lawmaker has fervently denied the allegations against him and claimed the department's probe is part of an elaborate and convoluted extortion scheme against his family.

"Congressman Gaetz has never paid for sex," a spokesperson for Gaetz told Insider in an email when asked for comment on The Times report. "Based on reporting from Politico, it seems Mr. Greenberg has been trying to ensnare innocent people in his troubles for quite some time."

"It's unsurprising that as news breaks of CNN staff admitting to a concerted media propaganda effort against Rep Gaetz, the three biggest peddlers of fake news in the business drop another non-story," the spokesperson continued.

Tuesday's reporting comes after prosecutors and Greenberg's defense attorneys told a judge last week that they were close to reaching a plea deal.

It's unclear what the terms of the agreement would be, but Greenberg's lawyer Fritz Scheller hinted that his client was cooperating with prosecutors, telling reporters last week, "I am sure Matt Gaetz is not feeling very comfortable today."

It's unusual for prosecutors or defense attorneys to publicize the existence of a plea deal because they'd want to avoid tipping off other targets.

"I don't know if [Scheller's] foreshadowing, I don't know what the motive would be because generally cooperators don't want people to know they're cooperating," Sherine Ebadi, a former FBI agent who was the lead agent in the government's case against ex-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, told Insider. "But maybe that buck has passed because this case has been so publicly talked about."

The Times' report on Tuesday, which revealed that Greenberg has been cooperating since last year, also suggests he didn't have much to lose when lawyers for the prosecution and defense told the court last week that a plea deal was on the horizon.

Based on media reporting about the Gaetz probe, prosecutors likely have a large trail of breadcrumbs to follow as they work to corroborate the allegations against the GOP lawmaker.

The investigation is said to be looking into whether he used campaign money to fund travel for women, and The Times reported investigators were scrutinizing Gaetz and Greenberg's interactions with "multiple women who were recruited online for sex and received cash payments."

CBS News reported that prosecutors were also zeroing in on a trip Gaetz took to the Bahamas in late 2018 or early 2019 with a hand surgeon and marijuana entrepreneur who is accused of footing the bill for female sex workers, hotel rooms, and travel expenses. And The Daily Beast reported that Gaetz sent Greenberg $900 via Venmo in 2018 and that Greenberg then sent $900, in varying amounts, to three young women.

But there's other information that prosecutors would need to build a strong case, details they may not be able to glean from records and documents.

That's where Greenberg comes in.

For one, he could have been privy to conversations in which only he and Gaetz were present or private communications that took place on encrypted apps, in text messages that could have been deleted, or on a burner phone.

"There could be a number of things they did that the government may not have access to or doesn't even know exist," Ebadi said.

But the biggest thing he could speak to, she added, is whether Gaetz expressed his intent in the conduct he's accused of engaging in.

"Depending on what prosecutors charge, often an element in various cases is intent, or proving someone's knowledge or willfulness when committing a crime," Ebadi said, adding that with Greenberg, "you could have someone that was present when [Gaetz] was making statements like, 'I'm going to do this,' or 'I'm doing this for these particular reasons.' Those are crucial words in a case like this, especially when it comes to that element of intent."

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