Connect with us


Trump Official Arrested in Storming of Capitol Left Little Mark Before Riot




WASHINGTON — Soon after President Donald J. Trump’s inauguration in January 2017, the White House told State Department officials that they needed to find a job for a political appointee.

Federico G. Klein had been a low-level aide on Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign and a stalwart supporter of the president, outspoken on his religious and conservative views. When a senior State Department official tried to object, believing Mr. Klein to be out of his depth in the world of diplomacy, he was overruled, according to a former department official. Mr. Klein was stashed in obscure positions with little influence.

Four years later, Mr. Klein, 42, finally made his mark in Washington — as a leader of the mob that stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, according to a court document filed by the F.B.I., which arrested Mr. Klein on Thursday. He is the first known participant in the Capitol breach to have worked for Mr. Trump’s campaign or held a political appointment in his administration.

Interviews with several people who know or worked with Mr. Klein suggest a man with increasingly fiery social and political views, but a forgettable professional record in government and the military. He had offered few public hints that he would be capable of violent political action.

Mr. Klein is visible in video footage from the Capitol wearing a collared shirt and a crew neck sweater under a drab green coat, with a red “Make America Great Again” hat. According to the F.B.I. complaint, he used a stolen Capitol Police riot shield to assault officers and wedge open a door they were trying to shut against the pressing crowd.

“We need fresh people, need fresh people,” Mr. Klein called back to his compatriots from the front of the line charging the police defenses, according to the F.B.I. complaint.

He was arrested after the F.B.I. received a tip from two people who recognized his square-jawed, sandy-haired image from a poster seeking information about Capitol rioters captured on camera.

On paper, he hardly seemed a revolutionary.

Mr. Klein, who goes by Freddie, grew up in an affluent suburb of Washington, D.C., attended George Mason University, joined the Marine Corps as a reservist and volunteered for mainstream Republicans, including Mitt Romney in his 2012 presidential campaign, before signing on with Mr. Trump.

He left little mark in the workplace. Several State Department officials and Trump political hands said that they had no memory of Mr. Klein, and that his role on the 2016 campaign — for which he reported just $15,000 in income in a financial disclosure form — would have been marginal.

He served in the Marine Corps Reserves from early 2004 to late 2012 as a combat engineer, reaching the rank of corporal, according to records released by the Defense Department. Those records also indicate service that was unremarkable.

He did serve a tour of duty in Iraq, in 2005, according to his mother, Cecilia Klein. She said he never fired his weapon there.

At an initial hearing on Friday, Zia M. Faruqui, a magistrate judge in Washington, ordered Mr. Klein held until his bail hearing on Tuesday. Mr. Klein did not respond to a request for comment, and his lawyer, Michelle M. Peterson, a federal public defender, declined to comment on his case.

One person who has known him for many years said Mr. Klein was a loner who could be socially awkward. His mother said nothing in his past would have suggested him capable of joining a violent riot.

“Normal schools, decent grades, went to college,” she recalled during an interview on Friday. “It was all perfectly suburban.”

According to the F.B.I., Mr. Klein held a top-secret security clearance that was renewed in 2019. Such clearances are not unusual for military service members, and his LinkedIn page says his was granted by the Defense Department. It is not clear what responsibilities he carried that would have earned the clearance. The person who has known him for years said he seemed to conjure an air of secrecy about his military service.

Under pressure from the White House in early 2017, Mr. Klein, whose father was from Argentina and had worked at the Inter-American Development Bank before his death, was installed in the State Department’s Office of Brazilian and Southern Cone Affairs as a special assistant. After Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson expanded an office that handles Freedom of Information Act requests, viewed by many in government as an unrewarding outpost, Mr. Klein’s superiors transferred him there.

People who encountered him at work said he advertised his opposition to abortion rights and support for Mr. Trump’s plans to build a wall along America’s southern border with Mexico.

His social media network and postings suggest a man with deep religious and conservative beliefs and a loathing for Democrats including Hillary Clinton. In 2016, he posted a photo on Facebook of himself posing next to a cardboard cutout of Mrs. Clinton and pretending to grab her by the hair. In an accompanying comment, he said he was “mocking her ugliness.”

Many of his other Facebook postings feature religious art and iconography, as well as images of Mr. Trump. In October, he posted a video of anti-abortion protesters being removed by the police from the waiting room of a family planning clinic as they shouted, “Mommy, stop the murder!” He also posted messages complaining about N.F.L. players refusing to stand for the national anthem, and other messages supporting gun rights and opposing gay rights.

His LinkedIn page features an endorsement of his skills from Eugene Delgaudio, a prominent Washington-area conservative activist known for his outspoken opposition to gay rights, including a 2010 claim that Transportation Security Administration pat-downs were part of a “homosexual agenda.” Mr. Klein’s mother said her son had worked briefly for Mr. Delgaudio, who did not respond to a request for comment.

Mr. Klein’s account with Goodreads, a site for book lovers, lists him as having read several books about military affairs, including the memoir of a German World War II soldier and a biography of Erwin Rommel, a Nazi general. Also listed are several books about dystopian government and society, including “Fahrenheit 451,” “Animal Farm” and “1984,” as well as a history of America’s revolutionary founders.

Mr. Klein graduated from George Mason University in 2002, where he studied political science. Politico earlier reported his arrest.

He told the judge on Friday that after his arrest he had been detained in unsanitary conditions, where cockroaches crawled over him as he slept. Judge Faruqui told him that the D.C. jail where he would be held would be nicer.

In an interview, his mother, who worked in the Office of the United States Trade Representative before her retirement, expressed confusion and dismay at her son’s plight, saying that he had told her that he was “on the Mall” on Jan. 6 but “did not go in the building.”

She said news organizations were unfairly singling out her son because of his affiliation with Mr. Trump.

“You know why they’re putting so much pressure on this. It’s because of the T-word. If he hadn’t done a stint for the campaign, no one would complain,” she said. “This is the only one I’m aware of — besides the guy with the horns and the spear — who is getting the kind of treatment that Fred’s getting.”

She added that she was confident others like him participated in the riot.

“If you don’t think there were a few other political appointees out in those crowds, I think you’re being very naïve,” she said.

Reporting was contributed by Katie Benner, Helene Cooper and Lara Jakes from Washington, and Maggie Haberman from New York. Susan C. Beachy contributed research.


Source link

Continue Reading


In Washington, Policy Revolves Around Joe Manchin. He Likes It That Way.





WASHINGTON — If Democrats eliminate the filibuster, there is one senator who would have an outsized impact in the 50-50 chamber on issues that could reshape the nation’s future: infrastructure, immigration, gun laws and voting rights. That senator is Joe Manchin III of West Virginia.

There is also a senator whose opposition to eliminating the filibuster is a significant reason it may never happen. That senator, too, is Mr. Manchin.

“He should want to get rid of the filibuster because he suddenly becomes the most powerful person in this place — he’s the 50th vote on everything,” said Senator Chris Coons, Democrat of Delaware, sketching out the argument.

Mr. Manchin, however, does not see it that way. To the exasperation of Democrats, delight of Republicans and bewilderment of politicians who can’t understand why he wouldn’t want to wield more power, Mr. Manchin, a former governor of the state, isn’t budging.

“Sixty votes,” he said in an interview last week in his office, referring to the threshold required to advance most legislation, adding that he would not consider suspending the filibuster for certain bills, as some of his colleagues have floated: “You’re either committed or not.”

But with 18 people dead after two mass shootings within a week, a worsening migrant challenge on the border and Republicans trying to restrict voting in almost every state where they hold power, liberals believe this moment cries out for a different sort of commitment. At a time when they have full control of Congress and are confronting overlapping crises, many Democrats feel a moral and political imperative to act, process be damned.

That puts Mr. Manchin, 73, at the center of the most important policy debates in Washington — and has set the stage for a collision between a party eager to use its majorities to pass sweeping legislation and a political throwback determined to restore bipartisanship to a chamber that’s as polarized as the country.

Mr. Manchin believes that ending the legislative filibuster would effectively destroy the Senate. He recalled his predecessor, Robert C. Byrd, telling him that the chamber had been designed to force consensus.

Mr. Manchin has expressed willingness to support a “talking filibuster,” in which lawmakers have to actually hold the floor, perhaps for many hours, to block a vote. But he has not yielded on getting rid of it altogether and on an array of issues, including voting rights and gun control, his admonition is less about any particular policy end and more about making sure the legislation has support from both parties.

More broadly, Mr. Manchin’s resistance to ending the filibuster has ripened fundamental questions about which version of Congress would be more dysfunctional: a body stymied by gridlock or one that can pass legislation only by scrapping longstanding guidelines so it can push through party-line votes?

“You can’t make the place work if nothing significant is getting passed,” said Representative Ro Khanna, a leading progressive from California.

Mr. Manchin worries that the short-term benefit of ditching the filibuster would backfire for Democrats over the long term.

“I’m concerned about the House pushing an agenda that would be hard for us to maintain the majority,” Mr. Manchin said about the progressive legislation that House Democrats are stacking up at the Senate door. As for pressure from the left, he said, tauntingly: “What are they going to do, they going to go into West Virginia and campaign against me? Please, that would help me more than anything.”

To a growing number of his Democratic colleagues — and not just liberals — it’s naïve to keep putting hope over history, and believe, as Mr. Manchin said about gun legislation, that Republicans may say, “Listen, it’s time for us to do the reasonable, sensible thing.”

Of course, few in a Senate that depends on Mr. Manchin for a 50th vote will say outright that their colleague is indulging in fantasy.

“Joe’s focus, I believe, is bipartisanship, and I agree with the starting point,” said Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, before lowering the boom: “They weren’t going to give us a single vote,” he said about the stimulus bill.

A former high school quarterback who friends say still relishes being at the center of the action, Mr. Manchin is something of a unicorn in today’s Congress. As a pro-coal and anti-abortion Democrat, he reflects a less-homogenized era when regionalism was as significant as partisanship and senators were more individual actors than predictable votes for their caucus.

Twice elected governor before claiming Mr. Byrd’s seat, he’s the only lawmaker standing in the way of an all-Republican congressional delegation in West Virginia, a state that former President Donald J. Trump carried by nearly 40 points last year. And he is an unlikely majority-maker of the Democratic Senate.

“We really are the big tent,” said Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, before knowingly adding: “Now it’s a lot of work when you have a big tent, right? But that’s the way we have a majority.”

While out of step with his national party on some issues, and written off by parts of the left as little better than a Republican, his politics are more complex, even confounding, than they appear at first glance.

He provided the deciding vote on two of the biggest liberal priorities of this era — blocking repeal of the Affordable Care Act in 2017 and on passage of the nearly $2 trillion stimulus bill this month — while also twice voting to convict an impeached president wildly popular in his home state.

And while he may admire Mr. Byrd’s dedication to Senate tradition, Mr. Manchin has not emulated his predecessor by leveraging his power to focus relentlessly on steering spending projects back to West Virginia.

When Mr. Manchin was holding out on a single amendment that was delaying passage of the stimulus bill, White House aides were perplexed because his price for supporting the measure was not additional money for his impoverished home state. His main request, West Wing officials said, was to pare back spending and consider Republican input that could have made the bill appear more moderate.

Mr. Manchin said President Biden warned him in a phone call that the progressive left in the House might balk if the bill were significantly trimmed. “I said, ‘Mr. President, all we’re trying to do is put some guard rails on this,’” he recalled.

He was less happy about Vice President Kamala Harris’s effort to nudge him on the legislation by making an appearance on a television affiliate in West Virginia to promote the bill without forewarning him. The clip went viral and, Mr. Manchin said, prompted cleanup conversations with Mr. Biden and the White House chief of staff, Ron Klain.

As for any pressure that he may feel on the filibuster, Mr. Manchin said he had reminded Senator Chuck Schumer, the majority leader, of how essential he was to providing Democrats a majority.

He said he had told Mr. Schumer, “I know one thing, Chuck, you wouldn’t have this problem at all if I wasn’t here.”

He is not the only impediment to the sort of expansive liberal agenda preferred by many congressional Democrats or even the only one still defending the filibuster. Other Senate Democrats, including Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, also share his reluctance.

Yet none are as eager as Mr. Manchin to restore a bygone day of collegiality. And perhaps, more to the point, none are as happy as him to talk about the need to do so as he navigates representing a once-heavily Democratic state that had been shifting to the G.O.P. even before Mr. Trump arrived on the scene.

He crossed the aisle last year to endorse his closest Republican ally, Senator Susan Collins of Maine, and is already co-hosting bipartisan lunches with her. He is plotting the post-pandemic restoration of his pizza-and-beer parties on the boat he calls home while in Washington. (It’s called “Almost Heaven,” the opening lyric to John Denver’s ode to West Virginia.)

Although some of his colleagues relish the ideologically-charged prime-time cable news programs, Mr. Manchin prefers another Washington institution that also flourished in less-polarized times: the Sunday morning show.

In the fashion of many former governors who grow exasperated with Washington’s glacial pace, at times he can barely contain his impatience. He’s repeatedly mused about leaving the Senate and trying to reclaim his old job in Charleston.

But those who know Mr. Manchin well believe he likes the attention that he receives in the capital, the same as he did as a signal-caller in Farmington, W.V., where he grew up near Nick Saban, the legendary football coach at the University of Alabama and a lifelong friend of Mr. Manchin.

“You’re in the hot seat when you’re a quarterback, but it’s pretty satisfying when you make progress,” said Nick Casey, a Manchin ally and former chairman of the West Virginia Democratic Party. Mr. Casey said the senator, who sustained an injury that cut short his playing days, was “the greatest QB who never got to start at West Virginia University — just ask him.”

Steve Williams, the mayor of Huntington, W.V., who served with Mr. Manchin in the state legislature, said: “This is the closest he has been to how he could be as governor, actually driving the agenda, pulling people together.’’

It’s the last part that most animates the senator. Happily bantering with reporters as he positions himself as a lonely, if well-covered, voice for comity, he shifts questions from policy to process.

“Why don’t you ask people when was the last time they took time to talk to some of the people on this side?” Mr. Manchin told a CNN reporter this week. “Try to convince them, or work with them. Have you had dinner with them? Have you had a lunch with them? Have you had a cup of coffee with them? Try something.”

A number of anti-filibuster Senate Democrats, though, are more focused on what Mr. Manchin’s support of the “talking filibuster” could portend.

“I think that gives us a lot of room for discussion,” said Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, adopting a glass-is-half-full perspective.

What does seem clear is that Mr. Manchin is not going to switch parties.

“I don’t think that’s going to happen, although we’d welcome him with open arms,” said Ms. Collins, who has tried in the past to persuade her friend to join Republicans.

It’s not difficult to see why Mr. Manchin remains in his forefathers’ party. A Catholic of Italian descent, he sought John F. Kennedy’s desk when he arrived in the Senate, displays a picture of the slain president in his office lobby and can recall hearing that Massachusetts accent in his kitchen when Kennedy’s brothers came to his parents’ house during the West Virginia primary in 1960.

“Joe reminds me a lot of the old conservative Democrats in Texas,” said Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas. “They were born Democrats. They’re going to die Democrats.”

As for the filibuster, Mr. Coons, who was sworn in alongside Mr. Manchin in 2010, said liberals shouldn’t get their hopes up.

Recalling a conversation with somebody who knows Mr. Manchin well, Mr. Coons said this person told him: “If the ghost of Robert Byrd came back to life and said the future of West Virginia itself is on the line he might … think about it.”


Source link

Continue Reading


C.D.C. Funding Gun Violence Research For First Time in Decades





That was the argument he used to help persuade Congress to appropriate money for gun violence research in 2019. The research itself was never banned outright, and in 2013, weeks after the massacre that killed 26 people at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, President Barack Obama directed the C.D.C. to reconsider funding studies on gun violence.

The agency commissioned a report from the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council outlining priorities, but little changed. By 2019, after Democrats reclaimed the House, liberal organizations like were petitioning Congress to repeal the Dickey Amendment. Nearly every House Democrat signed on.

But Dr. Rosenberg argued it should remain intact, to “provide cover for Republicans and gun-loving Democrats who can put money into the science and tell their constituents, ‘This is not money for gun control.’ ”

Representative Rosa DeLauro, a Connecticut Democrat who chaired the House subcommittee that oversees the C.D.C.’s budget at the time, said she put $50 million into the appropriations bill that year, but the Senate, controlled by Republicans, eliminated it. The two chambers agreed on $25 million as a compromise, but she said she hoped to double the funding this year.

Dr. Naik-Mathuria, the Houston trauma surgeon, said she would like to see Washington address the problem of gun violence as a matter of injury prevention, not politics. She began researching methods to reduce gun violence about six years ago, she said, after seeing “kids come in dead because they shot themselves in the head when they found a gun at home.”

Her current study is aimed at determining risk factors for gun violence for children and adults, and her past work has led to some changes in medical practice, she said.

Pediatricians in Texas, she said, are hesitant to talk about gun safety out of concern that “it would anger parents or become political.” So she and her group made a broader safety video that tucked in messages about gun safety — like keeping guns locked and stored — with tips like how to keep children away from poison.


Source link

Continue Reading


Who Are Gavin Newsom’s Enemies?





There’s still time for a lot to change: If the organizers of the recall effort reach the signature threshold, the vote to recall Mr. Newsom and to choose his successor — both would be done on a single ballot — probably wouldn’t occur until near the end of the year.

That recall effort is being led by Orrin Heatlie, a conservative and a former sergeant in the Yolo County Sheriff’s Department, who as recently as last year shared anti-vaccination and anti-L.G.B.T.Q. views online. But the endeavor has the backing of a number of deep-pocketed political action committees, most of them right-leaning.

Randy Economy, a political consultant and talk-radio host, serves as the lead adviser to Recall Gavin Newsom, the group organizing the effort. He said the governor’s behavior and demeanor had made the recall necessary. “It’s because of Gavin Newsom himself, and the way he conducts himself every day since he’s become governor,” Mr. Economy said in an interview. “It’s all been more about his image and self-aggrandizing, as opposed to fixing the problems.”

Mr. Newsom’s approval rating isn’t nearly as low as Gov. Gray Davis’s was in 2003, when voters ousted him in a recall. Arnold Schwarzenegger, running as a moderate Republican, was the beneficiary of that effort, winning the recall election and going on to serve as governor for more than seven years.

California politics are different — and decidedly more Democratic — than they were 18 years ago. Democrats now have a 2-to-1 advantage in terms of voter registration across the state. Just because there is a Republican-led effort does not mean that a Republican will be the one to ultimately benefit. Mr. Economy, who volunteered in 2016 for Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign but has also worked for Democrats in the past, insisted that his team’s goal was not partisan in nature.

“Our job is not to pick the next governor; our job is to make sure that this governor’s recalled and removed from office,” he said.

The state is light on prominent (let alone popular) G.O.P. politicians, and some ambitious Democrats already appear ready to run through the open door. All of which points to a possible irony: Even if it were to become only the second successful recall effort in California history, the push — led by conservative interests — could ultimately lift up another Democrat, possibly one to the left of Mr. Newsom.


Source link

Continue Reading