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In a report full of holes, sheriff’s office exonerates federal marshals for killing antifa fugitive

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Among other claims, the report says Reinoehl fired at police first with his handgun. But that handgun was found in Reinoehl’s front pants pocket—with six full rounds in the magazine. The scenario the report depicts means he would have had to have fired a shot at police, reloaded the weapon, and stuck it back in his pants pocket before being killed by five shots to his head and torso as he emerged from the vehicle—which is unlikely at best.

An earlier, independent investigation by ProPublica and Oregon Public Broadcasting into the case raised serious issues about the Sept. 3 killing, the result of Reinoehl’s shooting of a far-right demonstrator named Aaron Danielson in downtown Portland on Aug. 29. The portrait that emerged of how the shooting transpired, including witnesses saying the police gave no warning and that Reinoehl did not display a gun, suggested that the 48-year-old fugitive was not arrested so much as he was simply executed.

Donald Trump seemingly confirmed at an October campaign rally that this was the case, commenting approvingly on the killing by telling the audience in Greenville, North Carolina, that there was no intention of arresting Reinoehl:

We sent in the U.S. Marshals, it took 15 minutes and it was over, 15 minutes and it was over … They knew who he was, they didn’t want to arrest him, and 15 minutes that ended. And they call themselves peaceful protesters.

The shooting happened in the early evening. Reinoehl had been on the lam ever since the shooting of Danielson, and apparently was hiding out that day in a neighborhood near Lacey, Washington, some 119 miles north of Portland. He had given an interview to Vice magazine earlier in the day, telling the reporter that he had acted in self-defense. He was leaving the apartment where he had been in hiding, and had just gotten into his car when a cluster of SUVs containing U.S. Marshals Service contractors descended and surrounded him.

“We could not confirm with 100% certainty that he fired out of the car because (investigators) couldn’t find the round or where it impacted,” Thurston County Sheriff’s Lt. Cameron Simper told the Seattle Times. “But we do believe that that’s what happened.”

The Thurston investigation concludes not only that Reinoehl fired first, but that he failed to comply with orders to surrender and was reaching for a gun in his possession when he was shot. However, other witnesses, including 21 people interviewed by The New York Times, said they did not hear officers identify themselves or give commands before opening fire.

“There was no, ‘Get out of the car!’ There was no, ‘Stop!’ There was no nothing. They just got out of the car and started shooting,” one witness said.

Another described it similarly: “There was no yelling. There was no screaming. There was no altercation. It was just straight to gunshots.”

Reinoehl’s family has a lot of questions about the report’s exoneration of law enforcement’s actions that day. Their attorney, Fred Langer of Seattle, told Oregon Public Broadcasting that investigators’ version of the facts of the case “absolutely strain credulity.”

“The narrative that police are putting out just doesn’t make any sense,” said Langer.

Investigators haven’t released their full report, but the Thurston Sheriff’s Office said last week that it had completed its review and turned it over to prosecutors for a final ruling on whether the killing was justified. It issued a two-page summary of findings that said, based on officer and witness statements, Reinoehl was reaching for a firearm in his possession.

Citing “witness statements,” the summary stated, “there was an exchange of gunfire, which was initiated by Reinoehl from inside his vehicle.”

A .380 caliber shell casing found in the back seat area of Reinoehl’s car came “from the pistol found in Reinoehl’s possession” after he was shot, according to analysts at the state crime lab, and the same gun was also definitively linked to Danielson’s shooting in Portland, according to Simper.

However, Simper did not respond to the Seattle Times’ follow-up questions—notably, including whether those state forensics tests determined how recently Reinoehl’s gun had been fired.

Trump may have played a role in the officers’ apparent eagerness to kill Reinoehl. One hour before the fugitive was killed, the then-president had tweeted:

Why aren’t the Portland Police ARRESTING the cold blooded killer of Aaron “Jay” Danielson. Do your job, and do it fast. Everybody knows who this thug is. No wonder Portland is going to hell!

Afterward, Attorney General William Barr issued a statement on the Justice Department letterhead that was equally bloodthirsty:

The tracking down of Reinoehl—a dangerous fugitive, admitted Antifa member, and suspected murderer—is a significant accomplishment in the ongoing effort to restore law and order to Portland and other cities.  I applaud the outstanding cooperation among federal, state, and local law enforcement, particularly the fugitive task force team that located Reinoehl and prevented him from escaping justice.  The streets of our cities are safer with this violent agitator removed, and the actions that led to his location are an unmistakable demonstration that the United States will be governed by law, not violent mobs.

Trump subsequently told Maria Bartiromo of Fox News: “This guy was a violent criminal, and the U.S. Marshals killed him. And I’ll tell you something—that’s the way it has to be. There has to be retribution.”

This all stood in stark contrast to how the Trump administration led a right-wing parade of support for Kyle Rittenhouse, the Illinois teenager who killed two Black Lives Matter protesters in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in August.

Trump himself had openly sympathized with Rittenhouse. “That was an interesting situation,” he told a rally in Kenosha. “You saw the same tape as I saw. And he was trying to get away from them. I guess it looks like he fell and then they very violently attacked him. And it was something that we’re looking at right now, and it’s under investigation. But I guess he was in very big trouble. He would have been—probably would have been killed, but it’s under investigation.”


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Oath Keepers ‘lifetime member’ agrees to cooperate with prosecutors in Jan. 6 insurrection case

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Schaffer’s guilty plea to two charges—obstructing an official proceeding and illegally entering the Capitol grounds—makes him the first participant in the insurrection to agree to provide evidence against his fellow rioters. Schaffer, who originally faced six felony charges, will enter the government’s witness protection program as part of the deal.

According to an earlier filing, which was mistakenly made public, Schaffer in March began engaging in “debrief interviews.” As The Washington Post notes, the plea bargain marks a critical step forward in the prosecution of the cases, as other defendants face similar choices in terms of providing evidence for prosecutors, particularly when it comes to the activities of the two key paramilitary organizations involved in the insurrection, the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys.

“Whenever you have a large group of people arrested,” criminal defense attorney Martin Tankleff told CNN, it’s common for prosecutors to pressure defendants to flip on each other. “They’re going to start talking. They’re going to start sharing information.”

Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes, who was present in Washington on Jan. 6 but did not enter the Capitol, is one of the key figures being drawn into the net prosecutors are creating with conspiracy charges involving other members of his group. Though federal indictments handed down against his Oath Keepers and Proud Boys cohorts have not named him personally, he is referenced in several of them as “Person 1,” a central player in what prosecutors are describing as a conspiracy to “stop, delay, or hinder Congress’s certification of the Electoral College vote.”

“I may go to jail soon,” Rhodes recently told a right-wing rally in Texas. “Not for anything I actually did, but for made-up crimes. There are some Oath Keepers right now along with Proud Boys and other patriots who are in D.C. who are sitting in jail denied bail despite the supposed right to a jury trial before you’re found guilty and presumption of innocence, were denied bail because the powers that be don’t like their political views.”

Proud Boy Dominic Pezzola’s attorney wrote in court filings that he believed a so-called “cooperating witness” was sharing information about the Proud Boys. An earlier filing by prosecutors had revealed that this witness heard Proud Boys members claim that “anyone they got their hands on they would have killed,” including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and that they would have also killed then-Vice President Mike Pence “if given the chance.” The men—who all had firearms or access to them—also talked about returning to Washington for Inauguration Day, and that “they plan to kill every single ‘m-fer’ they can.” That witness, prosecutors noted, has not been charged with a crime.

Most of the defendants, as a New York Times piece recently explored, are facing substantial evidence of their crimes culled from videos and photos both in mainstream media and on social media. Indeed, a large portion of that evidence was provided by the insurrectionists themselves.


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Republicans can’t agree with themselves on how tiny an infrastructure package to demand

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An estimated $41.8 billion is needed to repair structurally deficient bridges alone—never mind getting ahead of the bridges that will become structurally deficient in the coming years. Or talking about roads, rail, broadband, schools, veterans’ hospitals, ports, airports, replacing lead pipes for drinking water, caring for our elders while boosting some of the fastest-growing occupations, and supporting medical manufacturing.

As absurd a low-ball as Capito’s $600 to $800 billion was, though, at least she said something that she would be willing to talk about. More Republicans are just saying “No! Smaller!” and counting on voters to recoil from a corporate tax increase.

Voters, however, support raising corporate taxes to pay for infrastructure—in one poll, telling people that infrastructure would be paid for by a corporate tax hike actually increases support for the plan. Another new poll, from Navigator Research, finds narrow majority support for the infrastructure plan that grows to 70% support when people learn what’s in it, with large majorities of independent voters supporting many of the specific components of the American Jobs Plan, including the senior care proposal that congressional Republicans are so intent on disqualifying as “not really infrastructure.”

Even a majority of Republicans polled support that proposal, along with eliminating lead pipes, investing to protect against future pandemics, investing in rail systems, upgrading and building new schools and child care facilities, and more. Things like clean energy and investing in communities of color don’t get Republican majorities, but they do get independent majorities and strong Democratic support. If these proposals would get support from just half the proportion of Republican lawmakers as Republican voters, they would be seen as strongly bipartisan. But instead, congressional Republicans ignore the polling and yell about how Biden is steamrolling them because his willingness to compromise doesn’t extend to being steamrolled himself. These people are not operating in good faith. Doing so would be in violation of their deepest principles and would probably get them kicked out of their party. And they should be dealt with—and reported on—accordingly. 


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McConnell flat-out tells Republicans to use Manchin and Sinema to obstruct Biden, Democrats

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While that was happening, McConnell was telling Republicans to make nice to Manchin and Sinema to co-opt them to his agenda by boosting their already healthy egos. In an interview with Politico, McConnell demonstrated the tactic. “What they’ve been very forthright about is protecting the institution against pressures from their own party. I know what that’s like,” McConnell said, recalling Trump’s constant pressure to make him nuke the filibuster. “Every time I said no. And it’s nice that there are Democrats left who respect the institution and don’t want to destroy the very essence of the Senate.”

Of course, McConnell didn’t get rid of the filibuster on legislation because he cared about the Senate, which he had already laid to waste. He kept it because it kept the truly bonkers stuff the Republican House and Trump were coming up with in the first two years of Trump’s term from being viable in the Senate. McConnell didn’t want to have to preserve the Republican majority on that record. The second reason was that all he really wanted coming out of the Trump years was a stranglehold on the judiciary, which he achieved by—nuking the filibuster on Supreme Court appointees. Oh, and tax cuts. Which he achieved by the same non-filibusterable budget reconciliation he’s condemning now. So much for his vaunted love for the institution.

Nonetheless, his team is going forward on his command to co-opt the two tools of the Democrats. “For me right now, they’re almost guardians of democracy because they’re trying to protect us from the loss of the legislative filibuster and everything that would come with that. They’re good people,” John Thune, McConnell’s number two, told Politico—which is always willing to help spread GOP gospel. “They want to do the right thing.” If by “democracy” you mean minority rule, which Thune clearly does. Because that’s what Sinema and Manchin are protecting here.

Manchin told Politico “I just hope [Republicans] help me a little bit in bipartisanship. […] That’s all.” Good luck with that, Joe. “He said he believes Republicans aren’t all talk and no give, that ‘they really want to work.'” Sure. Because here’s what’s really happening, and Republicans are happy to admit it: “When they can’t drive compromise directly through legislation that’s passed through budget reconciliation, GOP senators can influence the process by keeping close ties to Sinema and Manchin.”

For example, Manchin’s last-minute intervention that nearly blew up the American Rescue Plan—the critical COVID-19 relief bill passed last month—was so much string-pulling by his Republican “friend” Rob Portman of Ohio, to cut back unemployment benefits by $100 a week and to cut the federal boost in payments off in early September, instead of at the end of October.

Politico baldly lays out the machinations here: “No Republicans supported that legislation, but they were able to make their mark through Manchin.” In other words, he’s being used.

Manchin and Sinema’s influence has “been very helpful,” said Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.). “Now, I don’t want to overstate that. I don’t think either one of them have fundamentally changed the direction of important Democratic legislation just yet. But they’ve certainly slowed down a lot of the more radical ideas.”

Like the radical notion of voting rights. Or the radical idea that $7.25 an hour is not enough to live on in almost every part of the country.

One of the “moderates” in the Democratic conference, the Maine Independent Angus King, basically endorsed Schumer’s approach. He said that he wants to see just how many Republicans are willing to cross over to help out before reforming the filibuster, but he is definitely putting the onus on them. “It’s up to them,” he told The Hill, citing a Washington Post op-ed he wrote last month: “What happens to the filibuster depends on how Republicans play their hand.”

Whether Manchin got that message isn’t entirely clear. “Chuck Schumer spoke more about bipartisan today than I’ve ever heard him speak about,” Manchin told reporters. “He wants—’Everything we’re doing, we’ll try to do bipartisan. Let’s work on bipartisan, reach out to your friends,'” is how Manchin interpreted it. It was probably more grammatically correct in the original.

Schumer’s deploying the only strategy that makes sense at this point, with Manchin and Sinema digging in their heels—put the onus on them to find Republicans to help. It would be satisfying if he took that a bit further and made Manchin, in particular, prove his assertion that there are 10 Republicans willing to work with him by getting public statements from them. But this will do for now.


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