Fears of insider threats grow ahead of inauguration. Giuliani associate to ex-CIA whistleblower: Trump pardon will ‘cost $2 million’. “Don’t stop trying to reach us”: trapped Chinese miners send note to rescuers. That and more below.
Fears of insider threats grow ahead of inauguration
Fearing an insider attack at the inauguration, the FBI is planning to vet all 25,000 National Guard troops to be deployed in DC. The FBI will be investigating the troops to identify and reassign any with extremist sympathies. Last week, Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy refused such a request from Congress, saying only the Army would take “additional measures” to look into troops in key areas. However, McCarthy and the Joint Chiefs did issue a statement to military personnel warning against any plans for insurrection. They also asked the troops to be extra vigilant and to report any untoward statements or actions by their comrades.
68 elected officials have also called for a probe of newly-elected Colorado Congresswoman Lauren Boebert. Boebert has received criticism for her actions before and during the Capitol riot. This includes inflammatory statements in Congress immediately preceding the riots. During the breach of the Capitol, Boebert also tweeted information about the location of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Some have accused Boebert, dubbed the “QAnon Congresswoman”, of attempting to help rioters who were looking for Pelosi. Boebert’s communications director has also resigned amid the fray.
Over the weekend, police arrested three people in DC whom they suspect may have been hoping to start trouble. One Virginia man was arrested with a handgun and 500 rounds of ammunition. He also had forged inauguration credentials. Another man was also arrested with a handgun with high-capacity magazines, as was a woman who was impersonating a police officer.
The FBI is also probing whether foreign governments or individuals may have funded some of the groups spearheading the attack on the Capitol.
Giuliani associate told ex-CIA whistleblower a Trump pardon would ‘cost $2m’
John Kiriakou, a former CIA officer who blew the whistle on the US torture program in 2007, has told the New York Times that an associate of Rudy Giuliani asked for $2 million in exchange for a pardon from President Trump. Giuliani is Trump’s personal lawyer, although the two have recently had a falling out over Giuliani’s failure to win a single case in Trump’s attempt to overturn the election.
After revealing the CIA’s torture program during the Bush administration, Kiriakou was later prosecuted under the Obama administration for revealing the identity of an operative involved in the program. Kiriakou spent two years in federal prison and lost his CIA pension.
In 2019, Kiriakou, Giuliani and an associate of Giuliani’s held an informal meeting at the Trump International Hotel in Washington to discuss the possibility of a presidential pardon for Kiriakou. During the meeting, which Kiriakou says “involved substantial alcohol”, Giuliani excused himself to go to the bathroom. It was then that Giuliani’s associate told Kiriakou: “It’s going to cost $2 million – he’s going to want two million bucks”.
Kiriakou says he laughed at the suggestion. “Two million bucks – are you out of your mind?” Kiriakou reportedly said. “Even if I had two million bucks, I wouldn’t spend it to recover a $700,000 pension”.
The times report also included details of a widespread lucrative lobbying scheme targeting pardon seekers. Amazingly, while presidential pardons are meant to reward convicts who show contrition, it is NOT illegal for Giuliani or anyone else to make a buck using their influence to lobby for one.
“Don’t stop trying to reach us”: Chinese miners trapped for 7 days send note to rescuers
A note from miners trapped for a week after an explosion in a Chinese gold mine has rekindled hopes of a rescue. According to the note, 12 of 22 miners trapped underground when the explosion occurred are still alive. The fate of the other 10 remains unclear. The workers managed to send a note to rescuers saying “don’t stop trying to reach us”. Hundreds of rescue workers have been laboring for days trying to reach the men. They finally managed to make contact with some of the men and deliver them food, medical supplies and pencils and paper. Mining accidents are relatively commonplace in China due to poor safety regulations.
Poisoned Putin critic arrested in Russia
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny returned home yesterday after spending over four months convalescing in Germany following a poisoning attempt. Upon his return, Navalny was arrested for “probation violations” connected to an embezzlement charge. Navalny insists the charges are politically motivated. Navalny also blames Russian agents for his poisoning in August with a Novichok nerve agent. Russian officials deny the accusation, but independent investigations have supported Navalny’s claims. Investigative group Bellingcat claims to have evidence that Russian security agents tasked with poisoning Navalny stalked him for years before the August attack.