Treasure hunters sue FBI over dig for Civil War gold. Jan. 6 Hearing Day 2: A Lie is Born. Brazil: Police deny bodies found in search for missing pair.
Treasure hunters sue FBI over dig for Civil War gold
A lawsuit by a father-son treasure hunting team says the FBI secretly dug up a huge cache of Civil War-era gold in Pennsylvania. In 2018, Dennis and Kem Parada’s treasure hunting company Finders Keepers conducted a geophysical survey of a site in a wooded area. Their results suggested there was a buried object with a mass of up to 9 tons and a density consistent with gold. According to local lore, a shipment of Union gold was lost or stolen in the area on its way to the US Mint in Philadelphia in 1863.
If the gold existed and was connected with this story, it would have been US government property. The Paradas therefore informed the FBI of their findings. The lawsuit claims that the FBI dug up the gold in the middle of the night, and then covered up the discovery, robbing the Paradas of a hefty finder’s fee. The FBI claims they found nothing at the site.
A trail cam the Paradas installed at the site captured an FBI agent with a video camera and other agents milling about. The Paradas say this proves that the FBI filmed the excavation, which the FBI also denies. The Paradas made a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to obtain the FBI’s video. The FBI initially claimed it had 17 videos responsive to the FOIA request. Then, without explanation, they reduced it to four. Those four videos were ones the Paradas themselves had provided to the FBI.
Anne Weismann, the Paradas’ attorney, says the trail cam photo suggests that the FBI is either lying about having video of the excavation, or that they illegally destroyed the video to dodge the FOIA request.
Jan. 6 Hearing Day 2: A Lie is Born
“Just claim victory”. That’s what an apparently inebriated Rudy Giuliani told former President Trump on the night of the 2020 election.
Ignoring the advice of his own campaign staff, Trump had chosen to sell his voters on the idea that mail-in ballots were a scam. He’d urged them instead to vote only in person. Now, those in-person tallies were coming in, and it was not looking good for Trump. There were lots of mail-in votes still to be counted in the coming days, and most of them were Biden’s.
Giuliani therefore advised Trump to lean further into the fiction about mail-in ballots being fraudulent, and to demand they not be counted. So began a marathon of ill-conceived court filings, a profusion of ill-fated probes, and a flood of ill-gotten gains ($250 million worth), fleeced from Trump’s own supporters.
Litigation and conspiracy chasing
Yesterday, the Congressional select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot held its second public hearing. This installment focused on the origins of the election fraud allegations that fomented the riot. The panel played recorded testimony from several former Trump staffers, including senior campaign managers, and legal counsel. There were also more clips from former Attorney General Bill Barr, and other senior DOJ staff members. All of the witnesses (with the notable exception of Giuliani) testified that they repeatedly told Trump that Biden had won the election and that there was no evidence of significant voter fraud.
During testimony, the witnesses often seemed bewildered, as if they were only processing the insanity of what happened as they attempted to verbalize it. One of the most telling was a snippet of testimony from Former Acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue (at 1:31:23-1:34:35 in the video link below). Donoghue described how, at the behest of President Trump, the DOJ embarked on a wild goose chase, investigating and debunking one unfounded accusation and conspiracy theory after another. Trump hoped to find one credible instance of significant election fraud. No sooner would the DOJ debunk one theory than Trump would present them with another. Donoghue said that he told the President that he was getting “bad information”, though he did not specify from where. Barr suggested that after the election, Trump had “detached from reality”.
Raging all the way to the bank
Unsatisfied with this, President Trump vehemently expressed his frustration behind closed doors. But in the public eye, he promoted as fact these baseless theories and pursued one unfounded theory after another in the courts. One by one, the courts rejected these filings from Trump’s team as being without merit. Many of the judges who rejected the claims were Republican appointees, and 10 were Trump’s own appointees.
Despite the lack of facts or evidence on his side, Trump’s campaign used these baseless accusations of widespread fraud to squeeze one last payday from his largely working-class and middle-class supporters. Supporters received as many as 25 emails in a day asking for donations to the Official Election Defense Fund. According to testimony from two of Trump’s own staffers, this fund did not exist. It was, at best, a marketing ploy. Instead, most of the money raised for the Official Election Defense Fund went to a newly-created political action committee (PAC) called the Save America PAC. The Save America PAC in turn funneled the money to various organizations. These included, among others, a 501(c)(3) belonging to Trump’s Chief of Staff Mark Meadows; organizations where many former Trump administration officials worked; Trump’s own hotels; and the event planners who organized Trump’s Jan. 6 rally in DC.
Brazil: Police deny bodies found in search for missing pair
A British journalist and Brazilian indigenous expert have been missing for over a week in the Amazon rainforest. Family members of Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira fear they have met with foul play. Phillips and Pereira had embarked on a fact-finding trip for a book Phillips was writing. Local indigenous communities said Pereira had received death threats for his campaigning against illegal fishing in the area.
Yesterday, Brazilian police said they had found “organic material” in their search for the two men, which they were analyzing. However, Phillips’ brother-in-law Paul Sherwood claims to have received a call on Monday morning from the Brazilian embassy. Sherwood says a liaison officer told him police had found two bodies tied to a tree, and that the embassy was informing the men’s family members before the press got wind of it. Police have denied making any such find and claim that the call to Sherwood was a miscommunication.
Phillips and Pereira’s families had previously criticized the response from Brazilian authorities when the pair were reported missing. Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro has repeatedly come under fire for turning a blind eye to destructive and illegal mining, logging and fishing in the rainforest.
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