Wednesday, 27 January 2021

Why am I not surprised by a report of another dangerous blunder by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison & Co?


The Age, 22 January 2021:


Some of the masks distributed to hospitals and aged care homes at the height of the pandemic as part of the federal government's national medical stockpile have been judged defective by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.


Laboratory testing by Australia’s medical regulator identified a range of issues with some disposable surgical masks branded Softmed and imported by M House.


The issues include quality control, lack of proper labelling, and inconsistent fluid resistance between batches. Fluid resistance is vital for medical masks, as fluid droplets generated by coughing and sneezing have been found to spread COVID-19.


A Kirby Institute study, published in November, estimated Australian healthcare workers were nearly three times more likely to become infected with coronavirus than other Australians. More than 3560 healthcare workers have been infected with COVID-19 in Victoria. Nearly three-quarters of them caught the virus at work.


At the peak of the state's second wave of infections in early August, so many staff were off sick or isolating from the Royal Melbourne Hospital that the facility was forced to temporarily close four of its wards…...


"Based on the results of internal and external accredited laboratory testing, M House is very confident that its products supplied during the height of the pandemic do not pose a risk to frontline workers but in fact protect them," the spokeswoman said.


M House genuinely believes that, at best, the TGA has conducted itself incompetently in relation to the testing of the device and, at worst, has acted and continues to act in bad faith towards M House, in respect of which M House has reserved its rights and, if necessary, will prosecute them to the full extent necessary, including to obtain the removal of the alert notice which it genuinely believes is unjustified.”


The TGA issued a product defect alert for the disposable surgical masks in November and the Health Department has since written to aged care homes, healthcare networks, the National Disability Insurance Scheme and state and territory health authorities, warning about the defective batches.


The TGA has been running its own lab tests on masks, with priority given to the millions of masks on Australia’s national medical stockpile. Of the first 25 results released, seven had problems identified.


A spokeswoman for the TGA said: "A strong precautionary approach was taken by issuing a Product Defect Alert notice on 14 November 2020 for the relevant Softmed branded surgical masks, sponsored by M House, to ensure customers who purchase or are supplied with these masks safeguard healthcare workers if the masks are being used in high-risk settings,"


Andrew Hewat, Victorian Allied Health Professionals Association assistant secretary, said: “Any concerns in terms of the level of safety, the standards that are being applied, raises concerns for our members…..[my yellow highlighting]


Tuesday, 26 January 2021

A Quote for Australia Day-Invasion Day 2021

 

“I'm astounded at the comment [from the Prime Minister]…..


"It indicates to me a very shallow understanding of the arrival of the First Fleet and the impact of that on Aboriginal Australia.


"It's a very selfish comment. He said nothing about the arrival of that fleet on the Aboriginal owners who own the place.


"There's no empathy there at all. He's turning it inward. It's all about self-praise and aggrandisement of white fella colonisation.


"It's so shallow in that it doesn't involve inclusion or diversity.


"I just think he's very lightweight when it comes to understanding Australian history and Aboriginal perspectives about the British colonisation of the country.”


[Former Australian of the Year. Northern Territory Treaty Commissioner and ANU Professor of Law, Michael Dodson AM, a proud Yawuru man, quoted in ABC News online, 22.01.21]



An example of how Australian colonial history was re-written


In 1803 the first British soldiers and convicts landed in Van Diemen's Land and in 1824 it became a separate colony to New South Wales. 


By then the colonial population of the island numbered est. 11,967 souls and a population explosion had begun which expanded across more of the land.


Between 1825 and 1831 - when the British-European population had almost tripled - Aboriginal resistance to invasion and occupation of their country increased, with 219 colonists and 260 Aboriginals reported killed. [Nicholas Clements, 2014] 


Though the reality is that Aboriginal deaths were likely considerably higher as this number may not have counted all men, women and children gratuitously murdered, as it is believed that few so-called 'reprisal' incidents were officially recorded at the time they occurred. [Hobart Town Gazette December 3, 1823; Ryan, 1996:86-88; Bonwick, 1870:99, Hobart Town Gazette May 5, 1827; Colonial Times May 11, 1827; George 2002:13, Lee 1927:41; AOT VDL 5/1 No.2, 14/1/28 in SciencePo, 5 March 2008]


However, contemporary colonial history often tried to paint a different picture......


 
Legend reads: "Why Massa Gubernor", said Black Jack. "You Profflamation all gammon.
"How blackfellow read him eh? He no learn him read book."
"Read that then", said the Governor, pointing to the picture.'


Images are treacherous; labels more so. As it happens, Governor Davey’s Proclamation to the Aborigines 1816 had nothing to do with Governor Davey. It does not date from 1816. And it is not really a proclamation. It was commissioned by Lieutenant Governor Sir George Arthur; in 1830, around one hundred copies were published by the government printer in Hobart, placed on wooden boards, and disseminated. The misattribution dates from its re-discovery in the 1860s and might be explained in two ways. First, by setting the date back almost a generation, the notion that the British colony was founded on the principle of the rule of law is thereby promoted.


Law always needs some mythic retrospectivity to shore up its legitimacy—a penal colony established by dispossession and maintained by violence over whites and blacks alike, especially. The violence and chaos that mark the birth of any new legal order thus become cloaked in a myth that emphasizes instead its inevitability, its order, and its naturalness. By the 1860s, it surely served the interests of Tasmania’s free settlers to inject the rule of law into their narrative of legitimate settlement, as early as possible.


Secondly, Thomas Davey cuts a more attractive figure as author of the Proclamation than Sir George Arthur. As governor, Davey had protested in 1814 his “utter indignation and abhorrence” about the kidnapping of Aboriginal children. But Governor Arthur was an altogether more paradoxical figure, a man who oscillated wildly between expressions of concern for the Aborigines and military campaigns against them; between inciting white settlers to kill Tasmania’s first inhabitants and expressing outrage when they did. He was a man who combined eruptions of extreme action with outbursts of remorseful reflection. Above all, as the man behind the notorious Black Line, the dragnet which attempted to corral like cattle the Aboriginal population of the whole island, Arthur symbolizes a way of thinking about the original Tasmanians that “would be laughable were it not so criminally tragic.” Such a background surely taints and complicates the promise of the rule of law.


The cartoon was suggested and apparently drawn by Arthur’s Surveyor-General George Frankland, and he in turn was inspired by Aboriginal bark paintings.....


The paradox that this drawing raises lies in the difficulty of squaring “the real wishes of the government,” as the Proclamation presents it, with the “the actual state of things” in Van Diemen’s Land. At the very same time that Governor Arthur’s Proclamation elaborated an expansive commitment to the rule of law, he was extending martial law throughout Tasmania. Martial law had initially been declared in 1828 in the face of Aboriginal resistance to colonial settlement. In February of 1830, a reward of five pounds was proclaimed for the capture of adult Aborigines (two pounds for a child), describing them as “a horde of [s]avages” consumed by “revengeful feelings.” In October of 1830, faced by “continued repetitions of the most wanton and sanguinary acts of violence and outrage,” Arthur extended martial law to “every part of this Island.” On October 7, “the [white] community . . . en masse” was to spread out like a human chain across the whole island and, by moving forward, herd the Black or Aboriginal Natives on to Tasman’s Peninsula where they could be penned in once and for all.


Yet martial law had always been understood as involving the suspension of the rule of law. In 1829, the brutal murder of an Aboriginal woman was deemed by the Solicitor-General to be beyond the reach of the common law precisely because it fell under the very broad rubric of “necessary operations against the enemies.” Subject to “an active and extended system of Military operations against the Natives generally” and until the “cessation of hostilities,” Aboriginal Tasmanians were specifically placed outside the rule of law. The Black Line, a dismal and notorious folly, led to the capture of a grand total of two Aborigines and the shooting of two more, but it was powerfully evocative of the colonial government’s attitude towards them….


[Desmond Manderson (January 2013) in NYLS Law Review, Vol 57, Issue 1, THE LAW OF THE IMAGE AND THE IMAGE OF THE LAW”, pp. 157-158]


Monday, 25 January 2021

Despite Prime Minister Morrison's recent assurances concerning free speech in Australia - there is no blanket protection of speech in this country. In fact there are severe constraints made worse in the last 7 years by the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government

 

Australian LNP MP for Warwick George Christensen
exercising the peculiar form of free speech fully endorsed by 
his prime minister, Scott Morrison 
IMAGE: @maxiedexter


The Age, 21 January 2021:


When Prime Minister Scott Morrison was invited to condemn far-right conspiracy theories promoted by government members such as George Christensen, he refused. He defended another Liberal backbencher, Craig Kelly, who undermined the government's health message by spreading false information about COVID-19. "There's such a thing as freedom of speech in this country and that will continue," Morrison said.


In fact, there are severe constraints on free speech in Australia, more so than in North America or Western Europe. The Coalition government's 2018 security laws make it an offence to leak, receive or report a wide range of "information, of any kind, whether true or false and whether in a material form or not, and includes (a) an opinion and (b) a report of a conversation". Another clause makes it a serious crime to say anything that harms "Australia's foreign relations, including political, military, and economic relations". Even if ministers should sometimes be circumspect, other people should be free to criticise any country without resorting to disinformation.


Jail sentences for some offences can be 15 or more years, even when little genuine harm results. There is no recognition that leaked information has never killed anyone in Australia. In contrast, secret intelligence generated by Australia and its allies has led to innocent people, including children, being killed in Afghanistan and elsewhere.


Parliamentarians have endorsed the serious erosion of core liberties. The rot set in when they abjectly acquiesced in the Australian Federal Police's raid on Parliament House in 2016, with police accessing IT systems and seizing thousands of non-classified documents to search for the source of leaks to a Labor opposition frontbencher. The leaks revealed problems with rising costs and delays in the National Broadband Network - information that should have been public.


In an earlier era, ASIO and the AFP would never tap phones in Parliament House, let alone raid it. The Parliament should have found the AFP in contempt. Instead, politicians squibbed it.


Last July, the AFP recommended charging ABC journalist Dan Oaks, co-author of the 2017 series "The Afghan Files", which exposed alleged war crimes committed by Australian special forces in Afghanistan. In October, the prosecutor declined to proceed. The law should clearly state the AFP should not pursue a journalist acting in the public interest.


Undeterred, the government is pushing for more powers that undermine free speech and civil liberties. Its International Production Orders bill would give ASIO and the AFP the right to order communications providers in "like-minded" countries to produce any electronic data they request and remove encryption. One downside is that the FBI and a wide range of US security bodies would have reciprocal rights to access private data held by Australian people and corporations. A big stumbling block is that the US law, called the CLOUD Act, prohibits other countries accessing data if they have weaker privacy and civil liberties protections than the US. Australia falls into that category.


Last month, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton introduced a bill creating extraordinary powers to affect a wide range of people, not just paedophiles as the government claims. The bill covers all crimes with a jail sentence of three or more years. This includes whistleblowers and journalists and innocent people expressing an opinion that falls foul of foreign influence laws.


If passed, Dutton's bill will give the AFP and Australia's Criminal Intelligence Commission the ability to covertly take over a person's online account to gather evidence of a crime. These proposed new powers should be severely curtailed.


BACKGROUND


InnovationAus, 7 December 2020:


The federal government last week introduced legislation handing new powers to the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) to hack into the computers and networks of those suspected of conducting criminal activity online, specifically targeting the dark web.


The bill introduced three new warrants, allowing authorities to “disrupt” data of the suspected offenders, to access their devices and networks to identify who they actually are, and to take over their accounts covertly.


The laws were introduced without any consultation and with little fanfare from the government, and were quickly met with widespread concerns, and comparisons with the highly controversial anti-encryption powers, which were passed in a rush in the last days of Parliament in 2018.


The Law Council of Australia said the “extraordinary” powers needed to be subject to proper review and oversight and must be referred to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS).


A Home Affairs spokesperson confirmed the bill would be referred to the PJCIS and would be debated in Parliament after a report is tabled.


It is important for the PJCIS to consider this critical and complex piece of legislation, the spokesperson told InnovationAus.


The new powers point to authorities wanting to conduct “poisoned water hole” operations, where police or other agencies take over an illegal platform or service on the dark web and continue to operate it in order to obtain the identities of its users.


The network activity warrants in the new bill would allow the AFP to access the device and networks of groups or individuals suspected of taking part in criminal activity online, but whose identities they do not know.


They serve to “target criminal networks about which very little is known”. These warrants would be issued by an eligible judge or member of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.


Information obtained under one of these warrants could be the subject of derivative use, the explanatory memorandum said, which means it could be cited in an affidavit on application for another investigatory power, such as the issuing of another warrant.


These warrants could be used in combination with the new account take over warrants, which would allow the AFP and ACIC to take over the online accounts of individuals suspected of taking part in criminal activity, covertly and without consent, and would be approved by a magistrate.


The legislation unveiled last week by the government also included “minor amendments” to the Controlled Operations Act, scrapping a requirement that the illicit goods used by authorities as part of an “online controlled operation” be under their control at its conclusion.


This means that if an undercover AFP officer is posing as a drug dealer, any drugs used in the operation must still be in their control at the end of the operation.


This is intended to address how easy data is to copy and disseminate, and the limited guarantee that all illegal content will be able to be under the control of the AFP and ACIC at the conclusion of an online control operation,” the explanatory memorandum said.


According to Deakin University senior lecturer in criminology Dr Monique Mann, these changes point to the government looking towards “poisoned water hole” operations, where authorities take control of a criminal platform or marketplace and then continue to operate it in order to gather information on its users.


The amendments to those laws, combined with the computer network operations powers and capabilities, indicates to me that they want poisoned water hole operations,” Dr Mann told InnovationAus.


Effectively this is giving law enforcement the ability to conduct extraterritorial government hacking of websites around the world, that they don’t know where they are, which is beyond the legal authority of Australian law enforcement,” she said.


They will potentially be running poisoned water holes and hacking companies where they’re not sure where they are located. That has significant extraterritorial implications for due process for suspects.


Because they’re going for an expansion of hacking and account takeovers, it shows they’re going to hack into them, take them over and continue to run them as controlled operations. This suite of powers combined in this way is for poisoned water holes, it’s pretty clear.”.....


Australian Parliament, Parliamentary Business, 3 December 2020:

Surveillance Legislation Amendment (Identify and Disrupt) Bill 2020


Referred to Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security on 8 December 2020.


Note:


Under the amendments found in the aforementioned bill, essentially a member of the Australian Federal Police can telephone an eligible judge and verbally request a Data Disruption Warrant based on the vague requirement of "reasonable grounds". 


Likewise a Network Activity Warrant can be granted by a judge or AAT member which is "unsworn" and an Account Takeover Warrant can be granted by a magistrate over the phone - again based on "reasonable grounds".


Nowhere in this bill is a request for such a warrant restricted to activities on so-called 'dark web' sites as is implied by Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton, nor does the type/level of Commonwealth or State "serious offence" on which the bill relies to trigger federal government hacking of an individual's digital devices, web sites or social media/chatroom accounts appear to exclude communications by/with journalists, whistleblowers or political/environmental activists acting in good faith.


Sunday, 24 January 2021

National Parks & Wildlife consulting over future of Wollumbin summit track

 

Wollumbin
IMAGE: Visit North Coast NSW





Echo NetDaily, 22 January 2021:


A number of traditional custodians of the sacred site have called for non-Indigenous people to refrain from undertaking the five-hour trek.


Up to 100,000 people climb the mountain each year, according to tourism data. However, some leave rubbish such as soiled toilet paper by the side of the track and at the stunning peak.


The track has been closed for much of the past year owing to COVID-19, and it now appears it may stay that way.


A safety audit and an engineering assessment conducted during the closure have identified significant safety issues with the final climb to the Wollumbin summit.


These include an ‘extreme risk of landslide, rockfall and failure of the chain section of the track’.


A spokesperson from the National Parks and Wildlife Service said the current closure had been extended, at least until May.


Tellingly, the spokesperson also said that the future of the summit track was now under consideration.


This was being done in consultation with various key stakeholders, including the traditional owners of the site.


We understand that locals and visitors may be disappointed by the extended closure, however our main priority must always be to ensure the safety of visitors and staff,’ the spokesperson said.


We will now consider the future of the Summit track, in consultation with key community and tourism stakeholders, including Aboriginal Elders and knowledge holders.’


Wollumbin, which means ‘cloud catcher’ in some Aboriginal languages, is a traditional place of cultural law, initiation and spiritual education for the people of the Bundjalung Nation.


Under Bundjalung law, only certain people can climb the summit.


The National Parks and Wildlife Service asks visitors to respect the wishes of the local Indigenous mob and ‘avoid climbing this very difficult track’.


STATE OF PLAY 2021: We live in dangerous times



Kentan Joshi, 17 January 2021:


In March 2019, an Australian white supremacist walked into a mosque, armed with a shotgun, and killed 51 people, including a two year old boy. The man who enacted those killings wanted to wipe out those he’d been told were replacing white people, and erasing white culture. The first thing on my mind when I saw that was this article published only a few months prior.





Though complaints were made to the Australian Press Council, no action was taken to remove the article or punish the media outlet. The reason this article prompted little outcry among the employees of News Corp is because white supremacy, racism and the deadly ideology of the ‘Great Replacement’ belief system are viewed as harmless thought experiments – rather than things that lead to children being murdered by Australians with shotguns.


I wrote, a few days after the Christchurch attack:


Politics and media are each split into two factions: a large number of people who are explicitly racist, and a large number of people who refuse to accept that the other people could ever be explicitly racist. Together, they create an environment necessary, (though, on its own, insufficient) for the spawning of far-right terror and large-scale massacres”


People are already dying. Movements are coalescing. The broader media feedstock into this system hasn’t changed enough, certainly not in Australia. There are no more chances to fuck this up. Stubbornness means lives are lost. A tin ear means innocents suffer. There are no more chances, and there is no more time.


Bannon


in 2018, Australia’s national broadcaster aired a long interview between Four Corners reporter Sarah Ferguson and alt-right, Nazi-adjacent grifter Steve Bannon. Ferguson said she’d heard others call Bannon racist, and declared that “there’s no evidence that that’s what you are”. That’s the same Bannon who, prior to that interview, complained too many CEOs in Silicon Valley were Asian, and said of black Americans being murdered by police, “What if the people getting shot by the cops did things to deserve it? There are, after all, in this world, some people who are naturally aggressive and violent”.


The problem with that interview is that it provided a stream of content for Youtube videos of Bannon ‘owning’ establishment media and gave him legitimacy on Australia’s most trusted media outlet. Bannon’s goal is not making a good argument – it’s prominence and platform. The format of an interview simply gives liars a free substrate in which to deploy their craft. But the criticism of that interview was not received well by Australia’s journalists…..


Much of this problem comes from the simple fact that Australia’s media landscape is mostly white, and therefore free to see racism as a cute thought experiment. Seeing footage of police officers begging white nationalists to spare their lives because they have children hasn’t really changed that.


How do we know it hasn’t changed? Charlottesville based activist Molly Conger received a long direct message on Twitter from (at the time) unspecified journalists seeking to “interview members of the far-right”; right after Four Corners reporter Sarah Ferguson announced her departure to the US along with Tony Jones, to cover the white nationalist terrorist attacks. After some wry jokes from Twitter folks, Conger confirmed that it was indeed Four Corners and Sarah Ferguson asking to interview white nationalist terrorists. In her original post she included her reply, pleading with the team not to provide a platform.


Don’t lend them the legitimacy of your institution. Don’t publish their words uncritically. Don’t’ publish them at all unless you have a subject matter expert to dissect them and present them as the falsehood they are. This is life and death for us”.


That last sentence has a grave and terrifying reality to it, given Conger lives in Charlottesville. “I get so many death threats I can catalogue them by the gunmaker mentioned”, she wrote in 2019. Of course, it’s completely baffling why they wouldn’t ask for Conger’s perspective. More telling is that they expect her to happily pass on the contact details of people who explicitly want to kill her.


In fact, many American anti-racist activists now refuse to speak to journalists if those same journalists are giving a platform to white supremacists (in much the same way climate scientists had to deny comments if those stories also featured deniers).


A smattering of Australian journalists are tuned into the tactics of white supremacists, the alt-right and terror groups, and are figuring out new approaches to dealing with the rising terror threat of white supremacists…..


This comes at a time when these terror groups are beginning to ramp up in Australia: “Far-right violent extremism constitutes up to 40% of the Australian domestic spy agency’s counter-terrorism caseload, up from 10-15% before 2016″. A teenager from Albury in New South Wales was planning a “mass casualty attack” just prior to being arrested. Australia’s anti-terror regimes are failing to do much of anything about it. An inquiry will focus on social media, but has no mention of television, print or legacy digital media: Andrew Bolt is free to write about the white race is being wiped out by dirty ethnics, as much as he pleases.


These terror groups aren’t growing in the widespread air of suspicion and paranoia that surrounded Islamic terror in the 2000s. They’re free and unhindered. They have the support of sympathetic voices in police, political and media establishments, and they have the support of people who can’t process that they’re a direct threat to our safety. They have journalists hunting tirelessly to find ways to elevate their voices to larger audiences……


Journalists: please, don’t wait until a mass casualty attack in Australia before you decide to stop playing directly into the hands of white supremacists. There are no more chances. We are here now, and we are in danger.


Read full article here.


Saturday, 23 January 2021

An American perspective on the last 78 days of Donald J. Trump's destructive presidency


Donald Trump in defeat
IMAGE: www.afr.com, 8 November 2020



AXIOS, Off the rails: Behind Trump's post-election meltdown, 18 January 2020:


Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. This Axios series takes you inside the collapse of a president.


Episode 1: A premeditated lie lit the fire


Trump’s refusal to believe the election results was premeditated. He had heard about the “red mirage” — the likelihood that early vote counts would tip more Republican than the final tallies — and he decided to exploit it.


"Jared, you call the Murdochs! Jason, you call Sammon and Hemmer!”


President Trump was almost shouting. He directed his son-in-law and his senior strategist from his private quarters at the White House late on election night. He barked out the names of top Fox News executives and talent he expected to answer to him.


And anyone else — anyone else who will take the call," he said. “Tell these guys they got to change it, they got it wrong. It’s way too early. Not even CNN is calling it.”


As the clock ticked over into the first minutes of Nov. 4, Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani ranted to top campaign aides: "There's no way he lost; this thing must have been stolen. Just say we won Michigan! Just say we won Georgia! Just say we won the election! He needs to go out and claim victory." Trump’s campaign manager Bill Stepien later told associates: "That was fucking crazy."


For weeks, Trump had been laying the groundwork to declare victory on election night — even if he lost. But the real-time results, punctuated by Fox’s shocking call, upended his plans and began his unraveling.


Trump had planned for Americans to go to bed on Nov. 3 celebrating — or resigned to — his re-election. The maps they saw on TV should be bathed in red. But at 11:20 p.m. that vision fell apart, as the nation’s leading news channel among conservatives became the first outlet to call Arizona for Joe Biden. Inside the White House, Trump's inner circle erupted in horror.


Over the next two months, Trump took the nation down with him as he descended into denial, despair and a reckless revenge streak that fueled a deadly siege on the U.S. Capitol by his backers seeking to overturn the election. This triggered a constitutional crisis and a bipartisan push to impeach Trump on his way out the door, to try to cast him out of American politics for good.


But in four years, Trump had remade the Republican Party in his own image, inspiring and activating tens of millions of Americans who weren’t abandoning him anytime soon. He’d once bragged he could shoot another person on Fifth Avenue and not lose his voters. In reality, many of them had eagerly lined up to commit violence on his behalf.


As Trump prepared for Election Day, he was focused on the so-called red mirage. This was the idea that early vote counts would look better for Republicans than the final tallies because Democrats feared COVID-19 more and would disproportionately cast absentee votes that would take longer to count. Trump intended to exploit this — to weaponize it for his vast base of followers.


His preparations were deliberate, strategic and deeply cynical. Trump wanted Americans to believe a falsehood that there were two elections — a legitimate election composed of in-person voting, and a separate, fraudulent election involving bogus mail-in ballots for Democrats.


In the initial hours after returns closed, it looked like his plan could work. Trump was on track for easy wins in Florida and Ohio, and held huge — though deceptive — early leads in Pennsylvania and Michigan.


But as Bill Hemmer narrated a live "what if" scenario on his election telestrator from Studio F of Fox’s gargantuan Manhattan headquarters, the anchor sounded confused. "What is this happening here? Why is Arizona blue?" he asked on camera, prodding the image of the state on the touch screen, unable to flip its color. "Did we just call it? Did we make a call in Arizona?" Because of a minor communication breakdown, Hemmer's screen had turned Arizona blue before he or the other anchors, Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum, found out that Fox’s Decision Desk had called it.


Trump was steaming and he wanted to see his top aides immediately. His son-in-law Jared Kushner, chief of staff Mark Meadows, campaign manager Stepien, senior strategist Jason Miller, and data cruncher Matt Oczkowski took the elevator up to the third floor of the residence at the White House. They met Trump and the first lady halfway between his bedroom and the living room at the end of the hall. Trump peppered them with questions. What happened? What the hell is going on at Fox?


Oczkowski told Trump that based on the campaign’s modeling he thought Fox was wrong and “we’re going to narrowly win” by maybe 10,000 votes or less, “razor close.” But the reality was, hundreds of thousands of votes were outstanding in Maricopa County and the picture was too cloudy to be sure. Then Trump told Kushner to call the Murdochs…..


Read the full segment here.


Episode 2: Barbarians at the Oval


President Trump plunked down in an armchair in the White House residence, still dressed from his golf game — navy fleece, black pants, white MAGA cap. It was Saturday, Nov. 7. The networks had just called the election for Joe Biden.


In the Yellow Oval Room, the same room where FDR learned of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, stewards brought hors d’oeuvres on trays while Trump gathered his closest political advisers to assess what options he had left.


Top aides including campaign manager Bill Stepien, senior adviser Jason Miller, conservative political activist and external Trump adviser David Bossie, and Justin Clark, the deputy campaign manager, leveled with him. As they saw it, he had one last long shot at victory. It would require them to win enough outstanding votes in Arizona and Georgia to squeak home in those two states, and to win a legal challenge to election practices in Wisconsin.


"You have a 5% to 10% chance of this happening," Clark told the president. "But all of these things have to go right.” Trump listened calmly and told them their plan was worth a shot.


But it would never get off the ground. Plan B, driven by Rudy Giuliani and a parallel track of conspiracists, was already coming together, unfolding before the original advisers' own eyes.


It would soon overtake the campaign's legal operation, feeding the president false claims including the idea that the election could be overturned.


On the day after the election, Nov. 4, top staff including Stepien, Clark, Miller, general counsel Matthew Morgan and Jared Kushner had gathered at Trump campaign headquarters in Arlington, Virginia. They believed this would be a serious search for a path to 270 electoral votes through credible legal challenges.


Then Giuliani, Sidney Powell and a swelling conspiracy crew marched into the room — literally.


These two groups — the professional staff and the Giuliani cabal — filled in around one long, rectangular table in a conference room walled in by frosted glass. The pattern repeated itself the day after that and the day after that….


Read the full segment here.


Episode 3: Descent into madness ... Trump: "Sometimes you need a little crazy"


The conspiracy goes too far. Trump's outside lawyers plot to seize voting machines and spin theories about communists, spies and computer software.


President Trump was sitting in the Oval Office one day in late November when a call came in from lawyer Sidney Powell. "Ugh, Sidney," he told the staff in the room before he picked up. "She's getting a little crazy, isn't she? She's really gotta tone it down. No one believes this stuff. It's just too much."


He put the call on speakerphone for the benefit of his audience. Powell was raving about a national security crisis involving the Iranians flipping votes in battleground states. Trump pressed mute and laughed mockingly.


"So what are we gonna do about it, Sidney?" Trump would say every few seconds, whipping Powell more and more into a frenzy. He was having fun with it. "She really is crazy, huh?" he said, again with his finger on the mute button.


It was clear that Trump recognized how unhinged his outside legal advisers were. But he was becoming increasingly desperate about losing to Joe Biden, and Powell and her crew were willing to keep feeding the grand lie that the election could be overturned….


Read the full segment here.


Episode 4: Trump turns on Barr


Trump torches what is arguably the most consequential relationship in his Cabinet.


Attorney General Bill Barr stood behind a chair in the private dining room next to the Oval Office, looming over Donald Trump. The president sat at the head of the table. It was Dec. 1, nearly a month after the election, and Barr had some sharp advice to get off his chest. The president's theories about a stolen election, Barr told Trump, were "bullshit."


White House counsel Pat Cipollone and a few other aides in the room were shocked Barr had come out and said it — although they knew it was true. For good measure, the attorney general threw in a warning that the new legal team Trump was betting his future on was "clownish."


Trump had angrily dragged Barr in to explain himself after seeing a breaking AP story all over Twitter, with the headline: "Disputing Trump, Barr says no widespread election fraud." But Barr was not backing down. Three weeks later, he would be gone.


The relationship between the president and his attorney general was arguably the most consequential in Trump's Cabinet. And in the six months leading up to this meeting, the relationship between the two men had quietly disintegrated. Nobody was more loyal than Bill Barr. But for Trump, it was never enough.


The president had become too manic for even his most loyal allies, listening increasingly to the conspiracy theorists who echoed his own views and offered an illusion, an alternate reality…..


Read the full segment here.


Episode 5: The secret CIA plan


Trump vs. Gina — The president becomes increasingly rash and devises a plan to tamper with the nation's intelligence command.


In his final weeks in office, after losing the election to Joe Biden, President Donald Trump embarked on a vengeful exit strategy that included a hasty and ill-thought-out plan to jam up CIA Director Gina Haspel by firing her top deputy and replacing him with a protege of Republican Congressman Devin Nunes.


The plan stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency. Only a series of coincidences — and last minute interventions from Vice President Mike Pence and White House counsel Pat Cipollone — stopped it.


The ploy to rattle Haspel and perhaps intentionally trigger her resignation unfolded in a lurching and incompetent way, like a bad Monty Python skit, on one chaotic day in early December.


White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows was ordered to fire — and then immediately unfire — the CIA's Deputy Director Vaughn Bishop.


In his place, Trump planned to install Kash Patel — a former top Intelligence Committee staffer to Nunes who had served on Trump's National Security Council but had no agency experience. In Trump's mind, this could potentially lead to Patel running the agency without needing to get Senate confirmation.


Trump had spent his last year in office ruminating over Haspel. Some of Trump's hardcore allies, including Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo, had been publicly raising doubts in his mind about her. He grew to distrust her and instead wanted a loyal ally at the top of the CIA.


She wasn't the only national security official the president wanted out…..


Read the full segment here.