Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.
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Reprinted with permission from AlterNet
Members of the Oath Keepers — along with QAnon and the Proud Boys — were among the far-right extremists who, according to the FBI, were involved in the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol Building. The role that the Oath Keepers played in the Capitol insurrection is the focus of a report by PolitiFact's Samantha Putterman, who examines their activities before and during the attack.
"Of approximately 40 people facing conspiracy charges as of early September, 19 were associated with the far-right Oath Keepers militia, according to PolitiFact's review of court files," Putterman explains. "Another 17 were affiliated with the Proud Boys extremist group. As part of PolitiFact's ongoing look at how misinformation fueled the events of January 6, we examined the case files of defendants associated with Oath Keepers and found they tell a story of preparation, communication and structure."
Putterman reports that on November 9, following the 2020 election, Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes "called on members to go to Washington, D.C."
Rhodes told them, "We're going to defend the president, the duly elected president, and we call on him to do what needs to be done to save our country. Because if you don't, guys, you're going to be in a bloody, bloody civil war, and a bloody — you can call it an insurrection or you can call it a war or fight."
According to Putterman, "Rhodes warned his followers during that November 9 meeting to come prepared to fight Antifa, a left-wing, anti-fascist movement, according to court documents that show he asked some to come fully armed."Court filings show that Kelly Meggs, leader of the Florida Oath Keepers, was also preparing for violent confrontations with Antifa. On December 19, Meggs visited Facebook and wrote, "We will come in behind Antifa and beat the hell out of them."
By December 31, Putterman reports, "Meggs and others had joined an invitation-only encrypted group on the messaging app Signal, court documents show. They titled their group 'DC OP: Jan 6 21.' They participated in online meetings and used that channel as well as other encrypted communications to coordinate their plans. One man pledged in the encrypted chat that he would bring an assault rifle and a backpack full of ammunition if 's--t truly' hit the fan."
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When it comes to events surrounding the January 6 insurrection, there are some whose involvement remains unclear. Did Rep. Lauren Boebert lead future insurgents on a tour of the Capitol in order to help them identify the shortest route to the people they wanted to hang? Not certain. There are others who will pretend that their calls to storming the Capitol and spilling a swimming pool of patriotic blood were purely metaphorical. Right, Rep. Mo Brooks?
And then there's Steve Bannon.
The Trump campaign chair, shining with the glow of his last-minute pardon from the fraud he definitely committed, didn't just assist a few would-be Mike Pence-hangers. He didn't just get up there and sound the horn to get out there and fight like there was nothing but a commie-filled America-free tomorrow. He worked to create both the political crisis and the maddened crowd that placed the United States within a few seconds, and a handful of steps, of seeing members of Congress marched to a gallows on the Capitol lawn.
On Friday, Bannon was the undoubtedly proud recipient of one of the first four subpoenas handed out by the House Select Committee. However, giving the head of a Brussels-based fascist movement—tastefully called "The Movement"—a couple of weeks to decide whether he wants to make an appearance before a Congress he dismisses, or a court system he sneers about, seems like far too mild an approach.
Here's a checklist of "fun" Steve Bannon moments, over just the last couple of years.
- There was the time when Bannon coached Jeffrey Epstein on on how to look less threatening in a television interview.
- The time he explained to right-wing leaders in Europe that the Pope is the enemy and insisted that they attack him "frontally," an effort to be helped along by a documentary the supposedly Catholic Bannon hopes will bring down the Catholic church.
- His ongoing effort to start a literal school for fascists in the literal home of fascism, an academy where Bannon plans on producing the nationalist leaders of the future.
- His efforts to unify nationalist candidates from Marine LePen to Nigel Farage under the banner of a single fascist movement—with help from pal Vladimir Putin.
- That time he hooked up with a Chinese businessman in an attempt to sell a non-existent television network and ended up charged with multiple counts of fraud.
- His warning that Donald Trump, Jr. and Jared Kushner are involved in a money laundering scheme that could easily be sniffed out by investigators.
- And, of course, his indictment for fraud and money laundering in connection with a fake effort to "build the wall"—an indictment that got neatly cleaned up when Donald Trump added Bannon to his big list of friends who don't have to obey the law.
But that's just the small stuff. Because Bannon's involvement in the events around January 6 easily trumps (yes, pun intended) even trying to abscond with an 800-year-old monastery as a base for bringing down the Catholic church and creating baby Hitlers.
To a large extent, the whole idea of using January. 6 as a lever to tip over democracy came from Bannon. As the recent book Peril reported, Bannon called up Trump on December 30 and told him, "'You've got to call Pence off the f**king ski slopes and get him back here today. This is a crisis."
The point of dragging Pence back—which happened—was to explain how January 6 could be turned into "a reckoning." Bannon explained to Trump how upsetting the prescribed process on January 6 could "cast enough of a shadow over Biden's victory" that it would cause millions of Americans to consider Biden an illegitimate president. They didn't actually have to prove any election fraud. They only had to create a spectacle that would destroy faith in the system.
"People are going to go, 'What the f**k is going on here?'" said Bannon. "We're going to bury Biden on January 6th, f**king bury him."
But it doesn't take going to the pages of a book to discover Bannon's involvement in the attempted overthrow, because Bannon himself just keeps talking about it.
Wow — Former Trump advisor Steve Bannon says on his War Room podcast he met with Trump and Giuliani the night befor… https://t.co/banOqVFaJu— Hugo Lowell (@Hugo Lowell)1632417930.0
Bannon met with Trump and Rudy Giuliani in advance of the insurgency, with an open goal of destroying the American government.
As Newsweek reports, Bannon's open admission is that he told the others "it's time to kill the Biden presidency in the crib." On his podcast platform, Bannon went on to brag about the success of his plan, claiming that "42% of the American people think that Biden did not win the presidency legitimately"—a belief supported by the actions on Jan. 6 to deliberately undermine that presidency.
As Professor Lawrence Tribe points out. "It'd be hard to justify DOJ inaction in the face of this rapidly mounting evidence of a criminal conspiracy to commit sedition against the US Government and to give aid and comfort to an insurrection. See 18 USC secs. 2383 & 2384."
Tribe's name has recently been in the news because Trump attorney John Eastman distorted Tribe's past statements in his attempt to declare Trump the "winner" by simply leaving off as many Biden states as it took to get the numbers they wanted. But there's no misinterpreting what Tribe is saying here:
18 U.S. Code § 2383 - Rebellion or insurrection
Whoever incites, sets on foot, assists, or engages in any rebellion or insurrection against the authority of the United States or the laws thereof, or gives aid or comfort thereto, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.
18 U.S. Code § 2384 - Seditious conspiracy
If two or more persons in any State or Territory, or in any place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, conspire to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States, or to levy war against them, or to oppose by force the authority thereof, or by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States, or by force to seize, take, or possess any property of the United States contrary to the authority thereof, they shall each be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both.
Bannon, Trump, Giuliani, Eastman … they all engaged in a seditious conspiracy, a plan that Bannon spelled out with the declared intent of destroying the lawful government of the United States.
It's worth noting that, in their schemes, neither Bannon nor Eastman even attempted to make a case that Trump had actually won, or that there had been anything like the level of fraud Giuliani was claiming. Both plans were simply to cripple the United States by creating confusion and distrust.
It's almost what you might expect from someone who said this:
"Lenin wanted to destroy the state, and that's my goal too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today's establishment."
It's past time to stop sending Steve Bannon subpoenas and start sending him to jail. Let Eastman fight with Giuliani over who has be his cellmate.
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