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Tag: capitol riot

Oath Keepers Plead Not Guilty To Sedition As Leader Remains Jailed

Ten of the eleven members of the white supremacist militia group Oath Keepers who have been charged with seditious conspiracy, including founder Elmer Stewart Rhodes, pleaded not guilty in a virtual hearing on Tuesday. The eleventh person charged was not present, and did not enter a plea.

The judge in this case is U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta, the same judge who earlier dealt with, and dismissed, claims that Trump has “absolute immunity.” Judge Mehta also forced Trump’s attorney’s to backtrack over claims that Trump had tried to calm down the situation on January 6, 2021.

During Tuesday’s hearing, Judge Mehta reviewed the seriousness of the charges, and asked federal prosecutors to explain a change in the charges, specifically why Rhodes was being charged with the more serious form of conspiracy under 18 USC 1512k. As Marcy Wheeler explained back on January 13, this form of conspiracy opens the potential for a lengthier sentence, including potential “enhancements for threats of assassination and kidnapping.”

A court date for the charges has tentatively been set for July. But within the next two days, Rhodes is going to face the results of a ruling from another judge.

Rhodes is currently being held without bond at a federal penitentiary in Plano, Texas after attorneys from the Justice Department explained his role in organizing the plot to “oppose by force the execution of the laws of the United States.” According to the DOJ, “Under these circumstances, only pretrial detention can protect the community from the danger Rhodes poses." Prosecutors pointed to messages and emails Rhodes sent during the weeks leading up to January 6, including one that read “We aren’t getting through this without a civil war.”

Rhodes earlier tried, and failed, to obtain his release. However, earlier this week Rhodes went before Judge Kimberly Priest Johnson. As WFAA reports, federal prosecutors again stated that “there are no conditions of release that can reasonably assure the safety of the community or the defendant's appearance in court."

At the hearing, the DOJ submitted a series of texts from Rhodes that preceded the January 6 events.

[We] "need to scare or intimidate members of congress."
"...about a million surrounding them should do the trick."
"The only chance we have is if we scare the sh*t out of them....to do the right thing."

Defense attorneys argued that Rhodes hasn’t threatened anyone lately. (No, seriously, the argument that Rhodes hasn’t threatened anyone while he was being investigated by the FBI was the best thing they put forward.) The attorneys also argued that Rhodes wasn’t a flight risk because he loves publicity and the trial would be “a very public platform.” Which also doesn’t seem like the most compelling argument to release someone who purchased $40,000 of ammunition just before January 6.

Judge Johnson promised a ruling within 48 hours. But as she contemplates that decision, this might help:

Meanwhile his ex-wife in Montana continues to say the thought of having him released "is a living nightmare."

The charges of seditious conspiracy against Rhodes and other members of the Oath Keepers puts paid to assertions from Republicans that no one involved in the assault on the Capitol was facing more than minor charges. It also opens the door to other serious charges against groups like the Proud Boys, the organizers of the January 6 events, and hopefully, against the people actually behind both the Big Lie and the attempted coup.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

Thompson Says Barr Is Talking To House Select Committee (VIDEO)

Bill Barr, the former Attorney General who served as then-President Donald Trump’s top protector, has spoken with the House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack.

Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-MS), asked by CBS News about a bombshell draft executive order directing the Secretary of Defense to seize voting machines after Trump lost the 2020 presidential election, said: “We’ve had conversations with the former attorney general already. We have talked to Department of Defense individuals.”

“We are concerned that our military was part of this big lie on promoting that the election was false,” Thompson said Sunday morning on Face the Nation.

“So, if you are using the military to potentially seize voting machines, even though it’s a discussion, the public needs to know. We’ve never had that before.”

The draft memo was never formalized or enacted, and it is unknown who wrote it, but it was part of a massive, hard-fought document collection given to the January 6 select committee by the National Archives after the Supreme Court refused to block its release. Trump tried for months to keep his official White House records from being released.

Exposé Reveals Ginni Thomas' Financial And Political Ties To Court Litigants

A bombshell exposé by an award-winning investigative journalist takes a deep look into lobbyist and far right wing activist and conspiracy theorist Ginni Thomas, and the ties she has to people, groups – and money – that have or may have business before the U.S. Supreme Court, on which her conservative husband sits.

Is Ginni Thomas a Threat to the Supreme Court?The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer asks point-blank. “Behind closed doors, Justice Clarence Thomas’s wife is working with many groups directly involved in controversial cases before the Court.”

Mayer writes that “Ginni Thomas has declared that America is in existential danger because of the ‘deep state’ and the ‘fascist left,’ which includes ‘transsexual fascists.'”

But that’s just a small piece of her massive reporting.

“Ginni Thomas’s political activism has caused controversy for years. For the most part, it has been dismissed as the harmless action of an independent spouse. But now the Court appears likely to secure victories for her allies in a number of highly polarizing cases—on abortion, affirmative action, and gun rights,” Mayer reveals.

How bad and how close are these ties? Thomas, unbeknownst to almost anyone, was “an undisclosed paid consultant at the conservative pressure group the Center for Security Policy, when its founder, Frank Gaffney, submitted an amicus brief to the Court supporting Trump’s Muslim travel ban.”

Did Justice Clarence Thomas know? Did the couple discuss the case, or her financial and political ties? No one knows.

And that’s just one example. Mayer notes that Ginni Thomas “has held leadership positions at conservative pressure groups that have either been involved in cases before the [Supreme] Court or have had members engaged in such cases.”

“In 2019, she announced a political project called Crowdsourcers, and said that one of her four partners would be the founder of Project Veritas, James O’Keefe. Project Veritas tries to embarrass progressives by making secret videos of them, and last year petitioned the Court to enjoin Massachusetts from enforcing a state law that bans the surreptitious taping of public officials.

Another partner in Crowdsourcers, Ginni Thomas said in her announcement, was Cleta Mitchell, the chairman of the Public Interest Legal Foundation, a conservative election-law nonprofit. It, too, has had business before the Court, filing amicus briefs in cases centering on the democratic process. Thomas also currently serves on the advisory board of the National Association of Scholars, a group promoting conservative values in academia, which has filed an amicus brief before the Court in a potentially groundbreaking affirmative-action lawsuit against Harvard.”

Should Americans be concerned? Should Justice Thomas? Should Chief Justice John Roberts?

“If Ginni Thomas is intimately involved—financially or ideologically tied to the litigant—that strikes me as slicing the baloney a little thin,” David Luban, a professor of law and philosophy at Georgetown, who specializes in legal ethics, tells Mayer.Surely Justice Thomas has the ability to separate his work and home life, right?

“Even before” Clarence Thomas’ controversial and contentious confirmation hearing, which included the accusations – labeled “credible” by many – from Anita Hill, “a friend told the Washington Post, the couple was so bonded that ‘the one person [Clarence] really listens to is Virginia.'”

In 2019 then-Congressman Mark Meadows, who because White House Chief of Staff to President Donald Trump and now appears to have been intimately involved in aspects of the January 6 insurrection, told members of a “nonprofit that mobilizes conservative evangelical voters” that “Ginni was talking about how we ‘team up,’ and we actually have teamed up. And I’m going to give you something you won’t hear anywhere else—we worked through the first five days of the impeachment hearings.”

Mayer adds, “Ginni Thomas has her own links to the January 6th insurrection.”

The nearly 7000 word deep dive can be read here.

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet

Ex-Press Secretary: Trump Held Secret Meetings Before Capitol Riot

According to a report from The Guardian published Thursday, former White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham has revealed to investigators on the House Select Committee that Trump held “secret meetings” at the White House residence in the run-up to the Capitol attack.

The committee has not formally subpoenaed Grisham, indicating that her cooperation was voluntary. She had front row seats at the Trump White House while serving as a White House communications director, press secretary for former First Lady Melania Trump, and later, Melania Trump’s chief of staff. Grisham resigned, effective immediately, on January 6 in the wake of the violent Capitol assault. Her resignation was joined by White House press aide Sarah Matthews.

The alleged “secret meetings” were “known only by a small number of aides” and sources told The Guardian that the gatherings were coordinated by Trump’s right hand in the White House, former chief of staff Mark Meadows.

Meadows initially cooperated with the January 6 probe, providing some records and testimony—but he abruptly backtracked and shut down the talks. The committee, in turn, voted to hold Meadows in contempt and the full House of Representatives followed. He was referred for criminal prosecution to the Justice Department in December. So far, the DOJ has been mum about whether it will pursue an indictment as it did for Steve Bannon. Bannon, who has entered a not guilty plea, is now awaiting trial.

While Meadows would reportedly schedule the clandestine meetings, Grisham told investigators it was Timothy Harleth, Trump’s chief White House usher, who would wave the parties in. It is not clear yet who attended the meetings.

President Joe Biden fired Harleth from the usher role one day after his inauguration. It is common for ushers to remain in their positions regardless of the administration in power but Harleth was ousted in short order as the incumbent cleaned house of Trump-era officials. Harleth previously worked as the director of rooms at Trump International Hotel.

Grisham, according to Thursday’s scoop from The Guardian, also provided the names of other aides in the White House usher office that may be of use to the committee in their probe.

Grisham also said that “an aide to former White House adviser Peter Navarro tried at least once to quietly usher” lawyer Sidney Powell into the White House residence. Powell was a major proponent of Trump’s incessant lies about the outcome of the 2020 election, and led the charge in claims that Dominion Voting Systems voting machines were corrupt. For her conspiratorial claims, Powell is staring down a massive defamation suit from Dominion. She was also subpoenaed by the Jan. 6 Committee this week.

Trump’s exact conduct and thinking before and during the Capitol attack when he was out of public view are at the beating heart of the Jan. 6 Committee’s probe. It has been widely reported that the former president sat idly by in the White House as the attack exploded, watching the riot from television. It was also reported one week after the assault that Trump had told aides for several days before the Jan. 6 rally that he wanted to accompany demonstrators but that he only decided not to “walk down Pennsylvania Avenue” after Secret Service agents insisted his safety could not be guaranteed if he did so.

But whether he actually intended to march with his supporters that morning or purely made the remarks to raise the mob’s hackles is debated.

“Grisham told the select committee that Trump’s intentions—and whether the Secret Service had been told Trump had decided not to march to the Capitol—should be reflected in the presidential line-by-line, the document that outlines the president’s movements, the sources said.”

A representative for the committee did not respond to request for comment Thursday.

The committee has so far interviewed more than 400 sources and with its recent victory against Trump at the Supreme Court, the National Archives and Records Administration has already begun the transfer of presidential records Trump wanted to keep secret.

The records to be transferred include critical items like call and visitor logs, diaries, internal correspondence, calendars, speech drafts, photos as they relate to Jan. 6, correspondence among White House officials, and much more.

“The Supreme Court’s action tonight is a victory for the rule of law and American democracy. The Select Committee has already begun to receive records that the former President had hoped to keep hidden and we look forward to additional productions regarding this important information. Our work goes forward to uncover all the facts about the violence of Jan. 6 and its causes,” Jan. 6 Committee chairman Bennie Thompson said Wednesday night. “We will not be deterred in our effort to get answers for the American people, make legislative recommendations to strengthen our democracy, and help ensure nothing like that day ever happens again.”

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

House Select Commitee Requests Interview With Ivanka Trump

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The U.S. House of Representatives' panel investigating the deadly Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol is seeking an interview with former U.S. President Donald Trump's daughter and White House aide Ivanka Trump, it said on Thursday.

In a letter to Trump, lawmakers said they were seeking her voluntary cooperation as part of their ongoing probe and would limit their questions to issues related to events surrounding that day, including activities leading up to or influencing it and her role in the White House at that time.

The panel noted that she "was present in the Oval Office" during key conversations leading up to January 6, and observed a conversation between the president and Vice President Mike Pence on that day.

The former president has blasted the committee's probe as a partisan effort, and has sought to block other aides' testimony and White House documents from reaching the panel.

Representatives for Ivanka Trump could not be immediately reached to comment on the committee's request.

(Reporting by Jan Wolfe and Kanishka Singh; writing by Susan Heavey; editing by Tim Ahmann and Jonathan Oatis)

Capitol Riot Indictments Closing In On Trump Inner Circle

Last week's indictment of Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes for seditionist conspiracy revealed more than simply the mountain of evidence that the Justice Department has acquired in the prosecutions of key players in the January 6 Capitol insurrection. It also made clear the DOJ’s larger strategy of moving up the food chain of players in the historic attack—with Donald Trump and his inner circle now only steps away.

Much of the attention has focused on former Trump adviser Roger Stone, whose connections to the “Patriot” movement—and particularly to the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys who spearheaded the siege of the Capitol—are well established; indeed, earlier on Jan. 6, two Oath Keepers now charged alongside Rhodes with sedition in the conspiracy were part of Stone’s personal security detail. But as Marcy Wheeler incisively reports, more recent court documents also make clear that the investigation into militia groups’ activities that day now encompasses Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.

Stone’s connections to the Oath Keepers and Rhodes, as Jennifer Cohn recently laid out, date back to at least 2014, when he was part of the scene at the Bundy Ranch standoff in Nevada, where the Oath Keepers formed a significant presence. After Trump was elected, Stone became an ardent proponent of issuing a pardon for the Bundys in both the Nevada standoff and 2016 Malheur standoff prosecutions, appearing onstage with them in Las Vegas.

Those prosecutions ended up failing, so Trump instead pardoned the two Oregon ranchers whose imprisonment had fueled the Malheur standoff. Stone nonetheless remained a public ally of the Bundys; when Ammon Bundy announced his campaign for the Idaho governorship in 2021, Stone proudly endorsed him.

Stone also had a long relationship with another group that played a key role in the conspiracies to besiege the Capitol—the Proud Boys. In 2018, he was photographed flashing a white-nationalist “OK” sign with a group of Oregon Proud Boys in a tavern. He also was investigated by the FBI in 2019 for posting a message on Instagram that appeared to threaten a federal judge, which he blamed on Proud Boys, including national chairman Enrique Tarrio, who had been “helping” him with his social-media account.

Both Stone and Tarrio live in Florida and appear to have had multiple associations, including a meeting on December 12, 2020, in Washington, D.C., during the “Stop the Steal” rally that served as a warmup for January 6. Stone was seen in the video conferring both with Tarrio—who was arrested by D.C. police two days before the insurrection—and with Ethan Nordean, one of the key leaders of the group of Proud Boys who attacked the Capitol.

As Wheeler reported earlier, Stone also met with Kelly Meggs—leader of the Florida Oath Keepers and one of the key figures in the seditionist conspiracy case—two days before telling his cohorts that he was working out a cooperative agreement with Proud Boys leading up to what Meggs himself described as an “insurrection.”

However, most of the evidence introduced in the Oath Keepers conspiracy case so far offers little information about that connection on January 6, and there’s little in the evidence to suggest that Stone was directing or assisting them while they were providing security for him at the Ellipse, where Trump was speaking that morning. The most tantalizing clues involve the period when Stone was embedded in the Trump “War Room” at the Willard Hotel earlier that day.

Key figures in Trump’s circle—including Giuliani, as well as Steve Bannon, John Eastman, and other hardcore defenders of Trump’s “Big Lie” that he won the 2020 election—were circulating around the “command center” they had set up at the Willard. As it happens, so were members of a militia group called the 1st Amendment Patriots, who also had members stationed around the Capitol.

Oath Keepers, as Wheeler has reported, were providing security for the operations at the Willard. And after Stone departed for the Ellipse, according to text messages from indictee Joshua James—the Oath Keeper overseeing the detail—he complained bitterly that the detail at the Ellipse had failed to provide him with “VIP treatment.”

The Willard Hotel “War Room” happens to be the same nexus that has drawn Giuliani into the investigation, as Wheeler observed this week. While a Washington Post story last weekend concluded that the FBI doesn’t appear to be investigating the activities at the Willard, it also contained information indicating that FBI investigators have been pressing several defendants—all Oath Keepers and Proud Boys—about key figures at the morning rally and later at the Willard, including both Stone and Giuliani.

Rob Jenkins, a defense attorney representing multiple people linked to the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys, another far-right group, said prosecutors have been “pretty aggressive” in “seeking out information … that points to others’ involvement and culpability.”
They are interested, he said, in “preplanning, and participation in those preplanning on the part of the individuals who may not have come to D.C. on January 6 but were certainly part of the planned effort.” That includes both leaders in the groups and people who spoke at the rally on January 6, including close Trump allies Rudy Giuliani and Roger Stone, he said.

The DOJ, of course, already possesses most of Giuliani’s communications from that period as part their investigation into his business dealings, and maybe hunting for further corroboration of evidence already in hand or perhaps suggested in his texts. And if Trump’s personal lawyer is in their sights, the former president himself may well be next. Giuliani also has been subpoenaed by the Jan. 6 committee, but it is not known how he will respond.

What’s become abundantly clear, however, is that DOJ is moving through these indictments strategically—only including evidence that builds their case publicly as well as internally, with the intent of inducing other defendants to turn state’s evidence as cooperating witnesses. It’s being extraordinarily careful about tipping its hand regarding its targets or its long-range strategy. It may be wisest to allow them to keep gathering and sifting, because that approach has proven the likeliest way to win in court and bring the insurrectionists—hopefully, all of them, all the way up the ladder—to accountability.

Republished with permission from Daily Kos