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Tag: capitol rioters

Seeking Plea Deal, Lawyer Claims 'QAnon Shaman' Was 'Unarmed, Harmless, Peaceful'

Notorious Capitol rioter Jacob Chansley, better known as the "QAnon shaman," is negotiating a possible plea deal with prosecutors after psychologists found he suffers from multiple mental illnesses, his lawyer told Reuters -- while painting a rosy image of the violent insurrectionist's part during the Capitol riot.

According to Albert Watkins, Chansley's defense lawyer, he was diagnosed with transient schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, and anxiety by officials at the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP). The findings have not yet been made public.

"As he spent more time in solitary confinement ... the decline in his acuity was noticeable, even to an untrained eye," Watkins told Reuters, adding Chansley's 2006 records from his time in the Navy show similar results.

Watkins also tried to spin Chansley's role in the deadly Capitol insurrection, saying, "What we've done is we've taken a guy who is unarmed, harmless, peaceful ... with a pre-existing mental vulnerability of significance, and we've rendered him a chocolate soup mess."

But Chansley was anything but "unarmed, harmless, peaceful," according to video from within the Capitol he breached with a crowd of Trump-supporting extremists bearing his trademark headdress, face paint and spear.

It's not the first time Watkins has tried to downplay the danger Chansley presented during the Capitol riot and claim the spear he wielded wasn't a weapon.

During an attempt to get his client out of jail in late June, the lawyer called the spear a "flagpole," adding that it was "useless" and just "part of the shaman costume."

The prosecutor, James Nelson, wasn't convinced, noting that Watkins "has been talking for more than 20 minutes and hasn't said a single correct thing," during the hearing.

It is not clear if Chansley, whose charges include civil disorder and obstructing an official proceeding, is considering pleading guilty, but, according to Reuters, "defendants negotiating plea deals typically seek to plead to a less serious charge to reduce their potential prison sentences."

Oath Keepers Seek Plea Deals In Jan. 6 Insurrection Conspiracy

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

The conspiracy case that federal prosecutors appear to be building around the behavior of two key groups involved in the January 6 Capitol insurrection—namely, the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys—ratcheted another notch tighter this week when one of the men involved in the Oath Keepers' "stack" formation that day entered a guilty plea as part of a cooperation agreement with prosecutors.

One Proud Boys leader, erstwhile national chairman Enrique Tarrio, also pleaded guilty to the charge on which he had been arrested prior to Jan. 6—namely, setting a Black Lives Matter banner afire during a December 12 "Stop the Steal" event—and also has struck a deal with prosecutors, though it's unclear whether he is providing evidence in the January 6 prosecutions. Meanwhile, the first of the insurrectionists who pleaded guilty, Paul Hodgkins, was given an eight-month sentence Monday by a federal judge who warned that the seemingly light term should not be considered a harbinger of future sentences in other cases.

Tuesday's plea deal for Oath Keeper Caleb Berry is the third such piece to fall into place for prosecutors. Earlier this month, two insurrectionists cut plea deals: Mark Grods, a 54-year-old Oath Keeper from Alabama, and Graydon Young, 55, another Oath Keeper from Florida. Both men are believed to be providing evidence in the conspiracy case against the 15 other Oath Keepers charged in the riot, one that prosecutors have been gradually building and may eventually encompass the group's founder and leader, Stewart Rhodes.

Charging documents in Berry's case indicate that he will admit to dropping off weapons at a hotel in Arlington, Virginia, as part of creating a "quick reaction force" the Oath Keepers planned to deploy in Washington, D.C., should things take a violent turn. Oath Keepers leaders have insisted the weapons were only intended for use if antifascists showed up to stop them.

Berry also acknowledges that he participated in a tactical "stack" formation comprised of Oath Keepers that played a key role in the mob's ability to penetrate security barriers at the Capitol on January 6. Prosecutors are likely to be asking him for information about pre-planning and surveillance by the Oath Keepers near the Capitol before the insurrection, since Berry also "traveled to and then observed the restricted Capitol grounds" on January 5, one day beforehand, according to the affidavit.

Tarrio's guilty plea for burning the BLM banner also included misdemeanor charges that he was carrying high-capacity ammunition magazines in his luggage when arrested. He is scheduled to be sentenced in late August.

He told Senior Judge Harold L. Cushenberry Jr. that he was unaware the banner had been taken from a nearby African-American church.

"If I'd have known that banner came from a church, it would not have been burned," said Tarrio, who also said he had no regrets about burning a BLM banner because he thinks the movement "has terrorized the citizens of this country."

The prosecutor overseeing Tarrio's case noted to Cushenberry "for the record" that "nothing in the agreement is intended to prevent the government from bringing different or additional charges" against him in the future "based on his conduct on January 6th, 2021, or any other time." Tarrio, who had been barred from D.C. on January 6, has said he was not involved in any of the planning around the event, despite the key role played by Proud Boys in the insurrection.

Hodgkins was the first of the insurrectionists to be sentenced, after the 38-year-old from Tampa, Florida, pleaded guilty to obstructing an official proceeding by entering the Capitol on January 6 with the mob. The eight-month sentence was less than half the 18 months sought by prosecutors, but District Judge Randolph Moss was more lenient because he had not participated in violence and had a clean criminal record.

"It is essential to send a message that this type of conduct is utterly unacceptable and that grave damage was done to our country that day," Moss said. "At the same time, I do not believe that Mr. Hodgkins—other than having made some very bad decisions that day and done some really bad things that day that did some real damage to the country—that he is a threat or that he is inherently an evil person."

Moss, however, was also clear that he did not buy defense arguments that the January 6 riot was not an insurrection: "Although Mr. Hodgkins was only one member of a larger mob, he actively and intentionally participated in an event that threatened not only the security of the Capitol but democracy itself," he said. "That is chilling, for many reasons."

Unlike other defendants, Hodgkins also was openly repentant: "I can say without a shadow of a doubt that I am truly remorseful and regretful for my actions in Washington," he told the judge. "This was a foolish decision on my part that I take full responsibility for it."

Other Jan. 6 defendants have been openly defiant. One such indictee—Pauline Bauer of Kane, Pennsylvania—has declared herself a sovereign citizen and filed court documents based on that far-right movement's pseudo-legal mumbo jumbo in her case. During her court hearing on Monday, she repeatedly interrupted the judge and declared herself immune from American laws, according to NBC4's Scott MacFarlane.

"Every man is independent of all laws, except those of nature," declared Bauer, who decided to represent herself in court. She added: "I think the American people will be shocked to find out who owns the Capitol building right now."

Bauer, who is representing herself, had previously filed documents in her case declaring herself a "Living Soul, Creation of God" who was a separate entity from the "Vessel" charged with the crime. She told the judge she won't let pretrial services come into her home and won't turn over her passport, calling the search of her home "illegal."

According to court documents, Bauer had organized buses full of people to attend the January 6 "Stop the Steal" rally, and had been a particularly bloodthirsty participant in the Capitol siege.

"This is where we find Nancy Pelosi," Bauer can be heard saying inside the Capitol in a body-camera recording placed in evidence by prosecutors. "Bring that fucking bitch out here now. Bring her out here. We're coming in if you don't bring her out."

At a June appearance, Bauer had addressed the court with undiluted sovereign-citizen lingo: "I am a free soul, I am not part of your corporation, I am making a special Divine appearance."

At Monday's hearing, District Judge Zia Faruqui attempted to persuade Bauer to let her appoint an attorney in her case. She refused.

Mark Pitcavage of the Anti-Defamation League told The Daily Beast that sovereign citizens like Bauer have been gulled by a conspiracist belief system that has little attachment to reality.

"Their filings and documents, to the layperson, have the look and feel of being actual legal filings, but they're actually flights of fancy, magical thinking," Pitcavage said. "As a result, all their arguments fail. Some judges will take the time to address them issue by issue. Some will more abruptly or harshly dismiss them as gobbledegook."

Capitol Rioter Who Sought To Lynch Pelosi Cites ‘Biblical’ Defense

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

According to a report from the Daily Beast's Kelly Weill, one of the Capitol rioters taken into custody by the FBI has chosen to represent herself on charges of multiple counts of violent entry, disruptive conduct, and obstruction of Congress -- and is citing the Bible as part of her defense.

Prosecutors maintain that Pauline Bauer, owner of a Pennsylvania pizza parlor, took part in the January 6 insurrection and reportedly told Capitol police to "bring Nancy Pelosi out here now… we want to hang that f*cking b*tch."

Weill reports that Bauer is using a sovereign citizen defense -- saying she doesn't recognize the laws of the U.S. government -- and that she is operating under "divine guidance."

According to the report, "Prosecutors allege that Bauer tried organizing buses to transport people to D.C. for a rally that preceded the riot, and that while in the Capitol rotunda she told police that she wanted to kill House Speaker Nancy Pelosi," with Weill adding, "But in what experts describe as an inadvisable legal strategy, Bauer has demanded to represent herself in court, appeared to threaten a court clerk with prison time, and declared herself a 'self-governed individual' with special legal privileges."

In a Zoom appearance before the court, Bauer told the judge, "I am here by special divine appearance, a living soul," before adding, "I do not stand under the law. Under Genesis 1, God gave man dominion over the law."

The report goes on to add that, since that time, Bauer last week "... listed a series of strange alternative spellings of her name in a document that she (incorrectly) claimed freed her from some government control."

"Bauer appears to have attempted multiple avenues of sovereign legal strategy. In one recent filing, she appeared to threaten a court clerk with prison time, noting that it would be the penalty for failing to properly log her filings," the Beast's Weill wrote, adding, "Evidence from before and on January 6 appears to show Bauer involved in the day's chaos. According to court documents, Bauer attempted to organize busloads of people to attend a D.C. rally that preceded the riot... During the riot, she allegedly stormed the Capitol rotunda and told a police officer that the crowd would further storm the building if Pelosi and other officials were not released to the mob. 'You bring them out or we're coming in,' she allegedly said, according to a transcript of a police body camera included in the court record."

You can read more here.

Trump Praises Jan. 6 Rioters As ‘Patriots’ And ‘Peaceful People’

Former President Donald Trump has nothing but praise for his supporters who stormed the U.S. Capitol in January. The former commander in chief called those who attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6 “peaceful people" and “patriots" in an interview aired on Fox News' Sunday Morning Futures. Trump supporters besieged the Capitol, following a speech he gave in Washington that day, as Congress was meeting to finalize Electoral College results of the November 2020 presidential election. Hundreds of people have been arrested and several people have been charged with crimes stemming from the rampage, in wh...

FBI Probe Uncovered Virginia Extremists Making Bombs In Wake Of January 6

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

The more the FBI investigates the January 6 insurrection, the more disturbing the information becomes. That includes the case of Virginia resident Fi Duong, who was recently arrested for his alleged involvement in that attack, and people he associated with as part of a "Bible study" group. Duong, a 14-page FBI document alleges, was pursuing "bomb-building" and had a "cache of weapons" in the months following the insurrection.

According to CNN reporters Hannah Rabinowitz and Katelyn Polantz, "The startling new case, landing six months after the pro-Trump insurrection, adds to the more than 500 Capitol riot federal criminal cases already in court and fleshes out what's known about the Justice Department's understanding of the continued interests of right-wing extremists to allegedly interfere with the U.S. government and discuss with each other how to do so. The new case highlights one group member's apparent interest in a second American civil war."

The FBI document, Rabinowitz and Polantz report, was recently filed in court to explain why Duong was being arrested and what the charges are. Duong is facing four federal charges, and they include obstructing an official government proceeding — Congress' January 6 certification of now-President Joe Biden's Electoral College victory in the 2020 election — and entering the U.S. Capitol building without permission that day. However, Rabinowitz and Polantz note that Duong has not entered either a "guilty" or "not guilty" plea.

But according to Rabinowitz and Polantz, the FBI is alleging that Duong's connection to extremism goes beyond the January 6 attack.

"On January 6 in Downtown Washington," the CNN reporters explain, "Duong spoke with an undercover Metropolitan Police officer, according to his charging papers. Duong was dressed in black, in an alleged effort to disguise himself as the leftist group Antifa, investigators say. During the conversation, Duong asked the undercover officer if they were a 'patriot,' and identified himself as an 'operator.'"

Duong, according to Rabinowitz and Polantz, put a member of the Three Percenters — one of the extremist groups involved in the January 6 insurrection — in contact with members of the "Bible study" group he was a part of. Duong's group, the CNN journalists report, "appeared to exist separately from any known major groups previously identified as taking part in the Capitol riot."

FBI investigators allege that Duong wrote a "manifesto" and said, "If I get into a gun fight with the feds and I don't make it, I want to be able to transfer as much wisdom to my son as possible."

In March, according to Rabinowitz and Polantz, Duong told an undercover FBI agent that "his group tried to be 'cloak and dagger' and wanted to 'build resistances,' according to court records. The agent then attended what the group members called a 'Bible study' meeting at an Alexandria, Virginia house in February, (when) the group members discussed the Bible and secession, weaponry and combat training, and using methods to make their communications private, according to court records."

Rabinowitz and Polantz report that in the months following the January 6 attack, Duong was well-armed.

"Duong had compiled a cache of weapons at his home in Alexandria, investigators say, including an AK-47 and five boxes full of materials to make and test Molotov cocktails," the CNN journalists report. "At one group meeting at Duong's house in May, the undercover agent saw five cardboard boxes filled with about 50 glass bottles, and heard him and another person discuss what they could fill them with to make explosives, according to the court papers."

Defying Court Order, Ex-Cop Busted In Capitol Riot Buys Dozens Of Guns

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

When Thomas Robertson was granted release by a federal judge in January, the decision was made under a number of very clear conditions. The judge made it clear that he "could not own any firearms, destructive devices or dangerous weapons while his case was pending."

If he owned any firearms, he was given two days to move them. However, Robertson has reportedly failed miserably in holding up his end of that agreement. According to The Washington Post, Robertson was prohibited from owning firearms but just days after his release, local authorities found approximately eight firearms at his home. He was given a reprieve for that occurrence but to no avail.

More recently, prosecutors noted that authorities found a number of disturbing items when Robertson's Ferrum, Viriginia, home was searched last month. According to court records, authorities discovered a "loaded M4 carbine and a partially assembled pipe bomb." Robertson, a former Rocky Mount, Virginia., police officer is "also accused of buying 34 firearms online and "transporting them in interstate commerce while under felony indictment."

In wake of the latest discoveries, prosecutors are now requesting that the judge revoke Robertson's release and issue a new warrant for his arrest as this is considered his second pretrial violation.

In a motion filed in the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, June 30, Assistant U.S. Attorneys Elizabeth Ann Aloi and Risa Berkower laid out their request.

"Because the defendant has shown utter disregard for the Court's orders prohibiting his possession of firearms and other weapons during the time he has been on pretrial release, and because he has further flouted his release conditions through repeated violations of the federal firearms laws, the defendant presents a danger to the community that no release conditions will adequately mitigate," they wrote.

Robertson entered a not guilty plea for all of the charges he is facing in connection with the Capitol riots. His charges include: "obstruction of an official proceeding, aiding and abetting, entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds, disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds, and disorderly conduct in a Capitol building."

Insurrectionists Turned Informants Are Tightening Screws On Jan. 6 Conspirators

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

As the number of participants in the January 6 Capitol insurrection turning state's witnesses against their fellow rioters keeps adding up, so does the evidence against their cohorts—particularly the people who conspired to lead the siege of Congress. Along the way, the evidence also piles up demonstrating that, contrary to apologists like Tucker Carlson and Glenn Greenwald, these people brought guns and other dangerous weapons to Washington and were preparing to use them.

Two insurrectionists cut plea deals with prosecutors this week: Mark Grods, a 54-year-old Oath Keeper from Alabama, and Graydon Young, 55, another Oath Keeper from Florida. Both men are believed to be providing evidence in the conspiracy case against the 15 other Oath Keepers charged in the riot, one that prosecutors have been gradually building and may eventually encompass the group's founder and leader, Stewart Rhodes.

One cooperating witness, Jon Ryan Schaffer, had already reached a plea agreement with prosecutors. However, his evidence was not considered key to the conspiracy cases against the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys.

Grods, one of the nine Oath Keepers who provided security for former Donald Trump aide Roger Stone at the "Stop the Steal" rally preceding the insurrection, is reportedly testifying in secret against his cohorts in the group. He pleaded guilty to two charges, conspiracy and obstruction of Congress' certification of the Electoral College votes, at his hearing this week.

He may provide key evidence in the conspiracy case against the Oath Keepers, since he has admitted to stashing guns at a Washington hotel in preparation for the assault on the Capitol. Prosecutors have contended throughout their filings that Oath Keepers' preparations included provisioning guns outside the city that could be delivered quickly to the Capitol.

Grods, who brought guns, combat gear and helmets, and radio equipment with him to D.C. for the siege, also admitted to taking part in paramilitary training efforts, and to recruiting people to join in the insurrection. Court records show he admitted to storming the Capitol with others, carrying a large stick while participating in the military-style "stack" formation used by the Oath Keepers to cut through the crowd.

Young, who entered his guilty plea last week, admitted that he was attempting to intimidate and coerce elected officials when he entered the Capitol with his fellow Oath Keepers. His plea suggested he would testify that his fellow conspirators believed they could obstruct Congress' election certification by intimidating and coercing government personnel, which is why they forced open Capitol doors to allow the mob inside.

As Marcy Wheeler observes, these two cases demonstrate the hollowness of Carlson's claims on Fox News that the informants whose identities were unknown were paid FBI infiltrators who were secretly orchestrating the Capitol siege; rather, it makes clear that most of them are other insurrectionists looking to have their sentences reduced.

For that matter, anyone succumbing to the dubious logic trotted out by Carlson, Greenwald, and others would probably have their illusions shattered by a viewing of the striking video published this week by The New York Times' visual investigations team, which gives a full picture of the assault on the Capitol. Anyone who can come away from that still claiming that the event was nonviolent, the rioters were unarmed, and that it was simply a protest that got out of hand is someone who has lost touch with reality.

In the meantime, prosecutors continue to file new indictments, and FBI agents continue to make fresh arrests, including:

  • Ricky C. Willden. The man from Oakhurst, California, with a history of confronting and assaulting antifascists at demonstrations was arrested Wednesday. He is believed to have played a role in the successful breach of the Capitol's security perimeter. Video shows Willden "raising his hand and spraying an unknown substance from a green can toward police officers who were standing guard," according to court documents.
  • Timothy Hart: The Dayton, Ohio, man wore a bright "Q" logo shirt into the Capitol, and is believed both to have knocked down police barriers and to have waved some of the mob into the building. He also was recorded smoking a marijuana cigarette while inside the Rotunda. Outside the Capitol, he had shouted: "We already voted, and what have they done? They stole it! We want our fucking country back! Let's take it!"
  • Chase Allen: The self-styled documentarian, originally from Massachusetts but currently living in Reno, Nevada, is accused primarily of destroying television and other broadcasting equipment belonging to the Associated Press and other news operations who were forced to abandon their gear by the mob. Allen—who operates a livestreaming operation called The Allen Report on Facebook—claimed the worst thing he did on January 6 was engage in cursing; however, prosecutors produced multiple photos of him destroying media equipment along with others on January 6.
  • Joshua Haynes: The man from Covington, Virginia, arrested this week on multiple chargesalso was a participant in the destruction of media equipment, though unlike Allen, he actively boasted about it on social media. "I liked it too," he commented on Facebook about a video of the vandalism. "I have already seen a report of it and I am in the video destroying the stuff but I'm wearing a mask," he wrote. "I had to keep my face covered." Haynes also entered the office of Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley and participated in its vandalization, then later boasted about that too: "broke lotsa stuff," he wrote, "lol."

Another indictee—Thomas Robertson, then an active officer with the Rocky Mount, Virginia, police department, who entered the Capitol with a colleague and later boasted about it to his colleagues on Facebook, claiming he had broken no laws—who had been granted pretrial release now faces a revocation of that release this week after FBI agents discovered that he has purchased an arsenal of over 30 guns and a stockpile of ammunition in the weeks after his arrest, and despite release conditions requiring him to abjure all weapons. Robertson and his colleague, Jacob Fracker, were both fired from the police force after their arrests.

The first search of his property after his release found him in possession of three Glocks, a Smith and Wesson handgun, and four other rifles, including one with a tactical scope. He also purchased some 34 guns from a gun dealer, but kept the guns there with the dealer. Investigators also found that he had constructed a booby trap intended to kill anyone who opened it.

Online, Robertson has been—like many of the insurrectionists—defiant of the law and unrepentant about his actions. When someone on Facebook asked him whether the other defendants were proud of what they did, Robertson responded, "I sure as fuck am."

He then added:

I've said before. They are trying to teach us a lesson. They have. But its [sic] definitely not the intended lesson. I have learned that if you peacefully protest than [sic] you will be arrested, fired, be put on a no fly list, have your name smeared and address released by the FBI so every loon in the US can send you hate mail. I have learned very well that if you dip your toe into the Rubicon. ... cross it. Cross it hard and violent and play for all the marbles.

Prosecutors said Robertson has "flouted his release conditions," and asked that he be detained prior to his trial. Robertson did not respond to queries from the Roanoke Times.

Richmond Murder Plot Shows Insurrectionists Aren’t ‘Regular Americans’

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

This past weekend, CNN began running stories ("Assault on Democracy: The Roots of Trump's Insurrection") dedicated ostensibly to examining what motivated the hundreds of people who participated in the Jan. 6 insurrection, but which in the process primarily normalized them. "Before they were at an insurrection, they were regular Americans," read one promotional headline.

But the more we learn about the insurrectionists and their violent intentions, as evidence appears in the court record of their prosecutions, the more apparent it is that there is nothing remotely normal about the far-right movement into which they have eagerly been swept up. Even more self-evident is that, as we learn more about would-be insurrectionary events in the year leading up to Jan. 6—particularly the failed plans that were laid out to attack state capitol buildings in Virginia and Michigan—that the Capitol siege was not simply a one-off event; rather, the far-right extremists who still have not backed down in their belief that the election was stolen from Donald Trump intend to keep attempting it until they succeed.

The plot to unleash terrorist violence in Richmond, Virginia, was laid out in detail this weekend by the Winnipeg Free Press, which did a deep-dive exploration of the would-be terrorist career of Patrik Mathews, the onetime Canadian reservist arrested by the FBI five days before thousands of gun fanatics gathered in Richmond to protest the state's looming gun-control laws.

The Press had earlier exposed Mathews' activities as a budding recruiter for the neo-Nazi terrorist group The Base while serving as an active-duty combat engineer in Canada, leading to an RCMP raid on his home in Beausejour. Mathews fled to the United States in 2019 and began leading the life of a fugitive with other members of The Base, but his activities were being tracked and monitored by federal agents.

At one point, the agents obtained a "sneak and peek" warrant to search an apartment he shared with fellow Base member Brian Lemley Jr., which provided a trove of disturbing information:

What the agents found was disturbing: several self-recorded propaganda videos in which Mathews urged white supremacists to pick up arms and carry out attacks to spark a race war.
"If you want the white race to survive, you're going to have to do your f—king part… This is the age of war," Mathews said.
"Derail some f—king trains, kill some people, and poison some water supplies."
According to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Maryland — which would later prosecute the criminal charges against the men — many of Mathews propaganda videos discussed killing people in furtherance of the neo-Nazi movement.

"The system has prevented a peaceful solution at every possible turn. It is the system that is fomenting violent revolution—not us—and they shall now reap what they have sown," Mathews said in one of the videos. "This is the century upon which this current civilization's rotting Jew-infested country comes to a collapse."

Moreover, the men were getting worked up about the upcoming Jan. 20, 2020, gun-rights rally in Richmond—whose politics they endorsed, but which they saw primarily as an opportunity to spark a violent conflict by opening up gunfire on rallygoers and on police. Among their purchases in the weeks leading up to the event was a semiautomatic assault rifle they assembled and then practiced with repeatedly at a gun range.

According to the FBI affidavit in the case, the three men discussed "the planning of violence at a specific event in Virginia, scheduled for January 20, 2020."

"Lemley discussed using a thermal imaging scope affixed to his rifle to conduct ambush attacks," the affidavit explains, "including attacks against unsuspecting civilians and police officers. Lemley stated, 'I literally need, I need to claim my first victim,' and when describing the optic, Lemley stated, "It's so unfair what I can do to people with that you know. There is no safety. Don't be caught alone at night in a place where I pop you."

Mathews stated, "We could essentially like be literally hunting people. Um. You could provide overwatch while I get close to do what needs to be done to certain things."

It quoted Mathews observing that "you know we got this situation in Virginia where this is going to be, that opportunity is boundless and the thing is you've got tons of guys who are just in theory should be radicalized enough to know that all you gotta do is start making things go wrong and if Virginia can spiral out to fucking full blown civil war.'"

In preparation for the Richmond event, the men gathered supplies: "bug out bags" they could stash as part of their getaway plans, purchasing body armor and an ammunition stockpile with over 1,600 rounds.

"I need to claim my first victim," Lemley told Mathews at one point.

"We can't let Virginia go to waste. We just can't. … Virginia will be our day," Mathews replied.

The men were arrested in Delaware on January 16. Several other members of The Base and another neo-Nazi terrorist band, Atomwaffen Division, were arrested over the next month on various charges involving their attempts to terrorize their political opponents.

The Richmond rally was raucous but generally nonviolent. However, its organizers made clear that their frequently seditionist rhetoric was not going away. Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes—who eventually played a key role in the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, though he has not yet been charged—told protest supporters that the momentum was building for a civil war:

So yes, it could come down to a standoff. That's why it's important for, like I said, we want to reach out to the state police and National Guard as part of our mission when we go to Virginia, is reach out to them and encourage them to stand down because if they do act under the command of the governor, they come into a county, and they're resisted by the local militia or the sheriff and his posse, it will kick off a civil war in this country. That's what will happen. There will be a civil war between the left and the right and we'd prefer to see that not happen. That's where it's going to go.

And that was indeed where it went over the next year, particularly for the far-right "Patriot"/militia movement to which most of these various actors voiced allegiance—even as their opportunistic focus veered suddenly in the direction of anti-pandemic restriction protests. In late April, a group of armed militiamen attempted to take over the Michigan state Capitol in Lansing, and succeeded in threatening legislators who then voted to nullify Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's shutdown orders.

When federal and state investigators arrested 14 militiamen—many of whom had participated in the April protest—in October on charges that they had plotted to kidnap and execute Whitmer, it shortly emerged that the men's original plan had involved a massive takeover of the Capitol, at the culmination of which they intended to hold show trials and televised executions of state officials taken hostage.

Placing state capitols under siege was clearly a developing tactic that the radical right intended to keep repeating until it took hold. In Oregon, a group of far-right protesters successfully, but briefly, invaded the statehouse on Dec. 21; Republican state Representative Mike Nearman, who faces official misconduct charges for allowing the extremists into the building, was expelled from the Oregon Houseon June 11.

CNN should understand that it's true that these extremists all consider themselves not just regular Americans, but the apotheosis of national pride—even though they revealed their deeply seditionist natures on Jan. 6 and afterward. This is largely because the Patriot movement dresses its violent extremism in the swaddling clothes of jingoist patriotism, convincing its bellicose believers that they represent the "silent majority." This is a reality that CNN's project utterly neglects.

So despite a mountain of legal setbacks, many of the insurrectionists and their supporters and apologists remain defiant in their belief that they were trying to save America from a nefarious leftist cabal involving Joe Biden, Chinese communists, and "antifa/BLM leftists." One such activist—a Washington state-based "Patriot" who threatened a woman journalist on camera in Washington, D.C., during a November 14 "Stop the Steal" event—was unrepentant to a Washington Post reporter: "I'd do it all again," he said, "but with the mask on."

What's clear now is that the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol brought a year's worth of gathering momentum to a kind of fruition for the far-right tactic of threatening legislative buildings with invasion—and that the tactic remains a viable option for the future as well, at least until they finally succeed. Jan. 6 was a kind of culmination, but it likely also was a kind of beginning.