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Tag: january 6 insurrection

Marjorie Taylor Greene Facing Questions Under Oath Over January 6 Role

On Friday, April 22, when Georgia Republican Rep Marjorie Taylor Greene becomes the first member of Congress to be interrogated before a court that must decide if her support for Donald Trump’s attempted coup on January 6, 2021, disqualifies her candidacy for federal office, Greene will likely do what she’s always done since the insurrection. She will lie.

“I have to go to court on Friday and actually be questioned about something I’ve never been charged with and something I was completely against,” Greene told Fox News Channel’s pro-Trump host, Tucker Carlson, on April 18.

That Greene would deny that she ever supported the riot that sought to block Congress from ratifying the 2020 Electoral College votes that certified Joe Biden’s presidential election victory is contradicted by her public actions and statements on and after January 6, according to the factual documentation in a lawsuit that is seeking to disqualify her candidacy under the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment, which bars anyone from holding a federal or state elected office if they have “engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same.”

“Representative Greene promoted the demonstration ahead of time, declaring that it was ‘our 1776 moment’ on an interview the day before. Furthermore, the planners of the January 6 demonstration report that she met with them beforehand,” said the lawsuit seeking to bar Greene’s candidacy filed by Free Speech for People, a progressive public interest law firm. “The stated goal of the organizers was to pressure Vice President Pence into disregarding the electoral votes from several states and declaring Trump the winner of the 2020 election.

“The likelihood of violence during the implementation of this plan was plain to bystanders and probably more so to those intimately involved,” the legal complaint continued. “Before the demonstration, violent groups announced they were going to attend it. Plans for violence—and specifically occupying the Capitol to prevent the certification vote or violently influence its outcome—were so prevalent that one reporter has remarked that “[a]nyone with a Twitter account and an hour of time to kill could have warned about the potential for violence on Jan. 6—and many did.” Furthermore, the insurrection was in part motivated by a desire to prevent the certification in order to send false electoral slates to Congress—an effort Greene endorsed and promoted.”

Greene, whose belligerence defending Trump and attacking Democrats is well known, is among a handful of federal and state lawmakers whose 2022 candidacies have been challenged under the Constitution – which she swore to uphold when taking office days before the uprising. But Greene, like Trump, has pretended nothing happened and called her critics criminals.

“This is how far it’s going, these leftists, these progressives who would rather want – they’d rather have the judge or bureaucrats making decisions instead of voters, they want to hand that over to them and not let the people in my district to even have the right to vote for me,” she told Carlson. “But no, the Republican Party needs to fight harder, Tucker. You know, there is something that I have learned, and I think this is really important. You know, if you can challenge any representative's candidacy or elected office holder, then I bet you we could round up some Republican voters who didn't like [Vice-President] Kamala Harris funding rioters, criminal rioters out of jail, or [Reps.] Ilhan Omar or Cori Bush or Maxine Waters inciting riots.”

Factually, no Democratic woman officeholder Greene mentioned incited the January 6 riot. But her attack on her political opponents – accusing them and the FBI of igniting the insurrection – and her denial of any involvement in the failed coup has become a common refrain among the 2022 candidates challenged by Free Speech for People.

“It is absurd to claim that a sitting member of the United States Congress advocated for the overthrown of the United States government,” said Arizona attorney Alexander Kolodin, who represents Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), whose public support of the insurrection is also well-known, during an April 20 state court hearing in Phoenix where the group’s lawsuit challenging the candidacy of Gosar and two other pro-insurrection candidates was heard.

“In fact, there are not even any specific allegations as to Congressman Gosar to that effect,” Kolodin continued. “In fact, he’s [Gosar] not alleged to have called for violence except in some speech before that Capitol riot where he said, ‘A civil war is coming. We just haven’t started shooting yet.’”

Like the suit against Greene, Free Speech for People’s lawsuit extensively documented Gosar’s pro-insurrection actions. But the legal challenge drew a cold reception from Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Christopher Coury, who repeatedly said that the group’s legal team had misread the Arizona law they claimed allowed candidates to be removed from the ballot.

A forthcoming ruling raising procedural issues would delay hearing the 14th Amendment case, although Arizona’s primary is not until August. In contrast, the group’s legal action against Greene has taken a different course from its lawsuit against North Carolina Rep. Madison Cawthorn, who also faces a Republican primary in mid-May. On March 10, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Myers ruled that Cawthorn’s candidacy could not be challenged because his support of the insurrection was absolved by an 1872 federal law granting amnesty to former Confederates – southern supporters of the Civil War. That ruling has been appealed.

In the short run, however, it is notable that Free Speech for People’s legal team, suing on behalf of a handful of voters in each state, will accomplish on Friday what the U.S. House’s Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol has failed to do thus far: interrogate a member of Congress about her role in the riot.

Given the propaganda and serial lying by Greene about the insurrection – first denying Trump’s 2020 loss, then encouraging the attempted coup, then accusing her political opponents of inciting the violence that ensued, then denying her involvement in any of these events – the media coverage of Friday’s hearing is likely to be intense and circus-like, and possibly obscure the constitutional questions raised under the 14th Amendment’s Section Three.

“An ‘insurrection’ or ‘rebellion’ under the Disqualification Clause includes actions against the United States with the intent to overthrow the government of the United States or obstruct an essential constitutional function,” the complaint against Greene said. “The events of January 6, 2021, amounted to an insurrection or a rebellion under Section Three: a violent, coordinated effort to storm the Capitol to prevent the Vice President of the United States and the United States Congress from fulfilling their constitutional roles by certifying President Biden’s victory, and to illegally extend then-President Trump’s tenure in office, including by illegally introducing illegitimate electors as ‘alternate slates’ for Congress to vote on.”

Whether Greene is ineligible to be a 2022 candidate for federal office is not the only issue at stake, according to Free Speech for People’s “14 Point 3 Campaign.” Their candidate challenges are seeking to defend the laws, rules, and guardrails governing American democracy – starting with the foundational charter, the U.S. Constitution. Their biggest target is not lawmakers like Greene or Gosar in this year’s elections, but Trump and his plans for 2024.

“Trump is preparing to run for president again in 2024, holding rallies across the country to activate his base… However, Trump’s incitement of the January 6th insurrection makes him ineligible for any future run for office,” the organization said. “Free Speech For People… urge[s] Secretaries of State and chief election officials across the country to follow the mandate of Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment and bar insurrectionists from any future ballot.”

This article was produced by Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

Steven Rosenfeld is the editor and chief correspondent of Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute. He has reported for National Public Radio, Marketplace, and Christian Science Monitor Radio, as well as a wide range of progressive publications including Salon, AlterNet, The American Prospect, and many others.

Mapping Extremist Networks Shows Capitol Rioters Weren’t ‘Ordinary People'

One of the broad narratives about the January 6, 2021 Capitol insurrection that emerged from demographic assessments of the people subsequently arrested for placing the building and the police guarding it under siege was the general sense that, while organizations like the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys played central roles in the attack, the vast majority of the insurrectionists were just “ordinary citizens” who had no real extremist affiliations but were just swept up in the Trumpian hysteria. It turns out that may not be quite right.

Radicalization expert Michael Jensen compiled a network map of all the people arrested for January 6 crimes—which he originally thought would confirm the “J6 defendants are just ‘ordinary’ people with few links to extremists” conventional wisdom—and found as it kept piling up that he “no longer finds this narrative convincing.” As Marcy Wheeler adroitly observes: “I think people have lost sight of how important organized far right networks were to the riot.”

Extremist Group Movements

Jensen, the principal investigator for the Profiles of Individual Radicalization in the United States (PIRUS) project at the University of Maryland’s National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START), compiled the network map from “several thousand pages of court documents and countless social media posts.” He found a total of 244 defendants with extremist connections, and created a visualization of those ties—as well as those between rioters—with the map.

“That’s approximately 30 percent of all defendants. While that’s not a majority, a 30 percent rate of affiliation with extremism/extremist beliefs among a collective of apparently “ordinary” individuals is an astounding number,” Jensen writes on Twitter.

Indeed, while 30 percent still is not a majority, it is not a small minority either. He continues:

Of these 244 defendants, 108 were members of at least one extremist organization. 136 self-identified as members of extremist movements or publicly praised extremist groups and their beliefs. These defendants form nearly 700 dyadic relationships to extremist groups/movements and other defendants with extremist affiliations. These aren’t ordinary relationships—or, at least, they shouldn’t be.

Moreover, the “ordinary people” argument misses what the visualization shows—that J6 involved a number of influential defendants who acted as bridges in a larger network, facilitating the flow harmful ideas from one movement to another. Sure, the J6 defendants are “ordinary” in the sense that most of them have families, neighbors, and jobs, but who really believes that those are the things that distinguish extremists from everyone else?Jensen points to the work of another expert at American University’s Polarization and Extremism Research & Innovation Lab, Cynthia Miller-Idriss, in coming to terms with the reality that far-right extremism has been mainstreamed, and how that has happened, primarily through online radicalization—how “people radicalize in a vast and ever-expanding online ecosystem, a process that often involves no contact with particular organizations”:

Jensen points to the work of another expert at American University’s Polarization and Extremism Research & Innovation Lab, Cynthia Miller-Idriss, in coming to terms with the reality that far-right extremism has been mainstreamed, and how that has happened, primarily through online radicalization—how “people radicalize in a vast and ever-expanding online ecosystem, a process that often involves no contact with particular organizations”:

As ordinary individuals encounter these ideas, whether through custom-tailored propaganda or through more grassroots efforts amplified by social media, they assemble them into their own personalized belief systems. This is a far cry from more traditional models of radicalization in which people gradually adopt an identifiable group’s ideological framework—such as fascism or neo-Nazism—that calls for violent solutions against a common enemy. These more coherent processes involve initiation rites, manifestos, leaders, and a chain of command that guide beliefs and actions. Those elements are largely absent from today’s patchwork, choose-your-own-adventure mode of radicalization.

Miller-Idriss’s point is that “Extremism has gone mainstream; so must the interventions needed to address it.” And as Jensen observes, it’s likely that the “ordinary people” narrative surrounding J6 only makes this problem worse.

“It depicts aligning with extremist groups, even if indirectly, and/or adopting their beliefs and attempting to violently end democracy as something “ordinary” people do,” he writes. “It’s not.”

Heidi Beirich, the longtime intelligence director at the Southern Poverty Law Center now with the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism, explains that this radicalization has been openly encouraged by Republican officeholders and a broad array of right-wing pundits, who have promoted white-nationalist and other far-right conspiracy theories into the mainstream of public discourse, ranging from the racist “Great Replacement” theory claiming that liberals are deliberately seeking to displace white voters with a tide of nonwhite immigration and civil rights, to the contradictory claims that “leftists” and “antifa” were actually responsible for the January 6 violence and that the rioters simultaneously righteous “patriots” seeking to defend the nation from a communist takeover.

Beirich cites a recent University of Chicago Project on Security and Threats report identifying an active American insurrectionist movement comprising some 21 million people. These radicalized Trump followers believe that “Use of force is justified to restore Donald J. Trump to the presidency” and that “The 2020 election was stolen, and Joe Biden is an illegitimate president.” About 63 percent of them believe in the Great Replacement theory, while 54 percent subscribe to far-right QAnon conspiracism.

It also notes that this insurrectionist movement is made up of “mainly highly competent, middle-aged American professionals,” leading the researchers to warn that their continuing radicalization “does not bode well for the 2022 midterm elections, or for that matter, the 2024 Presidential election.”

Marcy Wheeler notes that Jensen’s map reveals how massive an influence QAnon networks were in fueling the insurrection. She observes “how much more effective QAnon was at getting bodies where they needed them than the militias (the Proud Boys were busy moving other bodies around). Note how many QAnoners there are here.”

Moreover, as she explains, the map gives weight to the reportage this week by The New York Times’ Alan Feuer, revealing the key role that a Roger Stone minion and QAnon influencer named Jason Sullivan had in fomenting the January 6 violence:

More recently, Mr. Sullivan has taken an active role in promoting the QAnon conspiracy theory, which holds that prominent liberals belong to a cult of Satan-worshipping pedophiles. At a public appearance last year with Ms. Powell and Mr. Flynn, Mr. Sullivan called Hillary Clinton a “godawful woman” and then made a gesture suggesting she should be hanged.

On the conference call ahead of Jan. 6, Mr. Sullivan told his listeners that he was an expert at making things go viral online, but that it was not enough to simply spread the message that the election had been stolen.

“There has to be a multiple-front strategy, and that multiple-front strategy, I do think, is descend on the Capitol, without question,” he said. “Make those people feel it inside.”

As Wheeler says: “If someone can be shown to have triggered the QAnoners, it is an important detail. FBI was investigating this within weeks after the riot.”

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

How Republicans Learned To Stop Worrying And Love January 6

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

As the nation approaches the one-year anniversary of the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, a disturbing trend has emerged in the right-wing media ecosystem: the open approval and valorization of the event.

Such thoughts first emerged that very day, when far-right commentators like former Trump adviser Sebastian Gorka and right-wing site The Gateway Pundit cheered on the “patriots” who had “taken over Capitol Hill.” But after the coup attempt failed, right-wing media proceeded in the following days and months to come up with other explanations of what had happened. While they painted various conspiracy theories of left-wing infiltration or claimed there had been no insurrection at all, they also urged strongly against any attempts to investigate the event further — which did not exactly demonstrate much confidence in the alternative hypotheses.

But more and more, conservative media outlets are collectively ending up right back where they started, with a full embrace of the event, consistent with former President Donald Trump’s claims that “the insurrection took place on November 3rd,” and that January 6 was a “protest of the rigged election.” (This has also spread through official Republican circles, such as the local Republican Party in suburban Cobb County, Georgia, which is preparing to hold a “Candlelight Vigil for J6 Patriots.”)

This right-wing media campaign to excuse the Capitol attack is seemingly reflected by views among the rank-and-file GOP: A recent CBS News/YouGov poll finds that Republican voters have become less disapproving of the events of January 6 than they once were. While the vast majority still say they disapprove, a deeper look finds that this opinion has become spread between those who “strongly disapprove” and a plurality who only “somewhat disapprove.” Moreover, only 21 percent of Republicans will describe the riot as an “insurrection,” while 47 percent describe the people who entered the Capitol as having been motivated by “patriotism,” and 56 percent say they had been “defending freedom.” Moreover, 38 percent of Republicans say that political violence could be justified over election results.

Indeed, much of the response to January 6 has depended on the source’s view about whether such an event could succeed — or only result in ignominious defeat. Far-right activist and talk show host Charlie Kirk, in the days following January 6, deleted a tweet in which he had boasted that his organizations were sending “80+ buses full of patriots” to Washington in order to “fight for this president.” A Turning Point Action spokesperson claimed that the organization had sent only seven buses, but it also later emerged that at least one suspect in the Capitol insurrection had traveled to D.C. on one of Turning Point Action’s buses.

It is also worth looking at what Kirk now has to say about political violence. When an audience member at one of Kirk’s events asked this past October, “How many elections are they going to steal before we kill these people?” Kirk responded that the questioner was “playing into all their plans,” because their opponents were “trying to make you do something that will be violent that will justify a takeover of your freedoms and liberties.” (Others pointed out that Kirk’s supposed objection to violence was based on its high probability of failure instead of any moral qualms.)

Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who has created a propaganda series claiming that the attack was a false flag operation mounted by government elements in order to persecute conservatives, has also for long time cultivated a parallel narrative in which the insurrectionists were just regular citizens who “talked about the Constitution, and something called their rights.” Moreover, Carlson has claimed, they “were correct” that the 2020 presidential election had been rigged against Trump — and “if a mass of people show up angry at the Capitol, you should at least pause for a second,” and “maybe we should address their concerns.”

And on New Year’s Eve, right-wing site American Greatness — whose contributors have spread lies about the 2020 election and attacked Capitol Police officers — upped the ante with a piece titled “Of Reichstags and Bastilles.” Repeating a series of false claims that there was “overwhelming evidence of widespread voter fraud in multiple swing states,” contributor Eric Lendrum declared that “thus, the protesters were justified.”

The piece also claimed that Ashli Babbitt, the QAnon conspiracy theorist who was killed by a Capitol Police officer as she attempted to climb through a broken window leading to the Speaker’s Lobby, was “an actual hero … who was willing to give her life for her country—and ultimately did just that, albeit in a far more tragic way.” (Babbitt had posted online the day before the Capitol attack that “Nothing will stop us,” further adding: “They can try and try and try but the storm is here and it is descending upon DC in less than 24 hours… dark to light!”)

Lendrum concluded his piece with a declaration that conservatives should “stop trying to qualify their stances on January 6 with an obligatory disavowal,” and instead openly celebrate the actions of that day as “a reaction to a long train of abuses and usurpations perpetrated against the American people by an entrenched elite class that has infected our institutions.”

"The only course of action at this point is to be just as firm in our stance as the Left is. If they truly want to address January 6 by making dramatic historical comparisons, then so should we. If their aim is to make January 6 their Reichstag Fire, then we should go forward celebrating the events of that day as our Storming of the Bastille; a day where a symbol of the degeneration of our ruling class into total corruption and tyranny was challenged, and the elites were shown just what happens when millions of freedom-loving citizens finally grow sick and tired of a boot perpetually stomping on their necks."

Another peculiar set of visuals and commentary came Monday night on the far-right One America News.

OAN host Natalie Harp interviewed right-wing author Lee Smith about how the events of January 6 had supposedly been used to defame Trump supporters in general, with Harp calling the date a “plot against the people.” (This phrasing was in contrast to a book that Smith published in 2019, The Plot Against the President, denouncing the Trump-Russia investigations.)

While OAN aired B-roll photos and video of the January 6 attack itself, Smith claimed that the investigations were “effectively the demonization and in some cases the criminalization of opposition” to the Obama and Biden “faction” in American politics. “It’s despicable, but that's what we're up against. We're up against a very, a very ugly faction of the American public sphere.”

House Panel Probing January 6 Capitol Riot Issues New Subpoenas

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The House of Representatives Select Committee investigating the deadly January 6 riot at the Capitol said on Thursday it had issued more subpoenas seeking testimony and records related to a rally that took place the day mobs of former President Donald Trump's supporters stormed the seat of the U.S. government.

The subpoenas are the latest in a series issued by the committee probing the insurrection, which left a handful of people dead and then-Vice President Mike Pence and lawmakers fleeing in fear of their lives.

They seek deposition testimony from Ali Abdul Akbar, also known as Ali Alexander, and Nathan Martin, who are connected to permit applications for the rally, and request the production of records from those individuals and from Stop the Steal LLC, an organization affiliated with the rally, the committee said.

Alexander is a far-right activist who helped organize the "Stop the Steal" movement opposing Trump's defeat in the 2020 presidential election. Martin is a city councilman from Shelby, Ohio.

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Alistair Bell)