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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 Rioters’ Own Footage Powers ​New York Times​ ‘Day Of Rage’ Report

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

While some professional journalists faced hostility and attack while covering the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, the grand irony is that so many people involved in the insurrection were doing their jobs for them.

That's evident with The New York Times' release of "Day of Rage," a 40-minute video investigation that painstakingly examines the events of the day. The Times' team collected thousands of videos, starting the afternoon of January 6, many of them posted on social media by the rioters themselves, said Malachy Browne, senior producer on the Times' visual investigations team.

"As the realization set in among many of the participants about what they had done, and the implications of it, much of it was deleted," Browne said.

Too late. The Times had already protected its own copies.

The day had been tough for some of the journalists who covered the attack. Photojournalists for The Associated Press and Times were roughed up, and some AP equipment used to document the event was damaged.

In "Day of Rage," the newspaper used the collected footage, as well as other material like police bodycam film and archived audio from police communications, to recreate the event from many angles. Through the use of time stamps and knowledge of where people were located, for example, the Times tracked down footage from a freelance videographer who hadn't realized he had captured the attack that led to Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick's death, Browne said. Sicknick collapsed and later died after engaging with the protesters. He was sprayed with chemical irritants, but a medical examiner determined he died of natural causes.

The Times was able to determine that rioters breached the Capitol at eight separate locations.

Elsewhere, the footage laid bare the intent of many rioters, like when former President Donald Trump's speech at the pre-riot rally were juxtaposed with what was said in his audience as he spoke.

The Times' probe concludes that the House's delay in shutting off debate on election certification until rioters had appeared outside the chamber contributed to the shooting by police of Ashli Babbitt, a California woman who had joined the crowd that breached the building.

The project depicts law enforcement as overwhelmed, partly due to lack of preparation by their superiors. The footage, some of it seen in other venues over the past months, contains startling moments: a police officer goading a rioter to move in one direction while senators slip to safety in the background, a House employee barricaded in an office whispering to a colleague while a door is being pounded from the outside.

While the footage spots efforts by members of the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, showing their body armor, weapons, radio communication and organized movements, the Times concludes that the majority of rioters were Trump supporters caught up in the frenzy of the action.

"For many in the crowd, they felt they were carrying out some duty to defend democracy as they see it," Browne said.

The Times' story had nine bylines, but Browne estimated some 15 to 20 journalists participated in its preparation. Even before the documentary's release late Wednesday, the findings contributed to the newspaper's reporting about the incident over the past few months.

Browne, who also narrates the video, minces no words in telling viewers what was concluded.

"Our reconstruction shows the Capitol riot for what it was — a violent assault, encouraged by the president, on a seat of democracy that he vowed to protect," he says in the documentary.

The film also shows a congressman likening the rioters to tourists. "A tourist visit this was not," Browne narrates, "and the proof is in the footage."

The Times' investigation could take on added importance given the stalled government effort to thoroughly investigate what happened that day.

"I think recent events have made a presentation like this more valuable," he said. "Maybe it will create pressure for the investigation. I don't know. Our intention is not to influence policy or politicians, but to really show the public what happened in the fullest way possible."

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.

Senate’s Report On Jan. 6 Is Only The Beginning


Reprinted with permission from Roll Call

The details are scary, but not surprising to some of us.

Capitol Police intelligence officers had warnings as early as December 21 of what was going to happen on January 6 at the Capitol: Pro-Trump protesters were planning to "bring guns" and other weapons to confront the police — the "blue" that conservatives swear they "back." Lawmakers were in danger of being trapped and harmed while doing the job they were elected to do, certifying the election of President Joseph R. Biden Jr. (though quite a few Republicans shamefully failed even that routine task post-insurrection). Conspirators giddily shared maps and discussed entry points.

And nothing.

A few Capitol Police command officers did get some information, which they failed to share widely. According to the department's statement: "Neither the USCP, nor the FBI, U.S. Secret Service, Metropolitan Police or our other law enforcement partners knew thousands of rioters were planning to attack the U.S. Capitol. The known intelligence simply didn't support that conclusion."

Known intelligence? Anyone paying attention to the social media bragging of self-styled "militia" members, Oath Keepers, Proud Boys, red-state secession groupies, white supremacists and their ilk could have figured it out. Those swept up in QAnon delusions and Donald Trump's "big lie" of a stolen election excitedly posted travel plans and loving photos of weaponry, all shiny and ready for action. The dry run of a Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., where a woman was killed, happened in 2017 — and that was over a statue. And just last year, armed Michigan militia members swarmed a state capital and plotted to kidnap a governor.

In preparation for the insurrection, Trump himself issued a pretty vivid invitation, one of several: "Big protest in D.C. on January 6th," he tweeted on December 19. "Be there, will be wild!"

No wonder rank-and-file officers felt betrayed.

An Appalling Failure

Any patriotic American, one who believes in democracy and sane leadership and the U.S. Constitution, should read the joint report from the Senate Rules and Administration and the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committees and be appalled at the intelligence and communications failures that led to loss of life, more than a hundred serious injuries and lasting trauma, and at the Confederate flags and racial slurs hurled at law enforcement putting their own lives on the line.

For an American who happens to be a minority, too much looks familiar — the lack of serious accountability for too many perpetrators, the encouragement by irresponsible leaders who see political advantage in stoking resentment, the effort to say, "Nothing to see here," which means a repeat as sure as night follows day.

Sadly predictable was the planning revealed in a January 5 internal document obtained by CQ Roll Call. Despite all the evidence that members of a mob would be, at Trump's urging, marching on the Capitol to prevent electoral votes from being counted, despite a January 3 warning that "Congress itself is the target," the Civil Disturbance Unit of the Capitol Police viewed counterprotesters as the major threat.

It recalls the civil rights protests of the 1960s, when peaceful protesters were considered the "agitators" and were treated accordingly and brutally, while the jeering and violent white crowds got a pass from law enforcement. Heck, my brother was arrested — twice — for sitting in at whites-only diners. Back then, J. Edgar Hoover's FBI was the protesters' enemy. Today's FBI director, Christopher Wray, testified this year that his agency had not seen "any evidence of anarchist violent extremists or people subscribing to antifa in connection with the 6th" and has warned that white supremacist violence is the top domestic terror threat.

But old habits die hard. Envisioning and preparing for the dangers of a predominantly white crowd carrying weapons while seeking to "cancel" Black and brown voters from Detroit, Atlanta, Milwaukee and Philadelphia by any means necessary is still a reach for a lot of people in power, especially those who agree with the rioters' cause.

We know what the mob can do.

And still, not much. Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Roy Blunt, R-Mo., the leaders of the Rules Committee, are expected to propose legislation to give Capitol Police the power to summon the National Guard and to increase the department's funding.

But Republicans in Congress have blocked a bipartisan commission to answer the questions that remain, paralyzed by the fact that Trump, and more than a few of their own members, might be implicated on paper. The word "insurrection" is nowhere to be seen in the report, which showed little interest in the role of white supremacist groups, many of whose members see Jan. 6 not as a loss but as an opening salvo.

Doing The Mob's Work

Using the "big lie" to do in state legislatures what the pro-Trump mob could not, Republicans are using their clout to make it harder for certain Americans to vote — minorities, the poor, students, the disabled, those who work long shifts and can't wait for hours in line, those who depend on same-day registration and drop boxes. And when those American voters do manage to overcome every obstacle, a partisan observer can harass them, and an appointed official can declare their ballots null and void.

For those arrested for taking part in an insurrection, let's just say the loudest proponents of taking personal responsibility are spewing excuses that make "the dog ate my homework" look credible. They were either in the wrong place at the wrong time or brainwashed by internet conspiracies. Or they were just following the orders of "Dear Leader."

Jacob Chansley, the so-called QAnon Shaman, prominently pictured roaming the Capitol on January 6, had his mommy defending him and repeating election fraud lies. Does she also cut up the organic food he insisted on being served in jail into little pieces before feeding him by hand?

They feel protected, and why not? They have American history and a political party on their side, ready to put a treasonous insurrection in the rearview mirror. So many don't think what happened on Jan. 6 will touch them. Worse, many sympathize with those who see a more inclusive America as a threat.

With Trump on his vengeance tour spreading that message, aided and abetted by GOP politicians willing to look the other way, expect the worst.

Minorities and their civil rights may be the first in jeopardy. But don't be fooled. Those bent on violently undermining democracy won't stop there. They never do.

Mary C. Curtis has worked at The New York Times, The Baltimore Sun, The Charlotte Observer, as national correspondent for Politics Daily, and is a senior facilitator with The OpEd Project. Follow her on Twitter @mcurtisnc3.

Evangelical Pastors ‘Alarmed’ By QAnon’s Growing Sway In Their Congregations

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Those who had been warning that the QAnon conspiracy cult was dangerous were reminded just how dangerous when QAnon supporters — along with members of the Proud Boys, the Oath Keepers, the Three Percenters and other extremist groups — attacked the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6. Some QAnon supporters identify as Christian fundamentalists, and journalist Mike Allen discusses the inroads QAnon has made among white evangelicals in an article published by Axios on Memorial Day 2021.

Allen explains, "QAnon conspiracy theories have burrowed so deeply into American churches that pastors are expressing alarm…. Russell Moore, one of America's most respected evangelical Christian thinkers, told me he's 'talking literally every day to pastors, of virtually every denomination, who are exhausted by these theories blowing through their churches or communities.'"

Allen reports that a poll taken by Ipsos in March for the Public Religion Research Institute and Interfaith Youth Core found that 15 percent of Americans join QAnon in believing that "the government, media, and financial worlds in the U.S. are controlled by a group of Satan-worshipping pedophiles who run a global child sex trafficking operation."

Kristin Du Mez, a historian at Calvin University and author of the book Jesus and John Wayne, told Axios, "For those who hope that the events of January 6 are in our past, I think this data gives little in the way of assurance."

That poll found that 26 percent of Hispanic Protestants and 25 percent of white evangelical Protestants were more likely to agree with QAnon than other groups.

Du Mez told Axios, "There's also an emphasis in certain circles on deciphering biblical prophecies that bears some similarities to decoding QAnon conspiracies — the idea that there is a secret meaning hidden within the text that can be discerned by individuals who have eyes to see. This isn't just a problem for faith communities, of course. It is deeply troubling in terms of the health of our democracy."

Natalie Jackson, research director at PRRI, told Axios the poll doesn't mean that 15 percent of Americans "are spending their entire lives only paying attention to Q.... but it does mean this group is amenable to believing these conspiracy theories."

Oath Keepers ‘Lifetime Member’ Cooperating With Prosecutors On Insurrection Conspiracy

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

A self-described "lifetime member" of the Oath Keepers has become the first defendant in the January 6 insurrection cases to enter a guilty plea as part of a cooperation agreement with prosecutors, following a hearing in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., Friday morning.

The plea bargain for Jon Schaffer, 53, a heavy-metal guitarist from Indiana who was photographed assaulting officers with bear spray and entering the U.S. Capitol, was approved by Judge Ahmit Mehta. Schaffer engaged in a long conversation with Mehta acknowledging that the deal requires him to "cooperate fully with the United States," which includes providing evidence of known crimes and sitting for interviews with investigators.

Schaffer's guilty plea to two charges—obstructing an official proceeding and illegally entering the Capitol grounds—makes him the first participant in the insurrection to agree to provide evidence against his fellow rioters. Schaffer, who originally faced six felony charges, will enter the government's witness protection program as part of the deal.

According to an earlier filing, which was mistakenly made public, Schaffer in March began engaging in "debrief interviews." As The Washington Post notes, the plea bargain marks a critical step forward in the prosecution of the cases, as other defendants face similar choices in terms of providing evidence for prosecutors, particularly when it comes to the activities of the two key paramilitary organizations involved in the insurrection, the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys.

"Whenever you have a large group of people arrested," criminal defense attorney Martin Tankleff told CNN, it's common for prosecutors to pressure defendants to flip on each other. "They're going to start talking. They're going to start sharing information."

Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes, who was present in Washington on January 6 but did not enter the Capitol, is one of the key figures being drawn into the net prosecutors are creating with conspiracy charges involving other members of his group. Though federal indictments handed down against his Oath Keepers and Proud Boys cohorts have not named him personally, he is referenced in several of them as "Person 1," a central player in what prosecutors are describing as a conspiracy to "stop, delay, or hinder Congress's certification of the Electoral College vote."

"I may go to jail soon," Rhodes recently told a right-wing rally in Texas. "Not for anything I actually did, but for made-up crimes. There are some Oath Keepers right now along with Proud Boys and other patriots who are in D.C. who are sitting in jail denied bail despite the supposed right to a jury trial before you're found guilty and presumption of innocence, were denied bail because the powers that be don't like their political views."

Proud Boy Dominic Pezzola's attorney wrote in court filings that he believed a so-called "cooperating witness" was sharing information about the Proud Boys. An earlier filing by prosecutors had revealed that this witness heard Proud Boys members claim that "anyone they got their hands on they would have killed," including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and that they would have also killed then-Vice President Mike Pence "if given the chance." The men—who all had firearms or access to them—also talked about returning to Washington for Inauguration Day, and that "they plan to kill every single 'm-fer' they can." That witness, prosecutors noted, has not been charged with a crime.

Most of the defendants, as a New York Times piece recently explored, are facing substantial evidence of their crimes culled from videos and photos both in mainstream media and on social media. Indeed, a large portion of that evidence was provided by the insurrectionists themselves.

Biden, Garland Taking Quiet But Firm Steps Against White Nationalist Violence

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

Quietly and with little fanfare, the Biden administration has been taking all the right steps early in its tenure in confronting the threat of right-wing extremist violence and its spread—a mandate handed to Biden by the insurrectionists who attacked the U.S. Capitol on January 6. Rather than take a high-profile approach that might backfire, Biden's Justice Department and FBI, and to a lesser extent the Department of Homeland Security, have wisely taken a low-key route that emphasizes competence and effectiveness, as a New York Times piece explored last weekend.

But make no mistake, the Biden administration is taking the problem seriously. Indictments from the insurrection now number more than 300, prosecutors are establishing evidence of a clear chain of conspiracy leading to the attack focusing on Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, and arrests for criminal behavior by far-right extremists unrelated to the attack are occurring as well. It's a welcome change from the malign neglect of the matter by Donald Trump and his administration.

As we have argued consistently since the insurrection, an effective approach to right-wing domestic terrorism necessarily will eschew the trappings of the post-9/11 "war on terror"—that is, instead of creating new laws and giving law enforcement unneeded new powers, the phenomenon can most effectively be attacked by smartly deploying law enforcement to enforce the many laws already on the books.

According to Shaun Courtney at Bloomberg, that is in fact how the Biden administration has tackled the issue so far. It also appears to be the thinking of key lawmakers in Congress.

"There's no shortage of laws on the books to deal with violent extremist groups and the actions that they take. My sense is right now it's primarily resource allocation and prioritization," said Senator Gary Peters of Michigan, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

"The whole idea of having more robust oversight of the Department of Homeland Security and their intelligence operations, I think is a critical first step," Peters said.

Claiming that law enforcement lacks the legal authority necessary to counter domestic terrorism "gives cover to the idea that somehow, 'Oh if you only had the tools, we would have actually been targeting this threat,' " Becky Monroe, a policy director in the Justice Department's civil rights division under President Barack Obama, told Courtney.

The Times story noted that several concrete steps have already taken place. DHS has opened up a review of how it handles domestic extremism—needed, in no small part, because of the department's well-documented evisceration of its intelligence-gathering capacity for domestic right-wing terrorism. For the first time in its history, DHS has designated domestic extremism as a "national priority area," which requires that 7.5 percent of the billions in grant funds be devoted to combating it.

Biden also has bolstered a National Security Council team devoted to domestic extremism, one that had been depleted under Trump. Meanwhile, Attorney General Merrick B. Garland, has said the Justice Department would also make domestic extremism a priority.

A mid-March intelligence assessment commissioned by Biden concluded that far-right extremists—particularly those animated by racial and ethnic grievances—pose the most lethal domestic-terrorism threat to Americans for the foreseeable future. Meanwhile, militia-like organizations pose an ongoing threat primarily to government and law-enforcement personnel.

The report noted that the militia-extremist-group threat increased last year and is expected to continue to heighten throughout 2021. That's due to "sociopolitical factors" motivating such groups, "such as narratives of fraud in the recent general election, the emboldening impact of the violent breach of the US Capitol, conditions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and conspiracy theories promoting violence."

Former DHS counterterrorism chief Elizabeth Neumann told NPR's Terry Gross that such groups "basically declared war on the government and stated that their aim was to overthrow the U.S. government, to establish a white nation."

This, she said, is why the Capitol insurrection has actually had the effect of inflaming and encouraging longtime far-right radicals, many of whom had grown discouraged over the years at the prospect of effectively attacking the American government to overthrow it successfully. All of them have, after all, long clung to the fantasy of having a "race war" or "civil war" to overthrow the government. January 6 had the look of their fantasy becoming reality.

As Neumann explained:

So it's not like they destroyed the Capitol. It's not like they disrupted the transition of power. But it was seen as kind of almost the starting point, perhaps, of the civil war that they have believed in their mythology was going to come at some point, a race war. And so you see on online chat rooms that you have groups using this as a recruitment tactic, that it's finally happening, if—you know, there's going to be this race war, that we're finally going to be able to achieve our aim of ridding the country of all of these people we don't think should be here, establishing our own country. And any time you have, for an extremist group or a terrorist group, something that symbolic, it affects and helps them with their recruitment, with their morale. So these—certainly, on the white supremacist side, we see an emboldening effect for those groups.

More than emboldening extremists, the post-January 6 environment has become ripe for shifting boundaries among them and the formations of new alliances and configurations. The resulting reconfiguration will affect the nature of the far-right insurgency that declared war on American democracy on January 6.

"There is a concern then on the other side of January 6, you have groups interconnected in a way that they weren't before," Neumann told Gross. "We heard in the news on Wednesday that prosecutors have found interconnections between Oath Keepers and Proud Boys and Three Percenters. I think we're going to see more of this to come as the investigation unfurls. But the knowledge that they had been coordinating in the weeks up to January 6 is rather significant. These are not groups that necessarily share the same ideology."