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The Original Oath Keepers' 'Patriot' Celebrity Is Still In Jail For Child Rape

The first time I came across the Oath Keepers back in the summer of 2009, it was all because of a then-29-year-old ex-Marine wearing a skull mask and ranting about the need for “Patriot” militiamen to “rise up” in “a violent revolution.” It was a telling introduction.

The Marine’s name was Charles Dyer. He was an Iraq War combat veteran, and his videos began turning up in late 2008 and early 2009 on YouTube. I was monitoring the rapid increase in militia organizing that began occurring around the time Barack Obama began running for president, which then skyrocketed for the next four years. Dyer’s videos, which attracted hundreds of thousands of views, made me concerned—especially as I realized that he was a spokesman for this new organization that focused on recruiting military veterans into a far-right ideological army, and which was closely associated with the blossoming Tea Party movement.

Dyer’s videos, posted under his nom de guerre “July4Patriot,” comprised him ranting into a video camera about government “tyranny.” He wore his military uniforms—including his Marine dress uniform—but obscured his face with a skull mask (the first I had ever seen of them, well before they were adopted as the face covering of choice by alt-right neo-Nazis nearly a decade later).

He also had a fondness for “inspirational” anthemic music in the background, usually of the Celtic variety, and sometimes so loud it obscured what he was saying—but his incendiary, violent rhetoric was worrisome:

The enemies of the Constitution are not far away in some distant desert. They’re found right here on our own soil. We have become complacent. We have allowed the tyrants to take over this country, and we have no one to blame but ourselves. The time is now. We must rise up together and resist while we still have the ability resist.

This was stock rhetoric of the Patriot movement that I had been hearing since the 1990s. But most of the people indulging in this seditionist talk back then were ordinary citizens with little or no military background. On the other hand, Dyer not only had such a background, but claimed that there was an active antigovernment “resistance” within the armed forces:

I know many of you are afraid of the government. You wonder how you will fight something as strong as the U.S. military. I ask you this question: Who is that’s behind those rifles you fear? They are your sons, your daughters, your mothers and your fathers. They are American citizens just like you. And let me assure you that there is a resistance within the military. We will not be silent, we will not obey, we will not allow the American people to have their rights taken away in any manner. We will not disarm the American people during martial law. Let me assure you, Patriots, that we will die fighting our brothers in arms if we must, but we will not fight our countrymen.

As he posted more videos, Dyer’s rhetoric began ratcheting up the violence. What particularly sent him over the edge was the wave of outrage whipped up by right-wing media and conservative pundits over a bulletin issued by the Department of Homeland Security in early 2009 warning that right-wing extremists planned to be recruiting military veterans like himself into their ranks.

The bulletin, as was clear back then to anyone looking at domestic terrorism seriously, was an appropriate warning due to longstanding concerns about far-right infiltration of the ranks of the military, as well as recruitment of veterans into extremist ideologies and organizations after they returned home. People like Charles Dyer.

But right-wing pundits like Michelle Malkin and Glenn Beck began shrieking at the tops of their lungs that the bulletin was part of an Obama administration conspiracy to designate all conservatives far-right terrorists so they could begin rounding them up and imprisoning them. Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity joined in the bashing, as did a number of veterans groups like the American Legion, all of it handily whitewashing away the very real record of right-wing domestic terrorism in the United States.

All of this fueled and justified the anger of people like Dyer, who was furious about the bulletin:

They are already desperate to keep us from fighting back. The DHS has even issued a letter labeling Patriots as traitors, calling us right-wing extremists and domestic terrorists. Call me whatever name makes you feel justified in persecuting me. But should I care what men made of pure evil think, or label me as? Should I compromise my principles or make a whore of myself for these piece of filth? I think not.

But with the DHS blatantly calling Patriots, veterans, and constitutionalists a threat, all that I have to say is: You’re damn right we’re a threat. We’re a threat to anyone that endangers our rights and the Constitution of this republic.

“Patriots, we are not overpowered. If we united under one banner and fight for our children’s liberty and the constitution, our resolve is invincible to any standing army,” Dyer said in another video.

In one video showing him participating in paramilitary exercises, he answers someone who asks him whether he would advise signing up for the armed forces. “Join the military?” said Dyer. “Depends on what you want to do with it. Me? I'm going to use my training and become one of those domestic terrorists that you’re so afraid of from the DHS reports.”

Comments left behind on his YouTube channel were almost uniformly sympathetic and indicated that he had a significant audience for this rhetoric:

“This Marine is right on. Those now in power in Washington are hell-bent on destroying America and The Constitution. The Marine is right, America is a Republic, NOT a democracy, and what he says about laws that infringe on the 2nd Amendment is right. Any law that 'infringes' on the right to keep and bear arms is unconstitutional. This Marine is a patriot. Those that disagree with him, you know where the border is.”

“You only wish that's what he was. Everything he said in that video is true. And if you weren't so blind to what is going on right now, ie. the government wanting to nationalize the banking systems, wanting to increase gun laws ... not that there aren't over 20k already on the books, I could continue. The American people aren't free anymore, they just have a false sense of freedom, given to them to keep them complacent and happy as they go about their daily lives ... but soon that will end.”

“I believe there is a mountain of truth to this video. Everyone I know is stocking up on guns/ammo/food. I was in the military and I think most servicemembers feel the same as him. They took the oath to protect and defend the constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic. Most military members are very patriotic and attuned to what is going on. When I was in, most everyone hated Clinton. I can only imagine what they feel toward Obama and the Congress.”

In reality there were good reasons to be concerned about the radicalization of American veterans: In the 1990s, both Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh and Atlanta Olympics bomber Eric Rudolph had manifested the danger when radicalized extremists also possess military training and capabilities. In 2008 the FBI had issued its own internal report exploring the problem. It concluded:

  • Although individuals with military backgrounds constitute a small percentage of white supremacist extremists, they frequently occupy leadership roles within extremist groups and their involvement has the potential to reinvigorate an extremist movement suffering from loss of leadership and in-fighting during the post-9/11 period.
  • … Military experience—ranging from failure at basic training to success in special operations forces—is found throughout the white supremacist extremist movement. FBI reporting indicates extremist leaders have historically favored recruiting active and former military personnel for their knowledge of firearms, explosives, and tactical skills and their access to weapons and intelligence in preparation for an anticipated war against the federal government, Jews, and people of color.
  • ... The prestige which the extremist movement bestows upon members with military experience grants them the potential for influence beyond their numbers. Most extremist groups have some members with military experience, and those with military experience often hold positions of authority within the groups to which they belong.
  • ... Military experience—often regardless of its length or type—distinguishes one within the extremist movement. While those with military backgrounds constitute a small percentage of white supremacist extremists, FBI investigations indicate they frequently have higher profiles within the movement, including recruitment and leadership roles.
  • ... New groups led or significantly populated by military veterans could very likely pursue more operationally minded agendas with greater tactical confidence. In addition, the military training veterans bring to the movement and their potential to pass this training on to others can increase the ability of lone offenders to carry out violence from the movement’s fringes.

However, the projection-fueled hysteria over the Homeland Security bulletin focused precisely on this problem became so overwhelming that Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano was forced to issue an apology and retract the bulletin. The consequences went much deeper, of course: DHS’ domestic-terrorism-monitoring section was gutted, and the Obama administration fell into hunker-down/failure mode when it came to the radical right. Even more consequentially, these failures led to the ability of far-right extremists to keep festering and recruiting and growing. Especially groups like the Oath Keepers.

Dyer revealed his identity for the first time at a Tea Party event in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, on July 4, 2009, where he gave a speech that promptly showed up online. It was advertised as an appearance by “July4Patriot,” but he told the audience his real name. He also told them the name of the organization for whom he was speaking and recruiting: the Oath Keepers.

In his speech, Dyer also described the “10 orders we will not obey”—the Oath Keepers’ original credo, a list of the kinds of actions used by authoritarian states—rounding up people, ordering the entire populace to be forcibly disarmed, imposing martial law, creating concentration camps—which mostly reflected the paranoid fears of black helicopters and FEMA common among movement Patriots.

The Oath Keepers, in fact, had only been founded that March 2009 by a former aide to Congressman Ron Paul of Texas—himself a well-established wellspring of far-right extremism with a mainstream patina—named Elmer Stewart Rhodes. A Yale Law graduate with a smooth media demeanor, Rhodes began showing up on TV, ranging from an appearance with Chris Mathews on his MSNBC Hardball program to an honored spot at the 2010 Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) annual convention.

Dyer kept posting videos, but without the skull mask. They mostly showed him engaging in paramilitary training exercises in rural areas, apparently in Oklahoma. He voiced extreme agitation and paranoia about the DHS bulletin, which he claimed targeted veterans as domestic terrorists. Dyer also made his own affiliation with the Patriot movement explicit, and made it similarly clear that the Oath Keepers were part of that movement:

The Patriot movement is basically just all different kinds of organizations across the United States. You’re looking at militias, or maybe the American resistance movement, the umbrella organization, and you may have the Ohio militia or the Michigan militia or whatever, militias all over the place. Citizens militias like in San Diego. They’re all under the Patriot movement. And we’re trying to take back this republic, and restore this republic like it's supposed, like it was intended by our Founding Fathers.

Dyer’s rhetoric became increasingly seditionist, especially the talk about “a violent revolution”:

I’m not gonna be hiding from my command anymore, I’m sure not gonna be hiding from the ATF or hiding from the FBI, I’m not hiding from any organization. If they wanna come take me, I’m not gonna be afraid. If I’m afraid at that point, we’re in a tyrannical government in the first place, and people need to rise up. At that point, there needs to be a violent revolution.

This was part of a larger trend we were seeing elsewhere across the country, including in the West and the South, of people forming militias and conducting paramilitary exercises, and wielding threatening seditionist rhetoric without restraint. The numbers of militias in the United States began spiking from their mid-2000s low of 131 to 512 in 2009, eventually hitting an all-time high in 2011 at 1,360.

Dyer’s speeches and activism, meanwhile, were being heavily promoted at the Oath Keepers’ website through 2009. Dyer shed his pseudonym altogether and began simply using his real name.

However, Dyer’s career as a spokesman for the Oath Keepers ended abruptly and in ugly fashion. He was arrested in January 2010 and charged with raping his young daughter. Investigators found a grenade launcher in his home.

Rhodes promptly disavowed him, claiming that Dyer had never been an actual dues-paying, card-signing member of the Oath Keepers.

In fact, however, Rhodes and Dyer were working closely together for much of that year leading up to his arrest, according to Rhodes’ ex-wife, Tasha Adams. In my interview with her earlier this year, she described how Rhodes—enamored of Dyer’s videos—had taken the budding radical under his wing.

Adams says Dyer was recruited by Rhodes into the organization early on, and Rhodes began putting him to use as a spokesman at events like the one in Broken Arrow. Adams said that Rhodes became “obsessed” with Dyer (“Stewart used to talk with his mother all the time”), and “almost immediately invited him to our home.”

After having Dyer sleeping on their couch for several days, Adams found out that Dyer was under investigation for having molested his own young daughter, but “he didn’t stay much longer after that.” Shortly after he departed, Dyer in fact was charged with the crime and eventually convicted; he’s currently still serving his 30-year sentence.

“He had sort of an eerie vibe about him. Just his demeanor,” Adams said.

At the same time, Oath Keepers by 2010 had become a fixture on the Tea Party scene, becoming listed cosponsors of Tea Party gatherings and making their presence felt, and welcomed, among that movement. This corroborated what I had been seeing elsewhere: The Tea Party, marketed on Fox News and CNN and everywhere else as a nominally mainstream movement, was rapidly becoming a massive conduit for a revival of the ‘90s Patriot “militia” movement.

This trend became cemented over the following year, and eventually the Tea Party movement became wholly consumed by Patriot ideology, rhetoric, and agendas. And the Oath Keepers were one of the leading purveyors of that transformation.

Yet they continued to be treated as mainstream by the media, particularly right-wing outlets. Fox News and particularly Bill O’Reilly—where Rhodes began popping up with regularity—were eager to indulge Rhodes’ claims that his group really wasn’t a militia (even if they were functionaries of the same Patriot movement) and similarly eager to deny that militias had taken over the Tea Party.

Of course, O’Reilly and his Fox cohorts had also been among the leading voices claiming that Obama’s DHS was trying to smear conservatives and the Tea Party with accusations of domestic terrorism. This line of attack became broadly used by Republicans across the board to hammer into the narrative their denial that right-wing domestic terrorism posed any kind of real threat to Americans.

The end result of that narrative, after more than a decade of denial, was the Jan. 6 insurrection, when a mob of Donald Trump-loving Patriots attacked the U.S. Capitol and attempted to prevent Trump’s loss becoming manifest in the peaceful transfer of power. And it surprises no one who has watched the Oath Keepers over the years that Rhodes is now on trial for seditionist conspiracy for having attempted to lead that coup.

Rhodes has always attempted to present Oath Keepers as a mainstream organization, but the façade was thoroughly exposed in 2009 by Justine Sharrock at Mother Jones, whose in-depth report revealed a cadre of armed and angry extremists with paranoid ideas and unstable dispositions behind the claims of normalcy and civic-mindedness, with the patina of authority that having military and law enforcement veterans on your membership rolls can provide.

Dyer, in fact, was not an anomaly. He was the embodiment of the kind of people the Oath Keepers were built to attract: Only borderline stable, simmering with anger and paranoia, and underscored with a constant thrum of menace and potential violence. The kind of people who to this day comprise Trump’s MAGA army.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Sedition, Dishonor, And Dishonesty At Oath Keepers Trial

There’s something I’ve been thinking about while I have been listening to testimony at the seditious conspiracy trial of Oath Keepers founder Elmer Stewart Rhodes.

Every time a witness who was or is part of the organization testifies, as they introduce themselves to the jury and they explain, in effect, how they got to where they now find themselves, there’s a sort of fawning that happens when these mostly old, mostly white men talk about the group.

They speak of camaraderie. They speak of brotherhood. They speak of a willingness to help. Before they even get into the allegations at hand or talk about their reverence for things like the Constitution or the Second Amendment, there has been testimony too about coming together during trying times, like during a natural disaster, where they are willing to step in to provide “protection.”

The definition of “protection” may vacillate a bit but it is overwhelmingly discussed in terms like what Rhodes described when he was on the stand.

During Hurricane Katrina, for example, he said people were having guns taken from their homes “door-by-door” prompting Oath Keepers to show up and ensure people were not being disabused of their Constitutional rights.

He didn’t speak much about providing food or transportation or shelter. And if you were to ask him, it’s not difficult to imagine him saying these elements are not necessarily his organization’s chief priority since their expertise is primarily “security.” Or in other words, the muscle, to “assist” those doing what can viably be described as “the real work” in a disaster scenario (See: feeding, clothing and housing people as they pick up the pieces.)

Besides, his remark about the confiscation of guns post-Katrina was exaggerated.

In 2015, Mother Jones reported that even on blogs “sympathetic to Oath Keepers,” there was concerted pushback over claims that a widescale seizure of weapons by the federal government was taking place in the storm’s aftermath.

In fact, public court records show 552 guns were seized in the aftermath of Katrina and “were mostly inoperable junk guns.” And as the report digging into these claims noted, “either way, in a city of nearly half a million, where gun possession had always been popular (and exploded after the storm), that doesn’t amount to a totalitarian power grab.”

In Louisville, after Breonna Taylor was killed by police and protests erupted, Oath Keepers showed up to “protect” businesses. In video shown to jurors, locals are heard imploring the armed Oath Keepers standing in a circle around a vehicle to leave.

Local police asked Oath Keepers to leave Ferguson, Missouri after Michael Brown was killed by police. And though it has been almost a decade since real cops with real badges asked Rhodes and his cosplayers to stop offering their “services” in St. Louis, Rhodes appeared to still smart at the memory when testifying at the trial in Washington.

They were showing cops how to “do things right,” he said,

The good samaritan shield Rhodes hoists up may have been forged in earnest fires once and it may be true when other Oath Keepers say they joined the group because they wanted to be part of something meaningful.

Perhaps, yes, in the minds of some of these men, there was a time and place where they believed there was something worth protecting in a vulnerable stranger—no matter any possible difference in opinion, color, or creed.

Maybe the hope was real, the belief that the experience of those who have traveled tough terrain could be valued. Maybe there could be a place for people who understood what it is to sustain on very little for very long in dangerous places? Maybe there would be a use in peacetime, right here at home, for people overly acquainted with the theater of war.

Perhaps there was a time when the idea of utilizing veterans and first responders to form a community of public servants was the goal.

But what good samaritan writes a death list?

Who is the person who views other human beings as “bugs” that need to be fought in the streets?

Who is the person who looks at their fellow citizens in the 21st century and believes that political or ideological differences can only be resolved by fighting a civil war?

What does it say when a so-called good samaritan enters the nation’s Capitol during a riot with a patch on themselves that states plainly: “I don’t believe in anything. I’m just here for the violence.”

Members of the Oath Keepers, including Rhodes, have testified for weeks that they are admirers of the First Amendment. Much time has been devoted to featuring the claim that Rhodes and co-defendants Jessica Watkins, Kelly Meggs, Kenneth Harrelson, and Thomas Caldwell merely shared a penchant for braggadocio when they discussed plans that could “go kinetic” when they came to Washington to “help” on Jan. 6.

America’s first president George Washington, who Rhodes himself revered highly, once said “if the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be, like sheep to the slaughter.”

Washington followed it up with another thought immediately after: “It is far better to be alone, than to be in bad company. Truth will ultimately prevail where there is pains to bring it to light.

The Justice Department has taken great pains to bring to light what Rhodes and his cohorts said and did before, during, and after January 6, 2021.

The notion that the Oath Keepers good samaritan defense is believable beyond a reasonable doubt tests the limits of logic.

The presupposition that the group’s only plan was to be ready to provide “assistance” to a U.S. president—who helms the second largest military in the world— is hard to square against a mountain of damning diatribes and testimony.

When men keep bad company, are they able to have honor?

The Oath Keepers communications presented to jurors over this last month often appear dripping in contempt for anyone who might oppose their ideological world-view. Entire swaths of people are lumped into a singular category.

Perhaps if some of these men, in another timeline, would have not been radicalized by disinformation or were not so driven to toy with power because they felt so underutilized or unheard themselves, then their claims of righteousness would be easier to believe.

But there’s vigilantism that hides in every piece of evidence. There’s a violent disregard for a difference of opinion.

And now, there is only a jury that will decide what comes next.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Oath Keepers Sent Promise Of Violence To Trump After January 6

Four days after the insurrection on January 6, 2021, Elmer Stewart Rhodes, extremist leader of the far-right Oath Keepers militia, had a secret meeting in the parking lot of an electronics store in Texas.

There, a witness told the court at his sedition trial, Rhodes penned a message to then-President Trump warning of “combat here on US soil” if the lame-duck leader didn’t “use the power of the President” to invoke the Insurrection Act, call up paramilitary groups, and arrest lawmakers who resisted the coup.

“If you don’t, then Biden/Kamala will turn all that power on you, your family,” Rhodes wrote Trump in a message prosecutors showed Wednesday. “You and your children will die in prison.”

Rhodes typed the invective in the phone of trial witness Jason Alpers, identified in court as a military veteran and co-founder of Allied Security Operations Group, a cyber security firm that colluded with Trump allies, including crazed “Kraken” lawyer Sidney Powell, to spread lies about voter fraud in the 2020 elections.

On the stand, Alpers testified he had “indirect” access to Trump’s “Inner circle,” which was why Rhodes wanted to meet him. Rhodes, Oath Keepers lawyer Kelly SoRelle, and Joshua James, an Oath Keeper who pled guilty to seditious conspiracy in March, were present in that meeting, FBI agent Jennifer Banks told the court.

Prosecutors have presented reams of evidence — many of which were Rhodes’ speech — to the jury portraying the paramilitary extremist as an obsessed Trump superfan ready to do anything to keep Biden out of the White House, for fear the Democrat would execute Republicans and destroy the country that voters elected him to govern.

“You must do as Lincoln did,” Rhodes wrote in the Notes app of Alpers’ phone. "He arrested congressmen, state legislators, and issued a warrant for SCOTUS Chief Justice Taney. Take command like Washington would.”

Urging Trump to implement the Insurrection Act — a federal law that empowers a sitting U.S. president to deploy the military to quash a domestic uprising against the government — Rhodes continued: “You must use the Insurrection Act and use the power of the President to stop him. And all of us veterans will support you and so will the vast majority of the military.”

“I am here for you and so are all my men. We will come help you if you need us. Military and police. And so will your millions of supporters,” Rhodes added.

Alarmed that such “extreme ideologies” would damage his “credibility,” Alpers said he didn’t deliver the message to Trump but turned it and a secretly recorded audio of the encounter to the FBI.

“[Sending the message] would have wrapped me into agreeing with that ideology in some way, which I did not,” Alpers said in court. “I didn’t want to get involved."

After typing the ominous warning, Rhodes pivoted to a discussion to expand on his message, which Alpers told the court he secretly recorded on a thumb drive-shaped recording device.

Prosecutors played that audio for the jury, during which Rhodes could be heard telling Alpers that there would be “combat here on US soil no matter what” if Trump handed Biden the reins of power.

When Alpers denounced the storming of the Capitol by a mob of Trump supporters and said he didn’t want a civil war, Rhodes expressed regret: had he known Trump wouldn’t invoke the Insurrection Act, he and his band of neo-fascist extremists would have “brought rifles” and “fixed it right there and then.”

“If he’s not going to do the right thing, and he’s just gonna let himself be removed illegally, then we should have brought rifles,” Rhodes ranted in the recording. “We could have fixed it right then and there. I’d hang fucking [House Speaker] Pelosi from the lamppost.”

Already, Pelosi’s husband is in the hospital after his skull was fractured by a hoax-peddling Trump fanatic who broke into the Pelosi family’s San Francisco home in search of the speaker.

Rhodes called the Capitol riot a “good thing” and warned of mass felony murder charges for everyone who stormed the halls of Congress “... because someone died,” according to the Washington Post, to which SoRelle audibly agreed, saying, “I know it’s gonna happen.”

Rhodes and four of his co-conspirators — Kelly Meggs, Kenneth Harrelson, Jessica Watkins, and Thomas Caldwell — face up to twenty years behind bars if found guilty of the seditious conspiracy charges levied against them by the U.S. government.

Prosecutors are expected to rest their case on Thursday, but their arguments, supported by a litany of evidence, as well as the outcome of this highly-publicized trial, are expected to set a precedent for the December seditious conspiracy trail of another far-right militia: the Proud boys.

Roger Stone Shrieks As January 6 Panel Scrutinizes Seditious Conduct

The House Select Committee emerged from its summer hiatus and saw out its ninth — and possibly last — hearing in a rather dramatic fashion, voting to subpoena former President Trump and calling the bluff of his longtime ally, Roger Stone.

Some three weeks ago, the select committee teased more stunning revelations about Stone after reports emerged that its investigators had traveled to Denmark to review crucial footage recorded by a Danish film crew that shadowed the Republican operative for two years, including on January 6, 2021.

Stone dismissed the reported trip as a wild goose chase that would turn up “no evidence of wrongdoing.” However, the committee delivered on its promise, airing in its high-profile Thursday hearing a previously unseen video of Stone that paints a clearer picture of his role in the January 6 attack.

In the first video clip, Stone is seen spelling out plans, in a blaze of obscenity, to hijack the election if Trump lost.

“Let’s just hope we’re celebrating,” Stone said in a video clip. "I really do suspect [the 2020 election results] will still be up in the air. When that happens, the key thing to do is to claim victory. Possession is nine-tenths of the law. No, we won; fuck you."

In another clip, Stone cheered the prospect of post-election violence, saying, “I say fuck the voting, let’s get right to the violence. We'll have to start smashing pumpkins, if you know what I mean."

While the select committee aired the clip to the American public, Stone had a meltdown on Telegram, excoriating the congressional panel for its shocking exposé.

“In 2000, when the Bush v. Gore election was still in doubt James A. Baker III urged Bush to claim victory, which he did and was hailed as a genius,” Stone ranted. “When I said Trump should do the same thing (in public but not to either Trump or anyone around him) and I am accused of criminal conduct. Total BS.”

According to The Daily Beast, Stone attempted to mock the select committee by posting the photo of an empty hamburger bun, implying its hearing was nothing more than a “nothing burger.”

“All I’ve seen in today’s Jan 6 Committee is guilt by association,” he declared. “The fact that I know or have met someone is most certainly not evidence of criminal conspiracy. If the committee has actual proof and content of communication between me and any one charged with a crime, they should produce it.”

The select committee had produced such evidence of communication in its previous hearings and did so again on Thursday in a brutal rebuke of Stone, whom Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) described as “a political operative with a reputation for dirty tricks.”

“In November 2019 he was convicted of lying to Congress and other crimes and sentenced to more than three years in prison… Mr. Trump pardoned Roger Stone on 23 December 2020,” Lofgren added.

The select committee reiterated Stone’s ties to right-wing militias Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, several members of which had pleaded guilty to seditious conspiracy charges concerning the January 6 insurrection.

The FBI disclosed in May that the longtime Trump confidante had communicated with the Oath Keepers in the days leading up to January 6, and a contingent of the armed members of the Oath Keepers was seen with Stone on January 6, acting as his security team.

The California Democrat, in a rather somber tone, also spoke of Stone’s inner-circle efforts to overturn Joe Biden’s victory.

Stone, Lofgren said, “apparently knew of Mr. Trump’s intentions” to reject the election results in the event of his loss and pitch to the then-president the sinister idea to appoint a special counsel to “ensure those who are attempting to steal the 2020 election through voter fraud are charged and convicted and to ensure Donald Trump continues as our president”

Incensed by the trove of evidence laid out by the select committee, some of which were obtained from the film crew, “The Ark,” led by Danish filmmaker Christoffer Guldbrandsen, Stone threatened to take his grievances, and Guldbrandsen, to court.

“Danish filmmaker Christoff Guldbranson [SIC] looks quite unhealthy having put on quite a bit of weight,” Stones wrote on Telegram, displaying a knack for personal insults characteristic of the Republican party.

“He's already had one heart attack and he's going to have another one when I win a $25 million judgment against him for defamation. You can't just accuse people of crimes in the United States without actual evidence. In various media interviews he has accused me of crimes which his documentary do [SIC] not prove. He will soon be able to tell it to a Florida judge,” Stone added.

Raskin Hints Fresh Revelations About Roger Stone In January 6 Hearing (VIDEO)

A member of the House Select Committee, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD), suggested Friday that the congressional panel might have some shockers about convicted MAGA felon Roger Stone under wraps for the American public as the committee enters the last months of its investigation, according to CBS News.

The suggestion followed a Politico report Friday that select committee aides traveled to Copenhagen, Denmark, in August to watch portions of over 170 hours of documentary footage recorded by a Danish documentary crew that covered Stone for two years, including on January 6, 2021, when a mob of Trump supporters breached the halls of congress to overturn to Joe Biden’s victory.

According to the Washington Post — the first to report on the substance of the footage — the crew, known as “The Ark,” tracked Stone as he covertly aided former President Trump’s efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss, capturing footage for their forthcoming film A Storm Foretold.

Although the select committee aides’ findings from the footage remain a mystery, Raskin — who once described Stone as someone “interfacing with the underworld of domestic violence extremists” — told CBS News journalist Robert Costa in an interview on Friday that “there might be some clues that surface from the new information we got there.”

Although Raskin refused to divulge details of the select committee’s upcoming public hearing on Wednesday, he let slip to Costa that Stone “saw where things were going,” CBS News noted in its report.

Stone dismissed the select committee’s aides’ trip as a wild goose chase in a statement to Politico before the paper aired its report. “While the committee investigators may find the documentary film footage entertaining, they will find no evidence of wrongdoing,” he wrote.

“I did exercise my First Amendment right at a legally permitted rally on January 5 to question the many anomalies and irregularities in the 2020 election,” he added.

After Politico’s report went live, Stone lashed out at the publication on Trump’s failing social media platform, Truth Social, writing, “A fresh load of BS to be delivered Wednesday," Stone predicted. "Any claim or assertion that I knew in advance about, participated in or condoned any illegal act on January 6 is categorically false. The campaign of 'guilt by association' is obviously going to continue."

Stone went on to attack Raskin and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), a popular target for Republican slander over his prominent role in the 45th president’s first impeachment. “Will this fake pasted up BS never end? Raskin is a congenital liar and con-man like [Adam] Schiff," he wrote.

According to the Post, the Ark crew captured unsettling moments in its time shadowing Stone, including when the ruthless Republican operative nicknamed his staffer, a person of color, “Mongoloid” and once made reference to “the Negroes.”

In February 2021, ABC News released footage showing Stone in the company of members of Oath Keepers, a far-right militia group — some of whom have pled guilty to seditious conspiracy — on the morning of January 6, 2021.

After pleading the Fifth Amendment multiple times in a deposition by select committee investigators last year, Stone said that the notion that “because I know members of the Proud Boys and came in contact with members of the Oath Keepers, means I must have had some advance knowledge of the illegal activities of some of their members on January 6th” was false.

According to Politico, the Ark crew took photos of Stone using his phone, “which showed contacts via an encrypted app with Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio and Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes.”

Stone, a longtime Trump adviser, was sentenced to more than three years on several felony counts, including lying to Congress, but he was pardoned by Trump two weeks before January 6.

Oath Keepers Seditious Conspiracy Trial Begins Next Month

The seditious conspiracy trial of former Oath Keeper ringleader Elmer “Stewart” Rhodes is still on track to begin this September.

U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta dismissed a request to delay the trial to January 2023 over concerns from Rhodes and his attorneys that this summer’s House Select Committee hearings made a fair trial an impossibility. Mehta locked in the September 26 trial date last week, reiterating that he would ensure the jury selection process was fair and that any further delay was unnecessary. Moving the trial was also impossible due to the many competing, unrelated schedule demands on an already busy docket in the nation’s capital.

“The court’s docket cannot be dictated by how Congress is acting and what they are doing … I have no influence over what they do and when they do it. What I do have control over is whether these defendants receive a fair trial through the most vigorous voir dire process that can happen,” Mehta said, according to The Washington Post.

Mehta, appointed by former President Barack Obama, emphasized that a potential release of transcripts from the January 6 committee in the weeks ahead did not warrant a trial delay either.

He agreed to reconsider the request if committee transcripts went public on the eve of Rhodes’ trial and if the records contained specific information about him or other Oath Keepers under indictment including Kelly Meggs, Kenneth Harrelson, Jessica Watkins, Roberto Minuta, Joseph Hackett, David Moerschel, Thomas Caldwell, and Edward Vallejo.

But according to Law and Crime, Mehta was firmly set on starting in September and told defense attorneys to disabuse themselves of the notion that coverage of January 6 in the press would irrevocably taint the trial’s outcome.


“Whether this trial is held in September, November or December or January, the news media is going to continue to cover the events of January 6, before the September hearings or after the September hearings. We’re not going to avoid that publicity by virtue of moving this trial for a few months,” he said.

Meanwhile, Rep. Bennie Thompson, the chairman of the select committee, told reporters last month the panel had begun negotiating with the Justice Department over access to records it collected during its investigation. In a statement to Politico days later, a committee spokesman confirmed that some 20 transcripts were soon to be shared with the Justice Department. No timeline on that specifically was given. A spokesman did not immediately return a request for comment Monday.

The select committee is expected to hold public hearings next month, though an exact schedule has not yet been confirmed. When members meet next they are likely to review findings that made it into the body’s interim report. It is also possible that committee investigators will disclose new information or other evidence churned up since their eight back-to-back hearings concluded this summer.

Getting this seditious conspiracy trial off the ground from a purely logistical standpoint has proven somewhat difficult given the large number of Oath Keepers facing conspiracy charges, the always-packed docket at the federal court in Washington, D.C., and most key, the battle over a huge amount of discovery both prosecutors and defense attorneys were required to sort through.

But after two delays this spring and multiple failed attempts to change venues put forward by the defendants, the Sept. 26 seditious conspiracy trial is on, and the first group of Oath Keepers to face jurors will be Rhodes, Meggs, Harrelson, Caldwell, and Watkins.

The next group will go to trial in February 2023. Those defendants include Oath Keepers Edward Vallejo, Roberto Minuta, Joseph Hackett, and David Moerschel.

Prosecutors charge that Rhodes and his codefendants engaged in an extensive, weaponized plot to stop the peaceful transfer of power and orchestrated a conspiracy to obstruct the counting of votes by Congress on Jan. 6 to that end.

Through stockpiling weapons, deploying “quick reaction force teams” situated just outside of D.C. in Virginia, and using an advanced communications network, prosecutors say members of the extremist group conspired to intimidate government officials, aided and abetted civil disorder, and tampered with documents in order to obstruct the transfer of power.

Court records filed ahead of trial by prosecutors have offered a glimpse into what they plan to argue this fall.

Instead of allowing defendants to heap the responsibility for their actions solely on the shoulders of former President Donald Trump, prosecutors instead want to highlight how the Oath Keepers’ individual and collective actions were planned and well thought out.

Further, they argued, Oath Keepers who stormed the Capitol, plotted for an insurrection, or otherwise aided a conspiracy to do so were not “taking orders” from the former president because any such order would have been illegal.

“Here any ‘public-authority’ defense put forth by the defendants would fail for two reasons: no government agent possessed actual authority to order the defendants’ criminal actions, and, in any event, it would have been objectively unreasonable torely on any such order,” prosecutors wrote on July 29.

Trump did not have authority to “permit or authorize a conspiracy to forcibly oppose the authority of the government or the execution of the laws of the United States, nor could he have lawfully sanctioned the attack on the United States Capitol on January 6 or any of theother criminal conduct allegedly perpetrated by defendants,” U.S. Attorney Matthew Graves argued.

This was the same conclusion reached by the D.C. court when it found former President Ronald Reagan could not order Oliver North to violate the law, “particularly if such ‘orders,’ explicit or implicit, represented nothing more than [the president’s desires.’”

“Any claim that defendants believed theyhad been authorized as an agent of the Executive Branch to oppose by force the authority of the United States, or forcibly stop the congressional certification of the vote by breaking into the Capitol would be objectively unreasonable,” Graves wrote.

The department also wants to shut down any theorizing that suggests law enforcement or police at the Capitol tried to aid those breaching the complex.

“The government acknowledges that the conduct of law enforcement officers may be relevant to the defendants’ state of mind on January 6, 2021. However, unless defendants were aware of law enforcement’s alleged inaction at the time of their entry onto restricted grounds or into the Capitol building (or at the time they committed the other offenses charged in the indictment), any alleged inaction would have no bearing on the defendants’ state of mind and therefore would not meet the threshold for relevance,” a July 29 motion stated.

As for what some defendants want presented at trial, some Oath Keepers have asked to omit evidence from jurors, like the “death list” found in defendant Caldwell’s home after his arrest last January.

His attorneys chalked the list up to being a “doodle pad.”

Though the names of those on the list were not revealed when he was first arrested, Caldwell exposed in court filings last month that they were those of Georgia election workers Shaye Moss and Ruby Freeman.

Moss and Freeman were forced to go into hiding as a result of the threats and harassment they experienced regularly when former President Donald Trump singled them out while spewing baseless conspiracy claims about voter fraud in the 2020 election.

Moss testified under oath at one of the Jan. 6 committee’s public hearings this June, choking back tears as she described how every part of her life has been turned “upside down.” At one point, she described a frantic call from her grandmother, who was terrorized as people knocked on her door and tried to barge in, claiming a citizens arrest needed to be made for Moss and her mother.

The scene was reminiscent of a modern-day lynching attempt.

“She was just screaming and didn’t know what to do. And I wasn’t there, so, you know, I just felt so helpless and so horrible for her. And she was just screaming. I told her to close the door and don’t open that door for anyone,” Moss testified.

Prosecutors said evidence found in Caldwell’s Virginia home indicated he “dehumanized those who held opposing world views and discussed killing them, shooting them and mutilating their corpses to use them as shields.”

Caldwell has vehemently denied this, telling CNN through his attorney that suggestions he wished to assassinate officials or election workers was “100% false.”

The 66-year-old Navy intelligence veteran also sought to keep other evidence away from jurors, including records the government alleges show he tried to have someone build him firearms before January 20. He has since argued in court that he was too weak to storm the Capitol on January 6 and has asked that his medication regimen be up for jurors’ consideration.

There has been a request too by co-defendant Jessica Watkins to keep allegations about “bomb making instructions” found in her home out of trial.

The Justice Department says it has evidence Oath Keepers toted grenades and other weapons with them in an RV when they came to Washington on January 6. Court records show this allegation came by way of a disclosure from Florida Oath Keeper Kelly Meggs to fellow Florida resident Caleb Berry. Prosecutors allege Meggs told Berry that Oath Keeper Jeremy Brown had the explosives in his vehicle that day.

A search warrant of Brown’s residence turned up two illegal short-barrel firearms, and when agents searched the RV he used to go to Washington, they found grenades. Prosectors admitted they were unsure if the grenades found in Brown’s RV were the same ones that were stashed with the “quick reaction force” teams that positioned themselves in northern Virginia ahead of the Capitol assault.

Berry pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy and a single count of obstruction and admitted to being part of the military stack formation that breached the Capitol on January 6. He admitted to coordinating plans with fellow Oath Keepers to bring weapons to Washington, and he entered the Capitol with body armor and tactical gear on around 2:40 PM.

Like Berry, Oath Keeper and Florida resident Graydon Young admitted to being in the stack. He has been cooperating with prosecutors as part of his plea agreement. Alabama Oath Keeper Mark Grods entered the Capitol after Young and others made it inside. Grods has pleaded guilty as well and has reportedly been sharing information with the federal government about the group’s encrypted chat network as well as plans for the weapons cache in Virginia.

Those who have pleaded guilty so far in the seditious conspiracy case include Joshua James, Brian Ulrich, and William Todd Wilson.

Wilson pleaded guilty in May to seditious conspiracy and obstruction of an official proceeding. His plea deal came as a surprise; he had not been previously named as a defendant in the Oath Keepers Jan. 6 cases.

Wilson allegedly joined Rhodes in the plot stop the transfer of power on Jan. 6 and worked with other regional leaders to take up Rhodes’ “call to arms,” prosecutors said. The 44-year-old North Carolina resident admitted that he was a member of the Oath Keepers since 2016 and that he linked up with Rhodes in a leadership chat group in November 2020.

With Rhodes’s instruction, Wilson drove from North Carolina to D.C. on Jan. 5, bringing an AR-15-style rifle, a 9 millimeter pistol, body armor, pepper spray, a pocketknife, and some 200 rounds of ammunition. Wilson told prosecutors he filmed his fellow Oath Keepers moving in the stack formation up the Capitol stairs, and that he entered closely behind Meggs and Berry.

Brian Ulrich of Georgia, who cried as he entered his guilty plea in court this April, admitted that he conspired for months with Rhodes to stop Congress from certifying the election on 2020. In the run-up to the attack, he planned on using two backpacks, one filled to the brim with ammunition, “if shit truly hits the fan blades.”

“I’ll be the guy running around with the budget AR,” he wrote in a December 31 Oath Keepers group chat.

Joshua James was the first Oath Keeper to plead guilty to seditious conspiracy and cop a deal with prosecutors. James admitted this March that he was part of the quick reaction force unit and further, that he was prepared to “report to the White House grounds to secure the perimeter and use lethal force if necessary against anyone who tried to remove President Trump from the White House, including the National Guard or other government actors who might be sent to remove President Trump as a result of the presidential election.

James is the same Oath Keeper who chauffeured Trump ally and GOP operative Roger Stone around Washington in the run-up to January 6. When he was inside the Capitol, James admitted to brawling with police. Once he left, he met with Rhodes and other Oath Keepers. They changed clothes, he said, and worked fast to hide their identities. Then they met at Olive Garden to celebrate and plan what would come next. President Joe Biden’s inauguration was days away.

According to his indictment, in the hours after the insurrection, Rhodes was buzzing about what was to come.

“Thousands of ticked off patriots spontaneously marched on the Capitol,” he wrote. “You ain't seen nothing yet.”

Rhodes is currently being held in a detention facility in Alexandria, Virginia.

Members of the Proud Boys facing seditious conspiracy will go to trial in December after a federal judge in June agreed to delay proceedings.

The trial for the former chairman of the Proud Boys, Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, was supposed to begin Monday, August 8, but U.S. District Judge Tim Kelly said weeks ago that he shared concerns from prosecutors and defense attorneys alike about new evidence that could soon emerge from the select committee. The new trial date is December 12.

“The parties’ inability to prepare their respective cases to account for such additional information is potentially prejudicial to all parties,” assistant U.S. Attorney Erik Kenerson wrote.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Far-Right Sheriffs Group Promoting 2020 'Voter-Fraud' Myth

By Peter Eisler and Nathan Layne

(Reuters) - A coalition of rightwing “constitutional sheriffs,” who claim legal power in their jurisdictions that exceeds U.S. federal and state authorities, has a new calling: investigating conspiracy theories that the 2020 election was rigged against former President Donald Trump.

The Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association has teamed with True the Vote, a Texas nonprofit and purveyor of debunked voter-fraud claims, to recruit like-minded sheriffs nationwide to investigate 2020 stolen-election allegations and to more aggressively police future voting.

The partnership, detailed last week at the association’s annual gathering in Las Vegas, aims to intensify a movement already underway. At least four ideologically aligned county sheriffs in Michigan, Wisconsin, Kansas and Arizona have launched election-fraud probes since the 2020 vote. None has established evidence of systemic fraud.

“This is our top priority. It’s our duty,” Richard Mack, founder of the constitutional sheriffs organization, told Reuters in an interview at the Las Vegas meeting. Mack also touted the True the Vote partnership later in the week at FreedomFest, a national gathering of libertarian-leaning thinkers and political figures, where he urged that sheriffs “join us in this holy cause.”

Election officials are raising concerns that partisan investigations by sheriffs into baseless voter-fraud claims could undermine public confidence in elections. In an interview, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat, called such probes part of a "nationally coordinated effort to dismantle democracy through lies and misinformation, and through people misusing or abusing their authority."

False fraud claims have also sparked a wave of threats against election administrators, including more than 900 hostile messages documented by Reuters, along with at least 17 attempts to illegally access voting equipment in search of evidence to prove election-rigging.

Officials with True the Vote said at the constitutional sheriffs’ meeting that they plan to raise money to provide grants and equipment to help sheriffs investigate 2020 voter-fraud claims and expand surveillance of ballot drop boxes in future elections. Trump supporters have alleged, without evidence, that drop boxes enabled the mass collection of fraudulent votes in the presidential election.

While election fraud is exceedingly rare, some states with Republican-controlled legislatures have passed new laws in response to the false rigged-election claims. Nine states have banned drop boxes or restricted their distribution since the 2020 vote, according to a recent report by the Voting Rights Lab, which monitors state election policies. Other states have enacted more stringent voter-registration requirements. In Florida and Georgia, lawmakers expanded the powers of law enforcement to police election-law violations.

The constitutional sheriffs’ new focus on probing elections illustrates how Trump’s voter-fraud falsehoods have found a receptive audience in some corners of law enforcement.

Leaders of the movement touted the recent documentary “2000 Mules” as they gathered in Las Vegas. The movie, based on cell-phone tracking data and surveillance video obtained by True the Vote, alleges that Democratic operatives stuffed drop boxes with fraudulent ballots in key counties to deliver the presidency to Democrat Joe Biden.

"2000 Mules has presented overwhelming evidence," said Mack, urging sheriffs to investigate its fraud claims. “It cannot not be dismissed.”

Many Democratic and Republican officials, along with independent fact-checkers, have in fact dismissed the movie as misleading and its evidence as flimsy.

Power Play

The constitutional sheriffs’ association promotes an extreme view of sheriffs’ legal authority, asserting on its website that their power in their jurisdictions exceeds that of any other official and “even supersedes the powers of the President.”

It’s rare for sheriffs to investigate voting irregularities, especially without a request from election officials. They generally handle criminal law enforcement in jurisdictions that lack a police force and manage local jails, among other duties.

True the Vote founder Catherine Engelbrecht said at the Las Vegas meeting that sheriffs are the best hope for pursuing rigged-election claims because other agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), have dismissed its allegations.

“It's like the lights went on,” she said. “It's the sheriffs: that's who can do these investigations; that’s who we can trust; that's who we can turn over information to.”

The FBI did not respond to a request for comment.

Mack, who founded the constitutional sheriffs association in 2011, is a former county sheriff in Arizona. He served until 2016 as a board member of the Oath Keepers, an anti-government militia that includes several members charged with helping to organize the January 6 U.S. Capitol attack. Mack told Reuters that he left the Oath Keepers when the organization became too militant, but extremism researchers have documented ongoing ties between his association and the militia group.

True the Vote’s coalition also includes another right-leaning sheriffs’ group, Protect America Now, led by Sheriff Mark Lamb of Pinal County, Arizona. That group describes its mission as “standing for our constitution” by guarding against government overreach, protecting gun-owner rights and stopping illegal immigration.

True the Vote officials described the coalition as a multi-faceted effort to encourage sheriffs to pursue election-fraud claims. In addition to grants meant to help sheriffs conduct surveillance of drop boxes, the group said it aims to provide sheriffs with “artificial intelligence” software to assist in analyzing the video they collect. True the Vote also plans to set up hotlines to alert sheriffs to suspicious activity at polling stations and ballot drop boxes.

It’s unclear how many of the nation’s sheriffs will join the effort. The constitutional sheriffs association does not disclose membership numbers; Protect America Now says it includes about 70 sheriffs from more than 30 states.

Political Research Associates, a left-leaning think tank that studies political extremism, has identified 136 sheriffs who align with the so-called patriot movement, which includes constitutional sheriffs and others embracing anti-government or far-right conspiracy theories.

The National Sheriffs Association, the nation’s leading professional organization for sheriffs, did not respond to requests for comment on the effort to pursue election-fraud allegations.

Calvin Hayden, sheriff of Johnson County, Kansas, told the Las Vegas gathering that he plans to employ technology to expand his investigation.

"We’re going to start doing our geodata," Hayden said. "I have no question that we’re going to get to the bottom of this."

Hayden launched the probe last year despite repeated assurances from county and state election officials that the vote had been conducted fairly. Asked what evidence justified the probe, a spokesperson for Hayden’s office, Shelby Colburn, said the investigation was based on more than 200 tips from voters and that the sheriff would soon provide more details.

Hayden’s efforts were praised by Mack, who told meeting attendees that election fraud had become the constitutional sheriff’s association’s “biggest concern.” He said his members are uniquely positioned to pursue the matter because sheriffs “don’t have to ask permission from anybody to start an investigation.”

(Reporting by Peter Eisler and Nathan Layne. Editing by Jason Szep and Brian Thevenot.)


Hearing: Trump Summoned Violent Militias To March On The Capitol

Donald Trump planned and led the violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, including sending loyalists to meet with far-right militia leaders who urged their members to come to Washington with weapons to help Trump seize a second term, yesterday's House Select Committee hearing disclosed.

The committee’s findings were alarming, including warnings in testimony from a former militia official that domestic terrorism surrounding the 2022 and 2024 elections was an ongoing threat. But the most stunning revelation came at the hearing’s close when co-chair, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), said that Trump was still interfering in the 2020 election by seeking to intimidate committee witnesses, which the panel had referred to the Justice Department for prosecution.

“After our last hearing, President Trump tried to call a witness in our investigation – a witness you have not yet seen,” Cheney said. “This committee has supplied that information to the Department of Justice. Let me say one more time: we will take any efforts to influence witness testimony very seriously.”

It should not surprise anyone that Trump continues to act as if he is above the law, after the hearings have shown – almost entirely through testimony by Republicans – how his obsessive quest to stay in power flouted federal and states laws, as well as his 2017 inaugural vow to uphold the U.S. Constitution.

“January 6 was an attack on our country. It was an attack on our democracy; on our Constitution,” said Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), the committee’s chair, after Cheney’s announcement and warning. “A sitting president with a violent mob trying to stop the peaceful transfer of power.”

“In a moment like that, what would you expect to see?” he continued. “You expect to see the president of the United States sitting behind the Resolute desk in the Oval Office assuring the American people that the attack would be repelled, and the threat would be dealt with… Instead, the president of the United States sent the mob.”

Swaying The Mob

The seventh House Select Committee hearing showcased the related roles of far-right militias who planned and relished ransacking the Capitol for Trump, conspiracy theorists who had no proof of a stolen election but led Trump to call on the militias, and ordinary Americans who fell under Trump’s spell and came to Washington but later saw their lives upended after being arrested for breaching the Capitol.

The hearings’ evidence showed Trump egging on his most belligerent loyalists at every turn. The evidence consisted of videotaped depositions conducted under oath, speeches by right-wing media agitators calling for a confrontation, texts between leaders of militias, and drafts of Trump’s January 6 rally speech.

The committee picked up the story on December 14, when Electoral College delegations met in state capitals and awarded Joe Biden 306 votes and Trump 232 votes – electing Biden. Four days later, renegade lawyer Sidney Powell, retired General Michael Flynn (who Trump had pardoned over lying to the FBI over his 2016 conversations with Russian agents) and former Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne (who later bankrolled the Cyber Ninjas’ amateurish post-2020 review in Arizona) were secretly brought into the White House by a staffer to brief Trump. That session, which White House legal staff quickly discovered and joined, led to heated arguments for several hours over the stolen election claims.

The conspiracy theorists could not provide any evidence to back up their claims, which had been championed on pro-Trump media. Nonetheless, they presented Trump with a draft executive order telling the Justice Department to seize voting machines in swing states – which the White House legal staff opposed. They also urged Trump to appoint Powell as a special counsel overseeing that operation, which Trump agreed to, but White House lawyers never formalized the post.

The upshot of that meeting on December 18 led Trump to send a tweet to his most fervent followers early the next morning. It referenced a report filled with conspiratorial claims – none of which proved true, according to investigations by the FBI and numerous state election and police agencies – and an invitation to militias and other true believers to come to Washington for January 6.

Trump tweeted, “[White House staffer] Peter Navarro releases 36-page report alleging election fraud 'more than sufficient' to swing victory to Trump https://t.co/D8KrMHnFdK . A great report by Peter. Statistically impossible to have lost the 2020 Election. Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!”

The hearing then traced the planning for several Washington-based rallies and protests leading up to Congress convening on the 6th to ratify the 2020 Electoral College vote, and related activities, including caching weapons by three militias – The Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, Three Percenters. The panel played video clips from street protests and a rally on the 5th where Trump’s loudest supporters bellowed that the time for a second American revolution had arrived.

“This is nothing less than an epic struggle for the future of this country, between dark and light, between the godly and godless, between good and evil,” said Roger Stone, who Trump pardoned for illegally campaign activities on Trump’s behalf in 2016.

“Tomorrow, we the people are going to be here, and we want you to know that we will not stand for a lie. We will not stand for a lie,” said General Flynn. “I want them to know that 1776 is always an option.”

“1776! 1776! 1776! 1776!” bellowed right-wing provocateur Alex Jones, who has lost legal cases after claiming that the federal government, not a lone gunman, committed a terrible mass shooting at a grade school in Connecticut.

Liar-in-Chief

But, as the hearing have shown with mounting evidence, it was Trump who had been lying about the 2020 election, and intentionally urging his followers – in state and federal government posts, and in the street – to disrupt a peaceful transfer of power to a new presidential administration.

Trump had been repeatedly told by White House and campaign staff that he had lost the election, committee member Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL) told the hearing. That message had been delivered by, among others, the top White House lawyer, Pat Cipollone, whose testified last Friday, July 8. Neither Cipollone nor his deputy attended Trump’s speech hours before Congress convened on January 6, she said, where Trump egged on insurrectionists.

“The message that President Trump delivered that day was built on a foundation of lies,” Murphy said. “He lied to his supporters that the election was stolen. He stoked their anger. He called for them to fight for him. He directed them to the U.S. Capitol. He told them he would join them. And his supporters believed him., And many headed toward the Capitol. As a result, people died. People were injured. Many of his supporters’ lives will never be the same.”

Among those supporters was Stephen Ayres, an Ohioan, who testified Tuesday that he was swept up in the fervor and traveled to Washington with friends, and, though unplanned, he was among the crowd that entered and occupied the Capitol – until, hours later, Trump finally told them to go home. Ayres was arrested, fired from his longtime job, and lost his house in the aftermath.

“It changed my life, and not for the good,” he said, after describing himself as a family man who loved his country. “Definitely, not for the, you know, better.”

Ayres described a cult-like devotion to Trump, and said that he was mesmerized by right-wing media, especially online outlets.

“President Trump is still promoting the big lie about the election,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD), who questioned witnesses with Murphy. “How does that make you feel?”

“It makes me mad, because I was hanging on every word that he was saying – everything that he was putting out, I was following it,” Ayres replied. “If I was doing it, hundreds of thousands or millions of other people were doing it, or maybe are still doing it… Who know what the next election could come out [bring]?”

Beyond Trump’s impact on individuals was his emergence as the de facto leader of organized efforts, including by domestic white supremacist militias who saw his uncompromising bid for power as an extension of their values and cause.

“I think we need to quit mincing words and just talk about the truths, and what it was going to be was an armed revolution. I mean, people died that day,” testified Jason Van Tatenhove, a former spokesman for the Oath Keepers – who left the group in 2017 after members said the Nazi Holocaust did not happen. “Law enforcement officers died this day. There was a gallows set up in front of the capitol. This could have been the spark that started a new civil war.”

Van Tatenhove’s testimony described how white nationalists vilified anyone who supported sharing power in a more diverse society. But his takeaway was that hatred was still very much alive, and still tied to Trump’s fate in public arenas, including his probable 2024 run for the presidency.

“I do fear for this next election cycle because who knows what that might bring,” he said. “If a president that’s willing to try to instill… to whip up a civil war among his followers, using lies and deceit and snake oil, and regardless of the human impact, what else is he going to do if he gets elected again?”

Van Tatenhove’s point was echoed in the committee members’ closing remarks.

“‘American carnage,’ that’s Donald Trump’s true legacy,” said Raskin, drawing on that seemingly odd phrase in Trump’s inaugural address. “His desire to overthrow the people’s election and seize the presidency, interrupt the counting of Electoral College votes for the first time in American history, nearly toppled the constitutional order brutalized hundreds and hundreds of people. The Watergate break-in [by Richard Nixon’s operatives in 1972] was like a Cub Scout meeting compared to this assault on our people and our institutions.”

“The crucial thing is the next step,” Raskin said. “Unlike Mr. Aryres and Mr. Van Tatenhove, people who have recovered and evolved from their descent into the hell of fanaticism, Donald Trump has only expanded his big lie.”

That step includes, as Cheney pointed out moments later, intimidating a future witness for the panel – which was no different than what he did with election officials, the Justice Department, his vice president, and others after losing in 2020. Only this time, intimidating a congressional witness is against the law and there is no shield of presidential immunity. That incident, Cheney said, has been referred to the Justice Department