The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

@Brandi_Buchman

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.

Sentencing For Bannon On Contempt Conviction In Three Weeks

Steve Bannon refused to cooperate with a congressional subpoena seeking his insights into the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol and for that, he’s now facing a potential sentence of up to a year in prison. He will be sentenced on October 21.

The bombastic right-winger proclaimed his trial would be ruinous for prosecutors. He vowed to go “medieval” and “savage” on the Justice Department as he tried to fend off two counts of contempt of Congress.

Before his trial in Washington, D.C., began, the former adviser for ex-President Donald Trump riffed on his podcast: “Who needs prayers? Certainly not Stephen K. Bannon.”

Jurors returned their guilty verdict for Bannon after deliberating for less than three hours.

And for all the bluster, when given the chance to testify on his own behalf at trial, Bannon opted against it. He also didn’t launch any real defense of his actions in court. His attorney David Schoen told U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols this July that Bannon wanted to testify but ultimately would not because of how the court had hamstrung his defense.

At a pre-trial hearing, Nichols found the former Trump adviser could not argue that his refusal to comply with the subpoena from the Jan. 6 committee was permitted because of his purported concerns over violating executive privilege.

By the time Bannon was subpoenaed by the House Select Committee in September 2021, he was far removed from working in the Trump White House, Nichols ruled, so privilege did not apply. Bannon left the White House in 2017.

Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel rulings around privilege that Bannon hoped would defend his noncompliance were actually unrelated to his case, Nichols found.

The Trump-appointed judge tossed Bannon’s attempts to subpoena lawmakers—they were immune under Speech and Debate clause of the Constitution—and he rejected Bannon’s arguments that he was effectively tricked into thinking he could evade the subpoena because he relied on shoddy legal advice.

In the end, the judge allowed Bannon to argue only that he might have misunderstood the deadline for his subpoena. Nichols also gave Bannon a chance to call forward witnesses he felt could support his claims of political bias against him, ABC News reported in July.

But Bannon would do none of that.

Instead, he railed outside of the courthouse after trial dates and blubbered about the legitimacy of the Jan. 6 committee and its members.

Earlier this month, Nichols denied Bannon’s request for a new trial. Such a request is only fulfilled “when a serious miscarriage of justice may have occurred,” he wrote.

Bannon claimed the court gave jurors bad instructions and he also claimed his Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights were violated because he was unable to subpoena lawmakers.

“The court disagrees,” Nichols wrote.

Bannon had failed to show any indication that the evidence or testimony he sought would actually be material to his defense. Most of it, Nichols said, would be “irrelavant.”

In addition to a possible maximum sentence of up to 12 months in prison—the minimum is 30 days—the two counts of contempt of Congress also pose a hefty fine of up to $100,000 each.

His legal troubles are far from over. Earlier this month, prosecutors in New York indicted Bannon on money laundering and conspiracy charges connected to the nonprofit organization “We Build the Wall.”

Per his indictment, U.S. attorneys say Bannon knew the group that promised to fund the construction of a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border was bunk. Bannon faced similar money laundering and wire fraud charges tied to the same alleged conspiracy when Trump was in office. Bannon pleaded not guilty then and has pleaded not guilty once more.

Trump pardoned Bannon at the 11th hour of his presidency on January 20, 2021.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

New Texts Reveal Details Of Scheme To Overturn Election

New text messages obtained by CNN on Monday have freshly exposed the depths of former President Donald Trump’s push to overturn the 2020 election and, more specifically, the involvement of his chief of staff Mark Meadows to meet that end.

The messages unearthed Monday were sent to Meadows by Phil Waldron, a retired U.S. Army colonel who became one of Trump’s most ardent peddlers of voter-fraud conspiracy theory ahead of the January 6 insurrection.

Waldron was responsible for circulating a PowerPoint presentation to numerous lawmakers in Washington recommending that Trump declare a national emergency over the so-called “fraud” in order to stay in power. He also reportedly helped write a draft executive order to seize voting machines. That executive order was never formally issued.

According to CNN, Waldron texted Meadows just two days before Christmas in 2020. He was frustrated that a judge in Arizona had tossed a lawsuit calling on state officials to seize voting machines there.

To Waldron’s mind, the ruling was dangerous because it gave Trump’s opponents too much time to oppose them.

The state of Arizona, Waldron wrote to Meadows on December 23, was the “lead domino we were counting on to start the cascade.”

When Donald Trump lost the election to now-President Joe Biden both popularly and by way of the Electoral College, the former president and several of his closest allies, advisers, and attorneys had their eyes focused on seven battleground states including Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, Michigan, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

Trump insisted that his losses there were due to widespread voter fraud. As the January 6 committee’s investigation and a subsequent mountain of court filings from Trump’s advisers like overturn architect John Eastman have shown, there was no voter fraud on a wide scale—but it didn’t stop the Trump White House from trying to suggest otherwise.

Passing off bogus and unsanctioned pro-Trump electors to Congress was critical to getting the overturn scheme off the ground.

When Waldron lamented the court loss in Arizona to Meadows on Dec. 23, Trump’s then-chief of staff commiserated.

“Pathetic,” Meadows wrote.

Waldron has said publicly that he “contributed” to the 40-page proposal to seize voting machines entitled “Election Fraud, Foreign Interference & Options for 6 JAN.” And he’s admitted to sharing the proposal with lawmakers in Congress before the Capitol attack.

He’s also not made much of a secret of his proximity to Trump insiders like Meadows. As noted by the government watchdog American Oversight (who helped CNN obtain the new records released Monday), Waldron told reporters in 2021 that he spoke to Meadows at least eight to 10 times after the election. He also said he went to the White House for visits, as well.

Before the text to Meadows on December 23, Waldron had spent weeks asking Republican state legislators if he could show them “evidence” of voter fraud. He also offered legislators the chance to let him analyze their results.

One of Waldron’s most well-known reviews of “fraud” was one he launched in Antrim County, Michigan. That assessment ended up being widely panned and completely debunked.

But on December 28, 2020, the newly obtained text messages show Waldron was undeterred by the loss in Arizona. There was data coming in from multiple counties, he wrote to Meadows.

Waldron dubbed the “irregularities” the “Southern steal” by Democrats.

Meadows responded to the December 28 text: “OK.”

The former chief of staff’s replies may be succinct, but they also underline something important: Meadows responded to Waldron, meaning he had awareness of the push to overturn the election results after the safe harbor deadline for Congress.

Waldron’s testimony has recently been demanded by a grand jury in Georgia examining Trump’s push to reverse election results there. Meadows has also been asked to testify in that state’s investigation.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Former White House Lawyer Warned Trump Against Illegally Keeping Documents

A new report suggests former White House counsel Eric Herschman warned Donald Trump in late 2021 that if he failed to return presidential records or classified materials he had retained after leaving office, the 45th president could face serious legal trouble.

The New York Times was the first to report the development, citing three unnamed sources familiar with the matter.

Herschmann was no longer working for Trump by the time this conversation reportedly occurred in December 2021. An exact date for the meeting was not confirmed. Trump had been out of the White House for almost a year by that point, however, and though it is unclear whether Herschmann was aware of precisely what records Trump had retained, he still felt the need to offer the caveat. Trump’s response to Herschman’s warning was allegedly “noncommittal” but courteous.


The warning likely didn’t come as a total surprise.

By the time Herschmann had offered his input, the National Archives had already informed Trump that it was missing a number of original documents from his time in the White House.

Some two dozen boxes of presidential records that were meant to go to the Archives in January 2021 didn’t. Instead, they were shipped off to Trump’s residence at Mar-a-Lago. This happened against the advice of Pat Cipollone, another White House attorney under Trump.

By January, the former president handed over some 15 boxes to the Archives from those he had sent to Mar-a-Lago. There were 184 classified records inside, But by May 2021, the National Archives was still trying to find other key records that appeared to be missing. Gary Stern, the Archives lead counsel, fired off letters to Trump’s attorneys and emphasized that all presidential records must be accounted for.

A back-and-forth over the documents continued. By the autumn of 2021, according to sources who spoke to The Washington Post, former deputy White House counsel Pat Philbin told the Archives that it was Mark Meadows, Trump’s onetime chief of staff, who had reassured him the documents Trump took were only inconsequential news clippings and nothing more.

But the Archives believed there was more than news clippings missing. The Archives had already informed Trump’s team by then that it was looking for specific records, like his letters with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, a letter left for him by former President Barack Obama, and, among other things, the National Weather Service map from 2019 that Trump drew on with a Sharpie marker when falsely proclaiming that Hurricane Dorian was going to hit Alabama after the National Weather Service had reported otherwise.

Around the time Herschmann reportedly offered his warning to Trump in December 2021, Trump’s team informed the Archives it had 12 boxes at Mar-a-Lago waiting to be picked up. The Archives went to retrieve them in mid-January 2022. Archive aides found 15 boxes and within weeks of reviewing all that Trump had kept, the Archives asked the Justice Department to get involved.

Many of the records that the Archives found inside the boxes at Mar-a-Lago were labeled classified. The agency was unsure to what extent documents were mishandled and an investigation got underway. This June Trump remitted more classified documents through his attorneys but it was suspected by investigators that there were more records yet to be unearthed at Mar-a-Lago.

They were right.

A search warrant was issued to the FBI, and on Aug. 8, agents picked up more than 100 new documents with classified or sensitive markings from Mar-a-Lago. The FBI said it seized roughly 11,000 documents without classified markings altogether. In its warrant, authorities cited a possible violation by Trump of the Espionage Act and noted that “evidence of obstruction” into the investigation for the classified records also likely existed.

Trump has spent every week since tossing out excuse after excuse for his retention of the classified records. He has also insisted that he had stand-alone power to declassify documents.

This is not possible according to most legal and national security experts in the U.S.

This has not stopped Trump from claiming the investigation into the missing classified records is a “witch-hunt” or yet more political persecution against him by the “deep state.”

Herschmann’s legal relationship with Trump has never been dull, to say the least.

Herschmann defended Trump during the former president’s first impeachment trial for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress and left a lucrative partnership at the law firm Kasowitz Benson Torres to do it. Financial disclosures from 2020 show Herschmann was earning just over $3.3 million when he took on the advisory role for Trump.

When Trump and his personal attorneys and advisers like Rudy Giuliani and John Eastman pushed to overturn the results of the 2020 election ahead of Jan. 6, Herschmann was one of the few resistant voices inside Trump’s immediate orbit.

Upon cooperating with the Jan. 6 committee’s probe, Herschman said under oath that he had candidly warned officials about the legal danger underpinning schemes to overturn the election results.

One of those warnings went to Jeffrey Clark, a mid-level lawyer and former Trump lackey at the Department of Justice.

Clark, Herschmann testified, had revealed a plan to him that would see Clark installed as attorney general with Trump’s blessing if only Clark could get letters sent off to swing state legislatures falsely claiming that voter fraud had altered election results.

“I said good… fucking a-hole… congratulations. You’ve just admitted your first step or act you’d take as attorney general would be committing a felony in violation of Rule 6 (c),” Herschmann recalled telling Clark.

Herschmann was subpoenaed by a federal grand jury this summer along with former White House lawyers Pat Cipollone and Patrick Philbin. According to the Times, Herschmann engaged with Trump’s attorneys Evan Corcoran and John Rowley, asking for guidance on how he might field questions that could run afoul of executive privilege or attorney-client privileges.

Herschmann was told to assert executive privilege broadly. Corcoran then allegedly told him not to worry because a “chief judge” would “validate their belief that a president’s powers extend far beyond their time in office.”

So far, Cannon has ruled in favor of Trump and to some outrage from seasoned jurists and prosecutors.

On Sept. 15, Cannon rejected the Department of Justice’s request to keep investigating Trump’s handling of classified records while an independent “special master” or arbiter, was assigned to review records. Andrew Weismann, a former attorney who worked on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election, for one, has dubbed Cannon’s decision as profoundly “stupid” and “partisan.”

The special master’s role primarily involves filtering through documents seized by the FBI to determine what may be privileged versus what may be personal. The special master, in this case, is the mutually agreed-upon appointment of Raymond Dearie, a semi-retired judge from New York. Trump proposed Dearie serve in the role first and the Department agreed. Dearie is widely regarded as a neutral choice for arbiter. Dearie is now reviewing a total of 11,000 documents found at Mar-a-Lago.

Despite having his preferred special master appointed and his appointed judge presiding, Trump is still backpedaling. Though he initially claimed publicly that he had the power to declassify documents all by his lonesome and could take taxpayer-owned records wherever he pleased, in court, he has refused to elaborate on this so-called declassification. In a letter to Dearie on Monday, Trump’s attorneys argued that they could not discuss Trump’s declassification claims because it would force the former president to expose a defense he may use against “any subsequent indictment.”

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Trump Pleads The Fifth In New York State Probe Of His Company (VIDEO)

Former President Donald Trump invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self incrimination on Wednesday when he was deposed by lawyers at the New York Attorney General’s office investigating whether the Trump Organization defrauded or misled lenders by tweaking the value of his properties and assets.

New York Attorney General Letitia James, who is leading the civil probe of Trump Organization, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday. In a statement released shortly after he appeared, Trump defended his decision to invoke the right after years of insisting that only guilty parties plead the Fifth when under questioning.

Before Wednesday’s deposition, Trump previously invoked the right in the 1990s when he was divorcing Ivana Trump. He did not wish to answer questions about adultery.

Trump famously remarked in at a campaign rally in 2016 before becoming president: “You see, the mob takes the Fifth. If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?”

In his public statement Wednesday, Trump cited this remark—but only in part.

“I once asked, ‘If you’re innocent why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?’ Now I know the answer to that question. When your family, your company and all the people in your orbit have become the targets of an unfounded, politically motivated Witch Hunt supported by lawyers, prosecutors and the Fake News Media, you have no choice,” he wrote.


To be clear, the Fifth Amendment is a constitutionally protected right afforded to all Americans and in court, lawyers cannot argue that silence equates to guilt.

Trump’s silence is a smart legal maneuver given the current dynamic. In addition to the civil probe of his real estate dealings, a criminal probe investigating similar issues led by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is still open, making his comments to attorneys fair game for use in either investigation. Bragg’s criminal investigation has stagnated according to multiple reports in recent weeks and months, but it is not officially closed.

Ahead of his appearance, Trump slammed the attorney general online and the attacks kept coming in his public statement Wednesday.

James has been a fierce, unabashed critic of the former president and when she ran for the attorney general role she labeled Trump “incompetent,” “ill-equipped” and said she believed “he is an embarrassment” to America and what it stands for.

In 2018, she said: “America is in uncharted territory. We are angrier and more deeply divided than we’ve ever been at any point in our history since the Civil War. And at the eye of the storm is Donald Trump, ripping families apart, threatening women’s most basic rights. I’m running for attorney general because I will never be afraid to challenge this illegitimate president when our fundamental rights are at stake.”

James’s probe is reaching its end after more than two years of scrutiny of Trump and Trump Organization. The former president’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, and son, Donald Trump, Jr. have testified in the civil matter. So too has Eric Trump, the executive vice president of the eponymous family business. According to James, when Eric Trump was deposed in October 2020 he invoked his Fifth Amendment right over 500 times and would only answer the most basic background questions. He sat for six hours.

Trump Organization’s chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, invoked the Fifth too when he was deposed in September 2020. Last July, prosecutors charged Trump Organization and Weisselberg with grand larceny and tax fraud. Both he and the company have entered not guilty pleas and pretrial proceedings are expected to get underway on Friday.

The battle for Trump’s deposition has been a lengthy one.

Trump was held in contempt by New York Supreme Court Judge Arthur Engoron in April for his failure to comply with the state attorney general’s subpoena. That order was lifted this June when Engoron said Trump’s legal team had finally produced documents at the last minute. For his contempt, however, Trump still had to shell out $110,000 in penalties. The funds are now sitting in escrow and will be released pending the case’s outcome.

The former president maintains he is innocent and that the valuations on his properties were above board. James claims that Trump and the Trump Organization regularly inflated values to reap in tax and loan benefits. Often, she has claimed, Trump Organization would tweak the values by several millions of dollars.

For instance, James claimed Trump’s valuation of the Trump International Golf Club in Scotland was wildly off. Where Trump Organization originally valued the resort at $12.6 million when it was first purchased in 2006, in the span of five years, the valuation became $161 million. According to court records, James said this valuation was not ginned up by professional appraisers. Rather it was George Sorial, a former Trump Organization executive, who set the price.

Trump has had an eventful week thus far: After securing a warrant, the FBI searched his Mar-a-Lago property in Florida, reportedly seeking classified presidential records that he allegedly failed to return under terms of the Presidential Records Act. The House Ways and Means Committee also successfully gained access to Trump’s tax returns after a years-long fight though he can still appeal. And the Jan. 6 Committee has continued its work quietly as the Department of Justice also quietly continues its probe into Jan. 6.


Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

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.

Mastriano Threatens To End Cooperation With January 6 Committee

An attorney for Doug Mastriano, the anti-abortion, pro-Trump gubernatorial candidate in Pennsylvania, informed the House Select Committee this week that his client would only sit for a deposition if he could personally record the session.

Betsy Woodruff Swan at Politico reported the development first on Friday, noting that the request from lawyer Tim Parlatore is almost certain to be dismissed by the select committee.

Mastriano, who helped organize charter buses to take former President Donald Trump’s supporters to the Capitol on January 6, is concerned about foul play by members of the probe and how they might use his testimony to share “disinformation” or otherwise interfere in his race for the governorship, Parlatore wrote.


Mastriano was first subpoenaed by investigators on the January 6 probe in February. He cooperated in part, handing over some records related to the charter buses he organized, including physical receipts that showed his campaign helped sell 130 tickets to the ‘Stop the Steal’ protest at the Ellipse.

But the majority of what Mastriano produced was already information on the public record, and in a series of files Parlatore made available this May, document after document features Mastriano promoting Trump’s election fraud conspiracy theories or calling for a delay to the Joint Session on January 6.

In the letter, Parlatore argues that the committee does not have the authority to compel testimony because its membership was improperly composed from the start. Parlatore argues that the committee’s founding resolution requires that a ranking member is appointed by the party in the minority.

House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy had multiple opportunities to appoint his picks, but when his initial rounds were rejected, he ended his participation altogether.

But this dynamic, according to Parlatore, was what led the committee to take testimony from Bernie Kerik voluntarily instead of forcing him to speak by way of subpoena. Kerik, a former New York City Police Department commissioner, was present for several key meetings where Trump’s fake elector bid was plotted. He was also part of multiple meetings at Trump’s “war room” at the Willard Hotel. Kerik is also represented by Parlatore.

Notably, Mastriano’s lawyer steered clear of other legal arguments that have been attempted before by opponents of the January 6 investigation. Those who have argued that the select committee lacks constitutionality or standing have been shut out time and again. This was already put to the test by Trump’s lapdog and former strategist Steve Bannon, as well as Trump’s former trade adviser, Peter Navarro.

Bannon was found guilty of criminal contempt of Congress and awaits sentencing. Navarro has been indicted on contempt of Congress charges and now awaits trial.

When Trump tried to shield his presidential records from the committee after Biden waived executive privilege, his attack on the committee’s viability also failed.

When John Eastman, the attorney who penned a six-point strategy for Trump to overturn the 2020 election, was subpoenaed by the committee, he too argued it lacked authority. But he lost that bid and his emails have become one of the most integral discoveries to emerge from the select committee’s investigation.

A federal judge, upon reviewing them, said last year that it appeared Trump and Eastman were likely plotting a criminal conspiracy to overturn the election and were engaged in a “coup in search of legal theory.”

Mastriano is insistent that he has “nothing to hide,” but the committee has historically suggested that the Republican was part of efforts to place Trump’s fake electors in Pennsylvania.

If the select committee wants to wage a battle in court with Mastriano, Parlatore said his client is willing.

I have proposed what I believe to be a reasonable arrangement that will assuage my client’s concerns while also providing you with immediate access to the non-privileged information that you seek,” he wrote.

If a “reasonable” agreement can’t be reached, he added, then there will be “little choice but to go to court and litigate the issue.”

A committee spokesperson did not immediately return a request for comment Friday.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Justice Department Subpoenas Cipollone In January 6 Probe

A federal grand jury has reportedly subpoenaed former Trump White House counsel Pat Cipollone as the Department of Justice conducts its probe into the events of January 6, 2021.

First reported by ABC News,the unnamed sources cited were unclear about what track of the investigation Cipollone may have been asked to testify about, but it is widely reported there are two major prongs the Justice Department is reviewing: former President Donald Trump’s fraudulent gambit to advance fake electors in battleground states and conspiracy to obstruct government proceedings. It is possible the latter could involve seditious conspiracy.

During the hearings, Cipollone’s private testimony punctuated or corroborated other accounts from witnesses who were in close proximity to Trump as the path to January 6 unfolded.

He told the committee how he expressed his concern to Trump that his election fraud claims were not credible. He also urged Trump to concede the victory to now President Joe Biden. On the day of the attack, Cipollone recounted how he pleaded for an “immediate and forceful response, statement, [or] public statement that people need to leave the Capitol now” as Trump idled inside the White House as blood was shed.


Cipollone witnessed discussions where the president and his advisers spoke of seizing voting machines as well as a bid by Trump to effectively capture the Justice Department by having a lackey lawyer at the agency, Jeffrey Clark, send letters to states proclaiming voter fraud where none existed. The attempt only failed after a host of senior-level Justice Department attorneys threatened a mass resignation.

The request for Cipollone to appear comes as other senior Trump administration officials have testified before a grand jury. Last week, Marc Short and Greg Jacob, the former chief of staff and counsel to ex-Vice President Mike Pence, reportedly went before one. Both Short and Jacob ultimately cooperated with the Jan. 6 committee.

Others in Trump’s circle who advanced efforts to overturn the 2020 election, like attorneys Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman, and Jenna Ellis have come under increasing scrutiny by the DOJ. Federal agents have already seized Eastman’s phone and raided Clark’s house.

And according to court records, there appears to be some significant overlap: Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Windom, who appeared on the docket for the Eastman phone warrant, is also leading the department’s probe into the fake electors for Trump scheme.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Armed Militia Member Who Led Capitol Rioters Gets 87 Months

Guy Reffitt, a member of the extremist militia known as the Three Percenters and the very first person to stand trial for crimes connected to the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, was sentenced to 87 months or just over seven years in prison on Monday.

He will be under supervision for three years following his eventual release.

Although he did not physically enter the Capitol itself, the armed Wylie, Texas, man breached police barriers and advanced against officers even as they tried desperately to repel him with dozens of pepper balls. Reffitt was found guilty this spring of multiple felony charges following a four-day jury trial. His charges included transporting a firearm, obstruction of an official proceeding, being in a restricted area unlawfully while armed, interfering with law enforcement during a civil disorder, and obstructing justice.

The last charge stemmed from Reffitt’s violent intimidation of his own family members, including his son Jackson and daughter Peyton, after he returned to Texas from Washington, D.C., last year. Jackson Reffitt was visibly anguished in court as he told jurors how his father warned him if he ratted him out to the police, he would be a “traitor.”

“And traitors get shot,” he recalled his father saying.


At his trial in Washington, jurors watched video Reffitt shot on January 6, where, courtesy of a camera mounted to his helmet-clad head, he is heard excitedly vowing to drag lawmakers out of the Capitol by their hair.

“I’m not here to play games,” Reffitt said in one clip. “I just want to see [Speaker of the House] Nancy Pelosi’s head hit every fucking stair on the way out—and Mitch McConnell, too.”

Reffitt was also heard saying, “We have the numbers to make it happen,” and was confident the mob could overcome police without “firing a single shot.”

His attorney, F. Clinton Broden—who did not represent Reffitt at trial but signed onto the case later—sought a much lighter sentence than the 15 years initially requested by the Department of Justice. Reffitt was originally represented by William Welch.

Prosecutors argued that Reffitt was a catalyst-type figure on January 6 and urged the court to view him as the “match that started the fire,” since he was one of the very first people to breach police barriers and wave others on.

Reffitt, at the time, would seem to agree. At trial, prosecutors unearthed a Telegram message sent by Reffitt that bragged: “I was the first person to light the fire on the Capitol steps.”

Broden said despite the rhetoric, the suggestion that he started the riot was off-base. According to WUSA9, Broden told the judge Monday that the mob “would have gone up those stairs regardless, without Mr. Reffitt, I think we all know that.”

He argued his client was unlike other January 6 defendants—who had physically assaulted police, too—and therefore deserved no more than two years in prison.

Prosecutors sought what is known as an “upward departure” from the recommended federal sentencing guidelines of 9 to 11 years. Instead, they asked Reffitt to serve 15 years. His conduct warranted enhancements because of his extended planning in the run-up to January 6 and his agitation of the crowd when he started waving to people to come up the Capitol steps, prosecutors said.

In a presentencing report, prosecutors defined the 49-year-old recruiter for the Three Percenters as a “quintessential example of an intent to both influence and retaliate against government conduct through intimidation or coercion,”

Reffitt traveled more than a thousand miles from Texas to attend former President Donald Trump’s “wild” rally at the Ellipse with fellow Three Percenter Rocky Hardie. They came toting weapons, including two AR-15 style semi-automatic rifles, and Reffitt carried a .40 caliber handgun. The handgun stayed holstered at his hip when he was at the Capitol. Hardie and Reffitt left the assault rifles at their hotel in downtown D.C., but when Reffitt marched on the Capitol, he donned the .40 caliber gun, body armor, a tactical helmet, and carried flexicuffs.

The sentence enhancement was necessary for numerous reasons but was especially important because it would serve as a significant deterrent, prosecutors said.

“The need to deter others is especially strong because Reffitt engaged in acts of violence that were intended to influence the government through intimidation or coercion—acts that have been defined, by statute, as domestic terrorism,” assistant U.S. attorney Jeffrey Nestler wrote this month to presiding U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich, a Trump-appointee. “Moreover, the violence at the Capitol on January 6 was calculated to interfere, and did interfere, with one of the most important democratic processes we have: the peaceful transfer of power.”

In court Monday, Nestler reiterated this point, noting the history of Reffit’s violent remarks and, in particular, his bringing flexicuffs to the Capitol. Reffitt, he said, intended to detain lawmakers.

“He was trying to take over our government. He wasn’t just trying to stop the vote,” Nestler said.

Friedrich was not inclined to uphold the recommended sentencing enhancements for “advanced planning” or for Reffit’s role in “aggravating” events on January 6. Nor was she willing to uphold the domestic terror enhancement. Politico reported Monday that Friedrich felt it would be unfair and would prompt an “unwarranted sentencing disparity” among other Jan. 6 defendants.

Unlike several other January 6 defendants, Reffitt failed to enter into any sort of cooperation agreement with prosecutors. Regardless of who the defendant is, cooperation almost always translates to a more lenient sentence.

Friedrich said in court Monday that she worried about Reffitt receiving a “dramatically different sentence” because he opted to go to trial instead of striking a plea deal.

The Trump-appointed judge raised comparisons between Reffitt and other January 6 defendants like Lonnie Coffman of Alabama. Coffman, she noted, pleaded guilty to possession of an unregistered firearm, but prosecutors did not seek to increase his sentence for that.

When authorities arrested Coffman as he was walking to his vehicle on January 6, they discovered almost a dozen Molotov cocktails in his car, a rifle, shotgun, machetes, a 9mm handgun, a crossbow, and other tactical gear, like smoke bombs. On his person, he had yet another 9mm handgun and a revolver. He was sentenced in April to 46 months or a little under four years.

Nestler reminded Judge Friedrich Monday that Coffman also did not receive the upward departure because he did not go to the Capitol on January 6. Reffitt did.

Friedrich also raised the case of Mark Ponder, a 56-year-old D.C. resident charged with a single felony of assaulting police with a deadly weapon. Ponder, who had a criminal background prior to January 6, assaulted no less than three cops during the Capitol attack, including U.S. Capitol Police Sergeant Aquilino Gonell.

In court last week before U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, Gonell offered a victim impact statement describing that life-altering day. Ponder used a thin metal pole to strike down at Gonell’s riot shield, cracking it. That pole became damaged, so Ponder picked up another thicker pole just nearby to strike at Gonell again. This one was colored red, white, and blue, The Washington Post reported. Gonell, a U.S. Army veteran who served in Iraq, suffered severe and sustained physical and mental injuries as a result of January 6 and has taken early retirement.

Ponder was sentenced to five years in prison, just below a recommended six-year sentence. This leniency was the product of his cooperation, Judge Chutkan said.

As for Reffitt, Judge Friedrich said she did not support the proposed enhancements to his sentencing though told prosecutors it was a “close call.”

Were Reffitt joined at the Capitol steps by his fellow Three-Percenter Rocky Hardie on January 6, that would have made the decision to add the enhancements a “slam dunk.”

Hardie, of Round Rock, Texas, testified against Reffitt at trial in exchange for immunity and did not face any charges. Hardie and Reffitt drove to Washington, D.C. together, a trip that took over 20 hours.

Hardie disclosed how he and Reffitt joked gleefully about the sound Pelosi’s head would make thudding downstairs as she was dragged out of the Capitol during the Joint Session.

After Reffitt was found guilty, Hardie told CBS they did not really believe they would harm lawmakers because they did not think it would be possible to actually access them. Hardie defended bringing weapons to Washington, too, saying they were for “self-defense” purposes. When he saw Reffitt carrying the zip ties on January 6, he told CBS that was a precautionary measure. Reffitt told him they would need them “just in case” there was anyone around that needed to be detained.

In an interview last December with ABC, Reffitt said he regretted his actions because they tore his family apart. His son was not at sentencing on Monday.

Last month, Reffitt’s wife and daughter advocated on his behalf. His son did not. Reffitt himself has said before that their relationship was strained because his son leaned more left than he did.

Writing to Judge Friedrich in hopes that she would grant a more lenient sentence, Reffitt’s wife Jodi said tensions in their family were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Guy had lost his job as an oil rig manager, and their children’s schooling was disrupted. Stress levels were high. It didn’t help matters either, she said, that her husband’s brash personality stemmed from a rough upbringing where he had been “on his own since 15.”

Jodi Reffitt begged Judge Friedrich for leniency because, she said, being together would be the only way for their family to “fully heal.”

Reffit’s daughter Peyton defended her father’s behavior and said he fell down a “rabbit hole of political news and online banter.”

In her estimation, it seemed like her father believed Trump was talking right to him and his grievances. Social media just kept “radicalizing” him, she added.

Prosecutors asked the judge not to give this too much credence, pointing to at least two incidents in which Guy allegedly put a gun to his wife’s head. On one of those occasions, he fired the gun near her head. An illegal silencer was also found on Reffitt’s property.

Judge Friedrich acknowledged Reffitt’s behavior was “unhinged at times,” but according to CBS, the judge also “couched her concern saying Reffitt ‘clearly’ loves his wife.”

Peyton Reffitt was originally meant to testify against her father at trial along with her brother Jackson, but she did not. When Reffitt returned from D.C. after the insurrection, Peyton told prosecutors her father had become increasingly paranoid. Once, he told her if she was recording him with her cell phone, he would “put a bullet” through it.

This and the “traitors get shot” comment deeply disturbed her brother. But Peyton said she didn’t see this as a threat to her life, just more of her father’s overheated rhetoric.

In court Monday, she put the blame for her father’s actions squarely on Trump’s shoulders without calling Trump by name.

“My father’s name wasn’t on all the flags,” she said Monday. “It was another man’s name. He was not the leader.”

At his trial, prosecutors shared video footage of Reffitt. In one clip, he is seen taking chemical irritants head-on, rubbing his eye. He had only barely slowed his advance because of this, and even still, he is seen waving more rioters up the stairs. The glint of his gun in his holster was visible in this footage too.

In other footage, a portion of a Zoom call Reffitt participated in with fellow Three Percenters, jurors heard Guy Reffitt boldly gloat.

“Nobody was moving forward until I climbed up that banister. I couldn’t even see, but I kept screaming, ‘Take the House,’” he said.

At sentencing, the former U.S. Capitol Police officer who testified against Reffitt, Shauni Kerkhoff, called for a harsher sentence.

Kerkhoff agreed with U.S. Attorney Nestler, who said Reffitt was more domestic terrorist than so-called patriot.

The former police officer recalled “watching in horror” as Reffitt kept advancing towards her at the Capitol, encouraging others around him to push past barriers and other police. Kerkhoff recalled how he assaulted her and other officers as he tried to push his way past them.

Reffitt has been held in a D.C. jail for more than a year already.

In a jailhouse letter first published this May by ProPublica, Reffitt defended the violence of January 6 and the activities of the extremist Three Percenters militia. The letter was signed “The 1/6ers,” but ProPublica was able to determine through interviews with members of Reffitt’s family that he wrote the screed.

“January 6th was nothing short of a satirical way to overthrow a government,” the letter stated. “If overthrow was the quest, it would have no doubt been overthrown. Ask the Capitol police for their opinion of how it could have been. They are grateful it wasn’t a real insurrection complete with mind, body, and soul.”

Before he was sentenced Monday, Judge Friedrich expressed concern about this letter and noted that it did not disavow January 6 but drew troubling comparisons between January 6 and 1776.

Reffitt offered a statement of his own before he was sentenced. According to WUSA9, Reffitt said he wanted to offer “multiple apologies.”

“I was, to put it colorfully, a fucking idiot,” he said.

The 49-year-old also vowed not to have “anything to do with militia groups or any stupid shit like that.”

He apologized to U.S. Capitol Police and members of Congress as well as the court.

Reffitt then told the judge that his family would be unable to support themselves financially while he was jailed if he “didn’t say something to garner money for them.”

When the judge asked him if it was true that everything he had said at trial was to raise money for his family, including his outward statements about rebelling against tyrannical governments, Reffitt said it was.

He also claimed that his previous attorney, William Welch, did not show him a plea bargain and instructed him that a trial was the only viable path forward.

Welch did not return an immediate request for comment on Monday. In court, Nestler said prosecutors offered Reffitt a 50-month sentence if he would cooperate, but Welch rejected the deal.

Judge Friedrich appeared skeptical at Reffitt’s remarks, pushing back against the notion that his attorney did not offer him insights on how a plea deal might change his fate. Reffitt’s own sense of self-importance may have clouded his judgment, she said: He wanted to be the first to go to trial.

Prosecutors rejected Reffitt’s last-minute mea culpa, noting how he still described January 6 as if it were a false flag event during an interview in The New Yorker this June.

In the end, Friedrich found Reffitt’s pleas unconvincing, telling him his actions posed a “direct threat” to democracy and an equal punishment was warranted.


Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

In Final Hearing, Select Panel Will Detail Trump's January 6 Dereliction

Though their work will continue as they prepare an interim and then final report on the investigation into the U.S. Capitol attack and former President Donald Trump’s attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 election, the House Select Committee meets for its final expected public hearing on Thursday at 8 PM ET.

Thursday’s primetime presentation—estimated by one senior committee aide to last about two hours—will close out several weeks where investigators presented evidence and witness testimony carefully and methodically that supported their assertion that Trump, as committee member Rep. Jamie Raskin said in April, engaged in an “inside political coup” to retain power despite an electoral and popular defeat by Joe Biden.

The hearing is expected to be a gut-wrenching display of Trump’s idleness on January 6 as his supporters, which included members of extremist groups like the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers and self-styled militia networks like the Three-Percenters, laid armed siege to the U.S. Capitol.

Reps. Adam Kinzinger, an Illinois Republican, and Elaine Luria, a Virginia Democrat, will lead the hearing. Chairman Bennie Thompson is expected to be in attendance remotely after contracting COVID-19 this week. He ordered the hearing to go on without him physically present, and a senior committee aide told Daily Kos Wednesday night he was “on the mend.”

Live witness testimony is anticipated from former deputy national security adviser Matthew Pottinger and former White House deputy press secretary Sarah Matthews. Both resigned from their posts in the Trump White House in the immediate aftermath of the Jan. 6 attack. Both have previously cooperated with the committee, and their testimony is vital because they were among a select group of people close to Trump who vocally and abruptly ended their tenures after the attack.

Pottinger has said previously that he tendered his resignation shortly after learning on January 6 that Trump sent out a tweet urging then-Vice President Mike Pence to have the “courage” to stop or delay the counting of Electoral College votes.

Pottinger, a former Marine, was no less shocked when he heard unconfirmed reports circulating in the West Wing that suggested the White House may have delayed sending in the National Guard for backup.

Sarah Matthews has been a vocal defender of other witnesses who have come forward to offer their disturbing accounts of the insurrection, including Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to Trump’s then-chief of staff, Mark Meadows.


Matthews, who currently serves as the communications director for a House committee focused on the climate crisis, resigned on Jan. 6 and has been forthcoming about her concerns over the attempted coup and its causes. She told The Washington Post after her resignation that January 6 “shook me to my core” when she saw people she knew running for their lives.

Critically, both witnesses may parse out more details about how Trump was already made aware that there was violence unfolding at the Capitol when he sent the tweet: “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify. USA demands the truth!”

In a private deposition with the committee, former Trump White House aide Ben Williamson testified that Trump was aware of how bad things had become at the Capitol when he sent that tweet. The attack had already been underway for an hour.

in a portion of her own recorded deposition aired prior to Thursday’s hearing, Matthews testified that her immediate superior, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, told her and other aides not to speak to the press during the assault.

“I think when Kayleigh gave us that order of ‘don’t say anything to the media,’ I told her that I thought the president needed to tweet something,” Matthews said. “And then I remember getting a notification on my phone..”

Matthews was with Williamson and other aides when they all got the Twitter notification at once.

“So, we knew it was a tweet from the President. And we looked down, and it was a tweet about Mike Pence,” she said.

She described that tweet as the 45th president “pouring gasoline on the fire.”

A senior committee aide told Daily Kos on Wednesday that the facts have spoken for themselves every step of the way in the committee’s presentations. The evidence, the aide added, has been “compelling” and not credibly disputed.

Whether Trump or other members of his administration involved in the insurrection will face charges will be left to the Justice Department to decide.

Thursday’s hearing will feature information too on those who frantically urged Trump to act during the 187-minute stretch of mind-numbing silence from the Oval Office as police pushed themselves to the brink to defend the building, lawmakers, staff, and journalists inside.

More context is expected to arrive on Thursday as well regarding the activities of Trump’s family members, aides, and allies.

Spectators can expect to see a review of how the video message Trump pushed out on January 6 at 4:17 PM came together. Trump reportedly needed no less than three takes to get the video done because he kept moving off script. What America heard—and saw—in that notorious video was the best of a bunch.

“It was a landslide election and everyone knows it,” Trump said at the very top of the video before moments later calling the election results fraudulent.

Trump’s insistence on claims of widespread fraud in the election, witnesses from the Trump White House and Department of Justice have told the January 6 probe. never wavered, no matter who presented the facts to him. The video on the afternoon of January 6 is arguably some of the strongest proof to confirm that.

The committee has been mum on whether it will seriously push to have Trump or Pence appear for deposition before the interim report emerges but hopes are not high. Chairman Thompson has indicated, however, that Trump is welcome to testify—if he does so under oath.

Viewers of tonight's hearing can also expect to see and hear more testimony via video from Pat Cipollone, once Trump’s White House attorney.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos, which will post a live blog during the hearings.


Secret Service Will Turn Over Deleted January 6 Texts To House Panel

After issuing a subpoena to the U.S. Secret Service for text messages from January 5 and January 6, 2021 that were erased, members of the committee investigating the Capitol attack say they expect the agency will hand over the deleted messages by Tuesday.

The committee was only made aware that the texts were missing when the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General Joseph Cuffari notified the House Select Committee chairman, Bennie Thompson, in a July 13 letter that they were deleted during a “pre-planned, three-month system migration” for the agency’s “device-replacement program.”

Members of the January 6 panel were briefed by the agency in person on Friday and by the evening, the committee issued a formal subpoena.

According to a Secret Service spokesman, the text messages that were deleted were not lost permanently. When making the rounds on the Sunday morning news shows, members like Reps. Zoe Lofgren and Adam Kinzinger said they expected the Secret Service to cooperate in full.

“We expect to get them by this Tuesday,” Lofgren, a California Democrat, told ABC News. “We need all the texts from the fifth and the sixth of January.”

Lofgren described “shock” as the mutually shared experience of committee members after Cuffari initially informed the probe that the text messages they requested months ago were erased. Kinzinger, one of the probe’s two Republicans, told anchors at CBS it was “quite crazy” the messages were deleted but like Lofgren, said he expected the Secret Service would hand over the messages by Tuesday.

“They’ve said they’ll meet this deadline and we’ll see what we get here,” Kinzinger said on Face the Nation.

Jan 6 Cmte Letter to USSS D... by Daily Kos

Secret Service spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said last week that any claims the service was not cooperating with the committee were false.

Notably, the director of the Secret Service, James Murray, will be retiring soon. The Trump appointee made the announcement on July 7. According to a letter obtained by The New York Times, Murray said he accepted a job with Snap, the company that runs the social media app Snapchat. His retirement was also flagged in April to Department of Homeland Security adviser Alexander Mayorkas.

The January 6 select committee will meet again on Thursday for what is expected to be its final public hearing. It will be aired during prime time at 8 PM. Investigators have said they will present evidence of Trump’s “dereliction of duty” during a three-hour period on Jan. 6 when he sat idly by and watched as the Capitol came under siege. The hearing will be led by Kinzinger and Elaine Luria, a Democrat of Virginia.

The witness list for Thursday’s hearing has not been released as of Monday afternoon, but it’s a safe bet to say there will be more video footage aired from the closed-door deposition of Pat Cipollone, the former White House attorney under Trump. Depending on what the committee receives from the Secret Service, that could also shake up the witness panel.

Additional or new evidence that comes to the surface may prompt additional hearings in the future, and the committee has not been outwardly opposed to doing so. A final report is expected in the fall.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Former Trump Counsel Cipollone Will Meet With House Select Committee

Fresh off a subpoena requesting his cooperation, former Trump White House counsel Pat Cipollone is slated to testify before the House Select Committee for a private, transcribed, and videotaped interview.

A committee aide did not immediately respond to a request for comment.The New York Times was the first to report the development Wednesday, citing a person briefed on the matter.

Cipollone’s full compliance could be illuminating for the investigation into former President Donald Trump’s attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 election. According to sworn testimony already delivered by former members of the Department of Justice under Trump, as well as Trump White House officials, Cipollone was often a firsthand witness to make-or-break moments in Trump’s attempted coup.

Cipollone was privy to multiple conversations about the bunk elector scheme championed by Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani, witnesses have said, and Cipollone was also present when Trump raised the question of seizing voting machines.

The former president’s counsel attended a meeting recently detailed at length—and under oath—by the nation’s former acting attorney general, Jeffrey Rosen, and Rosen’s deputy, Richard Donoghue.

Rosen and Donoghue testified that it was Cipollone who stood tall against Trump in the Oval Office during a meeting where Trump nearly fired Rosen and replaced him with yes-man Jeffrey Clark, a mid-level environmental lawyer at the Department of Justice who strongly supported Trump’s baseless election fraud claims.

Like Cipollone, Clark was subpoenaed by the committee. But Clark refused to answer any questions and instead pleaded the Fifth Amendment repeatedly during a private meeting with committee counsel.

When Rosen and Donoghue testified, they described how the draft letter written by Clark rattled off a long series of bogus claims about election fraud in Georgia and urged that “alternate” electors be seated.

Rosen’s predecessor, Attorney General Bill Barr, had already declared publicly and in private meetings with Trump, that there was no evidence of fraud widespread enough that it would alter the outcome of the election. But Clark, Rosen and Donoghue said, pushed ahead anyway.

When Cipollone saw the draft letter, Donoghue told the committee he remembered the counsel’s reaction vividly.

If the DOJ cosigned it, Cipollone allegedly said, it would be a “murder-suicide pact.”

The draft letter never went out because Donoghue, Rosen, and others at the Department of Justice threatened to resign en masse if Trump insisted on replacing Rosen with Clark.

According to sworn testimony already provided by former Trump White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson, Cipollone was also part of key conversations with Mark Meadows, then Trump’s chief of staff.

Hutchinson said Cipollone pleaded with Meadows to act as the mob grew larger, gallows were erected on the Capitol lawn and chants of ‘Hang Mike Pence’ reverberated on Capitol grounds.

Hutchinson recalled Cipollone telling Meadows how desperate the situation had become on Jan. 6 and urged Meadows to understand that the mob was quite literally calling to kill then-Vice President Mike Pence.

“You heard him, Pat,” Hutchinson recalled Meadows saying. “He thinks Mike deserves it. He doesn’t think they’re doing anything wrong.”

According to Hutchinson's recounting of the day, Cipollone was flabbergasted.

“This is f-ing crazy. We need to be doing something more,” Cipollone allegedly said.

Cipollone has been a stalwart ally to Trump, representing the 45th president for both of his impeachments and in various other legal matters. When Trump was impeached for obstruction of Congress and abuse of power in 2019, Cipollone offered a vehement and sharp defense of Trump, taking up the “witch hunt” mantle at length and slamming the inquiry as meritless and part of a campaign by Democrats and those on the left to punish Trump for political differences.

When Trump was impeached the first time, Cipollone notably called for cameras to be barred from proceedings, arguing it would create a circus-like atmosphere. The cameras would stay.

Trump was ultimately quite pleased with Cipollone’s performance during the first impeachment, calling him a “Great White House counsel.”

This latest decision to comply with the January 6 committee’s subpoena will put Trump’s relationship with Cipollone to the test and the extent of Cipollone’s cooperation will naturally hinge on what he actually discloses.

When Trump attorney John Eastman tried to fend off the committee’s subpoena for his records, Eastman cited attorney-client privilege but was unable to overcome the crime-fraud exception to this assertion. The crime-fraud exception essentially says that confidentiality is not blanketed and if a client sought advice from an attorney that would help that client pull off or commission a crime, then work product or correspondence can be disclosed.

A Washington Post profile of Cipollone from January 2020 notes the counsel’s propensity to keep himself out of the national spotlight.

His profile was so low in Washington, D.C., in fact, that when Cipollone first took to the Senate floor during Trump’s impeachment, it was his first time ever appearing on C-SPAN.

Memorably, even while presiding over the inquiry, Chief Justice John Roberts introduced Cipollone and mispronounced his last name.

Jay Sekulow, one of Trump’s personal attorneys, told Yahoo! News in January 2020 that Cipollone was a “serious tactician” and described him as an “aggressive advocate” for the 45th president, though “measured.”

In that same 2020 article, an unnamed Trump White House official said Trump saw Cipollone as “beyond loyal.”

Cipollone will appear before the committee for his private session this Friday.

The committee’s next public hearing is July 12 at 10 AM ET and there will be at least one more hearing to follow. The committee is expected to focus on the extremist elements involved in the insurrection as well as unpack exactly what was going on during the 187 minutes of silence from the White House as the Capitol was under attack.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Newly Released Footage Raises Questions About Capitol ‘Tour’ On Day Before Riot (VIDEO)

A man who appears to be seen taking photos of security checkpoints and hallways in the U.S. Capitol during a tour led by Republican Representative Barry Loudermilk on January 5, 2021, is also allegedly seen—and heard—in footage captured from January 6 where he is outside of the Capitol screaming threats at Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and Reps. Jerry Nadler and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

The committee released segments of security footage from the tour on Wednesday morning, arriving fresh on the heels of an announcement by U.S. Capitol Police chief Tom Manger stating that the department found “no evidence” that Loudermilk led a “reconnaissance tour” of the complex with supporters of former President Donald Trump.

The man who appears to be taking photographs has not yet been identified publicly but according to multiple outlets including CNN, he has been interviewed by the select committee.


Committee chairman Bennie Thompson first asked Loudermilk to cooperate with the probe voluntarily this May, giving him an opportunity to discuss the video footage the panel discovered during its review of key Capitol surveillance video.

In a statement, USCP Chief Manger said footage reviewed by the department did show Loudermilk with a group of 12 people that initially ticked up to 15 as they walked through a number of office buildings around the U.S. Capitol. Manger said the guests did not “appear in any tunnels” leading to the Capitol itself.

The committee’s release appears to challenge that narrative, or at the very least, point out behavior it still deems highly suspicious.

“The foregoing information raises questions the Select Committee must answer,” Thompson wrote in a letter to Loudermilk on Wednesday morning.

“Public reporting and witness accounts indicate some individuals and groups engaged in efforts to gather information about the layout of the U.S. Capitol as well as House and Senate office buildings in advance of January 6, 2021,” Thompson wrote. “For example, in the week following January 6, 2021, members urged law enforcement leaders to investigate sightings of ‘outside groups in the complex’ on January 5, 2021, that ‘appeared to be associated with the rally at the White House the following day.”

The individuals accompanying Loudermilk, the committee noted, “photographed and recorded areas of the complex not typically of interest to tourists, including hallways, staircases, and security checkpoints.”

Including an image in the letter of an individual appearing to photograph a staircase in the basement of the Longworth House Office Building, Thompson notes Loudermilk is just nearby talking to other members of the group in the background.

In the nearly three-minute-long video shared by the committee, the man believed to be part of the Capitol complex tour given by Loudermilk on the 5th is recorded by a friend on the morning of the 6th.

They are near the Washington Monument when his friend shows him a flagpole he’s carrying with a sharpened end.

“That’s for a certain person,” the companion tells the man.

“That’s right, that’s for somebody special, somebody special,” the man responds.

On the day of the Capitol assault, that same man taking photographs of the halls a day before is excitedly heard clamoring about “patriots” converging on the Capitol in a recorded video.

“There’s no escape Pelosi, Schumer, Nadler, we’re coming for you. We’re coming in like white on rice for Pelosi, Nadler, Schumer, even you AOC. We’re coming to take you out and pull you out by your hairs.

How about that Pelosi? Mind as well make yourself another appointment. When I get done with you you gonna need a shine up on top of that bald head,” he says.

The video also shows two photos obtained by the committee that appear to have been taken by the same person. One photo is of a nameplate for Rep. Jerry Nadler, something that would typically appear just outside of a lawmaker’s office. Another photo captured the physical directory of Democratic majority members.

Before the video came out, on Tuesday, Loudermilk accused the committee of falsely accusing him of giving reconnaissance tours.

“To my knowledge, no one that visited my office on January 5 was involved in any illegal activity on Januar 6, so if the committee has the evidence they should release it, not just make accusations,” Loudermilk told CNN.

A representative for U.S. Capitol Police did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Punchbowl News was the first to report that the committee had this footage.

When calls for an investigation were first raised by a group of more than 30 Democrats about Loudermilk’s tours, he issued a swift denial and filed a House Ethics complaint against Democrats who demanded a closer examination.

Loudermilk slammed the Democrat's request for an investigation as a “stain” on Congress. He also voted to overturn the certification of the 2020 election results on Jan. 6 after the attack.

During the riot Loudermilk, according to texts obtained by the select committee, sent a message to Trump’s then-chief of staff Mark Meadows.

‘It’s really bad up here on the Hill. They have breached the Capitol,” he wrote.

Loudermilk has defended the tour he gave of the Capitol on January 5 as something he did for “a constituent family with young children” merely eager to meet with their congressman.

A member of Democratic Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García’s staff, deputy communications director and digital director Ben Kamens, said on Twitter Wednesday that he saw the group identified by the committee in the Capitol Tunnel between the Longworth and Cannon and Capitol building between 1 and 2 p.m. on January 5.

Kamens said they were unescorted. He has already provided this information to the committee and law enforcement.

Kamens told Daily Kos over email Wednesday that he remotely interviewed voluntarily with the committee in February and sat for just under an hour.

“I approached one of them and asked them to put on a mask because people that work here have pre-existing conditions and it was before the wide availability of vaccines,” Kamens said.

Indeed, the Capitol building was closed to visitors and anyone on unofficial business.

“It was a group of mostly older women [in their] 40s to 50s and young men, late teens early 20s that I saw,” Rep. Garcia’s communications director said Wednesday. “I wouldn’t have gone that way if it wasn’t an intern’s first day and I wasn’t showing her how to get around on our way to get her ID badge.”

At the time Kamens said he witnessed this, he was working as a congressional aide to Rep. Andy Kim, a New Jersey Democrat.

Kim inadvertently made headlines after the insurrection. He was spotted cleaning up debris from the floor of the rotunda after the building was secured.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a New York Democrat who has experienced routine harassment by the former president’s supporters and Republican members of Congress, responded to the video release in a tweet on Wednesday.


Rep. Loudermilk did not respond immediately to a request for comment Wednesday.

He released a statement late Wednesday afternoon, however, accusing the committee of “doubling down on a smear campaign” against him and claimed to have received death threats as a result of the footage’s release.

The Georgia Republican also said he did not recognize the man making threats toward Pelosi, Schumer, Nadler, and Ocasio-Cortez.


CBS News reported on Wednesday that it reached Al Foley, identified as “one of the Rep. Loudermilk’s constituents who toured the Capitol with the Congressman” on January 5 and was previously interviewed by the House Select Committee.

Foley told CBS that suggestions it was a reconnaissance tour were “the farthest thing from the truth.” The allegation, Foley said, was “disgusting.”

A spokesman for the committee told Daily Kos on Wednesday that he did not believe Foley was the man taking photos of the stairwell leading up to the Longworth Building.

In another clip obtained by NBC News on Wednesday that was not a part of the original three-minute clip released by the committee, the same man seen taking pictures during the tour with Loudermilk on January 5 filmed another part of his visit in the Capitol.


In related news, in a court filing on Wednesday, Proud Boy Zachary Rehl entered a document onto the record that generated a considerable stir this spring: an extensive plan to attack and occupy federal buildings. Proud Boy ringleader Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, who is now facing seditious conspiracy charges for crimes connected to January 6, allegedly cited the plan during the attack.




Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

As Hearings Expose Coup Plot, Expect Fireworks Between Trump And Pence

This week the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the U.S. Capitol will commence its public hearings on Thursday, June 9 at 8 p.m. ET beginning what will be a month-long presentation of evidence that congressional investigators have compiled through extensive interviews with key witnesses to the violent insurrection incited by former President Donald Trump.

Hearings will be televised and streamed online and will feature live witness testimony, new and unseen video footage, and previously-recorded interviews with members of Trump’s innermost circle and reportedly, members of his family including his daughter Ivanka Trump, son-in-law-turned-White House adviser, Jared Kushner, and others.

On the path to this moment, investigators have amassed over 125,000 pages of records and hundreds of hours of deposition. Many records were obtained voluntarily, while others were only secured after hard-fought but critically victorious legal battles against Trump and his entourage of lawyers, campaign and administration staff, so-called “alternate electors,” and other allies like right-wing conspiracy theory peddlers and members of extremist hate groups like the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers.

Committee investigator, constitutional scholar, and Representative Jamie Raskin, a Maryland Democrat, described the probe’s findings to this Daily Kos reporter recently:

“This was a coup that was orchestrated by the president against the vice president and against the Congress,” he said.

“The insurrection is only comprehensible when you understand that it was unleashed as a way to assist this political coup, this inside political coup. Donald Trump and his entourage had been looking for ways to overthrow the 2020 presidential election results for months.”

The hearings begin June 9 at 8 p.m. ET. The next hearings will be held at 10 a.m. on June 13th, 15th, 16th, and 21st. The final anticipated session will unfold on June 23rd at 8 p.m. ET.

For the first hearing, the violence that exploded at the U.S. Capitol on January 6 will be put into whip-sharp relief as the committee is expected to introduce the broad strokes of a plot that its members say was orchestrated by the former president to stop the nation’s transfer of power after he lost the popular and Electoral College vote to Joe Biden in 2020.

Other hearings will zero in on how that plot was navigated including through the use of bogus electors in key battleground states. It is expected that the committee will explore the nuances behind the concerted pressure campaign foisted on then-Vice President Mike Pence to stop the counting of votes by Congress on January 6 despite a lack of constitutional authority to do so.

Trump’s private conduct in the White House on the day of the insurrection, which reportedly included him vocalizing support for those clamoring to “Hang Mike Pence,” will also come under the magnifying glass.

As a result of the Jan. 6 attack, five people died. Hundreds of police officers were assaulted. More than $1 million in damages were inflicted to the Capitol building alone. The committee, as it has made clear since its inception, does not have the power to prosecute anyone, It only has the power to investigate and legislate.

A final report with legislative recommendations will be issued this September.

What those recommendations will look like exactly is uncertain for now, but the committee has said repeatedly over the last 11 months that its plan is to beef up all available legislative firewalls against would-be usurpers of the nation’s peaceful, democratic process.

Important to note is that a criminal referral of Trump by the committee to the Department of Justice has not been ruled out as of yet.

The department has slogged through its own January 6 investigation for more than a year, arresting over 800 people for a sprawling number of crimes including seditious conspiracy. It has also opened up a number of grand juries—special or otherwise—to weigh indictments for key Trump-tethered figures.

The DOJ recently refused to indict Trump’s former chief of staff Mark Meadows and aide Dan Scavino for contempt of congress following their respective defiance of initial subpoenas. The decision was announced late Friday and left committee chairman Bennie Thompson and vice-chair, Liz Cheney, “puzzled.”

“If the department’s position is that either or both of these men have absolute immunity, from appearing before Congress because of their former positions in the Trump administration, that question is the focus of pending litigation,” Thompson and Cheney said in a June 3 statement.

U.S. prosecutors did, however, indict Steve Bannon, Trump’s short-lived White House strategist as well as Trump’s trade adviser Peter Navarro.

Meadows cooperated in part, giving the committee a plethora of text messages and other correspondence, only some of which has been made public prior to the hearings. Those messages demonstrated how Meadows was at the center of a storm of election fraud conspiracy and legally dubious strategies proposed to keep Trump in office well after his defeat.

Meadows was also the touchstone for an onslaught of panicked presidential allies, who, records have revealed, begged for Trump to quell the violence during a staggering 187-minutes of silence from the Oval Office as the mob raged, lawmakers fled and blood was spilled.

Scavino cooperated with the committee in part, haggling for weeks over executive privilege concerns. Bannon and Navarro, however, flatly refused to cooperate. Bannon’s executive privilege claims started on shaky ground: at the time of the insurrection, he was years removed from Trump’s formal employ though he was still well embedded with the administration.

Navarro was officially-entrenched until the end and though he argues executive privilege should bar his compliance with the select committee, federal prosecutors disagree. Bannon goes to trial in July. Navarro’s next moves will be hashed out in court following his arrest last week.

How his case progresses will warrant close attention since prosecutors have taken the slightly unusual step of asking Navarro to not only produce records first meant for the committee but other specific communications from Trump, in particular. This could signify that Trump is under investigation by the department directly.

The DOJ has reportedly requested transcripts of the committee’s interviews as well, a resource that could bolster the department’s collection of evidence for any possible ongoing civil or criminal cases.

The witness list for the public hearings is evolving even now, as are the exact details of its presentations.

Members of Pence’s staff including counsel Greg Jacob and aide Marc Short have been invited to testify. So too has Michael Luttig and Luttig is expected to appear.

It was Luttig’s advice, as a former federal judge, that Pence relied on when Pence announced mere minutes before Congress was set to convene on Jan. 6 that he would not and could not “claim the unilateral authority to determine which electoral votes should be counted and which should not.”

Pence Letter Jan 6 2021 by Daily Kos on Scribd

Pence Letter Jan 6 2021 by Daily Kos

Luttig is considered an expert on the Constitutional process and, crucially, the Electoral Count Act, the very legislation that his former clerk-turned-consigliere for Trump John Eastman sought to unwind when Eastman authored a memo proposing a six-point strategy to overturn the election.

Eastman Memo by Daily Kos

Eastman Memo by Daily Kos

As for the former vice president, he is not expected to testify.

Short and Jacob’s testimony will be useful to set the scene for the public: Both men were present for a January 4, 2021 meeting when Eastman presented the strategy to have Pence stop the count.

Other possible witnesses include Cassidy Hutchinson, a senior aide to Meadows who sat with the committee privately on multiple occasions. Legal records revealed in April that Hutchinson told investigators Meadows was warned of violence looming over Washington prior to Jan. 6.

Hutchinson testified too that several lawmakers, including Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio, Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Paul Gosar of Arizona, Mo Brooks, of Alabama and Matt Gaetz of Florida, among others were integral forces n the public and private pushes to advance the unconstitutional alternate elector scheme.

Former DOJ officials Jeffrey Rosen or Richard Donoghue may also testify.

Rosen, once the acting attorney general under Trump, told oversight and judiciary committees in both the House and Senate last summer that he was pressured by Trump’s allies at the DOJ—namely, Rosen’s subordinate, Jeffrey Clark—to issue a public statement saying the FBI found evidence of voter fraud in various states. The draft was proposed during a meeting just after Christmas 2020.

Richard Donoghue, Rosen’s deputy, took contemporaneous notes from that call with Trump.

“Just say that the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the R. congressman,” Donoghue wrote of Trump’s remarks.

When the committee’s held its first-ever public hearing last July, it heard visceral testimony from a handful of police officers who fought off the mob for hours.

Several officers injured have only recently made significant gains in their physical recovery efforts, like U.S. Capitol Police Staff Sergeant Aquilino Gonnell.

Others are still working through the post-traumatic stress.

U.S. Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn, who dealt with a barrage of racial slurs and physical attacks on January 6, has been vocal about the need for officers to receive therapy. A year after the attack, Dunn has kept up that messaging as well as demands for accountability and transparency as he continues to work on the Hill surrounded by the memories of that fateful day.

As the hearings get underway, there is counter-programming expected from the committee’s most staunch opponents.

Axios reported an exclusive scoop in advance of the committee hearings that House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy and Republican Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio and Elise Stefanik of New York will lead the counter-programming efforts publicly. Matt Schlapp, Trump’s onetime political director and now chairman of the powerful Conservative Political Action Committee, is reportedly in charge behind the scenes.

Jordan, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, is one of Trump’s most loyal lapdogs in Congress. During the former president’s first impeachment inquiry, the congressman used every opportunity during proceedings to throw witness interviews off track or demean their testimony.

When McCarthy nominated Jordan to serve on one of the first iterations of the committee to investigate Jan. 6, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi—per rules of a founding resolution—refused to seat Jordan. The California Democrat also refused to seat another one of McCarthy’s picks, Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana.

Pelosi accepted other Republican nominees put forward by McCarthy but Jordan and Banks had a track record that proved too divisive to be seriously considered. Both legislators had promoted Trump’s claims of election fraud openly and vociferously. Both voted to overturn the results. Both vowed before the committee was even formed, that they would use the opportunity to explore how Democrats were to blame for security lapses on January 6. They also sought to equate the violence of Jan. 6 with racial justice protests that dotted the nation after the police killing of George Floyd.

Negotiations for the committee stretched for more than a month and included moderate Democrats and Republicans in the process.

But when Jordan and Banks were skipped over for seats on what would have been a truly bipartisan committee with five Democrats and five Republicans sharing equal subpoena powers, McCarthy abruptly ended all negotiations.

The select committee was formed not long after. This time, its resolution established it would have nine members including seven Democrats and two Republicans. The only two Republicans that would participate on the committee were Cheney and Rep. Adam Kinzinger. Kinzinger is not seeking reelection.

As for Stefanik, her rapid ascent in the GOP will undoubtedly be underlined this month. Since her effective anointment by GOP Leader McCarthy to replace Liz Cheney as the party’s conference chair, the New York Republican has tirelessly echoed Trump’s cries of “witch hunt” whenever his conduct comes up for review or the events of January 6 are discussed.

The counter-programming will largely be a continuation of the meritless arguments and legal theories Trump’s allies have advanced in various court battles where they have sought to evade congressional subpoenas for their records and testimony. McCarthy, Jordan, Brooks, Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona, and Scott Perry of Pennsylvania have all received subpoenas from the select committee. Despite many of those same lawmakers admitting publicly to having conversations with Trump at critical times before, during, or after the insurrection, none agreed to come forward, either voluntarily or under force of subpoena.

McCarthy and the rest will staunchly defend the former president by presenting the easily-debunked argument that the committee was not properly formed and its members, as such, illegally empowered. That is not so, according to the U.S. Supreme Court and lower courts that have ruled, again and again, in favor of the committee’s standing as well as its pursuit of information relevant to its probe.

The select committee has been recognized not only as a valid legislative body but also as a properly formed one thanks to its binding resolution that was afforded the protocols necessary before a final vote in the full House of Representatives was held. The House voted last June, 222-190, to establish the select committee.

Last month, Voxobtained a copy of a strategy memo prepared by the Republican National Committee for its members and operatives to use as the January 6 hearings are underway.One goal allegedly listed was to push the message that “Democrats are the real election deniers” and that “Trump’s requests” this month to his “surrogates” should shape coverage on friendly media networks.

Though the endgame for Republicans during the hearings will largely be to deflect and distract, the committee’s sessions will be followed by a long summer with the events of January 6 still in focus: Bannon goes to trial in July to face his contempt charge and members of the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers facing seditious conspiracy charges (and other allegations) are slated to meet jurors in July and September, respectively.

While Trump and his cohorts are spinning, President Joe Biden is expected to keep somewhat of a distance from the spectacle of the proceedings. He waived executive privilege over Trump’s presidential records related to January 6 and on the record has been measured in his response to the select committee’s function and work. Politico reported Sunday that a former official suggested anonymously that Biden’s team would likely reconsider the hands-off approach if the counter-programming billows out of control.

At least one Republican, the former Virginia Rep. Denver Riggleman, has thrown his support behind the hearings and then some. Riggleman has been an adviser to the committee for several months.

He told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Sunday that the hearings would be a refreshing and unique change from the typical congressional committee hearing setting where Republicans and Democrats are often locked into partisan bickering and waste valuable time trying to course-correct.

“There’s not going to be a lot of partisan whining and screaming,” Riggleman said.

Rep. Raskin told Daily Kos in April that he believed the committee hearings would, at the very least, empower voters with “intellectual self-defense against the authoritarian and fascistic policies that have been unleashed in this country.”

Time, which is now running out, will tell.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Ex-Trump Aide Navarro Indicted For Contempt Of Congress

A federal grand jury has indicted Peter Navarro, former President Donald Trump’s onetime trade adviser, after his failure to cooperate with a subpoena issued to him by the House Select Committee last February.

Navarro hit the press junket hard to shill his memoirs months before the subpoena rolled in and in that book, Navarro discussed a strategy he cooked up with Trump’s onetime adviser Steve Bannon to stop or delay the certification of Electoral College votes by Congress on January 6, 2021.

They called it the ‘Green Bay Sweep,’ and according to Navarro, its aim was not to “overturn” the election but rather, the plan was to have such a sweeping number of challenges to the certification launched by Trump’s Republican allies in the House and Senate that it would “put the certification of the election on ice for at least another several weeks,” he wrote in his book, In Trump Time.

Navarro faces two charges in the indictment: one count for failure to produce records to the committee as demanded in the subpoena and another count for failure to appear for testimony.

Incidentally, his indictment is similar to the one that was brought against Bannon—his fellow ‘Green Bay Sweep’ strategist—in November. Bannon’s trial is expected to begin this summer. As for Navarro, he made his first appearance in a federal court in Washington, D.C., on Friday at 2:30 P.M. ET.

NBC News reported that Navarro was taken into custody on Friday. Court records have also indicated that prosecutors sought to seal Navarro’s indictment until he was arrested. They were concerned that he might flee or engage in witness tampering. Navarro’s case will go before U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta, the same judge presiding over the seditious conspiracy trial involving a number of Oath Keepers including ringleader Elmer Stewart Rhodes.

Navarro told reporters earlier this week that he received a grand jury subpoena tied to January 6. He clarified that it was separate from the subpoena first sent by the committee. The 72-year-old vehemently argued that executive privilege invoked by Trump barred him from testifying. But there is no evidence to date that Trump asserted privilege over Navarro. The committee has indicated Trump did not invoke privilege over Navarro.

The grand jury subpoena notably zeroed in on the 45th president by name, ultimately asking Navarro for “all documents relating to the subpoena dated February 9, 2022, that you received from the House Select Committee to investigate the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol, including but not limited to any communications with former President Trump and/or his counsel or representatives."

The former trade adviser has been a vocal critic of the committee’s work and has referred to investigators as “domestic terrorists” running “a partisan witch hunt.”

He had multiple opportunities to cooperate with the House Select Committee. He was allowed to ask for more time to produce records so long as he could explain why. And if there were privilege issues, per the committee, Navarro could have created a list explaining which documents he would want to be shielded and why.

Instead, according to the seven-page indictment, Navarro opted to ignore the probe, resting on specious executive privilege claims instead.

“My hands are tied,” Navarro allegedly wrote in an email to the committee this spring.

Navarro Indictment by Daily Kos on Scribd

Navarro Indictment by Daily Kos

This back and forth went on for a matter of days, with the committee informing Navarro they could limit questions to his public remarks but his deposition, then scheduled for March 2, was mandatory under the subpoena.

He never showed.

Per the DOJ, each count carries a max sentence of up to one year in jail plus a fine of up to $100,000.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Neo-Fascist Proud Boys Taking Control Of Miami GOP

Something stinks in Miami and the stench, it would appear, is wafting in from members of the neofascist group known as the Proud Boys.

A report byThe New York Timespublished Thursday dives into the rapidly expanding political landscape in Dade County where the Miami-Dade Republican Party has now accepted a number of people affiliated with the extremist group into the ranks of its executive committee.

Miami, since at least the early 1990s, has been a Democratic stronghold for presidential candidates. The 2020 election put that to the test and the hits have just kept coming. The Republican Party continues its lurch toward extreme right-wing ideology and divisions continue to be inflamed by the party’s darlings like Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and the twice-impeached former president-turned-Florida-resident Donald Trump.

According to the chair of the GOP’s executive committee in Miami, Rene Garcia, they are aware of the “fringe elements” present in the influential panel. But having a few Proud Boys on board—including those charged with obstructing Congress or impeding police on Jan. 6, 2021—is, apparently, just par for the course.

“Yes, we have different points of view in our party. That’s how we are. And my job as Republican chairman is to protect everyone’s First Amendment right, however wrong they may be,” Garcia told the Times.

In February, the Miami Herald reported at length on the spread of extremist right-wing ideologues into Florida life and politics. In fact, in terms of January 6 defendants, the outlet noted, no other state claimed more than the Sunshine State. Granted, there are 21 million people who live in Florida, therefore increasing the probability of their presence in the defendant pool.

But it's not just a numbers game.

A plethora of the nation’s most prominent right-wing figures call Florida home, including Roger Stone and Michael Flynn. The onetime president of the Proud Boys, Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, is also from Miami and the group has had significant success disseminating its message within and outside of the state’s borders.

The Southern Poverty Law Center remarked on this phenomenon to the Miami Herald.

Rachel Carroll Rivas, a senior research analyst for SPLC said in February:

“Those national players can speak to audiences around the country — they choose to be based in Florida, but they’re also influenced by the politics of Florida and influence Florida politics. And in that way, they actually export Florida culture across the country.”

There are also a large number of hate groups that call Florida home. In the last two decades, extremist groups of all types have expanded in the state from right around 40 groups in 2000 to 68 identified today.

The number of hate groups across America overall has shrunk recently, according to the SPLC’s most recent report, but the Proud Boys aren’t losing any momentum. In fact, analysis has shown an increase in the number of Proud Boys chapter divisions cropping up in the U.S.

As noted by the Times on Thursday, self-starter groups like Miami Against Fascism have invested their energy into sorting out who in the Miami-Dade Republican Party may have ties to the hate group.

Today, the Miami-Dade Republican Party executive committee members include January 6 defendants Gilbert Fonticoba and Gabriel Garcia, for example.

Fonticoba was charged with obstructing Congress on Jan. 6. He faces a a number of other charges and has pleaded not guilty. According to an order from the U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly in Washington, D.C., Fonticoba’s next appearance is slated for August. In advance of his trial, Fonticoba has asked for additional time to review the “voluminous discovery” presented to him by prosecutors.

Gabriel Garcia, who faces charges including entering a restricted area on January 6, violent entry, disorderly conduct and more, also sits on the Miami Republican Party Executive Committee.

According to the Times, Garcia has said that he is no longer a member of the Proud Boys. An attorney for Garcia could not immediately be reached by Daily Kos.

Prosecutors said that Garcia screamed at U.S. Capitol Police on January 6, calling them “fucking traitors” as he allegedly urged those around him to storm the Capitol.

“USA!” Garcia was heard chanting in a Facebook video he uploaded. “Storm this shit!”

In another video, Garcia is heard allegedly taunting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, asking her to “come out and play.”

Garcia has railed against claims that the Proud Boys are a hate group. When he ran for a House seat in Florida last year, the former U.S. Army Captain said those descriptions were false. He has pleaded not guilty.

In an interview with the Miami Herald, Garcia deflected the accusations and blamed antifa for violence in the U.S.

Another member of the committee is Chris Barcenas. Though Barcenas did not go into the Capitol on January 6 and has not been charged with any crimes, he was at the Capitol that day and has been identified by groups like Miami Against Fascism as a member of the Proud Boys.

He has also not appeared to contest his membership with the group; he reporetedly testified earlier this year in private before the January 6 Committee to discuss Proud Boys and their role in January 6.

Another member of the GOP’s executive committee, Barbara Balmaseda, recently stepped down when pictures started to circulate of her on Capitol grounds on January 6. She said her resignation was based on her wish to focus on other work and that she felt the executive committee had become a drama-filled “waste of time.”

Balmaseda once interned for Florida Senator Marco Rubio and worked as a campaign organizer for Ron DeSantis. She was also a field organizer for the GOP in Florida and has managed campaigns for aspiring legislators like Omar Blanco and Illeana Garcia.

Though she recently left the executive committee, she has opted to remain on the board of the Miami Young Republicans.

Notably, online sleuths have claimed that they have identified Balmaseda at the rally on January 6 and in proximity to alleged January 6 conspirator and Proud Boy leader Ethan Nordean.



An attorney for Balmaseda did not immediately return a request for comment Thursday.

Balmaseda’s boyfriend, Brandon Diaz, served until very recently as the executive director for the GOP in Miami. He allegedly left the position to focus on his day job.

He has denied having any role in bringing Proud Boys into the committee’s fold in Miami and has denied any personal involvement with the group.

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos.

Defying Subpoena, McCarthy Rejects Select Panel's Oversight

The leader of House Republicans Kevin McCarthy has responded to his subpoena from the House Select Committee with a lengthy letter from his attorney, arguing, like others have tried and failed before him, that the panel lacks “valid legislative purpose.”

And as for his own discussions with former President Donald Trump—impeached for inciting the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol last year—those details, McCarthy argues, are not subject to oversight.

McCarthy’s response also came with a list of demands, much like his colleague in the House and fellow Trump-ally Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio. But unlike Jordan, who at the very least offered to provide an "adequate response” if his requests were met, McCarthy’s attorney, Elliot Berke, opted instead to present only McCarthy’s challenge to the committee’s authority—with the demand that members on the panel defend their “legal rationale” for issuing the subpoena.

“It is unclear how the Select Committee believes it is operating within the bounds of law or even within the confines of the authorizing resolution,” Berke wrote in the 11-page letter to committee chair Bennie Thompson.

As for the California Republican’s conversations with Trump on the day of the attack—the details of which the committee has sought for months and beyond what has potentially been publicly reported—McCarthy’s attorney says that information would effectively have no bearing on whatever legislative agenda the probe might have.

”Of course, the Select Committee has no valid legislative interest or oversight authority to question the Leader about public statements he has already made to the press or in the House Chamber,” Berke wrote.

McCarthy, through his attorney, also accused the committee of wishing to “interrogate him” politically and slammed the panel as unconstitutional and acting beyond the “power of inquiry as decreed by our Founding Fathers.”

Federal courts have already established that the committee has a valid legislative interest in investigating the events leading up to January 6. This decision was rendered in John Eastman’s fight to keep the committee away from documents it deemed pertinent to the probe’s fact-finding mission and again when the Republican National Committee tried to shield data from the committee about its fundraising materials.

Those documents, the committee has argued, were entrenched with the former president’s falsehoods and lies about the outcome of the 2020 election and this was used to effectively defraud the public.

McCarthy Letter to Bennie T... by Daily Kos

The response also contends at length that the committee itself was improperly formed because just nine members sit on it and the resolution states the speaker “shall appoint 13 members to the select committee, 5 of whom shall be appointed after consultation with the minority leader.”

But McCarthy had his chance to nominate picks to the committee. Some of his picks were accepted by Pelosi and others were denied. When Pelosi sent two of the nominees back—including Trump stalwart Jim Jordan—McCarthy, to borrow a phrase, took his ball and went home.

He ended negotiations cold and established clearly that he would not continue engaging with the committee.

The January 6 committee, as it stands today with nine members, includes seven Democrats and two Republicans.

An investigatory body was initially proposed and designed to be an independent, truly bipartisan commission. Democrats suggested splitting membership right down the middle, affording equal subpoena powers to both their party and the Republican Party.

But this proposal couldn’t muster enough support in the Senate and as such, the dreams of that commission were shut down.

Republicans continued to balk, largely, at holding any investigation at all. In the House, only two Republicans—the only two that now serve on the committee, Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger—voted in favor of forming the select committee.

The House passed the resolution.

Five members of the House including McCarthy and Jordan have been hit with subpoenas for their records and depositions. The committee also sent subpoenas to Reps. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, Mo Brooks of Alabama, and Andy Biggs of Arizona. To a man, each have have refused to comply.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.