August 15, 2022 / by 

 

Liz Cheney’s Women in White Fighting Donald Trump’s Deceit

Last night’s January 6 Committee hearing had largely been telegraphed already, a minute by minute depiction of Trump’s inaction as his mob attacked the Capitol, seeking out to harm his Vice President. The most effective new material were the outtakes from Trump’s attempt to film a video the following day, where he couldn’t bring himself to say the election was over.

The most striking thing was how Pat Cipollone invoked Executive Privilege not just to protect conversations he had with the President, but to avoid speaking the most important things that could be used as the direct testimony that will be necessary to convict Donald Trump.

Here’s my thread from watching the hearing.

I’d like to talk about how Liz Cheney crafted her closing comments.

After formally thanking the witnesses there in the room, Sarah Matthews and Matthew Pottinger, she then transposed Cassidy Hutchinson’s bravery against the cowardice of the old men hiding, like Cipollone, behind Executive Privilege.

She emphasized the several women witnesses who had set an example of strength for women and girls.

Let me thank our witnesses today. We have seen bravery and honor in these hearings. And Ms. Matthews and Mr. Pottinger, both of you will be remembered for that, as will Cassidy Hutchinson. She sat here alone, took the oath, and testified before millions of Americans. She knew all along that she would be attacked by President Trump and by the 50-, 60-, and 70-year old men who hide themselves behind Executive Privilege. But like our witnesses today, she has courage, and she did it anyway. Cassidy, Sarah, and our other witnesses, including Officer Caroline Edwards, Shaye Moss and her mother Ruby Freeman are an inspiration to American women and to American girls. We owe a debt to all of those who have and will appear here.

And that brings me to another point. This committee has shown you the testimony of dozens of Republican witnesses. Those who served President Trump loyally for years. The case against Donald Trump in these hearings is not made by witnesses who were his political enemies. It is, instead, a series of confessions by Donald Trump’s own appointees, his own friends, his own campaign officials. People who worked for him for years. And his own family. They have come forward and they have told the American people the truth.

And for those of you who seem to think the evidence would be different if Republican Leader McCarthy had not withdrawn his nominees from this committee, let me ask you this. Do you really think Bill Barr is such a delicate flower that he would wilt under cross-examination? Pat Cipollone, Eric Herschmann, Jeff Rosen, Richard Donoghue? Of course they aren’t. None of our witnesses are.

At one point in 2016, when he was first running for office, Donald Trump said this: I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters. That quote came to mind last week when audio from Trump advisor Steve Bannon surfaced, from October 31, 2020, just a few days before the Presidential election.

[describing Bannon predicting that Trump would declare victory]

And of course four days later Trump declared victory when his own campaign advisors told him he had absolutely no basis to do so. What the new Steve Bannon video demonstrates is that Donald Trump’s plan to falsely claim victory in 2020, no matter what the facts actually were, was premeditated. Perhaps worse, Donald Trump believed he could convince his voters to buy it, whether he had any actual evidence of fraud or not. And this same thing continued to occur from election day onward until January 6. Donald Trump was confident that he could convince his supporters the election was stolen, not matter how many lawsuits he lost. And he lost scores of them. He was told over and over again in immense detail that the election was not stolen. There was no evidence of widespread fraud.

Cheney then described how Trump exploited the patriotism of his followers to convince them to attack the country (something we see all the time in court hearings from January 6 defendants).

It didn’t matter. Donald Trump was confident he could persuade his supporters to believe whatever he said, no matter how outlandish. And ultimately, that they could be summoned to Washington to help him remain President for another term. As we showed you last week, even President Trump’s legal team, led by Rudy Giuliani, knew they had no actual evidence to demonstrate the election was stolen. Again, it didn’t matter.

Here’s the worst part. Donald Trump knows that millions of Americans who supported him would stand up and defend our nation, were it threatened. They would put their lives and their freedom at stake to protect her. And he is preying on their patriotism. He is preying on their sense of justice. And on January 6, Donald Trump turned their love of country into a weapon against our Capitol and our Constitution. He has purposely created the false impression that America is threatened by a foreign force controlling voting machines. Or that a wave of tens of millions of false ballots were secretly injected into our election system. Or that ballot workers have secret thumb drives and are stealing the elections with them. All complete nonsense.

The ability to get to the truth, Cheney laid out, is fundamental to remaining a free nation.

We must remember that we cannot abandon the truth and remain a free nation.

In late November of 2020, while President Trump was still pursuing lawsuits, many of us were urging him to put any genuine evidence of fraud forward in the courts and to accept the outcome of those cases. As January 6 approached, I circulated a memo to my Republican colleagues explaining why our congressional proceedings to count electoral votes could not be used to change the outcome of the election. But what I did not know at the time was that President Trump’s own advisors — also Republicans, also conservatives — including his White House Counsel, his Justice Department, his campaign officials, they were all telling him almost exactly the same thing I was telling my colleagues. There was no evidence of fraud or irregularities sufficient to change the election outcome. Our courts had ruled. It was over.

Now we know that it didn’t matter what any of us said, because Donald Trump wasn’t looking for the right answer legally or the right answer factually. He was looking for a way to remain in office. Let’s put that aside for a moment and focus just on what we saw today. In our hearing tonight you saw an American President faced with a stark and unmistakeable choice between right and wrong. There was no ambiguity. No nuance. Donald Trump made a purposeful choice to violate his oath of office. To ignore the ongoing violence against law enforcement. To threaten our Constitutional order. There is no way to excuse that behavior. It was indefensible. And every American must consider this: Can a President who is willing to make the choices Donald Trump made during the violence of January 6 ever be trusted with any position of authority in our great nation again?

Then, minutes after saluting the bravery of women like Cassidy Hutchinson, Cheney pivoted to the historical moment of women’s suffrage.

In this room, in 1918, the committee on women’s suffrage convened, to discuss and debate whether women should be granted the right to vote. This room is full of history and we on this committee know we have a solemn obligation not to idly squander what so many Americans have fought and died for.

Finally, she closed with that great conservative heroine, Margaret Thatcher.

Ronald Reagan’s great ally, Margaret Thatcher, said this: let it never be said that the dedication of those who love freedom is less than the determination of those who would destroy it. Let me assure every one of you this: our committee understands the gravity of this moment, the consequences for our nation. We have much work yet to do, and we will see you all in September.

As I described, her closing comments from the first hearing assumed the mantle of Reagan.

With this speech (and the imagery), Cheney attempted to invoke the mantle of Reagan, her party’s (and our shared generation’s) political icon. In doing so, she attempted to make democracy a religion again, something worth defending.

At the very least, she provided some mythology on which she will rebuild her party.

Last night, along with Sarah Matthews and Cassidy Hutchinson, Liz Cheney assumed that mantle in distinctly feminist form.

This message is not for you or I. We are not the audience for the invocation of Margaret Thatcher.

But as Cheney attempts to convince Republicans that Donald Trump made them betray their patriotism, she is pitching the alternative in distinctly female form.

Just before she goes home to lose her primary, badly, this woman is committing to coming back in September to continue the work of trying to persuade her fellow conservatives to believe in the truth again.

Note: Mr. EW and I are headed out on an Irish-sized road trip. Unless something major happens, posting will be light in days ahead. 


House January 6 Committee: Public Hearings – Day 8

This post and comment thread are dedicated to the House January 6 Committee hearings scheduled to begin Thursday, July 21 at 8:00 p.m. ET.

** Please take all comments unrelated to the hearings to a different thread. **

The hearings will stream on:

House J6 Committee’s website: https://january6th.house.gov/news/watch-live

House J6 Committee’s YouTube page: https://www.youtube.com/c/January6thCmte/videos

C-SPAN’s House J6 hearing page: https://www.c-span.org/video/?521771-1/eighth-hearing-investigation-capitol-attack

C-SPAN’s YouTube page: https://youtu.be/DLKCGEHHfh4

Check PBS for your local affiliate’s stream: https://www.pbs.org/ (see upper right corner)

PBS Newshour stream: https://youtu.be/48HH4LVn07g

Twitter is expected to carry multiple live streams (NBC, PBS, Washington Post, Reuters, CSPAN, Bloomberg): https://twitter.com/i/events/1548853208365146113

Broadcast and cable network coverage TBD, check your local broadcast affiliate or cable provider’s lineup.

Twitter accounts live tweeting the hearing:

Brandi Buchman-DailyKos: https://twitter.com/Brandi_Buchman/status/1550257762159890432

Scott MacFarlane-CBS: hhttps://twitter.com/MacFarlaneNews/status/1550268133159702528

Laura Rozen: https://twitter.com/lrozen/status/1550270101336821761

Tom LoBianco-Yahoo News: https://twitter.com/tomlobianco/status/1550270905150017541

Steve Herman-VOANews: https://twitter.com/W7VOA/status/1550270522813997056

If you know of any other credible source tweeting the coverage, please share a link in comments.

The topic of the hearing is Trump’s dereliction of duty on January 6, 2021.

The witnesses scheduled for this hearing are:

  • Former Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Matthews
  • Former Deputy National Security Adviser Matthew Pottinger

There may be other witnesses; some may be present only as video clips.

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Any updates will appear at the bottom of this post; please bear with any content burps as this page may be edited as the hearing progresses.

Again, this post is dedicated to the House January 6 Committee  and topics addressed in testimony and evidence produced during the hearing.

All other discussion should be in threads under the appropriate post with open discussion under the most recent Trash Talk.

To new readers and commenters: welcome to emptywheel. New commenters, please use a unique name to differentiate yourself; use the same username each time you comment.

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Community guidelines

If you are leaving a comment, please be concise; 100 words is the optimum length.

If you are sharing active links your comment may be delayed by auto-moderation.

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What Lisa Monaco Said about Charging a Hypothetical Former President

When I was doing my, “What DOJ Was Doing While You Were Wasting Time Whinging on Twitter” post, I was laughing to myself at the number of times that Merrick Garland or Lisa Monaco have said things about the January 6 investigation, including charging high ranking people, only to have pundits claim that DOJ never makes a statement about such things.

On that note, someone linked this appearance Monaco did at University of Chicago in May, where professor Genevieve Lakier asked her a hypothetical about charging the President and Monaco answered at some length.

Lakier: I have one final question. I think it’s my responsibility to ask. And again, I know you’re not supposed to talk about pending cases, or uncharged cases, you don’t want to prosecute anyone in this theater. So I’m just going to ask you a hypothetical. Not about any real person. Just a hypo, like I do every day in the classroom.

Monaco: Okay.

Lakier: Which is, you’re the Deputy Attorney General and you have some power to decide what the Department of Justice and there’s former high ranking members of the Administration who are no longer in the Administration and there’s plenty of suggestive evidence and maybe some Federal judges have found there to be quite a lot of evidence that they have committed crimes. So how do you go about the process of thinking about whether to charge them? How do you talk to the American public about that process? How do you do it?

Monaco: See, e.g., the last hour.

Lakier: Yeah. It’s no different?

Monaco: No!

Lakier: When thinking about charging the highest federal official and a regular person.

Monaco: One set of rules, not matter who’s on the side of “the v[ersus],” right? That has to be the right answer. Right, professor, doesn’t that have to be the right answer?

Lakier: And so if you have enough evidence to charge — Well, in my class we talk a lot about a thing called prosecutorial discretion.

Monaco: Right.

Lakier: And how much power this gives prosecutors to make difficult choices about where to mobilize resources.

Monaco: Right. That’s exactly right. That’s exactly right. And so we look to the policy and the process that guides that decision-making, and then, when it’s appropriate, if we’ve decided to bring charges, we’ll talk about those charges. Right? We won’t talk about the uncharged conduct. And it is important to talk about the work that we’re doing. So for instance, I’ve spent a bunch of time in the last month talking about what we’re doing to go after Russian cyberattackers. What we’re doing to go back and seize back assets from Russian oligarchs. As our part of the whole of government effort to respond to the horror that’s happening in Ukraine. It’s important for us to talk about that as a priority, so people understand the steps we are taking in their name to address the aggression that’s happening in Ukraine. That’s an example where we’re taking steps, we’re talking about the work that we’re doing, but we’re doing it in the context of specific enforcement action that we’re taking and where we can point to conduct that we will either prove in court or put before a judge in a forfeiture action.

Lakier: I guess I’ll [take a?] follow-up, because maybe I don’t see any students at the microphones, but if students have questions please go up to the microphones. Just as a quick follow-up. I mean, thinking sympathetically one might imagine that if you’re a prosecutor and you’ve got lots of cases to charge and there’s lots of bad behavior to go after, you might think that the profound political fall-out that might follow going after a particular individual would distract generally from the work of the Department of Justice and in the long run, undermine the people’s justice. So I guess I’m wondering, are those kinds of concerns — not with the, oh we don’t want to charge this person because of their rank. But we don’t want to charge this person because it’s going to make our lives of doing the people’s justice so much harder. Do those kinds of considerations come in?

Monaco: Look, I’ll quote the Attorney General here. “We don’t avoid specific cases because they’re controversial or they’re sensitive. We do avoid making decisions based on purely political or partisan considerations.”

Later, after Monaco dodged a question about fraudulent claims of stolen elections based on her past confirmation that DOJ was investigating the fake electors plot, Lakier tried again.

Lakier: Okay, I guess I’ll ask a variety of that question. I did not put [the questioner] up to it but I’m curious about this.

Monaco: Yeah. Yeah.

Lakier: Which is, again, going back to January 6, you say you just follow the law. But there’s so many laws. And they’re generally quite broadly worded, for example, seditious conspiracy. So again, I just want to know about the trade-off. So so far in the prosecutions though I understand that everything’s not over yet, by any means, most of the people who’ve been charged are those who were directly involved in the events at the Capitol. But we know that there was plenty of organizing, inciting, encouraging. And we might think that many of those who were involved in the organizing, the inciting, the encouraging, perhaps bear more responsibility than those who participated, or equal responsibility. and yet it does raise difficult First Amendment concerns. So when thinking about how high to go, how broadly to go in these prosecutions, when we move beyond the people who entered the Capitol to the people who were involved in the planning, the orchestrating, how do you think about the free speech concerns? And also how do you think about — this excellent question about the prior precedents? How conservative do you play it? Do you worry that if you are going to be conservative, the result is going to be an overly anemic form of justice.

Monaco: So a few points. One, on the question of how broad to go, how high to go, we’ve been exceptionally clear about this and let me restate it and be clear here. We will follow the facts and the law wherever they go, to hold perpetrators of January 6 accountable at any level. At any level. And we will do so whether or not individuals were present on that day or not. So we’ve been exceptionally clear and I want to make that clear here for this audience.

When it comes to making judgements about how to make these charging decisions, seditious conspiracy, I mentioned three pleas already, to seditious conspiracy. It won’t take a huge law school paper writing exercise to look at the history of the seditious conspiracy statute as the professor here can tell you, it does not — you won’t find a lot of cases. So something we take very seriously. And we appropriately, I think, brought these charges, which I’m not going to expound upon beyond what is in the charging papers, except to say that we think it appropriately gets at the gravity of the conduct, and again, we’ve gotten three guilty pleas to that particularly statute already.

Last point, on how we make these decisions, starting first with the crimes that are in front of us, and then working out from there, and the reasons for that. I think what you see in the charging decisions that we’ve made, the most serious charges and thus far the most serious sentences have been meted out against those individuals who engaged in assault. The 200+ individuals who I said we’ve arrested and charged with assaulting officers or members of the news media. Those who engaged in conspiracy acts to obstruct the peaceful transfer of power. Those are the most serious charges and thus far are garnering the most serious charges and ultimately sentences, most likely. Then, where that conduct is not present, either assault or a conspiracy to obstruct the peaceful transfer of power, you see us using lesser charges for those who entered the Capitol without authorization. Trespassing and the like. It is important to mete out those charges as well, however you’re seeing individuals both coming forward and taking responsibility, getting lesser sentences both because they are lesser charges and if they’ve come forward, accepted responsibility, and in some instances, cooperated with the government, you will see lesser sentences and lesser charges there.


If You Need to Panic about DOJ’s Investigation into January 6, Panic First about Doug Mastriano

Yesterday, Rachel Maddow reported the exciting news that Merrick Garland released the same memo that Attorneys General always do during election years.

“As in prior election cycles, I am issuing this memorandum to remind you of the Department’s existing policies with respect to political activities.” Rachel was really upset that Garland integrated the requirement for prior approval that was already the norm, but which Barr put into writing (which arose, in part, out of Michael Horowitz’s IG Report on Carter Page, which showed that not everyone had learned of the investigation into Trump’s flunkies in timely fashion). After months and months of inflammatory commentary suggesting that the decision on whether or not to investigate Trump rested exclusively with Garland (and not, as is the reality, a hierarchy of DOJ personnel, starting with a team of career AUSAs), Rachel wailed that the memo requires Garland to do what everyone has long assumed was true: that Garland would have to approve any investigation into Trump.

In response to her irresponsible sensationalism, people immediately concluded that by releasing the memo, Garland had nixed any further indictments before the election.

One reason I’m certain that’s not true is because after Garland released this memo, DOJ arrested declared candidate for Governor of Michigan, Ryan Kelley. Kelley never entered the Capitol on January 6. But in addition to charging him with entering restricted grounds (that is, entering inside the barricades set up around the Capitol), DOJ also charged him with vandalizing the scaffolding set up in advance of the Inauguration. The charging documents also cited some of his other efforts to undermine democracy in the lead-up and aftermath of the 2020 election.

In October of 2020, KELLEY attended the “American Patriot Council Nationwide Freedom March” in Allendale, Michigan. During that event, KELLEY wore a blue shirt, a black coat, a watch with a red watch band, and aviator sunglasses. Parts of this attire were also worn by KELLEY in photos and videos from the U.S. Capitol grounds on January 6, 2021. KELLEY appears at this event in the image below.

In November of 2020, KELLEY was a featured speaker and introduced by name at a “Stop the Steal” rally at the Michigan Capitol in Lansing. During that event, KELLEY indicated that those attending the rally should stand and fight, with the goal of preventing Democrats from stealing the election.

He gave a speech while wearing a name tag and stated “Covid-19 was made so that they can use the propaganda to control your minds so that you think, if you watch the media, that Joe Biden won this election. We’re not going to buy it. We’re going to stand and fight for America, for Donald Trump. We’re not going to let the Democrats steal this election”.

Kelley was arrested on June 9, technically within the 60 day window in advance of the August 2 primary. But DOJ did arrest the gubernatorial candidate in time for voters to learn of his actions during the insurrection (it even was an issue at a recent debate), without creating last minute news before an election like Jim Comey did against Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Kelley’s not the only one against whom DOJ has taken overt investigative steps in the wake of the memo, either. DOJ seized the phones of a number of high ranking subjects in the fake electors plot, including the Chair of Nevada’s Republican Party, Michael McDonald. Indeed, the likelihood a number of subjects of the fake elector plot would be covered by the DOJ policy may be why the January 6 Committee is finally making an exception regarding their refusal to share interview transcripts for that part of DOJ’s investigation: while they’ve been refusing, the window on pre-election indictments for fake elector plotters is closing.

Besides, all this panic-mongering seems really, really badly targeted.

I’m impatient to have some accountability for Trump and his flunkies, just like everyone else (even if, because I’ve followed the investigation, I know that DOJ is investigating Trump’s flunkies). I think, for the reasons I laid out here, a hypothetical Trump indictment wouldn’t come for some time yet, but I’m also confident that if the investigation isn’t open now or soon, Trump’s campaign roll-out would do nothing to thwart opening an investigation. It would require the same Garland approval that would be obtained in any case. Trump wouldn’t even be affected by the DOJ policy on pre-election actions, because he’s not on the ballot this year.

But there is a key player in January 6, someone known to have been under investigation, for whom the window to prosecute is closing as the election draws near, someone who presents a far more immediate threat to democracy than Trump: Doug Mastriano, the GOP candidate for Governor of Pennsylvania.

Mastriano technically could be charged, just for his actions on January 6. Like some other political figures — in addition to Kelley, Couy Griffin, and key influencers like Owen Shroyer and Brandon Straka (though Straka’s original complaint included civil disorder) — Mastriano appears to have been at the Capitol, inside the barriers, but did not enter the building.

The images, shared with NBC News, appear to show Mastriano holding up his cellphone as rioters in the front of the mob face off with police at the Capitol steps. Reconstructed timelines and other videos filmed nearby show rioters would breach this police line within minutes, ripping away a crowd control rope line and rushing past officers up the stairs. The timelines and videos, including unedited versions, that show Mastriano in the crowd were reviewed by NBC News.

A man who appears to be Doug Mastriano takes photos or video with his cell phone on the steps of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
 A man who appears to be Doug Mastriano takes photos or video with his cellphone near the steps of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.@MichaelCoudrey via Twitter

Online sleuths also identified a video posted by “Stop the Steal” organizer Mike Coudrey on Jan. 6 that appears to show Mastriano taking photos or video with his cellphone as rioters face off with police on the steps of the U.S. Capitol. Coudrey’s tweet celebrated the mob, which he said “broke through 4 layers of security at the Capitol building.

Mastriano’s campaign did not respond to NBC News’ request for comment. Mastriano previously said that he “respected all police lines as I came upon them” and that he never stepped foot on the Capitol stairs. One of his campaign aides, Grant Clarkson, was near the front of the mob, NBC previously reported. There has been no evidence that Clarkson entered the Capitol that day and he has insisted he did not.

Mastriano has had ties with a number of the people charged for more serious roles in the insurrection, most notably Sam Lazar, who was arrested a year ago on charges of civil disorder and assaulting cops.

And perhaps to an even greater extent than some other influencers who were arrested for their presence inside the barricades at the Capitol, Mastriano spent the months leading up to the insurrection laying the foundation for it, actions that might make him susceptible to an obstruction charge. This article describes his key role in sowing The Big Lie, most notably arranging for the quasi-official hearing at which Rudy could spread false claims. Mastriano also spoke at the “Jericho March” on December 12, 2020, which was a key networking event in advance of the insurrection.

As laid out in the SJC Report on the topic, Mastriano also pressured DOJ to intervene to overturn the election. When Trump complained to DOJ that they were ignoring fraud claims on December 27, for example, Mastriano was — along with Jim Jordan and Scott Perry — one of the people whose complaints he directed Jeffrey Rosen to attend to.

Trump twice calls Rosen. During the second call, Rosen conferences in Donoghue, who takes extensive notes on Trump’s claims that the “election has been stolen out from under the American people” and that DOJ is failing to respond. Trump mentions efforts made by Pennsylvania Representative Scott Perry, Ohio Representative Jim Jordan, and Pennsylvania State Senator Doug Mastriano, and asks Rosen and Donoghue to “just say the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the Republican Congressmen.” Trump also references Jeffrey Clark and potentially replacing DOJ’s leadership.

Mastriano also paid $3,000 to bus people into the event.

On paper, then, Mastriano is the kind of influencer-organizer that DOJ has been investigating for some time, but he has not yet been charged.

The FBI have carried out investigative steps with regards to Mastriano. A CNN report from last month says he was interviewed last summer (and sat for an interview with the January 6 Committee).

The FBI has been conducting an expansive investigation into the January 6 riot and questioned Mastriano last summer after photos emerged of him on Capitol grounds that day, according to the source familiar with the interview, which has not been previously reported.

Mastriano has not been accused of committing any crimes and cooperated fully with the FBI, according to the source. Asked about Mastriano’s interview, an FBI spokesperson told CNN that the bureau “cannot confirm the existence of an investigation or comment on details.”

The lapsed time since his FBI interview doesn’t mean he won’t be charged; such delays, even longer ones, are common for those arrested for January 6. Plus, Mastriano is someone whose communications, including with Rudy and probably John Eastman and Ali Alexander, have likely shown up in materials seized or subpoenaed by DOJ.

But if DOJ is going to charge Mastriano, they have slightly more than 50 days to do so in order to comply with the DOJ guidelines.

And when I say he poses a more urgent threat to democracy right now than Trump, that’s not just about the impending election. In addition to regressive policies that are typical of the GOP these days, such as a no-exception ban on abortion, he poses an immediate threat to democracy itself. He has publicly committed to attacking democracy itself.

Those concerns are made especially acute in Pennsylvania by the fact that the governor has the unusual authority to directly appoint the secretary of state, who serves as chief elections officer and must sign off on results. If he or she refuses, chaos could follow.

“The biggest risk is a secretary of state just saying, ‘I’m not going to certify the election, despite what the court says and despite what the evidence shows, because I’m concerned about suspicions,’” said Clifford Levine, a Democratic election lawyer in Pennsylvania. “You would start to have a breakdown in the legal system and the whole process.”

Mastriano’s backers appear well aware of the stakes. A video posted to Telegram by election denial activist Ivan Raiklin from Mastriano’s victory party on Tuesday showed the candidate smiling as Raiklin congratulated him on his win and added, with a thumb’s up, “20 electoral votes as well,” a reference to the state’s clout in the electoral college.

“Oh yeahhhh,” Mastriano responded.

Mastriano did not respond to a voice mail or an email sent to a campaign account for media.

But Mastriano told Stephen K. Bannon, a former adviser to Trump who now hosts a podcast popular on the right, that he had already selected the person he would appoint as secretary of state if elected.

“As far as cleaning up the election, I mean, I’m in a good position as governor,” he said in the April 23 appearance on Bannon’s “War Room” podcast. “I have a voting-reform-minded individual who’s been traveling the nation and knows voting reform extremely well. That individual has agreed to be my secretary of state.”

Mastriano has been buying followers from the far-right social media site, Gab. And he has ties to Russian-backed far-right propagandists.

A number of people have said, with no exaggeration, that a Mastriano win would virtually guarantee no Democratic candidate could win the state’s presidential votes in 2024.

If DOJ is going to expand its prosecutions to those who laid the groundwork for January 6, they are going to be charging people like Doug Mastriano. There’s little doubt that Mastriano, as much as anyone who went inside the building on January 6, as much as Trump, was trying to prevent the lawful transfer of power.

Yet DOJ only has seven weeks left to charge Mastriano before DOJ’s election guidelines would prevent that from happening.

If you want to panic, panic first about Mastriano. Because the threat he poses to democracy is far more imminent than the very real threat Trump poses.

Update: Politico has a piece on Mastriano talking about how close it is in PA, and NYT has a piece using Mastriano as illustration of the increasing embrace of conspiracism on the far-right.

Update: This thread from an online researcher tracks Mastriano’s movements around the Capitol on January 6.


What DOJ Was Doing While You Were Wasting Time Whinging on Twitter

Because people are so desperate for information on investigations into Trump, they’re over-reading articles to see only the most panic-inducing details.

So I wanted to collect all the known details of investigative steps against Trump and his associates. This will be a running thread.

Note that while I’ve focused on named subjects, these investigations absolutely intersect. That’s readily apparent with the fake electors investigation, but less so with the “Stop the Steal” nexus (best seen in the Ali Alexander entry below; which is where I’m putting some movement activists who played key roles). Those who were speakers on January 5, VIPs who were removed from the speaker’s list on January 6, or who were on Stone’s Friends of Stone or Alexander’s Stop the Steal lists often had roles both in ginning up mobs in states or advance planning for events at the Capitol on January 6 and played some role as things rolled out that day. These people would likely be the “influencers” identified in the investigative plan put together before Michael Sherwin left.

Rudy Giuliani

April 13, 2021: SDNY obtains historic and prospective cell site warrant for Rudy.

April 21, 2021: Warrants for Ukraine-related investigation approved. This was Lisa Monaco’s first day as Deputy Attorney General. The temporal scope on the Ukraine warrants extends from August 1, 2018 through May 31, 2019.

April 28, 2021: Warrants executed. Around 18 devices seized, of which 16 can be cracked.

September 3, 2021: SDNY argues that the privilege review for Rudy’s devices must be conducted pre-scope (meaning, before just the information on Ukraine is identified) and generously offers to limit temporal range of review to items post-dating January 1, 2018, significantly expanding the temporal scope of the privilege review vis a vis the known warrants.

September 16, 2021: Judge Paul Oetken approves SDNY’s desired treatment of Rudy’s phones, meaning anything that post-dates January 1, 2018, regardless of topic, will be reviewed for privilege.

November 2, 2021: Special Master releases contents of 7 devices, for which privilege review extended through seizure. 2,223 items were provided to the government.

January 15, 2022: WaPo quotes Rob Jenkins, who represents a number of Proud Boy defendants, explaining that DOJ is asking about Roger Stone and Rudy Giuliani’s ties to militia members.

January 19, 2022: Special Master releases contents through April 2021 of one phone amounting to over 25,000 items, as well as eight other devices for which the privilege review extended from December 1, 2018 through May 31, 2019.

April 12, 2022: In guise of coming to a final decision on the Ukraine influence-peddling that hasn’t happened yet, DOJ asks Rudy to unlock last several devices.

May 26, 2022: Subpoenas (CNN, NYT) relating to the fake elector plot ask for information on:

  • Rudy Giuliani,
  • Boris Epshteyn
  • Justin Clark
  • John Eastman
  • Bernard Kerik
  • Joe diGenova
  • Victoria Toensing
  • Jenna Ellis
  • Kenneth Chesebro

July 22, 2022: In grand jury testimony, Marc Short and (earlier) Greg Jacob are asked about Rudy and Eastman.

Roger Stone

March 17, 2021: In response to motion for bail for Connie Meggs, DOJ includes picture showing both she and Graydon Young worked a Roger Stone event on December 14, 2020.

June 23, 2021: Oath Keeper Graydon Young, who interacted with Stone in Florida in December 2020, enters into a cooperation agreement.

June 30, 2021: Oath Keeper Mark Grods, who worked the Willard the morning of the insurrection, enters into a cooperation agreement.

September 15, 2021: Oath Keeper Jason Dolan, who guarded Stone in both Florida and DC and would have witnessed discussions between Kelly Meggs and Roger Stone in December, enters into a cooperation agreement.

January 15, 2022: WaPo quotes Rob Jenkins, who represents a number of Proud Boy defendants, explaining that DOJ is asking about Roger Stone and Rudy Giuliani’s ties to militia members.

March 2, 2022: Oath Keeper Joshua James, who oversaw security of Stone on the morning of January 6 and reported back frequently, enters into a cooperation agreement. James also provides statement to NYPD inquiry of Stone associate Sal Greco.

March 4, 2022: WaPo describes hours of documentary video tracking Stone’s events leading up to the attack, including details from a Friends of Stone list on which Stone started planning Stop the Steal immediately after the election. Both DOJ and January 6 sought the outtakes, with Oath Keeper prosecutor Jeffrey Nestler offering to fly to Denmark to make the request. [Note this entry has been corrected to reflect ongoing efforts to get the footage.]

May 2022: NYT describes more about the FOS list, confirming that Owen Shroyer, Enrique Tarrio, Stewart Rhodes, and Ivan Raiklin took part. By June 23, 2022, DOJ had extracted the contents of Shroyer, Tarrio, and Rhodes’ phones.

Sidney Powell

June 2021: Nikki Fried announces Sidney Powell’s Defending the Republic had been raising funds in Florida without registering as a charity.

August 24, 2021: Powell’s fund settles with Florida.

September 2021: AUSA Molly Gaston issues subpoena for records relating to Sidney Powell’s grift going back to November 2, 2020.

November 30, 2021: Several outlets report on subpoenas relating to Powell. (WaPo, Daily Beast)

January 22, 2022: Powell’s attorney claims to be “cooperating” with DOJ investigation.

June 22, 2022: Months after BuzzFeed and Mother Jones report on the scheme, DOJ asks Judge Amit Mehta to conduct conflict inquiry regarding Powell’s funding of Oath Keeper defendants’ defense.

Alex Jones

April 13, 2021: Jones videographer Sam Montoya arrested on trespassing charges related to January 6.

August 19, 2021: Jones sidekick and January 5 speaker Owen Shroyer arrested for violating a non-prosecution agreement by trespassing; Shroyer did not enter the Capitol.

January 20, 2022: Judge Tim Kelly denies Shroyer’s motion to dismiss, effectively agreeing with DOJ that Shroyer (and so Alexander and Jones) weren’t invited by cops to the East steps and didn’t de-escalate the crowd. According to his pre-released testimony, Alexander had claimed they were de-escalating in his sworn testimony to the January 6 Committee.

May 5, 2022: Montoya asks for 60 day extension to discuss plea deal.

May 9, 2022: At status hearing, Shroyer attorney Norm Pattis describes talks of a plea deal.

June 14, 2022: Long-time Jones attorney Norm Pattis, who is representing Owen Shroyer, joins Joe Biggs’ defense team.

June 23, 2022: DOJ provides Shroyer unscoped contents of his phone, to provide scoped contents later.

Ali Alexander

January 25, 2021: Brandon Straka arrested for trespassing and civil disorder. Straka was a key player in the Stop the Steal movement, playing a key role at the riot at the TCF vote counting center in Michigan after the election, spoke at the January 5 rally, sat next to Mike Flynn at Trump’s speech, and stopped at the Willard before heading to the riot. Straka was also on Alexander’s Stop the Steal LISTSERV.

February 17, 2021: First FBI interview with Straka.

March 25, 2021: Second interview with Straka.

December 8, 2021: In released testimony for an appearance before J6C, Alexander told a story that DOJ had already debunked in the Owen Shroyer case. For this and other appearances, Alexander was represented by Paul Kamenar, the same attorney that guided Andrew Miller through stalling the Mueller investigation for a year.

January 5, 2022: Third interview with Straka.

January 13, 2022: DOJ includes sealed cooperation memo in Straka’s sentencing memo.

April 19, 2022: After 15 months of continuations, Anthime “Baked Alaska” Gionet charged with a single trespassing charge, a charge understood to have required some cooperation in advance.

May 11, 2022: Anthime “Baked Alaska” Gionet balks at a plea hearing for a cooperative misdemeanor plea. It is understood that Gionet shared certain materials to avoid a felony indictment. Gionet was given two months (until July 22) to plead to the misdemeanor or face the prospect of felony charges relying on his cooperation.

June 24, 2022: Ali Alexander testifies before grand jury.

June 28, 2022: Alexander returns to DC.

Jeffrey Clark

Note there are two Trump lawyers named Clark: Jeffrey is the DOJ official who would have replaced Jeffrey Rosen . Justin worked on campaign issues. [Really bad error corrected.]

January 25, 2021: DOJ IG Michael Horowitz opens probe into whether current or former DOJ officials attempted to overturn the election.

July 26, 2021: Associate Deputy Attorney General Bradley Weinsheimer writes former top Trump DOJ officials permitting them to testify on efforts, led by but not limited to Clark, to involve DOJ in an attempt to overturn the election. This was the first of a series of Executive Privilege review waivers DOJ asked Biden to make and roughly coincided with the delayed institution of a Contact Policy preventing Biden from learning about investigations.

June 22, 2022: Agents search Clark’s home and seize his devices. Per CNN, DOJ IG coordinated with the wider investigation into January 6.

John Eastman

March 28, 2022: Judge David Carter rules it is more likely than not that Eastman and Trump conspired to obstruct the vote certification. DOJ would be able to obtain any emails Judge Carter released directly from Chapman University covertly.

May 26, 2022: Subpoenas (CNN, NYT) relating to the fake elector plot ask for information on:

  • Rudy Giuliani,
  • Boris Epshteyn
  • Justin Clark
  • John Eastman
  • Bernard Kerik
  • Joe diGenova
  • Victoria Toensing
  • Jenna Ellis
  • Kenneth Chesebro

June 28, 2022: FBI seizes Eastman’s phone, gets him to unlock it.

July 22, 2022: In grand jury testimony, Marc Short and (earlier) Greg Jacob are asked about Rudy and Eastman.

Fake Electors

Fall 2021: According to NYT, Thomas Windom assigned, “to pull together some of the disparate strands of the elector scheme.”

January 25, 2022: Lisa Monaco confirms on the record that DOJ is investigating the fake elector scheme.

May 26, 2022: Subpoenas (CNN, NYT) relating to the fake elector plot ask for information on:

  • Rudy Giuliani,
  • Boris Epshteyn
  • Justin Clark
  • John Eastman
  • Bernard Kerik
  • Joe diGenova
  • Victoria Toensing
  • Jenna Ellis
  • Kenneth Chesebro

June 21, 2022: On July 25, 2022, WaPo published subpoenas to AZ fake electors Karen Fann and Kelly Townsend. In addition to AZ-specific list and the already published list of names of interest, those add:

  • James Troupis
  • Joshua Findlay
  • Mike Roman

June 22, 2022: DOJ takes a slew of overt steps in their investigation into the fake electors:

  • WaPo: Law enforcement activity targeting GA lawyer David Carver and Trump staffer Thomas Lane, subpoenas for GA GOP Chair David Shafer and Michigan fake electors
  • NYT: Subpoenas to Trump campaign aide in MI, Shawn Flynn, as well as Carver, Lane, and Shafer
  • CBS: Search warrants for NV GOP Chair Michael McDonald and Secretary James DeGraffenreid
  • CNN: Subpoena for Shafer, a warrant for David Carver’s phone, information on a GA Signal chat

July 8, 2022: Due date for June 21 subpoenas.

July 13, 2022: Talks between J6C and DOJ about sharing transcripts prioritizes fake electors scheme.

The Mark Meadows Gap

As I was writing this timeline, I realized that, aside from efforts on behalf of the Archives to force Meadows to reconstruct the insurrection he carried out on his personal phone and email, we really do have little information about an active investigation into Meadows’ role in the plot. That may explain why DOJ had not considered interviewing Cassidy Hutchinson before they saw her testimony.

Meadows should be included in the fake electors investigation, but thus far, he’s not. He would be included in any DOJ investigation of pressure in Georgia, but thus far, it seems DOJ has let Fani Willis take the lead on that investigation.

With the exception of Scott Perry, Meadows would be an absolutely necessary pivot to members of Congress who conspired in an attack on their own institution.

Additionally, there are credible allegations of obstruction against Meadows — for replacing his phone, likely deleting Signal and other encrypted app texts, after the FBI investigation started; for burning documents; for pressuring Hutchinson not to testify.

All that said, while Meadows is undeniably the most important gap in this timeline, Trumpsters are predicting that Meadows will go to jail, citing not just his own schemes, but his finances.

Steve Bannon

September 23, 2021: January 6 Committee subpoenas Bannon.

November 3 and 8, 2021: At interviews Bannon attorney Robert Costello did with DC US Attorney’s Office, at which FBI Agents were present, he gives materially inconsistent answers.

November 11, 2021: DOJ obtains Internet and telephony toll records for Robert Costello spanning from March 5 through November 12, which cannot pertain exclusively to the subpoena from a Committee the founding of which came months after the start date of toll request.

November 2021: DOJ subpoenas the toll records for two people — one is a financial advisor — under whose accounts he was believed to communicate in the past; DOJ provided these in discovery on July 8, 2022. The scope for at least one of the subpoenas is for September 22, 2021 through October 21, 2021.

November 12, 2021: DOJ indicts Bannon for contempt.

December 2, 2021: After DOJ raises concerns about Costello serving as a witness, he joins Bannon’s legal team until just before trial.

June 29, 2022: Pursuant to a trial subpoena, DOJ interviews Trump attorney Justin Clark about circumstances of Bannon’s non-compliance.

July 22, 2022: Jury finds Bannon guilty of both counts of contempt.

Peter Navarro

June 2, 2022: DOJ indicts Navarro on two counts of contempt.

Stolen classified documents

February 18, 2022: NARA informs Oversight Chair Carolyn Maloney that there were classified documents among the 15 boxes taken to Mar-a-Lago.

February 22, 2022: Merrick Garland implies DOJ will investigate the mishandled documents.

April 7, 2022: Because DOJ opened investigation into documents, NARA refuses request for more information from Maloney.

May 12, 2022: DOJ issues subpoena to NARA regarding documents and requests interviews with those involved in packing boxes before leaving the White House.

Other key dates

January 4, 2021: DC authorities seize Enrique Tarrio’s phone.

January 8, 2021: Grand jury that carries out bulk of investigation on Capitol and ultimately charges Oath Keepers with sedition convened.

May 25, 2021: Grand jury that indicted Bannon, handful of Jan6ers convened.

August 11, 2021: Grand jury that indicted Michael Riley (Capitol Policeman), several serious defendants (including a superseding) convened.

Summer 2021: FBI interviewed Doug Mastriano about January 6.

October 21, 2021: In Congressional hearing, Merrick Garland makes clear that the OLC memo prohibiting the prosecution of a sitting President is not pertinent to whether Trump can be charged.

November 10, 2021: Still-active grand jury indicting more serious ongoing assault cases, among others, convened.

November 22, 2021: In hearing in Garret Miller case, Judge Carl Nichols asks AUSA James Pearce whether DOJ’s application of 18 USC 1512(c)(2) to the vote certification could apply to someone like Trump. Nichols would go on to be the lone DC judge to reject this application.

December 2021: FBI first gets access to Tarrio’s phone.

December 10, 2021: Judge Dabney Friedrich is the first DC Judge to uphold DOJ’s application of 18 USC 1512(c)(2) to the certification of the vote, the same crime discussed for use with Trump.

January 5, 2022: Garland promises DOJ, “remains committed to holding all January 6th perpetrators, at any level, accountable under law — whether they were present that day or were otherwise criminally responsible for the assault on our democracy. We will follow the facts wherever they lead” and describes, “follow[ing] the money.”

January 12, 2022: DOJ charges Oath Keepers with sedition (and adds Stewart Rhodes to conspiracy).

Mid-January 2022: After filter review, DOJ first obtains materials from Tarrio’s phone that was seized over a year earlier.

January 19, 2022: SCOTUS rejects Trump’s bid to shield January 6 records under Executive Privilege. Not only will J6C get subpoenaed materials directly, but DOJ will be able to obtain the same materials directly, using privilege waiver Biden made for the Committee without violating contact rules.

February 14, 2022: Grand jury that charges Proud Boys with sedition convened.

February 15, 2022: Grand jury that charges Peter Navarro convened.

February 18, 2022: Judge Mehta denies Trump’s motion to dismiss various lawsuits, finding it plausible that Trump conspired with rioters at the Capitol, that he conspired with the militias who attacked the Capitol, and that he has aid and abet liability for assaults at the Capitol, including on cops.

March 3, 2022: Judge Carl Nichols holds that 18 USC 1512(c)(2) must have a documentary component and applies the rule of lenity to dismiss obstruction charge against Garret Miller. In briefing in this case, Nichols had hypothetically asked whether the law could apply to the then-President.

March 7, 2022: DOJ adds Enrique Tarrio to Proud Boy Leaders conspiracy.

March 28, 2022: Judge David Carter rules it is more likely than not that Eastman and Trump conspired to obstruct the vote certification.

May 25, 2022: Garland issues memo affirming that the same rules that always apply to DOJ investigations still apply to DOJ investigations.

June 6, 2022: DOJ charges Proud Boy leaders with sedition.

June 28, 2022: Testimony of Cassidy Hutchinson said to “jolt” DOJ to discuss Trump crimes other than those tied to inspiring rioters, though that report also says that, “change that was underway even before Ms. Hutchinson’s testimony.”

June 29, 2022: In a public appearance, Lisa Monaco says, Congress “is doing their job and we’re doing ours” and describes that DOJ is “deep” into its January 6 probe.

July 15, 2022: After declining to prosecute Mark Meadows for contempt in June, DOJ weighs in on Meadows lawsuit against J6C to opine that Hutchinson’s testimony demonstrated that the Committee is unable to obtain necessary information from other sources.

July 20, 2022: In response to a question about whether DOJ guidance on opening sensitive investigations would be affected if Trump announced he was running, Lisa Monaco reiterates that DOJ would follow the facts, “no matter where they lead, no matter to what level.”

July 21, 2022: Merrick Garland suggests that those who claim DOJ should, but is not, doing a hub-and-spoke investigation are speculating, and calls the investigation “the most wide-ranging” investigation that the Justice Department has ever entered into.

July 22, 2022: Marc Short appears before a grand jury (Greg Jacob did by July 22 as well).


How Adam Schiff Proves that Adam Schiff Is Lying that It Is “Unprecedented” for Congress to Be Ahead of DOJ

I had imagined I would write a post today introducing Andrew Weissmann — who like a lot of other TV lawyers has decided to weigh in on the January 6 investigation without first doing the least little bit of homework — to the multiple prongs of the DOJ investigation that he complains is not investigating multiple spokes at once.

Department of Justice January 6 investigations interview with Andrew Weissmann and Rep. Adam Schiff from R G on Vimeo.

But as I was prepping for that, I watched another of the Ari Melber pieces where he replicates this false claim.

Let me correct that. Melber actually doesn’t present Weissmann’s argument that the multiple pronged DOJ investigation should have multiple prongs, perhaps because since Weissmann first made it, it became clear he missed the Sidney Powell investigation entirely, the status of the investigations into Roger Stone and Rudy Giuliani, the influencers that DOJ has already prosecuted as part of the investigation into the crime scene, and that DOJ actually started the fake electors investigation months before it was previously known.

Rather, Melber presents Adam Schiff’s claim that it is “unprecedented” for a congressional committee to be “so far out ahead” of DOJ.

Melber: We haven’t seen this kind of — he called it a breakdown, you might put it differently, but whatever it is, between the Justice Department and the Committee, but it also reflects that you’ve gotten some witnesses first. Do you share Mr. Weissmann’s concern? Could the DOJ be doing more quickly?

Schiff: I very much share his concern and have been expressing a very similar concern really for months no. It is so unprecedented — and I’ve been a part of many Congressional investigations that have been contemporaneous with Justice Department investigations — but it is unprecedented for Congress to be so far out ahead of the Justice Department in a complex investigation because as he was saying, as Andrew was saying, they’ve got potent tools to get information. They can enforce their own subpoenas in a way we can’t.

Let me introduce Adam Schiff to the House Intelligence Committee investigation into the 2016 Russian attack, on which a guy named Adam Schiff was first Ranking Member, then Chair, and the Mueller investigation into the same, on which Andrew Weissmann was a senior prosecutor.

Donald Trump Jr.

Interviewed by HPSCI on December 6, 2017

Never interviewed by Mueller’s team

Roger Stone

Interviewed by HPSCI on September 26, 2017

Never interviewed by Mueller’s team

Jared Kushner

First interviewed by HPSCI on July 25, 2017

First interviewed by DOJ on November 1, 2017

Steve Bannon

First interviewed by HPSCI on January 16, 2018

First interviewed by Mueller on February 12, 2018

John Podesta

Interviewed by HPSCI in June and December, 2017

Interviewed by Mueller in May 2018

Jeff Sessions

Interviewed by HPSCI on November 30, 2017

Interviewed by Mueller on January 17, 2018

JD Gordon

Interviewed by HPSCI on July 26, 2017

First interviewed by Mueller on August 29, 2017

Michael Caputo

Interviewed by HPSCI on July 14, 2017

Interviewed by Mueller on May 2, 2018

Michael Cohen

Interviewed by HPSCI on October 24, 2017

First interviewed by Mueller on August 7, 2018

Now, Schiff, who claimed it was unprecedented for a congressional investigation to precede a DOJ one, might say that the HPSCI investigation into Russia doesn’t count as a clear precedent because it wasn’t all that rigorous because it was led by Devin Nunes (that’s partly right, but there were plenty of Democratic staffers doing real work on that investigation too). But even on the January 6 Committee, there are already multiple instances where the Committee has interviewed witnesses before DOJ has (or interviewed witnesses that DOJ never will, before charging them), but gotten less valuable testimony than if they had waited.

One example, Ali Alexander, is instructive. He at least claimed he was going to tell the January 6 Committee a story that had already been debunked by DOJ. But before DOJ interviewed Alexander, at least two people with related information had gotten cooperation recognition in plea agreements, and several direct associates — most notably Owen Shroyer — had had their phones fully exploited.

Weissmann would likely point to good reasons why Mueller took more time, too: because later interviews with people like Michael Caputo or Jared Kushner required a lot more work on content acquired with covert warrants first, or because with people like Michael Cohen there was an entire financial investigation that preceded the first interview, or because DOJ was just a lot more careful to lay the groundwork with subjects of the investigation.

But the same is true here. DOJ will likely never interview Rudy on this investigation. But Lisa Monaco took steps on her first day in office that ensured that at whatever time DOJ obtained probable cause against Rudy, they had the content already privilege-reviewed. And DOJ did a lot of investigation into Sidney Powell before they started subpoenaing witnesses.

Many of the other witnesses that HPSCI interviewed long (or even just shortly) before DOJ did on Russia lied to HPSCI.

As both these men know, and know well, it is simply false that Congress never gets ahead of DOJ. But there are good reasons for that, and one of those reasons is precisely the one that Weissmann claims should lead DOJ to go more quickly: that it has far more tools to use to ensure that interviews that happen will more robustly support prosecutions.


How Trump’s Ad-Libbed Changes Led Directly to Assaults on Cops

In yesterday’s January 6 Committee hearing, Stephanie Murphy laid out how, after Eric Herschmann intervened to take out references to Pence, Trump added them back in. Then, even during his speech, he added 7 references to Pence and 3 extra calls to march to the Capitol. His claim he was going to go to the Capitol (which we know he intended to do, though everyone was working hard to prevent it) was also ad-libbed, though organizers like Kylie Kremer knew about it days in advance.

There are at least a dozen — probably dozens of — people charged with various crimes on January 6 who cited that ad-libbed line, that Trump was going to join the rioters at the Capitol, to explain their decision to go. As Stephen Ayers said in his testimony yesterday, everyone believed Trump would be with them.

Devlyn Thompson is another example. His sentencing memo explained that his autism made what ensued particularly confusing. It cited a psychological evaluation in which he explained how confused and angry that lie made him.

He did not go to the Capitol to overthrow the government. Rather, he believed former President Trump when Trump said …. “After after this [his speech], we’re going to walk down, and I’ll be there with you, we’re going to walk down, we’re going to walk down.” Trump says three times in that one sentence alone that he was going to be walking down [Pennsylvania Avenue] with the protestors, adding for emphasis that he will be there “with you.” Mr. Thompson literally believed this was what was going to happen, and of course it did not.

[snip]

I got there — on the West side and I’m standing there and there were altercations happening. I still thought there was going to be a speech.

[snip]

In that moment, I thought I was going to watch a speech, there was no speech. That fueled my anger. It became a lot harder to make good decisions.

[snip]

If he knew there was no security, no activity, why would he send upset people? There was nothing to hold their attention. His actions were inconceivable. He created a lot of problems and he didn’t even go. The most underreported part of this is that there was supposed to be a speech at the Capitol.

After watching confrontations at a barricade, Thompson entered the Tunnel and participated in the group assault — including by helping to steal riot shields — before hitting a cop with a police baton himself.

Thompson is serving a 46-month sentence for his actions that day, actions which he directly attributed to an ad-libbed line Trump added into his speech to rile up his supporters.

It worked.

January 6 Committee Hearing Coverage

June 9 Hearing (Peaceful Transfer of Power): Rayne’s open threadlive-tweet; post

June 13 Hearing (The Big Lie): Rayne’s open threadlive-tweetpost

June 21 Hearing (Election workers): Rayne’s open threadlive-tweetpost

June 23 Hearing (DOJ officials): Rayne’s open threadlive-tweetpost

June 28 Hearing (Cassidy Hutchinson): Rayne’s open threadlive-tweetpost

July 12 Hearing (Stephen Ayers): Rayne’s open thread; live-tweet


House January 6 Committee: Public Hearings – Day 7

This post and comment thread are dedicated to the House January 6 Committee hearings scheduled to begin Tuesday July 12, 2022 at 1:00 p.m. ET.

Please take all comments unrelated to the hearings to a different thread.

The hearings will stream on:

House J6 Committee’s website: https://january6th.house.gov/news/watch-live

House J6 Committee’s YouTube page: https://youtu.be/rrUa0hfG6Lo

C-SPAN’s House J6 hearing page: https://www.c-span.org/video/?521495-1/seventh-hearing-investigation-capitol-attack

C-SPAN’s YouTube page: https://youtu.be/8XNWsLAM1bI

Check PBS for your local affiliate’s stream: https://www.pbs.org/ (see upper right corner)

PBS Newshour stream: https://youtu.be/spJR5Y5_f4c

Twitter is expected to carry multiple live streams (NBC, PBS, Washington Post, Reuters, CSPAN, Bloomberg): https://twitter.com/i/events/1546507157033455617

Broadcast and cable network coverage TBD, check your local broadcast affiliate or cable provider’s lineup.

Twitter accounts live tweeting the hearing:

Marcy’s Twitter thread: https://twitter.com/emptywheel/status/1546903190574071808

Brandi Buchman-DailyKos: https://twitter.com/Brandi_Buchman/status/1546816187996278786

Scott MacFarlane-CBS: https://twitter.com/MacFarlaneNews/status/1546901636249010176

Laura Rozen: https://twitter.com/lrozen/status/1546902778508877827

If you know of any other credible source tweeting the coverage, please share a link in comments.

The witnesses scheduled for today’s hearing are:

Jason Van Tatenhove, former media director for the Oath Keepers

Stephen Ayres, defendant charged and convicted for disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds

There may be other witnesses; some may be present only as video clips. Today’s hearing is expected to focus on relationship between messaging by Donald Trump and the reaction of white nationalist groups Oath Keepers and Proud Boys who were key to breaching the Capitol Building on January 6.

~ ~ ~

Any updates will appear at the bottom of this post; please bear with any content burps as this page may be edited as the day progresses.

Again, this post is dedicated to the House January 6 Committee  and topics addressed in testimony and evidence produced during the hearing.

All other discussion should be in threads under the appropriate post with open discussion under the most recent Trash Talk.

To new readers and commenters: welcome to emptywheel. New commenters, please use a unique name to differentiate yourself; use the same username each time you comment.

Comment policy

Community guidelines

If you are leaving a comment, please be concise; 100 words is the optimum length.

If you are sharing active links your comment may be delayed by auto-moderation.

If contributors and moderators seem slow, it’s because they’re dealing with higher than usual volume of comments including trolling.

Caution: moderators will have much lower tolerance for trolling.

~ ~ ~

Long-time community member harpie isn’t available to participate in the thread here today, but she left two Twitter threads to read in preparation for today’s hearing.

First, from Capitol Hunters:

Second, from J.J. McNab:


Cassidy Hutchinson Is a Superb Witness — to Get Other Witnesses against Trump

According to a CNN report of Pat Cipollone’s testimony, the January 6 Committee did not ask him whether he told Cassidy Hutchinson that (as she testified), if “we” didn’t prevent Trump from going to the Capitol on January 6, “we” would get charged with every charge imaginable.

Two people familiar with former Trump White House counsel Pat Cipollone’s testimony Friday told CNN that the House select committee investigating January 6, 2021, did not ask him if he told then-White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson the day of the attack that they would “get charged with every crime imaginable” if they went to the US Capitol.

If asked, he would not have confirmed that particular statement, the sources said.

A separate source familiar with the committee told CNN, “The select committee sought information about Cipollone’s views on Trump going to the Capitol on January 6,” implying that the committee’s questions were focused on Cipollone’s perspective as opposed to his take on other witness’ testimony.

[snip]

Cipollone told the committee on Friday that he wasn’t giving legal advice to staff regarding movements on January 6. This came up during his testimony as part of a question not relating to the specific anecdote from Hutchinson.

It doesn’t mean that he didn’t say such a thing. Indeed, other outlets have said that he didn’t contradict anything she said. It means that, thus far at least, one of the six to ten witnesses who would be important witnesses to charge Trump for crimes beyond the obstruction and conspiracy charges framework DOJ has been explicitly pursuing since August is thus far unwilling to recall some of the more damning details of Hutchinson’s testimony. He may have reason to avoid it! After all, the pardons he was a party to before the insurrection — most importantly of Mike Flynn and Roger Stone — may implicate him in the later events, no matter how hard he tried on January 6 to prevent more bloodshed.

That’s an important detail to keep in mind as you read this NYT story, which has led the usual suspects to claim that DOJ has done nothing to pursue a Trump investigation.

The electrifying public testimony delivered last month to the House Jan. 6 panel by Ms. Hutchinson, a former White House aide who was witness to many key moments, jolted top Justice Department officials into discussing the topic of Mr. Trump more directly, at times in the presence of Attorney General Merrick B. Garland and Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco.

In conversations at the department the day after Ms. Hutchinson’s appearance, some of which included Ms. Monaco, officials talked about the pressure that the testimony created to scrutinize Mr. Trump’s potential criminal culpability and whether he intended to break the law.

Ms. Hutchinson’s disclosures seemed to have opened a path to broaching the most sensitive topic of all: Mr. Trump’s own actions ahead of the attack.

Department officials have said Ms. Hutchinson’s testimony did not alter their investigative strategy to methodically work their way from lower-level actors up to higher rungs of power. “The only pressure I feel, and the only pressure that our line prosecutors feel, is to do the right thing,” Mr. Garland said this spring.

But some of her explosive assertions — that Mr. Trump knew some of his supporters at a rally on Jan. 6, 2021, were armed, that he desperately wanted to join them as they marched to the Capitol and that the White House’s top lawyer feared Mr. Trump’s conduct could lead to criminal charges — were largely new to them and grabbed their attention.

Even while many took from this that DOJ is not investigating, the article — written by Katie Benner, probably the journalist with the best sources at the top of DOJ across administrations, and Glenn Thrush, whose background is as a political reporter and who exhibits little understanding of DOJ matters (but who is bylined on most of the stories about AUSA Thomas Windom) — also reported that Windom was asked to lead the fake electors investigation last fall, at least a month before Lisa Monaco confirmed it and possibly much earlier than that. It also describes that Merrick Garland was briefed on an “influencer” strand of the investigation in March 2021, which is consistent with when we know DOJ obtained Brandon Straka’s phone providing information on the Stop the Steal listserv, the VIP treatment, and possibly even events at the Willard.

Mr. Sherwin presented Mr. Garland with a strategy that included four teams of prosecutors, labeled A through D: “Team B,” already staffed by 15 lawyers, had begun looking into “public influencers and officials” linked to the attack, according to a copy of a memo shared with The New York Times.

There are strands of the investigation not mentioned in this — such as the Sidney Powell investigation, which started no later than September 2021, the way DOJ got a privilege review for Rudy Giuliani’s phones that would go through the insurrection, or the way Roger Stone has been a key focus of the Oath Keeper investigation since March 2021. And the piece doesn’t describe Monaco’s own public statement the day after Hutchinson’s testimony, which claimed, at least, that DOJ is “deep” into its January 6 probe.

All that said, I don’t doubt that Hutchinson did make DOJ consider previously unconsidered investigative next steps and I have even less doubt that former Assistant Attorney General Jody Hunt, the lawyer who shepherded Hutchinson through her more expansive testimony to the Committee in late June, has been in touch with DOJ.

But back to the Cipollone point with which I started: As I noted in my review of Hutchinson’s testimony, she gave absolutely crucial firsthand testimony about Cipollone, Mark Meadows, and Tony Ornato, as well as damning comments about Rudy Giuliani and Scott Perry, but with a few exceptions, those men were and are still the ones who would have the firsthand testimony about what Trump said and did. I noted, too, that on the topic about which Hutchinson had the most important firsthand knowledge of Trump’s mindset — his demand that the Secret Service take down metal detectors so his armed supporters could enter the official venue for his speech — she acknowledged his motivation stemmed in significant part from his narcissism.

Hutchinson’s testimony on a really critical point includes some ambiguity. In conversations at the White House and then later at the rally, Trump saw the crowd on January 6 and was furious more of his supporters weren’t inside the arena. He was aware many supporters were staying outside the arena because they didn’t want to go through the magnetometers because they had weapons. He asked to ditch the magnetometers because “they weren’t there to hurt him.” This detail is most important because it reflect[s] knowledge on Trump’s part they were armed, before he riled them up and sent them to the Capitol. But in a trial, he would excuse letting them into the rally itself by pointing to his long-standing crowd narcissism, exhibited most famously at his inauguration.

Read that post! It holds up! Including my point that her testimony will be most valuable for getting the testimony of others like Cipollone and Ornato, and it’ll make whatever charges DOJ uses to coerce Meadows’ cooperation more onerous and therefore more likely to be effective.

I also noted that Hutchinson’s testimony would not have been available in its current form without the process she has been through since February, which has since been laid out in detail in this piece. That process not only involved replacing the lawyer Trump provided her with, Stefan Passantino, with Hunt, but also depended on growing trust with Liz Cheney.

Now unemployed and sequestered with family and a security detail, Ms. Hutchinson, 26, has developed an unlikely bond with Ms. Cheney, a Wyoming Republican and onetime aide to former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell during the George W. Bush administration — a crisis environment of another era when she learned to work among competing male egos. More recently, as someone ostracized by her party and stripped of her leadership post for her denunciations of Mr. Trump, Ms. Cheney admires the younger woman’s willingness to risk her alliances and professional standing by recounting what she saw in the final days of the Trump White House, friends say.

[snip]

Over the next months, Ms. Hutchinson warmed to the idea of helping the committee’s investigation, according to a friend, but she did not detect the same willingness in Mr. Passantino.

“She realized she couldn’t call her attorney to say, ‘Hey, I’ve got more information,’” said the friend, who requested anonymity. “He was there to insulate the big guy.”

Mr. Passantino declined to comment.

At that point Ms. Hutchinson got in touch with Ms. Griffin, who had been cooperating with the committee herself. Ms. Griffin passed on Ms. Hutchinson’s concerns to Barbara Comstock, a former Republican congresswoman and outspoken critic of Mr. Trump. In an interview, Ms. Comstock said that she could have predicted Ms. Hutchinson’s predicament, recalling how she had once talked a young man out of joining the Trump administration. “I said, ‘You’re going to end up paying legal bills,’” Ms. Comstock recalled.

Ms. Comstock offered to start a legal-defense fund so that Ms. Hutchinson would not have to rely on a lawyer paid for by Trump affiliates. But this proved unnecessary. Jody Hunt, the former head of the Justice Department’s civil division under Jeff Sessions — Mr. Trump’s former attorney general and another pariah in Mr. Trump’s world — offered to represent her pro bono. Mr. Hunt accompanied Ms. Hutchinson to her fourth deposition in late June, when she felt more comfortable talking about Mr. Trump’s actions on Jan. 6. Everyone agreed it was time to speed up her public testimony.

Two realities have now taken hold for Ms. Hutchinson. One is that she will continue to offer information to the Jan. 6 committee, with Mr. Hunt as her counsel and Ms. Cheney as the committee’s designated interlocutor to her.

For better and worse, we’re all better off that Hunt will be sitting in on her DOJ interviews than Passantino, but we might not have gotten to this place without the involvement of Liz Cheney and other people, like Barbara Comstock, with whom this site has a very long contentious relationship.

So Hutchinson represents real progress — which is what the NYT story says! But the NYT story also makes clear that DOJ will continue to investigate known crimes, not people.

Days after Hutchinson’s testimony, I started but never finished a post attempting to revisit this framework for how DOJ seems to be approaching the investigation, included below in italicized type. They key point is that for each “nice to have” there’s the cooperation — coerced or voluntary — of a key witness who worked directly with Trump. Cassidy Hutchinson is not that witness. But she offers a way to get to those witnesses with a greater likelihood of success.

The other day, I noted that, while Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony was courageous and powerful, many of the details she provided would need additional corroboration (from people like Pat Cipollone, who has since been subpoenaed) before being used to prosecute Donald Trump. Nevertheless, her testimony has led people who haven’t followed the investigation to again engage in speculation that Merrick Garland is sitting in an office somewhere pondering whether to push the “indict Trump” button or not. That misunderstands how such a decision would work.

That’s true, first of all, because it would not be Garland’s button to push. It would be a team of AUSAs working for DC US Attorney Matthew Graves, who would first get Graves’, then Lisa Monaco’s, and only then Garland’s approval. If and when Trump is charged, DOJ will be able to point to some career AUSAs (including Thomas Windom, whom NYT described the other day as someone who clerked for a conservative judge) who made the initial prosecutorial decision.

At this point, too, I think the question is not whether Garland (or, rather, the AUSAs) are sure they can convict Trump et al.

Every single thing in the public record shows they’re still taking steps to pursue that investigation, in part by seizing more records and in part by obtaining the witness testimony they would need. A prosecution becomes far easier if Pat Cipollone cooperates, not least because — Hutchinson’s testimony revealed — he warned ahead of time that Trump was exposed with the very same crimes that DOJ has been pursuing against everyone since last summer. Cipollone could be compelled by DOJ to testify, but there’s no sign yet that he has been. I presume Cassidy Hutchinson’s lawyer, Jody Hunt (who was Assistant Attorney General under Trump and who saw how badly Trump treated his boss, Jeff Sessions) is already in discussions about arranging her cooperation with DOJ, and the kind of detail she provided about what Cipollone will get DOJ a step closer to where they would be ready to get Cipollone’s testimony.

Everything that’s public (and I’m sure there’s a lot that’s not) suggests DOJ is working towards five kinds of conduct that Trump would exposed on: 1) coordination — through Stone and, Tuesday’s testimony confirms something I’ve been virtually the only one reporting since early 2021, Rudy — with the militias 2) plans with Stop the Steal that significantly involve Alex Jones’ role in bringing bodies that the militias used to occupy the Capitol 3) the fake electors plot, which is the illegal manifestation of the larger Big Lie 4) pressure on Mike Pence, which includes both an illegal order and real threats of violence 5) the separate illegal request of Brad Raffensperger (which could be charged in GA as early as this week [note: This did not happen, and/but also she appears to have expanded her scope significantly]).

DOJ is making visible signs of progress with many of these prongs, but some of those visible signs suggest any charging decision would be six months away at least. The reason Garland has not pushed a button marked “indict” yet, or why AUSAs haven’t presented a package for approval up a bureaucratic chain of command, is because before DOJ indicts they need to have both the comms in hand, as well as the cooperating direct witnesses to Trump’s actions and intent.


Trump’s Attorney Debunked Trump’s Claim to Have Invoked Executive Privilege Two Weeks Ago

Since WaPo first reported as BREAKING NEWS that they had been duped by Steve Bannon, I’ve spent a whole bunch of time pointing out that the claims multiple outlets were falsely reporting as true — specifically, that Trump had invoked Executive Privilege over Bannon’s testimony — were instead news only because it was a transparent lie.

I laid out all the reasons why it could not be the case that an Executive Privilege invocation was the reason Bannon had refused to testify:

  • The January 6 Committee asked for things that Bannon’s own attorney, Robert Costello, acknowledged weren’t privileged
  • Trump’s attorney, Justin Clark, provided broad guidance about claiming privileges generally but did not do the things — like making individualized privilege claims — required to invoke Executive Privilege
  • Clark acknowledged that some of the things DOJ asked for weren’t privileged at all
  • Clark also twice warned Costello that his guidance did not extend to immunity from testifying entirely, which Costello had repeatedly claimed it did

I even provided links — so all the journalists getting their ass handed to them by Steve Bannon — could check for themselves.

Those same journalists plus Mar-a-Lago stenographer might also refer to the letter that Trump’s attorney, Justin Clark, sent  Costello, which among other things acknowledges that the subpoena calls for records and testimony,

including but not limited to information which is potentially protected from disclosure by the executive and other privileges, including among others the presidential communications, deliberative process, and attorney-client privileges.

That’s a far cry from invoking Executive Privilege over the things that might actually be privileged, and it concedes that not all potentially privileged materials are covered by Executive Privilege and further concedes the subpoena is “not limited” to information that might be privileged. So even if Bannon’s decision to blow off the Committee was entirely guided by that letter, it would be inaccurate to say Trump properly invoked Executive Privilege or that Executive Privilege was the only issue.

That’s pertinent because among other things these bozos wanted to do was claim attorney-client privilege over meetings between non-attorney Mike Flynn and non-attorney Bannon.

The journalists plus Mar-a-Lago stenographer might also check out the two emails that Clark sent Costello, which made it clear that his instructions didn’t go beyond that ambivalent letter, and sure as hell didn’t give him immunity from showing up and answering questions, which is (contra to what the WaPo claims) what distinguishes Bannon from Mark Meadows and Dan Scavino, on whose behalf Trump did claim immunity from testifying, valid or not. [my emphasis]

I should have just waited.

In a motion in limine from the government seeking to exclude Bannon’s latest manufactured stunt from his trial, DOJ revealed that a surprise witness identified in a recent filing was in fact Trump’s lawyer, Justin Clark, and Clark confirmed much of what I had laid out in my post.

On June 29, 2022, former President Donald Trump’s attorney, who sent the letter on which the Defendant claimed his noncompliance was based, confirmed what his correspondence has already established: that the former President never invoked executive privilege over any particular information or materials; that the former President’s counsel never asked or was asked to attend the Defendant’s deposition before the Select Committee; that the Defendant’s attorney misrepresented to the Committee what the former President’s counsel had told the Defendant’s attorney; and that the former President’s counsel made clear to the Defendant’s attorney that the letter provided no basis for total noncompliance.3 Even the Defendant’s claim that the reason he is now willing to testify is because the former President is “waiving” executive privilege is subject to question given all of the evidence and law that has been addressed in this case, of which he must be aware, demonstrating that executive privilege never provided a basis for total noncompliance in the first place.

3 The Government provided an FBI report of the interview in which the attorney made these statements to the Defendant on June 30, 2022, the day after the interview was conducted. [my emphasis]

In other words, Justin Clark has testified (and may, at Bannon’s trial) that what Trump has gotten a bunch of credulous journalists reporting as fact is a lie.

Trump’s own attorney says Trump is lying (and by association, the journalists got badly duped).

DOJ’s filing says a number of other things I’ve been saying too. First, if Bannon had really changed his mind about cooperating, he would have already turned over documents.

First, the Defendant apparently has not told the Committee he wishes to provide documents responsive to the subpoena, so his eleventh-hour efforts do nothing to begin to cure his failure to produce records.

Costello may have already known about this filing when he claimed, after Kyle Cheney asked him specifically about it, that he was going to work on documents — in the future — too.

It even points out what I did about instance of Maggie humiliating herself for Trump: In addition to sharing a lawyer with Rudy Giuliani, Bannon also shares lawyer Evan Corcoran with Trump.

The Government notes as well that news reports indicate the Defendant’s attorney in this case now also works for the former President and that his law firm is being paid by the former President’s Super PAC.4

4 “Despite Growing Evidence, a Prosecution of Trump Would Face Challenges,” N.Y. Times, June 18, 2022, available at https://www.nytimes.com/2022/06/18/us/politics/trump-jan-6- legal-defense.html (last accessed July 10, 2022); “Trump Group Pays for Jan. 6 Lawyers, Raising Concerns of Witness Pressure,” N.Y. Times, June 30, 2022, available at https://www.nytimes.com/2022/06/30/us/trump-jan-6-lawyers-witness-pressure.html (last accessed July 10, 2022)

Let’s be clear: From the start, the headlines from this latest Trump-Bannon stunt should have been that Justin Clark debunked it months ago.

But now, for the reporters who are too lazy to read the court record they’re purportedly reporting on, DOJ just made that so clear that even the credulous reporters should understand now.

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Originally Posted @ https://www.emptywheel.net/2020-presidential-election/page/3/