Zip-Tie Guy’s Release on Bail Is Why Donald Trump Must Be Prosecuted

Yesterday, a magistrate judge in Nashville, Chip Frensley, gave Eric Munchel bail. He’s the guy who has become known as “Zip-Tie Guy” because of a picture of him taken in the Senate during the January 6 coup attempt, showing him dressed in tactical gear and holding zip ties.

The government will appeal the decision to DC Chief District Judge Judge Beryl Howell over the weekend, and thus far she has granted such requests from the government, so it’s certainly possible he will ultimately be held.

The bail hearing demonstrates one of the problems with the government’s investigation and prosecution going forward, one which demonstrates the necessity of prosecuting former President Donald Trump (see also this live tweet of the hearing and Politico’s account).

Munchel got charged, along with his mom, Lisa Marie Eisenhart, with the two trespassing charges used for most defendants, conspiracy among themselves, along with obstructing law enforcement during civil disorder.

The filing supporting detention described that Munchel must be found guilty of attempting to impede law enforcement during civil disorder.

To prove a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 231(a)(3), the government must show (1) that a civil disorder existed at the time of any alleged violation; (2) that such civil disorder was resulting in interference with a federally protected function; (3) that one or more law enforcement officers were lawfully engaged in the lawful performance of their official duties incident to and during the commission of such civil disorder; (4) that the defendant attempted to commit an act for the intended purpose of obstructing, impeding, or interfering, either by himself or with someone else, in a violent manner with such law enforcement officer or officers; and (5) that such attempt to act was done willfully and knowingly. United States v. Casper, 541 F.2d 1275, 1276 (8th Cir. 1976).

The evidence doesn’t show Munchel doing that — though shows his mom yelling at the cops. Indeed, the judge in the hearing described video showing him being deferential to cops inside the Capitol. The fact he grabbed the zip ties and said he wanted to seize the Senate gavel suggests he targeted Congress, not the cops.

What the evidence does show is Munchel is a gun nut who wanted to terrorize lawmakers. His mom spoke more explicitly of violent revolution.

“It was a kind of flexing of muscles,” said Munchel, who wore a bulletproof vest and complained that police confiscated his Taser during the riot. “The intentions of going in were not to fight the police. The point of getting inside the building is to show them that we can, and we will.”

Preparing for their 10-hour drive home, the 30-year-old clamoured for greater organisation in the next steps to fight against Biden’s America. He worried that many pro-Trump warriors were individualists and lamented that potential leaders in the Make America Great Again (Maga) movement faced difficulty in rallying troops due to banishment from mainstream social media sites. “Our biggest struggle is getting together, knowing where to go, what to do and who to go to,” said Munchel despondently.

His mother agreed: “The left has everything: the media, organisations, the government. We have to organise if we’re going to fight back and be heard.” Eisenhart, a nurse, added that a violent revolution has long been on the cards thanks to last year’s racial justice protests, anti-police riots and “unnecessary” coronavirus lockdowns.

“This country was founded on revolution. If they’re going to take every legitimate means from us, and we can’t even express ourselves on the internet, we won’t even be able to speak freely, what is America for?” said a teary-eyed Eisenhart, biting into a hotdog. “I’d rather die as a 57-year-old woman than live under oppression. I’d rather die and would rather fight.”

The most compelling piece of evidence that Munchel could have coordinated with a more organized plot involves an exchange he had with the Oath Keepers as he headed into the building.

As MUNCHEL and Eisenhart make their way to the Capitol, they encounter several members of the “Oathkeepers,” a militia group that is distrustful of government authority. One of the Oathkeepers says, “There’s 65 more of us coming.” MUNCHEL, when he recognizes them, says in affirmation, “Oathkeepers,” and bumps fists with one of the men.

But that does’t show pre-planning nor does it tie his possession of the zip ties to any plan the Oath Keepers had.

The government clearly either fears that Munchel will engage in violence or it wants to make sure it keeps its showy zip-tie guy on ice to include kidnapping among the parts of the plot they’ll eventually lay out. But the judge is right that, thus far, the government hasn’t shown evidence that he coordinated with anyone except his mom.

Silent in all this (because, unlike the other kitted-out guy in the Senate that day, Munchel was not shown to have told a reporter that he responded to the call of the then-President to come to DC to engage in that show of force) is the framework of Trump’s calls to overturn an election. The evidence even suggests that Eisenhart claims to have believed Trump’s Big Lie of a stolen election (and it may well be true that she does believe it). But that’s the single factor that makes Zip-Tie Guy’s actions, with his mom, dangerous. He wanted to scare lawmakers, and he wanted to do it in the context of a plea to illegally retain power. A plea from Donald Trump.

Until such time as prosecutors are ready to argue that this show of terrorism was intended to support false claims of election theft mobilized in an attempt to overthrow the Constitutional government of the United Staes, judges are going to find that guys like Munchel owned their arsenals legally and — while violating specific laws protecting the Capitol and the counting of the votes — do not pose a grave threat to our country.

I’m not saying I believe that. I’m not even sure Frensley does.

But absent closer ties to the Oath Keepers (who did clearly pre-plan), the thing that makes the raid on the Capitol especially dangerous, the thing that makes Munchel’s grab for the gavel and the zip-ties criminal, is Trump’s illegal plan. And so, until prosecutors start naming Trump as a co-conspirator, start naming the Big Lie of a stolen election as the motivating cause of the violence, guys like Munchel are going to continue to get bail.

Update: Mirriam Seddiq did a video talking about how conspiracy works in US law, as applied to Trump’s incitement of an insurrection that lays out how this should be presented to judges.

Update: Over the weekend, Beryl Howell granted the government’s emergency motion for detention. The motion included an additional allegation against Munchel, that he had assaulted Bloomberg journalist William Turton.

On the evening of January 6, 2021, after the insurrection, an individual posted a video of the Grand Hyatt hotel lobby on Twitter. The person then posted a message that read: “After I took this video, several Trump supporters harassed me and tried to follow me to my room. One accused me of being ‘antifa.’3 Hotel security intervened and moved me to new room. What a weird day.” See https://twitter.com/WilliamTurton/status/1346980284252745729 (Last accessed on January 23, 2021). The person added: “The Trump supporters demanded that I delete the video. One woman flashed her taser at me, and threatened to mace me.” See https://twitter.com/WilliamTurton/status/1347024856416714752 (last viewed January 23, 2021). Two days later, on January 8, based on another video from the Grand Hyatt posted to social media, the person identified the defendant as “one of the people in the hotel lobby who demanded I delete the video, put his hands on me, and screamed at me . . . .” See https://twitter.com/WilliamTurton/status/1347699125408641024 (last viewed January 23, 2021); https://twitter.com/WilliamTurton/status/1347699345345417217 (last viewed January 23, 2021). Evidence of this encounter was not presented at the preliminary and detention hearing in the Middle District of Tennessee.

It also more aggressively described what Munchel had done as insurrection.

Finally, it is difficult to fathom a more serious danger to the community—to the District of Columbia, to the country, or to the fabric of American Democracy—than the one posed by armed insurrectionists, including the defendant, who joined in the occupation of the United States Capitol. Every person who was present without authority in the Capitol on January 6 contributed to the chaos of that day and the danger posed to law enforcement, the Vice President, Members of Congress, and the peaceful transfer of power. The defendant’s specific conduct aggravated the chaos and danger. It was designed to intimidate Members of Congress and instigate fear across the country. Make no mistake: the fear the defendant helped spread on January 6 persists—the imprint on this country’s history of a militia clad insurrectionist standing over an occupied Senate chamber is indelible. Only detention mitigates such grave danger.

It makes it clear Munchel may be facing additional charges.

The evidence amassed so far subjects the defendant to felonies beyond that with which he has been charged so far, including obstructing Congress, interstate travel in furtherance of rioting activity, sedition, and other offenses. These offenses carry substantial penalties, which incentivizes flight and evading law enforcement—a thought that the defendant already appears to have contemplated by virtue of avoiding his residence and workplace, terminating his Facebook account, and leaving his cell phone with an associate.

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95 replies
  1. RMD says:

    I continue to be deeply upset and troubled by the stark difference in treatment of whites and blacks by police and the courts in the United States.

    Kalief Browder [ Black ] was sent to Rikers Island when he was 16 years old, accused of stealing a backpack. Though he never stood trial or was found guilty of any crime, he spent three years at the New York City jail complex, nearly two of them in solitary confinement. […] For a while, it appeared Mr. Browder was putting his life back together: He earned a high school equivalency diploma and started community college. But he continued to struggle with life after Rikers.
    [later] he committed suicide at his parents’ home in the Bronx. https://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/09/nyregion/kalief-browder-held-at-rikers-island-for-3-years-without-trial-commits-suicide.html

    22 year old Riley Williams [White] was arrested Monday. She faces multiple charges, including theft, trespassing and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. U.S. Magistrate Judge Martin Carlson ordered Williams be released, with travel restrictions, into her mother’s custody. https://www.npr.org/2021/01/21/959446771/woman-charged-in-theft-of-pelosis-laptop-released-from-jail

    Ms. Williams participated in the riot/insurrection at the Capitol and stole Nancy Pelosi’s laptop. It is alleged that she attempted to sell it [ to Russia ].

    • bmaz says:

      Ahem, might want to consider the differences between state/local and federal jurisdictions, because they are night and day. And also to remember that it is a good thing when any defendant is granted bail, as bail is NOT supposed to be punitive, only to insure appearance in court.

      If you are, rightfully, outraged at the Browder saga, then you should celebrate, not denounce, the Williams bail. Equating the two is silly.

      • RMD says:

        I denounced the disparity in treatment based on race. Period.
        Institutional racism in policing and the courts is the issue highlighted.

        • RMD says:

          Sometimes, for the purposes of drawing distinctions, a singular point is made.

          Racism. White privilege. Outrageous disparity in treatment.

          I am interested in highlighting and, if possible, seeing addressed the enormously consequential fact of overt, pronounced and continuing racism in policing and how the courts administer justice.

          It is not the only concern, but an ongoing, unremediated injustice warranting correction.

        • bmaz says:

          This is, very arguably, not the right inflection point to make it. And especially if you believe in the underlying truth of your point.

      • Charles R. Conway says:

        Correct. I am a state-level magistrate judge who routinely sets, or denies bail. Judge Frensley correctly weighed the issues of flight & danger. Dr. EmptyWheel immediately grasps the problems with the Government’s case. People committing despicable acts, or acting despicably still have a Constitutionally-protected right to bail. At the state level, the cash bail industry allows the inherent bias of white judges, cops & prosecutors to assign monetary security that defendants of color cannot post. It is a shorthand for inquiry into a defendant’s financial status, asserts & income, their very ability to post a reasonable amount.
        Judge Frensley was more concerned with the real purpose of bail, i.e., to ensure appearance. The inquiry was what reasonable conditions could be set to protect the community and ensure appearance? The least burdensome condition was met: that Munchel had someone vouching for him, somewhere to live under the surety’s supervision.

    • emptywheel says:

      In addition to what bmaz said abt the difference between Fed and state, it’s possible the Feds want Williams to wander around talking to others.

      • Aubade says:

        Are you suggesting the government’s arguments for detention were pro forma? Because AUSA’s behavior in court, as described by Kalmbacher in his live-tweeting and article on Law & Crime, seems like he was pretty invested in keeping Munchel in detention.

      • Dan says:

        This is wild speculation, but i wonder if the “who is he talking to” or who might turn him in is part of the reason pipe bomb guy hasn’t be arrested. Maybe they already know who it is? Maybe they are waiting for the person to get comfortable and start talking to others. I’d want to know his nexus before bringing him in…

    • chum'sfriend says:

      “A federal judge has blocked the release of Eric Gavelek Munchel, 30, the D.C. insurrection defendant better known as “zip tie guy.” There’s a still a chance he could be released pending trial, but Beryl A. Howell, chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, wants to review a Tennessee magistrate judge’s prior decision.”

  2. joel fisher says:

    Perhaps part of the reason the various defendants are not staying under lock and key is that they were vastly undercharged. One of the first bail issues is what’s the guy charged with? “Trespassing????” WTF. When you bust into a place with the intent to commit a crime you have committed a burglary; when you take someone’s shit by force or threat of force, that’s a robbery. Why the charges don’t reflect the conduct, I don’t know. But I do know this: the danger of nuts using surprise–using the term loosely–to commit political and other crimes is never going away. However, the danger of these particular nuts acting out should be going away for 5-10 years, beginning now. At the end of the day dropping a felony conviction on these drooling and dangerous morons will at least help keep their gun collections out of reach.

    • emptywheel says:

      Most of these charges pre-date inauguration. Even the detention motion for Munchel was submitted on the 20th. I’m sure DOJ wasn’t going to do anything too ambitious so long as Trump was still pardoning people. Also, this investigation is sprawling right now, with a ton of FBI agents involved just doing initial filings. My guess is that one reason Howell is more receptive to detention than magistrates in conservative Red states is that she has read a lot of the affidavits for search warrants and has a sense of the grand jury direction.

      Which is to say the initial effort seems to be triage, to get a sense of who’s out there, how they connect, and who will cooperate. They want to do that without showing too much of their hand.

      • Peterr says:

        There is also the practice of filing the most immediately obvious charges first, to get someone held, while you take more time to put together the more complicated conspiracy case that you hope to get to down the road.

        In the aftermath of this violent insurrection, the prosecutors here appear to be acting in such a way as to decapitate and disrupt the various groups (Oathkeepers, 3%ers, etc.), so as to discourage them from trying to immediately followup on their Jan 6 acts with another attack on another target. Locking away folks immediately on small charges is quite effective in that regard.

  3. PeterS says:

    It was utterly predictable* that the “stop the steal” narrative was going to lead to widespread violence and would prove to be the biggest short term national security threat facing the country. But Trump couldn’t have made the Big Lie so very dangerously big by himself – he needed the enablers in Congress and elsewhere, e.g. the media. 

    Doesn’t this present a practical problem? If Trump is criminally liable then so is Cruz and Hawley and a rather long list of other names.

    *accurate because even I predicted it in November. 

  4. oakleaf says:

    a deep, slow, factual narrative about the Big Lie, what it is and how it evolved. and what its consequences have been could and should be a primary focus of the impeachment trial

  5. Rayne says:

    You know what bothers me about the decision to let Munchel out on bail?

    These are heavy duty white zip ties.
    Heavy duty white zip ties

    These are not — they are flex cuffs.
    Flex cuffs found in suspect Eric Munchel's house during FBI search

    The intent of flex cuffs isn’t tying up electrical cables or strapping loose objects together. It’s binding humans to restrain them. Why would a tourist attending a rally exercising their free speech need flex cuffs inside Congress’s chambers?

    The intent is right there.

    • PeterS says:

      I am sure you know, though others may not, the government’s memorandum on pretrial detention indicates that Munchel picked up the flex cuffs after he entered the Capitol.

      (To be clear, Munchel is a thug)

    • chum'sfriend says:

      Yes, Munchel may have picked the flex cuffs up from an open box at the base of the stairs… But why take them along unless he thought they could prove useful? And the photo shows him looking down, clambering across the seating of the Senate chamber. He was searching for anyone hiding down on the floor between rows of seats. And just a few moments previous, congressional representatives had been lying on the floor, hiding in fear for their lives.

      • Rayne says:

        “Oh, these? I had a sudden urge to organize the telecom closet and bundle all the cables with these nifty double-run zip ties.”

        Sure. Uh-huh.

      • Peterr says:

        “Oh, these? I have some rather . . . ahem . . . creative bedroom uses for these, and was preparing to meet up with a friend who has similar . . . ahem . . . consensual adult proclivities.”

        Sure. Uh-huh.

      • cavenewt says:

        I’m getting kind of confused. There were actually *two* zip-tie guys. This younger one, Munchel, is always pictured climbing over a railing in one of the balconies. The other guy is older and has been photographed on the floor of the Senate (?). I thought the latter was the one who claimed he just picked the cuffs up. Are both guys now saying they just found them?

      • chum'sfriend says:

        A friend and I disagree over the contents of a box on the Capitol steps.  He sees flex-cuffs.  I think he may be right.

        SMann…  If you watch the first breach of security at the stairs you can see a medium size card board box just past the barrier .. it’s overflowing with cuffs…. sitting on the right side of video, on stairs .. the box belongs to capital police they brought it.

        Me…  I see a cardboard box, but at 1:39 the contents look to be paper

        SMann…  Naw, I see the tie wrap ends about even with top of box. They to me seem to be organized with all the loops in the bottom and stacked all the way across bottom…

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PfiS8MsfSF4&bpctr=161147989
        place a 5 at the end to view video

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Nicely laid out. HD white zip ties are thicker and more brittle: they’re meant for a static join under modest tension. Flex cuffs are slightly more flexible – to prevent shearing under load – and have a harder plastic joint between their two halves, again, to minimize breakage owing to shear stress. Two different uses entirely.

      • bmaz says:

        I have a giant jar of various sizes of zip ties out in the workshop room. They are nothing like the flex cuff things.

        • Valley girl says:

          Superfluous info, but having once been an electrophysiologist, where a typical rig has at least six different groups/ bundles of electrical cables, from A to B and A to C and B to C, etc. It would be a nightmare without the zip ties to hold the bundles together. And, they are not like flex cuffs at all.

        • P J Evans says:

          I have a couple of computer boxes where the cables are bundled with very small zip ties – the boxes are bookcase size, so not much space inside.

      • PeterS says:

        Oh, what the hell, I’ll court further controversy. The distinction for me is pretty irrelevant, as there would be no benign reason for attending a protest and breaking into the Capitol with heavy duty zip ties. Imagine the defense: your honor, they were zip ties not flex cuffs, my client has a fetish for tidy cables in government buildings.

        • timbo says:

          30+ years ago, flex ties were used as handcuffs by various local police and security personnel. Basically you just loop the two ties together, cinch down snug after they’re placed around the hands of those detained. But, yeah, the modern flex cuffs are, I suppose, much harder to break/get out of when tied/locked properly.

        • cavenewt says:

          I get PeterS’s point. Regular zip-ties could be pressed into service as handcuffs. But flex cuffs are much more specific in terms of intent, therefore more useful as a legal distinction.

    • chum'sfriend says:

      From insider.com
      But according to the new filing, Munchel and his mother took the handcuffs from within the Capitol building — apparently to ensure the Capitol Police couldn’t use them on the insurrectionists …

      “At one point, MUNCHEL spots plastic handcuffs on a table inside a hallway in the Capitol. MUNCHEL exclaims, ‘zipties. I need to get me some of them motherf—ers,” and grabs several white plastic handcuffs from on top of a cabinet,” the filing says, adding: “As MUNCHEL and [his mother, Lisa Eisenhart,] are attempting to leave, Eisenhart says words to the effect of, ‘Don’t carry the zip ties, just get ’em out of their hand.'”

      “I need to get me some of them…”, indicates a different intent than merely hoping to deny Capitol Police their use.

      • chum'sfriend says:

        And another explanation for why Munchel picked up the flex-cuffs…

        Munchel’s co-defendant, his mother Lisa Marie Eisenhart, 56, has said that they found the restraints on top of an opened cabinet in the Capitol Building. She claimed that they picked these up to keep these from falling into the hands of “bad actors,” she told The Tennessean.

        Munchel’s lawyer Caryll S. Alpert said that her client went into the Capitol to protect his mother. It was Eisenhart’s decision to follow the mob, she said. During cross-examination, the attorney got an FBI agent to confirm that Munchel was mostly following his mother around during that time.  From lawandcrime.com  1/24/2021

      • chum'sfriend says:

        ‘zipties. I need to get me some of them motherf—ers,”

        Are “them motherf—ers,” the flex-cuffs, or members of Congress?

  6. person1597 says:

    Do Trumpalos’ allegedly seditious acts redound to an “agency” relationship with Trump?

    “And after this, 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.”

    How is that different than Jehovah to Isaiah? … “Do not be afraid, for I am with you;”

    To me (a self-identified Bozo)(e.g. nal), the principal-agent relationship seems applicable to acts emboldened by those specific, inciteful words, resonant with, and evocative of biblical authority.

    • puzzled scottish person says:

      “And after this, 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.”

      I think the difference is that he never intended to be there with them because:

      a) that would have meant actual walking rather than using the presidential golfmobile.

      b) they were just tools to be used in his game-show presidency. (Wish I could remember which philosopher it was that argued against using people as tools. Can’t find it right now although I do recall that Wittgenstein was a beery swine .).

      c) He might have run the risk of getting hurt.

      Can his victims use those words against him in court? A lot of them seem to have been hoping for pardons and didn’t get them. Rudy was hoping for a pardon but that didn’t work out – I wonder how that will go in the longer term. A couple of recent Guardian articles suggest that there are attempts to hold him to account via removal of his law licence although I don’t know if they have any chance of success.

      And as for the QAnoners, I can’t even begin to imagine the cognitive dissonance in their poor little heads right now.

        • puzzled scottish person says:

          Kant and the categorical imperative. I think you’re right, thank you :-)

          I had Kierkegaard stuck in my head for some reason. Who’s not even in the song – maybe they couldn’t think of a good rhyme.

        • LeeNLP says:

          Without actually looking it up, I believe it was Kant who made the distinction between things that can be used as tools vs. things that cannot, i.e. people who are “ends in themselves”. But one Kant be sure…

      • person1597 says:

        The network is the message…

        “Thought is interested in protecting itself and is always creating frontiers around itself. And it wants to protect the frontiers. “

      • Lady4Real says:

        When Trump said he was going to walk down with them, it was quite believable (although he’s an inveterate liar) as he did take a walk over to the church after clearing a path at the WH earlier in the summer. They had every expectation that he would indeed take the walk.

        It’s also been reported elsewhere that his secret service detail didn’t bunker him off because he had nothing to fear from the crowd which he was directing and could have very well taken that walk to the Capital after the heated rhetoric which unleashed the crowd against his VP and our elected representatives.

        • skua says:

          Putting aside physiology, Trump’s mojo wouldn’t last for a mile walk – no elevated platform, no microphone, no backing soundtrack, just another obese +70 y.o. male body walking while visible to a small number of people. “People don’t want to see that.”

          Unless he could have got the Secret Service guys to carry him on their shoulders. (attempted humor)

        • cavenewt says:

          If he really intended to accompany them on the walk, he would’ve prearranged for an elephant so that he could be conveyed in elevated visibility and comfort.

        • vvv says:

          I saw mention of the presidential golf cart above, but why not a simple motorcade? Or the copter?

          Because he was never going in the first place, of course …

          I mean, what would he do when he got there?

          Make perfect phone calls to his congressional supporters to give instructions, or to someone else to receive instructions?

  7. Mesquite says:

    I think Republicans have a choice: they can convict Trump in the Senate, and hope that that is enough to dissuade the criminal justice system from charging Trump. Or they can ignore his actions and not convict him, which will beg the criminal justice system to charge away. Criminally prosecuting Trump would be incredibly ugly in so many ways because of the way he, his followers, and right wing media will act, and present unique challenges- will the Supremes try to protect him? I think he deserves convictions in both places, but would settle for one of them. One thing I think the Dems need to be careful of is messing up a criminal case by how they present evidence in the impeachment.

    The degree of complicity by so many elected officials and all of conservative media -the “thought leaders”- is a major challenge to Senate conviction. The fact that Trump is still popular among the base is secondary at this point IMHO. If the “thought leaders” changed their tune the authoritarian follower base would tag right along soon enough.

    • Franktoo says:

      In my dreams, the threat of Trump’s prosecution might be used to gain bi-partisan agreement to rein in Trump’s expansion of presidential power. Trump arguably obstructed justice numerous times with his use of or merely talk of his pardon power. Perhaps both parties (with a little pressure from the possible prosecution of Trump) might be willing to try to pass an amendment to limit the pardon power by placing the same conflict of interest restrictions on the president that we place on a judge. The Republicans would be thrilled to prevent Biden from pardoning Hunter.

      Other limitations on the pardon power might be wise. Perhaps pardons of large groups of people made to promote peace (Vietnam draft dodgers, Whiskey Rebellion, Confederate soldiers, illegal immigrants, etc) should be temporary unless endorsed by a majority of Congress within five years.

      Ford’s pardon of Nixon did move the country past Watergate, creating some political peace, and is now praised by many historians. Nevertheless, that pardon prevented Congress from establishing the legal precedent that a president can commit obstruction of justice while carrying out his Article 2 powers.

  8. chum'sfriend says:

    ” Big protest in DC on January 6th.  Be there, will be wild!”
    As Michael Cohen said, Trump speaks in code like a mob boss.  But this was none too subtle.

  9. Aubade says:

    > the judge in the hearing described video showing him being deferential to cops inside the Capitol.

    His Punisher skull and thin blue line patches are an under-appreciated part of this story. Both are police nationalist symbols and explain his deference to police. But police nationalism is an ideology that only respects the police as long as they are seen as meting out violence on non-white minorities. The videos of DC rioters carrying thin blue flags and chanting “traitors! traitors!” at the police show just how quickly that respect evaporates when the police aren’t seen as allies.

    > But absent closer ties to the Oath Keepers (who did clearly pre-plan),

    There is a lot of overlap and cross-pollination between the various neofascist factions. AFAIK police nationalism isn’t an organizing principle of any specific group of militants (some might say police unions fill that roll). But being a police nationalist makes him a natural ally of the Oath Keepers, he is likely to have other contacts with the group even if he wasn’t necessarily part of their planning.

    I’m curious to know if the terms of his release will require him to avoid all contact with such groups, particularly electronic communications.

  10. Franktoo says:

    Has anyone wondered why members of militias came prepared for an attack on the Capitol (and allegedly scouted the site earlier) when the Trump rally they attended was held at the Ellipse more than a mile away? The permit for the rally didn’t include a march to the Capitol and the organizers weren’t expecting one. The militias probably didn’t have the number of people needed to attack the Capitol without cover from the huge crowd of ordinary Trump supporters. It appears as if the militia members knew that Trump was going to incite an illegal march to the Capitol. At a minimum, Trump had planned for days to incite the crowd to violate its protest permit and thereby endangering the capitol, and the militias learned of his plan to do so. At worst, Trump understood that his part in the militia’s plan was to incite a march to the Capitol. Both possibilities require some communication between Trump and the militias.

    It is also nearly a 30 minute walk from the Ellipse to the Capitol, so the authorities did have time to block the illegal march to the Capitol. There certainly would have been an attempt to halt any other group undertaking such a march.

    • Stephen Calhoun says:

      A sociological data point properly qualified would refine what the term ‘ordinary Trump supporters’ refers to. There are Trump supporters who accept the decision of the voters; those who believe the election was stolen; and the subset of this second category who believed a capital takeover would be a step in restoring Trump ‘rightfully’ to the presidency.

      The latter two groups were well-represented in the mob, but is ‘ordinary’ the correct term?

  11. PeterS says:

    Another thug is charged, Garret Miller, who stated on social media “We going to get a hold  of [the  USCP  officer who shot the woman] and hug his neck with a nice rope”, and “Assassinate AOC”.

    “Lock him up!”

    • Lady4Real says:

      “Clint Broden, a lawyer for Miller, told CNN Saturday that his client “certainly regrets what he did.”

      “He did it in support of former President (Donald) Trump, but regrets his actions. He has the support of his family, and a lot of the comments, as viewed in context, are really sort of misguided political hyperbole. Given the political divide these days, there is a lot of hyperbole,” Broden said.”

      This would not be stated in support of a Democrat, and definitely not in support of a Black Democrat. No consideration for bail would be in the offing. These people (white supremacists and their counsel) are just disgusting as they assume automatically the judges and public sentiment will be on their side. They definitely have the means to post bail even if it is via Go Fund Me. SMH

  12. Traveller says:

    I must say that I do not understand what I see as radically under charging in virtually all of these cases, especially considering the almost universal practice of prosecutors over charging. Now it is true that Grand Jury’s may be sitting and Information’s can be amended…but still…it is unusual and unsettling to me.

    It is true that I do not practice federal criminal law, though I have done some minor work nor even much state level criminal work, but recently I have had to defend CA PC 422 Terrorist Threats in one business setting and one marriage dissolution and these seem to be becoming much more prevalent…in a lot of matters at the state level….as a matter of leverage against a Defendant…this is what Prosecutors do…so why not in all of these Capitol Riot cases? Conspiracy also seems easy, sort of…again, I am not a criminal guy so I may be missing something, but this undercharging, to my mind, is beginning to grate on me. (enough so as to force me to make my first comment here…lol). And maybe on other people here also.

    • bmaz says:

      Um, there is no reason whatsoever to stack and max most of these defendants. Let it play out and save that for the select few that deserve it.

  13. I Never Lie and am Always Right says:

    Some random thoughts which may or may not be worth anything, given that there is much out there that I have not reviewed and that there is a great deal of information that is not yet publicly known.

    First, it seems likely that the real activists who were in the crowd, including Oath Keepers, were smart enough to understand that, in the absence of assistance from people very high in the government, their little “adventure” could only end up one way: with them being criminally charged for serious crimes. No intelligent person would have done what they did unless they believed that they were going to get the type of assistance from the highest levels of government that would allow them to avoid being charged criminally. (This goes well beyond statements by the “insurrectionists” that they were there to do Trump’s bidding.) That point needs to be repeatedly made both in public fora and in the context of specific criminal prosecutions.

    Second, as a general matter, the “nut cases” and “joyriders” who did not engage in violence and who did not plan or incite violence should be handled in a way that allows them to avoid serious charges as long as they behave themselves going forward. Plead them out, get them sentenced to a lengthy probation. Monitor their conduct during probation. If they don’t behave, escort them to the Graybar Motel. Figuring out who belongs in this category won’t always be easy, but it is the right thing to do, both from the standpoint of how they should be treated and from the standpoint of resource management by prosecutors.

    Third, investigate to the fullest extent possible Stone and Bannon. They are good at their tradecraft, but, if they have crossed the line into criminal conduct, there may be others lower in the food chain who are willing to testify against them in return for a 5K1 downward departure in order to avoid a long sentence.

    Fourth, after gathering additional evidence, consider granting use immunity to some key players. People may think I am completely nuts, but my gut tells me that Rudy Giuliani might be a good choice. Of course, subsequent events may prove my thinking to be completely wrong. But granting use immunity to a key player and dragging them before a grand jury may be a very helpful, for a variety of reasons.

    Finally, give the process the time it needs to work itself out. The investigators and prosecutors have to deal with a host of issues and need time just to conduct basic investigations. It takes a lot of work to build a prosecution for a serious crime.

    • bmaz says:

      Yes. This is why I have been saying, from nearly the start, of the people who breached the capitol, flip them and/or give them five years probation (the fed max) and a fine on a nominal felony, could be misdemeanor; except the identified violent ones and those involved in the deaths. Especially the cop’s death. Those get prosecuted to the full extent they should be.

    • PeterS says:

      A minor quibble: “the real activists who were in the crowd, including Oath Keepers, were smart enough…” and “no intelligent person would have done what they did unless…”; do we have evidence for this smartness and intelligence?

      • timbo says:

        They got into the Senate and the Speaker of the House’s personal office. At the very least they were able to read a map and dodge some broken glass.

  14. Joelle Morrison says:

    One critical component not addressed in the Kalief Browder discussion here: Economic class. No matter what color he was, if Browder’s mother could have afforded a decent lawyer (one who wasn’t inundated with cases) for him, he would not have been held long, inconceivable that he would have spent three horrific years in Rikers. Court-appointed defense lawyers in NYC criminal courts get about five minutes to deal with each case they handle — and that usually immediately before it comes up in court. Cops and courts routinely treat poor people like shit. Being black or Hispanic and poor is a double whammy, but being white and poor sucks too.

    The federal system obviously is so much better.

  15. x174 says:

    salience, salience, salience. as always, mt zeroes in on the quintessential issue: “Silent in all this [. . .] is the framework of Trump’s calls to overturn an election.” Without the context, these small-time charges look appalling on their face. After 8 weeks of contesting state election results frivolously and with bad faith in the courts, weeks of strong arming various election officials in various swing states, Trump cries voter fraud relentlessly along with numerous other elected and recently elected Republican officials and fox news, newsmax, oann and whoever else until there is a crescendo of falsehoods ballyhooed during each stage in the certification process–at the state level–with increaslingly ludicrous stunts made in the courts by roodi, team crackin and other assorted nutcases. All of this as prelude to Trump’s $2.7 million dollar “stop the steal” rally (courtesy of pardoned felon Roger Stone), in which he actively incites the deluded crowd to attack the capitol building while Congress is in the very act of completing the final step in the certification of Biden/Harris as the next president/vice president of the USA. But there’s more! How might things have unfolded differently and more ominously if, for example, USAG Barr had gone along with the whole desperate charade? With the given context, it is incontrovertible that Trump and his minions in Congress (and elsewhere) attempted a coup d’etat. These people in the Capitol building were insurrectionists, seditionists, and brought weapons. If most of these people get off with relatively light charges for such treacherous intent and actions, they will definitely attempt something much bigger at a later date–and people like Cruz, Hawley, Boubert, and the rest of the Qanoners will be right there egging them on.

  16. biff murphy says:

    “said a teary-eyed Eisenhart, biting into a hotdog”

    Not that is matters a figs fart, but I thought the both of them should have stayed in jail until trial.
    Thank god she still had her appetite after all the trauma.
    Can you imagine having to hide your weapons before storming the capital. i don’t think I’d eat for a week…

    https://www.wsbtv.com/news/local/prosecutors-say-georgia-mother-son-who-stormed-capitol-hid-weapons-outside/ST6RLTPQKNHYDMA7CXTOU3LZKY/

  17. mpzrd says:

    Seems to me if/since the plan was to take hostages in the House Chamber (where the joint bodies were presumed to be in session), being in the Senate Chamber would be suggestive of hopeful aimless wandering on one’s own.

    Makes a fine poster boy, he does.

  18. Chris.EL says:

    Searched for any discussion of this, none found.

    *Any kind soul please* enlighten me as to WHAT (I’m gonna call them) the FROTHY RIGHT is so fixated on Hunter Biden (H.B.)– and “his laptop”?

    1. Any verification at all that it was his laptop?
    H.B. could have sold it, turned it in for e-recycling, etc.
    2. Where did the emails come from?
    I’ve heard there is no verifiable meta-data, so the emails could have been stolen/hacked.
    ~~~~~~
    Soooo frustrating to hear this over and over; an obvious effort to malign someone’s reputation out of “thin air” and I don’t like it.

    My two (2¢) cents …

    • cavenewt says:

      You answered your own question there, didn’t you? The actual facts about recycling or emails don’t matter one whit, that’s just fodder for the conspiracy rabble. The fact that it’s the new president’s son is what matters in this ‘obvious effort to malign someone’s reputation out of “thin air”’.

      • Chris.EL says:

        Choices?

        Fight fire with fire — maybe some ethical prosecutor should be investigating Trump’s adult children.

        They have already been shown to be “beginning” grifters (Trump Foundation).

        Prosecutors should get to it straight away, thereby hopefully eliminating Trump spawn from grabbing onto daddy’s coat-tails!
        ~~~~~~~
        WE NEED PRESENT DAY WORDS FOR EMOLUMENT/EMOLUMENTS.

        Ninety-eight percent of Americans have absolutely no idea what the phrase MEANS!

        From Associated Press 01/25/2021:
        “Supreme Court dismisses as moot lawsuits over whether Donald Trump illegally profited off his presidency by accepting payments from foreign and domestic officials who stayed at the Trump International Hotel.”
        ~~~~~~~~
        Remember when Trump expressed the plan that it should be *legal* for American businesses to pay BRIBES?!!!

        Trump has a great many screws loose. Extremely dangerous man. Must be stopped.

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