Spaz: More than Just a Thumb Drive [Updated]

The government released its motion for detention for Dominic Pezzola, AKA “Spaz,” the Proud Boy who was among the first to break into the Capitol.

As a Marine with ties to the Proud Boys, it’s easy to see why the government thinks he’s dangerous.

To support their claim he is, though, the government made two arguments that probably aren’t the main reasons. First, they treat his use of a police shield to break open the door of the Capitol as a crime of violence.

Felony destruction of government property is a crime of violence. For purposes of the bail statute, as relevant to these offenses, a crime of violence is defined as “an offense that has an element of the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person or property of another,” if that crime is punishable by ten years or more in prison. See 18 U.S.C. § 3142(f)(1)(A) & 16. Section 1361 of Title 18 of the U.S. Code meets those requirements. It is punishable by ten years if the property damage was greater than $1,000, and its elements include the use of physical force against the property of another.

More spectacularly, they point to the bomb-making materials they found at his home.

The FBI also executed a search warrant at the defendant’s residence at the time of his arrest. Agents recovered, from a room that appeared to be used exclusively by the defendant, a thumb drive that contained hundreds of .pdf files. While some of those files are related to seemingly innocuous topics, a significant number of those .pdfs provide detailed instructions for making homemade firearms, poisons, and/or explosives. A sample of titles includes, but is not limited to: (1) multiple serials of a series entitled “Advanced Improvised Explosives,” those serials including “Explosive Dusts” and “Incendiaries;” (2) “The Box Tube MAC-11,” with subtitle, “The Ultimate DIY Machine Pistol;” (3) “Ragnar’s Big Book of Homemade Weapons;” and (4) “The Advanced Anarchist’s Arsenal: Recipes for Improvised Incendiaries and Explosives.” All of the above examples contain detailed instructions for how to make the subject matter reflected in their titles, and they are but four of hundreds of similarly titled .pdf files on the recovered thumb drive.

But I’m more interested, as is my wont, in the ways that the government points to something more.

It does so, first of all, by hinting at additional charges to come — though lays out charges that are likely not the ones DOJ has in mind for Pezzola.

The defendant currently stands charged with violations of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1361, 1512(c)(2), and 1752(a), stemming from his role in the violent events that took place at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.

[snip]

The defendant is currently charged by complaint with one crime of violence—breaking the window of the Capitol with the shield—and the evidence as laid out above would establish probable cause to believe that he committed another crime of violence a short time earlier, robbery of U.S. government property, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2112.

[snip]

The evidence as laid out above would also establish that the defendant violated 18 U.S.C. § 2112, robbery of U.S. Government property, and § 111, assault on a federal officer, among other things. The government acknowledges that the defendant is not charged with these offenses at the time this memorandum is submitted.

More importantly, the government repeatedly talks about how he coordinated his actions.

The defendant’s actions show planning, determination, and coordination.

It uses the language of conspiracy — persons known and unknown — to describe his actions leading the mob towards the Capitol.

At around 1:00 p.m. EST, on January 6, 2021, known and unknown individuals broke through the police lines, toppled the outside barricades protecting the U.S. Capitol, and pushed past U.S. Capitol Police (“USCP”) and supporting law enforcement officers there to protect the U.S. Capitol.

The motion describes how he walked up to the barriers with others, including this guy in a flag bandana.

It shows how, at the moment he breaks in the window through which the Capitol was breached, he was wearing an earpiece.

The government describes how that first group of people immediately turned to “where they counting the votes?” (though were distracted from finding them by Officer Goodman).

Pezzola was part of a group that turned to the right and eventually confronted USCP Officer Eugene Goodman, demanding to know “where they meeting at, where they counting the votes?” It is unclear from the video which member of the mob shouted that question at Officer Goodman.

And the motion describes Pezzola talking about a “we” who had taken the Capitol.

“Victory smoke in the Capitol, boys. This is f***ing awesome. I knew we could take this motherf***er over [if we] just tried hard enough.”

While the motion lays out its argument for detention by emphasizing other things, the argument it is really making is that Pezzola, as a key member of the conspiracy (and as someone with the operational security to flee), he needs to be detained.

It’s not surprising that the government points to evidence of a conspiracy. After all, he’s associated with the Proud Boys, a key focus of their attention (and the motion cites a W-1 who is clearly privy to their plans).

It’s just telling how the government only hints at that argument while pointing to other things that make Spaz dangerous.

Update: DOJ announced the conspiracy indictment of Pazzola with William Pepe, the guy in the flag bandana pictured above.

 Dominic Pezzola, 43, of Rochester, New York, and William Pepe, 31, of Beacon, New York, were indicted today in federal court in the District of Columbia on charges of conspiracy; civil disorder; unlawfully entering restricted buildings or grounds; and disorderly and disruptive conduct in restricted buildings or grounds. Pezzola was also charged with obstruction of an official proceeding; additional counts of civil disorder and aiding and abetting civil disorder; robbery of personal property of the United States; assaulting, resisting, or impeding certain officers; destruction of government property; and engaging in physical violence in a restricted buildings or grounds.

The prosecution team includes the guy who prosecuted Maria Butina, Erik Kenerson, along with a CT prosecutor from NSD.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jason McCullough and Erik Kenerson of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and Taryn Meeks of the Department of Justice National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section. Valuable assistance was provided by the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices for the Western and Southern Districts of New York. The case is being investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office, with assistance by the FBI’s Buffalo Field Office and the FBI’s New York Field Office.

Update: Here’s the indictment itself. It is very narrowly drawn, describing the conspiracy to cover just their successful entry past the cops at the second barrier.

The object of the conspiracy was to obstruct, influence, impede, and interfere with law enforcement officers engaged in their official duties in protecting the U.S. Capitol and its grounds during the demonstrations planned for January 6, 2021.

I suspect DOJ did this, in part, to have a way to keep Pepe detained. He’s not even accused of entering the Capitol, nor is he charged with stealing anything or assaulting a copy. But by being charged in a conspiracy with Pazzola, he’s on the hook for Pazzola’s more obviously violent acts.

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119 replies
  1. Norskeflamthrower says:

    It’s not just enough to get the operational leadership and the perpetrators of violence, it’s important to charge and convict every single one of the Orchs that attacked the capitol and can be identified including the ignorant and the stupid. No matter how long it takes, keep the indictments and trials comin’ right through impeachment and legislation. Let ’em all feel the righteous power of the rule of law.

    • Mart says:

      Somewhat ironically Trump was so pissed about statues celebrating treasonous a$$holes being torn down this summer – he signed an Executive Order that included punishing folks with fines and up to ten years in jail for trespassing on Federal property. Even if just hanging out, once you passed the barriers you should be subject to Trump Law. Link to Fox News so you know it is not fake news: https://www.foxnews.com/politics/capitol-rioters-prison-trump-executive-order-federal

      • J R in WV says:

        Pretty sure penalties under various statutes can’t be set by Executive Order, but must be part of the legislation itself. Sadly, these folks must be sentenced according to the statute, rather than the ambitious Executive Orders signed by treasonous ratfink Trump.

        Bmaz, are we into treason now that the national capitol has been penetrated, and LEOs murdered in the course of the insurrection? 14th Amendment; Aid and comfort to an insurrection; etc!

          • Norskeflamthrower says:

            So if I get it, treason is “crap” but sedition not so much? This because of legal or constitutional definition? Isn’t it ultimately the SCOTUS that determines that if charges are brought?

  2. Nehoa says:

    Thank you Dr. Emptywheel for getting us the details on what is happening with all these activities. Certainly don’t see this much in the MSM.

  3. BobCon says:

    This makes me realize that I’ve never really understood or put much thought into federal explosive control laws.

    Due to the NRA and GOP, federal firearms laws are full of stupid holes, but I have no idea whether explosives are tightly or loosely regulated. I assume the First Amendment doesn’t allow a ban on simply owning a book about explosives, but does ownership become something the feds can use against someone like Pezzola if he also has bombmaking material? Does there has to be evidence that he was going farther than posession of materials and actually constructing them with those texts?

    Obviously there is a strong government justification for tight controls, as Oklahoma City and the 2013 Boston Marathon showed, and I assume Second Amendment issues are largely tangential, but I don’t know beyond that what the implications of the thumb drive would mean for prosecution.

    • timbo says:

      Right now I assume we’re still in the ‘probable cause’ phase here. The government will be entering more such information found in the possession of other folks for whom arrest warrants, followed by arrest, etc, have already attained and using the possession of similar materials on future warrant applications of items to be found at other residences and possible safe/storage spaces of other folks currently under investigation but as yet not charged or not currently charged with charges specific to conspiracy to make explosives and/or the bombing at the GOP and DP party HQs, etc, etc.

    • Buford says:

      My former job required that I get a very deep and thorough background check before I could get re-certified as a Shot firer…every year I had this certification, I had to go through this check…It was very…very…thorough…I found out things I didn’t even know I did…so…explosives are dangerous…that is my story, and I will stick with it…

    • Diane says:

      My thought during the past 5 years, EXACTLY.
      SO MANY HOLES in response time, prosecution rules…not to mention iniquity of consequences.

  4. Anne says:

    Questions for someone with military knowledge:

    Evidence is pointing to an organized group with planning, training, equipment, command, control and communication. And knowledge of the battle space (the building). An attack squad. Plus the defenders were (it seems) deliberately weakened by the DoD.

    The squad was surrounded by an unorganized crowd: chaos. So is chaos a useful tactic for an insurrection? Was it part of the plan? Any history on the use of chaos?

    Second question: why did it fail? Was it physically stopped or was it ordered to stand down?

    • P J Evans says:

      Chaos is useful for hiding a small group that knows where to go and what to do when they get there.
      Getting the smaller fish to turn on the bigger ones is very helpful in sorting out the whos involved.

      • TooLoose LeTruck says:

        That was damned near my immediate thought watching that nonsense unfold in real time on the 6th, that there were likely smaller groups of really seriously organized, prepared individuals using the greater disorganized mobs of yahoos wandering around for cover.

    • PhoneInducedPinkEye says:

      First I think they didn’t expect to get as far as they did, like another commentator pointed out earlier this month.

      And it sure seems like some senators would have had an up-close view of the consequences of their lies if not for the quick thinking of a single officer.

    • subtropolis says:

      They were too late. Officer Goodman led them away from the door, and into the hands of more cops.

      As for a history of utilizing chaos? While there is something to be said for that in military operations, I think the closest thing to this would be CIA ops.

      Regardless, I’ve been saying from the beginning that the mob were mostly useful idiots, behind and among which were members of a conspiracy.

      It would sure be nice were the Feds to uncover any connection between the Oathkeepers and the Proud Boys wrt planning for this. Both groups went into it with plans in mind.

      What I’m really hoping to see is the revelation of who was a cutout between them and the administration.

    • timbo says:

      Not. The. A. Team.

      The bozos on the 6th in DC were not the most coherent/competent folks available for this sort of stuff. Be afraid if those folks get/are now seriously interested in sedition. There may have been foreign intelligence assets that are A-Team quality though involved. That’s why it is important to find who put those bombs at the major party HQs ASAP. It’s also why the damage to US national secrets at the Capitol on Jan 6th has to be fully vetted and any known leaks of information to foreign intelligence services fully tracked down and mitigated. Heck, the mitigation has to occur anyways if there’s any potential that critical national security assets may have been compromised. Just taking a photo of a document or putting it to memory could damage our country’s intelligence capabilities, undermine our ability to maintain surprise, etc, etc. So, the big question really is: Any foreign intelligence services involved in this and did they attain any information beyond the obvious, “gee, look how easy it would be to kill half the Congress in a pinch”.

    • Raven Eye says:

      These folks may have been moderately competent at tactical, squad level planning, but there were huge holes in their planning that greatly reduced the likelihood of success. If there are any folks in these organizations that have hands-on experience with the planning above the squad or company level, their work product didn’t show it…

      …Or they DO have people who have attended the schools and have the experience — and we haven’t seen that work product — yet.

      • bmaz says:

        There may actually have been some of those kind of people. They got further than they should have. But is hard to herd a bunch of stupid cats, and it showed.

        • timbo says:

          Currently there appears to be videos of rioter action that “succeeded” and apparently are chargeable under Federal code. It would be interested to go back through all these videos and look for orders and coordination that looks like it failed.

          Looking at this, there is certainly enough evidence of police not being ready to repel the rioters with force to warrant a commission of some sort being formed. In fact, it would be surprising to me if internally the Capitol Police did not already have such an internal commission investigating how to handle this better next time and looking at what went right and what went wrong. What I saw were police trying to do the best they could, under the circumstances, to minimize crowd casualties until and past the point that the actual Capitol building was breached. During the follow up period, when retaking the Capitol, they inexplicably seem to have tried to minimize the number of folks arrested and detained; I want to see all the rationale for that decision since it stands to reason that the most radical and dangerous folks, if this is a home grown movement, would be likely to stay in the Capitol building the longest, and present the most trouble; on the otherhand, may be the Speakers had ordered the Capitol cleared ASAP which means you have to order folks out and let them go if you don’t want to encounter more resistance than necessary. That’s something for the Congress itself to look into with their own investigation external to any Capitol Police internal review of what happened and what needs to change here.

          It’s almost certain that no one in the Capitol security at any position of authority had actually gamed out how to handle security under these specific conditions beyond a rudimentary level. Hopefully that won’t be true if there’s a similar attempted sedition in future!

          I’m also still curious about who got tours of the Capitol Building on the 5th, given that the Proud Boys seem to have had a rally and pre-riot pow-wow of some sort on Jan 5th behind the Capitol Building. I’m extra curious to see what police and FBI reports have to say about that Jan 5th pow-wow… if (any?) intelligence was gathered prior to the Jan 6th rally/riot.

          Yeah, this is definitely a commissioner wetdream for analysis of failure, command and control issues, interactions with members of Congress, etc, etc… :/

      • Norskeflamthrower says:

        “…or they DO have people who have attended the schools and have the experience – and we haven’t seen that work product- yet.”

        Yep! The attack on the capitol has done three things: 1. It solidified the Republican Party as the party of fascist insurgency 2. It gave the insurgency legitimacy and the terrorist organizers a lotta useful information 3. It insured that there will be more attacks not necessarily in D.C. but attacks as tactics for ongoing political destabilization across the country. It seems the terrorists have read the United States foreign policy playbook..it seems that irony has no limits.

        • Norskeflamthrower says:

          Irony has no limits. But what do we expect after 80 years of being militarily mobilized for war?

    • madwand says:

      You said” Evidence is pointing to an organized group with planning, training, equipment, command, control and communication. And knowledge of the battle space (the building). An attack squad. Plus the defenders were (it seems) deliberately weakened by the DoD.”

      Absolutely, that defines a military organization. Commentators such as Frank Figluzzi on MSNBC, a former FBI guy are starting to parse out the leadership question. For many, there is no doubt that this was a well planned operation designed to overthrow at least the vote confirming Biden as president. Without a doubt there is someone here exercising command and control over the whole operation, most likely a military person with insurgency/counter insurgency experience. They are looking for him.

      Second chaos used as a distraction is a useful tactic in any insurgency, create a diversion somewhere, attack elsewhere, conceal the real intentions in the chaos/distraction, you need the rubes for the distraction, hence the crowd.

      Your guess is as good as mine on why it failed, most likely because the real insurgents couldn’t accomplish their mission, capture members of congress, and exfiltrated out, leaving the rubes to be ushered out by Capitol police and NG.

      • Ada says:

        “Without a doubt there is someone here exercising command and control over the whole operation, most likely a military person with insurgency/counter insurgency experience.”
        Would General Michael Flynn have this type of experience?

    • JAMES SCAMINACI says:

      Anne,

      I’m a former military intelligence analyst. I’ll give you my cursory observations. We need more detailed data from a variety of sources to get a definitive answer.

      Chaos is one way of looking at it. Militarily, it also looks like the concept of Mass. Certainly, the crowd was able to physically overcome the USCP and the MPD at certain points. But, the crowd did not have escalation dominance. Some in the crowd may have been armed. I’m not certain. But, the police were certainly armed and used deadly force.

      The indictment of the three Oath Keepers suggests the DOJ/FBI believes there was planning and training before the Jan 6th attack on the Capitol.

      From the timelines and video evidence, it appears that Proud Boys were tasked with breaching and Oath Keepers tasked with a Find and Capture/Kill mission. Both those missions need to be corroborated with evidence. We don’t know if PB and OK were coordinating in real-time, but it appears they were.

      We do know from the amended complaint or the indictment that it appeared that the Oath Keepers inside the building were receiving real-time intelligence on the location of members of Congress. This was being relayed to them via Facebook. Now, who was relaying that information from inside the Capitol to this middleperson is not known. But, this would also suggest pre-planning and a recon of the Capitol before Jan 6th..

      We do not know how many communications nets Oath Keepers, Proud Boys, and others were operating and whether those nets were coordinated in real-time. Was there a central communications node receiving real-time SITREPs from various nets and cross-communicating with other nets? We will have to see.

      We do not know who planted the two IEDs on January 5th and we do not know when they were timed to go off. We do not know if they were part of an operational plan, and, if so, who planned and coordinated it.

      There also seems to be another group that went to specific offices looking for computers and documents. Who they were, how they found their way to the offices, and did they coordinate with anyone is up in the air.

      Then, there is the meeting of officials linked to Trump that happened on January 5th. We do not know what, if anything, they planned before or during that meeting.

      Why did it fail

      I suspect the failure is due to a number of factors. One, it took the Proud Boys and the crowd too long to breach the Capitol building. By 1430h, the House and Senate and the VP were being evacuated. Thus, the defense by the USCP and MPD should get a great deal of credit for throwing the timing off. The crowd could not exploit its element of surprise. Two, it could have also been due to poor planning and coordination on the part of Oath Keepers and Proud Boys.

      There is also the possibility that the mission was not to capture/kill any members of Congress. Perhaps, they deluded themselves into believing that all they had to do was stop the count. When the count was stopped, perhaps all the momentum Oath Keepers and Proud Boys had was dissipated. Or, they simply got lost in the building and lost the initiative.

      We will not really know unitl the DOJ/FBI releases much more information. And we won’t know until some of these Oath Keepers and Proud Boys become cooperating witnesses and reveal the inner workings of those and other groups.

      But, I assess that the main cause of failure was the stout defense of the Capitol building by law enforcement. And the brilliant work of USCP officer who directed the crowd away from the Senate that was still in session. Perhaps their timing was not so off as much as they did not know where they were going (see my comment above).

      • bmaz says:

        Hopefully much, if not all, of that comes out over time. As said previously, it is still quite early in the larger investigation. Your thoughts are fairly cogent. I also wonder if the real plan, assuming there was one, did not contemplate how many idiots would be joining in and making more chaos than contemplated. I’ve no real idea yet, but this is going to be very interesting for a long time.

        • notjonathon says:

          I think the biggest factor is the general incompetence of all those involved. Most of the ex-military leading these groups are probably men who either washed out or were encouraged not to re-up, but were trading on their reputations as being militarily trained. I doubt if any of them had real training in mission planning, and if we go by the public record, the White House liaison likely consisted of DJT Jr, Eric, Steve Bannon, etc.
          It was what we might call dumb luck–i.e., lucky that they are so dumb.

      • cavenewt says:

        We do not know who planted the two IEDs on January 5th and we do not know when they were timed to go off.

        Has anybody heard whether those IEDs, planted the night before, were actually functional? Or were they just dummies that were purely for distraction?

      • Anne says:

        Grazie mille Sig. Scaminaci!
        Just the kind of informed speculation I was looking for: so many smart folks on this site.

  5. PhoneInducedPinkEye says:

    I really did not expect Roger Stone to start criming again until he had to fill out this year’s tax returns, but it seems pretty likely he’s going to end up in the middle of this like EW has hinted.

    Who is he going to get to post threatening messages directed at the judge if all his PBs are being held too?

    • Eureka says:

      Uh, yeah. That presser was so “gently” brutal, all I could think was ~ Well, bless his heart, seems like a nice guy, godspeed, this will be a trainwreck, thank goodness they should at least have an offseason, maybe the vets can help the youngins figure it (something, anything) out.

      Some NFL insider had said upon his hiring to the effect that he was smart but not that smart. Seemed petty at the time, but now I know why someone would have said that. Some Q&A about the players seemed to indicate he had no clue who was on the team (even a simple thing like a reference to last year’s first round pick went over his head). Picked for pliancy to owner/GM is best I could figure.

      I was sure that the press was going to go to town on him in their writeups/segments, but they were very kind and non-critical. [That is a really bad sign.] [Who is it they think they are trying to gaslight anyway, and how long will they be keeping this up?]

      Wut….

      But he seems like a nice person!

      Who will be making his play caller debut.

    • Eureka says:

      Actually a good suggestion down in those comments that he take a toastmasters course. Forgot that existed.

      Adding: another reminds me of the best take issued upon his hiring:

      They hired Andy Reid’s right hand man’s right hand man’s right hand man.

      Say _that_ ten times fast! [*drink*]

      • timbo says:

        Folks wearing such tags seem to have been at the Proud Boy pow-wow behind the Capitol building on January 5th…

    • timbo says:

      Clearly someone studied police tactics and knew how to move the riot forward… at least according to this video and analysis

    • chum'sfriend says:

      Video; Anatomy of a Riot https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U3gVJ9TeBV4

      7:45 … William Pepe with an upraised left fist and holding a walkie-talkie in his right hand. What purpose could the walkie-talkie have other than to coordinate with others?

      15:01 – 15:18 and 17:15 – 17:25 … shows the actions of a number of people in the orange tag group described in the aforementioned medium.com video

      • timbo says:

        Re: What purpose could the walkie-talkie have other than to coordinate with others?

        “Coordinating with others” is not a crime in and of itself. It depends on what the coordination was for; anyone can legally use a walkie-talkie to keep in touch with their friends at most large events, as long as they make sure they stay off of channels that are reserved for emergency and police services, etc.

      • Max404 says:

        Dear bmaz,

        Just a short note. I find it a bit grating, the way you throw around the “s” word, but hey, it’s your blog.

        But in this case I really would like to know what exactly is “shit” about the cited New Yorker article, really would. Generally Remnick is a pretty solid editor and letting “shit” out the door would surprise me a bit.

        So please elucidate.

        Thanks.

        Yours,
        Max

        • bmaz says:

          Dear Max,

          I find it “grating” when people insist on forcing the square peg of treason into the round hole of reality. If there is no formal war and no enemy, there simply is no treason. This has been relentlessly explained. Just because Remnick let it through, if he was even really the editor who did, does not make the article valid. I hope you are elucidated.

          Yours truly, bmaz

          • Max404 says:

            Cher bmaz,

            Thanks for getting back to me. I went back and re-read the article in question. At the risk of inciting the ire of a lawyer, it seems the essence of your complaint turns on a formal declaration of war and an “enemy” in the traditional sense. The author of the book in question bases his argument on the Constitution’s phrase “levying war” whatever that means.

            I would be interested in knowing what jurisprudence or tradition tends to one or the other. There were some examples in the piece.

            Thanks much for eschewing the “s” word in your response, showing great respect for my sensibilities.

            ton Max

  6. timbo says:

    “fining” is supposed to be “finding” here: (though were distracted from fining them by Officer Goodman), correct?

  7. Valley girl says:

    Now that bmaz has gone OT, allow me.
    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/jan/29/trump-russia-asset-claims-former-kgb-spy-new-book
    The KGB ‘played the game as if they were immensely impressed by his personality’, Yuri Shvets, a key source for a new book, tells the Guardian

    Someone here recently posted a link to another article about this, with more detail. Tried to find their moniker but couldn’t. Apologies to that person for not remembering their name.
    https://www.spytalk.co/p/how-the-kgb-hooked-trump

    Hmm… I read the article at the time via the link the commentator posted, and also bookmarked it. I just opened my bookmark to get the addy above, but am now told that is restricted to subscribers. ???

      • tinao says:

        YUP. Just like dershawitz is a totally compromised asset. I wanna puke every time I see that piece of shit on teevee, or quoted in a periodical. Much like the isreali’s used homosexuality to compromise people, russia uses pedophiles.

        • tinao says:

          Just to clarify, israeli’s, russians, suadis and chinese will use any means possible to infiltrate our society. If you ask me we are coming close to to seeing who really needs purged. Those within and without who would screw our nation to gain power. We need to find the fortitude to follow through, then maybe we would be an example to the world again.

    • Fran of the North says:

      Best memory is that the spytalk.co link was posted by Jennie, but that may not be correct. Confirmed that it is now behind a paywall rather than a one-free article type of deal.

      It’s a pretty in-depth review of Russian spycraft, led by a former KGB agent who was in Putin’s class.

      In the author’s telling, the origins of the cultivation go back to the early 80’s when Trump bought a bunch of TV’s for one of his RE projects from a tiny electronics sales operation. This little store was run by a Soviet emigre (and possible agent) who sold modified electronics that would work upon return to the East Block to the various diplomats in NYC.

      Well worth the read if you’ve got the ability to access it.

    • chum'sfriend says:

      It’s a shame that “How The KGB Hooked Trump” is now behind a paywall. But instead of paying $ to subscribe and read it again, I think I’ll just fork over the $30 to buy a hardcover copy of “American Kompromat”, the new book the article was excerpted from. https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/635379/american-kompromat-by-craig-unger/

      But let’s take a look at something from The Guardian article:
      “Unger describes how Trump first appeared on the Russians’ radar in 1977 when he married his first wife, Ivana Zelnickova, a Czech model. Trump became the target of a spying operation overseen by Czechoslovakia’s intelligence service in cooperation with the KGB.”

      Ivana’s father worked for Czechoslovakian Intelligence! Wrap your head around that! The implication is that Donald’s meeting the woman who would become his first wife, was a Soviet operation.

  8. rattlemullet says:

    Bmaz, if not treason and I agree it is not, is it sedition yet? Have they crossed any line of any crime using coded words to infer and commit violence? What is the recourse against elected political leaders that clearly have encouraged mob violence to occur? Has the written interpretations of the constitution become so verbose and so vague that convicting any political leader today becomes an impossible task with a 2/3 vote? Many people, as you know were killed and injured, will there really be no repercussion to the elected leaders that fomented this insurrection other than the ballot box?

    Thank you and be safe. A frustrated member of society.

    • bmaz says:

      Yes as to sedition. And incitement thereof. Still think convictions on the same as to Trump, Rudy, et. al are far harder than people think. But, yes, those are clearly chargeable offenses, and I hope with fully fleshed out evidence, they will be some day. Treason, no.

      And, yes, I am frustrated too. Think most all here are, and should be.

      • TooLoose LeTruck says:

        I keep seeing you, and others, say that what Trump and Republicans have done here doesn’t rise to treason…

        Treason only applies to acts in wartime, correct? And since we’re not formally at war with anyone, treason doesn’t apply here… am I understanding this correctly?

        • pablo says:

          IANAL, and know shit about shinola, not treason, but sedition is nothing to sneeze at and the title “Traitor” seems apropos and should stick.

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            Should someone you know be tried for an unlawful killing, perhaps then you’ll be thankful for bmaz to argue that negligent homicide is not the same as homicide. Words matter. I should think four years of Trump has made that clear.

          • TooLoose LeTruck says:

            I never said sedition was nothing to sneeze at, and if I’m reading what some here have said, sedition does possibly apply here, but not treason.

            Describing Trump as a traitor in a hyperbolic sense seems reasonable and even appropriate to me, and clearly treason, in the technical sense of the word as an actual crime, apparently isn’t in play here.

            I recall the word ‘inciting’ being thrown out on this thread… and sedition, I believe, is also something someone/s can actually be charged w/, no?

            Anything Trump and his surrounding mob of suckers can be appropriately charged w/ is fine by me, and the more, the merrier.

        • CJ says:

          The Korean War is still technically active, but using it as a hook for treason charges seems like it’d get into complicated territory since Congress never declared war in the first place (yay, “police actions”), let alone whether you’d need a North Korean (or perhaps Chinese or Russian) connection to sustain the charge….

          • bmaz says:

            It is quite arguable that a nation state designated in an AUMF would qualify as a war enemy for purposes of a treason charge, as was done to Adam Gadahn. Unfortunately, Gadahn was drone killed before he was rendered and tried, so there was no resultant litigation of that point. But American citizens acting on American soil out of extremism simply do not qualify.

          • Stacey says:

            Only 90% kidding here, but apparently the South doesn’t think their war against the US ever ended, at least they never stopped fighting it? No, nothing there, huh?

    • cavenewt says:

      will there really be no repercussion to the elected leaders that fomented this insurrection other than the ballot box?

      Well, there’s maybe this:
      Capitol Police Can Sue the “Stop the Steal” Mob, Giuliani, and Even Trump Himself

      …those who suffered serious injuries will likely find it worthwhile to sue any rioter who can be identified as having assaulted them (assuming they can pay any judgment levied against them). These victims can recover punitive damages as well because tort law allows this remedy for intentional harms.

      A bigger (but perhaps harder-to-hit) target, however, is those who instigated, incited, and potentially organized the attack. For those seeking accountability for these institutional actors and political gangs, tort claims may be a key answer. The injured have a possible case against the Proud Boys’ leadership; a recent review by the Wall Street Journal found that the right-wing hate group, prompted by chairman Enrique Tarrio, helped lead the attack. (A high-enough punitive damage award could cripple the group or even “cancel” it.) The same may be true of those who organized the “Stop the Steal” effort.

      But of far greater political significance is a slew of possible claims against others—some of whom hold, or until recently held, elective office.

      …But it should not even be necessary for an injured party to establish that Trump crossed the line from permissible speech to unlawful incitement. It’s clear enough that his actions did lead to the violence and were unreasonable, if not in conscious disregard of the known risk. In either case, black-letter tort law leads to viable claims against him. Courts are clear and consistent in holding that anyone who places someone else in danger—even if innocently—incurs a duty to then take reasonable steps to help that person. Instead, Trump did nothing until the riot was over, even though a simple command to his frothy followers might well have quelled the violence…

      • bmaz says:

        I’d hesitate on this. May turn out right, but very may well turn out to be ginned up BS by yet another law prawf trying to make some publicity bones.

  9. Dopey-o says:

    In the second color photo, taken at the breached barricade, Mr. Pepe is holding what appears to be a walkie-talkie in his left hand. Was he communicating with Mr. Pezzola and others during the break-in?

    As to the question of chaos as a cover for an operation, I refer you to the term of art: “the fog of war.”

    • emptywheel says:

      My guess is there was a command and control who had them and others visible directing them like pawns.

      • joel fisher says:

        Nothing like a Chess metaphor; the question is, “Were they pawns, or higher ranked pieces?” Which then begs the questions:”Who and where are the King and Queen?” In chess one surrenders when capture/checkmate becomes inevitable, but perhaps not IRL.

      • Chris.EL says:

        And who comes to mind — a certain individual (with perfectly coifed hair) (who has command and control) and his family, plus a Kimberly, plus perhaps a lawyer — watching TV monitors in a tent and CHEERING, DANCING ?!?!! Righto?

    • Fran of the North says:

      Good catch on Pepe, I missed that. What caught my eye is the tightly spiraled wire that dangles near Pezzola’s neck that certainly looks like it would be to an earpiece for a communication device.

      It only makes sense that those who participated with intent would have had planned for communications both intra, and inter, group.

    • subtropolis says:

      It’s nothing of the sort. Gavin McInnes did not found the group in Canada. He’s been living in the US for many years. The Canadian parliament did what it did because there is widespread concern about the crap that is exported from the US over its northern border.

      They didn’t go far enough, imho. They should have included the various “militia” groups, as well.

      In fact, they ought to make a point of declaring persona non grata any member of a state or federal Republican legislature that is defending these appealing actions.

  10. Ginevra diBenci says:

    I share my hometown with Pepe’s Pizza (the original), so the surname is familiar. But finding myself wondering if William Pepe might have adopted his in accordance with the Frog meme, I plunged into the kind of search that is procrastinatory by nature but can yield unexpected insights. To wit: all politics are local, as chronicled by Mr. Pepe’s fellow Beacon, NY resident and official town blogger. A single post spans the Capitol riot (tentatively called an “insurrection”), the local mayor’s plan to renounce that violence, and a vertigo-inducing “local boy” introduction to Dan Scavino, onetime golf caddie, now Trump spox. In a region producing Pepes and Scavinos alongside official renunciations of Trump’s incitement, how do you make small talk?
    https://www.alittlebeaconblog.com/blog/the-beacon-mta-man-arrested-by-fbi-for-entering-us-capitol-emerges-from-court-fit-student-arrested-the-hopewell-man-behind-trumps-twitter

    • Savage Librarian says:

      “… I plunged into the kind of search that is procrastinatory by nature but can yield unexpected insights.”

      Speaking of procrastination, I’ve finally put my action plan into play. I do something I really would prefer to delay, at least once a day. Then I reward myself by reading ew and comments. So far so good. And I’m actually getting some productive things done. So, in the end I think it might work out well.

      • cavenewt says:

        I do something I really would prefer to delay, at least once a day. Then I reward myself by reading ew and comments.

        You are made of sterner stuff than I.

  11. Matthew Harris says:

    After about three weeks, this is shaping up to somewhat resemble the Russia investigation: we have a lot of people who committed obvious crimes (Although here, we have much more people and much more obvious crimes), and a fairly reasonable idea that there was some sort of coordination and ringleaders. And just like that, it might be hard to get convictions for those people. Was there an arrangement between certain people in the Capitol Police and/or certain congressional staff, and some of the seditionists? Very likely. Will it be provable in court? That is the big question.

    Whether it is or not though, there will people being arrested/indicted/convicted for at least the next year. There will be a lot of small stories, but I don’t know if we will ever get to the “big story”

    • bmaz says:

      Eh, we shall see. I think the speed and progress already made so far has been remarkable. Somebody here previously analogized it to an organized crime investigation. I think that is a good analogy, and those usually take a long time to ripen fully. They are doing fine so far.

      • BobCon says:

        3 1/2 weeks is really fast.

        I’d love to know (but won’t) how much they are building off of preexisting work and how much is from scratch.

        I think one difference from Mueller is his focus was kept by DOJ and his own sense of mission on just 2016. I think a bunch of the ringleaders here are still plotting, and DOJ will be much more open to expanding their work and coordinating with others than four years ago.

      • Matthew Harris says:

        I would not be surprised if, when I wake up tomorrow morning, and read Google News, Margarie Taylor Green (among many others) has been arrested by the FBI. I will also not be surprised if the investigation mostly ends up sending a bunch of rioters to prison on 1 year charges of disruption, with only a few people getting longer sentences.

        On balance, I think this is going somewhere, just because they have so much evidence, but I don’t know exactly where.

        • chum'sfriend says:

          During the Black Lives Matter protests last July, Trump signed an executive order making protesters liable for up to 10 years in prison for “injury of federal property”.

    • PeterS says:

      If the analogy is with the Russia investigation, then I should be thinking about people around Trump like Rudy, Meadows and O’Brien? Okay, I’m being way too literal…

      Perhaps the analogy will work in the sense that Trump’s in-plain-sight behaviour (cosying up to Russia/insurrectionist talk) never gets charged. We’ll see.

      As for the “big story”, I keep an open mind on that; the  6 January evening call from Rudy to Tuberville suggested cynical opportunism as much as a carefully planned operation. 

  12. BobCon says:

    The Washington Post’s article that describes Pezzola’s arrest for conspiracy notes the role of the website thedonaldwin as an organizing location.

    That website was the place where the weird letter supposedly to the Folger Library appeared, and Mother Jones is reporting that the owners are scrubbing away that kind of content.

    https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2021/01/thedonald-win-deleted-posts/

    My guess is that letter was never sent to the Folger, and was actually published on the message board as an attempt to convey information about the underground approaches to the Capitol in a partially disguised way.

  13. Ewan says:

    If I was a cultural attaché stationed in DC by any country, my guess is that I’d better produce something collected on Jan 6th. It would be a very difficult conversation to have with my superiors back home to explain why I am a skilled pro and collected nothing, while some schmuck can take a photo of Nancy Pelosi’s computer screen with her emails stiil showing. So it is safe to assume that every single cultural attaché bought a MAGA hat, a Qanon T-shirt and went to get some memorabilia.

    • subtropolis says:

      I don’t buy into that scenario. It’s a fun narrative and all, but it presupposes that they all knew that the mob would just waltz in and wander about inside. I doubt that there were any foreign Intelligence officers anywhere near the inside of the Capitol that day.

      • timbo says:

        Where did the alleged desire to sell Nancy’s laptop to the Russian’s arise from? I’m thinking it wasn’t “patriotic fervor” in a US sense that was the inspiration there… intelligence isn’t a one day thing, nor is disrupting an entire society by external initiative something that happens instantly. Operation after operation builds a result over time.

        • harold hecuba says:

          “Where did the alleged desire to sell Nancy’s laptop to the Russian’s arise from?”

          Linda wanted to get cosmetic surgery done so she hatched up a plan with Chad to try to sell the laptop. Unfortunately, it didn’t end well for Chad. But there’s hope that if Linda keeps quiet, the US government will pay for her cosmetic–

          Wait. I’m sorry. That’s BURN AFTER READING. Never mind. I’m sure there’s no comparison between the dumbasses in the movie and those professionals who stormed the Capitol.

        • P J Evans says:

          It could have been spur of the moment – they may not have expected to get a laptop, and “hey, it’s from Pelosi’s office, so there must be good stuff on it, therefore sell it to the Russians” is the thought process.

  14. Zinsky says:

    As an interesting postscript, Douglas Jensen from Des Moines Iowa, who was the asshole who chased Capitol police officer Eugene Goodman up the stairs in the viral video from Jan. 6th, says he did it so QAnon would get the credit:

    https://cbs2iowa.com/news/local/iowa-man-charged-in-capitol-riot-says-he-chased-officer-so-qanon-would-get-the-credit

    So, we have explicit attribution by one of the participants in this sedition, that they were motivated by a wackadoodle conspiracy theory that believes in a blood-drinking, child-molesting cabal that does not exist. The prospects for human civilization are not encouraging.

  15. Fran of the North says:

    Perhaps a bit off topic, but the Alabama Political Reporter has a week old article that investigates whether or not Senator Tuberville attended a meeting in the Trump International Hotel on the evening of Jan 5. Evidence is building that even after early denials, Tuberville was placed at the scene by witnesses, and potentially in some photos.

    One of the posts that indicates that he was in attendance is from Daniel Beck, and was posted to FB at 10:27 P Jan 5 says:

    “The Trump hotel is Amazing!! Fifteen of us spent the evening with Donald Trump Jr., Kimberly Guilfoyle, Tommy Tuberville, Michael J. Lindell, Peter Navarro, and Rudy Giuliani. We talked about the elections, illegal votes, court cases, the republics’ status, what to expect on the hill tomorrow. TRUMP WILL RETAIN THE PRESIDENCY!!!”

    What might be interesting is that this same Daniel Beck is the CEO of a tech company in Idaho Falls Idaho. A bit of research determines that TxtWire is an app that:
    “Allows businesses to send mass messages to their subscribers.” and
    “Reach people where they are, and when you need to be heard.”

    Sounds like it might be a simple command and control app for informing multiple disparate groups and individuals. Inquiring minds want to know.

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