Proud Boys “Cell Leader” William Chrestman Says He’s Not Organized Crime, Was Just Acting on Orders

I’m working towards posts on how DOJ is treating the different members of the Proud Boys charged with crimes relating to January 6 and how DOJ’s past history with the group makes their failure to warn about January 6 all the more damning.

But first, I want to look at what William Chrestman’s lawyers said in a memo arguing he should not be detained pre-trial.

As a reminder, Chrestman was charged with conspiring with four other people, all wearing orange tape, both to obstruct the counting of the electoral vote, and to impede law enforcement officers during a civil disorder. Of particular note, Chrestman and those with him physically prevented cops from shutting access to tunnels through which members of Congress had been evacuated.

The government’s detention memo calls Chrestman an “apparent leader of this particular cell” and describes that he recruited two people from Arizona (Felicia Konold, whom charging documents say the FBI interviewed, but from which interview they didn’t quote, and her brother Cory) to take part in the riot.

Defendant Chrestman readily recruited two individuals from Arizona to join the group of Kansas City Proud Boys, who then participated in the crime spree on U.S. Capitol grounds.

As such, the action of a group led by Chrestman directly ensured the ongoing threat to members of Congress, to say nothing of the difficulties they caused police trying to limit the incursion of the rioters.

In the memo, Federal Public Defenders Kirk Redmond and Chekasha Ramsey offered a more extended version of an argument other defendants have made, arguing that Chrestman had good reason to believe not just his actions — but the Proud Boys’ generally — must have been sanctioned by the President. [footnotes below replaced with links]

To prefigure how those offenses relate to the likelihood of Mr. Chrestman succeeding on pretrial release, we must start long before January 6.

It is an astounding thing to imagine storming the United States Capitol with sticks and flags and bear spray, arrayed against armed and highly trained law enforcement. Only someone who thought they had an official endorsement would even attempt such a thing. And a Proud Boy who had been paying attention would very much believe he did. They watched as their “pro-America, pro-capitalism and pro-Trump” rhetorical strategy “allowed the Proud Boys to gain entry into the Republican mainstream.”11 They watched as law enforcement attacked Black Lives Matter and anti-fascism protestors, but escorted Proud Boys and their allies to safety.12 They watched as their leader, Enrique Tarrio, was named Florida state director of Latinos for Trump.13 They watched the Trump campaign, “well aware of the organized participation of Proud Boys rallies merging into Trump events. They don’t care.”14 They watched when then-President Trump, given an opportunity to disavow the Proud Boys, instead told them to “stand back and stand by.”15 They understood that phrase as “a call to arms and preparedness. It suggests that these groups, who are eager to do violence in any case, have the implicit approval of the state.”16 Having seen enough, the Proud Boys (and many others who heard the same message)17 acted on January 6.

Their calculations were wrong. The five weeks since January 6 have broken the fever dream. The Proud Boys are “radioactive now.”18 Any “air of respectability is gone.”19 The Proud Boys are in “disarray, as state chapters disavow the group’s chairman and leaders bicker in public and in private about what direction to take the Proud Boys in.”20 Their leader was arrested, then “outed as a longtime FBI informant, a role he has now admitted to.”21 And not insubstantially, a number of their members have been arrested for their roles in the January 6 attack. [my emphasis]

The filing goes on to quote extensively from impeachment evidence and Mitch McConnell’s post-acquittal statement, reiterating Trump’s central role in all this.

Even before it gets there, though, the memo makes an argument I expect we’ll see more of, one which very much resembles the argument Bill Barr’s DOJ made to diminish prior threats from the Proud Boys.

Third, the government’s evidence is a far cry from what courts have found constitutes sufficient evidence of a serious risk of obstruction justifying detention. Threatening to kill a witness,4 injure a witness,5 or manufacture false evidence6 is the kind of stuff that gets one detained under 18 U.S.C. § 3142(f)(2)(B). More similar to our facts is United States v. Demmler, 523 F.Supp.2d 677 (S.D. Ohio 2007). There, the “Government allege[d] that Demmler talked about enlisting other defendants in the underlying Poulsen case in his and Poulsen’s scheme[.]”7 But whether the defendant “would have followed-up on these musings had he not been arrested, and whether he would do so now, are entirely speculative. It is just as likely, on this record, that Demmler’s arrest on federal charges has chastened, rather than emboldened, him.”8 So too here.

4 United States v. Fontanes-Olivo, 937 F.Supp.2d 198, 201 (D. P.R. 2012) (Authorizing detention based on potential obstruction where defendant told witness that “one of ‘his people,’ could ‘get rid of you’ based on a rumor that the UM was cooperating with authorities.”).

5 United States v. Ploof, 851 F.2d 7, 11 (1st Cir. 1988) (When “defendant, if released, will attempt to injure or intimidate other prospective witnesses (and if the evidence supports said conclusion) then, too, detention is authorized”).

6 United States v. Robertson, 608 F.Supp.2d 89, 92 (D. D.C. 2009) (“Given the extraordinary lengths that these defendants went to in their efforts to tamper with witnesses and manufacture utterly false, misleading evidence at trial—and in light of their proven success in achieving a hung jury in one trial already—this Court ultimately has no choice but to detain these defendants prior to trial.”).

7 Demmler, 523 F.Supp.2d at 683.

8 Id.; See also United States v. Simon, 760 F.Supp. 495 (D. V.I. 1990) (Detention inappropriate even when defendant attempted to speak with a juror in his brother’s murder trial; although “conduct is inexcusable, it is a far cry from the venality, corruption and violence of the sort common in organized-crime cases, designed to destroy the integrity of the criminal justice system.”)

A year ago, Bill Barr’s DOJ said threats from the Proud Boys might “technically” be obstruction, but such a sentencing enhancement, “typically applies in cases involving violent offenses, such as armed robbery.” Almost exactly a year later, Chrestman’s attorneys argue that threats from the Proud Boys and the threat of ongoing Proud Boys action, “is a far cry from the venality, corruption and violence of the sort common in organized-crime cases.”

This passage is far less persuasive than those invoking Trump. After all, Chrestman threatened police he would, “take your fucking ass out,” if they shot protestors, and further incited others to fight back.

Defendant Chrestman stood directly in front of Capitol Police officers who were attempting to guard the Capitol. Defendant Chrestman yelled at the Capitol Police officers, “You shoot and I’ll take your fucking ass out!” At a different point, Capitol Police officers attempted to arrest one person from the crowd, and Defendant Chrestman encouraged other members of the crowd to stop the Capitol Police from arresting him. Among other things, Defendant Chrestman said to other members of the crowd, “Don’t let them take him!”

Particularly backed — as Chrestman was — by mobs of thousands, that threat was every bit as serious as the one Chrestman’s lawyers cite in Fontanes-Olivo. And the Proud Boys have long been considered an organized hate group, so the allusion to organized crime is actually on point.

More importantly, Chrestman’s completed act — the success that he and others had at delaying the count of the electoral count vote — did grave damage to the integrity of our democracy, a point prosecutors made in their detention memo.

The nature and circumstances of the charged offenses weigh heavily in favor of detention. Defendant Chrestman, a member of a right-wing militia, knowingly and willfully participated in a riot that was designed to prevent the United States Congress from certifying the results of the 2020 Presidential election. Not only did Defendant Chrestman participate in the riot, he assumed a leadership role by shouting “Whose house is this?” and encouraging the crowd to “Take it!”

Words alone may never communicate the true nature of the crimes that were carried out on January 6. It is an event that cannot be measured in the number dead, injured, or wounded, but rather in the destabilizing effect that it has had on this country. This destabilizing effect is precisely what Defendant Chrestman envisioned when he decided to travel to the Capitol, helped lead others into the U.S. Capitol, and participated in the Proud Boys’ participation in the riot at the Capitol building.

The problem is that not just Donald Trump but even his Department of Justice (to say nothing of the line law enforcement officers cited by Chrestman’s lawyers) have long minimized the risk fo such a threat.

That said, the fact that Donald Trump got precisely the destabilizing blow to democracy and the terror he wanted is no reason to let Chrestman go free. Instead, Chrestman makes a great argument that Trump should be treated as a co-conspirator.

92 replies
  1. Philip S. Webster says:

    This is good, EW. Please continue. We need a unified source reporting on the on going investigations, charges and results.
    Good afternoon, in Ireland. Have you watched Derry Girls on NF ? Goddam, for this gringo, it is too funny: the dialect, the nuns, the stupidity of the Eng vs. Irish “problem” and the visit by Bill Clinton. (you can delete this last part if you want.)

  2. Peterr says:

    The KC Star’s reporting on this has two little nuggets not mentioned here. First, Judy Thomas is more explicit that this hearing was in US District Court for Kansas. We’ve noted here how many cases like this are being moved from state courts to the US District Court for DC, in part to consolidate things and also to remove the cases from what appears to be lax treatment from local courts (“He’s a good boy who loves his mama, so we’ll let him go with no bail while we await trial.”) In this case, though, we’re seeing something else. The link in the charging memo in the post above shows that the arrest warrant came from in DC, but the hearing was in Kansas. My first thought is that farming out this case to the Kansas federal court is simply trying to take a simple case and deal with it alone, to help keep the workload in DC more manageable.

    Except for the other thing Thomas mentions in her story:

    Chrestman and two other Kansas City-area Proud Boys — Christopher Kuehne of Olathe and Louis Enrique Colon of Blue Springs — were charged last week with conspiracy, civil disorder, obstruction of an official proceeding, knowingly entering or remaining in a restricted building or grounds without lawful authority, and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.

    Chrestman, an Army veteran, also is charged with threatening to assault a federal law enforcement officer and using and carrying a dangerous weapon during the commission of the offense. He could be seen on numerous videos alongside other Proud Boys during the insurrection, dressed in tactical gear, leading chants and wielding an ax handle inside the Capitol.


    Chrestman, Kuehne and Colon — along with siblings Felicia and Cory Konold of Arizona — are accused of conspiring to “corruptly obstruct, influence or impede an official proceeding before Congress” and “to obstruct, impede or interfere with a law enforcement officer during the commission of a civil disorder.”

    Colon, 44, is a former Blue Springs police officer and Kuehne, 47, is a retired Marine Corps officer. The two were released on their own recognizance last week and are scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Feb. 26.

    Two of these five have their case being heard in DC, not Kansas, despite being suburban KC folks like Chrestman. Was Chrestman’s hearing on the charges that he alone faces, and then he will also be tried in DC along with the other two for the conspiracy charges they all face?

    One more thing: Chrestman’s lawyers also brought Mitch McConnell into their defense:

    Chrestman’s attorneys also said the court should consider Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s explanation of his vote in Trump’s impeachment trial last week. They noted that McConnell, who voted not to convict Trump, called the former president’s actions preceding the riot “a disgraceful dereliction of duty” and said that “the people who stormed this building believed they were acting on the wishes and instructions of their President.”

    These public defenders are pulling out all the stops here, to help their clients. I don’t think they’ll get him/them off, but they are painting a picture of the larger conspiracy, and seem to be all but begging the feds to enter a plea agreement that could minimize the sentence.

    • Kathleen Galt says:

      “We’ve noted here how many cases like this are being moved from state courts to the US District Court for DC, in part to consolidate things and also to remove the cases from what appears to be lax treatment from local courts (“He’s a good boy who loves his mama, so we’ll let him go with no bail while we await trial.”)

      Are these indications that the Judges in these lower courts are fans (or even more seriously associated/members) with or members of these white domestic terrorist groups?

      Are Judges past or present associations with hate groups scrutinized thoroughly? What’s with these lower court Judges being all warm and cozy with these domestic terrorist?

      • bmaz says:

        Or, you know, maybe it doesn’t have anything to do with “state courts”, because these are federal crimes and it is natural to consolidate them in the jurisdictions where the offenses occurred. Maybe, instead of some weird conspiracy about slathering judges, it just makes procedural sense.

        • Kathleen Galt says:

          Bmaz those were questions not inflammatory or inaccurate claims. Are peasants not allowed here at Emptywheel’s. Are questions not allowed here?

          One of the reasons I brought this up was hearing Rev Al Sharpton say over a decade ago on MSNBC’s Ed Schultz program that police officers could be members or associated with hate groups in their private lives and still be an officer. Just asked a Police Chief this question in Trotwood Ohio, He stated that what police officers do in their private lives is just that “private” Clearly a need for police reform right there.

          So why is there not a possibility that a lower court Judge might have some leanings towards a white nationalist group? No “conspiracy” just a question

          As if Federal, State, local Judges cannot have strong biases or possibly even be associated with any of these groups. As if Judges are above making decisions based on their own possible biases or prejudices. Give me a break

          “because these are federal crimes and it is natural to consolidate them in the jurisdictions where the offenses occurred. Maybe, instead of some weird conspiracy about slathering judges, it just makes procedural sense.”

          So these are clearly federal crimes, just a slip that these offenses were not already “consolidated”

          We keep hearing in the news how many of these lower court Judges are letting so many of the people arrested for the Capitol attacks off and not holding them in detention facilities. Federal Judges trumping these decisions.

          Bmaz why do you think so many local Judges (at least in the news sounds like quite a few) are letting some of those who attacked the Capitol on Jan 6 walk even if temporarily?

        • Rayne says:

          Are peasants not allowed here at Emptywheel’s. Are questions not allowed here?

          You’ve racked up more than 6500 comments over the history of this site. Plenty of evidence you’ve had opportunity to express yourself. But there’s going to be a limit enforced if you’re going to continue to antagonize bmaz as well as DDoS comments.

        • Kathleen GaltYes says:

          Yes comments and questions back in the Plame days and the torture days. Have not been here in a long time (clearly Bmaz and Rayne would prefer it that way). Again have never ever tried to disguise ( sock puppet) who I am even though I have clearly re-registered in the past when I could not locate passwords. Have no idea about what Bmaz is saying about my “real” identity.

          Rayne, Bmaz I will try to play by all rules (truly have never tried to sock puppet) but will not take insults or accusations that are inaccurate lying down

          Rayne what are “DDOS” comments? Will try not to make any of those comments when I find out what you mean.

        • bmaz says:

          You are being disingenuous. And, in order to do so some more, are now using yet another name, this time “KathleenGaltYes”. Pick a name. And don’t gaslight people here.

        • Kathleen Galti says:

          Lighten up Bmaz, there is no “gas lighting” no “lying” no sinister effort to “sock puppet” Kathleen Galt is my legal name. Have no idea what you meant when you said you would out my “real name?”

          “Yes” was my first word in my statement and somehow it ended up in the name area. Tried to get rid of it by going to edit. Could not get rid of it. Why would you purposely poke me again. It was a mistake. Please lighten up.

          [Knock it off right now. Again, you’ve had least three names across +6500 comments here. We know your track record here and before this site launched. You’ve just created yet another name with what I will optimistically call a typo. Try harder and stop antagonizing moderators. /~Rayne]

        • bmaz says:

          You are full of it, “Leen”. You first tried to start using that “peasants” bullshit over a decade ago. It was a bogus sham then, and it is now.

          I can date that garbage by you back to 2008. Do you really want to play this game?

        • CCM says:

          Always wanted to be a peasant. Like in the French countryside, good cheap wine, cheese, raise some chickens. Raise the ire of Bmaz. Not a bad life.

        • Kathleen Galt says:

          Bmaz, again you attacked me when I posted that I did not think what njbill had said to you was “arrogant” You went off on me. I will defend others and myself when I see or hear someone being mistreated.

          I also asked you why you considered Congressman Bennie Thompson’s legal action a “pr stunt?”

          Not sure why this got under your skin?

          Now you are claiming I am not “Kathleen Galt”. I know I have made comments under Leen and now Kathleen Galt. Janna clearly too. Am not trying to sock puppet. Have just re-registered here when I have not had my password (when you used to have passwords), now you have my email. You have also claimed you would out my “real name” have no idea what you are talking about.
          My name is Kathleen Galt (facebook) I am a peasant (right now taking care of 92 year old mother and helping 2 grandsons with on line schooling during day while their parents teach on line) Peasant work.

          Have done peasant work most of my life. Am a devoted political junkie, human rights and social justice activist

          My questions and comments are sincere.

        • Kenster says:

          Kathleen, c’mon – you’re the one intimating that the Feds are consolidating cases to the jurisdiction where the offense occurred is because of lax behavior of local judges driven by their secret support of domestic terrorism. Maybe try a little “correlation is not causation” and “Occam’s razor”.

          Additionally, one of your points is absolutely not true. Federal judges are ruling both ways in overturning local decisions on holding suspects without bail. Beryl Howell ordered Zip Tie guy and his mom detained then turned around and ordered Cowboys for Trump guy released.

          Conspiracy theories on the left are just as damaging as conspiracy theories on the right.

        • Kathleen Galt says:

          It was a question?

          Am very aware of local Judges whose own biases come into play when they make decisions. Local, State and Federal Judges are not always above their own prejudices when they make judgments.

  3. emptywheel says:

    Actually, that he has his hearing in KS is not unusual. The hearing for the others was also in KS, though Colon was before Lajuana Counts rather than James O’Hara, before whom Chrestman also appeared. The two others have private counsel; as noted Chrestman is represented by PDs.

    The difference appears to be, exclusively, that DOJ wanted detention with Chrestman but not the others (and to be clear, the complaint suggests that both KS men had less central roles than Chrestman.

    The two AZ siblings were treated slightly different but that’s a PACER issue, not a legal one. I am interested, as I alluded earlier, in whether Felicia said enough in her interview to make her a candidate to cooperate. That’d be the big reason not to quote from it in the complaint, and it may be where the FBI came to believe Chrestman had recruited them.

  4. Norskeflamthrower says:

    “…Trump should be treated as a co-conspirator.”

    What are the chances that the in-coming AG will agree with you…I’m NOT confident. And what if anything can a new AG do about Barr’s apparent lying under oath and refusing to consider the threats to Judge Jackson? Does Barr again skate away from a criminal enterprise he helped to protect?

  5. dadidoc1 says:

    All we need is for one of the Proud Boy / Oath Keepers to provide an email or text that establishes coordination. In the mean time, “We would like your belt and shoe strings”.

    • Kathleen Galt says:

      How many are or will flip to save themselves potential prison time, will be interesting to say the least.

  6. TooLoose LeTruck says:

    “I was just following orders…”

    The Nuremberg Defense, if I’m not mistaken…

    And the Dear Leader leaves office without issuing a single pardon to the troops… how wonderful.

    Ah yes… the orange tape… I watched someone’s edited tape of the 6th recently, wherein they circled person after person in the mob w/ orange tape on their hats or shoulders… I’ve been wondering how that detail would play out…

    • Peterr says:

      I don’t think his lawyers are putting that forward as an affirmative defense. That’s a bid for a cooperation deal in a potential conspiracy case involving Trump. “If the DOJ decides to go there, we may be in a position to help you with that.”

      • TooLoose LeTruck says:

        Don’t know the finer points of the law or the justice system (which is why I come by and read the articles and comments)… just on the face of it, that rationale – I was just following orders – sounds ridiculous, given what happened, and way too much like Nuremberg.

        If that is meant to be an affirmative defense (just googled it to make sure I understood what you were talking about) then, good!

        If this entire mess wasn’t a premeditated conspiracy…

        The day it happened, as I was watching it in real time, I remember thinking that there were almost undoubtedly really organized groups moving around on site, using the greater mass of disorganized yahoos for cover…

        The ones w/ the orange tape… the paramilitary gear… the zip-ties… moving in formation (hands on shoulders)…

        And what could they have been hoping to accomplish? (that’s a rhetorical)…

        What kind of time are a lot of these fools looking at? How severe are the possible penalties?

        • John Paul Jones says:

          In the edited video that I saw of the orange tape folks, one of them appears to deliberately distract an officer so that another one of them can start to remove the “bicycle rack” barrier. In another clip one of them deliberately eggs the crowd on in dismantling barriers and moving into the capitol. I think they knew or guessed that most of the crowd would be milling around, angry and directionless, and that their “job” would be to focus the crowd and get it moving to disrupt the count. In the linked charging document, Felicia Konold is quoted as speaking directly about how easy it is to lead people, to get them to do something. My assumption is that that was the instruction that Chrestman gave to his little gang, to focus the crowd, to lead them.

        • Kathleen Galt says:

          Like so many of us I watched endless footage of the event starting about an hour after the breach. At the time of the breach was working with two grandson’s (6 and 8) on their school work. I am forbidden by my oldest daughter and son in law to turn on the news while working with their kids.

          Having watched endless footage(clearly camera’s and phones everywhere) of the breach, I would still like to know the name of this guy at 0:15.
          “It’s a pr war. Okay? You have to understand it’s an IO war. We can’t lose the IO war,” Someone else throws in “We’re better than that” Same guy with helmet on says “Information, Information, Information”

          Anyone know the name of this man?

          The next segment (Inside the U.S. Capitol at the height of the siege | Visual Forensics) when the crowd sees the gun being held by an officer inside the chambers and several people saying “he has a gun, he has a gun” Then they hoist Ashli Babbit up to try to go through a broken window panel. She is shot dead (bless her soul….I mean that). Did they start hoisting her up there after they saw the drawn weapon or before? Does anyone know?

          You have to wonder how that news of that shooting and her death cascaded through the domestic terrorist texting linest. Sure did not seem to slow them down.

          Just stunning to watch again. Always find myself holding my breath. Raskin’s vide compilation’s at the trial were so disturbing and moving with the other screen showing the timeline of what Trump was doing at the same moments that the rioters were breaching the Capitol, breaking windows, bashing doors, trying to find Pence, Pelosi etc.

    • Kathleen Galt says:

      “Just following orders” defense still being used by U.S.. soldiers in Vietnam, Iraq, Israeli soldiers against Palestinians etc. That defense still in working order.

  7. Zinsky says:

    As noted, thank you Marcy, for pursuing this line of investigation into the Proud Boys. I hope they can find a link to Roger Stone in the planning and preparation for January 6th. He has a long history with them and no doubt knew of the plans to make the 6th the final stand for Trump’s illicit plan to retain power outside of the American electoral process.

    • Lady4Real says:

      It’s highly likely that Enrique Tarrio will be providing the government with intel on Roger Stone’s participation; likely lots of others such as the weirdo Alex Alexander who seems to have slipped through the cracks and has not been brought into custody, curiously.

  8. ApacheTrout says:

    The fact that Barr diminished the threat posed by the Proud Boys shouldn’t diminish the crimes nor the justice applied. Wouldn’t it be easy for the DOJ to argue that prior to the events of 1/6, the Proud Boys were just hot air? And the events of 1/6 crossed their actions in the category of ‘violent offenses?”

    If I were the DOJ, I’d be keen on establishing who was giving the orders. Those Proud Boys don’t just show up out of nowhere.

  9. ApacheTrout says:

    And doesn’t this give the Biden DOJ a real opportunity to hang Barr out to dry, especially if there’s documentation of how Barr downplayed the threat in the face of specific evidence?

  10. bidrec says:

    I have not seen any contributors to this forum refer to their own experience in basic training. Are there no veteran enlisted here? Those veterans charged so far that claim they were taking orders from their commander in chief are behaving exactly as I would expect someone whose military training is limited to boot camp. Discipline in the military is handled through the chain of command. If a sailor tries to enter a forbidden space and is stopped by a marine the marine will turn the sailor over to the sailor’s chain of command for discipline. These civilian “patriots” were taking orders from a nut who happened to be the commander in chief. They believed that they were at opposite ends of the same chain of command. The capitol police were not in that chain of command.
    I was in the US Navy on a Spanish base. There was a Spanish Navy chain of command, an American Navy chain of command, a Marine chain of command and even an Air Force chain of command (a veterinarian and an assistant). Behavior that was an offense to one service might not be to another and was handled accordingly, that is it might be ignored if the military member was acting according to orders his his or her superior. Don’t say ‘Nuremburg’ at a captain’s mast for insubordination. It won’t work.
    It should not be a surprise that a minority of the population will take their orders through the TV like the Renée Zellweger character in Nurse Betty or Julie Christie character in Fahrenheit 451 and think they are doing something noble.

    • Ravenclaw says:

      Okay, I’ll bite. So if your ship’s captain ordered you to kidnap the Spanish admiral’s daughter and bring her to you, what does your military training advise? I *think* it says to refuse a clearly unlawful order – am I wrong? And if you carry out the order, are not both you and your captain liable to prosecution? Saying “I thought it must be okay because the skipper said so” wouldn’t carry much weight.

      I’d say the questions in the present case are how far the insurrectionists intended to go and how clearly they were encouraged by the outgoing president. My guess is that the answer to both questions is “pretty darn far,” up to and including the destruction of American democracy with perhaps some members of Congress assassinated in the process.

      • bidrec says:

        Thanks for the hypothetical. There are lots of rules not to break in the military. Learning about rules is part of what boot camp is for. In this case, the American captain is subordinate to the Spanish admiral. Everyone stationed on the base knows it. It is illegal but it is also outlandish. Also the residence of the Spanish admiral is guarded by armed guards who shoot to kill. And this is known. The captain would not be giving a direct order to a junior enlisted man unless that enlisted man is on his staff. He would go through intermediates.
        So, to the present case: The former enlisted who stormed the capitol differ from enlisted in actual service in that they are self selected. If the captain gave a ridiculous order and the recipient of that order checked with his immediate [enlisted] superior he would be told the order was illegal. That would be the end of it unless the captain wants to have him written up. It is called ‘written up’ for a reason. It leaves a paper trail. In the case of the self selected insurrectionists they are collectively misled in a way that would not happen on a base or a ship where ones colleagues’ backgrounds are too diverse. As far as their intentions, I am going to say that intentionality is not their strong suit. They were just the rabble that was roused.

        • ducktree says:

          The principle I most remember having “drilled” into my head in basic training (USAF 1976) was the importance of ignoring and suppressing any and all “rumors and propaganda” among the ranks.

          It was known to be dangerous and have a pernicious effect if promulgated.

          Which defeats anyone’s “only following orders” argument.

        • bidrec says:

          ‘Rumors and propaganda’ begs the question, “What are rumors and propaganda?” Where I do not mean ‘raise the question’. The authority figures on Fox will define ‘rumors and propaganda’ differently than those on CNN.

          “Begging the question or assuming the conclusion is an informal fallacy that occurs when an argument’s premises assume the truth of the conclusion, instead of supporting it.”

          What constitutes ‘rumors and propaganda’ depends on who defines it. The basic training command may have had a handle on it. The insurrectionists not so much.

  11. obsessed says:

    In anticipation of your next post:

    1. Andrew Weissmann seems quite excited about Vance’s firing of Pomerantz (see Twitter and MSNBC).
    2. Curious to see what all you legal eagles think of both those lawyers (I already know Vance is held in low regard)

  12. Kathleen Galt says:

    Should the peasants out here assume that since 43 Republican Senators put their collective seal of approval on the Proud Boys, Oathkeepers and the violent insurgency that Christman and all who are claiming they were “following orders” from Trump etc will be let off?

    We are not seeing any Capitol police who were brutalized by the attack on the main stream outlets? Anyone?

    • skua says:

      This propublica article is the first I’ve seen showing that in USCP the division between upper and lower ranks have increased to the extent that junior officers are talking to the media about 6 Jan.
      The article has the USCP utterly unorganised for anything serious – they got advise for the day from sergeants such as “If something happens,” another instructed, “just find work.”

    • PeterS says:

      Should we assume that “since 43 Republican Senators put their collective seal on …. the violent insurgency that Christman and all …. will be let off?”

      There’s an absurd non sequitur embedded in that question, given who gets to judge Chrestman et al. And that’s ignoring the fact that voting to acquit Trump wasn’t condoning the 6 January insurrection but instead downplaying his role in it (I accept that some senators are also happy to downplay the insurrection).

    • ducktree says:

      The likely reason for officers’ media silence is that this is ~ALL~ still under investigation.

      Loose lips, yada yada.

  13. The Old Redneck says:

    Trump’s public statements on Jan. 6th were not explicit enough to get him convicted. He never told the crowd to storm the Capitol. He never told the crowd to kidnap or hang Mike Pence. As Michael Cohen explained, there is always self-protection and plausible deniability built into how he speaks.
    He will never see the inside of a courtroom on this unless they show actual, specific coordination and planning. That may not exist at all. If it does, however, it will have to be uncovered carefully, brick by brick, starting with the foot soldiers who are being arrested or charged now.
    In other words, nothing is going to happen right away. Everyone who wants this to happen is going to have to be patient.

    • P J Evans says:

      Remember, he talks in code, and his followers understand it. He doesn’t have to say anything as obvious as “attack the Capitol and take out Pence”.

    • PeterS says:

      Agreed. I’m not sure the “talking in code” thing gets us anywhere, it’s not like Michael Cohen gave us an actual code book. So we’re left with the words spoken and his history.

  14. Kathleen Galt says:

    What about all of the stated future plans for violence?

    “Some far-right activists are already calling for retribution over the death of Ashli Babbitt, a 35-year-old Air Force veteran from California who was shot and killed by a security officer. “We’ve got a girl that’s dead. She’s shot, laying on the ground in there,” said Damon Beckley, leader of a group called DC Under Siege, in an interview just outside the Capitol while the riot was ongoing. “We’re not putting up with this tyrannical rule. … If we gotta come back here and start a revolution and take all these traitors out — which is what should happen — then we will.”

    Another person took to Parler to say that they were planning to show up, armed, in Washington for Inauguration Day. “Many of us will return on January 19, 2021 carrying Our weapons,” wrote the Parler user, who goes by the handle Colonel007. “We will come in numbers that no standing army or police agency can match.”

    The Proud Boys also celebrated on social media. On Parler, one Proud Boys leader posted a photo of members of Congress cowering in fear and captioned it with a menacing statement: “Today you found out. The power of the people will not be denied.”

    • Brod says:

      “We will come in numbers that no standing army or police agency can match.”
      Got a bit carried away didn’t you, Colonel007?

    • Kenster says:

      And? We live in a country of laws. Let me know when these folks break the law, then we can talk. Hillbilly militia agitators have been around for 50 years. They very rarely do anything more than blather. When they actually break the law, we prosecute them.

      Or are you saying that we should be jailing people for posting on social media threatening but clearly hyperbolic language? Because that works both ways. I can provide many examples of far left folks using inflammatory language that was never prosecuted either, because language is just that, language. The Constitution and our country’s laws provide wide latitude in what people can say free from prosecution. I’d rather protect that than diminish it because we disagree with what these folks are saying.

  15. klynn says:


    I’ll put this question here. I read there were rumblings for a Proud Boys DC plan for March 2021. Could a judge at the hearings contesting confinement, bring this up as a reason to continue confinement? IANAL.

    • P J Evans says:

      A number of the Q/SovCit nutjobs think that the “real” inauguration will be March 4, when Trmp will become the 17th president, because reasons that only make sense to them. (After that, they’re looking at June 14, because Trmp’s b-day.)

    • Rayne says:

      That’s been worrying me a lot; there’s a march scheduled for March 4. Qultists are heavily invested in the second coming of their lord Cheezits Trump on that day, claiming he’ll be sworn in. Trump org is invested in that date as well, having raised room rates at Trump-DC hotel for March 4.

    • harpie says:

      [This is in repsonse to RAYNE]
      Here’s something recent from the SOUFAN Center:

      IntelBrief: The Future of QAnon: Fringe Conspiracy or Acute Security Threat?
      February 16, 2021

      Bottom Line Up Front
      – – The QAnon conspiracy theory-based movement appears to have fractured following the inauguration of President Biden on January 20, 2021.
      – – There are efforts being made by a range of violent non-state actors to recruit disaffected QAnon members into their orbit.
      – – The QAnon movement is in flux and the most ardent members point to a new date – March 4 – as critical to the fight against the deep state.
      – – In its 100-day review of domestic extremism, the U.S. government should evaluate the dangers posed by the remnants of the QAnon conspiracy. […]

      • Rayne says:

        Thanks, harpie. That’s shudder inducing stuff. At least the national guard is still stationed at Capitol complex through March 12.

    • harpie says:

      More about QANON [retweeted by JJ MacNab]:
      11:39 AM · Feb 14, 2021

      THREAD: QAnon was enabled in part by former military and intelligence professionals “gone wild.” They lent credibility to the myth and laundered QAnon messaging to the public, sometimes via E-list “influencers.” Here are some of the key personnel. /

      2/ MICHAEL T. FLYNN is at the very center of the Q operation. […]

    • harpie says:

      12/8/20 TRUMP issues a full PARDON to FLYNN

      3:28 PM TRUMP tweets:

      If the Supreme Court shows great Wisdom and Courage, the American People will win perhaps the most important case in history, and our Electoral Process will be respected again!

      5:30 PM [approx] SCOTUS DENIES Texas v Pennsylvania

      […] Texas has not demonstrated a judicially cognizable interest in the manner in which another State conducts its elections. All other pending motions are dismissed as moot. […]

      11:50 PM TRUMP tweets:

      The Supreme Court really let us down. No Wisdom, No Courage!

      12/12/20 TRUMP tweets: WE HAVE JUST BEGUN TO FIGHT!!!
      12/12/20 PROUD BOY leader Enrico TARRIO, calling himself WarTime Tarrio, posts on Parler that he was at the WH.
      12:00 PM JERICHO March
      FLYNN and his family speak [broken] .com /watch?v=romt1iWW4Oc
      OATH KEEPER Rob MINUTA provides security for FLYNN
      6:36 PM · Dec 19, 2020 [Historian. Authoritarians, fascism, coups, propaganda.]

      Remember, Flynn was pardoned of past crimes to be available to commit new crimes. Mussolini and Mobutu often pardoned criminal elements before embarking on new phases of corruption and violence.

  16. harpie says:

    DOJ: Individuals Affiliated with the Oath Keepers Indicted by a Federal Grand Jury for Conspiracy to Obstruct Congress on Jan. 6, 2021 Friday, February 19, 2021

    This week, six additional individuals associated with an organization known as the Oath Keepers, some of whose members were among those who forcibly entered the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, were arrested and charged in federal court in the District of Columbia for conspiring to obstruct the United States Congress’s certification of the result of the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election, among other charges. […]

    • harpie says:

      – – Graydon YOUNG, 54, of Englewood, Florida, was arrested on Monday in Tampa, Florida;
      – – Kelly MEGGS, 52, and Connie MEGGS, 59, both of Dunnellon, Florida, were arrested on Wednesday in Ocala, Florida;
      – – Laura STEELE, 52, of Thomasville, North Carolina, was arrested on Wednesday in Greensboro, North Carolina; and
      – – Sandra Ruth PARKER, 62, and Bennie Alvin PARKER, 70, both of Morrow, Ohio, were arrested yesterday.

      These six individuals were added as co-defendants to a superseding indictment filed today in United States v. Thomas CALDWELL, Donovan CROWL, and Jessica WATKINS, 21-cr-28-APM. […]

    • harpie says:

      [Continuing directly]:

      Kelly MEGGS made statements, similar to those made by Watkins and Caldwell, that his group would not need to be armed for the attack on the U.S. Capitol, because there would be a “heavy QRF 10 Min out[.]” The abbreviation “QRF” is alleged to refer to “quick reaction force,” a term used by law enforcement and the military to refer to an armed unit capable of rapidly responding to developing situations, typically to assist allied units in need of such assistance. […]

      This is what WATKINS said to Bennie PARKER on or about 12/27:

      We are not bringing firearms. QRF will be our Law Enforcement members of Oathkeepers.

      That’s from this thread:
      10:43 AM · Feb 19, 2021

    • harpie says:

      Here’s John Scott-Railton’s informative thread on this:
      3:33 PM · Feb 19, 2021

      One of the things he mentions that I hadn’t heard before is:

      11/ Sidenote: the #OathKeepers donned their battle rattle behind a jumbo video screen blaring “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” at the Trump rally. [VIDEO]

      So this is where they stored their stuff?

        • Vicks says:

          “Who told them they could store their stuff there?”

          Perhaps the above mentioned “QRF will be our Law Enforcement members of Oathkeepers”?

        • bmaz says:

          Who cares? Let’s ponder two possibilities:

          1) She and her lawyer are delusional and full of shit (possible!), and

          2) It is possible and she should be split off under proper release conditions and worked (less likely, but for the sake of discussion…).

          Under either one, absent credible evidence she is a continuing threat to public safety or flight risk, then why not release her with proper terms and conditions? Seriously stop making this about hating these people. Allow appropriate release. We’ll see what the government proves up, but not seen it yet really.

        • Vicks says:

          I don’t understand your reply.
          Clearly ALL of these people are motivated to some degree by delusions, and I said nothing for or against her release.
          The Oathkeepers R. Stone was using for security had been issued “All Access” passes.
          Ms. Watkins claimed she was given a “VIP” pass.
          Ms Watkins had been quoted as saying “We are not bringing firearms. QRF will be our Law Enforcement members of Oathkeepers”
          It’s not clear if she meant law enforcement on duty during the event, or members of law enforcement that were coming in for the rally,
          IMO her claim of the passes, and the law enforcement comment are worth acknowledging for their potential.

      • harpie says:

        End of the thread:

        tl;dr — out of 12 apparent Oath Keepers that formed the military-style “stack” of going up the Capitol’s east steps, 7 have been arrested and charged:

        [He lists them, shows NYT photos]

        Outside of this group of 12, there were at least a dozen other Oath Keepers on Capitol grounds, several of whom would enter the Capitol as well — and some had provided security to Roger Stone earlier that day and the day before.

  17. Eureka says:

    Thread/article on Trump’s impeachment defense team:

    Jeremy Roebuck: “–Trump’s impeachment defense team checked into the Trump International in Washington under pseudonyms for security reasons. Brennan chose “Frank Galvin,” a nod to the drunken, ambulance chasing lawyer played by Paul Newman in the 1982 movie The Verdict. [Inquirer link]”

    After Castor’s widely panned opening, a shouting match erupted between him and a top Trump adviser who had been sent with the message that the former president didn’t want to see Castor on TV again, according to two people who witnessed the encounter. The clash prompted the team’s other Philadelphia lawyers to threaten to quit — a previously unreported detail — and required a phone call with Trump himself to resolve.

    Beyond the enduring lesson that you can say No to Trump and he has to accept it, this is largely a fish out of water/Trumpers in disarray tale.

    Inside Trump’s Philly impeachment team: Confusion, conflict, and threats to quit amid ‘out-and-out partisan war’

  18. Molly Pitcher says:

    Oh I REALLY hope this means there is a metaphoric noose in the vacinity of his neck.

    from NYT:
    Erik Prince, a Trump ally and former Blackwater head, violated an arms embargo by sending weapons to a militia commander in Libya, a U.N. report said.
    Friday, February 19, 2021 6:04 PM EST

    A confidential U.N. report obtained by The New York Times and delivered by investigators to the Security Council on Thursday reveals how Mr. Prince deployed a force of foreign mercenaries, armed with attack aircraft, gunboats and cyberwarfare capabilities, to eastern Libya at the height of a major battle in 2019.

    As part of the operation, which the report said cost $80 million, the mercenaries also planned to form a hit squad that could track down and kill selected Libyan commanders

  19. harpie says:

    Alan Feuer has this document and screenshots re: Jessica WATKINS, but does not link to it:
    10:32 PM · Feb 20, 2021

    Oath Keeper Jessica Watkins, seeking pre-trial release, suggests she was duped by Trump into believing the lie of election fraud. “Trump told the public the only way he could lose the presidential election was if the election was rigged…Ms. Watkins was one of those people.” [screenshots]

    Wait…WHAT? Oath Keeper Jessica Watkins claims she met with the Secret Service and was only in DC on Jan. 6 to provide security for “legislators and others to march to the Capitol as directed by the then-President.” [screenshots]

    Here Watkins blames her two-month long plot to overturn the presidential election, documented in texts and other communications, on “the former president, his supporters, and the right wing media.” [screenshots]

    Oath Keeper Jessica Watkins, charged in the most serious conspiracy to date to attack the Capitol and overturn the results of the presidential election, identifies as transgender, new court paper says. [screenshot]

    • harpie says:

      About blaming “the former president, his supporters, and the right wing media.”:

      For example, she believed even after the events that occurred that the violence was not at the hands of people who shared her views, but were by agitators. She believed the right wing media’s assertions that the violence was perpetrated by “antifa” or others. She called for charges to be filed against anyone who participated in the killing of the protestor who was shot as well as officer Sicknick.

    • harpie says:

      About the COORDINATION [I added the numbers]:

      […] On January 5 and 6, Ms. Watkins was present not as an insurrectionist, but
      1] to provide security to the speakers at the rally,
      2] to provide escort for the legislators and others to march to the Capitol as directed by the then President, and
      3] to safely escort protestors away from the Capitol to their vehicles and cars at the conclusion of the protest.

      She was given a VIP pass to the rally. She met with Secret Service agents. She was within 50 feet of the stage during the rally to provide security for the speakers. At the time the Capitol was breached, she was still at the rally where she had provided security. The government concedes that her arrival at the Capitol was a full 40 minutes after the Capitol had been breached.

      • harpie says:

        1] Here’s Alex JONES talking about his COORDINATION with the WHITE HOUSE:
        5:18 PM · Jan 7, 2021

        2] Ali ALEXANDER said he spoke with Kimberly GUILFOYLE on 1/5/21

        3] VIDEO of OATH KEEPERS changing into insurrection outfits behind the big screen at the rally

        4] [Link in next comment]

        12/28/20 Caroline WREN to Cindy Chafian [text message]: Get the budget and vendors breakdown to me and Justin

        Cast of Characters:
        a] Caroline WREN: Trump campaign fund raiser; “VIP Advisor” for the Park Permit; Deputy to Donald TRUMP JR.’s girlfriend, Kimberly GUILFOYLE, at Trump Victory
        b] Cindy CHAFIAN: a self-described “constitutional conservative”
        c] Justin CAPORALE, a former top aide to first lady MELANIA Trump, whose production company helped put on the event at the Ellipse.

        12/29/20 WREN [rally organizer] to CHAFIAN [text]: [hold off on printing event-related slogans] “until we decide what the messaging is and we have no clue on timing because it all depends on the votes that day so we won’t know timing for a few more days.”

    • harpie says:

      Here’s Zoe TILLMAN with the document…
      should have checked her right away!
      10:20 PM · Feb 20, 2021

      Capitol insurrection defendant Jessica Watkins, charged in the alleged Oath Keepers conspiracy, filed her brief tonight opposing the govt’s effort to keep her in jail. Lawyer argues Watkins “fell prey to the false and inflammatory claims” of Trump et al. /

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