Jessica Watkins Defends Herself by Claiming the Armed Militia Parade Was Part of the Plan
In a bid to spring her client from jail pre-trial, Jessica Watkins’ attorney Michelle Peterson accuses the government, twice, of wielding rhetorical flourishes to portray Watkins’ actions in the worst light.
The government’s rhetorical flourishes aside, there is insufficient evidence to demonstrate that Ms. Watkins would be either a risk of flight or a danger to her community if she were released on stringent conditions.
The government’s motion for detention is filled with rhetorical flourishes design to inflame the passions of its readers without supporting evidence, e.g., “Watkins single-minded devotion to obstruct though violence” p.1, “this was a moment to relish in the swirling violence in the air” p. 2, and references throughout to her attire as “camouflage.”
It’s true that the government motion for detention portrays Watkins’ actions as a grave threat.
The profoundly brazen nature of Watkins’s participation in the January 6, 2021 assault on the Capitol was uniquely dangerous and continues to impact security in the District and beyond. Watkins joined a violent mob that overwhelmed law enforcement and destroyed government property, re-creating in modern times events not seen in this nation since the War of 1812. In this backdrop, Watkins and her co-conspirators formed a subset of the most extreme insurgents that plotted then tried to execute a sophisticated plan to forcibly stop the results of a Presidential Election from taking effect. And she did this in coordination and in concert with a virulently antigovernment militia members.
But Peterson accuses the government of rhetorical excess while excusing Watkins’ own actions and inflamed self-description of them by suggesting that Watkins was simply helpless in the face of Trump’s lies.
His supporters said he would invoke the Insurrection Act to use the military to ensure his continued presidency despite the election results, which they viewed as fraudulently reported in large measure because of the rhetoric of the President, his congressional supporters, and the right-wing media.
However, these statements if made, were made in November, shortly after the election in the wake of the then President’s heated rhetoric about the election being stolen.
While some of the rhetoric she allegedly engaged in is troubling, she fell prey to the false and inflammatory claims of the former president, his supporters, and the right wing media.
Unless and until Trump’s own crimes get added to these conspiracy indictments, these detention memos will continue to dispute what to call the terrorist event that happened on January 6. Until that time, the government will be relying on legal maneuvers, like charging the Oath Keepers with abetting the physical damage to the Capitol — because the doors through which they breached the building suffered significant damage — as a way to get the presumption of detention tied to a domestic terrorism charge. And defense attorneys will continue to argue that entering the Capitol in military formation after two months of preparation for action in response to the election outcome does not amount to a crime of violence.
I don’t believe we need a domestic terror statute. But we need language to describe domestic terrorism. Because we don’t have agreed on language for this thing, an event that forced the Vice President, the Speaker of the House, and the Vice President-Elect to flee from threats of imminent assassination, these disputes will continue to struggle to fit these actions into our existing categories.
Still, even in Peterson’s description of the problem, there are problems with this story. Watkins’ brief admits that she engaged in apocalyptic rhetoric, but suggests that all happened in November, long before and dissociated from the apocalyptic event.
The government includes statements Ms. Watkins is alleged to have made about the election and the need to fight, kill, or die for rights and statements about being prepared to fight hand to hand. However, these statements if made, were made in November, shortly after the election in the wake of the then President’s heated rhetoric about the election being stolen. They are not even alleged to have been made about the January 6 events. The statements were not directed towards law enforcement and are as easily interpreted as being prepared to encounter violent counterprotesters as they had on earlier occasions. And importantly, according to the government, Ms. Watkins made it clear that she would do nothing that was not specifically requested by the President. However misguided, this shows an intent to abide by the law, not violate it. [my emphasis]
Peterson describes the events of January 6, by contrast, as the natural response of veterans anticipating that the then-President might invoke the Insurrection Act, as his disgraced former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn and others demanded.
His supporters said he would invoke the Insurrection Act to use the military to ensure his continued presidency despite the election results, which they viewed as fraudulently reported in large measure because of the rhetoric of the President, his congressional supporters, and the right-wing media. The report of the potential invocation of the Insurrection Act took root in the online community of Trump supporters and led many local militias to believe they would have a role if this were to happen. Ms. Watkins was one of those people. In November, she believed that the President of the United States was calling upon her and her small militia group to support the President and the Constitution and she was ready to serve her Country in that manner. However misguided, her intentions were not in any way related to an intention to overthrow the government, but to support what she believed to be the lawful government.
The problem is, these claims are totally refuted by the timeline.
Flynn was probably the earliest prominent advocate for martial law. That was on December 1, after the November comments in question. Watkins, meanwhile, was looking for a sign even before that, on November 9.
Her concern about taking action without his backing was evident in a November 9, 2020, text in which she stated, “I am concerned this is an elaborate trap. Unless the POTUS himself activates us, it’s not legit. The POTUS has the right to activate units too. If Trump asks me to come, I will. Otherwise, I can’t trust it.”
That’s before the earliest Trump incitement cited by the defense, a November 21 rally in GA.
See id., Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump), Twitter (Nov. 21, 2020 3:34 PM) (Watch: Hundreds of Activists Gather for ‘Stop the Steal‘ Rally in Georgia https://t.co/vUG1bqG9yg via Breitbart News Big Rallies all over the Country.
The earliest moment when Watkins spoke specifically in terms of the Insurrection Act was December 29, long after some of her most inflammatory comments.
In a text exchange with Co-defendant Donovan Crowl on December 29, 2020, she informed, “[w]e plan on going to DC on the 6th” because “Trump wants all able bodied Patriots to come,” and how, “[i]f Trump activates the Insurrection Act, I’d hate to miss it.”
Yet as early as October 26, Watkins was already timing militia training to inauguration.
Watkins emphasized this point to another recruit on October 26, 2020, noting, “the election is imminent. We do have Basic Training/FRX coming up in January though … others who join before then without experience will be REQUIRED to attend for the full week. Donovan already has his Drill Sergeant mode going haha. The rest of us will be training with them to get us all field-ready before inauguration.”
That shows a continuity between Watkins’ pre-election statements and post election plans.
On November 9,2020, WATKINS, the self-described “C.O. [Commanding Officerl of the Ohio State Regular Militia,” sent text messages to a number of individuals who had expressed interest in joining the Ohio State Regular Militia. In these messages, WATKINS mentioned, among other things, that the militia had a weekJong “Basic Training class coming up in the beginning of January,” and WATKINS told one recruit, “l need you fighting fit by innaugeration.”
And some of her most inflammatory language came in mid-November, such as when, on November 17, she spoke of killing and dying for “our” rights.
I can’t predict. I don’t underestimate the resolve of the Deep State. Biden may still yet be our President. If he is, our way of life as we know it is over. Our Republic would be over. Then it is our duty as Americans to fight, kill and die for our rights.
[I]f Biden get the steal, none of us have a chance in my mind. We already have our neck in the noose. They just haven’t kicked the chair yet.
Or, her comments on November 19 about going “underground if this coup works.”
Indeed, on November 19, 2021, Watkins went so far as to text a contact that, “If anything, we need to go underground if this coup works,” as well as for the need “to be cautious as hell going forward” since “[i]f they still this election, we are all targets after Jan 20th.”
Again, this precedes the first instance of incitement from Trump cited by Watkins’ attorney, on November 21.
Moreover, Peterson’s claim that when Watkins spoke of the beauty of the insurrection to a reporter, she was just referring to the National Anthem, is totally refuted by the actual record.
Their evidence is that 40 minutes after the Capitol had been breached, she went to the Capitol and entered the building. By that time, the door had already been opened. The government acknowledges that “the crowd aggressively and repeatedly pulled on and assaulted” the doors of the building to get inside, causing damage. Ms. Watkins is charged with aiding and abetting this offense, but there is no evidence that this was something she had a criminal intent to do. She would have to have shared in the intent to destroy property, when in fact, she attempted to stop people from destroying property. She talked of the beauty of the peaceful protest, but acknowledged that it was only beautiful until she started hearing glass break. When she spoke of the beauty, she was referring not to the violence, but to the chants of USA and the singing of the National Anthem.
In the actual interview, Watkins specifically spoke of “standing our ground” against the cops because “they attacked us.”
“To me, it was the most beautiful thing I ever saw until we started hearing glass smash. That’s when we knew things had gotten really bad.” Watkins also states, “We never smashed anything, stole anything, burned anything, and truthfully we were very respectful with Capitol Hill PD until they attacked us. Then we stood our ground and drew the line.”
Her claim that “they attacked us,” may reflect her co-conspirator Thomas Caldwell’s false claim that the cops were “teargassing peaceful protestors.”
On January 6,2021, at approximately 2:06 p.m., CALDWELL sent WATKINS a text message stating: “Where are you? Pence has punked out. We are screwed. Teargassing peaceful protesters at capital steps. Getting rowdy here… I am here at the dry fountain to the left ofthe Capitol[.]”
That is, it’s not just Donald Trump who riled her up. So did her buddies in the militia (as she riled up fellow members).
Moreover, Watkins’ lawyer makes much of the fact that Watkins’ formation did not enter the Capitol until 40 minutes after it was breached. But that was long after she operated on a belief that the cops had targeted “protestors,” and it reflected actions planned a week in advance.
Perhaps the most intriguing comments in Watkins’ filing — and the most unintentionally damning — are the description of Watkins serving as “escort” or “security” for pro-Trump politicians.
Ms. Watkins has no prior history of violence and has tremendous respect for law enforcement and the Constitution of the United States. Indeed, although misguided, she believed she was supporting the Constitution and her government by providing security services at the rally organized by Mr. Trump and the republican lawmakers who supported his goals.
On January 5 and 6, Ms. Watkins was present not as an insurrectionist, but to provide security to the speakers at the rally, to provide escort for the legislators and others to march to the Capitol as directed by the then President, and 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 sight of the initial 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. [my emphasis]
I believe this is the first description of the Oath Keepers’ role as “security” as these events in any of the legal filings in the case. But it doesn’t seem to help any of the co-conspirators.
Jessica Watkins was invited to an extremist revival event and given a VIP badge. She did so in the guise of providing security. But she admits she was almost 50 feet away from the stage, in no way the right location to be providing security (moreover, I think this claim is somewhat inconsistent with that the reported analyses shows, because members that would become the Stack left early, perhaps in response to Caldwell’s text).
Her brief further describes that she and her kitted-out militia were to provide “escort” to marchers to the Capitol, and she appears to know the intent was to march to the Capitol. One way or another, that still means her stated purpose — the reason she was wearing a VIP pass provided by official organizers (including Ali Alexander and Alex Jones) — was to ensure that those marching on the Capitol were accompanied by a militia that had plans to take up arms if things went badly.
I’m really grateful to Watkins’ attorney for providing the FBI reason to go ask the Secret Service and event organizers about this plan for an armed escort to the Capitol. This may accelerate the process of incorporating at least Roger Stone and Jones into these conspiracy indictments.
But it simply doesn’t help the cause of claiming that the Oath Keepers weren’t part of an organized conspiracy to interrupt the legal vote count. Does that mean that Jessica Watkins should be detained because people incited by the Proud Boys demolished the Capitol door? No. Does it mean she poses a threat because the organization she help[ed] lead started planning even before the election to have people trained to take action? Yes.
In November, Watkins wanted to make sure that Trump himself wanted her militia to take action. Her lawyer claims that Watkins was awaiting the invocation of the Insurrection Act. But even without that invocation, according to this filing, she envisioned serving as the military guard for a march of people from the White House to the Capitol seeking to overturn the election results.
And thanks to this defense filing, prosecutors can start talking about this earlier part of the conspiracy now.
Update: Peterson has submitted a clarification that has made the comments about the Secret Service even more damning. She didn’t meet the Secret Service. She spoke with them as she was coming through security for the VIP pen, from which she fancies she was “providing security.” And they told her to leave her tactical gear outside the pen.
Jessica Watkins, through counsel, respectfully submits this clarification to her motion for release pending the outcome of her case. Counsel apologizes for being less than clear on a couple of points raised in the original motion – something that unfortunately became obvious by media inquiries. Counsel in no way meant to imply that Ms. Watkins met with the Secret Service. A better verb would have been “encountered.” Ms. Watkins spoke with Secret Service members early in the day when she was coming through the check in point for the VIP area. The point counsel was attempting to make was that she encountered law enforcement, including Secret Service officer on her way to providing security for the rally. She was given directives about things she could and could not do, including directions to leave all tactical gear outside of the VIP area, and she abided by all of those directives. Ms. Watkins does not suggest that she has any direct knowledge that her role as security was sanctioned by anyone other than people involved in organizing the rally. She certainly did not mean to suggest that she was hired by the U.S. Secret Service to perform security. Counsel again apologizes for any confusion created by the inartful language used in the motion.
Effectively, then, hours before she entered the Capitol, which was full of protected people, including the Speaker of the House, President Pro Tempore, Vice President-Elect, and the Vice President that Donald Trump had just targeted, Watkins was told not to bring her tactical gear close to another set of protected people. And once she left the VIP pen where she was “providing security,” she put that tactical gear back on.
That only serves to emphasize the degree to which she was targeting Congress.
As always thanks for the close reading and analysis, and tracking all the players.
If the feds have to argue, “No, Trump didn’t tell you or give you permission to storm the Capitol” in these hearings, it might be awkward later on as they work their way up the food chain. That’s essentially what a lot of these people are arguing, and I wonder if the feds don’t want to directly refute that yet.
Not saying it makes what they did legal or ok, it just seems like it is something the feds may have to push back on without addressing Trump’s intent.
IANAL may be complete bunk
I’m not a lawyer either, but . . . The Constitution gives Congress the enumerated power to grant all Letters of Marque and Reprisal. The president has no such Constitutional power.
Since these insurrectionists were storming the Capitol by force specifically to impede The Congress from exercising one of its Constitutional powers, one, perhaps rashly, dares to presume that the insurrectionists had no such Letter of Marque nor Reprisal from the very Congress they were attacking on January 6th, 2020.
[Yeah, I know. I could easily be wrong about that. Maybe Ninny Na-Na Nunes issued a double-secret probationary (“pocket”) Letter of Marque to the insurrectionists sometime way-back before November of 2018. Ya never know with those guys.]
Correction: January 6th, 2021. Sorry.
If this is the same Michelle Peterson, than I think it is fair to say she is not trying to be another Sidney Powell.
If it is the Public Defender Peterson who is the attorney, it would make sense that she wouldn’t shy away from making an argument that potentially causes problems for the larger conspiracy. Unlike Powell, her mandate is just to think about her client.
Yes, it is one and the same Peterson by what I can tell. And all these allegations are damning. But, again, do they necessarily constitute compelling evidence that Watkins is a flight risk? Or that she is a current threat to the public under appropriate release conditions?
This is about release, NOT evidence as to guilt at trial. Remember all the hyperbolic bullshit over Jenny Cudd going to Mexico for three days? She is due back today. Heard any problems on that one? No? Just another reminder that pre-trial release is not supposed to be punishment.
Per Politico, Trump will be speaking at CPAC in a few days:
I think you can take it as a given that Watkins and others involved in the Jan 6 events will be watching to see what their leader says. If he stokes the fires again with more “the election was stolen” and praises his followers (and you know he will), I could see that granting pre-trial release for some of these folks pose a real danger to society.
That is absolute bullshit. “Pablo Escobar may utter some garbage, but my pissant client should be held because crazed mobs think he is bad”? That is exactly how insane this shit is.
Everybody is so suddenly worried about the Constitution that they Are willing to throw it away. Total baloney. Make the showing in court or stand down. And understand that there are a lot bigger principles at work here than just these mopes. This is precisely how the 4th, 5th, 6th and 8th Amendments have been eroded into shells of their intent, holier than thou demagoguery and fear. Stop.
Hey, it’s her lawyers who demonstrated how in thrall she is to Trump, not me. You got a beef, take it up with them.
ETA: I don’t think this insurrection is over. The first battle has concluded, but there is a lot of anger still out there, and I don’t think it will take much to set it off again.
And if YOU think that shit is evidence, take it up with the court. Until p/resented appropriately, it is all garbage and innuendo.
From Dr Wheeler:
“Her brief further describes that she and her kitted-out militia were to provide “escort” to marchers to the Capitol, and she appears to know the intent was to march to the Capitol. One way or another, that still means her stated purpose — the reason she was wearing a VIP pass provided by official organizers (including Ali Alexander and Alex Jones) — was to ensure that those marching on the Capitol were accompanied by a militia that had plans to take up arms if things went badly.”
That’s her own damn brief, entered with the court as you have asked.. And that militia is still out there, and still angry.
Oh, I’m sorry, that is potential impeachment material, but real evidence? Hell no. Put it in court on the record if you are going to detain somebody pre-trial, or imprison them post trial. This is simply a ridiculous and dangerous argument. I hope your children never face this total selective horse manure.
The “ridiculous and dangerous argument” was made by her own defense attorney. This suggests that she is grasping at some serious straws.
What a complete load of crap. Defense attorney defends. BREAKING NEWS!
BREAKING NEWS: When a defense attorney has a complete load of crap to work with, a complete road of crap is what you end up with.
Sure. Get back to me when the party with the actual burden, i.e. the government has proven squat and you have more than critiques of a pleading. You know there are courts for this better than internet comment sections, yes?
Yes, you are right on the money with”pre-trial release is not supposed to be punishment”, and I’m not bitching, but when one thinks of bail it’s for a more traditional defendant who at least has the good taste–“No your honor, I’m not going to be doing any carjackings while I’m out on bail.”–to not be proud of their bad behavior. These defendants don’t seem to have that sense of shame or, perhaps, the term should be “values”. A regular criminal defendant typically accepts that the underlying behavior is wrong (although there is a lot of “It’s just like alcohol”-type BS.) The insurrectionists seem more like 2 bit soldiers of an army of scum whose release date ought to be the end of the insurrection. But I’m just old, cranky, and wrong.
Well, that is funny, good thing that baloney was never uttered against dangerous criminals I’ve ever represented….Oh, wait, it was, and yet they got bail, were allowed to temporarily travel and whatnot, as opposed to what the internet mob now thinks ought be appropriate because it gives them jollies. Oh, and every one of them appeared. I hope no member of your family is ever hurt by the aftermath of this lynch mob horse manure. And thanks for shitting on decades of what defenders have tried to do to seek appropriate release across the board in the face of public hysteria.
Some get out of jail and promptly crime again.
Jail or prison?? They are completely different, and that is surely wrong overall. Grossly wrong. When you here the oh so spooky stories about “recidivism”, that is on people released from prison, not on pre-trial release.
Hey bmaz, this is unrelated but what gives cops the right to search this BLM protester’s phone/FB in the first place? – “Williams was arrested in connection with the protest, and a search warrant for her Facebook profile and cell phone revealed the correspondence between her and Middleton.” https://news.yahoo.com/kentucky-police-officer-terminated-providing-172439216.html
Honestly do not know, much less know enough. The article is thin, but there are a lot of things going on there. Criminal implications, civil implications, and LEO union contract/procedure implications. So, who knows?
Grr. Just realized I fat fingered the previous response and it went into moderation. Sorry about that. Here’s what I meant to post…..
I’m confused. Isn’t Peterson arguing against detention of her client? That would make the point that Peterson is doing what is in her client’s interests and not worrying about what the bigger conspiracy cares about.She’s doing her job as a public defender, and that’s what the system should have.
Yes, that is correct. She is doing exactly what she should do. Can argue what the relative emphasis should be, but yes.
I get that you’re trying to emphasize the presumption of pre-trial release.
But what you’re not doing here is dealing with a [very competent] defense attorney who admits how damning her client’s own description of her conduct is, but then tries to obfuscate about when that was said so as to avoid blame.
She was planning military action against the United States before the election. And Peterson’s response to evidence that the Oath Keepers continue to plan military action is that her client can’t be involved because she’s in jail.
Meh, again, those are issues for substantive motions, trial and/or any sentencing. Yes, Peterson seems quite competent, but think made a mistake in including s bunch of stuff in a 13 page pleading that could and should have only been 7 give or take. Parts off it are quite good, parts of it only fuel the overeager microanalysis being attempted in your post and in this comment section.
Prior to me waking up, commenter gnockgnow gave a pretty good explanation of all that really counts for a detention determination. These may vary a bit district to district, but are generally pretty consistent. And, as he or she noted, the federal PTS is generally very capable and good at this. The pandemic has hurt this as there is little to no face to face interaction, nor even ease of communication. I don’t know, but suspect, that is why Ms. Peterson included more argument than would be expected in her response. Frankly, the government memorandum engages in a bunch of overheated hyperbole too. Which is also being overly microanalyzed.
You are right, I am not dealing with a bunch of well meaning microanalysis, in both the post and comments thereon, of a set of detention pleadings, because my point is that such is neither relevant nor pertinent to the sole issue at hand, detention or not for this particular defendant.
By all accounts, Amit Mehta is a very bright and good judge, and I sincerely hope he cuts through the superfluous and finds acceptable release conditions for this defendant, and she has certainly stipulated to the same. How it turns out will be interesting. And, again, this really matters as it is open and notorious precedent.
DC federal and superior courts were the first in the country to eliminate cash bail for pretrial detention, and they conduct evidence-based risk assessment of flight risk and danger to the community. They have extraordinary resources through joint pretrial services (federal funding) to supervise pretrial defendants on release.
Defense or prosecution arguments are much less important than risk assessment based on multiple factors. I’m not sure what DC uses, but those factors include history of failures to appear, history of crimes, type of crime committed (violent felonies are only released under extraordinary supervision terms), and age of defendant (age is a high predictor of re-offending). Pretrial services uses a response matrix to recommend hold/release with conditions based on the scoring. Many risk assessment instruments (RAIs) also have a violence flag, which can only be used for non-homicide offenses under a preventive detention statute, which DC has. Many states only have preventive detention for people accused of homicides (and sometimes violent sex crimes). What lawyers argue in court at release hearings is much less important than these other factors.
I would like to hear more about persons whose guns were seized that day.
“I didn’t want to be the guy who starts shooting, because I knew they had guns — we had been seizing guns all day”
I watched the events play out on live feed and wondered what was in the backpacks at the rally.
Then I watched some backpacked men climb through a broken window at the Capitol, and wondered what was taking the National Guard so long to show up.
Finally, I watched the insurrectionists being guided out of the Capitol by Capitol Police and wondered why weren’t those people arrested then and there.
My question then and now is, what exactly was in those backpacks?
We saw who the instigators were; we see who is being charged.
There are still a lot of questions after Donald Trump was impeached for this and there are not a lot of answers.
It could be as innocent as lunch and a change of clothes but I too have often wondered about the contents of the backpacks.
Sounds like Public Defender Peterson is doing her job, and what lawyers say is I believe argument not evidence. Though of course they shouldn’t say things they don’t think are true.
So I assume Watkins did indeed get a VIP pass. But “She met with Secret Service agents” is hugely ambiguous. She had a discussion with them or just said “hi” and they nodded back? If there was something to this wouldn’t Peterson have said more?
Good to know that these things aren’t evidence. Does making untrue statements in a pre-trial hearing create liability for the eventual trial? Even though it has nothing to do with the pre-trial release issue, I can’t help wondering about some of the quoted statements:
1. “Biden may still yet be our President. If he is, our way of life as we know it is over. Our Republic would be over. Then it is our duty as Americans to fight, kill and die for our rights.” So, that sure sounds like they’re planning an insurrection/coup/civil war if Trump doesn’t take back the White House.
2. “Indeed, although misguided, she believed she was supporting the Constitution and her government by providing security services at the rally organized by Mr. Trump and the republican lawmakers who supported his goals.” Since when is being misguided a legitimate defense against lawbreaking?
3. “to provide escort for the legislators and others to march to the Capitol as directed by the then President,” and other references to “marching to the Capitol.” There was no permit for this march. So marching to the Capitol en masse was technically breaking the law, correct?
This may be microanalyzing stuff that doesn’t matter so much as bad as bmaz argues, but I am curious about it in a more general way, being NAL.
New info about “met with”…I posted down further:
It is my understanding that private militias are not legal in any state. Basic question on what authority do these people think that they have to organize para-military organizations and prevent legitimate government agencies from functioning.
In light of the First and Second amendments, not to mention Heller and its progeny, what is your stated basis for that claim?
I’ve seen this repeated by media and legal twitter in the past and present, e.g. when the border nuts were in the news for kidnapping migrants.
I don’t know much about Mary McCord but this interview has the gist:
If pressed, would these laws survive scrutiny by our current SC? Dunno.
Well was asking as it is unclear to me and a lot of the national guard officers I know think their claim is absurd. Just because one can carry a weapon doesn’t mean that they can take action against government actions they don’t approve. Well they can but that would mean being prepared to take on regular military units and their supporting arms. So my guess and it was just that, doesn’t well regulated have some meaning other than we want to play soldier. So back to original question are private militias legal? Just looking for an answer not an argument.
This will be unsatisfying, but the answer is sure they are legal. Until they engage in it for an illegal purpose. And the latter part makes it a far more complicated question. It is not that easy or bright line yes or no.
Unsatisfying, yes but thank you it is always better to know how things work. Again thanks.
I’ve also seen & read what PhoneInducedPinkEye’s referring to, from which I infer (obligatory disclaimer: IANAL), 2nd Amd. notwithstanding, that groups training as paramilitary units without the express permission/acknowledgment of the state are illegal. We already have the Nat’l Guard, private security companies are regulated & licensed, why do militias get a pass? It isn’t a beer hockey league….
Perhaps the better question is why aren’t the states going after them more?
Um, because of the First Amendment right of free assembly and the Second Amendment as interpreted in Heller and progeny. On what basis is anybody going to “go after” such groups without demonstrable illegal purpose and cause. This is not even a serious question.
Yup, yup, slippery slopes abound. To me, in my very humble opinion, there is a large distance between “…the right of the people peaceably to assemble,” and showing up at your state capitol in full tactical gear with high-powered semi-auto weapons (Michigan Militia, e.g.). They were there to intimidate, and to me, that does cross a line, but I understand your point. (And I firmly believe, whether you need one or not, you should always have the name&number of a good defense attorney in your wallet. Yup, it’s there.)
To cavenewt’s point, civil war reenactors are hobbyists. They’re involved in theatre. They’re nerds (no disrespect) who are obsessed with making sure their wooden buttons and hard tack & bacon are historically accurate, and who can only fire their weapons — and only the very best of them — twice per minute. Oh, and they’re firing blanks. On it’s face, how do the 2 groups even compare? But hey, I know pornography when I see it. :-)
Private security companies are *doing stuff as a business*. Private militia seem to be more like hobbyists—would you go after Civil War reenactors?
Of course once they cross the line into actually acting on their training and doing something illegal, sure, crack down.
That leaped out at me, too. Generally speaking, the DOJ is loathe to involve USSS agents in criminal cases, on the theory that the agents need to have the complete trust of their protectees in order to do their jobs. Protectees who don’t trust their agents may try to sneak out and do things that makes it much harder to protect them. But this is only a general approach to handling Secret Service agents who may have witnessed things of interest to the court.
Back in 1998, a federal judge ruled against the Clinton DOJ, who tried to keep Secret Service agents from giving grand jury testimony in the Lewinsky investigation. From Politico:
This was later upheld by the DC Circuit Court of Appeals. Even so, if the DOJ can get information some other way, they’ll go that route before talking to Secret Service agents.
But since Watkins opened the door, I’m sure the DOJ will get a couple of very short depositions entered into evidence. If they corroborate any kind of conversation about a march to the Capitol prior to Jan 6, and any role in that discussion by Trump and his minions, that will be a very big deal.
Trump’s Secret Service guards would seem to have been ideally placed to witness events that would reasonably have been understood as imminently negatively impacting the safety of another Secret Service protectee, VP Pence. These people seem competent. Will be interesting to see where their warnings to their organisation got “lost”.
As far as I can tell, the idea for a “march” from the Ellipse to the Capitol came about very late, sometime after 1/4. The permit I’ve seen screenshots of was specifically for NO march. But, TRUMP made it clear he wanted a march.
Alex JONES has said he spoke to someone from “the WHITE HOUSE” on 1/3, who asked him to lead the march and told him the Secret Service would direct him when to begin and how to leave the rally.
So disturbing. Secret service were collaborators?
Should there not be some real evidence of that? Like in court and all that as opposed to one sided pleadings?
FWIW, the Secret Service reportedly issued a statement denying it interfaced with civilians on Jan. 5 or Jan. 6 for assistance in providing Trump rally security. The reporting also describes Watkins as a former ranger and transgender.
Trump disqualified all transgender, even those on active duty. How does he attract someone of Watkins’ background, if this is true? Bmaz, (in case my posts were later in the thread and overlooked) since last Sunday, I’ve posted twice about this accused who has been denied bail. A Northern Florida U.S. Attorney, one of 56 asked to resign by the Biden admin., personally promoted this, announcing an indictment of lost soul “leftist”, Daniel Gilbert, denied bail on Jan. 21, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2021/02/14/fbi-arrest-left-wing-violence/ …partially on grounds he volunteered for YPG in Syria for two weeks in 2017 and FBI described YPG as terrorist connected despite U.S. military alliance.
“…“At a time of widespread alarm and turmoil in our nation, and at state capitals in particular, Baker’s actions clearly posed a threat to public order,” U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Florida Lawrence Keefe said in a statement.”
Daniel Baker on Jan. 15 was arrested with an FBI flash bang intrusion of his apartment.
Unless there is more evidence than already disclosed, bail denial and indictment so far seems to indicate Biden admin. is not moving swiftly enough to remove Trump appointees of DOJ.
That’s swell. Is that any more really evidenced as opposed to “statements” than the “statements” in Watkins’ filing? No? Then let me know when an actual court hears and rules on it. This is not some internet game show bunk, this is an effort to detain a citizen and their fundamental liberty, can there please at least be more than this crap outside of evidence? Would YOU not want that for you and your family? Just because people hate these pricks, is that basis to set a once and forever precedent that detention is presumed when enough people on social media and the internet are outraged? Is that the new standard? Yeah, fuck the Constitution! Screw the actual principles of detention hearing considerations! Let’s give all that up!
My point is, a guy who appears to have not communicated or done anything more inflammatory than Giuliani, and with a dramatically more muted megaphone is held without bail and indicted for attempting to organize a defense of the Tallahassee capitol in reaction to the Jan 6. insurrection and noise about follow up occupations of state capitols. I agree with you (if that is your point, everyone is due similar constitutional protections, vs a popularity contest determining preservation of rights) there is uneven application of due process by FBI, prosecutors of a DOJ in transition, judges, and grand jurors in differing jurisdictions. Uniformity of process and concern about rights, our own outrages aside, cannot be over emphasized, for the reasons bmaz described.
So we have Alex Jones (!) and a lawyer who simply says her client “met” agents, presumably out in the open at the rally. Saying secret service were collaborators is quite a leap, no?
I was under the understanding that the original permit (that didn’t include a march) was a fakeout. I thought the small original size and lack of march was supposed to lull law enforcement to sleep, although I’m having trouble finding a cite for that.
JONES did NOT say that the Secret Service coordinated with him on 1/6.
He SAID that on 1/3/21, the “WHITE HOUSE” TOLD him that the Secret Service would coordinate with him on 1/6/21.
And I have read in more than one place that the White House was specifically warned that there was no march permit.
“The Devil made me do it!” could not be more apropos.
Many of those arrested have been claiming that Trump’s words moved them to march on the Capitol. How is that not apropos? It was a witty remark, undeserving of your scorn.
I wish that you would stop and think before shitting on every second comment here. Especially when all you’ve got is is a one-word put-down devoid of any argument, whatsoever. Seriously, what the fuck is the underlying grievance that moves you to be such an asshole to people who participate in the comments?
I don’t know whether the Rep McCarthy’s call to Trump during the violent storming of the Capitol adds an important detail to these indictments. That the House Managers of Trump’s second impeachment had to use an attenuated account by a Congresswoman to whom McCarthy related the call indicates McCarthy was not a cooperating witness, but is the timing of that call damning as well?
Why is McCarthy freely talking to TV stations on 1/6/21 about asking Trump to call off the riot, but then McCarthy is subsequently tight-lipped?
The newspaper accounts of that 1/6/21 phone call seem incurious to a fault. All newspaper accounts (save the UK’s Daily Mail) when discussing the McCarthy/Trump call never give the exact time or even an estimate (before or after rioter Babbitt was shot by Capitol Police at 2:44 p.m.).
Not only don’t the papers report the timing of this specific call (while routinely reporting the timing of other phone calls to Senators in the building that day), the newspapers don’t bring any attention to the fact that the timing is not being reported. Couldn’t the newspapers state witnesses are refusing to tell them the timing? Were newspapers asked not to report the timing? I have no idea.
This Washington Post article puts the McCarthy/Trump call timing as ” McCarthy did eventually reach Trump, but later told allies that he found the president distracted. So McCarthy repeatedly appeared on television [note: looks like 3:05pm was earliest Rep. McCarthy called in to a TV station, WUSA] to describe the mayhem, an adviser said, in an effort to explain just how dire the situation was.”
But the same article takes pains to mention that Sen. Lee received a call from WH National Security Adviser O’Brien who “called Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) around 4 p.m., a Lee spokesman said.”
What’s interesting is how this frustrating lack of concept you note:
also leads defendants like Watkins to trip over themselves, as you detail, trying to redefine the terms of their chronic, goal-oriented behavior.
Even an individual defense-motivated version of the truth gets closer to the truth of chronic readiness to act on behalf of Trump’s aims/needs to stay in power (which becomes also their need for him to stay in power).
Part of that missing concept is the place of chronic incitement, with reward and bi-directional feedback*, in this conspiracy. Like the opposite of ‘cry wolf’ syndrome, they (excl. some) don’t fatigue or peel off from the chronic messages but follow through the ultimate deadline (while some linger still for new ‘orders’). Domestic terrorism is a chronic arousal condition with acute action phases.
While not exactly the analogue I’m looking for, something like (the obverse of) a battered woman syndrome (defense) that recognizes a continuity of events prior to acute (or ultimately culminative) acts bears a resemblance.**
It’s also harder to puzzle out how this case, led by a POTUS having actual and immense powers, might vary from a generalized concept of domestic terrorism. I mean people often believe that their cult leaders do have unreasonable power, generally (some folks believe that of themselves, too). And such leaders do have that power as it impacts proximate followers, a bit more co-present, wrt the fodder of their lives.
With the POTUS as leader it becomes a size and scaling problem, which often denotes a shape change.
*one bit of feedback _to_ Trump beyond social media likes, rally-yellers, roadway caravans, and such would have been Trump and admin’s awareness of the escalating primacy of WN/militant domestic terror threats.
**not otherwise comparable also because (here) Trump’s street conspirators are not and have not been in proximate danger, nor were harmed/subjects of the leader’s ire.
“We need language to describe domestic terrorism” – I felt I heard some tonight in the warning of Judge Salas on “60 Minutes” chillingly describe the future plans of a man who targeted her family – to stalk a Supreme Court Justice next. These things are escalating and need to stop.
So, you think there are “not” sufficient laws already? You want to give even more hysterical power to law enforcement and prosecutors? Seriously? Murder, attempted murder, attack on a federal officer and conspiracy are not enough for you? In conjunction, those are death penalty offenses. What more do you want? What will satisfy you if a capital offense is not enough?
It’s like the laws making it less of a crime to hit protesters with a car, and more of a crime to protest. It seems to satisfy some some people, but really doesn’t help. Use the laws that already exist, where they reasonably apply, and try to remember that anything you want to be able to use against others can also be used against you and your associates.
Yes. But according to best estimates—and estimates are all we have (because there are simply too many to keep track of)—there are about 4,500 federal crimes in the United States Code, and more than 300,000 federal crimes dispersed throughout the Code of Federal Regulations. If that is not enough, including all kinds of capital offenses, what will yet another one accomplish other than sheer demagoguery? People get insane over this.
The result of people thinking “we need a law about this” without bothering to see if there already is one.
(It’s like L.A. and water conservation: they pass a conservation ordinance during a drought, and when it ends they forget it exists; lather, rinse, repeat. I feel like it’s bass-ackward: assume there’s a drought, and work from there.)
Exactly. “We’ll fix that!” No, you won’t, you’ll just make it more stupid in the future. As you say, rinse, lather and repeat.
“we need a law about this”, aka There Oughta Be A Law.
Through this whole episode, it’s easy to see how people let their emotions take control. But it’s important to step outside the emotions and think about unintended consequences, including a situation where the emotional positions might be reversed, as P J points out.
Hey, bmaz, since it’s my language you’re bitching about, want to actually engage with what’s before you?
I raise problems with the DOJ case (particularly hanging this on a terrorist enhancement).
I argue AGAINST new laws.
I’m talking about something different and you’re simply wailing about something that’s not in this post.
Your questions are good. Food for thought. I have followed this blog for more than a dozen years, however, and I would respectfully offer a different perspective. What I meant by escalating: to rise to the level of nuts bringing guns into the homes of judges evolves out of longstanding social impunity. I know personally that doxxing and stalking and cyberharassing – attacks from extreme fringes – have been going on for years. Average people who experience this and complain are ignored by law enforcement. (I have a copy of my police report from 2008.) Victims are blamed. It depends on how much money and power you have, what color your skin might be, who you know, where you live, whether existing law applies and is enforced. Victims eventually disappear from the conversation. Why is there no system to stop the trolling, smears and threats? Why does Dr. W need pit bulls to keep her blog civil and fair? I don’t know the answer but I hear the alarms going off for our culture.
“The US Secret Service, in response to Watkins’ claims in the Saturday filing, denied that private citizens were working with the Secret Service to provide security on January 6.
‘To carry out its protective functions on January 6th, the U.S. Secret Service relied on the assistance of various government partners. Any assertion that the Secret Service employed private citizens to perform those functions is false,’ a US Secret Service spokesperson said in a statement to CNN on Sunday.”
The Secret Service’s answer is evasive. No allegation suggested Watkins was employed by SS.
Was SS in control of event planning for “Save America Rally,” or the “Stop the Steal March” including guests and any private security arrangements for guests? Is private security beyond SS ever involved in political events where SS-covered individuals are present?
Their response addresses answers to pointless questions not asked, and glaringly obfuscates the clear questions that were; it’s a game of sleight of hand.
We’ll find that it’s likely Trump’s own rally or campaign-affiliated organizations probably did engage Watkins as anti-tankie duty on way to Capitol.
Is there a form of response that would satisfy you? Because they’re addressing the vaguest of assertions (“met with”).
I wonder if the Secret Service is responding to slightly overblown* media reports about Watkins’ lawyer’s claims, rather than the claims themselves. Because the lawyer never said Watkins was “working with” the secret service in general, or even the specific agents she allegedly “met with”.
* not a reference to ew
When it comes to national politics, writ large, I pay particular personal attention to my participation in “protests” and where my self-interest is on full display, the Chicano-oriented “demonstrations” of many years past. Consequently, the results have never demonstrated “political violence” of any sort, since Chicano military vets have taken to the challenging role of ‘policing’ these demonstrations. Thus, the high volume participation of ‘immigration protests’ speak factually to this historical behavior.
However, permit me to apologize for the two recent occasions of these past 30 days, here at Marcy’s website, and where I espoused that “Anglos need to pull their head out of their asses.” Thus, my expressed frustration during these two touts have been my sizable lack of self-restraint, over these past twenty years of political writing,
Consequently, when I look to the Capitol Demonstrations, shortly before January 6th, on January the 6th, and shortly thereafter, I come away, with my dismay, that today, neither the FBI or the Justice Department has “defined” the political behavior as “protest” or “terrorism” or “Sedition” and which leads to any accurate or sizable discussion. Or where “bail” being touted in either of these three categories of dissent.
And as such, I come down on the side of Bmaz, when it comes to each antagonist being made available for “bail.” Therefore, each dissenter should be acceptable for “bail” in that should the FBI or the DOJ, press on for a civil or criminal behavior, the pending release of each of these antagonists be can readily addressed in a court of law. And thankfully, we, as a nation have the historical construct that is the Public Defenders Office, standing by to demonstrate “more” Democracy.
Maybe this is how WATKINS et al got that gig?
I wonder if they were supposed to be paid for their security services?
Here is a VIDEO Marcy linked to yesterday, in which Roger STONE tries to raise money for security [and other things] at the 1/6 event. [It was posted at this Twitter link on 1/1/21, but I don’t know how to figure out when/where it was first posted by STONE.]:
1:50 AM · Jan 1, 2021
From the embedded VIDEO at that link:
I have a comment in moderation with a transcription of that video, but a few things about it:
Stone calls it a “peaceful” event twice, but RILES UP people by calling the election a “heist”, and also with anti-Semitism [saying George Soros funds “leftists”].
WHY does he feel he has to say that TWICE?
Sometime on or before 1/1 he does say there will be a march.
STONE also says “This is a pop-up grassroots event” [LOL!]
TRUMP did something similar in his 1/6/ speech, where he said that StopTheSteal was really his audience’s idea.
[I interpret this as them trying to deflecting responsibility for what will happen onto their supporters.]
[I’m placing this new info at both WATKINS posts]
Oath Keeper now says she didn’t meet with Secret Service around the January 6 rally
Katelyn Polantz, CNN Updated 7:22 PM ET, Mon February 22, 2021
There’s a screenshot of a section here, but I don’t have a link to the document:
From the screenshot [2/22]:
The former statement was [2/20]:
She was given a VIP pass to the rally. She met with Secret Service agents.
[Since I typed out that screenshot, I might as well add it here]
Counsel for WATKINS [2/22]:
Here’s the filing from Marcy:
7:13 PM · Feb 22, 2021
Am I allowed to say I’m not surprised? Because yesterday I commented that “she met with Secret Service agents” was hugely ambiguous and I suggested that perhaps she just said “hi” and they nodded back. In other words, “encountered”.
Just say dude. What are we dancing about?
I’m unclear about this statement:
“(moreover, I think this claim is somewhat inconsistent with that the reported analyses shows, because members that would become the Stack left early, perhaps in response to Caldwell’s text).”
Caldwell’s “where are you” text is time stamped as 2:06 — nearly an hour after Trump stopped speaking. If the Stack left in response to Caldwell’s text, they did not leave early — although given that the video of the stack moving through the crowd occurs after the building is breached, its likely that those people did leave in response to the caldwell text.