On January 6, Look to the Continuances

Riley June Williams — the woman with ties to the far right who was shown on video directing people around the Capitol and is accused of abetting the theft of Nancy Pelosi’s laptop — has not yet been indicted. Normally, the Speedy Trial Act gives prosecutors a limit of time — roughly 30 days — to formally charge you after you’re arrested. But with Williams, the government has been using a series of motions to extend this timeline. They currently have until July 21 to indict Williams.

That, by itself, isn’t all that unusual. But amid an ongoing conversation about whether the January 6 investigation will hold the most powerful accountable for the insurrection, I want to point to the existing long unindicted defendants to suggest, again, we don’t really know where this investigation is going.

Tracking which January 6 defendants haven’t been indicted is one way to identify cases that might be more interesting than others. Jon Schaffer’s case got continued for months leading up to his entry into a cooperation agreement on April 16. And Christopher Kelly’s case got continued for months before the government moved to dismiss it on June 1. At least some of these weren’t the boilerplate unopposed motions for a continuance, citing the unprecedented challenge of assembling all the evidence in this case, that have been used in most defendants cases; they were more specific requests for more time to conduct the investigation. As the disparate fate of these two men suggests, you can’t really tell what is interesting about a case if the formal charging is delayed.

But such non-boilerplate continuances are one thing I track (and I know other journalists do too) for potentially interesting cases. They happen in formally charged cases, too (for example, QAnoner Doug Jensen’s case got continued until tomorrow in such a fashion after prosecutors enhanced his own legal exposure). But it is easier to track the especially interesting delays in cases, like Williams’, where the defendant hasn’t been indicted yet.

To be sure, such continuances don’t guarantee a case will be interesting. A number of these cases end up in delayed felony charges (though that’s true of the boilerplate continuances as well). Sometimes these delays are attributable to delays in attorneys getting approved to represent defendants in the DC District. In several cases, such continuances were used when either the defendant or their lawyer got COVID. Sometimes, it even seems like the system has lost defendants (with just a handful of exceptions, thankfully not those being detained). There are a couple of defense attorneys and a couple of prosecutors who just seem to like doing it this way.

Often, lawyers attribute the delay to plea discussions (though that’s generally the reason for the unopposed continuances, as well as the consent ones).

Sometimes something else seems to be going on. For example, Prosecutor Brandi Harden has twice gotten continuances in the case of Emanuel Jackson, the developmentally challenged homeless man who walked into the middle of the insurrection off the street and was handed a baseball bat which he used to assault cops, with the explanation, “There are outstanding issues related to Mr. Jackson’s case, that the parties are continuing to address.”

In several cases, such continuances seem to tie to a defendant’s other existing legal problems. For example, Bryan Betancur violated probation by lying about his purposes for going to DC on January 6, and so has been thrown back in jail because of it (though Betancur’s friend, Britney Dillon, was recently charged in the riot). In another example, when the FBI searched Adam Honeycutt’s home in association with this January 6 arrest warrant, they found guns and marijuana that exposed him to charges in Florida; DC prosecutors are delaying his January 6 prosecution until after a trial this week on the possession charges in Florida. But in at least one of those cases — that of Kash Kelly, charged with just misdemeanor trespassing — the delay comes with a defendant who was discussed in a conversation involving Rudy Giuliani and who cooperated against his fellow gang members in his drug-related prosecution in Illinois. The fact that Ryan Samsel’s then girlfriend, Raechel Genco, has had her own trespassing case continued, makes his more intriguing, though there’s a long list of reasons that readily explain why Samsel’s prosecution has been delayed, not least that he was brutally beaten by someone yet to be determined while he in the DC jail.

All that said, I wanted to point to some clusters that may suggest future developments. An easy one are the cases of Emily Hernandez, her uncle William Merry, and their friend Paul Westover all of which have been delayed with continuances. They traveled to insurrection together and show up in pictures showing off the piece of a sign from Nancy Pelosi’s office they stole.

It would be unsurprising to see these cases get combined into a conspiracy, possibly with others from St. Louis.

That said, a goodly number of defendants awaiting formal charges were in Pelosi’s office, including Williams.

Along with Williams, there are others, like Anthime Gionet, who have known ties with America First or were in the vicinity of others self-identifying as America First who are also awaiting their charges.

Then there’s the case of Brandon Straka. He’s the head of the Walkaway campaign, and was a speaker on January 5. There’s no allegation he entered the door of the Capitol, though at a time when he was on the stairs, he was involved in attempting to take a shield from an officer and for that got charged with civil disorder (in addition to the standard trespass crimes). He obviously could be charged with obstruction, but that hasn’t been charged yet. On May 24, the parties asked for a continuance and excludable delay until August, but Magistrate Judge Robin Meriweather hasn’t yet issued an order approving that. (There’s one other person that engaged in higher level organizing, but I suspect it’s the choice of her attorney.)

Update: This morning Judge Meriweather signed the Straka continuance.

Update: Doug Jensen wants to go work while he awaits resolution of his case (specifically mentioning self-surrender) so he settle his affairs and take care of his family.

22 replies
    • Savage Librarian says:

      This may mean nothing at all. But in the first camp video of the article I cited, the one in 2017 in NY state (which I only watched for about 5 out of about 30 min.), there was one man that caught my attention. It was the brevity of his appearance and the way he turned his head away that seemed odd in comparison to others in the film. He shows up at about the 2:28 and 3:47 marks.

      He has a gray ponytail and facial hair. He is wearing a gray and black jacket over a red tee-shirt with some yellow markings. He stands behind a man with a bright yellow jacket. Maybe he is just camera shy. I am that way myself. So, it might not mean anything at all. Still, I thought it worth mentioning.

    • subtropolis says:

      This investigation follows from that of the Mueller Report. It describes how Russian Intelligence was believed to be sending money to the Russian diaspora inside the US. Note the line about two people who’d been interviewed by the FBI “in 2020”.

  1. joel fisher says:

    Taking stuff from other people by violence or threats of violence is robbery. Taking an officer’s shield from the officer is robbery. I wonder why Straka isn’t charged with that.

    • bmaz says:

      18 USC §103:

      “Whoever, within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States, by force and violence, or by intimidation, takes or attempts to take from the person or presence of another anything of value, shall be imprisoned not more than fifteen years.”

      I would not expect many pleas to §103.

  2. Peterr says:

    That said, a goodly number of defendants awaiting formal charges were in Pelosi’s office, including Williams.

    This is *very* interesting.

    Given that the laptop from Pelosi’s office remains missing, this leads me to (WAG alert) think that perhaps the DOJ believes there is something specific going on here — might there be paper files or documents that also went missing? — that implies not just re-planning but also some post-insurrection planning as well.

    Pelosi’s office is not just one among 535 in the Capitol, and I suspect there were plenty of laptops and computers in the offices of other members of Congress – but none of them went missing. Yes, there is symbolic power for the insurrectionist to post photos with their feet up on the desk, but I smell something bigger going on here.

    • emptywheel says:

      FWIW, another one of the continuances here involves a guy they seem to suspect (but is not charged with) stealing Merkley’s laptop.

    • subtropolis says:

      It implies nothing, whatsoever. Speaker Pelosi’s office had a sign out front (before it was yanked down), and these dipshits had spread all over the place. That they found themselves there is no surprise. That things were taken from that specific office is also unsurprising. These were dipshit trophies of battle, opportunistic snagging of mostly pointless items. One of them made off with a frigging podium!

      If Williams was directing the mob anywhere, I think it’s just as likely that it was simply a decision made in the moment. “Hey, what’s up this way? Everyone, go up there!” It was a heady time for all of them, and most were just going with the mob. That any of them found themselves outside any particular office is uninteresting, imho. (Aren’t many of those 535, or whatever, offices in adjoining buildings, btw?) No doubt, some people thought that the laptop might harbour terrible secrets about the evil democrats. But I doubt that there had been any plan to toss anyone’s office.

      Anyway, aside from the fact that she’s a Nazi, I’ve seen little to suggest that she was a part of any Jan. 6 conspiracy similar to that of the PBs and OKs, (Didn’t she travel there with her father?) I’d guess that, if there’s any deeper investigation into her it’s because of the laptop, the suggestion of a Russian friend who it might be sent to, and her Nazi circle of shitty friends.

  3. Lawnboy says:

    Fwiw, a person in Nancy P status would have some protection on the device, perhaps Gov USA basic and much more.
    Perhaps a complete lock up on three tries to enter.
    Perhaps a BOLO if hooked to a port?
    I’m thinking very special skills to break it or read it.
    Say Micky Soft scanning for the Mac Id, plural.

    35 years in control systems, industrial. Ive seen some things…
    Btw … these caterpillars are forming stacks as they trash my Birch to trees!!!! Wherever did they learn that.

    • P J Evans says:

      Generally, logins give you three tries before locking you out – that’s normal, and has been for years. There may be separate logins for secure stuff – although that machine reportedly wasn’t used for that kind of work. Separate logins for some apps, or for network access, maybe.

        • Lawnboy says:

          Frankly, if I wanted to lock my gear, I just didn’t tell IT about and let it stand alone. Rooms were locked, and service was hands on like the old DEC pdp-11s. We had stuff that was under the radar for years. Mind you, I was “caught”, and the boys in the tower put it on line, then the problems began.

        • P J Evans says:

          All the places I worked and needed a login, at least. (My pet peeve was getting locked out after one try: that was seriously annoying, when all you were doing was the mandated password change – that was something else they did for security, a password change every three months/90 days, no repeating passwords.)

        • subtropolis says:

          It’s generally set by the operating system, but can be configured by admins to something other than the default.

        • Rayne says:

          Which means it’s a choice exercised by the system admins — they either choose a default or something else.

          Having been a sysadmin I’ve exercised this choice along with levels of access providing granularity of security features.

          Going to point out we don’t know how much content was kept on the device or in servers. Your boot disk scenario doesn’t work for server-side content.

      • subtropolis says:

        Restricting the number of login attempts is only somewhat useful if the Bad Guy is trying to access the device in place. Walk away with the device to an unknown location, and all that’s required is a boot disk. One hopes that her laptop had been set up with encrypted partitions. Without that, the data is theirs for the taking at their leisure.

        • Lawnboy says:

          Agreed, all true wrt logins. My deterministic control projects were built Y2K ready (now Ive really dated myself). Web abled stuff broke with my KISS plan. I enjoyed simpler times in the computer world.

  4. Leoghann says:

    I’ve tried for over an hour to find an article I read a month or so ago about Riley June Williams. The gist was that early damning information on her was found to have come from an angry ex, so investigators reduced the heat on her a good bit. At that time, they were having trouble figuring out what, exactly, had happened to the laptop, and it was suggested that she may have simply tossed it. But then other evidence turned up to corroborate earlier information that she does have connections to some seditious individuals or groups. That may still be under investigation. Her hollering orders to those around her could just mean she’s bossy.

    Ryan Samsel has a particularly violent history, with a number of assault arrests, including several for domestic violence, including assaults on the woman he was with in the Capitol. She has stated that she is afraid of him, and that he has threatened her since his incarceration. In one of his recent attempts to get bail, prosecution argued that there was no situation under which he could be released and not pose a danger to others.

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