Three Crimes Included in Proud Boy Matthew Greene’s Intent Statement

I’m writing a post on the limits of Matthew Greene’s knowledge of the larger Proud Boy plot on January 6, and therefore the bounds of his value as a cooperator (though his cooperation is really important, not least because it’ll lead others to follow his lead). Before I do so, I wanted to talk about the long motive paragraph included in his statement of offense.

He attested under oath yesterday that his intent on January 6 was to cause legislators and Mike Pence to act differently — implicitly, to either not certify any winner of the electoral college or name Trump the winner.

Greene’s intent in conspiring with others to unlawfully enter the restricted area of the Capitol grounds was to send a message to legislators and Vice President Pence. Greene knew the lawmakers and the Vice President were inside the Capitol building conducting the certification of the Electoral College Vote at the time the riot occurred. Green hoped that his actions and those of his co-conspirators would cause legislators and the Vice President to act differently during the course of the certification of the Electoral College Vote than they would have otherwise. Greene believed that by unlawfully entering the Capitol grounds, he and other rioters outside the building would send a stronger message to lawmakers and the Vice President, than if Green and others had stayed outside the restricted area. Green knew that the Capitol grounds he intended to enter were lawfully guarded by U.S. Capitol Police at the time he entered. Greene agrees that a reasonable foreseeable outcome, based on all the circumstances, taking into account the actions of other individuals, including Pezzola and Pepe, of his joining with members of the Proud Boys, to charge up the pedestrian walkway, into the West Plaza, and up the stairs under the Inauguration stage was that destruction of and/or damage to the U.S. Capitol or Capitol Grounds property would occur. [my emphasis]

This intent statement ties together several crimes used against a good many of the rioters on January 6, and not just Proud Boys:

Obstruction: The intent to cause Pence and others to act differently fulfills the mens rea requirement for obstruction. It does so in a transitive way, meaning the intent was to intimidate other people to act in a way counter to what their duty and justice demanded. That’s interesting because Judge Amit Mehta’s opinion on obstruction saw the mens rea requirement as intransitive. While this intent statement has evidence of intransitive mens rea as well, I think intimidation is the strongest application of obstruction on January 6. This, then, is a low level Proud Boy stating that the point of the riot was to intimidate Pence and others to get them to act a certain way.

Damage to the Capitol: As I have discussed repeatedly, the government is using the damage done to the Capitol, specifically the window that Dominic Pezzola broke in the first breach of the Capitol, to get to a terrorist enhancement that may expose defendants to far longer sentences. DOJ needs to prove that the damage Pezzola and others did was a reasonably foreseeable outcome of their efforts to obstruct the vote count to hold all the Proud Boys charged as co-conspirators accountable for the damage that Pezzola did. Here, Greene admits that that damage was foreseeable, and therefore exposes Pezzola, along with all the Proud Boys charged as co-conspirators, to that terrorist enhancement.

Trespassing: While there are ways that Greene’s cooperation is limited, it is significant that the first Proud Boy entering into a cooperation agreement did not enter the Capitol, as Greene did not. That’s because his intent statement adopts a broader understanding of the geographic area that might be deemed to contribute to the obstruction, to include the restricted area outside the building. This means it might incorporate others, like 3%er Guy Reffitt, Oath Keeper associates Thomas Caldwell and Bennie Parker, anti-masker Alan Hostetter, and Pied Piper of insurrection Alex Jones, in the scope of obstructive behavior, even if they didn’t enter the building. To be sure, DOJ will need to similarly prove the intent of each of these people; but by adopting this intent statement, Greene adopts it as the scope envisioned by the Proud Boys, the organizers of the entire assault.

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40 replies
    • Peterr says:

      This ought to worry Trump’s lawyers even more, especially since I don’t think Trump has a clue about how much danger something like this puts him in.

      And a client who thinks he’s in the clear is apt to say or do something stupid that amps up the danger.

    • BobCon says:

      If I understand things right, the implication of these posts is prosecutors building a bigger case don’t have to show all of the people at 1/6 were intending to interfere with the proceedings, just some of them.

      One thing I’m curious about is whether there is any parallel investigation involving separate intimidation efforts. Was there a conspiracy to flood GOP rep offices before, during, and immediately after the attack with ominous warnings to go along with the mob?

      And furthermore, if there is any kind of ability to tie say, the transmission of a GOP whip count by a GOP rep to one of the organizers, which then launched a phone and email barrage.

      These kinds of things happen all the time in more mundane situations — you’ll see reps sharing whip counts with the amalgamated widget manufacturers in order to drive a legitimate local widget maker outreach campaign.

      But it seems possible that with regard to 1/6 the activities could well go far past the usual threat not to vote for a reluctant rep and all the way into threats of violence for failing to interrupt the House proceedings.I can see why some GOP reps might be worried where traces of connections back and forth might lead.

      • Rayne says:

        There definitely was a separate intimidation conspiracy — the Republican Attorneys General Association worked on states’ election officials to ensure that votes were “found” to meet the halted certification process in the House in concert with their robocalls to drum up attendance at the January 6 “rally.” The intimidation hasn’t stopped, it’s just not as overtly attached to RAGA.
        https://democraticags.medium.com/republican-attorneys-general-attack-on-democracy-a-timeline-42ac4c3d4e34
        (timeline isn’t complete/up to date, IMO)

        That’s the investigation we haven’t see much of except for movement in Georgia by Fulton County DA.
        https://www.fox5atlanta.com/news/fulton-county-da-continues-investigation-of-trumps-alleged-election-tampering

        EDIT: Adding this link to harpie’s comments in which she posted the ties between RAGA effort and what was supposed to happen in the Senate — remember Rudy’s misdial to Mike Lee for Tuberville? Kind of gave away the game.

        See: https://www.emptywheel.net/2021/12/13/have-ethan-nordeans-hopes-been-semi-coloned-by-dabney-friedrichs-chapter-and-verse/#comment-911580

        • BobCon says:

          There’s definitely a lot to investigate. To the extent this happening on the House side, we wouldn’t necessarily see much of it now because internal congressional investigations aren’t bound by the level of disclosure of a typical DOJ probe.

          It’s one of the curious things about the GOP leadership decision to refuse to participate. If they had’t nominated pure stooges like Jordan to the Committee, they might have been able to place a leaker in the middle of the process. Now they’re shut out with Cheney and Kinzinger being good faith participants.

          We know less in the short run because of the limited leaks, but it’s a worthwhile tradeoff, especially considering the way Jordan types leak dishonestly but reporters tend to write about them as if they were true.

      • Peterr says:

        And furthermore, if there is any kind of ability to tie say, the transmission of a GOP whip count by a GOP rep to one of the organizers, which then launched a phone and email barrage.

        Unless that barrage included threats of violence, this sounds like constitutionally protected “petition[ing] the government for a redress of grievances” under the first amendment.

        Of all the witnesses that the Jan 6 committee staff has spoken with, I wonder how many staff receptionists in congressional offices they have deposed. “We’re not going to ask you — at least not now — about conversations you had with the member of Congress for whom you work. We want to know about your conversations with people who called your office . . .” Unlike their bosses, these are *not* wealthy folks, and do not have lawyers on retainer to advise them.

        And the staff grapevine could likely point Jan 6 investigators to the right staffers to contact. Any conversation between staffers in different offices after election day 2020 that started “Man, you wouldn’t believe the callers I’ve had to deal with lately . . .” is just begging for followup.

        • emptywheel says:

          Overt acts in a conspiracy can be legal. So that wouldn’t exclude the phone and email barrage.

          But there are far more interesting overt acts already in front of us.

          • Peterr says:

            Agreed.

            But the notoriously bad pay on Capitol Hill could easily induce low level staffers to say “You can’t pay me enough to put up with this crap . . .” and come forward to share what they’ve had to deal with.

            For that matter, there may be a protocol in place that says “If you get a threat of death and/or violence, document it and report it to . . .” some official agency – US Capitol Police, the Sergeant at Arms, US Secret Service, etc. If so, I would assume the Jan 6 committee has already seen those reports.

            • BobCon says:

              There was also a lot of anger in GOP offices over demands that staff show up during the worst of Covid, especially since a lot of members only come in when there are votes on the floor, which were largely suspended.

              And most of those offices are cramped and poorly ventilated.

              Does that by itself translate to being full-fledged volunteers of information? Probably not, but it lowers the odds of some people willing to go to jail for one of those fools.

  1. Peterr says:

    his intent statement adopts a broader understanding of the geographic area that might be deemed to contribute to the obstruction, to include the restricted area outside the building.

    The argument that “she/he never went inside the building!” always struck me as silly, given the restricted nature of the surrounding area.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Abortion protesters rarely set foot inside a clinic, for example, yet their protests are frequently violent and beyond free speech limits.

      • Rugger9 says:

        Indeed, their purpose is to block access, not storm the building. However, a siege needs inside and outside help, and “not entering the building” also means in these cases that the perps were there to block access by the government responders.

  2. BobCon says:

    “Unless that barrage included threats of violence, this sounds like constitutionally protected…”

    That’s why I noted the way it’s legal to do these things when it’s communicating wih widget manufacturers but may not be here. Members have been getting explicit death threats, but I don’t know how much effort has gone into getting past the first layer of protection provided by a clumsy attempt at anonymity by using a Hotmail address or fake Facebook account. I suspect a lot of that would be sifting through lone nuts, but maybe not all of it is.

    The possible issue for conspiring members of Congress is that they are so used to commingling personal staff and resources with their political organizing that they slipped up when it involved potentially criminal activity. Meadows to Member X might have been over Signal, but Member X to his secretary may well have been over house.gov email or a regular ATT text.

    Member X doesn’t ultimately control his servers.

  3. Rita says:

    Trump’s final exhortation to the crowd on January 6th has always struck me as strange, in both the wording and the deliberate manner of delivery.

    Certainly, by then, he knew that the head count in both the Senate and the House was against him. He knew that Pence was not going to cave to to his pleas. He had gotten thousands of his supporters to come to Washington in the winter. No one in Congress was unaware of the existence of numerous Trump supporters in Washington. His allies and he had just spent 2 days haranguing and exhorting the crowd with increasingly bellicose language. Yet, at the end, he just wanted the crowd to march to the Capitol grounds to “cheer on” the Republican Senators?

    Unfortunately, unlike Greene, I don’t think Trump will ever admit to sending the mob to the Capitol for the purpose of intimidation.

    • harpie says:

      Yes. Sometimes I forget just how awful that whole rally was…
      [I think it was the culmination of many months of psychological operations perpetrated against the people.]
      And, it was orchestrated BY TRUMP to produce a given result.

      There’s a synopsis, here: https://www.emptywheel.net/2021/02/08/in-his-impeachment-defense-trump-spends-five-times-as-long-not-addressing-the-mike-pence-allegations/#comment-882266

      1:10 PM [approx.] TRUMP:

      And we fight. We fight like hell. And if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore. Our exciting adventures and bold endeavors (crowd chants “Fight like hell!”) have not yet begun, my fellow Americans, for our movement.

      So we’re going to, we’re going to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue. I love Pennsylvania Avenue. And we’re going to the Capitol, and we’re going to try and give. The Democrats are hopeless, they never vote for anything. Not even one vote.

      But we’re going to try and give our Republicans, the weak ones because the strong ones don’t need any of our help. We’re going to try and give them the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country.

      So let’s walk down Pennsylvania Avenue.
      I want to thank you all. God bless you and God Bless America.
      Thank you all for being here. This is incredible. Thank you very much. Thank you. (applause, cheering)

      • Rita says:

        Thanks for finding the excerpt. Somewhere I remember his saying that the crowd was going to cheer on the Republicans.

        • joberly says:

          Rita—you ask a good question about Trump’s intent before, during, and at the end of the Ellipse rally. Simply intimidating Republican representatives and senators with crowd noise would not work to delay the count. There was no majority in the Democratic House, or the Republican Senate for that matter, for rejecting the E.V. votes. However, intimidating the vice president still might work, even as late as 1:10 p.m. that afternoon. This was despite Pence’s “no” to Louie Gohmert’s Dec 27 lawsuit, his no to Eastman’s bullying in the Oval Office, his no to Trump’s Jan. 5th sweet-talking about “wouldn’t it be cool” to have the power to decide the presidency, and finally, the no statement Pence released at 12:30 p.m on the 6th. That left only the roar of the crowd–or the storming of the Capitol–as the last chance to intimidate Pence to halt the count for 10 days per the Ted Cruz gambit, and send the AZ-GA-MI-NV-PA-WI EV slates back to those states, where Giuliani et al were trying to get rump slates put forward.

      • Rita says:

        Just checked the speech. He talked about cheering on the senators and congressmen and women and not cheering so much for some of them much earlier in the speech

        And he also said that people were going to be marching over to the Capitol building to “peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard”.

      • harpie says:

        Yes, that was early in the speech. Part of it is in this VIDEO clip:
        https://twitter.com/atrupar/status/1346868892451409922
        12:19 PM · Jan 6, 2021

        Now, it is up to Congress to confront this egregious assault on our democracy. And after this, we’re going to walk down, and I’ll be there with you, we’re going to walk down, we’re going to walk down. Anyone you want, but I think right here, [12:16 PM] we’re going to walk down to the Capitol, and we’re going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women, and we’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them. Because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength and you have to be strong. (cheering)
        We have come to demand that Congress do the right thing and only count the electors who have been lawfully slated, lawfully slated.

        • Rita says:

          I looked at the NPR transcription of the speech. I was a little surprised to see that Trump disparaged Liz Cheney by name in that speech. Could it be that she was one of those Republicans who put a damper on Trump’s plans?

          I brought up that part of the speech because it seemed so odd that he would be sending the mob to the Capitol …just to cheer or jeer. To me it seemed to be for the purpose of intimidation.

          • harpie says:

            Definitely intimidation!

            As for naming Republicans:
            [BWR=Bashing weak Republicans]
            12:11 PM BWR McConnell
            12:13 PM BWR Romney
            12:13 PM BWR Pence
            12:29 PM BWR Kemp
            12:29 PM BWR Supreme Court, Kavanaugh
            12:29 PM BWR Barr
            12:45 PM BWR “the Liz Cheney’s of the world”
            12:46 PM BWR Brad Raffensperger
            12:49 PM BWR Pence “I’m not hearing good stories.”

          • Leoghann says:

            Remember that his m. o. for many years is to stop short of directly asking for what he wants. Instead, he couches it in remarks about what he wishes someone would do, or stops short of stating the ultimate outcome.

        • harpie says:

          Yes. Just read through that synopsis I linked to from early on…Every.Single.Speaker.

          I’ve since transcribed some of those…ackkk! The one at
          9:49 AM [SPEAKER?] “We’re not gonna complain. We’re not gonna cry in the streets”

          That speaker was Katrina PIERSON, and that speech was a piece of work. And she introduced Amy KREMER.

          https://twitter.com/atrupar/status/1346831720235073540
          9:51 AM · Jan 6, 2021

          [Katrina PIERSON] 9:49 AM “We’re not gonna complain. We’re not gonna cry in the streets” [VIDEO]

          [Because we know how to fight for our country. If we’re not gonna complain. We’re not gonna cry in the streets. We’re not gonna go sit in. You’re gonna see us. And you’re gonna hear us. But we’re gonna be working.]

  4. dwfreeman says:

    The reason we know the insurrection was a planned event is because the militia groups needed no go-ahead signal or prompting before leaving their rally site at the Washington monument before Trump’s speech on the elipse concluded. They weren’t waiting for a presidential command.

    They already had marching orders. And unlike Trump’s crowd they took the road less traveled to get to the Capitol by way of the mall. Why? They didn’t have a permit to march, and organizers were concerned about this. A ProPublica story in late June illustrates the point with a witness who has garnered a lot of recent press attention.

    None of the rally organizers who helped bring the crowds to DC got march permits. Trump invited the mob to the Capitol for the siege in his speech, lying about about his personal involvement. And only Ali Alexander’s Stop the Steal had a permit for the Capitol grounds on 1/6. There had been disagreements among the rally organizers about speaker participation on the Ellipse because of concern over violence rhetoric expected from certain leaders.

    “A last-minute march, without a permit, without all the metro police that would usually be there to fortify the perimeter, felt unsafe, said rally organizer Dustin Stockton. His girlfriend and fellow organizer was more blunt, “And these people aren’t there for a flower contest. They’re there because they’re angry.”

  5. Tom says:

    Trump knew there was going to be trouble at the Capitol on January 6th. That’s why he made sure he wasn’t there when it happened, just like he made sure he avoided that other trouble in Vietnam some decades previous. By being absent he was better able to frame the Capitol riot as a spontaneous uprising of ‘the people’.

    When Trump spoke of a ‘peaceful protest’ it was with an implicit ‘nudge-nudge, grin-grin, wink-wink’. After all the other combative rhetoric the MAGA mob had heard that day, Trump knew that his few passing pacific words would have about as much ameliorative effect on the crowd’s mood and temper as a squirt of Chanel No. 5 at an industrial chicken farm on a mellow Mississippi summer afternoon. Trump was as sincere as in telling his rowdies to peacefully protest as Shakespeare’s Mark Antony was when he told the Roman mob that Brutus and his fellows were “all honourable men.” Both rabble-rousers meant the exact opposite of what they said.

      • Stephen Calhoun says:

        The violence does fit into the sketch of a plan to delay the congress’s business for the sake of Trump instantiating a Declaration of Insurrection. We’re hearing more about this again right now in the media. From this come lots of outlandish next steps, such as directing the military to redo the election in the ‘suspect’ states—the Flynn gambit—except this time with only in-person and paper ballot voting. (Yeah, right!) Anyway just reprising here what some suggest the violence was geared for; and everybody here knows this stuff cold.

        Still, I mention this simply because it puts in relief what didn’t happen and could have: which is the insurrectionists might have gone beyond the close quarters and disrupted the evacuation and sheltering to capture congresspersons, staff, and then proceeded in their inchoate way with their mad plan/improvisation.

        How might TFG have responded to a hostage situation? Thank goodness, we will never know. Everybody following along notes the irony implicit in the fantasy of declaring a state of insurrection for the purpose of furthering it along.

      • Tom says:

        Fortunately, it wasn’t quite wild enough for Trump to achieve his nefarious ends. Here’s hoping he never gets a second chance.

    • Rita says:

      I think that Trump’s brief exhortations about marching “peacefully and patriotically” to the Capitol were intended to provide him a defense against charges that he incited the violence. As in, “See, I told them to march peacefully and patriotically.”

      Of course, that would suggest an awareness on Trump’s part of the possibility/probability of violence from his mob. Proof of that awareness would be difficult.

    • Dopeyo says:

      Trump knew there was going to be trouble at the Capitol on January 6th. That’s why he made sure he wasn’t there when it happened, just like he made sure he avoided that other trouble in Vietnam some decades previous. By being absent he was better able to frame the Capitol riot as a spontaneous uprising of ‘the people’.

      Two thoughts: 1. Trump was utilizing mob-boss-deniability. 2. Trump wanted to be near the Oval Office for a planned televised declaration of martial law. Not knowing exactly when BLM / ‘Antifa’ violence would start, he needed to be close to the cameras.
      Or maybe 3. Trump is a coward and would avoid any chance of a fight. Also, the SS would not let him anywhere near that mob at the Capitol.

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