The Six Trump Associates Whom DOJ Is Investigating

Because I keep having to lay out the proof that DOJ, in fact, has investigated close Trump associates of the sort that might lead to Trump himself, I wanted to make a list of those known investigations. Note that three of these — Sidney Powell, Alex Jones, and Roger Stone — definitely relate to January 6 and a fourth — the investigation into Rudy Giuliani — is scoped such that that it might include January 6 without anyone knowing about it.

Rudy Giuliani

As I said a month ago, the treatment of Rudy Giuliani’s phones single-handedly disproves claims that Merrick Garland’s DOJ wouldn’t investigate Trump’s people, because a month after he was confirmed and literally the same day that Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco was sworn in on April 21, DOJ obtained warrants targeting Rudy Giuliani.

The known warrants for Rudy’s phone pertain to whether, in the lead-up to Trump’s impeachment for trying to coerce Ukraine’s assistance in the 2020 election, Rudy was acting as an unregistered agent of Ukraine.

But as this table shows, Judge Paul Oetken ordered Special Master Barbara Jones to conduct a privilege review for Rudy’s seized devices from January 1, 2018 through the date of seizure, April 28, 2021. That means anything on Rudy’s devices from the entire period when he was helping Trump obstruct Mueller’s investigation well past the time he played the central role on orchestrating a coup attempt would be available to DOJ if it could show probable cause to get it.

There’s good reason to believe DOJ could show probable cause to access Rudy’s phones from April 2018 (before he formally became Trump’s lawyer), because during that period he was attempting to buy Michael Cohen’s silence with a pardon. There’s equally good reason to believe that act of obstruction is one of the referrals still redacted in the Mueller Report.

On or about April l 7, 20 l 8, Cohen began speaking with an attorney, Robert Costello, who had a close relationship with Rudolph Giuliani, one of the President’s personal lawyers. 1022 Costello told Cohen that he had a “back channel of communication” to Giuliani, and that Giuliani had said the “channel” was “crucial” and “must be maintained.” 1023 On April 20, 2018, the New York Times published an article about the President’s relationship with and treatment of Cohen. 1024 The President responded with a series of tweets predicting that Cohen would not ” flip” :

The New York Times and a third rate reporter . . . are going out of their way to destroy Michael Cohen and his relationship with me in the hope that he will ‘flip. ‘ They use nonexistent ‘sources’ and a drunk/drugged up loser who hates Michael, a fine person with a wonderful family. Michael is a businessman for his own account/lawyer who I have always liked & respected. Most people will flip if the Government lets them out of trouble, even if it means lying or making up stories. Sorry, I don’t see Michael doing that despite the horrible Witch Hunt and the dishonest media! 1025

In an email that day to Cohen, Costello wrote that he had spoken with Giuliani. 1026 Costello told Cohen the conversation was “Very Very Positive[.] You are ‘loved’ … they are in our corner … . Sleep well tonight[], you have friends in high places.”1027

Similarly, there’s good reason to believe DOJ could show probable cause to access Rudy’s phone for his involvement in Trump’s attempted coup, not least because Rudy himself tweeted out some texts he exchanged with a Proud Boy associate discussing specific insurrectionists in the aftermath of the attack.

We wouldn’t know if DOJ had obtained warrants for those separate periods, because those periods will be covered by Jones’ review one way or another.

In any case, the details of the Rudy investigation show, at a minimum, that Barr went to extraordinary lengths to attempt to kill this investigation (and may have even ordered that FBI not review the materials seized in 2019). It took mere weeks after Garland took over, however, for the investigation to take very aggressive steps.

It also shows that SDNY managed to renew this investigation without major leaks.

Tom Barrack

Just this Tuesday, in a Zoom hearing for Brooklyn’s Federal Court, lawyers for the guy who installed Paul Manafort as Trump’s campaign manager suggested that Merrick Garland had politicized DOJ because, after the investigation into Tom Barrack had apparently stalled in 2019, he was indicted as an unregistered agent of the Emirates in July 2021.

According to reporting from 2019, this investigation was a Mueller referral, so it’s proof that Garland’s DOJ will pursue such referrals. According to CNN reporting, the indictment was all ready to go in July 2020, a year before it was actually charged. That provides a measure of how long it took an investigation that was deemed complete at a time when Barr seemingly prohibited filing it to be resuscitated under Garland: at least four months.

Barrack’s prosecution proves that DOJ can indict a top Trump associate without leaks in advance.

Jury selection for Barrack’s trial is now scheduled to start on September 7.

Sidney Powell

Two different outlets have reported that there is a grand jury investigation into Sidney Powell’s grifting off lies about election fraud. WaPo’s story on the investigation describes that Molly Gaston is overseeing the investigation (she is also overseeing the Steve Bannon referral). As I noted, Gaston was pulled off three prosecutions for insurrectionists by last March.

Gaston originally pulled three January 6 cases in the investigation’s early days, those of Robert Packer, Robert Gieswein, and Derrick Evans, just the latter of which, involving a then-West Virginia state politician, had any possible public corruption component. But, at a time of immense staffing shortages at DC’s US Attorney’s Office, she dropped off those cases on February 18 (in the case of Packer) and March 29 (in the case of Gieswein and Evans). I’ve long wondered what, in the weeks after Merrick Garland came in, became a higher priority for the DC US Attorney’s leading public corruption prosecutor. We now know one thing she picked up in the interim was the prosecution of Michael Riley, the Capitol Police Officer who advised rioter Jacob Hiles to delete Facebook posts about his role in the riot. And by September, Gaston’s grand jury investigation into Sidney Powell’s grift had started taking overt steps like subpoenaing Powell’s nonprofit.

For at least the Michael Riley prosecution and the Steve Bannon prosecution, Gaston is using two of at least three grand juries that are also investigating insurrectionists. For at least those investigations, there is no separate grand jury for the public corruption side of the investigation and the assault on the Capitol. They are the same investigation.

The investigation into Powell will necessarily intersect in interesting ways with Trump’s pardon of Mike Flynn.

There have been a lot of complaints that DOJ is not following the money. Powell’s investigation is proof that DOJ is following the money.

Alex Jones

Over the last year, DOJ has collected a great deal of evidence that the Oath Keepers, the Proud Boys, and an alarming number of former Marines worked together to open a second breach on the Capitol via the East doors. Instrumental to the success of this breach were a large number of MAGA tourists who joined in the breach. DOJ has proof that at least some of them were there because Alex Jones had lured them there by lying about a second Trump speech on the East side of the building.

DOJ has already arrested two of Jones’ employees: videographer Sam Montoya in April and on-air personality Owen Shroyer in August.

In a November DOJ response in the Shroyer case, Alex Jones was referred to as Person One, as numerous others believed to be under active investigation have been described. That filing debunked the cover story that Shroyer and Jones have used to excuse their actions on January 6. Judge Tim Kelly, who is also presiding over the most important Proud Boys cases, is currently reviewing Shroyer’s First Amendment challenge to his arrest.

This strand of the investigation has likely necessarily lagged the exploitation of former Alex Jones’ employee Joe Biggs’ iCloud and phone, which were made available to Biggs’ co-travelers in August. This post has more on the developments in the Montoya and Shroyer cases, including that a different prosecutor recently took over Monotya’s case.

Roger Stone

Roger Stone, who has close ties to both the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys who coordinated the attack on the Capitol, has shown up repeatedly in the Oath Keeper conspiracy. In March, DOJ debunked Connie Meggs’ claim not to know her co-conspirators by including a picture of an event she did with Roger Stone and Graydon Young (this was close to the time that Connie’s husband Kelly organized an alliance between Florida militias).

In a May 25 FBI interview, Mike Simmons, the field commander for the Oath Keepers on January 6, appears to have been specifically asked why Simmons had so many conversations with Joshua James, who was providing security for Roger Stone at the Willard the morning of the insurrection. Simmons appears to have explained that James called him every time Stone moved.

In June, Graydon Young, the Floridian who attended that Stone event with Connie, entered a cooperation agreement. Also in June, Mark Grods, one of the Oath Keepers who had been at the Willard that morning, entered a cooperation agreement. In September, Jason Dolan, a former Marine from Florida who also interacted with Stone in advance of the insurrection and who was waiting there on January 6 as the other Oath Keepers, a number of Proud Boys (including former Alex Jones employee Joe Biggs) and Alex Jones himself all converged at the top of the East steps just as the doors were opened from inside, entered a cooperation agreement.

Erik Prince

There’s one more grand jury investigation into a powerful Trump associate that I know of via someone who was subpoenaed in the investigation in the second half of last year. The investigation reflects a reopening of an investigation Billy Barr shut down in 2019-2020. What’s interesting about it is the scope seems somewhat different and the investigating District is different than the earlier investigation. That may suggest that, for investigations that Barr shut down, DOJ would need to have a new evidence to reopen it. But the existence of this investigation shows, again, that Garland’s DOJ will go after powerful Trump associates.

Update, 2/8/22: NYT just named the sixth person under investigation: Erik Prince.

Mr. Prince is separately under investigation by the Justice Department on unrelated matters, according to people familiar with the case. The scope of that investigation is unclear.

It baffles me why TV lawyers continue to claim there’s no evidence that Merrick Garland is investigating anyone close to Trump — aside from they’re looking for leaks rather than evidence being laid out in plain sight in court filings. One of the first things that Garland’s DOJ did was to take really aggressive action against the guy who led Trump’s efforts to launch a coup. Alex Jones and Roger Stone are clearly part of the investigation into how the breach of the East doors of the Capitol came together, and the two of them (Jones especially) tie directly back to Trump.

There are other reasons to believe that DOJ’s investigation includes Trump’s role in the assault on the Capitol, laid out in the statements of offense from insurrectionists who’ve pled guilty, ranging from trespassers to militia conspirators. But one doesn’t even have to read how meticulously DOJ is collecting evidence that dozens of people have admitted under oath that they participated in the attack on the Capitol because of what Trump had led them to believe on Twitter.

Because DOJ clearly has several other routes to get to Trump’s role via his close associates. I’m not promising they’ll get there. And this will take time (as I’ll show in a follow-up). But that’s different than claiming that this evidence doesn’t exist.

Update: I did a podcast where I explained how the misdemeanor arrests are necessary to moving up the chain.

116 replies
  1. What Constitution? says:

    Thank you for this, and for all you do.

    [nit– First word of second sentence in intro maybe shouldn’t be “They’re”, did you mean “their” or perhaps “the”?] Damn spell checker.

      • Jim milio says:

        Your articles are awesome! Question…Is it possible that Merrick Garland’s speech and Biden’s Jan 6 speech lay the groundwork for the DOJ to be more aggressive in the months to come? Maybe even having some grand jury leaks or other investigation items trickle out to the public?

      • What Constitution? says:

        Just might be willing to risk Covid to watch Ohtani and Trout play live together again. And the Angels have traded for a pitcher who played high school travel ball with my son, so that’s cool too. Maybe help you collect those fines from the Cyber Ninjas fraudsters while I’m there?

        • notjonathon says:

          With Trout right behind him, Ohtani might see better pitches than he saw in the second half of last season.

        • bmaz says:

          Oh, I missed this earlier, but you bet. Have to admit, the omicron thing has caused our house to somewhat curtail public activities again, but it seems still fairly safe outdoors. And, as you know, there is plenty of good outdoors dining here. Speaking of which, how is your son doing?

          As to Cyber Ninjas, I know the judge on that issue, and my guess is that he will not let Logan and the Ninjas blithely walk away. There is this little thing called piercing the corporate veil, so we shall see.

        • bmaz says:

          I have no idea, but it might. I would still like What Constitution and his son back over here again though.

        • Chirrut Imwe says:

          Were you in the desert back in the 60s/70s before spring training became a ‘thing’? Those were the days (Phoenix native here…)

        • bmaz says:

          Yes. It was a lot lazier and more fun back then. Games were dirt cheap to go to, and the fans and players intermingled with ease. It is still fun, but sadly is very big business now. Last spring training game I went to was a Giants game at Scottsdale Stadium. Took my daughter, and it cost me more than I ever paid to see a Diamondbacks game in the regular season. Still, having a beer or two and sitting on the grass was pretty fun.

        • Chirrut Imwe says:

          I remember just walking up to the players and getting autographs (how I wish I still had them). As a kid, it was easy and they always made time. The biggest treat was to go to a game and then next door to Legend City. In my minds eye, I can still remember what seems like the entire Lost Duchman’s ride.

          Unfortunately (only from a baseball standpoint), I now live where MLB is irrelevant due to crappy/selfish ownership.

        • bmaz says:

          Yes, exactly. Phoenix Municipal Stadium (now the home of ASU Baseball by the way), Hohokam Fields for the Cubbies etc. And eating at Don & Charlies and the Pink Pony where all the players and coaches went. Was a different time back then.

        • Chirrut Imwe says:

          OMG – Don & Charlie’s. I can remember their theme song. And Monty’s. So many memories of so many places lost…

        • bmaz says:

          They will be alright. I literally went to Monti’s the day before it’s last day. Just because I had to. Still nothing has happened there, there is no reason it had to close. Kind of thought I did a post with some last pictures, but can’t find it, so maybe I just intended to.

        • Chirrut Imwe says:

          Did you go to Minder Binder’s before it closed? I did get to go to Monti’s about a year before it closed. And I made a special trip to go to my favorite Mexican food place just before it closed (Los Compadres on 7th Ave @ the Melrose curve).

        • P J Evans says:

          No, we have memories.
          My parents took us to the Giants-Santa Clara exhibition game. It was 1968, so some of the big names were elsewhere.

        • Leoghann says:

          Excuse? Enjoy. You’ve taken me back to the late 70’s and early 80’s, going to see the (almost free) home games of the Midland Cubs, the Chicago Cubs’ AA farm team. The old wooden stadium, which also hosted the Shrine Circus, just smelled like wood and people. The ground level walkways were West Texas sand. And the crowd was always noisy as hell.

  2. paul lukasiak says:

    As much as I admire and respect the work that you do, in this instance its clear that you are reaching for anything that will allow you to claim that the DoJ is on the job when it comes to the coup attempt.

    But there is no evidence that the investigation of Rudy has anything to do with the actual coup. Barrack is all about being a foreign agent — not about the coup. Powell is about grift — not a coup attempt. Alex Jones is not a Trump associate. And based on what you are claiming, the investigation into “anonymous” has nothing to do with the coup.

    Leaving us with Roger Stone — who has already demonstrated a willingness to be tried and convicted for obstruction to protect Trump, and was rewarded with a pardon for doing so. That is not exactly fertile ground for an investigation that will eventually charge Trump.

    If Merrick Garland had any intention of rocking the boat, he would have asked at least one of the prosecutors that Mueller hired to come back to the DoJ and prosecute Trump on the Russia obstruction charges. But Garland has not done that — instead Garland goes to great lengths to allow his supporters to interpret deliberately ambiguous statement as if they showed he gave a flying fuck about equal justice for all.

      • paul lukasiak says:

        while what you say is true–Rudy was certainly involved in the coup attempt. But that fact in no way contradicts my claim that there is zero evidence that Rudy is being investigated about the coup attempt.

        instead, the warrants themselves (and ongoing review) appears to be about Rudy’s involvement in the Ukraine mess. Might the review turn up information about the criminal conspiracy surrounding the coup attempt? Perhaps. But that his different from a claim that Rudy is being investigated for his role in the coup attempt.

    • emptywheel says:


      You’ve had your say. You believe that the guy Trump asked to lead people to the Capitol has nothing to do with Trump.

      Kind of a nutty take. But you are entitled to nutty takes.

      • Hoping4Better_Times says:

        What Alex Jones said in an InfoWars video was “the White House” asked him to lead the march “3 days” before the Jan 6 attack. Jones is not known for truth telling.

        • timbo says:

          Nor are Jones nor other Twitler supporters known for truth telling as well. But one thing is clear. Or at least it’s clear to many, as in many who went to DC Jan 6, 2021…Twitler did gin up a “wild time!” for Jan 6, 2021, correct?

        • civil says:

          His frequent public dishonesty is one reason that it’s important to have him answer questions under oath. He has been subpoenaed and has filed suit against the Jan. 6 Select Committee:
          That suit says “Jones has notified the Select Committee that he intends to plead his right to remain silent under the Fifth Amendment. The Select Committee has suggested that it may turn to the courts to seek a grant of immunity for Jones and other witnesses,” so we’ll have to see what happens.

        • bmaz says:

          Lol, DOJ would be absolutely crazy to affirmatively agree to that grant of immunity, and the 1/6 Committee would be derelict to even propose it.

        • taluslope says:

          Thanks for this bit: “DOJ would be absolutely crazy to affirmatively agree to that grant of immunity”

          I had assumed as much and that if the committee is doing criminal referrals rather than immunity requests this indicates that DOJ is busy with stuff.

          Also, I assume that prosecutors are loath to loose cases; probably reflects badly on their career path. This means that prosecutors tend to be conservative and like to get their “ducks” (I’m from Eugene OR) in a row before charging. Thus I infer a ponderous DOJ is a good thing.

          Plus from an individual liberty perspective we want prosecutions to be conservative because prosecutors wield such immense power.

          Could be wrong.

        • timbo says:

          Why would the Committee be derelict to even propose this? Are you saying that there is no purpose in offering immunity from prosecution in any circumstance or what?

    • vvv says:

      “Leaving us with Roger Stone — who has already demonstrated a willingness to be tried and convicted for obstruction to protect Trump, and was rewarded with a pardon for doing so. That is not exactly fertile ground for an investigation that will eventually charge Trump.”

      Really? And who will pardon his The Penguin-persona arse this time?

      • paul lukasiak says:

        who will pardon stone?

        first off, there is actually no evidence that Trump was aware of any (possible) efforts by Stone to conspire with white nationalist groups to attack the capitol. WIthout that evidence, its premature to suggest that Stone would need to obstruct justice to protect Trump — or that Stone would need a pardon if a conviction happened.

        Again, the point I’m making is that there is no factual basis to suggest that Garland’s DoJ is investigating anything coup related outside the events of 1/6, and the organization of that attack. Speculation is not a factual basis. Nor is interpreting deliberately ambiguous statements about the scope of an investigation the same as a factual basis.

        And the concerns expressed by Adam Schiff — who would know if the J6 Cmte was being asked to avoid certain subjects/witnesses because the DoJ is investigating those areas — strongly suggests that no such investigation of the real efforts to subvert Democracy by the White House are getting any attention at all from the DoJ.

        • Rayne says:

          We get it. You have now spent roughly 1000 words telling us you don’t think DOJ is doing anything. So noted.

          Also noted that you’ve paid zero attention to what Marcy has written.

          Move along.

        • emptywheel says:

          No. Actually if you actually FOLLOWED the comments of Schiff, as if you actually FOLLOWED my own comments, you would know his complaint is limited to the Georgia Call, which is literally the opposite of what you say.

        • bmaz says:

          Hi Paul, a lot of folks here may not remember you from days of yore, but I do. You are relentlessly proving that you are not particularly informed on the 1/6 cases and investigation. Or are simply being willfully obtuse. Or both. I suggest you go back and relearn The First Law Of Holes.

      • taluslope says:

        Alex Jones is his own brand of bat-sh*t crazy. I’ve come to realize that nobody is the associate of anybody; they are all out for themselves, full stop. I’m hoping that this ultimately leads to the downfall of this evolutionary tree of crazy. More and more grifters seeking a smaller and smaller pot of money (with a seemingly infinite supply of grifters, whom do I pick to support?). Eventually I might decide to quit sending money to Alex Jones and give it to my grandkids instead.

        Speaking of Alex Jones, I kind of figured I’d never send him money years ago when he told me on his radio show that the CIA was using beams reflecting off from the ionosphere to plant thoughts in my brain. Well I was a space physicist in a past life and I was friends with the scientists running the back-scatter radars in Alaska and Greenland. I felt like they would have warned me of this CIA mind-control plot.

        • Rayne says:

          Did Jones ever offer lead foil-lined caps in his store after reporting the CIA beam-planted thoughts? No? You’d think a serious grifter would monetize that opportunity with something useful like a Faraday cage-cap.

          (That’s actually a fun idea — maybe I should design a Faraday cap with an EW emblem and sell it to fund our bandwidth. Matching Faraday bag for phone or laptop sold separately. LOL)

        • P J Evans says:

          Jones might sell lead-lined, but that’s not good for keeping radio waves out. You want copper (or other conductor) mesh for that.

        • Leoghann says:

          They definitely need to be copper or aluminum. Jones would mistake the lead wires for string cheese.

          And Rayne–please do.

    • Ginevra diBenci says:

      Paul, I might suggest you reread the post, carefully this time. I might further suggest that you pay special attention to instances where Garland’s DOJ has resurrected cases Bill Barr tried to deep six. And I would remind you that the Biden DOJ wasn’t even staffed up until well into spring 2021.

      I can’t see what your play is here. My own research tends toward following the money, which is why I find the Barrack section especially salient. What is your angle?

  3. Bugboy says:

    RE: Toensing, assuming that’s Victoria Toensing, who has been at the center of every shit storm since, well, forever. Is there a reason she isn’t tagged or commented upon? It would be just icing on the cake if she is caught up in the dragnet…

  4. Rapier says:

    I would presume Barr will be saved from any investigation much less polite questioning by anyone into his slow walking or killing 3 of these cases.

    The stench of Barr getting out of town on Christmas Eve to transparently pretend to dissociate himself from what, and let’s not kid ourselves, what he knew, in general, was going to go down, is like a giant cloud hanging over this whole affair. Or maybe a better description is that this all happened on Planet Barr. In a way as much as anyone, he was the ground, as in field and ground, on which the whole thing was set. If you you don’t believe me think just about Flynn. The lengths Barr went to get General Fruitcake Flynn back in circulation boggles the mind.

    • joel fisher says:

      “Stench” for sure, but nobody’s goin’ to jail for leaving town in front of a shit storm. Way more interesting is your point about Barr “slow walking” the various investigations; how does he get ignored in all of this?

      • skua says:

        I’m speculating that Garland’s DOJ, like the Catholic Church around child-abuse by clergy, thinks that it would damage its credibilility and destroy the public’s faith in it if it was to publically pursue Barr and his DOJ henchies/meat puppets.

        Though bmaz might school me that the kind of proof needed for such prosecutions is going to be so very thin on the ground when an expert like Barr is in charge.

        • Leoghann says:

          At this point in his career, Barr most likely prefers being thought an incompetent AG to being prosecuted for complicity. And it’s going to be hard to prove that he shut down investigations or delayed indictments as part of a conspiracy, if he claims they were simply the decisions he made.

  5. Ddub says:

    I’m buoyed by this series of articles on Jan 6th. Superlative.
    Of concern for Garland would have to be those remaining TFGers and others who would wreck cases from the inside. Land mines must be many.
    The other concern is time. A Dem loss in ’24 could effectively stop the investigation in it’s tracks.
    As to the media obtuseness ask the age old, who benefits.

    • Cate says:

      This is what makes me feel so hopeless about what EmptyWheel makes me feel hopeful about.
      Time is not on the side of the just. And sabotage from within DOJ.

      If Merrick Garland let’s what Bill Barr did to the U.S. justice Dept stand, he will be imo irrevocably damaging the Rule of Law.

  6. surfer2099 says:

    “It baffles me why TV lawyers continue to claim there’s no evidence that Merrick Garland is investigating anyone close to Trump”

    I scoured Wikileak reading emails that had been released some years back with regards to Hilary Clinton. One of the things I found was that she and her staff seemed inordinately preoccupied with reviewing articles in the rags and news broadcasts related to stories about policy matters she was interested in supporting.
    IMHO, news outlets are a source of news , yes, but they are also a tool to be used to push public support or to manipulate public support (Trump presidency’s entire 4 years did this). Various political figures use outlets for leaks to draw attention or input to sway a story’s view.
    If the news is consistently reporting that DOJ hasn’t begun investigations of Trump associates, I see that as that media’s attempt to drive the political conversation a certain way. IE. it’s a way to pressure DOJ to do something that they normally NEVER do, which is to prosecute the rich and politically connected as well as former presidents.

    • Peterr says:

      I see the media’s chosen approach to reporting this as more driven by what some of their DC insider Democratic sources are saying to them. “Why isn’t the DOJ jumping on this? We need a big announcement from Garland saying ‘We have opened an investigation.’ We need splashy subpoena announcements. We need . . . We need . . . We need . . .”

      A reporter hears this, and puts together a story along those lines, which pleases their source and costs them nothing to write. This is the grease that lubricates their Access Journalism, and will make their source easier to access in the future.

      It is also the grease that gums up honest reporting like Marcy’s.

      • BobCon says:

        “some of their DC insider Democratic sources are saying to them. ”

        I agree that’s a piece of it, and I think it’s worth expanding that to insider GOP sources. Chuck Todd, for example, is weirdly close to Erick Erickson, who is a good example of the GOP fence straddlers who work as concern trolls to undermine the 1/6 investigations.

        They want to limit it to a zeitgeisty issue rather than a legal one, and they feel that they can control the media narrative by conflating fears of some Democratic Party sources that there won’t be prosecutions with opinions that there shouldn’t be prosecutions.

        The basic flaw in the thinking of the soft Never Trumpers is the idea that there is room to triangulate should the press settle on a few bad apples framework for 1/6. I think there are some other Nevers who accept the Cheney perspective that the rot has to be cauterized, but a lot are using their position as supposedly reasonable Republicans to try to maintain an old status quo.

        • Greg Hunter says:

          The media is owned by Corporations and Chuck Todd is the glue that keeps MSNBC in line with the “values” of those that own NBC.

          We hold these truths to be self evident.

      • P J Evans says:

        I keep translating “we need” this, that, and the other as “I need” those. Or maybe it should be “want” instead of “need”.

        • Peterr says:

          *You* can do that, but these folks truly believe that they know what *we* need, and they truly believe that it is *need* and not want.

  7. Ken Muldrew says:

    IE. it’s a way to pressure DOJ to do something that they normally NEVER do, which is to prosecute the rich and politically connected as well as former presidents.

    More likely is that it’s an attempt to pressure DOJ into leaking about the rich and politically connected persons who are under investigation.

    One way that the well-connected avoid being prosecuted is by finding out what the prosecutors know early enough to interfere with the investigation. A strategy that isn’t available to ordinary schlubs.

  8. Scott Johnson says:

    Any chance that “anonymous” is Barr himself?

    Even though there were things he turned out unwilling to do… his entire career as attorney general seems to be one continuous exercise in obstruction of justice; and investigating the investigations he shut down would be a step in building a case against him.

    His only defense, after all, seems to be the “unitary executive” theory; that the President (at least while in office) really is a King, and any action done by him or at his behest is ipso facto lawful, and his intent (even if corrupt as hell) may not be questioned. In other words, Barr saying that according to a legal opinion (issued by, or at behest of Barr himself!) he cannot be held to account.

    I’m sure that even the most wretched SCOTUS would not want to sign off on endorsing THAT while there is a Democrat in the White House.

    But take away the “unitary executive” defense, and Barr’s actions in office seem rather flagrantly corrupt and illegal. (And part of restoring civil democracy involves rebuilding the firewall between the White House and the DOJ, which Barr gleefully smashed). Proving it before a jury is another matter of course, but given that the former attorney general ran interference for a lot of named players in this drama, I’m skeptical of the idea that he will somehow escape legal scrutiny.

    John Mitchell went to prison, after all. There’s precedent for corrupt attorney generals finding themselves on the wrong side of the bar in Federal court.

    • Rugger9 says:

      It could very well be Barr, because there aren’t too many other names as well connected as he would be. Keep in mind Barr had the intel at his fingertips and a long track record of misinforming the public on important matters (like his obsession with “ANTIFA” that kept him from looking at the RW terrorists). While there are many other miscreants in Individual-1’s palace, the deference here suggests a very key name indeed.

      • Rayne says:

        You might want to rethink how you characterize Barr’s “obsession” after you just noted his misinformation (disinformation) to the public. That “obsession” expressed to DOJ and other law enforcement a redirection of focus which may have underpinned the advance intelligence failures leading up to January 5-6.

        • Rugger9 says:

          I would agree that may possibly have been the focus as well as the outcome, but Barr seemed to me to be more fundamentally invested, thus the characterization.

  9. David S Nolan says:

    DOJ pray’s NY DA or GA DA will indict and keep TFG & his CORP very busy. Then AG & FedCrats could give TFG immunity and use RICO laws to sweep up his other conspiring sycophants and minions without paying the political price. VP Pence could be the next John Dean?

  10. obsessed says:

    Exceptionally well-written, well-organized and encouraging. I feel like we’re at the point where Logan wants to tell the guys in the FBI jackets to f*** off and Gerry says “these are the ones that don’t f*** off”.

    Of course, that one ended the same way the four Fs ended (Ford, Fitz, Fishman & F***ing Mueller). [I’m playing 2-dimensional chess here – baiting you to defend Mueller, thereby indicting Garland.] Okay, I’ll go back to fantasizing about these six idiots in jail cells now. Thanks for the weekend fix.

  11. JohnForde says:

    Because they are so brilliant, I consolidated 2 of Marcy’s tweets:
    a five level conspiracy &
    who’s been arrested so far.

    >Level 1, Trump – not arrested

    >Level 2 Stone & Rudy & Alex Jones – under active investigation w/at least 3 cooperators

    >Level 3 Joe Biggs and Kelly Meggs – arrested, with cooperators against them

    >Level 4 Lower-level Proud Boys – 70 arrested, some pleading

    >Level 5 The mob – 450 arrested, many have provided testimony abt import of L1-4.

    • Rayne says:

      There are other parallel subordinate conspiracies on which we haven’t touched much – yet.

      Like the role of the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA) including funding, robocalls, and possible agreements to support cases in their states to supplant elector slates when possible. See:

      Group’s 6 January donation shows Trump’s grip on attorneys general
      Watchdogs and ex-prosecutors have strongly criticised the Republican Attorneys General Association’s $150,000 donation
      The Guardian-US | by Peter Stone | Wed 24 Nov 2021 2:00 EST

      GOP group held ‘war games’ for state AGs before Trump loss
      An offshoot of the Republican Attorneys General Association held a special meeting weeks before the election to discuss its strategies if then-President Donald Trump lost
      Associated Press | By John Hanna AP Political Writer | September 10, 2021, 1:59 PM

      • Scott Johnson says:

        At what time does “political organization” turn into “unlawful conspiracy?”

        I’m thinking that the line gets crossed if it involves suborning officials to either exceed the scope of their lawful duties, or to refuse their nondiscretionary duties.

        • Scott Johnson says:

          Thinking specifically of elections officials, who are presumed to have a nondiscretionary duty to fairly administer elections.

        • What Constitution? says:

          Interesting — is there any other government official who has some kind of nondiscretionary duty to see that laws are fairly enforced? Oh wait, that’s in the Presidential Oath of Office which, last time I checked, still doesn’t provide that “Article II says I can do whatever I want”, as Trump claimed. Nor does it say, anywhere, that “When you have fraud, you get to play by a whole different set of rules”, which is what Trump said to his mob at the Ellipse last January 6 before sending them off to violently disrupt the certification of the Presidential Election.

          A few of the things Biden might have had in mind when he pointed out that there’s no “inconvenience” exception to respecting the law.

        • Rugger9 says:

          Well, the rule I’ve seen applied is that a government official can be incompetent but not criminal. Once there is a knowing violation of the law, that line has been crossed, but perhaps our legal beagles have more.

        • Leoghann says:

          He may not be at the top of the RAGA corruption list, but besides filing a plagiarized motion with SCOTUS to disenfranchize 81,000,000 American voters, Ken Paxton has been indicted for securities fraud, is under federal investigation for bribery and influence peddling while in office, and has three slam-dunk retaliation cases waiting in the wings for firing the three people in his office who blew the whistle on his bribery. It’s easy to see why a mobster who’s never been bound by law in his life would be Paxton’s hero.

  12. Rita says:

    I tend to disregard the handwringing TV attorneys who think DOJ is proceeding too slowly or has made a decision not to investigate. I take AG Garland at his word when he described the way DOJ proceeds in complex cases and I don’t think the DOJ has taken anything off the table. And looking at the cases brought so far, with the help of Marcy Wheeler’s fine analysis, it does look like DOJ is slowly climbing up the ladder.

    Against this, I have to think about Rep. Schiff’s expression of concern about the DOJ’s investigation. He thinks that DOJ is way behind where he thinks they should be by this time. He has seen no sign that DOJ is investigating anyone other than the lower rungs. He also indicated that DOJ is not coordinating with the Committee.

    I wonder if, as Ms. Wheeler has suggested, that DOJ might be letting the Committee do a lot of the initial work. It certainly would be a way of leveraging scarce resources.

    • Rugger9 says:

      I think much of the angst is about the statute of limitations expiring, but I wonder if POTUS cannot be prosecuted in office, wouldn’t the SOL also be held in a time warp until that restraint no longer applies? Also, wouldn’t the SOL clock start at discovery of the actions?

      Maybe our legal team can answer that question.

      • timbo says:

        That’s certainly something that might be made into a law. For instance, the Congress could pass a law that puts the statute of limitations in abeyance while the President (and possibly other cabinet members, etc) serve in office… thus, there is a legitimate reason for Congress to be looking into what happened here for sure!

        • civil says:

          I think I’d rather that Congress make it clear that a President can be indicted while in office, and it’s only the trial that’s postponed until the person is out of office. This would also nudge Congress to consider impeachment and removal. Would Mueller have indicted Trump for obstruction? He testified before Congress that he simply didn’t assess that. I think it would have been better if he had, instead of leaving it for Garland to assess years later.

          Here’s one discussion of relevant legal briefs and history:

        • Rugger9 says:

          Since the penalties for federal crimes are written by Congress, the statute of limitations can also be modified, to say that when prosecution is prohibited the clock stops and restarts when the prohibition is no longer in effect (i.e. when DJT left office). That would eliminate any concerns about hamstringing POTUS for decision making. Let’s remember DJT claimed immunity for all crimes, before (and probably after as well) his term.

          I can see DJT playing the OLC memo card to create a “constitutional” question if immunity is prohibited (which we do not want decided by the current SCOTUS) but SOLs are routinely defined by Congress and I would think even this SCOTUS would have a harder time justifying shooting such a law down.

          However, IANAL.

    • emptywheel says:

      That’s not exactly what I’ve suggested. I said they’re going from the top down, which is short-hand but close to true.

      What DOJ IS letting Select Committee do, whether wittingly or unwittingly, to get by privilege (including Speech and Debate) concerns.

      • Scott Johnson says:

        How soon before Jim Jordan et Al try to argue that phone calls with the White House, especially if done while on the Capitol campus, are covered by the speech and debate clause?

        Seems frivolous, but that’s never stopped this crew.

        • Rayne says:

          LOL You mean this Jim Jordan?

          If Jordan spoke with Trump about anything happening on January 6, it was not covered by Speech or Debate just as it’s not covered by executive privilege, because they would have been discussing the Trump campaign and the election, not executive branch operations nor Congressional business requiring the executive office’s performance.

        • Scott Johnson says:

          One hopes.

          But I wouldn’t put it past Jordan to assert that were he to hypothetically speak to Trump from the House chamber (or wherever the Members were taken), while it was being assaulted, that this is covered by the speech or debate clause.

          A frivolous argument, but one that might buy time.

        • Rayne says:

          Jan 6 Committee will do what they can to box Jordan into a corner. Betting if he doesn’t cooperate we’ll see incriminating communications which aren’t covered by Speech or Debate just as we have wrt Hannity.

        • Rugger9 says:

          Gym Jordan is floating that idea this morning, let’s see how it goes. The S&D clause protection is being claimed because the topic was certifying the EC votes.

        • Rayne says:

          Huh. I wonder why the House Speaker and House Minority Leader weren’t contacted by the Trump campaign, then, instead of the lower ranked Jim Jordan. /snark

        • P J Evans says:

          And he needed to contact someone at the WH because why? Everyone actually involved was at that Capitol, where they were supposed to be.

        • Scott Johnson says:

          Of course, I would think that the S&D clause wouldn’t apply to a House investigation that snares one of its own members. It’s meant to ensure that lawmakers can discuss and propose legislation on any subject they deem appropriate, no matter how odious; without interference from law enforcement. And IIRC this includes communications with their staffs in furtherance of legislation.

          But it’s long been established that S&D is not a defense against bribery, even if the product of the bribe is legislation, and otherwise not a blanket immunity.

          (One other question–does the S&D clause prevent or restrict pre-trial detention of a Congressperson who is indicted for some thing? Or post-trial incarceration of one found guilty of a crime? I suspect not, but wouldn’t be surprised to see, if it came to pass, an allegation that clapping a legislator into jail and thereby preventing him or her from doing his legislative duties, is somehow unconstitutional; so long as the congresscritter occupies the seat he should enjoy the right to attend sessions of Congress in person; and that to do otherwise would deny his constituents of their chosen representation. Normally Members who are convicted of a serious crime will resign or be expelled, but these are not normal times, and “Cauthorn is a political prisoner who is being kept in the pokey to keep him from voting for freedom” is something I wouldn’t be surprised to hear should that come to pass).

        • bmaz says:

          Congress folks can be had (see, e.g. US v. William Jefferson), but that does not mean it is an easy out just because of Speech and Debate.

      • Rita says:

        On further reflection. I’d like to strike my last sentence. The Committee is doing its work and the DOJ is doing its work. The benefits to each from the other’s work is not the result of a coordinated effort.

        If the DOJ is not yet investigating the top rungs of the ladder, then the testimony the Committee is getting could be helpful to the DOJ later.

  13. will says:

    what about peter navarro?

    [Welcome to emptywheel. Please use a more differentiated username when you comment next as we have several community members named “Will” or “William.” Thanks. /~Rayne]

    • Rayne says:

      You’re going to want Marcy’s December 30 post, Why that Peter Navarro Interview Isn’t Enough to Charge Him with Sedition.

      Still wholly applicable. What Navarro appears to be doing is throwing up a smokescreen, using Bannon’s “flood the zone with shit” approach to obscuring what the public sees. He’s not fooling the House January 6 Committee nor the DOJ with this flood of bullshit.

      Navarro should be concerned he’s obstructing justice with his crap, potentially tampering with witnesses.

  14. RCS says:

    As much as I want to believe otherwise, the AJ thing seems unlikely to go anywhere regardless of what DOJ is doing. He is nothing more than a grifter. Just a lot of nonsense propaganda with the ultimate goal of promoting himself. Based on his infowars comments on Jan 6 – 8 (see knowledge fights podcast for in depth analysis of those episodes) it is hard to believe AJ had any idea an insurrection would happen. He was clueless!

    People like Ali could have used him to mobilize the public (Roger Stone and Steve Pieczenik did exactly this in 2015 to make sure the infowars audience would vote for Trump – AJ used to say all sorts of bad things about Trump as late as August 2015), but given that neither him nor AJ were even allowed to speak at the Ellipse, their influence with Trump was probably close to zero at that point. The connection to Joe Biggs is also too weak. He left infowars several years ago in disgrace. Can’t recall that he was even mentioned in the 2020 shows.

    Anyway, I hope that you are right and I am wrong, but I am doubtful about AJ being the mastermind or even minimally relevant as an organizer of the insurrection. Roger Stone and Ali Alexander are completely different and one can only hope the DOJ is allocating resources appropriately.

    By the way, what happened to the Douglass Mackey case? Is there a trial date? Was it dismissed? Haven’t heard about this case in a long time.

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