It’s Official: January 6 Was Sedition

Joshua James, the Oath Keeper who provided “security” to Roger Stone the morning of January 6 and who later plotted with Stewart Rhodes, just pled guilty to seditious conspiracy and obstruction. Here’s my live thread.

The key takeaways are that seditious conspiracy plea. It means, henceforward, we can legally describe January 6 as such.

And also that James is cooperating with prosecutors. His allocution, which I’ll return to tomorrow after it’s posted, focused closely on Rhodes.

But James is a crucial witness about how the Oath Keepers were in touch with Roger Stone.

For those of you who’ve been wondering what Merrick Garland’s DOJ has been doing for the last year, it’s this: January 6 was officially, for at least one participant, sedition.

Update: Here’s the statement of offense. I’m heading to bed. I’ll read and post on it overnight.

56 replies
  1. Mulder says:

    Wow. Thanks for the tweet thread. I was following along. They planned to surround the White House armed to protect Trump. My God.

    • Leoghann says:

      While reading that, I got confused. Was Rhodes planning to do the White House cordon action on Inauguration Day, or had he convinced himself and some others that Trump was going to be dragged out of the White House as soon as the Electoral College votes were counted?

      • P J Evans says:

        Given that the former guy seemed to think that his term started the day after the election in 2016, they might have expected people trying to drag him out immediately.

  2. Jana P says:

    This sounds silly and petty, I know, but I have a hard time reading this. It’s too small and the print not dark enough. Please at least darken the print. I enjoy all you guys do! Thanks

    [Welcome to emptywheel. Thanks for your feedback. If you use Firefox consider using an add-on like Tranquility Reader which may improve your reading experience on a laptop/desktop. Firefox for Android offers a native reader mode which may also help on mobile devices. /~Rayne]

      • Desider says:

        Or Ctl-+
        (hold control key, hit plus once or twice)
        For mobile phones sometimes turning 90 degrees gets a bit enlarged view.

    • Charles Wolf says:

      I am currently using Chrome with an extension called ‘High Contrast’.
      I flip it to the Yellow on Black setting (same colors as my old Radio Shack monitor) to read pale fonts.
      It works for me..

  3. harpie says:

    Great THREAD Marcy!
    Here’s another good one:

    6:08 PM James confirms that he agreed to take part in a plan developed by Rhodes to use “any means necessary,” up to and including force, to stop the transfer of presidential power on Jan. 6.

    James also confirms that Rhodes instructed him and others to be prepared “as called upon” to “report to the White House grounds” and provide “security” against anyone who tried to remove Trump, including the National Guard.

    […] James confirms that Rhodes asked James to alter his physical appearance to conceal his identity.

    James confirms that at Rhodes’ instruction, he took firearms, weapons, burner phones, tactical gear; Rhodes told him to be prepared to transport and distribute that equipment to others on his instruction and to “be prepared for violence in the event of a civil war.” […]

    • harpie says:

      From Marcy’s THREAD:

      […]He’ll plead to seditious conspiracy (!!!!!!) and obstruction.

      […] “Report to the White House grounds and use force against anyone trying to remove Trump from the White House.”
      He clears his throat before saying, “yes sir.”

      […] Again, this allocution is focused on shoring up the case against Rhodes.
      Whatever he says about Stone is gravy.

      […] Side note here: Judge Mehta, who is presiding over this, is the guy who said it was plausible James and other Oath Keepers entered into a conspiracy with Donald Trump.

      […] 6:32 PM · Mar 2, 2022
      Done: he pleads to seditious conspiracy and obstruction.
      Jan 6 can officially be called sedition.

      […] The most important detail from his statement of offense, as I heard it, is they had a plan to surround the White House, with arms, to ensure no one got to Trump.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          The only reason anyone would put such brutally incriminating language in writing – on a digital platform, no less – would be because they thought they would be immune to consequences. No pardons for this level of actor came from Trump. Another way TFG screwed his own troops.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          One of your best.

          Who would be suicidal enough to plan to meet as an armed group at the White House, unless they were invited there and cleared for entry by TFG. Absent that, they would have been arrested or shot on sight.

        • BobCon says:

          Yes, I’m puzzling too. The number of guys at that hotel in Clarendon wouldn’t be anywhere near enough to secure the White House, and more importantly, the White House is not the presidency.

          There was something else going on, and I suspect DOJ has a very good idea what that was.

        • xy xy says:

          I don’t think anyone has discussed the Secret Service and any role they c(w)ould have played in an attack on the WH.
          I see where there was a new Director appointed in 2019 after the previous who was appointed in 2017 and who DJT allegedly referred to him as “Dumbo”.
          And Cho who served closely to both DJT and until recently Biden.
          Also several agents were removed from Biden’s detail over supposed concerns of loyalty to DJT.
          So if they started the attack in morning of Jan 20, and it was continuing after noon, what then with the Secret Service?

        • glenn storey says:

          Not really, although I’m sure they would have taken as many triple plays as they could get. They were the infield for the Cubs in the 1900’s.

        • Ginevra diBenci says:

          punaise, I heard this phrase thousands of times, from grandparents who saw them play. I thought everyone grew up with it! Thanks for the memory.

  4. WilliamOckham says:

    There’s an interesting sentence that probably was cut and pasted from the indictment, leading to an unusual omission:

    On November 14 and 15, 2020, James met with Rhodes and others in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area and at Caldwell’s Virginia farmhouse and learned about the start of their plans to oppose by force the lawful transfer of presidential power.

    (emphasis added)

    There’s no previous or subsequent mention of Caldwell. It’s not standard practice to refer to someone by their surname without every mentioning their first name.

  5. CG says:

    When you wake up, I want to know what you think of paragraph 47. Looks to me like the DOJ is referencing instructions to delete evidence from someone (Kellye?) here…

    It’s clearly not STEWART…

    On January 8, 2021, James received a Signal message, in a group chat that included
    Rhodes, from an individual he understood to be an attorney for the Oath Keepers that stated,
    WHO DID WHAT. You are under zero obligation to leave them up. You/we have not yet gotten
    a preservation order instructing us to retain those chat comments. So DELETE THEM….”

  6. Zirc says:

    I was wondering whether “contentious plea agreement” was a term of art. I can’t find that it is. I note that in your live thread there seemed to be some efforts by the lawyer to massage the description of the offense and motives. Is that what you mean by “contentious”? For me “plea agreement” always meant there was an agreement even though the defendant may not be thrilled about what he/she is agreeing to. The “contentious” is throwing me a little, and I wonder whether you could tease that out a little for slowpokes such as I.


    • MB says:

      Think Mike Flynn? He took a plea deal because it seemed the best option at the time, but didn’t take it seriously because he was basically stalling for a “better” option: get the DOJ to intervene and have the case dropped. And there was probably a pardon waiting for him if that had failed.

      I may be totally off base here – but that’s my concept of a “contentious plea deal” fwiw.

      • Zirc says:

        I suspect it’s not like the Flynn case. Flynn either changed his mind or never meant it to begin with and used his various lawyers to dispute and delay and eventually got pardoned. I think James’ lawyer was trying to change the language of the statement of offense a tad to his client’s advantage, which is odd to me as I’d think that details would be hammered out before both parties went before a judge. But, again, I’m not certain. I really don’t know.


        • vvv says:

          Pretty sure “*contentious* plea agreement” was Dr. Wheeler’s sense of humor peeking through, referencing their contesting the specifics what was supposed to have been already agreed to.

    • Gee says:

      Don’t know about the term of art, but from what I read, it sounds like a concrete way of admitting sedition lite, giving you a wee bit of an out in your after-justice-is-served life. It’s also a way to foster the RW propaganda points…”he just gave in to a process charge, it wasn’t sedition since he just accidentally obstructed and hindered a federal law..” blah blah

      Personally I find it to be a weasel move, but par for the course, since it seems that few of the defendants in these cases really seems that believably contrite. And the meaning is pretty clear, it’s about overall intent, and kind of like porn, we know it when we see it.

      See the WP article :

      “Federal law defines seditious conspiracy as two or more people who “conspire to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States,” or act “by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States.”

      James’s defense attorneys, Chris Leibig and Joni Robin, said in a statement that he pleaded not to the first part of the law but only the second part, “preventing, hindering or delaying, by force, a federal law.””

  7. harpie says:

    Also today, from the J6 Committee:
    9:02 PM · Mar 2, 2022

    […] The Select Committee is filing a brief in the lawsuit filed by Professor John Eastman in his attempt to keep records hidden behind claims of attorney-client privilege.

    In the brief, the Committee lays out numerous arguments refuting Eastman’s claims.

    The facts we’ve gathered strongly suggest that Dr. Eastman’s emails may show that he helped Donald Trump advance a corrupt scheme to obstruct the counting of electoral college ballots and a conspiracy to impede the transfer of power.


  8. BobCon says:

    So how do the goal posts get moved?

    — OK, they got one, but who else?

    — OK, they got another, but two isn’t a pattern.

    — OK, they got another, but they’re all at this level, but what about that level?

    — OK, they filed charges against someone at a higher level, but it was a different charge, so technically they’re not the same…

    — Does this statement by Hillary mean she’s running in 2024?

  9. Fran of the North says:

    To misquote an old Klingon proverb: “Schadenfreude is a dish best served cold.” The conviction for the first seditious conspiracy is going to be a hard fact to spin by the Republics. Try as they might, and you know they will TRY to spin this, the first tree to fall makes noise.

    Roger Stone might be thinking the fire is getting close to jumping out of the hearth.


  10. harpie says:

    JAMES Statement of Offense:

    18. On January 4, 2021, James traveled with Ulrich, Grods, and others to the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area. James brought a semi-automatic handgun, and Ulrich, Grods, and others brought firearms, including a rifle, a shotgun, a semi-automatic handgun, and ammunition. James stored their firearms at the Virginia hotel where he, Rhodes, Minuta, and others had rooms.

    Marcy wrote about that last sentence here:

    […] The sedition indictment seems to describe Joshua James dropping off weapons at the Hilton Garden Inn in Vienna, VA. [paragraph 68.] […]

    … The sedition indictment provides not one detail of where Stewie’s personal arsenal ended up once he got to VA. […]

    […] But I think it distinctly possible that Simmons drove Stewie’s weapons into DC. Which — particularly if there were a plot to assassinate Nancy Pelosi — would increase Simmons’ exposure significantly. […]

    • harpie says:

      4. James agreed to take part in a plan developed by Rhodes to stop the lawful transfer of presidential power by January 20, 2021, by deploying force to prevent, hinder, and delay the execution of the laws of the United States governing the transfer of presidential power. They used encrypted and private communications, equipped themselves with a variety of weapons, donned combat and tactical gear, and were prepared to answer Rhodes’s call to take up arms. James and others amassed firearms on the outskirts of Washington, D.C.—some distributed across hotels and “quick reaction force” (“QRF”) teams—and planned, if called upon, to use them in support of the plan to halt the lawful transfer of presidential power. [my emphasis]

      19. In advance of and on January 6, 2021, James and others agreed to take part in the plan developed by Rhodes to use any means necessary, up to and including the use of force, to stop the lawful transfer of presidential power.

      20. In the weeks leading up to January 6, 2021, Rhodes instructed James and other coconspirators to be prepared, if called upon, to report to the White House grounds to secure the perimeter and use lethal force if necessary against anyone who tried to remove President Trump from the White House, including the National Guard or other government actors who might be sent to remove President Trump as a result of the Presidential Election.

    • harpie says:

      38. After exiting the Capitol, James gathered with Rhodes and other co-conspirators approximately 100 feet from the Capitol, near the northeast corner of the building. Rhodes told James he was glad James and others had gone inside the Capitol. [my emphasis]

    • harpie says:

      46. On January 8, 2021, James met with Rhodes and others at a restaurant in Alabama. There, James showed Rhodes a video of James’s physical altercation with law enforcement
      officers inside the Capitol on January 6, 2021. Rhodes expressed gratitude for James’s actions and told James to alter his physical appearance to conceal his identity.

      51. James departed Texas in February 2021. At Rhodes’s instruction, James took with him multiple firearms, thousands of rounds of ammunition, multiple burner phones, scopes, magazines, night-vision equipment, and other tactical gear. Rhodes told James to be prepared to transport and distribute the equipment to others upon Rhodes’s instruction and to be prepared for violence in the event of a civil war. James stored this equipment in a storage shed in Alabama and awaited Rhodes’s instructions. [my emphasis]

      52. This proffer of evidence is not intended to constitute a complete statement of all facts known by Joshua James or the government. Rather, it is a limited statement of facts intended to provide the minimal necessary factual predicate for Joshua James’s guilty plea. [my emphasis]

  11. jhinx says:

    I wonder if Rhodes is altering his physical appearance and maybe taking some Spanish courses.

  12. jhinx says:

    The Statement of Offense details a lot of travel and purchases of Insurrection Kits (guns, ammo, armor, “Trump 2020” bumper stickers, etc), but I don’t see any mention of how it was funded or if there were any financial shenanigans. I wonder if that’s outside “the limited statement of facts” in the Statement of Offense.

  13. skua says:

    The photo with the red oval around his name on Joshua James’ work shirt comes from the affidavit sworn 2021.03.08.
    Sworn two months after the seditious conspiracy reached its climax. And a year ago next Tuesday.

    It’s almost as if DoJ doesn’t have providing me with instant gratification as its highest priority.

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