There Are 5,000 More Like Ricky Shiffer
In the last week, the serial revelations that DOJ had interviewed high level Trump associates, served at least two overt subpoenas, and searched the former President’s golf resort have demonstrated that the army of TV lawyers insisting that “we would know” if Merrick Garland’s DOJ was aggressively investigating Trump were utterly wrong, and wrong for reasons that every single one of them is competent to have known.
Even with your garden-variety alleged white collar criminal (like former Congressman TJ Cox, who was indicted yesterday), DOJ prefers to conduct its investigations secretly, because such investigations are more likely to succeed.
All the more so for a guy with an army of heavily-armed supporters and a history of witness tampering. As the motion to continue sealing the Trump search warrant affidavit states explicitly, many Trump associates will only cooperate so long as they can avoid the backlash and real physical peril that testifying overtly will bring.
[I]nformation about witnesses is particularly sensitive given the high-profile nature of this matter and the risk that the revelation of witness identities would impact their willingness to cooperate with the investigation. 5 Disclosure of the government’s affidavit at this stage would also likely chill future cooperation by witnesses whose assistance may be sought as this investigation progresses, as well as in other high-profile investigations.
5 This is not merely a hypothetical concern, given the widely reported threats made against
law enforcement personnel in the wake of the August 8 search. See, e.g., Alan Feuer et al.,
“Armed Man Is Killed After Trying to Breach FBI’s Cincinnati Office,” N.Y. Times (Aug. 11,
2022), available at https://www.nytimes.com/live/2022/08/11/us/fbi-cincinnati-shootingnews; Josh Margolin, “Authorities Monitoring Online Threats Following FBI’s Mar-a-Lago
Raid,” ABC News (Aug. 11, 2022), available at https://abcnews.go.com/US/authoritiesmonitoring-online-threats-fbis-mar-lago-raid/story?id=88199587.
The risk of political violence in response to investigations of Trump has come to a head in the last week. In the Kyle Fitzsimons bench trial yesterday, for example, witnesses leaving the DC courtroom were harassed by supporters of even this low profile assault defendant. And, as the government noted in their motion to oppose unsealing, last week an armed Trump supporter responded to Trump’s incitement by attempting to breach the Cincinnati FBI office, before being killed in a confrontation with cops later that day.
The guy who tried to breach the FBI office was not just any Trump supporter. He’s a Navy veteran who was at the Capitol on January 6.
A man identified by two law enforcement sources as Ricky Shiffer, who died in a confrontation with police after he fired a nail gun at a Cincinnati FBI building, appeared to post online in recent days about his desire to kill FBI agents shortly after former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence was searched.
Two law enforcement officials confirmed Shiffer’s name. Shiffer was at the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021, according to three people aiding law enforcement who saw him in photos taken from the day of the attack; however, it’s unclear whether he went inside the building. Shiffer frequently posted about his attendance at the Capitol on social media.
On Truth Social, a social media platform founded by Trump’s media company, Trump Media & Technology Group, Shiffer appeared to have posted a message detailing his failed attempt to gain entry to the FBI building.
“Well, I thought I had a way through bullet proof glass, and I didn’t. If you don’t hear from me, it is true I tried attacking the F.B.I., and it’ll mean either I was taken off the internet, the F.B.I. got me, or they sent the regular cops while,” the account @RickyWShifferJr wrote at 9:29 a.m. ET, shortly after police allege the shooting occurred.
In fact, the FBI was already investigating him before he launched his attack.
The officials said federal investigators had been looking into whether the man, Ricky Shiffer, 42, of Columbus, had been involved in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. They also said the F.B.I. had received a tip about Mr. Shiffer in May that was unrelated to Jan. 6, and agents opened a separate inquiry that included conducting interviews in Florida and Ohio.
The F.B.I. acknowledged in a statement that it had received information about Mr. Shiffer before Thursday, but said that the information “did not contain a specific and credible threat.” The bureau said agents from multiple offices had tried to find and interview him, but had not been successful. A neighbor at an apartment complex in Columbus where Mr. Shiffer lived, who declined to give his name, said federal agents had visited the property a few weeks ago and had asked him questions about Mr. Shiffer, including what time he left home most days and when he returned.
Law enforcement officials separately said they were investigating whether Mr. Shiffer appeared in a video posted on Facebook on Jan. 5, 2021, showing him attending a pro-Trump rally at Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington the night before the Capitol was stormed.
This time around, as people start to ask, “if they FBI knew about this guy why didn’t they do something?” the FBI could (and should, but won’t) simply respond, “because everyone, from Trump opponents, law and order judges, Republicans in Congress, to TV lawyers told us to stop pursuing January 6 trespassers.” While Trevor McFadden and GOP Congresspeople have told DOJ to stop pursuing January 6 trespassers for different reasons, purportedly to protect political speech, Trump’s critics have said, explicitly, repeatedly, ignorantly, that suspected January 6 trespassers like Shiffer are low-level foot soldiers of little import to the country or to holding Trump accountable.
At this point (and, seemingly, for quite some time), DOJ really doesn’t seem to be arresting random trespassers. While the reasons for FBI’s heightened interest in a particular trespasser isn’t always clear (sometimes it is), most misdemeanor arrests these days seem to fit one or another investigative priority. In response to a recent claim DOJ was wasting its time with ongoing arrests of those who breached the Capitol, for example, I noted that recent arrests consisted of:
- Someone described to have stripped a cop of his baton and used a megaphone to rile up other rioters
- The guy with the most striking set of tattoos caught in any January 6 footage which unsurprisingly comes with a felony record
- A woman who wore a pretty red coat and wielded a stick with metal attached
- A Proud Boy who used bear spray and damaged his ear
- A QAnoner with blue hair and a handful of aliases long known to anti-fascist researchers for her extremist views
Compared to those arrests, Shiffer probably looked to the FBI just like another rabid Trump supporters whose uncertain movements around January 6 and transient recent history made him especially difficult to arrest, but whose military background and that recent tip generated active investigative interest. Yes, he was a rabid Trump supporter who, any moment, could turn — could be turned — into an imminent threat.
But at least given what we know thus far, the FBI likely had few clues that he was going to be the one whose online calls for war would turn to action.
That’s because there are 5,000 more like him out there.
I don’t mean, there’s a shit-ton of Trump supporters who could go postal at any moment. There are far more than 5,000 of them.
I mean, there are 5,000 people who participated in January 6 that the FBI might have predicated investigative interest in, but has not yet arrested.
That’s a fairly conservative number. In recent days, DOJ passed the 850 arrest mark for January 6 defendants. There are probably 1,500 to 2,000 more people who entered the Capitol on January 6 whose arrest would be comparatively easy (because their trespass is fairly easy to prove) who have not yet been arrested. There are probably 250 identified suspected assailants still at large (over 530 people, including those who’ve been arrested, are listed on the FBI site). And there were probably 10,000 people who breached the external barricades but did not enter the building that DOJ would only arrest if there were something extra — the political profile of Ryan Kelley or Couy Griffin, the pre-existing Deferred Prosecution Agreement of Owen Shroyer, conspiracy ties like Stewart Rhodes — to justify the arrest. Sure, the people who attended the January 5 rally, as Shiffer did, were more likely to participate in more radicalized online networks; those people weren’t in DC just to hear the loser of an election speak.
But at every moment that DOJ has been investigating the leaders that orchestrated January 6 (which provably started within weeks of the attack) and at every moment that DOJ has been investigating Trump’s other criminal acts, DOJ and FBI have been trying to deal with the growth of political violence that Trump has deliberately fostered. DOJ spent the weeks after January 6 doing triage, trying to arrest enough people to get visibility on the very real plans for follow-on attacks before or at the Inauguration. DOJ spent the year after January 6 trying to incapacitate the militia networks that served as an organizing structure for the attack. And DOJ has spent the last six months, as it turned more overtly to investigate several sets of crimes by the former President, trying to anticipate which of those 5,000 veterans of January 6 would, alone or in concert, attempt to reignite a civil war.
I hope that, given the Shiffer example, impatient people who’ve never bothered to understand the crime scene itself will remember that everyone they’ve dismissed for a year as low-level January 6 trespassers may be the next Ricky Shiffer. It’s easy to imagine that if you just arrest Trump all that political violence will dissipate. But that wouldn’t even have been true in 2019, if Mueller had indicted, and it sure as hell isn’t true now. And every step DOJ takes to get closer to arresting Trump, or even just hold the butchers like Fitzsimons who took up arms on January 6 accountable, the mob of people that Trump radicalized on January 6 remains an urgent threat.
Thanks for that. It’s true that many of us, including us elderly who were active in the anti- Vietnam War movement, have long had little trust in either the FBI or the Justice Department, so to be on the side of law enforcement in this case is a novelty. Were Republicans still in charge, I hesitate to believe that either agency would show this much courage against these threats to the Republic.
I’m not looking to start any fights or anything, but we’ve seen how past Republican (mal)administrations have warped the system and prevented any accounting for their political crimes. That it takes something as egregious as a seditious President to wake up the system (and Republicans are still as adamantly wrong as Southerners in 1860) makes me wonder whether the (dis)United States of America has run its course.
As a kind of PS, I live in a UTC+9 time zone, so I may often see your posts before anyone else.
As a young septuagenarian I think you were a little ahead of your time as active in the anti- Vietnam War movement and I congratulate you. I, too, would have never trusted the FBI or any other law enforcement for that matter back then. I was harassed by local police simply because I had long hair and couldn’t have imagined how badly more vulnerable people were suffering at the hands of local law enforcement. No Republican would have characterized the FBI as anything but soulmates, in my view.
I found work in GMT (and BST) in the seventies and I thought at that time that America had a reckoning in its’ future, but Obama’s election fooled me into thinking we’d turned the corner. When he was elected my only hope was that TFG was SO bad that it might wake people up to what can happen in a short period of time. Unfortunately a huge number of people are actively behind him and armed to the teeth. They think their country is being stolen from them and refuse to acknowledge the actual history. I know I wasn’t taught the real story in school.
It’s not at all unreasonable or irrational to conclude (based on previous history) that parts of the FBI and CIA are, in fact, capable of undertaking nefarious actions whilst the vast majority of the organisation are conducting legitimate and lawful operations.
The problem is that the nefarious actors pollute the legitimate actors.
This is the problem we have whenever we hear the words ‘deep-state’ utilised.
And since I’m a octogenarian, you can put my crankiness down to old age.
I’d call it the wisdom of experience.
It’s the crankiness of experience.
Trust me on this.
Its less and less like a criminal prosecution, and more like a war, as the months go by. At some point does the President have to decide there are combinations too large to be dealt with by law enforcement alone? Than all the post Civil War restrictions apply.
Knowing Biden it’s not at all likely. He’s a firm believer in the established organs and processes of the state.
Whether he’s right to do so remains a challenging question.
If I was a writer to the internet, I would write what Ms. Wheeler wrote.
Events of last week reminded of the prosecutors I knew that faced physical threats. Some of them carried guns, for at least the noise the weapon could make.
Thanks (again) for a lucid summary of the mess we are facing. A few days before the FBI house call to Mar-a-Lago an op-ed that I submitted to the my local newspaper (the New Haven Register) appeared. I wrote about the parallels between Weimar Germany and American now. I received an email response from someone who wrote that his father had taught him 70 years ago Democrats were no good. He claimed what kept America strong were “the Constitution, the Guns, and the Bible, and Democrats hate all three.”
After the FBI house call he wrote again railing about the corrupt DOJ and FBI and warned that a fight was coming. His only regret was that he was 84 years old and not going to be able participate the way he would like to.
We are in troubled waters and I am not confident that even complete exposure of TFG’s malfeasance will change the mood. I hope I am wrong, but historians are not known for the optimism. Thank you Dr. Wheeler and everyone else involved with this site. It provides a great service.
It’s never been more clear to me that these people are in a cult. I doubt a misdemeanor charge would’ve changed the behavior of Mr. Shiffer, probably would’ve just emboldened the persecution fetish that is present in all of TFG’s most ardent believers. Though that’s no reason not to charge criminals for their crimes.
I used to be naive enough to believe that the most toxic Republicans would die off (boomers) and be replaced with a more sane, but still terrible, version of conservatives. But now that I’m seeing more and more young people jump headlong into Fascism-lite, I’ve been dispelled of that notion.
On the contrary, the young ‘uns that don’t know any better are most likely to be rabid supporters. Look how many of the RWNJ kids are in home schooling or in the RW bubble of charters/ parochial schools, as opposed to public schools where they would have to interact with all sorts of families. I made sure my two girls were in public schools and paid attention to ensure they took the opportunity seriously and they’re functioning and sane liberal-leaning adults now.
Thanks as always.
In the Winegeart complaint she’s quoted as saying “Emergency broadcast system will be sounding off in near future. Then it’s go time for real.”
Might this not indicate that she had foreknowledge of a plan for Trump to declare an emergency (due perhaps to an anticipated antifa attack) which would then trigger use of the EBS, providing the signal to “go?”
Or is that old news, another thread buried in the breadth and depth of the continuously-expanding criminality that is Trump?
For some reason it reminded me of the common use of “Lithe and fierce, like a tiger” which enabled the prosecutor in “Z” to tie the conspiracy together.
IIRC back in December, 2019, Trump spoke to his supporters “…with a giant voice…”. Do you realize that has been interpreted as referring to the giant voice military mass notification and military emergency alert systems. It was understood to be a call to action in Washington DC on J6. I knew it at the time he said it. And he has repeated referencing his supporters having such a giant voice which I understand is a threat.
12/2019? Seems a little early for any concrete J6 planning. Did you mean 12/2020?
You are correct. 12/2021, or thereabouts. Crap, that orange blight on this world has been around waaay too long.
Thanks for the researchers and writers on this site, you are awesome and appreciated.
I don’t know much, but among the things I do know is this – no matter how many guns the MAGAts have, no matter how big they are, or how many rounds they fire – the government has bigger, more powerful and faster guns, and they will not hesitate to use them if necessary.
And one of the other things I know is that bmaz is wrong about Brian Eno.
Unlike Charlottesville, there can be “good people” on both sides of a question on taste in music. I however, will be with my tribe of “good people” on 9/28 at the Forum in Inglewood to see Roxy Music. Sadly, creative visionary Brian Eno will not be on this tour and we all will be the lesser for that.
One of the many issues is simply that there is considerable overlap between the MAGA crowd and government security/police/military forces. For decades the military has been confounded with how to handle Christian nationalism and racism in its ranks – and the same is true of police personnel. And, looking at both the participants and leaders of 6 January, the issue spans the ranks from low level enlisted to top generals.
Not to minimize the problem you point out, but 25,000 National Guardsmen were assembled from multiple states along with police forces from a number of locations to successfully protect the Biden inauguration, with a very few potential rogues found and kicked out as I recall.
Hard agree on Eno. This is a nice little trip: An Ending (Ascent).
I saw a group of clips of Joe Rogan; his take on “the raid”. Some would say a thought leader of the muscular class, Joe had an interesting framing, bouncing off some ridiculous CEO. He basically admitted that the FBI had cause, and that for all I&P Trump seems guilty AF. Then pivots that FBI is hopelessly political somehow for the Left, and most the political violence is from the Left, referencing a 2017! incident where a women got sucker punched with a red hat on. Wokism, Marxism and CC is the real threat etc. etc…
Just like the GOP leadership, they sense the Sword of Damocles. It’s just he grift is so good and the villains all agreed upon, it’s very hard to stop.
Thank you Marcy, again, for all the hard work you are doing here and with your contacts to keep all of these threads moving. I don’t want to live in fear. Having been politically active since COINTELPRO and the like, and knowing how many LEOs are involved with or are members of the J6 mob, it is hard as notjonathon says, to really want to be on the side of “law enforcement.” I am sure there are many in the FBI, etc. who are great “patriots,” whatever that means today. In Albuquerque we have had the DOJ involved in a consent decree with APD for more than 7 years now, and during demonstrations have faced down armed members of the 3%ers and etc. who our police called “armed friendlies.” One demonstrator has been shot, the trial is still pending. More recently we had the assassinations of members of our beloved (by most of us) Muslim community. All of the spokespeople who appeared on national news from the Mayor to members of the Muslim community are well known here by activists. All of them spoke highly and with great emotion about the work of law enforcement to arrest a suspects (now 2) and return a modicum of safety to the Muslim community. On Democracy Now, the issue of 9-11 and the tables turned on Muslims was discussed in an interview with one of our most visible activists who still speaks of the essentially heroic efforts made here by FBI and etc. in this case. It is a fraught time. I am not yet impressed with the police here, but they did step up, and without using language like “serial killer” or “hate crimes” managed to do the work required to diffuse the terror we all felt in and for our community during the time the killings ramped up. What we will do to protect our democracy remains to be seen, but I am not getting a gun.
It strikes me that the capabilities of the DoJ and FBI are simply insufficient to deal with the threat. This is not a criticism of either entity, it is just the threat posed by the one-man crime wave and his cult minions is simply too large. The process of bringing justice through the legal system seems too ponderous to address the criminality, both in severity and number of criminals. That is not an advocation to abandon the rule of law. It is simply an acknowledgement of the unprecedented danger posed at this time and date. When someone like Schiffer can fall through the cracks (for lack of a better term) due to the DoJ prioritizing other criminals, despite being a known concern, it is both telling and concerning. Because, if Shiffer was a one-off issue, missing him would be one thing, but, if the future reveals more and more violence occurring from the radicalized MAGAs, one can only fear for democracy. I do not know what an alternative solution would look like, forsaking the rule of law is a non-starter, but the political answer seems bound to fail as well given how the Republican party has embraced this fascism. I suppose we need a Lincoln or Washington to guide us through, a leader with the wisdom and vision to lead us forward.
The problem, as it currently exists, is intractable.
Fixing these matters takes political will of which there is not enough support one way or the other. It will also, more than likely, require Constituional reform which is notoriously difficult to achieve.
My view has been that the courts, as politicised as they are, will be the last bulwark against a tyrranical government. My hope is that SCOTUS understand that any action they take to dissolve, diminish or countermand the Constitutional norms will result in the rise of a despot and that rise will see them reduced to the position of feckless rubber stamps for the tyrant. This is what is going on in other more recently failed democracies like the Philippines and Venezuela.
While NYT [now] calls that 1/5/21 event “a pro-Trump rally at Black Lives Matter Plaza”,
NBC Washington [at the time] called it “a confrontation near Black Lives Matter plaza in Washington, DC on January 5, 2021
See photo captions 1, 3, and 5/57 here:
Good catch from the archives. When I read the “pro-Trump rally at Black Lives Matter Plaza” I wanted to object “That was no rally!” The only reason MAGAts were at BLM Plaza was looking for mayhem.
The Trump rallies were down on Penn Ave and around the Capitol/Supreme Court. I doubt the city would even have given them a permit for BLM Plaza.
The MPD was on high alert for wandering groups looking for trouble as had happened during the two December meetups of Trump supporters. It was during the second that Proud Boy leader Tarrio burnt the BLM banner at the church, which was the reason he was stopped and arrested when he came to town on Jan 5.
A Trump supporter “rallying” at BLM Plaza would be with a group looking for BLM supporters or Antifa (or just residents of DC) to mix things up with or to do a little light property damage.
Without prosecution, our laws are less meaningful. Who gets prosecuted for what? Therein lay meaning.
“It’s easy to imagine that if you just arrest Trump all that political violence will dissipate. But that wouldn’t even have been true in 2019, if Mueller had indicted, and it sure as hell isn’t true now.”
In the last week or so, I saw an academic who studies authoritarianism (sorry I didn’t note the name) say that the greatest danger for violence comes when the authoritarian group loses the election and realizes it has no chance of taking power through the vote.
With the Republican’s pulling back from their Senatorial candidates, reportedly, in PA, WI, AZ, NV, it looks like the Senate might remain Democratic. With gas prices down and women registering to vote in higher numbers, it may even be that the Dems will keep the House. That’s all well and good but I remember this warning.
That’s some catch, that Catch-22.
That first sentence – as EW points out – is demonstrably and dangerously wrong. But pursuing Trump’s probable crimes through indictment and prosecution is essential. Ford should have done the same with Nixon.
It’s not as if allowing Trump to continue his political career without consequence would placate his rage or obsession with vengeance. He’s already promising to act on that, to keep his mob at a fever pitch. He and it would destroy American government as we know it.
“In the last week or so, I saw an academic who studies authoritarianism (sorry I didn’t note the name) say that the greatest danger for violence comes when the authoritarian group loses the election and realizes it has no chance of taking power through the vote.”
This precedes even The Donald. It is the entire GOP MO. He just gave full voice to it.
At what point is enough actually enough!
Just today I zoomed with my youngest (8 year old) granddaughter, my deepest threat to the future; and, in an awkward moment, when a Trump image appeared on our ZOOM shared screen, she offered, “I am so sick of seeing that monster everywhere!”
So, maybe I have no real worries.
Tramp’s legacy …. Trump was a monster my granddaughter endured and remembered as a monster her entire life.
Unless she’s next seen being ‘re-educated’ by ‘Education’ Minister De Santis in the gulags of Arizona or Idaho.
(Sorry for my dystopian take on things)
trump admin gave his domestic terror groups 4 years to develop unfettered by restricting FBI and other Fed law enforcement
As trump realizes he has no legal defense against many serious charges he will put both feet on the obstruction of justice gas pedal and will incite his hard core to block any trials. He will play his chaos card. If we let him succeed we’ll turn control of the country over to a cult leader. If we thought he was inciting insurrection on Jan6 when he was only losing his job wait til he comes to grips with the prospects of losing everything.
However, his core is mostly bullies and bullies talk tough but fade into the shadows in the face of organized power. More likely to get sabotage of gov offices etc (like blowing up of Whitehall draft station in NYC (they routed me thru Newark!)
trump has “normalized” psychopathic behavior
Great “meta” take on DOJ and how they are handling the J6 participants. I also think Garland and team have been doing a stellar job despite constant underfunding by Congress. I believe it is important to pursue everyone who breached Capitol security that day. There needs to be harsh penalties for all and most certainly the perpetrators. Do you think if the tables were turned and Obama supporters had stormed the Capitol under phony pretenses after losing re-election to Romney in 2012, they would have been more lenient?
Folks who have had non-violence training will likely be aware of the strains arresting and processing put on the federal legal system to handle the January riot and insurrection cases at this scale. It’s good that progress has been made by the DOJ, given the resource strains that task force and federal facilities must be under just to keep this investigation, those arrested, etc are having on the federal organizations and facilities. This is where Twitler has been succeeding in that the system is tied up to such an extent that there has to be careful planning of resource use, trial timing, etc, etc just to make good progress at all. And all of that is costing a ton of money, straining budges and personnel resources, etc. But that’s been Twitler’s MO since long before he became President. Let’s hope that the current investigations into Twitler’s violent proclivities and general fraudulent conduct will have some success this time around. If all these federal efforts do end Twitler’s influence in this country significantly it’ll all be worth the huge expenditure of time and money now. If it does not then…