How J6C’s Obstinance on Transcripts Enabled Dominic Pezzola’s Attempt to Sow Conspiracy Theories

On Friday, lawyers for Proud Boy Dominic Pezzola (who are among the more conspiratorial of the Proud Boy defense attorneys) filed a motion for a mistrial claiming that the “Winter Palace” document Enrique Tarrio received from one of his at least three girlfriends was created by the government. Here’s how the document was admitted as evidence last Thursday.

At issue is testimony that Samuel Armes provided to the January 6 Committee (and, as we’ll see, a grand jury) regarding his recognition that a document he created as part of imagining how an attack on the electoral certification would happen was altered to become the Winter Palace document.

Pezzola’s lawyer, Robert Root (who joined his team days before trial started) argued that when Judge Kelly ruled the document was admissible back in December, defense attorneys had not yet seen Armes’ testimony, and so could not argue that Armes — who claimed he had been trained to be a spook — was a government agent framing the Proud Boys.

According to the Politico article, Ms. Flores also gave an interview to the Jan. 6 Committee. And Ms. Flores reportedly testified that Armes was the author of the entirety of “1776 Returns” and that this FBI and CIA member or associate asked her to share it with Tarrio.

If true, this means that the most damning document in this trial was authored by the intelligence community—someone “groomed” by the FBI itself. And this CIA and FBI asset requested Tarrio’s friend to share the document with Tarrio just prior to January 6. [emphasis original]

The filing relies heavily on this Politico story, which extrapolates about a communication the January 6 Committee had with the girlfriend in question, Eryka Flores, but which was not released as a transcript.

In my opinion, this filing was designed first and foremost as bait for Jim Jordan to claim that even the Proud Boy prosecution is just the Deep State trying to frame Donald Trump, and only secondarily as yet another of the often frivolous motions for a mistrial defense attorneys have lodged in this case.

But the government has responded in here, partly by (inappropriately, in my opinion) mocking the illogic of Pezzola’s challenge, before going on to explain how the testimony of Armes, at least, totally rebuts Pezzola’s claims.

The government strongly disagrees with Pezzola’s characterization of both the facts and the record with respect to these assertions. The government robustly agrees with defendant Pezzola that it would have been egregiously improper for a member of the U.S. Intelligence Community to have conducted a domestic intelligence operation targeting Enrique Tarrio, a U.S. Person, and providing him with a plan to “storm” (or “occupy” or “sit in”) House and Senate Office Buildings on January 6. It would have been even more improper for a member of the U.S. Intelligence Community to send this plan to the leader of the Proud Boys when, just months before, then-President Trump had exhorted the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by” during a nationally televised debate. And it would have been egregious indeed for a member of the U.S. Intelligence Community to send such a document to the leader of the Proud Boys in advance of January 6, in the wake of the violent attacks the Proud Boys were associated with in Washington, D.C., on November 14, and December 12, 2020. Surely, had the government planted such a document in the inbox of defendant Tarrio (ECF 660 at 5), one would hope that the U.S. Intelligence Community would have hewed to the truth of what happened on January 6 and included the Capitol as one of the targeted buildings.

The filing notes that, contrary to the claimed late notice with the release of the transcripts, the Proud Boys already received October 7 grand jury testimony from Armes that tracks his J6C testimony, a transcript from Flores’s May grand jury testimony showing her invoking the Fifth repeatedly, and a third witness describing receiving the document from Flores on a date that would be before she sent it to Tarrio on December 30.

The information that Samuel Armes drafted a document that inspired portions of the Government Exhibit 528-1 was disclosed to defense counsel by the government on November 16, 2022, when it provided counsel with a copy of Armes’ October 7, 2022, grand jury testimony.


Armes testified that he shared his “wargaming” exercise in the form of a three- to five-page Google document with “Erika Flores” sometime between August 2020 and January 2021. 7/18/2022 HSC Tr. at 12; 10/6/2022 Grand Jury Tr. at 26. When asked why Flores told the House Select Committee that Armes had drafted the document, he testified “I guess she is just blame shifting.” 7/18/2022 HSC Tr. at 20. Armes surmised that Flores had taken his “ideas as an inspiration, and her or some group of people then turned it into ‘1776 Returns.’” Id. Indeed, when subpoenaed to testify before the Grand Jury in this case on May 3, 2022, Flores answered only brief biographical questions and then invoked her fifth amendment right not to testify repeatedly in response to more than 50 transcript pages worth of questions by the government about the “1776 Returns” document. That transcript was provided to defense counsel on November 16, 2022.1

1 On that same day, counsel were provided with the grand jury transcript of another witness who testified that a girlfriend of Enrique Tarrio known as “Erika” had messaged a document to the witness about two weeks before January 6 and asked the witness to fill in the names of people to participate in an “infiltration plan.” The witness further recalled that the individuals were to dress like they belonged in the buildings and to have set up prior meetings to gain access. Compare Government Ex. 528-1 at pages 3, 6.

The third witness may be Jeremy Liggett, whom J6C investigators suggested had some tie to the document as well.

There are just three problems with this.

First, as Politico reported today, Flores didn’t invoke the Fifth to the J6C.

Two investigators familiar with her interview — an informal, untranscribed appearance in early 2022 — say that while she was a reluctant witness and initially planned to plead the Fifth, she ultimately agreed to answer some questions about the document.

“Instead of pleading the Fifth, we did an interview with her,” one of the investigators said, speaking on condition of anonymity to describe information the committee had not publicly released. “She gave us the name of Samuel Armes as the name of the individual who wrote the document.”


The select committee investigators said they found Armes to be more forthcoming than Flores, who they said exhibited a “general apprehension.” Flores didn’t respond to messages and emails seeking comment.

“She acted like she didn’t know what it was at all,” said one of the investigators.

The two investigators said Flores indicated she had shared the document with Tarrio to impress him during a sensitive phase in their relationship and disclaimed specific knowledge about its contents.

The Stone-related witnesses very carefully manipulated the J6C, and Flores’ decision to testify may be an example. At the very least, Pezzola may have basis to demand that Kelly immunize Flores.

Another problem is that Jocelyn Ballantine is formally on the government response. I’ve noted before how insanely stupid it is for DOJ to have her in an increasingly senior role in the January 6 committee, and discovery disputes like this are precisely why.

The third problem with all this is that DOJ should be able to get Google metadata associated with the document to provide more clarity about the document. Perhaps a later witness will explain efforts to do so (thus far, it has just been introduced as an attachment to a Telegram text). But there are outstanding questions that may have answers.

In any case, this is now the second time that J6C’s refusal to turn over transcripts has endangered this prosecution.

51 replies
  1. Ravenous hoarde says:

    Is the timeline of Armes’ “spook” work published? I was under the impression his last government work was with local government under Joel Greenberg in Florida.

    If Armes shared the document as a private citizen in between leg days, does the fact that he may have earlier been a “spook” still matter or it just looks suspect but is immaterial?

    • Greg Hunter says:

      PR – 425 is now immortalized in the Congressional Records…really peak cryptobro stuff.

      With that said the whole mentoring into the “community” and the TIP was quite a rabbit hole to go down. I was intrigued by mentoring as I was just recently doing a search on Richard B. Cheney in the Wyoming Newspaper database and found the first mention of him. I stopped on Dick when I found what I think was his mentor into government service – a former WWII vet and University of Wyoming Professor of Political Science. That made me think of the description of Alfred Smith’s political education in Robert Caro’s The Power Broker.

      The TIP thing and Armes analysis then triggers me to the riots post Elian Gonzalez that roiled the Miami Community that Tarrio, Aileen Cannon and I would bet Flores grew up in.

      Then James “Jesus Christ Superstar” Beeks enters the frame and it gets even stranger as he listed Sam Armes at his hotel as a hopeful love interest to meet on J6 Insurrection day.

      Who is writing this script?

  2. glenn storey says:

    Hello, lawyers and smart people, which you know, automatically precludes me. I have an O/T question, for which I can’t seem to find an answer. I was wondering how many people, who, after invoking their 5th amendment rights, are actually found not guilty at trial. I feel like it’s a very low number, but again, I can’t seem to find an answer, although I may not be asking the right question of the Google machine. So I guess part of my question is – if you’re guilty, is the 5th amendment actually all that beneficial?

    • Rayne says:

      Are you seriously asking for a measure of utility of a basic human right not to be forced to give testimony against one’s self?


      • glenn storey says:

        Nope. That’s not what I’m asking at all. Keep in mind that I’m Canadian, and we don’t have a 5th amendment, although we do have the same protection under the Charter of rights and freedoms. What I’m trying to find out is this – how often are people who plead the 5th found not guilty at trial? And I maintain it’s not very often, because there’s usually a boatload of other evidence against them..

        • bmaz says:

          And you are full of shit. You asked people that know, and despite the answer, you are still spewing ignorant bullshit with what you “maintain”. So, you were not looking for an answer at all, just a forum in which to spread your bullshit. Don’t do that here.

        • Egyptian Cat says:

          As a former court clerk I can say that no such statistic exists. In fact, most criminal defendants who go to trial opt out of testifying simply because of the risk that they could find themselves under cross examination. If you agree to testify at trial, you are thereby giving up the right to plead the fifth as to any questions you will be asked. Pleading the fifth is not an indication of a defendant’s guilt or innocence.

    • bmaz says:

      Well, do you consider refusing to testify at trial an invocation of the 5th? (You should). In that case, it happens every day in every court.

      • glenn storey says:

        No, I don’t. I think if the cops here in the Great White North want to charge me and put me on trial, then they should have to work for it, and not rely on my help. But, like I said to Rayne, I assume if they ARE going to charge me, that they have sufficient evidence to do so, and my two cents worth doesn’t really make a difference. I hope that makes a bit more sense.

        • John Paul Jones says:

          In our local jurisdiction Crown is notoriously reluctant to charge on anything that doesn’t look like a slam dunk, and they have been criticized for that, the critics – some of them cops – alleging that the interests of justice would sometimes be better served by taking cases to court. As to your speculation, it strikes me as something than cannot easily be either proven or disproven.

        • zeke di leo says:

          My general rule was that you do not testify unless the case is already lost. And usually not even then.

          • bmaz says:

            Yeah. There are a few clients here and there who could really benefit from testifying and you think could hold up to cross. But not that many. If arguing an affirmative defense, you may have to, but, again, not that often.

          • Egyptian Cat says:

            I know it’s off topic, but what about Kyle Rittenhouse? The crying little boy on the witness stand scored himself a win, didn’t he?

            • bmaz says:

              That is a case of had to do it, he was arguing an affirmative defense that required he personally testify. I mentioned that earlier.

              • Egyptian Cat says:

                True. He had to explain why his actions were ostensibly “self defense.” Never mind that if he hadn’t been able to get himself an illegal firearm he wouldn’t have been in Kenosha that night, and two dead people would not have died as a result.

                • Just Some Guy says:

                  The firearms charge against Rittenhouse, a misdemeanor, was dropped by the WI prosecutor during the trial as the judge found that Wisconsin’s law was vaguely worded. The following AP story explains the ruling and law:


                  “Hours before closing arguments began on Monday, Judge Bruce Schroeder granted a defense motion to toss out the weapons charge. Rittenhouse attorneys Mark Richards and Corey Chirafisi pointed to an exception in the law that they said allows minors to possess shotguns and rifles as long as they’re not short-barreled.

                  “Assistant District Attorney James Kraus argued that the exception renders the state’s prohibition on minors possessing dangerous weapons meaningless. But when he acknowledged that Rittenhouse’s rifle’s barrel was longer than 16 inches, the minimum barrel length allowed under state law, Schroeder dismissed the charge.”

                  That said, I have not seen an explanation in the press as to why Rittenhouse couldn’t have been charged under Illinois or federal laws, if applicable — don’t know if any laws would have applied, admittedly, but that’s what I would rely on a nosy journalist to find out.

                  • bmaz says:

                    It was purchased in WI not IL. What federal laws were violated if no interstate travel with firearm? At some point it is just a witch hunt and, while Rittenhouse may be a witch, it is of no further value to keep at it.

                    • Just Some Guy says:

                      Right, the firearm was purchased in Wisconsin, by a friend of Rittenhouse, which was then charged by WI prosecutors, then dropped as the friend cooperated with WI prosecutors:


                      I admitted to not knowing if there were IL or federal laws which would apply to Rittenhouse’s conduct outside of the scope of the gun purchase. I would imagine that IL has straw purchase laws that are perhaps stronger than WI (pure speculation on my part, but based on IL allegedly having more restrictive gun laws), but I don’t know if they are applicable in this case — it would be interesting to know!

                      And no, I don’t think it’s a “witch hunt” for much the same reason that I don’t think the federal indictments of former LMPD officers Hankison, Jaynes, Cosgrove, and Goodlett for the Breonna Taylor killing are a “witch hunt,” either. For certain, disclaiming the possibility of another jurisdiction investigating Rittenhouse as a “witch hunt” is rather Trumpian, imho.

                    • bmaz says:

                      Oh, so now I am “Trumpian”? You asked questions on things you clearly don’t know the answer to. I tried to honestly answer, so screw you with your “Trumpian” allegation. “IMHO” you are being a dick. You have been around long enough to know I am no Trumpian MAGAT. And, yet, you stretch to spew that slime. Get lost.

  3. RMD says:

    apologies to Dr. Wheeler and Bmaz…as this is OT….but wondered if you’ve discussed Pence’s refusal to comply w Smith’s subpoena elsewhere?
    Speech and Debate clause cited.
    Interested in your thoughts.

    • bmaz says:

      It is a time consuming ruse that, ultimately, will not stand. Also shows where Pence is, and it is not in a position of good faith.

    • Matt___B says:

      I had heard that Pence was claiming “legislative privilege” – is that the same as “citing the Speech and Debate clause”?

      Also heard that this is a novel defense in his capacity as “President of the Senate” that has never been tested. The guy simply doesn’t want to testify…at all, neither to J6C nor SC…

    • punaise says:

      TPM (not lawyers):

      But rather than contesting the subpoena on executive privilege grounds, Pence is expected to seek refuge in the Constitution’s Speech and Debate Clause, arguing that he was acting in his capacity as president of the Senate, a legislative branch role, according to the Politico report out this morning. The Speech and Debate Clause protects members of Congress from undue intrusion by the executive branch.

      – Legal experts tell Politico there’s an arguable basis for Pence’s Speech and Debate Clause defense but that it remains an unsettled area of law, meaning a court fight could drag on for some time.

      – The Justice Department itself has previously argued that the vice president in his role as Senate president is covered by the Speech and Debate Clause, but the exact scope and contours of the legislative immunity it offers remain unclear and largely untested.

      – Pence’s lawyer is Emmet Flood, who represented then-Vice President Dick Cheney in the Valerie Plame affair. Cheney was of course renowned for exploiting the unique dual-hat role of the vice presidency as an executive and legislative branch official to secure and maximize his power

      Fending off Smith’s subpoena carries obvious political advantages for Pence, who is expected to seek the GOP nomination for president in 2024. It allows Pence to avoid testifying against Donald Trump and sidesteps getting entangled with Trump in raising executive privilege arguments. .

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Pence’s notion of the reach of Speech & Debate protection is that it covers all conversations he had with TFG for months. Obfuscation being what it is, he doesn’t distinguish between conversations with Trump in his roles as president of the Senate, Vice President, and private politician. Only one of those would be protected by S&D, and only in connection with legislative business.

        At this stage, Pence is looking for reasons to delay. But with recent precedent against him, he’s not likely to succeed for as long as he hopes. He’s not protecting anything but his own ego and minute chance of re-election to any office of public trust.

        • timbozone says:

          Whether part of Team Pence’s plan or not, I predict that Pence is going to get a lot more media coverage on this “today I’m proteced by Speech and Debate Claus! Also today I’m bound by Executive Privilege!” dance as we approach summer.

    • Silly but True says:

      We can start getting into the weeds, because we’ll get there soon enough.

      On one end is expansive interpretation, and Pence still may win on that in SCOTUS. But, we’ll take that as long shot, and run with a limited win. Art. 1 Sec. 6 states: “…They shall in all cases, except Treason, Felony, and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place.”

      First, Pence is not remotely charged with “Treason, Felony, or Breach if Peace”; and in fact, he is not going to be.

      In its most limited capacity then on plain language, one end would hold Pence is likely to be shielded from about 11:30am, when his 11:00am beat down call by Trump ended (that call with POTUS would explicitly be covered under Executive Privilege we’re POTUS to invoke it) and he headed to the Capitol to serve in his role in the Senate — until at least about 3:40am on Jan. 7 when Pence declared Trump’s election defeat.

      But this probably isn’t all that’s covered. The purpose of the clause was to protect the member from having to worry that anything they say in the course of their legislative activities would implicate them in some court case.

      In Gravel v US, SCOTUS extended this same protection to legislative aids, and so the direct implication is any of Pence’s aids that assisted him with his Jan. 6 activities would _also_ be shielded; key figures here might be Marc Short, Keith Kellogg, Greg Jacob or possibly even Dan Quayle.

      And further, SCOTUS has not generally established the temporal limits of protection as being the location or appearance, that is just strictly protecting from time traveling to Capitol, while in Capitol, and leaving Capitol. Rather they have extended it generally to everything associated to a protected legislative activity: discussions about legislation with a consultant (lobbyist), etc.

      And so some boundaries start to take shape: the time Pence deliberated on his Jan. 6 activity, extending days in advance to at least Jan. 4 as he drilled down with Short and Jacob, and reached out to former VP’s like Quayle are all likely covered.

      So, even in more limited view, there are still a number of questions to resolve: His Jan. 6 call with Trump may be protected by both EP, as well as S&D. His aids assisting him on S&D may be covered as well. His time spent before and after Jan. 6 dealing with his activities in Senate on Jan. 6 may also be protected.

        • Silly but True says:

          It’s like there might be a whole branch of government exists whose duty is to interpret the law, and they have done so on multiple occasions since that “quote” originated.

          Or maybe you are unaware of the court cases? I cited a possible relevant one. Or is your misunderstanding more fundamental?

  4. Jenny says:

    Insightful interview about growing war against fascism. Extremist groups recruiting vets seeding hate.
    These Veterans Are Combating Extremism at Home
    Iraq war veteran Kris Goldsmith is founder of the Task Force Butler Institute. It’s a nonprofit with a mission to take down right-wing extremist movements that are gaining influence – especially among some of Goldsmith’s fellow vets. He speaks with Hari Sreenivasan about this phenomenon in a conversation that is part of Exploring Hate, our ongoing series on antisemitism, racism, and extremism.

  5. CD Wilsher says:

    “According to the Politico article, Ms. Flores also gave an interview to the Jan. 6 Committee. And Ms. Flores reportedly testified that Armes was the author of the entirety of “1776 Returns” and that this FBI and CIA member or associate asked her to share it with Tarrio.”

    So, Tarrio’s lawyers call Flores to the stand and question her. And maybe call Armes as well. Seems a better way to go than to base a motion on a Politico article that is entirely hearsay.

    [Welcome back to emptywheel. Please use the same username each time you comment so that community members get to know you. I’ve reverted the username you used to comment to that you’ve used for four previous comments as I have a suspicion you didn’t mean to use your RL name. This is the second time I’ve done this for you; please make a note to use the same name each time as the future comment application will reject mismatches. /~Rayne]

  6. Greg Hunter says:

    I have gotten push back on this site for my take that Clinton’s NY Senate run cost Albert Gore the 2000 presidential election. The link between Roger Stone, Elian Gonzalez, Enrique Tarrio, Aileen Cannon seem clear to me as the popularity of the recent play Elian shows.

    “Elian was a pivotal event,” said Michel Hausmann, who directed the play and is Miami New Drama’s artistic director. “Let people get upset, let them argue. I think it’s part of our duty as artists.”

    This site is big on timelines and if you look at Hilary’s polling and who was still running against her during this period in NY (Rudy Giuliani), the reasons for the actions by Clinton’s DOJ seem pretty evident to me.

    Elian helped her with the NY electorate at the expense of Democrats in Florida resulting in George W. Bush ascending the Presidency.

  7. Just Some Guy says:

    To bmaz, a couple of points:

    “You asked questions on things you clearly don’t know the answer to.”

    Yes, that is generally the idea behind ASKING QUESTIONS. If I knew the answer, I wouldn’t ask. Your “answer,” such as it was, wasn’t really an answer, either, but just another question. I DON’T KNOW if another jurisdiction, either IL or federal, would be able to prosecute Rittenhouse. THAT’S WHY I ASKED, THANKS.

    And yeah, if you’re going to use specific words and phrases that Trump and the MAGAts use, such as calling potential investigations and prosecutions “witch hunts” by other jurisdictions, then, well, tough. You’re using the exact same language, the exact same wording even! as those who are doing everything they can to undermine the rule of law in this country — the same rule of law that you constantly chide other commenters here for not having enough respect for.

    • bmaz says:

      Again, screw you. No, I was NOT using the language of “Trump and the MAGAs” That is an asinine and jackass statement. If you persist in this bogus attack, we will reconsider your status as a member of this community. You want to be belligerent, you can be gone. Conduct yourself accordingly.

  8. Savage Librarian says:

    Three things that Eryka Gemma Flores and Jesse Benton have in common:

    1. They both worked on Ron Paul’s 2012 campaign for President.
    2. They both are cryptocurrency enthusiasts.
    3. They both seem to have a disdain for the rule of law.

  9. bmaz says:

    One thing they don’t have in common, at least yet. Benton was sentenced to 18 months prison yesterday and she is not a convict. At least yet.

Comments are closed.