“Stand Back and Stand By:” Jack Smith’s Hidden Cards

Two years ago, I wrote a January 6 post describing how the vastness of the attack makes it unknowable, even for someone who had been tracking it full time.

I have spent the better part of the year working full time, with few days off, trying to understand (and help others understand) January 6. I’ve got a clear (though undoubtedly partial) vision of how it all works — how the tactical developments in the assault on the Capitol connect directly back to actions Donald Trump took. Zoe Tillman, one of a handful of other journalists who is attempting to track all these cases (while parenting a toddler and covering other major judicial developments) has a piece attempting to do so with a summary of the numbers. But both those methods are inadequate to the task.

But thus far, that clear vision remains largely unknowable via the normal ways the general public learns. That’s why, I think, people like Lawrence Tribe are so panicked: because even beginning to understand this thing is, quite literally, a full time job, even for those of us with the luxury of living an ocean away. In Tribe’s case, he has manufactured neglect out of what he hasn’t done the work to know. To have something that poses such an obvious risk to American democracy remain so unknowable, so mysterious — to not be able to make sense of the mob that threatens democracy — makes it far more terrifying.

I know a whole lot about what is knowable about the January 6 investigation. But one thing I keep realizing is that it remains unknowable.

I wrote the post, in part, hoping to allay the fear many people seemed to have because they couldn’t understand the investigation and therefore were sure that DOJ was only investigating MAGA tourists, who at that point made up most of the prosecutions. Since that time, hundreds of assault convictions and three seditious conspiracy trials later, we’ve learned that DOJ was already investigating three of Trump’s co-conspirators, it’s just that those investigations didn’t look like what people were looking for.

I’d like to reprise the theme, again to reassure people.

Two years later, 500 and the all important One defendants later, the investigation remains unknowable.

Specifically, while it seems that my assumption from last summer — that Jack Smith chose to charge just Trump first, presumably in a bid to get to trial before the election — was correct, we have no idea what he plans from here forward. A filing in December even revealed that there are others, besides the six identified in the Trump indictment, that the government plans to treat as unindicted co-conspirators at Trump’s eventual trial. Given the prosecution’s plan to introduce Trump’s shout out — “stand back and stay by” — to the Proud Boys, that suggests DOJ might even treat the seditious militia as Trump’s co-conspirators.

We don’t know what Jack Smith planned to do with all the other co-conspirators last summer. We don’t know what he plans to do with them now.

Unlike the Mueller investigation, we don’t even know all the prosecutors Jack Smith has working for him. We didn’t even hear that Michael Dreeben had returned to government to work for him until his name appeared on an appellate brief. There are at least four AUSAs who have not shown up, not recently anyway, in public filings. I’m quite certain they haven’t been twiddling their thumbs in the last year.

What we do know, however, is that Jack Smith team members JP Cooney and Molly Gaston both survived the aftermath of the Mueller investigation, the former in dealing with the aftermath of the Roger Stone resignations, and the latter in the aftermath of the Paul Manafort prosecution. They know how Trump pardoned his way out of a Russian conspiracy charge in 2020. They likely have some ideas about how to avoid that this time around (which may be why Smith hasn’t indicted any of Trump’s co-conspirators yet).

Since Judge Chutkan stayed proceedings for Trump’s immunity appeal, Jack Smith’s team has continued submitting filings — including the 404(b) notice warning prosecutors would raise Trump’s support for the Proud Boys at trial. And it’s driving Trump nuts; he even asked Judge Chutkan to hold Jack Smith in contempt for continuing to meet deadlines that she has stayed (issuing a filing complaining that they’re issuing filings!). One way to create the opportunity to tell more of the story of January 6, as Trump attempts to keep it out of the news through the primaries, is to indict more people, possibly sub-conspiracies tied to each of Trump’s identified co-conspirators.

Jack Smith made a choice last summer to only indict Trump at that time. But if the DC Circuit creates further delays in prosecuting Trump, Smith can make a different choice now.

We don’t know what his team has been doing while Gaston and Thomas Windom have been the primary faces of the prosecution. But he has cards left to play.

115 replies
  1. Ginevra diBenci says:

    Roger Stone as yet seems unmentioned in Smith’s indictments. Stone was Trump’s Proud Boys whisperer. He apparently sought another pardon for activities that postdated the one he’d already received, indicating consciousness of guilt. Smith and his office must have Stone in their sights; my longstanding question is what they plan to do with him, and whether their silence is in part intended to keep him wondering too.

    • emptywheel says:

      Well, Stone is precisely that kind of hidden card. He was mentioned regularly in Proud Boy and Oath Keeper cases. The guilty verdict of Chris Worrell and Daniel Scott (from whom the challenge coin used to illustrate this post) largely tied to his paling around with Stone on January 3, which was a more direct tie than to other Proud Boys.

      The lead Proud Boy prosecutor dropped off one of the key outstanding prosecutions, and Smith has been using language similar to what was used in the Proud Boy trial, so he may be among the prosecutors now on the Jack Smith team who is not twiddling his thumbs.

      • Rayne says:

        I’m enjoying the serendipitous amusement of Roger Stone mentioned as a hidden card here today and this article published yesterday:

        Exclusive: Roger Stone Recorded Telling Associate to ‘Abduct’ and ‘Punish’ Mueller Investigator
        Mediaite – Diana Falzone – Jan 5th, 2024, 3:42 pm

        Of course Stone says Mediaite has fallen prey to an AI fake but he’s awfully quick on the draw with a rebuttal.

        I see the feds are still working their way through the crush that entered the Capitol on January 6. This should give Stone pause, too — the effort remains relentless.

        Tipster ties Michigan man to Jan. 6, 2021, riot at U.S. Capitol, FBI says
        Mlive – John Agar – Jan. 05, 2024, 11:30 a.m.

        • Ginevra diBenci says:

          Lots of “fake” videos swashing around out there, huh, Roger. Thanks, Rayne, for those links. He really seems to be in characteristically out of control preemptive cleanup mode now, which simply adds credence to EW’s comment.

          Jack Smith has indeed played his cards close to the vest regarding Stone, and the strategy seems to have Stone more than a little nervous. As he should be. The system was indeed “rigged,” by him, to benefit him and those he considered allies, and he does not want that rigging exposed.

          • Rayne says:

            It’s funny it’s right-of-center Mediaite to which this recording went, same approach we’ve seen recently when a recording went to right-of-center Detroit News about the MIGOP fake electors. They didn’t go to NYT, didn’t go to WaPo, just an online-only right-friendly outlet.

            Somebody is trying to manipulate perception ahead of something ugly.

            • Molly Pitcher says:

              The Right Wing has realized that the younger voters only get their information from on-line, and they are cleaning the clocks of the Left in on-line presence.

              • Rayne says:

                I don’t actually think the right-wing is “cleaning the clocks of the Left in on-line presence.”

                I firmly believe the Left hasn’t grasped the power it has and has not organized and coordinated its efforts.

                Imagine just two groups like Swifties and K-pop stans organized and coordinating their power for political purposes. They would absolutely CRUSH the right-wing.

        • TooLoose LeTruck says:

          The last line of the Mediate article you linked to, Rayne…

          “He (Stone) was pushing for violence before because he thinks the entire system is rigged.”

          I’m going to disagree here… Stone wasn’t calling for violence because he ‘thinks the entire system is rigged’… he was calling for violence because that was the only way his side could ‘win’ (take over permanently)…

          The end goal was always total control, period, and ‘the system is rigged’ was just the pretense.

            • Bugboy321 says:

              Oh, Roger Stone goes back much farther than 1980. The guy has a Nixon tattoo on his back for a reason…

              • earthworm says:

                always wondered about that Nixon tattoo on Stone’s back.
                how do i do snark again s/?
                decorating your back must mean you are a bottom.

                • Bugboy321 says:

                  To put it charitably, Roger Stone always was an avid swinger’s aficionado, and I’ll just leave it at that. Seems to have preferred the Miami scene? IDFK.

                  ETA: “decorating your back…” Thanks, man. I can’t unsee that…

            • gertibird says:

              That was a hell of an article. I would sure like to see the DOJ nail these fraudsters and likely criminals. The disturbing part is that while white collar crime is huge, powerful, disruptive to our political system people committing these crimes rarely pay any price much less jail time for it.

  2. GSSH-FullyReduced says:

    Thank you for providing this satellite perspective of the legal forest fire in which we find ourselves.
    You’d think Bill Barr would be helping Jack if he thought our democracy was in grave danger. What does he know about J6 that Jack doesn’t and how many trees need mowing down to save our country?

      • TooLoose LeTruck says:

        Hey… once an apple is rotten to the core…

        It really can’t un-rot itself…

        (Uhhh… is ‘un-rot’ even an actual verb?)

        At any rate, Bill Barr will indeed be Bill Barr…

        • Benji-am-Groot says:

          “(Uhhh… is ‘un-rot’ even an actual verb?
          At any rate, Bill Barr will indeed be Bill Barr…)”

          Well now, that brought back 7th grade English and Mr. Rouse, who used the example ‘ship sails tomorrow’.

          Does the boat leave port tomorrow, or are we going to Fed-Ex new sails for the boat tomorrow?

          So, is ‘bill barring’ a proposed political legislative action or do we have a new descriptive adjective?

          “Today the President’s AG began Bill Barring the Special Council’s report on the J6 insurrection…”

  3. RitaRita says:

    I’ve been thinking about a couple of other Jan. 6th investigative leads that have apparently dropped out of sight (or, more precisely, out of my sight). Wasn’t there an investigation into the Secret Service activities with respect to Trump on Jan. 6th.? Wasn’t the DOJ IG looking into Jeffrey Clark’s activities around Jan. 6th?

    • emptywheel says:

      The Clark prong of the investigation came out of the DOJ IG investigation into him.

      DOJ IG is still working on their larger investigation of Jan6. And some other interesting things.

      • RitaRita says:

        I suppose I was hoping for some sort of symbolic 4 Feathers ceremony for Clark, where he gets drum rolled out of DOJ and has to surrender his briefcase.

        If Jack Smith and the DOJ are only going to speak through their legal actions, we may never know the full story of the involvement of Stone, Jones, Flynn and the Members of Congress.

        • timbozone says:

          It’ll all come out eventually. Hopefully it won’t require a 21st century William Shirer to get to the bottom of it.

          • eyesoars says:

            Unfortunately, I must agree with Josh Marshall on the topic of coverups. People do get prosecuted for obstructing justice and destroying evidence, but they usually get away with covering up crimes, and it’s often only possible to guesstimate what was covered up indirectly, which Josh M. likened to “seeing” black holes by observing their effects on other things in their vicinity rather than directly.
            Bill Barr is/was a master of the coverup, and it’s likely we’ll never have a good almanac of all his decades of criming.

      • bgThenNow says:

        The USA for my state is an acquaintance I admire. He told me last year that his office sent an attorney to DC to work on these investigations. I don’t know anything more specific, but I’m guessing there could be 49 others on loan.

    • Molly Pitcher says:

      I, too, am very interested in the atypical behavior of some of the Secret Service on and around J6.

      I know that Smith has many cards up his sleeve, but my concern is that he doesn’t get to play them before Jan 20, 2025.

      The scenario I fear is that Trump is barred from running, because of 14A, 3, and Nicky Haley becomes the candidate. There are plenty of stupid women who will vote for her just because she is a woman, and because they are mad at Biden for Gaza.

      Nicky Haley will shut down Jack Smith just as fast as Trump would.

      • emptywheel says:

        Re: Secret Service. A GREAT deal of discovery turned over to Trump are Secret Service emails. But there’s reason to believe they were never able to reconstruct the phones.

        As frustrating as it is to remember, sometimes investigations reach dead ends because the crooks are successful.

        • Ginevra diBenci says:

          That has been my assumption about the USSS: that their near-immediate obstructive efforts have, in fact, obstructed further fruitful investigation.

      • Dark Phoenix says:

        To be honest, I think if Trump isn’t the Republican candidate, it’s even MORE likely that the Dems win big. People keep saying “Look at the polls! Haley beats Biden one-on-one!”… But it won’t be one-on-one, will it? Trump’s NOT going to accept not being the candidate; if he’s not the candidate, he’s going to attack both whoever IS the candidate and the Republican Party in general as loudly as he can… In short, any Repub plan that involves substituting for Trump is going to have to require Trump either be sent to prison or somehow muzzled or he’s going to try and take his followers and probably run third party.

        • timbozone says:

          Certainly Bannon and his ilk are not too keen on making it two on two with Haley on their ticket.

        • RJames0723 says:

          Mr. Trump is adept at leveraging. I think in the highly unlikely event that Mr. Trump is not the Republican nominee, he would use his followers as leverage to get concessions out of the candidate and the party. Does the US Attorney General have to have a law degree?

          • GSSH-FullyReduced says:

            Recall both haley & desantis promised to pardon trump if they’re elected POTUS. Concessions indeed.

            • Yohei1972 says:

              That’s a disquieting point that I hadn’t thought of in the context of the question, “How will Trump behave if someone else gets the nomination?” I’ve always made the assumption Dark Phoenix makes above, that he would try to sabotage anyone else’s candidacy. But if he knows the winner will pardon him, that gives him a powerful incentive to cooperate. Of course that won’t save him from state- or city-level prosecutions, so that makes it a little unclear, to me at least, how exactly the incentives will function.

              • earlofhuntingdon says:

                Do you seriously think Trump’s ego could withstand playing second fiddle? He would burn the house down, notwithstanding that that would torch an already questionable promise to pardon him in exchange for dropping out or taking the VP slot.

            • Tedinoz says:

              Interesting thing about a pardon is that it assumes that the person who accepts the pardon is guilty and/or acknowledges their guilt. I can’t see FPOTUS accepting that, though beggars can’t be choosers.

              The better outcome would be to shut down the proceedings. Is that something that could be done, and how?

              • earlofhuntingdon says:

                A general, all-encompassing, pre-emptive pardon would not disclose specific crimes. Trump’s crimes would not be specifically listed in his pardon, which is the same approach Ford used in pardoning Nixon.

        • adambulldog says:

          I think the only chance Haley has to be the nominee is if Trump finally succumbs to the cheeseburgers. So I don’t think he’ll be able to take down his successor nominee.

        • bgThenNow says:

          There’s always the Cult of Socialism and Liberation, promising to run an alternative. They have the ANSWERs. LOL

  4. RegCliff says:

    I’ve suspected that court battles to prevent evidence from being allowed has had a part in Jack Smith limiting his indictments, (e.g. Scott Perry’s phone) and it’s taken time to exhaust them. I’ve also read that there are sealed indictments and wonder if that’s until the issues related to the evidence are resolved through the appellate process. Jack smith on Sept 15th extended the Jan 6th Grand Jury for I presume another 6 months, so what will happen when it wraps up on March 15th?
    I’ve always expected Trump to be charged with Seditious Conspiracy, but getting him indicted on something as soon as possible was a smart move. I imagine there are many other indictments to follow for Trump et al., with one of my favorites being defrauding his own supporters.
    I’d be interested if anyone could guess how it would be best for the DOJ to announce new indictments and not impact the current case.

    • Ginevra diBenci says:

      I’ve gotten the impression, mainly from knowledgeable folks here, that the fraud ‘n’ grift element of Smith’s early investigation had fallen by the wayside–not for lack of proof but due to underzealous enforcement of related laws in recent years.

  5. Badger Robert says:

    Haven’t we learned enough to know that certain actions to prevent a reoccurrence of 2020-21 events are necessary?
    1. Immediate tracing and investigation of any threats directed towards election workers, with quick arrests were the evidence is sufficient.
    2. No open carry of firearms within 1,000 yards of a polling place or ballot deposition box.
    3. Federal security support in any state in which inaccurate counting might be attempted.
    4. Anyone suggesting or supporting a repeat of 01/06/2021 events should be arrested.
    Once there is one party, or one candidate in one party, that is no longer willing to have a free and accurate election, I ask, isn’t the US President empowered sufficiently to protect the election process from its enemies?

    • Michael1976 says:

      The problem with 2 and 4 is that the President is not a dictator. He can’t ban people from carrying firearms within 1.000 yards of a polling place unless Congress has already passed a law to that effect. And he can’t arrest people for “suggesting or supporting” a repeat of January 6th unless their speech rises to the level of true threats.

  6. Benoit Roux says:

    Technical question. Judge Chutkan stayed proceedings for Trump’s immunity appeal. What does this imply? Jack Smith’s team has continued submitting filings consistent with the deadlines. I suppose Smith wouldn’t do something that is not allowed. But Trump asked Judge Chutkan to hold him in contempt. Is this completely baseless, or are there shades of gray surrounding this issue?

      • Benoit Roux says:

        Thanks. So, continuing to submit filings consistent with the deadlines is perfectly in compliance with the stayed proceedings then.

        • timbozone says:

          Unless explicitly stopped by the judge one would have to assume it is not in breach of anything.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Trump’s description of Smith’s behavior was rabidly over the top. I assume it was intended to appease Trump and stay in the headlines, rather than to persuade the court. Strikes me that there’s no harm and no foul, since Trump needn’t respond to it in court until further notice.

          Chutkan won’t sanction Smith for it, and Trump’s lawyers can sit on their brains and do nothing with, say, the continued discovery from Smith. I think that would be malpractice, even if Trump’s intention is to pretend that having had it too long is unfair and to ask the judge for more time to review it weeks or months from now. Avoiding the latter is almost certainly one reason for the continued filings, as well as to keep Smith’s perspective in the media.

          • Ginevra diBenci says:

            As a child, Donald was that bully who’d wait after school to ambush the kid who turned in his homework on time after a snow day, when the layabouts were agitating for extensions.

        • billtheXVIII says:

          if Smith did not meet the discovery deadlines Trump would complain about that too. So his whining means nothing and may just tick off the judge.

    • John Paul Jones says:

      On this, see Marcy’s previous post (with the challenge coin graphic):

      “Since Judge Chutkan stayed proceedings for Trump’s immunity appeal, Jack Smith’s team has continued submitting filings — including the 404(b) notice warning prosecutors would raise Trump’s support for the Proud Boys at trial. And it’s driving Trump nuts; he even asked Judge Chutkan to hold Jack Smith in contempt for continuing to meet deadlines that she has stayed (issuing a filing complaining that they’re issuing filings!).”

    • kmlisle_1 says:

      To quote Marcy in this posting Trump “asked Judge Chutkan to hold Jack Smith in contempt for continuing to meet deadlines that she has stayed (issuing a filing complaining that they’re issuing filings!) ”
      I am still laughing in my coffee.

  7. harpie says:

    Three Years Ago:

    1:49 PM TRUMP retweets a VIDEO of his rally speech [“which included his message that “Our country has had enough, we will not take it anymore, and that’s what this is all about. … You have to be strong.”

    1:50 PM D.C. police commander declares a RIOT at the Capitol
    1:50 PM Republican congressman @RepAndyBiggsAZ speaking

    • harpie says:

      1:54 PM [Woman in crowd] Love you Alex Jones!
      [JONES] History is happening! I salute you! Tell everyone you know to go to the other side of the Capitol! That’s where Trump’s going to be!

    • harpie says:

      1:57 PM Republican congresswoman @laurenboebert speaking: “Madam Speaker, I have *constituents* outside this building right now. I promised my voters to be their voice.”
      1:57 PM NE Barricades are breached

      1:58 PM PENCE motorcade is moved from East Plaza; “can see crowd pour past barricade just as motorcade is leaving”

    • harpie says:

      2:01 PM Republican congressman @BrianMastFL speaking
      2:02 PM A police officer is kicked in the chest and surrounded by a mob
      2:02 PM President Trump returned to the White House after his speech. At 2:02 pm, Mark Meadows, the White House Chief of Staff, was informed about the violence unfolding at the Capitol.50 Mr. Meadows immediately went to relay that message to President Trump.51

      • harpie says:

        Jan 6, 2024 · 1:39 PM UTC

        The FBI marks the anniversary of Jan 6 with a bang, scooping up 3 violent offenders who’d been on the lam – siblings Jonathan and Olivia Pollock and friend Joseph Hutchinson. They worked as a crew and fought in some of the most violent attacks at the Capitol. Per @ ryanjreilly. 1/ [THREAD]

        Here’s the 53-page statement of facts for the Pollock crew. It takes 8 pages just to cover the 2:03-2:04 PM fight – their worst violence – but there’s plenty more action. Jonathan Pollock was at the tunnel til the end of organized fighting at 4:29 PM. 6/ […]

    • harpie says:

      2:06 PM harpie at EW:

      There is a RIOT going on at the Capitol.

      I’m not yet seeing low-flying military helicopters, less than lethal rounds fired, or clouds of pepper spray, etc.

      2:06 PM Central East Steps breached

      • Ginevra diBenci says:

        Thank you, harpie, for locating the trees within a forest that remains hard to see–if not, as EW writes above, “unknowable” ultimately.

    • harpie says:

      2:20 PM Journalist Igor BOBIC Tweets:
      2:20 PM · Jan 6, 2021

      Police officers are holding them steps away from the Senate chamber, which is locked. Senators are inside. I see a few confederate flags. [photos]

      2:24 PM TRUMP tweets:

      Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify. USA demands the truth! [Twitter: This claim about election fraud is disputed]

      2:24 PM PENCE to GIEBELS: “I’m not getting in the car, Tim” [] “I trust you, Tim, but you’re not driving the car. If I get in that vehicle, you guys are taking off. I’m not getting in the car.”

      2:24 PM Keith KELLOGG [PENCE National Security Advisor] [at the WH] to “a Secret Service agent”: “Leave him where he’s at. He’s got a job to do” [] “I know you guys too well. You’ll fly him to Alaska if you have a chance. Don’t do it.”

    • harpie says:

      2:26 PM [approx.] EASTMAN [from the WILLARD] emails PENCE Counsel JACOB, [hiding with PENCE] accusing PENCE of “causing the violence by refusing to block certification of Biden’s victory” [] “The ‘siege’ is because YOU and your boss did not do what was necessary to allow this to be aired in a public way so that the American people can see for themselves what happened.”

      Eastman said his message was a response to an [2:14 PM] email in which Jacob told him that his “bull—-” legal advice was why Pence’s team was “under siege.”

    • harpie says:

      2:36 PM TARRIO posts on public meda: “After I finish watching this I’ll make a statement about my arrest…But for now I’m enjoying the show…Do what must be done. #WeThePeople.”

      2:37 PM NORDEAN enters the Capitol where he reunites with other Proud Boys members, who had entered the building with BIGGS.

      2:37 PM [Man on phone] Can I speak to Pelosi? Yeah, we’re coming bitch! Oh, Mike Pence, we’re coming for you too fucking traitor.

    • harpie says:

      2:39 PM CENTER EAST DOOR breached.

      2:39 PM RAE and JACKMAN can be seen approaching the East Door with BIGGS.

      2:40 PM RHODES to LEADERS; Signal “Trump better do his damn duty”

      2:40 PM UNKNOWN to LEADERS; Signal “SWAAT should stand down and abide by their oath”

      2:40 PM UNKNOWN to LEADERS; Signal “Hopefully anyone inside the capitol is barricading themselves in and continually reinforce their positions for the long haul”

      2:41PM NW Side Door breached in NW Courtyard

      2:41PM Assault on the Tunnel Entrance in the Lower West Terrace begins

      • Mallard Filmore says:

        Yes, thanks for this timeline. I’m too old to wait for The Complete History of J6 in book form.

        [mods: I might have posted with the handle “Millard” a few years ago. I am now and forever more “Mallard”]

        [Welcome back to emptywheel. Thanks for the heads up about the name change. Please use the same username and email address each time you comment so that community members get to know you under this new handle. Thanks. /~Rayne]

    • harpie says:

      2:44 PM Attempted Breach at Speaker’s Lobby. Ashli Babbitt is shot.

      2:44 PM Senate Chamber breached

      2:45 PM Jake SHERMAN to MEADOWS: We are under siege in the cpaitol [] There’s an armed standoff at the house chamber door [] We’re all helpless

      • harpie says:

        New VIDEO today:

        Jan 6, 2024 · 3:04 PM UTC

        Dramatic new Jan. 6 video shows two GOP representatives speaking with Capitol rioters through the broken windows of the House chamber doors as officers point weapons at the mob attempting to breach the floor.

        This evidence was released in response to a request by @NBCNews. [VIDEO] [THREAD]

      • Ginevra diBenci says:

        Donald Trump, and his 2:24 tweet, were the arguable cause of Babbitt’s death. That he is now exploiting what his movement calls her “murder,” and her mother’s seeming need to turn her grief into political action, disgusts me–along with the doxxing of the agent whose bullet ended Babbitt’s life.

        That man, who should remain anonymous, was doing his job. If the former president had been doing his, Ashli Babbitt would have remained alive.

        Once more, harpie, thank you for this timeline. It helps, especially after the elapsed time, to make these events tragically sensical.

        • RipNoLonger says:

          Trump was doing his job – but his orders come from outside of the US Government. “There’s …there’s two people, I think, Putin pays: [California Representative Dana] Rohrabacher and Trump … [laughter] … swear to God.”

          • Ginevra diBenci says:

            Babbitt’s death, while clearly a homicide, has never legally been a murder. Were it to be charged as such, the only person I could see responsible for it is Trump. harpie’s timeline shows exactly why, and Smith could make the case easily.

            Plus: no SOL on murder.

            • Ginevra diBenci says:

              I keep waiting/hoping for bmaz to drop in and tell me how impossible it would be for Jack Smith to make a murder case against Trump regarding Ashli Babbitt. Because he (bmaz) would be right, I think: it might be chargeable as reckless or negligent homicide (maybe, just maybe, intentional) but not murder.

              Where are you, bmaz? I miss you and I hope you are well–perhaps enjoying a vacation away from the cacti.

    • harpie says:

      2:47 PM Bobic Tweets:
      2:47 PM · Jan 6, 2021

      They’re in the chamber. One is up on the dais yelling “Trump won that election!” This is insane [Photo]

      2:47 PM REHL to others: “You guys wanna go in?” [WEST side]

      2:48 PM REHL to the same “four other contacts”:
      “They just broke all the doors and windows open, people are pouring in.”

      2:48 PM OATH KEEPER CALDWELL, on the WEST side of the Capitol [FB]
      “We are surging forward. Doors breached.”

    • harpie says:

      2:52 PM There are “about two dozen” TRUMP supporters in the Senate Chamber [Police had locked the doors, but mistakenly left one in the gallery unlocked, which some of the rioters used to enter]

      2:52 PM Units of reinforcements from federal and neighboring law enforcement agencies arrive to help CP

      2:52 PM “Near the Capitol”

      [Looks like [~10] Federal LE, black vans, Southeast of the CAPITOL[?]]
      [0:34] [Woman: ???
      Man1: No, they’re against us.
      Woman: Well, they shouldn’t be. [0:38] The FBI?]
      [0:41] [LE: “Let’s go.” // “I dunno.” // “[…] inside the Capitol. Over.”]
      [0:43] LE begin to move on sidewalk toward and to the right of camera.
      [0:51] [Man1: If you shoot people, it’s on your conscience.
      Man2: Yeah, you start a war.
      Man1: You’re gonna start a war!
      Woman: “…start a war! Resign from the FBI.”
      Man1: [yells] THAT’s the FBI!!
      [Crowd seems to be yelling at these LEO’s?]
      [1:05] LE walking in file toward the Southeast corner of the CAPITOL, they turn left at the SE Carriage Entrance [some try the stairs but turn around] and file along the SOUTH Side of the bldg.,
      [1:40 SIRENS] and into the SOUTH Entrance area.

    • harpie says:

      2:57 PM Igor Bobic Tweets [ don’t know if this is real time]:

      2:57 PM · Jan 6, 2021

      Several people got on to a scaffolding outside Senate, took it to second floor, which looked like the area where McConnell’s office is located, and started banging on windows [VIDEO]

      Today, Marcy retweeted this PHOTO which may be taken at the same time as Bobics Video, above:

      Jan 6, 2024 · 2:37 PM UTC

      This was the moment when Trump supporters took down the US flag and threw it on the ground so the could replace it with a Trump flag.[PHOTO]

  8. omphaloscepsis says:

    If it takes a year of nearly full time work for a highly educated person to partly understand, then how difficult will it be to present the case to a jury whose members possess more average knowledge and analytical skills?

    The Smith team must have a few members who have been working on that from day one.

    • emptywheel says:

      Gaston was pulled off crime scene cases in February and March 2021. SHe did a few other things along the way (like prosecute Steve Bannon), but I expect she has been working mostly full time.

      The trial stuff is packaged up in a way that’s easy to understand. Lots of primary communications, some good summations of video and movement.

      It probably helps that prosecutors have the heavily produced Jan6 version to refer to.

    • Ginevra diBenci says:

      Several juries have already managed to sort this out, even after weeks of trial testimony.

  9. intrrobang says:

    29 Sep/20 – Trump: “Stand Back and Stand By”
    05 Jan/24 – Trump: “If you see bags of crap coming into the voting areas, you’ve got to stop it.”
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  10. Yogarhythms says:

    Stone was chanting stop the steal in 2015/16. Trump was chanting similar refrain summer of 2020. The scope of the insurrection is as vast as our federal bureaucracy is wide. Tactical legal accountability through higher value target’s prosecution is mired in CIPA in FL, interlocutory appeal in DC has frozen the Judge pending appeal but not Jack’s team, SCOTUS has bought a seat at the table, Trump’s filing a contempt motion before a frozen Judge Chutkan is showing he’s going to draw. If Jack wanted to show one of his hold cards that might sweeten the pot. The night is young and there are many more raises to be had. I’m not a good gambler.

    • Ginevra diBenci says:

      Trump claimed that Ted Cruz had “stolen” the Iowa caucuses from him in early 2016. For that matter, he claimed publicly in 2012 that Obama had stolen the election from Romney–in addition, of course, to his birther BS, which did much to seed the ground for his later racist tropes.

      None of this was new in 2020.

  11. FL Resister says:

    Emotional timeline harpie. This is going to be one helluva ground-swelling case. Biden did a good job throwing down the javelin for the soul of democracy yesterday

  12. J_06JAN2024_0653h says:

    Thanks as always Marcy! I’m sure you’ve mentioned this ad nauseum but what is the SOL on these crimes? Sure there could be unsealed indictments, but what is the drop dead date on these possible charges where we will know nothing more will be prosecuted?

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  13. MsJennyMD says:

    Previews to Coming Attractions in 2012.
    Trump endorsed Romney. When Romney lost, Trump tweeted:
    This election is a total sham and a travesty. We are not a democracy! 11:33 PM · Nov 6, 2012
    We can’t let this happen. We should march on Washington and stop this travesty. Our nation is totally divided! 11:29 PM · Nov 6, 2012
    We should have a revolution in this country! 11:20 PM Nov 6, 2012


    • Ginevra diBenci says:

      Thank you for that blast from the past, Jenny. I’ve been thinking about it too. Funny how his language never changes.

  14. Zinsky123 says:

    Jack Smith is proving to be the perfect prosecutor for Donald Trump – quiet but deadly, with just a hint of cynicism and snark in all of his team’s filing. Can’t wait for the actual trial to begin! I think Trump is dead meat.
    My two big categories of unknowables from January 6th: (1) Who planted the bombs at the DNC and RNC and why? What was the motive besides chaos? (2) What went on at the Willard Hotel in the planning, during the attack and afterwards and who was involved? Did Trump call in to the Willard during the attack?
    Thanks again for your great investigative journalism!

    • emptywheel says:

      There is not “perfect prosecutor” for Trump. That’s magical thinking. There’s still a great deal that Trump can do to beat this rap.

  15. Savage Librarian says:

    Hidden Cards

    Dirty chump against the hidden cards:
    All avenues and boulevards
    lead to courts and to rearguards
    who won’t suffer his base canards.

    It’s the final hand of a lousy loser,
    Our Constitution’s number one abuser,
    A crusty old loose lipped schmoozer
    who snivels with each vile excuser.

    Standing back and standing by,
    We know Old Glory still can fly,
    and will put to test chump’s Big Lie,
    purging the poison: warped former guy.

    • Ginevra diBenci says:

      Thank you, SL. If only the poison hadn’t spread far, far beyond (and before) Trump. But you know that.

      Word has it that he smells bad too. (I do occasionally troll the sewers of the internet, but this one started with Adam Kinzinger and a semi-respectable outlet.)

      That’s troll in fishing sense, not the harassing sense.

  16. Tedinoz says:

    speaking of “Stand back and stand by”, what do you make of the Iowa comments:

    “And I just hope we get fair treatment. Uh, because if we don’t, our country’s in big, big trouble. Does everybody understand what I’m saying?”

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      • Tedinaus says:

        “what do I make of it”? Trump has a history of sending targeted messages to supporters.

        “Stand back, stand by” was a coded ( though arguably deniable) instruction to particular group of supporters. “Does everybody understand what I’m saying” is in the same vein, though less subtle.

        The separate reference that Supreme Court Judge Kavanaugh will “step up” is in the same category. How this latter instance doesn’t qualify as deserving a contempt charge is truly beyond me? But then IMNOL, nor US citizen.

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      • Benji-am-Groot says:

        Yep – that, and I have the limited ability to see into the near, immediate future:

        *holds envelope to temple al a Carnac the Magnificent*

        “I see selective Originalist Amnesia from Thomas and Alito regarding Roe not mentioned in the Constitution as proof of original intent vs. 14A Sec 3 use of the word ‘insurrection’ pertaining to a States right to run their own elections as they blithely contradict themselves.”

  17. Zirczirc says:

    I would still like to see more about what was going on at the Willard Hotel and to know more about the coordination (if any) that was being done there. I suspect there was substantial contact with folks rioting at the capitol and with the White House, but there may not be enough evidence to make that connection explicitly before a jury.


  18. Michael K says:

    “Trump pardoned his way out of a Russian conspiracy charge in 2020.”

    Shouldn’t prosecutors have been able to get around that? By compelling testimony about the crimes which were pardoned? If the pardonees try to take the 5th, to protect themselves from state-level charges, can’t federal prosecutors work with the applicable state(s) on immunity, if no state charges are forthcoming?

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