Former Presiding FISA Judge John Bates’ Curious Treatment of White Person Terrorism

By chance of logistics, the men and women who have presided over a two decade war on Islamic terrorism are now presiding over the trials of those charged in January 6.

To deal with the flood of defendants, the Senior Judges in the DC District have agreed to pick up some cases. And because FISA mandates that at least three of the eleven FISA judges presiding at any given time come from the DC area, and because the presiding judge has traditionally been from among those three, it means a disproportionate number of DC’s Senior Judges have served on the FISA Court, often on terms as presiding judge or at the very least ruling over programmatic decisions that have subjected millions of Americans to collection in the name of the war on terror. Between those and several other still-active DC judges, over 60 January 6 cases will be adjudicated by a current or former FISA judge.

Current and former FISA judges have taken a range of cases with a range of complexity and notoriety:

  • Royce Lamberth served as FISC’s presiding judge from 1995 until 2002 and failed in his effort to limit the effect of the elimination of the wall between intelligence and criminal collection passed in the PATRIOT Act. And during a stint as DC’s Chief Judge he dealt with the aftermath of the Boumediene decision and fought to make the hard won detention reviews won by Gitmo detainees more than a rubber stamp. Lamberth is presiding over 10 cases with 14 defendants. A number of those are high profile cases, like that of Jacob Chansley (the Q Shaman), Zip Tie Guy Eric Munchel and his mother, bullhorn lady and mask refusenik Rachel Powell, and Proud Boy assault defendant Christopher Worrell.
  • Colleen Kollar-Kotelly is still an active DC District judge, but she served as FISC presiding judge starting way back in 2002, inheriting the difficulties created by Stellar Wind from Lamberth. She’s the one who redefined “relevant to” in an effort to bring the Internet dragnet back under court review. She is presiding over ten January 6 cases with 12 defendants. That includes Lonnie Coffman, who showed up to the insurrection with a truck full of Molotov cocktails, as well as some other assault cases.
  • John Bates took over as presiding judge of FISC on May 19, 2009. In 2010, he redefined “metadata” so as to permit the government to continue to use the Internet dragnet; the government ultimately failed to make that program work but FISC has retained that twisted definition of “metadata” nevertheless. In 2011, he authorized the use of “back door searches” on content collected under FISA’s Section 702. In 2013, Bates appears to have ruled that for Islamic terrorists, the FBI can get around restrictions prohibiting surveillance solely for First Amendment reasons by pointing to the conduct of an American citizen suspect’s associates, rather than his or her own. And while not a FISA case, Bates also dismissed Anwar al-Awlaki’s effort to require the government to give him some due process before executing him by drone strike; at the time, the government had presented no public evidence that Awlaki had done more than incite violence. Bates has eight January 6 cases with nine defendants (as well as some unrelated cases), but he is presiding over several high profile ones, including the other Zip Tie Guy, Larry Brock, the scion of a right wing activist family, Leo Bozell IV, and former State Department official Freddie Klein.
  • Reggie Walton, who took over as presiding judge in 2013 but who, even before that, oversaw key programmatic decisions starting in 2008, showed a willingness both on FISC and overseeing the Scooter Libby trial to stand up to the Executive. That includes his extended effort to clean up the phone and Internet dragnet after Bush left in 2009, during which he even shut down part or all of the two dragnets temporarily. Walton is presiding over six cases with eight defendants, most for MAGA tourism.
  • Thomas Hogan was DC District’s head judge in the 2000s. In that role, he presided over the initial Gitmo detainees’ challenges to their detention (though many of the key precedential decisions on those cases were made by other judges who have since retired). Hogan then joined FISC and ultimately took over the presiding role in 2014 and in that role, affirmatively authorized the use of Section 702 back door searches for FBI assessments. Hogan is presiding over 13 cases with 18 defendants, a number of cases involving multiple defendants (including another set of mother-son defendants, the Sandovals). The most important is the case against alleged Brian Sicknick assailants, Julian Khater and George Tanios.
  • James Boasberg, who took over the presiding position on FISC on January 1, 2020 but had started making initial efforts to rein in back door searches even before that, is presiding over about eight cases with ten defendants, the most interesting of which is the case of Aaron Mostofsky, who is himself the son of a judge.
  • Rudolph Contreras, who like Kollar-Kotelly and Boasberg is not a senior judge, is currently a FISC judge. He has six January 6 cases with seven defendants, most MAGA tourists accused of trespassing. There’s a decent chance he’ll take over as presiding judge when Boasberg’s term on FISC expires next month.

Of the most important FISA judges since 9/11, then, just Rosemary Collyer is not presiding over any January 6 cases.

Mind you, it’s not a bad thing that FISA judges will preside over January 6 cases. These are highly experienced judges with a long established history of presiding over other cases, ranging the gamut and including other politically charged high profile cases, as DC District judges do.

That said, in their role as FISA judges — particularly when reviewing programmatic applications — most of these judges have been placed in a fairly unique role on two fronts. First, most of these judges have been forced to weigh fairly dramatic legal questions, in secret, in a context in which the Executive Branch routinely threatens to move entire programs under EO 12333, thereby shielding those programs from any oversight by a judge. These judges responded to such situations with a range of deference, with Royce Lamberth and Reggie Walton raising real stinks and — the latter case — hand-holding on oversight over the course of most of a year, to John Bates and to a lesser degree Thomas Hogan, who often complained at length about abuses before expanding the same programs being abused. Several — perhaps most notably Kollar-Kotelly when she was asked to bring parts of Stellar Wind under FISA — have likewise had to fight to affirm the authority of the entire Article III branch, all in secret.

Ruling on these programmatic FISA applications also involved hearing expansive government claims about the threat of terrorism, the difficulty and necessity of identifying potential terrorists before they attack, and the efficacy of the secret programs devised to do that (the judges who also presided over Gitmo challenges, which includes several on this list, also fielded similar secret claims about the risk of terrorism). Some of those claims — most notably, about the efficacy of the Section 215 phone dragnet — were wildly overblown. In other words, to a degree unmatched by most other judges, these men and women were asked to balance the rights of Americans against secret government claims about the risks of terrorism.

Now these same judges are part of a group being asked to weigh similar questions, but about a huge number of predominantly white, sometimes extremist Christian, defendants, but to do so in public, with defense attorneys challenging their every decision. Here, the balance between extremist affiliation and First Amendment rights will play out in public, but against the background of a two decade war on terror where similar affiliation was criminalized, often in secret.

Generally, the District judges in these cases have not done much on the cases yet, as either Magistrates (on initial pre-indictment appearances) or Chief Judge Beryl Howell (on initial detention disputes) have handled some of the more controversial issues, and in a few cases, Ketanji Brown Jackson presided over arraignments before she started handing off cases in anticipation of her Circuit confirmation process.

But several of the judges have written key opinions on detention, opinions that embody how differently the conduct of January 6 defendants looks to different people.

Lamberth, for example, authored the original detention order for “Zip Tie Guy” Eric Munchel and his mom, Lisa Eisenhart. Even while admitting that Munchel made efforts to limit any vandalization during the riot, Lamberth nevertheless deemed Munchel’s actions a threat to our constitutional government.

The grand jury charged Munchel with grave offenses. In charging Munchel with “forcibly enter[ing] and remain[ing] in the Capitol to stop, delay, and hinder Congress’s certification of the Electoral College vote,” Indictment 1, ECF No. 21, the grand jury alleged that Munchel used force to subvert a democratic election and arrest the peaceful transfer of power. Such conduct threatens the republic itself. See George Washington, Farewell Address (Sept. 19, 1796) (“The very idea of the power and the right of the people to establish government presupposes the duty of every individual to obey the established government. All obstructions to the execution of the laws, all combinations and associations, under whatever plausible character, with the real design to direct, control, counteract, or awe the regular deliberation and action of the constituted authorities, are destructive of this fundamental principle, and of fatal tendency.”). Indeed, few offenses are more threatening to our way of life.

Munchel ‘s alleged conduct demonstrates a flagrant disregard for the rule of law. Munchel is alleged to have taken part in a mob, which displaced the elected legislature in an effort to subvert our constitutional government and the will of more than 81 million voters. Munchel’ s alleged conduct indicates that he is willing to use force to promote his political ends. Such conduct poses a clear risk to the community.

Defense counsel’s portrayal of the alleged offenses as mere trespassing or civil disobedience is both unpersuasive and detached from reality. First, Munchel’s alleged conduct carried great potential for violence. Munchel went into the Capitol armed with a taser. He carried plastic handcuffs. He threatened to “break” anyone who vandalized the Capitol.3 These were not peaceful acts. Second, Munchel ‘s alleged conduct occurred while Congress was finalizing the results of a Presidential election. Storming the Capitol to disrupt the counting of electoral votes is not the akin to a peaceful sit-in.

For those reasons, the nature and circumstances of the charged offenses strongly support a finding that no conditions of release would protect the community.

[snip]

Munchel gleefully entered the Capitol in the midst of a riot. He did so, the grand jury alleges, to stop or delay the peaceful transfer of power. And he did so carrying a dangerous weapon. Munchel took these actions in front of hundreds of police officers, indicating that he cannot be deterred easily.

Moreover, after the riots, Munchel indicated that he was willing to undertake such actions again. He compared himself-and the other insurrectionists-to the revolutionaries of 1776, indicating that he believes that violent revolt is appropriate. See Pullman, supra. And he said “[t]he point of getting inside the building is to show them that we can, and we will.” Id. That statement, particularly its final clause, connotes a willingness to engage in such behavior again.

By word and deed, Munchel has supported the violent overthrow of the United States government. He poses a clear danger to our republic.

This is the opinion that the DC Circuit remanded, finding that Lamberth had not sufficiently considered whether Munchel and his mother would pose a grave future threat absent the specific circumstances present on January 6. They contrasted the mother and son with those who engaged in violence or planned in advance.

[W]e conclude that the District Court did not demonstrate that it adequately considered, in light of all the record evidence, whether Munchel and Eisenhart present an identified and articulable threat to the community. Accordingly, we remand for further factfinding. Cf. Nwokoro, 651 F.3d at 111–12.

[snip]

Here, the District Court did not adequately demonstrate that it considered whether Munchel and Eisenhart posed an articulable threat to the community in view of their conduct on January 6, and the particular circumstances of January 6. The District Court based its dangerousness determination on a finding that “Munchel’s alleged conduct indicates that he is willing to use force to promote his political ends,” and that “[s]uch conduct poses a clear risk to the community.” Munchel, 2021 WL 620236, at *6. In making this determination, however, the Court did not explain how it reached that conclusion notwithstanding the countervailing finding that “the record contains no evidence indicating that, while inside the Capitol, Munchel or Eisenhart vandalized any property or physically harmed any person,” id. at *3, and the absence of any record evidence that either Munchel or Eisenhart committed any violence on January 6. That Munchel and Eisenhart assaulted no one on January 6; that they did not enter the Capitol by force; and that they vandalized no property are all factors that weigh against a finding that either pose a threat of “using force to promote [their] political ends,” and that the District Court should consider on remand. If, in light of the lack of evidence that Munchel or Eisenhart committed violence on January 6, the District Court finds that they do not in fact pose a threat of committing violence in the future, the District Court should consider this finding in making its dangerousness determination. In our view, those who actually assaulted police officers and broke through windows, doors, and barricades, and those who aided, conspired with, planned, or coordinated such actions, are in a different category of dangerousness than those who cheered on the violence or entered the Capitol after others cleared the way. See Simpkins, 826 F.2d at 96 (“[W]here the future misconduct that is anticipated concerns violent criminal activity, no issue arises concerning the outer limits of the meaning of ‘danger to the community,’ an issue that would otherwise require a legal interpretation of the applicable standard.” (internal quotation and alteration omitted)). And while the District Court stated that it was not satisfied that either appellant would comply with release conditions, that finding, as noted above, does not obviate a proper dangerousness determination to justify detention.

The District Court also failed to demonstrate that it considered the specific circumstances that made it possible, on January 6, for Munchel and Eisenhart to threaten the peaceful transfer of power. The appellants had a unique opportunity to obstruct democracy on January 6 because of the electoral college vote tally taking place that day, and the concurrently scheduled rallies and protests. Thus, Munchel and Eisenhart were able to attempt to obstruct the electoral college vote by entering the Capitol together with a large group of people who had gathered at the Capitol in protest that day. Because Munchel and Eisenhart did not vandalize any property or commit violence, the presence of the group was critical to their ability to obstruct the vote and to cause danger to the community. Without it, Munchel and Eisenhart—two individuals who did not engage in any violence and who were not involved in planning or coordinating the activities— seemingly would have posed little threat. The District Court found that appellants were a danger to “act against Congress” in the future, but there was no explanation of how the appellants would be capable of doing so now that the specific circumstances of January 6 have passed. This, too, is a factor that the District Court should consider on remand. [my emphasis]

The DC Circuit opinion (joined by Judith Rogers, who ruled for Gitmo detainees in Bahlul and a Boumediene dissent) was absolutely a fair decision. But it is also arguably inconsistent with the way that the federal government treated Islamic terrorism, in which every time the government identified someone who might engage in terrorism (often using one of the secret programs approved by this handful of FISA judges, and often based off far less than waltzing into the Senate hoping to prevent the certification of an election while wielding zip ties and a taser), the FBI would continue to pursue those people as intolerably dangerous threats. Again, that’s not the way it’s supposed to work, but that is how it did work, in significant part with the approval of FISA judges.

That is, with Islamic terrorism, the government treated potential threats as threats, whereas here CADC required Lamberth to look more closely at what could make an individual predisposed to an assault on our government — a potential threat — as dangerous going forward. Again, particularly given the numbers involved, that’s a better application of due process than what has been used for the last twenty years, but it’s not what happened during the War on Terror (and in weeks ahead, this will be relitigated with consideration of whether Trump’s continued incitement makes these defendants an ongoing threat).

Now compare Lamberth’s order to an order John Bates issued in the wake of and specifically citing the CADC ruling, releasing former State Department official Freddie Klein from pretrial detention. Klein is accused of fighting with cops in the Lower West Terrace over the course of half an hour.

Bates found that Klein, in using a stolen riot shield to push against cops in an attempt to breach the Capitol, was eligible for pre-trial detention, though he expressed skepticism of the government’s argument that Klein had wielded the shield as a dangerous weapon).

The Court finds that Klein is eligible for pretrial detention based on Count 3. Under the BRA, a “crime of violence” includes “an offense that has as an element of the offense the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person or property of another.” 18 U.S.C. § 3156(a)(4)(A). The Supreme Court in Johnson v. United States defined “physical force” as “force capable of causing physical pain or injury to another person.” 559 U.S. 133, 140 (2010); see also Def.’s Br. at 9.

[snip]

6 The Court has some doubts about whether Klein “used” the stolen riot shield as a dangerous weapon. The BRA does not define the term, but at least for purposes of § 111(b), courts have held that a dangerous weapon is any “object that is either inherently dangerous or is used in a way that is likely to endanger life or inflict great bodily harm.” See United States v. Chansley, 2021 WL 861079, at *7 (D.D.C. Mar. 8, 2021) (Lamberth, J.) (collecting cases). A plastic riot shield is not an “inherently dangerous” weapon, and therefore the question is whether Klein used it in a way “that is likely to endanger life or inflict great bodily harm.” The standard riot shield “is approximately forty-eight inches tall and twenty-four inches wide,” see Gov’t’s Br. at 13, and the Court disagrees with defense counsel’s suggestion that a riot shield might never qualify as a dangerous weapon, even if swung at an officer’s head, Hr’g Tr. 18:18–25, 19:1–11. See, e.g., United States v. Johnson, 324 F.2d 264, 266 (4th Cir. 1963) (finding that metal and plastic chair qualified as a dangerous weapon when “wielded from an upright (overhead) position and brought down upon the victim’s head”). But it is a close call whether Klein’s efforts to press the shield against officers’ bodies and shields were “likely to endanger life or inflict great bodily harm.” See Chansley, 2021 WL 861079, at *7.

But Bates ruled that there were certain things about the case against Klein — that he didn’t come prepared for combat, that he didn’t bring a weapon with him and instead just made use of what he found there, that any coordination he did involved ad hoc cooperation with other rioters rather than leadership throughout the event — that distinguished him from other defendants who (he suggested) should be detained, thereby limiting the guidelines laid out by CDC.

Bates’ decision on those points is absolutely fair. He has distinguished Klein from other January 6 defendants who, he judges, contributed more to the violence.

But there are two aspects of Bates’ decision I find shocking, especially from the guy who consistently deferred to Executive Authority on matters of national security and who sacrificed all of our communicative privacy in the service of finding hidden terrorist threats to the country. First, Bates dismissed the import of Klein’s sustained fight against cops because — he judged — Klein was only using force to advance the position of the mob, not trying to injure anyone.

The government’s contention that Klein engaged in “what can only be described as hand-to-hand combat” for “approximately thirty minutes” also overstates what occurred. See Gov’t’s Br. at 6. Klein consistently positioned himself face-to-face with multiple officers and also repeatedly pressed a stolen riot shield against their bodies and shields. His objective, as far as the Court can tell, however, appeared to be to advance, or at times maintain, the mob’s position in the tunnel, and not to inflict injury. He is not charged with injuring anyone and, unlike with other defendants, the government does not submit that Klein intended to injure officers. Compare Hr’g Tr. 57:12–18 (government conceding that the evidence does not establish Klein intended to injure anyone, only that “there was a disregard of care whether he would injure anyone or not” in his attempt to enter the Capitol), with Gov’t’s Opp’n to Def.’s Mot. to Reopen Detention Hearing & For Release on Conditions, ECF No. 30 (“Gov’t’s Opp’n to McCaughey’s Release”), United States v. McCaughey, III, 21-CR-040-1, at 11 (D.D.C. Apr. 7, 2021) (government emphasizing defendant’s “intent to injure” an officer who he had pinned against a door using a stolen riot shield as grounds for pretrial detention). And during the time period before Klein obtained the riot shield, he made no attempts to “battle” or “fight” the officers with his bare hands or other objects, such as the flagpole he retrieved. That does not mean that Klein could not have caused serious injury— particularly given the chaotic and cramped atmosphere inside the tunnel. But his actions are distinguishable from other detained defendants charged under § 111(b) who clearly sought to incapacitate and injure members of law enforcement by striking them with fists, batons, baseball bats, poles, or other dangerous weapons.

[snip]

Klein’s conduct was forceful, relentless, and defiant, but his confrontations with law enforcement were considerably less violent than many others that day, and the record does not establish that he intended to injure others. [my emphasis]

Bates describes that Klein wanted to use force in the service of occupying the building, not harming individual cops.

Of course, using force to occupy a building in service of halting the vote count is terrorism, but Bates doesn’t treat it as such.

Even more alarmingly, Bates flips how Magistrate Zia Faruqui viewed a government employee like Klein turning on his own government. The government had argued — and Faruqui agreed — that when a federal employee with Top Secret clearance attacks his own government, it is not just a crime but a violation of the Constitutional oath he swore to protect the country against enemies foreign and domestic.

Bates — after simply dismissing the import of Klein’s admittedly limited criminal history that under any other Administration might have disqualified him from retaining clearance — describes what Klein did as a “deeply concerning breach of trust.”

The government also argues that “Klein abdicated his responsibilities to the country and the Constitution” on January 6 by violating his oath of office as a federal employee to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” Id. at 24–25 (quoting 5 U.S.C. § 3331). The fact that, as a federal employee, Klein actively participated in an assault on our democracy to thwart the peaceful transfer of power constitutes a substantial and deeply concerning breach of trust. More so, too, because he had been entrusted by this country to handle “top secret” classified information to protect the United States’ most sensitive interests. In light of his background, Klein had, as Magistrate Judge Faruqui put it, every “reason to know the acts he committed” on January 6 “were wrong,” and yet he took them anyway. Order of Detention Pending Trial at 4. Klein’s position as a federal employee thus may render him highly culpable for his conduct on January 6. But it is less clear that his now-former employment at the State Department heightens his “prospective” threat to the community. See Munchel, 2021 WL 1149196, at *4. Klein no longer works for or is affiliated with the federal government, and there is no suggestion that he might misuse previously obtained classified information to the detriment of the United States. Nor, importantly, is he alleged to have any contacts—past or present—with individuals who might wish to take action against this country. [my emphasis]

Bates then argues that Klein’s ability to obtain clearance proves not that he violates oaths he takes (the government argument adopted by Faruqui), but that he has the potential to live a law-abiding life.

Ultimately, Klein’s history—including his ability to obtain a top-level security clearance—shows his potential to live a law-abiding life. His actions on January 6, of course, stand in direct conflict with that narrative. Klein has not—unlike some other defendants who have been released pending trial for conduct in connection with the events of January 6—exhibited remorse for his actions. See, e.g., United States v. Cua, 2021 WL 918255, at *7–8 (D.D.C. Mar. 10, 2021) (Moss, J.) (weighing defendant’s deep remorse and regret in favor of pretrial release). But nor has he made any public statements celebrating his misconduct or suggesting that he would participate in similar actions again. And it is Klein’s constitutional right to challenge the allegations against him and hold the government to its burden of proof without incriminating himself at this stage of the proceedings. See United States v. Lawrence, 662 F.3d 551, 562 (D.C. Cir. 2011) (“[A] district court may not pressure a defendant into expressing remorse such that the failure to express remorse is met with punishment.”). Hence, despite his very troubling conduct on January 6, the Court finds on balance that Klein’s history and characteristics point slightly toward release.

In short, Bates takes the fact that Klein turned on the government he had sworn to protect and finds that that act weighs in favor of release.

Bates judges that this man, whom he described as having committed violence to advance the goal of undermining an election, nevertheless finds that — having already done that — Klein does not pose an unmanageable prospective threat.

Therefore, although it is a close call, the Court ultimately does not find that Klein poses a substantial prospective threat to the community or any other person. He does not pose no continuing danger, as he contends, given his demonstrated willingness to use force to advance his personal beliefs over legitimate government objectives. But what future risk he does present can be mitigated with supervision and other strict conditions on his release.

Again, it’s not the decision itself that is troubling. It’s the thought process Bates used, both for the way Bates flips Klein’s betrayal of his oath on its head, and for the way that Bates views the threat posed by a man who already used force in an attempt to coerce a political end. And it’s all the more troubling knowing how Bates has deferred to the Executive’s claims about the nascent threat posed even by people who have not, yet, engaged in violence to coerce a political end.

Bates similarly showed no deference to the government’s argument that Larry Brock, a retired Lieutenant Colonel who also brought zip ties into the Senate chamber, should have no access to the Internet given really inflammatory statements on social media, including a call for “fire and blood” as early as November. Bates decided on his own that Probation could sufficiently monitor Brock’s Internet use, comparing Brock to (in my opinion) two unlike defendants to justify the decision. Again, the decision itself is absolutely reasonable, but for the guy who decided the government could monitor significant swaths of transnational Internet traffic out of a necessity to identify potential terrorists, for a guy who okayed the access of US person’s content with no warrant, it’s fairly remarkable that he hasn’t deferred to the government about the danger Brock poses on the Internet (to say nothing of Brock’s likely sophistication at evading surveillance).

Again, I’m not complaining about any of these opinions. The outcomes are all reasonable. It is genuinely difficult to fit the events of January 6 into our existing framework (and perhaps that’s a good thing). Plus, there is such a range of fact patterns that even in the Munchel opinion give force to the mob even while trying to adjudicate individuals’ actions.

But either because these discussions are public, or because we simply think about white person terrorism differently, less foreign, perhaps, than we do Islamic terrorism, the very same judges who’ve grappled with these questions for the past two decades don’t necessarily have the ready answers they had in the past.

FISA Judges January 6 cases

Lamberth:

Kollar-Kotelly:

Bates:

Walton:

Hogan:

Boasberg:

Contreras:

In Adding Matthew Greene to a Conspiracy with Dominic Pezzola, DOJ Formally Alleges the Proud Boys Committed a Crime of Terrorism

At a detention hearing for Charles Donohoe yesterday, Magistrate Judge Michael Harvey asked a long series of questions, including what a “normie” is, what Telegram is (it is stunning that a DC Magistrate doesn’t know that, but that’s a testament they won’t accept US legal process), and whether “Milkshake,” who had been described saying a lot of really damning things in an organizational channel, was part of the conspiracy. AUSA Jason McCullough said that DOJ is still assessing Milkshake’s — whose real name is Daniel Lyons Scott — criminal liability, but since he was filmed fighting with some cops, I’d be arranging legal representation if I were him.

Along the way, however, the questions led McCullough to provide several new details on the Proud Boy conspiracy. One question he didn’t answer is whether the government knows that Donohoe succeeding in “nuking” some texts describing organizational efforts, as he described wanting to do after Enrique Tarrio got arrested.

McCullough also revealed something that was not yet public: the government had rounded up another Proud Boy, Matthew Greene, and indicted him in what I call the Proud Boy “Front Door” conspiracy along with Dominic Pezzola and William Pepe. In doing so, they did something more important for their larger case. First, they changed the purpose of the conspiracy from what it was originally charged to match all the other militia conspiracies (from busting through the first door to obstructing the vote count). Here’s what the militia conspiracies currently look like as a result:

It was probably fairly urgent for DOJ to do this (and Greene’s inclusion may have been just a convenient rationale). Here’s how the indictment changed from the original Indictment to the Superseding one (S1):

In general, the government is charging Pepe and now Greene with more than they originally charged Pepe with based on a theory that they abetted Pezzola’s alleged crimes. But the critical change is highlighted. Originally (marked in pink), just Pezzola was charged for breaking the window through which the initial breach of the Capitol happened. But in this indictment (marked in yellow), DOJ charges Pepe and Greene for abetting Pezzola in breaking that window.

The reason they did this is because 18 USC 1361 is the crime for which DOJ is arguing that all key Proud Boy defendants can be detained pre-trial, not just Pezzola, but also Joe Biggs, Ethan Nordean, Zach Rehl, and Charles Donohoe. In detention hearings, the government has argued that it counts not just as a crime of violence that allows the government to argue that a defendant is eligible for detention, but also that, because it was done to coerce the conduct of government, it triggers a terrorism designation for detention purposes.

This is how the argument looks in detention memos:

As it did before, the United States moves for detention pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3142(e)(3)(C), which provides a rebuttable presumption in favor of detention for an enumerated list of crimes, including Destruction of Property in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1361. The United States also seeks detention pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3142(f)(1)(A), because Destruction of Property, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1361, is a crime of violence. Moreover, when Destruction of Property is “calculated to influence or affect the conduct of government by intimidation or coercion,” it also qualifies as a federal crime of terrorism. See 18 U.S.C. § 2332b(g)(5)(B).

This was an issue in the Monday detention hearing before Judge Tim Kelly for Biggs and Nordean. After the hearing, he required the government to submit a picture of Pezzola breaking that window.

And it will likely become an issue when Joe Biggs, at least, appeals his detention, as he noticed he would do yesterday (it would be a still bigger issue in Nordean or Donohoe’s case).

In fact, the government has been making this argument for some time.

But it wasn’t until this supserseding indictment that the government formally aligned Pezzola’s actions — including spectacularly breaking that first window with a riot shield — with the rest of the Proud Boy indictments, in fact making them (as the government has already argued) the same conspiracy, a conspiracy involving terrorism.

Last Month, Baked Alaska Got to Ditch His Ankle Bracelet

While I am probably missing a few examples, I can think of just two defendants that DOJ has voluntarily loosened release conditions for without some kind of purpose tied to employment: Jon Schaffer, when he entered into a cooperation agreement with the government, and far right propagandist Baked Alaska, AKA Anthime Gionet, last month.

A warrant for Gionet’s arrest was obtained on January 7 and he was arrested on January 15 on misdemeanor charges of trespassing. He was released on personal recognizance but, unlike many other trespassing defendants, he was outfitted with a GPS monitor to make sure he stayed in AZ.

He was sent away and has never since been charged via Information.

On March 23, DOJ added a second attorney to this simple trespassing case, Christopher Brown. On March 26, Gionet asked to lose the ankle bracelet, based (in part) on a claim that he is media and (in part) on a claim that other misdemeanors he faces in AZ won’t likely go to trial. On March 29, DOJ asked for a consent motion to continue the case for another month past March 29 saying they’re trying to “resolve” this issue; this is the same kind of motion to continue they used in the Schaffer case (as opposed to unopposed motions to continue, as they’ve used in most other January 6 cases). And on March 31, the government said that, while it doesn’t agree with Gionet’s claim to be media, they don’t mind if he ditches his ankle bracelet because he’s been a good little Nazi sympathizer while out on release.

The defendant has asked this Court to remove Global Positioning System (GPS) monitoring from his release conditions. In his motion, the defendant argues that he is a member of the news media. The government disagrees. Nevertheless, because the defendant has been compliant with his release conditions to-date, the government does not oppose the instant motion.

On its face, it was an inexplicable move, particularly given the way the January 6 defendants have pointed to each other’s release conditions like 400 children complaining about unfair treatment to their mother.

When Larry Brock, also (currently) facing just trespass charges asked to change his release conditions, the government objected both to permitting Brock to travel freely in TX as well as access to the Internet. “The Defendant has not provided a change in circumstances to justify a change in release conditions,” the government argued. (John Bates overruled the government on the latter point.)

And when Felicia Konold, accused in a more serious Proud Boy conspiracy, made a similar argument about good behavior in a bid to lose her GPS monitor, the government argued that good behavior was insufficient reason to change release conditions. Indeed, in that case they pointed to her pending DUI case (like Gionet’s misdemeanor charges, in AZ), to suggest her behavior wasn’t all that great. “In sum, the defendant has not raised any novel issue that merits any meaningful change of her release conditions,” the government explained in opposing her request.

When Nicholas DeCarlo, functionally equivalent to Gionet as a right wing propagandist (albeit charged, in addition to trespassing, with conspiracy, obstruction, and for damaging the Capitol), asked to have his GPS removed, the government said nothing had changed to justify the change. “Finally, there have been no change in circumstances, other than the passage of time, that would justify these instant modifications.”

But in Gionet’s case, with no visible change in circumstances, and with pending state charges just like Konold, he ditched the ankle bracelet.

It’s certainly possible that the government, in the wake of the Eric Munchel decision (released the same day Gionet made his request), didn’t want to bother fighting this more aggressively. It’s possible they’re more sensitive to the claim that Gionet is a journalist than they let on — except that in the wake of this exchange, they’ve continued to arrest people making similar claims.

Or it’s possible something more interesting is going on. Ordinarily, a Nazi sympathizer facing a trespass charge wouldn’t have anything to deal to the government; nor would a trespass charge incent a defendant to make a deal.

Except that’s not the only exposure Gionet has or had.

On January 22, between the time Gionet was first charged and when he was arraigned, Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn charged Douglas Mackey in a conspiracy to interfere with others’ right to vote, based off Mackey’s social media campaign encouraging Hillary voters to vote by hashtag rather than casting a legal vote. Mackey was the only of the co-conspirators charged, but according to Luke O’Brien — who first broke Mackey’s true identity — Gionet was one of the four other co-conspirators described in the complaint.

Another of Mackey’s co-conspirators is Anthime “Baked Alaska” Gionet, a pro-Trump white nationalist who was arrested on Jan. 16 for his involvement in storming the Capitol on Jan. 6. Gionet also participated in the deadly white nationalist “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017. (A New York Times story reported Wednesday afternoon that Gionet was a co-conspirator, citing a source close to the investigation, and HuffPost can confirm that reporting based on the Twitter ID cited in the complaint.)

HuffPost was able to link the Twitter IDs in the complaint to Gionet and Microchip through previously collected Twitter data, interviews and evidence left by both extremists on other websites. In direct messages with this reporter last year, Microchip also confirmed that he was using the Twitter account associated with the user ID listed in the complaint.

In the time that nothing has been happening in Gionet’s January 6 charge, Mackey has been indicted and his team has been reviewing evidence. On March 29 — just after DOJ added a second attorney to the Gionet case — DOJ added a third attorney to Mackey’s case.

With five prosecutors between the two cases, things are clearly more complex than the filings suggest.

And that may be the change in circumstances that allowed Gionet to ditch his ankle bracelet.

Update: Michael Daughtry, accused of trespassing, also got to ditch his ankle bracelet after wearing it for a week.

Why DOJ Isn’t Making Plea Deals: The Delayed Obstruction and Even More Delayed Assault Charge against Patrick Montgomery

On January 7, Patrick Montgomery’s associates started turning him in to authorities. One person forwarded a picture showing him in the Senate chamber and warned him he had saved the picture and would be forwarding it to authorities.

Another associate saw the same picture and IDed Montgomery to the FBI. The associate later shared this email exchange with the FBI.

Tipster: You have been reported to the police in DC as well as the FBI

Mongtomery: I’m not a scared cat or running from anything. . . . Im [sic] so deeply covered by the best Federal Defense lawyers in the country in case you chicken shit cry boys don’t want it takes to defend our freedom from these corrupt politicians.

Montgomery: I didn’t storm the castle violently. My group was let in peacefully by the police we were talking to with respect. We came a[n]d left peacefully before the anarchist and Antifa showed up breaking shit and being hoodlums.

Two more people shared Montgomery’s social media bragging with the FBI.

The same day all his associates starting sharing those boasts, Montgomery deleted his Facebook and Instagram accounts.

It was too late.

Montgomery was arrested on January 17. Four days later, Montgomery was charged with trespassing via Information. And after both sides agreed to a delay on February 5, nothing more seemed to happen.

All the while, though, the FBI continued to investigate based off the pictures Montgomery had posted to Facebook hours after the insurrection, including this one showing him with two other men at the Capitol.

On March 16, the FBI interviewed someone in the middle of a protracted lawsuit with the middle guy in the picture, a guy named Brady Knowlton. That person IDed Knowlton, Montgomery, and also the guy on the left (though the FBI isn’t telling us his identity, for now).

In the interim, the FBI had obtained CCTV video footage of Knowlton, Montgomery, and yet another guy, entering the Capitol via the Upper West Terrace door at 2:35PM on January 6.

At 2:36PM, CCTV caught the three of them in the Rotunda.

By 2:45PM — ten minutes after entering the Capitol — CCTV caught the three of them in the Senate Gallery.

The FBI packaged all that up in an arrest warrant for Knowlton’s arrest — on trespassing and also an obstruction charge, for interrupting the vote count — approved on April 1.

Only after FBI had obtained the warrant for one of Montgomery’s close buddies did they finalize a protective order with him so they could start sharing the evidence that implicated not just him, but also at least one of his buddies. Montgomery signed a protective order on April 5. Knowlton was arrested on April 7. Knowlton’s [three!] attorneys spent much of last week asking the government to present what it believed was exculpatory evidence showing that cops let them walk in to the Capitol the grand jury.

Our Motion alleges that video recordings in the Government’s possession show that some Capitol Police officers and/or other law enforcement agents moved metal barricades aside to allow citizens to move toward the Capitol and welcomed citizens to enter the Capitol Building. Such conduct by the officers and their acquiescence to entry was an implicit authorization to exercise a protected right on January 6, not merely to engage in conduct which is neither protected nor forbidden by the law.

[snip]

Our Motion asks this Court to direct Government counsel to search the inventory of videos and other evidence and produce for Mr. Knowlton and for the grand jury evidence of acquiescence and invitation by Capitol Police and/or other law enforcement agents to enter into the building, particularly if Mr. Knowlton can be identified as being among those who entered under such circumstances, and simply inform the grand jury that this request has been made and that they are permitted to consider that information before passing their judgment. If he did enter under such circumstances, he was exercising a right for which he may not be constitutionally punished. And such evidence is not merely exculpatory, it proves total innocence.

Instead, the government obtained an indictment against Montgomery and Knowlton. Not only did the government add obstruction charges to Montgomery, but they also described Montgomery forcibly assaulting or resisting an MPD officer.

And all that’s before you consider the two other guys included in pictures of them from the day.

I’ve got a hunch that we’re going to be hearing more about these fellows. Far more.

I’ve got a similar hunch that the story of what happened in the Senate chamber is going to get far more interesting in coming days.

Update: Let me clarify my title. For over a month, there has been a lot of reporting about imminent plea deals for all the people who, like Montgomery, were “just” MAGA tourists. And that’s what Montgomery seemed to be in all our tracking lists since then.

When the Knowlton arrest was rolled out, it became clear that Montgomery had some accomplices (but at least one and probably two remain unidentified). It also became clear — though DOJ has not presented what evidence they have of it — that both were deliberately trying to delay the vote count. That’s not surprising by itself — with maybe one exception, everyone who made their way to the Senate Chamber got charged with obstruction. But the indictment against the two makes it clear that Montgomery also engaged in some kind of violent resistance to cops.

There are a number of reasons I think there’s more to this. But one of those is the way they treated the investigation of Knowlton (including finding someone he was in a multi-year lawsuit with to ID him, which is harsh), and the way they used his charging to add the assault charge to the Montgomery indictment.

Updated List of January 6 Assault Defendants

Back in February, I did a post listing the January 6 defendants charged with one or another type of assault against police. I’ve been updating the post (and will update this one), but that one had gotten out of date and I’ve spent much of the morning doing housekeeping on my own tracking of the January 6 defendants so I wanted to repost that list.

Since February, some known assailants have been charged:

  • Julian Khater and George Tanios in the assault on Brian Sicknick suspected of playing a role in his death
  • Albuquerque Cosper Head, Thomas Sibick, and Kyle Young — charged together — in an attack on Michael Fanone and, separately, Daniel Rodriguez for tasing him
  • An expanding group — currently including Jeffrey Sabol, Peter Stager, Michael Lopatic, Clayton Mullins, and Jack Whitton — accused of dragging a cop into the crowd and beating him with various weapons and attacking another, thwarting attempts to help Rosanne Boyland, who was dying nearby

In addition, more militia defendants are being accused of assault, including Proud Boys Christopher Quaglin and Christopher Worrell. Last week, Oath Keeper Jon Schaffer entered a cooperation agreement with the government, probably staving off an assault charge tied to his use of bear spray, and a recent detention motion claims Joshua James riled up assaults on cops as well.

Then there are the rather spectacular cases of Trump State Department official Freddie Klein and former Green Beret Jeffrey McKellop, who’ve been charged with assault.

Yet even while the FBI rounds up more of the people charged with some of the identifiable assaults from January 6, the great majority of BOLOs (Be On the Lookout for — basically, requests for tips) released by the FBI, currently numbering 360, are assault suspects who have yet to be identified. So there may be around 200 more people who could be charged with assault.

And, of course, the pipe bomber remains at large, in spite of a $100,000 reward for information leading to that person’s arrest.

  1. Daniel Page Adams, whose arrest affidavit describes engaging in a “direct struggle with [unnamed] law enforcement officers” (his cousin, Cody Connell, described the exchange as a “civil war”). Tip SM
  2. Zachary Alam, who pushed cops around as he was trying to break into the Speaker’s Lobby. BOLO 79
  3. Wilmar Alvarado, who pushed cops in the mob trying to get in from the West Terrace. BOLO 65
  4. John Anderson, who after taking two riot shields from cops, needed their assistance after getting maced.
  5. David Blair, who poked a cop with a lacrosse stick with a Confederate flag attached. Onsite arrest
  6. Daniel Caldwell, who was filmed macing 15 cops. SM
  7. Matthew Caspel, who was filmed charging the National Guard. Tip SM
  8. William Chrestman, who is accused of threatening a cop as Proud Boys pushed their way past the original line of defense (charged with 18 USC 115). NM
  9. Luke Coffee, who was videotaped beating several cops with a crutch. (Tip SM and BOLO 108)
  10. Christian Cortez, who yelled at cops behind a door.
  11. Matthew Council, who was arresting for shoving cops the day of the riot.
  12. Bruno Cua, who was filmed shoving a cop to be able to get into the Senate. Tip LE
  13. Nathan DeGrave, whom security cameras caught threatening to fight cops. Network Sandlin
  14. Daniel Egdvedt, a large man who took swipes and grabbed at several officers as they tried to remove him from the Capitol. BOLO 76
  15. Scott Fairlamb, who was caught in multiple videos shoving and punching officers (one who whom is identified but not named); Cori Bush has said she was threatened by him last summer. Tips, including SM
  16. Kyle Fitzsimons, who charged officers guarding the doorway of the Capitol. BOLO 139
  17. Michael Foy, a former Marine who was caught on multiple videos beating multiple cops with a hockey stick. Tip SM
  18. Robert Giswein, who appears to have ties to the Proud Boys and used a bat to beat cops. NM
  19. Vitali Gossjankowski, who was interviewed about whether he had tased MPD officer Michael Fanone, causing a heart attack; instead he was charged with assaulting CPD officer MM (BOLO 98 — with a second one mentioned)
  20. Alex Harkrider, who after being filmed fighting with police at the door of the Capitol, posted a picture with a crowbar labeled, “weapon;” he was charged with abetting Ryan Nichols’ assault. Tip SM
  21. Richard Harris
  22. Albuquerque Cosper Head, accused of assaulting Michael Fanone.
  23. Emanuel Jackson, whom videos caught punching one officer, and others show beating multiple officers with a metal baseball bat. BOLO 31
  24. Shane Jenkins, alleged to have used a crowbar to break in a window, later threw things including a pole, a desk drawer, and a flagpole at cops.
  25. Douglas Jensen, the QAnon who chased Officer Goodman up the stairs, got charged with resisting him. NM, BOLO 10
  26. Taylor Johnatakis, charged with 111.
  27. Paul Johnson, who carried a bullhorn and was in the initial assault from the west side with Ryan Samsel. BOLO 49
  28. Chad Jones, who used a Trump flag to break the glass in the Speaker’s Lobby door just before Ashli Babbitt was shot and may have intimidated three officers who were pursuing that group. Tip NM
  29. David Judd, who threw a firecracker at cops in the tunnel. Tip and BOLO 137
  30. Julian Elie Khater, who allegedly sprayed Brian Sicknick and two others with very powerful bear spray. BOLO 190
  31. Freddie Klein, the State Department employee who fought with three different officers while trying to break through police lines. BOLO 136
  32. Edward Jacob Lang, who identified himself in a screen cap of a violent mob attacking cops and who was filmed slamming a riot shield into police and later fighting them with a red baseball bat. Tip SM
  33. Nicholas Languerand, accused of throwing a bollar, a can of pepper spray, and a stick at cops in the Lower West Tunnel.
  34. Mark Jefferson Leffingwell, whom a Capitol Police officer described in an affidavit punching him. Onsite arrest
  35. Joshua Lollar, who described fighting cops and was caught in pictures showing himself in the front lines confronting cops. Tip SM
  36. Michael Lopatic, who allegedly assaulted some cops with Stager and Sabol, then took a BWC to hide the assault. BOLO 133
  37. Clifford Mackrell, who attempted to strip an officer’s gas mask after someone else sprayed bear spray. BOLO 124
  38. Patrick Edward McCaughey III, who was filmed crushing MPD Officer Daniel Hodges in one of the doors to the Capitol. BOLO 62
  39. Jeffrey McKellop, a former Special Forces guy accused of assaulting 4 cops, including one by using a flagpole as a spear. BOLO 215
  40. Jonathan Mellis, who used some kind of stick to try to jab and beat police. Tip SM
  41. Garret Miller, who pushed back at cops and then threatened both AOC and the cop who killed Ashli Babbit. Tip LE
  42. Matthew Ryan Miller, who released fire extinguisher in close quarters. Tip SM
  43. Jordan Mink, who used a pole to assault the police.
  44. Patrick Montgomery was charged with assault against MPD officer DJ in a follow-up indictment.
  45. Aaron Mostofsky, possibly for stripping a cop of his or her armored vest and riot shield. NM
  46. Clayton Mullins, alleged to be part of the mob that assaulted AW and two other police. Tip
  47. Ryan Nichols, who was filmed wielding a crowbar and yelling, “This is not a peaceful protest,” then spraying pepper spray against police trying to prevent entry to the Capitol. Tip SM
  48. Grady Owens, who allegedly hit a cop in the head on the Mall with a skateboard, as he was heading to reinforce the Capitol. BOLO 109
  49. Jason Owens, accused of assaulting a second officer after his son attacked one with a skateboard. Network Owens
  50. Jose Padilla, who shoved cops at a barricade, then helped use a Donald Trump sign as a battering ram against them. Tip SM
  51. Robert Palmer, who sprayed cops with a fire extinguisher then threw it at them.
  52. Dominic Pezzola, a Proud Boy who stole a shield from cops. NM (BOLO 43)
  53. Mark Ponder, filmed repeatedly attacking cops with poles.
  54. Christopher Quaglin, accused of assaulting cops both at the initial breach of the barriers and later in the Lower West Terrace.
  55. Stephen Randolph, who shoved cops at the initial barricade and later bragged about a female cop’s head bouncing off the pavement. BOLO 168
  56. Daniel Rodriguez, whom videos appear to show tasing Michael Fanone. Sedition Hunter-based reporting
  57. Jeffrey Sabol, helped drag a cop from the Capitol and beat him while prone. LE arrest (erratic driving)
  58. Ryan Samsel, who set off the riot by giving a cop a concussion; he appears to have coordinated with Joe Biggs. BOLO 51 (though not IDed by BOLO)
  59. Salvador Sandoval, Jr, who went to the insurrection with his mother and shoved some cops.
  60. Robert Sanford, who was filmed hitting Capitol Police Officer William Young on the head with a fire extinguisher. Tip NM
  61. Ronald Sandlin, who tried to wrestle cops to keep the door to the Senate open. MPD tip
  62. Troy Sargent, who appears to have punched some cops holding a line. Tip SM
  63. Peter Schwartz, a felon who maced several cops. Tip NM (BOLO 120)
  64. Christian Secor, a UCLA self-described fascist who helped shove through some cops to break into the Capitol and then sat in the Senate chamber. Tip NM
  65. Barton Wade Shively, who pushed and shoved some police trying to get into the Capitol, punched another, then struck one of those same cops later and kicked another. BOLO 55
  66. Thomas Sibick, accused of being among a group of men who attacked Michael Fanone and stole his badge.
  67. Peter Francis Stager, who was involved in beating a prone cop with a flagpole. Tip SM
  68. Ezekial Stecher, whom videos showed pushing in the Lower West Tunnel.
  69. Tristan Stevens, who fought cops with a shield and baton. Video
  70. Isaac Sturgeon, who is accused of using a barricade to attack some officers.
  71. George Pierre Tanios, who allegedly conspired with Julian Khater to attack Brian Sicknick and two other cops. BOLO 254
  72. Thomas Webster, who attacked a cop with a flagpole (BOLO 145)
  73. Wade Whitten, accused of dragging AW down the steps of the Capitol and hitting him with a crutch (BOLO 130)
  74. Duke Wilson, accused of assaulting several officers in the Lower West Tunnel (BOLO 87)
  75. Christopher Worrell, a Proud Boy who apparently sprayed pepper spray at a line of police.
  76. Kyle Young, accused of attacking Michael Fanone and another officer, and stealing Fanone’s weapon.

Two One-Time Devin Nunes Flunkies Under Investigation for Leaks

Michael Ellis, the Devin Nunes flunky who had been installed as NSA General Counsel over more qualified people, resigned from NSA after being placed on leave since Inauguration Day. I hadn’t realized until I read Ellen Nakashima’s report on Ellis’ resignation that he was being investigated for leaking classified information, though Catherine Herridge reported that investigation in real time, the very same day that Ellis’ attorney wrote NSA inquiring about the investigation.

Meanwhile, a long David Ignatius profile of another Nunes flunky, Kash Patel, mentions that he, too, is under investigation for leaking classified information.

Patel repeatedly pressed intelligence agencies to release secrets that, in his view, showed that the president was being persecuted unfairly by critics. Ironically, he is now facing Justice Department investigation for possible improper disclosure of classified information, according to two knowledgeable sources who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the probe. The sources said the investigation resulted from a complaint made this year by an intelligence agency, but wouldn’t provide additional details.

Both of these men (along with a third Nunes flunky, Derek Harvey) have been a real threat to national security and both have a history of writing crappy reports for Nunes (recent reporting reminds that Ellis was the author of an unnecessarily shitty Edward Snowden report, for example). There’s little doubt they have released the kinds of material that have never before been released, but much of that would either be legal and/or protected by Speech and Debate.

But the fact that both are being investigated for leaking classified information raises questions whether leak investigations are just being used as an easy way to take out intelligence community critics, whether they’re both suspected of leaking the same information, or whether there’s more there.

The Ignatius story, in particular, is of interest, not least because he’s the guy who first reported Mike Flynn’s conversation with Sergey Kislyak in a seemingly sanctioned leak, making this report a kind of book-end to the Trump Administration. All the more so given that Ignatius not only notes the sensitivity of the probe into Patel, but then tells a story that likely relies on classified information of how Patel’s incompetence almost blew up a SEAL rescue mission in Niger.

Anger toward Patel within the national security bureaucracy mounted after an Oct. 31, 2020, hostage rescue mission in Nigeria. The incident, never previously reported in detail, was described by four high-level sources.

It was a rescue mission that was nearly aborted partly because of inadequate coordination by Patel. SEAL Team Six had been assigned to rescue 27-year-old Philip Walton, a missionary’s son who had been kidnapped by gunmen in Niger, near the border with Nigeria. Patel, as a senior counterterrorism adviser, had assured colleagues that the mission had a green light, according to several sources. The SEALs were ready to parachute into the rescue site from high altitude (one source estimated 30,000 feet) when there was a last-minute hitch.

But as the SEALs were about to jump, military commanders and State Department officials realized that one necessary item hadn’t been completed: The Nigerian government hadn’t been informed prior to the operation inside their country, as required.

A frantic last-minute effort to obtain the necessary permission ensued. The SEAL team’s aircraft held over the target, flying in a racetrack pattern, for about 45 minutes while the State Department tried to locate a Nigerian national security official who could receive the official notice. Finally, just 15 minutes before the operational window closed, the Nigerians were given word, the SEALs parachuted down, and the hostage was rescued.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, were angry that, in their view, Patel had prematurely said the operation was fully cleared, according to knowledgeable officials. One senior Pentagon official said he was “incensed” at Patel. A second senior Pentagon official described Patel’s actions as potentially “dangerous” for the SEALs.

The attack on Patel’s role in the hostage rescue may be a signal about what Patel is suspected of leaking.

While Ignatius provides no indication of what Patel is suspected of leaking, the WaPo columnist does link to an interview Patel did with Aaron Maté. The interview is about what you’d expect from a propagandist interviewing a propagandist.  Patel makes a slew of false claims that Maté encourages: the purpose of FISA, what normally goes in FISA applications, the intelligence against Carter Page, what servers the FBI obtained as part of its investigation into the hack (Maté still ascribes the single server fallacy!), what Crowdstrike actually had access to, what Bruce Ohr’s FBI interviews actually showed. Perhaps the most hysterical part of the interview is where Patel claimed that the way to conduct an investigation is to follow the money, but Maté never asked him why HPSCI didn’t follow the money on a single Trump associate, to say nothing of Trump’s role in money laundering for Russian oligarchs.

Nevertheless, in their discussion about the Russian investigation, Patel was quite careful to avoid revealing non-public information, not even for a report he authored claiming poor tradecraft on the Intelligence Community Assessment of the Russian attack that both SSCI and John Durham have investigated and dismissed.

Maté similarly let Patel dodge really answering questions about his conduct on January 6, even though some of the biggest questions about that day pertain to why DOD delayed for three hours before reinforcing the Capitol, including why it took over 30 minutes for an order to deploy to get from Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller to Guard Commander General William Walker who had been waiting on stand-by. In response to Maté’s question, Patel first repeated his selective breach of Executive Privilege to claim that Trump had already authorized Guard deployments, then answered a totally different question than the one Maté asked — not why DOD let the attack continue for 3 hours, long after it had gotten repeated requests for help, but how quickly DOD deployed the Guard after they had allowed an attack to happen across town while they watched.

We activated, from a start, the fastest augmentation and mobilization of uniformed military troops in the DC area since World War II, and we put 24,000 boots on the ground in less than 48 hours. I don’t know who’s saying we slow-rolled anything, because these are Guardsmen, they’re not active duty military.

While Patel violated Executive Privilege, there’s nothing classified about the belated Guard deployment.

It’s in-between those two conversations, though, where Patel may have succumbed to Maté’s persistent questioning about the very same topic about which Ignatius’ sources attack Patal: hostage rescues. Maté asked about a report that Patel had tried to negotiate the release of Austin Tice. Patel first responded to Maté by saying that he wouldn’t address whether Tice is alive or not. But then Maté followed up, and Patel told a self-serving story about his role in an attempt to free Tice. In it, Patel provided non-public details about his meeting with Assad representatives in Syria and may have confirmed an intercept on Bashar al-Assad.

Maté: Can you tell us anything about your discussions with Syrian officials, what they were asking from you, their level of openness to having talks with the US government?

Patel: Sure, I mean, look, that didn’t happen overnight. You know, one of President Trump’s priorities was, “go get American hostages home,” and I think we got over 50 — 53ish, hostages, detainees back — from 20-some countries maybe. Maybe a little less. But Austin Tice had been missing for, going on eight years, and we had made no headway, really, on it, so we made it a priority. We started working with our counterparts in the region. That trip was almost 18 months in the making. And we finally were able to land a meeting in Damascus because I told them, I said, “I’ll come see you. You send someone who can represent President Assad directly, because I can represent President Trump directly on this matter. And let’s go sit down.” And they said, “okay, come to Damascus.” And I don’t know if they thought we would show up or not. We did. And we were very clear. We said, “look, I understand I’m not getting Austin home on this trip, but I would like a proof of life. What would you like in return for that?” We had very frank conversations. They said, we want X amount of movement for the United States military. Troops stuff, and this and that. And I said, “look, all of that’s on the table. We can discuss all those things. I need a proof of life.” And they said they would take it back to Assad. Which they did. I know they did that. And then, I think shortly thereafter, I switched over to the Department of Defense, and tried to continue that mission, but, um, that one was one I just, unfortunately, didn’t succeed on. [my emphasis]

The most likely way that Patel would come to learn, with certainty, that whatever go-betweens he met with in Damascus actually did report back to Assad would be via an NSA or CIA intercept. If that is how he learned, then confirming that he knew Assad got a report back might have burned the intercept. Doing so with Maté at the Grayzone, which personally and as an outlet produce a lot of Assad apology, might be particularly sensitive. And the ease with which Maté appealed to Patel’s ego to get him to reveal these details would raise real questions about whether Patel played a role in the earlier WSJ story about the meeting, which was published on October 18, days before Patel almost fucked up the October 31 Niger mission.

That is, this Ignatius story seems like an effort to undermine Patel’s self-interested stories of heroism on hostage rescues, after he disclosed non-public details about one of them.

Which would also suggest that, whatever the merit of the investigation into Ellis (and I think GOP concerns about it have some merit), the investigation into Patel may be substantive.

The US Government Accuses Roger Stone of Rat-Fucking the IRS

The US government is suing Roger Stone and his spouse, Nydia, for failure to pay their taxes. The suit gets awfully close to accusing the couple of fraud, which raises questions about why the government didn’t charge them with fraud instead.

This may be an effort to seize their condo which — because they live in Florida — might otherwise be sheltered under Florida’s Constitution.

But since it comes close but stops short of accusing the couple of fraud, I want to unpack precisely what it alleges.

The suit alleges that the Stones, filing jointly, underpaid their taxes from 2007 to 2011, currently owing almost $1.6 million. It also alleges that Stone, filing individually, underpaid his taxes by $400K in 2018. Then, the suit alleges, the Stones took efforts on 2018 and 2019 to shelter their income and, ultimately, their home from the IRS.

The Stones had been on a payment plan with the IRS for the jointly owed taxes (though it sounds like they had gone off and on payment plans in the past).

In 2018 and 2019, they used Drake Ventures, a limited liability corporation that the suit claims in just a legal alibi for the Stones, to pay personal expenses, including groceries, dentist bills, spas, salons, clothing, and restaurant expenses. Effectively, the suit claims, that allowed the Stones to dump funds into their lifestyle while shielding those funds from the IRS. Then, in the wake of Stone’s indictment, the Stones paid a $140K downpayment for a condo out of Drake Ventures, then created a trust, the Bertran Trust, in Nydia’s name to own the house. Literally the day after the Trust was recorded in Broward County, the Stones stopped paying their monthly tax payments to the IRS.

The government is effectively going after Drake Ventures and the house to cover the $2 million in taxes they owe.

The timing of all this is the really interesting bit.

The suit doesn’t say whether the Stones only started to pay their personal expenses out of Drake Ventures funds in 2018, or whether the government only discovered it in that year — when the investigation into Stone and those he paid to help with his rat-fucking really accelerated. The suit does mention that the Stones paid people out of Drake Ventures funds without filing 1099s for them, something that Mueller’s team likely discovered as they tried to sort through what Stone was paying these people for.

The Stones used Drake Ventures to pay Roger Stone’s associates, their relatives, and other entities without providing the required Forms 1099-MISC (Miscellaneous Income) or W-2s (Wage and Tax Statement).

But the suit makes the tie between the effort to shelter their home in the Bertran Trust and Stone’s indictment explicit.

Roger Stone was indicted on January 24, 2019, and the indictment was unsealed on January 25, 2019.

After Roger Stone’s indictment, the Stones created the Bertran Trust and used funds that they owned via their alter ego, Drake Ventures, to purchase the Stone Residence in the name of the Bertran Trust.

[snip]

On March 5, 2019, the Stones established the Bertran Trust.

On March 22, 2019, the Stones purchased the Stone Residence in the name of the Bertran Trust for $525,000. The Stones used the $140,000 they transferred from a Drake Ventures’ Wells Fargo account as a down payment for this purchase. No assets of the Bertran Trust were used to purchase the Stone Residence.

The suit includes the tie between his indictment and their effort to shelter the money as one sign of intentional fraud.

The Stones faced the threat of litigation. Roger Stone had just been indicted;

And the moves to shield their money in advance of defaulting on their repayment plan with the IRS took place even as — per a dodgy claim from Roger Stone — Stone refused to cooperate against Trump, the claim Stone deployed to get first a commutation and then a pardon from Trump to avoid any prison time.

Mind you, the IRS was still working on collecting that money from the Stones. It’s not like Trump made Stone’s tax troubles go away like he did his other legal troubles.

But what’s weird about the seeming tie between Stone’s indictment and the efforts to shelter their funds is that there was never any risk of forfeiture based on the charges Stone actually faced. He was definitely investigated for things that might have included forfeiture (and Drake Ventures paid for Stone’s phone service and some other telecommunications service he used in his 2016 rat-fuckery).

That said, it was a piss poor way to try to cheat the IRS, because the Stones did this at a time when the government was closely scrutinizing Drake Ventures.

Jon Schaffer’s Plea Deal Brands Premeditated Use of Force with the Oath Keeper Brand

Here’s Oath Keeper Jon Schaffer’s statement of offense. There’s boilerplate in there making it clear that, “This proffer of evidence is not intended to constitute a complete statement of all facts known by SCHAFFER or the government,” meaning it may not include the information Schaffer traded for his cooperation agreement.

But what his statement of offense establishes is premeditation to use force and brands that premeditated use of force with the Oath Keeper brand.

It quotes (as his arrest affidavit also quoted) his prediction in November that he and others might resort to violence to fight against what he saw as the hijacking of the country.

A group of thugs and criminals hijacked this country a long time ago. And now they’re making their big move, and it’s not gonna happen … People need to wake up and snap out of the Matrix because they’re going down. They made the move, they’re messing with the wrong people here, trust me on that. And we needed it to be open like this. Open fraud. Open theft. Because now we see you, and you’re going down, mark my words.

[snip]

[I]f somebody wants to bring violence, I think there’s a lot of us here that are ready for it. We don’t want that, but if they bring it we’re going to respond to that, trust me.

[snip]

We’re not going to merge into some globalist, communist system, it will not happen. There will be a lot of bloodshed if it comes down to that, trust me. The American people will not go for that bullshit once they understand what’s actually happening. So that’s where we’re at. Nobody wants this, but they’re pushing us to a point where we have no choice.

And then it describes how Schaffer, knowing that Congress was about to certify the vote, and having just learned that Mike Pence was not going to challenge the vote, marched to the Capitol and used force against cops trying to protect it. Altogether, he was in the Capitol for just nine minutes.

SCHAFFER joined a large crowd that marched from the Ellipse to the Capitol, where the Joint Session to certify the Electoral College vote was underway-a fact of which SCHAFFER was aware. During the march to the Capitol, SCHAFFER learned that Vice President Pence planned to go forward with the Electoral College vote certification. After arriving on Capitol grounds, SCHAFFER walked through a dense crowd of people, past barriers that restricted access to the public, and right up to a set of doors located on the west side of the Capitol building.

At approximately 2:40 p.m., as legislators and their staff were being evacuated to secure locations, SCHAFFER-still wearing his Oath Keepers hat and tactical vest, and still carrying on his person bear spray-positioned himself at the front of a large mob that broke open the Capitol building doors being guarded by four Capitol Police officers wearing riot gear. SCHAFFER was among the first six individuals to push past the damaged doors and into the building, forcing the officers to retreat. As the mob swelled inside, and officers were being assaulted, SCHAFFER and other members of the mob continued to advance while aggressively gesturing toward a row of five to six backpedaling officers trying to maintain a security line in front of them. The officers’ effort quickly failed as SCHAFFER and the rest of the mob overwhelmed the officers, who ultimately deployed a chemical irritant to disperse the mob. SCHAFFER was among those who were sprayed in the face by the irritant. He thereafter exited the building, with his unholstered bear spray now in hand, through the same doors that he had entered through approximately nine minutes earlier.

Per his plea agreement, that nine minutes exposes him, even with the plea, to over four years of prison time. There is 5K language in the plea suggesting he may get a cooperation letter for his assistance. So if Schaffer is really useful to the government, he may end up getting the three months of jail time he has already served.

But it may be that this deal gave both sides something they needed. It helps a musician avoid an assault charge that might prevent him from touring to the EU in the future (and springs him from jail with permission to tour in the US). And it brands the premeditated violence in support of an effort to undermine the official proceedings of the US government with the Oath Keeper brand. It also may provide the government with proof of a specifically anti-government ideology that would be necessary for any seditious conspiracy charge.

Tables Flipped: With Cooperation Agreement, Oath Keeper Jon Schaffer Will Get Protection from US Marshals

As I’ve been suggesting might happen for some time, heavy metal musician Jon Schaffer just pled guilty, the first of any January 6 defendants to plead guilty. While many of the documents pertaining to his plea have not been released yet, his information has. He pled guilty to Obstruction of an Official Proceeding and Entering a Restricted Area with a Deadly Weapon (for the bear spray he sprayed at police). On the Obstruction charge, Schaffer is facing serious enhancements for the bear spray. But with the plea, Schaffer will avoid what was surely going to be an assault charge, as well as inclusion in the Oath Keeper conspiracy. And all that’s before the cooperation he has agreed to provide prosecutors, which should help him cut his criminal exposure significantly, especially as the very first January 6 defendant to plead guilty.

From the sounds of things — prosecutor Ahmed Baset described Schaffer as the “tip of the mob” breaching the building and said he entered at 2:40 — Schaffer will be implicated in the breach of the east entrance to the Capitol, meaning his testimony may implicate everyone who went in with him (likely including all the currently charged Oath Keepers, Joe Biggs, and several other Proud Boys). [Update: Schaffer went in the west door, not the east one, but the timing is still of acute interest, as it means the door Schaffer went in was breached at the same time as the east door.] DOJ might be thinking of naming Schaffer an unindicted co-conspirator on the Oath Keeper conspiracy, which would put all of them on the hook for Schaffer’s violent actions, dramatically increasing their criminal exposure.

In addition, Schaffer’s plea sets an important precedent on several legal issues that will be contested by other defendants, Oath Keeper or not. Those include:

  • Whether bear spray is a deadly weapon (which will affect the men accused of attacking Brian Sicknick and others — like Roberto Minuta — who brought bear spray into the Capitol)
  • Whether the vote count and Mike Pence’s presence in the Capitol made the building a “restricted building” for the purpose of 1752
  • Whether obstruction — normally used for criminal prosecutions — applies to the vote count (this is particularly critical, as it is how DOJ has made participation in the insurrection a felony for the more serious defendants)
  • Whether two enhancements — for violence and significant interference — apply to the obstruction charge

As Judge Amit Mehta noted, this doesn’t preclude litigation in other cases, but both sides agreed that this legal stance applies to the January 6 riot.

Schaffer will be released from jail, meaning he can return to touring as a musician (which was likely one of the big inducements for him to plead).

But the most remarkable thing about this plea agreement comes with the public nature of it. Mehta had thought that DOJ would want to do this in sealed fashion, but Baset was quite clear that DOJ wanted this to be public. That means everyone will know that Schaffer is a key witness against a highly trained militia.

And one of the things Mehta seems to have raised in a closed part of the hearing is that that puts Schaffer at great risk.

So DOJ agreed that Schaffer — who on January 5 was among the Oath Keepers purportedly providing “security” for Roger Stone — will be provided security by US Marshals under DOJ’s witness protection program.

A member of Roger Stone’s “security” detail will for the foreseeable future, then, be provided with “security” by the US government.

Update: Here’s his plea. He signed it Wednesday, which means it’s likely he had a grand jury appearance Friday morning before he allocuted before Judge Mehta. [Fixed my day of the week problems.]

Update: They’ve calculated Schaffer’s base offense level, before reductions for pleading, to be 25, which would represent a sentence of 57-71 months in the sentencing table. If they add Schaffer as an unindicted co-conspirator to the Oath Keeper conspiracy, it would put them on the hook for his violence, even before the conspiracy charge.

Update: I was being a bit loose with my reference to Stone. The Oath Keepers, in which Schaffer has pled to be a member, provides security for Stone. While Schaffer associates with some of the people who did provide security, there’s no evidence he personally did.

Christopher Quaglin: Illuminating the Gaps in the January 6 Panopticon

In this post, I suggested several of the people recently arrested on trespass charges were likely arrested as a way to facilitate evidence collection about other insurrectionists. Collecting their recordings of events may be necessary to fill certain gaps within the government’s own evidence of the attack.

The court filings for Christopher Quaglin shows the significance of two of those gaps. They show how the failure to outfit the Capitol Police with Body Worn Cameras means there’s lower quality evidence for assaults on them than on DC cops, who wear BWCs. The Quaglin filings also show the limits of the Facebook and Google GeoFence warrants that have gotten a lot of attention.

Capitol Police weren’t protected by Body Worn Cameras

Quaglin was originally arrested on probable cause of assault, resisting cops during a civil disorder, and obstruction of the vote count — not the two trespassing charges charged against almost all defendants.

He’s actually accused of two sets of assaults. First, starting at 1:36, he yelled at some DC Metropolitan Police Department officers guarding one of the barriers. Then, before 2:40, he allegedly started shoving Capitol Police officers guarding the Lower West Terrace. Later, filings against him allege, he sprayed officers from both agencies guarding the Lower West Terrace tunnel with pepper spray.

In other words, he was such a prolific brute, he allegedly assaulted both MPD and CP officers in at least two different places, both outside the building and inside the Tunnel on the Lower West Terrace.

The narrative of the first assaults in his arrest affidavit switches from sourcing to MPD Body Worn Cameras to what those initial filings call Capitol Police surveillance footage.

For some of the interactions, the FBI admits that the evidence is inconclusive (here, whether after Quaglin pushed an unidentified CP officer he or she fell down).

In a subsequent USCP surveillance footage, QUAGLIN walks through the crowd and approaches the USCP Officers located at the police line. QUAGLIN then begins to verbally engage a USCP Officer. QUAGLIN continues to get closer to the USCP Officer while appearing increasingly agitated and pointing his finger towards USCP Officer. QUAGLIN then proceeds to hold and push USCP Officer by the neck, which appeared to contribute to USCP Officer starting to fall. (Note: Due to obstructions in the view of this portion of the event, it is unclear to the affiant whether USCP Officer completed the fall). A still from this video is shown below with a red arrow above QUAGLIN.

In a filing last night, the government described what previously had been called CP “surveillance video” as, “a video of the crowd believed to taken by a USCP officer around 2:14 p.m.” The other “surveillance video” is similarly described as video believed to be taken by USCP officers. In other words, for interactions like this one — where Quaglin shoves a Capitol Police officer — the FBI can’t say whether the cop falls as a result, because the evidence comes from someone generally filming the crowd rather than a BWC on the assaulted officer’s person.

At other times, these filings rely on fairly distant MPD BWC footage of assaults on CP officers.

Then, around 2:34 p.m., as captured on BWC footage, an unidentified rioter pushes down a USCP officer. Another officer steps in front of the fallen officer. QUAGLIN can then be seen lunging forward and pushing that officer down. Multiple officers then drop their shields as they begin to retreat backwards. QUAGLIN and other unidentified individuals can then be seen picking up the shields and passing them backwards, as captured in the stills below with a red box around QUAGLIN.

Compare that with the clear image, from a BWC video worn by an MPD officer,  showing him at the front of the pack mobbing the tunnel.

And here’s the MPD BWC still from which the FBI IDed what Quaglin was spraying.

The BOLO image that an acquaintance of Quaglin cited as one of the things — but not the primary thing — that placed Quaglin at the insurrection also came from a BWC.

Among the weaknesses in Capitol security that General Russel Honoré’s Capitol Security Review described was that BWCs were not, on January 6, part of Capitol Police gear on the day of the attack.

We also recommend the USCP be equipped with Body-Worn Cameras (BWC), an item not currently in their inventory, to improve police accountability and protect officers from false accusations of misconduct. BWC also provide visual and audio evidence that can independently verify what happened in any given situation, leading to better investigations and prosecutions when needed.

The Quaglin filings show pretty clearly how much easier it is to reconstruct some attacks on MDP officers than CP officers because of the differential equipment (though for some reason, later interactions with MDP officers inside the tunnel are sourced to two videos sourced to YouTubes posted to the Internet).

The real risks of such gaps are made clear by the filings against the men alleged to have sprayed Brian Sicknick with bear (not pepper) spray that may have contributed to his death. As with Quaglin’s alleged assaults, the evidence consists of fairly direct BWC (in this case from a named officer standing next to Sicknick and the other officers affected).

But to see what happened to Sicknick himself, you have to refer to “surveillance” video that happened to pick up the after-effect of the attack.

It’s no wonder it took so long to identify what happened to Sicknick: the government had to rely on other video to understand what had happened to him. These and other filings make it clear that CPD’s lack of BWCs has created key gaps in the understanding of what happened on January 6.

The limits of the Facebook and Google GeoFence warrants

As noted above, one of two Quaglin tipsters learned of his presence at the Capitol via several means, including the BOLO based off a MDP BWC.

But that tipster — and another anonymous one who contacted the FBI even earlier — also pointed to some livestreaming that Quaglin did of his participation. In addition to videos taken from his hotel after the event, an anonymous tipster shared and the acquaintance confirmed viewing a video of Quaglin approaching the Capitol and chanting Proud Boy slogans.

Law enforcement received a tip from an anonymous source providing four “Live” videos recorded from a Facebook account with the vanity name “Chris Trump.” The videos did not list the URL of the Facebook account or the official user name. (A Facebook user can display a vanity name that is different than their official user name and a Facebook user can change their vanity name without changing the official user name.) Each video was a selfie-style video showing an individual identified by the anonymous tipster as “Christopher QUAGLIN, NJ. Extremist.” In one of the Live videos provided by the tipster, QUAGLIN, as shown in the still below, can be seen walking towards the Capitol in the same outfit that QUAGLIN is seen wearing in the footage described above and holding a gas mask. QUAGLIN states “Trump is speaking and everyone is walking there. And I am walking there [showing Capitol building to camera]. And I am ready [showing gas mask in hand]. We will see how it goes. Proud of your boy.”

[snip]

In addition, law enforcement interviewed a witness, Witness 1, who has known QUAGLIN for years, although Witness 1 had not seen him in person for several years. Witness 1 has followed and corresponded with QUAGLIN on social media for years. Witness 1 saw QUAGLIN’s Live videos on January 6, 2021 on his account with the vanity name “Chris Trump.” Witness 1 confirmed that the Live videos described above are some of the same videos Witness 1 saw on January 6, 2021 and that those videos all show QUAGLIN. Witness 1 also stated that he/she saw a photograph that the FBI had published seeking additional information from the public and that he recognized that individual as QUAGLIN. (The photograph, “Photograph 58 AFO” below, was taken from BWC footage described in paragraph 40 above.)2

Witness 1 noted that QUAGLIN used multiple accounts on Facebook and Instagram and was frequently been banned for inflammatory posts online. Witness 1 indicated that QUAGLIN frequently posted on his social media accounts about the 2020 Presidential election, about going to the Capitol on January 6, 2021, and pictures of firearms. Many of QUAGLIN’s posts were deleted on January 7, 2021. Witness 1 indicated that QUAGLIN posted multiple pictures of himself prior to the January 6, 2021 events where he was visible with a beard and consistent in appearance with the “Photograph 58-AFO.”

As I’ve described elsewhere, the government asked Facebook for information on everyone who livestreamed or uploaded video from the Capitol itself, and then they IDed the person who uploaded the video from the subscriber information.

The government received information as part of a search warrant return that Facebook UID 100047172724820 was livestreaming video in the Capitol during these events. The government also received subscriber information for Facebook UID 100047172724820 in response to legal process served on Facebook. Facebook UID 100047172724820 is registered to Chris Spencer (“SPENCER”). SPENCER provided subscriber information, including a date of birth; current city/state, and a phone number to Facebook to create the account. [my emphasis]

A recent arrest affidavit makes it clear that FBI obtained this warrant on January 11.

On January 11, 2021, a search warrant was served upon Facebook to identify Facebook accounts utilized to live stream video in a geographic area that included the interior of the United States Capitol building. One such account identified by Facebook was Facebook user ID 100009155779709, an account in the name of “Michael Joseph.”

But there’s good reason to believe that FBI obtained a preservation order on everything uploaded from the Capitol earlier than that, probably within a day.

As yesterday’s filing makes clear, Quaglin deleted his videos before the FBI could collect them directly from Facebook, even though they served warrants on his accounts to Facebook.

(Because the related social media account was deleted shortly afterwards, law enforcement was not able to determine the exact time this video was recorded, although it would have been presumably before he reached the line and was captured on the BWC in Exhibit A.)

More importantly, by description, he did no livestreaming from the Capitol (he was too busy fighting with cops). That’s the right choice from a civil liberties perspective; livestreaming from the Mall or a nearby hotel room is not proof a crime. But in this case, it likely permitted the destruction of evidence pertaining to how closely Quaglin coordinated his efforts — including sustained assaults on cops — with the Proud Boys.

The FBI got a ton of inculpatory evidence from a Facebook warrant. They even got the message on one social media account recording his deletion of the one he used to livestream that day.

A message sent on January 7, 2021 indicating that he had deleted his other account; and

But did not get those livestreams (or anything else he posted on that alternative account).

Likewise, a warrant to Google showed Quaglin in DC, but location data does not place him at the Capitol.

Google location data places the phone belonging to QUAGLIN in and around Washington, D.C. from January 5-7; specifically, at the Motto Hotel, at the Washington Monument, and at the United States Capitol. On January 5, 2021, QUAGLIN conducted multiple searches for “Motto by Hilton Washington DC City Center” and pulled up driving directions for two Chick-fil-A restaurants in Northeast Washington, D.C. On January 6, 2021 Quaglin conducted multiple Google Maps queries for areas near the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

There are many possible explanations for this: He never entered that far into the Capitol, so he may never have been included in the Google GeoFence at all. But given the mob of people inside that tunnel, it’s also likely that cell service (if Quaglin’s phone was on at all) was really overloaded.

That said, Quaglin’s Google searches do show that he was monitoring the news for references to himself.

QUAGLIN’s Google account history shows multiple Google searches indicating his involvement in the storming of the Capitol. For example, on January 8, 2021, it includes multiple searches for “guy gets bear sprayed at capital.” On January 20, 2021 QUAGLIN’s Google account history shows visits to a webpage titled, “Countries where you can buy citizenship, residency, or passport.” QUAGLIN’s Google account history shows eight visits to the FBI’s “seeking information” for Capitol violence between January 28, 2021 and January 31, 2021. Further, a review of QUAGLIN’s Gmail accounts show multiple purchase notifications from a Costco credit card in Washington, D.C. — specifically, multiple charges at the Motto Hotel on January 5, 2021, multiple charges at a Walgreens convenience store at 801 7th St NW, Washington, D.C. on January 6, 2021, and $128.80 spent at China Town Liquor in Washington, D.C. on January 7, 2021 – both businesses that are a short walking distance from the Motto Hotel.

There’s still a ton of evidence against Quaglin. But the video evidence of his multiple alleged assaults on cops are not terrifically clear (and thus far, they haven’t been IDed by name as some of the other officers assaulted have been). And the government has thus far barely mentioned Quaglin’s association with the Proud Boys, even though Ethan Nordean has pointed to his filing to suggest his attempts to hold off Quaglin’s assaults prove he wasn’t a leader of this riot. Nordean disclaims knowing Quaglin.

The January 6 insurrection was one of the most filmed events in history. It was tracked in damning detail across a range of social media platforms.

But even with a notably dressed, prolific user of social media like Quaglin there are gaps in that panopticon.

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