Where to Look (or Not) for Signs of Life in Rule of Law

According to the court schedule for this week, January 6 defendants Stacie and John Getsinger will plead guilty on Thursday, no doubt to misdemeanor trespassing. On the surface, their guilty plea will likely resemble those of the dozens of other January 6 misdemeanor pleas that have gone before them, and that may be all it is.

But, along with a handful of others (Adam Johnson and Justin McAuliffe, who both pled guilty last week, are two other examples), these pleas may hint at what kind of larger underlying case DOJ is building. That’s because the Getsingers are witnesses to an important detail about the way January 6 worked: that Alex Jones, whom Trump had put in charge of leading mobs to the Capitol, likewise induced them to go to the top of the East steps of the Capitol with a lie, the false claim that Trump would be speaking there. That’s what led a couple like the Getsingers, who otherwise would never have entered the Capitol, to do so.

This comes even as InfoWars personality Owen Shroyer’s attempts to dodge his own legal accountability have brought more focus on Jones’ actions, described as Person One in DOJ’s opposition to Shroyer’s attempt to dismiss his indictment.

When the body-camera individual asked if he could get Person One there, the officer stated, “Through the hole that you guys breached right there” (emphasis added). When the body-camera individual responded that he didn’t breach anything, the officer retorted, “Well, the whole group that was with you guys.” The officer then pointed again away from the Capitol Building toward the northeast, telling them to leave through the same hole he had just said other rioters had breached. An officer surrounded by people illegally on the Capitol Grounds dismissively waving them away from the Capitol Building and toward another area hundreds of others had already illegally breached does not amount to “telling [the defendant] that … police officers could use his help.”

[snip]

[T]he defendant forced his way to the top of Capitol Building’s east steps with Person One and others and led hundreds of other rioters in multiple “USA!” and “1776!” chants with his megaphone. Harkening to the last time Americans overthrew their government in a revolution while standing on the Capitol steps where elected representatives are certifying a Presidential Election you disagree with does not qualify as deescalation.

[snip]

The video shows the defendant on an elevated platform leading chants with his megaphone on the Capitol Grounds before his first interaction with law enforcement officers; it shows the body-camera individual repeatedly (and unsuccessfully) try to get Person One on the Capitol steps; it shows evidence that the defendant reasonably should have known he was somewhere he was not supposed to be, including by stepping near moved barriers and downed signs; and it shows officers repeatedly refer to the defendant’s group as part of the problem and the “breaches” of various police lines. In fact, at the end of the video, the body-camera individual took matters into his own hands after facing multiple rejections for permission. He turned to the group and asked, “Just get him up there? … But we know we might catch a bang or two.” That is not evidence that the defendant received explicit or implicit permission to go onto the Capitol steps. That is evidence that the defendant is guilty of the crimes he is charged with.

Every single time that Merrick Garland has been asked about the scope of the January 6 investigation, he has said his DOJ will follow the evidence where it leads. These details are tidbits of the evidence in question, visible tidbits that would be largely meaningless unless you understood how the Oath Keepers, Joe Biggs, and his former employer all converged on those East doors just before they were opened from inside.

None of these details — and others like them, such as Johnson’s description of the crowd’s response to Rudy Giuliani and Mo Brooks’ calls for violence — guarantee that Rudy and Brooks will be held responsible.

At the rally, JOHNSON listened to several speeches, including by former President Trump, Rudy Giuliani, and an unknown older member of Congress–the latter of whom JOHNSON heard stating that it was time for action and violence. In response to these comments, JOHNSON saw members of the crowd nodding their heads in agreement.

But if you don’t know these details, you don’t know even what is publicly available about the investigation.

I respect David Rothkopf. I share his concerns about the threat Trump poses to US democracy and the limited time before Republicans likely take control of the House and shut down efforts to guard democracy in the US.

But unlike him I know that the place to learn about DOJ’s January 6 investigation is not by asking Harry Litman or Barb McQuade or AG Gill or Lawrence Tribe or even Dahlia Lithwick — all of whom I respect greatly — how they feel about the general direction of the investigation, but instead to look at the actual records or reading the reports of people actually covering hearings, such as this crucial Josh Gerstein story about how prosecutors responded when Judge Carl Nichols (the former Clarence Thomas clerk who happens to be presiding over Steve Bannon’s case) asked if someone who did what Trump did could be charged with the same obstruction charge DOJ is using with the more serious defendants.

At a hearing on Monday for defendant Garret Miller of Richardson, Texas, Nichols made the first move toward a Trump analogy by asking a prosecutor whether the obstruction statute could have been violated by someone who simply “called Vice President Pence to seek to have him adjudge the certification in a particular way.” The judge also asked the prosecutor to assume the person trying to persuade Pence had the “appropriate mens rea,” or guilty mind, to be responsible for a crime.

Nichols made no specific mention of Trump, who appointed him to the bench, but the then-president was publicly and privately pressuring Pence in the days before the fateful Jan. 6 tally to decline to certify Joe Biden’s victory. Trump also enlisted other allies, including attorney John Eastman, to lean on Pence.

An attorney with the Justice Department Criminal Division, James Pearce, initially seemed to dismiss the idea that merely lobbying Pence to refuse to recognize the electoral result would amount to the crime of obstructing or attempting to obstruct an official proceeding.

“I don’t see how that gets you that,” Pearce told the judge.

However, Pearce quickly added that it might well be a crime if the person reaching out to Pence knew the vice president had an obligation under the Constitution to recognize the result.

“If that person does that knowing it is not an available argument [and is] asking the vice president to do something the individual knows is wrongful … one of the definitions of ‘corruptly’ is trying to get someone to violate a legal duty,” Pearce said.

I can’t tell you whether DOJ will get much further up the chain of responsibility for January 6; part of that necessarily depends on DOJ’s success at obtaining cooperation, of which only that of Oath Keepers has DOJ thus far disclosed. I can’t tell you what DOJ is doing behind the scenes in what Garland describes as “following the money.”

But I can tell you that columns like Rothkopf’s, which complain that Garland’s DOJ is not doing enough to hold Trump accountable while ignoring cases like the Tom Barrack prosecution and the Rudy Giuliani investigation that provide concrete evidence about the kinds of investigative steps Garland’s DOJ has been willing to pursue (the Rudy raid was likely among Lisa Monaco’s first major decisions), likely don’t make it any more likely that Garland will be able to act against the masterminds of January 6 any sooner.

A far better use of Rothkopf’s time and space than bitching that Garland has authorized John Durham’s funding request, for example …

We have seen that Garland is letting the highly politicized investigation of special prosecutor John Durham into the conduct of the Trump-Russia investigation continue (by continuing its funding). We therefore have the real prospect that those who sought to look into the Trump-Russia ties that both Mueller and Congressional investigations have demonstrated were real, unprecedented and dangerous might be prosecuted while those who actively sought the help of a foreign enemy to win an election will not be.

… Would be to ask Harry Litman and Barb McQuade and AG Gill and Lawrence Tribe and Dahlia Lithwick about the specific things that Durham has done — like failing to cut-and-paste with fidelity, relying on a Twitter feed for a key factual assertion, and using materiality arguments to skirt DOJ’s prohibition on publicly commenting on uncharged conduct — that put his prosecutions in violation of DOJ guidelines. Such questions would be readily accessible to all by reading just two indictments (as compared to the full dockets of 675 charged January 6 defendants), it would draw on the considerable expertise of the prosecutors he cited, and it might do something concrete to give Garland the political support he would need to force Durham to hew to DOJ guidelines.

Importantly, it may not be possible for DOJ to move quickly enough against Trump without violating due process (just as one example, the Project Veritas investigation could lead to incredibly damaging revelations about political spying targeting the Biden family, but it’s not entirely clear DOJ respected First Amendment protections).

Which means those with a platform would be better off defending the rule of law — selling independents and moderate Republicans on the import of the January 6 investigation — than whining that it is not working quickly enough.

Update: In his piece, Rothkopf complains, as well, that the only visible investigation into the people around Trump is coming from the January 6 Commission, not DOJ.

More troubling to me though is that the only reason we are hearing of any case being brought against Bannon as a senior coup plotter (or upper middle management in any case) is because Congress is investigating the events of Jan. 6. We have not heard a peep out of the Department of Justice about prosecuting those responsible for inciting, planning or funding the effort to undo the lawful transfer of presidential power to the man the American people elected, Joe Biden.

This morning, Adam Schiff went on CNN. Dana Bash asked him about Judge Amit Mehta’s focus on Donald Trump’s role in the insurrection in a sentencing last week. In response, Schiff described that, “I am concerned that there does not appear to be an investigation, unless it’s being done very quietly” into Trump’s call to Brad Raffensperger to demand he come up with just enough votes for Trump to win the state. But Schiff noted that, “this is not January 6 related — specifically, at least, to the violence of that day.”

Then Bash asked whether Schiff was saying he wanted Biden’s DOJ to be more aggressive. Schiff did not answer “yes.” Instead, he responded to a question about DOJ by talking about the January 6 Commission’s role in holding people accountable.

We are now trying to expose the full facts of the former President’s misconduct, as well as those around him. It is certainly possible that what we reveal in our investigation will inform the Justice Department of other facts that they may not yet be aware of yet. And so we will pursue our role in this, which is to expose the malefactors, to bring about legislation as a result of our investigation, to protect the country. But we will count on the Justice Department to play its role.

That is, when Bash asked specifically if DOJ was being aggressive enough on January 6, Schiff implied that the January 6 Commission played a key role in their efforts.

This is something that has not gotten enough attention: Even if DOJ didn’t ask, the Jan 6 Commission would refer people for any crimes they discovered, as SSCI and HPSCI both referred people to Mueller for lying, lies that led to the prosecution and cooperation of (at least) Michael Cohen and Sam Patten. Schiff knows better than anyone that HPSCI’s investigation was critical to the prosecution of Roger Stone. I also suspect that Steve Bannon’s transcripts were important preparation for Bannon’s grand jury appearance in January 2019, because they laid out the script that the White House had given to him for his testimony. I further suspect that SSCI obtained — and then shared — testimony from certain witnesses that Mueller could not otherwise get.

Trump’s pseudo-cooperation with the Mueller investigation, waiving privilege for the investigation but not any prosecution, likely was one hinderance to holding him accountable. And on this investigation, DOJ would be even more constrained, because it could face Executive Privilege claims and definitely would face Speech and Debate protections.

There has been almost no discussion of how closely Bennie Thompson and Liz Cheney are working with DOJ to ensure that the Jan 6 Commission doesn’t impede DOJ’s Jan 6 investigation, but it must be happening.

Similarly, there has been no discussion of obvious witnesses that the Jan 6 Commission has not (yet) subpoenaed, such as Lin Wood or Rudy Giuliani, the latter of whom DOJ seized phones from in another investigation in April.

Finally, there has been little discussion of how DOJ moved to have Executive Privilege waived for Congress just as the Jan 6 Commission got up and running.

DOJ only released its new contact policy — under which the request for a privilege determination may have been passed — on July 21. I’m curious whether the request for a  waiver of executive privilege waiver came after that. Executive privilege considerations were a key limitation on the Mueller investigation overseen in its final days partly by Rosen himself.

At least as interesting, however, is that DOJ sent the letter just one day before DOJ submitted a court filing in the Eric Swalwell lawsuit — speaking of members of Congress but using more generalized language — arguing that no federal officials can campaign in their official capacity and further noting that attacking one’s employer is not within the scope of someone’s job description.

DOJ is using that same waived privilege for the documents responsive to the Jan 6 Commission requests at the National Archive.

That is, DOJ is supporting the efforts of a co-equal branch of government to obtain testimony and records that that co-equal branch of government has a broader claim to than DOJ itself.

And Schiff, who understands better than anyone how HPSCI and DOJ worked together on the Stone prosecution, described, after first answering a question that he distinguished from January 6, then addressing January 6 directly by saying that “our role in this[] is to expose the malefactors,” and “we will count on the Justice Department to play its role” if and when the Commission “inform[s] the Justice Department of other facts that they may not yet be aware of yet.”

Yes, the January 6 Commission has a very short window in which to work. Yes, Congress is taking steps that DOJ does not appear to be taking. But that doesn’t mean that DOJ is not obtaining that evidence.

Photo: Pavan Trikutam via Unsplash

Burners, Burning: The Heat’s Turned up on Mark Meadows [UPDATE-1]

[NB: Check the byline, thanks. Updates appear at the bottom of this post. /~Rayne]

Well, well, well. According to Hunter Walker in a fresh report at Rolling Stone, Kremer the Younger bought burner phones to use when communicating with key persons attached to the White House.

In the thread attached to my last post, a community member commented about the Kremers saying,

… Only if they knew Trump’s plans, the Kremers might be guilty of conspiracy. …

They didn’t need to know Trump’s plans, though. They only needed to understand part of one or more of the conspiracies and then take some action to further that conspiracy.

Like this:

… Kylie Kremer, a top official in the “March for Trump” group that helped plan the Ellipse rally, directed an aide to pick up three burner phones days before Jan. 6, according to three sources who were involved in the event. One of the sources, a member of the “March for Trump” team, says Kremer insisted the phones be purchased using cash and described this as being “of the utmost importance.”

The three sources said Kylie Kremer took one of the phones and used it to communicate with top White House and Trump campaign officials, including Eric Trump, the president’s second-oldest son, who leads the family’s real-estate business; Lara Trump, Eric’s wife and a former senior Trump campaign consultant; Mark Meadows, the former White House chief of staff; and Katrina Pierson, a Trump surrogate and campaign consultant. …

Sending someone who isn’t a Kremer to buy a burner phone with cash to evade tracing suggests Kylie Kremer knew exactly what the role of her organization, Women to Save America First, was within the framework of the insurrection.

If this was a legitimate effort to work with the Trump campaign using dedicated communications for easier access, why the skulkery of a third person using cash buying a burner? Why not use a dedicated VoIP number to contact a communications person in the Trump campaign?

Or a no-contract phone purchased with a credit card? Or an additional number added to an existing cell phone contract?

Why was Meadows involved in any way given his role as the Chief of Staff, which should have been wholly separate from any campaign-related effort?

Whether Meadows interacted with Kremers or other members of the conspiracy as COS (a Hatch Act violation) or as a campaign member (not shielded as executive acts), he’s thoroughly shot through any claim to immunity or privilege.

The existence of burner phones used to contact persons in the White House certainly expands the import of this graf from the House January 6 Committee’s letter to Meadow’s attorney after Meadows’ refused to comply with the committee’s subpoena:

… In addition, Mr. Meadows has not produced even a single document in response to the Select Committee’s subpoena. Although you previously indicated that your firm was searching records that Mr. Meadows provided to you, more than enough time has passed for you to complete your review. Please immediately inform the Select Committee whether Mr. Meadows has any records responsive to the subpoena. Your search for responsive records should include (but not be limited to) any text messages, emails, or application-based messages associated with the cellular phone numbers and private email address the Select Committee has identified. If Mr. Meadows has records that you believe are protected by some form of privilege, you must provide the Select Committee a log describing each such record and the basis for the privilege asserted. …

Emphasis mine. Were any burner phones among those cellular phone numbers requested? Has geo-fencing been used to narrow down where those phones were during the lead up to and on January 6?

We don’t know yet. I suspect we’ll find out more in the not too distant future.

The purchase of the burner phones, though, look like an overt act to advance a conspiracy (18 USC 371).

Sure hope both of the Kremers as well as the aide who was asked to buy the burners, the third team member who received a burner phone, and Meadows all realize this is only getting worse for them.

Same for the Trump family members Eric and Lara who must be getting a little itchy after Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen resurfaced.

Especially for Meadows if he continues to blow off Congress with his refusal to comply with the January 6 Committee’s subpoena; it won’t be just contempt of Congress (two counts under 2 USC 192) with which he may be charged and prosecuted.

Hello, 18 USC 1505 otherwise known as Obstruction of proceedings before departments, agencies, and committees.

Perhaps with a domestic terror enhancement?

~ ~ ~

UPDATE-1 — 11:45 A.M. 25-NOV-2021 —

LOL Really? Eric’s going to try to SLAPP suit people in small outlets who don’t report the burner phones Kylie Kremer asked an aide to purchase may have been used to call him and Lara?

I love the smell of discovery in the morning!!

False Identifications and Two Delayed Arrests: Jeremy Baouche and Mark Mazza

The pace of the January 6 arrests finally slowed considerably, presumably as DOJ finishes working through the arrests of trespassers whose phone they need for evidence against more serious defendants.

But two recent arrests, those of Jeremy Baouche and Mark Mazza, show that DOJ is also only getting around to suspects of more interest, but about whom the investigation faced early hiccups.

Jeremy Baouche

The FBI first got Jeremy Baouche’s name when several people falsely IDed him in this BOLO poster in mid-January, as well as a tip that may or may not have been a response to the poster that revealed that he worked at General Dynamics Electric Boat. Apparently based off those tips, the FBI attempted to interview him on January 20, but once he heard the FBI agents want to talk about January 6, he (wisely) refused to say anything without an attorney.

But as a result of those investigative steps into multiple tips misidentifying Baouche, the government got information from Baouche’s employer — through whom he has a Secret security clearance — showing him conducting alarming searches on his work computer in the weeks leading up to the riot.

On January 22, 2021,JEREMY K BAOUCHE’s employer, Electric Boat (a Department of Defense Contractor), voluntarily provided TFO Carter with an internet search history from BAOUCHE’s work computer from December 1, 2020, until January 20, 2021. They also provided the security banner that all employees see when they use a computer at Electric Boat that states it is subject to search by the employer. In BAOUCHE’s search history there were searches on topics including the inauguration, the U.S. Capitol building layout, guns, rifle scopes, lasers, Trump protests, FBI Capitol, and searches for jobs in the western U.S. It should be noted that BAOUCHE has a secret security clearance as part of his employment.

The affidavit doesn’t say whether the inquiries by the FBI led Electric Boat to look more closely and offer this up or whether the FBI asked for it.

At some point, the FBI obtained the Google GeoFence location for Baouche, showing his movements outside and then inside the building.

That alerted the FBI which videos to check, and from that, they found a picture of Baouche inside the Capitol that matched what he was wearing in a picture — they include this without explanation — “in a social media post standing with Roger Stone on January 5, 2021.”

On March 1, Grayson Sherrill, was arrested (he was identified by his family members). He was one of the guys shown in the BOLO mistakenly identified as Baouche. On March 16, Elliot Bishai, the guy confused with Baouche, was arrested. But by that point, the FBI had already confirmed that Baouche had also attended the riot, and so, after what started as misidentifications, he would end up being arrested himself.

On April 30, one of Baouche’s co-workers not only identified him from a surveillance video still showing him, but also described that he always cuffs his pants. One of the FBI agents who had tried to interview Baouche had noted that his pants were cuffed. The same witness described that Baouche had lied about why he took off from work on January 5 and 6, claiming he was going fishing with his grandfather in January.

W-2 then said he recalled BAOUCHE taking off January 5, 2021 and January 6, 2021. W-2 said that BAOUCHE told him he was going fishing with his grandfather. W-2 said he thought this was strange to go fishing with a grandfather in January, but then thought maybe it was ice fishing.

In August, FBI obtained the full report from the warrant on Baouche’s Google account. The arrest affidavit describes evidence corroborating that Baouche traveled to DC.

On approximately August 4, 2021, TFO Banwell completed a review of the Cellbrite report from the BAOUCHE Google search warrant which was submitted in this investigation. TFO Banwell reviewed the material provided from Google from November 2020 until June 2021.

Information obtained through Google on BAOUCHE’S account includes videos that appear to be taken from his phone from inside and outside of the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, and photos of him with location data in Washington, D.C. on January 5, 2021. Also found was an email confirmation of a motel reservation in the name of JEREMY BAOUCHE for the Red Roof Inn Plus, in Washington, D.C. with check in on January 5, 2021 and check out on January 6, 2021. Furthert [sic] investigation revealed that BAOUCHE purchased a Pro-megaphone rechargeable battery and Pyle megaphone 50-watt siren bullhorn speaker with detachable microphone and lightweight strap sometime between November 22, 2020 and December 26, 2020,. The description matches the bullhorn BAOUCHE was seen carrying inside the Capitol.

But the arrest affidavit doesn’t explain whether Baouche conducted similarly alarming searches from his own computer.

It’s unclear whether there’s more to Baouche’s searches, his bullhorn purchase by Christmas, the two people who accompanied him to the riot, or his picture with Roger Stone. But what started as a mistake turned ultimately led to his arrest.

Mark Mazza

The FBI first identified Mazza on January 28 after the ATF alerted them that a gun that had been seized when it fell out of the waistband of a person who was fighting with cops on January 6 had been reported stolen by Mazza.

Mazza had claimed that the gun was stolen from a rental car in the parking lot of the Hard Rock Casino in Cincinnati sometime on January 6, after which, Mazza falsely told local cops, he returned to his home Indiana. But a location warrant obtained on Mazza’s phone in February showed that he had in fact driven through Ohio to DC for the riot. And a public review of Mazza’s Twitter account showed that he had replied to Don Jr and others linking a video from the riot.

A search warrant served on Twitter (the arrest affidavit doesn’t reveal its date) yielded selfies from the riot, as well.

On March 25, the FBI interviewed Mazza on his front porch in Shelbyville, IN. He admitted he had been at the riot and provided some details loosely resembling what video analysis would later show. But he claimed he had lost the gun while in the Lower West Tunnel, where video evidence placed him after the gun had already seized by the cop. And he denied assaulting any cop, even though video evidence showed someone believed to be him fighting with cops, armed with a baton. He also suggested that had he seen Nancy Pelosi that day he might have done something that would have gotten him arrested a lot quicker.

MAZZA was asked “Is there anything you told us that you want to change or add to?” MAZZA replied “It was cold as hell that day, that whole three days. … never did get to talk to Nancy … I thought Nan and I would hit it off.” And “I was glad I didn’t because you’d be here for another reason and I told my kids that if they show up, I’m surrendering, nope, they can have me, because I may go down as a hero.” MAZZA further stated that, “If you do have to come back and take me, put me in a fed. … I just want three squares and a nice clean room, someone takes care of my health care and I’m good.”

The arrest affidavit makes clear that when Mazza first entered the Tunnel on January 6, he wore a scarf that obscured his face.

And the affidavit suggests that he later used his baton to protect Michael Fanone and another officer after they got dragged into the crowd.

But it still took almost eight months after that interview before the FBI arrested Mazza, and as the affidavit notes, they’re still not sure whether he was the guy who was fighting with a cop when the gun fell out of the waistband.

It’s an example of something I’ve written about before: one reason so many Jan 6ers are being prosecuted for assault is because there’s video evidence. But in the case of the person who was fighting with a cop when Mazza’s gun dropped from that person’s waistband, there appears to be no official video, and the cop in questioned IDed someone else as his assailant. So thus far, at least, Mazza wasn’t charged for that assault.

Mark, Mark, Mark!: No Wonder Meadows Balked at House Subpoena

[NB: Check the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

This isn’t going to be everybody’s cup of tea, but I couldn’t help think of this dubstep mix by Massachusetts artist ZMcD titled Mark Mark Mark.

It popped into my head while reading Hunter Walker’s latest piece in Rolling Stone, Leaked Texts: Jan. 6 Organizers Say They Were ‘Following POTUS’ Lead’.

Apparently there are text messages from the rally organizers Amy Kremer, Women For America First’s chair, and Kylie Jane Kremer, WAF’s executive director, which are incriminating:

… Two sources who were involved in planning the Ellipse rally previously told Rolling Stone they had extensive interactions with members of Trump’s team, including former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. The text messages provide a deeper understanding of what that cooperation entailed, including an in-person meeting at the White House. Rally organizers also described working with Trump’s team to announce the event, promote it, and grant access to VIP guests. A spokesperson for the former president did not respond to a request for comment on the record. …

Oh Mark, Mark, Mark!

No wonder he’s dragging his butt submitting to the House January 6 Committee’s subpoena.

… Two days later, Kremer texted some of the organizers to let them know she was temporarily getting off the bus to travel to Washington for a White House meeting.

“For those of you that weren’t aware, I have jumped off the tour for the night and am headed to DC. I have a mtg at the WH tomorrow afternoon and then will be back tomorrow night,” wrote Kremer. “Rest well. I’ll make sure the President knows about the tour tomorrow!”

The message describing Kremer’s White House meeting is one of several where she and Kylie, indicated they were in communication with Trump’s team. …

Kremer sent that text on November 30, 2020 about a December 1 meeting at the White House.

Six weeks later Kremer would be ordering appetizers and dinner at the Willard Intercontinental Hotel while insurrectionists continued to riot inside the Capitol Building. Mark Meadows will likely know this if he was copied in a group message sent by March to Save America/Women for America First rally organizers.

No wonder the committee and the House hasn’t yet voted to hold Meadows in contempt, sending him a tautly worded letter when he refused to comply.

This is Meadow’s chance to save his behind by looking into immunity because these text messages can’t shed a good light on him.

Perhaps he should call former Nixon White House counsel John Dean about this (what a pity he can’t call Jeb Stuart Magruder who like Dean was granted limited immunity for his cooperation during the Watergate investigation).

No matter whether he calls Dean or not, I sure hope Meadows has lawyered up.

And I sure hope he’s thought good and hard whether that slack-bottomed chronic golf cheat is worth his time and effort.

I certainly wouldn’t put faith in the support of the Kremers, as text messages indicate one of them got sloshed the evening of January 6, locked herself in a bathroom and then begged to be rescued in the early morning January 7.

Kevin Fairlamb and Jacob Chansley Sentences Affirm Judicial Legitimacy

Today, Judge Royce Lamberth sentenced Jacob Chansley, the QAnon Shaman, to 41 months of prison for obstructing the vote certification on January 6. The sentence comes a week after Lamberth sentenced Kevin Fairlamb to the same 41 month sentence; Fairlamb pled guilty to both obstructing the vote and assault, for punching a cop.

Here’s my livethread of the Fairlamb sentencing. Here’s my livethread of the Chansley sentencing.

Whatever you think of these sentences, there were some themes from both worth taking away.

First, the defense attorneys in both cases spoke at length about how honorably the AUSAs on the case — Leslie Goemaat for Fairlamb, and Kimberly Paschall for Chansley — had acted throughout the prosecution. “The decency of prosecutors like this serve only to elevate the entire criminal justice system,” Fairlamb’s lawyer, Harley Breite stated. Chansley’s lawyer, Al Watkins, welcomed of Kimberly Paschall’s ability to see Chansley as an indivdiual. (Chansley also thanked Lamberth for ensuring he’d have access to organic food in accordance with his shamanic faith.)

In both cases, the defendant spoke about the legitimacy of Lamberth’s judgment. While both claimed they had come to see the error of the ways in pretrial detention, they nevertheless acknowledged that if Lamberth saw fit to send them to prison, they accepted his judgment. “I could not have asked god for a better judge, to judge my character, this is a wise man, who’s going to be impartial, going to be fair,” Chansley said of the judge who had repeatedly deemed him unsafe to release. “I just hope you show some mercy on me, Sir,” Fairlamb said.

In both cases, Lamberth — a Reagan appointee whose past notably independent decisions include presiding over much of the litigation over a Native American Trust lawsuit, Cobell, as well as some of the first rulings to rein in the Executive’s FISA demands — seemed moved by the men’s remorse. In both, he considered but rejected a below guidelines sentence (for both men, the guidelines range was 41 to 51 months). In both cases, he sentenced them men to the guidelines sentence, albeit the lowest one, because of the severity of their actions. “It’s such a serious offense under those circumstances,” Lamberth said of Fairlamb’s actions that day, “an affront to society and the law to have the Capitol overrun and this riot stop the whole functioning of government. I cannot give a below guidelines sentence.” With Chansley, Lamberth similarly judged, “The basic problem I have with a departure downward, what you did here was horrific, as you now concede, and obstructing the functioning of government as you did is a type of conduct that is so, uh, serious that I cannot justify downward departure.”

You may not like either of these sentences. But one thing that both did — whether motivated out of genuine remorse or as part of a cynical ploy to butter up a judge — is reaffirm the legitimacy of the judicial process. By imposing real sentences on two men he seemed to believe exhibited real remorse for their actions, Lamberth emphasized how serious the January 6 attack was. Both these men recognized their actions as crimes. Both recognized the legitimacy of a judge imposing sentence for it. And both defendants recognized the professionalism of those at DOJ working to prosecute the case.

Amid all the efforts to decry any effort to hold January 6 rioters accountable, those are no mean achievements.

Three Things: Ugly Goes Clean to the Bone [UPDATE-1]

[NB: As always, check the byline. Updates will appear at the bottom. Thanks. /~Rayne]

Friday we got badly wanted news; we wanted it badly enough we didn’t blink at its arrival in the late Friday afternoon news dump zone.

But it wasn’t enough. It was only the start, a mere teaser.

~ 3 ~

At 3:53 p.m. last Friday, the Department of Justice tweeted the indictment news:

The internet was paying attention:

…even if Steve Bannon hadn’t been.

Rather hubristic to carry on as if he didn’t expect to be indicted, but then many of us were beginning to think it would never happen.

Bannon is supposed to surrender himself today, which may be a bit of a circus since Bannon now has a new attorney, David Schoen. Schoen was one of Trump’s impeachment attorneys in 2020.

~ 2 ~

The well-meaning sages who insisted things were under control — it was a good sign it was taking nearly a month to indict Bannon, don’t be like deplorables, blah-blah-blah — all had their say.

But which is it?

These things just need more time because DOJ must be cautious?

Or these things just needed this one person who wasn’t approved as DC-US Attorney until October 28 and sworn in more than a week later on November 5 to do the thing — which, by the way, took one week from oath to indictment?

Because it sure looks like the entirety of the House January 6 committee’s ability to wield its inherent powers on intransigent witnesses was completely dependent on the absence/presence of a single Biden appointee which some jerk like Sen. Ted Cruz could have held up the way he is currently holding our foreign policy hostage with holds on State Department nominees.

Are we supposed to accept with a pat on our heads that our democracy yet again depended on one person’s role?

If the DC-US Attorney were to become incapacitated at any time when the January 6 committee refers a contempt charge to DOJ, are we supposed to accept the platitudes “this takes time” or “don’t be a deplorable” when nothing happens?

What kind of government continuity is this?

~ 1 ~

Which brings us to the problem of former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows who received communications both Thursday and Friday from the chair of the January 6 committee about his lack of response to a subpoena issued by the committee on September 23.

Using false or misleading claims, Meadows had attempted to spur the DOJ to investigate election fraud claims including a bizarre theory that unknown persons located in Italy used military technology and satellites to remotely switch votes from Trump to Biden. These claims were sent to then-Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen between December and January — after the 2020 election but before the January 6 insurrection.

Meadows was supposed to appear before the committee on October 15 to answer questions about these claims and his role in pushing them toward the DOJ, a week after he was supposed to have furnished documents requested by the committee in relation to these false election fraud claims.

The committee’s chair sent a letter last Thursday to Meadow’s attorney:

And on Friday the committee emphasized it’s going to use the tools available to it to obtain compliance with the subpoena — or else.


Meadow’s attorney sent a massively ballsy op-ed to the Washington Post as a rebuttal to the committee’s subpoena:

Opinion: In abandoning executive privilege, Biden rejects 200 years of history

George J. Terwilliger III is a partner at McGuireWoods LLP in Washington and previously served as deputy attorney general.

As counsel for former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, I was surprised and disappointed to receive a letter Thursday informing me that the Biden administration will be the first in history not to resist a congressional subpoena for testimony from a senior White House aide. …

WaPo treated this like any other conservative’s op-ed; no caveat this op-ed may be tampering with an investigation.

Rather interesting how Terwilliger was able to get a 789-word op-ed published at 3:30 p.m. on the same day the January 6 committee issued its letter. This isn’t the first time Terwilliger has opined in WaPo about someone involved in the January 6 insurrection though Terwilliger’s last op-ed was a defense of former AG Bill Barr’s interference in Roger Stone’s sentencing. Can’t have the GOP’s senior ratfucker excessively punished during an election season after all.

Former Nixon White House counsel John Dean didn’t think much of Terwilliger’s op-ed:


I think I’d put my money behind Dean as to which of these two attorneys has a better grasp on the limits of executive privilege.

But it gets worse for Meadows since the soon-to-be-released book about the January 6 insurrection by reporter Jonathan Karl revealed yet another memo outlining steps to effect the autogolpe overthrowing the election.

Meadows had forwarded by email to then-VP Mike Pence’s chief of staff Marc Short a memo prepared by attorney Jennifer Ellis outlining the steps Pence needed to take to avoid certifying the election for Biden until a new alternate slate of electors for Trump could be introduced from just enough states to flip the election to Trump.

A rather pathetic carrot offered to Pence with the stick to follow on the day of the insurrection — a threat of violence and possible assassination by mob because Pence didn’t take the memo as a White House-approved order.

Looks like the number of questions Meadows must now answer has grown even longer.

~ 0 ~

The title of this post comes from an aphorism attributed to a favorite writer, Dorothy Parker: “Beauty is only skin deep, but ugly goes clean to the bone.” Meadows may be more physically attractive and better dressed than Bannon but they’re both deeply ugly people who represent an existential threat to American democracy.

~ ~ ~

UPDATE-1 — 10:00 P.M. ET —

Yeesh.

For a guy who was simply asked to appear before a House committee to answer some questions about what happened leading up to and on the day of January 6, this guy sure wants his audience to believe he’s being uniquely singled out for harassment by a president who both believes in the equal but separate powers inherent to each branch of government, and who believes the DOJ should be independent of the White House. Perhaps Bannon’s projecting since he was just fine with Trump’s DOJ acting like his personal police force.

Bannon could have just shown up, told the committee on a question by question basis, “I can’t answer that because my lawyer said it’s under executive privilege as Trump has claimed,” and simply gone about his day, coming off cool and collected like someone with nothing to hide.

But no, Bannon has to make a big scene because it’s a grift for more money; you know when he said “Stand by,” he will likely elaborate soon saying, “Stand by, because I’m going to ask you for help soon,” and then he’ll point to a link for donations for his legal fund.

Wow, he doesn’t even need to claim he’s building a border wall this time.

Minority Report: Botheration Benefits Bannon

[NB: Check the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

At the risk of annoying the rest of Team Emptywheel — especially our resident attorney and in part because I’m not a lawyer myself — let me offer a minority report and note we have a serious problem.

You’ll recall one-time Chief Strategist and Senior Counselor to then-President Trump Steve Bannon refused to answer a subpoena issued by the House January 6 committee.

You’ll also recall that the House then debated and voted on a charge of contempt of Congress.

The House then referred the charge once passed to the Department of Justice.

Many Americans are disappointed that Bannon is still out walking around as if U.S. laws don’t apply to him. It doesn’t help matters that Trump pardoned Bannon for conspiracy to commit mail fraud and money laundering, a pardon which has the appearance that it may have been intended as payback and as advance compensation for helping to organize the January 6 insurrection.

And now those Americans are even more disappointed that Bannon has now blown off Congress without any repercussions so far. It’s not obvious to the public why it takes so long to bring the scruffy bucket of excess shirtage, whiskers, and pudge to answer their representatives’ questions.

Bannon is thumbing his nose at the American people and they know it.

~ ~ ~

Persons who’ve worked in federal law enforcement insist the Department of Justice is working on this and the rule of law simply takes time, chiding us not to be like those people, implying behavior like the “deplorables” who chant “Lock him up!”

Except the American people have seen justice work too rapidly and unfairly for those who aren’t privileged. They expect a reasonable effort to effect justice speedily; justice delayed is justice denied. The tick-tock has been annoyingly like water torture — drip, drip, drip wearing on stone:

July 1 — Six months after the insurrection the House January 6 committee was approved and formed.

September 23 — It took two and a half months to subpoena Bannon who had been an advocate if not an organizer for the rally on January 5 and 6.

October 8 — President Biden refused to exert executive privilege over documents requested from the National Archives by the committee.

October 8 — Bannon was supposed to testify October 14 but his lawyer communicated on October 8 to the committee Bannon would not comply with the subpoena because former president Trump exerted a claim of executive privilege.

October 14 — Bannon does not report to the House committee.

October 19 — The committee began the process to hold Bannon in criminal contempt on the date Bannon was supposed to testify; the committee voted unanimously on October 19 to hold Bannon in contempt.

October 21 — Congress approved the charge on October 21 so that the charge could be referred to the Department of Justice.

October 25 — President Biden again refused to exert executive privilege over documents requested from the National Archives by the committee. No privilege has been claimed by Biden with regard to Bannon.

The public has seen no concrete action by DOJ in response to the contempt charge against Congress — a charge which should result in arresting Bannon, taking him into custody, and charging him with contempt until he complies.

23 days later, what the public sees is Bannon still doing whatever he does on any average day besides shave.

And the folks who’ve worked in law enforcement continue to say this simply takes time.

~ ~ ~

Except Congress itself is irritated, if Rep. Connolly’s opinion is more widely shared among his colleagues:


Congress members have good reason to be irritated; if DOJ couldn’t see ahead from Day One of the Biden administration that some Trump administration officials, staffers, and other supporters would resist a Congressional investigation into any allegation of Trump or Trump-adjacent wrongdoing, they had to be naïve or grossly incompetent. The impeachment investigations gave ample examples of what would happen and hinted at worse.

DOJ could at least have made an effort to appear ready to deal with intransigent witnesses. It’s not as if DOJ is unaware the public is bombarded with messaging all day long and in the absence of official messages, poor messaging will embed in the public’s consciousness.

The DOJ also has no good excuse for failing to execute the contempt charge. Congressional Research Service has at least twice in the last decade examined Congress’s ability to execute subpoenas and inherent contempt — the research has been done, it’s all neatly spelled out. Vet it if necessary but it’s pretty straightforward.

The biggest single reason DOJ shouldn’t dally is that it cannot question Congress’s speech or debate. An attack on the Capitol Building while Congress was in session is the most obviously legitimate reason for the House to issue a subpoena. Congress must know as part of its necessary speech and debate what happened leading up to and during the attack in order to:

(2) identify, review, and evaluate the causes of and the lessons learned from the domestic terrorist attack on the Capitol regarding—

(A) the command, control, and communications of the United States Capitol Police, the Armed Forces, the National Guard, the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia, and other Federal, State, and local law enforcement agencies in the National Capital Region on or before January 6, 2021;

(B) the structure, coordination, operational plans, policies, and procedures of the Federal Government, including as such relate to State and local governments and nongovernmental entities, and particularly with respect to detecting, preventing, preparing for, and responding to targeted violence and domestic terrorism;

(C) the structure, authorities, training, manpower utilization, equipment, operational planning, and use of force policies of the United States Capitol Police;

(D) the policies, protocols, processes, procedures, and systems for the sharing of intelligence and other information by Federal, State, and local agencies with the United States Capitol Police, the Sergeants at Arms of the House of Representatives and Senate, the Government of the District of Columbia, including the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia, the National Guard, and other Federal, State, and local law enforcement agencies in the National Capital Region on or before January 6, 2021, and the related policies, protocols, processes, procedures, and systems for monitoring, assessing, disseminating, and acting on intelligence and other information, including elevating the security posture of the United States Capitol Complex, derived from instrumentalities of government, open sources, and online platforms; and

(E) the policies, protocols, processes, procedures, and systems for interoperability between the United States Capitol Police and the National Guard, the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia, and other Federal, State, and local law enforcement agencies in the National Capital Region on or before January 6, 2021; and

(3) issue a final report to the House containing such findings, conclusions, and recommendations for corrective measures described in subsection (c) as it may deem necessary.

All of which is part of Congress’s legislative purview.

Nor should the DOJ find a way to punt to the judiciary since the court has already repeatedly agreed that under Article I, Section 8, Clause 18, Congress’s implied powers of investigation are essential to its ability to legislate — and subpoenas are part of that power to investigate.

As for the excuse given by Bannon for not complying with the subpoena: executive privilege belongs to the office, not the person. The current executive has so far declined to exert privilege over anything Bannon provided to Trump during the eight months Bannon was a federal employee and adviser to Trump. There’s no executive privilege over any acts Bannon exerted as a private individual on behalf of candidate Trump’s campaign; Bannon can avail himself of his Fifth Amendment rights when questioned by the January 6 committee as he and his attorney feel appropriate.

~ ~ ~

The charge is dirt simple and obvious: Bannon didn’t comply with the subpoena, violating 2 USC 192 – Refusal of witness to testify or produce papers, and 2 USC 194 – Certification of failure to testify or produce; grand jury action. He’s not the executive, nor is Trump the executive, and the current executive has made no claim, making Bannon’s claim of executive privilege at Trump’s request invalid.

The January 6 committee is investigating a domestic terrorist attack upon the United States Capitol Complex, interfering with government operations. Though fewer deaths resulted, it’s a crime on par with 9/11 in that terrorists attacked the United States with intent to disrupt our government — or worse, since it was an attack directly on the people’s representatives with the intent to overthrow the government (through an autogolpe).

Should we really expect the public not to get antsy about the apparent lack of action given the seriousness of the crime and the persistent inability of the House to consistently obtain compliance from witnesses under both the 116th and 117th Congress?

Should we really expect the public not to be itchy when the current Attorney General admits to having been insulated by “the monastery of the judiciary” for years (an approximate paraphrase of an analogy Garland made during during an October 4 interview with Jane Mayer of The New Yorker)?

Should we really expect a majority of the American people not to be concerned about the length of time it takes to arrest and detain a white male investment banker and media executive who was Trump’s adviser, when they elected this administration to both undo the damage of the Trump years AND restore faith in their government?

Three Things: North by East by Northeast on January 6

[NB: Check the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

While Marcy has the prosecutions of January 6 perps admirably handled, there are a few things which have niggled at me as the investigations into the insurrection have progressed.

Maybe they’re something; maybe they’re nothing. What do you think?

~ 3 ~

In the early days after the insurrection, a few of the better pieces of reporting looked at the location and timing of the mob. I’d snapped screenshots from one report in particular but I should have done more since the original report no longer contains the key interactive feature without any note it was pulled/killed. I can’t pull up the video any longer from which I pulled this screenshot – here is the original as snapped and an enhanced version tweaked for color balance, gamma, and saturation.


In this snap from a representation of cell phone users moving toward the Capitol on January 6, note in particular at the northeast of the Capitol Building a dense cluster of cell phone signatures.

The cluster isn’t highlighted like the mass of rioters who moved from the Ellipse toward the Capitol, but the signatures are dense.

You’ll note the location is at/near Columbus Circle where people will catch transportation, but the cell phone traffic didn’t appear to move toward the circle after the speeches were done at the Ellipse; it was very focused on moving toward the Capitol.

Nor was there cell phone traffic moving toward the Capitol South Station for transportation though the area may have been closed to through traffic.

Who were these people and why were there so many in that one north-northeast location as the Capitol was assaulted? Is there a benign explanation like people waiting for rally/insurrection participants, or is there another explanation?

~ 2 ~

Dr. Jack Brown, who does body language analysis, performed an analysis of surveillance photos and video which captured the perp who left the improvised explosive devices near the Democratic National Committee building and the Capitol Hill Club on the evening of January 5. It’s worth your time to visit this threaded study.

I can’t help thinking after looking at images and video of the perp that this was a woman wearing shoes which may not have been hers, but perhaps my perception is off.

One really important detail came up in this analysis which I know I’d missed before and perhaps reporters did, too: earlier reporting by multiple media outlets said the second IED had been placed at the RNC building (located at 310 First St SE, Washington, DC), not the Capitol Hill Club (located at 300 First St SE, Washington, DC). What’s the story here? Is it important that the perp targeted the Capitol Hill Club and not the RNC?

One other detail which I don’t recall being reported before the Washington Post’s huge investigative spread was the existence of a third suspicious package which hasn’t been called an IED or bomb, located at the Supreme Court building which is located directly east of the Capitol Building.

The DNC offices are south of the Capitol while the Capitol Hill Club is to the southeast. Had the IEDs at these sites detonated, law enforcement (and National Guard if they were summoned) may have swarmed to the location of the IEDs. If the suspicious material at the Supreme Court building was an IED, that would also have drawn first response personnel away from the Capitol. All three combined would have left the east side of the Capitol even more lightly defended than it was.

Not to mention the chaos such blasts would have created among mob members who weren’t in on a possible conspiracy behind the bombs.

All of which makes the congregated cell phone signatures to the northeast of the Capitol Building off First Street more intriguing.

~ 1 ~

Long-time emptywheel community member harpie has done yeoman’s work pulling together timeline content related to January 6 events. In a comment last night she pointed to the parking place of Alabaman Lonnie Coffman who has accepted a plea agreement related to a 17-count indictment related to weapons and explosives found in his pickup truck on January 6.

You may recall the truck had guns and Molotov cocktails in it. Reporting mentioned that the truck was found during a search around the area where the IEDs had been found:

… According to charging papers, police spotted weapons in his red pickup while searching an area of Capitol Hill that had been sealed off because unexploded pipe bombs had been reported near the headquarters of the Republican and Democratic parties minutes before the mob assault began about 1 p.m. …

The curious thing about this truck which caught my eye was its parked location: 301 First Street SE. That’s between the DNC offices and the Capitol Hill Club as you’ll note on this map:

 

This parking address denoted by the red flag is next to the Capitol Hill Club.

It’s also directly south on First Street from whatever was going on with that cluster of cell phones to the northeast of the Capitol Building.

Curiouser and curiouser.

Coffman’s plea agreement was sealed, by the way:

… In a 24-page decision, Kollar-Kotelly found that sealed government filings and his cache of weapons “convincingly demonstrate[d]” his planned intentions to disrupt Congress in potential coordination with others. The judge did not say that coordination was realized. …

Coordination? Or conspiracy?

~ 0 ~

I can’t help wondering if there was a Quick Response Force waiting at Columbus Circle for some triggering event less than a mile south along First Street SE.

Were the Molotov cocktails not meant to be thrown but part of an in-place fiery signal in a sacrificed truck parked between the location of two IEDs? Or were they meant to be used on whomever responded to calls had the IEDs detonated?

It will be a long wait before we find out. Plenty of food for thought in the mean time.

Thanks to harpie for all the bits and pieces!

Gina Bisignano: If a Plea Deal Falls on the Docket and No One Hears It …

It turns out there are a lot of things that won’t show up on a January 6 docket.

According to a motion to ditch her house arrest filed last week, Gina Bisignano — the Beverly Hills salon owner who wore a Louis Vuitton sweater to the insurrection — signed a plea deal back in July.

10. On July 28, 2021, Defendant signed a plea agreement in the above captioned case UNDER SEAL.

11. On August 4, 2021, Defendant appeared before this Court and entered a guilty plea in the above captioned case, UNDER SEAL, to multiple counts of the indictment.

Normally, when people sign plea deals under seal like this, it’s a sign of a cooperation agreement.

That wouldn’t be surprising. DOJ has been trying to charge the group of LA-area anti-vax activists who traveled to DC together in a conspiracy for most of the year. And the transcript of Danny Rodriguez’ March 31 post-arrest interview showed the FBI agents interviewing Rodriguez — who went to insurrection with Gina and others and whose alleged tasering of Michael Fanone would form the center of any conspiracy — at least pretending that she was talking with investigators, possibly even claiming that Rodriguez threatened her to keep quiet at a visit to her home.

Q. Did you talk to Gina before she got arrested?

A. Um-hmm.

Q. What’d you find out from her?

A. Nothing. I mean, we just said hi. But, I mean, we didn’t talk about anything else. I don’t really know her that well.

Q. Did you go over to her house?

A. I’ve been to her house.

Q. After January 6th, have you been to her house?

A. Yeah. I went one time, yes.

Q. With Ed?

A. No.

Q. With who?

A. Gabe. The guy who turned a rat.

Q. What do you mean?

A. The guy who’s snitching on everyone. He’s a Trump supporter, but — and he had all this — he used to always pick fights with BLM and Antifa, and we always had problems with him making us look bad, and he always wanted to get violent. And now he’s turned on us — or, me.

Q. What happened when you went with Gabe to talk to Gina?

A. It was just, like, to touch base. It was just like, hey, you know, we’re — we made it. We’re back. Everything’s okay. Are you okay? Kind of thing.

Q. What is Gabe going to say happened?

A. I don’t know. I don’t know about that guy. I mean, I haven’t had contact with him and he was really quiet. He looked like he didn’t like what happened and he was just — kind of just sit — staring at the floor a little bit or something. Like, sitting on the couch quiet. And Gina and I were talking about D.C. and he was just quiet and, I mean — and then he left and I left. We were only there for, like, 30 minutes maybe.

Q. Is there any reason why Gina would tell us that you told her not to say anything to — about you being at the Capitol?

A. Yeah. I mean —

Q. Is that what you guys talked about?

A. I guess. Yeah. I mean, like — yeah. We’re like, don’t talk about this and don’t tell anybody and —

Q. Did you threaten her?

A. No.

Q. But you told her not to say anything.

A. No, I didn’t tell her. I mean, I think it was — no. I don’t even think I told her not to say anything. I just think it was just assumed or implied that —

Q. Well, tell me what you said because I don’t want to put words in your mouth. Tell me how the conversation went.

A. I really didn’t talk to Gina too much. I mean, we were over there and just talking, and was smoking some weed on her patio. That’s it.

Q. And?

A. I didn’t threaten her or tell her any — tell her to do anything.

Q. But you guys did talk about not saying anything to the police about what happened in D.C.?

A. We weren’t even talking necessarily about not talking to the police. We were saying not to talk to — about this to anyone that we know.

Q. So just don’t tell anybody?

A. Just keep it quiet and don’t tell anybody anything and let’s try to live our lives normal, but not really, no.

Q. Okay.

[snip]

AGENT ELIAS: And then he said he met up with out there Kayla, Chris Almonte, somebody named Sauna, and Gina. And then we talked a little bit about Gina and he said that, after January 6th, he did go to Gina’s house with Gabe one time. And they did discuss not saying anything to anyone.

BY AGENT ARMENTA: Q. Okay. So you told Gina that?

A. Yeah. We were just not going to talk to — talk about it with anybody.

Q. Did you threaten her at all?

A. No. For sure, no.

Q. So she’s not going to say that?

A. I would hope not.

Q. What about —

A. No. She’s a sweet woman. I wouldn’t threaten her. And plus, what I did, why — how can I threaten? I mean, if I threaten her, she’s just going to turn me in, right? [my emphasis]

Revealing a cooperation plea deal without permission is a good way to ruin your chances to get a 5K1.1 letter, which is what the government submits to ask for a lesser sentence in exchange for substantial assistance. So it’s possible the plea deal has gone south.

Nevertheless, we should expect there are secret plea deals like this among the 650 defendants. And so I wanted to observe several things about Bisignano’s docket. Mostly, that there’s no sign of a plea deal in it. Or anything else of interest.

Bisignano was arrested on January 19 and indicted ten days later. She was in a limbo for an extended period amid COVID-related transfer delays and also a delay getting her attorney admitted to the case. On February 26, Judge Carl Nichols released her to the house arrest she’s now trying to get relaxed.

But aside from adoption of a protective order in April (that is, after the Rodriguez agents claimed that Bisignano may have already started talking) and a grand jury disclosure order in July, just days before the plea deal, the only things that have happened in the docket are repeated requests for relaxation of her release conditions, status conferences, and discovery. The only thing reported out from a September status hearing pertained to her request for a relaxation of her release conditions.

Days before Bisignano pled guilty, July 24, the prosecutor in this case, Kimberly Paschall provided a summary of the discovery provided to day (which was mostly the stuff that went into her arrest). There has been no other discovery described outside of the mass discovery status updates.

All of which is to say, there’s nothing in the docket.

I raise all this not just to say, we have no idea what this means, though we have no idea what Bisignano’s public claim to have entered into a sealed plea deal in July means. The expected conspiracy case has never been publicly filed.

But it is worth noting that DOJ has not visibly met two deadlines set by Judge Amy Berman Jackson in the Rodriguez case, to tell her whether his case will be joined with others accused of assaulting Fanone, and to explain why he hasn’t been offered a plea deal.

First of all, the Court will require the government to make its intentions plain, and therefore it is HEREBY ORDERED that any motion to join this case to any other for trial must be filed by November 5, 2021. Any motion to extend that date must be based on good cause shown, and vague references to ongoing investigations or extenuating circumstances will not suffice; if matters must be submitted to the Court under seal, the government is familiar with how to accomplish that.

Second, it is FURTHER ORDERED that the government must inform the Court by November 5, 2021 whether a plea offer has been extended in this case and if not, why not.

These filings were due — on the docket, or under seal — by Friday, but there’s nothing there.

The lesson of this post, then, is that for all the wailing that nothing is going on in the January 6 investigation, there’s likely to be a lot going on that we’re not seeing.

January 6 Defendants Succeed in Proving They Were Treated Better than Other DC Detainees

As I’ve noted, because of Christopher Worrell’s claims he has been denied medical treatment (many claims of which don’t match his own medical record), Royce Lamberth held the Warden and the Director of the DC jail in contempt, leading to a Civil Rights Division investigation.

I’ve also noted Nate DeGrave’s fantastic complaints about jail conditions, including that he has to eat baloney sandwiches.

Yesterday, the Marshal Service revealed that, seemingly in response to Lamberth’s Worrell order, it did unannounced visits at several DC jail facilities. It determined that one DC jail facility was not fit to house inmates.

But that was the other DC jail facility — not the more modern one where all the January 6 defendants are housed.

The USMS inspection was prompted by recent and historical concerns raised regarding conditions at the DC DOC facilities, including those recently raised by various members of the judiciary.

The inspection encompassed two DC DOC housing facilities – the Central Treatment Facility (CTF) and the Central Detention Facility (CDF). During the unannounced inspection, the U.S. Marshal reviewed both housing facilities and conducted more than 300 voluntary interviews with detainees.

The U.S. Marshal’s inspection of CTF did not identify conditions that would necessitate the transfer of inmates from that facility at this time. CTF houses approximately 120 detainees in the custody of the USMS, including all the defendants in pre-trial custody related to alleged offenses stemming from events that took place on January 6 at the U.S. Capitol, as well as other federal detainees. Housing assignments for detainees are determined by the DC DOC.

The U.S. Marshal’s inspection of CDF revealed that conditions there do not meet the minimum standards of confinement as prescribed by the Federal Performance-Based Detention Standards. CDF houses approximately 400 detainees in the custody of the USMS.

Too be clear: The conditions the January 6 defendants are held in are still inadequate, at least with respect to their access to discovery and the limits on video conference rooms (which limit how quickly judges can schedule hearings, one of Judge Lamberth’s underlying complaints).

But as Judge Mehta has said in response to such claims, the conditions January 6 defendants are experiencing are the same that a number of other predominantly brown defendants, some of them who’ve been jailed significantly longer than the January 6 defendants, have been experiencing.

Or, in some cases, those other detainees were experiencing significantly worse conditions.

Update: Judge Lamberth ordered Worrell moved to Alexandria jail immediately, and released to home detention in Florida once Pre-trial services vets someone to take over his custody.

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