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Will Alex Jones Accuse Donald Trump of Being a Crisis Actor?

“The gun culture’s winning, and if we beat ’em on that, we can beat ’em on everything,” Alex Jones said about halfway through a rant about the Sandy Hook massacre.

“You know they’re going to exploit this tragedy,” he said, before getting rich off of it.

The rant was played at the Texas trial which led to a billion dollar judgment for the conspiracy theorist’s claims that the act of school shooter Adam Lanza was staged.

Of course, as Jones subsequently conceded, disturbed loner Lanza really did shoot up an elementary school. He really did kill a bunch of children.

In America, one doesn’t need to invent Deep State plots for loners to commit seemingly pointless shootings. Sometimes all it takes is an assault rifle.

And it looks increasingly likely that’s what Thomas Crooks was: someone who wanted to shoot people, not to achieve some political murder or to help Iran avenge Qassem Soleimani’s death, but because that’s how America gives some people’s lives purpose.

According to briefings given to Congress, Crooks seemed to be casing out both Trump and Joe Biden in advance of his attack.

F.B.I. officials told members of Congress on Wednesday that the gunman who tried to kill former President Donald J. Trump used his cellphone and other devices to search for images of Mr. Trump and President Biden, along with an array of public figures.

The 20-year-old gunman, Thomas Matthew Crooks of Bethel Park, Pa., also looked up dates of Mr. Trump’s appearances and the Democratic National Convention, according to people on two conference calls held to answer lawmakers’ questions.

[snip]

F.B.I. officials, speaking on the calls, suggested that his search history indicated he was broadly interested in powerful and famous people, without any obvious ideological or partisan pattern.

Among the other prominent figures the gunman searched for using one of his phones, besides Mr. Trump and Mr. Biden, were the F.B.I. director, Christopher A. Wray; Attorney General Merrick B. Garland; and a member of the British royal family, according to two officials with knowledge of the situation, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss the matter publicly.

Mr. Wray, who was also on the calls, went out of his way to caution that the investigation was still in its early stages.

But the absence of “any political or ideological information” at the house Mr. Crooks shared with his mother and father was “notable” because most people who carry out acts of political violence tend to leave a discernible trail of political views, a top bureau official told lawmakers.

[Note: this story also repeats a claim that Crooks forewarned of something on Steam; that appears to be one of numerous instances of people adopting his identity after the fact.]

While accounts vary, some of his schoolmates describe that he was a loner who was bullied.

Speaking to local news outlet KDKA, some young locals who went to school with him described him as a loner, who was frequently bullied and sometimes wore “hunting outfits to school”.

Another former classmate of his, Summer Barkley, cast him differently, telling the BBC that he was “always getting good grades on tests” and was “very passionate about history”.

“Anything on government and history he seemed to know about,” she said. “But it was nothing out of the ordinary… he was always nice.”

She described him as well-liked by his teachers.

Others simply remembered him as quiet.

“He was there but I can’t think of anyone who knew him well,” one former classmate, who asked to remain nameless, told the BBC. “He’s just not a guy I really think about. But he seemed fine.”

None of this makes the shooting less important. None of this excuses the lapses in Trump’s security that allowed it to happen.

Rather, it makes it rather more ordinary — something that Americans have grown all too used to and done far too little to prevent.

Yet, even so, the shooting has still been used to heighten America’s polarization, with partisans on both sides still trying to find party as the cause of this.

It was only a matter of time before a garden variety American school shooter decided to aim at a higher profile target. And yet we’re still not taking from it the message that everyone of these random shootings are a tragedy. Corey Comperatore, the firefighter who heroically shielded his family to protect them, is the victim of this shooting, not Trump. But he’s no more important a victim than the 20 children killed in Sandy Hook. It’s not God that chose this shooting. It is not destiny.

It is, rather, something far darker about America, something that transcends party.

Update: Parkland High father Fred Guttenberg weighs in:

On Visibility and [dis]Covering Kenneth Chesebro

Yesterday, CNN reported that Kenneth Chesebro, identified as co-conspirator 5 in Trump’s DC indictment and charged in the Georgia one, in both indictments for actions limited to the fake electors scheme, trailed Alex Jones while he was present at the Capitol on January 6, apparently recording Jones’ actions and words for most of the time he’s at the Capitol.

CNN cites Ryan Goodman — who has steadfastly refused to look closely at much of the crime scene video evidence (much less credit the investigators who have meticulously catalogued it) — making a nonsense legal argument about the significance of Chesebro’s actions, one that clings to a cognitive distance between the white collar planning, to which he assigns Chesebro, and the blue collar execution of the attack).

Ryan Goodman, a law professor at New York University who previously served as the special counsel to the general counsel at the Department of Defense, told CNN that Chesebro’s presence on the Capitol grounds could be cited by prosecutors.

“Regardless of Chesebro’s potential criminal liability for being in the restricted areas of Capitol grounds, this evidence could be cited by prosecutors as further proof that Chesebro was not operating as a bona fide legal advisor but rather was an activist aligned in the cause to overturn the election,” Goodman said. “It undercuts defenses Chesebro might mount that he was functioning only in the role of providing legal advice for clients.”

The NYT version of the same story makes an equally nonsensical observation about what it means, claiming that this is the first evidence that “different tentacles of the efforts to keep Mr. Trump in power [] overlapped.”

Until now, there appeared to be different tentacles of the efforts to keep Mr. Trump in power that had not overlapped. But Mr. Chesebro hinted at those connections in an email exchange with John Eastman, another lawyer who was instrumental in the plan to pressure Mr. Pence with the fake elector scheme.

In late December 2020, the two lawyers discussed how to get a case before the Supreme Court. Mr. Chesebro told Mr. Eastman as they discussed filing a legal action that in terms of the highest court, the “odds of action before Jan. 6 will become more favorable if the justices start to fear that there will be ‘wild’ chaos on Jan. 6 unless they rule by then, either way.”

The pressure on state legislators brought to bear by Stop the Steal, ginned up at rallies headlined by Jones and Alexander, has always been a necessary component of the fake electors plan. The Georgians charged in the Trump side of the fake elector charges in the Georgia indictment, Robert Cheeley and Scott Hall, were also coordinating with the people pressuring Ruby Freeman. The political violence was not an afterthought, it was part of the plan.

Indeed, Thomas Joscelyn, a key author of the January 6 Report, noted that this overlap is in no way new and reminded that Jones and Owen Shroyer were in contact with the Proud Boys who are awaiting sentencing on their sedition conviction.

There is no firm dividing line between those orchestrating the political conspiracy to overturn the election and the extremists who led the attack on the Capitol.

He cited back to the passage of the report describing that Jones’ entourage was in direct contact, in real time, with the Proud Boys, even as they kicked off the riot.

Other, more prominent members of the Proud Boys appear to have been in contact with Jones and Shroyer about the events of January 6th and on that day. Records for Enrique Tarrio’s phone show that while the attack on the Capitol was ongoing, he texted with Jones three times and Shroyer five times.124 Ethan Nordean’s phone records reflect that he exchanged 23 text messages with Shroyer between January 4th and 5th, and that he had one call with him on each of those days.125 Records of Joseph Biggs’s communications show that he texted with Shroyer eight times on January 4th and called him at approximately 11:15 a.m. on January 6th, while Biggs and his fellow Proud Boys were marching at and around the Capitol.126

Those ties have remained close. Indeed, Jones and Shroyer — who were asked to lead Trump’s mob to the Capitol by someone in Trump’s immediate vicinity — have shared a lawyer, Norm Pattis, with former InfoWars employee and seditionist Joe Biggs for over a year; Pattis has also even taken over the defense of Zach Rehl.

But the limited visibility J6C had on that key node, the Jones entourage (largely because of their obstruction), ultimately prevented it from connecting all the dots and indeed the full extent of those dots remains obscure.

Even before you add Chesebro to the equation, in that entourage you had Jones who understood he was sent to lead the mob by Trump himself (J6C concludes it must have been conveyed through Caroline Wren, though for reasons I included in this post, that’s not entirely convincing). You had Shroyer, who shared that understanding, and who was coordinating with those launching the attack. And in addition to his frequent updates from Wren and coordination with Garrett Ziegler (now a central player in the Hunter Biden information operation led by Rudy Giuliani), Ali Alexander was also coordinating closely with Paul Gosar’s office — the guy who’d kick off the challenges. And all of them have exceptionally close ties to Roger Stone, including membership in the Friends of Stone list.

And, as CapitolHunters reminded in response to this coverage — and backed with a new researcher-compiled video of Jones’ movements that day — Jones played an absolutely central role in the success of the attack, first by bringing reinforcements to those leading the attack, and then, once he got there, by leading a huge chunk of those mobsters to the East side of the Capitol, where they’d serve a crucial role in a second, pincer attack on the building.

The convergence of first Jones and then key members of two militias on the East doors is the easiest place to see that the attack on the Capitol wasn’t random, but — at least in key movements — was fairly well executed. That convergence — and collection of evidence showing the import of Jones’ actions, for which people have already done time — has been an investigative focus from the start.

And Chesebro was there, capturing Jones’ actions.

Jones is a blowhorn-wielding asshole. But he commands almost the same kind of rabid loyalty as Trump does (Alexander estimated that a third of the attendees that day were Jones’ people). And via whatever means (the new Jones compilation video makes me wonder about potential uneven understanding of the events of the day, between Jones, Alexander, and Jones’ handlers) Jones played a central role in events of the day.

That entourage was a bunch of men checking in with at least Wren and possibly Ziegler, with Gosar’s office, and with the Proud Boys as they launched the attack on the Capitol. That entourage led a mob from the Ellipse, and then wittingly or not, deployed the mob where they would be the most effective, right there on the East steps before a second major breach would occur.

That’s the background one should bring to the images showing Chesebro, someone always associated with the plotting in the Willard, filming Jones as that entourage moved around the Capitol.

It’s not clear who sent him or why. NYT quotes a Jones lawyer — probably the same lawyer that Jones, Shroyer, Biggs, and Rehl share, Norm Pattis — disclaiming any knowledge of why Chesebro was shadowing Jones that day (though, given Jones’ paranoia and Shroyer’s pending sentencing, I’d find the denial more credible if Jones were squawking about being spied on by the Deep State).

It remains unclear why Mr. Chesebro was with Mr. Jones’s group outside the Capitol or how he came to be with them. A lawyer for Mr. Jones said that Mr. Jones was unaware that Mr. Chesebro had been following his entourage that day.

Plus, at one point, Chesebro seems to share something on his phone with a member of Jones’ security.

It is clear that Chesebro is not participating in the riot. Chesebro never indulges in the kind of fan worship of Jones as everyone else following him around does. Nor does he ever get distracted by the far more significant spectacle happening just yards away. He appears to be, at a minimum, monitoring Jones (though CapitolHunters pointed to some mannerisms that could be the kind of signaling as other things seen in the crime scene footage). And when Jones leaves, Chesebro follows. Chesebro continues to monitor — and film — as Jones seeds a conspiracy theory about the attack being launched by provocateurs on his way out (Michael Coudrey is a key Alexander associate, another member of the entourage).

We have seen that members of both the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers monitored the proceedings of the attack remotely, with Proud Boy leaders — including Tarrio and Bertino — chiming into the command and control from afar. It may be that’s what we’re seeing here.

After thirty months of hypervisibility, it’s easy to forget that there were actually pockets of the attack (inside offices without surveillance cameras and under the scaffolding are two of them) that could only be rendered visible by the cameras of others onsite, making their own recording. There are parts of Jones’ movement — which his own entourage recorded with a GoPro and at least one phone — that he subsequently edited.

The actions of Ken Chesebro suggest that someone wanted to make sure Jones’ movements at the Capitol would be visible, possibly to people monitoring the attack remotely, perhaps even in real time. Indeed, given that we’ve never seen this footage published on Parler, it suggests someone wanted a record of Jones’ real-time movement for private consumption.

The two indictments implicating Ken Chesebro have brought new visibility to him, and his actions. The discovery of Chesebro monitoring Jones’ activities during the attack have made aspects of the coordination behind this attack visible to TV lawyers for the first time. But amid all that newfound visibility, it’s worth remembering that some people knew to — and did — monitor all this in real time.

Update: I may have overstated when I claimed that Chesebro hadn’t cheered Jones. At the very beginning of this clip, Chesebro (in the far left of the frame) yells out, “Alex Jones” with the rest inaudible to me.

All GOP Horserace Analysis Is Useless without Consideration of Possible Indictments

The NYT did a 3-byline 1,700-word story describing how the number of minor Republican candidates joining the race serves Trump’s purpose.

Its analysis of the numbers and Ron DeSantis’ early failures isn’t bad. But because it is silent about how the expanding field might play in the likelihood of Trump indictments, it is entirely worthless.

For example, the content and timing of indictments may have an utterly central impact on the two dynamics described in the piece: Trump’s diehard base and the unwillingness of others in the party to criticize Trump directly.

The rapidly ballooning field, combined with Mr. Trump’s seemingly unbreakable core of support, represents a grave threat to Mr. DeSantis, imperiling his ability to consolidate the non-Trump vote, and could mirror the dynamics that powered Mr. Trump’s takeover of the party in 2016.

It’s a matter of math: Each new entrant threatens to steal a small piece of Mr. DeSantis’s potential coalition — whether it be Mr. Pence with Iowa evangelicals or Mr. Scott with college-educated suburbanites. And these new candidates are unlikely to eat into Mr. Trump’s votes. The former president’s base — more than 30 percent of Republicans — remains strongly devoted to him.

[snip]

The reluctance to go after Mr. Trump, for many Republicans, feels eerily like a repeat of 2016. Then, Mr. Trump’s rivals left him mostly alone for months, assuming that he would implode or that they were destined to beat him the moment they could narrow the field to a one-on-one matchup, a situation that never transpired.

Consider how each of three legal risks (and these are only the most obvious) might affect these issues. This post builds on this series I did last month:

August Georgia indictments

The NYT itself has, as have many other close observers, noted the many signs that Fani Willis has given that she will indict Trump and others in August — probably mid-August.

The Georgia prosecutor leading an investigation into former President Donald J. Trump and his allies has taken the unusual step of announcing remote work days for most of her staff during the first three weeks of August, asking judges in a downtown Atlanta courthouse not to schedule trials for part of that time as she prepares to bring charges in the inquiry.

The moves suggest that Fani T. Willis, the Fulton County district attorney, is expecting a grand jury to unseal indictments during that time period. Ms. Willis outlined the remote work plan and made the request to judges in a letter sent on Thursday to 21 Fulton County officials, including the chief county judge, Ural Glanville, and the sheriff, Pat Labat.

“Thank you for your consideration and assistance in keeping the Fulton County Judicial Complex safe during this time,” wrote Ms. Willis, who has already asked the F.B.I. to help with security in and around the courthouse.

Ms. Willis had said in a previous letter that any charges related to the Trump investigation would come in the grand jury term that runs from July 11 to Sept. 1. Her letter on Thursday appears to offer more specificity on timing.

That means these indictments will come around the same time as the GOP primary debate scheduled for Milwaukee, hosted by Fox.

Trump has already signaled he may not attend this debate and the party has talked about floating minimum requirements to avoid another cattle call like we saw in 2016. If Willis indicts before this debate, the debate will focus closely on those indictments, meaning the middling candidates will be on a stage without Trump talking about alleged crimes he committed to try to win the 2020 election — alleged crimes he committed instead of doing what he could to win the two Georgia Senate seats that tipped control to Democrats.

While I agree with NYT that a cattle call primary and DeSantis’ weaknesses help Trump, had DeSantis had a stronger start, Trump might have been able to finish off any perceived opposition before substantive indictments drop. Now a bunch of other people will be prepped to capitalize on opportunities created by any Trump charges.

A far more important dynamic than the timing of this, though, is the likelihood Willis will indict others. If those others are just top Trump aides and a handful of fake electors (with other fake electors cooperating against them), it could set up a Trump versus the party dynamic, especially given Brian Kemp’s singular success at finding a way to ignore Trump’s demands while not antagonizing him. But if more Republicans are indicted — and commentary on the fake electors plot always seems to forget that the plot involved some of the most prominent Republicans in all the swing states necessary to win the presidential — then it may tend to solidify the Republican party with Trump, in spite of the legal damage his efforts to steal the last election will start to do.

It matters that Fox will host this debate, too, though it’s still too early to tell how. In the wake of the Dominion settlement and with Smartmatic still to come, Fox News has swung wildly from supporting to criticizing Trump. But Rupert Murdoch does seem intent on finding an alternative to him. And that means this debate may provide an opportunity for someone else to break out of the pack.

Stolen documents

Recent reporting suggests that possible August Georgia indictments may not even be the next indictments against Trump.

Last week, both the WSJ and Bloomberg reported that the stolen documents investigation is substantially finished, with Bloomberg suggesting it could be a matter of days or weeks after today’s federal holiday before Jack Smith announces charges.

Special Counsel Jack Smith is wrapping up his investigation into former president Donald Trump’s refusal to return classified documents after his election defeat and is poised to announce possible criminal charges in the days or weeks after Memorial Day, according to people familiar with the matter.

For months, key Republicans like Bill Barr and Andy McCarthy have been treating the stolen documents case as a legitimate investigation, effectively giving firebreathing Republicans permission to criticize Trump for these suspected crimes. And they’re doing so even if this is charged only as obstruction, 18 USC 1519.

Jack Smith might tell any of four stories with a hypothetical stolen documents indictment:

  • A straight-up obstruction charge for blowing off the August subpoena, the likes of which Barr envisions
  • An 18 USC 793 indictment charging fairly innocuous documents — the two classified documents used along with post-presidential records and the schedules Chamberlain Harris copied — both of which show Trump made use of stolen classified documents for his own personal benefit; such an indictment might focus on the fact that Trump made classified documents available to others, including non-staffers, too
  • An 18 USC 793 indictment making it clear that Trump sought out some of the nation’s most sensitive secrets in advance to take with him when he left; such an indictment might plausibly include a 18 USC 2071 charge, which with conviction, disqualifies someone from holding federal office (though that punishment is constitutionally suspect)
  • An Espionage Act indictment making it clear that documents Trump is believed to have stolen have not yet been retrieved and tying gaps in surveillance footage to business meetings at Mar-a-Lago with foreigners reflecting Smith’s recent focus on Trump’s business deals

We don’t know how Jack Smith will charge it if he does (or where, which for reasons I laid out here, is critically important). But the very last thing Smith is known to have done — the one thing he has done since what WaPo described as the last known grand jury meeting on May 5 — is obtain 16 documents from the Archives advising Trump about whether or how he should declassify specific records.

In a May 16 letter obtained by CNN, acting Archivist Debra Steidel Wall writes to Trump, “The 16 records in question all reflect communications involving close presidential advisers, some of them directed to you personally, concerning whether, why, and how you should declassify certain classified records.”

[snip]

According to the letter, Trump tried to block the special counsel from accessing the 16 records by asserting a claim of “constitutionally based privilege.” But in her letter, Wall rejects that claim, stating that the special counsel’s office has represented that it “is prepared to demonstrate with specificity to a court, why it is likely that the 16 records contain evidence that would be important to the grand jury’s investigation.”

The special counsel also told the Archives that the evidence is “not practically available from another source.”

The letter goes on to state that the records will be handed over on May 24, 2023 “unless prohibited by an intervening court order.”

Smith would have obtained these records last Wednesday, three weeks after the last activity of the grand jury.

You don’t hold off on indicting someone to obtain such records — the content of which Smith surely already knew from interviews with those who wrote the documents — solely to indict on obstruction.

There’s literally no predicting how Republicans would respond to a stolen documents indictment. But Barr and McCarthy have been laying the foundation to use it to finally split with Trump for months. And if such an indictment included a 18 USC 2071 count, it would present the additional dilemma for Republicans that if an inevitable constitutional challenge of the statute failed, their leading candidate could not legally be President.

It matters, too, that Jack Smith is a white male who has said literally nothing since he was appointed, not an elected Black prosecutor. It matters that Merrick Garland didn’t take the bait last week (though virtually every journalist did), when Trump responded to news of an imminent indictment by trying to turn this into a legal fight between him and Joe Biden’s appointed Attorney General, rather than him and laws his own advisors told him not to break.

I don’t know what to expect from a hypothetical stolen documents indictment; nor does anyone else. But I do know that if it drops in the next month or so, if it is perceived as legitimate and serious, it provides an opportunity for Republicans who have long been seeking an opportunity to split with Trump.

January 6 conspiracy

Finally, there are potential charges tied to January 6, which may have to wait on appellate certainty around the presumed lead charge, 18 USC 1512(c)(2) or may require an interim set of charges against others.

Aside from expecting some conspiracy charge under that obstruction statute, though, we have no idea what such an indictment might look like. Here are some possibilities that would affect how the GOP responds:

Trump could be charged with inciting the attempted assassination of his Vice President. Smith — and DOJ prosecutors before him — spent a lot of time obtaining details about the communications between Mike Pence and Trump in advance of insurrection, as well as on Trump’s inaction that day. While it would be the most aggressive potential charge, there is evidence to support it. How would mainstream Republicans respond if Trump were charged with siccing a mob he knew to be armed on a lifelong GOPer, someone who will be an announced primary challenger to Trump by then?

Trump could be charged with aiding and abetting the near-murder of Michael Fanone. I’ve laid out how distinctly DOJ treated the prosecution of Danny Rodriguez’ co-conspirator. Prosecutors aired footage from Ellipse speeches rather than excluding it from trial, as DOJ has successfully done with dozens of other defendants. DOJ developed evidence to show Rodriguez responding viscerally and violently to Rudy Giuliani and Trump’s Ellipse speeches just hours before he walked to the Capitol and tased a cop defending it. Rodriguez confessed to the FBI he knew in advance such casualties might be necessary. If DOJ were to implicate Trump in such an assault — something Judge Amit Mehta said was at least plausible over a year ago — it would implicate Trump in the worst assault of an officer that day.

Trump could be charged with conspiring with convicted seditionists. As I laid out here, Trump asked Alex Jones to bring his mob to the Capitol, and after Jones brought the mob there, the Proud Boys exploited those bodies to attack the Capitol. Trump is — as an exhibit introduced in the Christopher Worrell case (whose guilty verdict was closely reliant on evidence implicating Roger Stone) showed — literally the coin of the Proud Boys gang.

DOJ emphasized the import of Trump’s Stand Back and Stand By comment from the opening arguments of that sedition trial. Those are just some of the reasons why it is possible DOJ could charge Trump for conspiring not just with Rudy Giuliani and John Eastman, but also with men already convicted of sedition. Such a charge would take more time to develop — but charging Trump with conspiring with the Proud Boys is completely within the realm of conspiracy law.

Trump’s efforts to cheat could damage swing-state Republican parties. Before Trump asked Republicans from seven swing states to help him create fraudulent certificates in an attempt to steal the election, Kenneth Cheesebro wrote down (!!!) that such an effort would be legally problematic in Nevada, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. It’s bad enough asking key Republicans to break the law to help win an election; it is insane that Trump’s lawyers wrote down that it would be illegal before asking them. Of those four states, only Republicans in Pennsylvania took adequate efforts to protect themselves legally from Trump’s requests that they submit fraudulent certificates to the Archives. That means it is possible that DOJ will charge some of the most prominent Republicans in precisely the states that Trump proved unable to win in 2020. Such charges could align Trump and those Republican parties on the same side, or it could really piss off those whom Trump’s recklessness endangered. In Georgia, at least, some prominent Republicans have chosen to testify against others if it means avoiding jail time themselves and I could see Republicans in other states making the same choice.

Trump could be accused of cheating Republican small donors. Trump’s success in 2016 and since has always built off his success at fundraising from small donors. But even as he reaped millions from such efforts, he played fast and loose with campaign finance law, violations of the law for which Republican Federal Elections Commissioners have thus far refused to punish him. Now Jack Smith is reportedly considering criminal charges for the same kind of conduct — in fact, criminal charges tied to claiming he was going to pursue election integrity but then paying lawyers for unrelated legal exposure. Such charges for defrauding his supporters — parallel to the successful charges SDNY prosecuted in the Build the Wall case — would make it clear that Trump has been cheating loyal Republicans for years. They may not care in bulk, but some of the Build the Wall victims did. Such charges might also limit the ways Trump could fundraise going forward. Republicans might not care about the fraud itself, but they would care if a presidential candidate might be disadvantaged financially because of alleged crimes he had committed in the past.

Obviously, we don’t know whether these prosecutors will charge and if so with what (though in both the Georgia and stolen documents case, prosecutors look poised to ask a grand jury for an indictment). The Georgia case is the only one where we have a good idea of timing (though that timing is guaranteed to matter for the primary).

Trump actually used the Russian investigation brilliantly to win personal loyalty from Republicans who had previously been tepid to him (something I’ve been meaning to write up). The Alvin Bragg indictment, similarly, helped him at least in the short term. Trump’s bio on his failed media site literally equates the pursuit of him with an attack on his aggrieved supporters.

This is an utterly central part of his brand, the conceit that totally justified legal pursuits of him were really just an attack on the core identities of angry white nationalists.

And that brand has worked stupendously well. They love him because he is a suspected criminal according to the code of their imagined Deep State. There’s some reason to believe that Boris Epshteyn, a political advisor gatekeeping his legal advisors, has pursued a strategy in the stolen documents case that emphasizes this confrontation even while putting Trump at far greater legal risk.

Thus far, Trump has successfully used his own legal exposure as a way to grievance-monger with other Republicans, building loyalty every time his own legal jeopardy increases. If he were able to seal the GOP nomination before more serious indictments drop, he might do the same here.

But the possibility — the likelihood even — of criminal charges before he makes this equation into the GOP slogan for the entire 2024 election may disrupt that power.

The next three months, before the primary formally starts with a debate, are likely to be unprecedented in the history of presidential elections. Because they are unprecedented, literally no one can envision how those events will affect the primary, even if we know what the charges were and who else will get charged.

What we can be sure of, though, is that the old stale horse race analysis won’t apply to this race.

Update: I should have made something clearer. This analysis, about the impact of potential indictments alone, is meant to be separate from the possibility he’ll be convicted of these crimes. It is virtually impossible that Trump would be convicted before November 2024, and barring a successful application of 18 USC 2071, none of these charges would prevent him from being elected.

Rather, the argument here is that these indictments have the ability to alter the loyalty calculus for Republican voters. I’m not even arguing that will work against Trump! There are a number of ways it could actually help him, at least through the primary. All I’m saying is that each of these potential indictments carries with it the possibility of upending the loyalty that the NYT described, and doing so in ways that are so unprecedented (even setting aside the way Trump himself is almost unprecedented in the US), that no one will really know how it’ll all fall out.

And that’s probably why more Republicans keep hopping into the race.

Welcome to Brandi Buchman

As some of you likely know, last week, Brandi Buchman was one of a number of people laid off from DailyKos.

She was laid off perhaps halfway through her coverage of the Proud Boy Leaders trial (and in the midst of a really tough personal week for her). This trial is of historic import, both on its own terms, and for the prospect of holding related participants in January 6 accountable. She is just one of a few journalists who has covered the grueling trial from the start.

We at emptywheel are really privileged to welcome Brandi to emptywheel to finish her important work covering the trial. I know I’ve relied on Brandi’s coverage; if you haven’t yet followed her live-tweeting, she’s at https://twitter.com/brandi_buchman.

The trial is likely to last at least five more weeks — another week for the government case, plus at least two weeks for defense witnesses (the lawyer Joe Biggs shares with Alex Jones, Norm Pattis, claims he wants to call Donald Trump to testify), plus any rebuttal case, and finally, jury watch.

We don’t host advertising and do not paywall our site.

From emptywheel, 4/2: Thanks to the generosity of emptywheel readers we have funded Brandi’s coverage for the rest of the trial. If you’d like to show your further appreciation for Brandi’s great work, here’s her PayPal tip jar.

Thanks!

And welcome to Brandi!

Trump Worked with People Who Allegedly Worked with the Proud Boys to Obstruct the Peaceful Transfer of Power

By my count, at least 14 people are known to have pled guilty to some kind of conspiracy on January 6, with four more cooperating against them. Another four were found guilty of one or more conspiracy in November’s Oath Keeper verdict. Eighteen people, in one way or another have been convicted of conspiring to prevent the peaceful transfer of power on January 6, most by obstructing the vote certification.

Trump played a key part in all those conspiracies.

Ronnie Sandlin, for example, first started planning to go, armed, to DC in response to Trump’s December 19 tweet, posting on December 23 that he planned to “stop the steal and stand behind Trump when he decides to cross the rubicon.” After he watched Trump’s speech on January 6, Sandlin did a live stream where he said, “I think it is time to take the Capitol.” Once he arrived at the Capitol, Sandlin and co-conspirator Nate DeGrave participated in tactically critical assaults on cops in two places, the East door and the door to the Senate gallery. After Sandlin helped him get into the gallery, Josiah Colt then rappelled from the gallery to the Senate floor.

Like Sandlin, Brad Smith started arming himself and planning to come to DC in response to Trump’s December 19 tweet.

The call to action was put out to be in DC on January 6th from the Don himself. The reason is that’s the day pence counts them up and if the entire city is full of trump supporters it will stop the for sure riots from burning down the city at least for awhile.

By December 31, Smith predicted, “Militias will be there and if there’s enough people they may fucking storm the buildings and take out the trash right there.” Smith and his co-conspirator, Marshall Neefe, participated in an assault on cops using an 8′ by 10′ Trump sign. And after the attack he boasted that the mission was successful because “we literally chased them out into hiding. No certification lol.”

Trump played a slightly different role in the Oath Keepers conspiracy. The Oath Keepers — Stewart Rhodes above all — viewed Trump as a means to prevent Biden’s election, because as President he could invoke the Insurrection Act and with it (the Oath Keepers believed) make the militias a legal arm of the state, defending Trump. Rhodes repeatedly called on Trump to invoke the Insurrection Act — on November 9, December 12, December 23, and January 6.

He dictated a note to Trump after January 6 asking him to call on the militias as his army to stop Biden from taking power.

For the most part, none of the channels via which Rhodes tried to speak directly to Trump (including Kellye SoRelle’s attempt to work through Rudy Giuliani’s son) are known to have reached Trump.

One of his attempted interlocutors, though, undoubtedly had access to Trump: Roger Stone, on whose Friends of Stone list Rhodes was sharing his plans for insurrection shortly after the election.

DOJ has exploited at least four phones owned by members of the Friends of Stone list: Rhodes and SoRelle, Owen Shroyer, and Enrique Tarrio. Probably DOJ asked for content from Ali Alexander as well (though he disclaimed having any Signal texts to the January 6 Committee).

While a jury found all the Oath Keepers guilty of obstructing the vote certification, with the key exception of Kelly Meggs (who was also in contact separately with the Proud Boys, Roger Stone, Ali Alexander, and alleged 3 Percenter Jeremy Liggett, who in turn had ties to the MAGA Bus Tour) as well as Jessica Watkins, it found the greater part of their conspiracy either overthrowing the government or interfering with with official duties: not obstructing the vote count. Their larger plan to keep Trump in power used different means than Trump used.

That’s not true of the Proud Boy Leaders, who are three days into their trial.

Not only did the Proud Boys allegedly pursue the same plan that Trump was pursuing — obstructing the vote certification on January 6 — but they were in communication with people who were in communication, and central to, Trump’s plan: most notably, Alex Jones, Ali Alexander, and Roger Stone. They were in communication with people who were in communication with people close to Trump during the attack.

Even their telephony records show that Enrique Tarrio, Joe Biggs, and Ethan Nordean were in contact with Alex Jones and Owen Shroyer during the period.

Records for Enrique Tarrio’s phone show that while the attack on the Capitol was ongoing, he texted with Jones three times and Shroyer five times.124 Ethan Nordean’s phone records reflect that he exchanged 23 text messages with Shroyer between January 4th and 5th, and that he had one call with him on each of those days.125 Records of Joseph Biggs’s communications show that he texted with Shroyer eight times on January 4th and called him at approximately 11:15 a.m. on January 6th, while Biggs and his fellow Proud Boys were marching at and around the Capitol.126

Given the known communication habits of the men, it’s possible there are Signal or Telegram communications that were unavailable to the J6C as well.

Alex Jones and Ali Alexander knew in advance they would lead the mob to the Capitol (the January 6 Report offers an unpersuasive explanation that the request came exclusively from Caroline Wren). Roger Stone had planned to join them, probably until he got cranky about being denied a speaking role on the morning of January 6. Mike Flynn wanted to latch on, as well, until the General got too cold and had to go back to his posh hotel room. “Hell no,” he said, according to Caroline Wren. “It’s freezing.”

Meanwhile, even as Shroyer was in touch with Biggs, Alexander was in touch with Caroline Wren, who remained at the Ellipse, and asked for 5-minute updates on the Trump’s progress to the Capitol (the text in question appears to have come from Wren, but may not have been provided in Alexander’s production).

The communication between Proud Boys and Jones in real time is critical because once the riot police showed up and slowed the attack, the Proud Boy leaders pulled up, effectively waiting until Jones appeared. And after Jones did appear, he told the mob following him that Trump was coming to give another speech — something Alexander, and so almost certainly Jones — knew to be false because Wren had told Alexander. Nevertheless, Jones led his mob to the East steps, riled them up with a 1776 chant, and left them there, where they were soon joined by the Oath Keepers (led by Kelly Meggs, who also was in touch with Alexander) and Joe Biggs and some other Proud Boys (including one who had been directing traffic). That collective mob breached the East door of the Capitol, opening a second major front on the Capitol and adding to the invasion of the Senate chamber.

There are rioters who were sentenced to two months in jail because they followed Alex Jones credulously to the top of those steps and joined the mob storming the Capitol.

And it wasn’t just Jones and Alexander who were in touch with Trump’s handlers.

Mark Meadows was, per Cassidy Hutchinson, in communication with Stone about his plans for January 6, at a time when Stone still planned to march to the Capitol with Jones and Alexander.

LIZ CHENEY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Before we turn to what Ms. Hutchinson saw and heard in the White House during the violent attack on the Capitol on January 6th, let’s discuss certain communications White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows had on January 5th. President Trump’s associate, Roger Stone, attended rallies during the afternoon and the evening of January 5th in Washington, DC On January 5th and 6th, Mr. Stone was photographed with multiple members of the Oath Keepers who were allegedly serving as his security detail.

As we now know, multiple members of that organization have been charged with or pled guilty to crimes associated with January 6th. Mr. Stone has invoked his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination before this committee. General Michael Flynn has also taken the Fifth before this committee. Mr. Stone previously had been convicted of other federal crimes unrelated to January 6th.

General Flynn had pleaded guilty to a felony charge, also predating and unrelated to January 6th. President Trump pardoned General Flynn just weeks after the Presidential election, and in July of 2020, he commuted the sentence Roger Stone was to serve.

The night before January 6th, President Trump instructed his Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to contact both Roger Stone and Michael Flynn regarding what would play out the next day. Ms. Hutchinson, Is it your understanding that President Trump asked Mark Meadows to speak with Roger Stone and General Flynn on January 5th?

CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: That’s correct. That is my understanding.

LIZ CHENEY: And Ms. Hutchinson, is it your understanding that Mr. Meadows called Mr. Stone on the 5th?

CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: I’m under the impression that Mr. Meadows did complete both a call to Mr. Stone and General Flynn the evening of the 5th.

In an earlier interview, when she was still represented by Stefan Passantino, she had attributed the idea for this call to Peter Navarro or a Navarro staffer; the Navarro staffer who had let Mike Flynn into the White House on December 18, Garrett Ziegler, was another White House contact of Ali Alexander’s, in addition to Wren.

All this matters because of the way conspiracy law works, as laid out in the bullet points from Elizabeth de la Vega that I always rely on.

CONSPIRACY LAW – EIGHT THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW.

One: Co-conspirators don’t have to explicitly agree to conspire & there doesn’t need to be a written agreement; in fact, they almost never explicitly agree to conspire & it would be nuts to have a written agreement!

Two: Conspiracies can have more than one object- i.e. conspiracy to defraud U.S. and to obstruct justice. The object is the goal. Members could have completely different reasons (motives) for wanting to achieve that goal.

Three: All co-conspirators have to agree on at least one object of the conspiracy.

Four: Co-conspirators can use multiple means to carry out the conspiracy, i.e., releasing stolen emails, collaborating on fraudulent social media ops, laundering campaign contributions.

Five: Co-conspirators don’t have to know precisely what the others are doing, and, in large conspiracies, they rarely do.

Six: Once someone is found to have knowingly joined a conspiracy, he/she is responsible for all acts of other co-conspirators.

Seven: Statements of any co-conspirator made to further the conspiracy may be introduced into evidence against any other co-conspirator.

Eight: Overt Acts taken in furtherance of a conspiracy need not be illegal. A POTUS’ public statement that “Russia is a hoax,” e.g., might not be illegal (or even make any sense), but it could be an overt act in furtherance of a conspiracy to obstruct justice.

Co-conspirators don’t all have to meet in a room together and agree to enter a conspiracy. That can happen (and did, in the Oath Keepers’ case) via a series of communications which networks everyone.

The demonstrative exhibit prosecutors used in the Oath Keeper trials showed how the various communications channels included everyone, even if some members of the conspiracy only interacted with a limited group of other co-conspirators.

I circled Rhodes and SoRelle in pink to show that even in the Oath Keeper trial, prosecutors treated the Friends of Stone list part of the communications infrastructure of the conspiracy.

Here’s what the larger conspiracy looks like, reflecting  the known communications between Rhodes, Meggs, Tarrio, Biggs, and Nordean and Jones and Stone, and the known communications between Jones and Stone and Alexander with Trump or his handlers, like Meadows, Wren, and Ziegler by way of Navarro.

The numbers and letters in parentheses come from one or another of the indictments charging conspiracy. As you can see, Trump’s known actions map onto the known, charged overt acts of various conspiracies to obstruct the vote count like a mirror.

Obviously, the pink part of this table has not been charged (yet). And it may not be unless prosecutors win guilty verdicts in the Proud Boys case. It also may not be if the obstruction charge gets narrowed on appeal.

For reasons I laid out here, the Proud Boys trial is far more complex than the Oath Keepers trial. And in the Proud Boys trial, like the Oath Keepers trial, prosecutors don’t have a clear map showing that the plan was to occupy the Capitol; instead they have testimony that Biggs and Nordean kept consulting, and everyone took orders from them, and those orders had the effect of sending cells of Proud Boys off to breach parts of the building. So it is not at all certain that prosecutors will win convictions of the men — Tarrio, Biggs, and Nordean — who were working with people who were working with Trump and his handlers.

But this is one of the means via which DOJ has been working to hold Trump accountable since just months after the attack (I first laid this out in July 2021, long before most commentators understood how DOJ was using obstruction).

Even with the disorganized conspiracy (Sandlin and friends), prosecutors have carefully shown how the men took Trump’s December 19 tweet as an explicit instruction, took instructions from a WildProtest flyer put out by Ali Alexander, believed Trump had ordered them to march to the Capitol. There are hundreds more rioters who took Trump’s December 19 tweet as an instruction, though in the case of Sandlin and his co-conspirators, they took steps that were critical to the occupation of the Capitol and the Senate chamber in response.

But with the Proud Boys, to an extent thus far only seen with Oath Keeper Kelly Meggs, the communication ties, via a two step network, to Trump’s own actions and directions. And with the Proud Boys, that coordination builds off years-long relationships, particularly between Biggs and Jones and Stone, and through them, to Trump.

Everyone was working towards the same goal: to prevent Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s victory. There were, in various places, explicit agreements made. There were, as with Trump’s Stand Back and Stand By comment that prosecutors used to kick off this trial, more implicit agreements as well.

And DOJ is now at the point where it is beginning to show how those agreements, explicit and implicit, all worked together to make the assault on the Capitol successful.

Conspiracy guilty verdicts

Oath Keepers Stewart Rhodes, Kelly Meggs, Jessica Watkins, Kenneth Harrelson, Kelly Meggs, Mark Grods, Caleb Berry, James Dolan, Joshua James, Brian Ulrich, Todd Wilson (11 conspiracy verdicts)

Proud Boys Matthew Greene, Charles Donohoe, Jeremy Bertino, with Isaiah Giddings, Louis Colon, and James Stewart cooperating (3 known conspiracy verdicts)

Disorganized Militia Ronnie Sandlin, Nate DeGrave, with Josiah Colt cooperating (2 conspiracy verdicts)

“Patriots” Marshall Neefe and Charles Smith (2 conspiracy verdicts)

Yes, It Turned Out January 6 Committee Endangered the DOJ Investigation by Withholding the Jeremy Bertino Transcript in June

I often get accused of being an uncritical booster for DOJ on the January 6 investigation. In reality, I have focused my criticism on real problems with the investigation.

In fact several of the criticisms I’ve raised have borne out in recent days, as an attorney-client conflict that should have been identified in June threatened (and still threatens) to bollox the Proud Boy Leader trial, and with it the larger effort to tie Trump’s immediate associates with the crime scene.

Twice, for example, I’ve discussed how central Joe Biggs’ actions the day of the attack were to understanding the larger event. In the first, I described how Biggs’ chumminess with FBI agents led them to overlook his plans for a terrorist attack on the Capitol.

Something brought Joe Biggs, Florida Oath Keepers Kenneth Harrelson and Jason Dolan, along with former Biggs employer Alex Jones to the top of the East steps, along with the mob that Jones brought on false pretenses. Shortly thereafter, Florida Oath Keeper head Kelly Meggs would bring a stack of Oath Keepers through the same door and — evidence suggests — in search of Nancy Pelosi, whom Meggs had talked about killing on election day.

Joe Biggs kicked off the riot on the West side of the building.

Then he went over to the East side to join his former employer Alex Jones and a bunch of Oath Keepers, led by fellow Floridians, to lead a mob back into the Capitol.

West side. Joe Biggs. East side. Joe Biggs.

This is the guy a couple of FBI Agents in Daytona believed was a credible informant against Antifa.

A month later, I described how problematic it was that an AUSA who played a part in Sidney Powell’s efforts to spread false claims about Mike Flynn and Joe Biden before the 2020 election had a role (now reportedly expanded) in overseeing the prosecution of Biggs.

Because of Joe Biggs’ role at the nexus between the mob that attacked Congress and those that orchestrated the mob, his prosecution is the most important case in the entire January 6 investigation. If you prosecute him and his alleged co-conspirators successfully, you might also succeed in holding those who incited the attack on the Capitol accountable. If you botch the Biggs prosecution, then all the most important people will go free.

Which is why it is so unbelievable that DOJ put someone who enabled Sidney Powell’s election season lies about the Mike Flynn prosecution, Jocelyn Ballantine, on that prosecution team.

All that was clear by September 2021.

In that same time period, I was complaining and complaining and complaining about DOJ’s lackadaisical approach to attorney conflicts, first as John Pierce racked up 20 clients, most who served as a firewall to Biggs and the other Proud Boy leaders, and later as DOJ waited three months before inquiring into Sidney Powell’s alleged role in funding some of the Oath Keeper’s defense teams.

The importance to the Trump investigation of getting the militia conspiracies that implicate Roger Stone and Alex Jones right is one of the reasons I argued, in June 2022, that it was urgent for the Proud Boys’ prosecution team to get Jeremy Bertino’s transcript sooner rather than later.

On June 6, DOJ charged the Proud Boy Leaders with sedition. As I noted at the time, the single solitary new overt act described in the indictment involved Jeremy Bertino, Person-1, seeming to have advance knowledge of a plan to occupy the Capitol.

107. At 7:39 pm, PERSON-1 sent two text messages to TARRIO that read, “Brother. ‘You know we made this happen,” and “I’m so proud of my country today.” TARRIO responded, “I know” At 7:44 pm. the conversation continued, with PERSON-1 texting, “1776 motherfuckers.” TARRIO responded, “The Winter Palace.” PERSON-1 texted, “Dude. Did we just influence history?” TARRIO responded, “Let’s first see how this plays out.” PERSON-1 stated, “They HAVE to certify today! Or it’s invalid.” These messages were exchanged before the Senate returned to its chamber at approximately 8:00 p.m. to resume certifying the Electoral College vote.

Just days earlier, as part of a discovery dispute, prosecutors had provided this (dated) discovery index. For several reasons, it’s likely that at least some these entries pertain to Bertino, because the CE ones are from the Charlotte office, close to where he lives, because he’s one of the three uncharged co-conspirators of central importance to the Proud Boys efforts, and because we know FBI did searches on him.

In a hearing during the day on June 9, the Proud Boys’ attorneys accused DOJ of improperly coordinating with the January 6 Committee and improperly mixing politics and criminal justice by charging sedition just before the hearings start. In the hearing there was an extensive and repeated discussion of the deposition transcripts from the committee investigation. AUSA Jason McCullough described that there had been significant engagement on depositions, but that the January 6 Committee wouldn’t share them. As far as he knew, the Committee said they would release them in September, which would be in the middle of the trial. Joe Biggs’ attorney insisted that DOJ had the transcripts, and that they had to get them to defendants.

Judge Tim Kelly ordered prosecutors that, if they come into possession of the transcripts, they turn them over within 24 hours.

Hours later, during the first (technically, second) January 6 Committee hearing, the Committee included a clip from Bertino describing how membership in the Proud Boys had tripled in response to Trump’s “Stand Back and Stand By” comment.

His cooperation with the Committee was not public knowledge. I have no idea whether it was a surprise to DOJ, but if it was, it presented the possibility that, in the guise of cooperating, Bertino had just endangered the Proud Boy sedition prosecution (which wouldn’t be the first time that “cooperative” Proud Boys proved, instead, to be fabricators). At the very least, it meant his deposition raised the stakes on his transcript considerably, because DOJ chose not to charge him in that sedition conspiracy.

Today, in response to a bid by Dominic Pezzola and Joe Biggs to continue the trial until December, DOJ acceded if all defendants agree (Ethan Nordean won’t do so unless he is released from jail). With it they included a letter they sent yesterday to the Committee — following up on one they sent in April — talking about the urgency with which they need deposition transcripts.

We note that the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol (“Select Committee”) in its June 9, 2022 and June 13, 2022, hearings extensively quoted from our filings in active litigation and played portions of interviews the Select Committee conducted of individuals who have been charged by the Department in connection with the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol.

It is now readily apparent that the interviews the Select Committee conducted are not just potentially relevant to our overall criminal investigations, but are likely relevant to specific prosecutions that have already commenced. Given this overlap, it is critical that the Select Committee provide us with copies of the transcripts of all its witness interviews. As you are aware, grand jury investigations are not public and thus the Select Committee does not and will not know the identity of all the witnesses who have information relevant to the Department’s ongoing criminal investigations. Moreover, it is critical that the Department be able to evaluate the credibility of witnesses who have provided statements to multiple governmental entities in assessing the strength of any potential criminal prosecutions and to ensure that all relevant evidence is considered during the criminal investigations. We cannot be sure that all relevant evidence has been considered without access to the transcripts that are uniquely within the Select Committee’s possession.

The discovery deadline for the Proud Boy case is tomorrow. If DOJ put Bertino before a grand jury and he said something that conflicts with what he told the Committee, it could doom his reliability as a witness, and with it the Proud Boys case, and with it, potentially, the conspiracy case against Trump.

Less than a week before I wrote that, there’s reason to believe, DOJ had flipped a key witness in the case.

It appears that DOJ did not get Jeremy Bertino’s transcript until around December 7. DOJ promised to give transcripts to the defendants within 24-hours after they received them, and DOJ provided 16-January 6 Committee transcripts on December 8.

And we now know the Bertino transcript was utterly critical to preparing for the trial, which is about to kick off. That’s because, in his deposition with the committee, Bertino explained at length both what appeared to be an attempt, by Joe Biggs’ attorney Dan Hull, to tie representation in a civil lawsuit to a deposition in the trial, and because Bertino had conversations with Hull on the day his girlfriend’s home was searched (which is probably when the FBI found the unregistered weapons described in Bertino’s plea paperwork).

A Yes. So I’m going to go back in my memory and try to remember the first time that I spoke with him. I believe it was after I received a civil suit from a church. I reached out to Enrique Tarrio and said, hey, I just got this subpoena or notice of civil suit. I think I need an attorney. And he’s like, oh, well, I’ll talk to Dan, my attorney, and I’ll see if he’ll take it for you. So I said okay. Couple of weeks went by, I didn’t hear anything. I got back in touch with Enrique and asked him, I said, hey, have you talked to your lawyer? And he’s, like, oh, yeah, Dan said he’ll do it for you pro bona because you were stabbed, but he wants to talk to you.

And so he sent me his phone number and I called Dan. I can’t remember when, what date, I don’t remember the specific details, but I do remember calling him and him basically asking me — or I was asking him about representing me in the case and he said oh, sure, sure, sure, we’ll get to that. But he was interested in possibly having me take the stand in the Joe Biggs’ trial about my stabbing to show why Joe was wearing body armor when he was in D.C. because there was a lot of talk after I was stabbed about guys making sure you had a stab proof vest on and stuff like that.

So I think his original intent was to get me on board to help his client. And then the next — I believe the next interaction I had was when I — Jay Thaxton reached out to me and was looking for representation for his deposition. And I said, hey, give this guy Dan a call. I sent him Dan’s number. And I guess Dan took care of his deposition, which I, you know, when I kind of heard what happened there, that’s when I became reluctant to have him represent me in this.

He didn’t seem very stable on the phone. I started to really listen to when he was talking and his rants, and I was, like, okay, this guy– I don’t think this guy’s great for me.

And then the morning that the FBI raided my girlfriend’s house I reached out to him because he was the only attorney that I knew and I was just kind of asking him for advice on how to handle everything.

And I specifically asked him for a retainer, like, can we sign a retainer paperwork, and he was, like, not right now, not right now. And I said okay.

Then a few days later, he asked — he called me — he would call me randomly late at night and go on, like, an hour rant about how the Proud Boys were little girls and just, I mean, off the rail conversations. I didn’t know what he was talking about. I was, like, my brain was popping trying to figure out what he was talking about. Then I believe he came to me and said, well, I’m going to — he said, do you want me to accept service on your behalf for the congressional thing, he said, but I’m not going to be able to be there because that date doesn’t work for me, so you’re going to have to go do it on your own.

I said no — and this was on a phone conversation, not a text conversation — I said no. He’s like, well, take 48 hours and think about it. This was on like a — I don’t even remember what day, but I believe it was the day before he actually accepted service from you guys. And he never got confirmation from me to accept service.

He said, well, just take 48 hours and think about it. I said, okay.

Next phone call I got from him was, hey, I accepted service, your date for your deposition is this day, and I’m not going to be there so you’re going to be on your own.

And that is pretty much when I cut off contact, I stopped responding to his calls and his text messages, and I hired Mr. Wellborn.

Bertino’s prior conversations with Hull were made all the more urgent because Norm Pattis, Alex Jones’ attorney, just got kicked off the case after having his license suspended in Connecticut for violating the Sandy Hook protective order, something we all knew was coming since November. [Update: Judge Tim Kelly is letting Pattis stay on the team, though it’s unclear in what role.]

Yesterday and today, Judge Tim Kelly hammered out some plan whereby Hull will be prevented from questioning Bertino, but that in no way eliminates the conflict. That in no way eliminates the risk of having Hull serve as the sole attorney in a case where he had privileged conversations with one of the key cooperating witnesses.

The J6C Committee is significantly to blame about this — at least by the time Bertino’s plea became public, they had to have recognized this conversation needed to be shared with prosecution.

But DOJ itself should have raised conflict issues with Pattis. At the time he joined Biggs’ team last summer, he was already representing Jones’ sidekick, Owen Shroyer, who had a bunch of calls with both Ethan Nordean and Biggs in advance of and during the attack.

Other, more prominent members of the Proud Boys appear to have been in contact with Jones and Shroyer about the events of January 6th and on that day. Records for Enrique Tarrio’s phone show that while the attack on the Capitol was ongoing, he texted with Jones three times and Shroyer five times.124 Ethan Nordean’s phone records reflect that he exchanged 23 text messages with Shroyer between January 4th and 5th, and that he had one call with him on each of those days.125 Records of Joseph Biggs’s communications show that he texted with Shroyer eight times on January 4th and called him at approximately 11:15 a.m. on January 6th, while Biggs and his fellow Proud Boys were marching at and around the Capitol.126

Meanwhile, the emergency motion to keep Pattis on the trial team claimed that both he and Hull are representing Jones.

He was suspended for disclosing confidential medical records to other lawyers working on related matters for our joint client, Alex Jones;

This is insanity! You’ve got two lawyers, both facing major ethical challenges, jointly representing Biggs, Jones, and Shroyer in prosecutions aiming to demonstrate that after Trump asked him to lead a mob to the Capitol, Jones coordinated the delivery of that mob to the Proud Boys.

And Pattis’ suspension will upend the prosecutions of both Shroyer — who at least claimed he would plead guilty at the end of this month — and a guy named Doug Wyatt, who has long been pegged by researchers as one of the rioters who seemed like he might be coordinating with others.

While a lot of people were wailing that J6C was way ahead of DOJ, I was raising concerns about the things that may upend the most important prosecution to date: that Bertino transcript and attorney conflicts.

It turns out I had reserved my complaints for the stuff that, as the trial kicks off, could be the thing that sinks it.

Norm Pattis’ Sandy Hook Fuckup May Roil January 6 Investigation

Connecticut judge Barbara Bellis suspended Alex Jones’ lawyer, Norm Pattis, for sending the medical information of Connecticut Sandy Hook plaintiffs to lawyers from both sides of the Texas Sandy Hooks lawsuit.

“Simply put, given his experience, there is no acceptable excuse for his misconduct,” Judge Barbara Bellis said in a court decision released Thursday.

Pattis is one of the state’s most well-known defense attorneys. He said he plans to appeal the decision.

“We cannot expect our system of justice or our attorneys to be perfect but we can expect fundamental fairness and decency. There was no fairness or decency in the treatment of the plaintiffs’ most sensitive and personal information, and no excuse for the respondent’s misconduct,” Bellis wrote.

She goes on to say that because of this, the court agrees with the Disciplinary Counsel’s recommendation to suspend Pattis from practicing law for several months.

As Pattis noted in a statement to NBC, however, he’s not just Alex Jones’ attorney. He’s also one of two lawyers representing Joe Biggs in the Proud Boys case, which is in the final day of voir dire today. And he represents Jones sidekick Owen Shroyer, who is tentatively due to plead guilty at the end of the month.

The Proud Boy defendants are already asking for a delay of their trial so they can read the January 6 Committee transcripts (though note they’ve had 16 of those transcripts since early December). But this decision seems likely to cause a delay, because the case really is difficult for one attorney to manage, but Judge Tim Kelly will want to avoid any claim by Biggs that he was no competently represented by Pattis.

Update: Here’s the ruling, which among other things describes how it happened that Pattis shared such highly confidential information — after blowing the protective order early in the case!

Ali Alexander Asked for 5-Minute Updates on Trump’s Actions on January 6

Amid the release of the January 6 Committee transcripts, I’ve been vacating a bit. But I wanted to do a post on what I have been reading.

Let’s start with the fact that at 12:19PM on January 6, Ali Alexander texted Caroline Wren with a request that she update him every five minutes on POTUS’ plan to walk to the Capitol.

At 12:19 p.m. you ask Ms. Wren — so I’m assuming this is after you’ve left The Ellipse — if POTUS is walking and for her to give you an update every 5 minutes. So at 12:19 pm. on January 6th, was it your understanding that President Trump was going to come to the Capitol?

This reference is not mentioned in the final report.

Caroline Wren is the fundraiser (she reported to Kim Guilfoyle during the campaign) who arranged for Publix heir Julie Fancelli to provide $3 million in support of the rally. She provided J6C a good deal of records regarding her involvement and provided testimony that — while it shaded her knowledge of threats of violence and pitched some dodgy fundraising as a normal approach to finance — more closely resembled the truth than a lot of other witnesses. She is one of five women, along with the Kremers, Katrina Pierson, and Cindy Chafian, whose in-fighting has dominated the coverage of the planning for January 6, undoubtedly distracting from some other key players. Pierson described her as aligned with Alex Jones and the others, though in her testimony, Wren provided not unreasonable explanations for her ties to Alex Jones and Roger Stone, not least that Fancelli had donated money believing that crazies like Jones and Stone would have a big role.

It wasn’t that she was close to Jones and Stone, it’s that she was trying to meet the expectations of the donor who had paid for the whole thing.

As you no doubt know, Ali Alexander is the Roger Stone protégé who ran Stop the Steal. His December 9 testimony, at which he was represented by the lawyer who helped a Roger Stone protégé stall the Mueller investigation for a year, Paul Kamenar, is epic, hilarious, and not very honest. At times he shaded or lied to protect Roger Stone, various members of Congress, and Alex Jones. He explicitly said that he distanced himself from the White House during the post-election period so no one could blame Trump for any threats (described as political pressure, not violence) Alexander made against them.

So whenever I’m talking to a State legislator or someone, and saying this is the political fallout, I don’t want anyone to think President Trump told this kid to come up and threaten me.

He seems to suggest in his testimony that they funded buses through Turning Point to hide Stop the Steal’s involvement. His explanations for why he got the permit for his own rally under a cover name are epic.

He invented a bullshit line in response to a question about his Signal texts relating to January 6.

Q don’t recall in your production. Please correct me if I’m wrong. Did we get any Signal chats you from?

A I provided one with Charlie Kirk. ~ They auto-disappeared. That’s like a data retention policy. So don’t -in response to the committee’s investigation on the Capitol attack, and then as you guys widened it, in my opinion, to cover legally permissible events that I wanted to cooperate with this committee about like January 6th, I don’t recall having any in my possession from Signal. Most of what I did was verbal. Some of what did is in text message.

Perhaps a result, while J6C had an extended discussion about a Signal chat with Oath Keepers Alexander was privy to (one that referenced 13 people who had already been indicted by that point), they did not raise the Friends of Stone Signal chat at all during that interview.

In short, Alexander’s testimony was not all that helpful for understanding his central role in January 6.

But both Alexander and Wren provided some telephony texts to the committee, and as a result, this text was available to ask Alexander about.

At 12:19 PM on January 6, Alexander asked Wren to give him updates every five minutes on Trump’s progress. In response to the question about the text, Alexander bullshitted a bit until he explained, simply, that Wren was at the Ellipse.

A One, really appreciate you pointing out this text. This is helpful. I’s also helpful that | use the word “walking,” and you characterized it as marching before you read out the quote. And my understanding is informed by a lot of things, you know, my race, my faith, my profession. And professionally, I’m sorry to bore you guys, but professionally, in my interactions with observing Secret Service over the years, observing Democrat nominees and Republican nominees and Presidents is, something like thats just not allowed to happen  But I do know that we live in interesting times. ~ And if it were to happen, I would like an advance notice. And, again, I’m sorry. I saw the faces, but I’m sorry if my answer is weird. Trying to be helpful.

Q So based upon this text, you were asking Ms. Wren, because you presume she would know if President Trump was going to walk to the Capitol?

A She was physically at The Ellipse, and I wasn’t.

Q All right.

This seemed to satisfy investigators, and they moved into where Alexander headed from there (Alexander seems to have obscured his actions during the Ellipse speech with conflicting claims, first, that he was able to move in and out of the VIP section, but also that Secret Service was limiting the number of people who were permitted to leave with him and Alex Jones via what he described as a special exit).

This text is, in my opinion, really significant. The J6C Report does not provide a very satisfying answer about the genesis of the request, which Alex Jones said came from the White House, for him to lead the march from the Ellipse to the Capitol. In significant part, it concludes that when Alexander and Jones told others they were in contact with the White House — including the request to lead the march to the Capitol — they were using shorthand for Wren, in spite of wild obfuscation from Alexander about it, his obvious ties to Stone, and his bullshit answer about how he knew what “POTUS wants.”

Q May just ask, Mr. Alexander, was there anyone other than Caroline Wren a who you were talking to at the time who claimed to be speaking on behalf of the White House that you can remember whether about this or any other aspect of that event?

A Oh man, that.

Q On behalf of the White House.

A Well, you said White House, and I haven’t said White House at all.

Q On behalf – replaying what the President’s plans were.

A There was a lot of chatter and in these situations, sometimes you’ll hear something third party and it is credible and sometimes not. ~ And, you know, as a professional in this space, somebody — what I will say is unique about Donald J. Trump to politics is everyone thinks they are his adviser, that everyone thinks they know exactly what he’s saying. It has been very widely reported that that, you know, the last thing said in his ear is the thing he’ll do. And, so, if I gave you a specific answer, it wouldn’t be doing you justice or me justice. My main point of contact with what I’m calling Trump world was Caroline Wren regarding what I consider the scope of the committee, and that’s January 6th.

To be sure, Alexander did attribute the request to Wren (though could not date it).

Q And the plan — we talked about right when we started the deposition about how you walked, marched, whatever you want to call it, from the Ellipse to the Capital, and that when it actually happened you were with Alex Jones and Owen Shroyer. Am I right?

A [Nonverbal response]

Q When did you come to know that you were going to make that movement, walk with them, those two particular men? Was it just the morning of January 6th, or had that always been the plan, that the three of you together would walk up there?

A There was no plan for Owen to walk with us.

Q okay.

A I don’t know when there was a plan. I wouldn’t even call it a plan. The idea that Roger Stone, myself, and Alex Jones would go at the end of Trump’s speech and position ourselves at the front of the overflow crowd and figuring out how logistically that worked so we didn’t have to go out the same exit as everybody was something that Caroline Wren first proposed to me — don’t know when — and I thought, okay, cool idea.

Q But before the morning of the 6th?

A Certainly we talked about the idea, yeah.

Q Okay. And did you ever talk with Mr. Jones about this before the morning of the 6th, this plan to march or walk, whatever you call it?

A I’m not sure

Q Is it possible you did and you just don’t remember?

A It’s possible.

Q Is Mr. Jones someone you would speak to on the phone, only in person, or what was the nature of the relationship?

A Yeah, would speak on the phone. I appeared on his show a few times. I could call a security guard if couldn’t get ahold of his head of security. I could call if didn’t get ahold of Alex.

Q Is that Tim Enlow?

A I know his name is Tim.

Q Okay. And for the record, E-n-l-o-w. And what do you remember before January 6th about Mr. Jones telling you, if you do remember anything, about walking from the Ellipse to the Capitol? Do you remember him saying anything about that event?

A No

Q All right. So you’ve never heard it from his lips to you that he spoke with someone in the White House or Trump about him walking from the Ellipse to the Capitol?

A don’t recall anything like that.

Q Okay. Now, are you aware that he said publicly that that happened, that he had that he was told by Trump to walk from the Capitol from the Ellipse to the Capitol?

A I’m not aware of that. Alex is prone to exaggeration and/or could have been referencing Caroline Wren.

Q Understood. When it comes to Mr. Stone, do you know — he has said publicly that he was told, whether by Trump or the White House, that he was going to lead or be a part of leading the walk from the Ellipse to the Capitol. Are you aware that he said that publicly?

A I believe so.

Q All right. Did he ever talk to you about that before January 6th, what his thoughts or what his beliefs were about what was going to happen in terms of that march?

A Not to the best of my recollection.

Q So whether anybody –whether Trump or the White House told him that he was going to be part of that march?

A Again, I think this was an idea, as best that I understood it, that originated with Caroline, pinged off me, I said okay, and then was given to Alex and Roger, if it was given to them at all. I could have given –I could have talked to them about it.

Q That’s why we’re asking.

A Okay. Yeah, l don’t know.

Q We’re trying to understand.

A Yeah. And don’t know what the play byplay of all of that was.

The Report doesn’t rely on any of this blather from Alexander for its conclusion that Wren is probably the one who requested that Jones et al lead the mob to the Capitol. They rely primarily on Wren, and an Alex Jones broadcast that should be treated with the same reliability as his claims that Sandy Hook victims were crisis actors.

It is likely that both got that idea from Caroline Wren, a Republican fundraiser who helped organize the Ellipse event.111 Jones texted Wren at 12:27 p.m., asking when he should leave the Ellipse and begin the march.112 While Wren originally expected Jones, Roger Stone, and retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn to march to the Capitol, Stone did not attend the Ellipse rally and so he was not present to accompany Jones on the march as planned.113 Additionally, while President Trump was delivering his speech, Wren askedFlynn if he was going to march with Jones. Flynn responded, “Hell, no. It’s freezing.”114

While Stone and Flynn did not march, Jones and Alexander led others to the Capitol, though it is not clear how many people followed them.115

112. Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol, Deposition of Alexander Jones, (Jan. 24, 2022), Ex. 13 at 0:29 (Excerpt from The Alex Jones Show on Jan. 7, 2022); Documents on file with the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol (Caroline Wren Production), REVU_000475 (Jan. 6, 2021, Alex Jones text message to Caroline Wren); Documents on file with the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol (Caroline Wren Production), REVU_000484 (Jan. 5, 2021, Tim Enlow text message to Caroline Wren).

113. Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol, Deposition of Caroline Wren, (Dec. 17, 2021), p. 244.

114. Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol, Deposition of Caroline Wren, (Dec. 17, 2021), p. 244.

Perhaps they found Wren more credible than Alexander, which she is. Except according to her version, it would be impossible for Alexander to have floated the idea to Stone and Jones, because in her telling, he was added on at the last minute, and not because he was a key part of Jones’ retinue, but because he had a rally to run.

Q But, at some point, you have conversations with Alex Jones or All Alexander, right, about how are you going to get them out of the VIP area so they can get to the Capitol?

A Right

Q And what do those discussions include?

A Alex wanted to go with Roger Stone. Ali wasn’t really a part of that Ali — so now — I didn’t really get the sense that Ali and Alex like knew each other very well or — like, it was never a group text. Like, the conversations were kind of isolated. So I  just never — they may be very good friends, they might not know each other. So — but Alex Jones’ expectation was that he and Roger Stone would lead a march from the Ellipse to their rally at the Capitol. That also was Ali’s rally or something. And — but ~ and they’d asked about like directions or things to do. And those were things I never could get or did get answers to. [my emphasis]

I won’t get into all the ways that this testimony is inconsistent with the relationship that Wren described that she had with Alexander, or the reasons why.

Just understand, for the moment, that the J6C conclusion that the White House requested this probably came from her is not consistent with the documentary or testimonial record and comes in the face of Jones and Stone refusing to cooperate and the fact that everyone was lying about Signal text communications, including known “group texts” of the sort that Wren disavows possibility of.

More importantly, because J6C was so determined to come up with some conclusion about who directed Jones to lead the mob to the Capitol, it ignored several things.

First, even ignoring Roger Stone’s likely role in all this, Alexander told J6C he had another White House source: Garrett Ziegler. In fact, his attribution of stuff to Wren came specifically with a disavowal of Ziegler’s role in all this.

The person that talked to was Caroline Wren, and to make a duplicative effort to me would seem a waste of resources or my time. I talk to hundreds of people probably a day. I mean, I was like the busiest person in America. I know some people don’t like that, but a lot of other people love it. And another gentleman I talked to at the White House was — and we did talk about election integrity, but I don’t recall talking about the 6th – Garrett Ziegler, who worked for Mr. Navarro. And I know we talked about election integrity. I don’t recall talking to him about the 6th or the 5th. And I don’t see how he would be in any authority to kind of do anything like that.

Alexander did attribute his understanding of events about January 6 in December to Ziegler, however.

Q So, on December 19th, what people from the White House were you in contact with?

A I don’t know who I was referencing. Mary [sic] — maybe it was Garrett Ziegler.

Q I don’t see Garrett Ziegler in any of your productions. Was it a phone call –

A We

Q I was going to say was it a phone call, was it a text message, or was it an email?

A I believe having the phone call with him. I don’t remember receiving any emails from him.

Ziegler, recall, was the guy who let Mike Flynn and Sidney Powell into the White House on December 18, hours before Trump first tweeted about the January 6 event that Alexander was (per his own testimony) already planning.

In spite of the possibility that Ziegler was another White House contact with Alexander during this period, in his own deposition — scheduled in July, at a time when J6C would have had a much clearer idea of the problems with Alexander’s testimony, especially — no one asked him about Alexander (or Jones or Stone), at all. To be sure, Ziegler invoked the Fifth about everything. He wouldn’t have answered any questions in any case. But neither in Alexander’s deposition nor in Ziegler’s do they pursue the possibility that he might have had a more central role in this than they let on (though there are a few others that’s true of as well).

What I’m interested in is the more alarming possibility: that Alexander’s request for five minute updates on Trump played a part in execution that day.

As noted above, the report does not mention that Alexander asked Wren for five minute updates on the movements of the President.

It also does not mention that at 12:59, Wren texted Alexander and told him “POTUS not walking.”

Q Thats fine. We saw a text message earlier you saw where Caroline Wren told you

A What time was it at?

Q 12:59, POTUS not walking. Do you remember that?

J6C uses this to establish that when Alex Jones used the promise that Trump would speak on the East side of the building to lure people to form a second front, Alexander, at least, had the expectation Trump would not come (though that overstates things — this text would have been before the confrontation in the limo and this text could have meant only that Trump was not walking but might ride to the Capitol).

But they ignore another possibility: that Alexander and Jones and Owen Shroyer (the latter of whom now shares an attorney with Joe Biggs) were relaying updates to people at the Capitol.

The report does lay out, for example, how much traffic was passing between the Jones group and the Proud Boys based on the limited telephony call records they managed to obtain (though it rather infuriatingly doesn’t provide the times of these communications).

Proud Boys were among the crowd Jones gathered during his march. Matthew Walter, president of a Tennessee chapter of the organization,122 was near the National Mall with two other Proud Boys from Tennessee and decided to join Jones.123 Other, more prominent members of the Proud Boys appear to have been in contact with Jones and Shroyer about the events of January 6th and on that day. Records for Enrique Tarrio’s phone show that while the attack on the Capitol was ongoing, he texted with Jones three times and Shroyer five times.124 Ethan Nordean’s phone records reflect that he exchanged 23 text messages with Shroyer between January 4th and 5th, and that he had one call with him on each of those days.125 Records of Joseph Biggs’s communications show that he texted with Shroyer eight times on January 4th and called him at approximately 11:15 a.m. on January 6th, while Biggs and his fellow Proud Boys were marching at and around the Capitol.126

122. Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol, Deposition of Matthew Walter, (Mar. 9, 2022), p. 78.

123. Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol, Deposition of Matthew Walter, (Mar. 9, 2022), p. 75.

124. Documents on file with the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol (Google Voice Production, Feb. 25, 2022).

125. Documents on file with the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol (Verizon Production, Nov. 19, 2021).

126. Documents on file with the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol (AT&T Production, Nov. 24, 2021).

And this summary of communications does not include comms using other than telephony (like Signal texts or radios).

At the very least, the information Wren passed to Alexander may have influenced Jones’ decision to hold up at Freedom Plaza for a period, before continuing on to the Capitol. But given the solid evidence that former Infowars employee Biggs was coordinating with this group, it seems likely that Alexander’s information got shared with those modulating the attack on the Capitol.

In other words, it’s not just that someone asked Alex Jones to lead the mob to the Capitol. It’s not just that, when he arrived, Alex Jones moved them to the East side where hundreds played a role in the second major front of the attack. But it’s that Jones and Alexander easily could have relayed information from those handling Trump to those handling the mob at the Capitol.

For a year, I’ve been describing how the relationship between the Proud Boys and Alex Jones’ crew was a pivot between the mob and the President, one through which DOJ could charge a conspiracy with those who attacked cops and stormed the Capitol. That’s all pending the outcome of the Proud Boy Leader trial, opening arguments for which start this week. It’s a complex trial and I have no idea what to expect.

As J6C releases transcripts, we’ve learned that Jones’ role was even more central than I imagined. While J6C doesn’t focus enough on the role of the Stop the Steal events in posing a real threat to legislators who ignored Trump, the transcripts do reveal more details about how Alexander deployed that threat. Jones was central to Julie Fancelli’s decision to fund the event. According to Alexander, about a third of the mob were Jones’ fans. In spite of months of effort, J6C was never able to explain how or who gave the order to Jones to lead the mob to the Capitol (and the Ziegler silence and the Stone disinterest are not the only gaps in their efforts to explain it so far).

J6C’s failure to answer that question was largely attributable to the efforts, by virtually all those personally involved, to obstruct the investigation. DOJ has some, but not unlimited, tools to overcome such obstruction (including several cooperating witnesses from both primary militia conspiracies and full exploitation of several phones involved, including those of Enrique Tarrio and Owen Shroyer).

Jones’ (and Alexander’s and Stone’s) roles look just as important to understanding the plan on January 6 as they did a year ago. But there’s even more reason to believe that Jones was not just a dumb guy with a megaphone leading sheep to slaughter. Jones and Alexander were in a position to help those kicking off the attack account for the involvement — or not — of the President.

Back-up material

Ali Alexander: Live tweet; December 9, 2021 transcript

Julie Fancelli: Live tweet; February 18, 2022 transcript

Alex Jones: January 24, 2022 transcript

Charlie Kirk: May 24, 2022 transcript

Roger Stone: December 17, 2021 transcript

Caroline Wren: Live tweet; December 17, 2021 transcript

Garret Ziegler: Post; July 19, 2022 transcript

The Roger Stone Convergence at the Winter Palace

There was a status hearing in the Owen Shroyer case last week that was so short it was over by the time I had entered the dial-in code. Shroyer, you’ll recall, is the Alex Jones sidekick who was charged for violating his specific prohibition on being an asshole at the Capitol. His lawyer, Norm Pattis, happens to be the lawyer who sent a large swath of Alex Jones’ data to the Texas Sandy Hook plaintiffs, and then presided over the $1 billion judgement in the Connecticut Sandy Hook lawsuit. On June 14, Pattis noticed his appearance on Joe Biggs’ legal team, effectively giving him visibility on how badly the discovery in the Proud Boy case implicates Shroyer and Jones and Ali Alexander. Shroyer appears to be stalling on his decision about whether he wants to enter a plea agreement — one that would presumably require some cooperation — or whether he wants to stick around and be charged in a superseding indictment along with everyone else.

Shroyer has until November 29 to make that decision, around which time I expect a Roger Stone convergence to become more clear.

The Roger Stone convergence has been coming for some time (I’ve been pointing to it for at 14 months). Yesterday, NYT reported that one means by which it is coming is in the dissemination of the We the People document laying out plans to occupy buildings — under the code “Winter Palace” — which the FBI found on the Enrique Tarrio phone it took over a year to exploit.

As I laid out here, the document is important because it shows Tarrio’s motive on January 6 in his assertion that “every waking moment consists of” planning for revolution.

41. Between December 30 and December 31, 2020, TARRIO communicated multiple times with an individual whose identity is known to the grand jury. On December 30, 2020, this individual sent TARRIO a nine-page document tiled, “1776 Returns.” The document set forth a plan to occupy a few “crucial buildings” in Washington, D.C., on January 6, including House and Senate office buildings around the Capitol, with as “many people as possible” to “show our politicians We the People are in charge.” After sending the document, the individual stated, “The revolution is important than anything.” TARRIO responded, “That’s what every waking moment consists of… I’m not playing games.”

And an exchange he had with now-cooperating witness Jeremy Bertino that they had succeeded in implementing the Winter Palace plan shows that Tarrio recognized that occupying buildings was part of his plan.

107. At 7:39 pm, PERSON-1 sent two text messages to TARRIO that read, “Brother. ‘You know we made this happen,” and “I’m so proud of my country today.” TARRIO responded, “I know” At 7:44 pm. the conversation continued, with PERSON-1 texting, “1776 motherfuckers.” TARRIO responded, “The Winter Palace.” PERSON-1 texted, “Dude. Did we just influence history?” TARRIO responded, “Let’s first see how this plays out.” PERSON-1 stated, “They HAVE to certify today! Or it’s invalid.” These messages were exchanged before the Senate returned to its chamber at approximately 8:00 p.m. to resume certifying the Electoral College vote.

The NYT story reveals that Eryka Gemma is the person who sent the document to Tarrio, but she was not its author.

As a part of the investigation, prosecutors are seeking to understand whether Mr. Engels has ties to a little-known Miami-based cryptocurrency promoter who may have played a role in the Capitol attack.

A week before the building was stormed, the promoter, Eryka Gemma, gave Mr. Tarrio a document titled “1776 Returns,” according to several people familiar with the matter. The document laid out a detailed plan to surveil and storm government buildings around the Capitol on Jan. 6 in a pressure campaign to demand a new election.

[snip]

The federal indictment of Mr. Tarrio says that the person who provided him with “1776 Returns” told him, shortly after it was sent, “The revolution is more important than anything.” That person was Ms. Gemma, according to several people familiar with the matter.

But Ms. Gemma was not the author of “1776 Returns,” which was written by others, first as a shared document on Google, the people said.

It remains unclear who the original authors were.

It may be unclear or detrimental to the sources for this story who originally wrote the document; it’s probably not to investigators who can simply send a warrant to Google.

And whether because investigators know who wrote the document or for some other reason (such as that they have just a few more weeks of pre-sentencing cooperation with Joel Greenberg), they’re trying to understand whether this document, laying out a plan to occupy buildings, had an analogue in the Florida-based riots that key Roger Stone associate, Jacob Engels, staged in 2018 in an attempt to thwart any delays in certification for Rick Scott (and Ron DeSantis, who gets a positive shout out by name in the Winter Palace document).

On Nov. 9, [2018] a group of about 100 angry protesters, including members of the Proud Boys, descended on the Broward County elections office, carrying pro-Scott and pro-Trump signs and protesting the recount.

The event drew support from several far-right activists in Florida linked to Mr. Stone — among them, Ali Alexander, who later organized Stop the Steal events around the 2020 election, and Joseph Biggs, a leader of the Proud Boys who has since been charged alongside Mr. Tarrio in the Jan. 6 seditious conspiracy case.

The NYT describes this line of inquiry as happening via two different sets of prosecutors, which is a sign of either convergence or simply the networked structure that DOJ’s approach, using parallel and (through Stone) intersecting, conspiracy indictments clearly facilitated (Shroyer’s prosecution team, incidentally, features an Oath Keeper prosecutor and a key assault prosecutor).

In recent months, prosecutors overseeing the seditious conspiracy case of five members of the Proud Boys have expanded their investigation to examine the role that Jacob Engels — a Florida Proud Boy who accompanied Mr. Stone to Washington for Jan. 6 — played in the 2018 protests, according to a person briefed on the matter.

The prosecutors want to know whether Mr. Engels received any payments or drew up any plans for the Florida demonstration, and whether he has ties to other people connected to the Proud Boys’ activities in the run-up to the storming of the Capitol.

Different prosecutors connected to the Jan. 6 investigation have also been asking questions about efforts by Mr. Stone — a longtime adviser to Mr. Trump — to stave off a recount in the 2018 Senate race in Florida, according to other people familiar with the matter.

While the NYT describes (breaking news!) that Engels was one of the people who in 2019, along with Tarrio, crafted an attack on the judge presiding over Roger Stone’s case, Amy Berman Jackson, it does not note that the Stop the Steal effort dates back two years earlier than the 2018 riot, to voter intimidation efforts that Stone pursued that look similar to the current drop box intimidation effort being disseminated via Trump’s shitty social media website (NYT does mention the Brooks Brothers riots in 2000 and notes the participants “apparently work[ed] with Mr. Stone” — more breaking news).

Nor does it describe the backstory to how Biggs showed up in Florida in 2018, fresh off his ouster from InfoWars after playing a key role in both the PizzaGate and Seth Rich hoaxes, both part of a Russian info-op that Stone played a key role in. But it’s part of the prehistory of the Proud Boys that prosecutors are now tracing.

I have no idea whether the very clear 2016 precedent is part of this. DOJ wouldn’t need to do (much) fresh investigation of it because Mueller and DC USAO did quite a bit of investigation before Bill Barr torched the investigation all to hell and then Trump pardoned Stone to avoid being implicated himself. But if it was part of this, no one who would share those details with NYT would know about it unless and until it was indicted. That’s even true of the 2019 incident; DOJ did at least some investigative work into the funding of that, the same questions being asked now about how Engels organized the 2018 riot.

But whether this investigative prong extends no further back than 2018 or whether it includes the Stone Stop the Steal activity that demonstrably paralleled a Russian effort, it does seem that DOJ is investigating how the prior history of the Proud Boys parallels these efforts to undermine democracy and did so in the place — Miami — where the Proud Boys, schooled by the master rat-fucker, are increasingly taking on an official role.

That may not be an investigation about Engels’ actions, directly (though he has long been in the thick of things). Rather, it may be an investigation into resources that were consistent throughout these developments.

Friends of Sedition: The Networked January 6 Conspiracy

I’d like to look at several developments in recent days in the interlocking January 6 investigations.

First, as I noted Friday, the January 6 Committee subpoena to the former President focuses closely on communications with or on behalf of him via Signal. It specifically asks for communications with the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers (including on Signal). And Roger Stone is the first person named on the list of people all of whose post-election communication with Trump (including on Signal) the Committee wants. Clearly, the Committee has obtained Signal texts from others that reflect inclusion of the then-President and expects they might find more such communications, including some involving Stone and the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers.

Then, on Friday, one of the the main Proud Boy prosecutors, Erik Kenerson, asked to continue Matthew Greene’s cooperation for another 120 days, which would put the next status update in late February, over a month after the Proud Boy leader’s trial should be done. There are, admittedly, a great number of Proud Boy defendants who will go to trial long after that, but Greene doesn’t know many of them (he had just joined the Proud Boys and mostly interacted with other New York members like Dominic Pezzola). Nevertheless, prosecutors seem to think he may still be cooperating after the first big trial.

Those details become more interesting given how DOJ is presenting the Oath Keeper conspiracy at trial. Last Thursday, DOJ added the various communication channels each participant was subscribed to on their visual guide of the various co-conspirators.

It’s not surprising they would do that. To prove the three conspiracies these defendants are charged with, DOJ needs to prove each entered into an agreement to obstruct the vote certification, obstruct Congress, and attack the government. DOJ is relying on the various statements in advance of (and, for sedition, after) January 6 to show such intent. The fact that an intersecting collection of Signal channels incorporated most of the charged defendants will go a long way to show they were all willfully part of these three conspiracies.

But as you can see with Elmer Stewart Rhodes and Kellye SoRelle (circled in pink), DOJ has included Stone’s Signal channel — Friends of Stone — along with the Oath Keeper ones. As DOJ laid out last week, in addition to Rhodes and SoRelle, Enrique Tarrio, Alex Jones, and Ali Alexander were on the FOS channels, in addition to Stone himself.

DOJ has included things Rhodes said on the FOS chat in its timeline leading up to and on January 6. Significantly, at 2:28 on January 6, Rhodes informed the FOS chat that they were at “the back door of the Capitol.” (See the context in Brandi Buchman and Roger Parloff live threads.)

The thing is, many of the participants in FOS that prosecutors have, thus far, identified as participating in the chat (SoRelle, Ali Alexander, and Alex Jones) and most of the Oath Keepers were there on the East side of the Capitol or had only recently left. So was Owen Shroyer, who was also on FOS; he had been on the top of the stairs with Alexander and Jones.

Enrique Tarrio is one exception. He wasn’t present at the East side of the Capitol, but he was following along closely on social media — and likely already knew what was happening on the East side of the Capitol from Joe Biggs, who went through the East doors right along with the Oath Keepers.

Which means the only person mentioned so far who now needed to be told where the Oath Keepers were was Stone, back at the Willard.

We learned one more thing recently, at the last January 6 Committee hearing.

At 1:25PM — after the attack on the Capitol had started — Trump’s Secret Service detail was still planning on bringing him to the Capitol two hours later, around 3:30. That was after, per a video clip in which Nancy Pelosi said she would punch Trump if he showed up, Secret Service told Pelosi they had talked him out of coming.

But 18 minutes after Rhodes told the Friends of Stone list where the Oath Keepers were, at 2:46, Joseph Hackett came out of the Capitol and looked around, as if he was expecting someone to show up.

The fact that Rhodes was updating the FOS list from the Capitol suggests he may have been getting feedback from Stone and whoever else was on the list, including those who may have been coordinating with the then-President.

And whatever else DOJ’s use of the FOS list as part of this conspiracy does, it establishes the basis to argue that those coordinating on the FOS list were, themselves, in a conspiracy together: Rhodes and SoRelle with Tarrio (whom both met in the parking garage) and Alex Jones and Ali Alexander and Stone.

Just as importantly, it would network the conspiracies. That would put all the various Proud Boys taking orders from Tarrio in a conspiracy with those on the FOS list. It would put all the Oath Keepers conspiring with Rhodes and SoRelle in a conspiracy with those on the FOS list.

And it would put those on the FOS list in a conspiracy with those directing the attack on the Capitol.

I laid out over 14 months ago that, if DOJ were to charge Trump in conjunction with the attack on the Capitol, it would likely be part of an intersecting conspiracy with those already being charged.

Finally, if DOJ were to charge Trump, they would charge him in a conspiracy to obstruct the vote count that intersected with some of the other conspiracies to obstruct the vote count, possibly with obstruction charges against him personally. In general, I don’t think DOJ would charge most of Trump’s discrete acts, at least those conducted before January 20, as a crime. There are two possible exceptions, however. His call to Brad Raffensperger, particularly in the context of all his other efforts to tamper in the Georgia election, would have been conducted as part of campaigning (and therefore would not have been conducted as President). It seems a clearcut case of using threats to get a desired electoral outcome. It’s unclear whether Trump’s request that Mike Pence to commit the unconstitutional action — that is, refusing to certify the winning electoral votes — would be treated as Presidential or electoral. But that demand, followed closely with Trump’s public statements that had the effect of making Pence a target for assassination threats, seems like it could be charged on its own. Both of those actions, however, could and would, in the way DOJ is approaching this, also be overt acts in the conspiracy charged against Trump.

In the last two weeks, DOJ has started to show how those conspiracies intersect.

Unsurprisingly, they intersect right through the former President’s rat-fucker.

Update; Corrected Pelosi timing, per Nadezhda.

Update: Tried to clarify that Tarrio was on the chat but was not (as the Oath Keepers, Jones, and Alexander were) on the East side of the Capitol.