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Bennie Thompson to Ivanka: Come In from the Conspiracy

Even though you read this site, you may not recognize the names Brad Smith or Marshall Neefe. Even though I’ve focused some attention to his case, you may not remember the significance of Ronnie Sandlin. You might not even remember that the Oath Keeper conspiracy was named after retired Navy officer Thomas Caldwell before he was spun off into the sedition conspiracy named after Stewart Rhodes.

But those are all references of import to understand this footnote in the letter Bennie Thompson sent to Ivanka Trump, inviting her to testify voluntarily.

The Select Committee is aware of the motivation of many of the violent rioters from their posts on social media, from their contemporaneous statements on video, and from the hundreds of filings in federal court.11

11 For example, many defendants in pending criminal cases identified President Trump’s allegations about the “stolen election” as a motivation for their activities at the Capitol; a number also specifically cited President Trump’s tweets asking that supporters come to Washington, D.C. on January 6th. See, e.g., United States of America v. Ronald L. Sandlin https://www.justice.gov/opa/page/file/1362396/download: “I’m going to be there to show support for our president and to do my part to stop the steal and stand behind Trump when he decides to cross the rubicon.” United States of America v. Marshall Neefe and Charles Bradford Smith https://www.justice.gov/usao-dc/case-multi-defendant/file/1432686/download: “Trump is literally calling people to DC in a show of force. Militias will be there and if there’s enough people they may fucking storm the buildings and take out the trash right there.” United States of America v. Caldwell et al. https://www.justice.gov/usao-dc/case-multi-defendant/file/1369071/download: “Trump said It’s gonna be wild!!!!!!! It’s gonna be wild!!!!!!! He wants us to make it WILD that’s what he’s saying. He called us all to the Capitol and wants us to make it wild!! ! Sir Yes Sir!!! Gentlemen we are heading to DC pack your shit!!”

The Select Committee could have chosen any number of individual defendants to support the claim that Trump was the motivating force for the participants of the mob that stormed the Capitol on January 6.

It did not.

Instead, without saying that it had, it cited three conspiracy indictments: a conspiracy that involved totally random guys who met online coming armed to DC and assaulting officers to break open the East doors and break into the Senate chamber, a conspiracy where guys armed themselves to come to DC based on a motivation that, “Why shouldn’t we be the ones” to kick off war, and a conspiracy that has now officially been charged as sedition.

What the Select Committee just said to Ivanka, very subtly (and without the hotlinks to these court filings to make it easy) is that multiple organizers across multiple conspiracies — all involving arming themselves before traveling to DC — acted on Trump’s comments in December and January as instructions.

What the Select Committee has laid out in this footnote is that key members of conspiracies that led to violent assaults on January 6 entered into an agreement with Donald Trump to engage in violence.

Other coverage of this letter has focused on the many other scathing details included in it:

  • Proof that Trump knew he was making an illegal request of Mike Pence (and that Ivanka knew such pressure was wrong)
  • Proof that multiple people attempted to get Trump to call off the violence (and that staffers repeatedly asked Ivanka to intercede to get him to do so)
  • Proof that advisors including Kaleigh McEnany and Sean Hannity attempted to get Trump to disavow these efforts

In response to the letter, Ivanka issued a statement making it clear that on January 6 she disavowed the violence caused by her father.

Ivanka Trump just learned that the Jan. 6 Committee issued a public letter asking her to appear. As the Committee already knows, Ivanka did not speak at the January 6 rally. As she publicly stated that day at 3:15pm, “any security breach or disrespect to our law enforcement is unacceptable. The violence must stop immediately. Please be peaceful.”

But that doesn’t account for another detail of the letter that has gotten far less attention than the eye-popping new details about Trump’s actions: Chairman Thompson reminded Ivanka (in a paragraph that seemingly addresses another topic) not just of the requirements of the Presidential Records Act, but also that she got formal notice of those requirements in 2017.

The Select Committee would like to discuss this effort after January 6th to persuade President Trump not to associate himself with certain people, and to avoid further discussion regarding election fraud allegations. We also wish to share with you a memorandum from former White House Counsel Donald McGahn (attached), regarding the legal requirements on White House personnel to turn over to the National Archives any work-related messages from personal devices. We wish to be certain that former White House staff are fully aware of these obligations.

Ivanka, of course, is not just the former President’s daughter. She’s also someone legally obliged to share all the communications conducted while performing whatever role it is she played in the White House — up to and including begging her Daddy to call off a violent mob — with the National Archives.

Thompson would not have mentioned this if the committee had been able to obtain Ivanka’s side of many of these communications from the Archives (or at least seen them in documents Trump was attempting to claim privilege over). Thompson seems to know that Ivanka is not in compliance with the Presidential Records Act specifically as it pertains to her role on January 6.

Here’s the thing about conspiracies. Once you join them, you’re in them — you’re on the hook for what all other co-conspirators do, from acquiring weapons to bring to DC, to assaulting cops, to planning to overthrow the government — unless you make an affirmative effort to leave the conspiracy.

Ivanka might well point to that comment in her statement — The violence must stop immediately — as an effort to leave a conspiracy.

Except if she is covering up some of the things she knows by withholding records from the Archives, she’s going to have a hard time arguing that she didn’t remain in the conspiracy with all those people plotting violence by helping to cover it up.

January 6 Deconfliction: “This Is Part of a Much Bigger Conspiracy”

In a Detroit Free Press article on the forged electoral certificate presented from Michigan, the state’s awesome Attorney General Dana Nessel explained why, after investigating for almost a year, she is now referring the matter to the Grand Rapids US Attorney’s Office.

Nessel told Maddow that her office has been evaluating charges for almost a year but decided Thursday to refer the matter to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Michigan.

“We think this is a matter that is best investigated and potentially prosecuted by the feds,” Nessel said.

The signatories of the failed attempt to award Michigan’s Electoral College votes to Trump include Michigan GOP co-chair Meshawn Maddock, national Republican committeewoman Kathy Berden and Michigan GOP grassroots vice chair Marian Sheridan, among other pro-Trump activists in the party.

The decision does not preclude possible charges against the Republicans who falsely claimed that they cast Michigan’s Electoral College votes for Trump, Nessel said. And her office might still bring charges, she added.

“Under state law, I think clearly you have forgery of a public record, which is a 14-year offense and election law forgery, which is a five-year offense,” Nessel said.

“But, obviously, this is part of a much bigger conspiracy and our hope is that the federal authorities and the Department of Justice and United States Attorney General Merrick Garland will take this in coordination with all the other information they’ve received and make an evaluation as to what charges these individuals might (face),” she said.

Consider what happened to lead to this federal criminal referral. After electors sent fake certifications to the National Archives, NARA then sent them to Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs.

Vice President Mike Pence the winners of both Michigan and Arizona and their electors after the 2020 election. Public records requests show the secretaries of state for those states sent those certificates to the Jan. 6 panel, along with correspondence between the National Archives and state officials about the documents.

Spokespeople for the Michigan and Arizona secretaries of state declined to comment on the documents. The offices confirmed that Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, both Democrats, and their staff met with the panel in November.

“They mostly discussed election administration in Arizona, the 2020 elections, threats/harassment directed toward the office, and the Cyber Ninja’s partisan ballot review,” said Hobbs’ spokesperson C. Murphy Hebert.

Benson and her staff took questions from the committee on the 2020 election and events leading up to the Jan. 6 riot, according to Tracy Wimmer, a spokesperson for Benson.

The National Archives sent emails to the Arizona secretary of state on Dec. 11, 2020, passing along the forged certificates “for your awareness” and informing the state officials the Archives would not accept them.

Arizona then took legal action against at least one of the groups who sent in the fake documents, sending a cease and desist letter to a pro-Trump “sovereign citizen” group telling them to stop using the state seal and referring the matter to the state attorney general.

“By affixing the state seal to documents containing false and misleading information about the results of Arizona’s November 3, 2020 General Election, you undermine the confidence in our democratic institutions,” Hobbs wrote to one of the pro-Trump groups.

Arizona took immediate action; given Nessel’s comments, Benson appears to have referred the matter to Nessel. Some of these details were made public last March after American Oversight obtained them. But after the January 6 Committee put them all in context and focused renewed attention to how the fake certificates fit into a larger effort, it led Nessel to hold off on pursuing potential 14-year charges against some of the most powerful Republicans in the state, and instead to formally refer the investigation to the Feds, based on the logic that the obviously coordinated effort to forge fake electoral certificates is part of a larger whole.

This is not dissimilar from how legal action from Florida’s charity regulator led to state action as well as a grand jury investigation into Sidney Powell’s grifting.

For months, a federal investigation running out of Washington, D.C., has been demanding documents and asking potential witnesses questions about Powell, according to three people familiar with the matter. Similarly, a separate investigation into Powell’s anti-democratic activities took place in the Sunshine State earlier this year—and has already produced results, and punished Powell and her far-right group.

The federal probe, which has not been previously reported, is examining the finances of Defending the Republic, an organization founded by Powell to fund her “Kraken” lawsuits to overturn the 2020 election, the sources said.According to two of the people familiar with the matter, a grand jury was empaneled, and subpoenas and documents requests have gone out to multiple individuals as recently as September.

Defending the Republic’s finances have already prompted an investigation and a settlement with Florida’s charity regulator. The group paid a $10,000 fine in September as part of a settlement agreement related to its solicitation of contributions and failure to register as a charitable organization in the state.

[snip]

Defending the Republic’s finances first attracted the scrutiny of regulators in Florida shortly after Powell founded the group in November 2020 when authorities received a complaint and subsequently issued a subpoena to internet hosting service GoDaddy for information about the group’s website.

In a June press conference, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried said Defending the Republic was “found to be soliciting contributions from the State of Florida or from persons within the State of Florida” on the internet “without having filed in the State of Florida” as a charitable organization.”

On Aug. 24, Defending the Republic paid a $10,000 fine as part of a settlement agreement with Florida authorities over its fundraising.

As part of that agreement, Powell’s group agreed to register as a charity in Florida and submitted a projected budget of over $7 million. The settlement agreement also required Defending the Republic to submit an audited financial statement for the group’s operations between December 2020 and July 2021 by Nov. 30, including a balance sheet and a list of expenses and revenue.

Meanwhile, Fulton County’s DA, Fani Willis, has been investigating Trump’s call to pressure Brad Raffensperger to cheat and will reportedly make a prosecutorial decision in the months ahead.

The prosecutor weighing whether Donald Trump and others committed crimes by trying to pressure Georgia officials to overturn Joe Biden’s presidential election victory said a decision on whether to bring charges could come as early as the first half of this year.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis said in an interview with The Associated Press last week that her team is making solid progress, and she’s leaning toward asking for a special grand jury with subpoena power to aid the investigation.

“I believe in 2022 a decision will be made in that case,” Willis said. “I certainly think that in the first half of the year that decisions will be made.”

[snip]

Willis declined to speak about the specifics, but she confirmed that the investigation’s scope includes — but is not limited to — a Jan. 2, 2021, phone call between Trump and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a November 2020 phone call between U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham and Raffensperger, the abrupt resignation of the U.S. attorney in Atlanta on Jan. 4, 2021, and comments made during December 2020 Georgia legislative committee hearings on the election.

Regardless of what Willis decides, she can also refer actions to the Feds because it, like the forged electoral certifications, “is part of a much bigger conspiracy.”

The point is (besides that we should be grateful that Democrats elected a lot of smart, fearless women in recent years) that there are lots of moving parts to this “much bigger conspiracy.” And all those moving parts have, as an option, referring their investigative findings to DOJ to drop it into the “much bigger conspiracy.”

So during the year when DOJ has been laying what Merrick Garland called “the evidentiary foundation for more complex cases,” states and local authorities have been conducting investigations that can be joined to that evidentiary foundation.

These are all parts of a much bigger conspiracy.

All these moving parts require coordination, however, or “deconfliction,” both in an effort to maximize cross-fertilization between the investigations and to ensure no investigation screws up the criminal investigations that might lead to real consequences. While there has been no reporting on how this is being done at DOJ, we can be sure it is, not least because DOJ and the Committee are muddling through the Executive Privilege questions in tandem.

Robert Mueller, for example, had his own congressional liaison, and referrals from the Senate Intelligence Committee led directly to plea deals with Sam Patten and Michael Cohen that, in turn, led to information both (and in the latter case, Trump’s lawyers) had shielded from the Committees.

Adam Schiff, now a member on the Select Committee, knows well that Mueller also used a House Intelligence Committee interview with Roger Stone as a basis for an obstruction prosecution against Trump’s rat-fucker. While the details are less clear, I also suspect that Steve Bannon’s interviews with HPSCI served to tee up the fruitful grand jury appearance for him in January 2019 about which Stone is still furious.

Liz Cheney brings a different knowledge base to the challenge of deconfliction. Her dad played a central role in screwing up the Special Prosecutor investigation into Iran-Contra by offering key witnesses immunity. He’s one reason why congressional committees hoping to preserve criminal investigations tread carefully. Hopefully, Congresswoman Cheney can apply lessons learned from her evil genius father to the forces of good on the Select Committee. She has the most to lose if this Committee doesn’t succeed.

As noted above, the most visible sign of this deconfliction has come on privilege reviews. In July, at the same time that DOJ established their contact policy fire-walling President Biden from learning about any ongoing investigations, DOJ got privilege waivers for former DOJ personnel to appear before Congress. After that, when the Select Committee, as an independent branch of government that is also fire-walled from the criminal investigation, asked for investigative materials from the Archives, Biden conducted privilege reviews of that material and waived privilege over much, but not all, of it. If and when that material is released, however, it would be available to anyone with a need, including DOJ.

In fact, the back and forth between the Committee and DOJ has likely already made investigative materials available to DOJ. That’s because, after the Select Committee made it clear Mark Meadows had violated the Presidential Records Act with regards to some of the materials he shared with the committee, Meadows undertook efforts to fix that. To the extent he is able to provide his personal emails and Signal texts to NARA (some of the latter are likely are unavailable), that material would become available to DOJ without subpoenaing Meadows. And to the extent this process reveals that materials of investigative interest to a grand jury were deleted when Meadows obtained a new phone, it will give DOJ reason to use legal process to either hold Meadows accountable for obstruction, or reason to get it from others, like Jim Jordan. To say nothing of the fact that Meadows can’t prevent DOJ from subpoenaing the call records that led him to renege on efforts to cooperate with the January 6 Committee. That’s why I doubt DOJ will hold Meadows in criminal contempt, because they would be better served to get that information — and coerce cooperation, if he chooses that route — via their own legal process. Effectively, then, Bennie Thompson wrote a rough draft of a warrant affidavit for the FBI.

It’s in the subpoenas for witnesses, however, that I’m most curious about with regards to deconfliction between the DOJ and Select Committee investigation. Consider: There are two Trump associates who were key in sowing the Big Lie, Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, who are known to be under criminal investigation right now. That’s a topic the Select Committee is focusing closely on. But in spite of the fact that Bennie Thompson has expressed an interest in interviewing Rudy, thus far Thompson remains coy about how he’ll reach out to get Rudy’s testimony. There has been no public mention of getting Powell’s testimony or, for that matter, Lin Wood or Patrick Byrne, who — based on public reports — are part of that grifting investigation as well (and Byrne would be interesting of his own accord because he was honey-potted by a Russian spy). And for that matter, at least by the time he sued the committee, Mike Flynn’s call records hadn’t been subpoenaed either.

I’m equally interested in the timing of the Stewart Rhodes subpoena: November 23. That was after DOJ obtained an arrest warrant for James Beeks, the last member of The Stack, on November 18, but the day before they arrested him. By that point (probably long before), DOJ had to have known they were going to pursue sedition charges against him. But for some reason, they held off on the sedition charges when they superseded the Oath Keepers indictment on December 1 (before they otherwise would have needed to charge Beeks) to include him and tweak the Civil Disorder language in the indictment. There may be very good reasons they needed to wait: They needed to find Rhodes; they needed to finish exploiting his phone; they needed to resolve how they were going to treat the field commander, Mike Simmons, whose status in the investigation changed pretty dramatically between the December indictment and the Sedition one. But in that period while they held off, the Select Committee tested whether Rhodes wanted to go lie under oath to Congress. He declined.

It was worth a shot!

I find it equally curious that the Select Committee chose to target colleagues who played a more ambivalent role in the insurrection on January 6, rather than people like Paul Gosar or Mo Brooks, who have clear ties to organizers and other insurrectionists.

Similarly, I share Justin Hendrix’s curiosity why — especially in the wake of his article showing that The Donald isn’t being used in FBI affidavits — the Select Committee isn’t pursuing the role of the post-Reddit social media site in the insurrection, even while they expand their prior requests on more traditional social media.

In short, DOJ and the Select Committee are necessarily deconflicting their efforts, even if the Committee remains fire-walled from what DOJ has planned in the weeks ahead. But understanding that raises interesting questions about the Select Committee choices.

These pieces are all parts of a much bigger conspiracy. And until we see all those pieces we won’t see how they all work together.

But there are increasing signs that others are putting those pieces together.

Update: On January 18, the committee subpoenaed Rudy, Sidney Powell, and two others.

Select Committee Witness Requests

After a Six Hour Hearing on Lawsuits against Trump, the Only Clear Thing is Don Jr Is in the Clear

We just finished a 6-hour hearing before Judge Amit Mehta in the consolidated lawsuits (by Bennie Thompson and other members of Congress, by Eric Swalwell, and by some cops) against Trump and others for January 6.

As the judge presiding over the Oath Keepers case, Mehta knows January 6 as well as anyone — and probably has seen a bunch that is not public.

And the only two takeaways about which he seemed certain are that, first of all, Don Jr’s attempts to get his Pop to call off the riot, on top of the fact that his incendiary speech wasn’t nearly as pointed as his Dad’s, likely puts him in the clear for tortious liability. Whether Trump himself is, Mehta said over and over, is a very difficult question.

He seemed to think the question of whether Trump abetted the riot is easier than whether he conspired with the criminals.

The one other thing about which Mehta seemed certain, based on the record before him (and possibly on stuff he has seen that’s not public) is that a claim that the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys conspired is not at all a stretch. He even noted, at one point, that Jonathon Moseley’s claim that some people who listened to Trump might have listened to his speech and then gone to lunch was not applicable here given that, as he knows well, the Oath Keepers did not go to lunch.

Here’s my thread on the rest, which I’ll presumably return to.

Because this case was for a conspiracy before a judge who knows January 6 as well as anyone, in suits arguing incitement more aggressively than a conspiracy that I think is becoming more evident (but that was not briefed before Mehta), his caution should caution others. These lawsuits are basically a dry run of any criminal charges against the Former, particularly for incitement. And, at least per Judge Mehta, the case is not as clearcut as many seem to believe.

The Trump to Willard War Room to Militia Connection

The name Roger Stone does not appear in the Guardian story reporting that the January 6 Committee will soon seek more information on Trump’s calls to the Willard Hotel late on January 5 and on January 6, as he faced the prospect that Mike Pence would not violate his oath and fail to certify the legitimate winner of the election.

Congressman Bennie Thompson, the chairman of the House select committee investigating the Capitol attack, has said the panel will open an inquiry into Donald Trump’s phone call seeking to stop Joe Biden’s certification from taking place on 6 January hours before the insurrection.

The chairman said the select committee intended to scrutinize the phone call – revealed last month by the Guardian – should they prevail in their legal effort to obtain Trump White House records over the former president’s objections of executive privilege.

“That’s right,” Thompson said when asked by the Guardian whether the select committee would look into Trump’s phone call, and suggested House investigators had already started to consider ways to investigate Trump’s demand that Biden not be certified as president on 6 January.

Thompson said the select committee could not ask the National Archives for records about specific calls, but noted “if we say we want all White House calls made on January 5 and 6, if he made it on a White House phone, then obviously we would look at it there.”

Instead, the story lists a bunch of people who have been even less cooperative with the Jan 6 investigation than Stone.

The former president’s remarks came as part of wider discussions he had with the lieutenants at the Willard – a team led by Trump lawyers Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman, Boris Epshteyn and Trump strategist Steve Bannon – about delaying the certification, the sources said.

The story also mentions that the Jan 6 Committee is finally considering a subpoena to Rudy Giuliani — a subpoena that will hit just as debates over crime-fraud excepted conversations start to appear on the SDNY docket.

A spokesperson for the select committee declined to comment about what else such a line of inquiry might involve. But a subpoena to Giuliani, the lead Trump lawyer at the Willard, is understood to be in the offing, according to a source familiar with the matter.

The underlying Guardian story had noted that the calls to the Willard proved a direct tie between the White House and the war room.

Trump’s remarks reveal a direct line from the White House and the command center at the Willard.

The reason I raise Stone is that the repeated reports from Joshua James to Oath Keeper field commander Mike Simmons about a VIP disgruntled about his shoddy treatment — a VIP that is almost certainly Stone — show there was a direct tie from the Willard to one of several militias who were instrumental in breaching the Capitol from multiple points.

Particularly given the confirmation that the government believes he was lying, I’d like to point to some redacted references to a VIP that Joshua James was guarding who was bitching that he wasn’t getting VIP treatment.

This is likely Roger Stone. That’s true because — as Dan Friedman reported — James was “guarding” Stone that day (and Simmons guarded Stone the previous day), the name seems to fit, and Stone has publicly complained about his treatment that day.

While exchanging calls with Simmons, James traveled from the Willard Hotel, in downtown Washington—where he had been leading a security detail guarding Stone—to the Capitol.

What appears to be the first reference to this person also seems to fit the name, which would be the full name, Roger Stone, on first reference. Roberto Minuta, Jonathan Walden, and the now-cooperating Mark Grods were also guarding Stone.

Which brings us to the middle reference. Simmons claims that James called him every time his VIP moved.

Only, if that VIP was Roger Stone, he didn’t move. By his own account he stayed at the Willard before taking his bruised ego and leaving town.

If that’s right, it means Simmons was trying to explain multiple calls with James, and to do so, he offered the bullshit excuse that Stone, who by his own account never left the Willard, kept moving.

These reports in on said VIP’s non-movement would have taken place the morning before the assault on the Capitol, during the same period when, the Guardian reports, Trump alerted the Willard war room that Pence was likely going to put his duty to the Constitution over his fealty to Donald Trump.

The Guardian reports that Thompson may go this route to increase pressure on the people who were privy to the contents of those calls. That pressure could work in multiple directions. If it coughed up evidence from a less-damning non-privileged call, it might help SDNY in battles to access such materials from Rudy’s phones. It might increase pressure on John Eastman, a lawyer who has only inconsistently claimed privilege for his conversations with Trump. Or it might cause one or another of Trump’s bottom-feeders — Stone and Steve Bannon — to take the other out.

Even just identifying the times of such calls, though, would provide a way to understand how White House input into the Willard intersected with Willard communications with the Oath Keepers, Willard directions to Congress, and White House pressure on Congress intersected.

Mike Flynn Forgets He Was Shit-Canned by Presidents of Both Parties

In a lawsuit attempting to kill an existing subpoena from the January 6 Committee and an as-yet unidentified subpoena to Verizon, Mike Flynn accuses Bennie Thompson of opposing Barack Obama. That’s the only logical conclusion one can draw from Flynn’s claim that the people behind the subpoena of him, “belong to the political party that opposed the President under whom General Flynn served.”

The body that issued the Subpoena is composed of 9 members, 7 of whom belong to the political party that opposed the President under whom General Flynn served. The remaining two members were Republicans hand-picked by Speaker Pelosi because they were vocal opponents of former President Trump from within the Republican Party.

As Flynn himself points out in his lawsuit, he served Barack Obama as Defense Intelligence Agency head for over two years, a total of 744 days. He served Donald Trump as National Security Advisor for around 24 days, a laughably short tenure even by the standards of the Trump Administration.

Plaintiff Lieutenant General Michael Flynn is a retired Lieutenant General in the United States Army, served as the Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency from July 2012 to August 2014, and was the National Security Advisor at the start of the Trump Administration.

Mike Flynn was shit-canned by both Presidents.

Nevertheless, a man fired by Presidents of both parties wants to claim a mere subpoena is a witch hunt against him.

Flynn, predictably, gets a lot else wrong in this lawsuit. His depiction of how Billy Barr attempted, but — even after appointing a team that altered DOJ documents as part of their attempt — failed to blow up the prosecution of him gets details big and small wrong.

He was famously led into a perjury trap by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, pled guilty to making a false statement after the government threatened his son and then agreed not to prosecute his son if he pled guilty. He later sought to withdraw that plea under the guidance of new counsel after the discovery of exculpatory evidence that was withheld from him prior to his guilty plea. When the Department of Justice decided to drop the charges against him, a court stayed his sentencing while the Court considered whether to force the Department of Justice to prosecute him. Ultimately, General Flynn received a Presidential pardon.

There was no perjury trap, his very good Covington lawyers were especially worried about Flynn’s exposure as a secret agent of Turkey, none of the evidence was deemed to be exculpatory, and he had already been prosecuted.

It is true that after Sidney Powell did more harm then good, Trump pardoned the man he shit-canned. It’s also true that Flynn remained equivocal about whether Donald Trump knew about his efforts to undermine sanctions during the Transition — though transcripts of his calls with Sergey Kislyak show that he told Russia’s Ambassador, at least, that Trump did know.

But there are several details in this lawsuit — like all of these lawsuits challenging the January 6 Committee, which appear to be at least partly an attempt to coordinate cover stories — of interest.

As Josh Gerstein observed, the lawsuit is full of dated information.

On January 6, 2021, a large group of people in Washington, D.C., entered the U.S. Capitol, breached security, and disrupted the counting of Electoral College votes until order was restored. The U.S. Department of Justice has arrested more than 500 individuals in connection with those activities on January 6th. General Flynn was not part of, nor was he present, at the Capitol grounds during any of those activities at the Capitol that day. Like most Americans, he saw those troubling events unfold on television.

[snip]

Former President Trump appealed the district court’s order, and the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals enjoined NARA from releasing the disputed Presidential records pending its ruling. See Mem. Op. 17, Trump v. Thompson, No. 1:21-cv-2769 (D.D.C. Nov. 9, 2021).

On November 30, 2021, the D.C. Circuit held oral argument on the merits of former President Trump’s appeal. This case is still pending.

While I’m not surprised the Dhillon Law Group cited details about the January 6 investigation that are four months out of date, you’d think they — or Flynn, via Jesse Binall, who was part of the Sidney Powell team that represented him — would have heard of the legal thumping that the DC Circuit gave Jesse Binall on December 9.

As Katelyn Polantz observed, by filing this in his home district in Florida (albeit in the wrong district at first), Flynn sets up the possibility of a circuit split with the DC Circuit decision that Dhillon Law Group hasn’t heard about yet.

So this may be part of a concerted plan, but one that being implemented with the legal incompetence characteristic of Trump (and Flynn) lawyers.

Particularly given how dated this lawsuit is, I’m particularly interested in Flynn’s reliance on the investigation into Sidney Powell’s grift to explain his hesitations about cooperating with the Committee.

Flynn bases his knowledge about the investigation into Sidney Powell on a November 30 WaPo story (though he credits NYT with the scoop), not personal knowledge of the investigation.

In 2021, General Flynn was briefly a board member of a nonprofit founded and led by his defense counsel, Ms. Powell, called Defending the Republic. In September 2021, a federal prosecutor handling the January 6 Capitol attack as well as the criminal contempt of Congress proceedings against individuals referred by the Select Committee also subpoenaed the records of Defending the Republic in connection with a criminal investigation into its activities.

[snip]

In September 2021, the Department of Justice obtained a grand jury subpoena for records of a nonprofit General Flynn briefly served as a director, which was founded and led by his criminal defense counsel, Sidney Powell. The subpoena was signed by an Assistant U.S. Attorney prosecuting matters related to the January 6 Capitol attack as well as contempt of Congress charges against Stephen K. Bannon for not complying with the Committee’s subpoena. Isaac Stanley-Becker, Emma Brown, and Rosalind Helderman, Prosecutors Demanded Records of Sidney Powell’s Fundraising Groups As Part of Criminal Probe, NEW YORK TIMES, Nov. 30, 2021.

Here’s a December 1 Daily Beast story with other details of the investigation (which may come from Lin Wood or Patrick Byrne). Here’s my post noting that the virgin birth of the grift times awkwardly with Flynn’s own pardon.

In language immediately preceding one of those descriptions, Flynn misleadingly claims that the Committee subpoena against him starts “just before” DOJ “sought to dismiss the charges against him in May of 2020.”

(The Subpoena curiously seeks documents from General Flynn starting just before the Department of Justice sought to dismiss the charges against him in May of 2020, and long before the 2020 election or the January 2021 attack on the Capitol.) In late 2020, General Flynn publicly stated his concerns about the integrity of the 2020 elections, as did many other citizens. General Flynn did not organize or speak at any events on January 6 in Washington D.C.

The start date for the subpoena actually starts on April 1.

Still, I find it interesting that Flynn is so worried about what happened during Billy Barr’s failed attempt to blow up his prosecution. And I find it interesting that Flynn claims to have no firsthand knowledge of the investigation Molly Gaston is leading into Sidney Powell’s grift.

Incidentally, Gaston originally pulled three January 6 cases in the investigation’s early days, those of Robert Packer, Robert Gieswein, and Derrick Evans, just the latter of which, involving a then-West Virginia state politician, had any possible public corruption component. But, at a time of immense staffing shortages at DC’s US Attorney’s Office, she dropped off those cases on February 18 (in the case of Packer) and March 29 (in the case of Gieswein and Evans). I’ve long wondered what, in the weeks after Merrick Garland came in, became a higher priority for the DC US Attorney’s leading public corruption prosecutor. We now know one thing she picked up in the interim was the prosecution of Michael Riley, the Capitol Police Officer who advised rioter Jacob Hiles to delete Facebook posts about his role in the riot. And by September, Gaston’s grand jury investigation into Sidney Powell’s grift had started taking overt steps like subpoenaing Powell’s nonprofit.

Anyway, back to Mike Flynn.

Unlike the other people suing, Flynn appears to be uncertain about whether Verizon received a January 6 Committee subpoena targeting him. John Eastman returned the subpoena targeting him with his lawsuit. Alexander included the notice of the subpoena — dated December 2 — he received from Verizon. Meadows also included the notice of the subpoena.

But Flynn doesn’t include documentation like that to substantiate his basis for believing that Verizon got a subpoena targeting him. Rather, he says that he thinks Verizon got a subpoena targeting him — from the January 6 Committee — because they got one for Mark Meadows.

Upon information and belief, the Select Committee is not only targeting a wide variety of individuals with sweeping subpoenas, but also is obtaining extensive private records about various individuals—including cooperating witnesses—by issuing subpoenas to their telecommunications providers.

For example, the Select Committee issued a subpoena to Verizon Wireless seeking subscriber information and cell phone data associated with former White House Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows (the “Verizon Subpoena”). The subscriber information requested includes subscriber names and contact information, authorized users, time of service provided, account changes, associated IP addresses, and other metadata. The cell phone data requested could include all calls, text messages, and other records of communications associated with that phone number. This data can be used for historic cell site analysis. The Verizon Subpoena requested all of Mr. Meadows’ personal cell phone data for four months: from October 1, 2020, and January 31, 2021.

That is, unless Verizon has lost track of whom to bill for his cell service (or unless the General is confused about who is service provider is), it appears that Flynn — who was, for a period, on the board of the Powell nonprofit already being investigated by a grand jury in September — didn’t get a letter on December 2 alerting him that January 6 had subpoenaed his phone records.

Don’t get me wrong: particularly given his propensity to lie, Mike Flynn is not wrong to invoke the Fifth Amendment to avoid answering questions from the January 6 Committee (though he still is on the hook for the document request). That would be true even if Molly Gaston weren’t investigating Sidney Powell, but with the investigation, he’s quite right to invoke the Fifth (again — he did so with the SSCI Russian investigation too).

But if there’s a reason why the House Committee didn’t feel the need to ask for his phone records, that may be the least of his worries.

The most interesting aspect of the January 6 investigation that no one is covering — not even in a NYT story on criminal referrals — is the means by and extent to which the Committee is deconflicting with DOJ. There must be a legislative affairs person doing this near full time, unless Thompson and Liz Cheney — the daughter of someone who played a key role in screwing up Iran-Contra by refusing to do this — are doing this at a higher level. But the story about whom the Committee hasn’t subpoenaed — which includes both Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani, both known to be under investigation by DOJ — is as interesting as who they have.

Mark Meadows Promised the Kind of National Guard Protection that Proud Boy Charles Donohoe Seemed to Expect

I argued last week that any contempt report for Mark Meadows will serve as much as a draft warrant affidavit for the FBI as it would the basis for a criminal contempt indictment.

The committee released their report last night and, as I expected, it describes some of the more damning evidence already obtained regarding Meadows. It includes 12 bullet points (included below), many derived from documents already turned over, describing Meadows’ role in sowing disinformation about the election and his early knowledge of the violence that might result.

As Politico reported, one of those bullets described Meadows emailing someone and saying that the National Guard would “protect pro Trump people.”

Mr. Meadows sent an email to an individual about the events on January 6 and said that the National Guard would be present to ‘‘protect pro Trump people’’ and that many more would be available on standby.

Former Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller told Congress that’s what Trump ordered him to do on January 3. But if Meadows passed on that privileged order the President gave to Miller, either directly or indirectly, to people involved in the riot, it might have helped them to plan.

And that’s interesting, because when Proud Boy Charles Donohoe saw a public report about the Guard being called in at 3:45 PM of on the day of the riot (these texts reflect the Washington State time zone in which Ethan Nordean’s phone was seized), he responded with surprise that the Guard would “attack … Trump supporters.”

If Meadows had a hand in alerting the Proud Boys that they would not face any response from the Guard, it would go a long way to explaining how they planned their operation in the way they did.

It also might explain why, minutes after Donohoe had just reported, minutes earlier, that “we are regrouping with a second force,” that second assault was abandoned.

As some of the bullets make clear, Mark Meadows had advance warning from organizers that things would get violent on January 6. And as the riot developed, he was in constant communication with Kash Patel, the Chief of Staff at the Defense Department that proved unwilling to deploy to protect the Capitol.

And it’s just possible he shared information that was central to the expectations of and plans by the militia that organized the assault.


Mr. Meadows was one of a relatively small group of people who witnessed the events of January 6 in the White House and with then-President Trump. Mr. Meadows was with or in the vicinity of then-President Trump on January 6 as he learned about the attack on the U.S. Capitol and decided whether to issue a statement that could stop the rioters.28 In fact, as the violence at the Capitol unfolded, Mr. Meadows received many messages encouraging him to have Mr. Trump issue a statement that could end the violence, and one former White House employee reportedly contacted Mr. Meadows several times and told him, ‘‘[y]ou guys have to say something. Even if the president’s not willing to put out a statement, you should go to the [cameras] and say, ‘We condemn this. Please stand down.’ If you don’t, people are going to die.’’29

Moreover, Mr. Meadows reportedly spoke with Kashyap Patel, who was then the chief of staff to former Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller, ‘‘nonstop’’ throughout the day of January 6.30 And, among other things, Mr. Meadows apparently knows if and when Mr. Trump was engaged in discussions regarding the National Guard’s response to the Capitol riot, a point that is contested but about which Mr. Meadows provided documents to the Select Committee and spoke publicly on national television after President Trump left office.31

Beyond those matters, the Select Committee seeks information from Mr. Meadows about issues including the following:

  • Mr. Meadows exchanged text messages with, and provided guidance to, an organizer of the January 6th rally on the Ellipse after the organizer told him that ‘‘[t]hings have gotten crazy and I desperately need some direction. Please.’’32
  • Mr. Meadows sent an email to an individual about the events on January 6 and said that the National Guard would be present to ‘‘protect pro Trump people’’ and that many more would be available on standby.33
  • Mr. Meadows received text messages and emails regarding apparent efforts to encourage Republican legislators in certain States to send alternate slates of electors to Congress, a plan which one Member of Congress acknowledged was ‘‘highly controversial’’ and to which Mr. Meadows responded, ‘‘I love it.’’ Mr. Meadows responded to a similar message by saying ‘‘[w]e are’’ and another such message by saying ‘‘Yes. Have a team on it.’’34
  • Mr. Meadows forwarded claims of election fraud to the Acting leadership of DOJ for further investigation, some of which he may have received using a private email account and at least one of which he had received directly from people associated with Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign.35
  • He also reportedly introduced Mr. Trump to then-DOJ official Jeffrey Clark.36 Mr. Clark went on to recommend to Mr. Trump that he be installed as Acting Attorney General and that DOJ should send a letter to State officials urging them to take certain actions that could affect the outcome of the November 2020 election by, among other things, appointing alternate slates of electors to cast electoral votes for Mr. Trump rather than now-President Biden.37
  • Mr. Meadows participated in meetings and calls during which the participants reportedly discussed the need to ‘‘fight’’ back against ‘‘mounting evidence’’ of purported voter fraud after courts had considered and overwhelmingly rejected Trump campaign claims of voter fraud and other election irregularities. He participated in one such meeting in the Oval Office with Mr. Trump and Members of Congress, which he publicly tweeted about from his personal Twitter account shortly after.38 He participated in another such call just days before the January 6 attack with Mr. Trump, Members of Congress, attorneys for the Trump re-election campaign, and ‘‘some 300’’ State and local officials to discuss the goal of overturning certain States’ electoral college results on January 6, 2021.39
  • Mr. Meadows traveled to Georgia to observe an audit of the votes days after then-President Trump complained that the audit had been moving too slowly and claimed that the signature-match system was rife with fraud.40 That trip precipitated Mr. Trump’s calls to Georgia’s Deputy secretary of state and, later, secretary of state.41 In the call with Georgia’s secretary of state, which Mr. Meadows and an attorney working with the campaign also joined, Mr. Trump pressed his unsupported claims of widespread election fraud, including claims related to deceased people voting, forged signatures, out-of-State voters, shredded ballots, triple-counted ballots, Dominion voting machines, and suitcase ballots, before telling the secretary of state that he wanted to find enough votes to ensure his victory.42 At one point during the call, Mr. Meadows asked ‘‘in the spirit of cooperation and compromise, is there something that we can at least have a discussion to look at some of these allegations to find a path forward that’s less litigious?’’43 At that point, Mr. Trump had filed two lawsuits in his personal capacity and on behalf of the campaign in Georgia, but the United States had not filed—and never did file—any. Mr. Meadows used a personal account in his attempts to reach the secretary of state before.44
  • Mr. Meadows was chief of staff during the post-election period when other White House staff, including the press secretary, advanced claims of election fraud. In one press conference, the press secretary claimed that there were ‘‘very real claims’’ of fraud that the Trump re-election campaign was pursuing and said that mail-in voting was one that ‘‘we have identified as being particularly prone to fraud.’’45

29Documents on file with the Select Committee (Meadows production); Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker, I Alone Can Fix It, (New York: Penguin, 2021), p. 476.

30 Adam Ciralsky, ‘‘‘The President Threw Us Under the Bus’: Embedding with Pentagon Leadership in Trump’s Chaotic Last Week,’’ Vanity Fair, (Jan. 22, 2021), available at https:// www.vanityfair.com/news/2021/01/embedding-with-pentagon-leadership-in-trumps-chaotic-lastweek.

31Documents on file with the Select Committee (Meadows production); Transcript, ‘‘The Ingraham Angle,’’ Fox News, (Feb. 11, 2021), available at https://www.foxnews.com/transcript/ biden-warns-china-could-eat-our-lunch-after-phone-call-with-xi; Transcript, ‘‘Hannity,’’ Fox News, (Feb. 12, 2021), available at https://www.foxnews.com/transcript/new-yorker-who-lostmother-in-law-in-nursing-home-blasts-disgrace-cuomo; Testimony of Hon. Christopher C. Miller, U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Reform, (May 12, 2021), available at https://oversight.house.gov/sites/democrats.oversight.house.gov/files/Miller%20Testimony.pdf.

32Documents on file with the Select Committee (Meadows production).

33Documents on file with the Select Committee (Meadows production).

34Documents on file with the Select Committee (Meadows production).

35Documents on file with the Select Committee.

36Michael Bender, Frankly, We Did Win This Election: The Inside Story of How Trump Lost, (New York: Grand Central Publishing, 2021), p. 369.

37Documents on file with the Select Committee.

38Marissa Schultz, ‘‘Trump meets with members of Congress plotting Electoral College objections on Jan. 6,’’ Fox News, (Dec. 21, 2021), available at https://www.foxnews.com/politics/members-of-congress-trump-electoral-college-objections-on-jan-6; Tweet, @MarkMeadows, (Dec. 21, 2020 at 6:03 p.m.) (‘‘Several members of Congress just finished a meeting in the Oval Office with President @realDonaldTrump, preparing to fight back against mounting evidence of voter fraud. Stay tuned.’’).

39 Caitlin McFall, ‘‘Trump, House Republicans held call to discuss Electoral College rejection: Brooks,’’ Fox News, (Jan. 2, 2021), available at https://www.foxnews.com/politics/gop-splits-electoral-college-certification; Tweet, @RepMoBrooks, (Jan. 2, 2021 at 7:17 p.m.) (‘‘Our fight for honest & accurate elections gains momentum! @JimlJordan & I co-lead conference call w 50+ Congressmen who join & fight for America’s Republic! . . . President Trump & CoS Mark Meadows speaking. Morale is HIGH! FIGHT!’’); Paul Bedard, ‘‘Exclusive: Trump urges state legislators to reject electoral votes, ‘You are the real power’,’’ Washington Examiner, (Jan. 3, 2021), available at https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/washington-secrets/exclusive-trump-urges-statelegislators-to-reject-electoral-votes-you-are-the-real-power.

40Linda So, ‘‘Trump’s chief of staff could face scrutiny in Georgia criminal probe,’’ Reuters, (March 19, 2021), available at https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-georgia-meadows-insight-idUSKBN2BB0XX.

41 Id.

42 ‘‘AP FACT CHECK: Trump’s made-up claims of fake Georgia votes,’’ Associated Press, (Jan. 3, 2021), https://apnews.com/article/ap-fact-check-donald-trump-georgia-elections-atlantac23d10e5299e14daee6109885f7dafa9; ‘‘Here’s the full transcript and audio of the call between Trump and Raffensperger, Washington Post, (Jan. 2, 2021), https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-raffensperger-call-transcript-georgia-vote/2021/01/03/2768e0cc-4ddd-11eb-83e3- 322644d82356—story.html.

43 ‘‘Here’s the full transcript and audio of the call between Trump and Raffensperger, Washington Post, (Jan. 2, 2021), https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-raffensperger-calltranscript-georgia-vote/2021/01/03/2768e0cc-4ddd-11eb-83e3-322644d82356—story.html.

44Documents on file with the Select Committee.

45Transcript of November 20, 2020, White House Press Conference, available at https:// www.rev.com/blog/transcripts/press-secretary-kayleigh-mcenany-white-house-press-conferencetranscript-november-20.

Bennie Thompson Will Need to Bill FBI for the Affidavits He’s Writing for Them

Before Mark Meadows decided to renege on his partial cooperation with the January 6 Committee, according to a letter Chairman Bennie Thompson wrote his lawyer, George Terwilliger, Meadows had already turned over the following:

  • A number of emails sent from Meadows’ personal email account, as well as a privilege log withholding “several hundred” documents from his email account citing Executive, Attorney-Client, or other privileges. Those emails include:
    • A November 7, 2020 email discussing the appointment of alternate slates of electors as part of a “direct and collateral attack” after the election
    • A January 5, 2021 email about a 38-page PowerPoint briefing entitled, “Election Fraud, Foreign Interference, & Options for 6 JAN” that was to be shared “on the hill”
    • A January 5, 2021 email about having the National Guard on standby
  • Some text messages Meadows retained before he got rid of his personal phone while a criminal investigation was pending, as well as a privilege log invoking Executive, Attorney-Client, and other privileges withholding over 1,000 texts. The texts turned over include:
    • A November 6, 2020 text with a Member of Congress about appointing alternate electors as part of a plan that the Member acknowledged would be “highly controversial” about which, Meadows said, “I love it”
    • A January 2021 text message with an organizer of the January 6 rally at the Ellipse
    • Text messages about the need for the former President to issue a public statement that could have stopped the January 6th attack on the Capitol

According to Thompson, having turned over some fairly damning stuff, Meadows reneged on cooperating for two reasons: First, because the Committee intended to force him to invoke individualized privilege claims in response to questions. And perhaps even moreso, because the Committee filed a subpoena with Meadows’ cell phone carrier for “call data records.”

Indeed, a lawsuit Meadows filed after negotiations broke down yesterday is particularly concerned about the subpoena to Verizon, which he describes this way:

The Verizon subpoena, issued by the Select Committee on November 22, 2021, instructs Verizon to produce subscriber information and cell phone data associated with Mr. Meadows’s personal cell phone number. The subscriber information requested includes subscriber names and contact information, authorized users, time of service provided, account changes, associated IP addresses, and other metadata. The cell phone data requested could include all calls, text messages, and other records of communications associated with that phone number. This data can be used for historic cell site analysis. The Verizon subpoena requested all Mr. Meadows’ personal cell phone data for four months: from October 1, 2020 and January 31, 2021.

Meadows says that, given his provision of texts and a privilege log, the only thing that Verizon subpoena would show is his IP logins.

The Verizon subpoena seeks Mr. Meadows’ cell phone metadata, despite the fact that he has already provided the Select Committee with his responsive text messages, emails, and the metadata attached thereto.

The only additional information that could be gleaned by the Verizon subpoena is either privileged or concerns Mr. Meadows’ internet protocol and data-connection detail records.

It’s only true that the Verizon subpoena would show nothing other than what Meadows provided if Meadows included all his communications, either handed over or in the privilege log. But if he deliberately left stuff out, the subpoena would make that clear.

Meadows goes on at length in his lawsuit about how subpoenas from the January 6 Committee are invalid and how their refusal to accept a former President’s invocation of Executive Privilege for things his Chief of Staff wrote about in a book and on his personal cell phone.

So, as a result of that, Chairman Thompson and Vice Chair Liz Cheney have announced, they’re still going to go ahead and refer Meadows to DOJ for criminal contempt.

I’m going to hazard a guess and say that DOJ will not charge Meadows for contempt. But it’s not for the reason you think.

It’s because, first of all, DOJ has just gotten a record of enough suspicious behavior that they will use it (if they haven’t already) to get the very same call records Meadows is desperate to withhold from Congress. DOJ only needs to show relevance to their investigation to obtain those records, and Verizon will and has been, for other subjects of the January 6 investigation, gag the request to protect the ongoing investigation.

And by the time the Committee and Congress approve of a full report supporting contempt — Steve Bannon’s report was 26 pages — DOJ would have analyzed those call records to see which other January 6 suspects Meadows was in contact with, undoubtedly one of the things he was attempting to hide with his partial compliance and the replacement of his phone during a criminal investigation. And that would provide some evidence to support probable cause warrants for the content Thompson has just explained is available at Verizon and Google. The materials Meadows did turn over — particularly any gaps not covered by Meadows’ privilege logs — would provide further basis to support probable cause warrants. The apparent fact that Meadows was conducting official business on his phone and his Gmail account — but his emails!!! — would be further basis for probable cause. The likelihood, raised by Thompson, that Meadows failed to turn over records to the National Archives that he is now claiming to be covered by Executive Privilege, in violation of the Presidential Records Act, would be further basis for probable cause. And the circumstances of Meadows’ book publication — including any failures to undergo a full prepublication review, something that Trump attempted to prosecute John Bolton for — would be more.

Meadows’ actions thus far have provided a good deal of evidence that DOJ could use to obtain probable cause warrants for his phone and Gmail content, as well as (if they were prepared to do an overt search) the backed up material they know he retained from his old phone. They would have a privilege log for a filter team (though DOJ would be better served by asking a Special Master to check those privilege claims, because they’re probably bogus). And since Biden has already waived privilege over anything covered by the Committee request, DOJ would not have to worry about getting a separate Executive Privilege waiver for any content they obtained.

Thompson and Cheney may well refer Meadows for contempt. But by the time that happens, what Thompson has already made public will give DOJ plenty to kickstart an investigation into why Meadows is so obviously covering up some of his actions relating to January 6.

Rinse, repeat. The obstruction of John Eastman and Jeffrey Clark will likewise go some way to giving DOJ what they need to advance their investigation (though with Clark, DOJ may already have that from the DOJ IG Report). Similarly, once Ali Alexander finishes telling lies that DOJ has already debunked, it will provide DOJ ample cause (on top of what might be probable cause of wire fraud) to advance the investigation into him.

The collective wail from Meadows and Eastman that Congress might get their call records only makes it more likely that DOJ will get those very same call records, for which they need show only relevance. And Bennie Thompson’s transparency about that certainly makes FBI’s job easier.


Because it’s interesting, I’m going to include the list of things (per the lawsuit) that the January 6 Committee asserts could in no way be privileged.

  1. Messaging to or from the White House, Trump reelection campaign, party officials, and others about purported fraud, irregularities, or malfeasance in the November 2020 election. This includes, but is not limited to, Mr. Trump’s and others frequent use of the “Stop the Steal” slogan, even after lawsuits, investigations, public reporting, discussions with agency heads, and internally created documents revealed that there had not been widespread election fraud
  2. White House officials’ understanding of purported election-related fraud, irregularities, or malfeasance in the November 2020 election.
  3. Efforts to pressure federal agencies, including the Department of Justice, to take actions to challenge the results of the presidential election, advance allegations of voter fraud, interfere with Congress’s count of the Electoral College vote, or otherwise overturn President Biden’s certified victory. This includes, but is not limited to, Mr. Trump’s and others’ efforts to use the Department of Justice to investigate alleged election-related conduct, file lawsuits, propose that state legislatures take election-related actions, or replace senior leadership. It also includes similar efforts at other agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Defense, and, among others, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.
  4. Efforts to pressure state and local officials and entities, including state attorneys general, state legislators, and state legislatures, to take actions to challenge the results of the presidential election, advance unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud, interfere with Congress’s count of the Electoral College vote, de-certify state election results, appoint alternate slates of electors, or otherwise overturn President Biden’s certified victory. This includes, but is not limited to, an Oval Office meeting with legislators from Michigan, as well as a January 2, 2021 call with, among others, state officials, members of Congress, Mr. Trump, and Mr. Meadows.
  5. Theories and strategies regarding Congress and the Vice President’s (as President of the Senate) roles and responsibilities when counting the Electoral College vote. This includes, but is not limited to, the theories and/or understandings of John Eastman, Mark Martin, former Vice President Pence, and others.
  6. Efforts to pressure former Vice President Pence, members of his staff, and members of Congress to delay or prevent certification of the Electoral College vote. This includes, but is not limited to, meetings between, or including, the former Vice President, Mr. Trump, aides, John Eastman, members of Congress, and others.
  7. Campaign-related activities, including efforts to count, not count, or audit votes, as well as discussions about election-related matters with state and local officials. This includes, but is not limited to, Mr. Meadows’ travel to Georgia to observe vote counting, as well as his or Mr. Trump’s communications with officials and employees in the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office. This also includes similar activities related to state and local officials in Michigan, Wisconsin, Nevada, Arizona, and Pennsylvania.
  8. Meetings or other communications involving people who did not work for the United States government. This includes, but is not limited to, an Oval Office meeting on December 18, at which Mr. Trump, Michael Flynn, Patrick Byrne, and others discussed campaign-related steps that Mr. Trump purportedly could take to change the outcome of the November 2020 election and remain in office for a second term, such as seizing voting machines, litigating, and appointing a special counsel. It also includes communications with organizers of the January 6 rally like Amy Kremer of Women for America First.
  9. Communications and meetings with members of Congress about the November 2020 election, purported election fraud, actual or proposed election-related litigation, and election-related rallies and/or protests. This includes, but is not limited to, a December 21, 2021 meeting involving Mr. Trump, members of his legal team, and members of the House and Senate, during which attendees discussed objecting to the November 2020 election’s certified electoral college votes as part of an apparent fight “against mounting evidence of voter fraud.”
  10. Efforts by federal officials, including White House staff, Mr. Trump, the Trump reelection campaign, and members of Congress to plan or organize rallies and/or protests in Washington, D.C. related to the election, including, but not limited to, the January 6 rally on the Ellipse.
  11. Advance knowledge of, and any preparations for, the possibility of violence during election-related rallies and/or protests in Washington, D.C.
  12. Events in the days leading up to, and including, January 6. This includes, but is not limited to, campaign-related planning and activities at the Willard Hotel, planning and preparation for Mr. Trump’s speech at the Ellipse, Mr. Trump and other White House officials’ actions during and after the attack on the U.S. Capitol, and contact with members of Congress, law enforcement, the Department of Defense, and other federal agencies to address or respond to the attack.
  13. The possibility of invoking martial law, the Insurrection Act, or the 25th Amendment based on election-related issues or the events in the days leading up to, and including, January 6.
  14. The preservation or destruction of any information relating to the facts, circumstances, and causes relating to the attack of January 6th, including any such information that may have been stored, generated, or destroyed on personal electronic devices.
  15. Documents and information, including the location of such documents and information, that are responsive to the Select Committee’s subpoena. This includes, but is not limited to, information stored on electronic devices that Mr. Meadows uses and has used.
  16. Topics about which Mr. Meadows has already spoken publicly. This includes, but is not limited to, Mr. Meadows’ February 11, 2021, appearance on the Ingraham Angle show to discuss the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, Mr. Trump’s reactions to the attack, and the National Guard.

DOJ Already Debunked the Lies Ali Alexander Is about to Tell Congress

For all the whinging about the pace of the various investigations into January 6, DOJ’s investigation has already gotten further into the Roger Stone side of the investigation than the Mueller investigation had by the time Stone testified to the House Intelligence Committee on September 26, 2017. At that point, almost fourteen months into the investigation into which of Trump’s rat-fuckers were coordinating with Russia, Mueller had obtained warrants targeting just Stone’s Twitter and Hotmail accounts.

As Stone acolyte Ali Alexander testifies before the January 6 Committee today, by comparison, just 11 months into the investigation, DOJ is already more than 100 days past the arrest of one of the men Stone and Alexander worked closely with on sowing insurrection, Owen Shroyer.

That makes the feat Ali Alexander is going to try to pull off when he testifies today to the January 6 Commission that much more fraught than what Stone tried four years ago. That’s because DOJ has already debunked some of the lies he plans to tell Congress.

In his prepared statement, which the NYT obtained, Alexander (who was originally subpoenaed because of the way he used covers to obtain multiple permits around the Capitol and incited violence in advance, neither of which he addresses in his statement) claims that he was attempting to de-escalate the riot after it started.

There are a number of videos of my associates and me arriving at the Capitol on January 6 after the violence had begun but in the early stages of the lawbreaking. In those videos, our group can be seen working with police to try to end the violence and lawbreaking. We can be seen yelling and screaming at people to STOP trying to enter the Capitol and STOP violent lawbreaking in general.

I believe those videos have been provided to the committee. If they have not, I will be happy to share them.

While I was actively trying to de-escalate events at the Capitol and end the violence and lawlessness, it’s important to note that certain people were nowhere to be found, including Amy Kremer, Kylie Kremer, and Katrina Pierson; essentially, the Women for America First leadership of the Ellipse Rally that was originally titled the “March for Trump” in their National Park Service permit application. Press reports suggest they may have had their feet up drinking donor-funded champagne in a War Room in the Willard. I don’t know where they were. But they weren’t working with police trying to de-escalate the chaos like I was.

It is my belief there may not have been a problem had that same leadership at the Ellipse event not intentionally removed instructions from the program that were supposed to be included to provide clarity on exactly where to go following the Ellipse event. When I protested the removal of those instructions, I was barred from participating as an organizer at the Ellipse event that preceded the Capitol riot. Ultimately, I was a VIP guest at the Ellipse event.

As a result, civil authority collapsed before the Ellipse Rally was over, before I arrived, and before my event was scheduled to begin.

To clarify: My permitted event at Lot 8 never took place. The “One NationUnderGod”event that Stop the Steal was a part of did not start the chaos. The chaos was well underway before our event was scheduled to begin.

We never held our event. We weren’t allowed to. [bold my emphasis, underline Alexander’s]

When Shroyer attempted to make this very same argument in a motion to dismiss in October, he at least included one (but not the most damning) video along with his argument. Here, having received a subpoena asking for such items, Alexander vaguely waves at videos he assumes the Committee has already received.

As the government’s response to Shroyer’s motion laid out, as Shroyer and Jones and Alexander led mobs to the Capitol even after “civil authority” had, according to Alexander, already “collapsed,” the InfoWars personalities were further riling up the mob.

After hearing that people may have breached the Capitol, [Shroyer], [Alex Jones],  and others began leading this large crowd down Pennsylvania Avenue toward the Capitol Building.4 The defendant is encircled in red below with a megaphone, at the front of the crowd.

En route, [Shroyer] continued shouting to the crowd walking behind and around him through his megaphone: “The traitors and communists that have betrayed us know we’re coming. We’re coming for all you commie traitors and communists that have stabbed us in the back. You’ve stabbed us in the back one too many times!” He continued, “We will not accept the fake election of that child-molesting Joe Biden, that Chinese Communist agent Joe Biden, we know where he belongs and it’s not the White House!” The defendant then led chants of “Stop the steal!” and “1776!”—an apparent reference to the “first” American Revolution and a renewed need to overthrow the government.

4 See Dkt. 1 at 4 n.5 (citing https://banned.video/watch?id=5ff634c2f23a18318ceb19f1 (last accessed on November 12, 2021)); see also Dkt. 1 at 6 n.8 (citing https://banned.video/watch?id=5 ff6148af23a18318ce99233 (last accessed on November 12, 2021)). [yellow circle marking Alexander added]

Then Jones, Shroyer, and Alexander gave a speech inside the restricted area of the Capitol (but not at one of the areas for which Alexander had a permit).

After the Joint Session got underway at 1:00 p.m., Shroyer entered the Capitol Grounds. He first positioned himself with others on the west side of the Capitol Building, within both the restricted area on January 6 and the broader Capitol Grounds boundaries on the defendant’s DPA map seen above. There, he stood on stacks of chairs and other equipment with [Jones] and led a crowd of hundreds of individuals on the Capitol grounds in chants of “USA! USA! USA!”6 [Shroyer] is encircled in red below on the Capitol grounds soon after leading these chants with a megaphone.

[yellow circle marking Alexander added]

The government doesn’t note it, but January 6 trespasser Stacie Getsinger did on Facebook: while at that non-permitted spot, Jones promised the mob that if they followed him to the East side of the Capitol, they’d get to hear Trump speak again.

Only after promising the mob they’d get to hear Trump did Jones’ handlers attempt to get sanction to go to the East side of the building by promising to de-escalate the riot that they had intentionally led more people to. As the government interprets the video that Shroyer himself provided, when Jones’ bodyguard offered to help de-escalate, the cop pointed northeast, which happens to be where Alexander had a permit and a stage already set up, at the “Lot 8” that Alexander claims they weren’t permitted to use.

INDIVIDUAL: I’m with [Jones], man. I’m telling you right now, he just tried to deescalate this stuff. If we can talk to someone and get him up there, we can get them to back off.

OFFICER: Take it over to the east, the east front’s the problem now. *Pointing east.*

INDIVIDUAL: This is the problem? *Pointing east.*

OFFICER: East front is the problem now.

INDIVIDUAL: Ok, so we need to get him up there and tell people to …

OFFICER: The east front is the problem now.

INDIVIDUAL: Alright, is there a way that we can get him to a position …

OFFICER: Through the hole, through the hole that you guys breached right there *Pointing northeast away from the Capitol Building.*

INDIVIDUAL: We didn’t breach anything.

OFFICER: Well, the whole group that was with you guys.

INDIVIDUAL: We’re just trying to help.

OFFICER: Out through there, all the way out there, take him up there. *Pointing northeast, away from the Capitol Building.* [my emphasis]

That is, this cop specifically told Jones and his entourage, including Alexander, to go to the area where Alexander had a permit (albeit for dozens, not thousands, of people). Instead of going in that direction, they instead circled around close to the Capitol, stepping over barricades and an “Area Closed” sign.

As the defendant and his group curved around the Capitol Building, the body-camera individual stated, “Here’s an opening right here.” The defendant and his group then walked toward where the body-camera individual pointed, passing downed and moved temporary barricades and stepping over at least one fallen sign that appeared to read “Area Closed,” as seen below circled in red.

When Jones’ bodyguard again asked for sanction to trespass in the area where they didn’t have a permit, the cops walked away.

The body-camera individual continued to yell that [Jones] could deescalate the situation, begging them to let Person One speak to the crowd. The two officers speaking then walked away and out of sight. The body-camera individual exhorted, “Nah, that’s not good, dude. That’s not good. That’s fucked. That’s fucked. No way. No fucking way. No way.”

After being told to pull the crowd away towards where Alexander had a permit, but instead deciding to go speak where he didn’t, Jones’ bodyguard acknowledged they might get in trouble for doing so.

The body-camera individual then walked back toward the defendant’s group and asked, “Just get him up there? Hey, Tim, just get him up there? Just do it? But we know we might catch a bang or two.”

And then, after the entourage joined former Jones’ staffer Joe Biggs and the advance guard of the Oath Keepers at the top of the East steps, Jones and Shroyer — still with Alexander present — called for revolution.

Once the defendant and others nearly reached the top, he began to use his megaphone to lead the large crowd in various chants, including “USA!” and “1776!”—again, a reference to revolution.

While, before Jones lured more mobs to the East side of the building, he did call people to stand down, once he got to the East steps, he further riled the crowd. As the government notes sardonically, calling for revolution “does not qualify as deescalation.”

Even assuming the defendant’s argument is true and the defendant received permission to go to the Capitol steps for the limited purpose of deescalating the situation, the defendant did not even do that. Quite the opposite. Despite the defendant’s arguments today that “Shroyer did nothing but offer his assistance to calm the crowd and urge them to leave United States Capitol grounds,” Dkt. 8-1 at 14, the defendant himself said otherwise in an open-source video recorded on August 21, 2021: “From the minute we got on the Capitol, the Capitol area, you [referring to Person One] started telling people to stand down, and the second we got on there, you got up on stacks of chairs, you said, ‘We can’t do this, stand down, don’t go in.’ … And I’m silent during all of this” (emphasis added).11 Moreover, as seen in other videos and described above, the defendant forced his way to the top of Capitol Building’s east steps with Person One and others and led hundreds of other rioters in multiple “USA!” and “1776!” chants with his megaphone. Harkening to the last time Americans overthrew their government in a revolution while standing on the Capitol steps where elected representatives are certifying a Presidential Election you disagree with does not qualify as deescalation.

Had Ali Alexander and Alex Jones taken the crowd they had led to the riot, like Pied Pipers, to Demonstration Area 8 (per the permits that BuzzFeed liberated), which is roughly where the cops directed them to go, and which is where they had a stage and a sound system, they might have prevented, or at least mitigated, the breach of the East front.

Instead, Alexander’s entourage joined their militia allies on the East steps and incited revolution, just moments before some of those militia members forcibly opened a second breach into the Capitol.

Alexander’s real goal, in testifying to the committee (rather than pleading the Fifth, which would be the smart thing to do) may be to learn what the Committee knows, while pretending that his cooperation — which has taken two months, not two weeks — is voluntary, not legally mandated.

In closing, I want to reiterate my posture of compliance. Over the past few weeks, I have spent more than 100 hours personally searching through my archives looking for relevant and responsive documentation to this committee’s requests. I’ve probably spent another 100 hours preparing to answer your questions. I have hired attorneys and computer consultants to be as responsive as possible and provide as much as I could find within the short amount of time I had to produce documents.

I did all of this despite not being accused of a crime. I did all of this despite being a private citizen with Constitutional rights protecting me from unreasonable searches and seizures and without a warrant entitling anyone to the documents I’ve voluntarily provided. It’s prevented me from working. It’s prevented me from sleeping, at times. It’s been extremely difficult and burdensome.

But I am voluntarily here to do the patriotic thing.

If this committee thinks of anything I haven’t turned over to which you believe I may have access, I ask you please to let me know and help refresh my memory. [bold my emphasis, italics Alexander’s emphasis]

When Stone tried to avoid telling the truth to Adam Schiff four years ago, when he actually hadn’t yet received a subpoena, it still led to his prosecution for multiple false statements. Here, Alexander is simply pretending he hasn’t been subpoenaed to appear.

Alexander will be represented today by, among others, Paul Kamenar, the lawyer who — after Roger Stone learned that his former aide had provided damaging information to the FBI — appealed Andrew Miller’s subpoena to testify to Mueller’s grand jury to the DC Circuit, thereby stalling until after the Mueller Report was done. Immediately after the trial was done, Stone hired Kamenar, presumably to learn what Miller had said in subsequent FBI interviews.

That raises real questions about whether Alexander is repeating Stone’s colossally stupid approach to the Russian investigation for his own benefit, or for Stone’s.

Bennie Thompson Sues Trump, His Mobsters, and Rudy G under the NAACP Act

Congressman Bennie Thompson, who is the Chair of the Homeland Security Committee, just sued the Former President, Rudy Giuliani, the Proud Boys, and the Oath Keepers under the Ku Klux Klan Act for setting off a mob on January 6. Effectively, Thompson argues that the conspirators deliberately set off an insurrection and the insurrection succeeded in preventing Thompson from performing his duties in certifying the vote.

4. In furtherance of this common goal of preventing the timely approval of the Electoral College vote count, the Defendants acted in concert to incite and then carry out a riot at the Capitol by promoting an assembly of persons to engage in tumultuous and violent conduct or the threat of it that created grave danger of harm to the Plaintiff and to other Members of Congress.

5. This conduct jointly undertaken to threaten the Plaintiff and other Members of Congress in order to disrupt the Electoral College vote count was part of an ongoing course of action pursued by the Defendants for the purpose of contesting the announced results of the presidential election held in November 2020 and preventing the duly elected President and Vice President from attaining approval of Congress of their election necessary to their inauguration.

6. The insurrection at the Capitol was a direct, intended, and foreseeable result of the Defendants’ unlawful conspiracy. It was instigated according to a common plan that the Defendants pursued since the election held in November 2020, culminating in an assembly denominated as the “Save America” rally held at the Ellipse in Washington, D.C. on January 6, 2021, during which Defendants Trump and Giuliani incited a crowd of thousands to descend upon the Capitol in order to prevent or delay through the use of force the counting of Electoral College votes. As part of this unified plan to prevent the counting of Electoral College votes, Defendants Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, through their leadership, acted in concert to spearhead the assault on the Capitol while the angry mob that Defendants Trump and Giuliani incited descended on the Capitol. The carefully orchestrated series of events that unfolded at the Save America rally and the storming of the Capitol was no accident or coincidence. It was the intended and foreseeable culmination of a carefully coordinated campaign to interfere with the legal process required to confirm the tally of votes cast in the Electoral College.

It combines many of the allegations laid out in the impeachment inquiry with the allegations laid out in some — but not the most recentOath Keeper and Proud Boy conspiracy cases.

There are old details not included — such as that Trump’s DOJ treated threats from Proud Boys against Judge Amy Berman Jackson to be a technicality, as well as recently revealed details not included, including details about how the Proud Boys prevented cops from shutting down access to the tunnels.

But there are a lot of key details, down to lawmakers contracting COVID after he was stuck sheltering with colleagues who refused to wear masks.

126. By being required to shelter in place, Plaintiff Thompson and other Members of Congress were forced to occupy space that did not allow for the social distancing measures that minimized the risk of transmission of the virus.

127. Shortly after the siege on the Capitol ended, at least two other Members of Congress who shared the confined space with Plaintiff Thompson tested positive for COVID-19.

It is a well-argued suit and we will see what happens (bmaz warns that a criminal conspiracy charge against Trump is a ways off, which it is, temporally, though he doesn’t consider the object of the conspiracies actually being charged, which is very similar to what Thompson alleges).

If nothing else, this will oblige the defendants to retain documents until such time as the FBI comes looking for them.

Update: Corrected that Thompson did not contract COVID and my defendants/plaintiff problem.

House Intelligence Committee Moves to Learn How OTHER Services Don’t Throw Away Incidental US Person Data

I’ve long been tracking the implications of the Air Force’s policy to keep US person data incidentally collected using domestic drones. Effectively, it would allow the government to collect data on select locations (such as a likely drug trafficking route), so long as it didn’t target any particular American, and then refer back to or data mine that information in the future.

The policy is (not surprisingly, since both are DOD) very nearly parallel to what we think is happening with the NSA’s collections. So long as they weren’t originally targeting a US person, the government seems to be saying, nothing prevents them from going back to use the data in the future.

Which is why I’m not all that impressed by the House Intelligence Committee’s push, in this year’s appropriations bill, to require other services and DOD agencies to lay out what they’re doing with domestic collections.

Congress has directed the Secretary of Defense to report on the handling of surveillance data collected by military unmanned aerial systems operating in domestic airspace.  A provision in the 2013 continuing appropriations conference bill approved by the House yesterday explained:

“The conferees are aware of concerns that have been raised regarding the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and their sensors in domestic airspace. The conferees understand that the Air Force has policies and procedures in place governing the disposition of UAV collections that may inadvertently capture matters of concern to law enforcement agencies. These policies and procedures are designed to ensure constitutional protections and proper separation between the military and law enforcement. However, it is unclear if other Services and Defense agencies have similar policies and procedures in place, or if these policies and procedures need to be revised or standardized. Therefore, the conferees direct the Secretary of Defense to report to the congressional defense committees on the policies and procedures in place across the Services and Defense agencies governing the use of such collections and to identify any additional steps that need to be taken to ensure that such policies and procedures are adequate and consistent across the Department of Defense. This report shall be submitted not later than 90 days after the enactment of this Act.” [my emphasis]

Given the liberal policies the Air Force uses on “incidentally” collected information, it doesn’t seem to offer much protection under the Fourth Amendment (not least because the Clapper decision means we would never be able to challenge such collection). Rather, this effort seems designed to placate concerns about violations of Posse Comitatus and potentially stave off real privacy efforts.

When the Michael Chertoff threatened to use satellites to conduct this kind of surveillance 5 years ago, Democrats (led by Bennie Thompson and Jane Harman) balked, and forced Chertoff to back down. Since then, however, drones that can and do conduct the same kind of surveillance (in the guise of training, mind you!) have been rolled out without, until just recently, any focus on the same issues.

Yet another example of what a Democratic President can get away with that a Republican cannot.