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On Trump, the Anti-Semites, and the Coup Attempt: The Import of Nick Fuentes’ Reference to January 6

The first thing you should ask when you hear about Trump and the white nationalist is … which one?

After all, it wasn’t that long ago that Stephen Miller waltzed into Kevin McCarthy’s office on the day McCarthy became the presumptive nominee for Speaker of the House. Even if Trump gets the Republican nomination in summer 2024, that’s still twenty months off. But if Miller is driving the Republican House majority’s policy choices in the interim, it will have immediate effect. It will continue an institutional commitment from the Republican Party to policies built to respond to and feed more hate.

Plus, part of the loudest outrage surrounding Trump’s paling around with neo-Nazi Nick Fuentes — from people like Mike Pompeo and Chris Christie — is significantly a desire to undercut Trump in advance of a primary. If you’re opposed to white nationalists in the Republican Party, take on Miller’s central role in the party as a whole and also Trump’s continued ties with fascists.

If you’re a journalist who thinks the Fuentes dinner is newsworthy (it is!), then ask whether Miller’s continued central role in GOP policy is too.

Hell, if you’re a horserace politics reporter, consider writing a story about how damaging Miller’s policies have been for the GOP two midterm elections in a row.

And there’s a bit of the story that’s missing from most tellings of the story.

As Jonathan Swan tells it (with Zachary Basu), in addition to scolding Trump about his increased reliance on teleprompters, Fuentes also delivered the message that parts of the far right are disappointed with Trump, in part, because he has not supported January 6 attackers sufficiently.

Fuentes told Trump that he represented a side of Trump’s base that was disappointed with his newly cautious approach, especially with what some far-right activists view as a lack of support for those charged in the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.

  • Trump didn’t disagree with Fuentes, but said he has advisers who want him to read off teleprompters and be more “presidential.” Notably, Trump referred to himself as a politician, which he has been loathe to do in the past.
  • Fuentes also told Trump that he would crush potential 2024 Republican rivals in a primary, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Trump asked for Fuentes’ opinion on other candidates as well. [italics mine, bold Axios’]

Not only doesn’t this sound like an unplanned encounter — at least from Fuentes’ side — but it affirmatively sounds like the kind of constituent ask that politicians of all stripes make when they discuss whether to endorse a candidate or not. Fuentes hated Trump’s announcement speech — too canned! — but he also warned that Trump needs to do more to support those being prosecuted for their role in Trump’s coup attempt. In his own livestream about the meeting, after reeling off all the Stop the Steal events Fuentes had been part of organizing, Fuentes said he would back Ron DeSantis over a “moderate Trump.”

Politico’s Meredith McGraw, who was the first to report that Ye and Fuentes were traveling together, also included that comment, and described how Ye’s video about the meeting included both Alex Jones and Roger Stone, as well as Karen Giorno, who attended the meeting and who had a role in a 2016 story just after Stone presented Trump with his notebook of all the calls he had with Trump during the 2016 election.

West went on to say he told Trump, “Why when you had the chance, did you not free the January sixers? And I came to him as someone who loves Trump. And I said, ‘Go and get Corey [Lewandowski] back, go and get these people that the media tried to cancel and told you to step away from.’” The video includes photos of former advisers including Giorno and Roger Stone, and also conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.

Given how much of the rest of the discussion (and the private chat Ye posted afterwards) focuses on Jason Miller, who testified truthfully to the January 6 Committee, this also probably amounted to a request to get rid of Jason Miller, to get rid of Jason Miller in part because he won’t let Trump coddle Nazis and in part because he makes Trump use a teleprompter. This is how those close to Trump have always lobbied Trump on staffing decisions, after all.

The thing is, while virtually all reports of this meeting include the teleprompter comment, most don’t include the January 6 one.

While the NYT (Maggie bylined with Alan Feuer, one of the best journalists on January 6) described Fuentes’ role in pro-Trump mobs leading up to and on January 6, it doesn’t describe that Fuentes claimed about Trump’s insufficient support for those already charged. It also focuses exclusively on the America First arrests, not those with whom Fuentes organized mobs, like Alex Jones and associates.

During the dinner, according to a person briefed on what took place, Mr. Fuentes described himself as part of Mr. Trump’s base of supporters. Mr. Trump remarked that his advisers urge him to read speeches using a teleprompter and don’t like when he ad-libs remarks.

[snip]

Mr. Fuentes, who attended the bloody far-right rally in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017, is best known for running a white nationalist youth organization known as America First, whose adherents call themselves groypers or the Groyper Army. In the wake of Mr. Trump’s defeat in 2020, Mr. Fuentes and the groypers were involved in a series of public events supporting the former president.

At a so-called “Stop the Steal” rally in Washington in November 2020, Mr. Fuentes urged his followers to “storm every state capitol until Jan. 20, 2021, until President Trump is inaugurated for four more years.” The following month, at a similar event, Mr. Fuentes led a crowd in chanting “Destroy the G.O.P.,” and urged people not to vote in the January 2021 Georgia Senate runoff elections.

On Jan. 6, 2021, Mr. Fuentes led a large group of groypers to the Capitol where they rallied outside in support of Mr. Trump. The next day, Mr. Fuentes wrote on Twitter that the assault on the Capitol was “awesome and I’m not going to pretend it wasn’t.”

At least seven people with connections to his America First organization have been charged with federal crimes in connection with the Capitol attack. In January, Mr. Fuentes was issued a subpoena by the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol seeking information about his role in it.

Other outlets, too, focused on the teleprompter comment but not the complaint about January 6 defendants: WaPo (which offers the most detailed account, from attendee Giorno), CNN, WSJ.

CBS described that Ye made a comment about January 6 in his video, just before he flashed images of Stone and Alex Jones.

The complaint that Trump has not done enough for already charged January 6 defendants (or, as Ye complained himself, not pardoned everyone) comes at a rather sensitive time. Of the January 6 defendants likely included in the seven Feuer cites, Christan Secor (holding the America First flag below) was sentenced in October by Trevor McFadden, who normally goes easy on January 6 defendants, to 42 months in prison.

More recently, the FBI arrested a group of 5 American Firsters in September, including former Fuentes deputy Joseph Brody (in the American flag mask and the suit in the picture above). One, Thomas Carey, is set to plead guilty on December 22, which will come with — at least — an interview on the others. And while DOJ portrayed groyper Riley Williams as having been radicalized by watching Nick Fuentes videos rather than in person, she was just jailed pending her February 22 sentencing, and any retrial on the hung charges (obstruction and abetting the theft of Nancy Pelosi’s laptop) might be easier if there was cooperation from others who were present in Pelosi’s office, as Carey may have been. Which is to say that the January 6 investigation into America First is getting closer to Fuentes himself.

But, particularly given Ye’s invocations of Stone and Jones in this context and Stone’s repeated complaints that Trump didn’t pardon him after January 6, those probably aren’t the only January 6 defendants Fuentes meant to invoke. Both Stone and Jones were named repeatedly during the Oath Keeper trial. Both are likely to be named in the upcoming Proud Boy Leaders trial. One Jones employee, Sam Montoya, pled guilty to parading on November 7. His plea agreement lacks the standard cooperation paragraph, which sometimes means that someone had to cooperate in advance to get the plea deal. And Jones’ sidekick, Owen Shroyer, is due to let Judge Tim Kelly know whether he plans on pleading at a status hearing tomorrow.

So the January 6 investigation is getting closer to Stone and Jones too.

Even some in Ye’s entourage have come under investigation, at least in Fani Willis’ investigation, for their role in Trump’s false voter fraud claims.

Trump’s meeting with Fuentes is a big deal. But it likely goes beyond, just, the fact that Trump was sharing Thanksgiving with noted anti-Semites. Both Ye and Fuentes used the meeting to raise Trump’s failures to protect those who helped his last attempt to seize power illegally.

And as Trump’s purported election campaign goes forward, those who participated in Trump’s coup attempt will likely continue to use their own exposure to leverage Trump’s.

Update: The Guardian just reported how Trump refused to criticize Fuentes.

Update: There are two other key America First defendants that have been sentenced, and got off easy. Most notably, Leo Ridge was permitted to plead down from obstruction to 1752, the more serious trespassing charge, after which Trevor McFadden sentenced him to two weeks in jail and a year of probation (meaning his punishment will be done around February).

And Matthew Baggott also pled to 1752, and was sentenced to three months. He’ll have a year of probation after he is released on Christmas eve.

Forty Feet: Trump Sicced a Murder Weapon on Mike Pence

Harry Litman observed after yesterday’s January 6 Committee hearing that you might be able to charge Trump with the attempted murder of Mike Pence.

This was not new news yesterday though.

I reported on the DOJ and the Committee’s mutual focus on the targeting of Pence on January 5. In a piece that described that Marc Short had not yet agreed to cooperate and Pence might never cooperate, NYT reported on the same focus of DOJ filings days later. Though, as sometimes happens, NYT got the timeline wrong; Gina Bisignano swore to her focus on Pence in August (and has not reneged on that point even as she attempts to withdraw her guilty plea), and Josiah Colt described how he and two co-conspirators responded to news that Pence would not stop the vote count by breaching the Senate in July 2021, almost a year ago.

DOJ has been focused on the effect of Trump’s targeting of Pence for over a year. In fact, to substantiate the seriousness of the threat facing Pence that day, the Committee cited witness testimony that has been public since January 13, 2021, in Proud Boy Dominic Pezzola’s original arrest affidavit.

W-1 further stated that members of this group, which included “Spaz,” said that they would have killed [Vice President] Mike Pence if given the chance. According to W-1, the group said it would be returning on the “20th,” which your affiant takes to mean the Presidential Inauguration scheduled for January 20, 2021, and that they plan to kill every single “m-fer” they can.

The allegation actually doesn’t show up in the Proud Boy sedition indictment, though Proud Boy Matthew Greene’s plea allocution talked about how the militia swarmed the Capitol with the intent of adding pressure to Pence.

To be sure, yesterday’s hearing laid out the following additional pieces of proof that Trump was specifically targeting Pence:

  • Jason Miller and Greg Jacob’s description of Trump’s deliberate misrepresentation, overnight on January 5, falsely claiming Pence agreed with him about the vote count
  • Descriptions about Trump calling Pence on around 11 on January 6 and calling him a whimp and a pussy, a call that distressed Ivanka because, “It was a different tone than I’ve heard him take with the Vice President before”
  • Trump’s addition references to Mike Pence in his January 6 speech, both in the prepared script and ad-libbed along the way
  • Details from White House aides confirming that Mark Meadows had informed Trump about the violence at the Capitol and how, instead of a tweet calling for calm, Trump instead “pour[ed] gasoline on the fire” (as Former White House Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Matthews described it) by calling out Pence again in a tweet at 2:24 the day of the insurrection
  • Greg Jacob’s testimony about tensions with the Secret Service about evacuating the Capitol
  • Marc Short’s description of conversations with Kevin McCarthy expressing frustration that Trump wasn’t taking the circumstances seriously
  • Reconfirmation that Trump never called Pence to check on the Vice President’s safety
  • Tracking of Jacob’s “Thanks to your bullshit we are now under siege,” to events at the Capitol

Committee member Congressperson Pete Aguilar explained that at the moment Pence was evacuated from his ceremonial office, he and the mob were just forty feet apart.

The Committee looked at the threat posed by the Proud Boys to Pence.

It doesn’t look at something far more substantive, though potentially far more complex. Immediately after Trump’s tweet, the Oath Keepers indictment describes communications between Roger Stone associate Kelly Meggs and Stewart Rhodes, followed by a conference call involving those two and operational lead Mike Simmons. The Oath Keepers converged, and then the first Stack and the second (made up of men who had been providing security to Roger Stone that morning) breached the East doors, along with Joe Biggs and the mob brought by Alex Jones.

Once inside, the first Stack broke up, with Meggs and others heading towards Speaker Pelosi’s office to hunt her down.

103. Shortly thereafter, WATKINS and other members ofStack One exited the Rotunda through the northbound hallway toward the Senate Chamber.

104. Around this time, a member of Stack One yelled “the fight’ s not over” and waved !rioters down the hallways toward the Senate Chamber.

105. At 2:45 p.m. and afterward, WATKINS and other Stack One members joined the imob in pushing against a line of law enforcement officers guarding the hallway connecting the Rotunda to the Senate Chamber, as WATKINS commanded those around her to “push, push, !push,” and to, “get in there, get in there,” while exclaiming, “they can’t hold us.” When officers responded by deploying a chemical spray, the mob-including WATKINS and other Stack One members-retreated.

106. At 2:45 p.m., MEGGS, HARRELSON, HACKETT, MOERSCHEL, and other Stack One members walked southbound out of the Rotunda and toward the House of Representatives in search of Speaker Pelosi. They did not find Speaker Pelosi.

The others attempted to get to the Senate, whence Mike Pence had, minutes earlier, been evacuated.

As I’ve noted, with the sedition indictments, DOJ also added 18 USC 372 charges, conspiracy “to prevent, by force, intimidation, or threat, any person … from discharging any duties thereof.”

DOJ may never show that Trump and the mob he sicced on his Vice President conspired to kill him, or even that Trump’s 2:24PM tweet aided and abetted the attempts to find and assassinate Pence — though the judge presiding over the Oath Keepers case has deemed the possibility Trump could be held accountable for aiding and abetting to be plausible, at least for a lower civil standard. But there’s little doubt that Trump, his lawyers, two militias, and the mob entered into a common effort to prevent Pence from doing his duty that day. And with the militias, you can draw a line between Trump, his rat-fucker, Alex Jones, and the men at the Capitol to the threat and intimidation Trump sicced on his Vice President.

January 6 Committee Details The Big Fraud Monetizing The Big Lie

The second hearing from the January 6 Committee was just as well choreographed as the first one, with an even greater reliance on Republican voices to make the case against Trump, including:

  • Bill Barr
  • Bill Stepien
  • Al Schmidt
  • Alex Cannon
  • Ivanka
  • Rudy Giuliani
  • Sidney Powell
  • Chris Stirewalt
  • Jason Miller
  • Ben Ginsberg

Here’s my live tweet of the hearing.

The presentation started by describing how Trump was told on election night that the news looked bad. The presentation ended by showing how those attacking the Capitol cited Trump’s lies to justify their actions.

Perhaps the most effective part of the hearing, however, was a video shown near the end that talked about how Trump monetized the Big Lie. He raised $250M telling lies about voter fraud.

Some of that money went to Mark Meadows’ “charity,” the Conservative Partnership Institute and even more went to Paul Manafort’s company, Event Strategies.

This is the kind of activity, fundraising making false claim, that got Steve Bannon charged with wire fraud and it’s the kind of scheme behind the investigation into Sidney Powell.

House January 6 Committee: Public Hearings – Day 1 [UPDATE-1]

[NB: Any updates will be published at the bottom of this post. /~Rayne]

This post and comment thread are dedicated to the House January 6 Committee hearings scheduled to begin Thursday June 9, 2022, at 8:00 p.m. ET.

Please take all comments unrelated to the hearings to a different thread.

The hearings will stream on:

House J6 Committee’s website: https://january6th.house.gov/news/watch-live

House J6 Committee’s YouTube page: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hZ0yNe3cFx4

C-SPAN’s House J6 hearing page: https://www.c-span.org/video/?520282-1/open-testimony-january-6-committee

C-SPAN’s YouTube page: https://www.youtube.com/c/C-SPAN/featured

Check PBS for your local affiliate’s stream: https://www.pbs.org/ (see upper right corner)

Twitter is carrying multiple live streams (NBC, PBS, Washington Post, Reuters, CSPAN, Bloomberg): https://twitter.com/i/events/1533876297926991877

MSNBC will carry coverage on their cable network with coverage beginning at 7:00 p.m. ET as well as on MSNBC’s Maddow Show podcast feed. Details at this link.

ABC, NBC, CBS will carry the hearings live on broadcast and CNN will carry on its cable network.

Fox News is not carrying this on their main network. Their weeknight programming including Tucker Carlson’s screed will continue as usual and will likely carry counterprogramming.

Twitter accounts live tweeting the hearing tonight:

Brandi Buchman-DailyKos: https://twitter.com/Brandi_Buchman/status/1535034512639512576

Scott MacFarlane-CBS: https://twitter.com/MacFarlaneNews/status/1535050143879266306

Chris Geidner-Grid News: https://twitter.com/chrisgeidner/status/1535052708922937345

JustSecurity’s team live tweeting: https://twitter.com/just_security/status/1534955708881457154

If you know of any other credible source tweeting the coverage, please share a link in comments.

Marcy will not be live tweeting as the hearing begins 2:00 a.m. IST/1:00 a.m. UTC/GMT. She’ll have a post Friday morning Eastern Time. Do make sure to read her hearing prep post, though.

An agenda for this evening’s hearing has not been published on the committee’s website.

~ ~ ~

Any updates will appear at the bottom of this post; please bear with any content burps as this page may be edited as the evening progresses.

Again, this post is dedicated to the House January 6 Committee  and topics addressed in testimony and evidence produced during the hearing.

All other discussion should be in threads under the appropriate post with open discussion under the most recent Trash Talk.

To new readers and commenters: welcome to emptywheel. New commenters, please use a unique name to differentiate yourself; use the same username each time you comment.

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~ ~ ~

UPDATE-1 — 7:30 P.M. ET 10-JUN-2022 —

According to Scott MacFarlane-CBS there will be a total of six House J6 Committee hearings this month.

House J6 Committee hearing schedule (as of eve 6/10/2022):

Monday June 13 — Hearing: On the January 6th Investigation
10:00 AM | 390 Canon HOB
Host: Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack

Wednesday June 15 — Hearing: On the January 6th Investigation
10:00 AM | 390 Canon HOB
Host: Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack

Thursday June 16 — Hearing: On the January 6th Investigation
1:00 PM | 390 Canon HOB
Host: Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack

Tuesday June 21 — Hearing: On the January 6th Investigation
**10:00 AM ET | Date-Time-Place Subject to Confirmation**
Host: Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack

Thursday June 23 — Hearing: On the January 6th Investigation
**8:00 PM ET | Date-Time-Place Subject to Confirmation**
Host: Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack

Date, time, and location of the next three hearings have been published on the U.S. House of Representatives’ calendar. The last two have not yet been confirmed and published.

Organized Crime

Know what you call a crowd that requires 25 pardons to cover their illegal activities of the last 5 years?

As it happens, Trump is mulling the pardons at a juncture when loyalty appears his principal concern, complaining repeatedly over the past weeks that Republicans are deserting him when he needed them to help overturn the election results.

He has largely frozen out those advisers and associates who do not seem on the same page. One person who used to speak to Trump regularly, but who delicately encouraged him to soften his post-election stance, no longer has his calls returned and hasn’t heard from Trump in weeks.

In all, the President is considering pardons for more than two dozen people in his orbit whom he believes were targeted — or could be targeted in the future — for political ends. That’s in addition to hundreds of requests from others who have approached the White House directly, and tens of thousands more whose petitions are pending at the Justice Department.

Organized crime.

Trump’s Enablers Are Mistaking an Insurgency for an Off-Ramp

Jake Tapper tweeted that Jared Kushner and Rudy (both of whom have criminal exposure that Trump’s loss might make imminent), along with Jason Miller, are entertaining Trump’s demand that they hold rallies delegitimizing the election results. David Bossie (whom Jared reportedly brought in to play the role of respected elder, like Jim Baker played in the 2000 recount, which by itself is hilarious) and Mark Meadows are pushing Trump to concede.

The AP reports that anonymous senior officials are telling themselves that helping Trump to delegitimize the results is really just a way to give the Narcissist-in-Chief an “off-ramp” to accept the loss that he can’t grasp.

But senior officials, campaign aides and allies told The Associated Press that overwhelming evidence of fraud isn’t really the point.

The strategy to wage a legal fight against the votes tallied for Biden in Pennsylvania and other places is more to provide Trump with an off-ramp for a loss he can’t quite grasp and less about changing the election’s outcome, the officials said. They spoke to AP on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal strategy.

Trump aides and allies also acknowledged privately the legal fights would — at best — forestall the inevitable, and some had deep reservations about the president’s attempts to undermine faith in the vote. But they said Trump and a core group of loyalists were aiming to keep his base of supporters on his side even in defeat.

Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin is one of the few world leaders who has not congratulated President-Elect Biden, because — his spox says — there are still ongoing legal challenges. Thus, it is official policy of Russia to follow the strategy that Russia and its assets had planned in the eventuality of a 2016 loss, to discredit the outcome.

I get that Trump’s closest advisors are calculating the best way for him to remain kingmaker. Ensuring that his frothers remain frothy even after Trump is exposed as a weak man that even Georgia rejected is a one way to do that.

But kidding themselves that this is about getting Trump to come to grips with his loss is a dangerous game. Whatever these rallies would do for Trump’s damaged ego, they will serve to create a potentially violent insurgency, members of which have already tried, on repeated occasion, to engage in political violence in Trump’s name.

No one should treat these excuses for discrediting a clearcut democratic result as serious. They’re just rationalizations to repackage anti-American actions as something else.