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Jenny Cudd’s Pre- and Post-Riot Endorsement of a Revolution

Jenny Cudd and Eliel Rosa were charged with trespassing together by complaint on January 12 and arrested on January 13. The arrest affidavit tracked how the two of them walked together through the Capitol.

  • At approximately 2:35 p.m., Jenny Louise Cudd and Eliel Rosa, enter the U.S. Capitol via Upper West Terrace Door.
  • At approximately 2:36 p.m., Jenny Louise Cudd and Eliel Rosa are observed inside the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol from the west side doorway that leads into the Rotunda. They are observed remaining inside the Rotunda until approximately 2:39 p.m. They are further observed taking pictures of the Rotunda and the surrounding area.
  • At approximately 2:39 p.m., Jenny Louise Cudd and Eliel Rosa are observed walking across the Statuary Hall area of the U.S. Capitol.
  • At approximately 2:40 p.m., Jenny Louise Cudd and Eliel Rosa are observed walking the Statuary Hall Connector and moves off camera at approximately 2:42 p.m.
  • At approximately 2:43 p.m., Jenny Louise Cudd and Eliel Rosa are observed departing from a large crowd inside the U.S. Capitol in front of the Main Door of the House Chamber and walks east toward the staircase.
  • Jenny Louise Cudd and Eliel Rosa are subsequently observed walking past the staircase and is further observed walking past the Upper House Door, going toward the other entrance to the House Chamber
  • Jenny Louise Cudd and Eliel Rosa are observed at approximately 2:54 p.m. at the Upper House Door and further observed departing the U.S. Capitol.

It described how Cudd filmed a video at the Willard after she returned, boasting that she was present when, “the new revolution started at the Capitol.”

Jenny Cudd stated on the Facebook video that she was at the Willard Hotel, located on 1401 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington D.C. 20004. During the course of the video she made the following comments to confirm the location and date of the video recording, “I am sitting in front of the Willard Hotel, as I always do when I am in DC protesting,” and “I was here today on January 6th when the new revolution started at the Capitol.”

It further described an interview Cudd did a few days later, boasting of her actions.

On January 8, 2021, Jenny Louise Cudd participated in an interview with a local news station in which she describes her actions on January 6, 2021, in Washington D.C., to include her admission of entering the U.S. Capitol on the same date. Specifically, Jenny Louise Cudd states during her interview she stated the following, “we walked up the steps and walked inside an open door (referring to the U.S. Capitol).” Jenny Louise Cudd further stated, “we the Patriots did storm the U.S. Capitol.” She added in reference to entering the U.S. Capitol, “Yes, I would absolutely do it again.”

As the arrest affidavit notes, the FBI also interviewed Rosa before arresting the two of them. He confirmed that the two of them had, indeed, entered the Capitol on January 6.

On January 8, 2021, Eliel Rosa was interviewed by the FBI in Midland, Texas. During the interview, Eliel Rosa admitted that he and Jenny Louise Cudd had entered the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.

The arrest affidavit focused entirely on events of January 6 and thereafter. And while both Cudd and Rosa were implicated in trespassing, the most damning evidence in the affidavit came from Cudd’s own description of their activity.

On February 3, they were both indicted with their original trespassing charges, as well as obstruction of the vote count and abetting such obstruction.

In March, Cudd moved to sever her case from that of Rosa, arguing in part that by charging them together, the government was attempting, “to create the appearance of a conspiracy or plan.” Specifically, though, Cudd wanted to sever her case from Rosa’s both to prevent his voluntary statement to the FBI from being presented against her, but also to ensure she could cross-examine him to get him to verify that she had no corrupt plan to disrupt the vote count.

Ms. Cudd will seek Mr. Rosa’s exculpatory testimony to show that there was no advance plan for Ms. Cudd to walk into the Capitol, that Ms. Cudd was not aware they were breaking the law by walking around inside, that Ms. Cudd did not act “corruptly,” that Ms. Cudd did not “picket,” that Ms. Cudd was not “disorderly,” that Ms. Cudd did not have the intent to commit any of the offenses alleged, and, more generally and most importantly, to show that Ms. Cudd did not commit any of the offenses of which she is accused. Mr. Rosa’s testimony would support reasonable doubt for each count of the Indictment. Furthermore, Ms. Cudd would be able to examine Mr. Rosa on redirect, to place any government cross examination into context for the fact finder.

In the government response, they largely recited the same facts shown in the arrest affidavit, then noted that Cudd and Rosa traveled from Midland, TX, stayed at the same hotel, and traveled through the Capitol together.

Cudd and Rosa both live in Midland, Texas, and they knew each other prior to January 6, 2021. They checked into the same hotel in Washington, D.C. on January 5, 2021, and checked out on January 7. On January 6, they went to the U.S. Capitol together.

In her reply, Cudd cited from Rosa’s 302, describing that he did not travel to the riot with anyone, and added more details based on the receipts obtained in discovery to make it clear they had not traveled together.

Contrary to the government’s implication that the two traveled together or planned to be at the Capitol together, Mr. Rosa’s interview with the FBI shows they did not. This is further supported by the hotel receipts, which the government obtained and shared with the defense. The Willard Hotel receipts show that rooms for the two co-defendants were booked on different dates and for different prices. (Ms. Cudd paid $143 more for her stay. If they coordinated, she would have surely chosen to save that money and would not have used Expedia for that booking.) The two stayed on different floors and had dinner separately and at different times, according to meal receipts. These were not the only two Trump supporters staying at the Willard Hotel from January 5-7. A large number of other Trump supporters shared those booking dates at the Willard. And, while the two may have known each other from back home and shared political views, that is not a basis for joinder. The entire crowd of Trump supporters, many of whom stayed at the Willard Hotel, were present at the Capitol. They are not charged together.

After the government had provided some discovery, including the contents of two phones, the government response to a request from Cudd that it identify all the exhibits it would use in its case in chief repeated the same facts laid out in the original arrest affidavit, all focused on January 6 and thereafter. The response also said it was far too early for Cudd to demand a list of exhibits that would be used against her at trial.

Shortly after Cudd’s request to learn precisely which exhibits the government would use at trial, Eliel Rosa entered into a plea agreement with an expiration date of July 29, pleading guilty to 40 USC 5104, the lesser of the two trespassing charges used with January 6 defendants. His statement of offense narrated what he and Cudd saw and heard as they wandered through the Capitol together. Specifically, he described hearing gunshots and seeing a bunch of people banging on doors, possibly the doors to the Speaker’s Lobby.

While inside of the U.S. Capitol, Mr. Rosa heard two gunshots and saw 15 to 20 men banging on assorted doors. These men were wearing “MAGA” gear.

In addition to implicating Cudd in his own trespassing, Rosa also noted that he did not have any evidence as to Cudd’s intent when she entered the Capitol.

Mr. Rosa has reviewed the allegations in the indictment that relate to his codefendant, Jenny Cudd, and admits that the allegations are true, or that he does not have sufficient information to dispute or disprove those allegations set forth the indictment. Specifically, this includes that Mr. Rosa does not have information as to Ms. Cudd’s motive and intent when she entered the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021 or whether Ms. Cudd had the intent to corruptly obstruct, influence, or impede an official proceeding before Congress – to wit: Congress’s Electoral College Certification on that date.

This might be seen as exculpatory for Cudd, precisely the kind of testimony she hoped to elicit from Rosa at any trial. But it also protected Rosa from any implication in whatever intent Cudd did have when she went to the Capitol.

The government’s sentencing memo for Rosa provided more details about the friendship between Rosa and Cudd, which Rosa described to be a recent friendship.

In an interview with the FBI, Mr. Rosa explained his relationship to his co-defendant Jenny Cudd. Mr. Rosa and Ms. Cudd are new friends, who met at an event in November 2020. Mr. Rosa explained that he and his co-defendant Jenny Cudd held similar beliefs. Although the two were not travel companions, they both discussed their plans to travel to Washington, D.C. and stayed in the same hotel in separate rooms.

It also describes how both returned to the Willard after Trump’s speech, and only then did Rosa decide to go to the Capitol (this detail was used against him at his sentencing).

In the afternoon on January 6, 2021, after listening to President Trump’s speech, Mr. Rosa returned to his hotel, however, he decided he would follow others heading toward the Capitol after learning that Vice President Pence was not going to take action. Mr. Rosa met with his friend Ms. Cudd at the hotel and together they marched toward the United States Capitol where he knew the Congressional certification was taking place.

Rosa’s own sentencing memo explains that the gunshot referred to in his statement of offense was probably the fatal shot of Ashli Babbitt, thereby seemingly confirming that he witnessed a bunch of people in MAGA hats banging on a door before Babbitt was shot.

When he got to the Capitol he walked in through an open door and followed the flow of people going through the rotunda and towards the East gate. He heard what he believes to have been the shot that killed Ms. Babitt. After being asked to stand against the wall for a short period of time while officers dealt with that situation, he (and others) were asked to leave out the East door, and he complied immediately.

Rosa’s sentencing memo also makes clear that he posted nothing positive about the riot after he attended it; a photo he posted to Facebook stating, “And we fight,” was posted at 5:22AM that morning.

On Tuesday, Judge McFadden sentenced Rosa to a year of probation, less than the month of home confinement the government requested (I thought I heard McFadden impose more community service than the government had asked for, 100 hours instead of 60, but no reference to community service appears in the docket).

Hours later, the notice that Cudd would plead guilty posted to the docket. Her plea offer was dated September 27, with a deadline of acceptance of October 11, a day earlier (and indeed, the signatures on the plea agreement are dated October 11). Because Cudd pled guilty to the more serious trespassing misdemeanor than Rosa, it meant that language permitting the government to ask for a terrorism enhancement was included as boilerplate in her plea agreement and given Marina Medvin’s complaints at the plea colloquy, nothing Medvin tried to do managed to get it removed.

Cudd’s statement of offense included a detail that may not appear anywhere else. Not only did she admit under oath she knew the vote was going to be certified (something Rosa also attested to), but she admitted under oath that at the the Stop the Steal rallies on January 5, she heard people calling for revolution and then stated that she was “all for it.”

On January 5, 2021, Ms. Cudd stated the following in a video on social media: “a lot of . . . the speakers this evening were calling for a revolution. Now I don’t know what y’all think about a revolution, but I’m all for it. . . . Nobody actually wants war, nobody wants bloodshed, but the government works for us and unfortunately it appears that they have forgotten that, quite a lot. So, if a revolution is what it takes then so be it. Um, I don’t know if that is going to kick off tomorrow or not, we shall see what the powers that be choose to do with their powers and we shall see what it is that happens in Congress tomorrow at our United States Capitol. So, um either way I think that either our side or the other side is going to start a revolution.”

It’s not clear whether Rosa knew of this video or saw it before he stated that he had no evidence about her intent on the day of the riot.

Cudd’s statement of offense admits that she was in the vicinity of the Babbitt shooting (without specifying it as such), but doesn’t describe (as Rosa’s did) being held up while police dealt with the aftermath.

The government produced to the defense evidence that showed that Ms. Cudd and Mr. Rosa continued walking through the Statuary Hall area of the U.S. Capitol, until 2:43 p.m., when they moved toward the House Chamber and connecting hallways; the defense does not dispute this evidence.

Thus, while Cudd’s statement of offense notes that she did not, herself, enter Pelosi’s office, the statement she recorded after the riot stating that, “we did break down the Nancy Pelosi’s office door,” would have taken place after those with Ashli Babbit had done more than $1,000 of damage to the doors to the Speaker’s lobby, something charged against at least three of those present, and something that could carry a terrorist enhancement for those who did the damage.

We did break down the Nancy Pelosi’s office door and somebody stole her gavel and took a picture sitting in the chair flipping off the camera. . . . they had to evacuate it before we charged the Capitol. . . . Fuck yes, I am proud of my actions, I fucking charged the Capitol today with patriots today. Hell yes I am proud of my actions.” Despite Ms. Cudd’s statement, there is no evidence that Ms. Cudd entered Nancy Pelosi’s office and no evidence that Ms. Cudd stole any property from the Capitol.

The next day, January 8, Cudd explained why she used the collective “we” in her statement from the day of the riot, seemingly trying to distance herself from some of the violence yet still describing that “the patriots [collectively] stormed the Capitol” and asserting she would do the same again, even after she was (at least per Rosa’s statement of offense) present in the vicinity of the Babbitt killing.

So if you watch the entire video [referring to her January 6 social media video] and you watch any of my videos you know that the way that I speak is that I always say we. So I say we the patriots, we . . . whatever. I always say we so those things did happen by other people but I was not a part of that. But in reference to it that umm we the patriots stormed the Capitol and some people went into different offices and different things like that . . . . I would do it again in a heartbeat because I did not break any laws.

The new language in Cudd’s statement of offense — describing the speakers calling for revolution — will help DOJ make a case (one they’ve already started to lay out) about the premeditation reflected in those who gave speeches on January 5.

But it also shows that she responded to calls for revolution the day before the riot by endorsing the idea, and then after the riot, she returned to the Willard and bragged she had been present when the revolution was started, ““I was here today on January 6th when the new revolution started at the Capitol.”

Marina Medvin’s Client Signs a Plea with the Potential of a Terrorism Enhancement

Marina Medvin is the sweet spot of January 6 lawyers. She’s a legit lawyer, doing particularly good work trying to challenge the asymmetrical access defendants get to security video of the attack. She clearly serves the interests of her clients rather than grifting or focusing more on scoring political points, as some other January 6 defense attorneys appear to do. But she’s also a right wing activist in her own right.

As such, she spends a great deal of time calling people she doesn’t like “terrorists.”

She uses debunked claims about (foreign) terrorists to try to sow fear about immigration.

She spends a great deal of time demanding that the 9/11 attackers be called terrorists.

She calls the evacuation of Afghans who helped the US fight terrorism the importation of terrorists.

She labels Joe Biden’s effort to craft a positive outcome out of Donald Trump’s capitulation to the Taliban as negotiating with terrorists.

She holds protestors accountable for those they affiliate with who call for violence.

She even complains when those held as — and those guarding — terrorists get treated humanely.

Yesterday, with the benefit of Medvin’s able counsel, her client Jenny Louise Cudd pled guilty under a plea agreement that permits the government to ask for a terrorism enhancement under U.S.S.G. § 3A1.4 at sentencing.

To be sure, I agree with Medvin’s assessment yesterday that it is unlikely the government will actually push for this enhancement with Cudd (and I think it even more unlikely that Judge Trevor McFadden would side with such a government request). This appears to be a standard part of any January 6 plea agreement involving sentencing calculations but no cooperation agreement; one thing cooperators are getting — especially those in militia conspiracy cases — is an assurance they won’t been deemed terrorists at sentencing.

Still, Cudd won’t be sentenced until March, and the government may have a far more complete story to tell about the attempted revolution that Cudd applauded by then, a story that will likely incorporate some of the facts to which Cudd admitted under oath yesterday. You never know what DOJ will do or Judge McFadden might find plausible by then.

I raise the terrorism enhancement language in Cudd’s plea agreement not because I think she’ll be treated as one come sentencing (thus far, I think Scott Fairlamb is at greatest risk of that, because his statement of offense admitted both to using violence and to his intent to intimidate those certifying the vote). Rather, I raise it to show that even a right wing activist like Medvin agrees with my reading of the language in these plea agreements. The government is reserving the right to treat these defendants, even someone who pled down to a trespassing misdemeanor like Cudd, as terrorists at sentencing. To be clear: Medvin doesn’t think this will work legally nor does she think her client is implicated in the violence of those with whom she chose to affiliate on January 6, but that is what she described the language effectively means in Cudd’s plea hearing.

Such terrorism enhancements are how domestic terrorists get labeled as terrorists. Because domestic terrorist groups like the Proud Boys or Oath Keepers aren’t labeled as (foreign) terrorist groups by the State Department, affiliation with or abetment of those groups is not per se illegal (as it might be under material support statutes for foreign terrorist organizations). It’s not until sentencing, then, that the government can argue and a judge might agree that the specific crime a person committed involved acts dangerous to human life, and (in the case of January 6) an attempt to intimidate or coerce the policy of government. If the judge does agree, a terrorist enhancement could expose the defendant to a much longer sentence as a result, a guidelines range of 121 to 151 months for someone with no criminal history.

This is a detail that has gone almost entirely unreported elsewhere: that DOJ is building in an ability to treat these defendants as terrorists when it comes to sentencing, sentencing that may be five months in the future.

Mind you, since this would be domestic terrorism, the government could not just wildly label someone as a terrorist for attending a protest at which others present espouse violence, as Medvin has done of Muslims. They’d have to lay out a specific intent on the part of the defendant to threaten force to coerce some political outcome. But if they do so with these January 6 defendants, then they may be legally branded as terrorists for their actions on January 6.

What Eliel Rosa Saw at the Precise Moment Ethan Nordean Was Not Seeing Officers Open the Upper West Terrace Door

Yesterday, Eliel Rosa pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge of trespassing, even as his co-defendant, Jenny Cudd (the woman who famously got permission to fly on a pre-arranged trip to Mexico), continued to fight to get the obstruction count both were charged with dismissed as part of her own plea. (Rosa, who is a Brazilian citizen, faces a significant risk of deportation upon sentencing.)

Within an hour of that time, Ethan Nordean filed a motion to de-designate two 40-minute lengths of video designated highly sensitive so he can publicly release it. Nordean is trying to get video of something he didn’t witness personally released, showing that at 2:33PM on January 6, four minutes before Nordean entered the Upper West Terrace door at 2:37, two cops there opened the door and then, three minutes before he entered the door, one of those cops held the door open for an insurrectionist.

Second Upper West Terrace Video. This clip is 40 minutes in length, running from 2:20 p.m. Eastern Time on January 6 to 3:00 p.m. The video is from the same camera responsible for the First Upper West Terrace Video. Except, unlike in the shorter First Upper West Terrace Video, at 2:33 p.m., just a few minutes before Nordean enters the building, two police officers open the doors leading from the entry hallway into the Capitol Building. One officer holds the door open as the first protestor enters the building through the Upper West Terrace Door at 2:34 p.m. At 2:35 p.m., two minutes before the clip begins in the First Upper West Terrace Video, a police officer holds a conversation with a line of protestors. Then the officer permits them to enter the building.

Nordean also wants to get a video showing that, one minute before he entered through that door,  a cop propped the door open, and then, seven minutes after he went through the door, cops let a far bigger mob of people in.

[L]ess than a minute before Nordean enters the door, a police officer props the door open and moves a box out of the way of protestors entering the building. At 2:43 p.m., a time also outside the scope of the First Upper West Terrace Door Video, a group of officers large enough to block the narrow door to the Capitol Building confer with one another, as the line of protestors calmly waiting to enter grows outside. At 2:44:18 p.m., one of the officers appears to hear something in an earpiece. He then places his hand on the shoulder of a second officer who is speaking to the protestors and leans in to say something to him. The group of officers then permit more protestors to enter the building.

None of these things show up in the clips Nordean has been given, and none of these things would have been visible to Nordean in the minute during which he entered the building after assembling a violent mob to get to the door in the first place.

First Upper West Terrace Video. This clip is exactly one minute in length, running from 2:37 p.m. Eastern Time on January 6, to 2:38 p.m. Eastern Time. It depicts Nordean passing through a Capitol Building entryway hall. Two law enforcement officers stand aside as Nordean and others proceed into the building.

First Upper West Terrace Door Video. This clip is also exactly one minute in length, running from 2:37 p.m. Eastern Time on January 6, to 2:38 p.m. Eastern Time. However, this video is from a camera facing the door through which Nordean entered the Capitol Building before passing through the hall seen in the First Upper West Terrace Video. No law enforcement officers can be seen in this one-minute clip.

Don’t get me wrong: eventually, those 40-minute videos should come out, along with explanations of why those cops did what they did and whether they’re among the cops who were suspended for investigation after the insurrection. But the videos don’t help Nordean prove that, when he crossed into the Capitol from a terrace that was already well inside the restricted area that day, when he entered backed by thousands of men — many violent — that he had a key role in assembling, he knew what had happened four minutes earlier or what would happen seven minutes later. The only way he would have known what happened four minutes earlier and what would happen seven minutes later at the moment he himself crossed the threshold is if those cops were collaborators that he knew would open the door before the insurrection started.

If that’s the argument Nordean wants to make to get these videos released, by all means I’d love to hear it.

As I said, within an hour of the time that Nordean filing posted to PACER, Eliel Rosa was pleading guilty. He didn’t read his allocution during the plea, but it has been posted since. And it shows another coincidence in the lives of Ethan Nordean and Eliel Rosa. On January 6, Rosa was approaching the Capitol at the same time as Nordean was. And what he saw and heard is that people with bullhorns — like Nordean had — were shouting “Go, Go, Go,” as police set off pepper spray in an effort to hold them back. Rosa, who entered the Capitol just as it was opened (meaning the video Nordean wants would be helpful to Rosa and may be why Rosa got to plead to a misdemeanor) and two minutes before Nordean, knew that the police didn’t want him or the people yelling through the bullhorns to get people to move toward that door, because the cops were deploying pepper spray to get them to fall back.

10. On January 6, 2021, prior to 2:35 p.m., Eliel Rosa and Jenny Cudd approached the United States Capitol from the West.

11. In front of them, Mr. Rosa observed a large group of individuals shouting and Mr. Rosa heard people with megaphones shouting, “Go, Go, Go.” Mr. Rosa heard bangs and acknowledged the smell and presence of pepper spray that had been deployed. Because of these observations, he knew law enforcement was present and in front of the advancing group.

12. At approximately 2:35 p.m., Eliel Rosa and Jenny Cudd walked into the U.S. Capitol through the Upper West Terrace Door.

Mind you, Rosa is not the only misdemeanor plea that would include such evidence about what Nordean would have been seeing at the moment he was not seeing cops leave the door. By the time Nordean would go to trial there’d be a big handful of such statements of the offense, one after another January 6 defendant who knew, well before they entered the Capitol building, that they were not welcome in the building.

But even while Nordean’s alleged co-conspirator Zack Rehl seems to be getting chatty with prosecutors, Nordean is filing motions that would be most helpful if he wanted to prove he knew [hypothetically–I’m not arguing he did] there’d be collaborator cops waiting at that specific door of the Capitol, but otherwise would be useless to show what Nordean knew or saw when he crossed into the Capitol. Particularly as the government begins to collect sworn allocutions from people like Rosa making it clear what Nordean would have seen before he got to that door.


Update: In response to this motion, the government delivered the video in question to Judge Tim Kelly so he could see — the government contends — how Nordean misrepresented the video.

The Government’s Opposition to Defendant Nordean’s Motion for Removal of Sensitivity Designation (ECF 129) will be filed separately; however, the Government found it necessary to provide an immediate response to Defendant’s characterization of rioters’ entrance to the Capitol. The Government disputes Defendant Nordean’s characterization of the events surrounding Nordean’s unlawful entrance into the Capitol. Among other things, the surveillance footage does not “show[] a law enforcement officer authorizing Nordean’s entrance.” (ECF 113). Likewise, the footage does not show a police officer “prop[ping] the door open and mov[ing] a box out of the way of protestors entering the building.” (ECF 129) (emphasis added). The video depicts outnumbered Capitol Police officers being overrun by rioters unlawfully breaching a Capitol entrance.

And then Nordean’s attorneys responded, providing a new description of the video in question, one that adds a detail they didn’t include the first time: that the cops in question were already dealing with insurrectionists inside the building.

Perhaps most damning, consider the following clips, in tandem, in weighing the truth of the government’s claim to the public that the videos it will not release show “outnumbered Capitol Police officers being overrun by rioters unlawfully breaching a Capitol entrance.” ECF No. 103, p. 1. Nordean asks the Court to first review 2:33:18 p.m. in 126 USC 01 Upper West Terrace – 2021-01-06 _14h20min00s0000ms.asf; and then 2:33:42 p.m. in 0912 USCS 01 Upper West Terrace Door-2021-01-06_14h20min00s000ms.asf. In the first clip, police officers open an inner door to the Capitol, allowing protestors who are already in the building to enter a hallway leading to the Upper West Terrace Door. Seconds later, in the second clip, the protestors then open the Upper West Terrace Door to dozens or perhaps hundreds of protestors. With respect to the government’s claim of officers being “overrun,” and its claim that Nordean “falsely” represents that the videos show officers “authorizing” entry into the Capitol Building, Nordean asks the Court to view 2:37:28 p.m. in 126 USC 01 Upper West Terrace – 2021-01-06 _14h37min00s0000ms.asf, showing Nordean and others peacefully walking between multiple police officers who permit them to enter. It also asks the Court to view 2:44:00 p.m. to 2:44:30 p.m. in 0912 USCS 01 Upper West Terrace Door-2021-01-06_14h20min00s000ms.asf, in which police officers easily block a narrow entrance to the Capitol at the Upper West Terrace Door but then subsequently decide to permit protestors, who are not “overrunning” them, to enter. [my emphasis]

That description of the other rioters didn’t appear in their original description. It changes the meaning of it, because it offers other plausible explanations why cops at one post let rioters in as they were facing down rioters already in the building.

Again, I look forward to one day seeing videos showing what Ethan Nordean had no way of seeing before he entered the building. But thus far, Ethan Nordean has proven that Ethan Nordean provided an incomplete description of videos that depict what Ethan Nordean could not have seen happen just before he entered the Capitol.

It bears noting that Nordean’s larger argument, likening this dispute to one that was resolved in favor of John Anderson hours before Nordean’s own filing, resulting in the release of video that showed Anderson, is inapt and probably designed to impress gullible reporters or maybe complicit Congressmen like Paul Gosar. Nordean is pointing to the release of video that shows a defendant to argue for release of video that doesn’t show Nordean.

Update: Let me restate what Nordean is trying to argue.

By the time he got to the West Terrace door, he had passed at least three barricades. At each, he witnessed assaults, including — the first one — an assault that hospitalized a cop. In one of those cases, he reined in Christopher Quaglin, but Quaglin’s actions were still part of the collective action that allowed Nordean to even get to the West Terrace door. Nordean is trying to argue that, if at one of four barriers he passed to enter the Capitol, no cop was hospitalized as rioters passed, it’s proof he had no way of knowing he wasn’t welcome inside.

Accused Terrorist* Leader Ethan Nordean Complains He Got Charged with Trespassing

The biggest advantages that Ethan Nordean and the other men charged in the Proud Boys Leadership conspiracy have are a judge, Tim Kelly, who is very sympathetic to the fact that they’re being held in jail as the government fleshes out the case against them, and the 450 other January 6 defendants who have been charged with one or another of the same charges the Proud Boys were charged with. The biggest disadvantages are that, as time passes, the government’s case gets stronger and stronger and the fact that seditious conspiracy or insurrection charges not only remain a real possibility, but are arguably are a better fit than what they got charged with.

That’s why it baffles me that, minutes after Judge Kelly noted that every time Nordean files a new motion, Nordean himself tolls the Speedy Trial clock, Nordean’s lawyer, Nick Smith, filed a motion to dismiss the entirety of the indictment against Nordean.

Don’t get me wrong; I think Smith is a good lawyer and I’m grateful for the January 6 defense attorneys who are making aggressive challenges to the charges against their clients; it’s an important check on the First Amendment risks of this prosecution. And I imagine the filing was all ready to go before yesterday’s status hearing, where Kelly kept repeating that he is sympathetic to the plight of the defendants, but noted that the last motion Smith filed — a motion for a Bill of Particulars, a kind of motion that, in general, rarely succeeds — probably tolls the Speedy Trial clock whether or not Kelly were prepared to rule against prosecutors’ request for more time.

But tactically, trying to throw out every single crime, up to and including his trespassing charge, charged against one of the key leaders of a terrorist attack that put our very system of government at risk trades away the two biggest advantages Nordean has on legal challenges that won’t eliminate the prosecution against Nordean.

The 66-page motion goes one by one, arguing that every charge against Nordean is vague or wrongly applied. Obstruction — 1512 — only applies for Congress when it is engaged in an investigative function, not what Nordean claims (notwithstanding the questions that sympathetic members of Congress raised about the vote count) was just a formal technicality. Leading an insurrection also doesn’t have the requisite corrupt nature, because threatening the Vice President and the Speaker of the House with assassination would not have the effect of influencing members of Congress to do what the mob wanted. Civil disorder — 231 — was designed to jail civil rights leaders and so (it suggests) shouldn’t be used against a guy trying to invalidate the votes of 81 million Americans. A riot affecting a vote count that affects every state and shut down much of DC did not affect interstate commerce. There were other police, in addition to the Secret Service at the Capitol, and so the specific terms of 1752 — the trespassing charge — don’t apply here. Plus, poor Ethan Nordean had no way of knowing that barriers that were clearly in place when he started the approach to the Capitol were barriers meant to keep him out. And, finally (though this comes off as half-hearted), Nordean has no idea what property his conspiracy depredated even though it has been discussed ad nauseum in past hearings.

Along the way, Smith shades the case in ways that prosecutors will easily rebut, as when he suggests Nordean, whom the indictment cites invoking revolution as early as November 27 (and so even before the states certified their votes), was motivated out of a sincere belief that the election was stolen because of voter fraud.

Nordean did so, the government alleges, in the misguided belief that the legislature should refuse to certify the vote upon a review of evidence that he mistakenly contended showed voter fraud.

[snip]

Instead, it contends he allegedly obstructed the session in support of the sincerely held political belief that the 2020 presidential election was not fairly decided.

He lays out the legislative history for many of these laws. He provides the entire history of the Executive Mansion. He falsely represents that the only people who are being charged with 1512 are gang members like Nordean. More ridiculous still is the claim that hundreds or thousands of other people aren’t being charged with 1752 and so Nordean’s charge must solely stem from his gang membership, when in fact, virtually every person who is being charged, is being charged with 1752.

Some of these arguments have merit. For example, I’ve repeatedly raised concerns about the way the government has hung all its felony counts on a fairly novel reading of obstruction (basically, the argument that the insurrectionists were obstructing the official proceeding of certifying the vote). But other defendants — albeit mostly Proud Boys — are already bringing these challenges (and more are likely to now that Paul Hodgkins’ plea has made it clear that the government will insist defendants plead to that count). The DC Circuit is far more likely to assess those arguments on their legal merits if someone like business owner Jenny Cudd, who actually attended Trump’s rally before heading to the Capitol, and who didn’t preassemble a mob of 100 gang members to attack the Capitol even before Trump’s speech (that said, Cudd’s challenges thus far have been motions to change venue and to sever).

I would like the 231 challenge to succeed, but similar challenges have thus far failed when launched by people in actual states rather than the nation’s capital that by its geographic nature can carry out little commerce without transit through Maryland and/or Virginia, and in protests that would have been prosecuted solely by state cops if Billy Barr didn’t bigfoot on the events

Even Smith’s challenge to the trespassing charge was genuinely interesting when he made the same argument for another of his clients, Couy Griffin, who attended Trump’s rally and is not alleged to have entered the Capitol itself. But it works very differently for a guy who, rather than attending Trump’s rally, instead spent the morning of January 6 preparing a mob to march on an event that was important precisely because Mike Pence, along with his Secret Service detail, would be there conducting official business.

That’s the thing about being charged along with 450 other people: Where a claim has legal merit, other defendants are going to make such challenges. Those other defendants will be taken more seriously by the DC Circuit (the detention case for Chris Worrell has already shown that the DC Circuit sees the Proud Boys’ role in this as distinct from the unaffiliated defendants). And most of those defendants, if they succeed, won’t be promptly charged with insurrection or seditious conspiracy to sustain the prosecution.

And if any of these challenges brought by others succeed, then at that point, Nordean could point to the appellate decision and get his charges dropped along with hundreds of other people. But launching the challenge now, and in an omnibus motion claiming that poor Ethan didn’t know he was trespassing, is apt to get the whole package treated with less seriousness. Meanwhile, Nordean will be extending his own pre-trial detention. The government will be given more time to try to flip other members of a famously back-stabbing group, possibly up to and including Nordean’s co-conspirators (whose pre-trial detention Nordean will also be extending). And Judge Kelly will be left wondering why Nordean keeps undermining Kelly’s stated intent to limit how much the government can draw this out.

The worst thing about this motion, though, is that both the substance of it and that it was filed by one of the key terrorist leaders of this attack serves as the single best argument I’ve seen for passing a domestic terrorism statute. I don’t want January 6 to lead to passage of a domestic terrorism statute so the government has a way to criminalize membership in the Proud Boys. But claiming that Ethan Nordean shouldn’t even be held accountable for trespassing is a good way to ensure that one is passed.


*I believe it is legally accurate to use the term “terrorist” with Nordean because the government has charged him with a crime that can carry a terrorist enhancement — and in fact the government laid that out explicitly in the superseding Front Door indictment. I also believe the January 6 attack was a classical case of terrorism: the use of political violence to achieve a political goal.