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January 6: The Trespasser Testimonials

The other day, when accepting her first misdemeanor January 6 plea, Chief Judge Beryl Howell expressed dismay that Jack Griffith was getting such a lenient plea for taking part in a violent mob that terrorized Congress and the Vice President. In response, his attorney Heather Shaner and the prosecutor Mitra Jafary-Hariri defended the deal, in part, by talking about how cooperative Griffith was. In response, Judge Howell distinguished simple cooperation from a cooperation deal, which requires extended work with prosecutors to indict others.

Howell is not wrong.

But this post has convinced me of something I already suspected: DOJ is using even misdemeanor plea deals to build their larger case. As I noted, the statement of offense to which Eliel Rosa pled guilty described that before he entered the Upper West Terrace door at 2:35PM and passed cops who had not put up much resistance to rioters, he had witnessed “people with megaphones shouting, ‘Go, Go, Go'” and smelled pepper spray which made it clear to him that “law enforcement was present and in front of the advancing group.” This sworn allocution will make it harder for people like Ethan Nordean to claim that, when he entered the same door minutes later, he had no way of knowing that he was trespassing.

Reviewing a good percentage of the misdemeanor pleas so far, it seems most provide one or another kind of support (or both) for the larger case. Some of the defendants pled to details about their own participation that will support the violence of the day. In addition to Rosa (whose testimony will be detrimental to Nordean and others who are claiming because guards didn’t resist he wasn’t trespassing), Kevin Gallagher’s statement of offense will probably be useful in prosecuting Jason Buteau. Some of the other statements of offense describe defendants witnessing other assaults or destruction.

The other way misdemeanor pleas likely will help prosecutors is in validating the video they took during the riot or other testimony such that it will more easily be entered into evidence against other defendants. I’ve long believed that the FBI is focusing some of their arrests of trespassers on those it believes have useful video against more dangerous rioters, and that’s true even of the handful who have pled guilty already. For example, Andrew Bennett’s video must be among the video evidence shared with defendants who broke open the window through which Ashli Babbitt tried to enter. Dona Bissey and Anna Morgan-Lloyd between them took a picture that shows several rioters who stole a sign from Nancy Pelosi’s office (and the government seems very interested in Bissey’s pictures of rioters on the scaffolding). For defendants with useful video, the government needs to ensure the video they collected can be validated to be used against other rioters. In some statements of offense, then, trespassers end up describing taking video and even (sometimes) that they took selfies as part of that video.

Trespassers witness the violence

Bruce Ivey:

After the police line and metal barricades were breached, IVEY walked towards the Senate Wing Door, where he watched another rioter break through the window immediately adjacent to the Senate Wing Door using a riot shield.

Thomas and Lori Vinson:

After the rally, the defendants marched to the U.S. Capitol building, where they entered the first floor at around 2:18 p.m. Cell phone video recorded by the defendants shows broken glass and alarms blaring as they entered. They were present in a first-floor corridor barricaded by law enforcement officers at approximately 2:31 p.m.

Danielle Doyle:

Danielle Nicole Doyle entered the U.S. Capitol building on January 6, 2021, at approximately 2:20 p.m., by climbing through a broken window located next to the Senate Wing Door.

Edward Hemenway and Robert Bauer:

8. On January 6, 2021, after the “Stop the Steal” rally, Robert Bauer and Edward Hemenway, who are cousins, followed a crowd to the U.S. Capitol. As Bauer and Hemenway entered the U.S. Capitol grounds, Hemenway saw a green plastic sign that said, “Do Not Enter,” but continued anyway. As they walked toward the U.S. Capitol building, they saw officers in S.W.A.T.-style gear standing near the scaffolding outside the building. Bauer and Hemenway linked-up with a group walking toward a door into the building. They entered the U.S. Capitol building together with the group at around 2:10 p.m. E.S.T. They then made their way into the Crypt. As they entered the Crypt, Hemenway believed members of the crowd were fighting with police officers.

9. While inside the U.S. Capitol, Bauer and Hemenway chanted, “Stop the Steal!” Bauer also took pictures and videos, and chanted, “Our house! Our house!”

Derek Jancart and Erik Rau:

JANCART and RAU watched from the West Lawn while rioters broke through the police line and rushed up the stairs of the Capitol. RAU video-taped that moment, stating on the video, “We made it up to the Capitol. … We have the police surrounded! We have you surrounded!” In the background, rioters can be heard yelling, “get him!” and “traitors gonna hang!” When the rioters broke through the police line, RAU can be heard screaming, “Yeah! They just pushed through the guards!”

JANCART and RAU then entered the Capitol Building through the Senate Door. JANCART and RAU then traveled through the Crypt. After exiting the Crypt, JANCART and RAU took the stairwell south of the Crypt to the second floor of the Capitol and walked towards the Speaker’s conference room. RAU stepped inside of the Speaker’s conference room while JANCART stayed outside and took a photo.

JANCART posted a photo of the door to the Speaker’s conference room to Facebook with the caption, “We’re in.”

Jack Griffith:

Griffith attended the Stop the Steal rally and then walked to the U.S. Capitol. Griffith unlawfully entered the restricted Capitol grounds, arriving near the North West Scaffolding and Stairs at approximately 2:14 to 2:16 p.m. on January 6, 2021. Griffith spent time in the crowd by the inauguration stage on the west side of the U.S. Capitol building observing members of the crowd attacking law enforcement repeatedly as they tried to keep the crowd away from the building. Griffith then went up the northern set of stairs underneath the scaffolding to the north west terrace near the Senate wing of the building.

Griffith entered a door to the Capitol which had been broken open. Griffith entered the Capitol with his Co-Defendants Eric Chase Torrens and Matthew Bledsoe at approximately 2:18 p.m. The fourth Co-Defendant Blake Reed entered shortly behind Griffith, Torrens and Bledsoe. Griffith’s entrance is captured in surveillance footage and in a selfie-stye video that his Co-Defendant Matthew Bledsoe shared on social media. The selfie-style video shows them immediately outside of an exterior door of the Capitol. An alarm can be heard blaring in the background. Co-Defendant Torrens said, “We’re going in!” The camera then pans to Griffith who screamed in excitement.

Michael Curzio:

Shortly after 2:30 p.m., video surveillance captured Curzio walking inside the Capitol Visitors Center (“CVC”), which is part of the Capitol building. Curzio and others gathered in a CVC corridor at the end of which U.S. Capitol Police officers had formed a defensive line. The officers issued commands for the rioters to leave the building. When rioters refused their commands, the officers began arresting individuals who had unlawfully entered the building, including Curzio. Curzio admitted he refused to leave the premises after being ordered to do so.

Curzio was compliant following his arrest, and later cooperated with law enforcement by providing the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) his swipe code so the FBI could search his phone.

Matthew Mazzocco:

During the time relevant to the above described events, the defendant entered the U.S. Capitol and walked around the building. The defendant entered and walked around at least one conference room type-area and walked through various hallways. While doing so, the defendant told others not to take or destroy anything, and that they were probably going to get in trouble for what they were doing.

Kevin Gallagher:

Shortly after 2:30 p.m., video surveillance captured Gallagher walking in the Capitol Visitors Center, which is part of the Capitol building. At one point, Gallagher appeared to admonish another rioter not to throw a chair.

The rioter in question is likely Jason Buteau, who threw a chair in CVC between 2:29 and 2:31, but the moment he actually threw the chair was not caught on camera.

Boyd Camper:

Camper subsequently admitted to law enforcement that he “picked the right hole” to get himself to a stairway area. He saw that the police lines had been broken, as well as persons getting tear gassed and pushing to get inside the building. Camper stated that he believed he was in the frontline of the situation, and that “in my mind, we were going to take the Capitol steps.” Camper also admitted that he went inside the U.S. Capitol building.

Eric Torrens

Torrens spent time in the crowd by the inauguration stage on the west side of the U.S. Capitol building observing members of the crowd throwing items at law enforcement.

Mark Simon

As Simon filmed the video he approached the doorway to the U.S. Capitol, law enforcement officers inside the U.S. Capitol could be seen attempting to remove individuals from the building. Broken glass windows could be observed on two of the doors of the U.S. Capitol, including one that was directly next to Mark Simon while he was taking the video.

Once Mark Simon was in the doorway of the U.S. Capitol building, he turned the camera on himself and said, “In the Capitol baby, yeah!” Shortly thereafter, Mark Simon turned the camera on himself again and said, “2021 Donald Trump!” A screenshot from the portion of the video in which Mark Simon turned the camera on himself is below, along with an image from the video provided to the FBI by a member of the public. A broken glass window is visible directly behind Mark Simon in the first image.

Trespassers validate their own video

Andrew Ryan Bennett:

9. On January 6, 2021, Bennett made his way to the Capitol grounds and began livestreaming video to his Facebook page from outside the building at approximately 1:00 p.m. Bennett eventually unlawfully entered the Capitol along with hundreds of other individuals. At approximately 2:17 p.m., 2:37 p.m., and 2:42 p.m., Bennett livestreamed three videos from inside the building to his Facebook page. During one point in one of those videos, Bennett admonished others not to be destructive inside the Capitol. At multiple points, Bennett turned the camera on himself and captured himself inside the building, wearing a hat with the letters “FAFO,” an abbreviation of a slogan popular among the Proud Boys, a far-right group. There is no evidence Bennett was violent or destructive on the grounds of or inside the Capitol.

10. On January 11, 2021, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) obtained a search warrant for Bennett’s residence in Columbia, Maryland. During the execution of the warrant, the FBI recovered the hat bearing the “FAFO” slogan that Bennett wore inside the Capitol. Following the search, Bennett voluntarily interviewed with the FBI, and admitted that he unlawfully entered the Capitol on January 6, 2021. He also provided the unlock code of his cellphone to the FBI so FBI could search the device, and has been entirely cooperative with the government’s investigation since his arrest on January 26, 2021.

11. Upon further investigation, the FBI found while Bennett attempted to contact a Maryland chapter of the Proud Boys about becoming a member, it did not find evidence that Bennett is a member or associate of any organized chapter of the Proud Boys.

Dona Bissey:

11. After arriving at the Capitol and ascending the steps, the DEFENDANT participated in the protest and took photos of the other protestors, including those in or around the scaffolding on the western front of the building.

12. The DEFENDANT and Morgan-Lloyd then entered the Capitol building and walked through a hallway. While inside the Capitol building, the DEFENDANT appeared in a photo with Morgan-Lloyd and two other individuals, one of whom is holding a Trump campaign flag. The DEFENDANT later posted the photo on Facebook with the caption “Inside the Capitol Building.” The DEFENDANT also posted a picture of an elderly woman with a “Make America Great Again” hat and wrote “This is Our Warrior Linda. We stayed with her and her daughter Stacey all day. They are somewhat locals. When we Marched to Capitol she said “I’m going in” and she lead the way. We went in [] This photo taken at Capitol entry right before[.]” The Defendant also posted a screenshot of a Twitter post which stated “This is the First time the U.S. Capitol had been breached since it was attacked by the British in 1814” and wrote “We were inside for reals! Linda led the way!! She is a True Patriot and Warrior!!!”

13. On January 7, 2021, the DEFENDANT posted a photo on Facebook, tagging Morgan-Lloyd and another individual, and wrote “We are home. Thank You to ALL that messaged checking in and concerned. It was a day I’ll remember forever. I’m proud that I was a part of it! No Shame. BTW turn off the #FakeNews.”

14. On January 8, 2021, the DEFENDANT posted two photos from the western front of the Capitol building. The photo included images of protesters climbing the scaffolding and another other with a protestor holding a stolen and broken sign that read “Speaker of the House.” The DEFENDANT wrote on the post “This really happened! Anna Morgan-Lloyd took the photo.”

15. On January 11, 2021, the DEFENDANT posted a photo on Facebook which showed individuals walking down the steps of the Capitol building. The DEFENDANT wrote “On our way down” and tagged Morgan-Lloyd.

16. On February 24, 2021, the DEFENDANT was interviewed by law enforcement. The DEFENDANT admitted that she had entered the Capitol and remained for less than ten minutes. The DEFENDANT also admitted that she had a photo taken of herself within the building.

Anna Morgan-Lloyd:

On January 6, 2021, in response to a post by L.L.T.P, the DEFENDANT wrote, “I’m here. Best day ever. We stormed the capital building and me and Dona Bissey were in the first 50 people in.”

[snip]

The DEFENDANT also admitted that she used her phone to take photographs in and around the Capitol building and had a photograph taken of herself, Bissey, and two other individuals.

Valerie Ehrke:

At approximately 2:09 p.m. on January 6, 2021, the defendant entered the U.S. Capitol Building with a crowd. The defendant entered one of the hallways of the Capitol Building and took a video from the first-person perspective while she was there. She then uploaded that video to her Facebook page, with a caption reading, “We made it inside, right before they shoved us all out. I took off when I felt pepper spray in my throat! Lol.” A screengrab of that video is attached hereto:

Valerie Ehrke

Jordan Stotts:

11. At approximately 2:45 p.m., STOTTS entered the Capitol building through a door located to the left of the main entrance

12. Once inside the Capitol building, STOTTS walked to the Capitol Rotunda and stayed inside for approximately one hour.

13. While in the rotunda, STOTTS celebrated with other rioters and used his cell phone to take a video.

Robert Reeder:

10. On January 6, 2021, from the steps of the Capitol grounds, the DEFENDANT recorded a video in which he stated: “We’ve been getting tear gassed…thousands of people.” The DEFENDANT then appeared to chant: “Fight for Trump!”

11. As the DEFENDANT approached an open door of the Capitol, a high-pitched alarm can be heard in the background. Capitol Police Officers are seen standing along the wall in the entrance. At the threshold of the building, the DEFENDANT approached Capitol Police Officers and asked: “Is there anywhere where I can get water?” An officer responded: “We don’t have any water in here, sir. There’s some outside.” The DEFENDANT then walked past the Officers, opened an interior door, and proceeded into the Capitol building. From inside the Capitol, the DEFENDANT took numerous photos and videos from various rooms, hallways, and balconies.

12. Although the DEFENDANT briefly left the Capitol building, he then turned around and returned to it. At that time, the DEFENDANT recorded a video of himself chanting “USA!” with the crowd as he approaches the open doors to the Capitol building.

13. The DEFENDANT then recorded another video in which he appears to be within and near the Capitol rotunda near confrontations with Capitol Police Officers. The DEFENDANT recorded an assault on a Capitol Police Officer. The DEFENDANT seemingly told the Officer: “You need to retreat!”

14. After leaving the Capitol building, the DEFENDANT recorded a video from the Capitol grounds in which he stated: “I’m leaving now… I got tear gassed at least four times inside the Capitol…I saw the lady they say got shot, I walked right past her in a pool of blood. And it’s just…completely crazy in there.” The DEFENDANT also stated: “Just left the Capitol, I was one of the last people out. I was in there for over half an hour. I got gassed several times inside the Capitol, many times outside the Capitol. Got shot with pepper balls. It was fucking nuts. We had to do…ah… battle with the Police inside. It was crazy…absolutely insane.”

Jenny Cudd:

While inside of the U.S. Capitol building, Jennifer Ryan took numerous videos and photos from the Rotunda.

Reeder’s arrest affidavit suggests the exchange as he entered the Capitol took place around 2:40, so this may verify that the cops at the West Terrace Door who weren’t fighting protestors — raised in defense by a significant number of defendants — did instruct at least one to go outside.

While I’m sure I’ve lost track of some of these misdemeanor guilty pleas, this post shows a good percentage of those who’ve pled already have offered testimony that in one way or another would be useful for further prosecutions. One of the only exceptions is Joshua and Jessica Bustle whose statement of offense largely focuses on their phones, video surveillance, and subsequent social media posts. Perhaps relatedly, in sentencing memos for the Bustles submitted last week, the government recommended three months of home confinement for Jessica (who called Mike Pence a traitor and called for a revolution after the riot) and one month of home confinement for Joshua.

Graydon Young: Trading a Potential Terrorism Enhancement for Testimony against His Sister

As of this moment, the government has obtained five misdemeanor guilty pleas, one straight up felony plea, and two cooperation pleas in the January 6 investigation. With an eye towards understanding the Graydon Young plea, I’d like to look at the stories — or lack thereof — that the government is telling with its Statements of Offense.

DOJ’s reticent Statements of Offense

Thus far, the government is using Statements of Offense for their functional purpose, to lay out how the defendant’s behavior meets the elements of the offense to which they plead guilty, and not to tell a larger story about the investigation (as, for example, in the Robert Mueller did with some of his guilty pleas).

Generally, the misdemeanor SOO are more succinct than the arrest affidavit for the same defendant. For example, in their SOO, there’s less detail of Jessica and Joshua Bustle’s social media postings or evidence from the geofence warrants than in their arrest affidavit. Instead the SOO lays out that they were in the Capitol, that they carried anti-vaccine signs (which supports their parading charge), and adds that the reason they were there was to “demonstrate against the certification of the vote count.” Similarly, Robert Reeder’s SOO doesn’t include details of the pictures he took while inside the Capitol, which were described in his arrest warrant; it focuses on the alarms ringing when Reeder entered the building, that Reeder ignored a cop’s response that “We don’t have any water in here, sir” when he walked past the cop into the building, and his second trip inside, all evidence making it clear his trespass was knowing and intentional. There is something new in Bryan Ivey’s SOO that wasn’t in his arrest affidavit: that he deleted all the photos and videos he took inside the Capitol which, if the FBI wasn’t able to restore them, would represent the loss of valuable evidence about the first rioters inside the building.

That will likely be used in sentencing to distinguish Ivey at sentencing from someone like Anna Morgan-Lloyd who was able to fully cooperate with law enforcement.

Similarly, the SOO for the one straight felony plea, that of Paul Hodgkins, adds almost nothing from his arrest affidavit, aside from a paragraph establishing his intent to obstruct the vote count, which is an element of the obstruction charge he pled guilt to.

Hodgkins knew at the time he entered the U.S. Capitol Building that that he did not have permission to enter the building, and the defendant did so with the intent to corruptly obstruct, influence, and impede an official proceeding, that is, a proceeding before Congress, specifically, Congress’s certification of the Electoral College vote as set out in the Twelfth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States and 3 U.S.C. §§ 15-18.

There’s not even any language explaining the import of Hodgkins having helped occupy the Senate, as compared to those charged with misdemeanors.

There’s nothing at all wrong with this. Indeed, with the conveyor belt of plea deals that are about to go forward, doing this as efficiently and soundly, from a legal standpoint, as possible makes sense.

The cooperation deals also don’t tip DOJ’s hand

It’s not surprising, then, that the SOOs for the two cooperation deals provide little hint of what the men, Oath Keepers Jon Schaffer and Graydon Young, traded in hopes of working off their sentences. Admittedly, Schaffer’s SOO included two comments he made at the Million MAGA March on November 14, 2020 that were also included in his arrest affidavit. But like the arrest affidavit, the only link made between Schaffer’s actions on January 6 and the Oath Keepers is the Oath Keepers hat he wore to insurrection.

Instead, Schaffer’s SOO focuses on the elements needed to sustain Schaffer’s obstruction and trespassing with a deadly weapon (bear spray) charges.

Wearing a tactical vest and armed with bear spray, SCHAFFER unlawfully entered the building with the purpose of influencing, affecting, and retaliating against the conduct of government by stopping or delaying the Congressional proceeding by intimidation or coercion.

We know that Schaffer is cooperating against other Oath Keepers. A discovery letter Kathryn Rakoczy sent on April 23 explained that,

On Wednesday, April 21, 2021, we emailed you about Jon Schaffer, who pled guilty last week, with respect to the information we have at this time about whether Mr. Schaffer has had communications with your clients.

But the SOO doesn’t reveal any of what Schaffer might say.

Similarly, Graydon Young’s SOO doesn’t reveal what he might have offered prosecutors in hopes of working away the estimated 63 to 78 months he faces on the charges to which he pled guilty. Though by examining the history of the charges against him with what did get included in his SOO, we might guess what he offered.

How Graydon Young ended up pleading out of terrorism exposure

The government was prepared to arrest Young with a January 18 arrest warrant charging him with trespassing, obstruction of the vote count, and obstruction for deleting his Facebook account. Instead, they held off until February, when they arrested Young along with his sister, Laura Steele, and Kelly and Connie Meggs as part of the First Superseding Indictment, which added conspiracy and aiding and abetting the destruction of government property (18 U.S.C. §1361) charges to Young’s legal woes. The Third Superseding Indictment added no charges against Young. But the Fourth added a civil disorder charge that also implicated his sister and Jessica Watkins (as well as civil disorder, assault, and obstruction charges for some others). As I described at the time, the government was effectively turning the screws, enhancing most defendants’ legal jeopardy — albeit with charges that were already foreshadowed in case filings — as they awaited discovery. It was utterly ruthless, and about par for the course for DOJ, particularly for a complex conspiracy case.

By pleading guilty, Young not only got 3 levels of credit for pleading guilty, but the civil disorder and damage to the building charge were dismissed. Notably, the latter charge is what can be used to add a terrorism enhancement at sentencing, so by pleading, Young basically avoided being treated, legally, as a terrorist if and when DOJ decides to go there. In addition, Young’s initial charge for deleting his Facebook account got added as a two level enhancement to his obstruction charge. Had he been convicted of everything at trial, Young probably would have been sentenced to that as a separate crime concurrently, so effectively by pleading it just made his existing obstruction exposure worse.

Here’s what all that looks like in the mumbo jumbo of sentencing levels, which gives a sense of how DOJ is treating the Oath Keepers’ obstruction of the vote count as distinct from Paul Hodgkins, whose base level calculation (which did not include the threats of violence and damage, the extensive planning, or the obstruction charged against Young himself) was 17.

U.S.S.G. § 2J1.2 Base Offense Level 14

U.S.S.G. § 2J1.2(b)(1)(B) Causing/Threatening Injury or Damage +8

U.S.S.G. § 2J1.2(b)(2) Substantial Interference With Justice +3

U.S.S.G. § 2J1.2(b)(3)(C) Extensive Scope, Planning, or Preparation +2

U.S.S.G. § 3C1.1 Obstruction (destroying documents) +2

Total 29

Apropos of nothing (except that this conspiracy is getting closer to Roger Stone), this is precisely the same guidelines calculation as DOJ used with Stone, and — except for threatening a judge rather than deleting Facebook — for the same reasons.

So Paul Hodgkins, who obstructed the vote by going alone to the Senate floor and occupying that space with people like Jacob Chansley, faces 15 to 21 months, whereas Young, by planning ahead with a militia and going into the day planning for violence, faces 63 to 78 months (though avoids the terrorism enhancement that DOJ has been hinting they may use against the conspirators).

What is and is not in Young’s Statement of Offense

With that as background, I’d like to look at what got included and excluded in Young’s SOO, and what got excluded (which I’ll argue may hint at what he’ll cooperate with DOJ on).

The core of Young’s SOO substantiates the obstruction charge in language similar to that used with Hodgkins:

16. At the time Mr. Young forcibly entered the building, Mr. Young believed that he and the co-conspirators were trying to obstruct, influence, and impede an official proceeding, that is, a proceeding before Congress, specifically, Congress’s certification of the Electoral College vote as set out in the Twelfth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States and the statutes listed in sections 15 through 18 of title 3 of the U.S. Code.

17. Mr. Young acted to affect the government by stopping or delaying the Congressional proceeding, and, in fact, did so. He accomplished this by intimidating and coercing government personnel who were participating in or supporting the Congressional proceeding.

In addition, ¶¶20-21 describe Young deleting his Facebook account and some of what he deleted, and ¶¶8-15 and ¶¶18-20 describe most of the overt acts attributed to him in the Fourth Superseding, correlating this way:

¶8 of the SOO describes making plans.

¶9 describes Young and “at least some of the co-conspirators” discussing the need for operational security includes a Proton Mail exchange in which Joseph Hackett described sending pictures to discuss, “locations, identities, Ops planning … to avoid digital reads.”

¶10 describes Young traveling with “at least one of the co-conspirators” — language of his SOO that will be used as evidence against his own sister, Laura Steele — to DC.

¶11 describes the Trump rally in very oblique terms: “an event near the White House.”

¶12 describes — again, in innocuous terms, “marched with at least some of the co-conspirators towards the U.S. Capitol” — as described as The Stack “preparing for battle and marching to the Capitol” in ¶101 of the Fourth Superseding.

¶13 describes entering the restricted grounds of the Capitol (one of the trespass charges) and what gear he wore.

¶14 describes The Stack entering the Capitol, as described in ¶132 of the Fourth Superseding.

¶15 describes The Stack walking through a damaged door (substantiating the 18 USC 1361 charge Young is no longer charged with) and tussling with cops.

As noted, ¶¶16-17 allocute the obstruction of the vote count.

¶18 describes six members of The Stack specifically pushing against a line of cops guarding the hallway (substantiating the Civil Disorder charge Young is no longer charged with but his sister is).

¶19 describes Young exiting the Capitol.

¶20 describes the content of something Young tried to delete from his Facebook account: “At around 4:22 p.m., Mr. Young posted on Facebook, “We stormed and got inside.'”

Even on its face, the SOO has Young admitting to overt acts, under oath, that implicate a number of his co-conspirators, especially Jessica Watkins, Hackett, and his sister, Laura Steele. That’s part of what DOJ got from Young in this plea deal: sworn testimony and therefore more pressure to plead against other alleged conspirators. This probably won’t be the last time in the January 6 investigation — possibly even in this conspiracy — that DOJ requires family members to testify against family members to get a plea deal.

But there are other things described in the Fourth Superseding that either don’t show up in the SOO or show up in such oblique fashion that they likely point to area where Young gave prosecutors something they didn’t have.

For example, the Fourth Superseding describes Young’s own effort to join the Oath Keepers, his efforts to recruit others, and his role in rushing his sister through the process (an utterly disastrous favor that Steele’s big brother did for her). If that’s covered in his SOO, it’s only in this vague language.

In advance of January 6, 2021, Mr. Young coordinated with certain individuals and affiliates of the Oath Keepers – referred to here as “the co-conspirators” – in making plans for what Mr. Young and the co-conspirators would be doing in Washington, D.C., on January 6.

In addition, the Fourth Superseding included details of a Signal planning chat in which Young was included.

At least as early as January 3, 2021, WATKINS, KELLY MEGGS, YOUNG, HARRELSON, HACKETT, DOLAN, ISAACS, and others known and unknown joined an invitation-only encrypted Signal group message titled “OK FL DC OP Jan 6” (hereinafter the “Florida Signal Chat”).

We know nothing of what was said on this chat. The uncertainty about when it was established suggests that the government may have obtained what it has of this chat via someone whose phone took some time to exploit, someone (possibly including Young) who was a relatively late addition to it. But certainly, whatever did take place on this chat would be one of the things incorporated into the “making plans” bullet described in the indictment, and key to showing not just that the Oath Keepers had entered into a conspiracy to conduct this operation, but probably details of how they coordinated with other militias in Florida

Relatedly, there’s the firearms training session Young set up, which is not included in his SOO but is included in the larger conspiracy.

47. On December 26, 2020, YOUNG wrote an email to a Florida company that conducts training on firearms and combat. YOUNG wrote, in part, “I trained with you not long ago. Since then I have joined Oath Keepers. I recommended your training to the team. To that effect, four of us would like to train with you, specifically in your UTM10 rifle class.”

Given how obliquely the SOO refers both to Young’s activities at the Trump rally and the decision to leave before it ended to head to the Capitol, I suspect he provided new details on that, as well.

We may not learn these details for weeks if not months (we still have no idea what Schaffer has been doing since he pled in April).

All DOJ’s telling us is that Graydon Young’s plea deal will make things worse for his co-conspirators, giving them even more incentive to flip on their own right.

Update: Benny Bryant reminds me that we do know some stuff about that Florida Signal chat, because it shows up in the government’s response to Kenneth Harrelson’s bid for bail. He also argues that the weapons training Young signed up for is not the training that the Meggses set up. [Deleted reference to Stone there.]

The January 6 Plea Deals: Cooperation, Felony, and Misdemeanor Plea Deals

Later today, Graydon Young, one of the people charged in the Oath Keeper conspiracy, will plead guilty. We won’t know until then whether his plea includes a cooperation agreement or not. He only joined the Oath Keepers in December 2020, but because he was in Florida, he may know about some key events leading up to January 6, including this book event with Roger Stone and Kelly Meggs’ wife, Connie.

Days after the event, Kelly Meggs described having set up an organized alliance between Florida militias.

Also this afternoon, Anna Morgan-Lloyd will be the first January 6 defendant to be sentenced; the government has recommended she get a three year probation sentence.

In anticipation of what will soon turn into a flood of pleas, I wanted to lay out what we’ve seen so far.

Update: Judge Lamberth did give Anna Morgan-Lloyd probation, but gave her 3 times the community service — 120 hours rather than 40 — as the government requested. Update: it was docketed as 40 hours. So I guess she got exactly what prosecutors asked for.

Cooperation Agreement

Jon Schaffer: Schaffer is the only cooperation agreement we know about, but that may be because of a docket fail. There are certainly other people I suspect are cooperating, and there are sealed filings that could suggest cooperators. He pled to obstruction and entering the building with a deadly weapon. His guidelines sentence is 41-51 months.

Plea (includes 5K1), but no assigned restitution amount

Graydon Young: Young also entered into a cooperation agreement. He is pleading to conspiracy and obstruction, and faces a guideline sentence of 63-78 months.

Plea (includes 5K1) and restitution

Felony Plea

In spite of Paul Hodgkins’ notable use of latex gloves (which he put on in an attempt to offer Joshua Black First Aid), his was a straight plea. As a felony plea, his includes sentencing guidelines for pleading to obstruction, 18 U.S.C. §1512 (which for Hodgkins was 15 to 21 months) and $2,000 restitution.

Paul Hodgkins (my post on his plea)

Misdemeanor Plea

The misdemeanor pleas we’ve seen so far require the defendant to plead to one of what is often four trespass charges. The pleas include $500 restitution and, for most (but not Reeder), a “cooperation with additional investigation” paragraph requiring an interview and a review of social media with law enforcement.

Jessica Bustle

Joshua Bustle

Bryan Ivey

Anna Morgan-Lloyd (my post on her effort to express remorse)

Robert Reeder

 

The Model MAGA Tourist, Anna Morgan-Lloyd, and Evidence Collection

Today, Anna Morgan-Lloyd, a 49-year old grandmother from Indiana was supposed to be sentenced to probation on her misdemeanor trespass charges relating to January 6. That has been postponed on account of the Juneteenth holiday. But I suspect the courts and the government hope that other sentencing hearings — including that of Jessica and Joshua Bustle, who pled guilty on Monday — will take place after Morgan-Lloyd, so as to make hers the model of how to earn a (three-year) probation sentence for participating in the riot.

Five Factors

In their own sentencing memo, the government laid out five factors that presumably are the ones prosecutors are using to identify those who might be offered probation deals.

The first four may be the checklist the government has used to weigh whether to charge those originally arrested on trespass charges with a felony, each of which loosely correlates with one of the felony charges used against insurrectionists (which I’ve added in brackets).

First, the Government is not aware of any evidence that Defendant’s entry into the Capitol was preplanned or coordinated with anyone else, including any extremist or organized groups. [18 USC 1512, obstruction]

Second, the Government is not aware of any evidence that the Defendant incited others to commit acts of violence or destruction. [18 USC 231, civil disorder]

Third, the Government is not aware of any evidence that the Defendant engaged in any violence towards law enforcement. [18 USC 111, assault or resisting federal officers]

Fourth, the Government is not aware of any evidence that the Defendant destroyed or stole any property from the Capitol. [18 USC 1361, depredation of government property]

The fifth factor is more discretionary — but will be important in distinguishing MAGA tourists for those who got swept up into the effort to terrorize Congress. Morgan-Lloyd spent about 10 minutes in the Capitol, but she also didn’t go to any of the places — like the Senate floor or into a Member of Congress’ office — that suggests someone got caught up in the effort to delay the vote count or to hunt down members of Congress.

Fifth, based on the Government’s investigation, it appears that the Defendant remained in a limited part of the Capitol building for a limited period of time – i.e., in one hallway for a little over ten minutes. The Government is not aware of any evidence that the Defendant entered any rooms or offices in the Capitol, the Capitol Rotunda, or the Senate or House Chamber.

I suspect this will be used to distinguish those who committed misdemeanor offenses that merit some jail time (and it’s likely to be weeks, not months), from those who will get probation.

Respect for rule of law

There’s a section of the government memo that addresses respect for rule of law, including laying out the 3-year probation expected of Morgan-Lloyd that includes five factors:

  • The two days Morgan-Lloyd spent in jail after her arrest that gave her a taste of the criminal justice system
  • Three years of probation that, among other things, includes a discretionary condition that will prohibit her from possessing firearms
  • Cooperation with law enforcement, which I’ll return to
  • An expression of contrition, which I’ll return to
  • Both community service and the restitution of her share of the $1.5 million damage to the Capitol

While I doubt the probation sentence will be that onerous for Morgan-Lloyd (though the government notes it is twice as long as the supervised release as she’d get if she did do jail time), for others, the prohibition on owning guns will be. To the extent this is a model for others, it will serve to either disarm former insurrectionists or criminalize owning weapons for some years.

Contrition

One reason I suspect the government would prefer that Morgan Lloyd be sentenced before the Bustles is that even in Monday’s plea hearing, Jessica Bustle made a statement to insist that in addition to some horrible things she said online, she said we should pray for the country. That isn’t actually all that exculpatory, given that it may still reflect a belief that the country is in trouble because the democratic victor will become President. In any case, on Monday at least, the Bustles seemed more anxious to get this done than to express any remorse.

By contrast, Morgan-Lloyd did several things to express contrition. She watched several movies about diversity and wrote two movie reviews (for Schindler’s List and Just Mercy) showing an attempt to get out of her bubble; in the former she criticized her son-in-law’s Holocaust denialism. She also acknowledged that there are less privileged people who still suffer in the US.

I’ve learned that even though we live in a wonderful country things still need to improve. People of all colors should feel as safe as I do to walk down the street.

These may be just busy work a smart defense attorney will impose, but you never know when the process will lead someone to rethink their own bubble.

More importantly Morgan-Lloyd’s statement includes a very accurate description of how her participation in the riot helped those with violent intent.

I felt ashamed that something meant to show support for the President had turned violent. This is not the way to prove any point. At first it didn’t dawn on me, but later I realized that if every person like me, who wasn’t violent, was removed from that crowd, the ones who were violent may have lost the nerve to do what they did. For that I am sorry and take responsibility. It was never my intent to help empower people to act violently.

Again, this may reflect the work of a good defense attorney, but stating it is an important step in moving beyond the insurrection.

Cooperation with law enforcement

Finally, the government motion and Morgan-Lloyd’s statement describe the import of cooperation with law enforcement. In the government’s description, they noted she allowed her phone to be imaged and analyzed.

Third, one important aspect of promoting respect for the law is encouraging cooperation and truthfulness with law enforcement. Here, following her arrest, the Defendant fully cooperated with law enforcement and admitted to the full scope of her actions. In addition to waiving her rights and agreeing to be interviewed by law enforcement, she also allowed her mobile phone to be downloaded for substantive analysis.

Morgan-Lloyds statement described how she freely let the FBI get the contents of her phone.

I openly and honestly told them everything I could recall from that day. I gave them my phone freely to download what they needed. My phone was not locked so they didn’t need a password to get in. If it had a password I would have willingly provided it.

I have described how, especially more recently, the government seems to have been prioritizing the misdemeanor arrests of those who might have important evidentiary videos on their phone. Morgan-Lloyd describes seeing what may be the East Doors get opened from inside.

I saw the side doors being opened from the inside and assumed the door closest to me were also open because people who worked in the Capital Building walked past us. They didn’t look nervous or scared.

If she did see those East Doors open, and especially if she has some kind of video evidence, it may prove important to figure out who precisely initiated that and whether it was premeditated and coordinated with those outside the building (as seems likely).

When I first noted that the government seemed to be arresting those from whom they expected to get key evidence, I imagined that those people, especially, would get favorable terms for sentencing. The emphasis here on sharing her phone contents seems to accord with that.