Posts

How a Trump Prosecution for January 6 Would Work

Jeffrey Toobin wrote a shitty piece arguing — seemingly based exclusively on Trump’s request to Jeffrey Rosen to delegitimize the election results in Georgia and Trump’s January 6 speech — that Merrick Garland should not prosecute Trump.

Toobin’s piece sucks for the same reason that all the mirror image articles written by TV lawyers, the ones explaining how DOJ might prosecute Trump, also suck: because none exhibit the least familiarity with how DOJ is approaching January 6, much less what allegations it has already made in charging documents. They are, effectively, nothing more than throwing a bunch of laws at the wall to see whether any stick (and in Toobin’s estimation, none do).

Almost none of these TV lawyers engage with how DOJ is applying obstruction as the cornerstone of its January 6 prosecutions. For example, Toobin considers whether Trump obstructed justice, but he only analyzes whether, when, “Trump encouraged the crowd to march to Capitol Hill but he did not explicitly encourage violence,” Trump obstructed the vote certification. Of around 200 January 6 defendants charged with obstruction, I can think of few if any against whom obstruction has been charged based solely on their actions on the day of the riot, and Trump is not going to be the exception to that rule. As with other January 6 defendants, DOJ would rely on Trump’s words and actions leading up to the event to prove his intent.

In this post, I want to lay out how a DOJ prosecution of Trump for January 6 would work. I’m not doing this because I’m sure DOJ will prosecute. I’m doing it to make the commentary on the question less insufferably stupid than it currently is.

Assumptions

The piece makes three assumptions.

First, it assumes that DOJ’s current application of 18 USC 1512(c)(2) to cover the vote certification survives judicial review. It’s not at all clear it will, either because the courts (this will go to SCOTUS) don’t believe Congress intended to include Constitutionally-mandated official proceedings like the vote certification in a law covering official proceedings, because the courts will decide that rioters had no way of knowing that interrupting Constitutionally-mandated official proceedings was illegal, or because courts will decide that rioters (all of them, as opposed to one or another making a compelling case to a jury) did not have the requisite corrupt purpose. There are currently at least nine challenges to the application of the law (at least two more have been raised since Judge Randolph Moss had prosecutors put together this list). If TV lawyers want to argue about something, this might be a more productive use of their time than arguing about whether Trump can be prosecuted more generally, because the question doesn’t require knowing many actual facts from the investigation.

This piece also assumes that DOJ would apply two things they asserted in a filing pertaining to Mo Brooks to Trump as well. That filing said that the scope of federal office holder’s job excludes campaign activity, so any campaign activity a federal office holder engages in does not count as part of that person’s duties.

Like other elected officials, Members run for reelection themselves and routinely campaign for other political candidates. But they do so in their private, rather than official, capacities.

This understanding that the scope of federal office excludes campaign activity is broadly reflected in numerous authorities. This Court, for example, emphasized “the basic principle that government funds should not be spent to help incumbents gain reelection” in holding that House or Senate mailings aimed at that purpose are “unofficial communication[s].” Common Cause v. Bolger, 574 F. Supp. 672, 683 (D.D.C. 1982) (upholding statute that provided franking privileges for official communications but not unofficial communications).

DOJ also said that conspiring to attack your employer would not be included in a federal office holder’s scope of employment.

Second, the Complaint alleges that Brooks engaged in a conspiracy and incited the attack on the Capitol on January 6. That alleged conduct plainly would not qualify as within the scope of employment for an officer or employee of the United States, because attacking one’s employer is different in kind from any authorized conduct and not “actuated . . . by a purpose to serve” the employer. Id. § 228(1)(c).

These two principles, taken together, would get beyond some of the challenges involved in investigating someone covered by Executive Privilege and making orders as Commander-in-Chief. Importantly, it would make Trump’s activities in conjunction with the January 6 rally subject to investigation, whereas they broadly wouldn’t be if they were done in Trump’s official capacity.

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

The other conspiracies

If DOJ would only charge Trump in the context of a conspiracy to obstruct the vote (with whatever other charges added in) that intersects with some or all of the other conspiracies charged, it helps to understand what DOJ has done with those other conspiracies. Here’s what the currently charged conspiracies look like:

DOJ has been treating the multiple Proud Boy conspiracies as one (about which Ethan Nordean is complaining); I think they’re doing that — and excluding other key players who could be in one of the conspiracies, including all the most serious assaults committed by Proud Boy members — as a way to show how the cell structure used on the day worked together to serve a unified purpose, while also managing visibility on different parts of their ongoing investigation. For my purposes here, I’ll focus on the Leadership conspiracy, with the understanding that (notwithstanding Nordean’s complaints) DOJ credibly treats the others as the implementation of the conspiracy the Proud Boy Leaders themselves have laid out.

All of these conspiracies, as well as a disorganized militia conspiracy DOJ has been saying they’ll charge, share the same object: to stop, delay, or hinder Congress’ certification of the Electoral College win. Basically, all these conspiracies, as well as a hypothetical one that DOJ might use against Trump, would involve ensuring that he still had a route to remain in power, that he lived to fight another day. By themselves they did not involve a plan to remain in power (though Trump could be charged in a broader conspiracy attempting to do that, too).

They also all allege common Manners and Means (to be clear, these defendants are all presumed innocent and I’m speaking here of what DOJ claims it will prove). Those include:

  • Agreeing to plan and participate in an effort to obstruct the vote certification
  • Encouraging as many people as possible, including outside their own groups, to attend the operation
  • Funding the operation
  • Preparing to make participants in the operation as effective as possible, in all cases including communication methods and in most cases including some kind of defensive or offensive protections
  • Illegally entering the Capitol or its grounds and occupying that space during the period when Congress would otherwise have been certifying the vote

While all of those conspiracies follow the same model, there are some unique characteristics in four that deserve further mention:

Proud Boy Leaders Conspiracy: Operationally, those charged in the Proud Boy Leaders conspiracy managed to assemble a mob, including Proud Boy members (many organized in sub-cells like the Kansas City cell Billy Chrestman led), fellow travelers who met up and marched with the Proud Boys that morning, and those who knew to show up at 1PM (while Trump was still speaking). With apparent guidance from the charged co-conspirators, the Proud Boys managed to kick off the riot and — in the form of the Proud Boy Front Door co-conspirator Dominic Pezzola wielding a stolen shield — break into the building. Thus far (probably in part because Enrique Tarrio is not currently charged in this or any conspiracy), the government has been coy about what evidence it has of coordination with others, including at a December MAGA March in DC. Key planning steps, however, involve deciding not to show Proud Boy colors the day of the riot and fundraising to buy gear and support travel (Christopher Worrell got to DC on a bus paid for by the Proud Boys but that has not yet been charged in any conspiracy). On top of radios and blow horns, two Telegram channels — the larger of which had 60 members — appear to have played key roles in organizing events the day of the riot. To the extent that Proud Boys came armed, they appear to have done so individually, and thus far, DOJ has not included the worst assaults committed by Proud Boys in any of the conspiracies. Several of the charged co-conspirators started talking about war in the days and weeks after the election and those who gathered with the Proud Boys on the morning of the riot skipped Trump’s rally, making their focus on the vote certification much clearer than many others that day.

Oath Keeper Conspiracy: The indictment alleges this conspiracy started on November 9 with a plan both to use Antifa as a foil to excuse violence and in expectation that that violence would be Trump’s excuse to invoke the Insurrection Act and/or respond to that call. The conspiracy used the promise of serving as security — both at the rally and for Roger Stone and other “dignitaries” — to recruit people to come to DC, and in fact a number of the charged co-conspirators were present with Stone the morning of the riot. In addition to kitting out in various Oath Keeper gear at different events on the day of the event, the militia had a serious stash of weapons at the Ballston Comfort Inn in case things did turn violent. The key thing, operationally, this conspiracy achieved was to provide organized brawn to an effort to open a second front to the attack via the East Door of the Capitol. The nominal head of this conspiracy, Florida State head Kelly Meggs, claimed to have set up an alliance with other militias in Florida (he first made the claim a day after the militia had provided “security” for Stone at an event in Florida). Over the course of the investigation, the government has also gotten closer to alleging that Meggs expressed the desire to and took steps to target Nancy Pelosi personally while inside the Capitol.

3%er Southern California Conspiracy: The men charged in this conspiracy — who occupy the overlap between 3%ers and the anti-mask community in Southern California — organized themselves and others to come armed to the Capitol. As alleged, they started organizing formally in explicit response to Trump’s December 19 advertisement for the event. Both online and in an appearance by Russell Taylor at the rally on January 5, they called for violence. They organized in advance via Telegram chat and on the day with radios. Operationally, these men personally participated in the fighting on the west side of the Capitol (most never went in the building but the government contends they were in restricted space outside). But from a larger standpoint, these men form one intersection between the more formal Trump organization behind the rallies and a group of radicalized Trump supporters from across the country.

Disorganized Conspiracy: You’ve likely never heard of Ronnie Sandlin and Nate DeGrave, nor should you have. Their conspiracy (DOJ has not yet charged it but has been planning to do so since April) started when Sandlin responded to Trump’s calls for people to attend the event on December 23 and started looking online to join up with others. “Who is going to Washington D.C. on the 6th of January? I’m going to be there to show support for our president and to do my part to stop the steal and stand behind Trump when he decides to cross the rubicon.” They’re an excellent example of a bunch of guys — along with Josiah Colt, who entered into a cooperation agreement against the other two — who got radicalized via a messy stew of ideologies online, armed themselves for insurrection, raised money and traveled to DC together planning for violence, and allegedly engaged in assaults at two key points inside the Capitol that allowed the occupation of the Senate chamber, and in Colt’s case, Mike Pence’s chair itself. Here’s a video of the two (in orange and all black) fighting to get into the Senate just released today:

Colt has admitted (and may have GoPro video showing) that the three went from learning that Pence had refused Trump’s demand — the government doesn’t say whether they learned this via Trump’s tweet — to forcibly occupying the Senate in response. So while you haven’t heard of them and they’re not members of an organized militia, they still played a tactically critical role in forcibly occupying the Capitol in direct response to Trump’s exhortations.

Questions

There are still a slew of questions about Trump’s actions that have — publicly at least — not been answered. Some that would be pertinent to whether he could be charged with conspiracy include:

  • When Trump said, “stand back and stand by” to the Proud Boys on September 29 — after they had already threatened a Federal judge to serve Trump’s interest, and whose threats had been dismissed by Bill Barr as a technicality — did he intend to signal some kind of relationship with the Proud Boys as the Proud Boys in fact took it to be? Was this part of an agreement to enter into a conspiracy?
  • When both the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers started planning their January 6 operation in the days after the election, speaking already then of being called by the President to commit violence, was that based on any direct communications, or was it based on things like the earlier Proud Boys comment?
  • When Proud Boys and Oath Keepers who would later lead the operation on January 6 formed an alliance to keep Trump in office in December at an event with Roger Stone, was Stone involved?
  • What conversations did Trump and Stone have about his pardon even as these militia plans were being put in place?
  • What evidence does DOJ have about the Proud Boys’ decision — and their communication of that decision to at least 60 people — not to attend the Trump speech but instead to form a mob that would later march on the Capitol and lead the breach of it while Trump was still speaking?
  • Did Trump time the specific lines in his speech to the Proud Boys’ actions, which were already starting at the Capitol?
  • What orders were given to the Park Police about various crowd sizes and planned events that explains their failure to prepare?
  • Trump told Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller to use the National Guard to protect his protestors on January 3. On January 6, some Proud Boys expressed surprise that the Guard was not protecting them. Did the Proud Boys have reason to believe the Guard would not protect the Capitol but instead would protect them? Why was the Guard delayed 4 hours in responding? Why was there a 32 minute delay during a period when the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers were considering a second assault in relaying an order from Miller to the Guard Commander who had the Guard in buses waiting to deploy? Did the militias call off their second assault based on advance information that the Guard was finally being deployed?
  • Both Rudy and Trump made calls to Members of Congress on January 6 making specific asks for delays at a time when the rioters had already breached the building. Did that include a request to Paul Gosar, and did that result in the delay in evacuating the House side that led to Ashli Babbitt’s death, which Gosar (and Trump) have been key figures in celebrating? Would DOJ be able to get either Gosar or Tuberville’s testimony (they already have the voice mail Rudy left for Tuberville, and because Rudy’s phones have otherwise been seized, if they can show probable cause they have access to anything on his phone).
  • Rudy had texts from a Proud Boy affiliate within 9 days after the riot about implementing a plan to blame it all on Antifa. That guy  had, in turn, been in contact with at least six people at the riot. Were they in contact before and during the riot? Again, DOJ has the phones on which Rudy conducted those conversations, and they happen to have his cell location for other purposes, so the question is do they have probable cause to get the same data for the Jan 6 operation?

What a Trump conspiracy might look like

Even without answers to those questions, however, there are a number of things that Trump did that might form part of a conspiracy charge against him (this timeline from Just Security has a bunch more, including magnifying threats from people who would later take part in the insurrection). The Manners and Means would mirror those that appear in all the charged conspiracies:

  • Agreeing (and ordering subordinates) to plan and participate in an effort to obstruct the vote certification
  • Encouraging the Proud Boys to believe they are his army
  • Personally sowing the Big Lie about voter fraud to lead supporters to believe Trump has been robbed of his rightful election win
  • Asking subordinates and Republican politicians to lie about the vote to encourage supporters to feel they were robbed
  • Encouraging surrogates and campaign staffers to fund buses to make travel to DC easier
  • Using the January 6 rally to encourage as many people as possible to come to DC
  • Applauding violence in advance of January 6 and tacitly encouraging it on the day
  • Recruiting members of Congress to raise challenges to the vote count
  • Asking members of Congress to delay evacuation even as the rioters entered the building, heightening the chance of direct physical threat (and likely contributing to Ashli Babbitt’s death)
  • Asking Mike Pence to do something unconstitutional, then targeting him after he refused, virtually ensuring he would be personally threatened
  • Possibly muddling the line of command on which civilian agency would coordinate response, ensuring there would be none
  • Possibly taking steps to delay any Guard response at the Capitol
  • Possibly ignoring immediate requests from help from leaders of Congress

DOJ knows exactly what happened with Trump’s requests that DOJ serve as the civilian agency to lead response on Janaury 6, and some of the witnesses have given transcribed interviews to Congress and probably DOJ IG. Some details about which there remain questions — who delayed the National Guard — would be available to subpoena. The big question, and it’s a big one, is what kind of communications Trump had with members of Congress to ensure there was maximal conflict and physical risk on that day.

But much of this, including the illegal request of Mike Pence and the specific targeting of him in the aftermath, which directly affected the actions of the disorganized conspiracy, are already public. Both the computer Enrique Tarrio brought to DC and Rudy’s phones have been accessible if DOJ wanted to obtain a warrant for them.

None of this addresses the complexities of whether DOJ would charge a former President. None of this guarantees that DOJ will get key charged defendants to flip, whose cooperation might be necessary to move higher in the conspiracy.

I’m not saying DOJ will charge Trump.

But if they were considering it, it’s most likely this is how they would do so.

Update: Per Quake’s suggestion I’ve added the funding of buses.

Update: Reuters reports that FBI has found “scant” evidence of central coordination in the attack, specifically naming Stone.

Did Paul Gosar Take Actions on Behalf of Donald Trump that Contributed to Ashli Babbitt’s Death?

In this post, I noted that just nine minutes before accused January 6 defendant Brady Knowlton entered the Capitol at 2:35, Donald Trump called Tommy Tuberville. Later in the day, Rudy Giuliani would ask Tuberville to delay the vote certification by challenging more states. If that’s what Trump asked Tuberville to do on that first call and if Tuberville complied with Trump’s request, he and the rest of his colleagues might still have been in the Senate when Knowlton and others started to swarm in.

Instead, Tuberville told the President he had to go because the Senators were being evacuated, following shortly on the evacuation of Mike Pence just minutes before Trump called.

We only know of Trump’s call to Tuberville because Trump — and later Rudy Giuliani — dialed the wrong number, calling Mike Lee’s phone instead of Tuberville’s.

We don’t know who else Trump was calling at the time, though in recent days Jim Jordan has admitted he spoke to Trump that day, while dodging wildly about when that happened and what Trump said.

What we do know is that someone on the other side of the Capitol was doing exactly what Trump later asked Tuberville to do: Paul Gosar, who coordinated closely on all aspects of the insurrection with Trump, was raising more challenges to the vote.

That’s of particular interest because the NYT, in their superb documentary on the chronology of the day (starting at 25:40), suggests that the chain of events that led to Ashli Babbitt’s death started with Jim McGovern’s decision to get through one more person’s challenge of the vote, Gosar’s.

By 2:30 PM the Senate evacuation is well underway. But, even though a lockdown was called over 15 minutes ago, the House is still in session.

Gosar: I do not accept Arizona’s electors as certified.

Representative Jim McGovern is chairing. He told us he wanted to finish hearing objections to the election results by Paul Gosar. House staff and security gave McGovern the all-clear to continue. It’s a delay that likely cost someone their life.

Suddenly, staff are now pointing at the Chamber’s doors.

Please be advised there are masks under your seats. Please grab a mask and place it in your lap and be prepared to don your mask in the event we have a breach.

Just outside, a mob of a hundred or more is baying to get into them.

Well, we came this far, what do you say?

Drag ’em out.

Tell fucking Pelosi we’re coming for her.

These rioters pay little heed to the thin line of police.

They’re going. I would just stop.

And in moments, are pushing against doors into the House.

Stop the Steal! Stop the Steal!

On the other side, Capitol police erect a barricade and draw their guns. On the floor, lawmakers are evacuating to the rear of the chamber, where in a few minutes a rioter will be shot and killed. Part of the mob inside now peels off in that direction to find a different way in. Ashli Babbitt, an Air Force veteran and a QAnon supporter is among the first to arrive at the rear of the House.

There they are! What the fuck!

They see the lawmakers escaping. That lobby might have been clear had the House been evacuated sooner. But the rioters now become incensed. Zachary Alam, a Trump supporter punches in the glass panels with his bare fists.

Stop the Steal! Open the door. Break it down! Break it down!

Police are stretched extremely thin. Just three officers and a security officer stand guard. None are wearing riot gear and they keep their weapons holstered. When a team of heavily armed police now arrives, the three officers step aside.

Go! Let’s go! Get this thing!

This creates a crucial gap that allows rioters to smash in the glass. [A warning: what happens next is graphic.] It’s 2:44PM and behind the door a police officer draws his handgun.

There’s a gun. There’s a gun! He’s got a gun! He’s got a gun!

Babbitt vaults into the window. And the officer shoots her once. It’s a fatal wound, through the upper chest.

Gosar’s challenge delayed the evacuation of the House, meaning that rioters spied the lawmakers evacuating through the Speaker’s lobby as they arrived. NYT suggests that viewing the lawmakers in such close proximity inflamed the rioters, leading Zach Alam to punch through the door and Babbitt to leap through it in an attempt to chase after them, in turn leading to an officer’s decision to use lethal force to protect fleeing Members of Congress.

One minute after Babbitt was shot, surveillance footage caught Knowlton entering the Senate Chamber at 2:45. Had Trump convinced Tuberville to stay, the same kind of confrontation might have happened in the Senate Chamber, too (and video shows that Mitt Romney, already a target for Trump’s supporters, narrowly avoided running into the mob as well).

If a Tuberville delay might have orchestrated a similar clash on the Senate side, it raises questions whether Trump was involved in the Gosar delay.

As it happens, Gosar is among the most active purveyors of the martyr myth surrounding Ashli Babbitt, including tweeting out this image that seemes almost necrophiliac in composition, with its focus on his crotch and her name.

But the fact that Trump was actively calling Members of Congress well after rioters stormed the building, and the fact that Gosar caused what the NYT deemed the fatal delay on the House side, it’s possible that he and Trump had a bigger role in ensuring that Babbitt jumped through that window to chase Gosar and his colleagues. It’s possible Gosar created that delay because Trump asked him to.

CNN reports that the January 6 commission is weighing whether to obtain White House call logs (Trump made the call to Tuberville from the main White House line).

The select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection is weighing whether to pursue call logs from the Trump White House on the day of the riot, a move that could present a potentially thorny dilemma for President Joe Biden who would ultimately have to determine whether the records should be covered by executive privilege or qualify as essential evidence for the ongoing probe.

The committee has been engaged in ongoing discussions with the Biden administration about its plans for the investigation as it has taken the lead role in examining all things related to January 6 and prepares to issue its first round of subpoenas, two sources familiar with the matter told CNN.
Phone records from former President Donald Trump’s White House will likely not be among the first subpoena targets as a source familiar with the matter told CNN that the committee has not broached the topic during preliminary discussions with the Executive Branch. But the panel is actively considering the possibility of pursuing those records and other relevant documents that could raise additional executive privilege questions, the source added.
Members of the committee, including GOP Rep. Liz Cheney, have made clear investigators must “get to every piece of information that matters” in order to piece together a detailed understanding of what Trump and his closest allies were doing that day.

Liz Cheney may well be thinking of tracking Trump’s calls to Kevin McCarthy. But the import of Gosar’s delay to the shooting of Ashli Babbitt by itself presents a good reason to subpoena those records.

The Crimes of Violence Ashli Babbitt’s Mob Allegedly Committed

In the Oversight Hearing on January 6 the other day, Paul Gosar suggested that Ashli Babbitt, who was shot while jumping through the last door protecting House members, had been executed.

Paul Gosar: Do you know who executed Ashli Babbitt? … The Capitol Police officer that did that shooting, Ashli Babb — appeared to be hiding, lying in wait, and he gave no warning before killing her.

As it happens, the day after Gosar made these comments, yet another insurrectionist who was standing with Babbitt when she was killed, Kurt Peterson, was arrested in Abraham Lincoln’s birthplace of Hodgenville, KY. According to his arrest warrant, prior to the insurrection, Peterson had accused Democratic lawmakers of treason that should be penalized with death. Peterson claimed to have been at the insurrection with three former Special Forces guys, all in their sixties.

After the insurrection, on January 10, Peterson posted an account on Facebook almost certainly intended to minimize his actions. He claimed, for example, to have entered through a back door that had been opened, and further claimed that when he entered, he told people not to hurt anyone or anything. (He recorded this on voice recognition software so the bracketed corrections are my own.)

When at the back door that we were at open[ed] and there and there were no police to restrain the crowd many people entered at that time. I stood at the door and told everyone that we were not there to hurt anybody or damage anything but as a show of solidarity to right the wrongs of the past election.

In fact, a video cited in his arrest warrant shows someone the government alleges to be him breaking an exterior window to the Capitol screaming, “This is our house. Let us in.”

Peterson is accused of breaking that window, which cost $2,700 to repair. Causing more than $1,000 of damage under 18 U.S.C. §1361 can (and has been invoked to, in this investigation) carry a terrorism enhancement under 18 U.S.C. §2332(b)(g)(5). While it’s unlikely the government will do so with Peterson (they have done so primarily with militia members), given his politicized threats of violence in advance of the insurrection, Peterson could be charged with terrorism for breaking that window.

In the same self-serving account of the day, Peterson gave this account of witnessing Ashli Babbitt’s death.

I did stop men from trying to break down the large wooden doors to the house chamber. Then I saw chairs being brought into the corridor going to the speaker’s lobby. They also grabbed a large sign with a heavy metal base stating no photography. I pushed into the corridor yelling for them to stop trying to break through the doors into the speaker’s lobby. The woman who was shot used the leg of a chair to hit a glass panel on in the door. There were numerous police officers in the stair tower and hallway that I was in.

Before I could get to her the shot rang out from behind the doors in the speaker’s lobby through the glass which shattered hitting many [police] officers and people there. It was a young man in a suit who was supposedly a bodyguard for Chuck [S]chumer.

The bullet hit the woman in the neck which caused her to fall backwards [im]mediately. It could have hit numerous [police] officers that were there. Non lethal force could have been use[d] with out the lethal shot that was made by this body guard in the speaker’s lobby.

I had my 1st aid [gear] with me and asked numerous times to be allowed to render 1st aid to this woman. I was told that they were waiting for the fire department to [respond] and they would not let me give her 1st aid. She died on the floor within 10 minutes of the shot being made.

On the John Sullivan video, there’s no sound of Peterson warning anyone. Rather, there are cries of “Break it down!” with multiple calls before the shot that there was a gun just behind the door the mob was threatening to break down. Everyone in the front line, including Babbitt, should have heard warnings about, if not seen, the gun carefully aimed at the mobsters at the door.

Had non-lethal force been used, the mob might have become more inflamed than they already did. Indeed, many January 6 defendants excuse their behavior, including multiple people accused of assault, as retaliation to the use of non-lethal force.

Peterson suggests that police attending to Babbitt weren’t already giving her First Aid even as they were trying to clear the mob. It appears that another of the rioters, someone with a camera, responded even more quickly than Peterson, along with some of the cops. It is true that Peterson fumbled in his chest as if grabbing for gear. It’s also true that even before that, police were yelling at him to clear out so first responders could get to her. Another video shows that even more closely — as a long line of rioters were clearing a path, Peterson kept talking to the cops.

If the government’s accusations are true, one of the people accusing cops was, himself, dramatically understating his own involvement that day, including his alleged assault on the Capitol that could be (but has not) charged as terrorism.

Breaking down the door

But Peterson is not the only one. While DOJ has thus far charged only a relative handful of people who made up the mob screaming “Break it down!” who were present when Babbitt died, those present range from people accused of trespass to others whose damage to the Capitol could be charged with a terrorism enhancement.

Zach Alam: Zach Alam was the most determined of several men who broke the glass in the door through which Babbitt was trying to enter. Like Peterson, he is accused of damaging the building and obstructing the vote count. In addition, he is charged with assaulting police and civil disorder. A filing opposing his pre-trial release describes his action of the day as “agitated” and rightly notes he stood out among the mob during multiple confrontations with police (including one minutes earlier at the doors to the House Chamber). The video from the Speaker’s Lobby door shows him punching and then kicking the door, then using Christopher Grider’s helmet to hit the panes.

Alam went on the run after January 6 because — as he told a family member — he didn’t want to go back to jail again (he has some recent arrests in DC). During this period on the lam, Alam used at least one assumed name, stolen license plates, and false identification.

Lawfully obtained records show that the defendant has provided multiple false names to service providers, including at least one false name – “Zachary Studabaker” – for services since the events of January 6, 2021.

In addition, according to the government’s information, the defendant was at the time of his arrest driving a vehicle that he had purchased around September 2020 but never registered, and for which the defendant had used multiple license plates, including in recent months. These include a Washington, D.C. license plate, found inside the defendant’s vehicle in Pennsylvania, which was reported stolen in 2018 by an individual who indicated that the front license plate was taken off his vehicle while parked in Northwest D.C. D.C. traffic cameras captured a black Chevy truck matching the description of the defendant’s vehicle bearing this license plate as recently as January 4, 2021. Moreover, when agents located the defendant at the motel in Pennsylvania, they observed the defendant’s black Chevy truck parked outside and noted that it bore Pennsylvania license plates for a Mazda vehicle.

Upon arrest, moreover, the defendant had multiple identification cards in his wallet, including a D.C. driver’s license and a D.C. identification card for one male, a Permanent Resident card for a second male, and University student identification card for a female. Among the items agents seized from the defendant’s motel room nightstand, moreover, were two mobile phones – a Verizon flip phone as well as an iPhone.

Per the same filing, Pennsylvania state authorities are also investigating Alam in conjunction with the January 29, 2021 burglary of an antique store.

This is the kind of defendant whose violence Babbitt was part of. Had Babbitt survived, she might have been on the hook for abetting Alam’s actions at the Speaker’s Lobby.

Chad Jones: Along with Alam, Chad Jones helped to break the panes of the Speaker’s Lobby door. In his case, he hit the window with a flag pole holding a wrapped up Trump flag. Jones was charged with resisting officers and civil disorder on top of the damage to the door.

Christopher Grider: Like Alam, Christopher Grider ran to the Speaker’s Lobby after being turned back at the House Chamber. Like Alam, he is charged helping to break through the Speaker’s Lobby doors through which Babbitt jumped. He handed Alam his own helmet, which Alam used to continue beating on the doors. Even after handing Alam the helmet, Grider allegedly pushed and kicked on the doors himself.

Grider backed away from the door when people started to call out about the gun. But like Peterson, he didn’t leave the scene to let officers respond.

Grider is charged for the destruction to the door, obstruction, and trespassing.

Assault

Brian Bingham: Brian Bingham was arrested June 22 in Alabama (which is neither of the states in which he was known to be living in his arrest warrant, Florida and New Jersey). He had been IDed by people who knew him from the Army with days after the insurrection and posted this photo from minutes after Babbitt’s death to his Facebook account (it’s unclear from the arrest warrant how Bingham’s attempts to shut down his Facebook account failed; possibly they obtained a preservation order).

Bingham appears to have been loitering around the East door as if knowing it would open before it did.

Minutes after Babbitt’s shooting, Bingham got in a tussle with two cops trying to expel him (the best footage of which was captured from another rioter’s phone, which may explain the delay in arresting him).

He yelled at them,

“You won’t hurt ANTIFA, but you’ll murder innocent girls!” “Where do you want me to move? Push me again!”

He bragged about the interaction later in the day.

Individual-5: Are you ok?

BINGHAM: I got to manhandl[e] 5 cops and live to tell

Individual-5: Lol… All of this does not surprise me! Stay safe. Trump2020

Bingham is not charged with obstructing the vote (which is surprising for a number of reasons, but may be consistent with an approach of undercharging those present at Babbitt’s death). But he is charged for the interaction with police.

Obstruction

Alex Sheppard: Like many others, Alex Sheppard ran from the stand-off at the House Chamber to the Speaker’s Lobby door, where he was picked up on Sullivan’s video. Presumably because he explained on social media he was driving from Ohio to DC to protest the RIGGED election, he was also charged with obstruction.

Trespass

Most of the others who directly witnessed Babbitt’s death have been charged with trespass, even though several badgered cops in ways that has gotten others charged with civil disorder or took affirmative steps to halt the vote count that has gotten others charged with obstruction.

Thomas Baranyi: Unlike some others, Thomas Baranyi (who was standing just behind her when she died) admitted that Babbitt died while attempting to breach a heavily guarded door.

We had stormed into the chambers inside and there was a young lady who rushed through the windows. A number of police and Secret Service were saying get down, get out of the way. She didn’t heed the call and as we kind of raced up to try to grab people and pull them back, they shot her in the neck, and she fell back on me.

Like many of the people at the door of the Speaker’s Lobby, he had recently been part of a mob that tried to storm the House side itself, only to try the Speaker’s Lobby next. Baranyi is charged with misdemeanor trespassing.

Ryan Bennett: Bennett was shouting “Break it down” while live-streaming the event as Babbitt was shot.

In Live Video 2, shot from inside the Capitol Building, at approximately the 1:40 minute mark, Bennett seemingly yells “no!” in the direction of a banging noise. In Live Video 4, Bennett seemingly yells “no destruction!” at approximately the 0:40 second mark when someone is seen kicking a door. However, in Live Video 3, Bennett seemingly chants “break it down!” along with the crowd at approximately the 2:47 and 3:54 minute marks. Based on my knowledge of the investigation and the events at the Capitol building, I believe the “break it down” chant was in relation to a door located in the Speaker’s Lobby that was barricaded by USCP and where a woman was later shot. A gunshot can be heard at approximately the 2:42 minute mark of Live Video 4.

Though he wore a Proud Boys hat the day of the riot, which was found when the FBI searched his home, he was charged only with misdemeanor trespass.

Phillip Bromley: According to his arrest affidavit, Bromley witnessed the shooting, and then appeared in a video posted to Parler describing it and stating he was 8 feet away.

In his narrative of events on Video 1, BROMLEY states: “listen…everybody needs to know the truth.” BROMLEY proceeds to describe how he “breached the right side,” “went in,” and “came to two large glass doors.” When he reached the doors, BROMLEY continues by stating he was talking with SWAT officers and reminding them “of their oath,” at which time “a gunshot went off” and a woman was “shot her in the neck.” BROMLEY continues by stating it “did not look like a survivable wound” and that “she [the woman who was shot] was eight feet in front of me on a line.” BROMLEY further describes the clothing he observed the woman to be wearing when she was shot and states “they shot her and she is dead.”

He was charged with misdemeanor trespass.

David Mish: David Mish called cops himself, on January 7, to describe what he knew about Babbitt’s shooting.

According to Mish, Babbitt was telling the cops to open the door before she died.

On approximately January 7, 2021, David Mish contacted the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Police Department (“MPD”) stating that he had information to provide about the fatal shooting of Ashli Babbitt, who was shot inside the U.S. Capitol during the civil unrest. On January 8, 2020, Detective John Hendrick of the MPD contacted MISH by phone and recorded the ensuing conversation regarding the Babbitt shooting. MISH stated that he, together with several others, had entered the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021. MISH asked “[b]ecause I entered the Capitol Building are you guys gonna take me to jail? I didn’t break anything. . . . I went in, yes.”

[snip]

In his interview with Detective Hendrick, MISH stated that a group of several individuals went into a bathroom adjacent to the Speaker’s Lobby and he objected when one of the group broke a mirror, stating, “we’re trying to get to the politicians because we wanna voice our . . . we wanna voice to ‘em.” MISH described Babbitt saying to the officer who was at the doorway, “Just open the door. They’re not gonna stop,” or words to that effect, referring to the crowd gathered at the doorway. MISH further stated that he had used his cell phone to record some of the activity that occurred within the United States Capitol. MISH told the detective, “from my video you can tell that I was one of the, I was the first group of people to hit that doorway,” referring again to the locked doorway leading to the Speaker’s Lobby that the rioters were attempting to breach.

That said, perhaps because he reached out to cops himself, perhaps because he claims to have tried to talk others out of damaging the Capitol, DOJ only charged Mish with misdemeanor trespass.

The videographers

Brian McCreary: Brian McCreary self-reported his presence in the riot by sharing video he had taken of the day, including from the Babbitt shooting.

After taking this picture; I decided to leave the building. Walking around the building, found a place to take a nice overhead shot of the crowd. Shortly after I made my way there and managed to take one clip of the crowd; people broke into that very side – so I followed them to see what they were doing. -Clip 20210106_144223 Following said crowd. -Clip 20210106_144434 Crowd breaks glass to Speakers Library, hear a shot fired. -Clip 20210106_144544 Crowd begins a game of telephone with Shot and killed a girl over here. At that point; I decided to leave the site. Walked to parking garage; jumped in my car and drove home. Im now just noticing that I am limited to 4 uploads; I will call and follow-up to provide the rest.

Perhaps because he reentered the building after leaving once, the government charged him with obstruction as well as trespassing.

Sam Montoya: Like John Sullivan, Infowar’s Sam Montoya’s video leads up to the Babbitt shooting. Like John Sullivan, Montoya eggs on the crowd as he films it. “We have had enough! We’re not gonna take your fucking vaccines! We’re not gonna take all your bullshit! The people are rising up!” But unlike Sullivan (and perhaps because of his tie to an actual media outlet), Montoya was charged only with misdemeanor trespass.

John Earle Sullivan: John Sullivan, whose name came up in texts between his brother and Rudy Giuliani, is the most enigmatic of January 6 defendants. Banned by lefty activists as a provocateur in the months leading up to the insurrection, Sullivan showed up on January 6 and caught key confrontations on video, while he could be heard egging on rioters in his own recording. At first, he was charged with trespass and civil disorder. His first indictment added obstruction and abetting. A second indictment enhanced his charges for carrying a knife during the protest (which he repeatedly asserted on his own video), false statements for denying it to the FBI, and a forfeiture allegation tied to the $90K he made by selling his video of the day (including Babbitt’s shooting). While Sullivan has been given a damage estimate in discovery — possibly tied to a window he seems to describe himself breaking in an office — he has not yet been charged for doing that damage.

The defendant approaches a window and states, “We did this shit. We took this shit.” The defendant also appears to break a window and says, “I broke it. My bad, my apologies. Well they already broke a window, so, you know, I didn’t know I hit it that hard. No one got that on camera.”

Sullivan used his knife — which the government claims he showed publicly in the mob before the House Chamber — both in that mob and later the Speaker’s Lobby to get others to let him up near the front of the mob.

In the moments before Babbitt’s shooting, Sullivan was, just as Babbitt was, cajoling the police to step away from their posts.

After Babbitt’s death, according to the government’s support of seizure of Sullivan’s funds, Sullivan repeatedly boasted both of riling up the mob and of having video he could — and in fact did — monetize.

The defendant also spoke to someone on speakerphone, stating, “I brought my megaphone to instigate shit. I was like, guys we’re going inside, we’re fucking shit up…. I’m gonna make these Trump supporters f—all this shit up…. But I mean you’ll see. I have it all, I have everything, everything on camera, everything I just told you, and I mean everything. Trust me when I say my footage is worth like a million of dollars, millions of dollars. I’m holding on to that shit.”

So while Sullivan has not been charged for breaking a window — which if he were, would make a fifth person present who could be charged with a terrorism enhancement — he was charged with wielding a knife, lying about it, and inciting those around him to riot.

Update, June 24: I’ve added Bingham.

Why I Agreed to Stop Calling Liz Cheney “BabyDick”

I made a vow on Twitter one of these days that I would no longer refer to Liz Cheney as “BabyDick” if she voted for impeachment.

She is going to vote for impeachment — the second Republican House member to announce their vote.

So I’m on my last legs using the term that invokes her protection of her own father for torture. But this seems like an obviously smart strategic position, as I laid out in this thread;

  • Dems need to realize the GOP wants to be purged of Trumpism
  • After Trump lost, Mitch McConnell thought he could make demands as the senior elected GOP
  • That didn’t happen
  • Then Trump lost the GA vote
  • Then Trump almost got Mitch killed
  • That gives Dems an opportunity to demand the purge of insurrectionists like Mo Brooks, Paul Gosar, Andy Biggs, Boebert, Taylor Greene, Madison Cawthorn, Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, and Tommy Tuberville
  • That means institutional Republicans — like “BabyDick” and McConnell — actually have an incentive to use impeachment to cleanse their party

It’s a small ask for the GOP, because they’d like to get their corporatist party back, thank you.

Liz “BabyDick” Cheney and I will never be friends. But she will have served a key leadership role in this troubled time in providing another path for the Republican party by voting to impeach an authoritarian.

May she help others feel safe in rejecting this scourge.

Come On Down Paul Gosar, The Latest Arizona Embarrassment

You may have watched the House Oversight hearing with Michael Cohen last Wednesday (See here and here). One of the most hilarious moments came when Arizona Republican Representative Paul Gosar went off the rails to crazy town.

The original is here courtesy of CNN. It is batshit nuts.

Last night, Saturday Night Live did a sendup of Gosar’s insane nuttery. Even the local press recognized the moment for what it was.

Yes, this is the same Paul Gosar that came into the light as Sarah Palin’s dentist friend was in cahoots with the idiot fellow dentist Gosar. Yes, it is all really that stupid.

And, now, that is where we are and, like Louis Gohmert and Matt Gaetz, Arizona has one of the biggest and most ignorant buffoons in national politics. Happy to see SNL catching up, but Arizonans have understood what an ignorant and cancerous buffoon Gosar is for years.

The Worm Turns: Neither Devin Nunes Nor Ron DeSantis (Thus Far) Support Jim Jordan’s Impeachment Bid

As I laid out a few weeks ago, I provided information to the FBI on issues related to the Mueller investigation, so I’m going to include disclosure statements on Mueller investigation posts from here on out. I will include the disclosure whether or not the stuff I shared with the FBI pertains to the subject of the post.

I was in DC when Mark Meadows and Jim Jordan rolled out articles of impeachment against Rod Rosenstein. As a number of people have noted, the articles themselves are batshit crazy, calling over-redaction subsequently corrected a high crime and misdemeanor.

And some of the articles would require a time machine to prove, such as holding Rosenstein responsible for a FISA application submitted when he was merely the US Attorney for MD with no role in the investigation.

But something else is even more interesting to me.

The original press release included the names of 6 congressmen, in addition to Mark Meadows and Jim Jordan, who co-sponsored the articles HR 1028:

  1. Mark Meadows
  2. Jim Jordan
  3. Andy Biggs
  4. Scott Perry
  5. Paul “Dentists Read Body Language” Gosar
  6. Jody Hice
  7. Matt Gaetz
  8. Scott DesJarlais

And while the other three congressmen who joined as co-sponsors seemed a lot more sheepish about signing on, the following me also joined:

  1. John Duncan
  2. Louie Gohmert
  3. Bill Posey

By mid-morning yesterday, in the face of opposition from Paul Ryan and citing some deal with Bob Goodlatte, Meadows and Jordan admitted defeat. Shortly thereafter, Jordan announced a bid to be Speaker, with support from Meadows.

Apparently this morning, the following men signed on:

  1. Tom Massie
  2. Ted Yoho
  3. Ralph Norman
  4. Duncan Hunter

We’re two days into this effort, and thus far, two names are conspicuously absent: Devin Nunes (who has admittedly refrained from officially participating in some of the batshittery to — apparently — limit his legal exposure) and Ron DeSantis, who has spent the last seven months leading efforts to discredit Mueller’s investigation.

While I was in DC, a Republican admitted to me that this was just about ginning up votes and predicted that the House is done meeting until November — meaning Rosenstein should be safe from Congressional tampering until then.

If so, DeSantis’ non-participation in this stunt is telling. He’s running for governor with the vocal support of President Trump.

Indeed, DeSantis currently has a healthy lead against Adam Putnam in the GOP primary, with the primary date a month away, August 28, largely due to Trump’s support.

DeSantis is also one of the people who most obviously benefitted from Russian interference in 2016.

That Ron DeSantis has not (yet) signed onto this stunt suggests he’s not sure that, in a month (or perhaps in three, in the general), having done so will benefit his electoral chances to be governor.

So apparently Jim Jordan (facing sexual assault cover-up charges) and Duncan Hunter (facing even more serious legal troubles) think it’s a smart idea to go all-in on supporting Trump. But Ron DeSantis does not.