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Questions about the Proud Boys Superseding Indictment

As noted here, DOJ charged Enrique Tarrio, along with the existing leadership conspiracy defendants and Dominic Pezzola, This is just the second superseding indictment against the key Proud Boys. And while it’s good that Tarrio was finally included and there are hints of interesting coordination, unlike with the Oath Keepers conspiracy, where each superseding indictment pointed to a relentless march in one direction, where the Proud Boy investigation is heading is far less clear to me.

For now, I’ll assume that’s simply because they’re holding their cards close.

Who is missing

My first question pertains to the non-inclusion of certain people in this indictment.

The first is William Pepe, who had been charged with Dominic Pezzola on the indictment that got consolidated with this one. He has either flipped (which would be especially noteworthy given that he is represented by John Pierce), or he’s just sitting out there in a conspiracy with himself.

Another person not included here is Ron Loerkhe. With Jimmy Haffner, he was instrumental in breaching the East side of the Capitol and seems to have provided military structure to the attack. The two of them remain charged only by complaint and in February DOJ got a 3 month continuance on their case.

A third is Aaron Whallon-Wolkind, a close associate of Zach Rehl’s who kibbitzed the attack from Philadelphia that day. He was raided back in October, seemingly suggesting he too might get charged. The indictment doesn’t charge him. It also leaves out some of his statements that were in earlier court filings.

Who is cooperating and who is not

Thus far, there is only one overt cooperator in the Proud Boy cases: Matthew Greene, the former co-defendant of Dominic Pezzola (who has been moved onto this indictment) and Pepe (who has disappeared).

There are three senior Proud Boys — named as Person 1, Person 2, and Person 3 — whose status remains unknown. All three had key leadership positions. And they presumably were involved in a video chat Tarrio scheduled for December 20 to discuss Person 3’s comment that, “most of the protest will be at the capital building given what’s going on inside.” Person 1 is almost certainly Jeremy Bertino, who lives in SC; a number of well-informed people believe Person 2 is Wolkind. [h/t CH]

There are other Proud Boys who could be included in this indictment but who aren’t. Dan “Milkshake” Scott got a continuance in February for 120 days; that filing stated that he and the government had not yet even started plea negotiations. Joe Biggs’ co-travelers on the Arthur Jackman indictment are all still charged individually, even though two of them were literally touching Biggs at key moments during the day; the government is only now sorting through conflicts posed by John Pierce’s representation of three of them that would have to precede any plea discussions. Zach Rehl’s co-travelers also remain charged by complaint (and just misdemeanors, too); in February the government got a continuance until April. Jeff Finley, who also with Rehl and the others for part of the day, got a continuance in February until late March, to allow for “continued discussions about the case.” [Corrected to note Finley is a PB] Gabriel Garcia, who seemed to be one of the most useful people reporting back so others could coordinate from outside the riot, seems headed for trial by himself.

Father Jeremy and son Jeffrey Grace remain in uncertain status, too. After dad got busted for paling around with Proud Boys last summer, they’ve been in flux but still just charged (not even with each other!) with trespassing. In February Jeffrey’s case got continued until St. Patricks Day and Jeremy’s got continued to April.

Meanwhile, on Friday, Ricky Willden set a change of plea hearing for April 7, pretty far in advance as these things go. Because he was charged directly with indictment, it’s not clear what the government knows, but he has ties to the Proud Boys and others.

The inconsistent references

In addition to the three Person-Numbers, this indictment refers to people by all manner of convention.

It names Stewart Rhodes in describing the meeting he had with Tarrio in a parking garage after Tarrio was released from jail on January 5.

Then there are multiple people described as “an individual whose identity is known to the grand jury,” the most interesting of whom is the person who shared a 9-page document about occupying key buildings in DC.

But that’s also the way the indictment describes Ryan Samsel before explaining that he, “put one arm around BIGGS’s shoulder and spoke to him” before be broke through the first barrier in front of the Capitol. On Friday, Jia Cobb (who took over the Samsel case from Tim Kelly when several people were added), ordered Samsel transported from the State Jail in Pennsylvania he had been in to a the Federal jail where DC jail residents had been moved to. Since Samsel has been charged, there’s no reason not to name him, just as Rhodes is named.

Where is Trump

As I noted earlier, there’s no mention of Enrique Tarrio’s visit to the White House in December. The White House claimed that was no big deal, and maybe it is.

But this indictment also leaves out all mention of Proud Boys, including Tarrio, playing on Trump’s Stand Back and Stand By comment.

Where is the obstruction charge?

In some ways, this indictment charges more aggressively than the earlier one. As other indictments have, it swaps the 18 USC 371 conspiracy (with a maximum sentence of 5 years) for an 18 USC 1512(k) conspiracy (with a maximum sentence of 20 years).

It charges all the men for the assaults originally charged just against Donohoe and Pezzola.

But it doesn’t include an obstruction charge for Tarrio, in spite of his explicit efforts to prevent others from cooperating, recordings of which were publicly released.

Where does this go from here?

I’ve been expecting and predicting this indictment since December 28. But for the life of me, I’m not sure where DOJ expects to go from here.

This indictment describes the numbers of people massed at several stages of the operation. 65 members on the Ministry of Self Defense (MOSD) Members Group. 90 people in the New MOSD members group created on January 4. Approximately 100 Proud Boys who met at the Washington Memorial the morning of the attack. Donohoe bragging at 12:00PM on January 6 that “WE ARE WITH 200-300 PBS,” just before they kicked off the riot.

Perhaps this framework is meant to provide a way to implicate all those others, 300 people who agreed, by signing up, that they were following a plan that DOJ has now shown (and that Matthew Greene’s cooperation was designed to show) was a plan to occupy buildings from the start.

But otherwise, this still feels really dispersed, and the prosecution team (which consists of three visible members for the leadership conspiracy, including Erik Kenerson, Jason McCullough, and Luke Jones, and about four detailees from other offices for satellite cases; a fourth prosecutor who had been on the core cases, Christopher Berridge, left immediately after Greene pled) has a far harder caseload than the significantly larger team on the Oath Keepers.

Perhaps something will really start to crystalize as some of these continuances end in April. Or perhaps DOJ will be serially prosecuting Proud Boys for the foreseeable future.

A Taxonomy of the [Visible] January 6 “Crime Scene” Investigation

In preparation for a post about how DOJ might or might not make the move beyond prosecuting pawns who breached the Capitol to those who incited them to come to the Capitol, I want to describe a taxonomy of the January 6 “crime scene” investigation — which I mean to encompass the investigation as it has worked up from the people who actually stormed the Capitol. This is my understanding of how the many already-charged defendants fit together.

DOJ has arrested close to 700 people (probably more than that once you consider cases that haven’t been unsealed). Those defendants generally fit into the following categories, all of which are non-exclusive, meaning lots of people fall into more than one category:

  • Militia conspirators and militia associates
  • Assault defendants
  • Mobilized local networks
  • Other felony defendants
  • Misdemeanants
  • Organizer inciters

In my discussion below, these are all allegations, most of the felony defendants have pled not guilty, and are presumed innocent.

Militia conspirators and militia associates

The most newsworthy prosecutions, thus far, are the militia conspiracies, though not all militia members have been charged as part of a conspiracy.

There are 17 people facing charges in the Oath Keeper conspiracy, plus four cooperators, as well as another cooperator and two more Oath Keepers not charged in the conspiracy.

There are 17 Proud Boys currently charged in various conspiracies, including four, thus far, charged in what I call the Leader conspiracy. I suspect in the near future there will be consolidation of the core Proud Boy cases. In addition, there are a significant number of Proud Boys charged either in group indictments (such as the five men who followed Joe Biggs around that day), or individually, some with assault (such as Christopher Worrell, David Dempsey, and Dan “Milkshake” Scott), and some with just trespassing (such as Lisa Homer or Micajah Jackson).

There is one conspiracy indictment against mostly 3%ers, along with Guy Reffitt, who was individually charged, and a few others whose 3% ties are less well-established in charging papers.

All of which is to say that a small but significant minority of the January 6 defendants have some tie to an organized militia group.

That’s important, because the government is very close to showing that there was a plan — led at the Capitol by the Proud Boys, but seemingly coordinated closely with some members of the Oath Keepers. The plan entailed initiating a breach, surrounding the Capitol, opening up multiple additional fronts (of which the East appears to be the most important), and inciting the “normies” to do some of the worst violence and destruction, making the Capitol uninhabitable during the hours when Congress was supposed to be making Joe Biden President. Until about 4PM — when cops began to secure the Capitol and DOD moved closer to sending in the National Guard — the plan met with enormous success (though I wouldn’t be surprised if the conspirators hoped that a normie might attack a member of Congress, giving Trump cause to invoke harsher measures).

People complain that DOJ has been doing nothing in the 11 months since the riot. But this has been a central focus of DOJ’s effort: understanding how this plan worked, and then assembling enough evidence and cooperating witnesses to be able to lay out several intersecting conspiracies that will show not just that these groups wanted to prevent the certification of the vote (what they’re currently charged with), but pursued a plan to lead a mob attack on the Capitol to ensure that happened.

Proving these interlocking conspiracies would be vital to moving up from the militias, because it shows the premeditation involved in the assault on the Capitol. DOJ hasn’t rolled this out yet, but they seem to be very very close.

Assault defendants

Close to 150 people have been charged with assault (DOJ has a higher number but they’re tracking two different crimes, 18 USC 111, assault, and 18 USC 231, whereas I’m tracking just the former). The assaults charged against these defendants range from pushing a cop once to tasing someone and nearly killing him. Much of this amounted to mob violence, albeit at times the mob violence was pretty finely coordinated.

That said, there are a handful of defendants charged with assaults that were tactically critical to the plan implemented by the Proud Boys (again, these are just allegations and all have pled not guilty and are presumed innocent):

  • After speaking with Proud Boy Joe Biggs, Ryan Samsel kicked off the riot by storming over the first barricade, knocking over a female cop
  • Ronnie Sandlin and Nate DeGrave helped open both the East Door and Senate gallery doors
  • Jimmy Haffner allegedly sprayed something at the cops trying to stave off the crowd on the East side
  • George Tenney pushed cops away from the East door and opened it (he is charged with civil disorder, not assault)
  • Active duty Marine Chris Warnagiris kept cops from closing the East door after Tenney had opened it

It’s important to understand whether those defendants who committed tactically critical assaults were operating with knowledge of the larger plan.

For most of the rest of the assault defendants, though, it’s a matter of identifying them, assembling the video and other evidence to prove the case, and finding them to arrest them.

The FBI has posted close to 500 total assault suspect BOLOs (Be On the Lookout posters, basically a request for help identifying someone), which means there may be up to 350 assault suspects still at large.

I expect assault arrests to continue at a steady pace, perhaps even accelerate as the government completes the investigations required with people who either used better operational security or fled.

Mobilized local networks

Something DOJ appears to be investigating are key localized networks through which people were radicalized.

This is most obvious for Southern California. The 3%er indictment is geographically based (and as I’ll argue in a follow-up, is investigatively important for that geographic tie.) In addition, after months of contemplating what seemed like it might be a larger conspiracy indictment, DOJ recently charged Ed Badalian and a guy nicknamed Swedish Scarf, in a conspiracy with one of the people accused of tasering Michael Fanone, Danny Rodriguez.

Recent arrest affidavits, most notably that of Danean MacAndrews, also show that FBI shared identifiers from the various geofence warrants obtained targeting the Capitol on January 6 and shared them with regional intelligence centers to identify local participants in the mob.

There have been recent case developments, too, which suggest DOJ is letting people from Southern Californian plead down in an effort to obtain their testimony (which I’ll explain more in my discussion of misdemeanants).

Some of this localized investigation feeds back into the larger investigation, as evidenced by the two conspiracy indictments coming out of Southern California. But it also shows how these various radicalized networks fit together.

While it is less visible (and perhaps because there’s not always the same terrorist and drug war intelligence infrastructure as LA has, potentially less formalized), I assume similar localized investigations are going on in key organizing hotspots as well, including at least PA and FL, and probably also the Mountain West.

Other felony defendants

There are other defendants charged with a felony for their actions on January 6, most often for obstruction of the vote count (under 18 USC 1512c2) and/or civil disorder. As of November 6, DOJ said 265 people had been charged with obstruction. A number of those obstruction defendants have been permitted to plead down to a trespassing charge, usually the more serious 18 USC 1752.

It’s hard to generalize about this group, in part because some of the mobilizing networks that got these people to the Capitol would not be visible (if at all) until sentencing, particularly given that few of them are being detained.

But the group includes a lot of QAnoners — which, I have argued, actually had more success at getting bodies into place to obstruct the vote count than the militias (which were busy opening multiple fronts). The PodCast Finding Q revealed that the FBI started more actively investigating QAnon as a mobilizing force in the days after the insurrection. So the FBI may well be investigating QAnon from the top down. But it’s not as easy to understand as — for example — investigative steps targeting QAnoners as it is the militia networks, in part because QAnon doesn’t require the same kind of network ties to radicalize people.

These defendants also include people mobilized in other networks — some anti-mask, some military, some more directly tied to institutional right wing organizations, and some who simply responded to the advertising for the event. Understanding how and why these people ended up at the Capitol is a critical step to understanding how the event worked. But it is harder to discern that from the court filings available.

Aside from better known right wing personalities, it’s also harder to identify potentially significant defendants from this group.

In the days ahead, a number of DC judges will be ruling on DOJ’s application of obstruction. Unless all rule for the government (which I find unlikely), it means DOJ will face a scramble of what to do with these defendants, especially those not otherwise charged with a felony like civil disorder. And until judges rule, there will be a significant number of felony defendants who are deferring decisions on plea offers, to see whether the felony charge against them will really survive.

The fact that most of the least serious felony defendants are delaying plea decisions creates an artificial appearance that the vast majority of those charged in January 6 were charged with trespassing. It’s not that there aren’t a huge number of felony defendants; it’s just that they’re not making the news because they’re not pleading guilty, yet.

Misdemeanants

The most common complaint about the January 6 investigation — from both those following from afar and the judges facing an unprecedented flood of trespassing defendants in their already crowded court rooms — the sheer number of trespassing defendants.

It is true that, in the days after the riot, DOJ arrested the people who most obviously mugged for the cameras.

But in the last six months or so, it seems that DOJ has been more selective about which of the 2,000 – 2,500 people who entered the Capitol they choose to arrest, based off investigative necessities. After all, in addition to being defendants, these “MAGA Tourists” are also witnesses to more serious crimes. Now that DOJ has set up a steady flow of plea deals for misdemeanors, people are pleading guilty more quickly. With just a few exceptions, the vast majority of those charged or who have pled down to trespassing charges have agreed to a cooperation component (entailing an FBI interview and sharing social media content) as part of their plea deal. And DOJ seems to be arresting the trespassers who, for whatever reason, may be useful “cooperating” witnesses for the larger investigation. I started collecting some of what misdemeanant’ cooperation will yield, but it includes:

Video or photographic evidence

Hard as it may be to understand, there were parts of the riot that were not, for a variety of reasons, well captured by government surveillance footage. And a significant number of misdemeanor defendants seem to be arrested because they can be seen filming with their phones on what surveillance footage does exist, and are known to have traveled to places where such surveillance footage appears to be unavailable or less useful. The government has or seems to be using evidence from other defendants to understand what happened:

  • Under the scaffolding set up for the inauguration
  • At the scene of Ashli Babbitt’s killing (though this appears to be as much to get audio capturing certain defendants as video)
  • In the offices of the Parliamentarian, Jeff Merkley, and Nancy Pelosi
  • As Kelly Meggs and other Oath Keepers walked down a hallway hunting for Nancy Pelosi
  • Some of what happened in the Senate, perhaps after Leo Bozell and others rendered the CSPAN cameras ineffective

In other words, these misdemeanor arrests are necessary building blocks for more serious cases, because they are in possession of evidence against others.

Witness testimony

TV lawyers seem certain that Trump could be charged with incitement, without considering that to charge that, DOJ would first have to collect evidence that people responded to his words by invading the Capitol or even engaging in violence.

That’s some of what misdemeanor defendants would be available to testify to given their social media claims and statements of offense. For example, trespasser defendants have described:

  • What went on at events on January 5
  • The multiple signs that they were not permitted to enter whatever entrance they did enter, including police lines, broken windows and doors, loud alarms, and tear gas
  • Directions that people in tactical gear were giving
  • Their response to Rudy Giuliani and Mo Brooks’ calls for violence
  • Their response to Trump’s complaint that Mike Pence had let him down
  • The actions they took (including breaching the Capitol) after Alex Jones promised they’d get to hear Trump again if they moved to the East front of the Capitol

Securing the testimony of those purportedly incited by Trump or Rudy or Mo Brooks or Alex Jones is a necessary step in holding them accountable for incitement.

Network information

Some misdemeanor defendants are being arrested because their buddies already were arrested (and sometimes these pleas are “wired,” requiring everyone to plead guilty together). Other misdemeanor defendants are part of an interesting network (including the militias). By arresting them (and often obtaining and exploiting their devices), the government is able to learn more about those with more criminal exposure on January 6.

Misdemeanor plea deals

In its sentencing memo for Jacob Hiles, the guy who otherwise would probably be fighting an obstruction charged if he hadn’t helped prosecute Capitol Police Officer Michael Riley, the government stated that, “no previously sentenced defendant has provided assistance of the degree provided by the defendant in this case.” The comment strongly suggests there are other misdemeanor defendants who have provided such assistance, but they haven’t been sentenced yet.

This category is harder to track, because, unless and until such cooperation-driven misdemeanor pleas are publicly discussed in future sentencing memos, we may never learn of them. But there are people — Baked Alaska is one, but by no means the only one, of them — who suggested he might be able to avoid obstruction charges by cooperating with prosecutors (there’s no sign, yet, that he has cooperated). We should assume that some of the defendants who’ve been deferring charges for months on end, only to end up with a misdemeanor plea, cooperated along the way to get that charge. That is, some of the misdemeanor pleas that everyone is complaining about likely reflect significant, completed cooperation with prosecutors, the kind of cooperation without which this prosecution will never move beyond the crime scene.

Organizer inciters

In this post, I have argued that DOJ is very close to rolling out more details of the plot to seize the Capitol, a plot that was implemented (at the Capitol) by the Proud Boys in coordination with other militia-tied people. I have also argued that one goal of the misdemeanor arrests has been to obtain evidence showing that speeches inciting violence, attacks on Mike Pence, or directing crowds to (in effect) trespass brought about violence, the targeting of Mike Pence, and the breach of the Capitol.

If I’m right about these two observations, it means that the investigation has reached a step where the next logical move would be to charge those who incited violence or directed certain movement. The next logical step would be to hold those who caused the obstruction accountable for the obstruction they cultivated.

This is why I focused on Alex Jones in this post: because there is a great deal of evidence that Alex Jones, the guy whom Trump personally ordered to lead mobs to the Capitol, was part of the plot led by his former employee, Joe Biggs, to breach a second front of the Capitol. If this investigation is going to move further, people like Alex Jones and other people who helped organize and incite the riot, will be the next step.

In fact, DOJ has made moves towards doing this for months — though at the moment, they seem woefully inadequate. For example DOJ charged Brandon Straka, who had a key role in inciting violence both before and at the event, in January; he pled guilty to a misdemeanor in October (his sentencing just got moved from December 17 to December 22). DOJ charged Owen Shroyer, Jones’ sidekick as the Pied Piper of insurrection, but just for trespassing, not for the obvious incitement he and Jones did. The one case where DOJ has already moved to hold someone accountable for his role in inciting violence is Russell Taylor, who was charged in the 3%er conspiracy, but that conspiracy indictment will test DOJ’s ability to hold those who incited violence accountable.

Back in August, when these three developments were clear, I noted that DOJ had only barely begun to unpack what happened on January 5 (to say nothing of events in DC in December), which played a key role in the success of January 6. It has provided scant new detail of having done so (though there are signs they are collecting such information).

The investigation at the crime scene is not the only investigation into January 6 going on. Merrick Garland made it clear DOJ was following the money. The FBI conducted investigative steps targeting QAnon just days after the riot. Daily Beast broke the news of a grand jury investigation into Sidney Powell’s grifting, an investigation that may be assisted by recriminations between her, Mike Flynn, and Patrick Byrne.

But the investigation building off of the crime scene will proceed, or not, based on DOJ’s ability to build cases against the organizer inciters.

DOJ Claims Ryan Samsel Wants to Move Back to Where He Was Brutally Assaulted

In a filing submitted Thursday, the government disclosed something remarkable. January 6 defendant Ryan Samsel, who was brutally assaulted in the DC jail — allegedly by guards — said in September he wanted to be moved back to the DC jail.

On or around September 28, defense counsel sent a request to USMS that Samsel be transferred back to the D.C. Jail instead of Northern Neck, indicating that he wanted to go back there and was comfortable doing so.

The disclosure comes in response to a series of filings alleging additional mistreatment from Samsel’s latest attorneys, Stanley Woodward, who is a legit defense attorney, and Julia Haller, one of the attorneys sanctioned for making bogus claims of vote fraud in Michigan.

Samsel’s various claims of abuse

In Samsel’s first filing, submitted on September 11, his attorneys claimed that he was still not receiving all the required care for injuries suffered in the March 21 assault in DC jail or pre-existing conditions exacerbated by the assault.

A status report submitted on September 20 in response to an order from Judge Tim Kelly claimed that on September 15, as Samsel was being moved from a common area back to his cell, he was “dropped,” causing redness on his cheek.

Late that evening, officers came to Mr. Samsel’s cell to move him back to solitary confinement. According to records provided by the U.S. Marshals Service (“USMS”), Mr. Samsel reported that he was “dropped while being removed” from his cell. The medical records further provide that after receiving medical attention in solitary confinement, Mr. Samsel had “mild redness on the left side of his face at the cheek bone area.”

Samsel’s filing also suggests that the records from the March 21 assault in the DC jail might be incomplete.

A government status report submitted the same day noted that, “a review of the medical records are not entirely consistent with that Status Report or the Defendant’s assertions” (and provided several examples). It further noted that Samsel was seeking, “materials that are plainly not medical records, such as ‘incident reports’, administrative records, photographs, and video recording from inside the facility (none of which are compiled or authored by medical personnel).” It then noted that abuse in jail, “is appropriately brought in a civil proceeding and not through the criminal process.” (Note, that is legally true but factually, usually useless, but it gives prosecutors a way to move questions about conditions of confinement out of a criminal docket to one under a different judge.)

But Samsel’s attorneys didn’t file a civil suit. Instead, they kept filing motions.

Another filing, submitted on October 4, ostensibly an update on the status of medical reports which did indeed claim that defense attorneys haven’t received all Samsel’s medical records yet, also described that after the prior incident, Samsel was held in solitary confinement to coerce him to admit he did not get a concussion after allegedly being dropped.

Following his return to the Central Virginia Regional Jail from Novant Health UVA, Mr. Samsel was placed in solitary confinement without any recreational time, where the lights in his cell remained on for twenty-four (24) hours a day, and where he remained under constant video surveillance. According to Mr. Samsel, his solitary confinement was to continue until he recanted his statement that he suffered a concussion.

[snip]

Mr. Samsel remained in solitary confinement until September 29, 2021, when he was transferred to the Northern Neck Regional Jail in Warsaw, Virginia. His transfer occurred following a visit by the State police, and numerous requests for updates on Mr. Samsel’s status (e.g., why he remained in solitary confinement) as well as follow up requests for Mr. Samsel’s medical records.

A third filing, submitted on October 14, again ostensibly an update on whether defense attorneys had received Samsel’s medical records, started with this conspiracy theory about Alan Feuer’s story describing that, in early interviews with the FBI, Samsel described that Joe Biggs pushed him to initiate the riot by, “flash[ing] a gun, question[ing Samsel’s] manhood and repeat[ing] his demand [that Samsel] move upfront and challenge the police.”

On Thursday, October 7, 2021, The New York Times published an article describing how Mr. Samsel has refused to cooperate with the government following his initial questioning upon arrest by the FBI more than eight (8) months ago (and without the presence counsel). See Alan Feuer, Dispute Over Claim that Proud Boys Leader Urged Attack at Capitol, The New York Times (Oct. 7, 2021). 1 Despite “[t]he government hav[ing] not yet secured Mr. Samsel’s cooperation in its investigation,” however, the article’s publication prompted the government to request Mr. Samsel be placed in protective custody, or solitary confinement.

The timing of the article’s publication, just three (3) days after Mr. Samsel last complained of his failure to receive necessary medical treatment and/or related medical records is itself noteworthy. That what happened next is purely coincidental, strains credulity.

[snip]

[O]n Tuesday, October 12, 2021, Mr. Samsel was permitted an unrecorded video conference with counsel, in which he was clearly handcuffed. What counsel discussed is, of course, subject to the attorney-client privilege. However, immediately following that video conference, Mr. Samsel was involved in an altercation with correctional officers which ultimately resulted in his again having to be transported to urgent care.

The NNRJ incident report provided by the U.S. Marshal’s Service provides: The above named inmate was finished with his attorney visit. I then advised him, I was going to place the hand cuffs back behind his back. Upon removing one side of the hand cuffs, he then stated he was not going to put the cuffs behind his back. I then gave him three direct orders to turn around, for the cuffs to be placed back on. All direct orders were refused. He then tried to pull the hand cuffs away. The necessary force was used to gain compliance. He then refused to stand up and walk back to E pod. The necessary force was used to gain compliance and escort him back to E124. Upon reaching his cell he became combative and the necessary force was used to gain compliance. The cell door was shut and the hand cuffs were removed. He was seen by EMT F [emphasis Samel’s]

That’s the background to the government’s filing, in which they reveal (among other things) that after experiencing incidents at almost every jail he has entered, Samsel has decided he wants to be in the DC jail, the jail where he was unquestionably beaten by someone (allegedly the guards), but also the jail that Royce Lamberth has just held in contempt for not adequately attending to the medical care of someone — Christopher Worrell — suffering from a non-Hodgkins lymphoma outbreak and pain from breaking his hand in a fall. Samsel’s request to return to DC jail preceded Lamberth’s contempt finding, but not Worrell’s allegations — first raised by the attorney Worrell then shared with Ryan Samsel, John Pierce — of delayed care.

The government’s slew of new details

The entire government memo is worth reading. It provides new details of Samsel’s role in January 6, including texts where he bragged about leading the entire mob forward when he kicked off the riot.

It reviews Samsel’s long history of beating others, especially women.

It describes how — at a moment when (the NYT suggests) Samsel might otherwise be sharing details with the FBI that would connect his own actions leading the mob forward to directions from Joe Biggs — the assault in the DC jail set off six months of volatility in Samsel’s representation that had the effect of delaying his medical care and seemingly changing his own defense strategy.

Following his arrest, Samsel was transported to the DC jail on February 17, 2021. He retained attorney Elisabeth Pasqualini to represent him.

[snip]

During the week of Samsel’s transfer [to Rappahannock jail], a second attorney reached out to the Government, indicating that Samsel had fired Ms. Pasqualini and that they now represented Samsel. This attorney, David Metcalf, was sponsored by local counsel Robert Jenkins. Jenkins filed a motion to replace Ms. Pasqualini on March 31. (R. 12). In the meantime, Ms. Pasqualini informed the Government that she believed she still represented Samsel and had not heard otherwise from him. On April 1 and April 2, a U.S. Magistrate Judge held status hearings to determine the status of Samsel’s representations. Samsel indicated that he wanted both Ms. Pasqualini and Mr. Metcalf to represent him.

A few weeks later, the attorneys informed the Government that Samsel likely only wished to continue with Ms. Pasqualini. After an additional two weeks and two additional status conferences (May 14 and May 18), Samsel confirmed that he wanted to proceed only with Ms. Pasqualini. Mr. Metcalf withdrew on May 18. (R. 22)

[snip]

Subsequent to the Court’s Order, on June 14, attorney John Pierce sent an email to the Court and stated in that email and subsequent to it that Samsel had not authorized Ms. Pasqualini to file the motion requesting a transfer [to custody of the State of Pennsylvania], that Samsel did not want a transfer, and that he wanted the Order vacated and for Samsel to remain in federal custody. The Court forwarded the correspondence and held an assessment of counsel hearing on June 21 and June 25 to determine whether Samsel truly wanted to switch attorneys again (R. 29); see also (Tr. June 24 at 4-5).

At the June 25, 2021 hearing, Ms. Pasqualini withdrew from the case.

[snip]

In August, Samsel requested new counsel, and, on August 16, John Pierce withdrew from the case, and Stanley Woodward and Juli Haller entered appearances.

The filing describes that claims Samsel had made about having doctors in Pennsylvania didn’t match what the Marshal’s Service was able to learn.

Samsel indicated that he had specific doctors in Pennsylvania (a Dr. Liebman and a doctor at Penn) that he had been seeing for a glossectomy and his thoracic condition. (July 1 Tr. at 4). He requested a transfer to FDC in Philadelphia.

[snip]

They made contact with office staff at Dr. Liebman’s office. Mr. Samsel was being seen by Dr. Liebman, a plastic surgeon, for concerns unrelated to thoracic outlet syndrome. There is no specialty care needed that is urgent nor specific to this particular providers abilities.

Conversation with Penn Medicine indicated there was no record of the prisoner being seen by vascular surgery. There is record of primary care visits only. Unless more specific provider information is available, it is not possible to receive direct feedback regarding transfer of care. [emphasis original]

On top of that medical discrepancy, the government filing predictably described that the jails where, Samsel alleges, he was mistreated, offered different versions of each incident than Samsel.

Samsel’s account consistently differs from the account of the facilities where he is housed;

[snip]

Again, Samsel and the facility gave differing accounts of why he was transported and what the diagnosis was.

[snip]

The facility did not have the same account of what occurred. However, both accounts consistently reported that Samsel sustained some kind of injury.

Sadly, jails aren’t necessarily any more credible than recently-sanctioned fraud lawyers. But that’s why it’s particularly interesting that the description of the September 15 “dropping” incident offered by legit defense attorney Woodward differs from the description offered by the recently-sanctioned Haller (though the government doesn’t say how those accounts differ).

One day later, the Government and USMS received emails from both defense counsel in which both suggested Samsel had been assaulted by staff at CVRJ, although with differing versions of the event. The Government immediately followed up with USMS, who followed up with the facility. The facility’s account of what occurred differed from either of the two accounts provided by defense counsel, and the facility denied that any assault took place. The consistent theme between all accounts, however, appeared to be that there were injuries9 and that the injuries were sustained while Samsel was being transferred from one cell to another. Similarly, the facility and defense attorneys differed on their account of the types of injuries sustained and the extent of them.

9 The facility report noted “mild redness on the left side of [Samsel’s] face and cheek bone area.” [my emphasis]

All these discrepancies are why it’s useful that, in addition to the known FBI investigation of the March 21 assault (which prosecutors remain walled off from), and whatever followed from the Virginia State Police visit described by Samsel’s attorneys following the “dropping” incident, the FBI is also investigating the October 12 incident.

That [March 21] incident was referred for investigation to the FBI (and it remains under investigation),4

4 The prosecutors in this case have been purposefully walled off in large part from that investigation.

[snip]

1 The Government has referred the latter of these incidents for investigation after confirming with defense counsel that Samsel is alleging an assault occurred at Northern Neck.

The Government has referred this incident to the FBI for investigation.

The government filing also submitted a sealed addendum addressing the allegations in the NYT story.

On the second issue relating to the article, there is absolutely no basis in fact for these speculations. It makes no difference to the Government whether Samsel wishes to meet or not and his violent actions at the Capitol and his prior history of assaultive and obstructive behavior speaks for itself. The other speculations are discussed and responded to in the attached sealed addendum. See Govt. Ex. 1, Addendum, Filed Under Seal.

This may have the unintended effect of alerting Judge Kelly, who is presiding over the Joe Biggs case, of details regarding allegations Samsel made to the FBI about Biggs.

Again, when it involves jails, especially with defendants accused of injuring cops, you sadly can’t rule out that the jails are at fault. But in its filing, the government lays out all their efforts, during the entire period Samsel kept delaying care by replacing his attorneys and (in one case) refusing treatment for seizures, to find some way to keep him safe in jail.

Judge Kelly has scheduled a hearing to sort through all this — with the attendance of a representative from the Marshals and Samsel’s current jail (wherever that is) — for Thursday, almost two weeks before the hearing he otherwise had scheduled.

About the only thing that seems clear, right now, is that Samsel should not be returned to the DC Jail.

Puzzling Developments in the January 6 Investigation

As I sometimes do, I’d like to look at some curious developments in a series of January 6 cases.

Adam Honeycutt’s trips to DC

If you read just his arrest affidavit, former bail bondsman Adam Honeycutt is a guy who made the grave mistake of posting a picture of himself holding a broken furniture leg to Facebook during the January 6 riot.

Honeycutt was arrested on misdemeanor trespass charges on February 11, but since then his DC case has been continued, with no indictment, until — with the most recent continuation at a status hearing on Tuesday — January 4, almost a year after the riot.

If you look more closely, however, things get more confusing. As several earlier requests for continuances reveal, Honeycutt made the still graver mistake of having guns and non-legal marijuana in his home when the FBI came to arrest him on his January 6 charges, and then chatting about it as he was being driven to the FBI office.

During the transport, HONEYCUTT made a number of unsolicited statements to TFO Rohermel and SA Grover related to his use of marihuana. HONEYCUTT stated that all of the drugs and guns in the house belonged to him, that he knew it looked bad ot have guns layout out in the open in his residence, that he had a large quantity of ammunition of various calibers in the residence, some of which was for firearms he did not currently possess. HONEYCUTT also stated that it was lucky that agents had executed the warrants that day, because his marihuana supply was almost gone, and if the agents had executed the warrants the following day he would have had more because Fridays are his day for resupplying marihuana. HONEYCUTT stated that there were only a few “roaches” left in the garage, referring to burned marihuana cigarette butts. HONEYCUTT stated that he had been smoking marihuana since he was twelve years old and smokes daily. HONEYCUTT expressed to the agents that he was upset he was out of marihuana and there would not be any for him when he got home.

Honeycutt was as a result also charged under a bullshit draconian war on drugs law that carries a ten year maximum sentence, meaning what otherwise might have been a simple trespassing plea turned into (thus far) 8 months of detention on the Florida Federal charge. Honeycutt pled guilty to that charge in June, but is still awaiting sentencing, which is scheduled for next week.

And there’s a curious detail in his sentencing memo on that charge. He reveals that somewhere along the line, he got transferred to DC, even though by March he was formally released from custody on the DC charge.

Mr. Honeycutt has been in custody continuously since February 24, 2021 and has had the additional hardship of prolonged transports from McClenny to Washington, DC in during the pandemic. While in transit, Mr. Honeycutt was assaulted by another inmate while using the phone at the Grady County Jail in Oklahoma. The inmate struck him on the back of the head causing Mr. Honeycutt to hit his head on the ground and suffer dizziness and a black eye. While he suspected he may have had a concussion, this has never been confirmed medically. Also, while detained at the Baker County Jail, Mr. Honeycutt tested positive for Covid-19 and was placed on restrictive quarantine for 14 days while he recovered.

None of that shows up in his docket, though it may simply reflect a remarkably quick transfer after his initial arrest (and Honeycutt would not be the only January 6 defendant who got in a beat up at the Oklahoma transfer jail).

I don’t condone any of this, least of all the war on drugs treatment of marijuana possession. But it’s the kind of stuff that prosecutors use to coerce cooperation elsewhere. And while it’s not at all clear what went on with Honeycutt, his case will still be pending next year on the anniversary of the riot.

Lonnie Coffman’s Alabama Molotovs

Something similar may be going on with Lonnie Coffman’s Molotov cocktails.

Coffman, you’ll recall, is the guy who was dropped off blocks away from the Capitol on January 6, trying to pick up his GMC pick-up full of Molotov cocktails.

After addressing the explosive devices found in the vicinity of the National Republican Club and the Democratic National Committee Headquarters, the Bomb Squad responded to the location of the Red GMC Sierra Pickup truck. One black handgun was recovered from the right front passenger seat of the vehicle. After locating the black handgun, officers proceeded to search the rest of the pickup truck, including the bed of the truck, which was secured under a fabric top. During the search of the cab of the truck, officers recovered, among other things, one M4 Carbine assault rifle along with rifle magazines loaded with ammunition.

In addition, officers recovered the following items in the bed of the pickup truck in close proximity to one another: (i) eleven mason jars containing an unknown liquid with a golf tee in the top of each jar, (ii) cloth rags, and (iii) lighters. Upon finding these materials, bomb technicians observed that the items appeared to be consistent with components for an explosive or incendiary device known as a “Molotov Cocktail.” Based on this discovery, additional personnel were called to the scene, including the United States Capitol Police Hazardous Materials Team. A preliminary test by the United States Capitol Police Hazardous Material Team determined that the liquid in the mason jars was an igniting substance and that it had a spectrograph profile consistent with gasoline.

[snip]

At approximately 6:30 p.m., a blue sedan with a female driver and a male front passenger, approached law enforcement officers in the 400 block of First Street, Southeast. Officers made contact with the vehicle, and the male passenger stated that he was trying to get to his vehicle that was parked in the 300 block of First Street, Southeast, which is the location that the Red GMC Sierra 1500 pickup truck had been located and searched. When the officers asked the man to provide a description of the vehicle, the male passenger stated that it was a red pickup truck. The officers then asked what the male passenger’s name was, and he stated that his name was “Lonnie.”

Coffman also has been detained (more justifiably than Honeycutt) since he was arrested. For much of that time, he has been working on a plea agreement, and on September 1, his lawyer reported they were close to one. On September 8, AUSA Michael Friedman said they would be ready for a plea by September 29.

But one day before that happened, the plea hearing was inexplicably vacated until October 26.

Unnoticed until yesterday, it turns out that on September 27 (that is, the day before his plea hearing was vacated), Coffman was charged in Alabama for possessing those Molotov cocktails the week before he drove them to DC. With Coffman’s consent, that case got transferred to DC in an entirely different docket than his January 6 one.

As with Honeycutt, it’s entirely unclear how his Alabama Federal charges are intersecting with his DC ones. Perhaps Coffman got cold feet on his plea last month, so DOJ added the Alabama charges to convince him to plead. But its another reminder that not every part of the January 6 investigation will be visible in the DC docket.

Brandon Straka gets to walk away

Meanwhile, a case that never left the DC docket, that of Brandon Straka, is just as curious.

Straka was first arrested on January 25 on civil disorder, as well as trespass, charges. Since that time, AUSA April Russo has gotten a series of continuances (February, May, August), each one citing efforts to resolve the matter, which is usually code for a plea agreement. A week after the last continuance, DOJ made a plea offer that had to be accepted by September 14. The day after the plea agreement would have expired, Straka was ultimately charged with the less serious of the two trespass charges, and after a tweak, that’s what he pled guilty to on Wednesday.

Straka’s Statement of Offense includes (and Russo made a point of entering it into the record) the incitement of attacks on cops that originally got him charged for civil disorder.

While in the restricted area, knowing he was not authorized to be there, Straka observed the crowd yelling and U.S. Capitol Police trying to prevent people from going into the U.S. Capitol and to manage the unruly crowd. Amongst other things, he engaged in disruptive conduct by participating, along with others, in yelling “go, go, go” to encourage others to enter the U.S. Capitol while the U.S. Capitol Police were making their best efforts to prevent people from doing so. Straka also observed others yelling to take a U.S. Capitol Police Officer’s shield. He recorded a video of what was happening, and in the video, he chimed in with the crowd, saying “take it, take it.” He did this between 2:30 and 2:45 p.m. on January 6 while outside the entrance to the U.S. Capitol in the restricted area on the Capitol Grounds. Straka left the U.S. Capitol Grounds at approximately 3:00 p.m.

But the Statement of Offense doesn’t include any description of his speech from January 5, where he spoke about “revolution.”

My review of STRAKA’s Twitter account on January 11, also found a video he had posted of himself speaking at a “Stop the Steal” rally held at Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C. on January 5, 2021. As of January 13, STRAKA had removed this video from his Twitter account, but a video of the entire event had been posted to YouTube. The video showed that STRAKA was introduced by name and brought onto stage. STRAKA spoke for about five minutes during which time he repeatedly referred to the attendees as “Patriots” and referenced the “revolution” multiple times. STRAKA told the attendees to “fight back” and ended by saying, “We are sending a message to the Democrats, we are not going away, you’ve got a problem!”

Nor does his Statement of Offense include this language from Straka’s arrest affidavit describing a video in which he admitted that, “The plan was always to go to the Capitol.”

About one minute into the video, STRAKA stated, “I literally just got home…minutes ago from Washington, D.C.” Later in the video, STRAKA stated, “Yesterday, a lot of us got up very, very early. We went to this event in which Donald Trump spoke. The plan was always to go to the Capitol. We were going to march from that event…to the Capitol, and there was going to be another rally. I was one of the speakers slated to speak at the Capitol.” STRAKA later stated that, while riding the metro to the Capitol, he received alerts on his phone stating that Vice President Pence was “not going to object to certifying Joe Biden.” STRAKA stated that he learned on his walk from the metro to the Capitol that people had “breached” the Capitol and that “patriots had entered the Capitol.” STRAKA said that he thought to himself, “Wow, so they’re going to basically storm and try to get into the chamber so that they can demand that we get the investigation that we want.”

Not only was Straka permitted to a plea that may help him avoid all jail time, but DOJ assented to letting him rush the sentencing so he could be done by Christmas, coincidentally on the same day all the status reports for Oath Keeper cooperators are next due.

Baked Alaska — someone as wired into the organizers of this riot as Straka — claimed early on that prosecutors were threatening to charge him with obstruction if he didn’t cooperate.

This plea looks like it could be the flip (heh) side of such an offer, someone who worked his way out of an existing felony charge and any further exposure on obstruction. That said, his plea includes the standard boilerplate language about minimal cooperation (basically, requiring the defendant share the contents of his phone).

If this does reflect cooperation, then it suggests a number of other people exposed to felony prosecution may similarly be cooperating under the guise of misdemeanor plea agreements.

Ryan Samsel’s aborted cooperation

For about the first four months after Ryan Samsel kicked off the entire riot on January 6 by allegedly knocking over a cop, it looked like he might be considering a cooperation agreement. The same prosecutor who filed continuances in Straka’s case, April Russo, was filing continuances in his case (March, May), also citing efforts to resolve the case.

But on March 21, Samsel was brutally assaulted in jail; his attorney claimed at the time that a guard did it, though that has never been officially confirmed. Samsel’s assault set off a feeding frenzy as one after another attorney — first Martin Tankleff, then John Pierce (whose clients include a significant bunch who could incriminate Joe Biggs), and now Stanley Woodward and former Trump vote fraudster Juli Haller — tried to capitalize off a client who might have basis for a big lawsuit against DOJ (Elisabeth Pasqualini did very competent work as Samsel’s first attorney before all this started). The events that transpired after that assault seems to have ended up changing prosecutors’ approach with his case, and in June, DOJ added another prosecutor, Danielle Rosborough, and in August, DOJ finally indicted Samsel on two counts of civil disorder, two counts of assault, obstruction, and trespassing. (Russo remains the sole prosecutor on the case against the woman who was (and may still be) Samsel’s girlfriend on the day of the riot, Raechel Genco.)

All that’s important background to a big scoop from NYT’s Alan Feuer, describing that, when Samsel was originally arrested, he told the FBI that he kicked off that assault after a threat from Joe Biggs.

For months, however, according to three people familiar with the matter, the government has known Mr. Samsel’s account of the exchange: He has told investigators that Mr. Biggs encouraged him to push at the barricades and that when he hesitated, the Proud Boys leader flashed a gun, questioned his manhood and repeated his demand to move upfront and challenge the police.

Mr. Samsel’s version of events was provided to the government in late January, when he was interviewed by the F.B.I., without a lawyer present, shortly after his arrest in Pennsylvania, according to the people familiar with the matter. He has since been charged with several crimes, including assaulting an officer and obstructing Congress’s efforts to certify the election results.

[snip]

[I]f Mr. Samsel’s account is true, it could serve to bolster arguments that some Proud Boys leaders intentionally incited ordinary people in the crowd — or what they refer to as “normies” — to commit violence during the attack. The government has offered other evidence, drawn from the group’s internal messaging chats, that two Proud Boys leaders from Philadelphia were excited by the prospect of “riling up the normies” on Jan. 6.

As Feuer notes, Biggs’ lawyer Daniel Hull categorically denies this claim. As he also notes, there has been no hint of a weapons charge against Biggs. So it’s quite possible that this allegation was entirely made up out of thin air–or exaggerated in a bid for lenient treatment for Samsel’s own central role in the riot.

But there’s also no sign that DOJ is charging Samsel with lying about these claims.

That is, from the public filings, we can’t discern whether Samsel’s allegation is true or not.

That said, if it’s true, it might explain both the apparent attempt to woo Samsel’s cooperation, but also the urgency surrounding efforts to make sure he doesn’t do so.

The government has flamboyantly obtained cooperation from five different Oath Keepers. But precisely what the government is doing in a slew of other cases remains obscure.

Update: There were three people involved in the assault on the first barricade: Samsel, Paul Johnson, and Stephen Chase Randolph. The latter two are charged together, though Johnson is moving to sever his case from Randolph’s. Here’s the government opposition. Never addressed in it are why Samsel is not only not charged with them, but is before an entirely different judge, who just happens to be the Proud Boy judge.

The FBI’s Proud Boy Informant Showed Up Late

The Proud Boys charged with the most serious assaults on January 6 — including (at a minimum) Dan “Milkshake” Scott and Christopher Worrell — are not charged with conspiracy, though both could easily have been included as co-conspirators. Nor is Ryan Samsel, who is not known to be a Proud Boy but spoke to Joe Biggs just before he kicked off the entire riot by allegedly knocking over a cop and giving her a concussion (this may change, especially since, after a long delay, DOJ charged Samsel individually in an indictment that, either via the assignment wheel or because it was identified as a case related to the Proud Boys leadership indictment, got assigned to Judge Tim Kelly). While Dominic Pezzola is charged with assault for stealing the riot shield he used to break into the Capitol and Billy Chrestman is charged with threatening to assault a cop, their co-defendants are not implicated in those assaults, except insofar as they are overt acts in a conspiracy.

That’s why I find this detail from NYT’s blockbuster report on what a Proud Boy informant who showed up late to the January 6 riot and then entered the Capitol has told the FBI about the investigation rather interesting.

At the same time, the new information is likely to complicate the government’s efforts to prove the high-profile conspiracy charges it has brought against several members of the Proud Boys.

On Jan. 6, and for months after, the records show, the informant, who was affiliated with a Midwest chapter of the Proud Boys, denied that the group intended to use violence that day.

[snip]

On the eve of the attack, the records show, the informant said that the group had no plans to engage in violence the next day except to defend itself from potential assaults from leftist activists — a narrative the Proud Boys have often used to excuse their own violent behavior.

The government has never accused the Proud Boy conspirators of planning to use violence themselves, though there is evidence they knew their incitement could spark violence among “normies.” There’s even evidence that Ethan Nordean tried to rein in one attack (though only after he had presumably witnessed other assaults on cops).

That is, that claim is utterly irrelevant to the government’s conspiracy cases against the Proud Boys.

And yet the NYT offered it as one reason this informant’s report might, “complicate the government’s efforts to prove the high-profile conspiracy charges it has brought against several members of the Proud Boys.”

To be sure, there is one way this informant might undermine the existing conspiracy charges.

The informant’s interview reports affirmatively claim that he knew of no plans to storm the Capitol, nor did he hear any talk of the electoral college certification in his travels that day.

In lengthy interviews, the records say, he also denied that the extremist organization planned in advance to storm the Capitol.

[snip]

But statements from the informant appear to counter the government’s assertion that the Proud Boys organized for an offensive assault on the Capitol intended to stop the peaceful transition from Mr. Trump to Mr. Biden.

On the eve of the attack, the records show, the informant said that the group had no plans to engage in violence the next day except to defend itself from potential assaults from leftist activists — a narrative the Proud Boys have often used to excuse their own violent behavior.

Then, during an interview in April, the informant again told his handlers that Proud Boys leaders gave explicit orders to maintain a defensive posture on Jan. 6. At another point in the interview, he said that he never heard any discussion that day about stopping the Electoral College process.

The records show that, after driving to Washington and checking into an Airbnb in Virginia on Jan. 5, the informant spent most of Jan. 6 with other Proud Boys, including some who have been charged in the attack. While the informant mentioned seeing Proud Boys leaders that day, like Ethan Nordean, who has also been charged, there is no indication that he was directly involved with any Proud Boys in leadership positions.

In a detailed account of his activities contained in the records, the informant, who was part of a group chat of other Proud Boys, described meeting up with scores of men from chapters around the country at 10 a.m. on Jan. 6 at the Washington Monument and eventually marching to the Capitol. He said that when he arrived, throngs of people were already streaming past the first barrier outside the building, which, he later learned, was taken down by one of his Proud Boy acquaintances and a young woman with him. [my emphasis]

This guy’s testimony absolutely poses a challenge to prosecutors prosecuting the Proud Boys this guy was actually interacting with.

That said, the NYT does not say whether he was interacting with those charged with conspiracy or even obstruction (still-active Proud Boys, like Jeremy Grace, have been charged only with trespassing). Even if he was interacting with people charged with conspiracy, the fact that he showed up late and (claimed that he) did not know that some of his own acquaintances were going to breach the barriers until after the fact would, at most, show that he wasn’t privy to the plans of lower level cells.

But the way in which DOJ has charged the Proud Boy side of the conspiracies is with one leadership conspiracy, and four subconspiracies that are effectively cells that allegedly worked together to achieve smaller objectives: to breach the West door, to breach the North door, and to keep the Visitor Center gates open (the NYT misses one of the charged Proud Boy conspiracies, against the Klein brothers, for opening a North door to the building, which has acquired more tactical import with the charging of Ben Martin).

Two main things matter to the viability of the larger Proud Boys conspiracy: First, whether the four charged in the leadership conspiracy did have an advance plan. And second, whether their conspiracy interlocks with the Dominic Pezzola conspiracy that ended up breaching the front door of the Capitol and with it exposed Pezzola, his co-conspirators, and by association, the Proud Boy leaders to terrorism enhancements.

The second point is one that the Proud Boy leaders are contesting aggressively. We have yet to see evidence proving a tie between those two conspiracies. But we also have yet to see any evidence from the December rally at which the ties to Pezzola appear to have been forged. Meanwhile, William Pepe is disclaiming knowing the others, suggesting a possible weakness in that conspiracy charge.

As to the first, what we’ve seen in public evidence is that, in the wake of the Enrique Tarrio arrest on January 4, the four leaders attempted to regroup, and then, on the night before the riot, Joe Biggs and Ethan Nordean met with unnamed people and finalized a plan in seeming coordination with Tarrio, and avoided speaking of it even on their limited leadership Telegram chat.

On January 4, when Tarrio arrived in DC for the riot, he was arrested for his attack on the Black Church in December, whereupon he was found with weapons that are unlawful in DC. In the wake of Tarrio’s arrest, Ethan Nordean was supposed to be in charge of the operation. But around 9:08PM the day before the riot (these texts reflect Nordean’s Washington state time zone, so add three hours), someone said he had not heard from Nordean in hours.

Minutes later, Biggs explained that “we just had a meeting w[i]th a lot of guys” and “info should be coming out.” While redacted in these texts, the superseding indictment describes that he also notes he had just spoken with Tarrio.

He further explained that he was with Nordean and “we have a plan.”

Biggs then says he gave Tarrio a plan.

Ethan Nordean may have been in charge on January 6. But Biggs seems to have been the one working most closely with Tarrio, through whom at least some of the inter-militia coordination worked.

There’s little question they had a plan to do something (and that that plan did not include attending the Trump rally which was the primary innocent reason for Trump supporters to show up to DC that day). The question is what kind of evidence DOJ has substantiating that plan, especially after claimed efforts to flip Zach Rehl collapsed. (Nordean has also said he’ll move to suppress these texts because his spouse consented to the breach of his phone, which led FBI to obtain them, but it’s likely the FBI has a second set of the texts in any case.)

But it also is likely the case that the place to look for that evidence is not with a low-level Proud Boy who showed up late to insurrection, but with the others with whom Nordean and Biggs were meeting the night before the riot. And there’s no indication that these people were all Proud Boys, and in fact good reason to suspect they weren’t.

In the weeks before the riot, Kelly Meggs repeatedly talked about a Florida-based intra-militia alliance.

In the days after both the DC even[t] and an event involving Stone in Florida, Oath Keeper Kelly Meggs claimed he organized a Florida-based “alliance” between the Oath Keepers, Proud Boys, and 3%ers.

On Christmas Eve, Meggs specifically tied protection at the January rally, probably of Stone, and coordination with a Proud Boy, almost certainly Tarrio, in the same text.

And in the days after, the Southern California 3%ers laid out a Stop the Steal affiliated plan to surround the Capitol.

Spread the word to other CALIFORNIA Patriots to join us as we March into the Capitol Jan 6. The Plan right now is to meet up at two occasions and locations: 1. Jan 5th 2pm at the Supreme Court steps for a rally. (Myself, Alan, [and others] will be speaking) 2. Jan 6th early 7am meet in front of the Kimpton George Hotel…we will leave at 7:30am sharp and March (15 mins) to the Capital [sic] to meet up with the stop the steal organization and surround the capital. [sic] There will be speakers there and we will be part of the large effort for the “Wild Rally” that Trump has asked us all to be part of. [my emphasis]

Not only is this what happened on January 6, but Joe Biggs seemed to know that key Stop the Steal figures, including his former employer Alex Jones, would open up a second front of this attack and arrived to take part in it, entering the Capitol a second time virtually in tandem with the Meggs-led Stack.

This is one reason I keep presenting all these conspiracies together: because there’s good reason the Proud Boy conspiracies don’t just intersect with each other, but that the Proud Boy conspiracies intersect, in the person of Joe Biggs and others, with each other.

There are many reasons that the report of an FBI handler not understanding that his or her Proud Boy informant was describing the breach of the Capitol as it happened is important.

After meeting his fellow Proud Boys at the Washington Monument that morning, the informant described his path to the Capitol grounds where he saw barriers knocked down and Trump supporters streaming into the building, the records show. At one point, his handler appeared not to grasp that the building had been breached, the records show, and asked the informant to keep him in the loop — especially if there was any violence.

But, except to limited degree to which his testimony affects the case against the Proud Boys with whom he actually interacted, this report primarily provides yet more proof that the FBI, trained by Billy Barr not to investigate any subjects Trump claimed as his own tribe, had no conception of what they were looking at on January 6, not even as the Proud Boys led an attack on the Capitol.

The government has not yet publicly shown all of its evidence that the Proud Boy leaders, alone or in concert with other militias and Stop the Steal organizers, had a plan to attack the Capitol on January 6. Unless something disrupts the case, we won’t see that until next summer.

But one thing we know from the available evidence is that low-level Proud Boys who showed up late to insurrection are not the place to look for that plan.

How the FBI Missed Alleged January 6 Leader Joe Biggs

Let’s talk about how central Joe Biggs is to what we know of the implementation of January 6.

It explains a lot that — at least according to a claim Biggs himself made — two FBI agents were relying on him for information against Antifa in the lead-up to the terrorist attack.

By late 2018, Biggs also started to get “cautionary” phone calls from FBI agents located in Jacksonville and Daytona Beach inquiring about what Biggs meant by something politically or culturally provocative he had said on the air or on social media concerning a national issue, political parties, the Proud Boys, Antifa or other groups. Biggs regularly satisfied FBI personnel with his answers. He also stayed in touch with a number of FBI agents in and out of Florida. In late July 2020, an FBI Special Agent out of the Daytona Beach area telephoned Biggs and asked Biggs to meet with him and another FBI agent at a local restaurant. Biggs agreed. Biggs learned after he travelled to the restaurant that the purpose of the meeting was to determine if Biggs could share information about Antifa networks operating in Florida and elsewhere. They wanted to know what Biggs was “seeing on the ground.” Biggs did have information about Antifa in Florida and Antifa networks in other parts of the United States. He agreed to share the information. The three met for approximately two hours. After the meeting, Biggs stayed in touch with the agent who had called him originally to set up the meeting. He answered follow-up questions in a series of several phone calls over the next few weeks. They spoke often.

I don’t mean they were complicit. Rather, that they weren’t even aware that he was in the middle of plans to conduct a terrorist attack on the nation’s Capitol is a testament to and perhaps an explanation for how the FBI missed all this.

Joe Biggs is a former Army Staff Sergeant who did tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan before he left with a medical discharge and PTSD. After some troubled years, he started contributing to InfoWars, serving as a key proponent of the PizzaGate scandal that turned John Podesta emails stolen by Russia into an attack on a pizza restaurant in DC; he was formally ousted from InfoWars shortly after the Comet Ping Pong attack, but remained in the InfoWars orbit. Alex Jones claims he gave Biggs a big severance when he left. After that, Biggs was a key proponent of the Seth Rich conspiracy, posting the manufactured FBI Report that served as a basis for the Fox News story that had to be retracted.

According to one of Biggs’ own court filings, after he moved to Florida to take care of his mother in 2018, he contributed the same propaganda skills that fostered an attack on Comet Ping Pong and falsely impugned a murdered DNC staffer to the Proud Boys, ginning up events to sow violence in the name of Antifa.

The same year, 2018, after the move to Florida, Biggs became active as an organizer, event planner and thought leader in the Proud Boys. He used his platform as a radio and social media personality to promote Proud Boy events and ideas. In particular, he personally planned two major events: rallies in Portland, Oregon in both 2019 and 2020 designed as counterdemonstrations against Antifa, which had been active in and around Portland for over two decades.

His presence in Florida put him in close proximity to Enrique Tarrio and (as if his ties to InfoWars didn’t already do so) through him Roger Stone.

When Trump called out the Proud Boys in his first debate against Joe Biden, Biggs responded, “President Trump told the proud boys to stand by because someone needs to deal with ANTIFA . . . well sir! we’re ready!!” (Note, this hasn’t shown up in DOJ filings.)

Immediately after and in the weeks after the election, Biggs kept declaring war. “It’s time for fucking War if they steal this shit.” “No bitch. This is war.” ““This is a war on Americanism. This is only the beginning.”

On December 11, the Proud Boys (at least Enrique Tarrio and Ethan Nordean) appeared prominently at a Stop the Steal event with InfoWars personality Owen Shroyer. There was coordination between the militias at a march the following day, after which Enrique Tarrio destroyed a Black Lives Matter banner from the Asbury United Methodist Church in DC.

In the days after both the DC even and an event involving Stone in Florida, Oath Keeper Kelly Meggs claimed he organized a Florida-based “alliance” between the Oath Keepers, Proud Boys, and 3%ers.

On Christmas Eve, Meggs specifically tied protection at the January rally, probably of Stone, and coordination with a Proud Boy, almost certainly Tarrio, in the same text.

In the days after, both Tarrio and Biggs posted plans to dress like Antifa rather than in their signature yellow and black.

9. For example, on December 29, 2020, Tarrio posted a message on the social media site Parler1 about the demonstration planned for January 6, 2021. Among other things, Tarrio announced that the Proud Boys would “turn out in record numbers on Jan 6th but this time with a twist… We will not be wearing our traditional Black and Yellow. We will be incognito and we will be spread across downtown DC in smaller teams. And who knows….we might dress in all BLACK for the occasion.” I believe the statement about dressing in “all BLACK” is a reference to dressing like the group known as “Antifa,” who the Proud Boys have identified as an enemy of their movement and are often depicted in the media wearing all black to demonstrations.

10. On or around the same day, BIGGS posted a similar message to his followers on Parler in which he stated, among other things, “we will not be attending DC in colors. We will be blending in as one of you. You won’t see us. You’ll even think we are you . . .We are going to smell like you, move like you, and look like you. The only thing we’ll do that’s us is think like us! Jan 6th is gonna be epic.” I understand that BIGGS was directing these statements at “Antifa.”

On December 30, Southern California 3%er Russell Taylor described a plan to meet at the Capitol and — in conjunction with Stop the Steal — surround the Capitol.

Spread the word to other CALIFORNIA Patriots to join us as we March into the Capitol Jan 6. The Plan right now is to meet up at two occasions and locations: 1. Jan 5th 2pm at the Supreme Court steps for a rally. (Myself, Alan, [and others] will be speaking) 2. Jan 6th early 7am meet in front of the Kimpton George Hotel…we will leave at 7:30am sharp and March (15 mins) to the Capital [sic] to meet up with the stop the steal organization and surround the capital. [sic] There will be speakers there and we will be part of the large effort for the “Wild Rally” that Trump has asked us all to be part of. [my emphasis]

This plan — surrounding the Capitol — was what Stop the Steal figures partially carried out on January 6.

On January 4, when Tarrio arrived in DC for the riot, he was arrested for his attack on the Black Church in December, whereupon he was found with weapons that are unlawful in DC. In the wake of Tarrio’s arrest, Ethan Nordean was supposed to be in charge of the operation. But around 9:08PM the day before the riot (these texts reflect Nordean’s Washington state time zone, so add three hours), someone said he had not heard from Nordean in hours.

Minutes later, Biggs explained that “we just had a meeting w[i]th a lot of guys” and “info should be coming out.” While redacted in these texts, the superseding indictment describes that he also notes he had just spoken with Tarrio.

 

He further explained that he was with Nordean and “we have a plan.”

Biggs then says he gave Tarrio a plan.

Ethan Nordean may have been in charge on January 6. But Biggs seems to have been the one working most closely with Tarrio, through whom at least some of the inter-militia coordination worked.

After all that, the Proud Boy leaders agree to meet at 10AM the next day.

As captured by the WSJ, the next day, after the Proud Boys met at the Washington Monument, they then marched the East side of the Capitol first, but then later approach it from the Northwest. Just before Trump started speaking and before a broader call to assembly tied to 1PM, at 12:52 Biggs said something to Ryan Samsel, who then kicked off the assault on a series of barricades, giving a police officer a brain injury in the process.

Proud Boys Dominic Pezzola and Billy Chrestman were among the leaders of the next confrontation. After a series of fights, at 2:13, Dominic Pezzola broke through a window in the Capitol. Biggs followed him, with some other Proud Boys (in this picture, Paul Rae) in tow, a minute later.

Meanwhile, even as Biggs was leading a mob of people in a violent attack on the Capitol, Alex Jones — Biggs’ former employer — was leading a larger mob of people from the Ellipse, where they had just been instructed by their President that “we’re going to the Capitol, and we’re going to try and give…we’re going to try and give our Republicans, the weak ones because the strong ones don’t need any of our help. We’re going to try and give them the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country.” Jones stopped when he got to the Capitol and gave a speech.

According to Stacie Getsinger, a woman from South Carolina who was arrested for trespassing in June who was listening to Jones at that first speech, Jones told his audience to go to the other side of the building (which would be the East side), because that’s where Trump’s next speech would be.

She and her husband did. Trump gave no speech, but they were among the first wave of people to breach the East entrance.

Alex Jones went to the other side of the Capitol, too. Even before he did, though, Oath Keeper Jason Dolan was on the stairs, waiting.

As Dolan waited, Jones and his entourage (including Ali Alexander and the recently arrested Owen Shroyer) pushed up the stairs stack-style.

Meanwhile, at some point, former InfoWars employee and Florida militia member reportedly joined in an alliance with the Oath Keepers by fellow Floridian Meggs, Biggs left the Capitol from one of the West entrances, walked around it, and assembled on the East Steps with Arthur Jackman, Rae, and two others (probably Kevin and Nathan Tuck, and possibly Edward George; the Tucks are both — now former — cops, and Jackman’s and one of the Tucks’ spouses still are cops).

At 2:39, Rae and Jackman can be seen approaching the East Door with Biggs.

At around 2:40, they entered the East door.

At almost exactly the same time, Jason Dolan and Kenneth Harrelson entered the door along with the Oath Keeper stack led by Kelly Meggs (this is believed to be a picture Harrelson took of Dolan filming the entry; if you watch the video you can see both signs visible in the Biggs photo, making it clear that the people kitted out with helmets in that picture are the Stack).

People like the Getsingers — who were brought there by Alex Jones — pushed through around the same time.

Something brought Joe Biggs, Florida Oath Keepers Kenneth Harrelson and Jason Dolan, along with former Biggs employer Alex Jones to the top of the East steps, along with the mob that Jones brought on false pretenses. Shortly thereafter, Florida Oath Keeper head Kelly Meggs would bring a stack of Oath Keepers through the same door and — evidence suggests — in search of Nancy Pelosi, whom Meggs had talked about killing on election day.

Joe Biggs kicked off the riot on the West side of the building.

Then he went over to the East side to join his former employer Alex Jones and a bunch of Oath Keepers, led by fellow Floridians, to lead a mob back into the Capitol.

West side. Joe Biggs. East side. Joe Biggs.

This is the guy a couple of FBI Agents in Daytona believed was a credible informant against Antifa.

[Thanks to Benny Bryant for continuing to help me sort through the Oath Keeper side of this, and thanks to gal_suburban for sharing the video of Jones on the East side.]

“Stand Back and Stand By:” John Pierce’s Plan for a Public Authority or — More Likely — a MyPillow Defense

In a Friday hearing in the omnibus Oath Keeper conspiracy case, John Pierce — who only just filed an appearance for Kenneth Harrelson in that case — warned that he’s going to mount a very vigorous public authority defense. He claimed that such a defense would require reviewing all video.

Pierce is a Harvard-trained civil litigator involved in the more conspiratorial side of Trumpist politics. Last year he filed a lawsuit for Carter Page that didn’t understand who (Rod Rosenstein, among others) needed to be included to make the suit hold up, much less very basic things about FISA. As someone who’d like to see the unprecedented example of Page amount to something, I find that lawsuit a horrible missed opportunity.

John Pierce got fired by Kyle Rittenhouse

Of late, he has made news for a number of controversial steps purportedly in defense of accused Kenosha killer Kyle Rittenhouse. A recent New Yorker article on Rittenhouse’s case, for example, described that Pierce got the Rittenhouses to agree to a wildly inflated hourly rate and sat on donations in support of Rittenhouse’s bail for a month after those funds had been raised. Then, when Kyle’s mother Wendy tried to get Pierce to turn over money raised for their living expenses, he instead claimed they owed him.

Pierce met with the Rittenhouses on the night of August 27th. Pierce Bainbridge drew up an agreement calling for a retainer of a hundred thousand dollars and an hourly billing rate of twelve hundred and seventy-five dollars—more than twice the average partner billing rate at top U.S. firms. Pierce would be paid through #FightBack, which, soliciting donations through its Web site, called the charges against Rittenhouse “a reactionary rush to appease the divisive, destructive forces currently roiling this country.”

Wisconsin’s ethics laws restrict pretrial publicity, but Pierce began making media appearances on Rittenhouse’s behalf. He called Kenosha a “war zone” and claimed that a “mob” had been “relentlessly hunting him as prey.” He explicitly associated Rittenhouse with the militia movement, tweeting, “The unorganized ‘militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least seventeen years of age,’ ” and “Kyle was a Minuteman protecting his community when the government would not.”

[snip]

In mid-November, Wood reported that Mike Lindell, the C.E.O. of MyPillow, had “committed $50K to Kyle Rittenhouse Defense Fund.” Lindell says that he thought his donation was going toward fighting “election fraud.” The actor Ricky Schroder contributed a hundred and fifty thousand dollars. Pierce finally paid Rittenhouse’s bail, with a check from Pierce Bainbridge, on November 20th—well over a month after #FightBack’s Web site indicated that the foundation had the necessary funds.

[snip]

Wendy said of the Rittenhouses’ decision to break with Pierce, “Kyle was John’s ticket out of debt.” She was pressing Pierce to return forty thousand dollars in donated living expenses that she believed belonged to the family, and told me that Pierce had refused: “He said we owed him millions—he ‘freed Kyle.’ ”

Possibly in response to the New Yorker piece, Pierce has been tweeting what might be veiled threats to breach attorney-client privilege.

Pierce assembles a collection of characters for his screen play

Even as that has been going on, however, Pierce has been convincing one after another January 6 defendant to let him represent them. The following list is organized by the date — in bold — when Pierce first filed an appearance for that defendant (I’ll probably update this list as Pierce adds more defendants):

1. Christopher Worrell: Christopher Worrell is a Proud Boy from Florida arrested on March 12. Worrell traveled to DC for the December MAGA protest, where he engaged in confrontational behavior targeting a journalist. He and his girlfriend traveled to DC for January 6 in vans full of Proud Boys paid for by someone else. He was filmed spraying pepper spray at cops during a key confrontation before the police line broke down and the initial assault surged past. Worrell was originally charged for obstruction and trespassing, but later indicted for assault and civil disorder and trespassing (dropping the obstruction charge). He was deemed a danger, in part, because of a 2009 arrest for impersonating a cop involving “intimidating conduct towards a total stranger in service of taking the law into his own hands.” Pierce first attempted to file a notice of appearance on March 18. Robert Jenkins (along with John Kelly, from Pierce’s firm) is co-counsel on the case. Since Pierce joined the team, he has indulged Worrell’s claims that he should not be punished for assaulting a cop, but neither that indulgence nor a focus on Worrell’s non-Hodgkins lymphoma nor an appeal succeeded at winning his client release from pre-trial detention.

2. William Pepe: William Pepe is a Proud Boy charged in a conspiracy with Dominic Pezzola and Matthew Greene for breaching the initial lines of defense and, ultimately, the first broken window of the Capitol. Pepe was originally arrested on January 11, though is out on bail. Pierce joined Robert Jenkins on William Pepe’s defense team on March 25. By April, Pierce was planning on filing some non-frivolous motions (to sever his case from Pezzola, to move it out of DC, and to dismiss the obstruction count).

3. Paul Rae: Rae is another of Pierce’s Proud Boy defendants and his initial complaint suggested Rae could have been (and could still be) added to the conspiracy indictments against the Proud Boys already charged. He was indicted along with Arthur Jackman for obstruction and trespassing; both tailed Joe Biggs on January 6, entering the building from the East side after the initial breach. Pierce filed to join Robert Jenkins in defending Rae on March 30.

4. Stephanie Baez: On June 9, Pierce filed his appearance for Stephanie Baez. Pierce’s interest in Baez’ case makes a lot of sense. Baez, who was arrested on trespassing charges on June 4, seems to have treated the January 6 insurrection as an opportunity to shop for her own Proud Boy boyfriend. Plus, she’s attractive, unrepentant, and willing to claim there was no violence on January 6. Baez has not yet been formally charged (though that should happen any day).

5. Victoria White: If I were prosecutors, I’d be taking a closer look at White to try to figure out why John Pierce decided to represent her (if it’s not already clear to them; given the timing, it may simply be because he believed he needed a few women defendants to tell the story he wants to tell). White was detained briefly on January 6 then released, and then arrested on April 8 on civil disorder and trespassing charges. At one point on January 6, she was filmed trying to dissuade other rioters from breaking windows, but then she was filmed close to and then in the Tunnel cheering on some of the worst assault. Pierce filed his notice of appearance in White’s case on June 10.

Ryan Samsel: After consulting with Joe Biggs, Ryan Samsel kicked off the riot by approaching the first barriers and — with several other defendants — knocking over a female cop, giving her a concussion. He was arrested on January 30 and is still being held on his original complaint charging him with assault and civil disorder. He’s obviously a key piece to the investigation and for some time it appeared the government might have been trying to persuade him that the way to minimize his significant exposure (he has an extensive criminal record) would be to cooperate against people like Biggs. But then he was brutally assaulted in jail. Detainees have claimed a guard did it, and given that Samsel injured a cop, that wouldn’t be unheard of. But Samsel seemed to say in a recent hearing that the FBI had concluded it was another detainee. In any case, the assault set off a feeding frenzy among trial attorneys seeking to get a piece of what they imagine will be a huge lawsuit against BOP (as it should be if a guard really did assault him). Samsel is now focused on getting medical care for eye and arm injuries arising from the assault. And if a guard did do this, then it would be a key part of any story Pierce wanted to tell. After that feeding frenzy passed, Pierce filed an appearance on June 14, with Magistrate Judge Zia Faruqui releasing his prior counsel on June 25. Samsel is a perfect defendant for Pierce, though (like Rittenhouse), the man badly needs a serious defense attorney. Update: On July 27, Samsel informed Magistrate Judge Zia Faruqui that he would be retaining new counsel.

6. James McGrew: McGrew was arrested on May 28 for assault, civil disorder, obstruction, and trespassing, largely for some fighting with cops inside the Rotunda. His arrest documents show no ties to militias, though his arrest affidavit did reference a 2012 booking photo. Pierce filed his appearance to represent McGrew on June 16.

Alan Hostetter: John Pierce filed as Hostetter’s attorney on June 24, not long after Hostetter was indicted with five other Three Percenters in a conspiracy indictment paralleling those charging the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys. Hostetter was also active in Southern California’s anti-mask activist community, a key network of January 6 participants. Hostetter and his defendants spoke more explicitly about bringing arms to the riot, and his co-defendant Russell Taylor spoke at the January 5 rally. On August 3, Hostetter replaced Pierce.

7, 8, 9. On June 30, Pierce filed to represent David Lesperance, and James and Casey Cusick. As I laid out here, the FBI arrested the Cusicks, a father and son that run a church, largely via information obtained from Lesperance, their parishioner. They are separately charged (Lesperance, James Cusick, Casey Cusick), all with just trespassing. The night before the riot, father and son posed in front of the Trump Hotel with a fourth person besides Lesperance (though Lesperance likely took the photo).

10. Kenneth Harrelson: On July 1, Pierce filed a notice of appearance for Harrelson, who was first arrested on March 10. Leading up to January 6, Harrelson played a key role in Oath Keepers’ organizing in Florida, particularly meetings organized on GoToMeeting. On the day of the riot, Kelly Meggs had put him in charge of coordinating with state teams. Harrelson was on the East steps of the Capitol with Jason Dolan during the riot, as if waiting for the door to open and The Stack to arrive; with whom he entered the Capitol. With Meggs, Harrelson moved first towards the Senate, then towards Nancy Pelosi’s office. When the FBI searched his house upon his arrest, they found an AR-15 and a handgun, as well as a go-bag with a semi-automatic handgun and survivalist books, including Ted Kaczynski’s writings. Harrelson attempted to delete a slew of his Signal texts, including a video he sent Meggs showing the breach of the East door. Harrelson had previously been represented by Nina Ginsberg and Jeffrey Zimmerman, who are making quite sure to get removed from Harrelson’s team before Pierce gets too involved.

11. Leo Brent Bozell IV: It was, perhaps, predictable that Pierce would add Bozell to his stable of defendants. “Zeeker” Bozell is the scion of a right wing movement family including his father who has made a killing by attacking the so-called liberal media, and his grandfather, who was a speech writer for Joseph McCarthy. Because Bozell was released on personal recognizance there are details of his actions on January 6 that remain unexplained. But he made it to the Senate chamber, and while there, made efforts to prevent CSPAN cameras from continuing to record the proceedings. He was originally arrested on obstruction and trespassing charges on February 12; his indictment added an abetting the destruction of government property charge, the likes of which have been used to threaten a terrorism enhancement against militia members. Pierce joined Bozell’s defense team (thus far it seems David B. Deitch will remain on the team) on July 6.

12. Nate DeGrave: The night before DeGrave’s quasi co-conspirator Josiah Colt pled guilty, July 13, Pierce filed a notice of appearance for Nate DeGrave. DeGrave helped ensure both the East Door and the Senate door remained open.

14. Nathaniel Tuck: On July 19, Pierce filed a notice of appearance for Nathaniel Tuck, the Florida former cop Proud Boy.

14. Kevin Tuck: On July 20, Pierce filed a notice of appearance for Kevin Tuck, Nathaniel’s father and still an active duty cop when he was charged.

15. Peter Schwartz: On July 26, Pierce filed a notice of appearance for Peter Schwartz, the felon out on COVID-release who maced some cops.

16. Jeramiah Caplinger: On July 26, Pierce filed a notice of appearance for Jeramiah Caplinger, who drove from Michigan and carried a flag on a tree branch through the Capitol.

Deborah Lee: On August 23, Pierce filed a notice of appearance for Deborah Lee, who was arrested on trespass charges months after her friend Michael Rusyn. On September 2, Lee chose to be represented by public defender Cara Halverson.

17. Shane Jenkins: On August 25, Pierce colleague Ryan Marshall showed up at a status hearing for Jenkins and claimed a notice of appearance for Pierce had been filed the night before. In that same hearing, he revealed that Pierce was in a hospital with COVID, even claiming he was on a ventilator and not responsive. The notice of appearance was filed, using Pierce’s electronic signature, on August 30, just as DOJ started sending out notices that all Pierce cases were on hold awaiting signs of life. Jenkins is a felon accused of bringing a tomahawk to the Capitol and participating in the Lower West Tunnel assaults on cops.

As you can see, Pierce has assembled as cast of defendants as if writing a screenplay, with Proud Boys from key breach points, leading members of the other conspiracies, and other movement conservatives. There are just a few more scenes he would need to fill out to not only be able to write his screenplay, but also to be able to get broad discovery from the government.

This feat is all the more interesting given a detail from the New Yorker article: at one point, Pierce seemed to be claiming to represent Enrique Tarrio and part of his “defense” of Rittenhouse was linking the boy to the Proud Boys.

Six days after the Capitol assault, Rittenhouse and his mother flew with Pierce to Miami for three days. The person who picked them up at the airport was Enrique Tarrio—the Proud Boys leader. Tarrio was Pierce’s purported client, and not long after the shootings in Kenosha he had donated a hundred dollars or so to Rittenhouse’s legal-defense fund. They all went to a Cuban restaurant, for lunch.

Enrique Tarrio would be part of any coordinated Florida-based plan in advance of January 6 and if he wanted to, could well bring down whatever conspiracy there was. More likely, though, he’s attempting to protect any larger conspiracy.

A public authority defense claims the defendant thought they had authority to commit a crime

And with his ties to Tarrio, Pierce claims (to think) he’s going to mount a public authority defense. A public authority defense involves claiming that the defendant had reason to believe he had authority to commit the crimes he did. According to the Justice Manual, there are three possible arguments a defendant might make. The first is that the defendant honestly believed they were authorized to do what they did.

First, the defendant may offer evidence that he/she honestly, albeit mistakenly, believed he/she was performing the crimes charged in the indictment in cooperation with the government. More than an affirmative defense, this is a defense strategy relying on a “mistake of fact” to undermine the government’s proof of criminal intent, the mens rea element of the crime. United States v. Baptista-Rodriguez, 17 F.3d 1354, 1363-68 (11th Cir. 1994); United States v. Anderson, 872 F.2d 1508, 1517-18 & n.4 (11th Cir.), cert. denied, 493 U.S. 1004 (1989); United States v. Juan, 776 F.2d 256, 258 (11th Cir. 1985). The defendant must be allowed to offer evidence that negates his/her criminal intent, id., and, if that evidence is admitted, to a jury instruction on the issue of his/her intent, id., and if that evidence is admitted, he is entitled to a jury instruction on the issue of intent. United States v. Abcasis, 45 F.3d 39, 44 (2d Cir. 1995); United States v. Anderson, 872 F.2d at 1517-1518 & n. In Anderson, the Eleventh Circuit approved the district court’s instruction to the jury that the defendants should be found not guilty if the jury had a reasonable doubt whether the defendants acted in good faith under the sincere belief that their activities were exempt from the law.

There are some defendants among Pierce’s stable for whom this might work. But taken as a whole and individually, most allegedly did things (including obstruction or lying to the FBI) that would seem to evince consciousness of guilt.

The second defense works best (and is invoked most often) for people — such as informants or CIA officers — who are sometimes allowed to commit crimes by the Federal government.

The second type of government authority defense is the affirmative defense of public authority, i.e., that the defendant knowingly committed a criminal act but did so in reasonable reliance upon a grant of authority from a government official to engage in illegal activity. This defense may lie, however, only when the government official in question had actual authority, as opposed to merely apparent authority, to empower the defendant to commit the criminal acts with which he is charged. United States v. Anderson, 872 F.2d at 1513-15; United States v. Rosenthal, 793 F.2d 1214, 1236, modified on other grounds, 801 F.2d 378 (11th Cir. 1986), cert. denied, 480 U.S. 919 (1987). The genesis of the “apparent authority” defense was the decision in United States v. Barker, 546 F. 2d 940 (D.C. Cir. 1976). Barker involved defendants who had been recruited to participate in a national security operation led by Howard Hunt, whom the defendants had known before as a CIA agent but who was then working in the White House. In reversing the defendants’ convictions, the appellate court tried to carve out an exception to the mistake of law rule that would allow exoneration of a defendant who relied on authority that was merely apparent, not real. Due perhaps to the unique intent requirement involved in the charges at issue in the Barker case, the courts have generally not followed its “apparent authority” defense. E.g., United States v. Duggan, 743 F.2d 59, 83-84 (2d Cir. 1984); United States v. Rosenthal, 793 F.2d at 1235-36. If the government official lacked actual or real authority, however, the defendant will be deemed to have made a mistake of law, which generally does not excuse criminal conduct. United States v. Anderson, 872 F.2d at 1515; United States v. Rosenthal, 793 F.2d at 1236; United States v. Duggan, 743 F.2d at 83-84. But see discussion on “entrapment by estoppel,” infra.

Often, spooked up defendants try this as a way to launch a graymail defense, to make such broad requests for classified information to push the government to drop its case. Usually, this effort fails.

I could see someone claiming that Trump really did order the defendants to march on the Capitol and assassinate Mike Pence. Some of the defendants’ co-conspirators (especially Harrelson’s) even suggested they expected Trump to invoke the Insurrection Act. But to make that case would require not extensive review of Capitol video, as Pierce says he wants, but review of Trump’s actions, which would seem to be the opposite of what this crowd might want. Indeed, attempting such a defense might allow prosecutors a way to introduce damning information on Trump that wouldn’t help the defense cause.

The final defense is when a defendant claims that a Federal officer misled them into thinking their crime was sanctioned.

The last of the possible government authority defenses is “entrapment by estoppel,” which is somewhat similar to public authority. In the defense of public authority, it is the defendant whose mistake leads to the commission of the crime; with “entrapment by estoppel,” a government official commits an error and, in reliance thereon, the defendant thereby violates the law. United States v. Burrows, 36 F.3d 875, 882 (9th Cir. 1994); United States v. Hedges, 912 F.2d 1397, 1405 (11th Cir. 1990); United States v. Clegg, 846 F.2d 1221, 1222 (9th Cir. 1988); United States v. Tallmadge, 829 F.2d 767, 773-75 (9th Cir. 1987). Such a defense has been recognized as an exception to the mistake of law rule. In Tallmadge, for example, a Federally licensed gun dealer sold a gun to the defendant after informing him that his circumstances fit into an exception to the prohibition against felons owning firearms. After finding that licensed firearms dealers were Federal agents for gathering and dispensing information on the purchase of firearms, the Court held that a buyer has the right to rely on the representations made by them. Id. at 774. See United States v. Duggan, 743 F.2d at 83 (citations omitted); but, to assert such a defense, the defendant bears the burden of proving that he\she was reasonable in believing that his/her conduct was sanctioned by the government. United States v. Lansing, 424 F.2d 225, 226-27 (9th Cir. 1970). See United States v . Burrows, 36 F.3d at 882 (citing United States v. Lansing, 424 F.2d at 225-27).

This is an extreme form of what defendants have already argued. And in fact, Chief Judge Beryl Howell already addressed this defense in denying Billy Chrestman (a Proud Boy from whose cell Pierce doesn’t yet have a representative) bail. After reviewing the precedents where such a defense had been successful, Howell then explained why it wouldn’t work here. First, because where it has worked, it involved a narrow misstatement of the law that led defendants to unknowingly break the law, whereas here, defendants would have known they were breaking the law because of the efforts from police to prevent their actions. Howell then suggested that a belief that Trump had authorized this behavior would not have been rational. And she concludes by noting that this defense requires that the person leading the defendant to misunderstand the law must have the authority over such law. But Trump doesn’t have the authority, Howell continued, to authorize an assault on the Constitution itself.

Together, this trilogy of cases gives rise to an entrapment by estoppel defense under the Due Process Clause. That defense, however, is far more restricted than the capacious interpretation suggested by defendant, that “[i]f a federal official directs or permits a citizen to perform an act, the federal government cannot punish that act under the Due Process Clause.” Def.’s Mem. at 7. The few courts of appeals decisions to have addressed the reach of this trilogy of cases beyond their facts have distilled the limitations inherent in the facts of Raley, Cox, and PICCO into a fairly restrictive definition of the entrapment by estoppel defense that sets a high bar for defendants seeking to invoke it. Thus, “[t]o win an entrapment-by-estoppel claim, a defendant criminally prosecuted for an offense must prove (1) that a government agent actively misled him about the state of the law defining the offense; (2) that the government agent was responsible for interpreting, administering, or enforcing the law defining the offense; (3) that the defendant actually relied on the agent’s misleading pronouncement in committing the offense; and (4) that the defendant’s reliance was reasonable in light of the identity of the agent, the point of law misrepresented, and the substance of the misrepresentation.” Cox, 906 F.3d at 1191 (internal quotation marks and citations omitted).

The Court need not dally over the particulars of the defense to observe that, as applied generally to charged offenses arising out of the January 6, 2021 assault on the Capitol, an entrapment by estoppel defense is likely to fail. Central to Raley, Cox, and PICCO is the fact that the government actors in question provided relatively narrow misstatements of the law that bore directly on a defendant’s specific conduct. Each case involved either a misunderstanding of the controlling law or an effort by a government actor to answer to complex or ambiguous legal questions defining the scope of prohibited conduct under a given statute. Though the impact of the misrepresentations in these cases was ultimately to “forgive a breach of the criminal laws,” Cox, 379 U.S. at 588 (Clark, J., concurring in part and dissenting in part), none of the statements made by these actors implicated the potential “waiver of law,” or indeed, any intention to encourage the defendants to circumvent the law, that the Cox majority suggested would fall beyond the reach of the entrapment by estoppel defense, id. at 569. Moreover, in all three cases, the government actors’ statements were made in the specific exercise of the powers lawfully entrusted to them, of examining witnesses at Commission hearings, monitoring the location of demonstrations, and issuing technical regulations under a particular statute, respectively.

In contrast, January 6 defendants asserting the entrapment by estoppel defense could not argue that they were at all uncertain as to whether their conduct ran afoul of the criminal law, given the obvious police barricades, police lines, and police orders restricting entry at the Capitol. Rather, they would contend, as defendant does here, that “[t]he former President gave th[e] permission and privilege to the assembled mob on January 6” to violate the law. Def.’s Mem. at 11. The defense would not be premised, as it was in Raley, Cox, and PICCO, on a defendant’s confusion about the state of the law and a government official’s clarifying, if inaccurate, representations. It would instead rely on the premise that a defendant, though aware that his intended conduct was illegal, acted under the belief President Trump had waived the entire corpus of criminal law as it applied to the mob.

Setting aside the question of whether such a belief was reasonable or rational, as the entrapment by estoppel defense requires, Cox unambiguously forecloses the availability of the defense in cases where a government actor’s statements constitute “a waiver of law” beyond his or her lawful authority. 379 U.S. at 569. Defendant argues that former President Trump’s position on January 6 as “[t]he American head of state” clothed his statements to the mob with authority. Def.’s Mem. at 11. No American President holds the power to sanction unlawful actions because this would make a farce of the rule of law. Just as the Supreme Court made clear in Cox that no Chief of Police could sanction “murder[] or robbery,” 379 U.S. at 569, notwithstanding this position of authority, no President may unilaterally abrogate criminal laws duly enacted by Congress as they apply to a subgroup of his most vehement supporters. Accepting that premise, even for the limited purpose of immunizing defendant and others similarly situated from criminal liability, would require this Court to accept that the President may prospectively shield whomever he pleases from prosecution simply by advising them that their conduct is lawful, in dereliction of his constitutional obligation to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.” U.S. Const. art. II, § 3. That proposition is beyond the constitutional pale, and thus beyond the lawful powers of the President.

Even more troubling than the implication that the President can waive statutory law is the suggestion that the President can sanction conduct that strikes at the very heart of the Constitution and thus immunize from criminal liability those who seek to destabilize or even topple the constitutional order. [my emphasis]

In spite of Howell’s warning, we’re bound to see some defense attorneys trying to make this defense anyway. But for various reasons, most of the specific clients that Pierce has collected will have a problem making such claims because of public admissions they’ve already made, specific interactions they had with cops the day of the insurrection, or comments about Trump himself they or their co-conspirators made.

And those problems will grow more acute as the defendants’ co-conspirators continue to enter into cooperation agreements against them.

Or maybe this is a MyPillow defense?

But I’m not sure that Pierce — who, remember, is a civil litigator, not a defense attorney — really intends to mount a public authority defense. His Twitter feed of late suggests he plans, instead, to mount a conspiracy theory defense that the entire thing was a big set-up: the kind of conspiracy theory floated by Tucker Carlson but with the panache of people that Pierce has worked with, like Lin Wood (though even Lin Wood has soured on Pierce).

For example, the other day Pierce asserted that defense attorneys need to see every minute of Capitol Police footage for a week before and after.

And one of his absurd number of Twitter polls suggests he doesn’t believe that January 6 was a Trump inspired [armed] insurrection.

I asked on twitter which he was going to wage, a public authority defense or one based on a claim that this was all informants.

He responded by saying he doesn’t know what the question means.

I asked if he really meant he didn’t know what a public authority defense is, given that he told Judge Mehta he’d be waging one for his clients (or at least Oath Keeper Kenneth Harrelson).

He instead tried to change the subject with an attack on me.

In other words, rather than trying to claim that Trump ordered these people to assault the Capitol, Pierce seems to be suggesting it was all a big attempt to frame Trump and Pierce’s clients.

Don’t get me wrong, a well-planned defense claiming that Trump had authorized all this, one integrating details of what Enrique Tarrio might know about pre-meditation and coordination with Trump and his handlers, might be effective. Certainly, having the kind of broad view into discovery that Pierce is now getting would help. One thing he has done well — with the exception of Lesperance and the Cusicks, if it ever turns into felony charges, as well as Pepe and Samsel, depending on Samsel’s ultimate charges — is pick his clients so as to avoid obvious conflict problems And never forget that there’s a history of right wing terrorists going free based on the kind of screenplays, complete with engaging female characters, that Pierce seems to be planning.

But some of the stuff that Pierce has already done is undermining both of these goals, and the difficulty of juggling actual criminal procedure (as a civil litigator) while trying to write a screenplay could backfire

The Hundred-Plus January 6 Defendants Accused of Assault

Yesterday, Merrick Garland marked two milestones in the January 6 investigation: 500 arrests, of which 100 were for assaulting police.

The Department of Justice reached several benchmarks in our investigation into the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol.

We have now crossed the threshold of 500 arrests, including the 100th arrest of a defendant on charges of assaulting a federal law enforcement officer. This morning, we arrested our first defendant on charges that include assaulting a member of the news media.

I could not be more proud of the extraordinary effort by investigators and prosecutors to hold accountable those who engaged in criminal acts that day. Particular credit goes to those serving as prosecutors and agents in Washington, D.C., as well as those in FBI field offices and U.S. Attorney’s Offices across the country, and with the Department’s National Security Division.

Our efforts to bring criminal charges are not possible without the continued assistance of the American public. To date, we have received their more than 200,000 digital tips.

I assure the American people that the Department of Justice will continue to follow the facts in this case and charge what the evidence supports to hold all January 6th perpetrators accountable.

I’ve been tracking the charged assaults (and a few related crimes). Here’s my list, which includes several people who really resisted arrest (but got charged under 18 USC 111). Note this list also tracks how the FBI identified the defendant, which shows that FBI has been relying on “Be On the Lookout” photos to identify assailants. As of right now, all these defendants have pled NOT guilty and are assumed innocent. [fixed typo]

As you read this list, keep in mind that FBI has released 410 BOLOs, most for assault, and well over 200 of those people remain at large. And of course, the FBI has not yet apprehended the pipe bomber.

  1. Daniel Page Adams, whose arrest affidavit describes engaging in a “direct struggle with [unnamed] law enforcement officers” (his cousin, Cody Connell, described the exchange as a “civil war”). Tip SM
  2. Zachary Alam, who pushed cops around as he was trying to break into the Speaker’s Lobby. BOLO 79
  3. Michael Alberts, who was arrested for gun possession the day of the riot but who had an assault charge added in a superseding indictment
  4. Wilmar Alvarado, who pushed cops in the mob trying to get in from the West Terrace. BOLO 65
  5. John Anderson, who after taking two riot shields from cops, needed their assistance after getting maced.
  6. Thomas Ballard, who used a police baton and threw a table in the Lower West Terrace. BOLO 325
  7. Julio Baquero, who resisted police efforts to empty out the Rotunda. Tip
  8. Logan Barnhart, who pulled one of the cops out of the Capitol.
  9. Matthew Beddingfield, accused of assaulting a cop on January 6 while out on bail for suspected murder in NC. Sedition Hunters
  10. Aiden Billyard, who joined the Air Force after being caught on video spraying a cop with suspected bear spray. Sedition Hunters
  11. Craig Bingert, who allegedly helped shove cops with a barricade. BOLO 105
  12. Tim Boughner, accused of pepper spraying a cop. BOLO 337
  13. Brian Glenn Bingham, who scuffled with two cops after Ashli Babbitt got shot. BOLO 93
  14. David Blair, who poked a cop with a lacrosse stick with a Confederate flag attached. Onsite arrest
  15. Jason Blythe, charged in the assault at the first barrier.
  16. Michael Brock, who hit two cops with a four-foot rod. BOLO 319
  17. Nicholas James Brockhoff, who sprayed a fire extinguisher from the Terrace at cops. BOLO 255
  18. Benjamin Burlew, who participated in a 6-person assault on an AP journalist.
  19. Jamie Buteau, whom surveillance video showed throwing chairs at cops several times in the Capitol. (BOLO 188)
  20. Alan Byerly, who allegedly beat up a cop and then beat up an AP cameraman. BOLO 193
  21. Daniel Caldwell, who was filmed macing 15 cops. SM
  22. Steven Cappuccio, who pulled Daniel Hodge’s gas mask and beat him with his own baton. BOLO 123
  23. Matthew Caspel, who was filmed charging the National Guard. Tip SM
  24. Ralphie Celentano, accused of knocking a cop off a terrace. BOLO 107
  25. William Chrestman, who is accused of threatening a cop as Proud Boys pushed their way past the original line of defense (charged with 18 USC 115). NM
  26. Reed Christensen, who was videotaped swinging at cops. BOLO and video 191
  27. Luke Coffee, who was videotaped beating several cops with a crutch. Tip SM and BOLO 108
  28. Cody Connell, who with his cousin was in a direct confrontation with cops. Tip SM
  29. Lance Copeland, who admitted to fighting with cops on the barricades.
  30. Matthew Council, who was arresting for shoving cops the day of the riot.
  31. Mason Courson, accused as part of a group that dragged cops from the Capitol and beat them. BOLO 129
  32. Kevin Creek, who was filmed hitting and kicking officers on the West Terrace. BOLO 296
  33. Bruno Cua, who was filmed shoving a cop to be able to get into the Senate. Tip LE
  34. Matthew DaSilva, who fought over shields with cops in the Lower West Terrace. BOLO 230
  35. James Davis, the Proud Boy with a big stick who charged some cops.
  36. Nathan DeGrave, whom security cameras caught threatening to fight cops. Network Sandlin
  37. David Dempsey, a Proud Boy with a history of assaulting anti-Trump protestors who used a crutch to assault police in the Tunnel. Sedition Hunters
  38. Robert Dennis, alleged to have assaulted officer JS on the terrace
  39. Timothy Desjardins, alleged to have beat police in the tunnel with a table leg. BOLO 348
  40. Michael Dickinson, accused of throwing things at cops. Tip SM
  41. Josh Doolin, who is part of Johnny Pollack’s cell that assaulted multiple cops. Network Pollack
  42. Michael Eckerman, who pushed an officer down a small flight of stairs, thereby opening a new hallyway. Tip anon
  43. Daniel Egdvedt, a large man who took swipes and grabbed at several officers as they tried to remove him from the Capitol. BOLO 76
  44. James Elliott, who goes by Jim Bob, is a suspected Proud Boy accused of beating cops with a flagpole.
  45. Scott Fairlamb, who was caught in multiple videos shoving and punching officers (one who whom is identified but not named); Cori Bush has said she was threatened by him last summer. Tips, including SM
  46. Alan Fischer, a Proud Boy involved in the Tunnel assault who also threw chairs and a traffic cone at cops.
  47. Joseph Fischer, a cop who got in a tussle with another cop. Tip SM
  48. Kyle Fitzsimons, who charged officers guarding the doorway of the Capitol. BOLO 139
  49. Michael Foy, a former Marine who was caught on multiple videos beating multiple cops with a hockey stick. Tip SM
  50. Kevin Galetto, who allegedly knocked an MPD officer to the ground in the Tunnel. BOLO 146
  51. Vincent Gillespie, who screamed traitor and treason why fighting in the Tunnel. Unspecified BOLO
  52. Robert Gieswein, who appears to have ties to the Proud Boys and used a bat to beat cops. NM
  53. David Gietzen, accused of assaulting several cops with a pole at the early barricades. BOLO 217
  54. Vitali Gossjankowski, who was interviewed about whether he had tased MPD officer Michael Fanone, causing a heart attack; instead he was charged with assaulting CPD officer MM. BOLO 98 — with a second one mentioned
  55. Daniel Gray, who got into several confrontations with officers inside the Capitol, including knocking down a female cop. Tip SM
  56. Brian Gunderson, charged with assault while committing a felony on a superseding.
  57. Jimmy Haffner, accused of breaching the cops defending the East doors using pepper spray. Network Nordean
  58. Tom Hamner, involved in an attack using a Trump sign while wearing a “Guns don’t kill people, Clintons do,” sweater.
  59. Alex Harkrider, who after being filmed fighting with police at the door of the Capitol, posted a picture with a crowbar labeled, “weapon;” he was charged with abetting Ryan Nichols’ assault. Tip SM
  60. Richard Harris, who assaulted a journalist in Oregon weeks before threatening cops, Nancy Pelosi, and Mike Pence during the riot.
  61. Uliyahu Hayah, who was in the vicinity of Ashli Babbitt’s death and shoved a cop on his way out. NM
  62. Albuquerque Cosper Head, accused of assaulting Michael Fanone.
  63. Dillon Herrington, who threw a 4X4 at cops, then threw a barrier. Sedition Hunters picture
  64. Joseph Hutchison, who is part of Johnny Pollack’s group, but who was caught via his own BOLO. BOLO 320
  65. Emanuel Jackson, whom videos caught punching one officer, and others show beating multiple officers with a metal baseball bat. BOLO 31
  66. Joshua James, an Oath Keeper accused of shoving a cop.
  67. Shane Jenkins, alleged to have used a crowbar to break in a window, later threw things including a pole, a desk drawer, and a flagpole at cops.
  68. Douglas Jensen, the QAnon who chased Officer Goodman up the stairs, got charged with resisting him. NM, BOLO 10
  69. Justin Jersey, accused of being part of a mob that assaulted some cops dragged out of the Capitol.
  70. Taylor Johnatakis, charged with 111.
  71. Paul Johnson, who carried a bullhorn and was in the initial assault from the west side with Ryan Samsel. BOLO 49
  72. Zachary Johnson, a Proud Boy accused of assaulting cops with pepper spray.
  73. David Judd, who threw a firecracker at cops in the tunnel. Tip and BOLO 137
  74. Riley Kasper, who bragged of pepper spraying cops. Tip SM
  75. Josiah Kenyon, accused of attacking two cops with a broken table leg with a nail sticking out. BOLO 94
  76. Julian Elie Khater, who allegedly sprayed Brian Sicknick and two others with very powerful bear spray. BOLO 190
  77. Freddie Klein, the State Department employee who fought with three different officers while trying to break through police lines. BOLO 136
  78. Matt Krol, Genesee County militia executive who stole a baton and used it. BOLO 291
  79. Edward Jacob Lang, who identified himself in a screen cap of a violent mob attacking cops and who was filmed slamming a riot shield into police and later fighting them with a red baseball bat. Tip SM
  80. Nicholas Languerand, accused of throwing a bollard, a can of pepper spray, and a stick at cops in the Lower West Tunnel.
  81. Samuel Lazar, who was caught on video spraying chemicals and cops and claimed to be the tip of the spear.
  82. Mark Jefferson Leffingwell, whom a Capitol Police officer described in an affidavit punching him. Onsite arrest
  83. Joshua Lollar, who described fighting cops and was caught in pictures showing himself in the front lines confronting cops. Tip SM
  84. Michael Lopatic, who allegedly assaulted some cops with Stager and Sabol, then took a BWC to hide the assault. BOLO 133
  85. Avery MacCracken, accused of punching cop JG. BOLO 387
  86. Clifford Mackrell, who attempted to strip an officer’s gas mask after someone else sprayed bear spray. BOLO 124
  87. Markus Maly, accused of spraying a cop then handing his spray bottle to Jeffrey Brown. BOLO 324
  88. Jake Maxwell, who tousled with cops on the West side. probable Sedition Hunters
  89. Mark Mazza, who is accused of assaulting cops with a baton, and remains under investigation for assault while still in possession of the gun he lost at the riot.
  90. Logan McAbee, who was part of a gang assault on a cop pulled out of the Capitol.
  91. Patrick Edward McCaughey III, who was filmed crushing MPD Officer Daniel Hodges in one of the doors to the Capitol. BOLO 62
  92. James McGrew, who shoved some cops in the Rotunda then bared his King James belly tattoo, Tip Network
  93. Sean McHugh, accused of spraying some yellow substance at cops and using a sign as a battering ram, BOLO 59
  94. Jeffrey McKellop, a former Special Forces guy accused of assaulting 4 cops, including one by using a flagpole as a spear. BOLO 215
  95. David Mehaffie, who directed the assaults in the Tunnel
  96. Jonathan Mellis, who used some kind of stick to try to jab and beat police. Tip SM
  97. Jalise Middleton
  98. Mark Middleton, the Middletons fought the cops outside the West entrance to the Capitol. BWC
  99. Garret Miller, who pushed back at cops and then threatened both AOC and the cop who killed Ashli Babbit. Tip LE
  100. Matthew Ryan Miller, who released fire extinguisher in close quarters. Tip SM
  101. Jordan Mink, who used a pole to assault the police.
  102. Brian Mock, who kicked a cop when he was down and bragged about it. BOLO and Tip SM
  103. Patrick Montgomery was charged with assault against MPD officer DJ in a follow-up indictment.
  104. Robert Morss, who in addition to tussling with a cop, was a key organizer of shield walls in the Tunnel. BOLO 147
  105. Aaron Mostofsky, possibly for stripping a cop of his or her armored vest and riot shield. NM
  106. Clayton Mullins, alleged to be part of the mob that assaulted AW and two other police. Tip
  107. Jonathan Munafo, alleged to have fought with cops in two different locations, including punching one in the Lower West Terrace. (BOLO and video 170)
  108. Ryan Nichols, who was filmed wielding a crowbar and yelling, “This is not a peaceful protest,” then spraying pepper spray against police trying to prevent entry to the Capitol. Tip SM
  109. Gregory Nix, who is accused of beating one of the cops at the East door with a flagpole. Network
  110. Grady Owens, who allegedly hit a cop in the head on the Mall with a skateboard, as he was heading to reinforce the Capitol. BOLO 109
  111. Jason Owens, accused of assaulting a second officer after his son attacked one with a skateboard. Network Owens
  112. Jose Padilla, who shoved cops at a barricade, then helped use a Donald Trump sign as a battering ram against them. Tip SM
  113. Robert Palmer, who sprayed cops with a fire extinguisher then threw it at them.
  114. Michael Perkins, who is part of the Pollack group. Network Pollack
  115. Dominic Pezzola, a Proud Boy who stole a shield from cops. NM and BOLO 43
  116. Johnny Pollack, who serially assaulted cops and then went on the lam. BOLO 144
  117. Olivia Pollack, Johnny’s sister who also allegedly punched a cop. Pollack network
  118. Mark Ponder, filmed repeatedly attacking cops with poles.
  119. Joshua Portlock, filmed attacking cops with a piece of plywood. BOLO 97
  120. Christopher Quaglin, accused of assaulting cops both at the initial breach of the barriers and later in the Lower West Terrace.
  121. Barry Ramey, accused of spraying toxins at cops. BOLO 329
  122. Stephen Chase Randolph, who shoved cops at the initial barricade and later bragged about a female cop’s head bouncing off the pavement. BOLO 168
  123. Howard Richardson, who allegedly beat a cop with a flagpole.
  124. Daniel Rodriguez, whom videos appear to show tasing Michael Fanone. Sedition Hunter-based reporting
  125. Edward Rodriguez, who sprayed pepper spray at cops while wearing a suit. Sedition Hunter-based reporting
  126. Greg Rubeacker, Tip SM
  127. Jeffrey Sabol, helped drag a cop from the Capitol and beat him while prone. LE arrest (erratic driving)
  128. Ryan Samsel, who set off the riot by giving a cop a concussion; he appears to have coordinated with Joe Biggs. BOLO 51 (though not IDed by BOLO)
  129. Salvador Sandoval, Jr, who went to the insurrection with his mother and shoved some cops.
  130. Robert Sanford, who was filmed hitting Capitol Police Officer William Young on the head with a fire extinguisher. Tip NM
  131. Ronald Sandlin, who tried to wrestle cops to keep the door to the Senate open. MPD tip
  132. Troy Sargent, who appears to have punched some cops holding a line. Tip SM
  133. Peter Schwartz, a felon who maced several cops. Tip NM (BOLO 120)
  134. Dan Scott, AKA Milkshake, who shoved some cops in the initial assault. Network.
  135. Christian Secor, a UCLA self-described fascist who helped shove through some cops to break into the Capitol and then sat in the Senate chamber. Tip NM
  136. DJ Shalvey. The details of the assault charged against Shalvey are not public, but he did get charged for lying about it to the FBI.
  137. Barton Wade Shively, who pushed and shoved some police trying to get into the Capitol, punched another, then struck one of those same cops later and kicked another. BOLO 55
  138. Thomas Sibick, accused of being among a group of men who attacked Michael Fanone and stole his badge.
  139. Geoffrey Sills, alleged to have used both a pole and a baton in several assaults on cops in the tunnel.
  140. Audrey Southard-Rumsey, the talented singer deemed one of the main agitators in the Statuary Hall Connector. Tip SM
  141. Peter Francis Stager, who was involved in beating a prone cop with a flagpole. Tip SM
  142. Shelly Stallings, Peter Schwartz’s spouse indicted for spraying cops with pepper spray. Schwartz network
  143. Ezekial Stecher, whom videos showed pushing in the Lower West Tunnel.
  144. Tristan Stevens, who fought cops with a shield and baton. Video
  145. Isaac Sturgeon, who is accused of using a barricade to attack some officers.
  146. Andrew Taake, who is accused to have used a metal whip and pepper spray against the cops. Tip SM
  147. George Pierre Tanios, who allegedly conspired with Julian Khater to attack Brian Sicknick and two other cops. BOLO 254
  148. Kenneth Joseph Owen Thomas, who organized a MAGA Caravan from AL and then selfied himself attacking cops. BOLO 214
  149. Christopher Warnagiris, the Marine Major who fought to keep the East door open. BOLO 241
  150. Jerry Waynick, accused of throwing a cone at cops. BOLO 157
  151. Mark Waynick, who tousled with cops with his son. Network Waynick
  152. Thomas Webster, who attacked a cop with a flagpole. BOLO 145
  153. Wade Whitten, accused of dragging AW down the steps of the Capitol and hitting him with a crutch. BOLO 130
  154. Ricky Willden, who allegedly sprayed cops with a chemical.
  155. Duke Wilson, accused of assaulting several officers in the Lower West Tunnel. BOLO 87
  156. Jason Woods, who allegedly used the same tripping attack on a female cop and a cameraman. BOLO 238
  157. Christopher Worrell, a Proud Boy who apparently sprayed pepper spray at a line of police.
  158. Kyle Young, accused of attacking Michael Fanone and another officer, and stealing Fanone’s weapon.

On January 6, Look to the Continuances

Riley June Williams — the woman with ties to the far right who was shown on video directing people around the Capitol and is accused of abetting the theft of Nancy Pelosi’s laptop — has not yet been indicted. Normally, the Speedy Trial Act gives prosecutors a limit of time — roughly 30 days — to formally charge you after you’re arrested. But with Williams, the government has been using a series of motions to extend this timeline. They currently have until July 21 to indict Williams.

That, by itself, isn’t all that unusual. But amid an ongoing conversation about whether the January 6 investigation will hold the most powerful accountable for the insurrection, I want to point to the existing long unindicted defendants to suggest, again, we don’t really know where this investigation is going.

Tracking which January 6 defendants haven’t been indicted is one way to identify cases that might be more interesting than others. Jon Schaffer’s case got continued for months leading up to his entry into a cooperation agreement on April 16. And Christopher Kelly’s case got continued for months before the government moved to dismiss it on June 1. At least some of these weren’t the boilerplate unopposed motions for a continuance, citing the unprecedented challenge of assembling all the evidence in this case, that have been used in most defendants cases; they were more specific requests for more time to conduct the investigation. As the disparate fate of these two men suggests, you can’t really tell what is interesting about a case if the formal charging is delayed.

But such non-boilerplate continuances are one thing I track (and I know other journalists do too) for potentially interesting cases. They happen in formally charged cases, too (for example, QAnoner Doug Jensen’s case got continued until tomorrow in such a fashion after prosecutors enhanced his own legal exposure). But it is easier to track the especially interesting delays in cases, like Williams’, where the defendant hasn’t been indicted yet.

To be sure, such continuances don’t guarantee a case will be interesting. A number of these cases end up in delayed felony charges (though that’s true of the boilerplate continuances as well). Sometimes these delays are attributable to delays in attorneys getting approved to represent defendants in the DC District. In several cases, such continuances were used when either the defendant or their lawyer got COVID. Sometimes, it even seems like the system has lost defendants (with just a handful of exceptions, thankfully not those being detained). There are a couple of defense attorneys and a couple of prosecutors who just seem to like doing it this way.

Often, lawyers attribute the delay to plea discussions (though that’s generally the reason for the unopposed continuances, as well as the consent ones).

Sometimes something else seems to be going on. For example, Prosecutor Brandi Harden has twice gotten continuances in the case of Emanuel Jackson, the developmentally challenged homeless man who walked into the middle of the insurrection off the street and was handed a baseball bat which he used to assault cops, with the explanation, “There are outstanding issues related to Mr. Jackson’s case, that the parties are continuing to address.”

In several cases, such continuances seem to tie to a defendant’s other existing legal problems. For example, Bryan Betancur violated probation by lying about his purposes for going to DC on January 6, and so has been thrown back in jail because of it (though Betancur’s friend, Britney Dillon, was recently charged in the riot). In another example, when the FBI searched Adam Honeycutt’s home in association with this January 6 arrest warrant, they found guns and marijuana that exposed him to charges in Florida; DC prosecutors are delaying his January 6 prosecution until after a trial this week on the possession charges in Florida. But in at least one of those cases — that of Kash Kelly, charged with just misdemeanor trespassing — the delay comes with a defendant who was discussed in a conversation involving Rudy Giuliani and who cooperated against his fellow gang members in his drug-related prosecution in Illinois. The fact that Ryan Samsel’s then girlfriend, Raechel Genco, has had her own trespassing case continued, makes his more intriguing, though there’s a long list of reasons that readily explain why Samsel’s prosecution has been delayed, not least that he was brutally beaten by someone yet to be determined while he in the DC jail.

All that said, I wanted to point to some clusters that may suggest future developments. An easy one are the cases of Emily Hernandez, her uncle William Merry, and their friend Paul Westover all of which have been delayed with continuances. They traveled to insurrection together and show up in pictures showing off the piece of a sign from Nancy Pelosi’s office they stole.

It would be unsurprising to see these cases get combined into a conspiracy, possibly with others from St. Louis.

That said, a goodly number of defendants awaiting formal charges were in Pelosi’s office, including Williams.

Along with Williams, there are others, like Anthime Gionet, who have known ties with America First or were in the vicinity of others self-identifying as America First who are also awaiting their charges.

Then there’s the case of Brandon Straka. He’s the head of the Walkaway campaign, and was a speaker on January 5. There’s no allegation he entered the door of the Capitol, though at a time when he was on the stairs, he was involved in attempting to take a shield from an officer and for that got charged with civil disorder (in addition to the standard trespass crimes). He obviously could be charged with obstruction, but that hasn’t been charged yet. On May 24, the parties asked for a continuance and excludable delay until August, but Magistrate Judge Robin Meriweather hasn’t yet issued an order approving that. (There’s one other person that engaged in higher level organizing, but I suspect it’s the choice of her attorney.)

Update: This morning Judge Meriweather signed the Straka continuance.

Update: Doug Jensen wants to go work while he awaits resolution of his case (specifically mentioning self-surrender) so he settle his affairs and take care of his family.

Anatomy of a Potential January 6 Cooperation Agreement

I’ve written in passing about Jon Ryan Schaffer, the front man for the heavy metal band Iced Earth who was arrested for involvement with spraying bear spray during the January 6 insurrection, several times. In this post I noted that there must be something more to his case because Schaffer had been sitting, uncharged, in jail for months.

Jon Ryan Schaffer: The front man for the heavy metal band Iced Earth and an Oath Keeper lifetime member, Schaffer was arrested for spraying some police with bear spray. But two months after his arrest and detention, he has not been (publicly) indicted and only arrived in DC on March 17. The government has not publicly responded to his motion to dismiss his case on Speedy Trial grounds. All of which suggests there’s something more there that we can’t see.

Yesterday I included Schaffer among those likely to get cooperation agreements (rather than straight guilty pleas), then updated the post with yet another data point suggesting I was correct.

[A]t least some of the expected pleas may be cooperation agreements. For example, Ryan Samsel — who breached the west side of the Capitol in coordination with Proud Boys Dominic Pezzola and William Pepe, knocking out a cop along the way — asked for a continuance to discuss a plea. One of the main Oath Keeper prosecutors, Ahmed Baset, asked for a continuance before indicting Oath Keeper associate Jon Schaffer, who was among the worst treated defendants and who agreed to the continuance in spite of remaining in pre-trial detention. Kash Kelly, currently charged with trespassing but also someone raised in discussions between Proud Boys affiliate James Sullivan and Rudy Giuliani, got a continuance to discuss a plea. Bryan Betancur, a Proud Boy who got jailed for a probation violation after he lied to his probation officer to attend the event, also got a continuance to discuss a plea to resolve his trespassing charges. The aforementioned Riley Williams, who was charged with obstructing the vote count and stealing a laptop from Nancy Pelosi, was filmed directing movement inside the Capitol, and has ties with Nick Fuentes, also got a continuance to discuss pleading before indictment. All five of these people likely have information that would be of use to prosecutors. All could limit their prison time (which would likely be significant for Samsel, who is accused of assault, played a key role in the insurrection, and has a criminal record) by cooperating with prosecutors. If any of these people sign plea deals — especially Samsel — it will likely provide new insight into how the conspiracy worked. Even with a plea deal, Samsel may still face a stiff sentence.

[snip]

Update: Meanwhile, Jon Schaffer just agreed to two more weeks in jail.

So the signs suggesting the government was pursuing a cooperation agreement in this case have been pretty clear.

But yesterday, DOJ made that even more clear by posting a filing to PACER — which was supposed to be sealed — making such negotiations explicit.

As stated in the Consent Motion to Continue, the government and counsel for the defendant have conferred and are continuing to communicate about this matter. This has entailed a series of debrief interviews with the defendant that began on March 2, 2021. Based on these debrief interviews, the parties are currently engaged in good-faith plea negotiations, including discussions about the possibility of entering into a cooperation plea agreement aimed at resolving the matter short of indictment. Among the contemplated plea terms upon acceptance of a plea are the defendant’s release pending sentencing.

[snip]

[T]he parties request that this filing be docketed under seal. Such an order is appropriate because the filing relates to sensitive information about the defendant’s cooperation with the government and ongoing plea negotiations that are not public. Accordingly, disclosure may reveal the existence, scope, and direction of the ongoing and confidential investigation. If alerted to this information, investigation targets against whom the defendant may be providing information about could be immediately prompted to flee from prosecution, destroy or conceal incriminating evidence, alter their operational tactics to avoid future detection, attempt to influence or intimidate potential witnesses, and otherwise take steps to undermine the investigation and avoid future prosecution. Accordingly, these facts present an extraordinary situation and a compelling governmental interest which justify sealing of this filing pertaining to this investigation that is being submitted at this time. [my emphasis]

You’ll recall that PACER was one of the targets of the Solar Winds hack, which raised concerns that sensitive documents detailing things like cooperation agreements and investigative targets might have been compromised. The Courts’ efforts to respond have bolloxed up PACER ever since, which has contributed to an unacceptable delay in postings of non-sensitive documents as the flood of January 6 filings hit.

One of the few things that DOJ has managed to post in timely fashion is this filing, which was supposed to be sealed.

This disclosure may make it harder to negotiate a cooperation agreement (or who knows? it might make it easier!). Certainly, it may present security concerns for Schaffer when he is released, whether or not he cops a plea, because he would get such a plea deal in exchange for testimony against a highly skilled armed militia, and they’ll assume he got a deal if he is released pre-trial.

Aside from the very real concerns about how this might affect the investigation into the Oath Keepers, however, the release of the filing is useful for the details it provides.

First, this cooperation deal, if it happens, will be the first of all 350+ defendants.

The government’s ongoing plea negotiations with this defendant are the first and most advanced plea negotiations involving any of the over 300 Capitol Riot defendants.

That would mean that others — like the cooperating witness with damning information on Dominic Pezzola and the un-indicted co-conspirator in the Proud Boys conspiracy — have not been charged at all (as descriptions of them in filings imply). It also suggests that for all the reporting about imminent deals, the cooperation agreements, at least, are two weeks or more away. Every other potential cooperation deal I named in this post follows the same pattern of filings that Schaffer’s does, but they have later deadlines for their continuance, though Ryan Samsel is the only other one who is in custody for January 6 (as opposed to other things), which adds urgency to any plea deal:

  • Bryan Betancur (in MD state custody): April 27
  • Ryan Samsel (in federal custody): May 7 (after being extended from April 1, moving to swap his attorney, then unmoving to do so, though currently he is represented by both)
  • Christopher Kelly (not in custody): May 10
  • Riley June Williams (not in custody): May 28
  • Kash Kelly (in Federal prison for gang-related drug crimes which he also cooperated on): indefinite

It looks like Samsel might have been the first plea deal, but an aborted swap of lawyers suggests he may have gotten cold feet. (Recall that Rick Gates did something similar before he flipped in the Mueller investigation; because of his criminal record, Samsel faces a stiffer prison sentence than Schaffer regardless of what happens).

Schaffer’s filing explains why cooperation agreements will be weeks away, too: First, plea deals are being reviewed “at various levels of government.”

Plea terms have thus required extensive review and approval at various levels of government necessitating more time than usual to approve and negotiate.

Given that Biden doesn’t have a confirmed US Attorney in DC, this likely means that at least Acting Deputy Attorney General and former National Security Division head under Obama John Carlin is reviewing these deals, if not Merrick Garland himself. Lisa Monaco should be confirmed as Deputy Attorney General imminently, and she’s likely to be interested in all this, too. That is, the level of review this filing suggests this plea deal is getting also hints at the (unsurprisingly) high level involvement in the investigation as a whole.

Perhaps one of the most damaging disclosures by the release of this document is that Schaffer’s attorneys have admitted, non-publicly, things they’ve argued against publicly. In a filing asking for pre-trial release, Schaffer’s lawyers argued that merely possessing bear spray did not make Schaffer enough of a threat to require pre-trial detention.

The Government sought “detention based on [Mr. Schaffer] carrying a dangerous weapon inside a restricted ground.” Reporter’s Transcript of Detention Hearing, p. 7: 8- 10.2 Magistrate Judge Faruqui detained Mr. Schaffer “Upon the Motion of the Government attorney pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3142(f)(1).” (Doc. 12, p. 1)

Mr. Schaffer cannot be detained pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3142 (f)(1)(E) because the Government’s allegation Mr. Schaffer simply possessed bear spray does not support a finding his case involved a dangerous weapon. The Government cannot establish a can of bear spray is dangerous weapon when it is simply possessed.

Schaffer’s arrest warrant affidavit described him to be “among” a group of “rioters who sprayed” USCP with bear spray, but didn’t say he personally had used the bear spray to assault the cops, nor did it charge him with doing so.

SCHAFFER was among the rioters who sprayed United States Capitol Police officers with “bear spray,” a form of capsaicin pepper spray sold by many outdoors retailers, as part of their efforts to push the officers back inside the Capitol and breach the Capitol Building themselves.

According to this filing, however, Schaffer’s lawyers conceded during a closed session that he could be charged, presumably including assault for spraying the bear spray, right away.

The parties agree that maintaining the current detention posture, as well as the government forestalling return of a grand jury indictment against the defendant1 , are necessary at this stage to facilitate good-faith plea negotiations.

1 As acknowledged by the defense during the sealed portion of the April 2, 2021 status hearing, the government is in a position to rapidly obtain an indictment against the defendant should plea negotiations fail.

But the filing also suggests that the grand jury may be posing another bottleneck to this process.

Additional time may also be necessary in the event plea conditions require completion of certain requirements before entering into a formal agreement before the court, such as the defendant testifying before the grand jury.

That is, if and when a plea deal is agreed, they still may require Schaffer to provide any testimony to the grand jury before they finalize the plea and release him.

As noted, the unintentional release of this filing may undermine that process from the start. But it least it provides some clarity on how this process is working for Schaffer and others.

Update: Baked Alaska (real name Anthime Gionet) is another person in whose case the government got a consent motion to delay further proceedings. I’m less confident this would involve a cooperation agreement — it may be a way to forestall questions about whether he is media.