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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.

“Civil War Started:” Zach Rehl’s Blow-by-Blow of the Riot

Since Jonathon Moseley has taken over as Zach Rehl’s defense attorney, he has filed a series of really ridiculous motions.

On Friday, according to a filing purporting to argue that Zach Rehl should be released on bail, FBI agents raided Whallon-Wolkind’s home.

Rehl’s attorney, Jonathon Moseley, claimed that because (he said), “Aaron Whallon-Wollkind did not join the events in the District of Columbia on January 6, 2021, whether the peaceful demonstrations or the violent attacks by a very, very few against U.S. Capitol Police … the Government has no basis for investigating or charging Whallon-Wollkind other than his connection to Zachary Rehl” [all three forms of emphasis Moseley’s], which in turn Moseley claimed was proof that the government still did not have any evidence against Rehl.

It’s a colossally stupid argument, almost as stupid as Moseley’s last two filings, in which he admitted that the Proud Boys “‘circle[d]’ (in a rectangle) the region around the Capitol to monitor the risk from counter-demonstrators,” an encirclement plan that had been publicly tied to obstructing the vote count in advance, and then argued that because Ali Alexander, a brown person who took credit for organizing the Stop the Steal rallies, had not been arrested yet, his [white] client should not have been either.

The government responded to these motions in two different filings yesterday. One motion opposed Rehl’s request for a Bill of Particulars, for discovery that (a table in the motion shows) DOJ has already provided, and for a Parler post that DOJ says doesn’t appear to exist. Another motion opposed Rehl’s bid to reopen his pre-trial detention.

The latter basically argues that all the ridiculous gaslighting Moseley is doing has not presented anything that was not known to Rehl when Tim Kelly last denied his motion for bail.

In his motion and the three supplements, the defendant raises no information that was both unknown to him at the time of the original detention litigation before this Court and that would have a material bearing on the detention decision. The Court should accordingly decline to reopen the detention hearing and should deny the defendant’s motion.

Along the way, the motion makes a point I keep making: the Proud Boy leaders keep excusing their actions by claiming some tie to Trump’s speech or a protest, except that they never went to his speech, heading instead to the Capitol to kick off a riot.

The defendant focuses on what the videos show of the Proud Boys’ activity prior to the breach of the Capitol grounds, and it focuses on two videos that were explicitly made for public consumption. The defendant’s reliance on the videos mentioned in the First Supplement moreover ignores the evidence of the conspirators’ coordinated actions immediately prior to, and again after the breach of the First Street barriers. The defendants arrived near the site of the Ellipse—where speeches were to occur—and then immediately marched to the Capitol away from the demonstration. The defendants were not there for a peaceful demonstration; they went to the Capitol to participate in a violent protest.

[snip]

The Court should not accept Rehl’s invitation to conclude that the fact that the Capitol Police issued some permits negates his mens rea. See Mem. at 10-12. The defendant has not proffered that he knew of any permits issued or that he believed he was participating in a permitted demonstration when he rushed past trampled police barriers. If that is the defendant’s subjective memory, he certainly knew that on June 30. But setting that aside, any claim he makes now—for the first time nine months after the riot—that be believed he was participating in a permitted protest should carry no weight in the Court’s analysis, as those claims are belied by the fact that the defendant entered the grounds not at the site of any permitted protest, but through trampled police barriers.

[snip]

The best proof of what defendants planned is what they did—and did not do—on January 6. They did not attend the demonstration at the Ellipse; they marched to the Capitol. And the defendant celebrated the group’s accomplishments and characterized it for what it was—violence and threatened violence to corruptly influence the vote of the American people.

The government motion scoffs at Rehl’s claim to support the cops, noting that a fundraiser Moseley pointed to in a supplement supporting his renewed bail request had been started the day he submitted the filing, and had raised no funds.

The defendant also proffers that he is the son and grandson of police officers and is a longtime supporter of the “back the blue” movement. E.g., Second Supplement at 3. This information, even if true, was known to him at the time of the June 30 hearing, and thus does not provide a reason to reopen the hearing. The fundraiser that the defendant allegedly set up “to raise money for any injured police officers,” see id., is not material to the Court’s detention analysis. According to an ICANN9 lookup, the domain name healcapitolpolice.com was registered on October 6, 2021—the same day that defendant filed the First Supplement referencing that website and the alleged fundraiser. As of October 15, 2021, that website redirects anyone who clicks on it to a GiveSendGo crowdfunding page that states that the campaign has raised $0 and “is currently disabled and can not receive new donations.”

It shows that because of the way Rehl’s lawyer submitted a Reuters article that (I’ve shown) misunderstood the investigation, it cut off a reference to Rehl and his co-conspirators.

The passage Moseley failed to include affirms that FBI had discovered the Proud Boys had a goal of breaking into the Capitol.

Stone, a veteran Republican operative and self-described “dirty trickster”, and Jones, founder of a conspiracy-driven radio show and webcast, are both allies of Trump and had been involved in pro-Trump events in Washington on Jan. 5, the day before the riot.

FBI investigators did find that cells of protesters, including followers of the far-right Oath Keepers and Proud Boys groups, had aimed to break into the Capitol. But they found no evidence that the groups had serious plans about what to do if they made it inside, the sources said.

But the most interesting part of the motion includes citation of multiple texts Rehl sent during the riot, which (the government claims) not only proves that Rehl lied in a previous filing about texting only his spouse from the riot, but shows he was providing a blow-by-blow account of the riot to four other people in which he stated, before Dominic Pezzola broke into the Capitol but after they had surged onto Capitol grounds, that “everyone raided the Capitol.”

In addition to the post-election rhetoric the Court cited in granting the government’s motion to revoke the magistrate’s release order, many of the defendant’s statements from January 6 and 7 underscore the government’s assertion that he possessed a criminal mens rea on January 6. For example, in contrast to defendant’s claim that “gathering at the U.S. Capitol was specifically authorized” by permit (Mem. at ¶ 55), shortly after defendant and his coconspirators had surged onto Capitol grounds, Rehl texted four other contacts, “Everyone raided the Capitol.” At the time that text was sent, 1:15 p.m., the defendant and his coconspirators had pushed into the West Plaza, but they were still approximately 30 minutes from beginning to push up the stairs to the Upper West Terrace. At 1:34 p.m., Rehl texted the same group, “We’re at a standstill, cops are dropping concussion bombs and pepper spraying, people are pepper spraying back and fighting riot cops.” At 2:29 p.m., after hordes of rioters had entered the building, defendant texted the same group, “Civil war started.”4 He followed at 2:48 p.m. with “They just broke all the doors and windows open, people are pouring in.”

The defendant’s statements after January 6 further underscore that the defendant’s focus on that day was not Antifa. On January 7, 2021, he texted the same group mentioned in the previous paragraph, “Trump basically conceded. We lost our country, we shoulda held the capital” and “Once Pence turned his back he was fucked, but was hoping we all sent a message yesterday, I guess that was the message to ben [sic] the knee, its depressing.” In a different Telegram chat on January 7, Rehl stated, “Looking back, it sucked, we shoulda held the capital. After [T]rump conceding today, it all seemed like a waste.” He continued, “The reason why it feels like a waste is because instead of all these politicians getting scared and realizing they need to answer for this fraud, they are all turning on Trump and cucking, they are doubling down on their actions. Everyone shoulda showed up armed and took the country back the right way,” and “I imagine the next time people aren’t showing up unarmed. I’m not trying to fed post, I’m just stating facts, normies turned on the cops man, we didn’t start any of the violence, all we did was a couple of chants.”

4 These text messages stand in contrast to the defendant’s assertion that he only texted his wife to let her know he was safe and that he only knew of the full scale of the attack at the time of the impeachment trial. See First Supplement at 8.

Zach Rehl described the riot on the Capitol that he and his co-conspirators kicked off as a “civil war.” That expresses a mens rea that goes well beyond simply trying to obstruct the vote count.

FBI Searches the Home of the Guy Who Said, “I want to see thousands of normies burn that city to ash” on January 6

I want to see thousands of normies burn that city to ash today — Telegram text from person described as UCC-1, January 6, 2021

According to NYT’s Alan Feuer, the person who participated in the Proud Boy leadership Telegram chat planning for January 6 who was described as “Unindicted Co-Conspirator 1” (UCC-1) in the Proud Boy Leaders indictment is Aaron Whallon-Wolkind, the Vice President of the Philadelphia Chapter of the Proud Boys.

As described in the indictment, in Telegram chats obtained from Nordean’s phone, UCC-1 made a comment on January 4 reflecting an existing plan. And he played a key role in setting up the radio communications that would be used on the day of the riot.

41. On January 4, 2021, at 8:20 p.m., an unindicted co-conspirator (“UCC-1”) posted to New MOSD channel: “We had originally planned on breaking the guys into teams. Let’s start divying them up and getting baofeng channels picked out.”1

42. On January 5, 2021, at 1:23 p.m., a new encrypted messaging channel entitled “Boots on the Ground” was created for communications by Proud Boys members in Washington, DC. In total, over sixty users participated in the Boots on the Ground channel, including D.C. NORDEAN, BIGGS, REHL, DONOHOE, and UCC-1. Shortly after the channel’s creation, BIGGS posted a message to the channel that read: “We are trying to avoid getting into any shit tonight. Tomorrow’s the day” and then “I’m here with rufio and a good group[.]”

[snip]

47. UCC-1 the At 9:09 p.m., broadcast a message to New MOSD and Boots Ground channels that read: “Stand by for the shared baofeng channel and shared zello channel, no Colors, be decentralized and use good judgement until further orders” UCC-1 also wrote, “Rufio is in charge, cops are the primary threat, don’t get caught by them or BLM, don’t get drunk until off the street.” UCC-1 then provided a specific radio frequency of 477.985.

UCC-1 also warned the others not to write their criminal plans in Telegram texts.

Specifically, the person identified in the Superseding Indictment as Unindicted Co-Conspirator (“UCC-1”) advised that participants “[s]houldn’t be typing plans to commit felonies into your phone.” UCC-1 later directed that, “if you’re talkin[g] about playing Minecraft2 you just make sure you don’t use your phone at all or even have it anywhere around you.”

2 Minecraft is a video game. Based on information provided by the FBI, the government understands that it is common for persons discussing criminal activity online to refer to such activity as occurring “in Minecraft” to conceal the true nature of the activity.

The full context of UCC-1’s comment about burning DC to ash includes a comment reflecting his belief that “the state is the enemy of the people” and a response from Person 2 describing that “normiecons” have no adrenaline control, a recognition that shows up elsewhere that the Proud Boys could and did inflame non-Proud Boy members.

DONOHOE: Are you here?

UCC-1: No I started a new job, don’t want to fuck it up yet

DONOHOE: Well fuck man

UCC-1: There will be plenty more I’m sure lol

UCC-1: I want to see thousands of normies burn that city to ash today

Person-2: Would be epic

UCC-1: The state is the enemy of the people

Person-2: We are the people

UCC-1: Fuck yea

Person-3: God let it happen . . . I will settle with seeing them smash some pigs to dust

Person-2: Fuck these commie traitors

Person-3 It’s going to happen. These normiecons have no adrenaline control . . . They are like a pack of wild dogs

DONOHOE: I’m leaving with a crew of about 15 at 0830 to hoof it to the monument no colors

Person-2 Fuck it let them loose

Person-3 I agree . . . They went too far when the [sic] arrested Henry as a scare tactic

A detention memo for Ethan Nordean revealed that UCC-1 was monitoring livestreams and using other methods to track the riot (I’ve written about how useful former Army Captain Gabriel Garcia’s live streams would have been for that purpose; given Whallon-Wolkind’s role in setting the channel for the Baofengs, it’s likely he tracked that too).

When the Defendant, his co-Defendants, and the Proud Boys under the Defendant’s command did, in fact, storm the Capitol grounds, messages on Telegram immediately reflected the event. PERSON-2 announced, “Storming the capital building right now!!” and then “Get there.” UCC-1 immediately followed by posting the message, “Storming the capital building right now!!” four consecutive times.6 These messages reflect that the men involved in the planning understood that the plan included storming the Capitol grounds. This shared understanding of the plan is further reflected in co-Defendant Biggs’ real-time descriptions that “we’ve just taken the Capitol” and “we just stormed the fucking Capitol.”

6 UCC-1 and PERSON-2 are not believed to have been present on the Capitol grounds, but rather indicated that they were monitoring events remotely using livestreams and other methods.

The centrality of UCC-1 in the indictment against the Proud Boy leaders — along with Aram Rostom’s reporting on Whallon-Wolkind’s past efforts to share information on Antifa with the FBI — fed conspiracies about the FBI seeding the entire January 6 riot.

In January 2019, a member of the Philadelphia chapter of the Proud Boys who called himself “Aaron PB” was on a Telegram chat with fellow members to gather information about Antifa, according to leaked chat screenshots whose authenticity was confirmed by a source familiar with the Proud Boys and by a lawyer for Aaron PB. Aaron PB said in a chat that he was gathering “info we want to send our FBI contact.”

A source close to the federal investigation told Reuters that “Aaron PB” is a Philadelphia Proud Boy leader named Aaron Whallon-Wolkind.

Whallon-Wolkind did not respond to phone calls or questions sent via text. Reached by a Reuters reporter, he hung up.

Patrick Trainor, a New Jersey lawyer for Whallon-Wolkind in an unrelated lawsuit, said Whallon-Wolkind and other Philadelphia Proud Boys had talked about inconsequential matters with the FBI over the years. Those contacts did not amount to anything substantive, Trainor said. Trainor represents other Proud Boys as well.

“They’ve all been approached at different times at different rallies in the city of Philadelphia,” he said. “Plainclothes FBI guys wanted to talk to them. You know: ‘We heard this happened. This happened so let’s talk about it.’”

Trainor acknowledged Whallon-Wolkind made the comments about “our FBI contact” on the Telegram chat, but believes they were not meant to be taken seriously. “I think he was just breaking balls,” Trainor said. “I think there was no contact with the FBI.”

In a May Motion for a Bill of Particulars, Ethan Nordean’s attorneys professed to need the identity of UCC-1 because key allegations in the conspiracy were attributed to him.

The government uses the statements of a person identified as “UCC-1” in the FSI to detain Nordean and to establish a conspiracy. The government has not produced evidence identifying this individual.

[snip]

The FSI cites a “UCC-1” who allegedly makes various conspiratorial remarks. FSI, ¶¶ 41, 42, 47. The government has not produced evidence identifying this individual.

But by July 15 (not long before Enrique Tarrio called Zach Rehl’s wife to sound out whether Rehl was flipping), when Judge Tim Kelly asked whether Nordean lawyer Nick Smith still wanted that identity, Smith instead emphasized a greater need for evidence linking Dominic Pezzola to his client. Smith did complain that the Proud Boys were left speculating on the identity of the person, ridiculously suggesting that his client didn’t know the identities of the around six other people with whom he was in a leadership Telegram channel. Smith then noted that there was public information (Rostom’s reporting) that UCC-1 had been a government informant. Prosecutor Luke Jones then confirmed that UCC-1 was not a CHS — that is, a paid informant of the sort that FBI might use to entrap others.

Nevertheless, in July, it appeared that prosecutors had a cooperating witness who could attest to an advance plan to storm the Capitol.

On Friday, according to a filing purporting to argue that Zach Rehl should be released on bail, FBI agents raided Whallon-Wolkind’s home.

Rehl’s attorney, Jonathon Moseley, claimed that because (he said), “Aaron Whallon-Wollkind did not join the events in the District of Columbia on January 6, 2021, whether the peaceful demonstrations or the violent attacks by a very, very few against U.S. Capitol Police … the Government has no basis for investigating or charging Whallon-Wollkind other than his connection to Zachary Rehl” [all three forms of emphasis Moseley’s], which in turn Moseley claimed was proof that the government still did not have any evidence against Rehl.

It’s a colossally stupid argument, almost as stupid as Moseley’s last two filings, in which he admitted that the Proud Boys “‘circle[d]’ (in a rectangle) the region around the Capitol to monitor the risk from counter-demonstrators,” an encirclement plan that had been publicly tied to obstructing the vote count in advance, and then argued that because Ali Alexander, a brown person who took credit for organizing the Stop the Steal rallies, had not been arrested yet, his [white] client should not have been either.

In the guise of arguing that a warrant that Judge Kelly likely knew about — if not authorized — in advance did not substantiate probable cause, Moseley laid out anything a co-conspirator might want to know about the raid of one of another co-conspirator, including the date of the search, the items listed in the warrant, the crimes under investigation, the items seized, and Whallon-Wolkind’s [wise] refusal to answer questions without an attorney present.

Before dawn on the morning of Friday, October 8, 2021, approximately 20 law enforcement agents heavily armed and wearing riot police gear, raided the home rented by Aaron Whallon-Wollkind near the Pennsylvania border. Aaron was awakened to threats, commands, and intimidation from an extremely loud loud-speaker (far more powerful than a hand-held bullhorn) ordering him to come out of his rural house with his hands up. He walked out of the door to find his girlfriend already handcuffed outdoors without any pants being guarded by the riot-gear wearing FBI agents.

On his lawn he found an armored personnel carrier which he understands to be a “Bear Cat.” The tank-like armored personnel carrier and other vehicles had torn up his lawn. There was also a roughly 15 foot long battering ram mounted on a vehicle. They were apparently all agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation or at least led by the FBI with supporting officers.

[snip]

In the pre-dawn of Friday, October 8, 2021, Whallon-Wollkind was also handcuffed and held outside while the agents ransacked his house along with his half-naked girlfriend. After some of the roughly 20 agents had searched his house inside, some of the agents brought Whallon-Wollkind back inside where they had moved a single chair in the middle of a room like an interrogation scene from a war movie. They sat him down and began to interrogate him. He told them that he refused to say anything without the advice of an attorney.

The FBI took all of his computer and computer devices and phones, including an old broken phone.

However, Whallon-Wollkind was not arrested or charged.

[snip]

They had staked out his house and taken photographs. The only thing they did not already have is evidence of Zachary Rehl planning, organizing, or leading a poorly-defined “Stop the Steal protest” which Ari [sic] Alexander takes credit for being the National Organizer of. Counsel has reviewed the search warrant and documents given to Whallon-Wollkind yesterday morning, which was sent by text message from his girlfriend.

Counsel understands that when freely given to Wollkind and his girlfriend, the documents lost their sealed character. The paperwork was freely provided to Wollkind and his girlfriend at their house, with no instructions that any restrictions applied to them. There is nothing in the search warrant that orders anything with regard to the person whose property is being searched. We are not talking about the underlying affidavit, which was not provided and remains under seal. But the deprivation of Zachary Rehl’s liberty, being incarcerated for months of his life he will never get back, for things he did not do, outweighs any interest of the Government in continuing to perpetuate a baseless conspiracy theory against Zachary Rehl.

The search warrant is authorized to be executed by October 14, 2021, corresponding to the motions schedule for the next hearing of this Court.

The search warrant was issued on either October 1, 2021, or October 4, 2021 (the text message version is blurry).

[snip]

The SUBJECT OFFENSES are the same criminal charges for which Zachary Rehl was indicted in the First Superseding Indictment. The items to be searched and seized include:

a. Clothing items associating AARON WOLKIND with the Proud Boys organization, as described in the affidavit in support of the search warrant application.

* * *

d. Records and information relating to the identification of persons who either (i) collaborated, conspired or assisted (knowingly or unknowingly) the commission of the SUBJECT OFFENSES; or (ii) communicated about matters relating to the SUBJECT OFFENSES, including records that help reveal their whereabouts.

* * *

f. Records and information … any efforts to or questions about the legitimacy of the 2020 Presidential election, the certification process of the 2020 Presidential Election, or otherwise influence the policy or composition of the United States government by intimidation or coercion.

* * *

h. Records and information relating to the state of mind of the subjects and/or co-conspirators, e.g. intent, absence of mistake….

Moseley makes much of the fact that the FBI had correctly identified in which judicial district Whallon-Wolkind’s house is located, which he says is in a rural area close to the PA border, as well as that the FBI had a serial number and type for Whallon-Wolkind’s smart phone.

Indeed, while counsel is not revealing the judicial district where the search warrant was issued, where Wollkind resides, and where the search warrant was executed, the FBI would have to already know everything imaginable about Wollkind in order to apply to the correct judicial district, which is not what one would expect, and to include (thankfully, to avoid misunderstandings and mistakes) three photographs of Wollkind’s rented house. Thus, the FBI did not need to learn about Wollkind. They wanted to scrounge around for evidence against Rehl that they still do not have. The FBI already knew the precise type and serial number of the smart phone used by Wollkind.

It’s as if this attorney has never seen a probable cause warrant affidavit before, which describe both these things to establish probable cause for the warrant.

Moseley’s conspiracy theory is that the FBI obtained this warrant between the time Rehl first renewed his bid for pretrial release and days before the time there’ll be a status hearing exclusively to obtain evidence to use to prove what the DC Circuit Court has already said is adequate basis to detain Rehl’s co-conspirators.

Perhaps the most interesting detail in this filing, however, is a stray sentence that seems to indicate that Whallon-Wolkind may have traveled to DC in January after the riot.

Aaron Whallon-Wollkind never travelled to the District of Columbia until after the protests were over.

Whatever else Moseley argues, this filing comes after months in which his client’s alleged co-conspirators have suggested that Whallon-Wolkind either was cued by the FBI to incite the entire riot with really incriminating statements (which Jones effectively denied) or had only avoided charges for those far more damning statements because he was cooperating. That is, for months, other Proud Boys have argued that Whallon-Wolkind’s statements were badly incriminating. Now Moseley wants the judge who has been hearing that for months (Moseley repeatedly states that this investigation has been going on ten months rather than nine) to believe there’s nothing incriminating about Whallon-Wolkind’s actions leading up to and during the riot.

If Whallon-Wolkind had been cooperating before — presumably under a proffer agreement that would have prohibited the government from using his statements against him so long as they were honest — it appears that cooperation has ceased. Or perhaps the government has gotten more useful cooperators who’ve implicated Whallon-Wolkind more deeply in the planning for that day.

Whatever the reason, the FBI has recently shifted its focus to the guy who expressed his desire on the morning of the insurrection that there would be an insurrection.

Zach Rehl’s Subpoena for Port-a-John Details from the Non-Existent One Nation Under God

The fourth defendant in the Proud Boy Leader indictment, Zach Rehl, has finally made an aggressive appearance in the docket.

How he got here is a matter of significant interest — and some dispute. On September 9, Aram Rostom (who keeps getting these great scoops), reported that Enrique Tarrio released a recording in July reassuring everyone that Rehl would not flip. “If there’s anyone that will hold fast, it’s fucking Zach.”

In the July audio, a copy of which was reviewed by Reuters, Tarrio said that “we are trying to f—ing avoid” a situation in which the senior members facing charges would cooperate with prosecutors. The four, who are jailed without bond, have pleaded not guilty.

Raising the possibility that one of the four leaders may have been cooperating with authorities, Tarrio told fellow Proud Boy leadership he didn’t believe that the man was doing so – and said he had spoken about the matter directly with that leader’s wife.

“The bigger problem with that is the guys that are in prison right now are holding on to hope that everybody is f—ing staying put because they didn’t do anything wrong,” Tarrio said. “The moment that they think one of the guys flipped, it throws everything off and it makes everybody turn on each other, and that’s what we are trying to f—ing avoid.”

When the message leaked, Tarrio released another recording saying that it’s hard enough to fight the government without having to fight, “not just a regular felony, like a serious felony.”

“You know it’s hard enough to fight a f—ing entire government…,” Tarrio said in the Aug. 27 message, “to have to worry about dudes in here f—ing putting you in felony territory. Not just regular felony, like a serious felony.”

On September 19, Ethan Nordean included the following allegations in a filing, noting that in August (so after Tarrio called Rehl’s wife), Rehl had asked Judge Amit Mehta for help firing his attorney, citing what sound like real complaints with his representation. Nordean went on, describing an incident in which prosecutor Seth Jones met with Rehl outside the presence of his counsel and threatened Rehl with transfer to DC if he didn’t flip.

In the bail hearing on September 13, counsel to Defendant Biggs alerted the Court to information concerning the government’s attempts to transfer Defendant Rehl to the D.C. jail. Specifically, Biggs’ counsel advised that the government’s attorneys may have threatened to transfer Rehl to D.C. from a Philadelphia jail if he did not agree to cooperate with the government against the other Defendants. Counsel have subsequently gathered additional information about this episode. It significantly bears on Nordean’s and Biggs’ pending bail motions in several respects. These matters should be investigated by the Court, as it appears that the government’s constitutional violations here are not limited to the improper withholding of exculpatory material beyond the point at which Defendants may make timely use of it. Counsel are working on obtaining sworn declarations for the Court but advise it here about what they have learned in the meantime.

On August 13, Defendant Rehl mailed a letter to the Court. Exh. 1. He was writing from his cell in FDC Philadelphia. Rehl formally requested that he be allowed to terminate his thencounsel, “effective immediately, due to ineffective counsel.” Among other reasons given, Rehl noted that his counsel was taking actions on his behalf without his knowledge and ignoring virtually all requests to discuss the case. “In five months, I have met with [counsel] once in the middle of May for approximately 30 minutes,” Rehl wrote. Exh. 1. As this letter was never filed on the docket, it is not clear when the government became aware of it. However, as inmate nonlegal mail is reviewed, particularly in a case such as this, there is a presumption that the government gained knowledge of the letter at some point.

Sometime after he mailed that message to the Court, Rehl was removed from his cell by federal agents, likely U.S. Marshals. Rehl did not know where he was being taken. The agents told him he was headed to a court appearance. That was not true. Rehl was then moved through an underground tunnel to what appeared to be the Philadelphia federal courthouse. He was then steered not to a courtroom but to an office. There he was greeted by assistant U.S. Attorney Luke Jones. Rehl apparently waited with the government’s prosecutor, without counsel present, for approximately an hour and a half. At that point, an individual who works in the office of Rehl’s former counsel appeared. Rehl had never retained this person to be his counsel and knew her only as an assistant to his former lawyer.3 At that point, AUSA Jones began to converse with Rehl about this case. It is our understanding that Rehl’s retained counsel was not then present. Neither was an FBI agent, according to those in the room.

Among other matters, AUSA Jones apparently told Rehl that if he did not cooperate with the government, he would likely be transferred from FDC Philadelphia to the D.C. jail, where he would not be able to see his wife and child, at least until after his “conviction.”4 It is our understanding that when Rehl said there was nothing to cooperate about, AUSA Jones responded that, in that case, Rehl could “wear a wire” when talking to others. Rehl’s then-counsel arrived much later—approximately three hours behind schedule. At that point the lawyers agreed to continue the meeting to the following day.

So unusual were these proceedings that the Marshals who transported Rehl back to the jail expressed their concern to him about his apparent total lack of legal representation. “Did you know that interview was going to happen? Did your lawyer set that up for you?” When jail staff returned to Rehl’s cell the next day, he refused to meet with AUSA Jones again. [link added]

Nordean made all this public based on a claim that this meant the government was holding them — last I checked, in Florida and Washington — because they wanted Rehl to wear a wire on them.

In response, Jones said the claims were bullshit and inappropriate for Biggs and Nordean to raise in any case.

The allegations of government misconduct are false. It would be improper for the government to address these allegations with counsel for defendants Nordean or Biggs, neither of whom represent defendant Rehl, or to address them further in a public filing. Defendant Rehl is represented by counsel, with whom the government has conferred regarding these allegations.

Contrary to defendant Nordean’s suggestion (ECF No. 174 at 4-7), the allegations have no bearing on his or defendant Biggs’ pending motions to reopen bail hearings. Moreover, the allegations are spurious and should not be countenenced by the Court.

At the most recent hearing, prosecutors attributed the earlier delay on moving Rehl to detention motions and said the Marshals were responsible for the decision to move him. Who knows who is telling the truth, but Judge Tim Kelly agreed that it really is irrelevant to Biggs and Nordean’s bids to get out of jail. He also had a separate hearing where Rehl informed him that Jonathon Moseley is now representing him and he’s quite happy with the relationship thus far.

That’s how we got here, to Rehl’s second substantive motion, in which Moseley moved to request for a subpoena for information on the permits authorizing the Wild Protest rally at the location advertised on the East side of the Capitol. Or, if he can’t get that, he wants policies on port-a-johns because (the motion shows) there were port-a-johns where the rally advertisement said a rally would be held.

ZACHARY REHL, by counsel, requests the issuance of a subpoena to the U.S. Capitol Police, c/o Thomas Manger, [new] Chief of Police and/or Custodian of Records, for

(1) Any and all documents relating in any way to any application for —

(2) Any and all documents relating in any way to —

(3) Any and all documents relating in any way to the denial of —

(4) Any and all documents relating in any way to any revocation of — any permit to demonstrate or assemble on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol, especially in the Northeast corner of the grounds across 2nd Street, NE from the U.S. Supreme Court, on January 6, 2021, or for any time period including January 6, 2021. Or:

(5) Any and all documents relating in any way to the placement of temporary toilets (commonly described as porta-potties) on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol, in the Northeast corner of the grounds across 2nd Street, NE from the U.S. Supreme Court, on January 6, 2021, or for any time period including January 6, 2021. (Please do not confuse the facilities set up on the other side of the Capitol very far away for assembly of stands for the inauguration on January 20, 2021, which could not explain the porta-potties across Second Street from the U.S. Supreme Court.)

(6) Any and all documents relating in any way to general policies and procedures at any time concerning restrictions on the placement of equipment such as porta-potties on the grass of the U.S. Capitol grounds (i) without a permit or (ii) without the employment of contractors approved by the U.S. Capitol Police to do the work.

There’s a lot of word games about how what the indictment really alleges (the object of the conspiracy notwithstanding) is that Rehl conspired to argue in favor of the Electoral College.

15. Indeed, the First Superseding Indictment alleges that:

36. On December 23, 2020, REHL posted on social media describing January 6, 2021, Congress gets to argue the legitimacy of the [E]lectoral [C]ollege votes, and as “the day where yes, there will be a big rally on that day.”

16. Thus, the grand jury by indictment and the prosecution assisting in the drafting of the indictment admits and confesses that REHL’s goal was to get Congress “to argue the legitimacy of the [E]lectoral [C]ollege votes, and – for THAT purpose ” yes, there will be a big rally on that day.”

17. The government admits and confesses within the four corners of the indictment that the goal of the alleged “conspiracy” (which would require a criminal goal) was to get Congress “to argue the legitimacy of the [E]lectoral [C]ollege votes,” and not to stop, obstruct, delay or hinder the Electoral College certification.

18. The government admits and confesses within the four corners of the indictment that the goal of the alleged “conspiracy” was to demand that Congress do not just half of its job but all of its job in certifying the Electoral College vote.

19. Congress plainly could not “argue” the “legitimacy” of the Electoral College votes IF CONGRESS WERE NOT IN SESSION.

But the request itself, for proof that the underlying protest was permitted, is a reasonable basis to try to argue he didn’t plan to prevent the peaceful transfer of power that day.

The problem for Rehl — and the reason this move may backfire — is that the permits are already public and they likely say far more than Rehl wants them to say; BuzzFeed liberated them (in a fairly historic bit of Jason Leopold and Jeffrey Light FOIA magic).

The documents show that when Capitol Police received the permit application for the specific port-a-john location that Rehl wants to subpoena, an officer responding to the permits judged that the application was an attempt to hide the role of Stop the Steal in the rally.

On Dec. 21, 2020, a group called One Nation Under God filed an application with the Capitol Police’s special events section to stage a protest over “election fraud in swing states” at the Senate East Front grassy area on Jan. 6 between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m.

The officer who reviewed the application noticed some irregularities. For one thing, the officer wrote in an intelligence assessment, “One Nation Under God is not an organization and does not maintain social media accounts or webpages.” For another, one of the people listed as a confirmed speaker was Alexander, a leader of Stop the Steal, which was planning a major rally at Freedom Plaza that same day.

A screenshot of the text from the documents

Obtained via Capitol Police

“I explained,” the officer wrote, “that it appears that the Stop the Steal and the One Nation Under God is one in the same due to the similarities and the affiliation with Ali Alexander.” In an email on Dec. 31, 2020, another officer mentioned concerns about the approval of “certain permits,” specifically that “the permit requests … are being used as proxies for Stop the Steal” and “may also be involved with organizations that may be planning trouble.”

The officer did some follow up only to find that the guy who applied for the permit couldn’t answer basic questions about the event.

The permit application listed Nathan Martin of Shelby, Ohio, as a representative of One Nation Under God. According to the documents, a Capitol Police officer spoke with him on Dec. 28, 2020. The officer’s notes suggest that Martin was not forthcoming about the group’s plans.

A screenshot of the application from One Nation Under God

Obtained via Capitol Police

A permit application listing Nathan Martin as the contact for One Nation Under God

“I inquired if he has any additional information he could give me for the event. Mr. Martin said there are a few events that they have going on and he does not know which one I was referring,” the officer wrote. “When I asked about the ‘few events’, he stated that the events were in the hotels.”

And when BuzzFeed called Martin, he admitted the tie between the group on the permit and Stop the Steal — effectively confirming that One Nation was a front for Stop the Steal.

Brown, who did not respond to emails and phone calls requesting comment, told the officer Martin “is associated with Stop the Steal and travels with Ali Alexander.” Martin “does not seem to have an official title but he deals with the daily operations to include hotel books and car rentals.”

[snip]

In an interview with BuzzFeed News, Martin acknowledged his affiliation with the two groups but said he could not explain what One Nation Under God’s mission was, how it was formed, and for what purpose. He said he had not seen the permit, could not explain why his name was on it, and was unaware that the demonstration had been capped at 50 people.

The permit also says the purpose of the demonstration is “demonstration for election fraud in swing states,” which doesn’t sound particularly legal. And BuzzFeed learned that the sound equipment (which Alex Jones may have used to lure bodies to the East side of the Capitol) was never used.

Now maybe Rehl knows all this. Maybe this is what he thinks he’ll get. He first started pursuing this subpoena on September 11, two days after BuzzFeed released these records. So maybe the proof that the Capitol Police approved this permit even after recognizing it was all just a front is what he’s after.

But effectively what he’s doing is soliciting records that show Stop the Steal, with which the Proud Boys seem to have coordinated, engaged in a kind of fraud on the Capitol Police to obtain more permits and spread out their obviously false claim that each protest would only have 50 participants.

Effectively, he risks opening up a whole big can of fraud exposure for any co-conspirators, and any reliance the Proud Boys made on having this permit (and the port-a-johns) to legitimize their mob rests on the shell games that Ali Alexander’s people were playing.

Update: Rehl didn’t know about the BuzzFeed liberation, but neither did he credit me for informing him when he learned of it (the third time the Proud Boy leaders have not credited my reporting in their filings).

4. However, in response to the filing of counsel’s Motion, a news blog noticed the Motion and commented on it, and the blog entry was forwarded to me as counsel.

5. It seems that BUZZFEED filed suit for this information and the permits were released to the public on September 9, 2021. The documents produced are attached hereto.

The admission that he didn’t know that the permits had been liberated (and therefore didn’t know that they show Ali Alexander playing a shell game to obtain permits) may be why his attorney wants to get a good look at these permits for “demonstration for election fraud in swing states” before he relies on them for a new bid to be released.

THEREFORE, the Motion may be moot and counsel asks the Court to delay any consideration of the Motion until counsel can decipher these documents and determine if anything further is still needed.

DOJ Put Someone Who Enabled Sidney Powell’s Lies — Jocelyn Ballantine — in Charge of Prosecuting the Proud Boys

Because of Joe Biggs’ role at the nexus between the mob that attacked Congress and those that orchestrated the mob, his prosecution is the most important case in the entire January 6 investigation. If you prosecute him and his alleged co-conspirators successfully, you might also succeed in holding those who incited the attack on the Capitol accountable. If you botch the Biggs prosecution, then all the most important people will go free.

Which is why it is so unbelievable that DOJ put someone who enabled Sidney Powell’s election season lies about the Mike Flynn prosecution, Jocelyn Ballantine, on that prosecution team.

Yesterday, at the beginning of the Ethan Nordean and Joe Biggs hearing, prosecutor Jason McCullough told the court that in addition to him and Luke Jones, Ballantine was present at the hearing for the prosecution. He may have said that she was “overseeing” this prosecution. (I’ve got a request for clarification in with the US Attorney’s office.)

Ballantine has not filed a notice of appearance in the case (nor does she show on the minute notice for yesterday’s hearing). In the one other January 6 case where she has been noticeably involved — electronically signing the indictment for Nick Kennedy — she likewise has not filed a notice of appearance.

Less than a year ago when she assisted in DOJ’s attempts to overturn the Mike Flynn prosecution, Ballantine did three things that should disqualify her from any DOJ prosecution team, much less serving on the most important prosecution in the entire January 6 investigation:

  • On September 23, she provided three documents that were altered to Sidney Powell, one of which Trump used six days later in a packaged debate attack on Joe Biden
  • On September 24, she submitted an FBI interview report that redacted information — references to Brandon Van Grack — that was material to the proceedings before Judge Emmet Sullivan
  • On October 26, she claimed that lawyers for Peter Strzok and Andrew McCabe had checked their clients’ notes to confirm there were no other alterations to documents submitted to the docket; both lawyers refused to review the documents

After doing these things in support of Bill Barr’s effort to undermine the Flynn prosecution (and within days of the Flynn pardon), Ballantine was given a confidential temporary duty assignment (it may have been a CIA assignment). Apparently she’s back at DC USAO now.

Three documents got altered and another violated Strzok and Page’s privacy

As a reminder, after DOJ moved to hold Mike Flynn accountable for reneging on his plea agreement, Billy Barr put the St. Louis US Attorney, Jeffrey Jensen, in charge of a “review” of the case, which DOJ would later offer as its excuse for attempting to overturn the prosecution.

On September 23, Ballantine provided Powell with five documents, purportedly from Jensen’s investigation into the Flynn prosecution:

I outlined the added date on the first set of Strzok notes here:

There was never any question that the notes could have been taken no earlier than January 5, because they memorialized Jim Comey’s retelling of a meeting that other documentation, including documents submitted in the Flynn docket, shows took place on January 5. Even Chuck Grassley knows what date the meeting took place.

But DOJ, while using the notes as a central part of their excuse for trying to overturn the Flynn prosecution, nevertheless repeatedly suggested that there was uncertainty about the date of the notes, claiming they might have been taken days earlier. And then, relying on DOJ’s false representations about the date, Sidney Powell claimed they they showed that Joe Biden — and not, as documented in Mary McCord’s 302, Bob Litt — was the one who first raised the possibility that Flynn may have violated the Logan Act.

Strzok’s notes believed to be of January 4, 2017, reveal that former President Obama, James Comey, Sally Yates, Joe Biden, and apparently Susan Rice discussed the transcripts of Flynn’s calls and how to proceed against him. Mr. Obama himself directed that “the right people” investigate General Flynn. This caused former FBI Director Comey to acknowledge the obvious: General Flynn’s phone calls with Ambassador Kislyak “appear legit.” According to Strzok’s notes, it appears that Vice President Biden personally raised the idea of the Logan Act.

During the day on September 29, Powell disclosed to Judge Sullivan that she had spoken to Trump (as well as Jenna Ellis) about the case. Then, later that night, Trump delivered a prepared attack on Biden that replicated Powell’s false claim that Biden was behind the renewed investigation into Flynn.

President Donald J. Trump: (01:02:22)
We’ve caught them all. We’ve got it all on tape. We’ve caught them all. And by the way, you gave the idea for the Logan Act against General Flynn. You better take a look at that, because we caught you in a sense, and President Obama was sitting in the office.

In a matter of days, then, what DOJ would claim was an inadvertent error got turned into a campaign attack from the President.

When DOJ first confessed to altering these notes, they claimed all the changes were inadvertent.

In response to the Court and counsel’s questions, the government has learned that, during the review of the Strzok notes, FBI agents assigned to the EDMO review placed a single yellow sticky note on each page of the Strzok notes with estimated dates (the notes themselves are undated). Those two sticky notes were inadvertently not removed when the notes were scanned by FBI Headquarters, before they were forwarded to our office for production. The government has also confirmed with Mr. Goelman and can represent that the content of the notes was not otherwise altered.

Similarly, the government has learned that, at some point during the review of the McCabe notes, someone placed a blue “flag” with clear adhesive to the McCabe notes with an estimated date (the notes themselves are also undated). Again, the flag was inadvertently not removed when the notes were scanned by FBI Headquarters, before they were forwarded to our office for production. Again, the content of the notes was not otherwise altered.

There are multiple reasons to believe this is false. For example, when DOJ submitted notes that Jim Crowell took, they added a date in a redaction, something that could in no way be inadvertent. And as noted, the January 5 notes had already been submitted, without the date change (though then, too, DOJ claimed not to know the date of the document).

But the most important tell is that, when Ballantine sent Powell the three documents altered to add dates, the protective order footer on the documents had been removed in all three, in the case of McCabe’s notes, actually redacted. When she released the re-altered documents (someone digitally removed the date in the McCabe notes rather than providing a new scan), the footer had been added back in. This can easily be seen by comparing the altered documents with the re-altered documents.

The altered January 5, 2017 Strzok notes, without the footer:

The realtered January 5, 2017 Strzok notes, with the footer:

The second set of Strzok notes (originally altered to read March 28), without the footer:

The second set of Strzok notes, with the footer.

The altered McCabe noteswith the footer redacted out:

The realtered McCabe notes, with the footer unredacted:

This is something that had to have happened at DOJ (see William Ockham’s comments below and this post for proof in the metadata that these changes had to have been done by Ballantine). The redaction of the footers strongly suggests that they were provided to Powell with the intention of facilitating their further circulation (the other two documents she shared with Powell that day had no protective order footer). In addition, each of these documents should have a new Bates stamp.

DOJ redacted Brandon Van Grack’s non-misconduct

On September 24, DOJ submitted a report of an FBI interview Jeffrey Jensen’s team did with an Agent who sent pro-Trump texts on his FBI-issued phone, Bill Barnett. In the interview, Barnett made claims that conflicted with actions he had taken on the case. He claimed to be unaware of evidence central to the case against Flynn (for example, that Flynn told Sergey Kislyak that Trump knew of something said on one of their calls). He seemed unaware of the difference between a counterintelligence investigation and a criminal one. And he made claims about Mueller prosecutors — Jeannie Rhee and Andrew Weissmann — with whom he didn’t work directly. In short, the interview was obviously designed to tell a politically convenient story, not the truth.

Even worse than the politicized claims that Barnett made, the FBI or DOJ redacted the interview report such that all reference to Brandon Van Grack was redacted, substituting instead with the label, “SCO Atty 1.” (References to Jeannie Rhee, Andrew Weissmann, and Andrew Goldstein were not redacted; there are probable references to Adam Jed and Zainab Ahmad that are not labeled at all.)

The result of redacting Van Grack’s name is that it hid from Judge Sullivan many complimentary things that Barnett had to say about Van Grack:

Van Grack’s conduct was central to DOJ’s excuse for throwing out the Flynn prosecution. Powell repeatedly accused Van Grack, by name, of engaging in gross prosecutorial misconduct. Yet the report was submitted to Judge Sullivan in such a way as to hide that Barnett had no apparent complaints about Van Grack’s actions on the Flynn case.

I have no reason to believe that Ballantine made those redactions. But according to the discovery letter she sent to Powell, she sent an unredacted copy to Flynn’s team, while acknowledging that the one she was submitting to the docket was redacted. Thus, she had to have known she was hiding material information from the Court when she submitted the interview report.

Ballantine falsely claimed Strzok and McCabe validated their notes

After some of these alterations were made public, Judge Sullivan ordered DOJ to authenticate all the documents they had submitted as part of their effort to overturn the Flynn prosecution. The filing submitted in response was a masterpiece of obfuscation, with three different people making claims while dodging full authentication for some of the most problematic documents. In the filing that Ballantine submitted, she claimed that Michael Bromwich and Aitan Goelman, lawyers for McCabe and Strzok, “confirmed” that no content was altered in the notes.

The government acknowledges its obligation to produce true and accurate copies of documents. The government has fully admitted its administrative error with respect to the failure to remove three reviewer sticky notes containing estimated date notations affixed to three pages of undated notes (two belonging to former Deputy Assistant Director Peter Strzok, and one page belonging to former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe) prior to their disclosure. These dates were derived from surrounding pages’ dates in order to aid secondary reviewers. These three sticky notes were inadvertently not removed when the relevant documents were scanned by the FBI for production in discovery. See ECF 259. The government reiterates, however, that the content of those exhibits was not altered in any way, as confirmed by attorneys for both former FBI employees. [underline original]

According to an email Bromwich sent Ballantine, when Ballantine asked for help validating the transcripts DOJ did of McCabe’s notes, McCabe declined to do so.

I have spoken with Mr. McCabe and he declines to provide you with any information in response to your request.

He believes DOJ’s conduct in this case is a shocking betrayal of the traditions of the Department of the Justice and undermines the rule of law that he spent his career defending and upholding. If you share with the Court our decision not to provide you with assistance, we ask that you share the reason.

We would of course respond to any request that comes directly from the Court.

And according to an email Goelman sent to Ballantine, they said they could not check transcriptions without the original copies of documents.

Sorry not to get back to you until now.  We have looked at the attachments to the email you sent yesterday (Sunday) afternoon.  We are unable to certify the authenticity of all of the attachments or the accuracy of the transcriptions.  To do so, we would need both more time and access to the original notes, particularly given that U.S. Attorney Jensen’s team has already been caught altering Pete’s notes in two instances.  However, we do want to call your attention to the fact that Exhibit 198-11 is mislabeled, and that these notes are not the notes of Pete “and another agent” taken during the Flynn interview.

Additionally, we want to register our objection to AUSA Ken Kohl’s material misstatements to Judge Sullivan during the September 29, 2020, 2020, [sic] telephonic hearing, during which Mr. Kohl inaccurately represented that Pete viewed himself as an “insurance policy” against President Trump’s election.

I have no reason to believe the content was altered, though I suspect other things were done to McCabe’s notes to misrepresent the context of a reference in his notes to Flynn. But not only had McCabe and Strzok not validated their notes, but they had both pointedly refused to. Indeed, during this same time period, DOJ was refusing to let McCabe see his own notes to prepare for testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Nevertheless, Ballantine represented to Judge Sullivan that they had.

It baffles me why DOJ would put Ballantine on the most important January 6 case. Among other things, the conduct I’ve laid out here will make it easy for the defendants to accuse DOJ of similar misconduct on the Proud Boys case — and doing just that happens to be Nordean’s primary defense strategy.

But I’m mindful that there are people in DC’s US Attorney’s Office (not Ballantine) who took actions in the past that may have made the January 6 attack more likely. In a sentencing memo done on Barr’s orders, prosecutors attempting to minimize the potential sentence against Roger Stone suggested that a threat four Proud Boys helped Roger Stone make against Amy Berman Jackson was no big deal, unworthy of a sentencing enhancement.

Second, the two-level enhancement for obstruction of justice (§ 3C1.1) overlaps to a degree with the offense conduct in this case. Moreover, it is unclear to what extent the defendant’s obstructive conduct actually prejudiced the government at trial.

Judge Jackson disagreed with this assessment. In applying the enhancement, she presciently described how dangerous Stone and the Proud Boys could be if they incited others.

Here, the defendant willfully engaged in behavior that a rational person would find to be inherently obstructive. It’s important to note that he didn’t just fire off a few intemperate emails. He used the tools of social media to achieve the broadest dissemination possible. It wasn’t accidental. He had a staff that helped him do it.

As the defendant emphasized in emails introduced into evidence in this case, using the new social media is his “sweet spot.” It’s his area of expertise. And even the letters submitted on his behalf by his friends emphasized that incendiary activity is precisely what he is specifically known for. He knew exactly what he was doing. And by choosing Instagram and Twitter as his platforms, he understood that he was multiplying the number of people who would hear his message.

By deliberately stoking public opinion against prosecution and the Court in this matter, he willfully increased the risk that someone else, with even poorer judgment than he has, would act on his behalf. This is intolerable to the administration of justice, and the Court cannot sit idly by, shrug its shoulder and say: Oh, that’s just Roger being Roger, or it wouldn’t have grounds to act the next time someone tries it.

The behavior was designed to disrupt and divert the proceedings, and the impact was compounded by the defendant’s disingenuousness.

The people at DOJ who claimed that this toxic team was not dangerous in the past may want to downplay the critical role that Stone and the Proud Boys played — using the same kind of incendiary behavior — in the January 6 assault.

Whatever the reason, though, it is inexcusable that DOJ would put someone like Ballantine on this case. Given Ballantine’s past actions, it risks sabotaging the entire January 6 investigation.

DOJ quite literally put someone who, less than a year ago, facilitated Sidney Powell’s lies onto a prosecution team investigating the aftermath of further Sidney Powell lies.

Update: DC USAO’s media person refused to clarify what Ballantine’s role is, even though it was publicly acknowledged in court.

We are not commenting on cases beyond what is stated or submitted to the Court. We have no comment in response to your question.

Update: Added links to William Ockham’s proof that Ballantine made the realteration of the McCabe notes.

Update: One more point on this. I am not claiming here that anyone at DOJ is deliberately trying to sabotage the January 6 investigation, just that putting someone who, less than a year ago, made multiple representations to a judge that could call into question her candor going forward could discredit the Proud Boys investigation. I think it possible that supervisors at DC USAO put her on the team because they urgently need resources and she was available (possibly newly so after the end of her TDY). I think it possible that supervisors at DC USAO who are also implicated in Barr’s politicization, perhaps more closely tied to the intervention in the Stone case, put her there with corrupt intent.

But it’s also important to understand that up until February 2020, she was viewed as a diligent, ruthless prosecutor. I presume she buckled under a great deal of pressure after that and found herself in a place where competing demands — her duty of candor to the Court and orders from superiors all the way up to the Attorney General — became increasingly impossible to square.

Importantly, Lisa Monaco’s chief deputy John Carlin, and probably Monaco herself, would know Ballantine from their past tenure in the National Security Division as that heretofore ruthless national security prosecutor. The only mainstream outlet that covered anything other than DOJ’s admission they had added post-its to the notes was Politico. And the instinct not to punish career employees like Ballantine would mean what she would have avoided any scrutiny with the transition. So her assignment to the case is not itself evidence of an attempt to sabotage the prosecution.

Ethan Nordean Complains that He’s Not Being Treated as Badly as a Muslim Accused-Terrorist Mastermind

Ethan Nordean and Joe Biggs just argued they should be released pre-trial because — uniquely among 600 January 6 defendants (or even the subset of around 70 who are detained pre-trial) — they can’t prepare for trial unless they’re at home with access to electronic devices to work with their attorneys.

That was one of the “new” things Nordean attorney Nick Smith and Biggs’ attorney John Hull raised to argue they should be released (Nordean also raised the $1M bail his dad was willing to point up and the reverse panopticon fortress in which Nordean wanted to wait out trial with advance warning of pretrial service officer approach).

Ultimately, the entire hearing was problematic because Nordean’s lawyer, Nick Smith, largely succeeded in treating this as an original bail determination, rather than a reopening that would require new information. He succeeded — probably not without cause — in suggesting that DOJ hadn’t turned over a video he and Biggs claimed, fairly ridiculously, would prove they had no intent to assault the Capitol (he argued they intended to “go back” to the Ellipse when one of the most damning things about the Proud Boy actions that day is they never really gave heed to the rally that brought thousands of other people to DC).

But Judge Tim Kelly, though he was furious with Nordean for suggesting that he — a Trump appointee — was treating Nordean differently because of politics, nevertheless allowed both sides to treat this not as an motion to reopen, but as something else, meaning both kept throwing out new information. That led the government to provide information they would have presented if this were a bail determination.

And then they got into a fight over how much of an Eddie Block video each side has, or should have, all while arguing that if Kelly had it all he would liberate the masterminds of the January 6 attack.

Smith and Hull also argued that their clients should be treated like Russell Taylor even though Taylor never entered the Capitol and, in so arguing, ignored the DC Circuit ruling that said everyone should be treated individually.

Ultimately, though, Smith tried to resuscitate an argument that, because after he was arrested, the Northwest Proud Boys nominally replaced him as leader, it’s proof he couldn’t be dangerous going forward, in spite of the fact that Telegram chats Nordean himself submitted showed that everyone treated Nordean as a leader. And then Hull got up and admitted that both Biggs and Nordean were great leaders.

Yes they were.

There are — far bigger — problems here. Procedurally, this should have been focused on only new news. That’s not what happened — both sides were arguing as if this were a new detention dispute. Judge Kelly needs to bracket off debate about new news, especially if, as the government claims, Hull relied on information he had during the initial dispute (though given McCullough’s past sloppiness, I don’t trust him on this point either).

There are discovery disputes that Judge Kelly needs to put an end to right away — and needs to force DOJ on the record for the entire government.

There are other issues I’ll get into in a follow up; but a key point is Smith’s claim that poor white Ethan Nordean is being treated unfairly as compared to others. Smith argued that the one way the public could now that politics weren’t involved would be for the same standard to be applied.

One way public knows politics not involved is same standard applied.

Trump appointee Tim Kelly nearly lost his patience by the insinuation that poor Ethan Nordean was being treated unfairly for being a right-wing white man.

But maybe Kelly should take him up on that.

After all, the standard for Muslim men who orchestrated terrorist attacks like the one Nordean did is far harsher than what he has been subjected to. Ethan Nordean says he’s suffering from unequal treatment.

He’s right.

But only because we don’t subject white men who try to prevent the peaceful transfer of power like we would Muslim men.

He wants to be treated equally, like Muslim men accused of disrupting democracy, I can only assume. But that is unlikely to get him released pre-trial, nor should it.

At one point, Nick Smith — presumably intending to complain that his client wasn’t treated like some other group of people who didn’t apparently mastermind an attack on the US — suggested Nordean’s treatment raised Equal Protection issues.

Smith: One way public knows politics not involved is same standard applied.

He makes a great argument that Ethan Nordean should be treated like any other terrorist leader. But that would result in harsher conditions, not lighter ones.

Don’t Ignore What Trevor McFadden Has to Say about January 6

Tierney Sneed had a good article yesterday summarizing how starkly some of the judges presiding over January 6 cases have described it. For example, Sneed quoted liberally from the comments Randolph Moss made in sentencing Paul Hodgkins, comments that the government and other judges are quoting frequently.

“It means that it will be harder today than it was seven months ago for the United States and our diplomats to convince other nations to pursue democracy,” Judge Randolph Moss said at a July 19 sentencing hearing. “It means that it will be harder for all of us to convince our children and our grandchildren that democracy stands as the immutable foundation of this nation. It means that we are now all fearful about the next attack in a way that we never were.”

[snip]

Moss, a nominee of President Barack Obama, said that the attack “threatened not only the security of the Capitol, but democracy itself,” as he sentenced Paul Hodgkins, a rioter who pleaded guilty to obstructing an official proceeding.

“Our elected representatives from both political parties came together that day to perform their constitutional and statutory duty to declare, in the word of the statute, the person elected president,” Moss said at the July 19 hearing. “The mob’s objective was to stop that from happening. They were prepared to break the law to prevent Congress from performing its constitutional and statutory duty. That is chilling for many reasons.”

She includes judges appointed by Democrats (in addition to Moss, Amy Berman Jackson and Beryl Howell) and Republicans (Reggie Walton and Royce Lamberth).

As someone who thinks January 6 was exceptionally dangerous, it’s comforting to hear some judges agree. But I think that, to make a case about how judges are interpreting January 6, you would need to include the statements of a judge like Trevor McFadden, as well.

Of the District Judges carrying the heavy January 6 case load, four — Carl Nichols, Dabney Friedrich, Tim Kelly, and McFadden — are Trump appointees. Unlike some of Trump’s DC Circuit appointees, they’re all serious judges, with time as prosecutors or in other DOJ roles. Trump appointees aren’t necessarily going to be more favorable for January 6 defendants. While Nichols may have burnished his right wing bonafides clerking for Clarence Thomas, for example, that means he spent a lot of time with a Justice who is generally awful for non-corporate defendants’ rights. Former public defender and Obama appointee Tanya Chutkan has already made decisions (on bail) that are more favorable to defendants than the Trump appointees, for example, and I expect that to continue (the judge presiding over the Oath Keeper conspiracy case, Amit Mehta, has also served as a public defender).

Still, as recent Republican appointees, the Trump judges are an important read and voice on this investigation. Both by disposition and record on the court, Friedrich is probably the Trumpiest judge, but thus far the most interesting case she has been assigned is that of Guy Reffitt, the III Percenter who threatened his kids if they revealed his role in the riot; in that case, she approved an order allowing prosecutors to use his face to open a laptop with pictures from the insurrection. Nichols has a bunch of cases, such as the Pollocks or former Green Beret Jeffrey McKellop, that may get interesting down the road, but thus far his most active cases have involved presiding over the plea deals of a group of people arrested on trespass charges on the day of the attack. Tim Kelly is presiding over the bulk of the Proud Boy cases, which by itself gives him a pretty full docket (but is also why DOJ really fucked up by treating Ethan Nordean’s invocation of the Kavanaugh protests so blithely); his decisions thus far have been totally fair. The decisions of Trevor McFadden, who is presiding over the omnibus Tunnel assault case, have also been fair.

I think McFadden’s statements should be included in any read of what these judges think of January 6 because he has pulled a number of the ones that, because the defendants’ political speech has been implicated in the cases against them, will provide an early read about how a Republican with solid political ties will view the balancing of political speech and threat posed by January 6.

In addition to the Hunter and Kevin Seefried prosecution (the latter of whom was pictured carrying a Confederate flag through the Capitol), McFadden is presiding over the prosecutions of American Firster Christian Secor, Cowboys for Trump founder Couy Griffin, and Neo-Nazi Timothy Hale-Cusanelli.

In these cases, McFadden has expressed a fair amount of nuance in his views as he has presided over some genuinely difficult decisions.

He did take the way Hale-Cusanelli expressed his bigotry into account when he decided to hold him without bail (which was genuinely one of the most difficult detention decisions, in my opinion, and I was leaning towards release before McFadden made the decision), but in significant part because he may have acted on those views in the past and because his promises of action were alarming and intimidating his colleagues.

Having said all of that, we don’t typically penalize people for what they say or think. I think for purposes of my analysis, I need to — I’m trying to figure out whether this well-documented history of violent and racist language does suggest that the defendant poses a danger to the community.

[snip]

I also note the government’s evidence that the defendant appears to have surrounded himself, to a certain extent anyway, with people who have encouraged this behavior and people who may even agree with him. And I agree with the government’s concern regarding potential escalation of violence at this point given all that has occurred. And I am concerned for the safety of the confidential human source. I think given all of the facts here in the government’s motion, I mention it is pretty obvious to the defendant anyway who this person is. And I am concerned given all of the defendant[‘]s — all of the things he said in the past about committing violence against those who he feels are pitted against him. And given the sum evidence that the defendant has been willing to put these thoughts into action in the past, I think I do have a duty to protect that confidential source.

McFadden did, however, release someone with similarly repugnant views, Secor, even though Secor had been arming himself, in part because Secor had third party custodians — his parents — willing to vouch for him and put up a $200,000 bond. McFadden seems to be seeking to separate out hateful speech from where that speech turns violent and, if nothing else, that struggle deserves close attention.

But he’s also not viewing DOJ’s response to January 6 as driven predominantly by First Amendment issues. In a decision rejecting Griffin’s attempt to throw out one of the trespassing charges DOJ has used — which Griffin, because he did not enter the Capitol, was uniquely situated to challenge — McFadden dismissed Griffin’s claims of political discrimination.

The Government moved to detain Griffin before trial. It described Griffin’s political views as “inflammatory, racist, and at least borderline threatening advocacy.” Gov’t’s Mem. in Supp. of Pretrial Detention at 2, ECF No. 3. The Government also highlighted the gun rights advocacy of Cowboys for Trump, as well as allegedly violent statements made by Griffin.

[snip]

Finally, Griffin complains of discriminatory prosecution. He contends that he was targeted and “selectively charged . . . because the government loathed him and his politics.” Def.’s Reply at 3. “Few subjects are less adapted to judicial review than the exercise by the Executive of his discretion in deciding when and whether to institute criminal proceedings, or what precise charge shall be made, or whether to dismiss a proceeding once brought.” United States v. Fokker Servs. B.V., 818 F.3d 733, 741 (D.C. Cir. 2016) (cleaned up). So “the presumption of regularity” applies to “prosecutorial decisions and, in the absence of clear evidence to the contrary, courts presume that prosecutors have properly discharged their official duties.” Id.

Griffin comes up short on providing the “clear evidence” required for this Court to surmount the presumption of regularity—and the separation of powers. He points to “hundreds or perhaps thousands of other individuals ‘remaining’ in the same area” as him on January 6 who have not faced charges under 18 U.S.C. § 1752. Def.’s Mot. at 24. The Court hesitates to credit these unsupported numbers, especially as the Government continues to charge new individuals with offenses related to January 6. Nor is the Court concerned by the Government’s statements about Griffin when seeking to detain him pretrial; detention hearings require the Court to consider the defendant’s history and personal characteristics, as well as his potential dangerousness.

Griffin highlights the Government’s dismissal of charges under 18 U.S.C. § 1752 in “the interests of justice” in United States v. Christopher Kelly, 21-mj-128 (D.D.C. 2021). According to news reports, the Government moved to drop the charges after determining Kelly did not enter the Capitol building. See Feds move to drop charges for Capitol riot defendant, Politico, June 1, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/06/01/feds-capitol-riot-defendant-491514 (“‘Since he was not inside, in the interest of consistency in the investigation, the charges were dropped,’ the official said.”). Even so, the Government could rationally forgo federal prosecution as to most trespassers while deciding that Griffin’s leadership role in the crowd, position as an elected official, and more blatant conduct at the scene merited him different treatment. Not all differences amount to discrimination. In any event, presumably Kelly and the other uncharged protestors surrounding Griffin on the Capitol steps share his “politics,” Def.’s Reply at 3, complicating his complaint of bias here.

Griffin also points to the numerous uncharged protestors who broke through USCP barricades to occupy the Capitol steps on the eve of Justice Kavanaugh’s Senate confirmation vote. See Def.’s Notice at 2, ECF No. 39; see also Kavanaugh Protesters Ignore Capitol Barricades Ahead of Saturday Vote, Roll Call, Oct. 6, 2019, https://www.rollcall.com/2018/10/06/kavanaugh-protesters-ignore-capitol-barricades-ahead-ofsaturday-vote/. Disparate charging decisions in similar circumstances may be relevant at sentencing. Cf. 18 U.S.C. 3553(a)(c) (“the need to avoid unwarranted sentence disparities among defendants with similar records who have been found guilty of similar conduct”). But this is not a basis to dismiss the charges. [My emphasis]

McFadden based his decision on this point in part on separation of powers (the basis for some of his decisions that have been deemed pro-Trump) and presumption of regularity, as well as basic facts. He deemed reasonable the possibility that prosecutors viewed Griffin’s leadership role to be more important to prosecute. He suggested he might sentence Griffin (if he were found guilty) leniently based on a comparison with similarly situated protestors against Kavanugh. But he also based his decision on the notion that Griffin’s threats of violence (raised in a detention challenge conducted before Michael Sherwin departed) could pose a genuine concern to the government.

McFadden is not treating this investigation as a witch hunt against people with right wing views.

But at the same time, McFadden has deviated from his colleagues’ more alarmist language to refer to January 6. At least twice in hearings (including on this Griffin challenge), McFadden admonished an AUSA who referred to January 6 as an insurrection. Have you charged anyone with insurrection, McFadden rightly asked. In a court room, these are not empty terms. They are also names of crimes. And DOJ needs to be careful not to accuse these defendants of crimes that — for whatever reason — they haven’t charged.

It’s not that McFadden thinks January 6 was not serious. In the same Hale-Cusanelli hearing, he described, “Obviously, the January 6th riot was a serious and sui generis threat to our country’s body politic.” But thus far (he has not presided over any of the six cases that have been sentenced yet), he has adopted a more moderate tone in discussing the event.

It’s true that, for the moment, some District Court Judges will frame how we think of January 6. In Munchel, the DC Circuit, too, described January 6 in grave terms (albeit in a passage of Robert Wilkins’ majority opinion not joined by Greg Katsas).

It cannot be gainsaid that the violent breach of the Capitol on January 6 was a grave danger to our democracy, and that those who participated could rightly be subject to detention to safeguard the community. Cf. Salerno, 481 U.S. at 748 (“[I]n times of war or insurrection, when society’s interest is at its peak, the Government may detain individuals whom the government believes to be dangerous.” (citations omitted)).

But ultimately, the six Republican appointees on the Supreme Court will have their say about what this event was — at least about whether hundreds of people committed felony obstruction in trying to halt the peaceful transfer of power. And with that in mind, commentators and DOJ would do well to watch carefully for the specific aspects of January 6 that Trevor McFadden finds most troublesome.

Three Tea Leaves in Judge Tim Kelly’s Matthew Greene Detention Decision

Judge Tim Kelly, the judge presiding over most of the Proud Boy cases, just ruled that Matthew Greene must remain detained until his trial as a threat to the community. Greene’s defense attorney Michael Kasmarek made a compelling argument that the things Greene did at the Capitol weren’t as bad as some other defendants and a witness who testified that Greene had suggested they would have killed Nancy Pelosi if they had found her is unreliable (here is his brief). Prosecutor Erik Kenerson argued that the things Greene did since January 6 — such as stocking up on ammunition and calling for war — were the things that merited detention (here’s the government brief).

It didn’t help Greene that since these filings New York State indicted him because some of the guns he possessed when the FBI showed up were not legal in NY.

But I found the hearing most interesting for how Kelly got to the decision and something he said along the way.

First, after Kenerson said that two of the defendants were at least considering pleading, Kelly said he didn’t think he’d rule on the co-defendant William Pepe’s pending motions — a motion to dismiss the obstruction count, a motion to sever Pepe from Greene and Dominic Pezzola, and a motion to transfer the case out of DC — until after defendants decided they were going to trial.

Given my focus on pending challenges to the obstruction count, it’s significant that Kelly would defer ruling on it. According to a list of all the pending 1512 challenges submitted to Judge Randolph Moss by Brady Knowlton, Kelly has similar challenges from Ethan Nordean (which I wrote about here) and Joshua Pruitt.

But two other comments Kelly made suggest it may not matter.

As he began his analysis of the detention decision for Greene, he noted that the obstruction charge he and the others face may carry a sentence of up to 20 years; he characterized the charged crime as the obstruction of the peaceful transfer of power and described it as a gravely serious crime.

That doesn’t sound like the language of a judge who finds the obstruction charge inapt.

And then from that discussion Kelly described how the damage to the window of the Capitol he is charged with as a co-conspirator of Pezzola carries a terrorism enhancement.

It does — I’ve written about it several times, and such allegations have been before Kelly since a detention dispute for Pezzola in February. But I don’t remember Kelly emphasizing it as much in the past.

To be very clear: Kelly was talking about these legal implications in terms of what the grand jury had decided to charge these Proud Boys with. He wasn’t judging that the Proud Boys are terrorists; rather, he is noting that the grand jury charged them in such a way to be treated as such.

Still, it reflected a thought process I don’t recall him expressing in the same way before. And that’s of particular interest, because Kelly ruled Greene should stay in jail almost entirely because of the risk he — and the Proud Boys — posed going forward.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Proud Boy UCC-1’s Work Ethic Saved Him from a Felony Charge

The other day the government released Powerpoint presentations (Zach Rehl, Charles Donohoe) from detention hearings for the two Proud Boys, as well as the Telegram chats one or the other side used as part of those detention disputes. (The times on the chats are UTC-8, probably because they came from Ethan Nordean’s phone after it was seized in Washington; add three hours to get the time in DC.)

January 4 5:17 to 5:42PM

January 4 5:50 to 7:06PM

January 5 8:58PM to January 6 12:03AM

January 6 1:00 to 4:07PM

January 30 to February 1, Nordean and Donohoe

In general, the texts show how, in the wake of Enrique Tarrio’s arrest on January 4, Donohoe took the lead in attempting to set up two new Telegram chats — New MOSD, with just a few leaders, and Boots on the Ground, with around 60 Proud Boys (not all of whom were present, it seems) — so the Feds wouldn’t have access to their organizational efforts via Tarrio’s phone, which they correctly assumed the government had seized (though it’s not clear when the phone was exploited). The Proud Boys struggled to figure out what to do with Tarrio, with Donohoe seemingly warning not to add Tarrio back into a chat until they had confirmed he was free and using an uncompromised phone, to prevent the FBI from logging on under Tarrio’s credentials.

They seem to know that Tarrio also spoke with someone outside their circle about his flag-burning, and considered warning that person. They interspersed that conversation with discussions about how to get more Proud Boys to the riot, perhaps picking them up in Philadelphia or Greensboro. For several hours, Donohoe kept adding names, begging for help, explaining what he was doing as he went.

Because of the time crunch, Donohoe added everyone as Admins (I’m not familiar enough with Telegram to understand potential repercussions of that, with regards to FBI’s ability to get more of these chats as they arrested more Proud Boys).

On January 5, their communication plans were still in flux, with one apparent cell leader — who, on account of the redaction, appears not to have been arrested yet — communicating with his cell separately.

Nordean was supposed to be in charge, but he was AWOL for several hours leading up to 9PM (rather interesting hours on January 5 to be unreachable).

There are texts about adding someone to the MOSD leadership channel that might be consistent with Tarrio rejoining the chats after his release (the government redacted his name in some places but not all of them).

Whether or not they added Tarrio to the thread, Biggs — who was with the AWOL Nordean — seems to have been in contact with Tarrio.

Great swaths of the texts from January 6 — almost 10 full pages — are redacted. What’s left are seemingly one after another Proud Boy (not all present) claiming to be storming the Capitol right at 1:02 PM.

At 3:38 PM Donohoe says the Proud Boys will regroup, only to express shock that Trump[‘s Administration] would call out the National Guard against rioters.

The exhibits with just texts are actually far more redacted than the Donohoe Powerpoint — the latter of which includes damning details like Donohoe acknowledging, in advance, that they could face gang charges.

In addition, in the Donohoe Powerpoint, the government lays out a discussion from after the insurrection where someone — perhaps Biggs — expresses some kind of regret, something to make Donohoe push back.

REHL: Ah shit forgot you [Biggs] had to roll, was hoping to have some celebratory beers with yall after this epic fuckin day, I’ll drink one for ya

BIGGS: We will one day. This day lives in infamy or [sic] the ages

DONOHOE: Yeah I feel like a complete warrior. . . .I stood on that front line the entire time and pushed it twice . . . Thank God we were not wearing colors . . . We should never wear colors ever again for any event . . . Only for meetups . . .

[Approximately 12 Minute Gap with No Messages in Message Thread]

DONOHOE: Stop right there . . . All of what you said doesn’t matter . . . We stormed the capitol unarmed . . . And took it over unarmed . . . The people are fucking done . . . Wait when joe biden tells us we are all criminls [sic] [emphasis original]

The gap is interesting, however, because every Telegram text involving Nordean from the key days amounted to a deleted attachment to a text.

We know Nordean would text, though, because he did later in January, when he and Donohoe were discussing Nordean’s plan for a temporary move to North Carolina.

Note, if texts involving Nordean were deleted, they may not be deleted in phones seized from other participants.

Which leads me an obscure detail revealed in that Powerpoint that nevertheless explains something that has been out there for some time: the logic behind an unindicted Proud Boy co-conspirator’s status.

By March 1, prosecutors had details about all these Telegram texts. Yet in a detention hearing for Nordean on March 3, they backed off providing proof, leading to claims that prosecutors had gotten over their skis on Nordean’s prosecution. But the government rolled out the texts themselves — as well as the existence of an unindicted co-conspirator, referred to as UCC-1, in the Proud Boy Leadership conspiracy indictment on March 15. In a sealed filing before unsealing the indictment, the government had asked Judge Tim Kelly to hide all that until Rehl and Donohoe could be arrested. At the time, it seemed that UCC-1 was the likely source for the Telegram texts.

It turns out that was wrong, however. At a hearing on May 4, Nordean’s attorney Nick Smith revealed that the government had obtained all the texts from Nordean’s phone, a password for which his wife shared with the FBI (which explains the time zone and may explain why Nordean’s content was deleted when his that of co-conspirators was not).

Texts from early on January 6, not replicated (or left redacted) in the full exhibits explain that UCC-1 was not at the insurrection because he had just gotten a new job that he didn’t want to fuck up, yet.

DONOHOE: Are you here? …

UCC-1: No I started a new job, don’t want to fuck it up yet

DONOHOE: Well fuck man

UCC-1: There will be plenty more I’m sure lol

UCC-1: I want to see thousands of normies burn that city to ash today

Person-2: Would be epic

UCC-1: The state is the enemy of the people

That provides a ready explanation for why DOJ might seek to get UCC-1 to cooperate: he wasn’t present, and any role had had in decision-making leading up to the insurrection pales in comparison to Tarrio’s role. Plus, maybe he was telling the truth about trying to keep that new job. As soon as investigators saw why this guy didn’t show, they would understand a motive he might have to cooperate.

If that’s right, that not only would provide a direct witness to these leadership chats, but it might provide an even fuller set of Telegram chats than what the charged co-conspirators know about.