A Normal Tourist Visit-- The 1/6ers
Yesterday, testifying before the Senate Appropriations Committee, Attorney General Merrick Garland told senators that the greatest domestic threat facing the country comes from what he both called "racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists... Specifically those who advocate for the superiority of the white race... I have not seen a more dangerous threat to democracy than the invasion of the Capitol an attempt to interfere with the fundamental element of our democracy, a peaceful transfer of power."
Andrew Clyde represents the only district in Georgia even more politically backward than Marjorie Taylor Greene's with which is shares a border, as well as primitive Pickens County (Trump- 82.2%). Last year Greene's district gave Trump 73.4% of its vote; Clyde's outdid that: 76.4%! The morons who live in the two districts were all in on their new fringe loon candidates. Greene wound up with 74.6% of the vote and Clyde trumped that with 78.6%. Unlike Greene, though, Clyde has been mostly invisible-- until yesterday, when he shot off his mouth and made national headlines with his idiotic remarks about how the violent insurrection and failed Trump coup attempt was somehow akin to a normal tourist visit to the Capitol. This morning, Pelosi, came close to asking him to seek psychiatric care.
On Tuesday, Joshua Kaplan and Joaquin Sapien wrote a report about a jailhouse letter from one of Clyde's "normal tourists." The letter was written by a 48 year old racist, a member of one of the worst of the violent right wing groups recruited by Trump, the Three Percenters, Guy Reffitt of Wylie, Texas, a Dallas suburb, whose son warned the FBI about his crackpot father before the insurrection. He says that "he and fellow inmates have bonded in jail, and boasted that those attacking the building could have overthrown the government if they had wanted."
The letter is signed “the 1/6ers” and expresses no remorse for the assault on the Capitol, in which five people died. While no names appeared on it, ProPublica was able to determine, through interviews with his family and a review of his correspondence from jail, that it was penned by Guy Reffitt, a member of the Three Percenter right-wing militant group accused of participating in the riot. The letter said the inmates arrested for their role in the attack regularly recite the Pledge of Allegiance inside the Washington, D.C. jail and sing the national anthem “all in unison, loud and proud most everyday.”
“January 6th was nothing short of a satirical way to overthrow a government,” said the letter, written by hand on yellow lined paper. “If overthrow was the quest, it would have no doubt been overthrown.”
The letter sent to ProPublica is believed to be one of the first public statements from a Jan. 6 rioter currently in detention. ProPublica also obtained text messages with Reffitt’s family and was able to ask a few questions of him via text from the D.C. Jail, with his wife, Nicole Reffitt, acting as a relay. Guy Reffitt declined to participate in a fuller interview on the advice of his lawyer, his wife said.
Reffitt faces a variety of charges, including obstructing an official proceeding, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years. He is awaiting trial and has pleaded not guilty. In text messages he sent last month to his wife, Reffitt said he was resigning from the Texas Three Percenters.
Last week, Reffitt told ProPublica via his wife that more than 30 people arrested in connection with the Jan. 6 attack had discussed the letter while in custody. He said that the “1/6ers” are “not organized” and that there are “no leaders,” just “people chatting about things” because they are “stuck here together.”
Reffitt said that the suspects communicate with one another with what are known as “kites,” jailhouse slang for messages passed from cell to cell. They are also able to socialize during the two hours a day they’re let out of their cells. The Department of Justice declined to comment.
Those detained in connection with the Capitol siege have been treated by D.C. officials as “maximum security” prisoners and kept in restrictive housing, according to media reports. Three defendants that Nicole Reffitt said she understood to be parties to the letter denied any knowledge of it when contacted by ProPublica. One of them said he became friends with Guy Reffitt inside the D.C. Jail, but had been moved to another unit by the time the letter was penned.
Nicole Reffitt said she helped her husband write the letter and solicit support through phone calls and a jailhouse messaging app inmates are allowed to use periodically to communicate with the outside world. The D.C. Jail has held dozens of defendants in connection with the riot, on charges ranging from obstructing an official proceeding to assaulting a police officer with a dangerous weapon.
The letter counters the notion that there was a “plan” or “conspiracy” to take down Congress on Jan. 6, blaming much of the violence on “isolated overly emotional individuals.” It suggests that their actions were meant to put the country on notice: “The people clearly are not happy,” Guy Reffitt said in response to questions sent through his wife.
“Ask the Capitol Police for [their] opinion of how it could have been,” the letter says. “They are grateful it wasn’t a real insurrection complete with mind, body and soul.”
...Reffitt saw his actions on Jan. 6 as a critical step in protecting his wife and kids from what he viewed as a decades-long American slide toward “tyranny,” according to his text messages.
“We watch the people of other countries rise up against authoritarianism and think, how sad they must be to want freedom and liberty so much,” the letter said. “Here, the more you try to divide, bend or even break America. The more The Republic of The People will stand indivisible and resolute.”
Reffitt’s son covertly recorded conversations with his father that have shown up in court filings as evidence that Reffitt came to the Capitol armed and with violent intentions.
“You’ll find out that I had every constitutional right to carry a weapon and take over the Congress, as we tried to do,” he said in one recording, according to a transcript in court files. Jackson Reffitt, 18, has since moved out of the family home and is raising money to support himself and his schooling.
In another excerpt in court files, Guy Reffitt was blunt: “I did bring a weapon on property that we own. Federal grounds or not. The law is written, but it doesn’t mean it’s right law. The people that were around me were all carrying too.”
In their most recent filing, prosecutors added new evidence to their case against Guy Reffitt. They obtained a recording of a Jan. 10 Zoom meeting involving Reffitt and two other Three Percenters. In it, Reffitt allegedly said he helped lead the charge on the Capitol with a .40-caliber pistol at his side, at one point telling a U.S. Capitol Police officer who was firing nonlethal rounds at him, “Sorry, darling. You better get a bigger damn gun.”
Reffitt went on to describe how the group might be able to disable a social media company’s servers by using a sniper rifle to disable the generators at a nearby Texas facility. According to court records, he said attacking the servers would “make them feel it back” in Washington, D.C. He added: “Then they won’t know we’re coming next time.”
...Peter Simi, an associate professor at Chapman University in Southern California, found the language in the letter more alarming, especially in how it characterizes the Jan. 6 riot as inevitable.
“I would interpret it as a threat. You can say it’s thinly veiled, but I don’t think it’s that thinly veiled,” Simi said. “This is the preamble-- what you saw on the 6th. More is coming ... If you thought the 6th was bad, just wait and see.”
As Reffitt struggled to find work in the spring of 2020, he spent hours watching Fox News and getting angry over the Black Lives Matter protests, his family said. His teenage children supported the movement; Reffitt viewed it as “bullshit,” according to his texts. One argument with his son ended with Reffitt throwing a coffee mug across the room. About a week later, Jackson Reffitt went to march in a BLM rally in Wylie. His father went armed, the family said, standing guard outside the suburb’s Olde City Park.
Around that time, Guy Reffitt was introduced to the Three Percenters, a decentralized anti-government movement. The group, which takes its name from the myth that only three percent of the population fought the British in the American Revolution, is credited with popularizing the militia movement by framing it in more palatable, patriotic terms.
Nicole Reffitt recalled a “meet and greet” in June, with about 20 members coming to the Reffitt home for a barbecue.
After some awkward small talk, the conversation turned to “what everyone could do,” she said. Who had military experience? Who had a license to carry? Who knew how to stop a bleed? Someone took notes to be sent up the chain of command.
...After then-President Donald Trump lost his bid for reelection, Guy Reffitt began to sequester himself in the front room of his suburban brick home, glued to Newsmax as it reported theories of how the vote was rigged.
On Dec. 19, Reffitt found a new obsession, his family said, when Trump tweeted: “Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!”
From then on, Reffitt’s texts bounced between plans for shopping and cooking prime rib for Christmas and talk of going to D.C. to “shock the world.”
“It’s the government that is going to be destroyed in this fight,” Reffitt texted his family on Dec. 21. “Congress has made fatal mistakes this time.”
Feeling “paranoid” about his father, Jackson Reffitt sent in a tip via the FBI website. He said he wrote that his father was a militia member who made threatening statements about public officials and kept talking about doing “something big.”
After Christmas, Guy Reffitt firmed up plans to travel to Washington for the Jan. 6 rally. His family said he planned to bring weapons, which was unsurprising; they said he went most everywhere armed. Nicole Reffitt told ProPublica her husband promised to disassemble the weapons to comply with Washington, D.C., laws. His defense attorney has argued that there is no evidence that he “carried a loaded firearm.”
But according to court records, on Dec. 28, Guy messaged an unnamed individual. “I don’t think unarmed will be the case this time,” he said. “I will be in full battle rattle. If that’s a law I break, so be it, but I won’t do it alone.”
When he left to drive to Washington, he told his family, “If everything works out, I’ll see you again,” in what Nicole said was a typically melodramatic goodbye.
“I love ALL of you with ALL of my heart and soul,” he texted on the morning of Jan. 6. “This is for our country and for ALL OF YOU and your kids.”
Jackson Reffitt came home to find his mother and sister transfixed by the television as protestors pushed past police lines. “What the hell?” he recalled asking. “Is dad there?” The screen showed police in the Senate chambers, guns drawn.
“Your father is there,” his mother responded.
Finally acting on Jackson Reffitt’s earlier tip, an FBI agent called him to set up a meeting.
Two days later, Guy Reffitt came home, eager to boast. His son decided to record him. Jackson Reffitt met with the FBI agent the following week.
In the pre-dawn hours of Jan. 16, a squad of more than a dozen officers rolled up to the Reffitt home, armed for a SWAT raid, according to his family and footage from their neighbor’s security camera. A mobile battering ram idled in front of their house as the officers tossed flash-bang grenades. The family clambered out, some still in their underwear.
Guy Reffitt went without resistance, assuring the kids that the federal agents were only doing their jobs. He was expecting to be arrested by then, his family said, and even laughed with an officer who accompanied him to the bathroom after he’d been handcuffed.
As he was being carted off in the back of a police vehicle, he yelled out the window: “I didn’t ask for this!”
He has been behind bars since.
On April 22, Reffitt messaged his wife a note of encouragement.
“You are superstars to more than half the country,” he wrote. “There’s no going back now.”
Twenty years behind bars might calm him down a little. As for Clyde... it's all about the voters in north Georgia. There must be a way to reach them... or maybe they'll all give each other COVID, since it's a largely mask-free part of the state. I suspect that this survey of Georgia voters does not reflect the thinking in either Greene's or Clyde's district. Data for Progress reported that "In Georgia, a majority of self-identifying Republicans support the American Rescue Plan (58 percent) and the American Jobs Plan (58 percent). In addition, more than two in five Republicans (45 percent) support the American Families Plan-- and some of the individual provisions of the American Families Plan enjoy either majority or plurality support from Republican voters.