Updated: Jan 23
Get out your tiniest violin. Yesterday Proud Boys organizer Joe Biggs was arrested in Florida for his role in the failed coup. The charges, according to NBC News say "he was one of the first to enter the Capitol building, through a door that was opened by a small group that got in by breaking a window with a police body shield. In an interview with the FBI on Monday, Biggs admitted to investigators that he entered the Capitol building but denied forcing his was through... Biggs faces charges of obstructing, influencing, or impeding an official proceeding; knowingly entering a restricted building without lawful authority; and willfully and knowingly engaging in disorderly conduct to impede a session of Congress.
He was released on his own recognizance, although when not in DC for the case, he is subject to home detention. Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio was arrested on Jan. 4 and taken into custody on suspicion of destruction of property for destroying a Black Lives Matter sign at a historic Black church in Washington, D.C., last month. He was arrested upon entering the city just ahead of the the mob attack on the Capitol.
The Proud Boys are steaming because Trump has disowned them and they've disowned him now. The NY Times reported late yesterday that that undying loyalty pledge is... no longer in force and they will no longer be calling him Emperor Trump and have changed their tune to "Trump will go down as a total failure... In dozens of conversations on social media sites like Gab and Telegram, members of the group have begun calling Mr. Trump a 'shill' and 'extraordinarily weak' ... and have also urged supporters to stop attending rallies and protests held for Mr. Trump or the Republican Party." At least a half dozen Proud Boys were arrested in connection with the coup attempt and Trump didn't pardon any of them.
The comments are a startling turn for the Proud Boys, which for years had backed Mr. Trump and promoted political violence. Led by Enrique Tarrio, many of its thousands of members were such die-hard fans of Mr. Trump that they offered to serve as his private militia and celebrated after he told them in a presidential debate last year to “stand back and stand by.” On Jan. 6, some Proud Boys members stormed the U.S. Capitol.
But since then, discontent with Mr. Trump, who later condemned the violence, has boiled over. On social media, Proud Boys participants have complained about his willingness to leave office and said his disavowal of the Capitol rampage was an act of betrayal. And Mr. Trump, cut off on Facebook and Twitter, has been unable to talk directly to them to soothe their concerns or issue new rallying cries.
The Proud Boys’ anger toward Mr. Trump has heightened after he did nothing to help those in the group who face legal action for the Capitol violence.
...“When Trump told them that if he left office, America would fall into an abyss, they believed him,” Arieh Kovler, a political consultant and independent researcher in Israel who studies the far right, said of the Proud Boys. “Now that he has left office, they believe he has both surrendered and failed to do his patriotic duty.”
The shift raises questions about the strength of the support for Mr. Trump and suggests that pockets of his fan base are fracturing. Many of Mr. Trump’s fans still falsely believe he was deprived of office, but other far-right groups such as the Oath Keepers, America First and the Three Percenters have also started criticizing him in private Telegram channels, according to a review of messages.
Last week, Nicholas Fuentes, the leader of America First, wrote in his Telegram channel that Mr. Trump’s response to the Capitol rampage was “very weak and flaccid” and added, “Not the same guy that ran in 2015.”
On Wednesday, the Proud Boys Telegram group welcomed President Biden to office. “At least the incoming administration is honest about their intentions,” the group wrote.
...After the violence [at the Capitol], the Proud Boys expected Mr. Trump to champion the mob, according to their social media messages. Instead, Mr. Trump released a video on Jan. 8 denouncing the violence.
The disappointment was immediately palpable. One Proud Boys Telegram channel posted: “It really is important for us all to see how much Trump betrayed his supporters this week. We are nationalists 1st and always. Trump was just a man and as it turns out an extraordinarily weak one at the end.”
Some Proud Boys became furious that Mr. Trump did not appear interested in issuing presidential pardons for their members who were arrested. In a Telegram post on Friday, they accused Mr. Trump of “instigating” the events at the Capitol, adding that he then “washed his hands of it.”
“They thought they had his support and that, ultimately, Trump would come through for them, including with a pardon if they should need it,” said Jared Holt, a visiting research fellow at the Atlantic Council’s DFR Lab. “Now they realize they went too far in the riots.”
Some Proud Boys now say in online posts that the group should “go dark” and retreat from political life by cutting its affiliation to any political party. They are encouraging one another to focus their energies on secessionist movements and local protests.
“To all demoralized Trump supporters: There is hope,” read one message in a Proud Boys Telegram channel on Wednesday. “There is an alternative. Abandon the GOP and the Dems.”
The Q-Anon nuts, even crazier and less in touch with reality than the Proud Boys, are also having a hard time with Trump's departure. Their cult of the morbidly insane was wedded to the belief that yesterday would be the Great Awakening when top Democrats would be arrested for running a global sex trafficking ring and President Trump would seize a second term in office.
But as President Biden took office and Mr. Trump landed in Florida, with no mass arrests in sight, some believers struggled to harmonize the falsehoods with the inauguration on their TVs.
Some QAnon believers tried to rejigger their theories to accommodate a transfer of power to Mr. Biden. Several large QAnon groups discussed on Wednesday the possibility that they had been wrong about Mr. Biden, and that the incoming president was actually part of Mr. Trump’s effort to take down the global cabal.
“The more I think about it, I do think it’s very possible that Biden will be the one who pulls the trigger,” one account wrote in a QAnon channel on the messaging app Telegram.
Others expressed anger with QAnon influencers who had told believers to expect a dramatic culmination on Inauguration Day.
“A lot of YouTube journalists have just lost one hell of a lot of credibility,” wrote a commenter in one QAnon chat room.
Still others attempted to shift the goal posts, and simply told their fellow “anons” to hang on and wait for future, unspecified developments.
“Don’t worry about what happens at 12 p.m.,” wrote one QAnon influencer. “Watch what happens after that.”
And some appeared to realize that they’d been duped.
“It’s over,” one QAnon chat room participant wrote, just after Mr. Biden’s swearing-in.
“Wake up,” another wrote. “We’ve been had.”
Followers hoping for guidance from “Q,” the pseudonymous message board user whose posts power the movement, were bound to be disappointed. The account has been silent for weeks, and had not posted Wednesday.
Ron Watkins, a major QAnon booster whom some have suspected of being “Q” himself, posted a note of resignation on his Telegram channel on Wednesday afternoon.
“We have a new president sworn in and it is our responsibility as citizens to respect the Constitution,” he wrote. “As we enter into the next administration please remember all the friends and happy memories we made together over the past few years.”
As for future Q-Anon leadership, they will probably turn to the two crackpots they elected to Congress, Marjorie Taylor Greene (GA) and Lauren Boebert (CO). Greene had been suspended from Twitter this week but is back. Nothing much has come of her promise to impeach Joe Biden yesterday. She's been too busy trying to explain why she claimed that Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi have been in on school shooting so they could use them as an excuse to confiscate peoples' guns. She insists the Parkland shooting was a false flag operation.
The other crackpot, Boebert, is trying to deny she helped insurrectionists with guided tours of the Capitol, even though there are at least two witnesses who saw her with large groups of people and even though she's been associated with the militia movement for years.
As the NY Times explained yesterday, most of the really out-there nutcases in the GOP, like Taylor Greene and Gym Jordan, are protected from accountability by partisan gerrymandering that has created super-safe Republican districts.
Of the 139 House Republicans who voted to object to Mr. Biden’s Electoral College victory, 85 come from states in which Republicans will control all levers of the redistricting process this year. An additional 28 represent districts drawn by Republicans in 2011 without Democratic input in states where the G.O.P. still holds majorities in state legislative chambers.
Taking a position as inflammatory as refusing to certify a free and fair election would be much riskier for lawmakers in Congress and in statehouses if they needed to appeal to electorates beyond their next sets of primary voters-- a group that itself remains loyal to the outgoing president.
“With redistricting coming up this year, many members clearly made the decision that the bigger risks they faced were in the primary, and whatever risk they faced in the general election, the next round of gerrymandering would take care of that,” said Michael Li, a senior counsel for the Democracy Center at the Brennan Center for Justice.
Not all of the House members who declined to certify the election results were from Republican-controlled states. Representative Mike Garcia of California, from a competitive district north of Los Angeles, voted against certification, as did Representative Paul Gosar of Arizona, where the redistricting authority is independent.
Of the 139 House Republicans who voted to overturn the election, just about 2 dozen of them are in even vaguely competitive districts. These are the most obvious (by PVI) along with 2020 elect number
David Schweikert (AZ) R+9, 52.2%
Ken Calvert (CA) R+9, 57.1
Mike Garcia (CA) even, 50.0%
Devin Nunes (CA) R+8, 54.2%
Jay Olbernolte (CA) R+9, 56.1%
Lauren Boebert (CO) R+6, 51.4%
Kat McCammack (FL) R+9, 57.1%
Mario Diaz-Balart (FL) R+4, no opponent
Carlos Gimenez (FL) D+6, 51.7%
Brian Mast (FL) R+5, 56.3%
Michael Waltz (FL) R+7, 60.6%
Buddy Carter (GA) R+9, 58.3%
Mike Bost (IL) R+5, 60.4%
Tim Walberg (MI) R+7, 58.8%
Jim Hagedorn (MN) R+5, 48.6%
Jeff Van Drew (NJ) R+1, 51.9%
Nichole Malliotakis (NY) R+3, 53.1%
Elise Stefanik (NY) R+4, 58.8%
Lee Zeldin (NY) R+5, 54.8%
Steve Chabot (OH) R+5, 51.8%
Loyd Smucker (PA) R+5, 63.1%
Tom Tiffany (WI) R+8, 60.8%