Yesterday, asked about Liz Cheney's decision to accept an appointment to the select committee to investigate the failed Trump coup and insurrection, a thoroughly disengenuous Kevin McCarthy told reporters near his office that he "was shocked that she would accept something from Speaker Pelosi... It would seem to me, since I didn't hear from her, maybe she's closer to [Pelosi] than us. I don't know." McCarthy has pledged, to Trump, to block the creation-- and now smooth functioning-- of the investigation.
Just before McCarthy was playing his political games with the investigation, Washington Post reporters Spencer Hsu and Rachel Weiner wrote about another slew of arrests of 1/6 domestic terrorists, the biggest haul for the FBI in a single day since the insurrection. Over a dozen members who broke into the Capitol, mostly members of extremist right-wing groups like the Oath Keepers, Proud Boys and Boogaloo Boys, some of whom were ratted out be members seeking to save their own asses. So far over 500 arrests have been made, including 100 charged with assaulting police officers.
54 year old Oath Keeper Mark Grods of Mobile "became the second from the anti-government group publicly to flip in the 16-defendant conspiracy case and cooperate with prosecutors in the latest sign of movement in the investigation. In court Wednesday, he admitted to two federal counts of conspiracy and aiding and abetting the obstruction of an official proceeding."
Those swept up in recent days reflected a cross-section of defendants whose motives allegedly varied, although several allegedly sought out affiliations with extremist groups anticipating violence, the government said. Newly unsealed charges included trespassing and violent police assaults, and the defendants included George Tenney III, of Anderson, S.C., accused of being the first to open the east Capitol Rotunda doors from the inside, allowing the mob to enter.
“You’re not gonna stop us,” Tenney told an employee of the House sergeant-at-arms who struggled to pull the door closed, the FBI alleged.
Tenney, administrator of a Facebook page called PowerHouse Patriot, talked as early as Dec. 12 of joining “patriot revolution groups” or militias, before posting on in late December, “I heard over 500k armed militia patriots will be in DC by the (Jan.) 4th,” according to charging papers.
“It’s starting to look like we may siege the capital building and Congress if the electoral votes don’t go right. … We are forming plans for every scenario,” charging papers also alleged Tenney posted.
...[I]n court Wednesday, prosecutors asked to jail a previously charged defendant, now-fired Rocky Mount, Va., police officer Thomas Robertson, saying that since being charged with a co-worker for trespassing at the Capitol, he has acquired 34 guns he stored at a local gun dealership despite a court order that he should not possess firearms while on pretrial release, and that he was found with a partially assembled pipe bomb in a box labeled “Booby Trap.”
“The picture of Senators cowering on the floor with genuine fear on their faces is the most American thing I have seen in my life,” prosecutors said Robertson wrote on Facebook days after the riot, adding, “. . . The only voice these people will now listen to is VIOLENCE.”
These are Trump's people, of course... but McCarthy, Scalise and Stefanik-- not to mention McConnell-- have made them the Republican Party's people too, by trying to prevent investigations into what happened that day and what caused it. "The Oath Keepers and Three Percenters," wrote Hsu and Weiner, "are a loose coalition of groups that recruit police and law enforcement members to oppose what some see as a tyrannical federal government, gaining notoriety as self-declared providers of security at conservative events."
In charging papers filed Monday and unsealed Wednesday, prosecutors said Grods’s plea was related to an ongoing grand jury probe into 16 alleged Oath Keepers leaders, members and affiliates in Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina, Florida and other states who are charged with planning as early as Nov. 3, Election Day, to interfere with the certification of the presidential election.
Grods admitted that he was part of an invitation-only encrypted Signal chat called “DC OP: Jan 6 21” used by Oath Keepers regional leaders and members, prosecutors said, including Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes-- usually identified as “Person One” in court papers but whom prosecutors initially named-- who has not been charged.
Other participants included charged co-defendants Jessica Watkins, 38, an Ohio militia leader, and Kelly Meggs, 52, of Florida, who the government says marched in helmets and tactical gear up the east steps of the Capitol before forcing entry about 2:40 p.m.
Grods was charged separately, but prosecutors requested that his case be sealed initially to ensure his “safety while cooperating and testifying before the grand jury” in the larger case.
Prosecutors in a plea deal agreed to request lowering Grods estimated 51- to 63-month recommended prison sentencing range in exchange for his substantial cooperation. He admitted to several allegations prosecutors have made against the wider group, including taking firearms to Washington, providing them “to another individual to store in a Virginia hotel,” and racing to the Capitol in two golf carts, according to plea papers.
Grods stayed with others at the Mayflower Hotel in downtown Washington, paying for a room reserved in another person’s name, the government said. He entered the Capitol building minutes after others in his group assaulted police in the Rotunda, the government said he admitted, before joining up with an Oath Keepers group outside about 4 p.m.
The plea came one week after one of the 16 co-defendants, Graydon Young, 55, of Englewood, Fla., also pleaded guilty to similar charges in a cooperation deal.
Both Young and Grods said co-conspirators believed they were obstructing Congress’s election certification through the intimidation and coercion of government personnel.
At least 20 alleged Oath Keepers or associates have been charged, including the first to plead guilty, Jon Ryan Schaffer, an Indiana rock musician.
I thought I knew what happened during the insurrection; I was WRONG! And I implore you to watch every minute of this NY Times crucial video:
I have to admit, I started applauding when domestic terrorist Ashli Babbitt was shot and I kept wondering why dozens of them weren't mowed down
Today the NY Times published the results of an analysis of reporters watching "thousands of videos from the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol Building." The video explains it pretty well. These were some of their analyses major relevations:
Multiple Points of Attack
We pinpointed at least eight locations where rioters breached and entered the Capitol building-- more than were previously known. The scenes revealed the extent of the rioters’ disregard for the law as they surged violently around the building’s perimeter and, eventually, inside.
The police were outnumbered and responded differently at various breach points, allowing rioters to break through doors using weapons like crowbars or, in some places, to simply walk through as the police stepped aside.
The multiple breaches also revealed the Capitol’s vulnerability. Despite locked doors and, in certain places, thick windows, rioters without specialized equipment were able to break in instantly in some places.
A Delay Turns Deadly
In the Senate, proceedings to certify the election results were halted almost immediately when a building-wide lockdown was called after the first breach by rioters. But we found that it took much longer for the House of Representatives to do the same. This delay appeared to have contributed to a rioter’s death.
Instead of evacuating, members of the House sheltered in place and resumed their work even as rioters overran the building. Speaker Nancy Pelosi was rushed to safety, but Representative Jim McGovern took her place presiding over the session. He told us that Capitol building security staff had said it was safe to resume.
Eventually, the House session was halted and members began streaming out of a rear door guided by security personnel. Rioters had arrived at almost the same moment, just on the other side of a hallway door with glass panels. They became incensed at the sight of the evacuating lawmakers-- a situation that could have been avoided if the lawmakers had left before the mob arrived.
Ashli Babbitt, a Trump supporter and follower of the QAnon conspiracy theory, tried to climb through one of the door’s broken windows toward the lawmakers. A plainclothes Capitol Police officer charged with protecting the House shot her once through the upper chest. The wound was fatal.
The Makeup of the Mob
One of the biggest questions hanging over the aftermath of Jan. 6 was whether the riot was planned and carried out by organized groups.
By identifying and tracking key players throughout the day, we found that most-- even some at the forefront of the action-- were ardent, but disorganized Trump supporters swept up in the moment and acting individually.
The first person to enter the Capitol building, for example, was a 43-year-old husband and father from Kentucky named Michael Sparks. He has no known affiliation with any organized groups. Ray Epps, an Arizona man seen in widely-circulated videos telling Trump supporters on multiple occasions to go into the Capitol, also seemed to have acted on his own.
Yet we also found that the crowd did include members of groups who seemed eager for a confrontation, like well-organized militias and far-right groups including the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys. This proved to be a combustible mix. In the videos we analyzed, they can be seen with baseball bats and body armor, and coordinating with one another using radios. On several occasions, a calculated move by a more organized actor-- for example, a Proud Boy identifying a weakness in the police line near a set of stairs-- set off a surge by the mob.
Evidence collected by the F.B.I. suggests that the Proud Boys in particular were aware that they had inflamed the mob of ordinary people-- and may have intended to do so in advance. Just before the assault, one Proud Boy leader wrote on a group chat on Telegram that he was hoping his men could incite the “normies” to “burn that city to ash today” and “smash some pigs to dust.” Then, after the riot, another Proud Boy leader wrote on Telegram: “This is NOT what I expected to happen. All from us showing up and starting some chants and getting the normies all riled up.”
By synchronizing footage from both sides of the Capitol building, we were able to establish how crowds on each side interacted with one another.
We tracked the movement of a group of rioters from the west side of the Capitol-- which faces the National Mall and absorbed most of the attendees arriving from Mr. Trump’s speech-- to the opposite eastern side.
The eastern crowd had remained largely behind the barricades, but all that changed with the arrival of rioters from around the side of the building. This more violent group was the trigger that put the entire mob over the edge, spurring them to push easily through a line of officers and surround the Capitol on every front.
Echoing the President
Most of the videos we analyzed were filmed by the rioters. By carefully listening to the unfiltered chatter within the crowd, we found a clear feedback loop between President Trump and his supporters.
As Mr. Trump spoke near the White House, supporters who had already gathered at the Capitol building hoping to disrupt the certification responded. Hearing his message to “walk down to the Capitol,” they interpreted it as the president sending reinforcements. “There’s about a million people on their way now,” we heard a man in the crowd say, as Mr. Trump’s speech played from a loudspeaker.
The call and response didn’t stop there. We found evidence of his influence once the violence was well underway. In one moment, a woman with a megaphone urged rioters to climb through a broken window by asking them to “stand up for our country and Constitution”-- echoing the language in an earlier tweet from Mr. Trump. In another, as the police were pushing to clear the mob off the building, a rioter screamed at officers: “I was invited here by the president.”
Taking Back the Capitol
One unanswered question when we began this investigation was how the police managed to reclaim the Capitol building from the mob. We found that once officers increased their numbers, armor and crowd-control weapons, clearing the rioters happened quickly and effectively.
The footage revealed that officers cleared several locations in less than an hour after being reinforced by local Metropolitan Police, Virginia State Police and other local and federal agencies that arrived with more manpower and authorization to use more powerful crowd-control weapons.
It’s a stark contrast to what we saw during the Black Lives Matter protests in the summer of 2020, when federal officers were on scene from the start, already equipped with riot gear and authorized to use higher levels of force. Law enforcement’s relatively quick success in clearing the Capitol building once reinforcements arrived shows how the rioters might have been stopped far earlier with a different level of preparation-- possibly preventing fatalities, countless officer injuries, over $30 million in damages.
There was another difference between the Capitol riot and those connected to this summer’s racial justice protests: Very few people who broke into the Capitol were arrested at the scene. Most were allowed to leave the building, forcing the F.B.I. to track them down later and take them into custody-- a process that is still continuing today.