Posts tagged with "January 6 insurrection"

Steve Bannon surrenders to Feds after being indicted for contempt of Congress

November 16, 2021

Former Trump White House strategist Steve Bannon surrendered to the FBI on Monday, November 15, after being indicted on contempt of Congress due to his refusal to cooperate with the congressional committee investigating the Capitol riot, reports HuffPost.

A federal grand jury in Washington, D.C., indicted Bannon on Friday, November12, on two counts of contempt of Congress. Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement that Bannon’s indictment reflected the Justice Department’s “steadfast commitment” to showing the American people “by word and deed that the department adheres to the rule of law, follows the facts and the law, and pursues equal justice under the law.”

Bannon is set to appear before a judge in Washington later Monday. Cameras caught Bannon arriving at the FBI’s Washington Field Office on Monday morning.

As alleged in the indictment, Bannon did not comply with subpoenas issued by the House select committee investigating the January 6 attack before the required deadlines last month. The committee was interested in Bannon because he was “present at the Willard Hotel on January 5, 2021, during an effort to persuade Members of Congress to block the certification of the election the next day” and proclaimed, the day before the attack, that “all hell is going to break loose.”

This is not Bannon’s first run-in with federal prosecutors, notes HuffPost. In 2019, Bannon testified during the trial of Roger Stone, saying that Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign saw Stone as an “access point” to WikiLeaks. And in August 2020, Bannon was indicted in connection with a scheme to fleece Trump supporters who wanted to build a border wall.

In his final hours in office in January, Trump pardoned Bannon, and had previously pardoned Stone in December 2020, just a few weeks before the Jan. 6 attack. Stone was staying at the Willard Intercontinental Hotel, where the “war room” of high-level Trump supporters was set up.

The FBI has made more than 650 arrests to date in connection with the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol, and hundreds more arrests are in the works. While the FBI investigations will answer a lot of questions about individual criminal culpability in the January 6 attacks, it will be up to the House select committee to answer some of the broader questions about what happened that day.

House Select Committee Chairman Bennie G. Thompson (D-Mississippi) and Vice Chair Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming) said that Bannon’s indictment “should send a clear message to anyone who thinks they can ignore the Select Committee or try to stonewall our investigation: no one is above the law.” Thompson and Cheney said they would “not hesitate to use the tools at our disposal to get the information we need.”

Research contact: @HuffPost

New January 6 subpoenas increase pressure on AG Garland to set an example with Bannon

November 12, 2021

The House select committee probing the January 6 insurrection placed its credibility and legal clout deeper into the hands of Attorney General Merrick Garland on Monday, November 8, with a new flurry of subpoenas targeting cronies of ex-President Donald Trump, reports CNN.

However, for the committee to retain hopes of compelling testimony from the group, the Justice Department must initiate a prosecution against another Trump adviser, Steve Bannon, who already has defied a subpoena.

The former President’s populist alter ego earned a rare Contempt of Congress citation for his intransigence. But two-and-half weeks on, the department has yet to say whether it will act on that gambit and indict Bannon through the Washington, D.C., U.S. Attorney’s office.

Without such a move, CNN reports, the committee’s enforcement capacity looks in serious doubt as it races to conclude before Democrats are at risk of losing the House of Representatives in next year’s midterm elections.

There are no current and public signs that Garland is feeling pressure to act quickly. In fact, a deliberative process would comply with his effort to shield the department from politicization after Trump weaponized it to protect himself during a scandal-plagued presidency and in his effort to steal the 2020 election.

But that also means the new batch of six Trump confidants, who have been subpoenaed for their alleged role in amplifying Trump’s lie about election fraud or abetting his coup attempt earlier this year, have reason to replicate the obstruction, at least for now. And even if Bannon is prosecuted, a long process of court cases and appeals could bog down the committee in a legal nightmare.

The six subpoenas issued on Monday targeted conservative lawyer John Eastman, former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, Trump campaign officials Bill Stepien, Jason Miller and Angela McCallum, and former national security adviser Michael Flynn

According to CNN, such a scenario would not only allow Trump aides to outwit the committee’s efforts to find the truth about the most flagrant assault on a U.S. election in modern history. It could gut the power of Congress in the future and limit its constitutional role of serving as a check and balance on the executive branch.

And it would also mean that Trump, who incited a mob to march on Congress and disrupt the certification of President Joe Biden’s election win, would escape a reckoning yet again, even as he and his party paper over his autocratic tendencies ahead of a likely bid for the 2024 GOP nomination. The refusal of Trump’s orbit to submit to scrutiny is nothing new; it was a feature of both his impeachments, including over the insurrection earlier this year.

“If Merrick Garland does not prosecute Steve Bannon, all these other witnesses … they are going to have no deterrent either and they are going to see it as a free-for-all to do what they will. So there is a lot riding on what Merrick Garland decides to do here,” CNN legal analyst Elie Honig said.

Garland refused to discuss his deliberations in an unrelated media appearance Monday. The roughly two-week gap after Bannon’s contempt citation is hardly a lifetime in legal terms, however, so it would be unwise to read anything into it yet.

California Democratic Representative Adam Schiff, a member of the House select committee, said on CNN on Monday evening that the Justice Department needed time to study the case and precedent but said acting to enforce congressional subpoenas was crucial.

“If the Justice Department doesn’t hold Steve Bannon accountable, it only lends credence to the idea that some people are above the law and that cannot be true in this country,” Schiff said on “Cuomo Prime Time.”

Research contact: @CNN

Cheney drops bombshell—suggesting Trump ‘was personally involved in the planning of January 6th’

October 21, 2021

On Tuesday, October 19, Representative Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming) issued a blistering assessment of the decision by former President Donald Trump and ally Steve Bannon to stonewall the House Select Committee investigating the January 6th attacks on the U.S. Capitol, reports Raw Story.

After dismantling Bannon’s claims that he is protected by executive privilege from testifying before the committee, Cheney speculated that Trump and Bannon have very personal reasons for not wanting any testimony to go forward.

“Mr. Bannon’s and Mr. Trump’s privilege arguments do appear to reveal one thing, however: They suggest that President Trump was personally involved in the planning and execution of January 6th,” she said. “And we will get to the bottom of that.”

Cheney also cited Bannon’s statements on January 5th in which he seemed to anticipate that violent mayhem would break out the next day as Congress worked to certify the results of the 2020 presidential election.

“All hell is going to break loose tomorrow,” Bannon said.

Research contact: @RawStory

Pelosi says lawmakers will get security briefing on ‘Justice for J6’ rally

September 9, 2021

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) said on Wednesday, September 8,  that lawmakers will be briefed in the coming days about security plans for the Capitol during a rally later this month in support of people charged with crimes related to the January 6 insurrection—and maintained that “we intend to have the integrity of the Capitol be intact,” reports The Hill.

Pelosi said that “there are some briefings going on at the appropriate level” with the House Administration Committee, which will be followed by additional ones for other members of Congress ahead of the September 18 “Justice for J6” rally, when people demonstrating against those arrested for invading the Capitol are set to gather.

When asked if there are plans to reinstall a fence around the Capitol complex, which came down this spring, Pelosi told the press pool: “Not necessarily.”

“What happened on January 6 was such an assault on this beautiful Capitol,” Pelosi told reporters in the Capitol. “And now these people are coming back to praise the people who were out to kill. Out to kill members of Congress, successfully causing the deaths—successfully is not the word, but that’s the word, because it’s what they set out to do—of our law enforcement.”

Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick died a day after engaging with the violent mob of former President Donald Trump‘s supporters, while four other police officers from the Capitol Police and the Metropolitan Police Department died of suicide in the weeks after the attack. More than 140 police officers between the two departments were injured.

The Hill reported on Tuesday that the Capitol Police are planning to present a security plan this week to the Capitol Police Board, which oversees its activities. The Metropolitan Police Department is also planning an “increased presence around the city,” according to a spokesperson.

The September 18 rally in support of the more than 570 people charged with crimes related to the attack on the Capitol is being organized by a group called Look Ahead America, which is led by a former Trump campaign official. The event is not expected to draw as many people as the rally on January 6, but some members of the same right-wing extremist groups that were at the Capitol on the day of the insurrection also may be in attendance on September 18.

Matt Braynard, the executive director of the group organizing the September 18 rally, has urged attendees to “be respectful and kind to all law enforcement officers” and advised only bringing signs or clothing focused on “demanding justice for these political prisoners.”

Neither chamber of Congress is scheduled to be in session on September18, which falls on a Saturday. The House isn’t expected to return from its summer recess until two days later.

Research contact: @thehill

Trump fanatic Paul Hodgkins sentenced to eight months in first felony Capitol riot case

July 20, 2021

Paul Hodgkins, a Florida man who invaded the Senate chamber holding a Trump flag on January 6, was sentenced to eight months in prison followed by 24 months of supervised release on Monday, July 19, in the first felony sentencing in connection with the Capitol insurrection, HuffPost reports.

Hodgkins, who wore a Trump T-shirt during the riot, pleaded guilty to one count of obstruction of an official proceeding. Four other charges were dismissed as part of the plea deal.

Prosecutors requested an 18-month sentence for Hodgkins, saying that he made the wrong decision at several points:

  • In Florida, when he packed up the gear he’d bring into the Capitol building;
  • On January 6, when he left the Trump rally early and headed to the Capitol;
  • That same day, when he unlawfully entered the Capitol grounds;
  • A short time later, when he illegally entered the Capitol building; and
  • When he entered the Senate chamber.

Hodgkins’ team asked for a probationary sentence, saying that the court should bring the country together by showing leniency and forgiveness. Hodgkins’ lawyer said in a filing that the court should follow the path that former President Abraham Lincoln had planned before his assassination and seek to bring the country together.

“The Court has a chance to emulate Lincoln. We have the chance to be as Lincoln had hoped, to exercise grace and charity, and to restore healing for those who seek forgiveness,” attorney Patrick Leduc wrote. “Alternatively, we can follow the mistakes of our past: to be harsh, seek vengeance, retribution, and revenge, and continue to watch the nation go down its present regrettable path.”

According to the HuffPost, Hodgkins, 38, is the third defendant sentenced in the Capitol attack. Two prior defendants had been sentenced on misdemeanor charges. More than 500 people have been arrested in connection with the Janiaru 6 Capitol attack, and hundreds more arrests are still in the works. 

Assistant U.S. Attorney Mona Sedky said that Hodgkins participated in the grave danger to our democracy, and that both Capitol staffers and law enforcement personnel who fought off rioters will “bear emotional scars for many years, if not forever.”

Sedky said that “January 6 was an act of domestic terrorism” and that Hodgkins was flouting his disrespect for the law, and that there is a need to promote respect for the law and deter future potential criminals for engaging in such conduct.

“He willingly joined the fray, and he steadfastly remained a part of it,” Sedky said, nothing that a significant sentence would send a “loud and clear message” to potential rioters thinking about a “sequel to the January 6 attack/”

Hodgkins told the judge he was “truly remorseful” and regretful of what he did on January 6. He said he made a “foolish decision” and allowed himself to put his “passion” before his “principles.”

“I came to D.C. with the intention of supporting a president I loved,” Hodgkins said. “The storming of the U.S. Capitol building is not something I had any idea would happen.”

Hodgkins said he does “realize that my involvement did still contribute to the greater problem that took place.” He also said he recognizes that President Joe Biden is “rightfully and respectfully the president of the United States.”

Research contact: @HuffPost

Capitol Police open offices in California, Florida to probe threats against members of Congress

July 7, 2021

The U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) announced on July 6 that the department is in the process of opening regional field offices in California and Florida to investigate threats to members of Congress, as part of enhanced security efforts in the wake of the Capitol insurrection last January 6, The Hill reports.

Capitol Police said in May that threats against members of Congress have more than doubled—increasing 107%— since last year.

“The USCP has enhanced our staffing within our Dignitary Protection Division as well as coordinated for enhanced security for Members of Congress outside of the National Capitol Region,” Acting USCP Chief Yogananda Pittman said in a statement.

She added, “The Department is also in the process of opening Regional Field Offices in California and Florida with additional regions in the near future to investigate threats to Members of Congress.”

“It has been six months since rioters attacked the United States Capitol and our brave police officers and law enforcement partners who fought valiantly to protect elected leaders and the democratic process,”  Pittman said.

“We will never forget USCP Officers Brian Sicknick and Howie Liebengood, who died after the attack, nor the sacrifices of the nearly 150 law enforcement officers who were injured,” Pittman added.

While more than 500 people have been arrested in connection with the attacks, the FBI is still searching for some 300 subjects, including those involved with placing pipe bombs at each party’s national headquarters.

The department said it has been working to implement recommendations from multiple Juary 6 reviews, including those from the Government Accountability Office, the Capitol Police Office of Inspector General, and a House panel.

The various reviews found that the force was operating with aging equipment, failed to follow up on intelligence or widely distribute information to officers, and sidelined the Architect of the Capitol, one of its board members, from assisting with security planning.

Now, the force is expanding wellness services, with an emphasis on psychological trauma and stress; enhancing member protection; increasing training; and enhancing critical incident response training.

According to The Hill, the department also has purchased new helmets and batons for its forces, as well as shields, which its watchdog previously found were improperly stored and damaged.

What’s more, Pittman announced, the Capitol Police will increase its intelligence sharing with officers. “Externally, USCP leadership has increased intelligence sharing and collaboration between all of our local, state, and federal law enforcement partners; as well increased our partnership within the intelligence community and Congressional stakeholders.”

Research contact: @thehill

Cheney agrees to join January 6 inquiry, drawing threats of GOP retribution

July 5, 2021

On July 1, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi  (D-California) named Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming to a newly created special committee to investigate the January 6 riot at the Capitol.

In doing so, Pelosi drew fire from House Minority leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California), who suggested that Cheney—already ousted from party leadership for her insistence on calling out former President Donald Trump’s election lies —could face fresh retribution for agreeing to help Democrats investigate the deadliest attack on Congress in centuries, The New York Times reported.

McCarthy called Cheney’s acceptance of the position “shocking” and implied that she could lose her seat on the Armed Services Committee as payback. “I don’t know in history where someone would get their committee assignments from the speaker and then expect to get them from the conference as well,” McCarthy said.

The reaction was the latest bid by Republican leaders to turn public attention away from the assault on the Capitol and punish those who insist on scrutinizing the riot. It came as a fuller picture is emerging of how violent extremists, taking their cues from Trump, infiltrated the seat of American democracy just as Congress was meeting to validate President Biden’s election.

According to the Times, should McCarthy follow throughhis threat, it would be a striking move, since he has declined to penalize Republicans who have made anti-Semitic comments, called for the imprisoning of their Democratic colleagues, or spread false conspiracy theories about the origins of the assault on the Capitol.

It also would be the second time in two months that McCarthy Cheney for insisting that Congress should scrutinize the attack and Trump’s role in spreading the falsehoods about voting fraud that inspired it. In May, Mr. McCarthy led the charge to oust Cheney from her post as the No. 3 House Republican, saying her criticisms of Trump and efforts to sound the alarm about the riot were undermining party unity and hurting its chances of reclaiming the House in the 2022 elections.

“My oath, my duty is to the Constitution, and that will always be above politics,” Cheney told reporters in the Capitol, appearing alongside the seven Democrats Pelosi had selected for the 13-member panel.

According to its rules, McCarthy has the right to offer five recommendations for Republican members, but he declined on Thursday to say whether he would do so.

Research contact: @nytimes

Report: Some Republicans irate at Kevin McCarthy for feeding Liz Cheney to ‘MAGA wolves’

May 12, 2021

Some House Republicans are furious with Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy for pushing GOP Caucus Chair Liz Cheney out in a shameless attempt to make Donald Trump happy, Raw Story reports.

They see it as “weak leadership” from a man who has “no moral compass,” Politico Playbook reports—detailing some of the “backlash against the minority leader behind the scenes.”

Politico says the “grumbling” is not just coming “from Adam Kinzinger types,” referring to the Illinois House Republican who blasted McCarthy on Monday with the bombshell revelation that he had warned him there would be violence on January 6 but McCarthy dismissed him.

“Some House Republicans are privately griping about how the California Republican has fed a colleague to the MAGA wolves in his quest to become speaker.”

And ousting Cheney could cost McCarthy the one thing he craves more than anything: becoming Speaker of the House.

“’Kevin McCarthy has pissed off enough members of his own conference that he’s going to have to go back to his former days as a whip to try to figure out where his votes are’ to become speaker,” one House Republican told Politico. That lawmaker “is neither a member of the Freedom Caucus,” the far right extremists in the House, “nor a moderate.”

“I’d be worried if I [were] him. … You have people like me — who are here to do the right thing for all the right reasons and have an expectation of leadership — that are, shall we say, disgusted with the internal squabbling that results from having weak leadership. And it is weak leadership. Straight up.”

It’s not just House Republicans who see McCarthy as weak.

“He’s flip-flopped on [January 6 and whether it’s] Trump’s fault, it’s not Trump’s fault,” a senior GOP aide to a conservative member of Congress told Politico. “It seems like he doesn’t have the backbone to lead. He bends to political pressure. It’s tough to do when you’re speaker. You have to lead.”

Research contact: @RawStory

Capitol Police say they are stepping up security based on intel on March 4 plot to breach Capitol

March 4, 2021

QAnon followers believe that former President Donald Trump will return to power on Thursday, March 4and U.S. Capitol Police officials said Wednesday that they have “obtained intelligence that shows a possible plot to breach the Capitol by an identified militia group on [on that date],” ABC News reports.

The intelligence is being taken “seriously,” the officials said in a statement posted on Twitter. But are they ready?

“We have already made significant security upgrades to include establishing a physical structure and increasing manpower to ensure the protection of Congress, the public and our police officers, the statement said, adding, “Our Department is working with our local, state, and federal partners to stop any threats to the Capitol. We are taking the intelligence seriously. Due to the sensitive nature of this information, we cannot provide additional details at this time.”

The statement issued Wednesday morning follows another Tuesday night in which officials said they had beefed up security, ABC News notes.

“The Department is aware of concerning information and intelligence pertaining to March 4th and continues to work with all of our law enforcement partners,” the federal law enforcement agency said in that statement. “Based on the intelligence that we have, the Department has taken immediate steps to enhance our security posture and staffing for a number of days, to include March 4th. The Department has communicated our enhanced posture as well as the available intelligence for the entire workforce.”

The threats appear to stem from QAnon, the umbrella term for a set of disproven and discredited internet conspiracy theories that allege the world is run by a secret cabal of Satan-worshipping cannibalistic pedophiles. Followers of the fringe movement believe that the 2020 U.S. presidential election was stolen from Trump, who has pushed baseless claims of voter fraud along with his allies.

QAnon followers also believed that Trump would not actually leave office on Inauguration Day—but rather would declare martial law, announce mass arrests of Democrats, and stop Joe Biden from becoming president. When that didn’t happen, the date was moved from January 20 to March 4—the original inauguration day for all U.S. presidents prior to 1933.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation first labeled QAnon and its fluid online community of supporters as a “dangerous extremist group” in August 2019. A number of individuals believed to be QAnon followers have been charged for their alleged involvement in the deadly insurrection on January 6, when pro-Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C.

On Monday, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis issued a confidential assessment to law enforcement agencies, which was obtained by ABC News, saying that the threat of domestic violent extremism in 2020—largely driven by “violent anti-government or anti-authority narratives, periods of prolonged civil unrest and conspiracy theories”—is a trend that will likely continue in 2021 and “could escalate to include targeting of critical infrastructure.”

Research contact: @abcnews