DOJ aggressively pursues Capitol insurgents — and GOP dismantling lies about Jan. 6


The rioters whom Donald Trump killed on Capitol Hill were still tearing the place apart on January 6, 2021, when the folks at Fox News began their effort to downplay the severity of the insurgency. Behind the scenes, hosts like Laura Ingraham and Sean Hannity frantically texted the White House, begging Trump to recall his people, but on the air they vigorously defended the insurgents.

‘It’s not like it’s a siege,’ Fox host Bret Baier said as thousands of Trump supporters literally swarmed cops, smashed windows and chased terrified members of Congress in the hallways. Various Fox News personalities later claimed that Trump supporters were there only to “peacefully protest” and blamed the violence on “antifa” infiltrators.

In the months following the insurrection, Republican deviation and downplaying only intensified.

Representative Andrew Clyde of Georgia said it was “a normal tourist visit”. Fox News’ Tucker Carlson insisted, “It wasn’t an insurrection.” Ingraham argued, “one of the big lies that this was a coordinated insurrection”. Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo called it a “peaceful protest”. Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin said it “didn’t look like an armed insurrection.” When Capitol law enforcement and Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York spoke about the violence they witnessed and the fear they felt that day, Fox experts News accused them of lying. In the face of images of rioters assaulting police and trying to attack members of Congress, the pivot was to blame the left, usually claiming the violence was committed by “antifa” or to accuse the FBI of the orchestrated under a false flag.

To say that these lies are relentless is to understate the case. The lies have also been effective, as the majority of Republicans now endorse false claims that the insurgency was either “peaceful” or “antifa” and sometimes, contradicting themselves, they claim both at the same time.

RELATED: Mocking Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Trauma Is Really Covering Up Trump’s Violent Coup

But this week illustrated how the Justice Department has, through increasingly aggressive prosecutions of insurgents and their co-conspirators, built a formidable wall of evidence to disprove all of the GOP lies about January 6th.

On Tuesday, the DOJ scored two major victories in the war to tell the truth about what happened after Trump sent thousands of his henchmen to storm the Capitol. First, Guy Reffitt, a member of the Texas “militia” who was exposed by his own son, was found guilty of the five charges he faced for his role in the insurrection. This was the first jury trial for an insurgent, and a good sign that future such prosecutions will not go down well for the rioters. Then the DOJ revealed that it had formally charged Enrique Tarrio, then leader of the neo-fascist Proud Boys, with conspiracy for his role in trying to prevent the certification of Joe Biden’s presidential election.

It’s always exciting to see people who have tried to overthrow democracy face sanctions, but these legal proceedings are substantial apart from the feelings of satisfaction they provide.

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The conviction and the new charges contribute strongly to the public record which demonstrates, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Republicans are lying when they downplay the events of January 6. It was, contrary to what Trump apologists would have you believe, a violent, armed and organized insurgency. And yes, it was Trump supporters who did it – not “antifa” or the FBI.

Unlike the various rioters who pleaded to trespassing and other minor charges, Reffitt was convicted of some very serious crimes: two weapons charges related to the gun he brought to the Capitol, one charge of obstructing a official process and obstruction of justice, as well as with the charge of trespassing. Similarly, Tarrio’s conspiracy indictment is no small feat. Tarrio wasn’t even at the Capitol that day, as he was busy facing charges for other crimes he had committed in the run-up to the insurgency. But he was the ringleader of the role the Proud Boys played in the riot, and for that he is charged with conspiracy. It follows a similar indictment of Stewart Rhodes, the leader of the Oath Keepers, who was charged in January with seditious conspiracy. Like Tarrio, Rhodes remained outside the Capitol building that day, but there is a mountain of evidence that he was coordinating his followers who participated in the attack.

RELATED: Oath Keepers Founder Stewart Rhodes Charged With Seditious Conspiracy For Jan. 6 Role

Taken together, all of this evidence paints a very clear picture of the insurgency as an organized conspiracy, orchestrated by people willing and ready to use violence to steal Trump’s election. The only reason it wasn’t worse was because there were enough Capitol police who were brave and skilled and were able to get the members of Congress to safety before the rioters could get to them. . Indeed, video footage of a Capitol officer shooting insurgent Ashli ​​Babbitt is a chilling reminder of how rioters nearly injured or killed elected officials and their staff. If he hadn’t shot her and scared the crowd into backing down, they would have absolutely knocked down the fleeing congressmen.

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Crucially, as the Washington Post reported last week, Trump’s close friend and longtime unofficial aide Roger Stone was in frequent contact with Rhodes and Tarrio before the uprising. Stone erased some of those communications before the FBI also got hold of his phone. This suggests that those accused of conspiracy are just one layer, in the grotesque pyramid of Trump lackeys, far from Trump himself.

How much will it matter in the end? So far, there has been very little evidence that Attorney General Merrick Garland is interested in prosecuting Trump for inciting the insurrection, let alone any potential role Trump has played in his organization. It’s gotten to the point where members of the House committee investigating Jan. 6 routinely go on cable news and practically beg Garland to go after Trump. If Garland really refuses to sue Trump for fear it will look “political,” then he should reconsider.

It’s not just about protecting democracy from Trump’s next coup. It is also a matter of professional pride. If Trump is able to successfully steal the White House in 2024, which he openly plots to do, all of those carefully crafted cases against the January 6 conspirators will go up in smoke, as Trump hands out pardons like candy. To show respect for all the hard work DOJ employees have put in to put these people in jail, Garland needs to make sure they stay there.

RELATED: ‘If I do this, what have I got to lose?’: New documents show Trump feared no consequences for coup

That said, it helps to have a constituted public record that definitively shows that the GOP and Fox News claims to downplay Jan. 6 are all lies. That won’t convince hardcore Trump supporters, of course. They’re so used to backing up lies that there isn’t enough definitive evidence to back them off. But polls and focus group data show that there is a massive mass of Americans who do not approve of January 6, but who have also been affected by right-wing propaganda, so they do not understand not how coordinated, targeted and violent the insurgency was. . If and when the January 6 committee holds public hearings on the insurgency, we can expect a massive bombardment of the same lies Republicans and right-wing media have been telling for months. These court documents provide a useful counterweight and will help shame the mainstream media into not coming forward with “both sides say, who can say?” style coverage of claims made.

Still, if the DOJ wants these charges upheld, it would be wise to prosecute Trump. If not, he has a very good chance of installing himself as president and delivering the massive pardons he has already promised. If only to salvage its own work product, the DOJ must seriously consider indicting Trump for some of his many crimes. A public folder is fine. The real consequences for trying to overthrow democracy are better.


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