Did Q Shaman Intend to ‘Capture and Assassinate’ Government Officials?

Some of the Capitol rioters were much more dangerous than others.

Reuters (“U.S. says Capitol rioters meant to ‘capture and assassinate’ officials – filing“):

Federal prosecutors offered an ominous new assessment of last week’s siege of the U.S. Capitol by President Donald Trump’s supporters on Thursday, saying in a court filing that rioters intended “to capture and assassinate elected officials.”

Prosecutors offered that view in a filing asking a judge to detain Jacob Chansley, the Arizona man and QAnon conspiracy theorist who was famously photographed wearing horns as he stood at the desk of Vice President Mike Pence in the chamber of the U.S. Senate.

The detention memo, written by Justice Department lawyers in Arizona, goes into greater detail about the FBI’s investigation into Chansley, revealing that he left a note for Pence warning that “it’s only a matter of time, justice is coming.”

“Strong evidence, including Chansley’s own words and actions at the Capitol, supports that the intent of the Capitol rioters was to capture and assassinate elected officials in the United States government,” prosecutors wrote.

A public defender representing Chansley could not be immediately reached for comment. Chansley is due to appear in federal court on Friday.

The prosecutors’ assessment comes as prosecutors and federal agents have begun bringing more serious charges tied to violence at the Capitol, including revealing cases Thursday against one man, retired firefighter Robert Sanford, on charges that he hurled a fire extinguisher at the head of one police officer and another, Peter Stager, of beating a different officer with a pole bearing an American flag.

In Chansley’s case, prosecutors said the charges “involve active participation in an insurrection attempting to violently overthrow the United States government,” and warned that “the insurrection is still in progress” as law enforcement prepares for more demonstrations in Washington and state capitals.

They also suggested he suffers from drug abuse and mental illness, and told the judge he poses a serious flight risk.

“Chansley has spoken openly about his belief that he is an alien, a higher being, and he is here on Earth to ascend to another reality,” they wrote.

A WaPo report (”Rioters wanted to ‘capture and assassinate’ lawmakers, prosecutors say. A note left by the ‘QAnon Shaman’ is evidence.“) adds:

As federal law enforcement officers sift through evidence tied to the attack on the U.S. Capitol, they have tried to determine what compelled rioters to force their way into the building. Namely, did any of them plan to kill or capture lawmakers or their staffers?

Officials now say they have found clues to that question from one of the mob’s most distinctive figures: Jacob Anthony Chansley, the shirtless, tattooed man often referred to as “QAnon Shaman,” who stood out in a headdress made of coyote skin and buffalo horns.

[…]

But in a statement to The Washington Post, St. Louis attorney Albert S. Watkins said he had been retained as Chansley’s lawyer and called for President Trump to pardon him.

Watkins claimed that Chansley acted in a “peaceful and compliant fashion” toward law enforcement and was cooperating with their investigation. Besides, he argued, the Arizona man only went to the Capitol because he was following Trump’s invitation.

“He took seriously the countless messages of President Trump. He believed in President Trump,” Watkins said. “Like tens of millions of other Americans, Chansley felt — for the first time in his life — as though his voice was being heard.”

[…]

Law enforcement officials have cautioned that there may be a variety of motives among those who stormed the Capitol. An FBI investigation is seeking to determine whether some intended to do more than disrupt the certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, The Post reported last week.

One man, for instance, was arrested and accused of carrying a pistol on the Capitol grounds. Others wore tactical gear or brought zip ties, officials said. And another was arrested after his truck was spotted nearby, allegedly with 11 molotov cocktails inside.

Chansley, who called the FBI himself to acknowledge that he was in the riot, told investigators that “he came as a part of a group effort, with other ‘patriots’ from Arizona, at the request of the President that all ‘patriots’ come to D.C. on January 6, 2021.”

A fixture at far-right events in Arizona for the past two years, he has often professed his support for Trump and QAnon, the baseless online conspiracy theory. His body is heavily tattooed with insignia adopted by white nationalists.

Speaking to The Post last week, he said he was not afraid of arrest.

“I trust in God and I know that I didn’t do anything wrong,” he said. “And even if I was arrested, wasn’t Gandhi arrested a lot? Wasn’t Martin Luther King Jr. arrested a lot? Wasn’t Jesus arrested? I put my trust in God, not the government.”

That Chansley/Angeli is a nut doesn’t preclude him also being part of an elaborate, violent plot. But, frankly, I’m skeptical that he’s much more than a cosplayer.

Prosecutors are notorious for over-charging in an effort to coerce pleas to charges that would otherwise be difficult to prove in court and Chansley/Angeli almost certainly lacks the resources to engage in a drawn-out legal battle absent pro bono services. Court-appointed attorneys are seldom a match for US Attorneys.

Chansley/Angeli aside, justice requires that we remind ourselves that there were almost certainly “a variety of motives among those who stormed the Capitol.” It’s clear now that, while some large number of them were simply Trump supporters who had been lathered into a mob, there was some significant element of domestic terrorism—people who came armed with pipes, guns, and explosives to wreak serious havoc and failed for whatever reason. And, probably, some not insignificant number of late arrivers there for the spectacle.

Lawfare has done an excellent job chronicling the charges and possible charges stemming from the events of last Wednesday.

Bryce Klehm, Alan Z. Rozenshtein, and Jacob Schulz explained the next morning”Here’s How the Capitol Mob Violated Federal Criminal Law,” noting the “cartoonish avalanche of crimes” that were plausibly committed and available for prosecutors to leverage.

Federal criminal law is, to put it mildly, expansive on the subjects relevant to such conduct. There’s a whole collection of more narrowly applicable statutes that some participants in the mob appear to have violated. There are reports, for example, of rioters perusing Pelosi’s emails—which, if true, could likely constitute a violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act’s prohibition against “knowingly access[ing] a computer without authorization.” As more becomes public about what happened, there will likely be other examples of these more idiosyncratic violations. For now, we’re going to focus on more broadly applicable statutes.

For purposes of federal criminal law, it is useful to group the potential offenses into three categories, starting with the most straightforward and progressing to the most serious, legally consequential and difficult to prove. First, there are property offenses. Second, there are offenses related to disorder. And third, there are anti-government offenses, most notably seditious conspiracy.

If nothing else, the mob clearly violated laws against trespassing on federal facilities and destroying and stealing federal property. Federal law prohibits “depredation against any property of the United States” as well as robbing or attempting to rob “another of any kind or description of personal property belonging to the United States.” It also prohibits possessing a firearm in a federal facility “with intent that a firearm or other dangerous weapon be used in the commission of a crime.”

Another federal statute makes it a crime to “knowingly enter[] or remain[] in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority to do so” including “with intent to impede or disrupt the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions.” That section also includes offenses in which one “obstructs or impedes ingress or egress from any restricted building or grounds” and “knowingly engages in any act of physical violence against any person or property in any restricted buildings or grounds.” The statute’s definition of “restricted buildings or grounds” includes places “where the President or other person protected by the Secret Service is or will be temporarily visiting” or places that are “restricted in conjunction with an event designated as a special event of national significance.” Vice President Mike Pence was presiding over the Senate during the vote, and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris was also present, so the building likely satisfied the requirement that it contain a “person protected by the Secret Service.” In addition, federal law explicitly prohibits bringing weapons into the Capitol or engaging in ”violent entry and disorderly conduct.”

A second category of offenses relates to disorder. For example, federal law prohibits both transportation of firearms and obstruction of law enforcement as part of civil disorder, an activity defined broadly as “any public disturbance involving acts of violence by assemblages of three or more persons, which causes an immediate danger of or results in damage or injury to the property or person of any other individual.” Federal law also criminalizes riots, which are defined along similar lines. Finally, there is a special prohibition on forcibly obstructing a congressional inquiry, although it’s unclear whether the electoral-count certification counts as an “inquiry.”

And then there are the political offenses. These come with increased criminal penalties and would also send the strongest message about the severity of the behavior on display.

The offenses can be found in Title 18, Chapter 115, which criminalizes “treason, sedition, and subversive activity.” Treason, narrowly defined as “lev[ying] war against” the United States or giving “aid and comfort” to its enemies, doesn’t fit with the fact pattern here. And although federal law also prohibits “rebellion or insurrection against the authority of the United States or the laws thereof,” that statute is very rarely used by prosecutors. It is notable, though, that a conviction for rebellion or insurrection would make someone “incapable of holding any office under the United States,” a fact that may be of interest to those concerned about Trump’s future political ambitions.

So the most relevant prohibition is Section 2384, which outlaws “seditious conspiracy,” defined as when “two or more persons … conspire to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States … or to oppose by force the authority thereof, or by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States, or by force to seize, take, or possess any property of the United States contrary to the authority thereof.” Sedition is a serious charge, but a number of analysts (including Lawfare’s Benjamin Wittes) have raised the possibility that certain conduct related to yesterday’s debacle might meet the terms of the statute.

A fantastic explainer at Lawfare by UNC law professor Carissa Byrne Hessick, “Felony Murder and the Storming of the Capitol,” examines the wide discretion prosecutors have. It’s not inconceivable that everyone who entered the Capitol for whatever reason could be charged with burglary and held liable criminally liable for the deaths that occurred. That would clearly be an abuse of state power if applied wholesale.

That said, Bryce Klehm and Rohini Kurup are “Compiling the Criminal Charges Following the Capitol Riot” and, at quick perusal at least, it would seem that prosecutors are being judicious at least for now. Indeed, most seem to be on relatively obvious charges like “Knowingly Entering or Remaining in any Restricted Building or Grounds Without Lawful Authority; or Knowingly, With Intent to Impede Government Business or Official Functions” and “Engaging in Disorderly Conduct on Capitol
Grounds.”

Distinguishing between those with murderous and seditious intent and those who were merely misguided yahoos egged on by a dangerous President is obviously challenging work. But justice requires that we do so, rather than pretending this was a single criminal conspiracy.

FILED UNDER: Crime, Law and the Courts, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. SKI says:

    First, shout out to 2384!!! Woo Hoo!! lol

    Second, don’t take this as a sign of expected charges.

    Indeed, most seem to be on relatively obvious charges like “Knowingly Entering or Remaining in any Restricted Building or Grounds Without Lawful Authority; or Knowingly, With Intent to Impede Government Business or Official Functions” and “Engaging in Disorderly Conduct on Capitol Grounds.”

    The reason most of the charges are for misdemeanors stems from the reality that a federal prosecutor can get an arrest warrant on a misdemeanor by swearing out a criminal complaint and a felony charge can require a grand jury indictment. Expect most of those charged with misdemeanors to have additional felony charges added later.

    10
  2. MarkedMan says:

    There’s a chance, maybe even a likelihood, that Angelinis is merely an opportunistic nut, the type of guy who joins into carnage rather than leads it. But he participated in a violent insurrection. He was one of the ones who whipped up the crowds. He left a note for a public official that could certainly represent a death threat. Would you really want to be the prosecutor who rolls the dice and says, “Sure, he probably won’t participate in any more violence or rile up violent crowds. Let’s release him out in the wild just in time for the inauguration.”?

    7
  3. DeD says:

    But justice requires that we do so, rather than pretending this was a single criminal conspiracy.

    Sure, Doc J. But if they were anything but White, they surely would be prosecuted under a single criminal conspiracy. To the fullest extent of the law.

    24
  4. CSK says:

    Right after the Capitol siege happened, there was a split between those Trumpkins insisting the havoc was wrought by “patriots fed up with being silenced” and those insisting that all the damage was done by Antifa and BLM infiltrator thugs plotting with traitors inside the Capitol and CNN.

    Now they all seem to be taking the latter position. “It wasn’t us! BLM and Antifa thugs did all the bad stuff! We were just there to peacefully make our voices heard!”

    6
  5. Jon says:

    “Conservatism consists of exactly one proposition …There must be in-groups whom the law protects but does not bind, alongside out-groups whom the law binds but does not protect.”

    These folks don’t see what they did as lawless because, by definition, only “other” people can be lawless.

    17
  6. Kathy says:

    I say we start a Go fund me campaign to build the Ronald Reagan Memorial Maximum Security Prison, where we can house all these thugs, plus Trump and part of his cabinet, for as long as proves necessary.

    7
  7. Kathy says:

    @CSK:

    I’m willing to bet a large sum Mr. Orwell never imagined people would embrace doublethink of their own free will and with such relish.

    @Jon:

    On the subject of Mr. Orwell, all Conservatives are equal, but some Conservatives are more equal than others.

    5
  8. Jon says:

    @Kathy: I think we can just re-name Alcatraz and be done with it.

    2
  9. KM says:

    The law doesn’t really care if you believe in the kayfabe you’re making bank on as there is no j/k escape clause. Did you go there hyping up a violent mob to commit crimes because you’re cosplaying for the likes or because you honestly mean it? Guess what – either way, you’re going to jail. Did you *mean* it when you said you violent things or is “just what you say” when you voluntarily joined the mob out to do violent things? For that matter, do they really *believe* Trump won or are they there to cause chaos, destruction or just do it for the evulz?

    All of these nuts are now trying to weasel out of the consequences of their actions by pretending it wasn’t so bad or “you can’t know what was in their hearts”. BS – they went there to start trouble and succeeded. If it got out of hand, it’s still their fault and they should be charged for what happened, not whatever sob story they’re spinning now. Robbers don’t get to claim they were practicing for a play or it was a Youtube stunt, especially if they’re visibly armed or in paramilitary clothing. Why are we giving these jerks the benefit of the doubt?

    10
  10. CSK says:

    @KM:
    I think that’s why the Trumpkins are now denying that they had anything at all to do with the violence and destruction.

    2
  11. mistermix says:

    These folks are all going to be charged with sedition and/or insurrection, as soon as the prosecutors can get grand jury indictments. Frankly, that doesn’t bother me in the least, because that’s what they did. Just because someone looks ridiculous and/or are stupid and easily led doesn’t mean they didn’t commit the crime. If there’s some impairment (mental illness, etc.) then let that be taken into account during their trial or sentencing.

    15
  12. An Interested Party says:

    But if they were anything but White, they surely would be prosecuted under a single criminal conspiracy.

    Actually, if their melanin content was higher, many of them couldn’t be prosecuted because they would be dead…

    8
  13. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Jon:

    Allow me to introduce you to USP Florence 🙂

    5
  14. CSK says:

    @HarvardLaw92:
    Home of the younger Tsarnaev brother, I believe.

    4
  15. Jen says:

    There are a whole lotta people out there about to go through some things when they discover that “I was just kidding” barely works for Trump, and certainly will NOT extend to them.

    Remind me again about the party of personal responsibility?

    13
  16. mattbernius says:

    It’s not inconceivable that everyone who entered the Capitol for whatever reason could be charged with burglary and held liable criminally liable for the deaths that occurred [via felony murder]. That would clearly be an abuse of state power if applied wholesale.

    Correct on both counts. And it’s important to understand that the regular application of Felony Murder statutes in this way contributes far more to the US’s current Mass Incarceration issue than, say, private prisons.

    BTW, this is why so many criminal legal system reformers are really concerned about the idea of “new domestic terrorism” laws. The issue isn’t that the current laws are inadequate–its that they are unfairly and unequally applied.

    8
  17. charon says:

    @CSK:

    Now they all seem to be taking the latter position. “It wasn’t us! BLM and Antifa thugs did all the bad stuff! We were just there to peacefully make our voices heard!”

    They keep persisting with that but – there is the inconvenient fact that a lot of rioters are being identified and they are without exception right wingers or QAnon nuts or suchlike, no BLM or Antifa presence yet found. So they are kidding no one but themselves.

    7
  18. Sleeping Dog says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Given the alleged prevalence of white supremacists among on racial group found in various prison systems, these Trumpkins should feel right at home.

    3
  19. Jay L Gischer says:

    Five or six years ago, I and my fellow instructor spent considerable time and effort convincing a young man we know that verbal threats of violence are not something to do lightly.

    He got kicked out of his summer camp for it. His parents were in Europe and had asked me to be their backup (I have known the young man since his birth, and them even longer). None of them really understood why people were making “such a fuss”, because “people just talk that way”.

    The part of this that’s interesting to me is that my father, and his brothers, had guns, and would be willing to use them to defend the household. My one uncle was, in fact, a bit of a blowhard. But none of them, not one once, would ever make idle threats of violence. No, in my world, people didn’t just talk that way.

    But other parts of the country have different habits it would seem.

    In the end, I convinced his mother with the following.

    Me: “You know how certain women sometimes say things on the internet and get a lot of death threats in comments and so on?”

    She: “Yes…”

    Me: “Well, do you think they mean it or are just talking?”

    She: “It’s hard to say, you don’t know them…”

    Me: “Do you want [name redacted] to be one of those people?”

    She: (look of dawning horror) “NO!”

    (By the way, both of the parents are strong Democrats.)

    We are in a trend of taking such talk more seriously. I think that’s a good thing.

    4
  20. CSK says:

    @charon:
    Yeah, I know. I can’t figure out how they plan to rationalize that. Probably they’ll just blithely ignore it.

    You’ve no doubt also noticed that not one Trumpkin has yet publicly queried why Trump, who promised to march with them on the Capitol, promptly scuttled back to the safety of the White House?

    5
  21. Mikey says:

    @mistermix:

    Just because someone looks ridiculous and/or are stupid and easily led doesn’t mean they didn’t commit the crime.

    To quote…someone I saw on Twitter a while back: a coup attempt that steps on a rake and then shits itself is still a coup attempt.

    4
  22. Kathy says:

    @Mikey:

    IMO, people tend to forget or overlook unsuccessful coup attempts, because they seldom make history or change the course of a nation. For instance, the coup against Gorbachev is remembered as the last gasp of the die hard communists, and the resulting humiliation of Gorbachev that led to the breakup of the USSR and the rise of Yeltsin in Russia.

    But that’s rare.

    Who remembers the coup against Chavez in the early 2000s, or the one against King Juan Carlos in Spain soon after Franco’s death?

    Failed coups get remembered when the participants then stage a successful one, or move up in the political ladder and take over. That happened with the Beer Hall Putsch, and with the Chavez coup in the 90s.

    And this last argues for severe and long-lasting repression of the plotters and participants, rather than for mercy and forgiveness. The latter may just encourage them to try again. They should all be locked up for a very long time.

    8
  23. Gustopher says:

    That Chansley/Angeli is a nut doesn’t preclude him also being part of an elaborate, violent plot. But, frankly, I’m skeptical that he’s much more than a cosplayer.

    He may have been plotting with the voices in his head.

    In all likelihood, he is a colorful loon who got swept up into this. But, a colorful loon who committed serious crimes, and who may be a serious threat of violence.

    I have no objection to throwing the book at him, and charging him with everything conceivable. He made himself a symbol, and symbols need to be knocked down. Also, he’s a Nazi, and I’m firmly on the side of Nazi punching — if he is the victim of a gross misjustice, let the Nazis defend him.

    1
  24. ImProPer says:

    “Prosecutors are notorious for over-charging in an effort to coerce pleas to charges that would otherwise be difficult to prove in court and Chansley/Angeli almost certainly lacks the resources to engage in a drawn-out legal battle absent pro bono services. Court-appointed attorneys are seldom a match for US Attorneys.”

    I am glad you pointed this out. The above fact is perhaps the largest impediment to social justice in our society. In the event there is no tangible conspiracy, I hope we don’t get caught up in the trap of granting any new powers to Prosecutors in our zeal for justice. Trump and his attorneys, more than likely are criminal compatriots, whether this can be proven in court remains to be seen. Now the evidence of them inciting the mob is quite powerful, and a much easier case to prove. No need to make the justice department any more powerful.
     
     

  25. MarkedMan says:

    @mistermix:

    Just because someone looks ridiculous and/or are stupid and easily led doesn’t mean they didn’t commit the crime.

    Let’s be realistic. Most criminals are stupid, and for the few who aren’t, even those are doing stupid things. If we make excuses for criminals because they were just being stupid we may as well close the whole justice system down.

    I hung with a questionable crowd and could have gone either way as a kid. One of things that put me firmly on the path of the righteously boring was realizing just how stupid most of the serious troublemakers were. How unable they were to keep their mouth shut. How much of their crimes were performative, done much more for the show than for the money. You know what you call a performative criminal? “Inmate 72314”

    5
  26. Michael Reynolds says:

    Distinguishing between those with murderous and seditious intent and those who were merely misguided yahoos egged on by a dangerous President is obviously challenging work. But justice requires that we do so, rather than pretending this was a single criminal conspiracy.

    What utter bullshit.

    Did they attack the US Capitol? Yes? Then they should roll over, or do time. And if they don’t have anyone big enough to roll over on, then they’ll just be screwed. I have no pity for these people. If they were Black, or Muslim we would not be having this conversation. Equal justice under the law.

    12
  27. KM says:

    @Jay L Gischer :
    A huge part of it is that society is coming to understand “I’m just sayin'” or “it was just a joke, bro” are always cover for people who *know* what they are doing is unacceptable but don’t want to be judged for it. Mean-spirited or nasty comments, aggressive hyperbole – they get excused because we’re supposed to accept they didn’t *mean” it and that the words are meaningless as we can’t know their intent behind it. A lot of the anger at red flag laws is folks realizing how much of their own personal behavior fits these categorizes and just how thin a line it can be between them and the nuts…. and there’s no reliable way to tell them apart.

    3
  28. restless says:

    @charon:
    Sadly, can’t say “without exception”

    The Intercept

    He says he wanted to document the protest, but seemed to be caught up in the crowd…

  29. ImProPer says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    The Federal facility HarvardLaw92 was referring to is very special place. Extreme isolation is the program there. The only white supremacists someone of that persuasion will be interacting with is themselves. 24-7.
    As for any Trumpkins that wind up in other prisons, I doubt there are any they would feel right at home in.

  30. restless says:

    @restless:

    Apparently I messed up the link

    https://theintercept.com/2021/01/14/capitol-riot-john-sullivan-ashli-babbitt/

    “ JOHN SULLIVAN, a self-described activist for racial justice who filmed the fatal shooting of the QAnon cultist Ashli Babbitt during the storming of the U.S. Capitol, was detained in Utah on Thursday on federal charges of interfering with efforts by the police to stop the riot….”

  31. inhumans99 says:

    It is all fun and games to yell on tv that you are taking back your house (the Capitol) and bragging about stealing a member of Congress’s mail and leaving her a threatening note that you are not done with her (to get her all shook, I guess) while sitting at her desk but all of a sudden the FBI is knocking on your door and you are all, whoah bruh…I was just goofing, you know exercising my right to free speech and all that, why do you have to go and arrest me?

    Sigh…just sigh, being stupid does not give these yahoos a pass from having the book thrown at them and perhaps ending up in jail for a short period of time. Let their arrest record follow them as they try to gain employment.

    I was going to take a dig at their future employment opportunities and say they are lucky if they end up at a fast food drive through window handing me food but that insults the workers who work themselves to the bone given how crazy busy drive throughs are during Covid. Seriously, at McDonalds my order is ready to be handed off to me the second I pull up at the window, the workers inside are well oiled machines and really good at their jobs.

    These Capitol building numpties who rioted are so dense it would probably take them 3 times longer than usual to learn the ins and outs of being a top notch fast food employee.

    Every single thing Trump touches really does die (for the most part not literally, but I understand the point of the saying), again…sigh, I really wish someone impressed that fact on these yahoos before they found themselves to be in a position to be arrested by the FBI. There are a lot of folks who are going to find that even if they do not end up in jail that the taint of the insurrection follows them around like the cloud of dirt that enveloped Pig-Pen from the Peanuts comic strip.

    To close this out, I respectfully disagree that we should handle the rioters with kid gloves…they got themselves involved in something they should not have touched with a 50 mile long pole, and now they are starting to understand the gravity of their actions as more information is revealed about the riot on a daily basis.

    4
  32. James Joyner says:

    @mattbernius:

    And it’s important to understand that the regular application of Felony Murder statutes in this way contributes far more to the US’s current Mass Incarceration issue than, say, private prisons.

    Yes, unequal enforcement is a natural consequence of too much discretion (although, the opposite, mandatory sentencing, has also been catastrophic). It seems reasonable to me that, say, a group of three people for conspire to and then kidnap someone should be held liable for the murder committed by one of their co-conspirators in that enterprise. But, at this juncture, it seems unreasonable to consider the hundreds (thousands?) of people who entered the Capitol as a single group. The law clearly permits that, though, and it’s worrisome.

    3
  33. James Joyner says:

    @inhumans99:

    Sigh…just sigh, being stupid does not give these yahoos a pass from having the book thrown at them and perhaps ending up in jail for a short period of time. Let their arrest record follow them as they try to gain employment.

    Oh, I absolutely think even the ones who just went in to take selfies for the LOLZ should be punished, including with jail time. I just don’t think we should treat them the same as the ones who killed people, plotted killing people, and other heinous crimes.

    6
  34. Nightcrawler says:

    If I or anyone else within eyeshot sent a note to anyone, let alone a public official or other high-profile individual, reading, “it’s only a matter of time, justice is coming,” we’d be arrested for terroristic threatening. Especially if we broke into that person’s workplace and left it on their desk.

    8
  35. dazedandconfused says:

    At this stage they are sorting out the flight risk/danger to the public/bail ratio. The alleged perp’s mental health is a big factor. The DA has decided to argue Squatting Bull here is more than just nuts, he’s dangerously so, so they are shooting for “no bail for you!” and charging appropriately to that near-goal.

    My bet (not more than $1.00) would be he can convince the judge he’s not violent. I think if he had a history of violence we’d of heard about it by now. And he can convince the judge he deserves the benefit of the doubt that he’s mostly a clown, and has no intention of skipping bail.

    Bail will still be spectacularly high, and some wealthy person will pony it up.

    1
  36. gVOR08 says:

    @restless: I already saw reference to Sullivan in comments at The American Conservative. He’s one alleged lefty in about a hundred people charged. Close enough for bothsides, if not absolute Antifa.

  37. DrDaveT says:

    @ImProPer:

    In the event there is no tangible conspiracy

    I think you’re missing the forest for the trees there. We don’t (yet) know whether there was a specific conspiracy to use this event to achieve specific criminal aims. But we do know with absolute certainty that there was a conspiracy to cause tens of millions of Americans to believe lies that would incentivize them to commit acts like this. Those conspirators need to face some consequences.

  38. mistermix says:

    By the way, just noticed that, in a follow-on filing in the case against the Q Shaman, the feds allege that he left a note for Pence on his desk, saying “It’s only a matter of time. Justice is coming.”

    https://twitter.com/alanfeuer/status/1350062721144905728

    Again, just because someone looks ridiculous and cries to his mommy when he’s arrested doesn’t mean they aren’t extremely dangerous and need to be locked up for a long time.

    10
  39. Michael Reynolds says:

    @mistermix:

    Again, just because someone looks ridiculous and cries to his mommy when he’s arrested doesn’t mean they aren’t extremely dangerous and need to be locked up for a long time.

    Exactly! Had the Nazis failed to later get control, all the people involved in Kristallnacht would have just been ludicrous cosplayers.

    6
  40. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Jen: I think they’re consistent with their true beliefs. Many of the one’s that I’ve known are also members of sects that hold a theology of personal responsibility (and subsequently, judgement by GOD) for “those people” and unlimited grace and forgiveness and GOD’s blessing for “us.” Not inconsistent at all.

  41. Scott F. says:

    @MarkedMan:
    This is an extreme example, but wasn’t Adam Lanza just a misguided yahoo with developmental and mental illness issues before he killed his mother and then drove over to Sandy Hook Elementary?

    Chansley is openly proclaiming himself an alien who trusts Trump and God (in that order and despite all other evidence) to guide his actions. So when he goes to the trouble to fly across the country from AZ to DC, then enters the Capitol and leaves a note threatening the VP, what other boxes need to be check before we can recognize this guy as too dangerous to be running around in association with armed militia members?

    5
  42. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @charon: “no BLM or Antifa presence yet found.”

    [Puts on tinfoil lined MAGA cap] Not found, or unjustly set free by Deep State actors?

  43. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @ImProPer:

    Indeed. Essentially a 7 x 12 foot concrete box in which the inmate spends 23 hours per day in total isolation, devoid of human contact. They’re allowed outside 1 hour per day for solo time, in which they also do not interact with / meet another human being. It’s as close to throwing someone into a trunk and walking away forever as we can get under our constitution.

    2
  44. Scott F. says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    [Puts on tinfoil lined MAGA cap] Not found, or unjustly set free by Deep State actors?

    That’s one the most convenient aspects of conspiracy theories. The lack of evidence is so easily converted into proof of just how pervasive and powerful the conspirators are. The theories make themselves irrefutable. (As Michael often points out, it’s like religion in that way.)

    2
  45. CSK says:

    @HarvardLaw92:
    Tsarnaev sued the feds for $200,000 last week, alleging unprofessional treatment contributing to his mental and physical decline.

    The grounds for his suit? They confiscated his ball cap, a bandana, and won’t allow him to shower more than three times a week.

    1
  46. ImProPer says:

    @mattbernius:

    “Correct on both counts. And it’s important to understand that the regular application of Felony Murder statutes in this way contributes far more to the US’s current Mass Incarceration issue than, say, private prisons.

    BTW, this is why so many criminal legal system reformers are really concerned about the idea of “new domestic terrorism” laws. The issue isn’t that the current laws are inadequate–its that they are unfairly and unequally applied.

    Thanks for this, you are right on track in pointing out root causes of social injustice, as usual.
    Another statement James made above is also noteworthy.

    “Prosecutors are notorious for over-charging in an effort to coerce pleas to charges that would otherwise be difficult to prove in court and Chansley/Angeli almost certainly lacks the resources to engage in a drawn-out legal battle absent pro bono services. Court-appointed attorneys are seldom a match for US Attorneys.”

    This is another phenomenon that is a cause of
    much injustice, and leads to exorbitant prison sentences for unsophisticated individuals, with out the means to defend themselves. Kudos to James as well. It would be nice if some of the would be allies in the injustice struggle would stop trying to divine out his purported inner racist, and note his objective gems.

    2
  47. inhumans99 says:

    @James Joyner:

    Agreed. I think a lot of folks hearts are in the right place in that they want the rioters who basically were just walking around trespassing and taking selfies to maybe do a super short stint in jail/or in some cases just pay a fine and do not think the majority of rioters should be jailed for un unduly harsh period of time (say several months/a year or longer).

    Even with me being a bit heated about the insurrection attempt I lean on the side of most folks in the mob on 01/06/21 had nothing to do with the actual planning of the insurrection (and it does seem it was planned well in advance by certain high level individuals) so they get a slap on the wrist that actually stings and we move on.

    On the other hand, anyone identified as yelling where’s Pence (or Pelosi, on any member of Congress) and then tries to say uh…I was not looking to hurt the guy, I just wanted to give him a piece of my mind…yeah, that is all, just wanted to have a conversation, well…those folks are to be crude, fracked.

    They may end up in jail for years at a time, and will probably be on a no-fly list from now until I am dead. It redefines being stupid if you think it is a good idea to run around with a mob in the Capitol building screaming where is Pence/Pelosi at the top of your lungs.

    At least the FBI is putting the fear of God into the minds of some folks who look at the example Trump has given them the past four years and just think they can act like Trump and there will be no consequences for their actions. Too many folks in this country have forgotten what it is like be called on your sheet if you do something foolish.

    3
  48. Owen says:

    @Michael Reynolds: I think you are conflating Night of the Long Knives (1934) with Kristallnacht (1938). By Kristallnacht the NSDAP was in full control of Germany (and Austria).

    I remember having a conversation with my brother-in-law after Trump was declared the winner in 2016. He was worried about Trump and his minions, I was certain that our institutions would stand firm to the obvious onslaught to come. I have to admit I was getting pretty uneasy for the last few months.

    1
  49. SKI says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Exactly! Had the Nazis failed to later get control, all the people involved in Kristallnacht would have just been ludicrous cosplayers.

    Kristallnacht was in 1938. The Nazis were well in control and had been for 5+ years. Further they killed 90+ Jews that night alone with hundreds more who died either from mistreatment after arrest (30,000 Jews were arrested) or suicide. It would never have been considered a joke.

    You are probably thinking of the Beer Hall Putsch which was in 1923.

    1
  50. gVOR08 says:

    @Owen: Not to speak for Reynolds, but I suspect he’s playing off Schwarzenegger’s video reference to Kristallnacht, but off on the historical sequence of events. Perhaps he should have said “lost power. However, the Q Shaman’s note threatening Pence implies we might not be far from a Republican Night of the Long Knives.

    3
  51. R. Dave says:

    In short, they’re all playing out the “conservative who gets arrested” portion of this flowchart.

  52. gVOR08 says:

    Did Q Shaman Intend to ‘Capture and Assassinate’ Government Officials?

    Continuing my little rant about deterrence being the proper philosophy for “justice”, who cares what he intended? Locking him up will deter the rest of them. As to his intentions, refer him for psychiatric treatment. Treating all these people as loons would enhance the deterrent effect. As long as we convict them and incarcerate them anyway.

    I keep trying to figure out how to suppress FOX News without violating the 1st Amendment. Publicly treating FOX addiction as a psychiatric condition might help.

    2
  53. CSK says:

    I wonder how many of these idiots are puzzled/outraged at being busted because they were encouraged to think that by invading the Capitol they wouldn’t be doing anything wrong.

    3
  54. ImProPer says:

    @DrDaveT:

    “I think you’re missing the forest for the trees there.”

    So far for me, I certainly have suspicion about there being a forest behind the trees, I am also aware that conspiracies are very hard to prove between unsophisticated outlaws. One between
    Washington elites and their lawyers infinitely more so. Law in its best form imo is as objective as possible. Personally I fear the trees being overlooked, trying to ferret out the forest.

    “We don’t (yet) know whether there was a specific conspiracy to use this event to achieve specific criminal aims.”

    I Agree. Having said that, I hope we don’t fall in the trap of the Justice Department being given extra judicial powers for the purpose of proving one.

    1
  55. ImProPer says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    The government definitely has tools at it’s disposal for handling criminal behavior. The myth of the country club prisons, is just that.
    There are several people who are in for a rude awakening, and will pine for the good old days of the pre 1/6/2021 government tyranny.

    1
  56. mattbernius says:

    @restless:

    JOHN SULLIVAN, a self-described activist for racial justice

    Of course the devil is also in the details about Mr Sullivan before anyone see’s this as ANTIFA or BLM proof. From the same article:

    We know this because Sullivan, who began calling himself “Activist John” last summer when he organized a chaotic protest for racial justice that led Black Lives Matter Utah to denounce him….

    Months before Sullivan embedded himself in the right-wing mob that broke into Congress, a racial justice activist in Portland warned members of the movement “to not associate with Activist John,” calling him, “deceptive, dangerous, and daft.” According to the activist, who goes by the name Gila on Twitter, Sullivan was responsible for dozens of protesters getting arrested at a Portland demonstration in September because he argued with local activists about the route to take “and led people down a dark street straight into a police kettle. Even though he had zero knowledge of the area he insisted people follow him and disregarded warnings from security.” Sullivan, the activist wrote, “is living in a fantasy land.”

    Activists in Salt Lake City, Seattle, and Los Angeles have made similar warnings, and a member of the Seattle protest community shared a detailed briefing document on him headlined “John Sullivan: Naive Organizer or Agent Provocateur?” that has been circulating since November. The anonymous author of that memo also drew attention to the fact that his brother, James Sullivan, is an outspoken Trump supporter, a member of the far-right “Blexit” campaign to convince Black voters to exit the Democratic Party, and spoke at a Proud Boys rally in Portland.

    Others on the left are convinced that John Sullivan has no real political convictions and is simply exploiting movements for racial justice and against fascism for personal gain. “Activist John,” they speculate, is a character Sullivan has invented, and the protests he organizes are a kind of performative, karaoke activism.

    The founder of Black Lives Matter Utah, Lex Scott, responded to a Fox News report calling Sullivan “a BLM activist” with a TikTok statement in which she said he “never has been and never will be” a member of the group and called him “a thorn in our side.”

    7
  57. Michael Reynolds says:

    @SKI:
    No, dude, I do know the difference between the Putsch and Kristallnacht. I specifically referenced the latter because it more closely resembles what we saw at the Capitol. The Beer Hall Putsch involved actual party leaders directly involved in the streets. And the cops stopped them before they could do damage. History is a subject I actually pay attention to.

    Every coup looks like a bunch of clowns when it fails.

    3
  58. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @CSK:

    I’ve seen a lot of commentary in that vein, by turns either minimizing what happened at the Capitol or predicting it will blow over.

    They don’t begin to grasp that this is being treated as a national security incident, or remotely grasp the size of what happens next in response to that.

    2
  59. Michael Reynolds says:

    @mattbernius:
    Thank you for that research. Helpful and clarifying.

    2
  60. Owen says:

    @gVOR08: Could be, and my sister was all upset about the Kristallnacht reference, I personally thought Schwarzenegger used it to compare collusion of Capitol Police with rioters (which I have previously stated appeared to me to be efforts to impede the rioters) and the (now confirmed) participation of some law enforcement and military personnel (although mostly retired/separated).

    I believe this struck a nerve with Schwarzenegger because his own father first attempted to join the Nazi Party in 1938, while he was in Austrian Law Enforcement. During Kristallnacht, Papa S was probably involved, either directly, or as one of those who actively “stood by”.

  61. JohnSF says:

    @gVOR08:
    @CSK:
    @ImProPer:
    Reminds me of the old joke about the Scots Presbyterian God:
    As the damned souls are being judged and cast down into hell they look up and cry:
    “Mercy Guid Laird! We didnae ken! We didnae ken!”
    “Aye? Well, ye ken noo!”

    5
  62. JohnSF says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Every coup looks like a bunch of clowns when it fails.

    Exactly.
    Compare failing clown and successful clown.
    Key difference: successful clown = 1/2 million dead countrymen.

    2
  63. CSK says:

    @HarvardLaw92:
    The thinking–if it can be called that–seems to be that since the invaders’ taxes pay for the maintenance of the Capitol Building, and the salaries of those who work within it, including the Capitol police, the invaders are entitled to stroll into the place and do whatever they like. It’s their building.

    This is the most feeble of rationalizations, but it’s the best they can do, other than blame all the violence and chaos on Antifa and BLM.

    2
  64. Jay L Gischer says:

    @gVOR08:

    I keep trying to figure out how to suppress FOX News without violating the 1st Amendment. Publicly treating FOX addiction as a psychiatric condition might help.

    I have one very small success story. One friend had a stepfather who was in many ways a very decent guy. But he was a very strong Trump supporter in 2016. Eventually, at one of their weekly lunches, said friend suggested that stepfather add another news source to his diet beyond FOX. Stepfather did. This resulted in stepfather forming the opinion that Trump is an idiot. It didn’t really change his conservative values, though. But he’s working off better information, and you can talk to him now.

    That might be the best we can do. Sad, but it’s not nothing.

    3
  65. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @CSK:

    I’ve seen that, and it’s obviously ridiculous, but I’ve learned never to underestimate what loo a can convince themselves to believe.

    What comes next won’t be pleasant and it won’t be small. The national security state has woken up and noticed them. That is never a good place to find yourself in. If the magnitude of what they’re facing hasn’t yet sunk in, it soon will. The placeholder initial charges are already being augmented with felony counts. Maybe it’ll require convictions to rip away the veils, but they will be ripped away one way or the other very soon. This one isn’t going to blow over. It’s going to mushroom.

    4
  66. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    “what loons can”

    I really miss the edit button

    1
  67. Jen says:

    @HarvardLaw92: I’ve been wondering how many of them realize the gravity with which Congress will demand this be treated.

    DHS, FBI, etc. all receive their funding through Congress. There is a very strong incentive for those federal agencies to produce results in this event.

    2
  68. Michael Reynolds says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    If the magnitude of what they’re facing hasn’t yet sunk in, it soon will.

    Indeed. I said a couple days ago that the FBI would eat these people for lunch. For all their pseudo-military bullshit they took selfies, FFS. It’s a big long learning curve getting from, ‘look, ma!’ to the kind of obsessive per-sec and op-sec it takes to avoid the FBI. And by now the FBI has dozens, hundreds, of potential informants just from 1/6, not to mention Parler’s security flaws.

    2
  69. JohnSF says:

    @HarvardLaw92:
    They did have to go and wake the Kraken.

    1
  70. Hal_10000 says:

    This is the easy stuff: guys who basically confessed things on video. What will be interesting is the investigation into the security failures on Capitol Hill and whether Trump left people vulnerable.

    This is like Benghazi only with the President having inflamed the mob and actual stand-down orders.

    4
  71. gVOR08 says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Indeed. I said a couple days ago that the FBI would eat these people for lunch.

    As someone said, these people are about to find out what the Deep State really is.

    2
  72. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    All of you serve as a reminder of how important it is to be careful who you (because I elect no one) elect to high office. You are much better human beings than I am; I care not a fig about whether some of the visitors to DC are overcharged relative to their culpability. I’m more of a making omelets guy, and if some in the privileged sector suffer unjustly this time, it’s only what has happened to many throughout the history of this “greatest nation under God’s sun” have suffered in the past. Maybe two wrongs don’t make a right, but karma doesn’t seem to care, and in this case, neither do I.

    I do feel some sorrow over the plight of John Sullivan (?), but he, too, knew the job was dangerous when he took it. If fortune is with him his media outlet will be able to get him the sort of lawyers that make this the best legal system in the world (provided you have the right lawyer).

    1
  73. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @mattbernius: I had not read your deeper dive into the situation of John Sullivan when I posted above. Reading it has made me able to be as ambivalent about his plight as I am about all the other plights. Thank you.

  74. inhumans99 says:

    @Hal_10000:

    People sometimes conveniently forget that Benghazi led to an investigation that lasted what, well over a year and had Clinton and all sorts of very high ranking government folks testifying.

    The aftermath of the 01/06 event is just barely starting to get rolling (we have just seen the tip of the iceberg as far as what is going on behind the scenes in the offices of the FBI).

    Even when the Benghazi investigation ended it still ended up a millstone around Clinton’s neck as she could never quite shake it off. As much as the GOP insists otherwise, this is going to be a drag on their political aspirations in 2022/2024 as it is not going to fade away.

    On occasion I have commented that I always felt that it was not going to be easy for the GOP to get back in power starting in 2022 once Trump is in the rearview mirror, despite the GOP thinking they can sweep back into power on a red wave in 2022 just because historically the party in power takes a pounding in mid-term elections, but I honestly think 2022 will be different.

    McConnell is smart and knows that the GOP took things too far and 01/06 was the end result, this will hurt the GOP but of course the question is how much will it hurt the GOP. I will leave that to the pros who have made a career out of reporting on the in and outs of D.C..

    2
  75. Sleeping Dog says:

    @CSK:

    You’re assuming that they pay taxes. My thought is that they are in Mitt Romney’s 47%.

  76. Scott F. says:

    @inhumans99:

    Even when the Benghazi investigation ended it still ended up a millstone around Clinton’s neck as she could never quite shake it off. As much as the GOP insists otherwise, this is going to be a drag on their political aspirations in 2022/2024 as it is not going to fade away.

    This will depend somewhat on the Democrats’ willingness to manufacture millstones with the same enthusiasm the Republicans always seem to muster. I haven’t seen that verve in the past, so we’ll see how it goes now.

    I think Cruz and Hawley, at least, could use some new neckwear.

    2
  77. CSK says:

    @Sleeping Dog:
    I’m not assuming it. They’re all claiming to be tax-paying patriots.

    But I take your point.

  78. charon says:

    @inhumans99:

    I think about the hit the Dems took from the 1968 Chicago convention.

    If the GOP does not convict Trump, as it likely will not, bad juju for them.

  79. gVOR08 says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    My thought is that they are in Mitt Romney’s 47%.

    A lot of them seem to be able to take a few days off and fly to DC at will. I think a lot of them are Country Club Republicans, and very sensitive to paying taxes. I think we err if we stereotype Trumpies as blue collar, low education.

    However, that doesn’t rule out being in Romney’s 47% who won’t take responsibility for their lives. And they probably are, now, in the 47% that would never vote for Mitt Romney.

  80. CSK says:

    @gVOR08:
    You’re right about the tendency to stereotype Trumpkins as rubes–I do it myself–and we shouldn’t.

    Then I look at who turns up at Trump rallies.

  81. @gVOR08:

    I think we err if we stereotype Trumpies as blue collar, low education.

    I think that the error begins when we say “blue collar, low education” – the conflation of these two different things probably helps to forget what is probably the more dedicated Trumpist (and of right-wing radicals in almost all world) constituency: the small and medium businessmen with low formal education (at least, without college).

    1
  82. Hal_10000 says:

    @inhumans99:

    Yep. One of the things I’ve been saying ever since the attack was that it’s going to turn out to have been much worse than we thought: both in terms of what happened and in terms of Trump’s response. I think if Congress had impeached him that night, he’d be out already.

  83. de stijl says:

    Imagine how differently this would have played out had it been a BLM crowd storming the capitol.

    Both behaviorally and story.

    We do not blame white people as a group for white people misbehavior. That is the definition of privilege.