Rolling Stone Implies Congressmen Abetted 6 January Violence

A vague but inflammatory report sheds little light on the situation.

Trump supporters try to break through a police barrier, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, at the Capitol in Washington. As Congress prepares to affirm President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, thousands of people have gathered to show their support for President Donald Trump and his claims of election fraud. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

A Rolling Stone report by Hunter Walker, “EXCLUSIVE: Jan. 6 Protest Organizers Say They Participated in ‘Dozens’ of Planning Meetings With Members of Congress and White House Staff,” is making the rounds. There’s not much there there.

To be clear: Several Republican lawmakers—not to mention former President Trump and some of his staff—egged on the Big Lie and laid the groundwork for thousands of outraged supporters to come to Washington and demand that Congress ignore if not overturn the Electoral College results. And I would not be shocked if some of them actively helped people get into the Capitol. But nothing in this report substantiates more than what we already knew.

As the House investigation into the Jan. 6 attack heats up, some of the planners of the pro-Trump rallies that took place in Washington, D.C., have begun communicating with congressional investigators and sharing new information about what happened when the former president’s supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol. Two of these people have spoken to Rolling Stone extensively in recent weeks and detailed explosive allegations that multiple members of Congress were intimately involved in planning both Trump’s efforts to overturn his election loss and the Jan. 6 events that turned violent. 

Rolling Stone separately confirmed a third person involved in the main Jan. 6 rally in D.C. has communicated with the committee. This is the first report that the committee is hearing major new allegations from potential cooperating witnesses. While there have been prior indications that members of Congress were involved, this is also the first account detailing their purported role and its scope. The two sources also claim they interacted with members of Trump’s team, including former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, who they describe as having had an opportunity to prevent the violence. 

We never learn who the people making these allegations are beyond that they were “planners of the pro-Trump rallies.” How high-level? were they planners of the storming of the Capitol?

More importantly, that “multiple members of Congress were intimately involved in planning both Trump’s efforts to overturn his election loss and the Jan. 6 events that turned violent” isn’t new news. But the key is the “turned violent” part. It’s one thing to go along with rallies supporting Trump’s outrageous claims that the election was stolen from him. It’s another, indeed, to plan to storm the Capitol and violently stop the count.

We know that a significant number of people came prepared to do the latter. Groups like the Proud Boys were at the forefront of that effort. We don’t know whether Trump himself anticipated, much less planned for, the violence that day—but we do know he did nothing to stop it for quite some time after it was being broadcast live on every network in the country. Did Members of Congress, Meadows, or other high-level Republicans participate in planning for the violence? Or are they simply complicit in setting the stage for the violence that came.

Again: Both are bad. But one is merely shameful and outrageous while the other is a felony. One is a cause for disrepute and being ousted in the next election; the other is a violation of the oath of office and permanent expulsion from the institution.

The two sources, both of whom have been granted anonymity due to the ongoing investigation, describe participating in “dozens” of planning briefings ahead of that day when Trump supporters broke into the Capitol as his election loss to President Joe Biden was being certified.

“I remember Marjorie Taylor Greene specifically,” the organizer says. “I remember talking to probably close to a dozen other members at one point or another or their staffs.”

For the sake of clarity, we will refer to one of the sources as a rally organizer and the other as a planner. Rolling Stone has confirmed that both sources were involved in organizing the main event aimed at objecting to the electoral certification, which took place at the White House Ellipse on Jan. 6. Trump spoke at that rally and encouraged his supporters to march to the Capitol. Some members of the audience at the Ellipse began walking the mile and a half to the Capitol as Trump gave his speech. The barricades were stormed minutes before the former president concluded his remarks.

These two sources also helped plan a series of demonstrations that took place in multiple states around the country in the weeks between the election and the storming of the Capitol. According to these sources, multiple people associated with the March for Trump and Stop the Steal events that took place during this period communicated with members of Congress throughout this process.

Along with Greene, the conspiratorial pro-Trump Republican from Georgia who took office earlier this year, the pair both say the members who participated in these conversations or had top staffers join in included Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.), Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), and Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas).

“We would talk to Boebert’s team, Cawthorn’s team, Gosar’s team like back to back to back to back,” says the organizer.

I don’t know much about several of these folks but it would not shock me if Green, Boebert, Brooks, and Gohmert were directly involved in planning the violence. But nothing in this report directly asserts that they did. It’s all by implication.

This, several paragraphs into the story, is actually the most damning bit of new information:

And Gosar, who has been one of the most prominent defenders of the Jan. 6 rioters, allegedly took things a step further. Both sources say he dangled the possibility of a “blanket pardon” in an unrelated ongoing investigation to encourage them to plan the protests.

“Our impression was that it was a done deal,” the organizer says, “that he’d spoken to the president about it in the Oval … in a meeting about pardons and that our names came up. They were working on submitting the paperwork and getting members of the House Freedom Caucus to sign on as a show of support.”

The report never gets around to specifying what the pardon would be for but it’s clearly not for committing acts of violence in the Capitol but rather for unspecified things in the past already under investigation. Still, the dangling of pardons—which, granted, nobody in Congress can offer—is more than a little sketchy.

There’s a whole lot more story left but nothing that adds to our understanding.

Again, I wouldn’t be shocked if we learn a lot more as the investigation unfolds. If it turns out that Greene, Brooks, and others actively fomented an attack on the Capitol, it would not radically alter my opinion of them as public servants. But this report merely insinuates, rather than charges, anything like that.

FILED UNDER: Congress, 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. MarkedMan says:

    James, I’m gonna rag on you a bit here. You have a tendency to write posts that boil down to, “I already knew most of the stuff that was in this article so it shouldn’t have been written and people shouldn’t waste their time talking about it.” On the contrary, I think a) articles that summarize and contextualize everything we know about a story, putting together months worth of fragmented reporting, are quite valuable, and b) most people do not follow the news as closely as you and the commentariat here, and so articles such as this might very well be the first time large numbers of Rolling Stones readers are aware of a lot of this.

    34
  2. Tony W says:

    Nixon would be proud, and a little jealous.

    3
  3. SC_Birdflyte says:

    You make a valid point, i.e., that these are insinuations, but Rolling Stone, not being an entertainment enterprise, is open to libel suits from the individuals named. That would lead me to believe that there may, indeed, be a fire somewhere in the midst of this smoke.

    5
  4. Fog says:

    @MarkedMan: Very good point. Relatively low information voters make the difference in elections, and every effort must be made to publicize the big issues over and over. In the days when Carthage and Rome were battling for control of the western Mediterranean, Cato the Elder finished every speech he made in the Senate on whatever topic with something like “And may I add, Carthage must be destroyed.”
    Today he might say, “And may I add, insurrection is a crime, and anyone who participates, aids, or abets an insurrection is a criminal.”
    What happens to these traitors will determine whether or not our representative form of government has the balls to survive.

    13
  5. Chris says:

    Valid points are made regarding just how deep or shallow some members of congress and their staffers were in the run-up to the insurrection. However, their subsequent votes to quash the investigation, including the parts they played, tells us their actions were either traitorous, corrupt, or unconscionably ignorant. In any case, none of them should hold a position of trust in our democratic-republic.

    12
  6. Stormy Dragon says:

    While none of this is surprising, the revelations probably aren’t admissible in court (e.g. the pardon claim is hearsay of hearsay). A thorough investigation might uncover corroborating evidence, but neither congress nor the DOJ really seems to be treating this with the urgency it deserves.

    3
  7. Kathy says:

    We should apply the preferred Republican methods: lock them all up without charges or access to counsel, and torture them until the confess to something.

    5
  8. James Joyner says:

    @MarkedMan: It’s perfectly fair to write summary articles that aggregate existing knowledge that casual readers may have missed. But this is a blaring ‘exclusive’ the implies a smoking gun that isn’t there. And I’m seeing smart folks retweeting and commenting on this as though there was new evidence that Members plotted the riots and there is simply none of that in the article.

    5
  9. MarkedMan says:

    @James Joyner:

    Two people who helped organize the Jan. 6 “Save America” rally in Washington, D.C. said they spoke with Rep. Mo Brooks and other members of Congress to coordinate the event, according to Rolling Stone.

    Anonymous sources identified by the news outlet as a rally organizer and a planner told congressional investigators that members of Congress participated in planning briefings ahead of that day when supporters of former President Donald Trump broke into the Capitol as his election loss to President Joe Biden was being certified.

    Are you saying it isn’t Significant and important news that participants in the riot have testified under oath that sitting members of Congress helped them organize said riot?

    9
  10. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @MarkedMan: The difference between your view and Dr. Joyner’s is why none of this dog and pony show is ever going to bring any truth or reconciliation. The system is good and broke and none of the current stakeh0lders are ever going to fix that. I hope the kids are wiser than we were.

    7
  11. James Joyner says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Are you saying it isn’t Significant and important news that participants in the riot have testified under oath that sitting members of Congress helped them organize said riot?

    I’m saying that the “Save America rally” and “said riot” are not the same thing.

    3
  12. James Joyner says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: I don’t know that @MarkedMan and I have significantly different views of the event. I just think he’s falling for the trap that Rolling Stone laid and conflating the larger rally with the smaller riot.

    4
  13. Jay L Gischer says:

    So, was Henry II responsible for the death of Beckett? I mean, all he said was “will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?”

    If a Congressman meets with people, tells them the election was stolen, and their democracy is about to go down the drain unless “somebody does something”, do we, in fact, need more than that to establish culpability?

    As it turns out, I did not know that said Congressmembers were in said planning meetings. It really does just keep getting worse and worse.

    23
  14. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    It’s one thing to go along with rallies supporting Trump’s outrageous claims that the election was stolen from him. It’s another, indeed, to plan to storm the Capitol and violently stop the count.

    I’m sorry – this is mis-leading AF.
    The goal of both of these, and many other efforts, was to interrupt the peaceful transfer of power. THERE WAS NO OTHER INTENTION THAN TO OVERTURN A FREE AND FAIR ELECTION AND TAKE OVER THE GOVERNMENT.
    It started with the “Big Lie” itself.
    The well over 60 court cases that failed.
    The phone calls pressuring state officials to “find” votes.
    The pressure on DOJ officials.
    The pressure on Pence.
    Trump summoning his cult to DC for the 6th – “It’s going to be wild.”
    All culminating in the desperate act of staging a violent coup attempt.
    You have to stop looking at individual events and actions – this was, and is, a conspiracy to take over the United States Government.
    The fact that so many are willing to just poo-poo an overt act of sedition is a very bad sign for the future of this Republic.

    30
  15. James Joyner says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: Making spurious charges about stolen elections is bad form but it’s hardly novel in American politics. Stacey Abrams became a hero to Democrats after doing so. It’s quite another thing, indeed, to engage in violence.

    3
  16. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @James Joyner:

    I’m saying that the “Save America rally” and “said riot” are not the same thing.

    They are all part and parcel of the same thing…putting someone, who did not win an election, in the White House…thereby taking over the Government of these United States.

    11
  17. MarkedMan says:

    @James Joyner: Okay, I think you are picking nits, but even with the rephrasing, “Organizers of the rally that devolved into an assault on the Capital, the deaths of at least five people and forced the first evacuation of a Congress under direct threat of violence, have testified under oath that sitting members of Congress helped them organize said rally” is still pretty big news.

    4
  18. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @James Joyner:
    They weren’t spurious charges.
    FFS – Trump called state officials and pressured them to manufacture votes.
    He pressured the DOJ to lie about election fraud, and use that to overturn the election.
    He pressured Pence to interrupt the transfer of power, and when Pence refused, Trump lied about Pence’s position.
    This is a months long conspiracy to take over the country…which had many pieces…and only culminated in the attack on our Capitol because all else had failed.
    Period.
    And frankly I’m shocked that you are so willing to shrug off what is an overt case of sedition.

    15
  19. James Joyner says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: That Trump did these things is neither in dispute nor the subject of the post.

    @MarkedMan: I have criticized these people for setting the conditions for violence going back to before there was violence. That’s still a different thing than planning an insurrection.

    3
  20. Mister Bluster says:

    @Tony W:..Nixon would be proud, and a little jealous.

    Seems like it was just the other day
    48 years ago

    Saturday Night Massacre
    The Saturday Night Massacre was a series of events that took place in the United States on the evening of Saturday, October 20, 1973, during the Watergate scandal. U.S. President Richard Nixon ordered Attorney General Elliot Richardson to fire Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox; Richardson refused and resigned effective immediately. Nixon then ordered Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus to fire Cox; Ruckelshaus refused, and also resigned. Nixon then ordered the third-most-senior official at the Justice Department, Solicitor General Robert Bork, to fire Cox. Bork carried out the dismissal as Nixon asked. Bork stated that he intended to resign afterward, but was persuaded by Richardson and Ruckelshaus to stay on for the good of the Justice Department.

    3
  21. Blue Galangal says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: And “both sides” an attempt to steal an election, to boot.

    Making spurious charges about stolen elections is bad form but it’s hardly novel in American politics. Stacey Abrams became a hero to Democrats after doing so.

    8
  22. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @James Joyner:

    nor the subject of the post.

    It is the subject of the post, because you are trying to separate out parts of a much larger picture in order to make them appear perfectly innocent.

    The bank robbers drove to the bank, immediately before robbing it, which was perfectly legal.

    Yes…the January 6th terrorists, called to DC in their tactical gear for an event Bannon described as all hell breaking loose, gathered peacefully for a short time immediately before laying siege to the Capitol.
    I will only say that parsing revolutionary rhetoric, and actual revolution, is a sure road to the demise of our nation.

    11
  23. EddieInCA says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: @James Joyner:

    And frankly I’m shocked that you are so willing to shrug off what is an overt case of sedition.

    I’ve noticed a trend among some “respectable Republicans” (I would describe Dr. Joyner thusly) to downplay Jan. 6th. Smerconish falls into this category as well. They decry is as “bad”, but not as dangerous to democracy as many of us see that event.

    The GOP is tripling and quadrupling down on the”Big Lie”, and it’s becoming mainstreamed among the GOP rank and file. This is dangerous. We can’t have a democracy if one side thinks they’re the only ones who can win elections.

    Sorry, Dr. Joyner. You’re wrong on this one. Jan 6th was much worse that you’ll admit, and the fact that actual legislators were involved makes it even worse than that.

    22
  24. Mister Bluster says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:..The bank robbers drove to the bank, immediately before robbing it, which was perfectly legal.

    Would it make a difference if the bank robbers crossed a state line on their way to the bank?

    2
  25. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    It is the subject of the post, because you are trying to separate out parts of a much larger picture in order to make them appear perfectly innocent.

    Even the so-called “innocent” rally had a purpose directly aligned with the conspiracy to take over the Government; it was intended to menace and intimidate members of Congress. It was intended to convince them to stop the Constitutionally directed count of the Electoral College Ballots. When it became clear that wasn’t going to work, Trump sent his paramilitary cosplayers up the Hill to Stop the Steal.
    And then he watched, all giddy, as his wet-dream unfolded in realtime.
    These things cannot be separated into disparate events.

    4
  26. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Mister Bluster:
    I’m not sure…but it’s apparent the FBI, which is called in on intra-state crime, is scared to death of Trump.

    3
  27. MarkedMan says:

    @James Joyner: Here’s a piece by Josh Marshall that both agrees with and refutes your point. FWIW, Here’s where I think you are going wrong:

    1) I think that the reporting that organizers of the rally have testified under oath that sitting members of Congress directly participated in the planning is significant, and justifies the “exclusive” claim
    2) During any ongoing major story there are any number of articles and thought pieces summarizing everything that happened. For some reason, many of these generate little discussion, while one or two seem to capture a wider audience and generate a lot of reaction amongst a wider group of people. The fact that this appeared in Rolling Stone means that it is reaching a different group of readers than the traditional Post and Times readers and that may be why it is generating buzz. This doesn’t detract anything from the impact of the article, even if there were ones that covered 90% of the same material in the past.
    3) I’m entirely in agreement with Marshall when he essentially says that setting the standard such that only a recording of Trump and his coconspirators stating outright that they hoped for violence is little more than special pleading for criminals. There is plenty of evidence that at least some of the organizers knew exactly what was going to happen and were intent on making that happen. The fact that they have tied member of congress to the organizing takes us one step closer to proving that these particular Congressmen were traitors to the country and belong in prison.
    4) Another part of the article which I believe was exclusive, stated that the organizers testified Congressman Gosar discussed pardons with them, and implied he had discussed them with Trump. Such a discussion is pretty strong evidence that Gosar was encouraging them to commit crimes, and weaker evidence that Trump was in on it. That’s big news.

    The organizer claims the pair received “several assurances” about the “blanket pardon” from Gosar.

    “I was just going over the list of pardons and we just wanted to tell you guys how much we appreciate all the hard work you’ve been doing,” Gosar said, according to the organizer.

    5
  28. Scott F. says:

    Again: Both are bad. But one is merely shameful and outrageous while the other is a felony.

    Holy cow. I know that chances are vanishingly small that someone of consequence in the Trump administration will be held criminally accountable for abetting the attack on the Capitol, but do we have to be so glib about it?

    6
  29. Raoul says:

    Can the Republican Party be charged under the RICO statute? This is a real question.

    3
  30. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @MarkedMan:
    I guess Paul Gosar offering blanket pardons to peaceful, and completely innocent, protesters…prior to the peaceful, innocent, event…makes perfect sense.

    3
  31. STEVE NICHOLS says:

    IF pardons were discussed, that surely implies there was an expectation of criminal behavior that would require a pardon, doesn’t it?

    Who asks for, who offers, a pardon unless criminal behavior is anticipated.

    IF these allegations are true, then it’s hard to see how those congresspeople should be able to escape without being removed from office and possibly prosecuted.

    And does the felony murder rule apply here? If not, why not? There appears to have been a conspiracy which resulted directly in the deaths of at least a couple people.

    8
  32. KM says:

    @EddieInCA:

    The GOP is tripling and quadrupling down on the”Big Lie”, and it’s becoming mainstreamed among the GOP rank and file. This is dangerous. We can’t have a democracy if one side thinks they’re the only ones who can win elections.

    What it comes down to is one side has a party that is actively trying to destroy democracy, piece by piece, and being associated with them means you are part of the problem. Humanity in general really, really likes to pretend they can dissociate themselves from the consequences of membership in a group when the group starts wrecking things. If you are the Junior Assistant Sub-Manager to Evil and only run around shuffling papers while knowing doing so helps Ultimate CEO Evil do his thing, you are choosing to be part and parcel of said Evil. No snowflake thinks itself responsible for the avalanche and doesn’t want to be held responsible for what their collective actions have achieved.

    The “rally” was a bunch of hostile nuts that showed up to stop the certification of the election – that’s was their explicit stated purpose. That’s *NOT OK* and that it was going to turn violent was clear from the weaponry and accouterment they brought with them. Most planned to not be peaceful – however I do think they got luckier then they expected by getting into the Capitol as they likely meant to just damage things on the outside. They meant to cause havoc and be a problem, not just wave signs. Its evident from their posts online prior to their recorded attitudes at the time to the giddy thrill afterwards they always meant to vent their rage physically and were pleased as punch to get the chance. If the Capitol Police had held the line, I firmly believe they would have moved on to wrecking everything outside they could get their hands on. Plenty of other targets were nearby like the SC that would have been in danger from a crowd demanding their Lord and Master stay in power. They came with BOMBS and other weaponry to the “rally”, @James so the “rally” and the “riot” are inextricably linked.

    5
  33. Mister Bluster says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:..the FBI, which is called in on intra-state crime,..

    Since banks can be federally chartered I think that the FBI has jurisdiction regardless of where the bank robbers came from. I guess I’m wondering if citizens crossed state lines to enter the District of Columbia to smash windows at the United States Capitol Building if their transit is a federal offense?

    (Disclaimer: IANAL however my ex-wife was in Law School when I met her.)

    3
  34. Gustopher says:

    Rolling Stone has had enough journalistic fuck ups that I wouldn’t bother being alarmed by their reporting until a reputable source backs it up independently.

    Also, if they are just saying that members of Congress were in contact with the rally organizers — we know this already. They literally spoke at the rally. One was wearing a bullet proof vest, if memory serves.

    We also have credible reporting that MTG or someone similar (the lunatic wing blends together) was taking Proud Boys on tours of the Capitol building in the days leading up to the assault.

    13
  35. KM says:

    To circle back to the OP and the article in question, at the very least the Congress critters and WH staff involved were playing with a lit match over a gasoline spill. There’s no way on God’s green earth that they didn’t know the people attending this “rally” were angry, prone to falling for BS and ready to follow the Orange One off a cliff. I mean, they were willing to spend time and money hauling ass to DC to break hundreds of years of tradition and try to disrupt the peaceful transition of power based on a lie. It’s pretty clear they were inciting a mob ahead of time and actively giving advice and guidance.

    Quite frankly, the only reason this is getting any sort of pass from conservatives is tribal identification. Your side did this and you have to minimize it where you can least the world you know you are choosing to align with traitorous nuts. “Shameful and outrageous” to try and interfere or outright stop the peaceful transition of power of a nuclear-armed nation? Try “actively dangerous”. We’re damned lucky one of our enemies or a terrorist group didn’t try to use chaos as a ladder and attack at that time. They could have infiltrated the mob and taken out a chunk of our leadership in minutes; they could have tried for a different target while everyone was focused on the Capitol and benefited from spread thin sources. We were literal inches from disaster at several critical moments that day and it all started with people pretending the “rally” was fine but merely “shameful”. The GOP had several high-ranking members set the stage to let it all burn then handed over some matches – some may have even done more as we STILL don’t know who ripped out the panic buttons as well as other troubling incidents from that day.
    Rolling Stone merely pointed out the obvious.

    6
  36. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Marc Elias, an attorney of some note, has a different take than our host;

    Every Member of Congress who was involved should be expelled.
    Every staffer who was involved should be fired.
    Every lawyer who was involved should be disbarred.

    8
  37. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Gustopher:

    Rolling Stone has had enough journalistic fuck ups that I wouldn’t bother being alarmed by their reporting until a reputable source backs it up independently.

    This is an absolutely true statement.
    However, there is enough other information out there already to require the DOJ to get involved.
    Their fear of Trump is inexplicable.

    1
  38. James Joyner says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: The ‘attorney of some note’ was the general counsel for the Clinton and Kerry campaigns FFS.

    @Gustopher: That’s pretty much my reading, yes.

    @Raoul: No.

    @MarkedMan: I’ll have to look for Josh’s take. I’m not demanding video proof so much as some actual evidence of people doing more than helping organizing a peaceful rally.

    3
  39. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @James Joyner:

    The ‘attorney of some note’ was the general counsel for the Clinton and Kerry campaigns FFS.

    He’s also doing far more work to protect voting rights…you know, an essential element of our Constitutional Republic…than anyone else.
    What’s your point?

    5
  40. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @James Joyner:
    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:
    FFS, James…this isn’t politics as team sports…it’s the future of the goddamned country.
    If you have your way, January 6th will simply end up as a rehearsal for the successful coup to come.

    7
  41. MarkedMan says:

    @James Joyner:

    actual evidence of people doing more than helping organizing a peaceful rally.

    You don’t feel that a sworn statement that a Congressman had discussed pardons with organizers is evidence of that?

    6
  42. CSK says:

    Well, Steve Bannon said today that the Oath Keepers, Merrick Garland, the national security team, and the FBI plotted a coup against Trump following the 2020 election.

    1
  43. SteveCanyon says:

    @James Joyner: First, I think as others mentioned Abrams made credible charges whereas Trump’s are not. Second, Stacey Abrams is not a hero to Democrats because she questioned the election’s legitimacy. She is a hero because she did something about it. She made fair elections a cause, helped register unregistered voters, and worked to turn out voters to vote.

    15
  44. Arm The Homeless says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    It’s called Stochastic Terrorism and Mr. Joyner has a blind spot for it

    9
  45. gVOR08 says:

    @SteveCanyon: Thank you. Beat me to it. After listing a number of irregularities, WIKI notes,

    Abrams lost the election by 50,000 votes. Abrams considered but ultimately did not mount a legal challenge to the election results. In her speech ending her campaign, she announced the creation of Fair Fight Action, a voting rights nonprofit organization that sued the secretary of state and state election board in federal court for voter suppression.

    So there were clear irregularities, she didn’t legally challenge the election result, she didn’t organize protests, and no mob attacked the state capitol. But yeah, James, otherwise it’s just like Trump and his followers.

    Yesterday, I think Marked Man, noted that most arguments come down to disagreements about words. Clearly true here. The Rolling Stone article may not make a case for a legal conviction for sedition. But there’s no question these people’s actions were intended to overturn a fair election, vernacular sedition. And the distinction between planning the rally and supporting the riot may be a useable distinction in court, but there’s no question that in organizing one they are culpable for the other. The relevant question shouldn’t be, “Did these people break the law?”, but, “Why do we not have laws that punish this stuff?”

    GOPs like to equate the 1/6 Bozos and BLM protesters. Both actions may be illegal, but there was videotape of Floyd’s murder and a conviction. The BLM people were protesting something very real. And expecting to get beat up by cops and prosecuted. The 1/6 idiots were protesting a myth, a lie, and expecting to be treated as heroes. The questions shouldn’t revolve around legality but around sanity.

    11
  46. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Here is one of the Congress-critters listed in the RS article. She is openly advocating for the interruption of the peaceful transfer of power.
    As I said many times above…you cannot look at disparate events and actions. This is a conspiracy to take over the Government of the US and must be judged on the whole.
    https://twitter.com/funder/status/1452468418205134852

    5
  47. Michael Reynolds says:

    I rarely pick on James Joyner, but yes, this is a bullshit post.

    8
  48. reid says:

    @KM: I think we can all imagine the level 5 vapors and vein-throbbing rage that would ensue from Republicans if you switched MAGA with Antifa, say, and had various Democratic Congresspeople working with them.

    5
  49. wr says:

    @James Joyner: “Making spurious charges about stolen elections is bad form but it’s hardly novel in American politics. Stacey Abrams became a hero to Democrats after doing so. ”

    Shame on you.

    12
  50. James Joyner says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: Again, we know what happened that day. The question is what role Congressmen played in planning the violence. We already knew that they participated in the rally; hell, they were there on the podium speaking into microphones.

    @MarkedMan: Yes. I call that out as “the most damning” facet of the report. But the report also says it was a pardon for things already under investigation, which by definition isn’t for rioting in the Capitol days or weeks hence.

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: Greene is a loon and should have been ousted from Congress for several things she said and did. She’s the one I’d most suspect of aiding and abetting a violent attack on the Capitol. But dangerous rhetoric aired publicly isn’t a conspiracy.

    2
  51. Scott says:

    I don’t know. I just don’t trust this story. All rests on anonymous sources. Sources who could have just been planting a bogus story just so it can be discredited later and create another halo of doubt over the investigation.

    I’m not going to get too excited yet.

    3
  52. JohnSF says:

    Over the weekend I watched part of the BBC documentary Four Hours at the Capitol
    Some adjectives? Horrifying, sordid, pathetically stupid, terrifyingly dangerous.

    Available in the US on HBO.

    I would concur with one of the (British) producers:

    “Had the House of Commons been in comparable jeopardy, there would have been massive bloodshed – with that level of threat, I think police would have definitely opened fire.”

    (Note: Britain’s famously unarmed police actually aren’t, depending on the place and circumstances.)

    6
  53. gVOR08 says:

    Kevin Drum has up A very brief summary of Donald Trump’s attempted coup d’etat. Seems apt.

    6. A war room at the Willard hotel, filled with Trump’s closest advisors, was set up to put intense pressure on Pence to play ball. On January 5 Trump issued a statement that he and Pence were in “total agreement” about Pence’s authority.
    7. This was a lie. In the end, Pence couldn’t quite bring himself to follow Trump’s orders.
    8. On January 6, a huge mob descended on Washington DC to protest the reading of the Electoral College results. Trump was thrilled with this.
    9. The mob broke into the Capitol in hopes of stopping Pence from declaring a winner.
    10. At the time, nearly every Republican politician denounced the insurrection.
    11. Today, nearly every Republican politician refuses to denounce the insurrection.

    I guess it’s not provable, with what we know at the moment, that Trump or others intended the march on the Capitol to turn violent, although he certainly did the least he possibly could once it did. We could argue that means no one is legally culpable. The more appropriate response is to take steps to stop this from happening again. But the GOPs will obstruct any investigation and filibuster any such action. That should tell us something.

    3
  54. Arm The Homeless says:

    Again, we know what happened that day. The question is what role Congressmen played in planning the violence

    Serious question, James:

    If you’re not planning a violent coup why would you need to discuss/ promise “blanket pardons?”

    If this was all a big LARP, egged on by morons–but within the confines of 1A–why would this discussion even come up?

    Unless of course a reasonable person believed that the threat of violence was possible due to their actions–or even probable?

    4
  55. MarkedMan says:

    @Scott: I think if the story was false, meaning that the testimony didn’t actually take place or that it was substantially different than reported, it would have emerged by now

  56. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @James Joyner:
    But dangerous rhetoric aired publicly isn’t a conspiracy.
    No – you need other people airing the same dangerous rhetoric, and meeting to plan and discuss…both at the White House, and at the Willard Hotel in the days immediately preceding the coup attempt.
    All of which exist, in spades.

    2
  57. John430 says:

    @Kathy: Get your head out of your derriere. It is the Democrats that have held the Jan. protesters under lock and key AND incommunicado!

    2
  58. John430 says:

    @MarkedMan: You mean like the lightning-quick disclosure that the Trump-Russian “connection” was found to be a complete sham after a “mere” 4 years?

    2
  59. Kathy says:

    @John430:

    Was it worth crawling out from under your rock to make a trump of yourself in this particular way?

    12
  60. dazedandconfused says:

    @gVOR08:

    I suspect the only thing that will be provable is Trump sat and watched it for a couple hours and did nothing to stop it, which is pretty damning. They should concentrate on that.

  61. flat earth luddite says:

    @James Joyner:

    I just think he’s falling for the trap that Rolling Stone laid and conflating the larger rally with the smaller riot.

    If I were someone interested in overthrowing the gummint, I would have encouraged a “rally” to act as a smokescreen for the “riot” to cover my ass from the inevitable fallout of the attempt to overthrow said gummint. Of course, the members of Congress and the Executive Branch who actively provided aid, comfort, support to these actions couldn’t have possibly been involved in such nefariousness.

    Of course, I also consider the “riot” to have been a a feint, and one that surprised its backers at how well it worked, and how well it’s demonstrated the weakness of American democracy.

    Maybe I’m too much of a surly old luddite… I’m sure our host is correct that the time, location, and intent of these events were purely coincidental.

    5
  62. Lounsbury says:

    @James Joyner: Marketing mate, Marketing. Dry rehashes won’t be read typically.

    (not that I find such journalism such as it is personally worth reading, but really if reporting occurs in your preferred manner it really doesn’t break out of the wonk circles typically)

    Of course were this the NYT doing the same thing, with all its pretence to be a journal ‘of the record’ as the expression goes, well that would be perhaps more something to critique. But The Rolling Stone with its rather polemical bent? eh.

  63. Lounsbury says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Something of his Victorian tut-tutting side that bleeds through now and again.

  64. Jax says:

    @John430: That’s what….happens when you break the law and try to overthrow the government.
    Derp.
    You get taken to jail, held under lock and key, and alllllll of your communications are under surveillance.

    I mean, all they had to do was comply, right? Not try to overthrow the government?

    7
  65. Gustopher says:

    @John430:

    the Trump-Russian “connection” was found to be a complete sham after a “mere” 4 years?

    Oh, shit, really? Last I heard there was a lack of conclusive evidence, but you’re saying it was a complete sham? Well color me ignorant.

    So what was the innocent explanation for the large number of contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives?

    And why was Manafort sharing campaign polling data with Oleg Deripaska, a Russian Oligarch with tight connections with the Russian security apparatus?

    God. I have so many questions, I barely no where to begin.

    6
  66. Ken_L says:

    Naturally Rolling Stone had every right to publish the story – assuming it’s accurate – but it hasn’t done the cause of justice any favors. The risk is that when the House Committee finally publishes precise, evidence-based findings about the involvement of the Republican Lunatic Caucus, they will be ignored as ancient history that was all reported months ago.

  67. James Joyner says:

    @Arm The Homeless:

    It’s called Stochastic Terrorism and Mr. Joyner has a blind spot for it

    Because it’s a bullshit ad hominem used against one’s political enemies rather than a definable phenomenon. It requires zero proof of intent or even linkage.

  68. Arm The Homeless says:

    Because it’s a bullshit ad hominem used against one’s political enemies

    I wasn’t aware that my wanting to live a democratic America was a partisan, political exercise. Everything truly is political these days, huh?

    I sure wish my Civics teachers would have told me that strongman authoritarianism was going to occasionally be on my ballot.

    It requires zero proof of intent or even linkage.

    Good thing I am not responsible for bringing a legal case then. Rather I am pointing out that telling a large group of radicalized goons that there’s an international conspiracy to steal elections and then point them at targets (elections administration staff for instance) has the desired effect of terrorizing people when said goons react as you would expect them to.