Pro-Trump rioters storm US Capitol
Pro-Trump rioters stormed the US Capitol building in Washington DC on Jan. 6 after Trump supporters rallied by the thousands on the National Mall. President Donald Trump had addressed them in a rambling speech laden with grievances and falsehoods just after noon and encouraged them to move on to the Capitol. As they did so, the House and Senate were evacuated, and the Capitol building and surrounding locations put on lockdown. The rioters breached police lines and security barriers at several points and appeared to roam the Capitol corridors at will. Several broke into the House and Senate chambers and sat unopposed in the chairs of the presiding officers. The scenes were disturbingly reminiscent of the moment in 1814 when invading British forces seized the Capitol and their commanding officer mounted the empty Speaker's Chair, and asked mockingly, "Shall this harbor of Yankee democracy be burned? All for it will say 'Aye!'"
The storming of the Capitol interrupted the formal Congressional counting of electoral votes from the November 2020 election; prior to the joint session of Congress, Vice President Mike Pence indicated in a lengthy statement that he was not willing to overturn the Electoral College result in favor of the president.
Additional law enforcement from Maryland has since arrived at the Capitol to reinforce federal authorities there, and National Guard units are also responding. DC Mayor Muriel Bowser has ordered a citywide curfew from 6 PM ET today (Jan. 6) to 6 AM tomorrow.
From Jurist, Jan. 6. Used with permission.
House Democrats draft impeachment resolution
Democrats in the House of Representatives have circulated a draft of a new article of impeachment against President Trump charging him with “incitement of insurrection” for his role in the Jan. 6 attack on the US Capitol during congressional vote counting. (Jurist)
House Democrats introduce articles of impeachment
Democrats in the US House of Representatives formally introduced a resolution for the impeachment of Donald Trump Jan. 11.
Article I of the resolution, titled "Incitement of Insurrection," states that "the Constitution provides that the House of Representatives 'shall have the sole Power of Impeachment’ and that the President ‘shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.'" The article further states that "section 3 of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution prohibits any person who has 'engaged in insurrection or rebellion against' the United States from 'hold[ing] any office … under the United States.'"
The House is expected to vote on the resolution this week. (Jurist)
Trump was first impeached just over a year ago.
Will Trump invoke Insurrection Act?
The Insurrection Act is trending on Twitter and Google search following last week’s riot at the Capitol. The act allows the president to deploy federal troops or the federalized National Guard on US soil in specific instances.
While Trump threatened to use it this summer against Black Lives Matter protests in Washington, the act was last invoked in 1992 to quell the Los Angeles riots.
The act was amended in 2006 to expand the instances in which the president may invoke the law beyond actual insurrection after the federal government's response to Hurricane Katrina a year earlier was criticized, according to NPR. The change authorizes "the President to employ the armed forces during a natural disaster or terrorist attack." (USA Today, KTLA, Newsweek)
Republicans block resolution on 25th Amedment
House Republicans blocked a resolution Jan. 11 calling on Vice President Mike Pence to begin 25th Amendment proceedings to remove President Donald Trump from office. Majority Leader Steny Hoyer introduced the Unanimous Consent resolution, accusing Trump of inciting the Jan. 6 riot that temporarily halted the counting of electoral votes, resulted in the deaths of five people, and caused damage to the US Capitol building. (Jurist)
House passes resolution on 25th Amendment
The US House of Representatives passed a resolution Jan. 12 calling for Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th amendment and remove President Trump from office. The passage has no binding legal effect and is considered symbolic, particularly as Pence had rejected informal calls for use of the 25th amendment prior to the House vote. (Jurist)
House committee releases report supporting impeachment
The US House Judiciary Committee released a report Jan. 12 detailing the case for impeachment of President Trump for high crimes and misdemeanors relating to the January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol. The report links Trump's "prolonged effort to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election and maintain his grip on power" to the violent attack. The committee finds that Trump presents an "imminent threat to our security and democracy if he remains in or holds any future office."
In the months following the November election, Trump "took aggressive steps to overturn its outcome and undermine public confidence in the election results." The president and his allies filed 62 separate lawsuits in federal and state courts contesting the election, "not to identify legitimate concerns, but to undermine confidence in the results of the election, spread dangerous disinformation, and stoke false and wild conspiracy theories."
The report quotes a Jan. 2 phone call between Trump and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in which Trump urged Raffensperger to "find" the votes to overturn the state’s results and threatened him with criminal penalties if he failed to do so.
The report also notes that Trump made public statements claiming election fraud that had already been rejected by the Department of Justice. He called on supporters to "[c]ome to D.C. January 6th to 'StopTheSteal'" and confirmed his own presence by tweeting, "I will be there! Historic Day."
The report details that on the morning of the rally, Trump tweeted 12 times claiming the election was "rigged" and called on supporters to "fight" and "be strong." He directed the crowd's attention to Vice President Mike Pence, claiming Pence had the authority to overturn the election results. At the rally, Rudy Giuliani repeated false claims of election fraud and urged the crowd to "trial by combat." When the president addressed the crowd, he suggested they should "fight much harder" to "stop the steal" and "take back our country" at the Capitol. He called out his vice president and specific legislators saying, "We've got to get rid of the weak congresspeople, the ones that aren't any good." He then told the crowd, "We're going to walk down to the Capitol." After the speech, thousands of attendees marched down Pennsylvania Ave. towards the Capitol.
The insurrectionists who attacked the Capitol made it clear they believed the president directed them to do so. The mob erected a gallows and left threatening messages, and police recovered multiple guns, components to make a "Molotov cocktail" explosive device and pipe bombs. Five people died and more than 50 police officers were injured.
Even after the mob entered the Capitol, the president continued to affirm the insurrection’s mission by attacking Pence in a tweet: "Mike Pence didn't have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify. USA demands the truth!" A later video shows the insurrectionists chanting, "Hang Mike Pence!" Trump has shown no remorse, and rather than condemning the violence, has "justified his supporters' actions and reiterated his lies about the election." (Jurist)
SCOTUS refuses to expedite remaining election challenges
The US Supreme Court refused Jan. 11 to expedite the remaining Donald Trump campaign election challenges in an order unaccompanied by further comment or explanation. The justices’ refusal to consider the petitions before President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration may render the claims moot.
The Trump campaign sought to expedite eight separate petitions over the election results in Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Along with these petitions that the court refused to expedite, there are also two other election challenge petitions out of Pennsylvania. The court may take up these Pennsylvania petitions to determine the challenge of absentee voting in future Pennsylvania elections.
Though the court refused to expedite the remaining Trump campaign election challenges, it still reserves the right to hear the challenges in the future. However, such a hearing would not impact the 2020 presidential election. The justices will likely not even decide whether they will hear the claims until February.
The court's refusal to expedite the Trump campaign's claims effectively marks the end of Trump campaign’s electoral legal challenges. (Jurist)
Joint Chiefs of Staff pen message condemning Capitol attack
The US Joint Chiefs of Staff authored an unusual message to the military Tuesday condemning the Jan. 6 attack on the US Capitol.
In their message, the Joint Chiefs noted that the actions inside the Capitol building were "inconsistent with the rule of law." Additionally, they reminded service members that it is their duty to "support and defend the Constitution." The Joint Chiefs also stated that president-elect Joe Biden will be inaugurated on Jan. 20 and become the 46th president.
At least 20,000 National Guard members are expected to be deployed for Biden’s inauguration next week. (Jurist)
More than 70 charged in Capitol attack
More than 70 individuals have already been charged in last week's seizure of the US Capitol, officials from the FBI and Department of Justice said in a joint briefing Jan. 30. (Jurist) Acting US Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen also issued his first statement about the seizure, promising a swift response to further acts of violence. (Jurist)
US House votes to impeach Trump for second time
The US House of Representatives voted Jan. 13 to impeach President Donald Trump for the second time in his four-year term.
The new Article of Impeachment contained a single charge of "Incitement of Insurrection" for Trump's role in the events that took place at the Capitol Building last week. The article alleges that during the Electoral Vote count in Congress last Wednesday, Trump continued to issue false claims about election fraud and told the crowd "If you don't fight like hell you're not going to have a country anymore," which precipitated the violent acts on the Capitol.
The Article of Impeachment passed the House by a vote of 232-197, with 10 Republicans breaking ranks to vote with the Democrats for impeachment. The passing of this Article of Impeachment makes Trump the only president in US history to be impeached twice.
The Article of Impeachment now heads to the Senate, which is required under Article I, Section 3 of the US Constitution to convene an impeachment trial and hear the case. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has stated that he intends to hear the impeachment but will not convene the Senate until after Joe Biden has been sworn in as the 46th president of the United States. Biden's inauguration is expected to take place as scheduled next week on Jan. 20, but security has been significantly increased with the addition of 20,000 National Guard troops in light of last week's events. (Jurist)
'Baked Alaska' arrested in Capitol Hill riot
Far-right media personality Tim Gionet, who goes by the handle "Baked Alaska," was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Houston, Tex., charged with participating in the violent riot on Capitol Hill on Jan. 6. According to a sworn statement filed by an FBI agent, Gionet livestreamed a 27-minute video from the Capitol. The affidavit quotes incendiary comments from Gionet on the video, including, "We are in the Capitol Building. 1776 will commence again" and "America First is inevitable." (Reuters)
Pillow tycoon pitches Trump on coup d'etat
Fervent Trump supporter and My Pillow CEO Michael Lindell was pictured Jan. 15 entering the White House with a document that seemed to outline a path to declaring martial law along with potential personnel changes atop the US national security structure.
The multi-page document was mostly obscured, but the picture tweeted out by a Washington Post photographer included phrases like "… martial law if necessary upon the first hint of any..." and "Move Kash Patel to CIA Acting." The partial title gleaned from the photograph was "… Be Taken Immediately To Save The..."
A close-up of the document suggests it also appears to reference invoking the Insurrection "Act now as a result of the assault on the..."
Patel is a staunch White House loyalist who "previously worked for Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, and as a staffer played a key role in helping Republicans discredit the Russia probe."
If nothing else, the sighting proves that Trump’s coup scheming continues—to what end, we don't know. (Daily Kos)
UN rights experts condemn US Capitol riots
A group of independent UN experts released a statement Jan. 18 condemning the violent riots on Capitol Hill that were intended to disrupt the formal counting of the electoral votes 12 days earlier. The group, including 24 human rights experts and Special Rapporteurs who are unaffiliated with any government or organization, called the most recent attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 election "shocking and incendiary." (Jurist)
Proud Boys leader arrested over Capitol riots
Joseph Randall Biggs, leader of the far-right organization Proud Boys, was arrested in Orlando, Fla, Jan. 20 in connection with the attack on the US Capitol. According to an FBI affidavit, Biggs has been documented as at the Capitol during the riot. The affidavit includes images where the individual identified as Biggs is seen. The video, posted on Parler social media site, shows Biggs and others entering the Capitol at which point an unknown person asks, "Hey Biggs, what do you gotta say?" to which Biggs responds by lowering his mask and stating "This is awesome!" (Jurist)
Dominion Voting Systems sues Giuliani
Dominion Voting Systems on Jan. 25 brought suit against Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani for defamation following his post-election statements regarding their voting machines. The lawsuit, filed in the US District Court for the District of Columbia, alleges that Giuliani's defamatory statements gave rise to more than $650 million in damages. The company seeks a total of $1.3 billion, including punitive damages.
The complaint exhaustively covers statements by Giuliani after the 2020 election, especially focusing on Giuliani's repeated claim that Dominion Voting Systems is a front for a Venezuelan company called Smartmatic. Moreover, Giuliani claimed that Smartmatic had close ties to deceased Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez and investor George Soros. Soros is a popular figure in right-wing conspiracy theories. (Jurist)
Smartmatic is indeed based in Venezuela, and has been contracted by the Venezuelan government, but its polling results have demonstrated independence from the ruling regime. The only link between Smartmatic and Dominion appears to be a now-defunct company called Sequoia Voting Systems. Sequoia was acquired by Smartmatic in 2005 and two years later divested to managers with US citizenship. In 2010, many of its assets were acquired by Dominion.
SCOTUS drops emoluments cases
The Supreme Court on Jan. 25 closed the door on two separate emoluments cases alleging that former president Donald Trump violated the Constitution by financially benefiting from his properties in New York and Washington while in political office.
The court, in a series of short orders, found the cases to be moot now that Trump is no longer president. The court ordered the judgments vacated and remanded with instructions to dismiss. In declining to hear the cases, the court indicated it would not rule on the three emoluments clauses found within the Constitution; an area of law rarely examined at the appellate level. (Jurist)
DHS issues terrorism advisory in wake of Capitol riot
The Department of Homeland Security has issued a national terrorism advisory warning, citing a "heightened threat environment across the US" after the deadly Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol. In the alert, the DHS said that a National Terrorism Advisory System bulletin would be in effect until April 30, believing that the threat would "persist in the weeks following the successful Presidential inauguration." (NBC)
Oath Keepers indicted in Capitol insurrection
The US Department of Justice (DoJ) indicted three members of Oath Keepers, identified as a far-right militia organization, on Jan. 27 for conspiring to storm the Capitol in an attempt to obstruct Congress as it certified the vote of the US Electoral College.
Jessica Watkins, Donovan Crowl and Thomas Caldwell were charged with conspiracy, obstruction of an official proceeding, destruction of government property, and entering restricted buildings and grounds. According to charging documents, the three conspired as early as November of last year to "commit an offense against the United States" and hinder Congress' certification process. Congressional obstruction charges carry a maximum prison sentence of 20 years.
The Oath Keepers is a "large but loosely organized" collection of paramilitary groups with an explicit focus on recruiting current and former military, law enforcement and first responder personnel. Watkins and Crowl are both dues-paying members of an Oath Keepers grouping and allegedly colluded with Caldwell on social media to "forcibly enter the Capitol and disrupt the Congressional proceeding occurring that day."
A DoJ press release detailed the communications between the three, noting that "The exchanges vary in topics from a call to action to logistics, including lodging options, coordinating calls to discuss the plan, and joining forces with other Oath Keeper chapters."
Further, the three documented their participation in the storming and updated their whereabouts in and around the Capitol on social media. Watkins posted a picture of herself with Crowl on her Parler account captioned "Me before forcing entry into the Capitol Building. #stopthesteal2 #stormthecapitol #oathkeepers #ohiomilitia." Watkins and Crowl then "joined with a line of individuals wearing Oath Keepers clothing, patches, and insignia, and some of whom also were wearing battle gear." (Jurist)
Proud Boys indicted in Capitol insurrection
The US Department of Justice indicted two Proud Boys members Jan. 29 for conspiring to obstruct law enforcement and other charges for their acts connected to the Jan. 6 insurrection at the US Capitol.
Proud Boys are a far-right nationalist organization, self-described as "Western Chauvinists." The two members indicted are Dominic Pezzola and William Pepe. They each allegedly own tactical vests with the Proud Boys logo and have previously been present at Proud Boys gatherings and protests.
The conspiracy charge alleges that Pezzola and Pepe removed metal barricades in front of the Capitol, which were intended to control access. In addition to conspiracy to obstruct law enforcement, Pezzola and Pepe are also charged with "civil disorder; unlawfully entering restricted buildings or grounds; and disorderly and disruptive conduct in restricted buildings or grounds."
Pezzola allegedly ripped away a riot shield from a Capitol Police officer and used it to break a window of the Capitol building. Pro-Trump rioters proceeded to enter the building through the broken window. Pezzola is also charged with "obstructing an official proceeding; additional counts of civil disorder and aiding and abetting civil disorder; robbery of personal property of the United States; assaulting, resisting, or impeding certain officers; destruction of government property; and engaging in physical violence in a restricted buildings or grounds."
The US Attorney's Office for the District Court of Columbia and the Department of Justice National Security Division's Counterterrorism Section are prosecuting this case. (Jurist)
More Proud Boys charged in Capitol insurrection
The US Department of Justice unsealed an affidavit on Feb. 11 charging five individuals associated with the Proud Boys with conspiracy in connection to the insurrection in Washington, DC on Jan. 6. (Jurist)
Trump acquitted by Senate
The US Senate on Feb. 13 voted 57-43 to acquit former President Donald Trump on an impeachment charge stemming from the deadly Capitol insurrection in early January.
All 50 Senate Democrats and seven Republicans voted to convict Trump for high crimes and misdemeanors in his "incitement of insurrection." But the final vote was short by 10 guilty votes needed for a two-thirds majority to bar Trump from holding public office again. Except for Senators Romney (R-UT) and Murkowski (R-AK), the five Republican senators who voted guilty are either retiring after their current term or are not up for re-election until 2026.
The acquittal allows Trump, the only president in US history to be impeached twice, to potentially run for office again in 2024.
In a 56-44 vote on Feb. 9, the Senate voted that a former president can be subject to impeachment proceedings for acts committed while president. All six Republican Senators who voted that this impeachment trial was constitutional also voted to find Trump guilty. (Jurist)
Trump sued for violations of Ku Klux Klan Act
Bennie Thompson (D-MS), chair of the US House Homeland Security Committee, filed a lawsuit against former president Donald Trump, Rudy Guiliani, the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers, alleging a conspiracy between the parties to prevent members of Congress from discharging their official duties.
The lawsuit, which Thompson filed as a private citizen rather than in an official capacity, states that "[t]he Defendants conspired to prevent, by force, intimidation and threats, the Plaintiff, as a Member of Congress, from discharging his official duties to approve the count of votes cast by members of the Electoral College following the presidential election held in November 2020." Thompson alleges that the defendants violated 42 USC § 1985(1), the Ku Klux Klan Act. (Jurist)
More Oath Keepers indicted in US capitol attack
A federal grand jury on Feb. 19 indicted six new members of the Oath Keepers, a right-wing extremist group, for conspiring to prevent Congress from certifying President Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory.
The six members were arrested earlier this week and were included as co-defendants in a superseding indictment alleging that the individuals joined in a military-style formation, marched up the Capitol steps, breached the door, and stormed the building on Jan. 6, 2021.
All six members were charged with conspiring to commit an offense against the United States under Title 18, section 371 of the United States Code and for violating 18 USC §1512(c)2 by obstructing, influencing, and impeding an official proceeding. Further charges included one count of “depredation” against federal government property in violation of 18 USC §1361; and unlawful entry, disorderly conduct, and violent conduct on government grounds in violation of 18 USC §1752(a).
The superseding indictment alleges that extremist group leader Kelly Meggs wrote in a Facebook message in late December,
The indictment further alleges that Meggs made prior statements that the group need not be armed for the attack because members would be prepared with "heavy QRF 10 Min out" at the Capitol. QRF is a military and law enforcement term that stands for "quick reaction force" and refers to an armed unit prepared to rapidly respond to emergency situations.
The United States Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia is currently handling the case along with the Counterterrorism Section of the DoJ National Security Division and the US Attorney's Offices in Florida, North Carolina, and Ohio. The FBI is continuing to investigate the cases. (Jurist)
DoJ: 100 additional suspects in Capitol attack
The Department of Justice stated March 12 that it expects to charge at least 100 additional suspects in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, explaining that the investigation into the attack is one of the largest the department has conducted. Approximately 300 suspects have already been charged in the Capitol attack, and the investigation is ongoing. To address the growing number of defendants and the significant amount of evidence, the DoJ is seeking 60-day extensions in a series of cases under the Speedy Trial Act. (Jurist)
Capitol police officers sue Donald Trump
Two Capitol police officers have filed suit against former president Donald Trump in connection with the attack on the US Capitol on January 6. (Jurist)
Oath Keeper member is the first to plead guilty to Capitol riot
A member of the Oath Keepers militia and heavy metal guitarist on April 16 became the first defendant to plead guilty to federal charges in connection with the US Capitol riot on Jan. 6. Jon Ryan Schaffer, who originally faced six charges, entered into a plea deal where he agreed to fully cooperate with investigations. Schaffer admitted to unlawfully entering the US Capitol "wearing a tactical vest and with bear spray, with the purpose of influencing, affecting, and retaliating against the conduct of government by stopping or delaying the Congressional proceeding by intimidation or coercion." (Jurist)
US Marine Corps major arrested in Capitol attack
The US Department of Justice announced the arrest of Marine Corps major Christopher Warnagiris for crimes related to his involvement in the Jan. 6 siege on the US Capitol. Warnagiris is the first active-duty military member that has been arrested for crimes perpetrated during that attack. (Jurist)
House approves investigative committee for Capitol riot
The US House of Representatives voted May 19 to send a bill to the Senate to create a commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the US Capitol. The legislation would establish a 10-member commission to make recommendations by the end of this year about securing the Capitol and determine ways to prevent another insurrection of this kind.
The bill, HR 3233, the National Commission to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the United States Capitol Complex Act, was passed by a 252-175 vote, with 227 Democrats and 35 Republicans voting in favor and two Democrats and one Republican not voting. (Jurist)
US prosecutors seek to dismiss first Capitol riot case
Federal prosecutors filed a motion June 1 to dismiss a criminal case against Christopher Kelly, a New York man accused of participating in the Capitol riot on Jan. 6. The Department of Justice (DoJ) has charged more than 450 people for participating in the riot, and Kelly’s case is the first the DoJ has moved to dismiss. (Jurist)
Florida man is second to plead guilty in Capitol riot
Paul Hodgkins of Tampa became the second person charged in connection with the storming of the Capitol to plead guilty June 2.
Hodgkins originally faced charges for five offenses including disorderly conduct and entering a restricted building. However, he pleaded guilty to the lone offense of obstruction of an official proceeding. US District Judge Randolph Moss accepted the guilty plea, which provided that the prosecution drop the other charges against Hodgkins.
Hodgkins participated in the attack on the Capitol by entering the Senate Chamber, where he waved a pro-Trump flag and took a selfie while wearing a "Trump 2020" shirt. The selfie was later used to identify him as one of the participants in the attacks. He walked to the Senate well, where he joined other rioters in cheering, yelling and praying. (Jurist)
Milley thwarted 'Reichstag moment': book
The highest-ranking US officer, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, and other top military leaders made informal plans to stop a coup by former President Donald Trump and his allies in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election, according to excerpts from a new book.
I Alone Can Fix It, written by Washington Post reporters Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker, describes how Milley and others feared Trump might take unconstitutional actions should he lose. CNN first reported on this excerpt.
"This is a Reichstag moment," Milley told his deputies in the days before Jan. 6, a reference to the 1933 burning of the German parliament that helped usher in the Nazi regime in Germany, Leonnig and Rucker write. "The gospel of the Führer."
"They may try, but they're not going to f****** succeed," Milley told his officers, according to Leonnig and Rucker. "You can't do this without the military. You can't do this without the CIA and the FBI. We're the guys with the guns."
Trump responded in a statement released by his private office: "I never threatened, or spoke about, to anyone, a coup of our Government. So ridiculous! Sorry to inform you, but an Election is my form of 'coup,' and if I was going to do a coup, one of the last people I would want to do it with is General Mark Milley." (USA Today)
First felon sentenced for role in Capitol riot
Paul Hodgkins of Tampa, Florida, became the first felon July 19 to be sentenced for his role in the storming of the US Capitol in January. He was sentenced to eight months in prison and ordered to pay $2,000 in restitution for building damage.
On Jan. 6, Hodgkins entered the Senate chamber, where he waved a pro-Trump flag and took a selfie while wearing a "Trump 2020" shirt. That selfie was later used to identify him as one of the participants in the attacks. On June 2, he became the second person charged in connection with the storming of the Capitol to plead guilty.
Judge Randolph Moss of the US District Court for the District of Columbia noted that "although Mr. Hodgekins was only one member of a larger mob, he actively and intentionally participated in an event that threatened not only the security of the Capitol but democracy itself." The damage caused by the rioters "will persist in this country for several decades." (Jurist)
Capitol Police officers sue Trump, Roger Stone
Seven Capitol Police officers are suing Donald Trump, his campaign, his associate Roger Stone, and members of the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, alleging that "their unlawful efforts culminated in the Jan. 6 mass attack on the United States Capitol." The suit charges that the defendants violated the federal KKK Act and DC Bias Related Crimes Act, both of which protect victims of prejudice against political violence and intimidation. (ABC)
Court denies Trump motion to block order related to Capitol riot
A federal judge in the District of Columbia denied a motion from former President Donald Trump to block enforcement of an order she had yet to issue. One day earlier, the former president had asked Judge Tanya Chutkan to issue an administrative stay preventing the National Archive from releasing more than 750 pages of documents to the January 6 Congressional committee. Before the judge could rule on the motion, Trump filed a second motion asking the court to stay the first. Trump's attorney, Jesse Binnall, claimed that the second motion was necessary to prevent the National Archives from immediately transmitting documents before they could move to block it.
Trump sued the House Select Committee on January 6 and David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, on Oct. 18. The lawsuit claimed that the committee's records request to the National Archive is overbroad and illegal. (Jurist, The Hill)
Bannon indicted on contempt charges
LongtimeTrump ally Steve Bannon was indicted Nov. 12 on two counts of contempt of Congress after he defied a subpoena from the House committee investigating the insurrection at the US Capitol.
The indictment comes as a second witness, former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, defied a similar subpoena from the committee. The chairman of the panel, Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson, said he will be recommending contempt charges against Meadows as well.
This is not the first time Bannon has faced legal peril. In August of last year, he was pulled from a luxury yacht and arrested on allegations that he and three associates ripped off donors trying to fund a southern border wall. Trump pardoned Bannon in the final hours of his presidency. (AP)
Court temporarily halts release of US Capitol riot documents
The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Nov. 11 granted former President Donald Trump’s request to halt the release of documents related to the January 6 Capitol riots. (Jurist)
'QAnon Shaman' sentenced to 41 months
Jacob Chansley, the "QAnon Shaman," was sentenced to 41 months in prison on Nov. 17 for his role in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
Chansley was among the first 30 individuals in the building on Jan. 6, and is described in court documents as "shirtless, wearing a Viking hat with fur and horns, covered in red, white, and blue face paint, and carrying an American flag tied to a pole with a sharp object at the tip and a bullhorn." Chansley ultimately arrived at the seat that Vice President Mike Pence had sat in an hour earlier, taking pictures of himself and refusing to leave when told to do so by police officers. He "wrote a note on available paper on the dais, stating, 'It's Only A Matter of Time. Justice Is Coming!'," and led the crowd in chants.
Chansley was arrested for his participation in the riots on Jan. 9, and he has remained in custody since that date. Chansley signed a plea agreement on Sept. 3.
According to the Department of Justice: "In the ten months since Jan. 6, more than 675 individuals have been arrested in nearly all 50 states for crimes related to the breach of the US Capitol, including over 210 individuals charged with assaulting or impeding law enforcement. The investigation remains ongoing." (Jurist)
Trump's incitement timeline
Just Security provides a detailed timeline of President Donald Trump's statements and actions relevant to the case that he incited the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
Court denies Trump effort to block the release of records
The DC Circuit Court of Appeals on Dec. 9 unanimously denied ex-president Trump's effort to block the National Archives from turning over his White House records to the House of Representatives Committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
Judge Patricia Millett, writing for the three-judge panel, rejected Trump’s request for a preliminary injunction blocking the National Archives and Records Administration from releasing 800 pages of disputed documents.
The panel did not accept Trump’s claim that his executive privilege prevented the current administration from sharing the documents with the House Committee. "The former President has failed to establish a likelihood of success given President Biden's carefully reasoned and cabined determination that a claim of executive privilege is not in the interest of the United States, and therefore is not justified as to any of the documents."
The Court of Appeals provided Trump with 14 days to ask the United States Supreme Court to review the decision before the Archives may begin turning over the documents. (Jurist)
DC sues Proud Boys and Oath Keepers over Capitol attack
The District of Columbia (DC) filed a civil lawsuit Dec. 14 against Proud Boys International, LLC and The Oath Keepers, a non-profit organization. DC is seeking compensatory, statutory and punitive damages from the organizations for their involvement in the Jan. 6 attack on the US Capitol. (Jurist)
Capitol rioter sentenced to five years
Robert Scott Palmer of Largo, Florida, was sentenced in federal court to 63 months in prison on Dec. 17 for assaulting law enforcement with dangerous weapons during the Jan. 6 breach of the US Capitol. Palmer's sentence is the longest from the investigation of the Capitol riot thus far. (Jurist)
Devlyn Thompson of Seattle was sentenced Dec. 20 to 46 months for assaulting a police officer during the Capitol riot. (Jurist)
DC judge rules Capitol rioters must face conspiracy charges
Judge Amit Mehta of the District Court of the District of Columbia on Dec. 20 denied a motion to dismiss charges against 17 defendants accused of conspiring to disrupt an official proceeding of Congress during the Jan. 6 Capitol riots.
The 17 involved in this particular proceeding are all members or affiliates of the group called the Oath Keepers, who are alleged to "believe that the federal government has been coopted by a cabal of elites actively trying to strip American citizens of their rights."
By storming the US Capitol during the certification of the Electoral College vote, the government alleges that the defendants violated Section 1512(c)(2) of Title 18, which states: "Whoever corruptly...or...otherwise obstructs, influences, or impedes any official proceeding, or attempts to do so, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both." (Jurist)
Trump requests Supreme Court block January 6 document release
Former President Donald Trump appealed to the Supreme Court to block the release of certain documents to the House of Representatives January 6th Committee. (Jurist)
Oath Keepers leader arrested in Capitol insurrection
The Justice Department unsealed seditious conspiracy charges against the leader of the Oath Keepers and 10 others, alleging they plotted to disrupt the electoral process at the Capitol last Jan. 6 and endangered former Vice President Mike Pence. Federal authorities arrested Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes in Texas on Jan. 13. (NPR)
January 6 Committee subpoenas Rudy Giuliani
The House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol announced that it has issued subpoenas to Rudy Giuliani, Jenna Ellis, Sidney Powell, and Boris Epshteyn. (Jurist)
Biden orders release of Trump White House visitor logs
President Joe Biden on Feb. 15 ordered the National Archives to send the Trump White House visitor logs to a House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol, rejecting former President Donald Trump's executive privilege claims.
In January, National Archives provided the Trump White House visitor logs to Biden's White House. The documents show appointment information for those who entered the White House complex on Jan. 6, 2021, among other days.
White House counsel Dana Remus wrote to the National Archives, stating that Biden determined that asserting executive privilege "is not in the best interests of the United States, and therefore is not justified, as to these records and portions of records." (Jurist)
In other news, a judge ruled Feb. 17 that Trump and two of his children must answer questions under oath in a New York state investigation into their business practices. New York Supreme Court Judge Arthur Engoron said that Trump, his son Donald Trump Jr, and daughter Ivanka Trump, must each comply with legal orders that prosecutors issued in December. (BBC News)
Court denies Trump motion to dismiss Capitol attack lawsuits
The US District Court for the District of Columbia on Feb. 18 denied former President Donald Trump’s motion to dismiss three lawsuits seeking to hold him accountable for the US Capitol Attack of Jan. 6, 2021. The plaintiffs, including 11 House of Representative members and two Capitol Police officers, seek to hold several defendants liable for the attack. Plaintiffs claim that the defendants violated the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871. The defendants include Trump, Donald Trump Jr., Rudolph Giuliani, Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio, and the Oath Keepers. The court rejected motions for dismissal brought by Trump, Tarrio, and the Oath Keepers, but granted those of Trump Jr and Giuliani. (Jurist)
National Archives: Trump absconded with classified documents
The National Archives & Records Administration (NARA) confirmed Feb. 18 that it found classified documents among 15 boxes former President Donald Trump took from the White House to his Mar-a-Lago residence. (Jurist)
Proud Boys leader arrested for alleged Capitol riot involvement
The US Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia announced March 8 that Proud Boys leader Henry "Enrique" Tarrio was arrested in Miami after being named in an indictment in the related to the Capitol insurrection. (Jurist)
A Texas man was meanwhile convicted of storming the Capitol with a holstered handgun, a milestone victory for federal prosecutors in the first trial among hundreds of cases arising from last year's insurrection. The jury also convicted Guy Wesley Reffitt of interfering with police officers who were guarding the Capitol, and of obstructing justice by threatening his two teenage children if they reported him to law enforcement after the attack. (AP)
Georgia man gets probation in Capitol insurrection
A Georgia man was sentenced March 10 to two years of probation and 60 hours of community service for his role in the Capitol insurrection. Verden Nalley, of Buford, told a federal judge "I made a huge mistake" that day and apologized in a brief statement.
Nalley pleaded guilty in December to misdemeanor offense of entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds. He is one of nine Georgians to enter a guilty plea in cases related to the insurrection. (WXIA-TV, Atlanta)
Judge orders Trump lawyer to release emails to Congress
A judge in the Central District of California on March 28 ruled that former President Donald Trump and right-wing attorney John Eastman must turn over 101 emails surrounding the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection at the Capitol to the House Committee investigating the matter.
In January, the committee subpoenaed Chapman University, where Eastman was employed at the time the relevant emails were sent. In an effort to withhold the documents from the committee, Eastman challenged the subpoena in the Central District of California, claiming attorney-client privilege.
In response, the committee argued that the crime-fraud exception permits disclosing communications typically protected by attorney-client privilege if ongoing or future crimes are likely discussed in the communications.
Judge David Carter found: "Based on the evidence, the Court finds it more likely than not that President Trump corruptly attempted to obstruct the Joint Session of Congress on January 6, 2021."
Carter will review the documents page-by-page to determine if the documents should be released to the committee. The court will determine for each document whether privilege existed, whether that privilege was waived, and whether any exceptions apply.
From Jurist, March 28
Judge orders Trump Organization to submit evidence
A New York state judge on March 28 ordered the Trump Organization to comply with a subpoena for e-discovery from New York Attorney General Letitia James by the end of April. The subpoena stems from an investigation into the Trump Organization which began in 2019. The investigation began after Donald Trump's former lawyer, Michael Cohen, testified to Congress that the organization manipulated the value of Trump's assets to obtain loans and insurance while also reducing tax burdens. Most recently, a New York state judge ruled that Donald Trump, Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump had to comply with subpoenas for sworn testimony in connection with the investigation. The Trumps have since appealed the decision. (Jurist)
Proud Boy pleads guilty in Capitol attack
Charles Donohoe, a member of Proud Boys leadership charged in the January 2021 attack on the Capitol, pleaded guilty April 8 to conspiracy to obstruct Congress and assaulting police officers. Donohoe, 34, of Kernersville, NC, potentially faces up to 28 years in prison and a $500,000 fine when he is sentenced, but federal guidelines call for six or seven years in prison. He also agreed to cooperate with federal authorities in the cases against fellow defendants. Another member of the Proud Boys, Matthew Greene of Fabius, NY, pleaded guilty earlier. (USA Today)
New York judge holds Trump in contempt of court
Judge Arthur Engoron of the New York County State Supreme Court on April 25 ruled that Donald Trump is in civil contempt of court. Engoron will fine the former President $10,000 a day until he purges, or rectifies, the contempt.
New York Attorney General Letitia James subpoenaed Trump as part of a financial investigation by her office into the Trump Organization. On Feb. 17, Engoron ruled that Trump must "comply in full" with the subpoena and appear for a deposition by March 31. The order also mandated that Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr. appear for depositions.
James filed a motion for contempt on April 7 after Trump again failed to deliver documents and information despite a "crystal clear order from the court." James’s motion also asked Engoron to fine Trump $10,000 for every day that he withheld documents. Engoron imposed the recommended fine, but the court has not established a start date for payments.
James stated: "For years, Donald Trump has tried to evade the law and stop our lawful investigation into him and his company’s financial dealings. Today’s ruling makes clear: No one is above the law." (Jurist)
Another Proud Boy pleads guilty in Capitol attack
A member of the Proud Boys has pleaded guilty to felony charges in connection with the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol insurrection. Louis Enrique Colon of Blue Springs, Mo., pleaded guilty to a felony charge of obstructing law enforcement officers during the riot. (The Hill)
Another Oath Keeper pleads guilty in Capitol attack
Brian Ulrich of Guyton, Ga., a member of the far-right Oath Keepers, pled guilty to seditious conspiracy and obstructing Congress in connection with the January 2021 Capitol insurrection. (Jurist)
Civil War amnesty law does not protect insurrection supporters
The US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit on May 24 ruled that post-Civil War amnesty laws do not protect members of Congress who voiced support for the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol.
Voters brought a case against Rep. Madison Cawthorn, claiming that Cawthorn was ineligible to run for re-election because of his comments in support of the Capitol attack. The voters argued that Cawthorn's comments violated a clause of the Fourteenth Amendment that disqualifies insurrectionists.
Under the clause, politicians who have engaged in "insurrection or rebellion" against the United States or "given aid or comfort" to insurrectionists are barred from running for Congress. Cawthorn argued that the Amnesty Act of 1872 repealed the clause and protects him. At the trial court level, a federal judge agreed and dismissed the challenge to Cawthorn.
However, Judge Toby Heytens wrote for the Fourth Circuit that "the 1872 Amnesty Act removed the Fourteenth Amendment's eligibility bar only for those whose constitutionally wrongful acts occurred before its enactment… the 1872 Amnesty Act does not categorically exempt all future rebels and insurrectionists."
Cawthorn lost his GOP primary last week, but the ruling may apply to other elected officials. (Jurist)
'Nazi sympathist' guilty in Capitol attack
Timothy Hale-Cusanelli, a former Army reservist from Colts Neck, NJ, described by prosecutors as a Nazi sympathizer, was convicted May 27 of storming the Capitol to obstruct Congress from certifying President Joe Biden's 2020 electoral victory. (AP)
Judge denies former Proud Boys leader bail request
A US federal judge Friday denied a request for bail by Enrique Tarrio, the former top leader of the Proud Boys. Tarrio is awaiting trial on criminal charges from the January 2021 attack on the US Capitol. (Jurist)
Proud Boys leader charged with seditious conspiracy
The Justice Department on June 6 charged the head of the Proud Boys, Enrique Tarrio, and four other leaders with "seditious conspiracy" in the January 2021 Capitol attack, escalating the criminal case against the far-right group. (CNN)
Peter Navarro indicted for contempt of Congress
The Justice Department on June 3 announced the indictment of former White House trade advisor Peter Navarro by a federal grand jury. Navarro faces two counts of contempt of Congress for his "failure to comply with a subpoena issued by the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 breach of the United States Capitol." Arrested at a DC-area airport, he is now the second Trump aide to be detained in the investigation after Steve Bannon. (Jurist, BBC News, Daily Beast)
Congress holds first public hearing on Capitol attack
A select committee of the US House of Representatives on June 9 held its first public hearing regarding the January 2021 attack on the US Capitol, releasing previously unseen footage from the rampage.
The Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the US Capitol broadcast its proceedings on primetime television. The hearing included the testimonies of Capitol Police officer Caroline Edwards and documentary filmmaker Nick Quested, who was filming the far-right Proud Boys leading up to and during the attack.
The hearing opened with video of Trump campaign officials giving statements to committee investigators, testifying that Trump directed them to find evidence of fraud during the 2020 presidential election. Some officials, including former Attorney General William Barr, told Trump that they could not find any evidence of fraud, or that any fraud that may have occurred would not have changed the outcome of the election.
Ranking Member Rep. Liz Cheney cited a March 2022 court case where Trump advisor and law professor John Eastman attempted to claim attorney-client privilege over 111 documents requested by the committee. Eastman, coordinating with Trump, tried to pressure vice president Mike Pence to refuse to certify some state election results. Finding that 101 of the Trump-Eastman documents were not privileged, Judge David Carter said "If Dr. Eastman and President Trump's plan had worked, it would have permanently ended the peaceful transition of power, undermining American democracy and the Constitution."
The committee also released video footage that showed masses of protesters storming over police barricades, breaking their way into the Capitol by smashing windows, entering House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office en masse, and attacking police officers with various objects including pepper spray. The footage was paired with footage of Trump during the rally shortly before the storming, where he publicly encouraged Pence to overturn the election results.
Edwards testified that she was protecting the perimeter of the capitol when Proud Boy Joseph Biggs, who is charged with seditious conspiracy, led a charge on police barricades. This led to Edwards being hit in the head with a bike rack and falling unconscious.
Quested said that he was filming the Proud Boys for a documentary on Jan. 5 and 6. Quested filmed Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio and Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes meeting in a parking garage the night before the attack. Both men were later charged with seditious conspiracy.
This is the first of three scheduled public hearings by the select committee, but more will likely be added in the future. (Jurist)
Michigan gubernatorial candidate charged in Capitol insurrection
The FBI on June 9 arrested Republican Michigan gubernatorial candidate Ryan Kelley on charges related to his presence at the January 2021 Capitol insurrection. Kelley was released on bail later in the day. (Jurist)
DC Bar files ethics charges against Giuliani
The Office of Disciplinary Counsel of the DC Bar on Jun 10 announced ethics charges against Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Giuliani has already been temporarily suspended from the DC Bar and permanently suspended from the New York Bar. The charges stem from Giuliani's repeated claims that the 2020 election was fraudulent, specifically focusing on his lawsuit in the US District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. Giuliani's claims were rebuffed by the judge in that case. (Jurist)
Proud Boys members plead not guilty
Former Proud Boys Chairman Enrique Tarrio and two other members on June 9 pleaded not guilty to seditious conspiracy in relation to their alleged roles in storming the US Capitol on January 6 last year. (Jurist)
More convictions in Capitol insurrection
The US District Court for the District of Columbia on June 17 found a Florida man guilty of all four misdemeanor charges against him relating to the US Capitol breach on Jan. 6 last year. Jesus Rivera was convicted on charges of "entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds; disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds; disorderly conduct in a Capitol Building; and parading, demonstrating, or picketing in a Capitol Building." (Jurist)
An Indiana man, Mark Andrew Mazza, pleaded guilty that day to "carrying a loaded gun on Capitol grounds and assaulting law enforcement officers" during the Capitol breach. He originally faced 13 charges relating to his involvement in the riot. (Jurist)
January 6 committee: Trump pressured state officials
The US House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the US Capitol on June 21 heard live testimony from four witnesses involved in processing the 2020 election results. The committee’s fourth hearing focused on Trump's efforts to influence election workers and local officials to overturn the 2020 general election in several key states.
The select committee heard testimony from Arizona's Republican House speaker Rusty Bowers, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and his deputy Gabe Sterling, and former Georgia election worker Wandrea "Shay" Moss. Each testified to the pressure they faced from either Trump or his supporters following the 2020 election. (Jurist)
More guilty pleas in Capitol insurrection
The US Department of Justice (DoJ) announced that three individuals pleaded guilty to a series of actions related to the US Capitol breach in January 2021. The individuals include Florida man Mitchell Todd Gardner II, Troy Sargent of Massachusetts, and Nathaniel DeGrave of Nevada. The DoJ announcement said that since the Capitol breach, "more than 840 individuals have been arrested in nearly all 50 states for crimes related to the breach of the U.S. Capitol, including over 250 individuals charged with assaulting or impeding law enforcement." The investigation into the insurrection is ongoing. (Jurist)
Testimony: Trump knew rioters were armed
A former White House aide on June 28 told the US House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack that former President Donald Trump encouraged protesters to go to the Capitol despite knowing that some were armed with weapons ranging from rifles to bear spray and spears Cassidy Hutchinson, an aide to former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, also testified that Trump wanted to accompany protestors to the Capitol and later lunged at a member of his own security detail when informed it was unsafe to do so. (Jurist)
Capitol riot hearing: Trump incited militia mobilization
The US House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack presented evidence that extremist groups showed up in Washington DC with violent intentions in response a to tweet from then-president Donald Trump. The tweet read, "Statistically impossible to have lost the 2020 Election. Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!"
Video montages played at the hearing showed various Trump supporters with large internet followings rallying their followers shortly after the tweet was published. Many used violent language.
In one video, far-right conspiracy theory website founder Alex Jones said, "President Trump… tweeted that he wants the American people to march on Washington DC on January 6th, 2021… The time for games is over. The time for action is now." Pro-Trump Youtuber Salty Cracker said, "There’s gonna be a red wedding going down January 6th… There’re gonna be a million plus geeked up armed Americans," referencing a violent massacre in pop culture. (Jurist)
Jason Van Tatenhove, a former spokesperson for the Oath Keepers, told the committee: "I do fear for this next election cycle, because who knows what that might bring?” Van Tatenhove said. “If a president who is trying to instill, and encourage, to whip up a civil war among his followers using lies and deceit and snake oil, regardless of the human impact, what else is he going to do if he gets elected again?" (Yahoo News)
Bannon guilty of contempt
A federal jury has convicted former Trump political adviser Steve Bannon of two counts of criminal contempt of Congress for intentionally defying a subpoena related to the assault on the US Capitol last year. Bannon put on no defense in the case. "The defendant chose allegiance to Donald Trump over compliance with the law," Assistant US Attorney Molly Gaston said in closing arguments. (NPR)
January 6 committee condemns '187 minutes of inaction' by Trump
The US House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack held its eighth and final hearing for the summer July 21, focusing on Trump's inaction during the attack. The committee proceedings highlighted the finding that Trump failed to intervene to stop the riot until two hours after it had commenced.
Former Deputy National Security Advisor Matthew Pottinger and former White House deputy press secretary Sarah Matthews testified during the hearing. Both were present in the White House on Jan. 6, and both resigned after the Capitol riot.
Matthews confirmed testimony given in a previous hearing by Pat Cipollone that Trump could have appeared and spoken to the media at any time, saying: "If the President had wanted to make a statement and address the American people, he could have been on camera almost instantly."
The committee also presented evidence from two witnesses confirming that an "angry confrontation" in the presidential SUV occurred when Trump demanded to be driven to the mob at the Capitol, corroborating testimony given to the committee by Cassidy Hutchinson on June 28. Sgt. Mark Robinson from the DC Metropolitan Police testified that officials knew the rioters were armed, saying: "The President was still adamant about going to the Capitol."
The motorcade waited 45 minutes for the Secret Service to decide whether or not Trump would go to the Capitol. From 1:25-4 PM, the president stayed in the West Wing dining room watching Fox News. At 2:15 rioters charged into the Capitol, smashing windows, damaging property and making their way to the Senate chambers where Vice President Mike Pence was held by the Secret Service.
Trump's statement in the Rose Garden telling rioters to "go home in peace" came at 4:17—187 minutes after Trump left the site of his "Stop the Steal" rally. Texts from former Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh to Pottinger revealed Trump's unwillingness to condemn the rioters, stating "He won't do that, because they’re his people."
At the close of the hearing, Rep. Elaine Luria condemned the "glaring silence" by Trump on the death of Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick on Jan. 7. "President Trump has never publicly acknowledged his responsibility for the attack," she said. (Jurist)
Another Capitol rioter sentenced to five years
The US District Court for the District of Columbia on July 26 sentenced Mark Ponder to 63 months in prison for assaulting three police officers during the Capitol riot of January 2021. Ponder is the second Capitol riot defendant to be sentenced to 63 months, the longest prison term handed down thus far. (Jurist)
Capitol attack defendant cops a plea
A West Virginia man initially charged with assaulting a police officer who died in the Capitol attack pleaded guilty on July 27 to misdemeanor offenses that could allow him to avoid more prison time. Another man accused of attacking the officer with bear spray is weighing a stricter plea deal that calls for a prison sentence exceeding six years.
A federal grand jury indicted George Pierre Tanios last year on felony charges that he conspired with a Pennsylvania man, Julian Elie Khater, to assault and injure Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick with chemical spray during the riot on Jan. 6, 2021. (AP)
First Capitol rioter to face trial gets seven years
A federal judge on Aug. 1 sentenced Guy Wesley Reffitt of Texas, the first defendant to go on trial in the Capitol attack, to more than seven years in prison—the longest sentence to date in a case stemming from the Capitol riot. Prosecutors had sought 15 years, adding a sentencing enhancement used in cases of domestic terrorism. Judge Dabney L. Friedrich turned down this request, but noted that was still a significantly longer term than any given so far to any of the more than 800 arrested in connection with the riot, many of whom have struck plea bargains.
A jury found Reffitt guilty on five felony charges in March, including obstructing Congress' certification of the 2020 presidential election, carrying a .40-caliber pistol during the riot and two counts of civil disorder. Unlike others who breached the building, Reffitt did not go inside.
Before this, the longest sentence in a case related to the Capitol attack was just over five years, given last year to Robert Palmer, who pleaded guilty to assaulting an officer with a fire extinguisher. (NYT, ABC)
FBI searches Trump residence in Florida
The FBI on Aug. 8 executed a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago, Donald Trump's Florida resort and residence. In a statement, Trump labelled the unannounced action a "raid." FBI agents reportedly entered the premises and broke open a safe.
The FBI and the US Department of Justice have not commented on the search or the reason behind it. However, some US media outlets are speculating that it may be related to official records requested by the National Archives & Records Administration that Trump took to Florida after he left office. (Jurist)
Court allows House committee to access Trump tax returns
A three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled Aug. 9 that the House of Representatives Ways & Means Committee can access Donald Trump's tax returns. Trump's lawyers challenged the request for the returns after the Biden administration stated that it would comply with the committee's request. The case has been ongoing since last year, with a lower court ruling for the committee in December. (Jurist)
Trump invokes Fifth in NYS civil investigation
Donald Trump invoked the Fifth Amendment Aug. 10 in a New York State civil investigation into his business and real estate dealings, choosing not to testify in an unusual move for the vocal politician.
Trump was deposed in the civil case People of the State of New York v. The Trump Organization, led by New York State Attorney General Letitia James. The Attorney General is currently investigating potential fraud by the former president’s real estate company, including charges that the company artificially inflated real estate assets for tax benefits.
Trump claimed that the litigation is politically motivated and that he pleaded the Fifth Amendment in order to protect himself, saying in a statement that the case is an "unfounded, politically motivated witch hunt."
Trump was previously held in contempt of court for refusing to comply with subpoenas issued by James. An additional effort to resist the investigation was overruled by a state appeals court judge who ruled that James had the "clear right" to question him along with his children Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr.
As part of the same investigation, a state judge also held the real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield in contempt of court for refusing to comply with a subpoena. The Attorney General's Office confirmed the receipt of over 35,000 documents from the real estate firm, dissolving the contempt in court order against the firm once they were received.
The New York investigation is one of many currently ongoing against Trump, including the investigation of his allies for alleged fraud in the 2020 election in Georgia. (Jurist)
FBI seizes cellphone of Pennsylvania congressman
The FBI Tuesday seized Pennsylvania Congressman Scott Perry's cell phone, potentially in furtherance of the Justice Department's investigation into the Capitol riot. In a statement to Fox News, Perry confirmed that FBI agents approached him with a warrant and requested his cellphone.
Perry was at the center of multiple events surrounding the Capitol riot. He took part in Trump's campaign to overturn the results of the 2020 election, according to testimony from the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the US Capitol and a report from the Senate Judiciary Committee. In her testimony before the select committee, former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson also said that Perry requested a pardon from Trump following the events of Jan. 6. (Jurist)
Off-duty Virginia police officer sentenced in Capitol riot
Police officer Thomas Robertson on Aug. 11 was sentenced to 87 months in prison for his participation in the January 2021 Capitol riot. According to court documents, Robertson and co-defendent Jacob Fracker were both officers with the Rocky Mount, Va., police department and were off duty when they headed for Washington in Robertson's car on the morning of Jan. 6, 2021. Fracker pleaded guilty and awaits sentencing. (Jurist, Politico)
Trump Organization CFO pleads guilty
Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg, who worked with the family for decades, pleaded guilty to 15 counts involving tax fraud. As part of a plea deal, he will be required to testify in the upcoming trial against the company. (PBS)
Proud Boy sentenced over Capitol insurrection
Proud Boy affiliate Joshua Pruitt was sentenced Aug. 29 to four years and seven months in prison for his involvement in the January 6 insurrection. He must also pay $2,000 in restitution. Pruitt was charged with obstruction of an official proceeding and signed a plea agreement June 3. (Jurist)
US House committee to obtain Trump financial documents
The US House Oversight Committee on Sept. 1 announced an agreement with Donald Trump to obtain financial documents concerning in an investigation into alleged conflicts of interest, self-dealing and foreign financial ties. The committee first requested the documents from Trump's accounting firm, Mazars USA, in 2019 and had been locked in court proceedings over their release since then. (Jurist)
DoJ continues pursuing January 6 cases
The US Department of Justice (DoJ) Sept. 1 announced new charges and convictions for those involved with the January 2021, attack on the US Capitol. The DoJ charged an attorney for the Oath Keepers militia group with conspiracy and obstruction. On the same day, one man was sentenced to ten years in prison and a second pleaded guilty to felony charges.
Kellye Sorelle, a Texas attorney, is charged with conspiracy to obstruct Congress' certification of the Electoral College votes. Unlike other Oath Keepers, Sorelle is not charged with Seditious Conspiracy.
Thomas Webster, a USMC veteran and retired NYPD officer, was sentenced to 10 years for assaulting a police officer with a metal flagpole, and using that flagpole to resist arrest.
Julian Khater, a rioter from of Somerset, NJ, pleaded guilty to assaulting officers with a deadly weapon. Khater used pepper spray on officers before entering the Capitol. Khater faces up to 20 years in prison.
Over 260 individuals are charged with assaulting or impeding law enforcement on January 6, and the DoJ stated that their investigation remains ongoing. In the past 19 months, more than 860 individuals have been arrested for crimes related to the attack. (Jurist)
Judge unseats official over Capitol insurrection
A judge in New Mexico on Sept. 6 ordered a county commissioner convicted of participating in the Capitol riot removed from office under the 14th Amendment, making him the first public official in more than a century to be barred from serving under a constitutional ban on insurrectionists holding office.
The ruling declared the Capitol assault an insurrection and unseated Couy Griffin, a commissioner in New Mexico's Otero County and the founder of Cowboys for Trump, who was convicted earlier this year of trespassing when he breached barricades outside the Capitol during the attack. (NYT)
Bannon indicted in New York on financial fraud charges
Steve Bannon, former strategist to Donald Trump, surrendered to New York authorities on financial fraud charges on Sept. 8. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg Jr. and New York Attorney General Letitia James announced the charges against Bannon, claiming the former strategist wrongly collected more than $15 million from US political donors under a "We Build the Wall" campaign.
This is the latest in a series of criminal charges for Bannon. In August 2020, Bannon was indicted by the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York on similar charges. Before leaving office in January 2021, Trump extended a presidential pardon to Bannon, barring the US Attorneys Office from prosecuting him. However, in July 2022, a federal jury convicted Bannon of two counts of contempt of Congress for failing to comply with a subpoena from the US House Select Committee to Investigate the Capitol Insurrection. (Jurist)
Judge dismisses Trump lawsuit against Hillary Clinton, DNC
A judge for the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida on Sept. 8 dismissed former president Donald Trump's claims against Hillary Clinton, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and former FBI officials. Judge Donald Middlebrooks agreed with the 224 defendants in the case who sought to dismiss, writing "whatever the utilities of the Complaint as a fundraising tool, a press release, or a list of political grievances, it has no merit as a lawsuit..." (Jurist)
Another Proud Boys leader pleads guilty to felony charges
Nicholas Ochs, founder of the Proud Boys Hawaii chapter, pleaded guilty Sept. 9 to obstruction of an official proceeding for his involvement in the Capitol Insurrection. Ochs and fellow defendent Nicholas DeCarlo of Fort Worth, Texas, pleaded guilty to only one of seven charges in their plea agreements. The charge carries a maximum of 20 years imprisonment, and a fine of $250,000. The plea agreements contain a waiver of the defendants’ right to appeal their sentences. The US Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia and the Department of Justice National Security Division's Counterterrorism Section are prosecuting both Ochs and DeCarlo. (Jurist)
New York AG files suit against Trump and his organization
New York Attorney General Letitia James on Spet. 21 filed a civil lawsuit against former president Donald Trump, the Trump Organization, and senior management, including three of Trump's children. As a result of a three-year investigation, James claims to have uncovered years of evidence wherein the Trumps engaged in financial fraud to obtain more favorable loan rates and tax breaks.
The lawsuit, filed in a New York state court, alleges that Trump, with the help of his children Donald Jr., Ivanka and Eric, "falsely inflated his net worth by billions of dollars to induce banks to lend money to the Trump organization." The suit alleges that, over the course of 10 years, Trump knowingly and intentionally entered more than 200 false valuations of assets on financial documents in violation of New York Executive Law 63(12).
James is seeking to permanently bar Trump and his children from serving as officer or director of any licensed New York corporation or business, bar Trump and his organization from acquiring any New York real estate for five years, and disgorgement of all financial benefits Trump obtained—estimated at a total of $250 million.
The lawsuit comes a week after James rejected a settlement offer from Trump's legal team to end James’ civil investigation. The investigation began in 2019 when former Trump attorney Michael Cohen testified that Trump and his organization used inaccurate evaluations of assets to obtain loans and tax breaks. (Jurist)
Trial of Oath Keepers leader in Capitol insurrection begins
US federal prosecutors on Sept. 27 began jury selection in the seditious conspiracy trial against the founder of the far-right group the Oath Keepers and four other associated individuals. The DOJ first charged the individuals in connection with the January 2021 Capitol riot in January of this year. As of the time of this report, six jurors have been selected to serve in the trial. The trial is expected to last from two to four weeks.
The seditious conspiracy charges against Stewart Rhodes and the four other individuals—Kelly Meggs, Thomas Caldwell, Jessica Watkins and Kenneth Harrelson—allege that all five individuals conspired to forcefully oppose the execution of laws governing the transfer of presidential power. (Jurist)
Roger Stone: 'Let's get right to the violence'
The day before the 2020 election, Roger Stone, the long-time Republican operative and ally of former President Donald Trump, said in front of a documentary film crew that he had no interest in waiting to tally actual votes before contesting the election results. "Fuck the voting, let’s get right to the violence," Stone can be heard saying, according to footage provided by a Danish documentary film crew and obtained by CNN.
House committee issues subpoena to Trump
The US House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack on the Capitol on Oct. 13 held its first hearing since July and voted to subpoena former President Donald Trump to sit for testimony and produce documents. (Jurist)
DoJ seeks prison for Steve Bannon
The US Department of Justice on Oct. 17 urged the District Court of Columbia to sentence Steve Bannon, former strategist to former President Donald Trump, to six months in prison and a $200,000 fine. The request comes after a federal jury convicted Bannon of contempt of Congress for failing to comply with a subpoena. (Jurist)
Bannon sentenced to prison for contempt of Congress
Stephen Bannon was sentenced Oct. 21 to four months in prison for disobeying a subpoena from the House committee investigating the January 2021 attack on the Capitol. Bannon was found guilty of two counts of contempt of Congress this summer after Judge Carl J. Nichols rejected an array of arguments offered by his defense team, including that he was protected by executive privilege from being compelled to testify. Bannon will remain free pending his appeal. (NYT)
Clarence Thomas stays order for Lindsey Graham to testify
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas Oct. 24 put a temporary hold on a lower court order requiring Sen. Lindsey Graham to testify in court, in a case concerning attempts to influence the vote results in the 2020 electin in Georgia. Thomas did not offer any explanation for his decision. (Jurist)
New York criminal fraud trial against Trump Organization begins
The Manhattan District Attorney's office on Oct. 24 began jury selection in the criminal fraud case against the Trump Organization. The Trump Organization is charged with scheming to defraud federal, state and local authorities to avoid taxes from 2005 through 2021. (Jurist)
John Roberts stays order for Trump to turn over tax returns
Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts on Nov. 2 stayed the ruling of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in case No. 21-5289 "pending further order" of the court. Under the stay, Trump and associated companies may refrain from providing tax return information to the House of Representatives Ways & Means Committee. (Jurist)
SCOTUS declines to block Lindsey Graham testimony
The Supreme Court on Nov. 2 released a short two-paragraph order stating they would not block a subpoena from a Georgia grand jury requiring Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-GA) to testify about his actions in the aftermath of the 2020 election. Previously, Justice Clarence Thomas put a temporary hold on the subpoena without explanation. (Jurist)
Judge denies request to stop watchdog for Trump Organization
A New York state appeals court Nov. 9 rejected former president Donald Trump’s request to stay an order requiring a financial watchdog be installed at the Trump Organization. The decision is just the latest in New York Attorney General Letitia James' civil fraud lawsuit against Trump and the organization. (Jurist)
Trump attorneys sanctioned for 'frivolous' lawsuit against HRC
A judge for the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida on Nov. 10 ordered sanctions against Donald Trump’s legal team for a "frivolous" lawsuit against Hilary Clinton and other defendants. Judge Donald Middlebrooks ordered Trump's attorneys to pay $50,000 to the court and more than $16,000 in legal fees to defendant Charles Dolan. (Jurist)
Trump files lawsuit over House subpoena
Donald Trump on Nov. 11 filed a lawsuit against the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the US Capitol and several members of the House of Representatives over the subpoena issued to compel him to hand over documents and communications related to the Capitol attack. In his complaint, Trump says the subpoena puts him "in the untenable position of choosing between preserving his rights and the constitutional prerogatives of the Executive Branch, or risking enforcement of the Subpoena issued to him." (Jurist)
SCOTUS allows House committee access to phone records
The US Supreme Court on Nov. 14 denied an application for stay and injunction, allowing the US House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack on the Capitol to obtain the phone and text records of Arizona Republican Party Chair Kelli Ward. Ward filed an emergency application for a stay and injunction on Oct, 24, after a lower court denied the motion. Ward sought to prevent T-Mobile from releasing her phone records to the committee. (Jurist)
Double whammy against Trump in courts
The Supreme Court on Nov. 22 cleared the way for the Internal Revenue Service to release former President Donald Trump’s tax returns to the Democratic-led House Ways & Means Committee. (CNN, NYT) Meanwhile, a New York state judge set an October 2023 trial date for the New York attorney general's $250 million lawsuit against Trump, his eldest children and the Trump Organization. (CNN)
Oath Keepers founder convicted of seditious conspiracy
Stewart Rhodes, founder of the far-right Oath Keepers, was found guilty of seditious conspiracy in connection with the Capitol insurrection. A federal jury in Washington DC also convicted Rhodes of obstructing an official proceeding and tampering with documents. He was acquitted of two other conspiracy counts.
Rhodes did not enter the Capitol during the riot, but instead stood outside like a "battlefield general" surveying his troops, prosecutor Jeffrey Nestler said.
All five defendants on trial in this case were charged with seditious conspiracy but only one in addition to Rhodes was found guilty—Kelly Meggs.
The three other defendants—Jessica Watkins, Kenneth Harrelson and Thomas Caldwell—were acquitted on that central charge. But all the defendants were found guilty of obstructing an official proceeding. (NPR)
Trump Organization convicted in New York fraud case
A New York jury found the Trump Organization guilty on all charges in a criminal fraud case initiated by the Manhattan District Attorney's Office. Ex-president Trump's company, charged as both the Trump Corporation and the Trump Payroll Corporation, was accused of scheming to defraud federal, state and local authorities to avoid taxes between 2005 and 2021. Former chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg, who still works for the company, pleaded guilty to charges earlier this year and agreed to testify against his employer in exchange for a lighter sentence. This is the first conclusion in a long line of legal cases against the Trump Organization and Trump. (Jurist, Politico)
House riot committee recommends criminal charges against Trump
The US House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack on the Capitol on Dec. 19 presented its final report and unanimously issued four criminal referrals against former president Donald Trump to the US Department of Justice (DoJ). The criminal referrals are primarily symbolic, as the DoJ can choose whether or not to pursue the charges included, but are a historic moment for the US Congress.
The first charge, obstruction of an official proceeding, is located under 18 USC § 1512(c). The second charge is conspiracy to defraud the US, with the committee alleging that Trump entered into formal and informal agreements to impair, obstruct and defeat the certification of the 2020 election results. The charge is located under 18 USC § 371. The third, conspiracy to make a false statement, is located under 18 USC §§ 371 and 1001. The fourth, inciting, assisting, aiding or comforting an insurrection, is located under 18 USC § 2383.
Additional referrals are also included in the final report, including for attorney John Eastmann. Four US House representatives were also referred to the House Ethics Committee for sanctions: Jim Jordan (R-OH), Andy Biggs (R-AZ), Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Scott Perry (R-PA). (Jurist)
Wisconsin governor seeks sanctions against former Trump lawyer
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers on Dec. 19 filed an appeal to sanction Sidney Powell, former attorney for Donald Trump, over the election fraud challenges she filed concerning the 2020 president election.
Evers argues that Powell should face santions under 28 US Code Section 1927 for "unreasonably and vexatiously" continuing legal proceedings. He asked the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit to vacate a district court order denying the sanctions, and remand the case to the district court to apply the proper legal standards. The district court denied sanctions to Evers in August. (Jurist)
House riot committee publishes 845-page final report
The US House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack on the Capitol released its final report on Dec. 22. The 845-page report details the committee's findings and recommendations, including the criminal referrals voted upon by the committee during their last public meeting. The report describes events surrounding the Capitol riot and individuals involved in perpetrating what the report refers to as “the big lie.” The committee recommends 10 points of action, including: urging the Senate to pass the Presidential Election Reform Act; urging criminal and civil accountability for any of the misconduct described in the report; urging federal agencies to identify and address the threat of domestic violence extremism in the US; urging congress to consider whether Section 3 of Fourteenth Amendment bars certain individuals who have “engaged in an insurrection” from holding future state or federal office (Jurist)
Trump Organization fined maximum $1.61M in tax fraud case
The Trump Organization on Jan. 13 was fined $1.61 million, the maximum amount allowed by law, after being found guilty of various fraud charges in a New York state court. Former President Trump’s companies, The Trump Corporation and The Trump Payroll Corporation, were assessed fines of $810,000 and $800,000 respectively. (Jurist)
Federal judge hands Trump nearly $1M in sanctions
A federal judge Jan. 19 ordered Donald Trump and his lead attorney Alina Habba to pay over $937,000 in sanctions over a suit brought against Hillary Clinton in March 2022. Judge Donald Middlebrooks of the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida issued the sanctions on the basis that Trump's suit against Clinton was legally inadequate and intended for political purposes.
Clinton and 18 other defendants asked Judge Middlebrooks to sanction Trump over a violation of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11, which prohibits filing for improper purposes and provides procedures for issuing sanctions.Middlebrooks dismissed Trump's suit in September and sanctioned Trump’s attorneys in November for knowingly misconstruing facts against defendants. (Jurist)
Four more Oath Keepers convicted of sedition
The four members of the Oath Keepers far-right militia were found guilty of seditious conspiracy nearly two months after the group's leader, Stewart Rhodes, was convicted of the same charge in a separate proceeding.
A jury in Federal District Court in Washington also found the four defendants guilty of two separate conspiracy charges.
The defendants—Roberto Minuta, Joseph Hackett, David Moerschel and Edward Vallejo—were originally charged along with Rhodes and other members of the group. But their trial was broken off as a separate proceeding by the judge in the case, Amit P. Mehta, because of space constraints in the courtroom.
During the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection, Minuta, Hackett and Moerschel joined others in the group in forcing their way inside the Capitol, while Vallejo, who was stationed in a hotel room stocked with rifles in Virginia, sent frequent texts offering to ferry weapons into the city if needed. (NYT)
Four more Oath Keepers convicted of conspiracy
Four more members of the Oath Keepers were convicted March 20 of conspiracy, bringing the number of members of the group found guilty of felonies related to the Capitol attack to more than a dozen.
Jurors found Sandra Parker, Laura Steele, Connie Meggs and William Isaacs each guilty of the most significant charges they faced: conspiracy to obstruct Congress' proceedings, obstruction of an official proceeding, and conspiracy to prevent a federal officer from discharging duties. The four were also found guilty of several other charges they faced, including destruction of government property. (Politico)