While watching the Trump traitors engage in armed insurrection against the Capitol last week, my first thought was that these domestic terrorists had assistance – from Capitol Police, members of Congress or congressional staff, or building staffers.
Rep. James Clyburn thought so as well, and with good cause. ‘Inside job’: House Dems ask if Capitol rioters had hidden help:
A growing number of House Democrats say they’re concerned that tactical decisions by some Capitol Police officers worsened Wednesday’s riots and have raised the possibility that the pro-Trump mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol might have had outside help.
[V]ideos have also surfaced showing a small number of officers pulling down barricades for the rioters and, in another instance, stopping for a photo with one of them.
Some of those incidents were raised on a 3.5-hour caucus call by House Democrats on Friday, demanding an investigation not only into the decisions by the Capitol Police leadership but by some rank-and-file officers caught on camera. But the lawmakers also raised general concerns that the rioters had some sort of outside help not necessarily attributable to the Capitol’s police corps.
Rep. Steven Horsford (D-Nev.) told his colleagues he thought the riots were “an inside job,” according to two lawmakers on the call.
House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) mentioned that looters had found their way to his unmarked, third floor office and stole his iPad. He questioned how they could locate that office but not his clearly marked ceremonial office in Statuary Hall. Later, another Democrat on the call, Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.) specifically raised the question of possible collusion among some Capitol Police officers, according to several people listening.
* * *
In an interview airing Sunday, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) said “I am very sad to say that I believe that there were people within the Capitol police and within the Capitol building that were part of helping these insurrectionists to really have a very well-coordinated plan for when they were going to come, how they were going to come,” Jayapal said on Gray TV’s “Full Court Press with Greta Van Susteren.”
Pressed further on whether some Capitol Police officers were not just looking the other way but actually involved, Jayapal said, “It appears that way, both from what happened, how coordinated it was, how easy it was.”
* * *
Since Wednesday’s attack, many Democrats have publicly and privately raised alarms about the ease with which rioters were able to not only enter the building but also quickly find their targets in a complex that is difficult for even members of Congress to navigate.
“Somebody must get to the bottom of how they, with such efficiency and such alacrity, moved themselves in mobs into [Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s] office. Into the whip’s third-floor office,” said Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-Pa.), one of the dozen or so Democrats who was locked inside the House chamber as rioters attempted to break in.
“We all joke about the fact that it’s so hard to find some of these offices, and we work in the building,” Dean said in an interview.
Axios adds, Rep. Tim Ryan, chairman of a House Appropriations subcommittee overseeing the Capitol Police,shared the shocking news that two Capitol Police officers had been suspended and 10–15 were under investigation for their behavior during the riot. “One was the selfie officer, and another was an officer who put a MAGA hat on and started directing people around,” Ryan said.
Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ) alleged on Tuesday night that GOP members of Congress led guests on what she described as “reconnaissance” ahead of the insurrection on Jan. 6. Roll Call reports, 34 House Democrats call for investigation into Jan. 5 tours by fellow members ahead of attack:
Rep. Mikie Sherrill and 33 other House members want an investigation into access given by fellow House lawmakers to visitors to the Capitol on Jan. 5 before the violent attacks on Congress the next day.
The New Jersey Democrat alleged Tuesday night that members of Congress led guests on what she described as “reconnaissance” ahead of the insurrection on Jan. 6.
A letter issued Wednesday asks the acting House sergeant-at-arms, acting Senate sergeant-at-arms, and United States Capitol Police to investigate “suspicious behavior” on Jan. 5 and changes to visitor access.
“The visitors encountered by some of the Members of Congress on this letter appeared to be associated with the rally at the White House the following day,” Sherrill wrote.
The New Jersey Democrat and former Navy pilot first made public her concerns about House members preparing rioters for their siege of the Capitol in a video in a Facebook video on Tuesday night.
The letter notes that she and other signatories, including former CIA officer Abigail Spanberger, have served in military and intelligence roles and are trained to recognize suspicious activity.
“Members of the group that attacked the Capitol seemed to have an unusually detailed knowledge of the layout of the Capitol Complex. The presence of these groups within the Capitol Complex was indeed suspicious. Given the events of January 6, the ties between these groups inside the Capitol Complex and the attacks on the Capitol need to be investigated,” wrote the lawmakers.
Visitors, official tour groups and almost anyone without a congressional ID have been barred from the Capitol since mid-March, when the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic led congressional leaders to partially close the usually public building.
But members of Congress have been disregarding those strictures to bring in families and friends for small private tours for months, and Capitol Police stationed at entrances typically don’t challenge lawmakers to enforce rules.
The letter asks if there is a database of guests to the Capitol and if SAA staff and Capitol Police require lawmakers to sign in guests upon entry. They also want to know if facial recognition software is in use for visitors entering the Capitol complex.
“The tours being conducted on Tuesday, January 5, were a noticeable and concerning departure from the procedures in place as of March 2020 that limited the number of visitors to the Capitol. These tours were so concerning that they were reported to the Sergeant at Arms on January 5,” Sherrill and others wrote.
Majority Whip James E. Clyburn is not a signatory on the letter, but he has raised questions about how rioters knew some of the most hidden, obscure destinations in the Capitol to target and loot.
Clyburn’s second-floor office, with his name above the door, remained untouched during the destruction and violence last week. But a more private office, which is unmarked on the third floor, was targeted.
“There are many members of the United States Congress right now who could not tell you where that office is and could not find that office if they needed to,” the South Carolina Democrat told MSNBC.
“Yeah, but they found it. Nobody touched the door where my name is,” he said.
He said a thorough investigation is needed, and he questioned how the insurrectionists knew how to find an unmarked office of one of the top members of the House.
Salon adds (excerpts):
Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, chair of the subcommittee that oversees funding for the Capitol Police, offered more detail, saying that “a couple” of his colleagues seemed to fit Sherrill’s description, and adding that this information was passed to law enforcement as early as the night of the attack. Ryan added that “handfuls” of people had been escorted through the building on Jan. 5, and that clearly they were not “one-on-one” or “small family” tours.
Other Republican lawmakers have also drawn circumstantial suspicion, such as newly elected Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado, who has expressed admiration for QAnon conspiracy theories. Boebert’s tweets about the location of Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic leaders during the siege have led to calls for her arrest. That morning, she tweeted: “Today is 1776”, the QAnon “storm” they fantasize about.]
Boebert’s fellow QAnon Caucus member Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene also referred to the joint session of Congress to certify electoral college votes as “our 1776 moment.”
Sarah Groh, chief of staff to Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., told the Boston Globe on Wednesday that panic buttons in the congresswoman’s office appeared to have been ripped out of the wall.
“Every panic button in my office had been torn out — the whole unit,” Groh said, explaining that the panic buttons had been installed because Pressley, one of the group of four Democratic congresswomen of color known as “the Squad,” had received a number of death threats.
CNN reports today,
Among the thousands of tips the FBI received are some that appear to show members of Congress with people who later showed up at the Capitol riot, two law enforcement officials said. This doesn’t mean members of Congress and staff are under investigation, but the FBI is checking the veracity of the claims, the officials said.
The presence of corruption prosecutors and agents is in part because of their expertise in financial investigations. “We are following the money,” the official said.
Yeah, that’s it. The public corruption prosecutors’ main function is to prosecute public corruption by public officials.
At least one person involved in the “White Riot” has claimed to have had help.
In a now-deleted Periscope video, Ali Alexander, a far-right leader of the Stop the Steal movement, said he had teamed up with Republican Reps. Paul Gosar and Andy Biggs of Arizona and Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama to put “maximum pressure on Congress while they were voting.” Earlier post, Censure And Expulsion: Reps. Biggs And Gosar Implicated In Plotting Insurrection. The Intercept confirms, Freedom Caucus Chair Andy Biggs Helped Plan January 6 Event, Lead Organizer Says.
NEW: Republican Rep. Paul Gosar at a rally promoting the January 6 event:
"You get to go back home once we conquer the Hill. Donald Trump is returned to being president." (2 minute mark) pic.twitter.com/tn3Om7hGTD
— Ryan Grim (@ryangrim) January 12, 2021
The involvement of Arizona Reps. Andy Biggs and Paul Gosar has resulted in the Democratic Leaders in the Arizona legislature demanding an FBI investigation.Democrats ask FBI to investigate 4 Arizona Republicans in connection with Jan. 6 riot:
Eight Democratic legislative leaders are asking the FBI and the Justice Department to investigate four Arizona Republican officials over their alleged roles in the Jan. 6 riot where protesters breached the U.S. Capitol, resulting in five deaths.
In their letter, the Democrats say that state Rep. Mark Finchem of Oro Valley and now-former state Rep. Anthony Kern of Glendale were present in Washington, D.C., “and actively encouraged the mob, both before and during the attack on the the Capitol.”
Finchem and Kern “sought to conceal the consequences of their conduct by falsely blaming ‘Antifa,’” the letter says.
Additionally, the Democrats’ claims against GOP U.S. Reps. Andy Biggs and Paul Gosar stem from a claim by Ali Alexander, who organized the “Stop the Steal” movement, that he worked with them and Alabama U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks on the plan for the Jan 6. demonstration.
“We four schemed up of putting maximum pressure on Congress while they were voting,” Alexander said in a now-deleted video on Periscope.
The Washington Post reported Alexander said the plan was to “change the hearts and minds of Republicans who were in that body, hearing our loud roar from outside.”
“They did all of this in public,” wrote the eight Democrats, led by House Minority Leader Reginald Bolding of Laveen and Senate Minority Leader Rebecca Rios of Phoenix. “What they did outside of plain view we do not yet know.”
But they said there is “evidence” that the four “encouraged, facilitated, participated and possibly helped plan this anti-democratic insurrection on January 6.”
“It is vital to any current or future federal investigations, and ultimately to the Arizona public they represent, that we learn what these elected officials knew about this planned insurrection and when they knew it,” they wrote.
None of the four responded to requests for comment.
The letter provides no evidence that either Finchem or Kern were involved in trespassing at the Capitol. And Biggs and Gosar were inside the building during the Jan. 6 session.
Nor is there anything specific saying they were part of any plan to breach the Capitol.
But the Democrats say that some of the people in Washington were clearly there with something more than peaceful protests in mind.
“Many in the mob wore military or police tactical gear and carried zip-tie restraints, signaling a high level of preparation and coordination for the events that occurred,” they said.
They are suggesting that, at the least, it was the actions and rhetoric of the four Arizona Republicans — and potentially others — that led to what happened.
“For weeks prior to the breach, a group of Republican Arizona legislators and legislators-elect publicly advocated for the overthrow of the election results which encouraged precisely the kind of violent conduct that we witnessed,” the Democrats wrote.
The others signing the letter were Tucsonans Sen. Victoria Steele and Rep. Domingo DeGrazia, along with Reps. Athena Salman and Jennifer L. Longdon and Sens. Lupe Contreras and Martin Quezada.
Finchem in particular sought to get people to the rally.
On Twitter, he promoted that day’s 9 a.m. speech by President Trump on the Ellipse, followed by the 1 p.m. demonstration at the Capitol building.
The day before the riot, Finchem sent out a picture of himself “holding the line in D.C.”
And in a separate post he asked whether the country will become “a republic in name only, or will we as a nation governed through consent of the governed realize our full potential, fighting off those who would pervert our national design?”
During the rally — before there were disturbances — Finchem sent out a picture of people on the steps of the Capitol, saying this is “what happens when the people feel they have been ignored, and Congress refuses to acknowledge rampant fraud.”
Then, as people began breaking into buildings, Finchem sent out another post of a photo of the melee — but with a caption, “Trump supporters stop Antifa from breaking into Capitol.”
Finchem in particular has adopted a stance since the riot that none of this was the fault of supporters of the president or those who were pushing Congress to overturn the election returns, but of left-wing agitators, despite numerous reports rejecting that narrative.
Capitol Media Services asked Finchem on Monday what credible evidence he has to back his claims. “Try the Capitol police and the FBI,” he responded.
The FBI itself has rejected the whole idea. At a press briefing late last week, a reporter asked if antifa activists had disguised themselves as Trump supporters during the riot.
“We have no indication of that at this time,”’ said Steven D’Antuono, the FBI Washington field office assistant director.
And Michael Sherwin, acting U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, also said he saw no evidence antifa was involved in the riot.
The Washington Times [Moonie Times], a conservative publication that had promoted the idea of antifa, removed an article it had written claiming that a company that does facial recognition through software identified antifa members as infiltrating Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol. The company had denied the claim.
Republican Sedition Party is not yet done pushing its baseless “stop the steal” fantasy to overturn Arizona’s election results and to disenfranchise millions of Arizona voters. Judge isn’t ordering election materials turned over to Arizona senators, at least for now:
A judge declined Wednesday to order Maricopa County to give state senators the trove of election materials they’re demanding, saying he’s not convinced he has the authority to do so.
Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Timothy Thomason said it appears the original subpoenas issued by Senate President Karen Fann and then-Sen. Eddie Farnsworth are probably moot.
That’s because they were issued in December as part of the 54th legislative session, which technically ceased to exist on Monday, Jan. 11.
In fact, Farnsworth is no longer a state senator. [Thank God!]
But Fann and Sen. Warren Petersen, who succeeded Farnsworth as chair of the Judiciary Committee in the new 55th legislative session, issued a new subpoena on Tuesday afternoon. It demands not just the same documents from Maricopa County but more, including access to “all original paper ballots.” It also seeks access to the county’s voting equipment and software.
Jack Sellers, the new chairman of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, did show up Wednesday at 9 a.m. at the state Senate, as the new subpoena ordered. So did newly elected County Recorder Stephen Richer and new County Treasurer John Allen.
But they brought none of the materials with them.
Thomason said that new subpoena likely requires the county to file new legal briefs. He set a hearing for Wednesday, Jan. 20, to consider the matter, saying he hopes the two sides can work things out.
The big problem for the Senate could be convincing the judge he has the authority to, and should, order the county to comply.
“If timing is an issue, why can’t the senators simply enforce their own subpoenas?” Thomason asked. “They have the statutory power to do that.”
“They can,” conceded attorney Kory Langhofer, who is representing the Senate. “And I will tell you, there’s a real possibility of that.”
That, however, raises different legal and practical issues.
State law empowers either the House or Senate to hold someone in contempt. But that requires a vote of the full chamber, meaning it would take all 16 Republican senators to go along if Democrats refuse to support the move.
If the Republicans can get a contempt vote, the law allows the Senate president to send out the sergeant-at-arms to physically arrest the person who has refused to comply. Disobeying a subpoena is a crime.
But even that still wouldn’t guarantee the Senate would get what it wants. That’s why the senators want the judge to order the county to comply.
Thomason, however, notes that Langhofer is relying on a section of Arizona law that allows a public officer “authorized by law” to issue subpoenas and demand production of evidence. The same law allows the official to then ask a judge to intercede to compel compliance.
The judge said he’s not necessarily convinced that applies to legislative subpoenas or that he has the power to enforce them.
Legal authority aside, attorney Steve Tully, who represents the Maricopa County supervisors, told Thomason they still believe there is no “valid legislative purpose” behind the subpoenas and the Senate inquiry.
Langhofer acknowledged that one reason for the two original subpoenas was to audit the equipment to send information to Congress ahead of its Jan. 6 vote on whether to certify the results from Arizona that President-elect Joe Biden won the state’s 11 electoral votes.
“That’s water under the bridge,” he said, given that Congress did accept the Arizona results and Biden will be sworn in this coming Wednesday.
But Langhofer said that’s not the end of the discussion for the GOP senators.
“Always, separate from that, was an independent reason of performing their oversight function to see how elections in the state were run and whether additional legislation is necessary,” he told Thomason.
Langhofer said lawmakers want to see what happened to determine if there are changes needed in state election laws, which is strictly the purview of the Legislature. For example, he said lawmakers want to know if there were tabulation errors, unlawful ballots cast or security vulnerabilities in voting devices.
Tully, however, said the Legislature tipped its hand when it admitted it wanted the materials and access to the equipment to see if it could affect the outcome of the 2020 vote.
“He issued those subpoenas to audit the election,” he said of Farnsworth. “And that is not a legal power that is granted to the chairman.”
There are other legal questions, as well.
Deputy Maricopa County Attorney Tom Liddy said one deals with the security of the 2.1 million original paper ballots. He told the judge they can’t simply be turned over to senators as there are legal constraints on who has access to them.
There also is the issue of who would conduct an examination of the voting equipment.
The new subpoena, served on the supervisors, the county recorder and the county treasurer at 4:10 p.m. Tuesday, “commanded” that they appear at the Senate by 9 a.m. Wednesday and provide the materials sought as well as provide testimony to the Judiciary Committee.
The 9 a.m. deadline also was the time the hearing before Thomason began two miles away.
“That’s bush league,” said Liddy.
Also, there was no meeting of the committee on Wednesday.
“Either they don’t know what they’re doing or somebody’s playing games,” said Liddy. But he said the officials showed up because “we respect the power of the Senate.”
What resulted, Liddy said, was a brief meeting with Senate staffers, and no questions.
Stop the insanity!