Insurrection Fallout

News, Analysis and Opinion from POLITICO

  1. Legal

    Veil of secrecy surrounds the Jan. 6 subpoenas for GOP lawmakers

    Outside of internal ethics probes, there is no modern precedent for a congressional committee subpoenaing members of the House.

    The subpoenas issued to five House Republicans by the Jan. 6 select committee remained shrouded in secrecy Friday, with lawmakers refusing to describe the scope or contents of the historic demands.

    Members of the select committee declined to say whether they had also subpoenaed telecom companies to obtain the phone and email records of the GOP lawmakers — a step they’ve taken with dozens, if not hundreds, of other witnesses. And they wouldn’t specify whether the subpoenas demand their Republican colleagues’ documents, in addition to their testimony.

    Select committee members are also saying little about how they will confront the likelihood that none of the five subpoena targets — House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy and Reps. Scott Perry, Jim Jordan, Mo Brooks and Andy Biggs — cooperate by late-May deadlines. But they repeatedly vowed to take some as-yet-undefined action, should that be the case.

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  2. Congress

    Why the Jan. 6 panel bet its legal hand against the House GOP

    There's no guarantee the subpoena of five GOP lawmakers will give the committee more information on former President Donald Trump's attempt to subvert the 2020 election. They're barreling ahead anyway.

    The Jan. 6 select panel's subpoenas of five House Republicans are a huge risk by any measure — it could fail to yield new evidence while piling additional stress on an institution already buckling under partisan strain.

    But committee members say the peril is worth it to prevent a future insurrection, not to mention to fully investigate an election subversion attempt by former President Donald Trump and his allies.

    “This determination to issue these subpoenas was not a decision that the committee made lightly,” said Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), the Capitol riot panel's vice chair. “But it is absolutely a necessary one … The sanctity of this body and the continued functioning of our constitutional republic requires that we ensure that there never be an attack like that again.”

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  3. Congress

    Jan. 6 investigation subpoenas McCarthy, Jordan, 3 other House Republicans

    The select panel's moves target some of former President Donald Trump’s closest allies, demanding testimony within days.

    The Jan. 6 select committee on Thursday subpoenaed five House Republicans, including Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

    The subpoenas target some of Donald Trump’s closest allies in the House, several of whom were engaged in numerous meetings and planning sessions amid the former president's attempt to overturn the 2020 election results. The move represents a sharp escalation in the select committee’s tactics after months of weighing how aggressively to pursue testimony from their own colleagues.

    In addition to McCarthy and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), a founding member of the pro-Trump House Freedom Caucus who's close to the GOP leader, the panel sent summons to Reps. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) and Mo Brooks (R-Ala.). All five lawmakers have rejected investigators' previous requests that they voluntarily testify.

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  4. Insurrection Fallout

    How the Jan. 6 panel broke through Trump allies’ stonewalling

    High-level aides to the former president aren’t the only ones who can detail his network’s movements leading up to and during the Capitol attack.

    Donald Trump’s top election-subversion wingmen have stonewalled the Jan. 6 select committee for months, but investigators have found a reliable workaround: their deputies and assistants.

    Time and again, the panel has managed to pierce the secrecy of Trump’s inner circle by turning to the aides entrusted with carrying out logistics for their bosses, according to interviews with lawmakers and newly public committee records.

    Some of the select panel’s most crucial information has come from Trumpworld staffers, who were often in the room or briefed on sensitive meetings, even if they weren’t central players themselves. It’s a classic investigative strategy that’s paid dividends for select committee investigators, many of whom are seasoned former federal prosecutors.

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  5. Insurrection Fallout

    Jan. 6 defendant, who prosecutors say chased Officer Goodman, has cooperated with committee

    Gene Rubenacker pleaded guilty without a plea deal to 10 charges, including felony counts of civil disorder, obstruction of Congress and assault.

    Greg Rubenacker, who joined the Jan. 6 mob that chased Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman, has become the first known defendant facing assault charges to cooperate with lawmakers investigating the attack, court filings reveal.

    In a memo pleading for leniency from Judge Beryl Howell, Rubenacker says he spent “several hours” interviewing with Jan. 6 select committee investigators, although he doesn’t indicate when. He says this is one of several ways he has taken responsibility and shown remorse for his conduct. His attorney is asking Howell to sentence him to a year of home confinement.

    But prosecutors say Rubenacker deserves much harsher punishment, noting that he exhibited aggressive and violent behavior toward Goodman and other officers. He joined a line of rioters pushing against police as they attempted to clear the rotunda, and he ultimately swung a water bottle that hit an officer in the helmet, according to photos and videos of the attack.

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  6. insurrection fallout

    Oath Keepers leader sought to contact Trump on Jan. 6, court papers indicate

    Prosecutors say Stewart Rhodes tried to connect with the then-president after the attack on the Capitol and urge him to ask the group to forcibly oppose the ascension of Joe Biden.

    Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes tried to connect with then-President Donald Trump on the evening of Jan. 6, 2021, and urge him to ask the group to forcibly oppose the ascension of Joe Biden, according to a court filing posted on Wednesday in connection with a plea deal by one of Rhodes’ allies.

    That evening, after Oath Keepers led by Rhodes departed Capitol grounds, Rhodes gathered members of the group at the Phoenix Hotel in Capitol Hill. There, according to the filing, Rhodes contacted “an individual over speaker phone.”

    One of the other members of the group, William Todd Wilson, “heard Rhodes repeatedly implore the individual to tell President Trump to call upon groups like the Oath Keepers to forcibly oppose the transfer of power,” prosecutors say.

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  7. insurrection fallout

    3 pro-Trump GOP lawmakers reject Jan. 6 committee's requests for testimony

    Reps. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), Ronny Jackson (R-Texas) and Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) all voted to object to certifying the former president's loss to Joe Biden.

    Three House Republicans rejected requests to provide testimony to the Jan. 6 committee after the panel asked them Monday to aid its investigation into the Capitol riot.

    Congressional investigators had sent requestsfor voluntary interviews to Reps. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), Ronny Jackson (R-Texas) and Mo Brooks (R-Ala.). There's ample precedent for them to decline: Three other Republican lawmakers previously targeted by the panel for questioning all rejected the requests, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and Jan. 6 committee members have expressed hesitancy to subpoena their congressional colleagues.

    “The Select Committee has learned that several of our colleagues have information relevant to our investigation into the facts, circumstances, and causes of January 6th,” select panel Chair Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and Vice Chair Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) said in a statement.

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  8. insurrection fallout

    Judge upholds Jan. 6 committee subpoena for RNC records

    U.S. District Court Judge Tim Kelly said the select committee had demonstrated its need for the party’s data on its fundraising emails.

    A federal judge late Sunday resoundingly supported the Jan. 6 select committee’s effort to obtain internal Republican National Committee data about efforts to fundraise off claims that the 2020 election was stolen.

    In a landmark ruling rejecting an RNC lawsuit, U.S. District Court Judge Tim Kelly said the select committee had demonstrated its need for the party’s data on its fundraising emails between Nov. 3, 2020, and Jan. 6, 2021 — when the RNC and Trump campaign sent supporters messages falsely suggesting the election was stolen. The committee contends those emails helped sow the seeds of the violence that erupted on Jan. 6.

    “[T]he Select Committee seeks reasonably relevant information from a narrow window during which the RNC sent emails promoting claims that the presidential election was fraudulent or stolen,” Kelly, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, wrote in the 53-page ruling.

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  9. Insurrection Fallout

    Second Oath Keeper pleads to seditious conspiracy

    Brian Ulrich is one of 11 Oath Keepers facing the gravest charges to emerge from the Jan. 6 attack.

    A second member of the Oath Keepers facing a seditious conspiracy charge for his role in the Jan. 6 breach of the Capitol pleaded guilty Friday and is preparing to cooperate with prosecutors.

    Brian Ulrich, one of 11 Oath Keepers facing the gravest charges to emerge from the Jan. 6 attack, pleaded guilty to seditious conspiracy and obstruction of Congress’ electoral vote-counting session. He follows Joshua James, an Oath Keeper who provided personal security to Roger Stone, who pleaded guilty to seditious conspiracy last month.

    Cooperation from Ulrich of Georgia and James of Alabama — in addition to others who have previously reached cooperation deals with the government — could arm prosecutors with substantial evidence as they work to secure the convictions of the remaining defendants, including Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes III.

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  10. INSURRECTION FALLOUT

    Trump says he 'never claimed responsibility' for Jan. 6 attack, contradicting McCarthy

    “No, that’s false. I never claimed responsibility,” Trump said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.

    Former President Donald Trump on Friday denied that he had ever accepted any responsibility for the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol complex.

    Trump’s comments in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, while signaling a public détente amid a burgeoning controversy over leaked audio of Kevin McCarthy’s comments in the days after the insurrection, nevertheless put daylight between Trump and the House minority leader, who in a leaked Republican conference call said the former president told him he accepted some responsibility.

    “No, that’s false. I never claimed responsibility,” Trump said in the interview at his Mar-a-Lago, Fla., residence, adding that his relationship with McCarthy remained solid following a phone call between the two Thursday evening.

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  11. congress

    Kevin McCarthy’s speakership hopes face new threat from Trump comments

    Certain recordings could complicate the California Republican's quest to become Speaker of the House, particularly if Trump comes out against him.

    Newly released audio showing that Kevin McCarthy wanted Donald Trump to resign in the wake of the Jan. 6 insurrection has prompted allies of the former president to question whether McCarthy is fit for the top job in the House.

    While the GOP leader is still seen as the overwhelming favorite to be speaker in 2023, given Republicans' likelihood of taking back the House, it could endanger McCarthy's chances to win over a necessary block of pro-Trump Republicans — particularly if Trump comes out against McCarthy's speakership bid.

    Though most House Republicans remained silent Friday — and some indicated they believed the controversy would abate — several of Trump’s close allies said they believe McCarthy would need to spend months proving his pro-Trump bona fides. Most of Washington awaited a public signal from Trump himself about how to respond to the McCarthy audio, or further clarifications from McCarthy about his Jan. 10, 2021 comments, including why he initially denied making them.

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  12. Insurrection Fallout

    Jan. 6 panel piecing together details of final Trump-Pence call

    Several Donald Trump allies listened in from the Oval Office, but Mike Pence's side of the call remains elusive.

    Congressional investigators entering the last stage of their probe are gathering new evidence about a crucial moment on the Jan. 6 timeline: the final, fateful phone call between Donald Trump and Mike Pence before a pro-Trump mob attacked the Capitol.

    They’ve had a lot of success on that front — court records and Jan. 6 select committee documents reveal that the panel has obtained significant details about that call. In recent weeks, they’ve learned even more from several high-profile witnesses who were in the Oval Office while Trump berated Pence for refusing to overturn the election.

    Yet one crucial gap remains. Top Pence aides say the former vice president was in his residence when the call came in. He then left the room and was out of earshot for 15 to 20 minutes. Those aides told the select committee that Pence never disclosed to them the contents of the conversation. More importantly, Pence’s aides say he never revealed how he replied to Trump’s intense last-minute pressure.

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  13. Insurrection Fallout

    Capitol Police's new vetting practices raise 'First Amendment concerns,' whistleblowers' lawyer says

    An attorney for Capitol Police employees wrote that intelligence analysts were “directed” to search the social media pages of congressional staff, event attendees and hosts.

    After a year of intense scrutiny following the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection, the Capitol Police is facing fresh criticism of its intelligence-gathering tactics from some of its own former analysts.

    An employment lawyer, who represents five people who worked in the department’s intelligence division in January of 2021, says his clients believe Capitol Police conduct veered beyond protecting members to raising First Amendment concerns.

    Dan Gebhardt, of Solomon Law Firm, PLLC, says his clients have long harbored grave concerns about the Capitol Police intelligence division’s practices. In a lengthy statement to POLITICO, Gebhardt laid out some of those concerns, underscoring tensions that have quietly plagued the department.

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  14. legal

    Text message trove shows Oath Keepers discussing security details for Trump associates

    Roger Stone and Michael Flynn were among them.

    Updated

    Top members of the Oath Keepers now facing seditious conspiracy charges chatted for days about providing security for some of the highest-profile figures associated with Donald Trump’s effort to overturn the election, according to a newly released trove of text messages.

    Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and top allies like Florida Oath Keeper Kelly Meggs discussed plans to provide security for figures like Roger Stone, Alex Jones, Ali Alexander and Michael Flynn on Jan. 5 and Jan. 6, describing potential partnerships with other groups and security details.

    While several members of the group now facing charges notably flanked Stone on Jan. 5 — including Joshua James, who has since pleaded guilty to seditious conspiracy — the extent of the Oath Keepers’ work for other figures has been murky. For example, Alexander indicated in a recent statement that the Oath Keepers never ended up providing security for him because his own Jan. 6 event was canceled amid the chaos on Capitol grounds.

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  15. Insurrection Fallout

    Former Army colonel sues to block Jan. 6 committee subpoena for phone records

    Phil Waldron testified at state legislative hearings claiming he’d seen evidence of large-scale technical irregularities in voting machines.

    Phil Waldron, a retired Army colonel who helped allies of Donald Trump promote false claims of election fraud, is suing to block the Jan. 6 select committee from obtaining his phone records from AT&T.

    Waldron initiated the lawsuit in Collin County, Texas, courts in late February, records show, but AT&T transferred the matter to federal court on Friday. In his filings, Waldron describes himself as a “consultant” hired by Texas-based attorneys “to assist in the investigation of matters related to the Election for clients of [the] Attorneys.”

    In the filings, Waldron also indicates that he has signed a nondisclosure agreement “to keep confidential all information regarding the investigation being conducted by the Attorneys for their clients concerning the Election.”

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  16. Insurrection Fallout

    Jury convicts former Va. police officer for role in Jan. 6 riot

    A former colleague testified against Rocky Mount police officer Thomas Robertson.

    Updated

    A former police officer from Rocky Mount, Va., was convicted Monday on multiple charges stemming from his role in the Jan. 6 breach of the Capitol, after a trial that featured harrowing footage of the mob and testimony from a co-defendant who once served with him on the force.

    Thomas Robertson was convicted on multiple felony charges, including obstruction of Congress’ Jan. 6 session to count Electoral College votes, a central charge in hundreds of cases the Justice Department has brought against Jan. 6 rioters.

    The result was a boost for the Justice Department, which has now won both Jan. 6-related jury trials that have been completed to date. However, in a bench trial before U.S. District Court Judge Trevor McFadden last week, the judge acquitted defendant Matthew Martin on all charges. McFadden also delivered a partial acquittal of defendant Couy Griffin, founder of Cowboys for Trump, in a bench trial last month.

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  17. Legal

    Judge tells Jan. 6 defendant his disbarred lawyer has to leave case

    Judge Amit Mehta plans to put five Oath Keepers on trial for seditious conspiracy in Washington in July.

    Updated

    A federal judge has informed a defendant in the highest-profile conspiracy cases stemming from the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol that he will need to find a new attorney because his lawyer has been disbarred.

    During a hearing Friday in the seditious conspiracy case against 10 alleged leaders and members of the Oath Keepers militia, U.S. District Court Judge Amit Mehta informed defendant Kelly Meggs that lawyer Jonathon Moseley cannot continue to defend him as a result of an action a panel of Virginia judges took last week to revoke Moseley’s right to practice law in that state.

    POLITICO first reported Tuesday that Moseley, who also represents other individuals in Jan.6-related litigation, had been disbarred in the state following a disciplinary hearing in Virginia's Prince William County last week.

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  18. insurrection fallout

    Proud Boys leader pleads guilty to role in Jan. 6 conspiracy

    Charles Donohoe, the leader of a North Carolina chapter of the group, reached a plea deal with the government that includes cooperation with prosecutors.

    Updated

    A leader of the Proud Boys, charged alongside the group’s national chair Enrique Tarrio, pleaded guilty Friday to a conspiracy to obstruct Congress during the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the Capitol.

    Charles Donohoe, the leader of a North Carolina chapter of the group, reached a plea deal with the government that includes cooperation with prosecutors, a potentially pivotal victory for the Justice Department in one of the most significant cases to emerge from the Jan. 6 insurrection. He pleaded to two charges, including the conspiracy to obstruct Congress' proceedings as well as to impeding police officers.

    Donohoe was among a handful of Proud Boys leaders who helped organize the group’s large presence in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6, 2021. His cooperation gives the Justice Department a high-value source of information about the group's activities surrounding the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. A 13-page "statement of the offense" that Donohoe signed as part of his agreement is a window into the assistance he can provide.

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  19. Legal

    Judge restores Jan. 6 defendant’s gun rights over DOJ objection

    Jenny Cudd of Texas had asked that the probation condition be set aside, citing threats she received after publicity about her role in the storming of the Capitol.

    A judge has restored a Texas woman’s right to possess firearms just weeks after she was sentenced for illegally entering the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

    U.S. District Court Judge Trevor McFadden issued an order on Thursday granting florist Jenny Cudd’s request to lift a term of her probation that forbade her to own or possess any “firearm, ammunition, destructive device, or dangerous weapon.”

    Cudd had asked that the condition be set aside, citing threats she received following publicity about her role in the storming of the Capitol as lawmakers were preparing to certify Joe Biden’s win in the 2020 presidential election.

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  20. insurrection fallout

    Trump says Secret Service blocked him from joining Jan. 6 march to the Capitol

    The “Secret Service said I couldn’t go. I would have gone there in a minute," the former president said.

    Former President Donald Trump said Wednesday that the U.S. Secret Service blocked him from making good on his pledge to join supporters marching on Jan. 6, 2021, from the White House to the Capitol ahead of that day's deadly riot.

    The former president told The Washington Post that the “Secret Service said I couldn’t go. I would have gone there in a minute."

    A spokesperson for the Secret Service did not immediately reply to an email seeking confirmation that the then-president's protective detail kept him from joining his supporters at the Capitol that day.

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