April 19, 2022
Last night, lawyers for Ed Vallejo, one of 11 members of the right-wing Oath Keepers gang accused of seditious conspiracy for their actions surrounding January 6, filed a motion for Vallejo’s release from pretrial jail.
Vallejo’s lawyer describes his client as having “a passionate yet gentle nature, as well as [a] love of animals,” and quotes one of Vallejo’s friends as saying the accused conspirator is a “true man of passion” whose “tools are an abundance of love, sunshine and gratitude to God for giving him a chance to prove it by helping people.” The lawyer tried to explain away the 200 pounds of food Vallejo brought for a 30-day siege (he thought they were going camping, the lawyer says) and his declaration that there would be “guerilla war” if Trump didn’t “bring the f*cking hammer down.” The lawyer’s argument is that Vallejo should be let out of prison because the real culprits were former president Trump—who convinced Vallejo that the election was stolen and that the country must be protected—and Stewart Rhodes, the leader of the Oath Keepers, who was planning an attack on the Capitol.
The motion is interesting because included in it were several hundred pages of exhibits, including dozens of pages of messages allegedly between many of the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys. Messages indicate how closely the insurrectionists on the ground followed former president Trump’s Twitter feed—“there’s no better direct link from him than Twitter”—and offer extensive evidence that the attack on January 6 was planned in advance.
The insurrectionists talked at length from late December onward about arming themselves and going to Washington, D.C. On January 3, one reported to the group that they had gotten an email saying that the rally would start at the Ellipse, whose space “merges into the Mall around the Washington Monument, and heads down to the Capitol, the scene of the ‘action.’”
Calling himself “We the People,” one of them wrote, “WeAreTheStorm as you are about to witness!!” The person took heart from what was happening in Congress: “Sens Ted Cruz (RTX), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Mike Braun (RIN), Steve Daines (R-MT), John Kennedy (RLA), James Lankford (R-OK) and senators elect Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Roger Marshall (R-KS), Bill Hagerty (R-TN), and Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) announced they will object to the Jan. 6 electoral vote certification and are calling for a 10-day electoral commission to audit the election results.”
As well, the messages refer to Trump advisor Roger Stone and to Representative Ronny Jackson (R-TX), at the time the newly elected representative who had been the White House physician. “Roger Stone just asked for security,” Jessica Watkins texted the group chat on January 1, referring to a statement Stone had made on television. Another answered: “Who reached out to you? I [spoke] to him Wednesday.” On January 6, around 3:00 in the afternoon, one person texted the group: “Dr. Ronnie Jackson—on the move. Needs protection. If anyone inside cover him. He has critical data to protect,” one person messaged. Oath Keeper leader Steward Rhodes messaged back: “Give him my cell.”
By 6:36 on January 6, the conspirators appear to have figured out they were in trouble. “We are now the enemy of the State,” one messaged the others. Another was furious at Rhodes: “As I figured. This organization is a huge f*ckin joke. You Stewart are the dum*ass I heard you were. Good luck getting rich off those Dumb ass… donations you f*ck stick.”
Rhodes responded to the group by moving the goalposts. They had “one FINAL chance to get Trump to do his job and his duty,” he said. “Patriots entering their own Capitol to send a message to the traitors is NOTHING compared to what's coming if Trump doesn't take decisive action right now. It helped to send that message to HIM. He was the most important audience today. I hope he got the message.”
This morning, a spokesperson for Jackson said: “Rep. Jackson is frequently talked about by people he does not know. He does not know nor has he ever spoken to the people in question.“
The House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol also has a great deal of information; it has now interviewed more than 800 people. On April 11, Salon columnist Chauncey DeVega published an interview with Hugo Lowell, who has been following the January 6 committee closely for The Guardian. Lowell’s observations support the idea of a conspiracy, although he noted evidence is still coming in. “The evidence so far points to the fact that Donald Trump knew and oversaw what happened on Jan. 6,” Lowell told DeVega. “Trump knew in advance about these different elements that came together to form both the political element of his plan, which was to have Pence throw the election, and the violence that took place on Jan. 6.”
Representative Jamie Raskin (D-MD), a member of the January 6 committee, suggested Lowell’s observation was correct yesterday when he told reporters: “This was a coup organized by the president against the vice president and against the Congress in order to overturn the 2020 presidential election.” Trump’s role in that coup will be the centerpiece of next month’s public committee hearings.
Last week, on April 12, Alan Feuer of the New York Times broke the story that on December 30, 2020, Jason Sullivan, a former aide to Roger Stone, urged Trump supporters on a zoom call to “descend on the Capitol” on January 6 to intimidate Congress. Sullivan said that Trump would declare martial law and would stay in office. “Biden will never be in that White House,” Sullivan said. “That’s my promise to each and every one of you.” “If we make the people inside that building sweat and they understand that they may not be able to walk in the streets any longer if they do the wrong thing, then maybe they’ll do the right thing,” he said. “We have to put that pressure there.” Sullivan’s lawyer responded to the story by saying he had just “shared some encouragement” with people who believed the election had been stolen.
Yesterday, Kimberly Guilfoyle, former Trump advisor and fiancée of Donald Trump, Jr., spoke with the January 6 committee for 9 hours. Guilfoyle was with the Trump family the morning of January 6 and was also a fundraiser for the January 6 “Stop the Steal” rally at the Ellipse, claiming to have raised $3 million to underwrite it. In its March 3, 2022, letter subpoenaing Guilfoyle, the committee reminded her that she spoke at that rally, telling “the crowd, ‘We will not allow the liberals and the Democrats to steal our dream or steal our elections,’ and were filmed backstage prior to your speech telling people to ‘Have the courage to do the right thing. Fight!’”
In Georgia, voters are challenging the inclusion of Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene on the ballot this fall, arguing that she is an insurrectionist disqualified to hold office under the Fourteenth Amendment. Ratified after the Civil War, that amendment says any official who has taken an oath to support the U.S. Constitution and then engages “in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof,” cannot hold office. Greene took her oath of office on January 3, 2021, three days before the January 6 insurrection, and insisted the election had been stolen. “This is our 1776 moment,” she told Newsmax on January 5, 2021.
Greene promptly sued to get a judge to block the challenge. Yesterday, federal judge Amy Totenberg decided that the case can go forward. Greene will have to testify on Friday, under oath, before a state administrative law judge in Atlanta. She will be the first member of Congress to testify under oath about the events of January 6. After the judge handed down the decision, Greene complained to Fox News Channel personality Tucker Carlson that “I have to go to court on Friday and actually be questioned about something I’ve never been charged with and something I was completely against.”
This will be a bellwether for the other nine similar cases already filed across the country and might, of course, affect the candidacy of the former president should he run again in 2024.