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By Alexa Oslowski and Miriam Raftery

Photo, left by C-Span: Insurrectionists storm Capitol

 February 1, 2021 (La Mesa) – The attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6 entailed a conspiracy among members of far-right militia groups, including some who intended to assassinate elected officials, according to federal charging documents.

According to USA Today, 179 people  were arrested with charges as of February 1.  In addition to coordination among extremist groups, actions of Pentagon officials are under scrutiny. Questions are also being raised over possible involvement of members of Congress and whether any foreign intervention may have occurred. As the FBI investigation continues, the U.S. House of Representatives has opened a separate investigation into the Capitol attack.

Deadly intent revealed

Members of far-right organizations, such as the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, have been confirmed to be involved in the Capitol riot, and numerous members have been arrested by the FBI.

Former President Trump called for the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by” in a Presidential debate with current President Joe Biden on September 29, 2020. On the morning of the insurrection, Trump held a rally outside the White House for his supporters, urging them to march to the Capitol to stop certification of what he claimed without evidence was a stolen election. He stated, "If you don't fight like hell you're not going to have a country anymore."After the insurrection, Trump posted a video, to his now-suspended Twitter account, saying to the rioters, “We love you, you’re very special.”

Photo, right by Voice of America via Wikipedia: Trump addresses rally at Capitol Ellipse on Jan. 6 just before the attack.

Two members of the Proud Boys have been indicted on federal conspiracy and other charges related to the Capitol attack, the Associated Press reported yesterday. Dominic Pezzola, an ex-Marine, is accused of breaking a window with a stolen police shield to allow rioters to stream inside the Capitol. Inside, he posted a video stating he “knew we could take this.” William Pepe is also charged with conspiracy. Both wore tactical gear with the Proud Boys logo. A witness reportedly told the FBI that Pezzolo was with a group whose members boasted they would have killed elected officials, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Mike Pence.

CNN reported that court documents revealed members of the Oath Keepers, including Ohio militia founder Jessica Watkins, were coordinating before January 6. They planned to bring bleach explosives to the Capitol building. Oren Segal, Vice President of the Anti-Defamation League's Center on Extremism, told CNN that the Oath Keepers would concentrate recruitment on former military and law enforcement.

During the insurrection, another militia member and former member of the Marine Corps, Thomas Edward Caldwell, allegedly received a message that read, “All members are in the tunnels under capital [sic]. Seal them in. Turn on gas.” Court documents further revealed that Caldwell was receiving navigation from an unnamed source that gave advice on how to move through the halls of the Capitol.

Both Watkins and Caldwell, along with Donovan Crowl, have been arrested by the FBI on charges of conspiracy to obstruct Congress, as well as violent entry and disorderly conduct.

Garrett Miller of Texas, who reportedly participated in the Capitol attack, is charged with making death threats against Democratic Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and a Capitol Police officer. Among his social media posts was a tweet threatening to “assassinate AOC,” CNN reports, citing court documents.

Cleveland Grover Meredith Jr. of Georgia was arrested for threatening in a text message to shoot and kill House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on live TV, CBS reports. He also faces charges of illegal weapons possession including an assault rifle.

Capitol insurrectionists erected gallows outside the Capitol; inside some chanted “Death to Pence,” according to the Associated Press shared on the Mercury News.  The Washington Post reports that a note left on Vice President Mike Pence’s desk in the Senate by Jacob Chansley, aka Jacob Angeli, also known as the Q-Anon Shaman, stated, “It’s only a matter of time, justice is coming.”

Photo, left by Tyler Merber of USA:  Gallows erected outside Capitol, CC by 2.0 via Wikipedia

In a court filing, federal prosecutors stated “strong evidence, including Chansley’s own words and actions at the Capitol, supports that the intent of the Capitol rioters was to capture and assassinate elected officials in the United States government.”

Two additional men have been arrested after being photographed in tactical gear with zip ties customarily used to detain suspects, the New York Times reports, raising concerns that the men may have intended to abduct and/or kill elected officials.

Dozens of images and stories from the Capitol riots spread on social media. One centered on Riley Wilson, a 22-year-old woman who allegedly claimed she stole Nancy Pelosi’s computer to sell to Russia’s intelligence agency. She was arrested on the 16th of January. The FBI is still investigating the accusations surrounding the theft of Pelosi’s computer.

Gavin Weslee Blake Perry is a 27-year old Texas man who was recently arrested and charged with making death threats to Democratic leaders such as Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. The New York Times reported that Perry posted online including statements saying “If youre [sic] a dem or apart of the establishment in the democrat’s side I view you as a criminal and a terrorist and I advise everyone to Go SOS and use live rounds.”

Why did the Defense Dept. block National Guard deployment?

Criticisms over the lack of appropriate law enforcement response quickly prompted the resignation of U.S. Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund, U.S. Senate Sergeant of Arms Michael C. Stenger and U.S House Sergeant of Arms Paul D. Irving. Sund told The Washington Post that he had requested the Washington D.C. National Guard to be on standby on the 6th in the event that their presence was needed. He said this request was denied.

According to a tweet by journalist Luke Broadwater, acting Defense Secretary Christopher C. Miller sent a memo to the Secretary of the Army on January 4, two days before the attack. In the memo, Miller stated that his personal authorization was needed to deploy D.C. National Guard to engage in any riot control tactics. Miller gave this response despite the Capitol Police’s claim of a “strong potential” for violence that might arise against both the House and the Senate. In addition, Miller’s memo prohibited the D.C. National Guard from being issued weapons or protective gear, such as body armor and helmets, or for making arrests without his prior authorization. Miller was appointed acting Defense Secretary on Nov. 9, after Trump fired Defense Secretary Mark Esper.

Miller did not order the National Guard deployed until 4:41 p.m., three  hours after the Capitol was overrun and two hours after D.C. city officials requested this help, according to the Wall Street Journal. Ultimately, Vice President Mike Pence reportedly authorized the National Guard, after President Trump failed to do so,CNN reported. The Guard arrived hours after the mayhem at the Capitol began.

General Charles Flynn, brother of disgraced former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, was in the room when Capitol Police and D.C. officials pleaded with the Pentagon to dispatch the National Guard, and top Army officials voiced concern about sending the Guard to the Capitol. The Washington Post reports that Gen. Flynn confirmed his presence after the Army initially denied this. The Army later sent a statement confirming Flynn’s participation.

Days earlier, Michael Flynn took to the airways to suggest Trump could declare martial law and order a redo of the election, a notion denounced by Military Times. The night before the Capitol siege, Flynn spoke to Trump supporters outside the White House, repeating debunked election fraud claims and stated, “We will not stand for a lie.”

Photo, right: Former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn, via

Flynn was forced out as National Security Advisor in 2017 following revelations that he had discussed lifting U.S. sanction on Russia with the Russian ambassador before Trump took office, which was a breach of protocol, and that he had lied to Vice President Pence about the conversation.

An investigation launched by the Pentagon found that Flynn, who later registered as a foreign agent, failed to disclose payments from Russian and Turkish lobbyists that he received for consulting work and speeches. That included $45,000 to speak at a gala for Russian state media, RT, in 2015 where he was seated next to Russian President Vladimir Putin. NBC reported.

Flynn pled guilty to twice lying to the FBI as part of Robert Mueller’s Trump-Russia investigation but was pardoned by President Trump for “any and all crimes” committed.

Were lawmakers involved?

Concerns have been raised over whether some members of Congress may have abetted or incited insurrectionists, NBC reports.

Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ), has claimed she saw lawmakers holding tours around the Capitol the day before the attack, which suggested may have been part of a "reconnaissance" effort for the rioters. Public tours of the Capitol were prohibited at the time due to COVID-19. Sherill did not disclose names, but has asked authorities to investigate.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-CO) faces a censure resolution after revelations that, among other violent threats against legislators that she liked on social media, she called for the execution of Speaker Pelosi in several videos last year, calling her a “ traitor” who should suffer “death.”  Greene also liked a comment stating a “bullet to the head would be quicker” to remove the Speaker.. She also touted conspiracy theories with the potential for tragic consequences, according to the censure resolution co-authored by Sara Jacobs (D-San Diego).

Rep. Lauren Boebert (D-CO), a past QAnon supporter, tweeted “Today is 1776” the morning of the attack, a reference to the American Revolution. She also defied orders by the House Sergeant at Arms not to send any text messages while lawmakers were being whisked into hiding. She sent a Tweet stating that Speaker Pelosi had been removed from the House chamber, an action some legislators contend may have been a deliberate signal to insurrectionists. Boebert insisted on carrying a gun onto the House floor, in violation of House rules, bypassing a metal detector installed after the insurrection – an action that prompted Pelosi to impose hefty fines for future violations after some lawmakers voiced concerns for their safety.

Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) spoke at a pro-Trump rally just before the siege and has said he carried a firearm during the attack on the Capitol. He called on Trump supporters to “lightly threaten” lawmakers who did not support overturning the presidential election results.

Seeking accountability:  House investigation and impeachment

In a letter sent to the FBI and intelligence agencies, lawmakers from key House committees stated, "Security and logistical preparations before January 6 were not consistent with the prospect of serious and widespread violence.”

The letter also indicates that members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, the Committee on Homeland Security, the Committee on the Judiciary, and the Committee on Oversight plan to review what the Intelligence Community and federal law enforcement knew about the threats of violence, whether that information was shared, and whether the threats had any nexus to foreign influence or misinformation efforts.

Additionally, the letter states, the Committees plan to examine “whether any current or former holders of security clearances or those who held positions involving U.S. national security, defense, justice or homeland security participated in the insurrection. Finally, the Committees will examine the federal response to the insurrection and domestic violent extremism in the wake of this attack.”

The U.S House of Representatives voted to impeach Donald Trump a second time on January 13 for “high crimes and misdemeanors” on a single count of inciting the insurrection. The Senate is scheduled to begin its impeachment trial on February 9.

Photo, left by Tyller Merber of USA: Capitol under heavy security after the attack, CC by 2.0 via Wikipedia


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