Garland praises Oath Keepers verdict, won’t say where Jan. 6 probe goes


A day after a federal jury convicted two far-right extremists of leading a plot to incite political violence to prevent Joe Biden’s inauguration, Attorney General Merrick Garland vowed his Justice Department would “work tirelessly” to bring the hold those responsible accountable. efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

During the trial, prosecutors highlighted the defendants’ ties to key allies of President Donald Trump, such as Roger Stone, “Stop the Steal” organizer Ali Alexander, former national security adviser Michael Flynn, and attorneys Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani.

But Garland declined to say on Wednesday whether he expected prosecutors would eventually press charges against them or other people who did not physically participate in the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

“I don’t want to speculate about other investigations or parts of other investigations,” Garland told reporters at a briefing where he also praised the Justice Department’s efforts to establish federal oversight of the water supply system in Jackson, Miss.

Garland called Jackson’s extensive Jan. 6 investigation and water crisis “important matters of public concern.”

“I am very proud of the lawyers, detectives and staff whose unwavering commitment to the rule of law and tireless work led to these two important victories yesterday,” he said.

The status of major investigations involving Donald Trump

Tuesday’s verdicts confirmed a key Justice Department argument advanced in the seven-week trial: that the Capitol’s breach was not an isolated event, but rather a culmination or part of a wider extremist plot. who wanted to stop the transfer of power. from Trump to Biden. In this case, the jury found Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and a top deputy, Kelly Meggs, at least partly responsible for ramping up guns and preparing to violently oppose federal authority. Both were convicted of “seditional conspiracy,” a rarely used charge that is one of the most serious to date in the sprawling Jan. 6 investigation.

Justice Department officials had been monitoring the Oath Keepers verdict to help decide whether to file criminal charges against other high-profile, pro-Trump figures who played a role in the lead-up to the violence, according to those in the know of the research.

The people, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, said prosecutors will also consider the outcome of an upcoming trial against members of another extremist group, the Proud Boys, scheduled to begin in mid-December.

During the briefing with reporters Tuesday, Garland also said he has asked the House 6 Committee — which has conducted a separate investigation into the attack — for all of the interview transcripts and evidence it has collected. That has long been a point of tension between the Justice Department and Congress, with the committee yet to hand over all the material.

“We would like all transcripts and all other evidence collected by the committee so that we can use it in the normal course of our investigation,” Garland said.

After Trump announced in mid-November that he would run for president in 2024, Garland appointed special counsel to oversee investigations into Trump and his advisers after he lost the 2020 election, as well as a separate investigation to Trump’s possession of classified documents afterwards. he left the White House.

Garland acknowledges the sensitivity of Trump investigations and appoints Jack Smith’s special counsel

Defined in law as an attempt by two or more people to “conspire to overthrow, bring down, or forcibly destroy the government of the United States,” or to violently oppose its authority or laws , seditious conspiracy is rarely accused. Prosecutors often consider it difficult to prove at trial, especially when other simpler crimes could be charged for the same conduct.

Praveen Fernandes, vice president of the Constitutional Accountability Center — a liberal think tank and law firm that closely followed the Rhodes trial — said the conviction is significant.

“It’s not just a trial involving Rhodes and Kelly Meggs, but it’s a sign that a jury was able to understand what happened that day as a seditious conspiracy,” Fernandes said. “At least it opens up a universe that says it’s at least possible to get such a conviction for acts leading up to January 6.”

But legal experts also warned that the verdict was not a bull’s-eye for the government, stressing the difficulty of pursuing seditious conspiracy cases. Three other Oath Keeper employees on trial were acquitted of the sedition charges. All five defendants were found guilty of obstructing Congress when members met on January 6 to confirm the results of the 2020 election, a key step in the country’s peaceful transition of power.

In deciding on the seditious conspiracy charge, the jurors seemed to focus on either written or recorded evidence of conspiratorial intent, a warning to prosecutors that the threshold for convicting people on this rare charge is high.

Rhodes’ lawyer James Lee Bright said he expects the Justice Department to nonetheless view the mixed verdict as a sign to “go full steam ahead” with prosecutions against others allegedly involved in the planning of what took place on January 6.

Federal prosecutors at the Rhodes trial made it clear that Stone, a long-serving Trump political adviser who has consistently denied any knowledge of or involvement in illegal acts at the Capitol on Jan. 6, was under investigation. government obtained from his phone in December 2021.

Who are the oath keepers? What you need to know.

On the day television broadcasters declared Biden won the election, prosecutors alleged, Rhodes shared a text message with Stone, Alexander and Proud Boys leader Henry “Enrique” Tarrio and others asking, “What’s the plan?”

They also alleged that Rhodes shared a plan with that same encrypted chat group “Friends of Stone” listing an anti-government uprising in Serbia, including storming parliament.

Rhodes also wrote public letters to Trump urging him to invoke the Insurrection Act to mobilize the military and private militias to ensure he stayed in power.

But lawyers for people who worked for Trump, and other Oath Keepers members, were skeptical that Trump received or acted on those messages.

“Of the 10 terabytes of evidence available to us in this trial, I can tell you that there is nothing in the amount of evidence that has been given or shown to us that would be in any way indicative of the ability to accuse former President Trump. to sue before Jan. 6,” Bright, one of Rhodes’ lawyers, told reporters after Tuesday’s verdict.

On Wednesday, Garland said the work of Justice Department lawyers in securing the guilty verdicts “makes it clear that the Department will work tirelessly to hold accountable those responsible for crimes related to attacks on our democracy in January 2021.” to call.”

Tom Jackman contributed to this report.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voice
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.


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