It Was a Conspiracy. And It Was Sedition.
Guilty verdicts in the DOJ's biggest case. So far.
USA! USA! USA!
A bipartisan majority in the Senate voted 61-36 to pass a landmark Same Sex Marriage bill; Mitch McConnell joins the chorus denouncing Trump’s Nazi dinner; the South Carolina Supreme Court tells Mark Meadows that he has to testify in Georgia; the US economy grew much faster than expected in the 3rd quarter; Congress moves to stop a crippling railroad strike; Russia’s campaign of terror in Ukraine continues; China cracks down on protests; and the USA men’s soccer team finally scored a goal in the World Cup.
Seditious conspiracy is codified in 18 U.S.C. § 2384:
If two or more persons in any State or Territory, or in any place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, conspire to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States, or to levy war against them, or to oppose by force the authority thereof, or by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States, or by force to seize, take, or possess any property of the United States contrary to the authority thereof, they shall each be fined or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.
On Tuesday afternoon, a federal jury convicted leaders of the Oath Keepers — including Stewart Rhodes — of charges of seditious conspiracy for their role in the January 6 attack on the Capitol. The case represented the DOJ’s most aggressive move so far. Via the NYT:
Seditious conspiracy is the most serious charge brought so far in any of the 900 criminal cases stemming from the vast investigation of the Capitol attack, an inquiry that could still result in scores, if not hundreds, of additional arrests. Mr. Rhodes, 57, was also found guilty of obstructing the certification of the election during a joint session of Congress on Jan. 6 and of destroying evidence in the case. On those three counts, he faces a maximum of 60 years in prison.
To get a sense of importance of the verdict— both legally and politically — imagine for a moment if it had turned out differently.
What if the defendants had been acquitted of all charges? What if the jury had rejected the Department of Justice’s most important case growing out of the Insurrection?
Imagine the exultation of the MAGA right, and its media leg-humpers… the blowback against the DOJ… and the inevitable doubts and second-guessing that would have surrounded the decision to bring such aggressive and unusual charges.
Instead, the government now has a stiff wind at its back, and the walls of Mar-a-Lago are likely smeared again with ketchup.
Politically, the verdict also resets the frame for the January 6 Committee by underlining the gravity of the attack. It was not, after all, “a normal tourist visit” or a largely peaceful protest of Constitution-loving patriots. It was a seditious assault on the very foundations of the Republic.
And the chief conspiracist is still at large.
A flashback is in order here. Back in January when the charges were first filed, our colleague, Amanda Carpenter, wrote that they demolished a major right-wing talking point. Steve Bannon and other Trump defenders had insisted that Jan. 6th was no big deal because there were no indictments for sedition.
On the eve of the 1/6 anniversary Bannon taunted the DOJ:
[Attorney General] Merrick Garland has said . . . this is the largest criminal investigation in the history of the FBI, the largest criminal investigation. . . . I’m talking about the largest criminal investigation. They’ve had big-time investigations before. This is larger than that. They brag about it. I just want to repeat, nobody’s been charged with insurrection. One year after. Nobody’s been charged with sedition.
“The takeaway,” Amanda wrote,” was that the Jan. 6th investigation is just another ginned-up witch hunt, a hoax investigation meant to get Trump, à la impeachment 1.0 and 2.0.”
And that theme was picked up by the usual turd-polishers. Fox News’s Brit Hume laid down the marker:
On the actual anniversary of the attack, Amanda reported, Fox News’s Laura Ingraham made the same point on her broadcast.
How many times have you heard all those buzzwords used in the press just in the last few days? But here’s a question. How many times do words like “insurrection,” “sedition,” or “treason” appear in Biden’s own DOJ indictments against the January 6 rioters? The answer: zero.
The usual suspects also pushed the same line, including convicted felon Dinesh D’Souza:
And Pizzagate conspiracist Jack Posobiec:
BONUS: Brit wasn’t done with his own bad takes, double-teaming here with the Washington Examiner’s Byron York in treating the whole thing as a joke.
On Tuesday, the jury disagreed.
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What Georgia is telling us
(1) Early voting is a BFD and here to stay.
Georgia has seen record-breaking early vote turnout ahead of its Dec. 6 Senate runoff between incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) and Republican Herschel Walker….
The Peach State set a new record for daily turnout during early voting on Tuesday, after setting the previous record on Monday.
DJT is so obsessed with this that he’s posting in the middle of the night:
(2) Trump is politically toxic in a crucial swing state that he claims he won bigly.
Donald J. Trump will not cross the Florida state line to campaign with Herschel Walker during the final week of the Georgia Senate runoff election, after both camps decided the former president’s appearance carried more political risks than rewards…
The decision to keep Mr. Trump out of the spotlight was a response largely to the former president’s political style and image, which can energize his core supporters but also motivate Democratic voters and turn off significant segments of moderate Republicans.
1. If Only Someone Could Have Warned Them
Why Republicans refused to see the truth about Trump until it was too late. Robert Tracinski in today’s Bulwark:
The problem, after all, is not a lack of evidence about who Donald Trump is and how he is hurting the Republican party. The problem is a kind of mental block, a submission, a willingness to not see a thing because it is inconvenient for one’s partisan allegiances. It is a habit of seeing things in terms of what you think the people around you will accept, rather than in terms of what things actually are.
Republicans didn’t just sell out to Trump in a purely pragmatic way. They sold out to him cognitively, and what they need to reclaim is their ability to see the world independently and evaluate it through their own eyes. It’s not too late—it’s never too late—but it gets harder the longer one puts it off.
This, too, is something that we warned you about.
2. How antisemitism became an American crisis
“America was our promised land but we might not be safe here anymore,” the artist Deborah Kass recently wrote, expressing a sentiment that is increasingly voiced at synagogues, where armed guards are now commonplace, and at Shabbat tables, where younger American Jews are suddenly facing anxieties that had supposedly been expunged several generations ago.
Not so. One of America’s most successfully assimilated minorities is being yanked out of its hard-won comfort zone, astonishing Jewish scholars and religious leaders, as well as extremism experts who see the sharp spike in antisemitism as a symptom of deeper social malaise that could threaten other groups — and American democracy itself.
3. No, the U.S. Military Is Not Being Weakened by “Wokeness”
Ted Johnson in this morning’s Bulwark:
[The] idea that the military shouldn’t encourage its members to be curious about their country is supremely wrongheaded. General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, had an exchange with Gaetz at a hearing last year where he defended reading books and learning about theories that the right labels woke. “I want to understand [the idea of] white rage,” Milley said, as a way of gaining insight as to why an overwhelmingly white horde of rioters stormed the Capitol on January 6th. “I’ve read Mao Zedong. I’ve read Karl Marx. I’ve read Lenin. That doesn’t make me a Communist.”
The point Milley makes here brings to mind a famous line from William Francis Butler, a Victorian-era British Army officer: “The nation that will insist upon drawing a broad line of demarcation between the fighting man and the thinking man is liable to find its fighting done by fools and its thinking by cowards.”
4. The (Nonpartisan) Polls Were Fine, Actually
In 2022 the professional polling outfits did a pretty good job, write Lakshya Jain and Dan Guild. The polling averages were skewed by the spamming of bad Republican polls.
Republican firms, such as the Trafalgar Group, overstated Republican strength by roughly 3 points more than the non-partisan polls. Trafalgar, for instance, showed the GOP with a closing advantage in New Hampshire, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Arizona. In states that saw Democratic blowouts, such as Washington and Colorado, they (incorrectly) showed tight races within the margin of error. In nearly every case, they look to have missed the mark substantially.
So Roger Stone arranged for the Oath Keepers to be there. Where is Roger Stone's seditious conspiracy charge?
It's too bad McConnell didn't realize this when he could have taken Trump out. Such a brave man to denounce him now. (Sarcasm)