Yesterday, the Department of Justice indicted Henry "Enrique" Tarrio on a conspiracy charge in the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Tarrio is a leader of the far-right extremist Proud Boys, the white supremacists that former president Trump told to stand back and stand by in his September 2020 debate with Joe Biden. Tarrio was not at the Capitol itself on January 6th because a court had ordered him to leave the city the day before after destroying a Black Lives Matter banner at an earlier protest.
The indictment charges that before leaving the city, Tarrio met with Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes and others in a parking garage. He also texted with someone who talked about "revolution" and sent a plan called "1776 Returns″ that called for occupying "crucial buildings" in Washington with "as many people as possible." Tarrio allegedly agreed with the texter and added " I'm not playing games."
The indictment of someone who was not physically present at the riot expands the circle of those identified as part of the conspiracy. Violating the law the indictment identifies carries a sentence of up to 20 years.
Also yesterday, the Justice Department prevailed in the first case against a January 6 defendant as a jury unanimously found Guy Reffitt guilty of obstructing an official proceeding. Prosecutors produced what the New York Times called "exhaustive" evidence, illustrating just how extensive their investigations have been.
The House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol has also been busy. It has been engaged in a legal fight with John Eastman, the lawyer who wrote the Eastman memo outlining a plan for then–vice president Mike Pence to overturn the 2020 election. Eastman has been fighting desperately to stop the committee from seeing his emails around the time of the insurrection, claiming that they are covered by attorney-client privilege and that former president Trump was his client. But the committee noted that there is no evidence there was such a relationship between the two of them, and that privilege doesn't hold if it is covering up a crime or fraud.
Each time the court has sided with the committee, Eastman has thrown more sand in the gears to slow down or stop the document review. Today, a federal judge decided he would personally review 111 emails sent between January 4 and January 7, 2021, to see if they should be protected or given to the committee.
Also today, the January 6 committee issued a subpoena to an email fundraising vendor whose ads pushed the lie that the election was stolen. The committee wants to learn more about the ads and how they motivated rioters, as well as "the flow of funds, and whether contributions were actually directed to the purpose indicated."
Trump advisor Stephen Miller today sued to block the January 6th committee's November subpoena for his phone records. Miller is on a cell phone plan with his parents and says that the subpoena might pick up the other numbers on the account. He also says it violates his privacy rights because there are personal communications about his wife and newborn daughter.
On March 3, the January 6 committee subpoenaed Kimberly Guilfoyle, the fiancée of Donald Trump, Jr., since she was in "direct contact with key individuals, raised funds for the rally immediately preceding the violent attack on the United States Capitol, and participated in that event." Committee chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS) noted that Guilfoyle had "backed out of her original commitment to provide a voluntary interview."
Other people involved in the attempt to overturn the election are in more immediate trouble. Tina Peters, the Republican clerk of Mesa County, Colorado, along with her deputy, Belinda Knisley, has been indicted by a Colorado grand jury on a number of charges stemming from the release of confidential information from the county's election systems. That information apparently got turned over to those "investigating" the election numbers. Peters says she is simply exposing the criminality of voting machine manufacturers and politicians. She is currently running for the office of secretary of state in Colorado.
Trump's former lawyer Sidney Powell is also in the news, this time because a committee of the State Bar of Texas asked a district court to judge Powell for professional misconduct with regard to overturning the 2020 election and to "determine and impose an appropriate sanction."
BuzzFeed broke the story tonight that Powell, whose nonprofit has raised significantly more than $15 million, has been paying the legal expenses for members of the Oath Keepers.
Another person pushing the lie that the 2020 election was stolen, Fox News Channel personality Tucker Carlson, paradoxically strengthened a lawsuit against the network. Smartmatic, a company that makes voting machines, has sued FNC over the many instances of FNC personalities falsely claiming that the voting machines had been part of a massive voter fraud in 2020. FNC says the lawsuit is "baseless" and an assault upon the First Amendment.
Today, New York Supreme Court Judge David B. Cohen ruled that the case against FNC can go forward because the statements of its personalities were baseless and reckless. One of the key points in the decision was Carlson's own initial dismissal of Powell's outrageous claims. Carlson's repeated demands for proof of her claims and her inability to provide any suggest that FNC knew, or should have known, that Powell was lying.
And yet, for all the mounting evidence that there was a conspiracy surrounding Trump to overturn the will of the voters—the centerpiece of our governmental system—in the 2020 election, key Republicans are doubling down on him.
Trump's attorney general William Barr has just published a book detailing how Trump lied about the election and threatened democracy. And yet, on a tour to sell the book, Barr on Monday told NBC's Savannah Guthrie that he would nonetheless vote for Trump if he were the Republican nominee in 2024. "Because I believe that the greatest threat to the country is the progressive agenda being pushed by the Democratic Party, it's inconceivable to me that I wouldn't vote for the Republican nominee," he said.
This same conviction that Democrats must be stopped at all costs is pushing the drive to destroy democracy by concentrating political power in state legislatures. In a dissent this week, four right-wing Supreme Court justices indicated they support a further step in that concentration, backing a legal argument that state legislatures have ultimate power to determine their own voting procedures, including the selection of presidential electors, regardless of what a majority of voters want.
Under the dressing of new legal terminology, this is, at heart, the old state's rights argument. If a state's legislature can determine who gets to vote, a minority can control that legislature and entrench itself in power, passing laws that keep the majority subservient to those in control. It was this very concept Congress overrode in 1868 with the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, saying that no state could deprive a citizen of the equal protection of the laws.
Resurrecting it now would pave the way for a January 6th–type coup through the law, rather than through the plots of a ragtag mess of insurrectionists.