For their attempt to stop the nation’s peaceful transfer of power by force on Jan. 6, 2021, a jury has found the leader of the extremist Oath Keepers organization Elmer Stewart Rhodes and co-defendant Kelly Meggs guilty.
Co-defendants Jessica Watkins, Thomas Caldwell, and Kenneth Harrelson were found not guilty on the seditious conspiracy charge.
The charge of seditious conspiracy carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. It will likely be many months before the parties are sentenced, and presiding U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta did not set a date for sentencing after the verdicts were read for each defendant, count by count.
Oath Keepers founder Elmer Stewart Rhodes was found guilty of seditious conspiracy, not guilty of conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, guilty of obstruction of an official proceeding, not guilty of conspiracy to prevent an officer from discharging his duties, and guilty of tampering with documents.
Florida Oath Keepers leader Kelly Meggs was found guilty of seditious conspiracy, conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, obstruction of an official proceeding, conspiracy to prevent an officer from discharging his duties, and tampering with documents. Meggs was found not guilty of the destruction of government property.
Ohio Oath Keeper Jessica Watkins, just one of the Oath Keepers who breached the U.S. Capitol in an organized stack, was found not of guilty seditious conspiracy but was found guilty of conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding and obstruction of an official proceeding. She was also found guilty of conspiring to prevent officers from discharging their duties, and civil disorder. Those two verdicts were expected after Watkins admitted to civil disorder from the witness stand at trial. On the destruction of government property charge, she was found not guilty.
Thomas Caldwell, a former Naval commander—who prosecutors said coordinated the groups’ efforts to establish a heavily-armed quick reaction force, or QRF, to support Oath Keepers on the ground at the Capitol—was found not guilty of seditious conspiracy, not guilty of conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, not guilty of conspiracy to prevent an officer from discharging his duties, but guilty on two charges: tampering with documents and obstruction of an official proceeding.
Kenneth Harrelson, another Oath Keepers leader from Florida who joined the stack breaching the Capitol, was found not guilty of seditious conspiracy, not guilty of conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, and not guilty of destruction of property. He was, however, found guilty of obstruction of an official proceeding and conspiracy to prevent an officer from discharging his duties. ......
The Senate passed the Respect for Marriage Act Tuesday afternoon in a 61-36 vote, after easily defeating three trollish Republican amendments. The legislation will provide federal protections to same-sex and interracial marriages. That’s once the House passes it again, because the Senate made changes that added in order to get bipartisan support that added a lot of redundant and superfluous “religious freedom” stuff.
The new law will repeal the horrible 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which defined a marriage for federal purposes as between one man and one woman, allowing states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages from other states and to discriminate against those couples. With DOMA still lurking, held at abeyance by a couple of Supreme Court decisions that are in jeopardy of being overturned, the protections for same-sex couples unions were threatened when it comes to things like adoption, wills, health insurance, financial arrangements—all sorts of daily life issues that heterosexual couples take for granted......
Rep. Donald McEachin, a Democrat elected to represent Virginia’s 4th Congressional District in 2016, died Monday at the age of 61 weeks after winning a fourth term. McEachin’s chief of staff said in her statement, “Valiantly, for years now, we have watched him fight and triumph over the secondary effects of his colorectal cancer from 2013. Tonight, he lost that battle.”
It will be up to Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin to schedule a special election to succeed McEachin. The 4th District, which includes the state capital of Richmond as well as eastern Southside Virginia, supported Joe Biden 67-32 in 2020, and the Democratic nominee should have no trouble keeping it blue. It remains to be seen just how that candidate will be picked, though, as Virginia regularly allows parties to choose nominees through three different means.
Each party could opt for a traditional primary; a convention; or a so-called firehouse primary, which is a small-scale nominating contest run by the party rather than the state. The last special congressional election that took place in the Old Dominion was the 2007 contest to succeed the late Republican Rep. Jo Ann Davis in an old version of the 1st District, where both sides decided to hold conventions; the eventual winner was Republican Rob Wittman, who still holds the seat.
Whoever eventually takes McEachin’s place in Congress will be replacing a longtime Richmond politician. McEachin won a spot in the state House of Delegates on his second try in 1995, and in 2001 he was the first African American to be nominated for state attorney general.
The Democrat, though, faced a tough opponent in Republican Jerry Kilgore, who ran ads attacking McEachin for never working as a prosecutor and labeling the pro-gun safety candidate as “dangerous for Virginia's families.” McEachin, who didn’t have the resources to adequately respond, also struggled in the overwhelmingly white rural areas where his ticketmates, Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, won crossover support in their respective campaigns for governor and lieutenant governor. McEachin ended up losing 60-40 even as Warner and Kaine prevailed, but he was hardly done with politics.
McEachin won back his old place in the state House in 2005 after beating his successor, Floyd Miles, by 48 votes in the primary. Two years later he earned a promotion by successfully denying renomination to state Sen. Benjamin Lambert, who had supported Republican Sen. George Allen over Democrat Jim Webb in 2006.
McEachin then got the chance to run for Congress in 2016 after a federal court ruled that Republicans had illegally packed as many Black voters as possible into Democratic Rep. Bobby Scott’s 3rd District, which stretched from Scott’s Norfolk base west to Richmond, in order to strengthen GOP candidates elsewhere. The new court-approved map created a reliably blue Richmond-based 4th District, which became open when Republican Rep. Randy Forbes left to unsuccessfully campaign for the more competitive 2nd District.
Prominent Democratic officials quickly consolidated behind McEachin, who beat Chesapeake Councilor Ella Ward 75-25 in the primary. McEachin then went on to decisively defeat the Republican nominee, Henrico County Sheriff Mike Wade, a win that made him only the third African American to ever represent Virginia in Congress after Scott and the late 19th century Republican John Mercer Langston.
McEachin, who had no trouble holding his new seat, soon went on to serve as a DCCC vice chair ahead of the successful 2018 campaign. The next year the congressman’s wife, Colette McEachin, was elected as Richmond’s top prosecutor.
The Supreme Court of South Carolina has ordered former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows to testify before a special grand jury investigating efforts to overturn the 2020 election in Georgia.
Former Trump adviser Stephen Miller testified on Tuesday to a federal grand jury in Washington, DC, as part of the January 6, 2021, investigation, CNN has learned, making him the first known witness to testify since the Justice Department appointed a special counsel to oversee the criminal...
Former Trump adviser Stephen Miller testified on Tuesday to a federal grand jury in Washington, DC, as part of the January 6, 2021, investigation, CNN has learned, making him the first known witness to testify since the Justice Department appointed a special counsel to oversee the criminal investigations around the former president.
Miller was at the federal courthouse in downtown Washington for several hours throughout Tuesday, according to a person familiar with the investigation. January 6 lead prosecutor Thomas Windom was spotted at the same federal courthouse on Tuesday.
Windom is expected to join the newly created Special Counsel’s Office led by longtime public corruption prosecutor Jack Smith and will continue leading the investigation into former President Donald Trump’s role in efforts to impede the transfer of power following the 2020 election.....
Donald Trump is betting he can win his way back to the White House by reviving the outsider appeal that fueled his success in 2016. In an acknowledgment of the severity of the backlash and an effort to prevent a repeat, Trump's campaign is putting new protocols in place to ensure that those who...
Donald Trump is betting he can win his way back to the White House by reviving the outsider appeal that fueled his success in 2016.
In an acknowledgment of the severity of the backlash and an effort to prevent a repeat, Trump's campaign is putting new protocols in place to ensure that those who meet with him are approved and fully vetted, according to people familiar with the plans who requested anonymity to share internal strategy. The changes will include expediting a system, borrowed from Trump’s White House, in which a senior campaign official will be present with him at all times, according to one of the people.
The decision follows the anger and handwringing from people close to Trump over how the former president became embroiled in scandal just two weeks after launching his third campaign for the White House under the cloud of numerous investigations. And it highlights their concerns about Trump's vulnerability as GOP strategists and officials increasingly conclude that new leadership is the party's best hope for winning in future elections.....
House Democrats pick Hakeem Jeffries to succeed Nancy Pelosi, the first Black lawmaker to lead a party in Congress
House Democrats chose caucus chair Hakeem Jeffries of New York to succeed Nancy Pelosi as leader of the Democrats in the chamber next year, a historic move that will make him the first Black person to lead one of the two major parties in either chamber of Congress.
House Democrats met behind closed doors Wednesday morning on Capitol Hill to make their decision.
Jeffries ran unopposed as leader, with Massachusetts Rep. Katherine Clark, current assistant speaker, running as whip and California Rep. Peter Aguilar, previously vice chair of the caucus, and was expected to win the spot to lead the House Democratic caucus.....
House committee receives Donald Trump’s federal tax returns from IRS
The House Ways and Means Committee now has six years of Donald Trump’s federal tax returns, ending a yearslong pursuit by Democrats to dig into one of the former president’s most closely guarded personal details.
“Treasury has complied with last week’s court decision,” a Treasury spokesperson told CNN on Wednesday.
The spokesperson did not provide any additional information. Federal courts had decided the House could request six years of Trump’s returns, after the committee had requested them in 2019 and again in 2021, according to public court records.
The handover had been on hold, until the Supreme Court declined last week to intervene. Several judges, including Republican appointees, have found the House had power to request the returns from the IRS.
Treasury declined to say whether the committee members have accessed the documents, according to a Treasury official.
The committee, led by Democratic Rep. Richard Neal of Massachusetts, had sought six years of Trump’s tax records, primarily from the time he served as president. That included records about both Trump personally and several of his corporate entities.
The documents are not expected to be immediately released to the public.....
The Jan. 6 committee interviewed former Secret Service Assistant Director Anthony “Tony” Ornato on Tuesday about Donald Trump’s actions on the day of the failed coup, including the allegation by former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson that Trump lunged at the driver of his presidential limo. According to the Associated Press, the interview was the third time the committee deposed Ornato, who took an unprecedented leave of absence from the nonpartisan Secret Service to become Trump’s deputy chief of staff for operations.
Ornato’s interview is estimated to have lasted five to six hours. The Jan. 6 committee investigators sought to confirm what other witnesses said Trump was doing on Jan. 6.
Hutchinson’s explosive testimony described Trump’s rage as relayed to her by Ornato.
“The president said something to the effect of, ‘I’m the effing president, take me up to the Capitol now,’” Hutchinson said.
“The president reached up towards the front of the vehicle to grab at the steering wheel. Mr. Engel grabbed his arm, said, ‘Sir, you need to take your hand off the steering wheel. We’re going back to the West Wing. We’re not going to the Capitol.’ Mr. Trump then used his free hand to lunge towards Bobby Engel,” she testified.
Through a spokesperson, Ornato loudly disputed Hutchinson’s sworn testimony immediately after her national appearance. Rep. Adam Kinzinger later told CNN he believed Ornato was deeply involved in trying to discredit Hutchinson, saying: “I just think it’s so important to keep in mind that, through quote, anonymous sources, which we believe to be actually Tony Ornato himself, he pushed back against Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony and said, it’s just not true and Tony will testify under oath. And then of course, has not come in to testify under oath.”
Several months later, Ornato has now finally appeared to “clear the record” as noted by committee chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson.
According to CBS News, Ornato did not invoke his Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination or abstain from answering any questions. However, he did allegedly claim that his memory was fuzzy and he could not remember the conversation he had with Hutchinson.
In previous interviews, Ornato, who is now retired, didn’t seem to be as confident a witness as Hutchinson. “There are some concerning things with the [Secret] Service and whether or not some of the members were not quite forthcoming with respect to what actually occurred,” said Thompson according to the AP.
Rep. Zoe Lofgren went further: “His memory does not appear to be as precise as hers. We certainly would welcome them to come back if they wish to do that.”
While unnamed sources worked to discredit Hutchinson’s testimony, at least one other former White House staffer stepped forward to say Ornato had lied about interactions with her too.
According toThe New York Times, Ornato’s Tuesday interview is his first with the committee since Hutchinson’s appearance. His interview is believed to be one of the final moving pieces that will help complete the committee's report of what happened on Jan. 6. Not only has it sought out to confirm Hutchinson’s recollection, but to provide more information on how Trump was aware that his claims of a stolen election were false.