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As another Oath Keeper turns state’s evidence in Jan. 6 insurrection, conspiracy case mounts

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Tuesday’s plea deal for Oath Keeper Caleb Berry is the third such piece to fall into place for prosecutors. Earlier this month, two insurrectionists cut plea deals: Mark Grods, a 54-year-old Oath Keeper from Alabama, and Graydon Young, 55, another Oath Keeper from Florida. Both men are believed to be providing evidence in the conspiracy case against the 15 other Oath Keepers charged in the riot, one that prosecutors have been gradually building and may eventually encompass the group’s founder and leader, Stewart Rhodes.

Charging documents in Berry’s case indicate that he will admit to dropping off weapons at a hotel in Arlington, Virginia, as part of creating a “quick reaction force” the Oath Keepers planned to deploy in Washington, D.C., should things take a violent turn. Oath Keepers leaders have insisted the weapons were only intended for use if antifascists showed up to stop them.

Berry also acknowledges that he participated in a tactical “stack” formation comprised of Oath Keepers that played a key role in the mob’s ability to penetrate security barriers at the Capitol on Jan. 6. Prosecutors are likely to be asking him for information about pre-planning and surveillance by the Oath Keepers near the Capitol before the insurrection, since Berry also “traveled to and then observed the restricted Capitol grounds” on Jan. 5, one day beforehand, according to the affidavit.

Tarrio’s guilty plea for burning the BLM banner also included misdemeanor charges that he was carrying high-capacity ammunition magazines in his luggage when arrested. He is scheduled to be sentenced in late August.

He told Senior Judge Harold L. Cushenberry Jr. that he was unaware the banner had been taken from a nearby African-American church.

“If I’d have known that banner came from a church, it would not have been burned,” said Tarrio, who also said he had no regrets about burning a BLM banner because he thinks the movement “has terrorized the citizens of this country.”

The prosecutor overseeing Tarrio’s case noted to Cushenberry “for the record” that “nothing in the agreement is intended to prevent the government from bringing different or additional charges” against him in the future “based on his conduct on January 6th, 2021, or any other time.” Tarrio, who had been barred from D.C. on Jan. 6, has said he was not involved in any of the planning around the event, despite the key role played by Proud Boys in the insurrection.

Hodgkins was the first of the insurrectionists to be sentenced, after the 38-year-old from Tampa, Florida, pleaded guilty to obstructing an official proceeding by entering the Capitol on Jan. 6 with the mob. The eight-month sentence was less than half the 18 months sought by prosecutors, but District Judge Randolph Moss was more lenient because he had not participated in violence and had a clean criminal record.

“It is essential to send a message that this type of conduct is utterly unacceptable and that grave damage was done to our country that day,” Moss said. “At the same time, I do not believe that Mr. Hodgkins—other than having made some very bad decisions that day and done some really bad things that day that did some real damage to the country—that he is a threat or that he is inherently an evil person.”

Moss, however, was also clear that he did not buy defense arguments that the Jan. 6 riot was not an insurrection: “Although Mr. Hodgkins was only one member of a larger mob, he actively and intentionally participated in an event that threatened not only the security of the Capitol but democracy itself,” he said. “That is chilling, for many reasons.”

Unlike other defendants, Hodgkins also was openly repentant: “I can say without a shadow of a doubt that I am truly remorseful and regretful for my actions in Washington,” he told the judge. “This was a foolish decision on my part that I take full responsibility for it.”

Other Jan. 6 defendants have been openly defiant. One such indictee—Pauline Bauer of Kane, Pennsylvania—has declared herself a sovereign citizen and filed court documents based on that far-right movement’s pseudo-legal mumbo jumbo in her case. During her court hearing on Monday, she repeatedly interrupted the judge and declared herself immune from American laws, according to NBC4’s Scott MacFarlane.

“Every man is independent of all laws, except those of nature,” declared Bauer, who decided to represent herself in court. She added: “I think the American people will be shocked to find out who owns the Capitol building right now.”

Bauer, who is representing herself, had previously filed documents in her case declaring herself a “Living Soul, Creation of God” who was a separate entity from the “Vessel” charged with the crime. She told the judge she won’t let pretrial services come into her home and won’t turn over her passport, calling the search of her home “illegal.”

According to court documents, Bauer had organized buses full of people to attend the Jan. 6 “Stop the Steal” rally, and had been a particularly bloodthirsty participant in the Capitol siege.

“This is where we find Nancy Pelosi,” Bauer can be heard saying inside the Capitol in a body-camera recording placed in evidence by prosecutors. “Bring that fucking bitch out here now. Bring her out here. We’re coming in if you don’t bring her out.”

At a June appearance, Bauer had addressed the court with undiluted sovereign-citizen lingo: “I am a free soul, I am not part of your corporation, I am making a special Divine appearance.”

At Monday’s hearing, District Judge Zia Faruqui attempted to persuade Bauer to let her appoint an attorney in her case. She refused.

Mark Pitcavage of the Anti-Defamation League told The Daily Beast that sovereign citizens like Bauer have been gulled by a conspiracist belief system that has little attachment to reality.

“Their filings and documents, to the layperson, have the look and feel of being actual legal filings, but they’re actually flights of fancy, magical thinking,” Pitcavage said. “As a result, all their arguments fail. Some judges will take the time to address them issue by issue. Some will more abruptly or harshly dismiss them as gobbledegook.”


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News Roundup: New vaccine rules for federal workers; bipartisan infrastructure deal falls short

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In the news today: As COVID-19 cases continue to soar among unvaccinated Americans, President Joe Biden announced new vaccine requirements for federal workers, with a military vaccine mandate likely to follow. The Senate voted yesterday to begin debate on a “bipartisan” infrastructure plan. What’s the bipartisan part? That it’s less ambitious than needed and reeeeeally sketchy about its numbers. After House Speaker Nancy Pelosi claimed the Biden administration doesn’t have the legal authority to unilaterally cancel student debt, advocates point out that the Higher Education Act very specifically says it does.

Here’s some of what you may have missed:


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Trump’s aides reportedly fretting over his potential toxic touch in future endorsements

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The latest? Trump laid his bam on a candidate in Tuesday’s special House election in Texas, and that candidate—Susan Wright, the widow of Rep. Ron Wright, who previously held the seat—lost. Convincingly. And now Trump’s aides and assorted hangers-on are starting to show just a wee bit of panic.

Politico:

Now, Trump and his advisers are trying to figure out what Wright’s defeat means for them — and how to contain any damage. Her loss Tuesday night sent shockwaves through the former president’s inner circle. Many privately concede the pressure is on them to win another special election next week in Ohio, where a Trump-backed candidate is locked in a close primary.

Yes, the Eye of Sour-Don now alights on Ohio, where another nail in Trump’s big, gilded, tricked-out King Tut loser coffin is being teed up as we speak. In Ohio’s special House election, Trump has backed coal lobbyist Mike Carey—because if you’re going to back losers, you might as well back losers from waning, has-been, loser industries like coal production.

Needless to say, the Trump team is currently on tenterhooks in advance of that election, because a Carey loss would allow Trump’s detractors to affix another big red loser stamp on Trump’s flaky, flop-sweaty forehead. More importantly, it might allow some of the nontrue believers in his party to finally spit out their ball gags. 

Politico:

Advisers worry that a second embarrassing loss would raise questions about the power of Trump’s endorsement — his most prized political commodity, which candidates from Ohio to Wyoming are scrambling to earn before next year’s midterms. More broadly, losses could undermine his standing in the Republican Party, where his popularity and influence has protected Trump’s relevance even as a former president barred from his social media megaphones.

While we should all root against Trump’s candidate next week, it’s important to note that Trump has never actually been a superstar endorser. His continued influence over his party and its elected officials is indisputable, but there’s plenty of reason to believe he cherry-picks his candidates in order to cultivate a phony winner’s veneer.

As CNN’s Chris Cillizza (I know, I know) noted in his July 28 column, Trump’s reputation as a kingmaker is, at the very least, exaggerated. Noting that Trump’s endorsement record is 141-42 in general elections, 3-2 in special elections, and 21-2 in battleground primaries, Cillizza writes:

In general elections, Trump has always padded his stats by endorsing lots and lots of incumbents who face almost zero chance of losing. Trump did a LOT of this in the 2020 cycle. For example, he endorsed Rep. James Comer in Kentucky’s 1st district; Comer won with 75% in a seat that Trump won by almost 50 points. No one thought Comer was losing. Trump’s endorsement had nothing to do with that fact. 

And, yes, as Cillizza acknowledges, Trump’s endorsement record in primaries is very good, but it won’t help the Republican Party much if he backs dozens of slavering sycophants and Q-weirdos in contested primaries only to see them flame out in their general elections. And, regardless, the scuttling of Trump’s preferred candidate on Tuesday shows he’s vulnerable, even when it comes to primary candidates (though, granted, he may not be not quite as vulnerable in exclusively Republican primaries).

Politico:

Unlike the Texas election, where voters from both parties were allowed to vote, the Ohio contest is a Republican primary. Trump allies say that means it will be a purer test of his ability to shape GOP nomination contests. At the same time, they argue that the more conservative nature of the race increases the odds that Trump’s endorsed candidate will be successful.

Some Republicans contend that Tuesday’s loss highlights a trend in Trump’s post-presidency: His endorsement doesn’t carry as much weight as when he was in office. After being kicked off social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, Trump has been forced to promote his endorsement largely through email blasts.

Aww, so sad.

I used to want Trump to shut up and go away forever. For one thing, he sounds like a glitchy jet engine sucking in the cast of The Jersey Shore. And I’ve had enough lies for one lifetime. But I happen to believe it’s in our best interest if he stays in the game. He’ll keep picking nonviable candidates and pushing the GOP further into Bonkersville, and his constant harping about election fraud will likely—as happened in the Georgia Senate runoff elections—depress turnout among his own base, many of whom already neglect to show up when Trump’s not on the ballot.

So keep talkin’, Loser Man. And keep hosting your Loser-paloozas. I can almost see the stink lines wafting off your stable of candidates, and it’s beautiful to behold.

It made comedian Sarah Silverman say “THIS IS FUCKING BRILLIANT” and prompted author Stephen King to shout “Pulitzer Prize!!!” (on Twitter, that is). What is it? The viral letter that launched four hilarious Trump-trolling books. Get them all, including the finale, Goodbye, Asshat: 101 Farewell Letters to Donald Trump, at this link. Just $12.96 for the pack of 4! Or if you prefer a test drive, you can download the epilogue to Goodbye, Asshat for the low, low price of FREE.


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Black woman’s travels with white adoptive sister end in police questioning

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Bailey told the news station that officers also questioned her mom and a social worker before following them to baggage claim. “The whole time they were talking with us, people kept staring at us, whispering and stuff,” Bailey said.

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She said it’s clear that she was racially profiled. “If the roles were changed and it was a white person walking off the plane with a Black person, like a Black child, I feel like things would be different,” Bailey said.

Frontier Airlines issued this statement to The Denver Channel:

”A concern was raised during the flight by another passenger who was sitting near the woman and child and suspected human trafficking. That passenger approached the flight crew with those concerns and subsequently completed a written report during the flight to document her observations. The captain was notified and felt an obligation to report the matter. Air travel is one of the most common means for human trafficking. Race played no part in the actions of the flight crew who were following established protocols”

Bailey said she and her family are considering suing the airline. Civil rights attorney Ben Crump tweeted on Tuesday: “After a flight, law enforcement accused Lakeyjanay Bailey of human trafficking her 4yo white sister, Olivia, & demanded to speak w/ their mother & a social worker to confirm their relationship! This traumatic experience shouldn’t have happened!”

Bailey’s experience, though frustrating, is unfortunately not unusual. Keia Jones-Baldwin, a Black North Carolina therapist, told The Today Show in 2019 she was accused of kidnapping her white son Princeton, who she was in the process of adopting. Jones-Baldwin was having car trouble and decided to knock on a local resident’s door when she said the person who answered the door called the police and accused her of stealing both the car and the child. She was again accused of kidnapping while vacationing with her family in Tennessee. Jones-Baldwin had decided to do a Western photoshoot. “The girl behind the camera would disappear and then come back. Finally she asked, ‘Is that your baby?’” Jones-Baldwin said. “I told her he was. Then she said, ‘I just took picture of this baby with his family two weeks ago.’”

The incident actually led to the authorities being called and Jones-Baldwin being made to show a custodial document proving she had permission to travel with her son. “We get a lot of stares,” Jones-Baldwin said. “I’m frequently asked if I’m Princeton’s babysitter … I get, ‘Why didn’t you let him stay with a family of his own race?’”

Her answer to the question was simple. “I don’t look at family as blood,” she said. “I look at family as love. When Princeton came into our lives, he came into our hearts.”

RELATED: A white man complained about Muslim woman on flight, launching 6-hour ordeal


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