Federal investigators have uncovered additional evidence indicating that the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol Building was preplanned as part of a criminal conspiracy, undermining the allegation just days before a second impeachment trial that former President Donald Trump was responsible.
In addition, Just the News reports, the evidence indicates that the assault was being planned several weeks in advance “and in plain sight of an FBI that vowed to be vigilant to extremist threats.”
According to at least a dozen FBI affidavits justifying charges against more than 200 people, attackers plotted their assault on the Capitol via social media. The affidavits indicate that rioters trained, conducted site surveillance, identified scene commanders, and made requests for cash, communications equipment, and protective gear.
“More than a half dozen of the suspects are now charged with conspiracy to commit violence for actions predating the Jan. 6 riots,” Just the News’ John Solomon reported. “The early actions identified in court documents date back to November, with planning and rhetoric accelerating after Christmas, court records show.”
The new information adds to a growing body of evidence that the riot was not a spontaneous response to rhetoric used during a speech by the then-president, in which he addressed more than 100,000 supporters on the day Congress was to meet in joint session to count electoral votes.
Roughly a week after the incident, in which five people died including a Capitol Police officer and a Trump supporter who was shot by a plainclothes security officer, federal law enforcement sources said there was evidence to suggest that some involved in the assault used military-like “small unit tactics.”
In addition, previous reports have noted that in the weeks before, plans to attack the Capitol were discussed on several pro-Trump message boards.
The growing evidence of an attack that was planned in advance also raises questions about how the FBI and other federal agencies that proactively monitor for such activity could have missed it. In addition, the evidence of prior planning undercuts the argument by Democrats and some Republicans who blamed the incident on Trump.
“I would hope that those 10 Republicans and hopefully even some Democrats would say as we now look at the timelines that the media, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and all are reporting on, here’s exactly it, the facts,” former independent counsel Kenneth Starr told Just the News.
“[House lawmakers] made a huge, colossal blunder. So walk back, and apologize to the former president, apologize to the American people that I never should have voted in favor of this without the benefit of all the facts. I rushed to judgment,” Starr — head of the Whitewater investigation into then-President Bill Clinton and a member of Trump’s first impeachment legal team — added.
The former president’s current legal team is set to argue that his speech did not, in fact, incite anyone to riot but instead to protest “peacefully” as protected by the First Amendment.
Also, according to Bruce Castor, one of Trump’s current impeachment attorneys, the defense team will introduce video footage of Democratic lawmakers using incendiary rhetoric.
“And there’s an awful lot of tape of cities burning and courthouses being attacked and federal agents being assaulted by rioters in the street cheered on by Democrats throughout the country and many of them in Washington using really the most inflammatory rhetoric that’s possible to use,” he told Fox News’ Laura Ingraham on Friday
Regarding planning for the attack, federal prosecutors filed an affidavit from the FBI last week explaining that on Dec. 27, Ethan Nordean, an anti-government activist and Proud Boys member from the state of Washington who used the alias Rufio Panman, posted a message on Parler saying he was planning to go to the Jan. 6 protest.
His post included a fundraising plea to “help us with safety/protective gear and communications equipment,” said an FBI affidavit.
Nordean ramped up his rhetoric by Jan. 4 and strongly hinted that violence was a foregone conclusion.
“Let them remember the day they decided to make war with us,” he allegedly wrote online.
Other affidavits contain alleged communications between participants intercepted by the FBI indicating a conspiracy, including between defendants Thomas Edward Caldwell, Donovan Ray Crowl, and Jessica Marie Watkins.
“Evidence uncovered in the course of the investigation demonstrates that not only did CALDWELL, CROWL, WATKINS, and others conspire to forcibly storm the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021 — they communicated with one another in advance of the incursion and planned their attack,” one affidavit stated.
“We have a good group. We have about 30-40 of us. We are sticking together and sticking to the plan,” Watkins was quoted as saying at one point.
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