Why Trump Loyalists Should Fear First Confession of Capitol Riot
On Friday, we learned of the first publicly listed guilty plea among more than 400 people indicted in the January 6 riot on Capitol Hill. A guilty plea in such a large and high profile investigation is significant in itself. But when the sealed documents of the case accidentally became visible in the Federal Court’s automated archives system, it became clear that there was more to this plea than an accused simply admitting guilt.
There is more to this plea than a defendant simply admitting guilt.
The guilty plea contains a provision requiring that the defendant Jon Ryan Schaffer – who admitted in court that he was a “founding life member” of the far-right, anti-government militia known as the Oath Keepers – to cooperate with the government. . This means that a longtime veteran of the Oath Keepers has been “turned around”.
This only happens when prosecutors care more about the information an accused person can provide than giving them a maximum sentence. There are at least three reasons why this guilty plea, in this investigation, of this defendant, may become the gift that keeps coming as prosecutors seek to hold those responsible for the attack on our democracy accountable.
First, this particular accused, who is also said to be the frontrunner of heavy metal band “Iced Earth”, is in a good position to say a lot about the Oath Keepers. At least 12 members of the group face conspiracy or other charges in connection with the January 6 attack.
Schaffer pleaded guilty to obstructing formal proceedings and entering a restricted building with a dangerous weapon. These crimes could put Shaffer in federal prison for 30 years, which is probably what motivates him to report his associates. As The New York Times reports, Schaffer’s guilty plea and related cooperation appear to be so potentially devastating for the violent extremist movement, and perhaps for the powerful people who fuel this movement, prosecutors have told a judge. that they would sponsor Schaffer for the witness protection program.
He could prevent further violence by revealing how the paramilitary group recruits its members from law enforcement and active and retired military personnel.
Learning more about Oath Keepers is not just an academic or legal exercise; he could prevent further violence by revealing how the paramilitary group recruits its members from law enforcement and retired military personnel. Revealing who among our guardians of democracy are secretly conspiring against it would be invaluable in countering the most organized and capable within the violent extremist movement.
Shaffer could also reveal how the Oath Keepers group is funded or run by current or former political leaders, advisers or government officials. This could allow prosecutors to indict people in powerful positions who could have helped finance and plan the Capitol Riot.
Second, Shaffer could shed light on another aspect of the large-scale investigation: the potential coordination of riot planning between the Oath Keepers and other similar groups, including the Proud Boys. As NBC News’ Pete Williams and Rebecca Shabad reported on another case, a person of interest “was in contact with similar groups, including the Proud Boys, as early as mid-December to plan potentially violent action in Washington on Jan. 6, according to a newly filed court document. “
The report details a court record in the case of Kelly Meggs, who prosecutors say helped lead the attack on Capitol Hill. According to this court file, Meggs posted a message on Facebook that read, “This week I organized an alliance between Oath Keepers, Florida 3% and Proud Boys. We decided to work together and stop this activity. Just three days later he posted, “Contact PB and they still have a great group. Force multiplier. According to prosecutors, Meggs organized and participated in a dozen online discussions between December 12 and January 4 that were affiliated with the Oath Keepers.
Shaffer can get a glimpse of who around then-President Donald Trump, including Trump’s advisers and his sycophants in Congress, might have coordinated or knew about the plans for the January 6 violence.
Shaffer’s knowledge of any coordination between violent extremist groups would be useful in advancing what prosecutors call a “business theory” of investigative organizations. This approach asserts that the criminal acts of group members are not isolated events, but are committed in support of the organization itself. This approach allows the government to dismantle criminal enterprises through asset forfeiture, foreclosures and other techniques. Shaffer’s knowledge of a relationship between the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys could, indeed, help investigators bring the two proverbial birds down with one stone.
Third, Shaffer can get a glimpse of who around then-President Donald Trump, including Trump’s advisers and his sycophants in Congress, might have coordinated or knew about the plans for the January 6 violence. At least two members of Oath Keepers who have previously been accused of violating the Capitol are known to have provided security for longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone. As reported by Politico, one of those members, Joshua James, is seen in photos flanking Stone before the January 6 riot, and was later seen on camera inside the building in the middle of a crush on rioters who invaded the police. Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas., Attended and spoke at at least one rally with the Oath Keepers, with their militia flags fluttering behind him.
Congressmen Marjorie Taylor-Greene and Lauren Boebert both documented ties to the Three Percenters militia group. And Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz, currently under investigation on a range of charges including sex trafficking, attended a political event in Florida where the Proud Boys provided security.
With a prominent plea negotiator turned Oath Keeper, a lot of people in Washington could have cause for concern – and prosecutors are just getting started.