Amid mounting arrests, investigations of insurrection, flood of threats aimed at Congress rises

Amid mounting arrests, investigations of insurrection, flood of threats aimed at Congress rises

The indictments and arrests from the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol keep piling up—they’re currently over 450 and counting—and the official investigations, including those by congressional committees, continue apace. But as Capitol Police reported in a response to an inspector general’s report this week, the violent hatred by right-wing extremists directed at them has not ebbed.

A statement by Capitol Police (USCP) on Friday reported that “the number of threats made against Congress has increased significantly. This year alone, there has been a 107% increase in threats against Members compared to 2020. Provided the unique threat environment we currently live in, the Department is confident the number of cases will continue to increase.”

The agency also noted that its 30-agent threat assessment unit saw 9,000 cases last year—while the U.S. Secret Service, which has about 100 agents, had 8,000 during that same period.

The report from Inspector General Michael Bolton, presented to a congressional committee on Monday, recommended bolstering the USCP’s threat-assessment unit, among several other steps, in response to the failures leading to the breach of the Capitol by a violent pro-Trump mob. It also pointed to the lack of a counter-surveillance entity and insufficient resources for that work, as well “outdated or vague guidance” and “failure to adequately report stop or contact activities.”

In his testimony, he urged the agency to prioritize intelligence, training, operational planning, and cultural change. Maryland Congressman Jamie Raskin noted that Bolton found that the department’s intelligence operations section, which is currently responsible for counter-surveillance, had only 13 officers deployed on Jan. 6—many of whom in fact were occupied at the time of the Capitol siege with investigating two pipe bombs that had been found nearby.

“If those pipe bombs were intended to be diversion … it worked,” Bolton told Raskin.

Congressman Zoe Lofgren of California grilled Bolton about a nugget of information contained within his report: That prior to the attack, Capitol Police had observed a crowd of some 200 Proud Boys marching toward the building—but instead deployed officers to focus on the activities of a group of four counterprotesters seen nearby.

Bolton said he didn’t have answers about those decisions, but hoped to have them for his next report: “We have the same kind of concerns,” he noted.

Meanwhile, the Justice Department investigation into the insurrection continues to pile up more arrests. Only two indictees have entered guilty pleas so far—including a onetime Oath Keepers member who entered a plea agreement to turn state’s evidence in the case.

On Monday, prosecutors revealed their plans to offer another plea bargain to another insurrectionist—a former State Department aide named Federico “Freddie” Klein, who became the first known instance of a Trump appointee facing criminal prosecution following the attempt to block Congress from certifying President Joe Biden’s election victory.

Klein, who served at the State Department office of Brazilian and Southern Cone Affairs, is charged with six federal crimes in connection with the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol. The Washington Post noted that Klein has a top-secret security clearance that was renewed in 2019. He had been active in Republican politics since 2008 and was employed by the Trump campaign in 2016 before joining the State Department in 2017.

“We expect to extend a plea offer to Mr. Klein,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Jocelyn Patricia Bond told a federal judge during a brief hearing. She added that it is uncertain whether he will be interested in it.

One defendant—Anthony Antonio, 27, of Delaware—has pleaded that he was misled by Trump and Fox News into believing the election had been stolen. His attorney called it “Foxitis,” and that Antonio had “started to believe what was being fed to him.”

Antonio also blamed Trump himself for the predicament in an interview on This Morning:

Last year, I honestly put a man above Jesus Christ as my Lord and savior. I believed a man, what was being told to me. He was the president of our United States. And I believed him. And so because of that, I went to Washington like he called us to, having no clue what to expect, having no clue what was about to happen. I just knew that the president of our United States told me to go there.

The vast majority of the defendants remain defiant. ProPublica recently received and published a letter from Texas-based militiaman Guy Reffitt—whose son had turned him in to the FBI amid death threats—in which he defended his actions that day remorselessly.

“I hope that was the only day in American history we would without doubt, feel the need to notify our government, they have transgressed much too far,” he wrote.

“January 6th was nothing short of a satirical way to overthrow a government,” said the letter. “If overthrow was the quest, it would have no doubt been overthrown.”

Two other defendants—the men accused of assaulting Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, who later died, with bear spray—complained bitterly about the conditions of their incarceration at the D.C. Central Detention facility in their hearing Tuesday on their request to be released on bond. The attorney for Julian Khater told U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Hogan that he is being kept in “horrible” and “incredibly draconian” conditions.

Hogan, however, denied both men bond. He observed that, notwithstanding their arguments that the men only used pepper spray in self-defense after being sprayed themselves, it was clear to him they intended to assault officers on Jan. 6. He also rejected their attorneys’ argument that bear spray and pepper spray are legal in D.C., calling it a “red herring.”

“You can bring a pocket knife to D.C., which is legal, but at the point you use it on police it is illegal,” Hogan said. “Obviously they had some intention to use the product. It seems they definitely planned it at that point. The only targets they were worried about using the spray to attack were the police. They weren’t going to attack the other rioters.”

“That assault helped lead to the violent breach of the Capitol,” Hogan added. “And that indicates a finding a dangerousness. The conduct contributed to the chaos on Capitol Hill.”

Among the new arrestees this week was a Brooklyn man who was seen in the background of videos and photos taken inside Senator Jeff Merkley’s office, accompanying white nationalist Tim “Baked Alaska” Gionet—arrested for his role in January—as they and others around them committed multiple acts of vandalism.

Anton Lunyk, 25, was arrested at his home in the Midwood neighborhood and charged with trespassing and disorderly conduct at the Capitol Building. Investigators said in court documents that they had received various tips leading to Lunyk’s arrest, including one from a witness who said they do not know Lunyk personally but shared an Instagram post from Lunyk’s account captioned: “This is going to be an interesting next few weeks . . . who else is going to DC this week?” Lunyk also appeared in the background of a live streaming video.

The final bit of evidence involved New York City license plate readers, which court documents say captured Lunyk’s white Lexus leaving the area on Jan. 5 and returning on Jan. 7. The same vehicle was captured on a video in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6.

Another hearing investigating the insurrection will be held Wednesday by the House Oversight and Reform Committee at 10 AM EDT, titled “The Capitol Insurrection: Unexplained Delays and Unanswered Questions,” and will feature the former defense secretary and acting attorney general who were serving at the time of the insurrection.

Meanwhile, Republicans have signaled they have no intention of cooperating with any congressional commission investigating the insurrection, and plan to try to shut it down. As Amee Vanderpool observes:

Republicans are not even concerned about hiding the fact that they appear to have something to hide. Now the focus of McCarthy is on ousting Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) from her leadership position, simply because she voted to impeach Trump and publicly stated that Republicans should be speaking out and telling the truth about the events of Jan 6.

From Daily Kos at Read More. This article is republished from DailyKos under an open content license. Read the original article at DailyKos.

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