I haven’t followed the January 6 prosecutions as closely as I probably should have. I thought it was obvious that the Capitol riot was the most overblown story of modern times. The idea that the protesters who entered the Capitol (mostly peacefully, as far as I could see, more or less invited in by Capitol guards) were mounting an “insurrection” was and is absurd, given that not a single one of them brought a firearm, and they made no attempt to harm anyone inside the Capitol. Some insurrection!
A big trial is now going on in Washington–the biggest, as I understand it, of the post-January 6 trials. Five Proud Boys are the defendants. Like Donald Trump, when asked about this group in a presidential debate, I don’t know a damn thing about the Proud Boys, except that, unlike Black Lives Matter and Antifa rioters, they have never burned down a big chunk of a city.
Julie Kelly has been following the trial, and you should read her report at American Greatness. It turns out that there may have been more FBI agents than Proud Boys involved in the “plot” that has these defendants facing long prison terms:
Most of the evidence is nothing more than inflammatory, braggadocious chatter in group texts; [Proud Boy leader Enrique] Tarrio wasn’t even present at the Capitol on January 6. Another defendant, Ethan Nordean, can be seen on surveillance video walking through an open door as Capitol police stood nearby.
Similar to other so-called “militia” groups tied to January 6, no one brought weapons to the Capitol that day; no one was charged with assaulting police officers or lawmakers. A key piece of evidence that prosecutors claimed was a road map for the “attack” on the Capitol wasn’t produced by any Proud Boy but by a former intelligence asset who himself sent the plan to Tarrio through a third party.
The document represented just one more instance of how a government agent helped shape the government’s narrative that the Proud Boys plotted in advance to carry out an “insurrection” on January 6. In fact, much like the FBI-engineered plan to “kidnap” Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer in 2020, court proceedings confirm that FBI assets might outnumber criminal defendants.
It also turns out that one FBI informant stayed in touch with the Boys after the demonstration and even talked to their defense counsel while trial strategy was being planned. Only within the last few days have defendants and their lawyers been told that a woman whom they considered a friend and who participated, to some degree, in discussions of how the case should be defended, was in fact an FBI informer.
The government and the trial judge are maneuvering furiously to prevent the public from learning how deeply the FBI had penetrated the Proud Boys, and from learning what role FBI agents and informers played in the demonstration:
At least 10 and possibly up to 15 FBI informants were embedded in the group months before and continuing after the events of January 6. Informants participated in numerous group chats, cozied up to leadership, and even accompanied the Proud Boys to Washington.
One known informant, according to a September 2021 New York Times report, was involved in the first breach of Capitol grounds and entered the building that afternoon.
But prosecutors and Judge Timothy Kelly have tried their best to prevent the public from learning the full scope of the FBI’s involvement. The docket is littered with sealed hearings and filings; prosecutors presented to the defense team heavily redacted reports related to FBI informants just before the trial began.
As the trial drags on, Kelly has his hands full running interference for the Justice Department. (Kelly is a former assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, the same office handling every January 6 prosecution.) The judge abruptly suspended the trial a few weeks ago amid the discovery of thousands of hidden messages exchanged between FBI agents that discussed doctoring a report about an informant, destroying evidence, and FBI surveillance of communications between Rehl and his former attorney.
There is much more at the link. I won’t try to summarize it all here. Suffice it to say that the real scandal arising from the January 6 protest was not the fact that a handful of demonstrators broke into the Capitol, while many more were freely admitted by guards. Rather, the principal scandal is the manner in which pro-Donald Trump demonstrators have been treated by law enforcement: held without trial in solitary confinement, ridiculously over-charged (e.g., insurrection vs. trespassing), forced to plead guilty to imaginary or over-hyped offenses by the prospect of long jail terms for offenses they never committed, and set up by FBI agents and informants loyal to the Democratic Party who, it seems, may have played key roles in encouraging the demonstration to get out of hand.
If the January 6 protesters had been treated the same as the BLM/Antifa rioters who did more than 100,000 times as much damage, and killed somewhere between 30 and 50 people, they would have been showered with tens of billions of dollars by corporate America as encouragement to keep it up. Instead, they were condemned to solitary confinement.
We may never know what really happened on January 6, 2021, particularly with regard to the involvement of federal agents and informers. But one thing we can say for sure is that the FBI, in anything like its present form, has to go.