January 6 Oafs Had 'Quick Reaction Force' Waiting To Bring Guns To Capitol, Just In Case
To our mind, one of the less-appreciated details of the January 6 attempt to overthrow the duly elected government was that, to a pretty fair degree, a bloodbath was probably averted by the District of Columbia's strict laws against open carry of firearms. Plenty of violent creeps came to the Capitol that day, but most of them left their manhood enhancers at home, or at least in their hotels.
The Washington Post reports that federal prosecutors say that some of the conspirators in the Oath Keepers anti-government militia appear to have had caches of guns squirrelled away in hotels outside DC, as part of a "quick reaction force" ready to help get a Civil War started.
We should note that even before the election, Oath Keepers founder and Head Oaf Stewart Rhodes claimed on Alex Jones's InfoWars (yeah, we know) that in case of a "Benghazi style attack" on the White House on Election Day, "Oath Keepers will be posted outside of DC. We have some of our best men working on the plan right now. We'll make sure we're in range because I don't trust the Pentagon." Obviously, the idea of a super-elite strike force waiting just outside DC was at the very least a cherished fantasy for Oath Keepers. We wouldn't be the least bit surprised if they actually tried to have a store of weapons ready, so they could live out their fantasy of freeing America from its elected government.
Assistant US Attorney Jeffrey Nestler said in a Wednesday detention hearing for Rhodes's buddy Kenneth Harrelson that members of the Oath Keepers didn't just talk big about being ready for a shootin' war, they also had weapons they were ready to use. Defense attorneys have dismissed such claims as mere hyperbole and tough talk by their clients.
"This is not pure conjecture," Nestler said. In a court filing this week, he noted, prosecutors obtained cellphone and video evidence from the day before the riot showing that Harrelson asked someone about the quick reaction force. He then went to a Comfort Inn in the Ballston area of Arlington for about an hour before driving into D.C., prosecutors said. The day after the riot, surveillance video from the hotel shows him moving "what appears to be at least one rifle case down a hallway and towards the elevator," according to the court records.
Nestler also said in court that on January 7, a second Oath Keeper appeared to be removing a rifle under a sheet from the hotel as well.
"We believe that at least one quick reaction force location was here and that Mr. Harrelson and others had stashed a large amount of weapons there," Nestler said. "People affiliated with this group were in Ballston, monitoring what was happening at the Capitol and prepared to come into D.C. and ferry these weapons into the ground team that Kenneth Harrelson was running at a moment's notice, if anyone said the word."
The judge in the case, Amit Mehta, called the prosecutors' information "the strongest evidence that the government has presented that there was a quick reaction force outside the District of Columbia," and said it was the "most troubling and most disconcerting" evidence he's seen in multiple DC insurrection cases involving Oath Keepers.
We're also learning fun details about the backbiting and bitchery in the group following the insurrection, which failed to bring the hoped-for elimination of the 2020 presidential election. Since the Oafs consider themselves sort of soldiers in the fight for freedom, it's a pretty stupid after-action debriefing:
Look, I WAS THERE. I WAS RIGHT OUSIDE. Patriots stormed in. NotAntifa. And I don't blame them," wrote Rhodes, identified as Person Number One in documents.
"This organization is a huge . . . joke," someone replied.
Harrelson, a 41-year-old Army veteran, subsequently apologized to Rhodes in a message on an encrypted chat service for not "step[ping] up to the plate" on Jan. 6.
"Not your fault, my fault," Rhodes said, adding that he should have "held a mandatory meeting" the night before the riot and given out operating orders.
Just one of those little details that you really need to nail down prior to your freedom fight, we guess.
Not surprisingly, defense attorney Nina Ginsberg says the failure of the Oath Keepers to actually pull off a full-scale coup shows that they didn't plan much of anything, and that there was "no preplanned agreement to overtake the Capitol, to storm the building, to force entry into the building, but that this was something that evolved as it was occurring."
The Post dutifully notes that a defense attorney for one of Harrelson's co-conspirators dismissed the idea of a "quick reaction force" as well, writing in a court filing that the force consisted of
"one person" who is "in his late 60s, obese, and has cardio-pulmonary issues, a bad back, a bum knee, and is need of a hip replacement."
The person described in that filing has not been charged, and there is no evidence that any backup force arrived at the Capitol with weapons on Jan. 6.
Rhodes himself hasn't been charged with anything yet, but he did send messages to other militia members saying, "We will have several well equipped QRFs outside DC." Rhodes claims there were no plans to invade the Capitol, and prosecutors are just inventing a conspiracy out of nothing.
That denial may get a bit more difficult to maintain, though, because the Post also reports today on the first guilty plea by a top Oath Keeper in connection with the Capitol invasion. Jon Ryan Schaffer pleaded guilty today to two felony charges, and has agreed to cooperate with prosecutors investigating the insurrection. Appearing before Judge Mehta, Schaffer pleaded guilty to "obstruction of an official proceeding of Congress" and to "trespassing on restricted grounds of the Capitol while armed with a deadly or dangerous weapon." Schaffer could face between 41 and 51 months in prison, according to federal sentencing guidelines, although he may get less time since he's cooperating.
In plea papers, Schaffer admitted positioning himself "at the front of a large mob" that broke open doors on the west side of the Capitol about 2:40 p.m., and being one of the first six people to enter. Prosecutors have alleged in separate filings that other Oath Keepers associates conspired to forcibly enter through the west Capitol Rotunda doors at about that time. [...]
"Schaffer admits that his belief that the electoral college results were fraudulent is not a legal justification for unlawfully entering the Capitol building and using intimidation to influence, stop, or delay the Congressional proceeding," prosecutors said in a statement of the offense.
This is a pretty big deal, since it means federal prosecutors will now have an insider to talk to, and what's more, other Oafs charged in the Capitol attacks know it.
Oh look, Schaffer even has his very own history of big talk about watering the tree of liberty with the blood of tyrants:
At a pro-Trump march in November attended by Oath Keepers, the FBI alleged, Schaffer said: "We're not going to merge into some globalist, communist system. It will not happen. There will be a lot of bloodshed if it comes down to that, trust me."
But no worries, that's just First Amendment protected speech. The bits where he and other militants tried to actually pull it off, however, not so much.
As of blogtime, Donald Trump has not taken to Twitter to decry Schaffer as a rat, because the big asshole is permanently banned, and there's another happy Friday fact.
Yr Wonkette is funded entirely by reader donations. If you love America — and if you can afford it — please donate $5 to $10 so we can conspire with you to overthrow stupidity.
Moderator Note: Yes, Wonkette's Commenting Rules are still very much in effect. These guys are scum and you don't have to say nice things about them, but fantasies about how they all need to be shot, or about what horrific things might happen to them in prison, will be met with our own Quick Redaction Force.
Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.