Anatomy Of A Conspiracy To Commit Sedition.

This week, the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed charges of conspiracy to commit sedition against 11 members of the paramilitary group that calls itself the Oath Keepers. Given what we now know, it should be an open and shut case. The real question is: When will those who inspired and directed the insurrectionists of January 6, 2021, also be charged?

Lest you think that question is little more than partisan hyperbole, consider the following list of documented attempts by Donald J. Trump and his allies to subvert our democracy and to undermine our government:

1 – Prior to the election, Trump says it will be rigged if he doesn’t win while he and his allies deliberately try to rig the election themselves.
2 – GOP-controlled states attempt to limit or ban mail-in ballots despite the pandemic.
3 – Trump appoints Louis DeJoy to the position of Postmaster General, and DeJoy sets about creating mail delays in order to prevent many mail-in ballots from arriving on time.
4 – Trump calls for his armed supporters to go to the polls to “protect the sanctity of the election” with the intent of intimidating voters.
5 – Having encouraged his supporters to vote in person and knowing that those ballots will be counted more quickly than mail-in ballots, Trump states that whoever is ahead in the ballot counting at midnight should be declared the winner.
6 – As heavily populated precincts continue to count ballots into the next day, Trump tries to stop the count.
7 – Armed Trump supporters surround the Maricopa County Arizona counting center and threaten election workers.
8 – Trump is furious when Biden is legitimately declared the winner and claims the election was stolen.
9 – Trump calls state election officials, threatens them, and demands they find enough votes for him to win. One of those officials, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, has the foresight to make an audio recording of Trump’s call.
10 – Trump and his allies file more than 40 lawsuits claiming, among other things, that the electronic voting machines were corrupted. All of the lawsuits fail.
11 – Trump, his legal team, and his supporters claim that Dominion voting machines deleted 2.7 million votes, and that China had dumped millions of paper ballots into ballot boxes in place of Trump ballots that were shredded and fed to chickens.
12 – Trump refuses to permit his administration officials to meet with Biden’s transition team.
13 – Trump pressures his Attorney General William Barr to declare the election fraudulent, and to call for a new election.
14 – When Barr insists there was no widespread fraud, Trump attempts to name his attorney Sydney Powell as special prosecutor to declare the election was fraudulent and to use martial law to keep Trump in power.
15 – Conservative attorney, John Eastman, creates a plan that calls for Trump’s allies in Congress to challenge the electors and for Pence to invoke the 12th Amendment by declaring the election “contested” and calling for a House vote by state delegations. Since Republicans controlled more states than Democrats, the House vote would likely give Trump the presidency.
16 – To continue the fight to overturn the election results, Trump’s associates create a “War Room” in the Willard Hotel with Oath Keepers acting as bodyguards for Roger Stone and other Trump associates.
17 – Trump continues to put enormous pressure on Pence to stop the certification of election results. But, after discussing the matter with former Vice-President Dan Quayle, Pence responds that doing so would be unconstitutional.
18 – Trump, his associates and their propaganda networks continue to claim the election was stolen, inciting Trump supporters to act.
19 – When Attorney General Barr resigns, Trump threatens to replace acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen unless he declares the election fraudulent. And Jeffrey Clark, a Trump-appointed environment law chief at the DOJ, tries to coerce Rosen into signing a letter declaring the election results invalid.
20 – When “Stop the Steal” organizers receive permits for the January 5 and 6 rallies, the Trump administration and Capitol Police decide to limit the number and duties of National Guard members. They seem to be worried only about the safety of Trump protestors.
21 – GOP legislators in seven states send forged documents to the National Archives and the President of the Senate (VP Mike Pence) with phony lists of Trump electors.
22 – The Oath Keepers, Proud Boys and other rightwing Trump supporters call for everyone to go to Washington on January 6. Trump advisor, Steve Bannon, is reported to have said, “We’re going to bury Biden on January 6th, (expletive) bury him.”
23 – Days before January 6, it appears that some Trump supporters in Congress gave tours of the Capitol building for reconnaissance. Indeed, it appeared that some insurrectionists had maps of the building.
24 – In advance of January 6, the Oath Keepers begin to execute a plan to invade the Capitol. They store weapons in Arlington, VA hotels and establish a Quick Reaction Force to deliver the weapons to Capitol grounds if needed.
25 – In the early morning hours of January 6, pipe bombs are left in front of the RNC and DNC buildings as an apparent diversionary tactic.
26 – On January 6, as Trump and his supporters are riling up the “Stop the Steal” crowd, Oath Keepers and others in tactical gear create diversions at the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial which draw a police response.
27 – As Trump’s GOP congressmen are objecting to the electoral count certification, Trump calls for the crowd to march up Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol and “fight like hell for their country.” He says he will go with them. Instead, he goes to watch the events unfold on TV in the White House dining room.
28 – Trump watches as the insurrectionists break into the Capitol and stop the certification of the electoral vote. The insurrectionists erect gallows and search the building for Pence, Pelosi, and others.
29 – Hours into the assault on the Capitol, Trump’s children and others reportedly beg him to call it off. He continues to watch the insurrection on TV.
30 – It takes nearly 2 hours for the acting Secretary of Defense and Trump officials to approve calling out the National Guard in support of the Capitol police. Only then does Trump record a video message to his supporters to go home, saying “We love you.”
31 – After the Capitol is finally cleared, Congress returns to finish the job of certifying Biden as President of the United States of America. In the hallways and Rotunda, they walk past broken doors, glass, and statues that have been smeared with feces and blood.
32 – Trump, his supporters, and his propaganda networks decry news coverage of the events saying that the insurrectionists were no different than typical tourists.
33 – Trump tries to block or delay the release of his administration’s files leading up to and following the insurrection.
34 – Officials from the Trump administration and his allies refuse to respond to requests and subpoenas from the House January 6 Committee.
35 – Despite all evidence to the contrary, Trump and his allies continue to claim the election was stolen.

From all of this, it should be easy to reach a conclusion that Donald J. Trump and his allies inspired and incited an insurrection designed to prevent the winner of the 2020 presidential election from taking office then tried to cover up their actions. At very least, they and their supporters conspired to obstruct a legitimate government function. That charge alone can result in a sentence of 30 days to two years imprisonment. But if they are found guilty of willfully trying to overthrow our government by force (And how else could you describe an armed insurrection to prevent a duly elected president from taking office?), the perpetrators can be fined and sentenced to 20 years in prison.

With either charge, it should be simple for an independent jury of their peers to reach a guilty verdict. After all, they didn’t commit those crimes in secret. They did it openly and in full view of the public.

The January 6th Co-Conspirators Who Have Yet To Be Named.

They likely won’t be charged for their role in the insurrection. But the people most responsible for the attack on the Capitol and on the world’s longest-running democracy were not the Oath Keepers, the Proud Boys, Roger Stone, Michael Flynn, etc. or even Donald J. Trump. They didn’t use pepper spray, flag poles, spears, and riot shields to assault police officers.

They used microphones, cameras, and websites instead.

You see, the insurrection began long before January 6, 2021. It actually began in 1987, during Ronald Reagan’s second term, when the Federal Communications Commission repealed the Fairness Doctrine, an FCC policy that originated in 1949 requiring broadcasters to present information in a fair and truthful manner that clearly distinguished news from opinion.

Once freed from the shackles of truth and fairness, broadcast media owners more concerned with politics, ratings, and money than journalistic integrity unleashed the likes of Rush Limbaugh to relentlessly attack the government and the so-called “pointy-headed liberals.” News and truth were replaced by opinion and lies based on fear, anger, and hate. And listeners who had long been conditioned to believe what they heard over the airwaves accepted those lies as fact.

Farmers and laborers were particularly vulnerable to the fiction that Rush was pedaling. Since they spent hours working alone, the radio was a welcome companion on their tractors and at their worksites. Already angry that prices of commodities had tanked in the 1970s and that worker’s salaries had not kept pace with inflation, they were easy prey for a radio host who blamed their problems on immigrants, inner city “thugs” and government bureaucrats.

And things soon got worse. Other unscrupulous actors, attracted by Rush’s booming ratings, joined him on the airwaves to denounce liberals and government under the guise of presenting the “real truth.” The “truth” mainstream media – aka responsible journalists – won’t tell you.

Then Rupert Murdoch and his conservative lapdog, Roger Ailes, entered the picture with Fox News. Though it claimed to be “Fair and Balanced”, it was neither. Certainly, it built a sizeable news gathering operation to fill its 24/7 programming schedule. But it constantly combined news with opinion making it all but impossible to distinguish one from the other. And, instead of hiring respected journalists to present the information, Ailes hired a team of carnival barkers, such as Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Laura Ingraham, and Tucker Carlson, to feed viewers a constant stream of far-right ideas and falsehoods.

Around the same time, there was tremendous growth in websites and social media where anyone with a computer or cellphone could make their opinions known. The more outrageous and sensational the opinions and the lies, the more clicks and money to be gained.

All of this combined to create a rightwing politician’s wet dream – a propaganda network that would be the envy of Nazi Germany’s Josef Goebbels. It was the perfect environment for an accomplished con man like Donald J. Trump.

Rush, Fox, and others used Trump to increase their ratings by further sensationalizing their racist anti-immigrant, anti-LGBTQ, anti-feminist, anti-government, anti-Democrat agenda. And he used them to give credibility to his lies and to grow his poll numbers. Even after entering the White House, Trump relied on them as his unofficial advisors.

It was this same cult of rightwing media bullies and buffoons who amplified and perpetuated Trump’s Big Lie. They decried the outcome of the 2020 presidential election. They encouraged attacks on state and county election officials. They advertised and promoted the January 6th “Stop the Steal” rally. And they reveled in the notion that rightwing extremists in Congress along with Vice-President Mike Pence could stop the certification of Biden’s win and reassign the selection of electoral votes to Republican-dominated state legislators.

They deserve every bit as much of the credit for the attempt to violently overthrow our government as any of the extremist militias and politicians whose shameful actions almost succeeded in destroying our democracy.

They must be held accountable. If the courts of law can’t do it, the courts of public opinion must.