We've been telling you since Thanksgiving on The BradCast that Accountability Season is finally beginning to get underway as Election Season almost wraps up. Today's show is pretty much nothin' but accountability. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summer.]
Earlier this week, in the first of several conspiracy trials scheduled for far-right, white nationalist militia groups, the Dept. of Justice notched guilty verdicts for Seditious Conspiracy charges in relation to the Trump-incited January 6th, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Oath Keepers founder Elmer Stewart Rhodes III (a one-time guest on this program!) and its Florida chapter head, Kelley Meggs, were both found guilty by a jury on Tuesday. They and three co-defendants were also convicted of Obstructing an Official Government Proceeding and other charges related to the effort to block the peaceful transfer of Presidential power in a failed attempt to help Trump steal the 2020 Presidential election.
Each of the five defendants found guilty on several charges each this week are facing maximum sentences of anywhere from 40 to 86 years in prison for their crimes. So, what does this mean going forward for the other upcoming sedition trials and for those yet to be charged for the same felony crimes, such as Roger Stone, Alex Jones and...yup...Trump himself?
We're joined today by national security journalist MARCY WHEELER of Emptywheel to discuss all of that and much more! Among the related topics discussed...
- Why the convictions this week were important, and how the several trials of Oath Keepers and Proud Boys are being approached by DoJ as "interlocking conspiracies". In turn, they may result in similar indictments eventually against Trump insiders like Stone and Jones for seditious conspiracy and/or conspiracy to obstruct the government's peaceful transfer of power.
- Whether Trump will eventually face same charges and how much it matters whether he is indicted for Sedition versus Obstruction, both of which carry the same 20-year max sentences attached to them.
- Whether Merrick Garland's recent appointment of Jack Smith as Special Counsel overseeing both the federal January 6 probe and their criminal investigation of the classified and other documents stolen by Trump and obtained by the FBI at Mar-a-Lago is a good or bad idea. On that, she points out that Smith's mandate may eventually require a decision on whether to bring charges against Republican member of Congress like Reps. Scott Perry (PA) and Jim Jordan (OH). As she reported at Emptywheel recently, with a razor thin majority for the GOP in the House next year, such decisions could end up flipping control of the House from Republican to Democratic. Therefore, it may prove critical to have someone overseeing these investigations who is not a political appointee of President Biden.
- In the event that Trump is charged for any of these crimes, will it even be possible to find a jury that doesn't include a MAGA Republican willing to block any and all charges against the former President? On that, she notes, she is less concerned about such jurists than about Trump's skills as "a mob boss".
"Let me put it this way," Wheeler tells me on that point, "I'm far more worried about obstruction than I am about a jury. He's a mob boss. I think virtually all people really, really underestimate the degree to which he obstructed [Special Counsel Robert] Mueller in 2020 after Bill Barr came in. Barr got away with so much that people just can't conceive how effectively he killed the Mueller investigation and any other investigation that tied to him. So, he's not President, but he's still a mob boss." And that, she says, worries her more "than that a jury won't do their sworn duty."
And, in more Accountability Season news on today's program...
- Trump-backed U.S. Senate loser and former celebrity TV Doctor Mehmet Oz is apparently not welcome back on TV and can't find a job. Sad!
- Two longtime GOP operatives/yutzes, Jack Burkman and Jacob Wohl, who sent out tends of thousands of robocalls to black voters in five states before the 2020 election, trying to hoax them about phony dangers of voting by mail (and turning over their information to "The Man" in the process), were sentenced in Ohio this week. Their sentence, somewhat hilariously, includes 500 hours of voter registration work in low-income D.C. neighborhoods.
- And BREAKING just as were finishing up today: In a stinging loss for Trump, a three-judge panel (including two judges he appointed) on the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, nixed the Special Master named by Judge Aileen Cannon (also a Trump appointee) to review the stolen government documents retrieved by the FBI from Mar-a-Lago. The court ruled Cannon had no jurisdiction to make any such appointment which served only to help the Mob Boss slow down the DoJ's investigation of Trump's theft of records, and apparent violations of the Espionage Act, the Presidential Records Act, and obstructions of justice...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)