How Far Right Domestic Extremism Besieged The US Capitol

The Rise of Domestic Terrorism Has Hit Record Highs, According to FBI Director Wray. Alt-right Domestic Extremism Played a Major Role in the Unfolding of the Capitol Riot.

This+is+a+picture+of+pro-Trump+rioters+outside+of+the+Capitol.+There+were+many+different+alt-right+and+hate+groups+that+were+a+part+of+the+pro-Trump+riot+that+stormed+the+Capitol%2C+such+as+the+Three+Percenters%2C+Oath+Keepers%2C+and+the+Proud+Boys.+

Tyler Merbler, CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

This is a picture of pro-Trump rioters outside of the Capitol. There were many different alt-right and hate groups that were a part of the pro-Trump riot that stormed the Capitol, such as the Three Percenters, Oath Keepers, and the Proud Boys.

Caitlynn Kelley, Journalist and Editor

On January 6, 2021, while Congress was counting the electoral votes to certify President Joe Biden’s election, a pro-Trump mob rioted and stormed the Capitol. Jacob Lewis, ‘The Gym’ owner from Victorville, was at the scene according to the FBI. The investigation into the Capitol riot is one of the largest in US history. Due to these events, former President Donald Trump was charged in a second impeachment trial. On a vote of 57-43, Trump was acquitted.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi called for the creation of a probe into the January 6th Capitol insurrection on February 18, 2021. The probe focuses on how prepared the National Guard, Capitol police, and other forms of law enforcement were. Also, a main point, would be on the transfer of power between former President Trump and President Biden. Since it is a blue ribbon commission, it would give a recommendation on how to avoid a certain situation. She has appointed Honoré to lead the investigation into the US Capitol Police’s security, and what went wrong, which lead to the death of five people during the riot.  There has been probes in the past dealing with significant issues, such as 9/11, the opioid crisis, and so on. Past commissions have been bipartisan or a nonpartisan,  which makes their findings more acceptable to the public. Pelosi has since come up with a new plan for how the Commission would look like, and she has not shared her ideas with Republican legislators. Republicans criticize the plan, stating that it has more Democrats in the probe and that it is too limited in what it will cover.

A report from the Pentagon that was released to the AP reporters shows that during the Capitol riot, former Vice President Mike Pence, and other government officials, were pleading for back up during the siege of the Capitol. The report further amplifies how Trump was idle during the attack, and how the sending of the national guard to the Capitol was delayed. The National Guard will be lectured by the inspector general of the Capitol police this week.

The Capitol police internal investigator, Michael A. Bolton, released his report that the Capitol police were told by their leaders not to use their most combative strategies against the Capitol rioters, even though they knew that Congress was the target of the attacks. The Civil Disturbance Unit (CDU) was not allowed to use their powerful weapons against the Capitol rioters. There was a lot of harsh criticism from the Capitol police agency’s handling of the CDU. Also, what was addressed was lack of care for equipment, such as shields. There have been three intelligence leaders that have been fired and disgraced due to the Capitol incident, and have since blamed others, even a subordinate, for what happened on January 6th on the Capitol.

Former President Trump told Fox News anchor Laura Ingraham that he believes that the Capitol rioters posed no threat to the Senators that were in the Capitol, and that they were kissing and hugging Capitol police officers.  He further stated that he law enforcement was going after the Capitol rioters, but not the far-left protesters.  However, the FBI has stated that there is no indication that antifa was involved in the January 6th Capitol riot.

Two Capitol Police officers James Blassingame and Sidney Hemby have filed a lawsuit against former President Trump, saying that he encouraged his followers to riot and storm the Capitol through his tweets and statements throughout the 2020 Presidential Campaign, because he encouraged the belief that the 2020 Presidential Election was rigged. Blassingame and Hemby are suing for the physical and emotional pain that they and other Capitol offices have endured.

On April 2, Noah Green crashed his car into two Capitol Police officers who were in front of a barricade outside the Capitol. Green then brandished a knife. One of the officers, William “Billy” Evans, was killed. Green had history of mental health issues, and may have suffered head trauma from playing football. President Biden has lamented Officer Evan’s death, bringing up comparisons on dealing with the mourning of the deaths of own his family members.

Despite these events, Republican Congressman Ben Cline and Democrat Senator Tim Kaine believe that the fencing surrounding the Capitol needs to come down. Kaine has stated that he does not want the Capitol to look like it is not accessible, and Cline has said that the fencing is an “overreach.”

The officer that killed Ashli Babbitt, a Trump supporter and Air Force veteran, will not be prosecuted. Babbitt tried to go through the door that was broken through by rioters, who were outside the door, and the officer shot Babbitt in her left shoulder. The US Capitol Police Emergency task force gave assistance to Babbitt, before she was transferred to a hospital, where she passed away. The level of the officer’s fear, negligence, or mistake cannot determine the motive of the officer that is necessary under law. There were 5 people killed due to the Capitol riot, one of them being US Capitol Officer Brian Sicknick. Sicknick died due to having two strokes after the Capitol riot, not due to homicide. He collapsed in his office, and then passed away there.

The Riots Were Not Unforeseen

This is all despite the report which shows that they were notified about the impending incident. The Department of Homeland Security released their findings of potential violence on January 6th to the Capitol police agency.

There have been various pieces of evidence that were found by government and intelligence agencies across the US. This message is from a social media thread that warned about the January 6th Capitol riot, “‘Be ready to fight. Congress needs to hear glass breaking, doors being kicked in, and blood from their BLM and Pantifa  slave soldiers being spilled,” the message read. “Get violent … stop calling this a march, or rally, or a protest. Go there ready for war. We get our President or we die. NOTHING else will achieve this goal.'” Bolton further states that the Capitol police officers were not trained to be able to fight against agitators of the Capitol. They were supposed to be trained with 40 hours of Civil Disturbance training, but that was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Even across several years, the Capitol police agency failed to make sure that officers completed their full 16 to 24 hours of annual training. Also, munition was failed to be taken care of. The culture that the agency had was one of feelings of inadequacy or of being needed, and this also helped to escalate how the agency did not meet the standards.

Recent reports show that there were underground tunnels underneath the Capitol were posted on a pro-Trump website before the January 6th Capitol riot. The Department of Homeland Security notified the Capitol police that there were pictures of tunnels where Congress members went through that were posted online. Also, the United States Capitol Police Department was shown to be disorganized, and did not follow protocol in various ways, such as not updating their roster of officers in the Civil Disturbance Unit (CDU). The CDU was the unit that dealt with the Capitol insurrection. Also, gear, such as shield and ammunition, were not properly cared for. The intelligence unit of the Capitol police has been altered when it was found out that it did not meet all the proper protocol. In the past, the department saw that threats of violence were found to be “unlikely.”

There has been evidence released that suggests that the Federal Protections Services may have been compiling information about the January 6th Capitol riot before it happened. On its bulletin on Facebook, FPS has all of the groups that have expressed interest in going to the rally on January 6th. FPS warned that there would be race motivated and anti-government attacks on January 6th. They released a bulletin on Facebook directed to those in the Department of Homeland Security and local law enforcement agencies, saying that it is likely that there will be extremist presence at the rally. The FPS’s messages harken back to the messages sent by the FBI office in Norfolk, Virginia, a day before the D.C. riot took place about there being extremists planning to go over to the January 6th rally to commit acts of violence and war.

This contrasts darkly between how these federal institutions were prepared and were ready for this extremist activity, even trying to notify local law enforcement about such, but law enforcement (Capitol police, etc.), was still particularly unprepared for extremist violence on the Capitol.

Based on the FPS messages, Pereira believes “The information provided by FPS is very interesting because it shows that there was knowledge of a possible event happening. Knowing this, law enforcement definitely should’ve been more prepared in case of the emergency happening. However, I also do not entirely blame them, as the nation of the Capitol being raided would’ve been impossible to think of before it actually happened. That being said, now that they know it can totally happen, they should make sure to prevent large gatherings around important places in Washington, as only a few people know a mob can get them all to do something. They must also continue to keep tabs on people that may be dangerous.”

There has been a huge rise in domestic terrorism, especially racially perpetrated attacks by anti-government militias or those supporting white supremacist ideology. Director of the FBI Christopher Wray condemned the January 6th Capitol riot and the Trump supporters that stormed the Capitol. He has stated that attacks such as these do not belong in democracy. Furthermore, he stated that domestic terrorist attacks from white supremacists have tripled from the time he took office in 2017. He underscored, along with other Congress members, that antifa or left wing radicals are not to blame for the majority of domestic terrorism in the US; that, he says, it is far-right militias, like The Oath Keepers, Proud Boys, and The Three Percenters, that are causing havoc in US’ democracy. The main reasons why law enforcement did not take the claims of extremists going to Washington D.C. to commit acts of violence seriously might have been due to the Trump Administration’s focus on Antifa, not far-right groups, and the replacement of law enforcement officials during the spring and summer.

Pereira gives reasons as to why far-right extremism has been bolstered, “As someone who identifies as a centrist, I do not support these extremist groups, as ultimately violence creates more problems than it resolves. They were certainly inspired by the January 6th riot, as it has proved that places such as the Capitol are lacking in security. I am not shocked by the apparent increase in popularity of extremism in the country. Our politics have stagnated over the last couple of decades, with both major parties having similar platforms when viewed through an international lens. People want to see change, which has prompted newfound support for both left-wing progressivism and right-wing nationalism, with the latter being less afraid to directly threaten the national government. The only way to prevent more extremism in my opinion, is to stop the divisiveness that has persisted over the last decade. Many sensible and more moderate people have been split by issues over which there shouldn’t really be much disagreement. By making sure that we have a strong moderate base for our country, we can limit the power of extremists.”

On the rise of right-wing domestic terrorism, Pereira states “The rise of right-wing domestic terrorism is not surprising, as having a former president who does not necessarily oppose them has given them more confidence in being outspoken about their beliefs. I cannot blame Trump for focusing on left-wing extremists because of the fact that they were very prevalent over the summer, many times turning peaceful BLM protests violent. However, this does not mean that he is completely right in doing so, as there have been other incidents led by right-wing groups which he failed to condemn as strongly as he did the leftist groups over the summer. My belief is that if two groups are causing the same problems, then you must speak out against both equally, which is something Trump failed to do. Also, Trump saw political benefit in focusing on the left-wing extremists, as he hoped people would vote against violence and would support his ‘Law and Order’ stance. However, he eventually lost, so that message was wiped down the drain when his supporters raided the Capitol.”

During the Black Lives Matter protests during the summer of 2020, many of those who were arrested were not affiliated with antifa or any other far-left groups. Although many of those that have been arrested do harbor anti-government sentiment, there is not evidence that corroborates that any of them were involved with far-left groups. Furthermore, FBI Director Christopher Wray has stated that antifa is more of an ideology than a group, and that most of violence comes from anti-government, white supremacists, and far-right groups. However, he states that the FBI does have cases that consist of those who were involved in far-left attacks, who say that they associate themselves with antifa.

New evidence has been released on the suspect that placed pipe bombs outside of the Democratic National Committee and the Republican National Committee placed similar devices close to the Capitol. When the Capitol police saw these devices they were drawn from their usual posts 90 minutes before the Capitol was stormed. Former Capitol Police Chief Steve Sund believes it was used as a diversionary tactic. On April 14, 2021, the FBI is still trying to find who the pipe bomber is, and are trying to use gait analysis, which focuses on how someone walks, in order to see if it gives any identifiable information. The pipe bomb that they placed were simply constructed, yet deadly. They have purposefully concealed their identity in order for them not to be identified, and most likely knew the area, due to them being aware of the cameras around them.

On March 3, 2021, the Capitol was notified by Senate Majority Leader Steny Hoyer about how there was a plan for a far-right militia to storm the Capitol on March 4, 2021. Many QAnon adherents believed that on March 4, former President Trump will be inaugurated as the President, due to inaugurations being held in the US on March 4, prior to the change to January 20 in 1933. Capitol police have been going under scrutiny from the Senate, since they were not prepared at all to stop the January 6th Capitol riot from escalating, and the National Guard reinforcement came late, when the rioters already went inside the Capitol.

Senate Democrats on the House Energy and and Commerce Committee questioned CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, about how there were ads that amplified 2020 Presidential Election misinformation, alongside ads that had body armor and gun accessories. Facebook ran these ads before the January 6th Capitol riot. From January 16th to 22th, Facebook did ban ads that featured weapons, due to the Capitol riot, and it already is against ads that promote weaponry and ammunition. They called for more transparency on how Facebook uses ads to target others, and that it must be careful about the content of the ads, in order not to promote hatred or violence.

The FBI is also researching whether foreign governments or other figures were involved in planning the riots.

 

Prominent Figures Face Consequences

There was a former State Department Trump political appointee Federico Klein that was arrested on March 4, 2021 due to him being a part of the January 6th riot. He has been identified on video  assaulting, resisting, and stealing from Capitol and Washington D.C. police officers. He is arrested with the charges of violent entry, disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, obstruction of justice, and other charges that deal with the assaulting or stopping police officers from doing their duties. This is the first time someone in the Trump Administration has been arrested for being a part of the January 6th Capitol riot. The FBI  has confirmed that he was a part of the riot through tips, after they have posted photos online of all of the Capitol assailants. Klein’s mother, Cecilia Klein, has stated that he said that he was at the mall when the Capitol riot happened, and she said that her son was not a Cabinet official, but was a Schedule C appointment in the Trump Administration. Documents show that he was still working at the State Department during January 6, and had security clearance. He later resigned his post on January 19.

Klein has been released out of prison on April 12, 2021, due to a U.S. District Court Judge John Bates ruling that despite his disloyalty that he displayed towards the US, he does not pose a significant threat to the national security of the US. Klein does not have ties to anyone that would do the US harm, and he still does not have access to classified information. Judge Bates also ruled that he did not commit as heinous acts towards Capitol Police officers during the January 6th Capitol riot compared to what others have done. Klein will have to wear a GPS monitor and is allowed limited travel, that will allow him not to set foot on the Capitol, and will only allow him to leave his house for religious, medical, legal, and work reasons.

Concerning the arrest of Trump Administration political appointee Federico Klein, Pereira says, “I am not shocked that he was involved because Trump has basically created a cult of personality for himself, and those who support him will support him no matter what, including people who have direct connections to him. Although this may seem damning for Trump, I do not believe it is enough evidence to support that he was directly involved in the riots. While he is definitely responsible for forming the beliefs of his followers, it cannot be said that he was directly involved without more direct evidence.”

A Trump political appointee was in a call with a member of the Proud Boys, a far-right and chauvinist militia group, during January 6th. This information was found out through law enforcement’s investigation on the ties between the Trump Administration and far-right groups on surrounding January 6.

Roger Stone, former advisor to the Trump Presidential campaign and self proclaimed political “prince of darkness,” was guarded by the Oath Keepers, a far-right militia group, before Jan. 6 and during the riot on Jan. 6. Stone also had a phone call with Proud Boy leader Enrique Tarrio during a demonstration in front of Senator Marco Rubio’s house. Stone has stated that he was not involved in orchestrating the January 6 riot, and those that are involved in that should be arrested. However, if Stone’s connections to far-right groups show that he was involved in disrupting the counting of electoral college votes, a criminal investigation could be brought against him. Also, there is evidence that Congress members and far-right groups spoke over giving speeches during the White House Ellipse Rally (Trump rally before the riot on Jan. 6).  This all shows how deep the relations that far-right groups have with the Trump Administration.

An Oath Keeper lifetime member Roberto Minuta that provided security to Stone at the Capitol riot was arrested on March 8, 2021. He has been seen taunting and berating police officers in footage. Minuta was arrested on the charges of entering a restricted building, tampering with documents and proceedings, and obstructing an official proceeding.

Another Oath Keeper member Joshua James that guarded Stone during the January 6th Capitol Riot was arrested for storming the Capitol on March 9, 2021. James is charged with obstruction of Congress and entering the Capitol without permission.

The founder of the Oath Keepers Rhodes is also being investigated on how he was involved in the Capitol riot on January 6th. If he is arrested, this would be a significant set back against the Oath Keepers. On the Oath Keeper website before the Capitol riot, it asked “patriots” in Washington D.C. to show their support for former President Trump against foreign and domestic enemies who want to overthrow the government.

Regarding far-right groups and their connections to those close to Trump, Pereira states, “I had never heard of Stone, however I had definitely heard of groups like those, including the Proud Boys themselves. Before the riots, I wouldn’t have found them to be necessarily dislikeable, however I have definitely lost any respect I had for them due to the riots. While I am very patriotic, I cannot support groups who commit acts of domestic terrorism. I am not surprised that a person such as Stone could be associated with them, considering they have arisen due to the massive popularity of Trump. Whether Trump supports them or not, it definitely shows that those around him can be quite dangerous if allowed to have any sort of power.”

Senators John Hawley (R-MO) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) are also being investigated by The Select Committee on Ethics panel on their alleged role in encouraging the January 6th Capitol riot.

The Paris Climate Agreement is a binding treaty that many nations, including China, France, and the United States, are a part of. The Paris Climate Accord’s goal is to reduce global warming. Countries have to turn in their plan on how they are going to lessen greenhouse gas emissions. This treaty is not just for Paris, it is for citizens across the world. (Tweet Screenshot Courtesy of Treasure Olson)

On how Republican senators Cruz and Hawley are under investigation, senior Treasure Olson says, “I actually didn’t know that Senators Cruz and Hawley were under investigation. Cruz says the most nightmarish ignorant stuff on twitter. A lot of the pro-Trump riot at the Capitol was planned. There were a lot of different social media posts on Twitter and Facebook from Republican groups [saying] that they were going to riot. I am not 100% on the details of these events. They encouraged the people who did riot at the capitol building and they should be held accountable for that.”

Concerning Senators Cruz and Hawley supporting the theory that Trump won the 2020 Presidential Election, senior Louie Cambalon states, “The Republican party only supports democracy if it supports themselves.”

Cambalon believes that the only reason why Biden won the presidency is the same one that allowed Trump’s own victory, “Biden represented something that people needed, which was a breath of fresh air from Trump. Biden was willing to give the COVID-19 pandemic its due attention. Trump won in 2016 due to his promise to ‘Make America Great Again.’ Both campaigns made people rush to the polls in hopes to get what they were promised.”

On the state of the Republican party, Cambalon says, “The Capitol riot has created a lot of tension between the right. The Republican party is in a state of civil war and it can’t say something as a whole.”

Republican elected officials at the national and state levels congregated together on Zoom to discuss the future of their party. 40% of them stated that they were for creating a different party and 43% of them wanted to create a faction that would work with the GOP. Many more Republicans are wondering what the future of the party looks like after the January 6 Capitol riot.

 

Lawsuits, Lawsuits, & More Lawsuits Arise

On February 16, 2021, Representative Bennie Thompson filed a lawsuit against former President Trump, Rudy Giuliani, the Proud Boys, and the Oath Keepers on the basis they had violated the KKK Act. The KKK Act was passed to protect against intimidation that would impede Congress’s duties. A press release detailing the lawsuit states that this riot was carefully planned to disrupt the certification of electoral votes. Trump may not be a defendant in the lawsuit, due to a 1982 Supreme Court ruling that shields presidents from being in lawsuits over official acts.

Due to the January 6th riot, Woods believes that this alone should be used to prove them guilty, “Using the insurrection as evidence, this should find Trump and all of these groups (far-right militias) guilty. I do not know what Giuliani did in terms of inciting or supporting the insurrection.” 

During the White House Ellipse Rally, Giuliani along with Trump repeated false claims that the 2020 Presidential Election was stolen by President Biden.  Giuliani told the crowd of Trump supporters at the rally that they must have a “trial by combat,” and alluded to how those in the electoral college were going to steal their votes from President Trump away, by certifying that Biden won the election.

Pereira thinks that Trump cannot be prosecuted on the grounds that he incited the riot, “Without more proof of Trump’s direct involvement with the riots, I do not think he can be tried for them. However, some of the groups like the Proud Boys who had members there can definitely be found guilty. My final say is that Trump himself cannot yet be found guilty, but some of the other groups with active participants definitely can.”

Apart from Congressman Thompson’s lawsuit, there has been various lawsuits that have been filed against Trump during his presidency. Many of them either involve sexual assault, his own personal dealings as a businessman, or  potential meddling in the 2020 Presidential Election.

Regarding if he knew of any lawsuits involving Trump, Woods says, “Not in particular, but I believe they have to do with taxes.”

Pereira states, “I am not totally aware of Trump’s current lawsuits exactly, however I have heard that his tax records are being investigated, due to him now being prosecutable [SIC], since he’s out of office.”

Pereira gives an assumption on what the lawsuits entail, “I don’t know the specifics, but I would not be surprised if a billionaire such as Trump has been complicit with his taxes.”

Major lawsuits against the former president are still taking place, and now since Trump is not president, he does not have immunity from being indicted on criminal charges.

There are open cases on whether Trump has committed tax fraud. Trump hasn’t been convicted as of March 7, 2021, involving any cases with tax fraud. District Attorney Cyrus Vance has denied that this investigation against Trump is a “fishing expedition,” and stated that many points in his investigation were based off of alleged claims of financial misrepresentations from the Trump Organization that have been reported from news media.

Representative Swalwell has filed a case in Washington D.C. against former President Trump, former NYC mayor and personal attorney to Trump Rudy Giuliani, and Representative Mo Brooks, on the grounds that they incited violence at the Capitol and have promoted false claims that Trump was the winner of the election, and that there was widespread election fraud in the 2020 Presidential Election.

Both Jean Carroll and Summer Zervos have come out and stated that Trump has sexually assaulted them, both claims that Trump vehemently denies. Zervos told the public that she was sexually assaulted by Trump during the 2016 Presidential Election, to which Trump has stated that she did so in order for the Clintons to have an advantage during the election. Carroll released that she was sexually assaulted by Trump in 2019, and Trump has stated that she was trying to look for attention for her up and coming book, instead of coming out about sexual trauma. Carroll has filed a defamation lawsuit against Trump for that claim, as well.

Mary Trump, a family member of former President Trump, is suing Trump for defrauding her of millions of dollars from her inheritance after he father passed away. Mary has also released a book titled, “Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man,” regarding Trump. Trump is trying to dismiss the case against him. She alleges that when her father, Trump’s brother, passed away in 1981, she was too young to look after her inheritance, so Trump and his siblings stated that they would look after it for her for her own accord. Since then, she claims, they have withdrawn millions of dollars out of her bank account. In 2001, she eventually accepted a settlement suit, that was worth less than she thought it would be.

New York Attorney General Letitia James has been building a case on whether Trump tried to get out of liabilities for his taxes by changing the property tax values. When Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal attorney and fixer, stated that Trump has been in fraud in 2019, the case officially started. On October 22, 2020, the Attorney General’s office got his son, Eric Trump, to testify, and on January 2021, a state court judge ruled that they are allowed to have documents that Trump’s tax attorneys have.

Another Attorney General, D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine, has been in an investigation on whether or not Trump was involved in inciting the January 6th Capitol riot. He is looking for a local D.C. code which makes it illegal to incite violence.

In Georgia, the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office has been investigating Trump’s supposed interference in the Georgia 2020 Presidential Election, and is trying to preserve all communications about the election. The investigation is also focusing on former Trump personal attorney and Mayor of NYC Giuliani and his alleged false claims to Georgian officials, and Senator Lindsey Graham’s phone call to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.

Concerning the Manhattan DA case on Trump’s tax returns, Woods says, “I do hope Allen Weisselberg reveals any wrong-doing. I’m assuming this is a lawsuit regarding taxes at the state level.”

Due to Trump being in business before politics, Pereira says, “Again, these non-political legal issues tend more in favor of the plaintiff, as these are problems Trump has had since way before he entered politics. If his tax records can prove he committed fraud of any sorts, he should be found guilty.” 

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance has been in investigation since Trump has taken office on whether Trump has been involved with fraud, tax crimes, and other monetary crimes under New York state law. One of the focuses of his investigation was Trump Organization chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg, and whether he agrees to testify will help the case move forward a lot. Vance is not seeking for reelection, but will work until the end of his tenure this year on this case. There was a subpoena against Ms. Weisselberg, the former daughter-in-law of Allen Weisselberg. She has cooperated with the DA’s office, and has handed over several documents, and has been questioned about gifts that the Trump and company has given the family, such as school tuition, and an apartment in Central Park South. They are looking to see whether the Trump and company has exploited property values, in order to get tax benefits and advantageous loans. There isn’t any proof yet that shows that Allen Weisselberg has committed any wrongdoing, but if he did, the pressure on him to work with the DA’s office will be applied

Concerning the Manhattan DA case on Trump’s tax returns, Woods says, “I do hope Allen Weisselberg reveals any wrong-doing. I’m assuming this is a lawsuit regarding taxes at the state level.”

Due to Trump being in business before politics, Pereira says, “Again, these non-political legal issues tend more in favor of the plaintiff, as these are problems Trump has had since way before he entered politics. If his tax records can prove he committed fraud of any sorts, he should be found guilty.”

Trump Gets Impeached & Acquitted

Trump’s impeachment trial was held from February 9, 2021 to February 13, 2021. Although Trump was impeached a second time by the House of Representatives, he was acquitted a second time in the Senate. The vote to impeach former President Trump had the most bipartisan support in the history of the United States.

On February 9th 2021, Trump’s attorneys claimed that the impeachment trial was unconstitutional, since Trump was no longer a sitting president. Attorney Castor argued that the motives of the impeachment trial were partisan and that the Democrats were “overly reactionary” towards what happened at the Capitol on January 6th. Castor acknowledged that Trump did lose to President Biden and Attorney Schoen stated that the trial was purposefully delayed, despite House Minority Leader Mitch McConnell telling House Majority Leader Chuck Schumer that he would not allow the Senate to go to recess early, so the Trump defense team could have more time to prepare their case.

The Trump defense team showed how Democrats supported the BLM protests during the summer, and then showed acts of violence that were committed during these protests and the ones the evolved into riots. They did this to show that impassioned speech has been used in various instances in politics. 93% of the BLM protests during the summer of 2020 were peaceful, and the other 7% of them were violent.

Representative and Impeachment Manager Jamie Raskin stated during the trial that presidents must be held accountable during the whole time that they are president, and that there cannot be a “January exception.”

During the second day of the trial, Impeachment Managers used previously unseen, riveting footage of the January 6th riot. Police officers’ voices called for back up and Congress members fled from danger. Trump’s tweets and actions, affirming the false claim that the election was stolen, were also utilized to argue that he incited the attack. Managers also focused on how white supremacists were embroiled in the January 6th riot, and how many of them were emboldened when Trump refused to condemn the Proud Boys (an alt-right, chauvinist group).

Day three of the trial, Impeachment Managers made their last arguments. They argued that Trump was aware that there was a possibility of violence that could take place during January 6th. Also, it was argued that if the Senate votes to acquit Trump, that it would embolden white supremacists and other extremists. Managers challenged the argument that Trump’s speech before the January 6th riot was covered under the First Amendment, saying that there are limitations with free speech. They repeated their arguments from January 6th, which some believed weakened their case.

The fourth day of the impeachment trial, Trump’s defense attorneys stated that Trump never has promoted violence and minimized Trump’s phone call to Brad Raffensperger on finding votes that would declare him the winner in Georgia. Attorney van der Veen stated that the Democrats’ motive in this was to bar Trump from office. Overall, they argued that there was not any evidence to corroborate Trump as inciting the January 6th riot, and that his speech in the Ellipse was protected under the 1st Amendment.

Former President Trump and other Republicans were unpleased with the Trump defense team’s performance.

Representative Adam Kinzinger stated that he believed that if this trial were private, Trump would be impeached.

Before the impeachment trial started, senior Treasure Olson was asked about the proceedings. She wanted Trump to be impeached, but believed he might not be convicted. In addition, Olson stated, “There is contention between Democrats and Republicans on impeaching Trump.”

Trump Appears at CPAC

Former president Trump made his first public appearance since his 2020 Presidential Election loss at the CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference). The CPAC took place from February 25 to February 28 at the Hyatt Hotel in Orlando, Florida. CPAC is now a base for far right Trump supporters, activists, and Congress members to show their support for him and the late president’s former policies. In one poll, 68% of CPAC attendees supported Trump to run again for Presidential office in 2024, and in a second poll, a whopping 97% supported having his policies bolstered within the Republican party. Another poll that was conducted showed that 55% of attendees wanted Trump to run again. Trump has hinted at running for office again, even misleadingly saying that he could beat Democrats a third time. Besides Trump, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis was also high in the polls. In the second poll that was conducted, DeSantis got 21% of the vote, and without Trump in the poll, DeSantis got 47%, the second highest and highest rankings out of both polls respectively. During the CPAC, Trump made a speech which railed against President Biden’s immigration plans, and talked about how successful his administration was compared to the Biden Administration.

Junior Orlando Pereira believes that the results of the polls taken at CPAC confirms that Trump will run again, “This data only goes to further prove that Trump will most likely run in 2024, and will have major support. Regardless of whether he wins the nomination or not, his ideas will become central to the campaigns of many other non-establishment Republicans. Not only that, but some of Trump’s rhetoric, especially when it comes to international foes, appears to have even made its way into the Democratic Party, with Biden agreeing with Trump on limiting Chinese influence and trying to get companies to stay and/or come back to the US. However, even with all of this, I believe there is still a big chunk of conservatives who do not want Trump’s image to continue as the face of the party, which will hurt his chances in some key states, both in the primaries and in the general election.”

Senior Tyler Woods states what he dislikes about the CPAC event: “I didn’t attend nor did I watch it live. I did watch some of the speeches. I disliked how this event only reinforced the idea that many states, usually majority Republican, are ignoring the dangers of the pandemic.”

Pereira stated, “I neither watched nor attended the CPAC, nor did I participate in any protests surrounding it, nor do I know anyone who did either of those. I did however hear that Trump spoke at the event, and that it is apparent that he has remained immensely popular among Republicans.”

Regarding the speeches that were made at the CPAC, Woods said, “Many of them were fairly stock standard and outright boring.”

On the contents of Trump’s speech at CPAC, Woods was not surprised. “He [says he] won the election, it was stolen, and [complains] about Biden’s administration. I disliked what I heard and only listened to about 5 minutes of it. Trump is still delusional and believes he won the election.”

Regarding Trump’s criticisms of Biden in his CPAC speech and his eminent role in the Republican Party, Pereira states, “I watch a YouTube channel called ‘Let’s Talk Politics,’ which is where I got much of this information. He had a very good take on the things Trump had to say about the current president, which basically was that it would set the tone for how Republicans will criticize Biden going forward. If Trump is indeed to remain the face of the party, then I would expect that to be true. My greatest takeaway from all of this is that Trump will definitely remain active in the years to come, and will be a very likely frontrunner for the GOP’s nomination for the 2024 election.”

Woods describes the future of the Republican party without Trump, saying, “I don’t believe Trump has the support to run again and win. I do however think his policies have support and I do believe that someone with a formal nomination from Trump can rally the Republican party together and win a future election.”

As for the future of the Republican Party, Pereira says, “I have only heard details about Trump’s speech. I am quite concerned by some of the things I have heard. I would’ve expected him to detach himself from the Republican Party, perhaps making his own [party]. However, it appears that he intends to be the face of the party, supported by other members of it. He also called out many Republicans who ‘betrayed’ him, which makes me believe it is the establishment that will have to detach from the future Republican Party, led by Trump.”

Furthermore, Pereira believes that with Trump being older, he will probably pass on his political legacy to his family and other major supporters in the Republican Party. “With Trump’s age, it is hard to believe that he himself can stick around for a long time. However, his ideas certainly resonate, and someone will most likely pick up the mantle. He may even create a political dynasty, with some of his children perhaps running for office themselves, with the most likely being Ivanka in my mind. Other candidates for this could be possibly DeSantis, as you stated earlier, and perhaps Ted Cruz. However his popularity among his own Texans has decreased.”

Regarding whether Trump will remain a political behemoth in the Republican party, Woods says, “No. I don’t think Trump is completely replaceable. He may have competition within the party, but he will be a powerful figure within the party until he dies.”

While at the Hyatt Hotel, hotel staff wanted attendees to follow the mask mandate that is in the hotel’s policy. However, attendees kept on taking off their masks to take photos or to talk with others. Also, CPAC staff even tried to tell attendees to wear masks, but they were countered with boos from the crowd. The Hyatt Hotel made a statement apologizing on the CPAC’s stage similarity to a Nazi symbol, an Odal rune, and stated that CPAC told them that there was nothing to be worried about, so they did not speak up until after the conference.

CPAC Lead Organizer Matt Schlapp has stated that the Hyatt’s claims are slanderous. A CPAC Spokesman Ian Waters stated that the Hyatt is grateful for CPAC, since it brought former President Trump and top Republican officials to their hotel.

On these issues, Woods states, “Looking at the history of the Odal rune, it has been used by several extremist groups, usually white supremacists, across the world. The use of this symbol is inexcusable and very controversial. The resistance to wear masks should have been expected, but booing is kind of childish in my opinion. CPAC’s excuse for the use of the Odal rune was a clear use of the scapegoat ‘social distancing,’ even though they allowed people to remove masks.”

Concerning if CPAC should be condemned due to having their stage resembling an Odal rune, Pereira says, “I believe that the stage part is somewhat of a stretch, as research into the rune shows me that it seems like a very simple symbol to accidentally mimic. The Hyatt staff were definitely mistreated. However, they should’ve expected that to happen. Trump’s base has been very anti-mask from the get go, so attempting to reason with them seems like an unnecessary danger. I am glad to hear that CPAC itself attempted to get people to obey the mask rules, as it shows that there are at least some reasonable people in that circle. The Odal rune comparison can be slanderous as it seems like a very easy oversight, given that most people only know of the SS and Swastika symbols associated with the Nazis. However, the booing of employees is not slander, due to that being an obvious intention by the participants.”

Outside of CPAC, there were protestors and counter protestors. There were some moments where events got testy between them, for instance when Trump supporters tried to egg counter protestors on and when both sides were yelling and swearing at each other. The Sheriff did come over to help de-escalate the fight, and some like the Capitol Police, did take photos with the Trump supporters.

Woods was not aware of the protestors and counter protestors at the event. However, it does not surprise Pereira that there were counter protestors and protestors outside of CPAC. “I was not aware of these protests, but given the current political climate, it is not surprising. Whenever one side appears somewhere, their opponents will almost always show up. I have even witnessed this myself at one point before COVID-19, seeing a small group of people protesting for LGBTQ rights being confronted by an anti-LGBTQ group of people.”

The Future of the Republican Party Remains Unclear

There has been a division between those that are for Trump and against Trump in the Republican party. One of the most vocal against Trump leaders is Rep. Liz Cheney, who is the House Republican Chair, which is the third highest seat in the House for the Republican party. She voted to impeach Trump and publicly condemned that Trump did incite violence. Also, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, at first one of Trump’s fierce defenders, now condemns Trump after the January 6 Capitol riot. He stated that Trump is to blame for it, but did vote against impeaching him, citing that he believes that it is not constitutional to impeach a president out of office. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, at first did step up and say accusatory remarks about Trump’s involvement, but later stepped back. McCarthy and Rep. Steve Scalise have been seen going over to Mar-a-Lago, President Trump’s property, and talking to the former President there. McCarthy and Scalise were booked to speak at CPAC this year, whereas Cheney and McConnell were not. There have been many remarks across the Republican party on how to handle Rep. Cheney and her comments against Trump. Rep. Andy Biggs stated how he wanted Cheney to resign when she stated at a conference that the GOP should not be the party of white supremacy, and that there should be a commission to look into Trump’s misleading claims about the 2020 Presidential Election. Biggs states that she does not know what the rest of the Republican party is like, essentially meaning that the majority obviously supports Trump, and she does not.

Concerning the divide among Republicans in the House and in Congress, Woods says,  “Those who support Trump and those who don’t are two different groups of Republicans. They are divided over the issue of Trump’s behavior as president and whether his actions should be condemned. I do think Trump is still a huge influence inside the party, and any candidate who runs for president or other office who is endorsed by Trump will likely win that office. I don’t think the group of Republicans who condemned Trump will win against a Trump-supported candidate.”

Pereira believes that there is both division among Republicans and Democrats, “There is definitely a schism in the GOP right now. With Trump calling many people out at CPAC, it is clear that the establishment has broken with him once again. In early February, I would’ve predicted that the schism would’ve led to Trump creating his own party, with his political allies supporting him. However, it seems now that Trump himself will remain in power in the GOP, and the establishment are the ones that will have to flee if they are to not be antagonized by fellow Republicans. Going into a deeper discussion, I also believe that the Democrats are beginning to schism, with the progressives becoming impatient with the establishment. I would expect that in the next 10-20 years, we will have a three-party system, consisting of a progressive party, an establishment/moderate party made up of people from both the current Democrat and Republican parties, and a Republican party led by either Trump or simply by the ideals he has established. I would expect the moderate party to have more initial success, but I suspect that younger generations will more strongly support the other two parties.”

 

Arrests Made, Including Victorville’s Jacob Lewis

This is a picture of The Gym in Victorville on February 3, 2021. The owner of The Gym, Jacob Lewis, reopened his gym despite the state lockdown orders instated by Governor Newsom. The California Fitness Alliance filed a lawsuit against the state of California, with its indefinite lockdown of gyms. A Los Angeles Superior Court Judge has denied California the right to throw out the lawsuit.  California Governor Newsom has withdrawn the stay-at-home order, which gets rid of the curfew and allows businesses to reopen.  (Courtesy of Mirna Kelley)

Jacob Lewis is one of the Californians arrested who have taken part in the pro-Trump riot.

The owner of The Gym in Victorville, was arrested due to his involvement in the pro-Trump riot at the Capitol. He was charged with violent or disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds and for knowingly entering a restricted building or grounds without lawful authority. As of February 10, 2021, he was released on conditions. Tipsters told the FBI that Lewis posted pictures of himself at the Capitol on Instagram, that he showed off his guns and asked where to get ammunition, and told them to look out and see what happens on January 6th at the Capitol. The tipster made it clear that Lewis did not make any violent threats surrounding January 6th, nor bring weapons to the Capitol.

Lewis has told the FBI that no one told him that he was not allowed to enter the Capitol, and that even Capitol police officers ushered him inside the building. Although, an FBI agent has reviewed footage of Lewis from inside the Capitol, and they have stated that no where is it seen that a Capitol police officer escorted him in. Also, he stated that he believed Antifa members were involved in the Capitol riot in disguise, despite law enforcement officials saying that there is no evidence that rioters had ties to Antifa. 

Lewis was known for keeping The Gym open, despite Governor Gavin Newsom’s COVID-19 regulations regarding how gyms should stay closed to decrease the spread of the virus. He stated that it is necessary for it to be open for people’s mental and physical health.

After reaching out to Jacob Lewis about his involvement in the January 6th Capitol riot, he gave no comment.

There are internal discussions within the Department of Justice and the FBI on whether or not to prosecute all of the rioters that they have identified. This is due to them not wanting to overwhelm the D.C. federal courts, the difficulty in prosecuting those that went into the Capitol building and did not commit heinous acts, and how many might use Mr. Trump’s statements on voter fraud to back up why they stormed the Capitol. The FBI is looking to charge those who planned and committed acts of violence against the government with seditious conspiracy, which is a 20 year sentence.

There have been claims that antifa (antifascist) activists were behind the riots as well. This baseless claim was spread on social media, on the news, and so on.

John Sullivan, leader of Insurgence USA, was the first person to be associated with liberal causes to be arrested due to being a part of the Capitol riot. Trump and his followers have stated that antifa and liberal activists were the ones causing unrest at the Capitol, and they are using Sullivan as proof. Sullivan states that he was acting as a journalist, but the FBI has proof that he was encouraging violence at the Capitol. Sullivan has further stated that he does not have remorse for his actions.

Many of those in attendance were white supremacists, Republican party officials, GOP donors, far right militants (including the Proud Boys), adherents of QAnon (those that believe that the government is ruled by satanic, canabalistic pedophiles), military members, and off-duty police officers.

FBI investigations have pulled a full scale investigation on who was involved in the Capitol riots.

Bhangu states that she read FBI reports on how rioters were arrested,  “I know that they are identifying them through videos being posted and interviews that the rioters themselves have given,” she stated.

A lot of arrests have been made. As Bhangu stated, many of them made their identification easier for FBI by posting photos or videos of themselves on social media at the riot.

Students React to January 6th

The Trump Administration did try to separate themselves from the Capitol riot. However Women for America First, a nonprofit organization, held a “Save America” rally that same day that included individuals who were close to the Trump Administration.

Publix heiress, Julie Jenkins Fancelli, donated $300,000 to the “Save America” rally on January 6th. Publix has since tweeted out that Fancelli does not influence and is not a part of Publix in any way. Alex Jones, the creator of alt-right site Infowars, donated $50,000 to the pro-Trump rally at the White House Ellipse.

President Trump’s fiery speech at the Capitol was later used as evidence by the Impeachment Managers as showing that former President Trump incited his supporters to riot and storm the Capitol.

Regarding how there were people involved in the Trump Administration at the Women for America First rally, Olson was not surprised at all, “Trump has been saying for a long time, if there was fraud, he wouldn’t transition out of the White House peacefully. How he actively fed into this, doesn’t surprise me at all. Having those AP reporters getting blocked shows they don’t want their information to get seen. They planned beforehand that people would show up at this moment. It is very clear that they were involved or at least instigating and encouraging people to do this.”

Far-right militia violence has grown after the election, many of the militias are anti-government. Far-right militia demonstrations have increased since the 2020 Presidential Election. Far-right groups were involved in the storming of the Capitol on January 6th, such as The Oath Keepers, The Three Percenters, and the Proud Boys. However, not all of them advocate for violence.

Regarding the pro-Trump rioters and their motives, Cambalon states, “You have to question their beliefs. These people rioted to protect democracy, however they were trying to overthrow [it]. They were doing something unconstitutional.” Cambalon believes that the pro-Trump riot at the Capitol should be condemned and is not justified.

Senior Kajal Bhangu was not surprised or shocked when she heard about the pro-Trump riot at the Capitol, “Trump had expressed multiple times that he wants his supporters to fight to get in office,” she stated. “The double standard had always been clear to me, so seeing that there were no repercussions did not alarm me. The response that the rioters had gotten was expected because they were not people of color.”

In Kajal Bhangu’s response to the pro-Trump riots, she talked about how there are “two Americas”:

“The domestic terrorism at the Capitol showed the difference between the two Americas. In one America, storming the Capitol is seen as a patriotic act in which the people gather to defend their freedom. This America is forgiven for refusing to obey the laws and not acknowledging the results of the US election. In another America, people are killed for walking down the street or playing in the park. In this other America, fighting against oppression is breaking the law and peaceful protests are shut down with teargas and rubber bullets. In this other America, basic human rights are taken away. I believe the events at the Capitol solidified that there has always been a bias in the mind of authorities as people of color fight for their rights.”

Regarding who she alluded to in her response, Bhangu said, “I was alluding to Trayvon Martin, Stephon Clark (killed in his grandmother’s backyard while walking around talking on his phone), and Tamir Rice.”

The most obvious example for how police officers are biased towards people of color in fighting for their rights, in Bhangu’s opinion, was during the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests,  “The protesters were often met with an armed national guard as well as teargas and bullets. Hundreds arrests were made on the spot on protests and strict curfews were given. Although these people had peacefully assembled to fight for their rights they were treated like criminals and the police had been unjustly violent.”

How pro-Trump rioters were treated compared to the Black Lives Matter protesters is stark in comparison. The Capitol police did not call for backup when the rioters stormed the Capitol building, which made Senators and Congressmen hide in a safe area. This debacle led to the resignation of Capitol police chief Steven Sund. Some of the officers even posed for pictures and wore Trump hats. Whereas Black Lives Matter protesters were tear gassed, pepper sprayed, and had rubber bullets shot at them. Two police officers were fired and 10 other officers are under investigation. Since 2001, 250 Black Capitol police officers have filed a lawsuit against the United States Capitol Police Department, stating that one of them found a noose in their locker and that Black and white officers who befriended them were subjected to racial slurs. A Black female officer also filed a lawsuit against the Capitol Police Department in 2016. 

Acting US Capitol police chief Yogananda Pittman gave her apologies to Congress on the failings of the Capitol police during the January 6th Capitol riot. She stated that the Capitol police force was aware two days before the Capitol riot that there was going to be violence at the US Capitol and that the violence would be aimed at Congress. Former Capitol police chief Steven Sund went to the Capitol Police Board on January 4th to declare a state emergency and to request for the National Guard to protect the Capitol before former President Trump’s speech at the White House Ellipse. Sund’s requests were denied. Sund asked again on January 6th for the National Guard to come in, but it was until over an hour later that his request was approved by the Board. Pittman did not state why Sund’s requests were denied by the Board at first. There were complaints made by Capitol police officers on miscommunication that were addressed by Pittman. On how Capitol police officers lead the rioters into the Capitol building, she said that she ordered for them to protect the Capitol, but her directions were not followed fully. 

Throughout Olson’s paragraph on her reaction to the pro-Trump rioters, she emphasized how differently police officers treated the white pro-Trump rioters and the Black Lives Matter protesters.

The attacks and attempted coup at the capitol yesterday [January 6th] was shameful and disgusting, and was a worldwide embarrassment that even now, many world leaders are condemning. What baffles me the most is the way the police outside of the White House handled this. Their inaction was horrific, and when contrasted with the way they beat and ran over unarmed BLM protestors mercilessly this summer, it showcased just how extremely racially biased that the entire system is against people of color. I am NOT surprised by this. Eighty four percent of police officers have voted for Trump. Armed and dangerous white protesters were able to just waltz right into the White House and begin going through important documents and scaring government officials, and so far, only thirteen of the domestic terrorists that broke into the capitol have been arrested. There is an extremely striking difference between the way that the police treat unarmed protesters standing up for their rights, versus armed and dangerous protesters fighting to keep a hateful politician in office.”

The statistic Olson is referring to comes from a poll conducted by Police Magazine in 2016 in which 3,652 working officers responded.

On whether she was surprised by how police officers treated the Black Lives Matter protesters from the pro-Trump riots, Olson says, “I am not surprised by this. One of them is a crowd of marginalized people protesting against things they can’t control. The other group is just trying to get their president re-elected. A lot of Trump supporters are police officers. Trump keeps them in power in turn, while they keep him in power. A lot of police officers are racist and prejudiced against people of color. It is very appalling. There is inherent racism within the police system itself.”

Regarding how the Capitol police officers reacted to the pro-Trump rioters, Olson states, “I have read this article about their chief of police resigning over this. I have seen the photos of Capitol police taking pictures with the protesters and how they opened the gate to protesters. The police were being lenient with these people. It is disturbing. A good amount of officers were just standing by, while these people broke into different parts of the White House.”