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May 5, 2023

I’ve been clear from the outset that the events of January 6 should make no one proud.  But a subsequent trial and verdict sure won’t make you proud of our ‘justice’ system.

After a nearly four-month trial, four of five Proud Boys were found guilty of seditious conspiracy related to January 6 in a Washington DC court on Thursday.  For more detail, we went to the definitive source on this story, Julie Kelly at AMERICAN GREATNESS.

Enrique Tarrio, Ethan Nordean, Joseph Biggs, and Zachary Rehl were all convicted of seditious conspiracy and conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding.  Dominic Pezzola was found guilty of conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, and they were all convicted of conspiracy to prevent an officer from discharging any duties, obstruction of law enforcement during a civil disorder, and one count of destruction of government property.

For taking a police riot shield during the chaos, Pezzola was also found guilty of assaulting or impeding law enforcement and also of robbery.

Some charges are still unresolved, and Kelly says it’s “unclear” how Judge Tim Kelly (no relation) will instruct the jury on handling those.

We’ve covered this mess of a trial on and off as it started and stopped, especially the last-minute revelation of numerous FBI informants within the group.  Kelly’s report has links to the various controversies that came up during court.

“Seditious conspiracy” is a statute that originated after the Civil War to deal with those who rebelled against the United States.  Until 2022, no one had ever been convicted of it.  But the language is vague enough to facilitate the criminal prosecution of public dissent.  Both seditious conspiracy and obstruction of an official proceeding are felonies punishable by up to 20 years in prison --- each.

These individuals were essentially found guilty by reason of inflammatory group chats.  They brought no arms to the event, they assaulted no officer, and group leader Tarrio wasn’t even in Washington on January 6.  He was in a Baltimore hotel.

Though Judge Kelly was a former Trump appointee, Julie had the impression he was “acting as a second lawyer for the prosecution, routinely rubber-stamping government motions that make the convictions ripe for appeal.”  And there had better be one.

One important reason for appeal is the make-up of this jury.  Of course, in DC it’s virtually impossible to get an impartial group of 12, but this particular jury appears to have been dripping with bias.  According to LAWFARE writer Roger Parloff, “Six jurors had participated in liberal-leaning protests or marches, while none mentioned conservative-leaning demonstrations.  The protests included, in two cases, ‘women’s’ marches; in two cases, ‘anti-gun’ marches; and, in four cases, protests related to Black Lives Matter or George Floyd’s murder, which, as we’ll see, are of particular concern in this case.  One sitting juror had a Black Lives Matter sign in her yard.”

As if that weren’t bad enough, at the time of jury selection, the J6 Kangaroo Kourt was holding its televised hearings, even singling out the Proud Boys, but Judge Kelly was not persuaded that the hearings would influence an already-partisan jury pool

Julie Kelly notes that prosecutors often mentioned President Trump during the trial, and believes that “the convictions will bolster Special Counsel Jack Smith’s ongoing investigation into Donald Trump for similar charges.”  (He’s also in charge of looking into Trump’s alleged possession of classified documents at Mar-A-Lago.)  If you doubt that this is the endgame, here’s what attorney Andrew Weissmann (who ran the Mueller investigation of Trump) tweeted after the verdict: “[Huge] win for the government and our democracy --- terrorist group, unleashed by the former President, held to account.  Makes charging the leader of the seditious conspiracy, one Donald J. Trump, imperative.”

This is surely the ace up their sleeve if Trump maintains his level of support leading into the ‘24 election.  They don’t seem to understand that their misuse of the legal system to target Trump is backfiring --- convincing many conservatives that we need HIM in office to take THEM down.

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