Happy Friday everybody! Doesn’t this feel better than a Monday morning? It’s your boy, David Podhaskie, a.k.a, Roscoe Conking, a.k.a., DJ Skinny Sticks, a.ka., Bruce Burly Lips, a.k.a., Passion Fruit Cobbler, a.k.a., the cool side of the pillow. We are out living our best lives1 here with a kind of a celebratory Jackal: There is an official sedition indictment, and it is juicy. Let’s jump into that, while also leaving room for the Supreme Court striking down President Biden’s vaccine mandate, and maybe Jeffrey Epstein’s biggest missed opportunity for a client, Matt Gaetz.
Yesterday, we got our biggest indictment yet in the January 6th cases: Stewart Rhodes, the head of the Oath Keepers (a militia group), was indicted for “seditious conspiracy,” along with ten other people associated with the Oath Keepers. It’s 1000% a sea change in the trajectory of the January 6th investigation.
There are basically two components of the investigation into January 6th. We have the Committee, which is led by members of Congress. Then there is the Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation, which is behind this indictment. DOJ has caught a lot of flack lately based on how slowly their investigation has been progressing, which is probably due to the fact that people greatly overestimate how long it takes the Federal Government (even the DOJ) to do things. Think of it like this: Your local Social Security office does things slowly. The DMV does things slowly. Why would a giant Federal investigation be any different? It took the FBI 17 years to catch the Unabomber, even though he was leaving his evidence behind. Federal investigations take a really long time, especially one involving a complicated charge like sedition. But after waiting for basically a year, we finally have it. Is it time to party?
I like to keep things light in the Jackal, but the indictment of Rhodes is legitimately terrifying. You can read the whole thing for yourself here, but the worst of it is that - for Rhodes and others - January 6th was just a beginning. Rhodes himself said this, and they had many plans for post-January 6th activities.
I think there have been a good chunk of Maybe and even Never Trump Republicans who have said that while January 6th was bad, it was ultimately a comical event: A bunch of dudes who live in their parents’ basements got upset about the election and stormed the Capitol. It was more “cosplay” than it was insurrection. Rhodes’s indictment should disabuse people of that notion. They had a full plan in place for ongoing violence, including moving the Oath Keepers to the “mountains of Kentucky” in order to regroup and try to overthrow “the usurper,” Joe Biden.
Before we even get into the indictment itself and what a “seditious conspiracy” charge entails, it’s important to note that the violence that occurred on January 6th was warned about for a long time, mostly because there were people paying attention to the words and actions of groups like the Oath Keepers. This piece by David French in December of 2020 warned about the language being used by Trump supporters:
I’m not writing to engage in a serious theological debate with those who’ve committed themselves to dreams and visions of dark conspiracies [of election fraud]. I’m writing as a warning and as a call for action. Here’s the warning: While I hope and pray that protests remain peaceful and that seditious statements are confined to social media, we’d be fools to presume that peace will reign.
The continuous downplaying of January 6th from some conservatives is often a reaction against the Democratic focus on the insurrection, which is a pretty standard political reaction. But it fundamentally misunderstands the nastiness of some people who now make up a part of the GOP base. During the early days of the 2016 Trump Campaign, there was a heavy focus on Trump’s support from the “Alt-Right,” a white nationalist collective that included incels as well as people like the Oath Keepers.
That was 6 years ago now, and it is commonly accepted that these people are just part of Trump’s base, but they were identified as “deplorable” and violent not that long ago. Obviously, they are still around. This tweet captures it:
Ben Collins @oneunderscore__Reading this Oath Keepers indictment. These posts on TheDonald from January 5th make a lot more sense now. The plan was to go all night and transport in the guns later, once they felt they had control over the Capitol. https://t.co/5Nq2tXHm8j
So, what is a “seditious conspiracy” charge? The DOJ has used this charge before, namely in another case where crazy people stormed the Capitol. It’s an event that has largely been forgotten, but in 1954, Puerto Rican nationalists stormed the Capitol with rifles and shot five members of Congress.
They were charged with the shooting first, but indictments later came for seditious conspiracy, which were challenged but ultimately upheld. Here is the charge itself:
Just on a plain reading, it sounds like the Oath Keepers - along with a lot of January 6th participants - could fit under a seditious conspiracy charge. Note that for a long time, the central argument against calling January 6th an insurrection was that there were no charges of sedition. That talking point has now collapsed:
Glenn Greenwald is an important figure on the video, because he has loudly been echoing that claim for a year: “No one has been charged with sedition, so January 6th was not an insurrection.” Now that he’s been proven wrong, he is predictably moving the goalposts:
He conveniently leaves out the most analogous citation, which is the case against the Puerto Rican nationalists. Even leaving that aside: It is true that the Hutaree charges were dismissed. But there is a notable difference between their case (which really could be a Jackal on its own because it is so fascinating) and the indictments of the Oath Keepers.
The Hutaree never actually engaged in violence. They had plans to kill a police officer and then bomb his funeral, but they were arrested before the attack took place.
It was unclear what the role was for a Federal indictment given that their actions were planned against local police.
January 6th is obviously pretty different: It involves both a Federal building and the seditious conspiracy charge is a superseding indictment for a lot of the Oath Keepers, who are already charged with violent activity.
A while back, I wrote about the insanity of Michael Sherwin - a Federal prosecutor previously assigned to the January 6th cases - making public comments that they were considering charging people with sedition. It is still insane to me that he gave that interview, but it is crazier that people really thought that a sedition charge was never going to come even though a federal prosecutor publicly said, “Oh yeah. We are looking at sedition.”
The other big news: The Supreme Court struck down Biden’s vaccine mandate. If you want to read the previous discussion on this, click here, but here is the nuts and bolts of it:
If you want a quick summary about the legality of Biden’s vaccine mandate, I will just say this: His policy has substantial backing in both case law and in court history. Courts have upheld similar rules before, and they’d have to do a U-turn on a lot of their previous decisions, but that doesn’t mean they won’t.
To be clear, I think the SCOTUS decision is bullshit. If you want a great example of how dumb it is, they issued a companion ruling on the same day, where they upheld the Administration’s mandate for healthcare workers. So, one mandate is OK, the other is not, and the reasoning is that the OSHA mandate is too big and for too many people, whereas the Health and Human Services mandate is just the right size.
The American workforce is 88 million people.
The healthcare workforce is 22 million people.
There is no real substantive difference between these two cases; SCOTUS just decided that they didn’t like the OSHA mandate. However, I really doubt it matters at this point. The OSHA mandate was put in place partly as a cover for private companies who wanted to enact their own mandates, and they have done so:
Lastly, Matt Gaetz is still in trouble. Again, if you want to look back on the fun, previous discussion we had, go here. But I will say this: If they have Gaetz’s ex-girlfriend in front of a grand jury, that means they are likely in the phase of wrapping up loose ends and that we can probably expect an indictment of Gaetz relatively soon.
I hope everyone enjoyed the special, double Jackal week you got! I will be off for MLK, Jr, day so the next one is coming on January 28th. Happy winter my beautiful babies. I’ll leave you with something from the man himself, who was truly a treasure:
Love that does not satisfy justice is no love at all. It is merely a sentimental affection, little more than what one would have for a pet. Love at its best is justice concretized. Love is unconditional. It is not conditional upon staying in one’s place or watering down his demands in order to be considered respectable. He who contends that he “used to love the Negro, but…” did not truly love him in the beginning, because his love was conditioned on the Negroes’ limited demand for justice.
From, “Where Do We Go From Here?” Have a great weekend my babies.
I have a child and haven’t slept in days.