'What did you see? Who was there?': Feds home in on links between Jan. 6 rioters and Trump’s inner circle
Federal investigators are asking Jan. 6 rioters about their possible links with Donald Trump's inner circle.
Prosecutors have asked members of the Oath Keepers, who are accused of organizing the attack, and even defendants facing low-level charges about their contacts with Trump allies such as Roger Stone, reported USA Today.
“They asked a ton of open-ended questions when I was allowed to be there," said Brian Lockwood, an attorney representing Oath Keepers member Mark Grods. "What happened next? What did you see? Who was there? What did you see them doing? What were they wearing? What were they doing? Did you see them communicating with other people?"
Brandon Straka, a MAGA influencer who pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct and was sentenced to probation, was also questioned about his possible contacts with Trump's inner circle.
“During the interviews, the government was focused on establishing an organized conspiracy between defendant, President Donald J. Trump, and allies of the former president, to disrupt the Joint Session of Congress on January 6,” said his attorney Bilal Essayli. “Defendant answered all questions truthfully and denied the existence of any such plot.”
Legal experts say that type of questioning is standard for large-scale cases like the insurrection, and doesn't necessarily mean that Trump or his associates are targets of the investigation.
"The technical term for Trump and most people the government is asking about this early is probably ‘subjects,’” said Patrick Cotter, who has prosecuted organized crime cases. “Subjects are people about whom the feds have not made any determination: They may turn out to be targets or witnesses."
Investigators are particularly interested in the rioters' expectation that Trump would invoke the Insurrection Act to prevent the certification of Joe Biden's election win, according to court records and defense lawyers.
“I'm just a small lawyer down in Mobile,” said Lockwood, the Oath Keeper's lawyer, "but I'm confident that the government believes that the intent of the Jan. 6 incident was to trigger the president at the time to invoke the Insurrection Act."
A Japanese gunman was arrested after he allegedly took a doctor hostage and shot him, police said Friday, with local media reporting that the victim had died from his wounds after the 11-hour standoff.
'Gun crime is rare in Japan, where the possession of firearms is strictly controlled, and residents reacted with shock to the attack in Fujimino, a city near Tokyo.
"The man used a hunting rifle to fire at the victim with the intention of killing him," a local police spokesman told AFP.
He said the 66-year-old suspect had been arrested after the ordeal which played out on Thursday night at his home, during which he reportedly also shot a physiotherapist who is severely injured.
The doctor, the physiotherapist and a third team member were on a condolence visit to the suspect's home after the death of his mother when the attack took place, Japanese media reports said.
Public broadcaster NHK said the suspect had moved to the area about three years ago and had been caring for his infirm mother alone.
"He said it was difficult for him to join (voluntary activities in the neighborhood) as his mother is sick," a local resident told NHK.
"He was caring for her... since he moved in. He hasn't gone out often, so I haven't had much chance to see him," the man said.
A 19-year-old student who lives nearby told Kyodo News he had heard the gunshot on Thursday night. "I was scared. I wanted to leave the area quickly," he said.
The third member of the medical team reportedly rushed to a police station after being pepper-sprayed during the incident.
Police had spoken to the gunman on the phone throughout the night to try and convince him to release the hostage, the reports said.
© 2022 AFP
'Modern day Neville Chamberlains': Conservative scorches GOP's 'macho men' who have fallen in love with Putin
In his column for the Daily Beast, conservative Matt Lewis laid into Republicans who have decided to take sides with Vladimir Putin against Ukraine, calling them posturing appeasers who are in the thrall of the Russian strongman.
Getting right to the point, he compared them to British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain who is most notable for the Munich Agreement of 1938 which ceded parts of Czechoslovakia to Adolph Hitler.
As Lewis notes, choosing to side with Russia over Ukraine is causing a schism within the Republican Party -- and not to their credit.
"In one corner are the Reagan Republicans who don’t trust Vladimir Putin, the ex-KGB agent, and who believe it’s dangerous to allow regimes to invade their neighbors. In the other corner are the America Firsters who would sit on their hands if Russia invaded and occupied Ukraine," he wrote before adding, "In recent years, rather than channeling Reagan, too many Republicans have taken a page from Russian propaganda. Trump famously defended Putin in 2017 by asking, 'You think our country’s so innocent?'"
The columnist suggests that this change of heart -- which was begun by the former president -- represents a huge shift for the party that long despised Russia.
"For years, foreign policy hawks invoked the icon of appeasement, Neville Chamberlain, to emasculate their more dovish liberal opponents. Today, the macho men on the right are arguing that an illegal incursion by an authoritarian regime into a European nation-state isn’t our business. It’s Chamberlain’s folly delivered with a confident Churchillian swagger," he wrote before later adding that one faction among conservatives who defend Putin insist they are standing up for "Christian values."
Citing Richard Hanania, of the Center for the Study of Partisanship and Ideology, who wrote, “Russian opposition to LGBT triggers American elites more than anti-gay laws and practices elsewhere because Russia is a white nation that justifies its policies based on an appeal to Christian values,” Lewis wrote, "According to this worldview, hostility towards Russia is a proxy war against Christian conservatives in America (and it would be disproportionately fought by Christian conservatives from America)."
Conceding, "To be sure, in the wake of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan it is understandable that many Americans are afraid of being drawn into another quagmire," Lewis added, " But the opposite impulse—the desire to retreat from the world (or looking the other way while bullies dominate other countries)—is equally dangerous and provocative."
He then warned, "As Neville Chamberlain belatedly learned, Munich was an illusory, temporary fix. Bullies have to be confronted at some point."
You can read more here.