Here's how to nail Trump on seditious conspiracy charges — just like Stewart Rhodes: legal expert
President Donald J. Trump participates in a tax reform kickoff event at the Loren Cook Company, Wednesday, August 30, 2017, in Springfield, Missouri. (Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian)

On Saturday, writing for MSNBC, former FBI counterintelligence official Frank Figliuzzi connected the dots on how to pin down former President Donald Trump on seditious conspiracy charges in the January 6 attack investigation — following the successful conviction of two leaders of the far-right militia the Oath Keepers on the same charge.

"The government’s successful prosecution sidelines some strong players, but the captains and coaches we have reason to suspect called the shots on Jan. 6, 2021 (former President Donald Trump and his minions) remain on the field," wrote Figliuzzi. "To win the game, special counsel Jack Smith, who’s been appointed to investigate Trump’s role in the violence of Jan. 6, needs to use the same playbook that worked against the Oath Keepers. That is, he should be looking to see if seditious conspiracy and obstruction of Congress charges are warranted for Trump and those in his inner circle."

Of particular note, Figliuzzi said, is the fact that Stewart Rhodes and Kelly Meggs established that they were not in the Capitol building themselves, and that their actions were unsuccessful in stopping the vote certification — but the jury found them guilty anyway. That same fact pattern fits Trump, and many of his allies.

"The jury accepting those arguments ought to worry Trump, adviser Roger Stone, former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, former national security adviser Michael Flynn and others in that orbit," wrote Figliuzzi. For instance, "an FBI agent testified that just minutes after Joe Biden was declared the winner of the 2020 election, Rhodes communicated with Stone via a 'Friends of Stone' encrypted chat group established to coordinate Trump’s post-loss tactics. 'What’s the plan? We need to roll ASAP,' prosecutors say Rhodes asked Stone. Rhodes attached a proposal to occupy the streets of Washington and to enter the Capitol. The night before the attack on Congress, Stone was onstage in Freedom Plaza telling thousands of Trump supporters, 'I will be with you tomorrow, shoulder to shoulder.'"

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Trump himself, Figulizzi continued, has that same kind of exposure: "On Jan. 6, Trump — the Justice Department could argue — incited a crowd that he knew to be armed to go with him to the Capitol. He told those in attendance 'if you don’t fight like hell you’re not going to have a country anymore.' We don’t know if the committee or the Justice Department has seen more evidence that could support a charge of sedition against the former president, but we know that Trump spread disinformation about a 'stolen' and 'rigged' election and that he tried pressuring Vice President Mike Pence, the president of the Senate, out of certifying election results. That sounds like the framework for charges of either obstructing Congress or obstructing an official act to me."

"Smith and [Attorney General Merrick] Garland ... shouldn’t be satisfied with being up on the scoreboard or sidelining Rhodes," concluded Figliuzzi. "They need to determine if they can get the same person Rhodes was trying to help off the field, too."