This week produced yet another example of the shameless collaboration between the U.S. Department of Justice, the Democratic Party, and the national news media to destroy Donald Trump and everyone around him. The ink was barely dry on the not guilty verdict for Michael Sussmann, just one of many figures who acted as a pass-through between Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and the FBI to manufacture the Russia collusion hoax, before the same players were up to their old tricks.
Members of the January 6 select committee blanketed the Sunday news programs last weekend promising bombshell revelations would shake the nation during a primetime hearing Thursday night. Representative Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) told CBS News’ Robert Costa the committee would present findings to show an “extremely broad . . . extremely well-organized” conspiracy to overthrow the government that day. What the committee uncovered related to the alleged conspiracy, Cheney warned, is “really chilling.’
Roughly 24 hours after Cheney’s interview aired, Matthew Graves, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia handling the January 6 criminal prosecution, announced seditious conspiracy charges against five members of the Proud Boys, the so-called militia group involved in the Capitol protest. The new indictment, handed down by a D.C. grand jury 13 months after its initial indictments in the case, made instant headlines.
But the 32-page indictment contained no new information aside from a few irrelevant details; much of it rehashed previous filings in the case. Nonetheless, Graves claimed the men conspired to “oppose the lawful transfer of presidential power by force, by opposing the authority of the Government of the United States and by preventing, hindering, or delaying by force the execution of the laws governing the transfer of powerful,” referring to the 12th Amendment to the Constitution.
No American has ever been convicted of “seditious conspiracy.” The last time the government attempted to prosecute a seditious conspiracy case 10 years ago, the presiding judge tossed it out of court. Graves has so far charged 17 Americans with the rare offense comparable to treason and threatening life sentences for those who refuse to accept plea deals.
The purpose of the one-two punch by Cheney and Graves was revealed by the New York Times on Tuesday: committee members will present to the audience proof of an alleged “conspiracy” between Trump and the unarmed Proud Boys to execute a coup on January 6.
“A significant portion of the first hearing on Thursday evening will focus on the Proud Boys, a far-right group whose members have been charged with seditious conspiracy in connection with the storming of the Capitol,” reporters Annie Karni and Luke Broadwater wrote. “It is scheduled to include testimony from a documentary filmmaker, Nick Quested, who was embedded with the group during the storming of the building, and a Capitol Police officer, Caroline Edwards, who was injured in an assault said to be triggered by the Proud Boys.”
A follow-up story in the Wall Street Journal elaborated on the committee’s plans. “The committee is likely to feature previously unseen footage Mr. Quested’s crew filmed of the Jan. 6 attack, according to Mr. Quested. The filmmaker was recording as a Proud Boy member pushed barricades on top of Capitol Police officers, he said,” Scott Patterson wrote on June 8.
So, how will the committee tie this to Trump? No doubt the former ABC News producer hired to create a dramatic video montage of footage recorded that day and witness interviews will feature a clip of Trump’s comment during a September 2020 debate with Joe Biden related to the Proud Boys.
Debate moderator Chris Wallace, who claimed disingenously and without evidence that Proud Boys incited violence during the 2020 George Floyd riots, repeatedly pushed Trump to tell the group to “stand down” while Joe Biden added on, “say it, do it, say it!” When Trump asked both who they specifically wanted him to condemn, Biden answered, “Proud Boys.” So Trump, looking directly at the camera, complied. “Proud Boys, stand back and stand by.”
That comment—Trump later said he didn’t know who the Proud Boys were—much like his “very fine people” remark after the 2017 protests in Charlottesville, has been taken out of context ever since. Committee members and the media will once again weaponize an intentionally twisted version of his comment as evidence Trump instructed the Proud Boys to prepare to “storm” the U.S. Capitol on January 6.
The collaboration between the Justice Department, House Democrats, and the media did not go unnoticed by two of the Proud Boy defendants. In a motion filed on Wednesday, Enrique Tarrio, the leader of the group, and Zachary Rehl, noted the timing of their indictment.
“The government filed the Third Superseding Indictment on June 6, 2022 to coincide with the January 6th Select Committee Hearings which are scheduled to commence on June 9, 2022 on prime-time TV,” their attorneys explained to Judge Timothy Kelly, the presiding judge in the case. “Additionally, the select Committee has announced that the hearings will commence immediately and with the central focus of Enrique Tarrio and the Proud Boys. This suspiciously seems orchestrated at the highest levels of government. This Honorable Court should raise caution as to the true intent of why the Government filed a Third Superseding with trumped up allegations with no new supporting facts on the eve of the January 6th Select Committee Hearings.”
The attorneys further argued the government added “no new material facts to the allegations.”
But of course facts don’t matter in Collaboration Theater. The same powerful, unaccountable interests that concocted Russiagate, rigged the 2020 election, and conspired to produce the events of January 6 depend only on the bloodlust of the Democratic Party base and the insatiable vengeance of party leaders such as Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Liz Cheney to promote their lies. And now they get to do it in primetime.