Defense lawyers call it “January 6 jurisprudence”—a unique set of rules and laws that only apply to those ensnared in the Justice Department’s unstoppable push to punish individuals who do not believe Joe Biden is the legitimately elected president of the United States. So far, nearly 1,000 Americans have been arrested and charged, mostly on low-level misdemeanors, for their involvement in the Capitol protest as the regime circles its ultimate prize: Donald Trump.
The fundamental “crime” that acts as the basis of January 6 jurisprudence is not necessarily the four-hour disturbance that temporarily delayed the certification process that day. No, the real crime—to hear regime apparatchiks, the media (but I repeat myself), and Democratic Party politicians (including Biden himself) tell it—is promoting the “Big Lie,” the notion that the 2020 presidential election was rigged or stolen.
Efforts to uncover election irregularities or lawfully object to the outcome are under criminal investigation resulting in the unprecedented weaponization of legal and judicial authority conducted by unaccountable prosecutors and judges.
Enabling this farce in the nation’s capital is Beryl Howell, the chief judge of the D.C. District Court. A former Democratic staffer on Capitol Hill, Howell was appointed to the bench by Barack Obama in 2010 and elevated to chief judge in 2016. Since then, Howell has steered the government’s yearslong effort to put Trump in handcuffs. She managed the grand jury proceedings for Special Counsel Robert Mueller and is currently overseeing the Justice Department’s latest iteration of its “Get Trump” campaign—a sweeping investigation into alleged attempts to “overturn” the 2020 election.
Her latest broadside is aimed at Representative Scott Perry (R-Pa.). FBI agents, acting at the direction of the rogue Washington Field Office, stole Perry’s cell phone on August 9, 2022, the day after the same office executed an armed raid at Mar-a-Lago. Perry was traveling with his family in New Jersey at the time when agents seized his phone, copied its contents, and returned the device.
Perry’s lawyers immediately attempted to keep the contents of the phone out of the hands of a leak-happy Justice Department, citing privacy and privilege factors, including the Constitution’s speech and debate clause, which basically protects the legislative branch from retaliatory actions by the executive branch. When Perry initially refused to waive that protection at the request of the Justice Department, the government successfully sought a second warrant a few days later to review what investigators collected from the phone.
And that’s when Judge Howell stepped in.
“After a determination that there was probable cause to believe that evidence of criminal activity would be found on the targeted cell phone, the government’s search warrant was approved,” Howell wrote in one motion filed in the mostly sealed case.
The second search warrant was reportedly approved by Howell on August 18.
Since then, Howell has wielded her power to prove herself right. A grand jury under her purview is “investigating potential federal criminal law violations stemming from efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election,” Howell wrote. According to the government, Howell noted, Perry used his phone “to communicate with individuals allegedly engaged in those efforts over critical time periods at issue in the investigation.”
That’s just a sliver of the crazy talk in Howell’s 51-page motion rejecting most of Perry’s arguments about why roughly 2,200 emails and texts qualify for protection under the speech and debate clause. Perry’s motions remain under seal, but his privilege claims appear to be centered around Congress’ obligations to administer the Electoral Count Act.
Following a private review in October of the records that Perry sought to protect, Howell determined only a handful met the clause’s standards. The remaining 2,055 records, including correspondence and materials exchanged between other House members and Executive Branch officials, were fair game, Howell concluded.
“In the broadest possible terms, Rep. Perry believes the Clause shields all these responsive records from investigative review because they are part of his informal fact-finding efforts to understand election security issues in the 2020 election since the ECA process obligated Rep. Perry to vote on whether to confirm the electors and certify the 2020 election,” Howell wrote in December. “What is plain is that the Clause does not shield Rep. Perry’s random musings with private individuals touting an expertise in cybersecurity or political discussions with attorneys from a presidential campaign, or with state legislators concerning hearings before them about possible local election fraud.”
On that point, Howell unintentionally tipped the government’s hand. Why would the Justice Department need those communications for a criminal investigation? It’s not illegal to have any of those discussions, even for the imaginary crime of attempting to overturn an election. Clearly, prosecutors want Perry’s texts and emails to leak to regime media cut-outs in an effort to embarrass him, its modus operandi since January 6.
In one particularly sneering line, Howell mocked Perry’s “wide-ranging interest in bolstering his belief that the results of the 2020 election were somehow incorrect—even in the face of his own reelection.” (Howell routinely condemns January 6 defendants in her courtroom for believing the “Big Lie.” Last April, Howell asked a man pleading guilty to trespassing whether he still believed that Biden did not legitimately win the presidency. He answered no.)
In a follow-up order filed on January 4, Howell raised “the public’s interest in an expedient investigation” as to why she would not halt her demand for Perry to turn over the records in question to the Justice Department. She gave Perry two days to file an appeal with the D.C. Circuit Court.
And the very next day, the appellate court issued an emergency order to put Howell’s ruling on hold.
A three-judge appellate court panel heard arguments in the case last week. According to Politico, at least two judges were skeptical of Howell’s—and the Justice Department’s —thinking. “‘Why wouldn’t an individual member’s fact-finding be covered?’ Neomi Rao, a Trump appointee, asked a Justice Department lawyer.
It could be a few months before the appellate court issues a ruling. In the meantime, investigators don’t have access to Perry’s cell phone records. (Or at least that is how it’s supposed to be.)
By then, the D.C. District court will have a new chief judge; Howell’s stint ends soon. Which is one reason the Justice Department is accelerating the pace of its investigation, including subpoenaing former Vice President Mike Pence a few weeks ago.
“The frenzy of subpoenas comes as Judge Beryl Howell’s seven-year term as chief judge of the D.C. district court enters its last month,” the Wall Street Journal recently observed. “In that post, she has presided over all grand-jury matters in Washington and repeatedly ruled for the Justice Department in closed-door disputes with Mr. Trump over executive privilege.”
Prosecutors undoubtedly will miss Howell’s machinations on behalf of the government. As her rulings in Perry’s case once again show, Howell is a shameless partisan willing to twist the law, and the U.S. Constitution, to advance her own political agenda. She is the queen of January 6 jurisprudence.