Many Democratic leaders, including - most notably - Nancy Pelosi refuse to let go of the notion that the Jan. 6 "attack" on the Capitol was a terror attack on par with 9/11 or the Pulse nightclub shootings. Why? Because, they claim, the whole seige was planned and perpetrated by shadowy militia groups like the Oath Keepers, working in concert with Republican lawmakers.
Dems also blame President Trump for instigating the incident (the supposed reason behind Twitter and Facebook banning his accounts).
But according to a scoop from Reuters published Friday, prosecutors who once planned to try and lay charges of sedition, conspiracy or other serious offenses against members of the Oath Keepers and other militia groups have been stymied by the reality of what actually happened. And now that the first (surprisingly stiff) jail sentences have been handed down, the FBI has apparently determined that there's "scant evidence" to suggest that the events of Jan. 6 resulted from an "organized plot", according to a scoop published by Reuters.
The FBI tells Reuters that "95%" of these cases are "one offs". And even among the "5%" who were more organized, there is still no evidence of a "grand scheme" to overthrow Congress and install President Trump for a second term.
Though federal officials have arrested more than 570 alleged participants, the FBI at this point believes the violence was not centrally coordinated by far-right groups or prominent supporters of then-President Donald Trump, according to the sources, who have been either directly involved in or briefed regularly on the wide-ranging investigations.
"Ninety to ninety-five percent of these are one-off cases," said a former senior law enforcement official with knowledge of the investigation. "Then you have five percent, maybe, of these militia groups that were more closely organized. But there was no grand scheme with Roger Stone and Alex Jones and all of these people to storm the Capitol and take hostages."
But that's not even the most disappointing bit for Pelosi, who is trying to use her Jan. 6 Committee to punish GOP colleagues. Because the FBI also told Reuters that there's no evidence that Trump, or people around him, were involved in organizing the unrest.
But the FBI has so far found no evidence that [Trump] or people directly around him were involved in organizing the violence, according to the four current and former law enforcement officials.
The report specifically cited "dirty trickster" Roger Stone (who was famously taken into custody by a SWAT team for a perp walk in front of CNN cameras) and InfoWars founder Alex Jones.
Stone, a veteran Republican operative and self-described "dirty trickster", and Jones, founder of a conspiracy-driven radio show and webcast, are both allies of Trump and had been involved in pro-Trump events in Washington on Jan. 5, the day before the riot.
FBI investigators did find that cells of protesters, including followers of the far-right Oath Keepers and Proud Boys groups, had aimed to break into the Capitol. But they found no evidence that the groups had serious plans about what to do if they made it inside, the sources said.
The findings could also help the 40 or so defendants who belong to militia groups, and are facing more serious conspiracy charges. As we first learned a few weeks ago, prosecutors feel they don't have enough evidence to lay charges of "seditious conspiracy", or use the RICO act to target militia groups as if they were an organized criminal gang.
But one source said there has been little, if any, recent discussion by senior Justice Department officials of filing charges such as "seditious conspiracy" to accuse defendants of trying to overthrow the government. They have also opted not to bring racketeering charges, often used against organized criminal gangs.
Senior lawmakers have been briefed on the FBI's findings and find them "credible", according to Reuters. The ultimate takeaway is this: while some groups may have discussed the rally and attendant protest in advance, and while they ultimately may have "worked together" on the day in question, there's simply no evidence of a grand conspiracy headed by a single nefarious ringleader (not Stone, not Jones, not even Trump).
Prosecutors have filed conspiracy charges against 40 of those defendants, alleging that they engaged in some degree of planning before the attack. They alleged that one Proud Boy leader recruited members and urged them to stockpile bulletproof vests and other military-style equipment in the weeks before the attack and on Jan. 6 sent members forward with a plan to split into groups and make multiple entries to the Capitol.
But so far prosecutors have steered clear of more serious, politically-loaded charges that the sources said had been initially discussed by prosecutors, such as seditious conspiracy or racketeering.
The FBI's assessment could prove relevant for a congressional investigation that also aims to determine how that day's events were organized and by whom.
With seditious conspiracy now off the table, the most serious charges are likely to be the assault on an office charges, which carry a penalty of up to 20 years in prison.