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Judicial Watch: Records Show Biden Justice Department Set Up Unprecedented Apparatus to Target January 6 Protestors

(Washington, DC)Judicial Watch announced today it received 90 pages of records from the Executive Office for United States Attorneys, a component of the Department of Justice, in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit that detail the extensive apparatus the Biden Justice Department set up to investigate and prosecute January 6 protestors.

The documents were uncovered by FOIA lawsuit against the Justice Department and FBI for records related to the death of Ashli Babbitt (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 1:21-cv-02462)).

A January 25, 2021, confidential draft chart indicates staff assignments. Several “Lead AUSAs” (assistant U.S. attorneys) are listed. One is assigned to “White Nationalist Militias.” Two others are assigned to “Proud Boys.” Another is assigned to “Oath Keepers.”

The chart identifies “Branch 2: Priority Incidents and Subjects.” Its tasks are to investigate “specific incidents comprising the Capitol attack. Branch investigations are staffed by Criminal Division sections with designated lead prosecutors reporting up to their section supervisors:”

To identify and prosecute the individuals and organizations responsible for planting pipe bombs at the DNC and RNC.

To identify and prosecute rioting activity in the “Speaker’s Lobby,” and in particular to determine whether there is civilian criminal culpability for the death of Ashli Babbitt.

To identify and prosecute rioters responsible for the death of USCP Brian Sicknick.

To review force allegations against USCP and MPD officers, including the officer-involved shooting of Ashli Babbitt….

The chart lists “Branch 3: Intake, Assignment and Rapid Indictment” as: “Branch 3 intakes proposed prosecutions against individual rioters and assigns them for horizontal prosecutors; it also may channel individual defendants to Branches 1 and 2 based on those branches’ responsibilities. Branch 3 is the fulcrum of our reactive prosecutorial effort.”

The chart then describes a process for the “rapid indictment” of January 6 defendants:

Phase 1: Command Center (FMC): Co-located prosecutors and law enforcement agents in the command center screen referrals and assign them to Phase 2 or refer them/push up intelligence to Branches 1 and 2.

Phase 2: Complaints (FMC/Details): Cases referred from Phase 1 are assigned to AUSAs, a CTS [likely Civil Trial Section] attorney, and a WFO [FBI Washington Field Office] team who work in coordination with AUSOs/FBI field offices throughout the country to obtain criminal complaints and appropriate process.

Phase 3: Rapid Indictment (FMC): Cases charged out of Branch 3 are funneled to this unit, which will rapidly indict them. Only priority cases and Branch 2 and 3 cases are indicted by vertically organized AUSAs.

Phase 4: Indicted Prosecutions (Criminal Division): Indicted cases are returned/assigned for prosecution. Cases are centrally tracked with ticklers for Speedy Trial Act, discovery, intelligence gathering.

The chart describes “Branch 4: Advance Litigation Support” as “Branch 4 is a litigation, coordination and technology branch that provides support to all three investigative branches. Branch 4 has both litigation and technological responsibilities.”

The chart lists five roles for personnel to carry out:

Mass Data Collection (Process/Litigation): This team will coordinate and handle sensitive search warrants and other process directed at collecting large scale data (e.g., Geofence/Ad Tech).

Media Issues (Process/Litigation): This team will coordinate evidence collection from the media under the Justice Manual and develop litigation strategy for media-related defenses.

Filter (Support/Litigation): This team will develop filter protocols, staff filter reviews, and support filter-related litigation.”

Discovery (Planning/Litigation): This team will coordinate discovery, including protocols, Giglio, and litigation, focused on addressing “One Government” issues.

Litigation Technology (Support/Analysis): This team will stand up and maintain the apparatus tailored to store, process, analyze, and produce the unprecedented amount of data.

“Investigation and Litigation Technology Support Apparatus” lays out the array of technological sources to be use against January 6 defendants. The chart lists “Categories of data” which includes “cell phone records and device location data, cell phone data dumps, ad tech company locational data, financial locational data, social media accounts, email accounts, cloud storage accounts, financial records, flight travel records, and others.”

“Technological needs” listed in the chart include “devoted cloud storage, processing capacity to upload data to analytical and review platforms, analytical tools (e.g., Palantir), devoted review platform accessible across multiple DOJ and law enforcement components, and integration capacity – for purposes of analysis and discovery.”

“Complicating issues” related to the “Investigation and Litigation Technology Support Apparatus” include “unprecedented volume, high number of prosecutors, agents, analysts and support staff involved, data collected by multiple FBI field offices, trial prosecutions,” and others.

“These documents detail a troubling and unprecedented deployment of federal resources to prosecute Americans caught up in the January 6 disturbance. The documents seem to describe a massive political and spy operation masquerading as a law enforcement operation,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.

A previous review of records from this lawsuit highlighted the prosecution declination memorandum justifying the decision not to prosecute U.S. Capitol Police Lt. Michael Byrd for the shooting death of Babbitt.

Judicial Watch is engaged in a comprehensive, independent investigation into the January 6 disturbance:

  • January 2023: documents from the Department of the Air Force, Joint Base Andrews, MD, that show U.S. Capitol Police Lieutenant Michael Byrd was housed at taxpayer expense at Joint Base Andrews after he shot and killed U.S. Air Force veteran Ashli Babbitt inside the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.
  • August 2023: A hearing was held in federal court in Judicial Watch’s lawsuit against the U.S. Capitol Police seeking videos and emails concerning the protest at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.

Through its police department, Congress argues that the videos and emails are not public records, there is no public interest in their release, and that “sovereign immunity” prevents citizens from suing for their release.

  • November 2021: Judicial Watch released multiple audio, visual and photo records from the DC Metropolitan Police Department about the shooting death of Babbitt on January 6, 2021, in the U.S. Capitol Building. The records include a cell phone video of the shooting and an audio of a brief police interview of the shooter, Byrd.
  • October 2021, United States Park Police records related to the January 6, 2021, demonstrations at the U.S. Capitol showed that on the day before the January 6 rally featuring President Trump, U.S. Park Police expected a “large portion” of the attendees to march to the U.S. Capitol and that the FBI was monitoring the January 6 demonstrations, including travel to the events by “subjects of interest.”

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