WHOA! DOJ Appeals Oath Keepers Sentences As Too Light

INSIDE: Jack Smith ... Ray Epps ... Jim Jordan
An Oath Keeper named Stewart Rhodes, brought on to provide security, stands guard during a pro-Donald Trump rally at Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park in Berkeley, California on April 27, 2017. (Photo by Phili... An Oath Keeper named Stewart Rhodes, brought on to provide security, stands guard during a pro-Donald Trump rally at Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park in Berkeley, California on April 27, 2017. (Photo by Philip Pacheco/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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A lot of things happened. Here are some of the things. This is TPM’s Morning Memo.


In a highly unusual move, the Justice Department is planning to appeal several of the sentences meted out to Oath Keepers for their Jan. 6 seditious conspiracy convictions, including founder Stewart Rhodes, who was put away for 18 years, not the 25 years prosecutors sought.

The Justice Department rarely appeals the duration of sentences, for a mix of reasons, among them: most federal criminal cases are resolved by plea bargain, the sentencing guidelines don’t afford judges a ton of sentencing discretion but what discretion they do have isn’t easily second guessed, and the chances of winning on appeal aren’t great.

To the extent DOJ does appeal sentences rendered by trial courts, it’s usually on technical grounds. These latest appeals, in contrast, seem to be focused on the sentences not being long enough, despite the Oath Keepers sentences being among the longest handed down for the Jan. 6 attack.

It’s really an extraordinary move, definitely the biggest news of the day yesterday. But until we see the appeal itself and the arguments the Justice Department is making, there isn’t a whole lot to say about it. Still, former Alabama U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance makes an interesting, even tantalizing, point: “Strong sign DOJ wants clear precedent for long sentences for those even more responsible for the insurrection that the Oath Keepers.”

Jack Smith Gives Some Attention To Michigan

Prosecutors on Special Counsel Jack Smith’s team interviewed Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (D) for “several hours” in March, she told CNN.

“[The interview] really underscored, I think, the depth through which the federal prosecutors are looking into everything and the seriousness with which they’re taking what occurred and the quest for justice to ensure it doesn’t happen again,” Benson told CNN’s Kaitlan Collins.

Mind Boggling

Former Attorney General Eric Holder contemplates the scenario of the Secret Service still providing protection to Donald Trump while he’s in prison.

Will Corporate America Finally Stand Up To Trump?

Ray Epps Sues Fox News

The man falsely tarred and feathered by Tucker Carlson as a government agent instigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol is now suing Fox News for defamation in state court in Delaware. From the complaint:

Just as Fox had focused on voting machine companies when falsely claiming a rigged election, Fox knew it needed a scapegoat for January 6th. It settled on Ray Epps and began promoting the lie that Epps was a federal agent who incited the attack on the Capitol.

Fox quickly moved to remove the case from state court to federal court.

Wray Hearing Was A Shitshow

House Republicans did everything you and I would have expected them to do in yesterday’s Judiciary Committee hearing with FBI Director Chris Wray. Headline writers still struggled to capture the dynamic here, unable to “go there” in framing it as a dark and corrosive attack on the rule of law, but in general the coverage wasn’t as bad I expected. Not good, but not as awful as it could have been.

Conspiracizing Is Hard, Y’all

As repugnant a presence as Jim Jordan is in American public life, I have always marveled at his ability to spew his whacky accusations and made-up conspiracy theories so smoothly and confidently. I have trouble remembering and keeping track of all the real things happening in my life, let alone a made-up world of wispy connections and tendrils of innuendo full of logical inconsistencies. But the time finally came for Jordan to go off the rails:

Fun Read

Aaron Rupar and Judd Legum: Fox News won’t let new facts get in the way of a good conspiracy


The Daily Beast: GOP congressman banned from Wikipedia after self-editing spree


Seattle Times:

The mother of a young Black man killed by Seattle police in 2017 is outraged and demanding an apology after learning officers kept a mock tombstone marking her son’s death on a shelf in a precinct break room.

The room at the Seattle Police Department’s East Precinct also was decorated with a large “Trump 2020” flag, in possible violation of state law and department policy regulating officers’ involvement in partisan politics while on duty.

Kremlin Watch

  • WSJ: Russia Detained Several Senior Military Officers in Wake of Wagner Mutiny
  • WaPo: Russia fires top commander in Ukraine who criticized Defense Ministry

2024 Ephemera

‘Cherry-Picked Legal Analysis’

Kate Klonick: The Future of Online Speech Shouldn’t Belong to One Trump-Appointed Judge in Louisiana

Climate Watch

  • Jeff Masters: How fast are the seas rising?
  • WaPo: Floods, fires and deadly heat are the alarm bells of a planet on the brink


(Click for larger image)

Rho Ophiuchi cloud complex
The first anniversary image from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope displays star birth like it’s never been seen before, full of detailed, impressionistic texture. The subject is the Rho Ophiuchi cloud complex, the closest star-forming region to Earth. It is a relatively small, quiet stellar nursery, but you’d never know it from Webb’s chaotic close-up. Jets bursting from young stars crisscross the image, impacting the surrounding interstellar gas and lighting up molecular hydrogen, shown in red. Some stars display the telltale shadow of a circumstellar disk, the makings of future planetary systems. The young stars at the center of many of these disks are similar in mass to the Sun, or smaller. The heftiest in this image is the star S1, which appears amid a glowing cave it is carving out with its stellar winds in the lower half of the image. The lighter-colored gas surrounding S1 consists of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, a family of carbon-based molecules that are among the most common compounds found in space. (Image Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Klaus Pontoppidan (STScI); Image Processing Credit: Alyssa Pagan (STScI))

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