Man Who Beat Police With Baton At Capitol Riot Gets 4 Years Prison Sentence

Man Who Beat Police With Baton At Capitol Riot Gets 4 Years Prison Sentence

A Virginia man who assaulted police with a stolen baton and used a flashing strobe light to disorient officers trying to defend the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 was sentenced Tuesday to more than four years in prison.

Geoffrey Sills of Mechanicsville, Virginia, was convicted of assault with a dangerous weapon, obstruction of Congress and robbery for his role in the violence at the Capitol’s Lower West Terrace tunnel, where police were beaten and crushed as as they tried to beat back the angry mob of President Donald Trump supporters.

The 31-year-old has already served a year and a half behind bars since his June 2021 arrest.

Violent insurrectionists loyal to then-President Donald Trump are seen storming the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. On Tuesday a 31-year-old Virginia man was sentenced to more than four years in prison for his participation in the riot.
Violent insurrectionists loyal to then-President Donald Trump are seen storming the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. On Tuesday a 31-year-old Virginia man was sentenced to more than four years in prison for his participation in the riot.

In a separate case on Tuesday, a judge declared a mistrial after jurors failed to reach an agreement on whether a man described as the Oath Keepers “operations leader” for Jan. 6 was guilty of obstruction. Michael Greene was acquitted of all other felony charges on Monday, but convicted of a misdemeanor offense. Greene is the only defendant in three trials involving more than a dozen members and associates of the far-right extremist group to not be convicted of a felony charge.

Sills — who arrived at the Capitol with a gas mask and goggles — threw several pole-like objects at police, stole a police baton from an officer and hit at least two officers with it, according to prosecutors. He also pointed a strobe light at a line of officers in the tunnel.

Sills posted videos of his actions and others on social media that day before deleting his account, prosecutors say. In one post — showing officers in riot gear — Sills wrote: “Visited the Capitol today.” In another post depicting rioters flooding into the the tunnel, he wrote: “Took a tour.”

U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden found Sills guilty in August after a stipulated bench trial — an unusual legal proceeding in which defendants do not admit guilt to charges but agree with the government that certain facts are true.

Prosecutors had been seeking nine years behind bars, writing in court papers that Sills has “expressed little remorse and contrition.” Prosecutors argued that his social media posts “were those of a man proud of his actions.”

Sills’ attorney wrote in court papers that his client didn’t come to Washington on Jan. 6 with any intention to commit violence and had a gas mask and tactical gear only “because he feared a terrorist attack.”

“He did not arrive that day planning or expecting to wreak violence. There is no evidence that he injured anyone. He went because his President asked him to. Once there, he stepped into a maelstrom not of his making,” attorney John Kiyonaga wrote. An email seeking comment was sent to Kiyonaga after sentencing.

Sills is among roughly 1,000 people who have been charged with federal crimes in the riot that left dozens of police officers injured. More than 300 people have been charged with assaulting, resisting, or impeding officers, including more than 100 who have been charged with using a deadly or dangerous weapon or causing serious bodily injury.

More than half the Jan. 6 defendants have pleaded guilty, including more than 130 who have pleaded guilty to felony crimes. Of the 400 who have been sentenced, more than half have gotten terms of imprisonment ranging from seven days to 10 years, according to an Associated Press tally.

In the Oath Keepers case, jurors on Monday found four defendants guilty of conspiracy and obstruction: Sandra Parker, of Morrow, Ohio, Laura Steele, of Thomasville, North Carolina, William Isaacs, of Kissimmee, Florida, and Connie Meggs, of Dunnellon, Florida.

Sandra Parker’s husband, Bennie Parker, was acquitted Monday of obstruction as well as one conspiracy charge, and Greene was acquitted of two conspiracy charges. The judge instructed jurors to keep deliberating after they said they couldn’t reach a verdict on another conspiracy charge for Bennie Parker and the obstruction charge for Greene.

On Tuesday, the jury returned a guilty verdict for Bennie Parker on the other conspiracy charge, but deadlocked on the obstruction charge for Greene.

Greene, of Indianapolis, Indiana, said he wasn’t a dues-paying member of the Oath Keepers but worked essentially as a contractor, providing security services. He took the witness stand during the seditious conspiracy trial of Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes and told jurors that Rhodes asked him to come to Washington to help with security operations for events around the Capitol before the riot. Greene didn’t go inside the Capitol and told jurors he never heard anyone discussing plans to do so.

Greene’s attorney, William Shipley, said Tuesday that “the government’s case was a farce,” adding that “it made no sense and the jury saw it for what it was.”

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Joe Scarborough Sums Up Donald Trump's State Of Mind With 4 Blunt Words

Joe Scarborough Sums Up Donald Trump's State Of Mind With 4 Blunt Words

MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough on Wednesday expressed serious doubt about a report that former President Donald Trump is actually enjoying the circus surrounding his expected indictment. (See the video below.)

The New York Times reported Tuesday that Trump has told friends he “welcomes the idea” of a perp walk before the media and has even suggested it would be a “fun experience.”

But Scarborough, the co-host of the “Morning Joe” show, wasn’t convinced by Trump’s reported posturing on his possible arrest for hush money payments to porn actor Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election.

It’s called “whistling past the graveyard,” said Scarborough.

“He’s not looking forward to any of it, he’s horrified,” Scarborough added. “He’s just talking big. The walls are closing in, as has been said before.”

Earlier in the show, Scarborough slammed Republicans including Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) for suggesting the potential arrest of Trump is politically motivated.

“I don’t know how stupid they think we are,” he said. “I don’t think it’s us. They actually think their own voters are stupid, and that’s what’s so insulting.”

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Donald Trump Tells Friends He's Really Into A Possible Perp Walk: New York Times

Donald Trump Tells Friends He's Really Into A Possible Perp Walk: New York Times

While the traditional cop escort in front of a crowd of cameras may not happen in Trump’s case ― a quieter booking is more likely to be arranged with the Secret Service ― Trump is all but rehearsing the moment, according to the report.

“Behind closed doors at Mar-a-Lago, the former president has told friends and associates that he welcomes the idea of being paraded by the authorities before a throng of reporters and news cameras,” reporters Michael C. Bender and Maggie Haberman wrote. “He has even mused openly about whether he should smile for the assembled media, and he has pondered how the public would react and is said to have described the potential spectacle as a fun experience.”

The former president, an early favorite for the 2024 GOP nomination for president, predicted he would be arrested this week on charges of paying off porn actor Stormy Daniels to keep silent about their supposed affair before the 2016 election. The payment, made by Trump’s then-lawyer Michael Cohen, was said to be labeled a “legal expense.”

The president faces multiple criminal investigations, including in Georgia, where a grand jury has been probing whether he pressured officials to overturn the 2020 election results in that swing state. The U.S. Justice Department is investigating his role in the Jan. 6 insurrection and his hoarding of classified White House documents at his Florida resort.

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Fox News And The Cost Of Lies

Fox News And The Cost Of Lies

A single sentence from Erik Wemple’s recent column for The Washington Post tells you everything you need to know about the Fox News flap over internal emails admitting that the network knew it was lying to viewers about a stolen election.

“The network had called Arizona on election night for Democratic candidate Joe Biden, a move regarded as treason by the network’s MAGA crowd, which declared viewers would flee to the competition.”

The emphasis is mine. As Wemple, the Post’s media critic noted, network executives were in a panic, worried they would lose viewers to other upstart cable outlets.

This is a normal consideration for a business ― and make no mistake: Fox News is a business. No business wants to lose customers to the competition, especially after secrets become public fodder. But what terrified Fox executives wasn’t the “secrets” that the network’s biggest stars knew all along they were peddling total bovine excrement. It was that the revelations in the Dominion lawsuit defied viewer expectations.

Columnist Mike Kelly’s accusation in a piece for USA Today unwittingly makes the point.

“This wasn’t journalism,” Kelly writes. “It was consumer fraud at its worst. The desire for money trumped truth.”

Actually, no, it wasn’t consumer fraud. True, it wasn’t journalism, and in that sense, the Fox business model has regularly committed fraud against the truth. But the business model for Fox was never journalism. Rather, it was, and is, an advertising distribution system whose primary function is to deliver an audience expectation for an audience it identified, targeted and cultivated. It was a business model that began the way many businesses do, as a marketing solution.

Before the network’s inception, the marketplace had a hole. It wasn’t the lack of “conservative” journalism. It was the lack of a resource that could tell people of a certain mindset what they wanted to hear. Journalism doesn’t do that, but at the Fox network, that is business as usual.

Whether Rupert Murdoch and CEO Roger Ailes realized it when they sought to fill that market hole and exploited a fundamental human weakness: a desire for approval, for meaning. People like to be told they have value, that what they believe is right and good, even if it is wrong and bad. That’s what the Fox cable audience craved, and the network gave it to them in droves.

Fox wasn’t defrauding its consumers; it was servicing them. If that meant delivering broadcasts with distortions, omissions or outright fabrications — so-called “alternative facts” — so be it.

We make a mistake in thinking of Fox as a news channel; it’s not. It’s television, more precisely, a television programming format, one no different from a sitcom, a crime drama or a reality show. Each of those television formats comes with an expectation. If a program doesn’t deliver that expectation, the audience reacts, and not in a good way. They might even regard it as treason, which is the very description applied to Fox viewers after the network called Arizona for Joe Biden on election night.

Think of it like this: If you turned on your favorite classic rock radio station and suddenly heard Taylor Swift, Billie Eilish and Ariana Grande coming out of the speakers, you’d start wondering if someone changed the presets in your car. When you realized that wasn’t the case, that perhaps the station changed its music format, you’d be unhappy, maybe even angry. Why? Because the station no longer met your expectations. Even worse, no one warned you that the station would no longer be meeting that expectation.

When that happens, listeners often flip out. “What did you guys do to my radio station?” they’ll say. “Where’s my favorite DJ?” “You guys suck!”

We’ve all had that experience. Every radio broadcaster has been on the receiving end of it. To paraphrase 17th Century British playwright William Congreve, “Hell hath no fury like a listener scorned.” Or a viewer. Especially one deeply tethered to an extreme set of values and beliefs.

Executives, hosts and producers at Fox knew exceedingly well: to report that the 2020 election was fair, and even worse, to report that Donald Trump was peddling a lie, would be tantamount to blasphemy. They had already endured the backlash from viewers angry the network had called Arizona for Joe Biden on election night. In the days that followed, had they dared report the truth about the election results, those Jan. 6 rioters might have gotten a head start and assaulted the Fox network headquarters first.

Every media operation, every radio station, every print publication, every writer, actor, comedian, you name it, creates an audience expectation. We know what to expect, whether we turn on the PBS News Hour or Ellen DeGeneres.

The danger, particularly for Fox or any other ideologically driven operation, is that they created a trap. Fox has one product: Conservatives are good, and liberals are evil. There’s an audience for that kind of thinking and for nearly three decades, Fox not only cornered that market but also fostered it, augmented and cultivated it. You might even say they were groomers.

Fox knew something else, too: They had to take great care not to broadcast anything that might offend that audience.

Take Nancy Pelosi. She is a history-making figure. The first woman to serve as House Speaker and one of the most powerful leaders ever to hold the gavel. She was exceptionally good at her job and a force in Washington politics.

Plenty of people will disagree, mostly because they just don’t like her, but you know who would agree? Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, and any of the other Fox hosts. They’re not stupid. In the privacy of their own thoughts, when the cameras are off, they know Pelosi has been an extraordinary figure in political history, and they know people like Lauren Boebert and Marjorie Taylor Greene couldn’t hold a candle to her. But they can never say that during their broadcasts. Their viewers would revolt.

That’s the trap. They simply cannot risk being honest because that would be bad for business. When you become trapped like that, lying becomes a survival mechanism and business as usual.

That’s why Fox is in a panic. It’s why they told a judge that Dominion had no evidence to support its “staggering” $1.6 billion damages claim in their defamation lawsuit over the network’s coverage of election-rigging conspiracy theories. Of course they had to say that in court. You’ll say anything to protect your business interests, whether in court or on the air. And by telling their viewers what they wanted to hear — that the election was stolen and those Dominion voting machines must have been part of it — they were simply protecting their business interests.
It’s why Fox fired Chris Stirewalt, the political editor and chief number cruncher at the network’s Decision Desk in 2020 who called Arizona for Joe Biden. The network called Stirewalt’s firing the following January (along with about a dozen other colleagues) a “restructuring.” Don’t you believe it. His firing was likely a way to get back in the good graces of viewers that began seeking other, safer spaces that would deliver their expectations.
I’d like to think rational consumers of current events wouldn’t do that. When the conventional wisdom of a blue wall collapsed and signaled Hillary Clinton’s defeat in the presidential election of 2016, her supporters may have been shocked, and even angry over the prospect of who would be their next president, but no one concocted a series of lies and absurdities to deny reality. No one called The New York Times in outrage for reporting Clinton’s defeat, or abandoned CNN for a new “safe space.”

If, however, those and similar outlets had lied as badly, as embarrassingly as Fox did, you wouldn’t blame their consumers for the lack of trust that would follow and the likelihood they would seek more reliable sources. But that would be because they were lied to, not because they weren’t told what they wanted to hear. For those consumers, such lies would have destroyed a bond of trust, not a safe space.

Some argue that all media push an agenda with their own narrative, and you’ve surely run into people who claim that outlets like The New York Times or NPR are just part of the liberal media.

They overlook three things.

Have you ever noticed that the people alleging those criticisms are themselves so biased in their conservative perspective that they consider anything to the left of Attila the Hun to be too liberal? It’s a great irony: Politically biased critics criticizing the media for being politically biased. The real bias is amongst the critics, not the entities they criticize.

Second, there is a difference when the owner of a network and its popular talking heads knowingly push lies on their audience, telling them they were true when they knew they were false. When spreading the lies perpetrated by a sitting president leads to unrest to the point of an insurrection, the lies have gone too far. There are no words to justify or diminish what Fox did.

Third, mistakes happen, and reputable outlets correct them. Publicly. It’s clearly marked, “Correction,” either in a specific section or at the bottom of the story (as happened with this writer last week). Listen to how hosts Ailsa Change and Mary Louise Kelly correct a reporting error on NPR’s “All Things Considered.”

When mistakes happen, you have two choices: You either accept them and learn from them, or you double down and deny them. Guess what Fox did.

Fox committed three grievous errors: They lied. They refused to concede that they lied. They defended their lies as truth.

“It knowingly sacrificed its integrity to maintain its market share,” New York Times columnist Dave French wrote. I would suggest that one first needs integrity in order to sacrifice it, but that’s another matter.

A radio consultant once told me she had talk show clients willing to be whatever a potential employer wanted them to be. “I can be liberal; I can be conservative. Whatever they want.” At the talk radio station where I worked, where I was a political outlier, the program manager once told me, “Try not to upset the furniture.” As in, toe the political line.

I couldn’t do that. I now work in a different industry and write when I can.

For journalists at Fox, and the network truly has some excellent journalists, I would think it’s a terrible dilemma. You work in a profession you love — and it is a profession — but you have to take a back seat to a network that defiles the core tenants of that profession. And you have to deal with the shame of having to defend yourself from justifiable criticism. We all have to make a living, but it can have a cost: Can you be a person of integrity while working at a company that so many feel has none?

What is the cost of lies? Dominion is seeking a judgment of $1.6 billion. I’m not sure that’s enough. They should demand that Fox air disclaimers to all their commentator programs at the beginning and at the end, letting viewers know that the opinions of the hosts are not based on facts and are only to provide affirmation, not information. Dominion should require that for the next month, every host, every day, admits to their lies and apologizes for uttering them. And a judge, if not Dominion itself, should write that disclaimer and apology. No one at Fox should have a hand in writing any of it.

That should be the cost of the lie, at least for the liars. Don’t hold your breath waiting for that to happen. Coverage of the story ranges from scant to nonexistent among conservative sources. Circle those wagons, boys! We can’t afford to burst anyone’s bubble!

Sadly, that’s another cost: Omission of an admission of guilt continues to allow the lie to live on and spread. Silence is consent.

But the cost goes far beyond the price the liar may one day pay and beyond, even, the people who believe the lie.

The riotous assault on the Capitol was entirely based on a lie. As a nation, we all paid a price, in reputation, money and blood.

Families have told countless stories of being torn apart by the grooming that Fox and other conservative media sources have done over the years to sisters, brothers, mothers, grandparents, aunts, uncles and children. The father who taught his sons to be critical thinkers was now a walking billboard for talking points he heard night after night from Fox news hosts. Family members disappointed in each other because they voted this way or that. Certain subjects were now off limits at holiday gatherings. Certain relatives would refuse to attend family functions, or were no longer invited. So much for those vaunted family values conservative outlets love to champion.
“What is the cost of lies?” asks the central character in the HBO dramatization of the Chernobyl disaster.

“It’s not that we’ll mistake them for the truth,” he says. “The real danger is that if we hear enough lies, then we no longer recognize the truth. What then?”

For Fox, it might mean an even greater danger: Business as usual.

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Ron DeSantis Admits He 'Kind Of Likes' Donald Trump's Insulting Name For Him

Ron DeSantis Admits He 'Kind Of Likes' Donald Trump's Insulting Name For Him

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) claimed he likes one of Donald Trump’s insults about him.

Trump has reportedly road-tested multiple derogatory nicknames for his potential 2024 GOP rival. In a preview of a “Piers Morgan Uncensored” interview that will air on Fox Nation Thursday, British media personality Morgan asked DeSantis which he preferred.

“Is it ‘Ron DeSanctimonious’ or ‘Meatball Ron?’” said Morgan.

“I don’t know how to spell ‘DeSanctimonious.’ I don’t really know what it means,” DeSantis replied. “But you know, I kind of like it. It’s long. It’s got a lot of vowels. I mean, so, we’d go with that. That’s fine.”

“You know, you can call me whatever you want. I mean, just as long as you, you know, also call me a winner,” he added. “Because that’s what we’ve been able to do in Florida, is put a lot of points on the board and really take the state to the next level.”

Trump endorsed DeSantis for governor in 2018 but the former president has become increasingly hostile towards the governor amid the latter’s own reported White House ambitions.

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Jimmy Fallon Finds A Legal Reason For Donald Trump’s Meltdowns

Jimmy Fallon Finds A Legal Reason For Donald Trump’s Meltdowns

“The Tonight Show” host Jimmy Fallon on Tuesday joked about why former President Donald Trump could be melting down so often ahead of his expected indictment.

It’s so he can be tried as a juvenile, Fallon cracked about Trump’s possible looming arrest as part of a probe into a hush money payment to porn actor Stormy Daniels.

Fallon also highlighted the irony of Trump possibly being charged on a Wednesday, aka Hump Day, and zinged Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., while filling in an “indictment bracket.”

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