Attorney General Barr Is Serious About Federal Prosecutors Using the Sedition Statute

AP Photo/Steve Helber
AP featured image
Police in riot gear advance on protesters as they attempt to clear the streets during a third night of unrest Sunday, May 31, 2020, in Richmond, Va. Gov. Ralph Northam issued a curfew for this evening. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)


Attorney General William Barr was direct in explaining his reason for returning to the Justice Department after a 27-year absence, having last served as Attorney General for Pres. George H.W. Bush in 1992.  He was not going to stand by and watch what had happened to the Trump Administration at the hands of the federal bureaucracy if he had the ability to re-enter government and make needed changes to the way business was being done.

Between 2016 and 2018, he watched from his vantage point as a private citizen what he recognized as a deliberate and concerted effort by actors inside and outside the government to “overthrow” a duly-elected President, with the mainstream media playing cheerleader every step along the way.

He watched and read news accounts of deliberate leaks from the intelligence community about an investigation initiated by the Obama Administration into the Presidential Campaign of the opposition party in the run-up to a national election.  He watched as opposition groups waged lawfare on the new Administration, and friendly district court judges in liberal cities issued nationwide injunctions to block the initiation of administration policies on little or no substantive record.

He watched the Democrat minority in the Senate bog down the process for confirming every single Executive branch political appointee requiring Senate confirmation for no purpose other than to prevent the President from populating the top levels of each federal agency with individuals who were of similar policy views as the new Administration.


Then he watched as a Special Counsel appointed by the Deputy Attorney General initiated a criminal investigation of a sitting President on the basis that the President fired a subordinate — the Director of the FBI — when the firing had been recommended by both the Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General.  He watched for nearly a year — and could watch no more — when it became obvious that the only basis upon which the SCO was continuing the investigation were allegations that the President had obstructed the SCO’s investigation into actions which the President had absolute and total authority to take.

And since becoming Attorney General, he has watched as Democrat officeholders in Washington and across the country have both stood by and done nothing, or in some cases actively encouraged, violence and destruction by left-wing agitators whose professed goal is to destabilize the Trump Administration.  The goal of the officeholders is to hope the violence and destruction weaken Trump politically to such a degree as to secure victory over him in November.

Approximately 115 days ago, Attorney General Barr made the following statement shortly after violent protests and riots began to spread across the country in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death while in police custody in Minneapolis:

“With the rioting that is occurring in many of our cities around the country, the voices of peaceful and legitimate protests have been hijacked by violent radical elements. Groups of outside radicals and agitators are exploiting the situation to pursue their own separate, violent, and extremist agenda.

It is time to stop watching the violence and to confront and stop it. The continued violence and destruction of property endangers the lives and livelihoods of others, and interferes with the rights of peaceful protestors, as well as all other citizens.


Federal law enforcement actions will be directed at apprehending and charging the violent radical agitators who have hijacked peaceful protest and are engaged in violations of federal law.

To identify criminal organizers and instigators, and to coordinate federal resources with our state and local partners, federal law enforcement is using our existing network of 56 regional FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTF).

The violence instigated and carried out by Antifa and other similar groups in connection with the rioting is domestic terrorism and will be treated accordingly.”


We know from anecdotal information that federal law enforcement has placed undercover agents inside the protest groups, likely to secure telephone numbers and engage in conversations with persons using those numbers to create probable cause to wiretap those phones.  Monitoring phones, email, text messaging, and other forms of communication has certainly helped identify the infrastructure that clearly exists for Antifa and similar groups.

Nearly every night, for over 100 days, Antifa and BLM staged protests on a nightly basis in Portland.

A couple of days after an Antifa supporter, Michael Reinoehl, killed a “rival” agitator from an Antifa opposition group in Portland, Reinoehl himself was shot and killed by officers on a federal task force who were staged outside an apartment where he was hiding.

It seems that not long after, the recognition seemed to set in that the Antifa/BLM organizers and agitators could be easily identified with open-source information, and given the speed with which federal agents were able to pinpoint Reinoehl’s location, the organizers and agitators in Portland seem to have decided that going underground is necessary at this moment.

Similarly, the violent protests across the country seem to have found a lack of enthusiasm — not to mention bricks — when the polling on the subject began to hurt Joe Biden’s chances in the upcoming election following the party conventions in late August.


But that doesn’t mean that what these organizers and agitators did between June and August is forgotten.  In a conference call with all US Attorneys across the country last week, Attorney General Barr urged them to make use of the “sedition” statute in bringing federal charges against the organizers and agitators of Antifa and similar groups when the evidence showed they were behind the rioting that had taken place.

The federal law against “seditious conspiracy”, 18 U.S.C. Sec. 2384, reads as follows:

If two or more persons in any State or Territory, or in any place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, conspire to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States, or to levy war against them, or to oppose by force the authority thereof, or by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States, or by force to seize, take, or possess any property of the United States contrary to the authority thereof, they shall each be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both.

Nothing in the statute requires that the effort to “overthrow” the government have any remote chance of succeeding — “impossibility” is not a defense.  Proof of the offense requires only an analysis of commentary and activity.  The evidence of the activity is in the streets of various US cities, and on tens of thousands of hours of video posted online — not to mention covert video recorded by law enforcement in dozens of localities.


Commentary will come from the recorded conversations that have no doubt been intercepted involving various actors identified over the past 90 days at least.  Building cases based on such intercepts takes a bit of time, as a jumbled mess of information needs to be sorted through and assembled in a coherent manner.

Testimonial evidence will also come in the form of cooperator testimony — yes, some of those Marxists will decide that cooperation is a better alternative than 20 years in jail.

But the realization by criminals that they have been surveilled and intercepted ALWAYS comes too late in the game.  The Antifa/BLM agitators have faded into the shadows because they know “the heat is on.”  I would speculate the likelihood is quite high already that discovery in the dozens criminal cases filed in federal courts has already resulted in the production of text messages, emails, and likely even recorded conversations between Antifa/BLM agitators, and the possession of such evidence by the federal prosecutors has filtered its way to those persons who have funded and organized the protest efforts all throughout the summer.

Suddenly feeling exposed, those promoters have gone underground.

And the rioting has stopped as quickly as it seemed to start. Even in Portland.


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