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Welcome to Hark Herald Press Sunday, June 13 2021 @ 02:40 AM UTC

Detention Hearing for Capitol Rioter William McCall Calhoun (Twitter unroll)

Capitol Riots Extended Coverage
  • Thursday, January 21 2021 @ 11:37 PM UTC
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Join us for a Twitter unroll by @colinkalmbacher, where he live tweets during a detention hearing for William McCall Calhoun Jr., a Georgia attorney proud of his involvement in the Jan. 6 siege of the U.S. Capitol. Keep in mind that each line, or paragraph, is a separate tweet. So, we apologize for what appears to be a fragmented article. Nevertheless, these tweets are informative and we encourage readers to read until the end.
William McCall Calhoun, a Georgia attorney who allegedly bragged that he was among the first who "kicked in Nancy Pelosi's office door" and fantasized about her being "torn into little pieces" is currently undergoing a detention hearing (already-in-progress). This is a thread.

A government attorney just pressed FBI agent Armentrout who prepared the affidavit and arrest warrant about the timing of Calhoun's social media posts--noted that they were made several hours before the Capitol siege and liked by dozens of individuals.

The witness steps down. The government moves to submit their case. The defense is up now making arguments. Defense attorney running through the charges. Previously documented here:

Defense says the only evidence the government offered so far is that Calhoun made social media posts about going to the Capitol "to voice objections about the electoral process." Says he was simply in the Capitol with a lot of other people.

Defense: "He used the royal 'we'." Argues this says "he was narrating and showing what was going on." Admits it can be read the government's way as well--but says if there's an equal possibility, it cannot support probable cause.

Defense also said that "on a normal day" the U.S. Capitol would be a public building that people are allowed to be in.

"We think the government has not met its burden," the defense says.

Government attorney responds. Again references Calhoun's social media posts and his intent to effect a change within the U.S. Congress. "We know he was in the building...there's not a lack of evidence...he's said it as plainly as it could be said."

Brief recess as the judge will review his notes and case law cited by the defense in service of their probable cause argument. During the interim, here's some of what we missed during the live-tweeting (apologies, the hearing started a bit earlier than the court said it would.)

During the government's brief case-in-chief, FBI Agent Armentrout identified Calhoun on a screen of a public video as being among the Capitol rioters. He also cited an Atlanta Journal-Constitution interview where he described himself and others as "heroic" and "patriotic."

Defense then moved to trip up Armentrout by citing the affidavit claiming Calhoun "encouraged a crowd of individuals who forcibly entered the U.S. Capitol." The attorney's lawyer asked what evidence the government had to support that accusation.

Armentrout said that "the entirety of the circumstances" on the day in question combined with what "he posted online" was enough to support that line in the affidavit.

The defense then honed in on the unlikelihood that Calhoun's social media posts would have been read in real-time during the siege. Armentrout attempted to brush that off by saying that "his social media posts are indicative of his mindset."

The defense continued to forcefully press the agent. Asked whether there were any "photographs or video evidence" of Calhoun actually breaking into Pelosi's office, Armentrout conceded there were not.

Similarly, the defense asked if there were any videos of damage or assault involving Calhoun specifically. Again, Armentrout conceded the point--occasionally noting that there was, however, ample video evidence showing him in the Capitol on January 6.

"We have no videos or photos of him in the office, no," FBI Special Agent Timothy D. Armentrout.

The defense also asked about the number of social media followers that Calhoun had on the day of the failed insurrection. Armentrout said he didn't know but only because Calhoun deleted all his profiles. (This prompted the government to mention the number of likes on his post.)

There was also a brief discussion about the "royal we" that the defense reprised for the judge's benefit.

The government wants to keep it based on what's in the court papers. The defense, obviously, wants to chip away by saying the affidavit assumes too much. That about brings us up to speed. We'll be back shortly with the judge's take on the defense's probable cause argument.

Court in session: "With regard to probable cause, there are three charges set out in the complaint," the judge notes.

The judge finds PC to support 18 U.S.C. 1752(a).
The judge finds PC to support 40 U.S.C. 5104(e)(2).

As for the felony charge, 18 U.S.C. 1512(c)(2), the crime of obstruction of an official proceeding. "The defendant joined a large mob of people who disrupted the Capitol's clear that the defendant was involved in that."

Judge adds that Calhoun's social media posts show that he intended to "Stop the Steal or whatever" and "disrupt the Congress." The defendants own words support the charge. The judge rules in favor of the government.

Judge notes that the felony will require an indictment. This is procedural and largely pro forma but by no means guaranteed. Need a grand jury here.

Government questioning Armentrout again. FBI agent says has reviewed somewhere around 150-200 social media posts. He singles out the relevant exhibits here. They are Twitter posts. Says they are from Calhoun's account.

One such post: "Standing by and when Trump makes the call, many of heavily-armed patriots" will deal with "the Chicom Democrats. Oh yeah, the military and police are on our side."

Another post: a picture with a caption "hang the bastards."

Another post: takes aim at BLM and anti-fascists. Says there is an intent to "hang 'em high" and that "in Georgia" we have "a right to self-defense you idiot."

Another post: takes up the honor of one Tiffany [Trump?] and promises "headshots" (shots in the head).

Another post: promises "hot lead" for communists.

Another post: "War is coming," again evidences an obsession with communists.

Another post: Deals with "ejection stealing" [sic].

Another post: "We've got to get serious about stopping them with the force of arms...I'm a lawyer saying these things."

Another post: Calls for "violent retribution against the media and the Democrats."

Another post: Asks for "upvote"s if people are ready to storm Washington with an AR.

Another post: "Think ethnic cleansing but it's anti-communist cleansing."

Another post: Calls into question the Biden-Harris victory. Calls out Jerry Nadler. "Do you want a bullet to the head?" Says he can't reason with "communist assholes."

Another post: "That's why we have AR-15s and it's about time to open up a can of whoop ass."

Another post: Complains about U.S. history books mentioning "Harriet Tubman 11 times."

Another post: "God is on Trump's side. God is not on the Democrats' side...and if patriots have to kill 60 million of these communists, it is God's will."

Another post taking aim at BLM: "You won't be laughing when patriots go door to door executing you commies."

Another post (from Facebook) details Calhoun's participation in the siege. Cites some 200 first movers--some of whom were badly wounded. Many Facebook posts were listed in the original complaint but this one was not.

Armentrout received notice of an arrest warrant early last week--before the search warrant was issued. The FBI knew that Calhoun was making court appearances for his clients, and otherwise going about his business, after he came back from Washington, D.C.

Calhoun was arrested in Macon, Georgia. Not Americus, where he hails from.

Inside the Macon bedroom: camouflage, guns, gun bags, handgun inside of a holster by the nightstand next to the bed, a pair of brass knuckles, eight rifles, along with a "large quantity of ammunition" in the closet, the ball cap and scarf he can be seen wearing in public videos.

Calhoun allegedly only began staying in the "spare bedroom" sometime last week and brought the guns and ammo (in the form of ammo cans) to the room with him. FBI estimates between 100-"over a thousand" rounds of ammunition.

Defense attorney Timothy Saviello now questioning Armentrout about the social media posts. Wants to know if he knows how Twitter works. FBI agent says he doesn't have an account but that he generally understands it.

Saviello wants to focus on whether or not his client was making his violence-worshiping statements in the context of a conversation. [Correction: the earlier reference to "hang 'em high" was wrong. Calhoun wrote about BLM members in body bags being "stacked up high."]

Saviello and Armentrout going back and forth about the conversational nature of the statements--FBI agrees that the context of the conversation is important to understand the entirety of what Calhoun was discussing during those social media posts.

Saviello notes that many of the posts come from the fall of 2020, "that is October." Armentrout agrees "that is correct." Saviello asks if there is any evidence of Calhoun acting on any of his violent statements. Armentrout says no and that there is no evidence of that.

Saviello asks if there is any evidence Calhoun engaged in any violent action during the Capitol siege. Armentrout says there is no video evidence but notes Calhoun he admits to pushing past barriers. Eventually Armentrout concedes this does not qualify as violence.

Saviello again brings up the "royal we" writing style employed by the defendant. Points out there was nothing about "I or me" written by his client.

Saviello asks is there any evidence Calhoun engaged in any violence toward any person. Again Armentrout hedges before conceding that there is no such evidence.

Immediately above: this was a question about violence after the Capitol siege. Different but similar to the question about violence during the siege.

Calhoun was arrested at his sister's home. Calhoun cooperated with the arrest. Calhoun cooperated with the search incident to the arrest. He identified the guns and ammunition as belonging to him. Didn't try to resist or run.

Defense is finished with the witness. Government declines to re-direct; no other witnesses or evidence. But the defense has a bit more.

Defense exhibit 1 is a series of emails that were sent to Calhoun's business email address. Saviello says they are "harassing and threatening." Exhibit 2 is a series of affidavits attesting to the defendant's character in service of a bond request.

Government says the emails are irrelevant. Judge overrules the government and admits the exhibits. Government says the affidavits are half-and-half irrelevant and not. Judge overrules this request as well and admits them.

Government wants several affidavits redacted--including the following names: Guilfoyle, Turner, Breedlove, Hawkins, Reddish, Stapleton. The judge again declines. There isn't a jury and he hasn't even read them.

Saviello now wants to offer up a series of "harassing and threatening voicemails" and reference having seen Calhoun's business. Also threaten his family. Says this is relevant to why he was in Macon and not in Americus.

Voicemails have "some relevance to them," the judge says and will sort it out later. Saviello will play five of them.

A man named Dave or David calls Calhoun a "fucking southern moron idiot" and asks for a call back.

Another man says Calhoun is "not a hero," calls him a "fucker" and says he's going down along with his "family" "tourist friends" "hate groups" and "Republicans."

A woman asks where Calhoun is--insults his home and law office, saying that she has seen his house. Saviello mentions this.

A man calls Calhoun "a *censored* faggot *censored*" and says he's calling from the New York State Penitentiary.

Another man says: "I'm going after his family because he's locked up." Calls him a "hillbilly cocksucker."

Impressions: all of these people are deeply unwell. Homophobia, antisemitism, racism, petty regionalism and classism are being weaponized to showcase supposed moral-ethical superiority. But this equation doesn't quite work out.

Mary Calhoun, William McCall Calhoun's sister, is now testifying.

Says she has one brother and two sisters, her father is deceased, her mother lives in Americus, Georgia. Has a younger daughter. She's been working remotely. She uses a password-protected computer. Uses a password-protected smartphone for work and personal use.

Says that if her brother posts bail, he would be able to stay at her house. Says that he was previously staying with her at her invitation because of the harassing phone calls and death threats. "I asked him if he would please come stay with us."

Mary Calhoun says she would make sure her brother met all the conditions of his bond if granted pre-trial release.

Mary Calhoun tells the court that she loves her brother and so does her daughter. "I know personally because I've known him all my life and so I know his true nature that he wouldn't hurt anyone..."

Government re-directs: asks what day he arrived at the Macon home. Mary Calhoun says she doesn't remember but "maybe the night of the 7th." She was originally babysitting his dog.

Government asks since when. She says maybe the 5th. She knew he was on his way to Washington, D.C.

Mary Calhoun says she discussed the Capitol trip with her brother. Says she asked him some questions--such as if he was taking any weapons. "He said no because it was against the law."

"I felt like it was going to be okay simply because of that you know, he wasn't going to shoot anyone, he wasn't going to harm anyone," Mary Calhoun.

Goes on to say she didn't discourage him because she "didn't think there was anything to discourage him from."

Government asks Mary Calhoun if her brother arrived with any of his personal property. She says yes. Government now focusing on the guns and ammunition. Mary Calhoun says they discussed that after the threatening phone calls. "I thought that would be best if he did bring them."

Government asks whether Mary Calhoun personally heard the threatening phone calls. She said not at first but the next night or so she did and that's when she asked him to come stay with him.

Government asks whether an email about his bar licensing qualifies as a threat. "Well, I didn't say that," Mary Calhoun says.

Government asks if she first heard the phone calls in court or before. She says she heard some of them before, got some of the information secondhand from people in her brother's law office but can't remember the exact date.

Government now asking about emails regarding hope that Calhoun rots in Hell, hope that he gets 10 years in prison, etc. Mary Calhoun says it's all disturbing. Government tries to trip up the sister by asking her doesn't she know what the emails don't say. She says she actually doesn't know and points out she's not a lawyer.

Evidence is done. Witness is excused.

Government relying on social media posts to make closing case: "Taking it in context shows just how dangerous" Calhoun is "to this community." Insists that he has followed up on everything he wrote about so far.

"Everything that he has said that he would do in those posts--short of executing and stacking up body bags--he has done."

Defense up now. Wants to talk about standards. Says there is a presumption in favor of release. Says Calhoun is not a danger to the community or a flight risk.

"Many many people will attest that Mr. Calhoun is a person of character." Says his client has prostate cancer "for which he is undergoing treatment" and that this diagnosis will motivate him "to follow the rules should you let him out." Also cites his family ties to Georgia.

"Generational ties...he's a Georgia person through and through." Defense also wants the court to consider Calhoun's employment as a lawyer. "He is not cash-rich. He does not have the funds to flee and finance a lifestyle on the run."

"Mr. Calhoun is the rare defendant who understands what it means to go to court when you have to go to court," the defense argues, because he's a lawyer.

Defense says Calhoun understood that charges were coming because he gave an interview admitting to trespassing. Pushes back against government's claim that staying with his sister was an attempt to evade arrest--says he was trying to remain safe due to the threats and harassment.

"He has a thriving law practice and is expected in court and has been going to court," the defense says. All this in service of the argument that he is not a flight risk. Moves for home confinement, GPS monitoring, etc.

As for the risk of danger, "the question is: what is the problem? what is the real danger?" from Calhoun? Says the government was wrong that Calhoun followed up on everything he ever posted about. "The just not accurate." Calls them partisan, loud, rhetorical comments.

"Words do not equal action," Saviello says, regarding the social media posts. Argues there is no context and that he never followed up on any of them. Concedes that he does have a number of weapons. But asked his sister to store them so they wouldn't be stolen due to the threats.

Saviello says the social media issue is basically solved because he's banned from Facebook and Twitter and because Parler is shut down. But says let's go further: ban him from accessing the internet.

Notes that Calhoun does not have a passport. Limit his travel to court appearances for his clients. Prohibit him from accessing weapons--this is standard.

Compares his client to Trump (!) in terms of social media reach and potential for violence. Notes Trump had 89 million Twitter followers on the day the Capitol was sieged. Says he doesn't know how many followers Calhoun had but that it was a "miniscule fraction" of Trump's...

Goes on to note that Trump now has zero Twitter followers and there were no real protests to speak of on inauguration day. "If we change his environment, I don't think we'll see that...I believe his behavior would be different."

Government briefly counters the idea that going to his sister's home was "responsible" under the circumstances. Says the responsible thing to do would be tell local police about the threats and that he's relocating, giving his new address, etc. "That's not what he did."

Government says the sister's question about bringing a gun to the Capitol is evidence that "she was concerned he might shoot someone. Like he said he would do." Again returning to the social media post well.

The judge will now review the evidence.

(He's doing this in real-time. We can hear the pages flipping.)


"Based on the evidence that's been presented here today...I do find by clear and convincing evidence that there are no conditions of release...that can secure the safety of the community."

Judge remarks:

"He has been corrupted by or seduced by dangerous and violent ideology that considers the United States to be in a state of civil war, that considers every Democrat to be worthy of execution, that considers every member of the government part of a Deep State."

Concerning his work as an attorney: "Sometime over the past 30 years...something has changed."

"The biggest issue: you were in the Capitol...We've seen the video. You bragged about it. You passed a sacred sacred line. That was an act of extreme violence."

Judge continues: "When you and your friends went in there and tore the place to shreds, killed five people, including a police officer, you showed that there was nothing would hold you back except force..."

"That's why we had 25,000 National Guard members on the Capitol" yesterday. Says it's a shame, disgrace and embarrassment for the the country.

"And if you don't respect the Capitol Police, if you don't respect the Capitol Building of the United States, there's no reason to believe you would respect anything I would tell you to do." Judge says he would fear for the life of a probation officer sent to check up on Calhoun.

Again remarks upon the defendant's "Deep State" beliefs. Considers them an indication that Calhoun would likely resort to violence against any government agent. The defense objects.

The judge concludes: "Again, because of the corrupting and dangerous ideology that has poisoned this man's mind, I wouldn't trust him to do anything I told him to do. He probably considers me scum who deserves a headshot. So, no, I'm not gonna release him."

Story to come for @lawcrimenews. Follow our account. Follow this account if you like this kind of stuff, excessive retweets, basketball and country music/punk rock.



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