An Austin, Texas, jury on Friday discovered that conspiracy theorist Alex Jones should pay Sandy Hook dad and mom $45.2 million in punitive damages for broadcasting defamatory claims that the 2012 college bloodbath was a authorities plot—and that the dad and mom had been in on the operation. That was on high of a separate set of compensatory damages issued this week, totaling $4.1 million.
The long-awaited ruling got here after Jones, the founding father of InfoWars, was discovered liable last year for defaming the dad and mom, and it represented the primary climax of three such hearings to evaluate how a lot Jones owes his victims.
However together with the opposite future hearings, Jones may quickly be embroiled in one other high-stakes authorized drama after his attorneys within the defamation case mistakenly despatched an infinite trove of his private telephone information to the authorized counsel … for the Sandy Hook dad and mom. This jaw-dropping improvement produced appreciable courtroom drama—as my colleague Abigail Weinberg documented on Wednesday (watch to see Jones’s response occur in real-time). It additionally opened a shock door for investigators working for the January 6 fee, which is making an attempt to piece collectively how the Capitol Rebellion was doubtlessly coordinated amongst a band of far-right operatives and extremists.
News quickly broke that the committee was getting ready to difficulty a subpoena for the info, which apparently consists of two years’ worth of texts. Mark Bankston, a lawyer representing the dad and mom, informed the Texas court docket he was now within the possession of “intimate messages with Roger Stone”—the Trump-aligned operative—and that he was ready handy the cache over if the decide, Maya Guerra Gamble, cleared the way in which. She did simply that on Friday. As Mom Jones has beforehand reported, Stone has multiple connections to a gaggle of Oath Keepers, the far-right militia accused of serving to to orchestrate a plot to disrupt the 2020 presidential election. (Each Stone and Jones have maintained they performed no position in selling violence.)
So, what would investigators be on the lookout for precisely? Bankston doesn’t know. “We definitely noticed textual content messages from way back to 2019,” he said. “When it comes to what all is on that telephone, it’s going to take a short while to determine that out.”
However right here’s what they may be on the lookout for. The committee has already sought paperwork from Jones. Final yr, he sued the committee in an effort to stymie a subpoena for communications that sought to light up how Jones knew, as early as January 3, about potential plans for Trump to fulfill a gaggle of rally-goers who had been planning to march to the Capitol after the president’s now-infamous speech on the Ellipse. Jones was an enormous promoter of Trump’s huge election lie, and he was publicly saber-rattling on January fifth, the eve of the assault: “We’ve got solely begun to withstand the globalists,” he told a crowd in DC. “We’ve got solely begun our battle towards their tyranny.”
In a separate video posted on January 6, Jones is seen working up the group outdoors the Capitol. “Trump goes to talk over right here,” he is heard saying. “Trump is coming.”
Having been thwarted to this point, the committee have to be pinching itself about the potential for seeing any texts that may reveal any degree of energetic coordination between Jones, Stone, and different outstanding operatives and far-right extremists—and, after all, any connections to the White Home itself.
Alex Jones took the fifth greater than 100 instances when he testified in entrance of the January 6 Cmte.
Imagines what’s in his textual content messages, that are prone to land within the palms of committee investigators & DOJ promptly.
— Joyce Alene (@JoyceWhiteVance) August 3, 2022
However even because the committee pursues this line of investigation, it’s essential to recollect this level made by my colleague, Washington D.C. bureau chief David Corn: There might properly have been collusion between the assorted dangerous actors, the alleged seditionists, and perhaps even Trump himself. But when there’s no smoking gun in these texts, or elsewhere, Trump isn’t off the hook:
It stays a chance that the White Home was in cahoots with the extremists, maybe egging them on to trigger chaos on January 6 that will impede the certification of the electoral vote rely—which, at the moment, was what Trump desired… But if these two dots—Trump and the insurrectionist paramiltarists—will not be related, that doesn’t absolve Trump… Conspiring with the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys could be merely yet one more offense on a tall pile. It may develop his authorized legal responsibility. But it surely’s a subplot in a story already totally established: Trump tried to subvert the constitutional order to retain energy… There’s no want for a smoking gun—or to get hung up on a selected allegation or doable prison violation. The query is not Trump’s guilt however how greatest to counter the risk he continues to pose to the republic.