Mar 9, 2022 - Podcasts

A verdict and an indictment on the Capitol riot

Yesterday, a jury found a Texas militia member guilty on all counts in the very first Capitol riot trial. And the leader of the Proud Boys, Enrique Tarrio, was indicted by the Justice Department for his role in the insurrection.

  • Plus, President Zelensky gives a historic speech to the British Parliament.
  • And, the airline industry reacts to the Ukraine war.

Guests: Wall Street Journal reporter, Aruna Viswanatha; and Zach Griff, senior reporter for The Points Guy

Credits: Axios Today is produced in partnership with Pushkin Industries. The team includes Niala Boodhoo, Sara Kehaulani Goo, Julia Redpath, Alexandra Botti, Nuria Marquez Martinez, Sabeena Singhani, Lydia McMullen-Laird, Alex Sugiura, and Ben O'Brien. Music is composed by Evan Viola. You can reach us at [email protected] You can text questions, comments and story ideas to Niala as a text or voice memo to 202-918-4893.

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Good morning! Welcome to Axios Today!

It’s Wednesday, March 9th.

I’m Niala Boodhoo.

Here’s what we’re watching: President Zelensky gives a historic speech to the British Parliament. Plus, the airline industry reacts to the Ukraine war.

First, today’s One Big Thing: A verdict - and an indictment on the Capitol riot.

NIALA: We got two big criminal updates on people involved in the January 6th insurrection yesterday. A jury found a Texas militia member guilty on all counts in the very first Capitol riot trial. And the leader of the Proud Boys Enrique Tarrio was indicted yesterday by the Justice Department for his role in the insurrection. Aruna Viswanatha covers the Justice Department for the Wall Street Journal and is joining us now.

NIALA: Could you start first with this trial? Who is Guy Reffitt and what was he found guilty of?

ARUNA: Sure. So he is from Texas, as you mentioned, he was an oil worker had been somewhat out of work during the pandemic and started becoming more interested in kind of right-wing politics ended up coming to DC, wore body armor, had a gun on him and basically stood on a banister and sort of riled up the crowd as they were about to start breaking the police line and entering the Capitol, he gets shot with sort of rubber projectiles and bear spray, and doesn't ultimately go into the Capitol. But he was charged with obstructing an official proceeding having this gun on him while he's standing there on Capitol grounds, battling with police. And, then he was also charged, later on with threatening his children, not to report him to the FBI and he was convicted on all of those counts.

NIALA: What is the likely punishment that he is facing?

ARUNA: So the obstruction count that he faces carries a 20 year maximum penalty. And some of the other January 6 defendants who have pleaded guilty to that count have been sentenced to three to four years in prison. And those were under plea deals. So I would expect Mr. Reffitt could potentially face more than that. But we're probably talking in that five year range.

NIALA: Yesterday we have Enrique Tarrio, a leader from the Proud Boys who was indicted, even though he wasn't actually physically present on January 6 at the Capitol. What does the indictments say about his role in the incident?

ARUNA: That's right. He wasn't there. And it's pretty interesting because even in the days before January 6th, he was actually arrested in DC on charges related to a prior protest he had been to. And law enforcement really did kind of think taking him sort of off the field as it were and telling him to stay out of DC, they thought that they were potentially limiting the potential for things to get out of hand on January 6. But according to these new allegations, even though he wasn't physically present, he was still sort of directing efforts to approach the Capitol, a breach the Capitol. And they're saying he played an integral role in that planning.

NIALA: So this is just the start of all of these trials or plea deals, different ongoing investigations into people involved in the January 6th insurrection.

ARUNA: That's right. We are a year into this investigation, but just given how sort of sprawling and unprecedented it is, we already have more than 750 people who have been arrested. And there's more coming almost every day, each week, at least. Mr. Reffitt was the first one to go to trial that could potentially influence how some of these other cases could go, but as we see, they're still bringing more serious cases. So yeah it is still early days, even though it's, it's already been a year. We could potentially see this playing out over the course of several more years.

NIALA: Aruna Viswanatha covers the Justice Department for the Wall Street Journal.

Thanks Aruna.

ARUNA: Thank you.

NIALA: In 15 seconds: Ukraine’s president Zelensky draws on history to rally support.

Welcome back to Axios Today. I’m Niala Boodhoo. To catch you up quick, here’s what we heard from Presidents Zelensky and Biden yesterday on the war in Ukraine.

ZELENSKY: [in Ukrainian, dubbed English] "We will not give up, and we will not lose. We will fight till the end — at sea, in the air, we will continue fighting for our land, whatever the cost.

NIALA: That was Ukrainian President Zelensky addressing the British Parliament yesterday.

We will fight in the forests, in the fields, on the shores, in the streets."

If those words sound familiar - that’s because it was an echo of a famous speech Winston Churchill gave following the Allied evacuation of troops from Dunkirk during World War Two.

Zelensky’s speech brought Parliament to its feet, and politicians from all parties afterwards talked about the need to set aside partisan differences to support Ukraine.

Here in the US, President Biden announced a ban of Russian oil, natural gas, and coal imports – while gas prices in the U.S. reach a record average $4.17 a gallon.

BIDEN: Americans have rallied support-have rallied to support the Ukrainian people and made it clear: We will not be part of subsidizing Putin's war.

That phrase - Putin’s war - was mentioned seven times in the short speech. Axios’ Margaret Talev writes that’s a clear strategy by Biden to redirect American anger about gas prices - and insulate himself this midterm year. He even said quote “I’m going to do everything I can to minimize Putin’s price hike here at home." I’ll tweet out a link to Margaret’s analysis.

NIALA: US air travel has been coming back and airlines are trying to win the loyalty of consumers who are planning vacations and business trips again. But the war in Ukraine and sky high fuel prices could affect the industry in a big way. Zack Griff is a senior reporter for The Points Guy. He's got the latest and some tips for us. Hey Zach.

ZACH: Hey, how are you doing?

NIALA: Zach, first of all, do we know how much Russia's war on Ukraine could affect, for example, airline oil prices?

ZACH: We're starting to see what appears to be increases in fares directly related to the increase in the fare prices that we've already seen kind of at the pumps for ourselves. Just this week you had an airline Breeze, which is one of the new airlines here in the U S founded by the same guy who started JetBlue. They were going to announce a much bigger expansion than they did, but they pared some of that back strictly because they just didn't know what would happen with fuel prices.

NIALA: What are airlines doing to reassure customers, especially when they're thinking about transatlantic travel or summer travel? I imagine a lot of people might be putting European vacations on hold?

ZACH: Yeah. I mean, of course we've already seen all the US airlines, they are no longer flying through Russian airspace, obviously nothing at all over Ukraine. And so United had to cancel some of their flights to India because of the rerouting and making it commercially no longer feasible to take those super, super long routes and make them even longer.

Uh, the US airlines though, they are certainly hopeful that Western Europe cities like Paris, London, if those cities, remain relatively safe and the war does really get contained to the Ukraine and Russia area, the airlines are certainly hopeful that people will be confident to get back out there.

NIALA: So for consumers, what are the best tips for booking travel these days? Considering the fact that we're in this new phase of the pandemic and we have this war in Ukraine.

ZACH: I mean, obviously flexibility is the name of the game. If you really want to unlock a deal. Things like midweek departures, even during the summer, which is a super busy season, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, even sometimes Saturdays… But it's not just about being flexible. It's about even, you know, which airline are you flying. For instance, in the Northeast corridor, you have a new startup airline called Avelo. They're operating out of New Haven, Connecticut. And for a lot of people, you know, JFK or LaGuardia is- it could be for instance, equidistant from New Haven, or it's easy enough to get over there to New Haven.

And they have fares that are starting at, you know, 49 bucks one way. But that would never otherwise come up in your search because you weren't thinking about going to an airport that may not necessarily be on your radar.

NIALA: Zach Griff is a senior reporter for the points guy website. Thanks Zach.

ZACH: Thank you!

That’s all we’ve got for you today! And a big thank you to all of you who in the last couple of days have been sharing what gas prices look like in your hometown, and how you’re managing as they spike. You can always reach out - the number’s in our show notes.

I’m Niala Boodhoo - thanks for listening - stay safe and we’ll see you back here tomorrow morning.

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