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Trump supporters’ plot to bomb Sacramento’s Dem HQ wasn’t all beer talk, feds say

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Prosecutors say it was more than just the beer talking.

After a lawyer on Wednesday blamed excessive drinking for a Bay Area man’s plot to blow up the Sacramento Democratic headquarters building in protest of President Donald Trump’s election loss, federal prosecutors responded with their view of how detailed Ian Benjamin Rogers’ plot had been.

They say he had stockpiled 48 firearms — four of them machine guns — and five pipe bombs, as well as 15,000 rounds of ammunition.

And they say he communicated at length with his co-defendant, Jarrod Copeland, about potential targets, the possibility of being killed and the fact that his actions likely would lead to a separation from his wife.

“She was crying yesterday and said to me ‘please don’t leave me I don’t know what to do without you,’” Rogers texted to Copeland on Jan. 8, 2021, two days after the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, court papers say.

“She was rubbing my back while I was watching events from the capitol. She knows how I am and she knows I will put myself in harms way for what I believe in.”

What the two men believed was that the outcome of the November 2020 presidential election required violence that might draw others to their cause against the Democratic Party, Assistant U.S. Attorneys Frank Riebli and Eric Cheng wrote in a sentencing memo asking a federal judge to sentence Rogers next week to nine years in prison.

“Although they understood that they would be viewed as domestic terrorists for their conduct, they hoped that their violent acts might start a movement to overthrow the government, or at least strike back at the government for what they viewed as the unfair treatment of political opponents like themselves,” the prosecutors wrote.

“So Rogers and Copeland developed a plan to attack the Democratic Party headquarters in Sacramento and burn it to the ground, and then move on to other targets (including two social media companies they despised).

“By the end of November, they had worked out many of the details of the plan. The January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol energized them, and they waited to see whether the inauguration on January 20, 2021 would go forward before initiating their attacks.”

Before the men could act, however, an anonymous tip led authorities to search Rogers’ home and auto repair shop in Napa, where the cache of weapons, ammo and bombs were found, leading to Rogers’ arrest on weapons charges.

“During a videotaped interview after Rogers’ arrest, a Napa Sheriff’s detective asked him if he had any plans to attack anyone,” prosecutors wrote. “Rogers said, ‘I’ve thought about it.’”

“I’ve thought about fighting against, fighting back against the government. But it’s always when I’m inebriated. You wake up and you go, ‘It’s not a good idea.’”

Rogers added that he did not want to hurt any innocent people, unless “maybe if you could attack the right people ... people who are really causing problems in this world, like George Soros.”

“I mean, you know, it’s kind of satisfying to think about hurting some scumbag like that,” he said, referring to the Democratic candidate megadonor, according to court papers.

The men also were motivated by anger over what they saw as disparate treatment of racial justice protesters during the summer of 2020 and the Jan. 6 rioters, court papers say.

Rogers’ lawyer, Colin Cooper, filed a sentencing memorandum Wednesday asking U.S. District Judge Charles R. Breyer to sentence Rogers to seven years in prison as part of his plea agreement, arguing that Rogers’ excessive beer drinking led to his “bloviating” about launching attacks and that his talk was “a huge mistake.”

But prosecutors say the men were serious about their plan, that they communicated through text messaging and an encrypted phone app, and that Copeland purchased a 10-pack of zip-tie handcuffs at one point “just in case.”

“Are we the only patriots in the nation?” Rogers texted Copeland on Jan. 4, 2021, according to court papers. “I don’t get this? It’s baffling.

“We might have to be the ones to wake people up, everyone else are p----- and sleep.”

At one point, Copeland told Rogers he had tried contacting the Proud Boys “to enlist more people to join them in forming a force for guerilla warfare,” court papers say.

“Evidence on Copeland’s computer revealed that he contacted — or tried to contact — the Proud Boys through their website on December 28, 2020,” prosecutors wrote, adding that Copeland texted Rogers with the observation that “we are severely outnumbered.”

“We are but we are willing to fight they are not,” Rogers replied, court papers say.

“The constitution has weight, elected A—FACE’s don’t,” Rogers added, court papers say. “Outlaws and freedom fighters are the same thing depending on your viewpoint. That’s a fact. And also terrorists. But in reality we are patriots.”

Prosecutors also wrote that Rogers did not keep his plans a secret, noting that in August 2020 he messaged his former brother-in-law a photo of the five pipe bombs and wrote, “I made these today for when the s--- hits the fan.”

“I want to learn how to make plastique,” he added, according to prosecutors. “Civil war is coming.”

Prosecutors note that Rogers abused alcohol and that both defendants also were steroid users.

But they say there is evidence from jailhouse recordings that Rogers continued to espouse beliefs that he was “a political prisoner.”

“In a January 27, 2021, video visit with his ex-wife, Rogers said ‘the Democrats are going to war against me,’” court papers say. “In another call with her that same day, Rogers pointed out that there were no federal charges against him until the new administration took over (within 12 days of his arrest, which had nothing to do with who held office before or after the inauguration), and that ‘it’s all political.’

“In a call with his ex-wife’s sister on February 2, 2021, Rogers repeated that ‘it’s all politics.’”

Prosecutors say a representative from the Democratic Party plans to attend Rogers’ sentencing Wednesday in San Francisco federal court to speak, and that the party submitted a victim impact statement noting that officials “expended significant sums of money” to increase security after the plot and that “employees and volunteers are still scared for their safety when they visit the Party’s headquarters.”

Prosecutors and Rogers’ defense attorney agreed to a plea deal for a sentence of between seven and nine years in prison, but the judge is not bound by that agreement.

They noted that when Rogers pleaded guilty last May, he appeared “somewhat reluctant” to accept that what he had done was criminal, and that if that conduct continues at his sentencing hearing they may argue for more time than the nine years.

“Whether Rogers was a right-wing or left-wing extremist does not matter here: simply put, he was an extremist who got within a few days of committing acts of violence to try to enforce his political views on others, and that is conduct that must be condemned with severe consequences,” the prosecutors wrote. “Indeed, there is a great need for the sentence in this case to send a message to anyone who would conspire to commit any political violence.”

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