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The Alex Jones Trial Is About So Much More Than Sandy Hook

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As much fun as it’s been to watch ultra-conservative Infowars host Alex Jones repeatedly fall on his face during his defamation trial, the implications of his and his lawyers’ spectacular failure are so much greater than that cathartic joy. Evidence uncovered as part of the defamation lawsuit is now reportedly being sought by law enforcement—including the January 6 committee—and could be the means of proving another link between former President Donald Trump and the organized insurrectionists who attacked the capitol in 2021.

For the past 10 years, Jones has emotionally tortured the parents of the murdered Sandy Hook children by spreading the false conspiracy theory on his Infowars YouTube channel that the 2012 elementary school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, was a hoax. Jones’s fans and followers subsequently stalked, harassed, and threatened the Sandy Hook parents, a uniquely cruel hobby that Jones seemingly encouraged by continuing to promote the lie.

Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, whose six-year-old son Jesse was murdered in the Sandy Hook shooting, sued Jones for defamation and asked for $150 million in damages. Late Thursday, August 4, a jury decided that Jones’s Infowars owed Heslin and Lewis a little over $4 million. Jurors will return to the Austin-based courthouse on Friday to consider punitive damages, per The New York Times.

However, the trial to determine exactly how much Jones owed Heslin and Lewis is what has provided the stunning display of courtroom incompetence and potential casual perjury now circulating on social media. The most viral moment in a trial chock-full of them was when one of Heslin and Lewis’s lawyers, Mark Bankston, revealed that Jones’s own attorneys had accidentally sent him a digital copy of every text message Jones had sent in the past two years—a few of which, Bankston claims, prove that Jones had lied under oath. If Jones had personally emailed Bankston an attachment labeled “Alex Jones Crimes & Lies 2020-2022.zip,” it couldn’t have been more damning or embarrassing.

And it’s not just bad news for Jones’s defamation suit. Bankston also announced that he has received requests from “various federal agencies and law enforcement” for copies of the cell phone data, which he intends to hand over immediately unless blocked by Judge Maya Guerra Gamble, who is overseeing the case. Jones’s attorney Federico Andino Reynal asked Judge Gamble to order the data destroyed on the grounds of attorney-client privilege; however, Bankston argued that writing “please disregard” in an email does not count as citing privilege, via Vice.

Bankston dropped another surprising nugget in his argument before Judge Gamble. “Things like Mr. Jones and his intimate messages with Roger Stone are not confidential. They are not trade secrets,” he said. Stone is, of course, one of Trump’s closest advisers and a recipient of one of the former president’s much-sought-after pardons.

Bankston’s choice to name-drop Stone before the judge could have been random. But it seems more likely to me that the lawyer was hinting at a source of information that Merrick Garland et al. might find especially pertinent right now. Stone is a notorious-enough figure in Trumpland that his name arouses immediate suspicion.

Former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson said in her testimony before the select committee that Trump had asked his chief of staff, Mark Meadows, to call Stone on the night before the attack, which Stone denied. However, Stone, who has known ties to far-right militia groups the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys (as well as a tattoo of Richard Nixon on his back, which is neither here nor there, but still a fun fact), refused to give a deposition before the committee, citing the Fifth Amendment right to withhold testimony if doing so would result in self-incrimination.

Jones, who was at the Capitol on January 6 but did not enter the building, did meet with the select committee but reportedly cited the Fifth Amendment “almost 100 times.” A purveyor of any catchy conspiracy theory so long as it’s heinous, Jones is a longtime Trump supporter and an early QAnon and Pizzagate believer. And he’s a very big deal in the far right circles where these militia groups were born.

In April, The New York Times reported that Jones offered to give testimony to federal prosecutors in the justice department—on the condition that he be granted immunity from criminal charges.

Via Law & Crime, Judge Gamble declined Reynal’s request for a mistrial and seems likely to deny his request to wipe the data as well, with the probable exception of medical information. Already, the January 6 Committee is apparently preparing to subpoena Jones’s texts.

Whatever Jones was planning on telling the feds in exchange for a get-out-of-jail-free card, his leverage appears especially flimsy now. So far, the big man has remained at least one degree of separation away from the main actors in the Capitol attack/coup, but the more communications that are revealed between “Stop the Steal” sympathizers like Jones and members of the inner circle like Stone, the flimsier Trump’s own get-out-of-jail-free card gets.

I’m sure we’ll all be reading Jones’s texts in a Washington Post exposé or a January 6 hearing soon. But even before then, on a broader, cultural scale, Jones’s leaked cell phone data is a win for accountability. It’s a win for confronting a man with his own lies and watching him gag as he swallows them. For once, it’s a win for the good guys.

Originally Appeared on Glamour