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Trump supporters pay the price for January 6 as Trump himself avoids consequences


WASHINGTON Ashli ​​Babbitt is dead because of Donald Trump’s election lies.

Several hundred of his fellow insurgents who attacked the United States Capitol on January 6 will have criminal records for the rest of their lives, a significant number of whom face jail, also because they believed the former president’s lies. that the 2020 presidential election was stolen. from him.

Trump himself, meanwhile, has so far escaped legal consequences for his attempt to overthrow American democracy, despite federal law that specifically makes incitement to insurgency against the government a crime.

“Unfortunately, it’s not that unusual,” said Danya Perry, former federal prosecutor in New York City, citing organized crime as an example where the best gangsters send underlings to do the dirty work while keeping their hands clean enough to avoid prosecution. .

“You’re not the one caught in the trenches with a hammer hitting someone,” she said. “It is more difficult to prove that someone instigated a riot than someone participated in a riot. It’s one of those common sense things that doesn’t necessarily translate into something in the United States Code.

Missouri attorney Al Watkins, who represents several Capitol rioters, including Jacob Chansley, the so-called “QAnon Shaman” who stood in a horned hat on the Senate dais, said Chansley and his others customers certainly thought they were there to help their hero, Trump.

“They bought, hook and sinker, every word he said,” Watkins said.

Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn said at the January 6 select committee’s first hearing on Tuesday that the Capitol attackers clearly believed they were there at Trump’s request: “I told them to just leave the Capitol, and in response, they shouted, “No man, this is our home. President Trump invited us here. We’re here to stop the theft.

And like a capo that continues as before even after his minions were locked up, Trump has returned to organizing rallies and speeches where he is spreading the same lies that prompted the assault on Capitol Hill in the first place.

“If I lost this election, I could handle it quite easily. When they steal it from you and rig it, it’s not easy. And we have to fight. We have no choice. We have to fight, ”he told a Phoenix audience on Saturday.

“Trump is recruiting his new batch of infantry for Insurgency 2.0,” said Glenn Kirschner, federal prosecutor for 24 years, six of whom head the homicide section in Washington, DC

Trump’s advisers did not respond to requests from HuffPost. Trump himself, however, in recent public remarks has expressed no regret or remorse for the suffering of his supporters because of his words and actions.

Rather, it instead introduced Babbitt – a QAnon conspiracy theorist who was shot and killed by a United States Capitol Police officer as she climbed through a shattered window into an anteroom through which members of the House were evacuated – like a kind of martyr to his cause. . “The person who shot Ashli ​​Babbitt in the head, boom. There was no reason for that, ”he told reporters at a July 7 press conference at his golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey.

As for those facing criminal charges for everything from trespassing on Capitol Hill to brutal assault by police officers defending the building, Trump has compared them to political prisoners. “How come so many people are still in jail on January 6th?” ”He asked rally fans in Sarasota, Fla. On July 3.

“He’s out there doing it more,” Perry said. “He probably feels like he’s on a lot of leash right now.”


Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Supporters of Donald Trump rally to storm the U.S. Capitol to stop a joint session of Congress on January 6.

This sense of confidence comes in spite of a federal law that subjects anyone who “incites, stages, assists or engages in a rebellion or insurrection against the authority of the United States or its laws, or assists or assists in it. comfort ”10 years in prison – a law that some experts say could be used to put Trump in the same legal boat as his supporters. Immediately subsequent sections of the US Code make attempting to overthrow or conspiring to overthrow the government punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

George Conway, a longtime litigator and husband of a senior Trump official in the White House, said Trump’s conduct until Jan.6 and Jan.6 was so blatant he allegedly opened an investigation into the great jury in a few days.

“If I was (Attorney General Merrick) Garland, I would have taken everyone who was in the West Wing Jan. 6 to a grand jury months ago,” Conway said.

Garland’s Justice Department declined to comment on the case.

Kirschner, who admitted that a lawsuit against Trump would not be a slam-dunk because of Trump’s right to free speech, said it was important to try, for the good of the country, to 232 years of elections never had to contend with a losing incumbent president trying to overturn the result unconstitutionally.

“The only way to stop the big lie is to stop the big liar. We have more, more, more probable cause on Donald Trump for inciting the insurgency,” he said.

Laurence Tribe, professor of constitutional law at Harvard, agreed that Trump’s guilt is clear.

“As Agent Dunn aptly testified, it’s not just the hitman that’s being sued, but the guy who hired him,” Tribe said.

Perry said she can understand why Garland would want to avoid suing a former president as ‘too third-worldist’, but agreed Trump’s behavior was so anti-democratic it might have been a good idea to set a milestone for the future.

“By not being political it is in a political sense,” she said of Garland. “He ends up treating Trump differently from a lot of other people who would have been treated.”

Watkins, however, said suing Trump could end up having the opposite effect and giving him more stature. He said many Jan. 6 insurgents had mental health issues and needed treatment, not jail, including Chansley: “The guy was half-naked during the Washington, DC winter. He had horns on it. the head. He wore a fur.

What Chansley and others need, said Watkins, is for the country to breathe deeply and show compassion to those who cheated on Trump, not revenge, and work to lower Trump’s profile.

“Do you really want to sue a former president?” You make him a martyr, ”Watkins said. “You put him in a celebrity position. “

But Kirschner said the country couldn’t afford not to prosecute Trump. If Trump had retired from public life and stopped spreading the corrosive and divisive lies about his electoral defeat, letting him fade away quietly might have been an option, he said.

Trump, however, is doing the exact opposite, he said, and aggressively undermining the nation, possibly leading to more violence. “If we wait any longer, there is a risk to public safety,” he added. “The health of our democracy is threatened at all times. “

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