11 participants in January 6 attack charged with seditious conspiracy

According to the Associated Press

Stewart Rhodes, the founder and leader of the far-right Oath Keepers militia group, has been arrested and charged with seditious conspiracy in the attack on the U.S. Capitol, authorities said Thursday.

Ten other people also were charged with seditious conspiracy in connection with the attack on Jan. 6, 2021, when authorities said members of the extremist group came to Washington intent on stopping the certification of President Joe Biden’s victory.

Title 18, Part I, Chapter 115, § 2384 of the U.S. Code outlines the crime of “Seditious conspiracy” and the corresponding penalties. It reads:

If two or more persons in any State or Territory, or in any place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, conspire to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States, or to levy war against them, or to oppose by force the authority thereof, or by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States, or by force to seize, take, or possess any property of the United States contrary to the authority thereof, they shall each be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both.(June 25, 1948, ch. 645, 62 Stat. 808; July 24, 1956, ch. 678, § 1, 70 Stat. 623Pub. L. 103–322, title XXXIII, § 330016(1)(N), Sept. 13, 1994, 108 Stat. 2148.)

The New York Times reports: 

at least four Oath Keepers who were at the Capitol that day and are cooperating with the government have sworn in court papers that the group intended to breach the building with the goal of obstructing the final certification of the Electoral College vote.

These are the first charges of seditious conspiracy in a sweeping federal prosecution of hundreds of people who participated in the insurrection.

India’s commitment to democracy under scrutiny

Two weeks ago, the government of India arrested 22-year-old Disha Ravi on charges of “sedition” for associating herself with a Google Doc produced by Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, suggesting ways to support protests by Indian farmers. The farmers’ right to peaceful protest should, even if protests are disruptive, be protected by India’s government. Ravi was jailed for 10 days, before being released.

The Washington Post Editorial Board writes, bluntly:

ANY GOVERNMENT that would charge a 22-year-old climate and animal rights activist with sedition on the basis of a Google Doc cannot be readily described as a democracy. So the arrest this month of Disha Ravi by the Indian administration of Narendra Modi ought to ring alarm bells about whether a country that boasts of being the world’s largest democracy still deserves that title.

What’s particularly disturbing about Ms. Ravi’s persecution is that it is part of a broad pattern of speech suppression and other violations of democratic norms by the Modi government. Several journalists who covered a day of demonstrations by the farmers in New Delhi last month also face criminal charges. The government has pressured Twitter to block the accounts of hundreds of people linked to the protests. It has intimidated much of the mainstream Indian media into self-censorship.

India’s government owes its exercise of authority to all of the people of India, not to specific interests it wishes to protect. There is no legitimate way a government can arrest activists and journalists, or support or condone shadowy forces that threaten violence against them. The cases against Ms. Ravi, other activists supporting peaceful protest, and journalists covering the story, must be dropped, immediately. No democracy can behave this way; it is imperative that other allied democracies make this demand as forcefully as possible, to ensure India’s government honors its duty to democracy.

Every act in service of insurrection must be prosecuted

Shortly after voting to acquit Trump on strictly procedural grounds, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky gave a blistering speech in which he made clear both the gravity and the criminality of the January 6 attack on the US Capitol. McConnell said:

American citizens attacked their own government. They used terrorism to try to stop a specific piece of democratic business they did not like… They did this because they had been fed wild falsehoods by the most powerful man on Earth — because he was angry he’d lost an election.

Sen. McConnell also laid the blame squarely at Trump’s feet, saying:

There is no question that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of that day. The people who stormed this building believed they were acting on the wishes and instructions of their President. And their having that belief was a foreseeable consequence of the growing crescendo of false statements, conspiracy theories, and reckless hyperbole which the defeated President kept shouting into the largest megaphone on planet Earth.

The issue is not only the President’s intemperate language on January 6th. It is not just his endorsement of remarks in which an associate urged ‘trial by combat.’ It was also the entire manufactured atmosphere of looming catastrophe; the increasingly wild myths about a reverse landslide election that was being stolen in some secret coup by our now-President.

Before, during, and after the insurrection, we have seen consistent evidence of a coordinated and widespread campaign of menacing threats and coercive intimidation, by Trump himself and by his allies. Each act of attempted intimidation is, under law, a separate criminal act. Where misallocation of electoral or other funds is included, these acts do not stand in isolation, but become part of a potential racketeer-influenced or corrupt organizations (RICO) prosecution.

Hundreds of individuals are facing charges in association with the insurrection, and many of them are linked to armed paramilitary extremist groups that are reported to have plotted an attack on the seat of American government in a violent coup attempt. Federal criminal charging documents outline plots that appear to include an intention to continue working toward a terrorist insurrection.

Each action taken by any person to provide even marginal aid or comfort to these insurrectionist militia can be interpreted to constitute a violation of 18 USC § 2331 (terrorism), § 2383 (insurrection), and § 2384 (seditious conspiracy). Commission of a RICO predicate action can make the offender liable for all of the crimes of the criminal enterprise—including those of which they had no knowledge—dating back 10 years.

Any action by any person to speak or act in defense of Trump, to minimize, justify or condone the insurrection, or to provide any material or indirect support to any of the individuals or organizations connected to the insurrection or to ongoing plots, must be treated as a new criminal act.

Yesterday’s vote by a majority of the Senate should not be interpreted as a technical acquittal of Trump. It releases him from conviction in the Senate, but the trial has now provided new evidence and cause for deeper and further-reaching criminal investigation into every part of the criminal insurrectionist enterprise.

Statement by Sen. Lisa Murkowski on vote to convict Trump

Sen. Lisa Murkowsi (R-AK) released the following statement explaining her vote to convict Donald Trump for incitement of insurrection:

“On January 13, when the U.S. House of Representatives impeached former President Donald J. Trump for a second time, I committed to upholding my oath as a U.S. Senator—to listen to each side impartially, review all the facts, and then decide how I would vote. I have done that and after listening to the trial this past week, I have reached the conclusion that President Trump’s actions were an impeachable offense and his course of conduct amounts to incitement of insurrection as set out in the Article of Impeachment.

“The facts make clear that the violence and desecration of the Capitol that we saw on January 6 was not a spontaneous uprising. President Trump had set the stage months before the 2020 election by stating repeatedly that the election was rigged, casting doubt into the minds of the American people about the fairness of the election. After the election, when he lost by 7 million votes, he repeatedly claimed that the election was stolen and subjected to widespread fraud. At the same time, election challenges were filed in dozens of courts. Sixty-one different courts – including many judges nominated by President Trump himself – ruled against him.

“President Trump did everything in his power to stay in power. When the court challenges failed, he turned up the pressure on state officials and his own Department of Justice. And when these efforts failed, he turned to his supporters. He urged his supporters to come to Washington, D.C. on January 6 to ‘Stop the Steal’ of an election that had not been stolen. The speech he gave on that day was intended to stoke passions in a crowd that the President had been rallying for months. They were prepared to march on the Capitol and he gave them explicit instructions to do so.

“When President Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol, breached both chambers of Congress, and interrupted the certification of Electoral College votes, he took no action for hours. The evidence presented at the trial was clear: President Trump was watching events unfold live, just as the entire country was. Even after the violence had started, as protestors chanted ‘Hang Mike Pence’ inside the Capitol, President Trump, aware of what was happening, tweeted that the Vice President had failed the country. Vice President Pence was attempting to fulfill his oath and his constitutional duty with the certification of Electoral College votes. 

“After the storm had calmed, the President endorsed the actions of the mob by tweeting, ‘These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long. Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!’ This message, in defense of only himself, came nearly four hours after the attack on the Capitol began. President Trump allowing the violence to go on for hours without any clear directive or demand for peace – his intentional silence – cost Americans their lives. President Trump was not concerned about the Vice President; he was not concerned about members of Congress; he was not concerned about the Capitol Police. He was concerned about his election and retaining power. While I supported subpoenaing witnesses to help elucidate for the American people President Trump’s state of mind during the riot, both his actions and lack thereof establish that.

“If months of lies, organizing a rally of supporters in an effort to thwart the work of Congress, encouraging a crowd to march on the Capitol, and then taking no meaningful action to stop the violence once it began is not worthy of impeachment, conviction, and disqualification from holding office in the United States, I cannot imagine what is. By inciting the insurrection and violent events that culminated on January 6, President Trump’s actions and words were not protected free speech. I honor our constitutional rights and consider the freedom of speech as one of the most paramount freedoms, but that right does not extend to the President of the United States inciting violence.

“Before someone assumes the office of the presidency, they are required to swear to faithfully execute the office of the President and to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States. President Trump – the nation’s elected leader, the Commander in Chief of our armed forces – swore an oath to defend America and all that we hold sacred. He failed to uphold that oath.

“One positive outcome of the horrible events on January 6, was that hours after the Capitol was secured, on January 7, at 4:00 a.m., Congress fulfilled our responsibility to the U.S. Constitution and certified the Electoral College results. We were able to do that because of brave men and women who fulfilled their oath to protect and defend Congress. I regret that Donald Trump was not one of them.”

Statement by Sen. Mitt Romney on vote to convict Trump

On Saturday, February 13, as he joined 56 other members of the United States Senate in voting to convict Donald Trump for incitement of insurrection, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) issued this statement:

“After careful consideration of the respective counsels’ arguments, I have concluded that President Trump is guilty of the charge made by the House of Representatives. President Trump attempted to corrupt the election by pressuring the Secretary of State of Georgia to falsify the election results in his state. President Trump incited the insurrection against Congress by using the power of his office to summon his supporters to Washington on January 6th and urging them to march on the Capitol during the counting of electoral votes. He did this despite the obvious and well known threats of violence that day. President Trump also violated his oath of office by failing to protect the Capitol, the Vice President, and others in the Capitol. Each and every one of these conclusions compels me to support conviction.”

57 Senators vote to convict Trump of inciting insurrection

57 United States Senators have voted to convict Donald Trump for incitement of insurrection. 43 Senators have voted to acquit the former President. Because 2/3 of those present are required to convict, former President Trump is acquitted.

While Trump was acquitted, 7 Republicans joined the vote to convict, making this the most bipartisan Senate vote to convict in the trial of an impeached US President.

He has already left office, so he could not have been removed. The second penalty for conviction, however—a lifelong bar against ever holding office again—could still be imposed, if Congress moves to censure him for his role in supporting the insurrection, under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. The seven Republicans who voted to convict Trump were: Richard Burr (R-NC), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Mitt Romney (R-UT), Ben Sasse (R-NE), and Pat Toomey (R-PA).

The Senate Impeachment Trial has now formally adjourned, and is turning to regular business.

Trump’s own lawyers argued he should be arrested and face indictment for crimes related to his radicalization of supporters and then for inciting them to insurrection. They also argued they don’t believe he is guilty, but they provided no exculpatory evidence, though invited to do so.

In a stunning speech after the vote, Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) laid out an impassioned, detailed case for Trump’s moral and practical responsibility for the terrorist insurrection of January 6. He argued that in his view, the Senate could have convicted Trump on the merits, but that he believed it was not appropriate to create a precedent whereby a former President can be convicted after leaving office.

Sen. Richard Burr, one of the Republicans who did vote to convict, rejected McConnell’s process argument saying:

The Senate is an institution based on precedent, and given that the majority of the Senate voted to proceed with this trial, the question of constitutionality is now established precedent.

McConnell has been widely criticized for not noting his own role in the scheduling of the trial, as he and he alone adjourned the Senate until January 19, making a trial during Trump’s term impossible.

McConnell also argued that Trump remains liable in criminal and civil court, at the state and federal level, “for everything he did while in office,” adding: “He didn’t get away with anything, yet.”

Hundreds of criminal cases are already underway, with many of the accused themselves citing Trump as their direct inspiration for the attack or claiming that he invited them and coordinated the action. Trump himself is under criminal investigation in Fulton County, Georgia, where he took various steps in an effort to extort compliance from local officials with his plot to overturn a free and fair election.

Sen. Susan Collins said on the Senate floor:

President Trump abused his power, violated his oath to uphold the Constitution and tried almost every means in his power to prevent the peaceful transfer of authority to the newly elected President… My vote in this Trial stems from my own oath and duty to defend the Constitution of the United States. The abuse of power and betrayal of his oath by Pres. Trump meet the Constitutional standard of high crimes and misdemeanors.

Sen. Ben Sasse was clear in his statement that Trump did exactly what was alleged:

The president repeated these lies when summoning his crowd — parts of which were widely known to be violent — to Capitol Hill to intimidate Vice President Pence and Congress into not fulfilling our constitutional duties. Those lies had consequences, endangering the life of the vice president and bringing us dangerously close to a bloody constitutional crisis. Each of these actions are violations of a president’s oath of office. 

GOP stares into final Trump trap

Charlie Sykes said yesterday that Trump-supporting Republican Senators “have the muscle memory of acquiescence” and that this would preclude them from voting to convict Trump for incitement of insurrection, in spite of the clear evidence of his complicity. It is certainly the case that many Republicans who once warned that Trump was a con-artist, a criminal and even a threat to the security of the republic, have developed a habit of pretending that is not so.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell told his fellow Republicans that the vote to convict is a “vote of conscience”—meaning they should not consider the question to be a partisan one. Trump is not a Republican, in the case; he is a defendant, accused of inciting an insurrection in which terrorists hunted elected officials whom they planned to abduct, torment, and assassinate.

Yet we see a strong pattern of naysaying—suggesting that Trump never did anything all that awful. The reasons for this are hard to square. Each Senator swore an oath to serve the Constitution, not Donald Trump or their party or its donors or any extremist element within its ranks. Each Senator again swore an oath to render impartial judgments in this case. What is the purpose of this professed allegiance to a disgraced former leader who attempted a coup d’etat by attacking them and their place of work?

The Republican Party is right now staring into the final Trump trap—the trap that could serve Trump but degrade the Party as a meaningful mainstream political force beyond all hope of recovery. They are, frankly, about to decide whether to offer their sacred Senate vote in defense of a man who sent terrorists to kill them in a quest to end American democracy.

Continue Reading

House Impeachment Manager Raskin speaks for all Americans

Rep. Jamie Raskin, Democrat of Maryland, delivered the opening argument in the 2nd Senate trial of Donald Trump. His statement is now being widely praised as one of the great addresses in American history.

Clear Evidence of Incitement to Insurrection

The Second Impeachment of the 45th President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, began with a devastating video montage showing the timeline of events on January 6, as a mob of insurrectionists radicalized and directed by Trump attacked the U.S. Capitol.

Reports from the chamber say some members of the United States Senate looked away at times during the violent video, which included a violent gang of attackers calling for the execution of then Vice President Mike Pence and the gunshot that killed one of the attackers, as she attempted to breach the last barrier protecting lawmakers in the process of evacuation.

The video exhibit clearly shows Trump telling people who later participated in the attack that the country would be lost if they did not go to the Capitol and “fight like Hell”.

Earlier today, in a written reply to a brief by Trump’s legal team, the House Impeachment Managers wrote: “The First Amendment protects our democratic system — but it does not protect a President who incites his supporters to imperil that system through violence.” The House Managers also said it is “inconceivable that the Framers designed impeachment to be virtually useless in a President’s final weeks or days, when opportunities to interfere with the peaceful transfer of power are most present.”

Follow the proceedings live on C-SPAN.

My fellow Republicans, convicting Trump is necessary to save America

By Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), in The Washington Post

It’s a matter of accountability. If the GOP doesn’t take a stand, the chaos of the past few months, and the past four years, could quickly return. The future of our party and our country depends on confronting what happened — so it doesn’t happen again…

I firmly believe the majority of Americans — Republican, Democrat, independent, you name it — reject the madness of the past four years. But we’ll never move forward by ignoring what happened or refusing to hold accountable those responsible. That will embolden the few who led us here and dishearten the many who know America is better than this. It will make it more likely that we see more anger, violence and chaos in the years ahead.

The better path is to learn the lessons of the recent past. Convicting Donald Trump is necessary to save America from going further down a sad, dangerous road.

Read the full article here.

No more posts.