Seditious conspiracy – as defined & penalized in US federal law

On Wednesday, January 6, 2021, a large mob of insurrectionists attempted the violent overthrow of the US Constitution, by attacking the US Capitol building, where Congress was in the process of counting the Electoral College votes in the 2020 Presidential election. The attack was part paramilitary assault, part lynch mob, and included overt plans to capture and execute high-ranking officials.

The attack was sedition, because it sought to break the Constitutional process of government, to install an unelected leader. Federal law specifically prohibits and provides harsh penalties for engaging in a seditious conspiracy.

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. 623; Pub. L. 103–322, title XXXIII, § 330016(1)(N), Sept. 13, 1994, 108 Stat. 2148.)

Terrifying Details About the Capitol Hill Riots Keep Coming Out

By Claire Lampen, for New York Magazine’s The Cut

As chaos broke out at the Capitol, lawmakers and reporters alike found themselves directly in harm’s way. For members of the press, whom the president has spent the past four years maligning, an armed mob of his disciples felt particularly terrifying.

… “Much of what we saw — silly costumes, people taking selfies and grabbing the Speaker’s lectern — looked kind of like a group that might even attend a Trump boat parade,” Hayes said. “But there was something way, way darker, more violent, more sinister, and more organized happening in that Capitol on Wednesday, and it’s time we see it clearly.”

Read the full article here.

The American Abyss

By Timothy Snyder, in The New York Times

Post-truth is pre-fascism, and Trump has been our post-truth president. When we give up on truth, we concede power to those with the wealth and charisma to create spectacle in its place. Without agreement about some basic facts, citizens cannot form the civil society that would allow them to defend themselves. If we lose the institutions that produce facts that are pertinent to us, then we tend to wallow in attractive abstractions and fictions. Truth defends itself particularly poorly when there is not very much of it around, and the era of Trump — like the era of Vladimir Putin in Russia — is one of the decline of local news. Social media is no substitute: It supercharges the mental habits by which we seek emotional stimulation and comfort, which means losing the distinction between what feels true and what actually is true.

Post-truth wears away the rule of law and invites a regime of myth.

Read the full essay here.

Rep. Meijer: I experienced the heinous assault on Capitol; now, time to face reality

By Rep. Peter Meijer (R-MI), in The Detroit News

I was one of the few Republicans who had already acknowledged Joe Biden as president-elect, and earlier in the week I had joined a handful of GOP colleagues in noting our constitutional responsibility to certify the Electoral College results. We had seen calls on the far right for the vice president to pull an imaginary “Pence Card” and overturn the election results.

To the fringe, Vice President Mike Pence’s failure to seize fictional powers was tantamount to treason and there were suggestions Pence be put to death. While the Capitol was being assaulted by his supporters who were duped into believing the election was in fact a landslide victory and the true results could be overturned, Trump egged on these violent delusions.

Read the full article here.

Nancy Mace’s first 100 hours in Congress: threats, violence and challenging Trump

By Jennifer Berry Hawes and Thomas Novelly, in The Charleston Post and Courier

Four people had lost their lives at the time. A woman had been shot and killed right outside the House chamber. More than 50 officers were injured, including several who were hospitalized. One would later die. 

Furious tears filled Mace’s eyes.

She had arrived in D.C. as a Trump supporter. Now, she thought, members of her own party had caused this.

Read the full article here.

Coup attempt at US Capitol must be punished with all force of law

What happened today at the US Capitol was an armed, paramilitary attack on the United States Congress. It was not a protest; it was not a riot. Armed militants used weapons to overwhelm Capitol security and carried out actions well described by federal law as part of a seditious conspiracy. Their intention, openly stated during hours of menacing chants and threats, was to disrupt the counting of Electoral College votes.

In the days before the attack, reports emerged of increasing online “chatter” among pro-Trump armed extremist groups, including threats of an armed attack.

This was an attempt to overthrow the Constitution of the United States. The law enforcement response must be commensurate with the gravity of the criminal intent. Every person involved, including those who helped to incite these actions using lies and false promises about changing the results of the election, must face criminal prosecution.

Less than an hour before the attack began, Donald Trump urged a mob to storm the Capitol and later condoned their actions. Earlier, his personal lawyer Rudolph Giuliani called for “trial by combat”; he later said they were on the right side of history—paramilitary conspirators waving the treason flag of the Confederacy.

Our democratic republic belongs to all of us, and it is sustained not by its leaders but by the people and by the rule of law. No person is above the law—not the President, not his lawyers, not those in Congress who would assist him in his seditious conspiracy.

Sen. Mitch McConnell rightly warned that the baseless effort by members of the House and Senate to nullify Electoral College votes, lawfully certified by all of the states, was not a “protest vote”, because “public doubt alone [cannot] justify a radical break when the doubt itself was incited without any evidence.” He added:

The voters, the court, and the states have all spoken. If we overrule them, it would damage our republic forever… If this election were overturned by mere allegations from the losing side, our democracy would enter a death spiral.

He recognized this even as yesterday’s Senate runoff in Georgia deprived him of the powers of Senate Majority Leader. Today, he was one of those defending democracy; for all of us who have disagreed with him on so many things, today, we are on the same side.

Rebuilding our democracy starts today—as we begin to distinguish between those who recognize democracy is a higher cause than their own power and those who would betray their country to seize power.

As we move to rebuild our democracy, I want to thank:

  • All those who serve in public office at all levels with honor and conscience, in good faith, seeking only to be of service and never seeking favor for themselves;
  • All of the Democrats who have so persistently and steadfastly opposed the evils inherent in Trump’s dangerous abuse of our politics;
  • Those Republicans who have spoken out forcefully against this madness; your courage, even in the face of terroristic threats, will help us to keep this republic.

Recording reveals complicity of Russian state in poisoning of Navalny

Russian opposition leader and anti-corruption campaigner Alexei Navalny appears to have identified at least one of his attackers.

The AP is reporting:

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny on Monday released a recording of a phone call he said he made to an alleged state security operative, who revealed some details of how the politician was supposedly poisoned and media identified as a member of a team that has reportedly trailed Navalny for years.

Read the full story here.

America demands good-faith public service

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Then Vice President Joe Biden receives a briefing by Bob Fenton, Assistant Administrator for Disaster Response, FEMA on the impact of Hurricane Sandy and the ongoing recovery process at the Seaside Heights Volunteer Fire Department in Seaside Heights, N.J., Nov. 15, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Sonya N. Hebert)

The United States has just pulled off an amazing and historic feat: In the middle of a devastating pandemic, as infectiondeath and hardship ravage the country, and amid a nonstop firestorm of disinformation, the people of the United States have held a free and fair election, with record numbers of votes cast, and no evidence of fraud found anywhere. Facing real personal risk and uncertainty about new voting processes, we have acted to keep the republic.

This was an accomplishment of the whole of American society: Despite the challenges — and the coordinated attempts at election interference from a sitting president and his allies — a record number of Americans voted, and the election was not only free and fair, but the most secure in history.

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The United States is not “a center-right country”

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Photo shows view of the huge crowd from the Lincoln Memorial to the Washington Monument, during the March on Washington. Original black and white negative by Warren K. Leffler. Taken August 28th, 1963, Washington D.C, United States (@libraryofcongress). Colorized by Jordan J. Lloyd. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA https://www.loc.gov/resource/ds.04417/

There are many reasons political pundits say the United States is a center-right country. None of them hold up to scrutiny. First, let’s start from the origin of the Left-Right construct:

  • “The Left” refers to the left side of the French Revolutionary Assembly — who favored a democratic republic.
  • “The Right” refers to their opponents — who favored a return to absolute monarchy.

Just starting there, even the most conservative Americans are much further left than we generally acknowledge.

  • Libertarianism cannot fit into “The Right”;
  • small-town local government as the leading lever of national decision-making cannot fit into “The Right”;
  • pro-business conservatism cannot fit into “The Right”;
  • the right of the people to compel government to tax the people less would have no place under the autocracy of the original “Right”;
  • religious liberty has no place in the absolutist mindset of “The Right”, where the monarch claims to be a political agent of God’s will.

In its original sense, “The Right” is antithetical to American democracy. Shocking as it may seem, in the true sense of the Left-Right construct, Americans who favor climate action, or the principle that Black Lives Matter, or who want tax fairness, or who defend the 2nd Amendment, are all more “Left” than “Right”, because they believe people’s aspirations, priorities, and justice, should govern, not the whims of autocrats.

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Elect Biden & Harris to Rescue the United States

The stakes this year are far graver than any we have faced since 1864.

The election of a President of the United States is a national choice about the future. It affects, in many ways direct and many more indirect, the lives of everyone living in the United States. After four years of Donald Trump’s erratic, abusive presidency, democracy itself is at risk; the people of the United States must elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to rescue the country from disaster.

The only legitimate public official is the one that works as a servant of the people. Holding high office does not elevate one above the public; it means the public is the higher rank, to whom the office-holder must report. Taking the oath of office is not the recitation of words; it is an act: it serves only if the person taking the oath understands that he or she must be, at all times, a servant to all of the people, without discrimination and foregoing all self-interest.

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