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.

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.

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Feds File Conspiracy Charges against Militia Leader

Federal prosecutors have filed the first conspiracy charges, relating to coordinated paramilitary involvement in the planning and execution of the attack on the US Capitol. According to CNN:

Prosecutors have levied the first significant conspiracy charge against an apparent leader in the extremist Oath Keepers movement, alleging the Virginia man was involved in “planning and coordinating” the breach of the Capitol earlier this month, according to court documents.

The filing details pre-planned, coordinated actions carried out by members of the armed militant group calling itself the Oath Keepers. The conspiracy charge suggests efforts are underway to detail the tangled web of propaganda, funding, and logistical support for the attack, and to charge all who participated in the coordinated seditious conspiracy.

Given the investigation includes experts in public corruption prosecutions, the long prison sentences that could face anyone involved in that conspiracy could be used as leverage to uncover further details of the involvement of powerful enablers of Trump or the insurrectionists.

McConnell says Trump provoked insurrection

In a remarkable floor speech, on his last full day as Majority Leader of the United States Senate, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was clear in his rebuke of those who lied to, radicalized, and provoked insurrectionists to attack the US Capitol.

McConnell’s remarks also outlined how the attack was, as defined by law, an insurrection to disrupt the Constitutional process of government:

The mob was fed lies. They were provoked by the President and other powerful people, and they tried to use fear and violence to try to stop a specific process of the first branch of the federal government which they did not like.

But we pressed on. We said an angry mob would not get veto power over the rule of law in our nation, not even for one night. We certified the people’s choice for their 46th President.

McConnell then turned to a defiant, upbeat tone regarding the inauguration:

Tomorrow, President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris will be sworn in. We’ll have a safe and successful Inaugural right here on the West Front of the Capitol, the space that President Bush 41 called “democracy’s front porch”.

And then we’ll move forward. Our work for the American people will continue as it has for more than 230 years. There are serious challenges that our nation needs to continue confronting, but there will also be great and hopeful opportunities for us to seize.

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Document seen at White House suggests Trump discussed 2nd coup attempt

Two days after he was impeached for Incitement of Insurrection—as we learn federal investigators believe there is evidence of a plot to assassinate elected officials during that insurrection—a photograph captured by a Washington Post reporter outside the White House suggests Donald Trump today discussed a 2nd coup attempt.

The photograph was shared on Twitter by a Washington Post photographer:

The zoomed-in version makes it possible to clearly see the words “Insurrection Act now” and “martial law if necessary”. The document also appears to suggest the placement of certain individuals in key positions of importance to national security, and to call for a disinformation campaign to maintain the “big lie” that radicalized Trump followers to insurrection.

The crime of seditious conspiracy carries a prison term of up to 20 years.

This comes as 20,000 National Guard soldiers have taken up posts around Washington, DC, to secure the Capitol, the White House, and other halls of government against allegedly ongoing terrorist plots.

UPDATE—Sunday, Jan 17, 2021

Acting Secretary of Defense orders NSA to install Trump loyalist as agency’s top lawyer

According to Politico:

A former Republican operative and Trump loyalist will be installed as the NSA’s top lawyer just days before President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, the agency said in a statement on Sunday.

The announcement came one day after it was reported that acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller had ordered the NSA’s director, Army Gen. Paul Nakasone, to install Michael Ellis in the position of the agency’s general counsel.

The troubling document seen in the hands of My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell, which seemed to urge Trump to impose “martial law” also mentioned installing loyalists at key agencies and referenced “Fort Mead”. (The NSA is headquartered at Fort Meade.)

Give his background as a political operative, it is unclear whether Mr. Ellis will be able to remain in this position, which according to federal regulations should have been filled on an interim basis by a career professional from the agency.

Domestic terrorism – as defined in US Federal law

Chapter 113B of Title 18 of the US Code defines Terrorism, outlines the various related criminal activities included under that heading, and the relevant penalties.

Section 2331(5) of Chapter 113B defines “domestic terrorism”:

(5) the term “domestic terrorism” means activities that—

(A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State;

(B) appear to be intended—
(i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;
(ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or
– (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and

(C) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States…

Insurrection – as defined & penalized in US Federal law

The House of Representatives is preparing to impeach President Donald J. Trump for Incitement of Insurrection and calling for his removal from office and lifelong prohibition from ever holding office again. While Trump’s actions may well be part of a wider seditious conspiracy, no wider plot need be proven to demonstrate that he acted to incite, set on foot, or otherwise assist in insurrection.

Title 18, Part I, Chapter 115, § 2383 of the U.S. Code outlines the crime of “Rebellion or insurrection” and the corresponding penalties. It reads:

Whoever incites, sets on foot, assists, or engages in any rebellion or insurrection against the authority of the United States or the laws thereof, or gives aid or comfort thereto, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.
(June 25, 1948, ch. 645, 62 Stat. 808; Pub. L. 103–322, title XXXIII, § 330016(1)(L), Sept. 13, 1994, 108 Stat. 2147.)

Insurrectionists barred from public office by US Constitution

Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States reads as follows:

No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any state, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any state legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any state, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

While it does not make clear precisely what action by what authority affirms the “disability” from a person who betrayed their oath from ever holding office again, it is significant that the Constitution specifies that such a person can only hold office—at any level of government, anywhere within the US—if two-thirds of both houses of the United States Congress vote to grant them special permission.

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.)

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