Within the eight months since a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol, some Republicans have tried to construct a case — belied by the details — that the huge federal investigation of the riot has been primarily unfair, its targets the victims of political persecution.
The folks charged within the Jan. 6 assault are “being persecuted so unfairly,” former President Donald J. Trump mentioned in a press release on Thursday.
That sentiment is the organizing precept behind the rally scheduled in Washington on Saturday, billed as “Justice for J6.” In response to the allow software submitted by the organizers, a bunch referred to as Look Forward America, the occasion is supposed to “deliver consciousness and a spotlight to the unjust and unethical remedy of nonviolent Jan. 6 political prisoners.”
The rally is the newest effort in the proper’s persevering with try and rewrite the historical past of the mob assault on Congress, which prosecutors say led to as many as 1,000 assaults in opposition to the police and sought to disrupt certification of President Biden’s victory within the 2020 election.
Here’s what the details say about assertions from these looking for to advertise a false narrative about Jan. 6.
The rioters weren’t simply vacationers who now face extreme felony fees.
One of many first claims that pro-Trump conservatives made about Jan. 6 was that the rioters were little more than tourists and that these arrested have been victims of prosecutorial overreach. Consultant Andrew Clyde, Republican of Georgia, described the scene on the Capitol that day as “a standard vacationer go to,” implying that a whole bunch of individuals taken into custody have been dealing with extreme fees.
However, in truth, practically half of the greater than 600 folks charged have been accused solely of misdemeanors like trespassing and disorderly conduct, slightly than extra critical felonies.
At this level, greater than 50 of those low-level defendants have pleaded responsible. All of them will serve jail phrases of six months or much less, or no time in any respect — pretty modest sentences for the federal penal system. However even when the authorities have agreed to lenient penalties, they’ve nonetheless insisted that nobody who broke into the Capitol is harmless.
“A riot can’t happen with out rioters,” prosecutors wrote in a latest memo proposing no jail time for Valerie Ehrke, a California lady who solely spent one minute within the constructing. “And rioter’s actions — from essentially the most mundane to essentially the most violent — contributed, immediately and not directly, to the violence and destruction of that day.”
The federal government hasn’t broadly detained nonviolent protesters.
At an occasion final month hosted by Republican officers in his house state of North Carolina, Consultant Madison Cawthorn repeated an oft-heard fantasy. He complained that a whole bunch of individuals taken into custody after Jan. 6 have been “political hostages.”
The reality is that about 15 % of these arrested to date in reference to the riot have been denied bail and stay in pretrial custody — a lot decrease than the general federal pretrial detention charge of 75 %. Furthermore, all of these being detained on fees associated to Jan. 6 are dealing with critical fees like assault or obstruction of Congress; none have been accused of solely misdemeanors.
Removed from jailing everybody, in truth, judges have granted bail to quite a few defendants accused of violent assaults on the police or of belonging to extremist teams just like the Proud Boys or the Oath Keepers militia.
There are a handful of circumstances wherein folks have been denied bail with out having engaged in bodily violence, however these are the exceptions to the rule.
This week, a lawyer for Ethan Nordean, a frontrunner of the Proud Boys, complained in courtroom that his consumer has been in jail for months not due to something he personally did on Jan. 6, however slightly as a result of he’s a member of a reviled political group.
Choose Timothy J. Kelly, who was appointed to the federal bench by Mr. Trump, responded that the regulation alone was guiding Mr. Nordean’s case.
“Politics has nothing to do with it,” Choose Kelly mentioned. “Not one whit.”
Jan. 6 defendants haven’t been handled extra harshly than racial justice protesters.
The assertion has grow to be a staple on the proper: Trump supporters have been charged with violent crimes within the Capitol assault due to their conservative beliefs whereas many leftist activists had comparable fees stemming from the racial justice protests final 12 months in cities like Portland, Ore., decreased or dismissed.
This summer season, a Jan. 6 defendant named Garret Miller filed court papers making that argument. Mr. Miller, who lives in Dallas, claimed he had been “handled in a different way by the federal government than the Portland rioters based mostly upon the politics concerned,” his lawyer wrote.
In rebutting these claims, the federal government argued there was no comparability between the protests final 12 months prompted by the homicide of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the storming of the Capitol. Whereas prosecutors acknowledged that these arrested throughout weeks of unrest on the Portland federal courthouse had dedicated “critical offenses,” they insisted that the rioters in Washington have been concerned in “a singular and chilling occasion” that threatened not solely the Capitol but additionally “democracy itself.”
Making an attempt to clarify why many circumstances within the racial justice protests have been finally dismissed, prosecutors additionally mentioned they’ve a lot better proof in opposition to Capitol rioters like Mr. Miller than they ever had in opposition to protesters in Portland. Among the many materials they collected after Jan. 6 have been 1000’s of hours of video footage from surveillance and physique cameras worn by the police, and a whole bunch of 1000’s of social media posts.
A number of months after Mr. Miller filed his claims, The Related Press published an analysis of greater than 300 felony circumstances stemming from the protests incited by Mr. Floyd’s homicide. The evaluation undercut the argument that pro-Trump defendants have been handled extra harshly than Black Lives Matter protesters, displaying that many leftist rioters had acquired substantial sentences.
There’s no proof that Jan. 6 defendants are being handled worse than others in jail.
Maybe the loudest grievances about Capitol defendants concern the jail situations of these denied bail.
The accusations have been many and wide-ranging. Some defendants have complained of being locked of their cells for 23 hours a day in what quantities to solitary confinement. Others have claimed that they’ve been denied the proper to carry non secular companies and that their hygiene wants have been restricted.
One defendant, charged with assaulting the police, has mentioned that he was zip-tied after which “savagely” crushed by a correctional officer within the District of Columbia jail, based on his lawyer. The assault resulted in a damaged nostril, a dislocated jaw and the lack of sight within the man’s proper eye.
Jail, in fact, is a horrible place to be, no matter one’s politics. However at the least to date, nobody has provided proof that the authorities have imposed harsh situations on Jan. 6 defendants due to their political views.
A spokeswoman for the District of Columbia jail mentioned the 23-hour lockdown was not imposed solely on the Capitol defendants however was a medical provision used all through the jail to curb the unfold of the coronavirus. It has lately been lifted, she mentioned.
The Justice Division is utilizing a novel cost in some circumstances.
Prosecutors have taken a authorized danger in the way in which they’ve chosen to prosecute scores of Capitol circumstances. The potential downside considerations the usage of a federal obstruction regulation to cost folks with disrupting Congress’s certification of the Electoral Faculty vote. Legal professionals for a number of the defendants are difficult the Justice Division in courtroom over use of the regulation, however pro-Trump activists have but to make it a giant public subject.
As a substitute of utilizing politically fraught and hard-to-prove fees like sedition or revolt to explain the try to dam certification of the election outcomes, the Justice Division used a way more measured — albeit novel — regulation: obstruction of an official continuing.
The regulation is just not an ideal match for what occurred on Jan. 6; certainly, it had by no means earlier than been utilized in a scenario just like the Capitol assault.
Handed in 2002 as a part of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, a company overhaul regulation, the measure was devised to ban issues like shredding paperwork or tampering with witnesses. A number of legal professionals have filed papers arguing that the regulation doesn’t apply to the riot on the Capitol. Two federal judges have signaled that they could agree and will determine to toss the cost for greater than 200 defendants.
The Justice Division’s use of the obstruction regulation is arguably essentially the most political transfer prosecutors have made thus far. In any case, as some protection legal professionals have famous, the federal government didn’t use the identical cost in 2018 when left-wing activists swarmed the Capitol to protest the Supreme Courtroom nomination of Brett Kavanaugh.