On the anniversary of the Capitol uprising, panelists explain what is delaying prosecutions – Baptist News Global
Americans demand justice for top orchestrators January 6, 2021, the assault on the United States Capitol – including former President Donald Trump – must understand that the ongoing prosecutions are a long game, but still with an urgent deadline, according to panelists from a Brookings Institution seminar held on the first anniversary of the event.
âIt’s something to be seen as a very long game and a very long court game,â said Katie Benner, who covers the US Department of Justice for the The New York Times. She was among the panelists for January 6 seminar, âThe insurrection of January 6: one year later. “
She and other panelists said federal and congressional investigators continued to pursue individual rioters while painstakingly gathering evidence to identify and charge the masterminds and collaborators of the mass assault.
Benner said federal prosecutors and members of the House select committee investigating Jan.6 must be extremely thorough in putting together cases alleging any sort of conspiracy, whether against white supremacist groups like the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers or Trump and members of his inner circle.
âYou don’t want to sue someone like Trump on any of these charges if you think there is a possible way to defeat him,â she said. “And you know that it is impossible for a case against a former president, especially one as serious as this one, not to go to the Supreme Court – especially this Supreme Court as it now exists with the majority. that exists and also the judicial temperament of judges.
What is going on behind the scenes
Benner was joined on the panel by Seamus Hughes, deputy director of the program on extremism at George Washington University, and by Quinta Jerecic, Roger Parloff and Benjamin Wittes, all of whom focused on the January 6 insurgency for the Lawfare blog.
Their discussion ranged from the current state of criminal and assault prosecutions and the possible timeline for bringing charges against high-level participants in the insurgency to the potential impact of the 2022 and 2024 election cycles.
Hughes noted that the need to be thorough and the shortage of available FBI agents and U.S. attorneys hampered the speed of the Jan. 6 prosecution. Although many agents have been brought in from other cases and regions, this is still not enough.
âThey have kept ISIS agents and white-collar criminals away,â he said of the justice ministry. âThis is the largest investigation in its history.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also hampered the pace of proceedings against the nearly 730 defendants arrested or charged so far for their role in the attack on Capitol Hill, which sought to prevent Congress from counting electoral votes to formalize the Joe Biden’s presidential election. More than 140 police officers were injured, some seriously, and seven known deaths were linked to the events of that day.
About 80% of those indicted for their actions that day were identified using the suspects’ social media posts of the attack, while data from cell phone towers and 300,000 tips from other citizens helped place other insurgents on the scene, Hughes said.
On average two cases per day
Although progress on the case has been slow, it is making progress, he added. âThe rate has averaged two cases per day since January 6. They clean up the bridges, get rid of low-level crime cases and move on to the bigger ones. We’ll get there. We’re just not there yet.
But Parloff noted that progress has been made in prosecuting some of those who helped orchestrate the attack: To date, 35 of the 40 people accused of conspiracy are members of the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, groups white supremacists whose members have been seen leading the charge in the Capitol building or ordering others to do so.
He admitted that the number does not seem impressive. “There are only 40 where the government felt it could prove beyond a reasonable doubt that these people coordinated with others and had planned in advance to commit crimes on that day- the.”
But these cases could lay the groundwork for the prosecution of others who played a major role in planning the Jan.6 insurgency, he said.
“These are the cases that might offer the most chance of leading to evidence that would fill what I would call the ‘air gap’ between the pawns – the people who were arrested, who entered the building – And the people who weren’t. on the ground, but set the stage for this whole event and the people who, in layman terms, prompted it. “
Still, Parloff added that he felt “a little anxious” that the special House committee investigating the attack on Capitol Hill had yet to act on Trump’s own role in the assault.
“The evidence is already suspect enough as to how many people are begging him to intervene and that he is not,” Parloff said. âAt some point it becomes a crime. He sees this attack on democracy continuing, and for hours people begged him to intervene. It’s the president. These are his people, and he will not call them back. And does that corrupt a congressional process? Or does it help and encourage obstruction of proceedings? I think it is. I think that’s enough evidence to start looking.
Jurecic added that much of the committee’s work, including the subpoena from telecoms and social media companies, took place behind closed doors, but that is expected to change with a series of televised hearings this year.
Trump recently lost an offer in the United States Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit to keep the archived White House documents of the committee, which is now waiting to see if the former president appeals the ruling to the Supreme Court, she said. “They’re really in the middle of what they’re doing.”
Facing the midterms
Jurecic acknowledged that the committee must take decisive action ahead of the midterm elections.
“If the Republicans win the House in 2022, which appears to be the case, it is almost certain – 99.999% – that they will shut down the committee, and that is why the committee has a very tight deadline,” he said. she declared. .
Facing the 2024 presidential election
And at the Justice Department, the 2024 presidential election could pose problems for its January 6 criminal investigations – if Trump shows up and wins, other panelists said.
âIf Trump returned to power, I think all federal investigations would be in jeopardy,â Parloff said.
Wittes, who moderated the discussion, said it was likely Trump would campaign on a promise to pardon offenders on Jan.6 and, if elected, appoint an acting attorney general who “could do some nonsense” in the federal investigative process.
“And there is no obstacle to the power of grace being used to neutralize all of this,” he added. âThe famous example is that of Jimmy Carter who pardoned, en masse, all rebellious. And so, you can imagine a single press release from the president saying, “I hereby forgive everyone for all crimes associated with January 6”.
In that case, the greatest hope for justice will likely come from the “mighty punch” of the January 6 civil lawsuits against the conspirators and participants, Parloff said.
Not only can civil cases reveal criminal evidence, but they can hit defendants where it hurts, he said. âYou can inflict pain on the people who did this with your wallet, and qualified lawyers will go after them and bankrupt them. It is a powerful tool.
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