A POLITICO analysis of the Capitol riot-related cases shows that almost a quarter of the more than 230 defendants formally and publicly charged so far face only misdemeanors.
Dozens of those arrested are awaiting formal charges, even as new cases are being unsealed nearly every day. In recent days, judges, prosecutors and defense attorneys have all indicated that they expect few of the alleged “MAGA tourists” to face harsh sentences.
POLITICO's Josh Gerstein and Kyle Cheney report there are two main reasons for this big letdown for Democrats like Speaker Pelosi, Rep. Swalwell and Rep. Ayana Presley: Although prosecutors have loaded up their charging documents with language about the existential threat of the insurrection to the republic, the actions of many of the individual rioters often boiled down to trespassing. And judges have wrestled with how aggressively to lump those cases in with those of what Gerstein and Cheney call "the more sinister suspects."
Now here are two key bits of Gerstein and Cheney’s reporting:
“My bet is a lot of these cases will get resolved and probably without prison time or jail time,” said Erica Hashimoto, a former federal public defender who is now a law professor at Georgetown. "One of the core values of this country is that we can protest if we disagree with our government. Of course, some protests involve criminal acts, but as long as the people who are trying to express their view do not engage in violence, misdemeanors may be more appropriate than felonies.”
There are also sensitive issues about precedent for the future, given the frequency of politically inspired demonstrations on Capitol Hill that run afoul of the law.
While violent assaults in the Capitol are rare, protests and acts of civil disobedience — such as disrupting congressional hearings or even House and Senate floor sessions, are more common. That means prosecutors and judges will have to weigh how much more punishment a Trump supporter who invaded the Capitol during the Electoral College count deserves than, say, an anti-war protester chanting at a CIA confirmation hearing or a gun-control advocate shouting in the middle of the State of the Union address.
For some reason Messrs. Gerstein and Cheney left out the occupation of the Hart Senate Office Building by those opposed to the confirmation of now-Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Brett Kavanaugh, but you get the picture: Leftist do this kind of stuff all the time – it just doesn’t get the same breathless treatment by the press and Democrats don’t panic about it because they know those insurrectionists are on their side.
There have been some 300+ people arrested in connection with the January 6 riot at the US Capitol, a few of the arrestees were caught on video or still cameras breaching police lines, breaking into to the Capitol or fighting with police, but many, including such notable pro-Trump activists as Brandon Straka and Dr. Simone Gold, did not commit any violent acts and were arrested for simply entering the Capitol without authorization.
And, as we documented in our article “The Political Persecution Of The Oath Keepers,” there is another class of arrestees that federal authorities have pursued with particular vengeance; the Oath Keepers.
The Oath Keepers are described in FBI documents and establishment media coverage as a “rightwing militia,” but an unbiased look at who and what they are reveals something far different and a lot less threatening – they are people of modest means who love their country and want to continue to use their training in service to it.
What binds them together, and also apparently makes them so threatening to the illegitimate regime currently occupying Washington DC, is their former or present service in the US military, police, fire and other first responder-type services.
This combination of tactical training and allegiance to the Constitution as written checks all the boxes of Leftwing Democrat paranoia about the terrorist potential of returning veterans that goes back at least to the days when Janet Reno was Attorney General under Bill Clinton.
And it has made the Oath Keepers who were in Washington DC on January 6, 2021 a hunted community within their own country.
The fate of two Oath Keepers, retired Army Sgt. Kenneth Harrelson of Florida and wounded Iraq War veteran Joshua James of Alabama, are illustrative of the what’s being done to these patriots.
Both have been arrested and face multiple felony charges, even though when Mr. James’ public defender asked, “Was Mr. James seen with these people exhibiting aggressive behavior?” The FBI Response was, “No he was not.”
Mr. James’ crime that day was, according to the FBI, was having an Oath Keepers logo on his hat and having his cellphone ping off a tower near the Capitol.
Joshua James, recipient of the Purple Heart, sole bread winner for his wife and three young children remains in custody in Alabama pending being transferred to Washington DC for trial.
The fate of retired Army Sgt. Kenneth Harrelson is similar.
Mr. Harrelson, who was retired out of the Army on 100% disability, was arrested last week and is currently being held in jail for attending the January 6th protests in Washington DC. The Gateway Pundit reports the feds were planning to move him to Washington DC for trial.
The probable cause affidavit for charging Harrelson says he is a co-conspirator along with Jessica Watkins, Donovan Crowl, Thomas Caldwell [covered in our article Free Thomas Caldwell. Now.], Sandra Parker, Bennie Parker, Graydon Young, Laura Steele, Kelly Meggs and Connie Meggs. They were charged separately by a federal grand jury on Feb. 19.
Mr. Harrelson’s apparent crime was talking and interacting with other Oath Keepers who were part of the now famous “stack” that forced its way through the crowd and into the Capitol as photographs introduced by the FBI prove he was not part of the “stack.”
After his arrest, his wife Angel was fired from her job and Harrelson’s bank account was frozen, leaving the family with no income. As Mrs. Harrelson explained, in the FBI’s affidavit justifying Mr. Harrelson’s arrest there was “mention of Go To Meetings that Kenneth participated in. The discussions that took place on those calls were about things the members could do to protect people from harm, specifically from violent ANTIFA. There was no conspiracy to harm anyone, only to protect people. The Oath Keepers have spent the past few months discussing ways to keep their communities informed about the violent activities of the BLM and ANTIFA groups, and also prepared to defend their neighborhoods and homes from invasion by those often violent, extremists.
On Monday, federal Magistrate Judge Zia Faruqui said the prosecution needs to pick up the pace of resolving the January 6-related cases.
“Let’s get it going,” Faruqui said during back-to-back hearings on Capitol cases. “There is, continues to percolate here in the courthouse, concerns about things moving.”
The most equitable way the prosecution could begin to meet Magistrate Faruqui’s demand would be to dismiss the charges against retired Army Sgt. Kenneth Harrelson of Florida and wounded Iraq War veteran Joshua James of Alabama.
Donald Trump rally
Army Sgt. Kenneth Harrelson