It is very frustrating to see the mob who ransacked the Capitol on January 6, 2021, get up to twenty years in prison and pay huge fines, while Trump and his political cronies walk away without any charges. Many of these people are going to face a judicial saga totally out of proportion to their misbehaviour. Of course, some were bent on violence and will have to pay for their crimes, but most of them were simply naïve Pro-Trumpers having a good time in D.C. Meanwhile the Senate trial of Donald Trump is not even a criminal trial. The ex-President loses nothing but his right to hold public office again, if he is convicted. The question is whether the DOJ in Washington will charge Trump and his political cronies of seditious conspiracy, election fraud, and insurrection.
He certainly committed seditious conspiracy "by forcing 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." This is the text of Title 18 of the US criminal code which deals with sedition. It is clear that Trump and his cronies crossed several red lines here. His aim, of course, was to prevent the registration of the votes in Congress and to seize the Capitol building to force out Nancy Pelosi and the democrats. Clearly the people on the ground, the mob who invaded the Capitol, are going to pay a very heavy price for their actions. The federal government doesn’t mess around when it comes to arresting and charging the small fry.
But what about John Eastman, Rudy Giuliani, Paul Gosar, Mo Brooks, Andy Biggs, Ali Alexander? These are the guys who organized the "Stop the Steal" movement and planned the DC rally. They encouraged the protesters to sack the Capitol. They have declined to comment on their actions during the riot and today are playing hard to find.
There have been numerous cases of sedition in the US and Canada. The sedition act was used against communists, neo-Nazis and terrorists like the prominent Muslim cleric Omar Abdel-Rahman in 1995. The government used it against the Puerto Rican Nationalist Carmen Valentin Perez and nine others for attempting to overthrow the government of the United States and were handed down sentences of up to 90 years in prison. The sedition conspiracy act was used in Canada after the Winnipeg General Strike of 1919 to lock up seven labour leaders who were convicted of trying to topple the government. The sedition laws were used to lock up the Mayor of Montreal Camillien Houde in 1940 when he campaigned against conscription. He had publicly urged young men to ignore the National Registration Act. He was placed under arrest for sedition and confined without trial in internment camps in Petawawa, Ontario and Ripples, New Brunswick until the end of the war.
Sedition is a crime against the State and was thought to have serious consequences. The use of treasonable words in the Middle Ages could lead to peasant revolts against the monarchy and one could be hanged or beheaded if convicted. Today, in the US it seems anybody with political affiliations or great wealth can simply ignore the laws of sedition and hide behind their First Amendment rights to free speech. Only the little people pay the price of sedition.
According to an article in the Christian Science Monitor, it would not be easy to prove a case of seditious conspiracy in court against Donald J. Trump. Election fraud, on the other hand, would be a slam dunk according to the authors. Trump tried to force Republican Brad Raffensperger, the Georgia Secretary of State, to find enough votes to overturn the election in Georgia in his favour. The entire phone call was recorded and released to the news media. Legal scholars described it as a flagrant abuse of power and potentially a criminal act. The question is when is the DOJ in Washington going to get its act together and go after Trump and his cronies.
*Originally posted in February 2021