facebook linkedin twitter

Jan. 6 Insurrectionists May Get No More than Slap on the Wrist

March 30, 2021 by Tom Ramstack
Jan. 6 Insurrectionists May Get No More than Slap on the Wrist

WASHINGTON — Arrests of Jan. 6 insurrectionists at the U.S. Capitol are continuing this week even as the zeal to throw the defendants in prison with severe sentences begins to subside or run into stumbling blocks of criminal law.

In the few weeks after the violent takeover of the Capitol by Trump supporters, the new U.S. attorney general announced prosecuting them would be one of his top priorities.

In addition, a bill introduced in the House and Senate sought to give greater reach to law enforcement efforts to confront similar threats by homegrown troublemakers.

The Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act is supposed to fund federal and local law enforcement efforts to identify the kind of political agitators who threaten law and order.


In one typical case, Michigan resident Anthony Williams was scheduled for an appearance Wednesday in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan after a recent arrest for his role in the Jan. 6 uprising.

A tip led FBI agents to screenshots Williams posted on Facebook that show him inside the Capitol on Jan. 6. 

He posted other messages before the riot showing his intent to travel to Washington, D.C.

“Every lie will be revealed,” he posted Nov. 13. “‘Americans’ who participated in fraudulent scheme to overthrow our duly elected president are TRAITORS. China orchestrated the attack and will pay severely for their transgression. American is a nation under a just GOD. Be prepared to #FightBack #HOLDTHELINE #Trump2020 #NoRetreatSurrender.”

Williams is charged with obstruction of official proceedings, entering a restricted building and disorderly conduct.

However, actions and statements by prosecutors indicate he and other insurrectionists among the more than 300 arrested so far are likely to get no more than a slap on the wrist if they are convicted, often with no jail time, according to a new report.

The news organization Politico reported Tuesday that nearly a quarter of the defendants charged so far face only misdemeanors. Most commonly, they are charged with some form of trespassing.

In other words, they entered the Capitol but did no harm to persons or property.

In a court appearance last week, an assistant U.S. attorney recommended to a federal judge “a non-trial disposition” for the case against Kevin Loftus, who is charged with unlawful presence and disrupting official business at the Capitol.


A non-trial disposition normally refers to a plea bargain on a lesser charge. Unlawful presence and disrupting official business at the Capitol are two of the most common charges against the insurrectionists.

If the caseload, expected to grow to around 400 defendants, ends in a whimper instead of the harsh punishments pledged by U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, they would appear to undercut President Joe Biden’s statements saying he wanted vigorous prosecution against the rioters.

Biden’s position coincides with similar opinions expressed this month in a survey published by the public policy foundation Pew Research Center. 

It showed that among 12,055 adults representative of the U.S. population, a wide majority, or 69%, said it is “very important” for federal law enforcement agencies to find and prosecute the people who broke into the Capitol on Jan. 6. Another 18% said the prosecutions are “somewhat important.” Only 12% said prosecuting the insurrectionists is not too important or not at all important.

At the same time, the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act is also running into second thoughts. 

It first gained strong support when it was reintroduced Jan. 19 by a bipartisan group of lawmakers in the House and Senate. It won approval in the House in the last session of Congress but failed in the Senate.

The bill seeks to strengthen the federal government’s efforts to prevent domestic terrorism by authorizing new offices dedicated to combating the threat.

It would require the offices within the departments of Justice and Homeland Security to regularly assess domestic terrorism. They also would be required to provide training and resources to state and local law enforcement agencies to help them address it.

The FBI would lead the Justice Department’s program.

“The Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act will equip our law enforcement leaders with the tools needed to help keep our homes, families and communities across the country safe.,” Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., who co-sponsored the bill, said in a statement.

Much like the first time H.R. 350 was introduced, its critics are calling it redundant and unnecessary government intervention.


Both the departments of Justice and Homeland Security “already focus on potential domestic terrorism threats within their existing organizational structures,” wrote Cato Institute policy analyst Patrick Eddington. The Cato Institute is a Washington-D.C.-based libertarian public policy foundation.

“If anything, were [the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act] to become law it would likely make detecting and thwarting domestic terrorist plots harder,” Eddington wrote. “The more layers of bureaucracy, the slower government works. The other issue it would likely exacerbate is the question of which department – Justice or Homeland Security – should be the lead on dealing with homegrown threats.”

A+
a-

In The News

Health

Voting

Criminal Justice

March 25, 2022
by Dan McCue
States Must Allow Prayer, Even Touch During Executions, Supreme Court Says

WASHINGTON — States must accommodate the wishes of death row inmates who ask to have a priest or other representative... Read More

WASHINGTON — States must accommodate the wishes of death row inmates who ask to have a priest or other representative of their faith pray aloud and even comfort them with a touch during their executions, the Supreme Court ruled Thursday. The case before the court was... Read More

Firing-Squad Executions Get Greenlight in South Carolina

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina has given the greenlight to firing-squad executions, a method codified into state law last... Read More

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina has given the greenlight to firing-squad executions, a method codified into state law last year after a decade-long pause in carrying out death sentences because of the state's inability to procure lethal injection drugs. The state Corrections Department said Friday... Read More

March 8, 2022
by Tom Ramstack
Jan. 6 Capitol Insurrectionist Convicted After First Jury Trial Among Rioters

WASHINGTON — A Texas oil rig worker on Tuesday became the first criminal defendant from the Jan. 6, 2021, riot... Read More

WASHINGTON — A Texas oil rig worker on Tuesday became the first criminal defendant from the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol to be convicted by a jury. Guy Reffitt, 49, was convicted in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., of disrupting the certification... Read More

March 4, 2022
by Dan McCue
Supreme Court Reinstates Death Sentence for Boston Bomber

WASHINGTON — A divided Supreme Court on Friday reinstated the death sentence of convicted Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, reversing... Read More

WASHINGTON — A divided Supreme Court on Friday reinstated the death sentence of convicted Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, reversing a lower court ruling that held the trial court erred in seating jurors who had not been asked about their exposure to pretrial publicity. Writing for... Read More

February 28, 2022
by Tom Ramstack
Jury Selection Begins for First Defendant’s Trial After Jan. 6 Riot

WASHINGTON — Jury selection got off to a rough start Monday in Washington, D.C., for the trial of accused Jan.... Read More

WASHINGTON — Jury selection got off to a rough start Monday in Washington, D.C., for the trial of accused Jan. 6, 2021, insurrectionist Guy Reffitt as attorneys ran into difficulties finding objective jurors. All the prospective jurors knew about the insurrectionists who stormed the Capitol to... Read More

February 22, 2022
by Dan McCue
All Three Defendants Convicted of Hate Crimes in Georgia Killing

BRUNSWICK, Ga. — The three men convicted of the murder in the fatal shooting of Ahmaud Arbery were found guilty... Read More

BRUNSWICK, Ga. — The three men convicted of the murder in the fatal shooting of Ahmaud Arbery were found guilty Tuesday morning of federal hate crimes and lesser civil rights charges. In addition the jury also found father and son Greg and Travis McMichael and neighbor... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top