Enriquie Tarrio was convicted (among other felonies) Seditious Conspiracy, even though he was in Baltimore when the attack the conspiracy he was a key organizer of took place. Whether this will be treated by the MSM the way it should is frankly open to question. But the fact Tarrio “only” planned the attack but didn’t take direct part, and wasn’t even in DC when it took place should be how every story on January 6 and charges of Seditious Conspiracy should shape every news story moving forward.
If two or more persons in any State or Territory, or in any place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, conspire to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States, or to levy war against them, or to oppose by force the authority thereof, or by force 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, they shall each be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both. (18 U.S. Code § 2384 – Seditious conspiracy)
Yes, it is a statute that’s a product of the Civil War. (A credible case can be made we are in one now and January 6 was the major attack, to this point at least) Yes, it’s gotten relatively little use post Civil War. There were a handful of prosecutions during the 20th century, mostly unsuccessful. Even in this new century. When you think about various “militia” groups in their armed encampments that have been out there all my life, so-called “Sovereign Citizens”, the bombing of the Murtaugh bldg. in Oklahoma City and stuff like Cliven Bundy’s antics one wonders why this statute didn’t get used. Well, history shows it’s a tough case to make in court to federal judges and juries. It was used successfully against foreign people of course. The four Puerto Rican people who smuggled handguns into the House Gallery back in the 1950s and started shooting. Four people down on the floor of the House were injured including one seriously but at least no one died. But the shooters got the book thrown at them. Same with the Islamic dude who masterminded the first bombing on the NY Trade Center back in the 1990s.
But’s FOCUS people! To my knowledge, since this statue was first enacted there have been exactly TWO instances where a group of people organized and carried out an attack at the United States Capitol Two times. One was the one in the 1950s I referred to. The other was January 6. So if this statute was “intended” by those who passed it to apply to attacking the seat of our government, and specifically DC and/or the Capitol itself well, there have only been two times where a group planned and carried out an attack.
And one of them was January 6.
Still, federal prosecutors have been squeamish about using this statute. Keep in mind that federal prosecutors in general are squeamish about taking any case to a courtroom. Sometimes it seems like even with a written plan, video tapes with crystal clear picture and sound of them both planning their crime(s) and celebrating it after the fact, and with tons of physical evidence many a federal prosecutor is afraid to file charges! It’s like being dealt a Royal Flush in the Spade Suite in poker, literally the highest possible hand and being afraid to see things through to the call. At least when it’s Americans guilty of seditious conspiracy and even action, especially if they’re white.
So from the beginning of the J6 cases as even the possibility of Seditious Conspiracy charges were raised as possible, and especially after some prosecutors showed some freaking guts and filed them (How they got Garland to sign off is something I can’t be the only person wondering about) we’ve seen TV hosts and political journalists and legal talking heads, people with real federal prosecutorial credentials wringing their hands. Over and over talking about two things – the statute dates back to the Civil War and it’s rarely been used to try criminals. You know what? Laws, both state and federal about plenty of crimes go back to before the freaking Civil War! And people get convicted of crimes under them every damned day!
I for one am sick and tired of this SPIN!
When you think about it, yes there have been plots uncovered and sometimes even carried out (again I refer to the Oklahoma City bombing) against the federal government. But if Seditious Conspiracy is the nuclear bomb of charges, I ask you how often has there been a direct ATTACK on our seat of government? A planned attack with a specific goal. Born of month of conspirator’s work, including coordination with people who literally spent time in the Oval Office advising our (thankfully) former President. (And maybe that President himself personally greenlighted it?) An attack designed specifically to interrupt a Constitutionally mandated Official Proceeding. To STOP it. And buy time to create a Constitutional “Charlie Fox” (OK, cluster f@@k) that would throw the election to the House?
Please, all of you talking heads and legal analysts for the love of god tell me how is Seditious Conspiracy NOT an appropriate charge? Instead of the focus on how infrequently it’s been used, all along you SHOULD have been talking about the fact that if it’s not appropriate in this case then it should be stricken from the Federal Code.
Well, trials of J6 people have been taking place where Seditious Conspiracy has been on the table. For the most part when it’s been invoked prosecutors have prevailed. Turns out maybe all prosecutors over the many decades needed a goddamned spine! So far, fourteen people have been convicted on this charge and more will face it going forward. Four more convictions today, and the highest level figures in the conspiracy so far are now convicted felons on multiple counts including Seditious Conspiracy. (One of the five defendants was acquitted on the Seditious Conspiracy charge but convicted on the other ones – all serious charges) Including the then leader of the infamous Proud Boys, Enrique Tarrio.
Tarrio’s conviction is the one that stands out. Not because he was leader of the Proud Boys although that’s significant and will put the fear of Jeebus into other Proud Boys awaiting trial. No, what matters and the issue on which so many talking heads/legal analysts focused was that Tarrio wasn’t even in DC when the mob attacked the Capitol! He had been kicked out of town by a judge due to matters in a different case and was at a hotel up in Baltimore. Still, even though he wasn’t present and directly managing his leaders on the ground in DC a jury decided that yes, his participation in the conspiracy was so great, and the evidence supporting it so strong that he was still convicted.
What few competent lawyers Trump has left on retainer had themselves a collective “Uh Oh!’ today and if Trump wants to keep them around my bet is that they will be demanding new retainer agreements with a whole lot more money shelled out starting right freaking now. DOJ has thrown the legal equivalent of a bridgehead over the river and the tanks are moving across. Trump’s lawyers aren’t the only ones with underwear filling with brown organic matter tonight. With today’s verdicts and especially Tarrio’s they can expect a call from DOJ prosecutors tomorrow inviting them in for a little chat. Which will begin with handing them a copy of the charges against Tarrio and a copy of that jury form with the word GUILTY highlighted.
Trump isn’t going to be President. They know it. They KNOW it. No pardons will be coming for J6 convicted felons. And don’t think for a second that Tarrio and others at the top of the “troops” won’t have their lawyers headed to DOJ tomorrow to start begging for some type of “consideration” with sentencing in return for cooperation. Keep in mind that sentences have gotten longer as convictions have moved up the food chain. Roger Stone, Rudy G., Steve Bannon and others are now on the hot seat. With Tarrio’s conviction they now know that someone doesn’t have to have been present at the Capitol to get convicted of Seditious Conspiracy.
So, circling back to how I started I want to start seeing what I’ve been listening to Lawrence O’Donnell say as I’ve been writing. Journalists and analysts need to STFU about Seditious Conspiracy being a little used statute and start focusing on the fact that it DOES apply to numerous people involved in January 6, AND that it applies to people who took part in discussions/planning even if they weren’t there on the Capitol Grounds during the attack.