A Federal Judge Suggests Trump Might Have to Pay Up for January 6


A question many people have asked themselves daily for more than a year now is whether Donald Trump will be held criminally liable for trying to overthrow the government, and given the whole attempted-coup business, it’s an entirely reasonable thing to wonder. Unfortunately at this time, we have no idea what the answer is. On the one hand, Attorney General Merrick Garland said last week that the Justice Department will go after the people who caused the deadly insurrection, “whether they were present that day or were otherwise criminally responsible for the assault on our democracy,” which would seem to include the guy who spent months lying about the election being stolen, and then got his supporters all riled up and told them to “fight” just before they attacked the Capitol. On the other, Trump has a long history of getting away with everything. So there’s that.

Still, Monday brought a small glimmer of hope that the 45th president might at least be held liable for the events of that terrible day, in the sense that he may have to pay up for what he did.

Per CNN:

A federal judge in Washington, D.C., is questioning former president Donald Trump’s actions during his speech on January 6, 2021, as he considers for the first time whether Trump is immune from liability related to his supporters attacking the U.S. Capitol. During a court hearing Monday, Judge Amit Mehta pointed out repeatedly that Trump on January 6 asked the crowd to march to the Capitol, but that he didn’t speak up for two hours asking people to stop the violence. “The words are hard to walk back,” Mehta said. “You have an almost two-hour window where the president does not say, ‘Stop, get out of the Capitol. This is not what I wanted you to do.’”

“What do I do about the fact the president didn’t denounce the conduct immediately…and sent a tweet that arguably exacerbated things?” the judge asked. “Isn’t that, from a plausibility standpoint, that the president plausibly agreed with the conduct of the people inside the Capitol that day?”

The major hearing on Monday is part of a trio of insurrection-related lawsuits seeking to hold Trump and other Republican figures like Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama accountable at a time when the House select committee probing January 6 has aggressively investigated the political leaders who inspired the attack, and as the Justice Department is prosecuting more than 700 rioters for criminal offenses.

As Mehta noted, if Trump didn’t mean for his supporters to literally “fight” the election results at the Capitol, as his allies have suggested, he had plenty of time to tell them to stop. “Wouldn’t somebody who’s a reasonable person say, ‘That’s not what I meant?’” Mehta asked a lawyer arguing against the insurrection lawsuits. As we of course know by now, not only did Trump not say anything for hours as lawmakers at the Capitol came under attack, he even refused pleas, including from his children, to take action, only much later telling the rioters to “go home,“ and in the same breath, “You’re very special” and “we love you” and, shortly after that, “These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long.” Last Thursday, on the anniversary of the January 6 attack, former White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said that Trump “gleefully” watched it unfold on TV, remarking, “Look at all of the people fighting for me,” and hitting rewind to watch again. Republican senator Ben Sasse said in an interview days after the attack that the president “was walking around the White House confused about why other people on his team weren’t as excited as he was.… He was delighted.”



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