A federal judge appointed by former President Barack Obama grilled prosecutors Monday about why they are not seeking harsher punishments for those involved in the Jan. 6 Capitol incursion.
Judge Beryl Howell, chief judge for the D.C. district court, questioned the U.S. attorneys about why some defendants are being allowed to plead guilty to misdemeanors, according to Politico.
“Howell aired her doubts during what was expected to be a routine morning hearing to take the guilty plea of a Capitol riot defendant, Glenn Croy of Colorado Springs, Colo. Croy was arrested in February on charges that he and another man, Terry Lindsey, illegally entered the Capitol building on Jan. 6,” the news outlet reported.
“Under a deal with prosecutors, Croy was seeking to plead guilty to a single misdemeanor charge of parading or picketing in the Capitol. That carries a maximum sentence of six months in jail and a fine of up to $5,000.”
Howell pressed Assistant U.S. Attorney Clayton O’Connor on why prosecutors are charging some of those arrested with felony obstruction of Congress, which carries a maximum 20 years in prison, while others like Croy are able to plea to misdemeanors.
“Largely, because of the elements which go to the obstruction charge which many of Mr. Croy’s co-rioters have been charged with,” O’Connor explained, according to Politico. “In the review of the investigation, that fact was not revealed to a degree that the government could prove it beyond a reasonable doubt with regard to Mr. Troy.”
The judge also probed how a $1.5 million in damages as a result of the riot figure was calculated, finding it “a little bit surprising” how low it was.
“Would you explain the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s reason to limit restitution to a little less than $1.5 million in repairs to the building itself, when the total cost of this riot to the American taxpayers is half a billion?” Howell asked, according to Politico.
I’ve got one question for the judge: How about last summer when Black Lives Matter protesters looted and set fire to our cities and antifa thugs laid a months-long siege on the federal courthouse in Portland, Oregon?
None of the “social justice” rioters appear to be on the hook for the billions in damage done or the cost of deploying the National Guard to put down the riots.
In June, Republican Sens. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Mike Lee of Utah, Ted Cruz of Texas, Tommy Tuberville of Alabama and Rick Scott of Florida, sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland questioning the disparity in treatment by DOJ prosecutors.
“Property destruction stemming from the 2020 social justice protests throughout the country will reportedly result in at least $1 billion to $2 billion in paid insurance claims,” they wrote.
The senators pointed to DOJ statistics finding that one federal officer was killed, 147 federal officers were injured and 600 local officers were also injured as a result of the 2020 protests.
They also cited an April 14 Politico article headlined “Leniency for defendants in Portland clashes could affect Capitol riot cases.”
In it, the news outlet reported, “prosecutors have approved deals in at least half a dozen federal felony cases arising from clashes between protesters and law enforcement in Oregon last summer. The arrangements — known as deferred resolution agreements — will leave the defendants with a clean criminal record if they stay out of trouble for a period of time and complete a modest amount of community service, according to defense attorneys and court records.”
Howell displayed a limited memory of last summer at a plea hearing in July, when, like Monday, she had also questioned whether federal prosecutors were being too lenient.
“Does the government have any concern … of the defendant joining a mob, breaking into the Capitol building” in the future, and “terrorizing members of Congress, the vice president, who had to be evacuated?” Howell asked, according to CNN.
I would direct her attention to the protest/riot that took place outside the White House in May 2020, after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis set off Black Lives Matter demonstrations across the country, many devolving into violence.
The Associated Press reported that Secret Service agents rushed then-President Trump to a White House bunker the night of May 29, 2020, as hundreds of protesters gathered near 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., “some of them throwing rocks and tugging at police barricades.”
The Secret Service said in a May 31 statement, “Some demonstrators repeatedly attempted to knock over security barriers, and vandalized six Secret Service vehicles. Between Friday night and Sunday morning, more than 60 Secret Service Uniformed Division Officers and Special Agents sustained multiple injuries from projectiles such as bricks, rocks, bottles, fireworks and other items.”
“Secret Service personnel were also directly physically assaulted as they were kicked, punched, and exposed to bodily fluids. A total of 11 injured employees were transported to a local hospital and treated for non-life threatening injuries.”
Likely the only thing that kept the White House from being overrun that night was fencing and firepower, which unfortunately were not deployed at the Capitol in the fashion required in the days leading up to Jan. 6.
Where was the push by the DOJ to round up the White House rioters? Did any of them even make it into Judge Howell’s courtroom?
There are over 500 Jan. 6 defendants, according to a CBS report from Aug. 6.
Equal justice means if federal prosecutors are going to let the “social justice” rioters off with light or no sentences, the same should be true of the Capitol “rioters.”
The vast majority of the latter were there to protest. Of the hundreds of thousands of Trump supporters in D.C. that day, only hundreds entered the Capitol and a much smaller subset of them actually engaged in violence or property destruction.
Obviously, any who struck law enforcement officers or destroyed public property should pay for their crimes.
But sorry, Judge Howell. Prosecutors are supposed to treat cases according to the law, not according to the political preferences of those in power, including those in power on the bench.
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