Jan 6: The End of the Rule of Law

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    by Gregory Hood, The Unz Review:

    January 6, 2021, was a disaster for the American Right. Despite the emotional satisfaction some felt, the riot at the Capitol discredited President Donald Trump, allowed the Left to call conservatives rioters, justified yet more repression, and forced Republicans who had been investigating the 2020 election into full retreat.

    It would have been far better if the activists had done nothing, and if President had Trump urged demonstrators — unequivocally — to be peaceful. In the chaos that did follow, what was the rioters’ plan? There probably wasn’t one.

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    Congress impeached the President for supposedly starting an insurrection, but if he had wanted a coup, he could have called on the crowd to take the Capitol. Instead, in addition to warning them, “If you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore,” he told them to “please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement,” “stay peaceful,” and then, finally, “go home with love & in peace.” Social media banned him, convicting him of the very charges for which the Senate acquitted him.

    Was this an insurrection? We have prosecutions and even a few convictions for “seditious conspiracy,” but no level-headed person can possibly believe that the rioters who broke into the Capitol were part of plan to overthrow the United States government.

    The seeming desperation of government officials, journalists, and politicians to make the January 6 riot seem like a fundamental threat to the republic have led some to suggest the entire thing was a hoax — an inside job by intelligence services. The truth is much more banal: It was a protest that got out of control. But no one seems to want to know what really happened and understand what went wrong: Why was there such poor security? Did the Capitol Police handle the crowd badly? What were the intent and motives of the people in the crowd? Were federal agents involved in any way?

    Instead, government officials, journalists, and politicians from both parties seem eager to hide what happened — and this is exactly what radicalizes people and fuels “conspiracy theories.” It is the behavior of a paranoid regime that insists on a propagandized version of a historic event, not the government of a free people, bound by the rule of law, seeking the truth. The system that rules us — the federal government, intelligence agencies, federal law enforcement, and media that justify their behavior — are doing what rioters on January 6, 2021, failed to do. They are fatally undermining the regime’s legitimacy.

    Tucker Carlson recently aired some never-before-made-public footage from January 6. It shows protesters, not rioters, walking calmly through the Capitol. The most prominent figure is Jacob Chansley, the “QAnon Shaman” who wore a Viking headdress. Law enforcement practically gave him an escort, and in a prayer on the Senate floor, he gave thanks that police “allow[ed] us into the building.”

    The first people into the Capital clearly broke in. Once that happened, Capitol Police must have realized there was no way they could keep others out. But giving up the fight is not the same thing as welcoming demonstrators into the building.

    Some have called Tucker Carlson’s video selections just as tendentious as those of the Congressional “investigation,” which was nothing more than a case for the prosecution. But what should we make of the people who walked in after the violence? The Capitol is a big place, and some may not have seen anything untoward at all. If they entered an unguarded building, acted peacefully, and were arrested days and months later, do they deserve prison sentences?

    Whatever happened that day, Jacob Chansley should have been given this footage before he pled guilty to obstructing a congressional proceeding and got 41 months in prison. The right of a defendant to see all the evidence — both good and bad — is fundamental to the American system. Andrew McCarthy wrote at National Review that Mr. Chansley’s attorneys would have “insisted on being shown any potentially exculpatory evidence prior to the guilty plea.” However, they probably couldn’t. His counsel didn’t know about the tapes, which were in the possession of Congress. The Justice Department could have said it didn’t have them and couldn’t produce them. “So Committee members and counsel buried footage that was clearly relevant to literally hundreds of people facing criminal sentencing across the country,” says legal analyst Jonathan Turley. “They did this while repeatedly referencing those cases in hearings as upholding the rule of law.”

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