Trump Supporter Sentenced To 33 Months In Prison For Threatening Congress

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Trump supporter and New Hampshire resident Ryder Winegar has been sentenced to 33 months in jail for sending threats of violence to six members of Congress and one member of the New Hampshire state House of Representatives. His offenses include six counts of threatening members of Congress and one count of transmitting interstate threatening communications, per a press release from the Justice Department, which did not reveal the identities of the legislators who received Winegar’s threats. Winegar issued his threats in direct connection to ex-President Trump’s false claims that systematic fraud was present in last year’s presidential election.

Winegar left his voicemail threats for members of Congress on December 16 of last year, within days of the conclusion of the electoral college’s formal voting process, which set up the later certification by Congress of those electoral college results (which is what the Capitol rioters tried to stop). Winegar’s comments, the Justice Department notes, were “very specific.” On one voicemail, for instance, he said as follows:

‘I got some advice for you. Here’s the advice, Donald Trump is your president. If you don’t get behind him, we’re going to hang you until you die.’

Days after he left the messages, Capitol Police personnel showed up to question Winegar, but he refused to cooperate. The next day, he flew to Brazil, where he appears to have stayed for weeks before returning to the United States on January 11, at which point he was taken into custody — where he’s remained ever since. Acting United States Attorney for New Hampshire John J. Farley commented as follows regarding Winegar’s case:

‘Today’s sentencing sends a clear message that threats of violence have no place in our political discourse. While all citizens are free to express their political opinions, it is unlawful to threaten to commit acts of violence against members of Congress or members of the state legislature. This defendant’s graphic threats were a troubling attempt to intimidate lawmakers and a direct assault on the functioning of our constitutional system. This sentence should send a message to the community that those who threaten to commit acts of violence against duly-elected legislators will be held accountable for their unlawful conduct.’

At this point, it’s safe to say that violence is a defining feature of Trumpism. Donald Trump himself has repeatedly come to the defense of those who participated in the storming of the Capitol in January, even though the events of that day included mass assaults on police officers and serious threats against the safety of government officials and many others, like staffers and journalists. Not only that, but Republican leaders around the country are sticking by Trump, even as he refuses to meaningfully distance himself from that January violence.