Federal Judge Exposes MAGA/GOP Election Lies

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At a sentencing hearing this week for Capitol riot defendant Kyle Young, who is from Iowa and participated in the assault of then-D.C. Metropolitan Police Department officer Michael Fanone during last year’s chaos, federal Judge Amy Berman Jackson ripped former President Donald Trump and the GOP leaders who are enabling him.

Jackson also pointed to some of the existential dangers of actions the rioters themselves took while swarming the Capitol. Young’s personal involvement included providing a fellow riot participant with a taser that the other rioter then used against Fanone moments later and holding Fanone’s wrist amid the wide-ranging assault, which further incapacitated the officer.

Jackson said “high-ranking members of Congress and state officials” are “so afraid of losing their power” that they’re refusing to break with the lies about the election to which Trump, who still holds political sway in the GOP, wants candidates to adhere. Prominent Trump picks have been election deniers or broadly involved in the lies, from his gubernatorial selections in Arizona and Pennsylvania to his failed GOP governor’s primary pick in Georgia.

Threats of violence against officials involved in investigating Trump or issues related to him are persisting, the judge noted. Some GOP figures themselves are even “cagily predicting or even outright calling for violence in the streets if one of the multiple investigations don’t go his way.” One such Republican official is Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.), who during a recent Fox interview insisted: “If they try to prosecute President Trump for mishandling classified information after Hillary Clinton set up a server in her basement, there literally will be riots in the street. I worry about our country.” Even if he makes a show of morally distancing himself from these hypothetical riots, he’s positively asserting violence will unfold and providing it with what’s basically a prior justification — on national television.

Trump himself made similar comments. “If it happened, I think you’d have problems in this country the likes of which perhaps we’ve never seen before,” Trump told conservative commentator Hugh Hewitt of his potential prosecution. Trump conspicuously didn’t provide an explanation for the so-called problems to which he was referring, leaving the ex-president’s threats open-ended.

At a slightly earlier point in Young’s sentencing hearing Tuesday, Jackson added as follows: “The judiciary… has to make it clear: It is not patriotism, it is not standing up for America to stand up for one man who knows full well that he lost instead of the Constitution he was trying to subvert.” Jackson sentenced Young, whose teenage son was with him as he participated in the violence at the Capitol near the building’s Lower West Terrace tunnel area, to 86 months, or a little over seven years, in prison. It’s among the longer Capitol riot sentences imposed so far, although it isn’t the longest.

As for allegations of politically motivated treatment of rioters, Jackson separately added as follows: “You were not prosecuted for being a Trump supporter. You were not arrested or charged and you will not be sentenced for exercising your First Amendment rights… You are not a political prisoner… You were trying to stop the singular thing that makes America America, the peaceful transfer of power. That’s what ‘Stop the Steal’ meant.”