Writing for the Washington Post yesterday, Karen Tumulty noted that “When you are dealing with someone for whom there is no bottom, it’s not exactly surprising to see him hit a new low.” And no doubt you know exactly who she was referring to as “odious” and “reckless.” No, not Marjorie Traitor Greene, though that’s a close second. She was blasting Trump for his not very veiled suggestion that someone kill Mitch McConnell because he voted to keep the government operating, something Trump took as a “personal affront.”
“[Y]ou have to wonder,” she continued, “Where are McConnell’s Republican colleagues in the Senate? Why do they remain silent when Trump does something like this? Is this sort of behavior by their party’s de facto leader acceptable to them, particularly coming fewer than 40 days before an election in which they are trying to pick up the single additional seat that would give them control of the chamber? Their timidity has fostered the free-fire environment in which Trump operates.”
The Party Of Death is, of course, also the party of political violence and anomie. Over the weekend, the NY Times reported about the steep uptick in politically motivated violence of the Trump era. “In Seattle,” wrote Stephanie Lai, Luke Broadwater and Carl Hulse, “a man who had sent an angry email to Representative Pramila Jayapal repeatedly showed up outside the lawmaker’s house, armed with a semiautomatic handgun and shouting threats and profanities. In Queens, a man who had traveled across the country waited in a cafe across the street from Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s office to confront her, part of a near-constant stream of threats and harassment that has prompted the congresswoman to switch her sleeping location at times and seek protection from a 24-hour security detail. Members of Congress in both parties are experiencing a surge in threats and confrontations as a rise in violent political speech has increasingly crossed over into the realm of in-person intimidation and physical altercation. In the months since the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, which brought lawmakers and the vice president within feet of rioters threatening their lives, Republicans and Democrats have faced stalking, armed visits to their homes, vandalism and assaults.”
“I wouldn’t be surprised if a senator or House member were killed,” [Susan] Collins, a Republican serving her fifth term, said in an interview. “What started with abusive phone calls is now translating into active threats of violence and real violence.”
In the five years after Trump was elected in 2016 following a campaign featuring a remarkable level of violent language, the number of recorded threats against members of Congress increased more than tenfold, to 9,625 in 2021, according to figures from the Capitol Police, the federal law enforcement department that protects Congress. In the first quarter of 2022, the latest period for which figures were available, the force opened 1,820 cases. If recent history is any guide, the pace is likely to surge in the coming weeks as the election approaches.
… Security concerns have grown so pressing that many members of Congress are dipping into their own official or campaign accounts to protect themselves. They have spent a total of more than $6 million on security since the start of last year, according to an analysis by The Times of campaign finance and congressional data.
The data suggest that the threats are particularly acute against lawmakers of color— Hispanic, Black, Asian American and Pacific Islander and Native American— who outspent their white colleagues on security by an average of more than $17,500. Democrats spent about $9,000 more than Republicans did. And members of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 assault spent over $5,000 more than the average amount spent by members of Congress as a whole.
Representative Liz Cheney, a Republican of Wyoming, who has been a frequent target of Trump’s verbal attacks, spent more than any other Republican in the House, according to the data, pouring close to $70,000 into security measures since the Capitol riot.
Representative Cori Bush, Democrat of Missouri, who has spoken out about the death threats she has received as a Black woman on Capitol Hill, spent the most in the House: close to $400,000.
The number pales in comparison to that of Senator Raphael Warnock, Democrat of Georgia, one of only three Black men in the Senate and the highest spender in Congress. He has doled out nearly $900,000 for his own protection since being sworn in in 2021; Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, was the second highest spender, at nearly $600,000. [Everyone hates Cruz, including Republicans.]
…[A]s threats rise in frequency and become more violent, many lawmakers say they feel vulnerable both in Washington and in their districts.
Security on the grounds of the Capitol, which has long been fortified by barricades, metal detectors and checkpoints guarded by a phalanx of police officers, has only increased in the wake of the Jan. 6 assault. But while the House and Senate leaders have their own security details, including plainclothes officers and armored vehicles, it can be more difficult for rank-and-file lawmakers to obtain such protection, even when they are facing serious threats.
…[AOC] said her office can hardly keep up up with the “astronomical” amount of threats she receives in a day — more than any other member except House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, and Representative Ilhan Omar, Democrat of Minnesota, according to what party leaders have told her. The onus is on the aides who answer the phones in her office— some as young as 19— to determine what constitutes a threat.
So Ocasio-Cortez has taken matters into her own hands. Her office has a daily morning routine of creating a document with photos of the men who have made threats against the congresswoman, so that she can recognize and avoid or report them. Since 2021, she has spent more than $120,000 on security services, according to the data analyzed by The Times.
I’m not the only one who blames this on Trump. So do the attorneys for the violent domestic terrorist group, the Oath Keepers. “The defense team in the Capitol riot trial of the Oath Keepers leader is relying on an unusual strategy with Donald Trump at the center,” reported the Associated Press Saturday regarding the trial of chief of the terrorist organization, Stewart Rhodes, that begins today. His lawyers “are poised to argue that jurors cannot find him guilty of seditious conspiracy because all the actions he took before the siege on Jan. 6, 2021, were in preparation for orders he anticipated from the then-president— orders that never came. Rhodes and four associates are accused of plotting for weeks to stop the transfer of presidential power from the Republican incumbent to Democrat Joe Biden, culminating with Oath Keepers in battle gear storming the Capitol alongside hundreds of other Trump supporters.”
Rhodes intends to take the stand to argue he believed Trump was going to invoke the Insurrection Act to call up a militia to support him, his lawyers have said. Trump didn’t do that, but Rhodes’ team says that what prosecutors allege was an illegal conspiracy was “actually lobbying and preparation for the President to utilize” the law.
…Rhodes’ lawyers have argued Trump could have called up a militia in response to “what he perceived as a conspiracy to deprive a class of persons in several states of their voting rights.” Rhodes published an open letter on the Oath Keepers’ website in December 2020 urging Trump to use the Insurrection Act to “‘stop the steal’ and defeat the coup.”
If Rhodes testifies, he could face intense questioning from prosecutors, who say his own words show the Oath Keepers would act no matter what Trump did.
[Attorney James] Bright said Rhodes, a Yale Law School graduate, understands the risks of testifying but has insisted since the first day they met that he be able to “speak his piece.”
Rhodes and his associates— Kelly Meggs, Thomas Caldwell, Jessica Watkins and Kenneth Harrelson— are the first Jan. 6 defendants to be tried on seditious conspiracy, a rarely used Civil War-era charge that can be difficult to prove.
The defense would have to convince the jury that the Oath Keepers really intended to defend the government, not use force against it, said David Alan Sklansky, a former federal prosecutor who’s now a professor at Stanford Law School.
“If you think you are plotting to help protect the government, there is an argument that that means you don’t have the required guilty mindset that’s necessary in order to be guilty of seditious conspiracy,” he said.
Court records show the Oath Keepers repeatedly warning of the prospect of violence if Biden were to become president. The Oath Keepers amassed weapons and stationed armed “quick reaction force” teams at a Virginia hotel in case they were needed, prosecutors say.
Among those likely to testify against Rhodes are three of his former followers, including one who has said Rhodes instructed them to be ready to use lethal force if necessary to keep Trump in the White House.
Defense lawyers say the quick reaction force teams were defensive forces only to be used if Trump invoked the Insurrection Act. If Rhodes really wanted to lead a revolution, his lawyers say there was no better opportunity to deploy the quick reaction force than when hundreds of people were storming the Capitol. But the Oath Keepers never did.
“The conditions would never be better. Yet, Rhodes and the others left the Capitol grounds and went to Olive Garden for dinner,” they’ve written in court papers. Rhodes never went into the Capitol and has said that the Oath Keepers who did acted on their own.
…Michael Weinstein, a former Justice Department prosecutor, agreed that Rhodes’ argument is not likely to win over a jury. But that may not be his only goal.
“I think it’s going to be a little bit of a show trial for him,” said Weinstein, now a criminal defense lawyer in New Jersey. “This is his opportunity to really promote himself and his philosophy and make himself out to be a bit of a martyr.”
Trump did talk about sending in U.S. troops to American cities in summer 2020 as protesters filled the streets in the wake of George Floyd’s death at the hands of a police officer, an action that would have come under the Insurrection Act. He never did.
Los Angeles-based defense lawyer Nina Marino said the Insurrection Act defense could work.
“I think it’s a great defense from the 1800s resurrected into 2022,” she said. But she added: “If there’s evidence that they would have done it anyway, then I think that really, really damages the defense.”
Prosecutors have already pointed to a message from December 2020 that Rhodes wrote, saying Trump “needs to know that if he fails to act, then we will.” Days before the riot, Rhodes warned that the “final nail” would be put in the “coffin of this Republic,” unless they fought their way out.
“With Trump (preferably) or without him, we have no choice,” Rhodes wrote in a chat, according to court papers. He added: “Be prepared for a major let down on the 6-8th. And get ready to do it OURSELVES.”
I’m all for Rhodes and all the other domestic terrorists being rewarded with the martyrdom they so crave— but as executed martyrs, not ones that get out of prison in a year for two or even 5 or 10. The government must protect society from domestic terrorists-- and the only protection from these psychopaths is utter and total elimination. Don't be a woos.