Did Trump cross the line of inciting his minions to violence?

On December 18 Trump tweeted “Statistically impossible to have lost the 2020 Election. Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!”

What has resulted is conservative social media promoting at least four rallies in the capital on Wednesday, starting at 7 a.m. The National Park Service, confirmed it has issued that at least three permits. Those three permits allow a maximum of 15,000 protesters.

Has Trump crossed the line of 18 U.S. Code Chapter 115 – TREASON, SEDITION?  The Supreme Court in the case of Brandenburg vs. Ohio limited the enforcement of this crime to applying it only to speech or conduct that advocates “imminent lawless action.”

If violence erupts on the streets of Washington, D.C., “imminent” gives way to actual lawless action. The three elements of this test are intent to speak, the imminence of lawlessness, and the likelihood of lawlessness.

If violence occurs, Trump may be subject to prosecution for “sedition.”

Trump owns a golf course in Scotland. His trip may be complicated because members of the Scottish Parliament are asking that their first minister for a probe into the financing of Donald Trump’s business interests in Scotland.. Scottish.  First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on Tuesday said that President Donald Trump will not be allowed to visit Scotland to play golf in January.

Top Democrats, including House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (Calif.) and House Majority Whip James Clyburn (S.C.), have suggested Trump’s actions were potentially criminal or even impeachable.

Gunfire from Trump’s Troops Cause Evacuation of the Capitol  

Hordes of Trump supporters estimated to be in the thousands traveled to Washington on Wednesday to pressure lawmakers and Vice President Pence to overturn the results of the election. Pence noted earlier in the day that he does not have the power to object to electors.

Hundreds of these Trump supporters stormed the barricades of the Capitol and marched toward the building. They overpowered the police on Capitol steps, forced their way into buildings, and security was overrun. The Capital police trying to hold them back.

The U.S. Capitol Police on Wednesday locked down the Capitol building and evacuated multiple congressional buildings amid increasingly violent protests outside.

Buildings being evacuated included the Library of Congress’s Madison Building across from the Capitol as well as the Cannon House office building. This is a massive building. In an alert sent to Hill staffers, police ordered occupants of the Madison building to “move in a safe manner to the exits” and “close doors behind you but do not lock.”

Capitol police just went door by door, running down hallways. Capitol police also told those in the Cannon House building to “take visitors, escape hoods, and Go Kits.”

Vice President Pence was taken from the Senate chamber after protesters entered the Capitol to protest the results of President-elect Joe Biden’s win.

Trump supporters overpowered police on the Capitol steps and forced their way into buildings, overrunning security, rampaging, and pillaging.

The Madison Library of Congress building is being evacuated after Trump supporters breached security and ran past police. The looters and rioters breached the actual Capitol building. After knocking down four layers of the security fence, with the police trying to force them back behind a temporary fence. This is exactly what Donald Trump promised his supporters. This is exactly what he wanted.

Asked how long the lock-down might last, the officer said it will depend on the behavior of the protestors.

“Let me be very clear — the scenes of chaos at the Capitol do not reflect a true America, do not represent who we are. What we are seeing is a small number of extremists dedicated to lawlessness. This is not dissent. It’s disorder. It’s chaos. It borders on sedition and it must end now,” Biden said.President-elect Joe Biden condemned the violence in the nation’s capital as “insurrection” and demanded an end to the “chaos.”

“It’s not protest. It’s insurrection,” Biden said.

Trump late in the afternoon issued a statement to the terrorists saying: “I love you. You’re very special. I know how you feel.” He continues to reiterate his false claims that his election defeat was “fraudulent,” which was the basis for the protest in the first place. Trump finally urged his supporters to disperse.

In a court of law, can Trump absolve himself of guilt for the looting and violence by seeking to call back his fanatical supporters that he summoned to the Capitol?

Although the American public watched in shock and dismay as the disturbing series of events unfolded, Rep. John Katko (R-N.Y.)Katko insists the riots were far worse than reported on television. During an interview with Syracuse.com, Katko shared details about the day of the deadly U.S. Capitol riots.

“I’ve had a lot of classified briefings on it, and it’s deeply troubling,” Katko told Syracuse.com. “I was left with a profound sense that it was much worse than people realized.”

Katko’s latest remarks come just weeks after he spoke out against Trump’s rhetoric and antics. He noted the president’s misinformation campaigns on social media and his speech during the “Save America” rally that provoked the Capitol siege as he stressed the importance of holding the president accountable for his actions, according to Newsweek.

He insisted that the former president “deliberately promoted baseless theories that created a combustible environment of misinformation and division.”

Katko added, “To allow the president of the United States to incite this attack without consequence is a direct threat to the future of our democracy and to our security.”

While the former president has departed from Washington, D.C., he still has a number of legal investigations to contend with in the coming months.

 

Trump is inviting criminal prosecution

Trump is inviting criminal prosecution when his term as President expires on January 20.  Consider the trail of criminal charges he potentially faces, including the 3 p.m. Saturday, January 2  call to Brad Raffensperger, Georgia’s Secretary of State.

He repeatedly made criminal solicitations in the hour-long phone conversation. That he allowed the conversation to be tape-recorded indicates his contempt for both the democratic process and the laws governing elections. Trump repeatedly urged Raffensperger  to alter the outcome of the presidential vote in the state.

Raffensperger is an unlikely Trump target. First, Georgia is a state run entirely by Republicans. Second, he has been a Trump supporter and one of most talkative secretaries of state on potential voter fraud.  This just shows how Trump is willing to roll anyone under the bus.

A week before Trump’s call to the Secretary of State, The Washington Post has reported that Trump called Georgia’s lead investigator for voter fraud a week earlier, and told him he could be a “national hero” if only he just happened to find some fraud that favored Trump.

Here is the Georgia statute Trump violated:

2015 Georgia Code
Title 21 – ELECTIONS
Chapter 2 – ELECTIONS AND PRIMARIES GENERALLY
Article 15 – MISCELLANEOUS OFFENSES
§ 21-2-604 – Criminal solicitation to commit election fraud; penalties

Universal Citation: GA Code § 21-2-604 (2015)

(a) (1) A person commits the offense of criminal solicitation to commit election fraud in the first degree when, with intent that another person engage in conduct constituting a felony under this article, he or she solicits, requests, commands, importunes, or otherwise attempts to cause the other person to engage in such conduct.

(2) A person commits the offense of criminal solicitation to commit election fraud in the second degree when, with intent that another person engage in conduct constituting a misdemeanor under this article, he or she solicits, requests, commands, importunes, or otherwise attempts to cause the other person to engage in such conduct.

(b) (1) A person convicted of the offense of criminal solicitation to commit election fraud in the first degree shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than three years.

(2) A person convicted of the offense of criminal solicitation to commit election fraud in the second degree shall be punished as for a misdemeanor.

(c) It is no defense to a prosecution for criminal solicitation to commit election fraud that the person solicited could not be guilty of the crime solicited.

(d) The provisions of subsections (a) through (c) of this Code section are cumulative and shall not supersede any other penal law of this state.

Trump may have also violated  52 U.S. Code 20511,:

U.S. Code Title 52 (Voting and Elections), Section 20511 

A person, including an election official, who in any election for Federal office-

(1) knowingly and willfully intimidates, threatens, or coerces, or attempts to intimidate, threaten, or coerce, any person for-

(A) registering to vote, or voting, or attempting to register or vote;

(B) urging or aiding any person to register to vote, to vote, or to attempt to register or vote; or

(C) exercising any right under this chapter; or

(2) knowingly and willfully deprives, defrauds, or attempts to deprive or defraud the residents of a State of a fair and impartially conducted election process, by-

(A) the procurement or submission of voter registration applications that are known by the person to be materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent under the laws of the State in which the election is held; or

(B) the procurement, casting, or tabulation of ballots that are known by the person to be materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent under the laws of the State in which the election is held,

shall be fined in accordance with title 18 (which fines shall be paid into the general fund of the Treasury, miscellaneous receipts (pursuant to section 3302 of title 31), notwithstanding any other law), or imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both.

Since we know he is obsessed with denying his defeat, he may well have made other calls that day and on other days to officials in other states.

There are numerous other criminal investigations that have been delayed by Trump being office. Here are some:

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance is investigating allegations of tax, business, and insurance fraud under New York law.

  • Campaign conspiracy and Trump Organization finances
  • Inauguration funding
  • Trump super PAC funding
  • Foreign lobbying

Investigations by the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia:

  • Maria Butina and the NRA.

Investigations by the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia:

  • Michael Flynn’s plea agreement

Investigations by New York City, New York State and other state attorneys general:

  • Tax case: In the wake of an N.Y. Times investigation that found Trump had benefited from more than $400 million in tax schemes, city officials said they were investigating Trump’s tax payments, as did the New York State Tax Department.
  • The Trump Foundation
  • Emoluments lawsuit: The attorneys general for Maryland and D.C. sent out subpoenas earlier this month for Trump Organization and hotel financial records relating to their lawsuit that the president is in breach of the “Emoluments Clause” of the Constitution, which appears to prohibit the president from accepting payments from foreign powers while in office.

Sedition is a term some people are using to describe Trump’s conduct, but. Trump’s conduct to date has not risen to produce the likelihood of violence. Sedition is a felony (18 U.S. Code Chapter 115 – TREASON, SEDITION) punishable by fines and up to 20 years in prison. It refers to the act of inciting revolt or violence against a lawful authority with the goal of destroying or overthrowing it.  The Supreme Court has interpreted this law applying only to the “imminent lawless action” test under the First Amendment.

However, you slice it, Trump’s behavior is outside the pale, that is outside the bounds of morality, acceptable behavior, or good judgment.

Trump moved to his next option—staging an attempted coup d’état,  on January 6, risking the life of his vice-president.

Is it fair to ask if Trump’s belligerence about staying in office is owing to his fear of prosecution, both federal and state. Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance is pursuing allegations of tax, business, and insurance fraud under New York law.