Judge’s Words About January 6th May Come Back to Haunt Donald Trump BIG TIME
On Tuesday, a federal judge ruled that a California woman who was found guilty on charges stemming from the Capitol riot on January 6, 2021, “followed then-President Trump’s instructions,” and this is something that according to language experts, could come back to haunt the ex-president in a potential criminal case, Newsweek reports.
Trump hasn’t been charged in relation to the Capitol attack when a violent mob of his supporters stormed the building in the hopes of preventing the certification of President Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory.
Last month, however, the now-dissolved House committee investigating the insurrection referred the former president to the Department of Justice for charges including inciting or assisting an insurrection.
Right before the riot occurred, Trump held the Stop The Steal rally, where he warned his supporters that they “wouldn’t have a country anymore” if they didn’t “fight like hell.” Therefore, District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly centered much of her opinion around that day in regard to her opinion Tuesday in Danean MacAndrew’s January 6 case.
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Kollar-Kotelly noted that Trump “eponymously exhorted his supporters to, in fact, stop the steal by marching to the Capitol” at the January 6 rally, Newsweek reported. And while MacAndrew saw numerous signs at the Capitol stating that her presence there was unlawful, she continued on because she was “heeding the call of former President Trump,” the judge wrote.
JUST IN: Federal judge delivers a Jan. 6. guilty verdict for defendant Danean MacAndrew but makes clear she views Macandrew as having "followed President Trump's instructions."https://t.co/0PCe5mCwex pic.twitter.com/OnVspEyyc1
— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) January 17, 2023
While the judge’s assertion in her findings of fact “have no direct legal effect” on the ongoing January 6 probe, former federal prosecutor Michael McAuliffe notes they shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Talking to Newsweek, McAuliffe said, “it is notable whenever a federal judge publicly attributes criminal behavior to following the directives of a then-sitting president.”
“It’s one more sign that the evidence in an ever larger number of January 6th insurrection prosecutions points to Trump as a culpable participant,” McAuliffe said.
But Bill Dunlap, a law professor at Quinnipiac University, doesn’t seem to think Kollar-Kotelly’s ruling will play a “significant role” in any potential charges against Trump. In an interview with Newsweek, Dunlap said that the judge’s main point was establishing that MacAndrew was fully aware of what she was doing when “she joined the protest at Trump’s behest.”
There have been, however, other January 6 defendants who have blamed Trump for the violence of that day, with some, according to Axios, saying that they believed they were following his orders.
“The fact that so many of the January 6 protesters have pointed to Trump’s speech as a motivating factor will very likely come into play,” in a potential criminal case where he is accused of inciting an inssurection,” Dunlap added.
Attorney Craig Trocino, who’s also a professor and director of the University of Miami School of Law’s Innocence Clinic, highlighted the fact that other January 6 defendants have defended their actions by pointing to Trump. The extent of the impact of the judge’s finding of fact depends on what Trump is charged with if he is indicted.
Should he be charged with inciting an insurrection, “then the language and conduct of incitement becomes relevant, ” Trocino told Newsweek. And, he said, when Trump’s language and conduct are deemed relevant, the subsequent action of the people who listened to him also become relevant.
“And now we have a court finding that this individual went and did what she did in direct relationship to the words that were used,” Trocino said.
It remains to be seen whether this can be used against Trump, “but,” Trocino said, “I think it definitely points in that direction.”
And, according to Tamara Lave, a former San Diego public defender and law professor at the University of Miami’s School of Law, the language Kollar-Kotelly used may embolden prosecutors to indict Trump. She noted, however, that any prosecutor who indicts Trump still must prove his guilt on any charges beyond a reasonable doubt, but even so, Kollar-Kotelly’s language could provide “political cover” for any prosecutor who decides to take on a case against the former president, she told Newsweek.
Hopefully, the time is drawing near for indictments against Trump. If we truly want to see how Democracy works, this needs to happen.