For nearly two years now, the media and the radical left have sought to perpetuate the narrative that Trump was directly responsible for the Capitol riot. To hear them tell it, Trump told his supporters at the January 6 rally to go down to Capitol, bust open the doors, and prevent the certification of the Electoral College vote.
Of course, the facts belie this narrative, but that has never stopped Trump’s enemies from pushing the lie. But, as the trial of the Oath Keepers has proven, Trump had no criminal culpability for the violence that occurred that day — despite all the harping from the partisan January 6 Committee.
As Andrew McCarthy explains at National Review, in order for the jury to reach the verdict that it did, the jury had to recognize that the riot was a spontaneous, disorganized, and basically futile outburst that had no chance of preventing Congress from counting state-certified electoral votes; it wasn’t a “threat to our democracy,” and Trump really wasn’t a key player at all.
“These are the only logical conclusions to draw from the verdicts returned Tuesday afternoon by a jury in deep blue Washington, D.C.,” McCarthy concludes.
Three of the five Oath Keeper defendants were acquitted of seditious conspiracy, the crime of conspiring to wage war against the U.S. or forcibly oppose its authority. The jury did convict Stewart Rhodes, the national leader of the Oath Keepers, and Kelly Meggs, the Florida chapter leader, on that charge. However, Rhodes was acquitted of conspiracy to disrupt the January 6 joint session of Congress — which, of course, was the objective of the conspiracy.
However, all five defendants were convicted of obstructing a congressional proceeding. “Unlike conspiracy, actual obstruction need not entail a plan, much less a serpentine scheme to destroy our republic. Again, it was a better fit for what happened at the Capitol on January 6, which was chaos,” McCarthy explains.
“The verdicts seem irrational, but that is because the prosecution was irrational. To pull off even the nominal victory of nailing Rhodes on seditious conspiracy, the Justice Department had to present the case as if former President Trump was, at most, a bit player,” McCarthy writes.
This, of course completely contradicts the narrative presented by the J6 Committee, which, from its inception, sought to portray the riot as having been planned and coordinated by Trump. But government prosecutors built their case on Trump not being a part of the conspiracy and playing no criminally culpable role in the riot.
“They depicted Trump as a mere pretext for the riot, rather than its orchestrator,” McCarthy explains. Of course, the prosecutors still failed to prove a conspiracy to the jury, and the defendants were mostly convicted on other charges — for which the government had actual evidence.
It is also worth observing that the jury in the case did not hesitate to convict the defendants of those charges for which the government had sufficient evidence. Three of the defendants were found guilty of interfering with police as they tried to respond to a civil disturbance. All five were convicted of tampering with official documents and proceedings. The jury, however, rejected the contention that a right-wing militia had waged war against the government, because the government couldn’t prove it.
So, despite the headlines, the federal government actually mostly lost on the main charge, and Trump wasn’t even alleged to have any criminal culpability by federal prosecutors. “Of course, that’s not the story you’ll hear. The Justice Department’s press release does not mention the word acquittal. It reads as if prosecutors pitched a shutout.”
Of course, it did.