White House press secretary Jen Psaki certainly has a very myopic view about what’s been happening at the Department of Justice, given her statement that former President Donald Trump is “unfit” for suggesting some pardons may be in order for those prosecuted in connection with the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol incursion.
At a campaign-style rally Saturday in Conroe, Texas, outside of Houston, Trump said, “If I run and if I win, we will treat those people from Jan. 6 fairly. We will treat them fairly.
“And if it requires pardons, we will give them pardons. Because they are being treated so unfairly.”
“This hasn’t happened to all of the other atrocities that took place recently. Nothing like this has happened,” he said, an apparent reference to the leniency granted to the “social justice” rioters in places such as Washington, D.C., and Portland, Oregon, in the summer of 2020.
Donald Trump: “If I run and if I win, we will treat those people from January 6 fairly and if it requires pardons we will give them pardons because they are being treated so unfairly.” pic.twitter.com/K5UH0L9VNb
— The Hill (@thehill) January 31, 2022
Nonetheless, Psaki argued during her media briefing on Monday that Trump’s stance makes him “unfit” for office.
“He defended the actions of his supporters who stormed the Capitol and brutally attacked the law enforcement officers protecting it. I think it’s important to shout that out and call that out,” she said.
“He even attacked his own vice president for not, in his words, having overturned the election,” Psaki continued, referring to Trump’s statement on Sunday about the extent to which Mike Pence could have acted in the dispute over the November 2020 vote.
“And it’s just a reminder of how unfit he is for office. And it’s telling that even some of his closest allies have rejected those remarks as inappropriate in the days since,” she said.
“It’s a just a reminder of how unfit he is for office.”
Psaki slams Trump for suggesting he would pardon all Jan. 6 defendants if he gets reelected https://t.co/ABF3UmmUpY pic.twitter.com/P28dIvGDvc
— Bloomberg Quicktake (@Quicktake) January 31, 2022
Does the fact that Trump suggested that some of those who have been prosecuted in relation to Jan. 6 deserve a pardon really make him unfit?
If equity is the highest value of the Biden administration, fundamental fairness means treating similarly situated people the same.
Let’s look back at the night of May 29, 2020, following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody, when rioters broke through the outer security barriers at the White House.
The Associated Press reported that Secret Service agents rushed then-President Trump to a bunker under 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
The location was better defended than the Capitol grounds so no breach ultimately occurred; however, many Secret Service agents were injured and property was vandalized.
Coronavirus, Riots, White House Siege: unfolding simultaneously in the US… And Trump is hiding from protest in underground bunker. pic.twitter.com/8exN1A0CKT
— Rula Jebreal (@rulajebreal) June 1, 2020
The Secret Service said in a May 31, 2020, statement, “Some demonstrators repeatedly attempted to knock over security barriers, and vandalized six Secret Service vehicles. Between Friday night and Sunday morning, more than 60 Secret Service Uniformed Division Officers and Special Agents sustained multiple injuries from projectiles such as bricks, rocks, bottles, fireworks and other items.
“Secret Service personnel were also directly physically assaulted as they were kicked, punched, and exposed to bodily fluids. A total of 11 injured employees were transported to a local hospital and treated for non-life threatening injuries.”
This looks and sounds a lot like the worst of what happened in the Jan. 6 riot.
Flashback May 2020: At night, the far-left rioters surrounded the White House and tried tearing apart the protective barrier so they could storm the building. Secret Service and law enforcement were injured by the violent extremists. #CapitolRiot pic.twitter.com/pvxs5pPJzM
— Andy Ngô 🏳️🌈 (@MrAndyNgo) January 7, 2022
Where was the DOJ roundup of these criminals?
USA Today reported that Washington police arrested 17 people, most of whom were charged with rioting.
Overall, D.C. police said 106 people were arrested in protests around the district that weekend, according to The Washington Post.
But that’s not the end of the story.
The news outlet said that although “many of those arrested were charged by police with felony rioting, that charge was dropped by prosecutors in most cases.”
Those prosecutors happened to be U.S. attorneys with the DOJ.
Do you think nonviolent participants in the Jan. 6 Capitol incursion should receive pardons?
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Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and four other Republican lawmakers sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland in June 2021 questioning why the DOJ was treating the Jan. 6 rioters so differently from those in Portland and other places.
“Property destruction stemming from the 2020 social justice protests throughout the country will reportedly result in at least $1 billion to $2 billion in paid insurance claims,” they wrote.
The senators pointed to DOJ statistics finding that one federal officer was killed, 147 federal officers were injured and 600 local officers were also injured as a result of the 2020 riots.
They cited an April 14 Politico article headlined “Leniency for defendants in Portland clashes could affect Capitol riot cases.”
In it, the outlet reported that “prosecutors have approved deals in at least half a dozen federal felony cases arising from clashes between protesters and law enforcement in Oregon last summer. The arrangements — known as deferred resolution agreements — will leave the defendants with a clean criminal record if they stay out of trouble for a period of time and complete a modest amount of community service, according to defense attorneys and court records.”
Where is that sense of leniency for the Jan. 6 protesters?
In Portland, rioters spent months trying to burn down the federal courthouse and launching fireworks and other projectiles at federal officers.
Most of the people who entered the Capitol a year ago participated in a nonviolent protest, based on the video from that day, with just a relative few actually engaging in violence toward officers.
The first defendant to be sentenced was a grandmother from Indiana who pleaded guilty to entering a restricted building.
In his film “Capitol Punishment,” Nick Searcy documented the cases of “two 74-year-old grandmothers, twin sisters, who went into the building because they saw some people going in and out,” he said.
“They walked up to the door and they saw the police standing there inside and they asked them if it was ok … to come in and they said, ‘Yes.’ They went inside the Capitol building, took a few selfies, walked back out. Two weeks later — ‘boom, boom, boom’ — the FBI is at their door.”
The most common crimes listed among the more than 700 people the DOJ has charged are entering a restricted building and “parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building.”
Given all the violence and mayhem to which the DOJ turned a blind eye in recent history, Trump, if he ever becomes president again, or President Joe Biden now should pardon all the nonviolent protesters.
And Trump saying at least some Jan. 6 protesters should receive a pardon certainly does not make him “unfit.”