The question isn’t just what we do with the rioters — it’s what we do with the police and FBI who stood by

Biden’s new Attorney General, Merrick Garland, prosecuted the Oklahoma City bombers. He should know what to do with the mob who attacked the Capitol

Alexander Heffner
New York
Thursday 07 January 2021 15:59
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Where the hell was the FBI? Amid the most serious invasion of the United States since 9/11, its director Christopher Wray was silent. No agents or investigators were deployed.

President Trump's incitement of domestic terrorism could not have been telegraphed on Twitter more publicly, and yet the Bureau proved either totally ineffectual or downright negligent.

Law enforcement were not only crippled at the US Capitol but social media has revealed rogue police may have been complicit in the treasonous insurrection. If you thought the premise of "Designated Survivor" was fantasy — actual US government officials and their allies seeking to foment a violent coup — in 2021, some images seem to imply it is not. Whether or not this was a de-escalation strategy or a declaration of ideological sympathy from some individuals is unclear. However, we do know that Black Lives Matter protesters were rarely subject to the same courtesies.

In one of his most obvious acts of treason, Donald Trump refused to dispatch the National Guard. Thankfully, Acting President Pence did so instead.

Speaker Pelosi implores us "to pray that this instigation to violence will provide an epiphany for our country to heal." She and Republican leadership are acting as if doing what they were charged to do legally — certifying the election results — is enough. But we need them to enforce an epiphany of accountability in order to heal.

Appropriately, many Democrats have called anew for the invocation of the 25th Amendment or re-impeachment and conviction of the president — but this doesn't yet have the majority to get over the hump, even after Charlottesville, Helsinki, Lafayette Park, Ukraine, and Raffensperger.

That is why it will be Attorney General Designee Judge Merrick Garland's job to ensure swift leadership and legal punishment for 1/6's domestic terrorists and political allies.

There is not only poetic justice in that Garland was refused a hearing for his Supreme Court nomination by the very Republicans who have enabled Donald Trump's destructive behavior. A little over a quarter of a century ago, Judge Garland was responsible for prosecuting the Oklahoma City bombing, another act of domestic terrorism that victimized the American people.

In his first act as AG, Garland must undertake a comprehensive prosecution and investigation of today’s domestic terrorists and observe authoritatively that any politicians — and social media platforms, for that matter — that incite hateful, seditious, and anti-democratic conduct will face legal scrutiny in the future.

Yesterday, Donald Trump and the Sedition Caucus enacted the insurrection of QAnon conspiracy message boards and literally enabled the executive branch to attack the legislative branch.

Donald Trump, Josh Hawley, and Ted Cruz are effectively QAnon, and the domestic terrorists who invaded the Capitol this week, and those digital instigators who would host, aid, and abet criminal conduct, must be treated by the new AG no differently than the plotters of the Oklahoma bombing.

Recovery from this day of infamy and the domestic terrorism emboldened by Trump against Americans must be at the forefront of restoring DOJ's integrity. 

Consider replacing Christopher Wray, too, after yesterday’s deplorable performance. The Biden administration's FBI must actively thwart and counteract domestic terorrism, not just recognize its threat for show. It's one thing to point out the resurgence of domestic terrorism, as Wray has testified in Congress; it's another to comprehensively hold politicians and social media platforms legally responsible for their promotion of violent disunion.

If we're honest, Donald Trump's incitement on the Capitol is just the latest in an onslaught of attacks on American freedom. His anti-press "enemy of the people" rhetoric fueled the Capital Gazette shooting; his refusal to fully condemn the anti-Semitic Proud Boys who had become some of his biggest supporters promoted the massacre on Pittsburgh Tree of Life congregants; and his false accusations about political opponents delivered pipe bombs on the doorsteps of Democrats.  

Redemption requires legal action. In the climate of post-Trump Trumpist terror, Biden's aspiration to heal will not be fulfilled without an AG and FBI who hold past, present, and future seditionists accountable.  

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