Prosecutors have obvious legal grounds to hold Donald Trump liable for encouraging the insurgency at the US Capitol on January 6th.
One day after Steve Bannon turned himself into authorities to face criminal charges for refusing to cooperate with a congressional subpoena, CNN’s Brianna Keilar spoke with former federal prosecutor Paul Rosenzweig about possible charges.
“Is there enough to charge Trump or any ally with sedition?” Keilar asked.
“Sedition is a really hard charge to prove because you have to prove intent to commit violence,” Rosenzweig replied.
“Trump is a master at hiding the ball. Kind of like Henry II years ago, ‘Will nobody rid me of this troublesome priest?’ Everybody took that as an order to kill [Archbishop of Canterbury] Thomas Becket, but the king could say, ‘I didn’t actually mean that.’ Trump says, ‘Will nobody save my election?’ When they get violent and try to save the election, he can say, ‘No, I didn’t mean to be violent like that, I meant legally.’ He has some deniability at this point, unless we get testimony from inside the room from his closest allies, like Steve Bannon, about what the president actually said, what they actually intended that day, in advance in terms of violence, or afterward, once the violence was going on, what they intended by letting it continue, it’ll be a tough case to make,” he explained.
“So then what is the legal recourse?” Keilar asked.
“Well, in some ways, the best legal recourse is to take the law and fix it so that the president can’t do this over again,” Rosenzweig replied.
“For me, if I were doing this, I would actually be thinking about something like local assault conspiracy charges,” he explained. “The District of Columbia has all of the laws that any other state or territory does against violence, and the president was, at a minimum, I think, an instigator and complicit in that,” he said. “I think that there would probably be viable charges in that regard.”
A retired FBI special agent Clint Watts, Trump adviser Steve Bannon’s indictment on Friday was important to safeguard the rule of law.
According to Watts, an MSNBC national security analyst, the disadvantage is that Bannon would surely use the indictment to enrage former President Donald Trump’s fans.
“It had to be pushed to this level, and I’m thankful that it (was),” Watts told the network’s Deadline: White House program on Friday afternoon. “What I would say, though, is while it seems dumb legally, in terms of politics, for Steve Bannon’s orbit and the information environment, this is what they were hoping for in some ways, which is now they have a new war they can fight. It’s always looking to poke a fight or provoke a fight and develop a new war in the social media space and the information space to rally a base that does not have much to cheer about.”
With former President Donald Trump banned from major social media platforms, the national dialogue is “just not what it was one or two years ago.”
I don’t care what you think the electoral outcome was, the enthusiasm has been dying,” Watts said. “So this gives them one more thing, and this is Steve Bannon’s war, and he’s always said ‘the war on the administrative state,’ and he’s trying to provoke that war, and I’m sure we’re going to see a continuation of this, and it won’t go quietly.”
Bannon will be “seen as a political martyr, which would then inflame these groups,” according to MSNBC contributor and Princeton University professor Eddie Glaude.
“In some ways, our worry about inflaming the opposition has led to us being cautious, but it seems to me that this is a step necessary in order to protect our democracy, and if we didn’t do it, we would in some ways seal our fate,” Glaude added.
We are “entering a dangerous phase,” added David Rohde, executive editor of the New Yorker magazine.