Last Thursday, in a bit of theater fit for our times, Congressional leadership ordered the fencing around the Capitol reinstalled, ostensibly to protect against the several dozen protestors anticipated on Saturday.
This fencing – 8 feet high encompassing the entire Capitol grounds — is a physical manifestation of the unfortunate politicization of the events of January 6th and the inability of Congressional leadership to differentiate between the trivial (politics) and the critical (preservation of rights).
As you probably know, about 600 people have been arrested in connection with the events of January 6th. Almost all plea deals (about 80 so far) have involved misdemeanors and sentences equivalent to time served or probation. There have been two felony pleas, both for obstructing an official proceeding (which, let’s be honest, is a charge on which the 40,000 registered lobbyists in Washington might be tried).
The felony plea resulted in an eight-month sentence in the first case (half the prosecution’s 16-month recommendation). The second case that of the QAnon shaman carries with a Justice Department recommendation for a sentence of 41 to 51 months. The judge will likely give the defendant less than two years.
Do you know what hasn’t happened in the almost nine months since January 6th? No one has been charged with treason, conspiracy to overthrow the United States government, attempted murder, or even use of a firearm in the commission of a felony.
That’s probably because there was no treason or insurrection, or murder. Virtually none of those who entered the Capitol on that day were armed, despite the very high likelihood that they all owned weapons.
The only homicide that occurred on January 6th was when a Capitol police officer shot and killed one of the trespassers. He was, not surprisingly, cleared by a panel of other law enforcement officers.
The only Capitol police officer killed in 2021 has been Officer William Evans, who was killed in April by Noah Green. That unfortunate incident, however, was contrary to the narrative of the Congressional leadership and their allies in the media. So, it is not routinely mentioned.
The simple truth about January 6th is that the media created and nurtures the narrative of an insurrection because it matches their political biases, not because it conforms to any known facts.
For their part, the judicial system is doing what it does best: ascertaining facts, assigning blame, and issuing measured and balanced punishments. Through the creation of the wholly political and partisan commission to examine the events of January 6th, Congressional leadership has made clear its disdain for the judicial system.
They want to punish without going through the tedious, careful business of ascertaining facts and determining guilt. Nothing makes the indifference of Congressional leaders to our legal processes more evident than their overreach in seeking communications and documents from companies and individuals that are almost certainly protected by the 1st and 4th amendments, as well as executive and probably attorney-client privilege.
Democratic leadership, driven by electoral politics, vengeance, and intellectual myopia, are willing to scythe through legal processes and constitutional protections to score trivial political points.
This brings us back to the fence. Walls between those who govern and those who are governed are rare in healthy societies, commonplace in authoritarian and decaying polities. If you spend some part of your day trying to undermine Constitutional protections and legal processes, maybe you need a fence between you and the people you are supposed to represent.
• Michael McKenna, a columnist for The Washington Times, is the president of MWR Strategies. He was most recently a deputy assistant to President Trump and deputy director of the Office of Legislative Affairs at the White House.