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Friday, January 22, 2021

Notes on the Insurrection

Tom Dreisbach and Meg Anderson at NPR:
As a violent mob descended on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, lawmakers and aides hid wherever they could, waiting for the military and police to arrive. But many of those who stormed the Capitol were military veterans themselves, who had once sworn to protect the Constitution. In fact, an NPR analysis has found that nearly 1 in 5 people charged over their alleged involvement in the attack on the U.S. Capitol appear to have a military history.

NPR compiled a list of individuals facing federal or District of Columbia charges in connection with the events of Jan. 6. Of more than 140 charged so far, a review of military records, social media accounts, court documents and news reports indicate at least 27 of those charged, or nearly 20%, have served or are currently serving in the U.S. military. To put that number in perspective, only about 7% of all American adults are military veterans, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Amy Worden and Marisa Iati at WP:

A Pennsylvania woman accused of helping to steal a laptop from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office during the attack on the U.S. Capitol in Washington was ordered released from detention Thursday and placed in her mother’s custody.

Riley June Williams, 22, must stay in the home she shares with her mother and abide by other conditions of release, including avoiding contact with any witnesses or victims of the Jan. 6 Capitol storming. Federal Magistrate Judge Martin Carlson said he was releasing Williams in part because she had no prior criminal record, but he warned her that her mother, Wendy Williams, could be criminally charged if she fails to report to the court any violations of the conditions of release.

Unofficial transcript:

Miss Williams, when we met on Tuesday, one of the first things I did was advise you of your constitutional rights. And then I took steps to protect those rights by appointing aggressive, effective counsel to represent you here. That recital of rights wasn't just some hollow invocation of abstract principles. It was affirmation of the rights guaranteed to you by the United States Constitution. And it strikes me that that guarantee says something extraordinary and extraordinarily good about our Constitution. You are embraced by a presumption of innocence.

You are entitled to the assistance of counsel. You have a right to remain silent. All of these matters guaranteed to you by the Constitution, a constitution that protects the rights of those who are accused of transgressing society's rules. Some of the most basic of those rules are set forth in our Constitution. And one of the fundamental pillars of that constitution is the peaceful transition of power. That obligation that all citizens have to facilitate the peaceful transfer of power, it has been honored by generations of Americans for two hundred and thirty two years, it has become so commonplace that we often think very little of it.

But as President Reagan said in his inaugural, that process is a miracle. The allegations that bring you before me involve conduct that allegedly took place on January 6th of this year as Congress was endeavoring to fulfill its constitutional obligation to certify the will of the people and the votes of the Electoral College. You are cloaked in a presumption of innocence with respect to these matters. But the allegations set forth in the complaint relate to conduct that was antithetical to these constitutional values, conduct that involved a riot, a mob that sought to replace constitutional norms with the howling of a crowd.

We know now that the mob failed and the Constitution prevailed. The Constitution prevailed on January 6th of this year because Congress, stepping over the wreckage of its capital, met. and confirmed the vote of the Electoral College, setting the stage for the latest peaceful transition of power in this country yesterday. In the wake of those events on January 6th, it strikes me that the Constitution prevailed yet again in the wake of those events, the men and women of federal law enforcement, including the federal investigator and the assistant US attorney, the federal prosecutor involved in this case, fulfilled a duty that they had under the Constitution. They have sworn an oath under the Constitution to protect and defend that Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

And in pursuit of that constitutional obligation, a series of investigations have been launched into the matters that took place on January 6th. And those investigations have brought us here today together. It also occurs to me, Miss Williams, in a very personal and direct way, that the Constitution has is and will be prevailing in your case. As I noted a few moments ago when we first met, I invoked the Constitution on your behalf and I took steps to protect your constitutional rights by appointing counsel for you, your counsel.

Fulfilling the role of the Constitution contemplated has aggressively represented your interests here today. Wouldn't you agree, Miss Oelrich? [The judge at this point turns to the court appointed public defender in this case]. Wouldn't you agree, Miss Oelrich, that you have aggressively represented your client's interests here today?

Yes, Your Honor, I spent the last two days doing a lot of investigating. 

[And the judge turns to the prosecutor] On behalf of the United States, it is my view that over the past two days, you and your colleagues here and elsewhere have endeavored to fulfill your constitutional obligation to provide equal justice under the law to ensure the protection of individual rights and liberties while ensuring adherence to the rule of law.[

[And then the judge turns back to the defendant, Miss Williams, he says] so Miss Williams, in a very real and direct sense, you are being released today because the Constitution has prevailed, because your counsel has fulfilled her constitutional obligation and because the United States is also fulfilling its constitutional duty to strike hard blows but fair blows in the pursuit of justice. So, Miss Williams, I share that thought with you as you leave here today, that your freedom today, conditioned as it is by the orders that I have entered as a result of the prevailing of the Constitution.

And I'll leave you with this final thought, Miss Williams. The judge closes with us. The Constitution prevails here today and the Constitution will always prevail in this country.