What today’s Capitol attacker prison sentencing tells us about Donald Trump’s fate

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Back when the very first January 6th defendants were being sentenced, and they were getting super short prison sentences such as fourteen days, it sparked national outrage. But as Palmer Report tried to explain at the time, the first people coming up for sentencing were the people with the simplest and most minor of cases, such as mere trespassing. As time went on, and the more serious attackers with more complex criminal cases came up for sentencing, the sentences were always going to get significantly longer.

Sure enough, we’re now seeing that. Last month a Capitol attacker was given a five-plus year prison sentence. Today a Capitol attacker was given a seven-plus year prison sentence. This is the place we were always going to end up, and frankly, the earlier outrage over 14 day prison sentences was mistaken and wasted outrage over nothing. Of course the media could and should have explained at the time that the sentences were going to get much longer, but why would the media do that when it could instead stoke outrage for short term ratings?

That said, there is one aspect of today’s sentencing that needs to be discussed. The DOJ accused this attacker of being a domestic terrorist and asked for a fifteen year prison sentence. The judge rejected this, and instead gave the defendant seven years. It serves as a reminder that different judges are going to handle criminal cases in different ways, and that the DOJ has to come to the table with overwhelmingly comprehensive criminal cases in order to ensure that defendants get sent to prison at all. If the DOJ had cut corners in this particular criminal case, this overly lenient judge could have used it as an opportunity to give the defendant far less than the seven years he got.


Take a moment to imagine if this particular judge ends up being the judge in the DOJ’s inevitable criminal case against Donald Trump. Think about how overwhelming the DOJ’s case would need to be in order to get this judge to give Trump the harsh prison sentence he deserves after he’s convicted. It’s why the DOJ can’t just rush into court with charges that will “probably” result in a conviction. It has to be so overwhelming as to be open and shut. Most federal judges aren’t as lenient as the judge in today’s sentencing. But do you really want to take that chance when it comes to the DOJ putting Trump on trial? It’s worth it for the DOJ to take the time to make its case against Trump judge-proof, jury-proof, and appeal-proof, before indicting Trump.

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