Culture Wars/Current Controversies

Jan. 6 shows impunity is the rule for American elites

By Ryan Cooper The Week

One year ago today, a violent mob of right-wing extremists stormed the heart of American democracy trying to keep then-President Donald Trump in power after his election loss. Egged on by Trump and his top cronies, they seriously injured dozens of Capitol Police officers, disrupted the election certification, threatened the lives of congressional Democrats and then-Vice President Mike Pence, and wreaked havoc inside the Capitol itself.

As my colleague David Faris writes, there’s presently little sign Democrats are capable of using their congressional majorities to patch the holes in the electoral framework Trump tried to exploit. But there’s a much more obvious and straightforward step President Biden and Attorney General Merrick Garland could take: throwing Trump and his accomplices in jail.

In a speech on Wednesday, Garland insisted he “remains committed to holding all Jan. 6 perpetrators, at any level, accountable under law — whether they were present that day or were otherwise criminally responsible.” If that’s true, why have only the rabble had their days in court?

Trump whipped up his putsch in public, right in front of live television cameras. The evidence necessary to bring charges has been visible for an entire year, yet Garland has done nothing. Most observers expect neither Trump nor any of his closest aides will face prosecution, because impunity is the rule for elites in this country. And if that expectation is correct, he or someone like him will try to seize power again, by fraud or force, and sooner or later will succeed.


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