Dozens of American citizens have been locked up as political prisoners in their own country for more than two months now. They’ve been denied bail. One is a wheelchair-bound Navy veteran who can barely move without assistance, due to injuries he sustained serving our country. Another is an 18-year-old high school senior. Prosecutors are asking federal judges to waive the Capitol protesters’ right to a speedy trial; they want more time to come up with evidence. And in the ultimate example of projection, the liberal-controlled Department of Justice is now using a law that liberals once protested as “fascism” to charge the protesters with a crime.
You’ve probably heard that most of the jailed January 6 protesters have been charged with “obstruction of an official proceeding.” That sounds kind of vague, but close enough to the mark that no reporter will look into the actual statute, and most people won’t stop to question it. The law comes from 18 USC section 1512. And it has nothing to do with obstructing the official business of Congress through protesting.
Section 1512 was originally written as part of the post-Enron financial scandal, in the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. The statute being used against the Capitol protesters reads:
“Whoever corruptly . . . obstructs, influences, or impedes any official proceeding, or attempts to do so, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.”
Since Democrats use sloppy English and are terrible at lawyering, this was one of those fun moments in US history when a Democrat-controlled Senate wrote, amended and passed a bill which then made their own heads explode.
Then-Senator Joe Biden of Delaware was one of the liberals suddenly protesting the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. They discovered that the bill – which they had just written and passed themselves – could be misinterpreted by The Evil One Himself, President George W. Bush, Literally Hitler Bush, to impose FASCISM on America. Fascist Bush would fascist-ly use that passage in the fascist Sarbanes-Oxley Act to send peaceful protesters of Bush’s fascism to a federal prison for 20 years.
Bush could have sent the Democrats’ bill back to them, so that their sloppy language didn’t remain intact. But that would have allowed someone who is actually a good attorney to clarify the law. Instead, Bush made an announcement at the signing ceremony for Sarbanes-Oxley. He made a pinky-swear promise that the word “corruptly” in the statute would only be interpreted by the Justice Department as “with criminal intent.” Peaceful protesters could still protest his fascism without fear of 20 years in prison. And the words “any official proceeding” were not meant to include sessions of Congress, the Supreme Court or other government proceedings.
Just to be clear, Sarbanes-Oxley is a set of laws directed at white collar criminals. Here’s an example:
Let’s say you work at a financial firm on Wall Street. The IRS calls you and says they want to stop by and look at your books next week. “Does Thursday work?” You then set about shredding all of the documents that the IRS wants to look at next week.
That is “corruptly” (and with criminal intent) “disrupting” the “official proceeding” of an IRS investigation. That was pretty much what wealthy executives at Enron and WorldCom did, and the law was intended to ensure it wouldn’t happen again by imposing punishing sanctions against those sorts of actions.
That’s how Sarbanes-Oxley is supposed to be interpreted, and George W. Bush declared that that was exactly how it would be interpreted by the DOJ. But that’s not how Joe Biden’s Attorney General, Merrick Garland, is interpreting it at the DOJ these days. Nope!
Garland, who inexplicably received 20 “Yea” votes from Republican Senators at his confirmation hearing, is throwing the book at peaceful Capitol protesters by applying a financial crimes statute to them. So, a law that was intended to throw Wall Street crooks in $9,000 suits in federal prison for 20 years is instead being used against wheelchair-bound Navy veterans and high school kids.
Prosecutors have called for 70 of the jailed protesters to be held indefinitely without bail, because they don’t believe the results of the 2020 election. That’s… not even supposed to be a crime, is it?
I don’t believe the results of the 2020 election. And if you’re reading this, you may not believe the results of the 2020 election, either. You should probably be aware that’s now a crime. You should know that peacefully protesting the US Congress is also a federal crime now, that could land you in prison for the rest of your life. You know – to prevent fascism.