Repercussion of Insurrection: Instigator and Perpetrator

So… what now?


The attempted coup on the Capitol of the United States simultaneously shocked some and didn’t surprise others. On one hand, republicans and democrats alike were aghast at how people just like them could break into one of the most secure perimeters in the nation outside the Pentagon and Area 51, and on the other, they saw it coming for a long time. As the pressure built up before, during, and after the 2020 election with claims of fraud and unfairness, using agitation and intimidation, it was only a matter of time before democracy shattered under the weight. What is done is done, and now come the consequences, which brings a good question: What exactly ARE the consequences? For both the inciters and incited?

To understand what is going to *legally* happen to these folks, we need to understand what insurrection and sedition are. The legal definition of insurrection is, “acts of violence against the state or its officers. This distinguishes the crime from sedition, which is the organized incitement to rebellion or civil disorder against the authority of the state.” So, insurrection would be the rioters and sedition would be Trump and his goons. Now, what are the legal repercussions for such actions?

Derived from the Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute online, U.S. Code Title 18 Section 2383 states that, “Whoever incites, sets on foot, assists, or engages in any rebellion or insurrection against the authority of the United States or the laws thereof, or gives aid or comfort thereto, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.” The assistance and engagement of the attack on the Capitol, very clearly stated, would result in prison time for no more than ten years, INCLUDING the incitement of said attacks. Insurrection AND sedition both fall under the jurisdiction of this title, a beautiful, convenient, and entirely logical title that seems almost too perfect to be true in light of the Capitol attack. The rioters would most certainly get up to ten years in prison and, if convicted, so would Trump.

Now, there are questions yet to be answered such as “Can’t Trump pardon all the rioters?” and “Is Trump even guilty of incitement (sedition)?” The answers to those being an unfortunate yes and a more reluctant maybe. There are definitely others to blame, such as news outlets perpetuating a false narrative of a stolen election, making avid Trump supporters angry and vengeful, and constituents of the president, but the head honcho is what i’m concerned with at the moment.

During his speech shortly before the riot, Trump used the word “fight” more that twenty times. Of course, context matters. “And we fight. We fight like hell. And if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.” Under a legal lens, this isn’t directly inciting particular violence against anyone specifically, and Trump would most certainly be protected under the First Amendment as most political speeches are.

Other statements, such as Trump tweeting, “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country… USA demands the truth!” AS rioters were inside the halls of Congress actively looking for representatives, congressmen, and more specifically Mike Pence to presumably do great harm to, were incredibly foolish to make on the president’s part. Context matters, and trashing the vice president as rioters were in the Capitol as the president, with such fans willing to go so far as to commit a highly illegal offense just cause you said, definitely didn’t help them quell their blood-lust.

In my opinion, I don’t think that *legally* Trump incited specific violence to specific people, but he definitely is to blame for the march on the Capitol in the first place. The whole shebang wouldn’t have happened if he hadn’t told his supporters to fight like hell down at the Capitol, to stop the steal, to fight for their freedom.