Donald Trump has spent a long time pretending that anti-Trump protesters are violent thugs. Not only has he pushed this lie, he went so far as to sign an executive order last summer giving longer prison sentences to people who deface federal property.
The context of the executive order made clear that he was trying to protect Confederate statues, because he’s a white supremacist and a traitor. But the language is more broad than that. For instance it says this: “The desire of the Congress to protect Federal property is clearly reflected in section 1361 of title 18, United States Code, which authorizes a penalty of up to 10 years’ imprisonment for the willful injury of Federal property.”
This executive order hasn’t been particularly relevant since it was signed – until now. This week Donald Trump incited his own supporters to launch a domestic terrorist attack on the U.S. Capitol. In addition to threats against elected officials, several of the perpetrators were seen smashing up the Capitol, which fits under the purview of Trump’s executive order.
In other words, Trump unwittingly laid the groundwork for his own supporters to receive longer prison sentences. He laid out a clear precedent for harsher punishment for someone who smashes a window in the Capitol Building than for someone who merely smashes a window of, say, some restaurant.
At this point Trump supporters’ best hope may be that many of Donald Trump’s executive orders are poorly written and don’t carry the legal weight that he thinks they do. Trump’s executive orders expire when he leaves office, but unfortunately for his supporters, they committed their crimes just days before he’s leaving office.
The legal experts will have to sort it out, but it looks like Trump’s goons are facing serious prison time even if all they did was bust something. Of course the ones who were clearly out for blood will be facing much harsher prison sentences anyway.
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