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Former Washington Journalist
Contributor on The Bipartisan Press
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So the first felony guilty pleas are in, in connection with the deadly January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol.
And, granted, they’re just two such pleas. But here’s what we know and what these first felony convictions tell us what we might reasonably expect for future prosecutions.
The first was from Jon Ryan Schaffer, described in court documents as a founding member of the Oath Keepers, while this more recent deal came down Wednesday, and involves a Tampa, Fla., man — Paul Allard Hodgkins, 38 — who carried a Trump flag into the well of the Senate on Jan. 6 pleaded guilty Wednesday to one felony count of storming the Capitol to obstruct Congress’s certification of the 2020 presidential election.
In all, some about 200 are charged with obstructing an official proceeding of Congress and are accused of intending to impede or interfere with Congress’s confirmation of the electoral vote count. The charge carries a maximum 20-year prison term.
What’s good here is that very stiff prison maximum. The threat of heavy jail time led to the first guilty plea, from Schafer, who has agreed on April 16 to cooperate fully with prosecutors.
This is what’s good.
Hodgkins faces a prison sentence of 15 to 21 months under federal guidelines. His sentencing is poised to become a test case watched by other defendants deciding whether to accept pleas, several defense lawyers said.
If this is true, prosecutors have to recommend — and the judge has to sentence — Hodgkins to much more than the guidelines. Especially because unlike Schaffer, Hodgkins is in no cooperation agreement.
With Donald Trump reportedly rumbling that somehow he will be “reinstated” as president by August, there must be all deterrents set in place to dissuade his mob of violent supporters from trying again.
And nothing will say that more than the promise of hard time — very hard time.
So I promised you the “flat-out crazy” to watch for here. What is it?
It’s this: Podcaster Farron Cousins has reported that a number of those rioters charged in connection with the insurrection are actually turning down plea deals.
Prosecutors have been offering such deals to those who took part whom the prosecutors think could lead them to the organizers higher up.
But a significant number are saying, “No thanks.”
Because, says Cousins, they’ve told prosecutors that — deluded as it may be — they are sure that somehow Trump will actually save them from prison at the last minute.
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