Trump’s compassionate expression of ideas in his speech falls far short of inciting a riot

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Trump supporters say that he did not incite a riot during his speech made shortly before the nation’s Capital protests–Federal law supports this contention.

“Marine veteran Tony Good traveled from Florida and walked to the Ellipse to hear President Donald Trump speak in the morning. He said Trump didn’t incite violence in his speech.

‘No, absolutely not. There’s a line between inciting to riot and standing on convictions,’ Good told The Epoch Times. ‘He wasn’t telling anybody to riot; he was telling them it’s our right to protest. That’s a right we have in America.’

Good said, ‘We just got to regroup. We’re fighting an evil system. When you have all the mainstream media against you, and you have all the money going against you, it’s not going to be that easy,’ he said.

Elizabeth Rowell flew alone from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to join the protests. She found Trump’s speech to be ‘passionate,’ but not to the point of incitement to riot,” the Federalist reports.  

Federal law provides:

(a)  Whoever travels in interstate or foreign commerce or uses any facility of interstate or foreign commerce, including, but not limited to, the mail, telegraph, telephone, radio, or television, with intent–

(1)  to incite a riot; or

(2)  to organize, promote, encourage, participate in, or carry on a riot; or

(3)  to commit any act of violence in furtherance of a riot; or

(4) to aid or abet any person in inciting or participating in or carrying on a riot or committing any act of violence in furtherance of a riot; and who either during the course of any such travel or use or thereafter performs or attempts to perform any other overt act for any purpose specified in subparagraph (A), (B), (C), or (D) of this paragraph

The complete text of the statute is here.  

 As used in this chapter, the term “to incite a riot” or “to organize, promote, encourage, participate in, or carry on a riot” includes, but is not limited to, urging or instigating other persons to riot, but shall not be deemed to mean the mere oral or written (1) advocacy of ideas or (2) expression of belief, not involving advocacy of any act or acts of violence or assertion of the rightness of, or the right to commit, any such act or acts.

The President Did Not Violate the Federal Statute

It is clear that the President did not advocate for acts of violence; he expressed his ideas about the election’s legitimacy and related matters.  

Some analyze the Anti-Riot Act and conclude that Trump could be charged. Findlaw writers make the following observations:

Applying the Anti-Riot Act to Wednesday’s Events

“Federal law prohibits inciting a riot. Under 18 U.S.C. §2101, anyone who uses interstate travel to organize, promote, encourage, participate in, or carry on a riot; or commit any act of violence in furtherance of a riot; or aid or abet any person doing the above is guilty of a federal crime.

Trump, of course, encouraged and gathered supporters from across the country to attend his rally. Congress passed a law in 1960 defining a riot in D.C. as a “public disturbance involving an assemblage of 5 or more persons which by tumultuous and violent conduct or the threat thereof creates grave danger of damage or injury to property or persons.”

Did Trump’s actions amount to inciting a riot? There’s a strong argument to be made. Here are some of his remarks at the “Save America” rally on January 6. These are presented in order, so you’ll notice the rhetoric gets more extreme later in the speech.

  • “You don’t concede when there’s theft involved.”
  • “We’re gathered together in the heart of our nation’s capital for one very, very basic and simple reason, to save our democracy.”
  • “I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard. Today we will see whether Republicans stand strong for the integrity of our elections, but whether or not they stand strong for our country.”
  • “We’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them because you’ll never take back our country with weakness.”
  • “Our brightest days are before us; our greatest achievements still wait. I think one of our great achievements will be election security because nobody, until I came along, had any idea how corrupt our elections were.

And again, most people would stand there at 9:00 in the evening and say, ‘I want to thank you very much,’ and they go off to some other life, but I said something’s wrong here. Something’s really wrong. It can’t have happened. And we fight. We fight like Hell, and if you don’t fight like Hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.”

  • “So, we’re going to, we’re going to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue, I love Pennsylvania Avenue, and we’re going to the Capitol, and we’re going to try and give… The Democrats are hopeless. They’re never voting for anything, not even one vote. But we’re going to try and give our Republicans, the weak ones because the strong ones don’t need any of our help; we’re going to try and give them the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country.”

Particularly the last comment, which concluded a speech that lasted for more than an hour and focused mostly on allegations that the 2020 election was stolen, should be seen by any objective measure as encouraging or promoting a riot.

 Trump promised to go with his supporters and told them to march on the Capitol building after repeatedly saying they needed to fight to protect their country, or they wouldn’t have a country anymore.

While Trump was lying when he said he would go with them, promising that he would embolden the crowd. Trump then failed to immediately call for peace after the rioting started and failed to call in the National Guard – Vice President Pence had to do so. Source”: Findlaw

We find Findlaw’s opinion, unpersuasive.

President Trump’s remarks were consistent with what he said all-along—the election had been stolen from him.

Findlaw’s position that Trump’s comments about the election being stolen are an “objective measure as encouraging or promoting a riot” is wrong.

The small number of lawbreakers at the protest were operating under their feelings formed since the election. Nothing Trump said encouraged them to commit acts of violence.

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