New York Times "democracy reporter" Nick Corasaniti adopted a vengeful tone in his report on some Trump allies getting their legal comeuppance. The gloating was even in the headline on Wednesday: “After Years of Lies, Election Deniers Face Something New: Consequences.”
For two and a half years, most of Donald J. Trump’s allies in the sprawling effort to overturn the 2020 election escaped consequences, continuing to try to undermine President Biden’s legitimacy by spreading false claims about voting machines, mail ballots and rigged elections.
Now the legal repercussions are arriving.
Speaking of attempts at intimidation, Corasanati appeared to embrace the threat of arrests at a pro-Trump rally as a means of discouraging Trump fans from gathering in support of him.
It is still far from clear whether Mr. Trump and his allies who face charges will ultimately be convicted. But the legal threat may force Trump allies to think twice in the future about repeating their more drastic actions -- tampering with election machines, organizing the fake elector scheme, filing reams of frivolous lawsuits.
Charged for filing lawsuits someone somewhere considers to be frivolous? Aren’t lawsuits a routine method for liberals to get their way? It’s certainly easier going through the courts then actually getting legislation passed.
Then Corasaniti advanced a sinister argument.
In addition to the criminal charges, several lawyers who pushed baseless election claims in court are facing disbarment. And Fox News was forced to pay $787.5 million to settle a defamation suit filed by Dominion Voting Systems over the network’s promotion of misinformation about the 2020 election.
One sign that prosecutions can act as a deterrent has already surfaced. More than 1,100 people were arrested after the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021, according to Justice Department records. More than 630 have pleaded guilty to various charges, and about 110 have been convicted at trial. Almost 600 have been sentenced and, of those, about 370 have served some amount of time behind bars.
Legal experts say those convictions are a key reason that recent provocations by Mr. Trump after his series of indictments have not resulted in mass protests or violence.
“The federal government has made a concerted effort to investigate and prosecute people who stormed the Capitol,” said Renato Mariotti, a former federal prosecutor who is now a partner at Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner. “And I think we’ve seen when Trump tried to rally people in Manhattan or in Florida, not only were the crowds small, but a lot of right-wing influencers were out there telling people: ‘Do not do this. You are going to get arrested.’”
In January 2017, feminists in pink pussy hats protested Trump’s looming inauguration at the Women’s March in D.C. and were greeted with the Times by joy, not the threat of arrest. The Black Lives Matter protests often devolved into rioting, but that violence was underplayed by the paper.
Corasaniti also more or less admitted that the fourth indictment against Trump was a legal stretch, though of course he couched the revelation in terms that wouldn’t frighten his liberal readership.
Part of the challenge for prosecutors is that bringing criminal charges for trying to overturn an election is relatively uncharted legal terrain.