The FBI defines domestic terrorism as “Violent, criminal acts committed by individuals and/or groups to further ideological goals stemming from domestic influences, such as those of a political, religious, social, racial, or environmental nature.” Its leadership concedes that most of the concern centers on white supremacist groups. We saw that Wednesday as rioters charged the Capitol building with Confederate flags and Nazi paraphernalia on full display.
Still, even though the FBI tracks domestic terrorism, there isn’t one law that makes it a crime. But there are plenty of statutes federal prosecutors can use in the fight against it. In the absence of specific statutes, like the ones written to combat foreign terrorism, the entire criminal code becomes part of the prosecutor’s playbook. So what laws might we expect to see prosecutors use after Wednesday?
1. Seditious Conspiracy
It’s a crime for two or more people to agree to try — they don’t have to actually accomplish their illegal objective — to interfere with the central functions of our government. The statute specifically contemplates that it’s a crime to delay or hinder the enforcement of laws, and since the goal on Wednesday was to prevent Congress from formalizing President-elect Joe Biden’s win, it’s possible that on the more serious end of the spectrum, we could see charges of seditious conspiracy, which carry a 20-year maximum sentence.
Solicitation is a crime that involves procuring another person to commit a crime for you. The federal statute is limited to solicitation of crimes that involve the use of force against people or property. We saw plenty of that on Wednesday. The key issue here is likely to be whether there is evidence that anyone involved in the pro-Trump rally Wednesday morning or earlier efforts to get people to Washington, D.C., for the day intended that they would overrun and damage the Capitol building rather than engaging in peaceful assembly and protest. If prosecutors secure evidence of intent, which could be available, for instance, in the form of prior statements captured on videotape, anyone who “solicit[ed], command[ed], induce[d], or otherwise endeavor[ed] to persuade” other people to participate in the insurrection could be sentenced to up to half as much time as the sentence the law provides for the crimes that were committed. read more…
3. Homicide and Assault
4. Possession of Firearms and Explosives
5. Interstate Travel in Aid of Racketeering
6. Restricted Area Violations
7. Local DC Vandalism and Trespassing