Right-wing quality media and Republican politicians person often made the comparison. Now, successful a constrictive ineligible context, a justice volition see the argument.
Published July 23, 2021Updated July 24, 2021, 12:23 a.m. ET
The examination has go a staple among right-wing figures successful the quality media and Republican politicians: The onslaught connected the Capitol connected Jan. 6 was truly nary antithetic than the unrest past twelvemonth that accompanied months of radical justness protests. Any treatment of the archetypal should — retired of fairness, they person said — marque notation to the second.
Now, for the archetypal time, a national tribunal is poised to see the merits of that argument, albeit successful a constrictive ineligible context.
The determination comes successful the lawsuit of Garret Miller, a Dallas antheral charged with storming the Capitol and facing disconnected with officers inside. Last month, Mr. Miller, 34, raised what is known arsenic a selective prosecution defense, claiming that helium had been charged with convulsive crimes due to the fact that of his blimpish beliefs portion dozens of leftist activists successful Portland, Ore., had akin charges stemming from past year’s unit reduced oregon dismissed.
“Mr. Miller has been treated otherwise by the authorities than the Portland rioters based upon the authorities involved,” his lawyer wrote.
On Thursday, the authorities rebutted Mr. Miller’s claims, suggesting successful tribunal papers that a agleam enactment stood betwixt the nationwide protests past summertime and the storming of the Capitol successful January. While prosecutors acknowledged that those arrested during weeks of unrest astatine Portland’s national courthouse had committed “serious offenses,” they insisted that the suspects successful Washington were progressive successful “a singular and chilling lawsuit successful U.S. history” that threatened not lone the information of the Capitol but besides “democracy itself.”
While selective prosecution defenses seldom succeed, the government’s filing successful Mr. Miller’s lawsuit was an antithetic illustration successful which the Justice Department opened a model connected its decision-making process successful the abstracted prosecutions, which right-leaning partisans person agelong sought to connect.
The effort to equate the unrest successful Portland with the aboriginal unit successful Washington was critical, for example, successful arguments by Republican senators for sinking a bipartisan, 9/11-style committee to analyse the events of Jan. 6. The examination was raised again this week by Republicans similar Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, who criticized the Democratic program to analyse the Capitol battle with a prime legislature committee.
“It’s important to constituent retired that Democrats created this environment,” Mr. Jordan said, “sort of normalizing rioting, normalizing looting, normalizing anarchy, successful the summertime of 2020, and I deliberation that’s an important portion of accusation to look into.”
Mr. Miller’s ineligible statement rests connected an investigation of 74 transgression cases stemming from the courthouse attacks successful Portland. In astir 30 of those cases, prosecutors yet dropped the charges, according to his lawyer, F. Clinton Broden. In a twelve much cases, defendants were offered a dismissal upon completion of a pretrial diversion program. Three Portland defendants, Mr. Broden noted, were allowed by the authorities to plead blameworthy to “significantly reduced charges.”
The reason, Mr. Broden said, was politics.
“Most, if not all, of the Portland dismissals, offers of pretrial diversion, and pleas to importantly reduced charges came aft a alteration from the Republican medication to the Democratic medication moving the Department of Justice,” helium wrote.
Prosecutors disputed Mr. Broden’s calculations arsenic a preliminary matter, arguing that they contained “inaccuracies,” but the government’s filing besides sought to marque a broader constituent that determination was much astatine involvement successful Washington connected Jan. 6 than successful weeks of turmoil successful Portland.
Mr. Miller, prosecutors noted, was “part of a mob” that “breached the Capitol building, and assaulted instrumentality enforcement with the extremity of impeding legislature certification of the 2020 statesmanlike election.” The defendants successful Portland, they pointed out, ne'er really broke into the courthouse and ne'er disrupted a proceeding earlier Congress.
The prosecutors besides argued that they person amended grounds against Mr. Miller — and the hundreds of different rioters charged successful transportation with Jan. 6 — than they ever managed to get against the protesters successful Portland.
In the days starring to the Capitol attack, tribunal papers say, Mr. Miller posted messages connected Facebook, talking astir a imaginable civilian warfare and the illness of the economy, and suggesting that helium mightiness instrumentality firearms to Washington. On the time of the riot, the papers say, surveillance videos amusement him pushing past officers and entering the Capitol portion others amusement him confronting the constabulary wrong successful “a warring stance with 1 of his legs successful beforehand of the other.”
Moreover, prosecutors say, successful the days that followed the riot, Mr. Miller posted messages connected Twitter threatening to “assassinate” Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat of New York. He is besides accused of threatening the serviceman who fatally changeable a woman, Ashli Babbit, successful the Capitol by posting a photograph of a noose connected Instagram and writing, “He volition swing.”
That benignant of damning grounds tends not to beryllium successful the Portland cases, prosecutors said. In those matters, they contend, the government’s impervious was often based connected constabulary officers struggling to place suspects “on a darkened plaza with throngs of people.” Evidence similar that, they added, “could beryllium challenged astatine trial,” offering a proposition astir wherefore truthful galore cases successful the West person been dismissed.
Mr. Miller’s motion, which volition beryllium considered by Judge Carl J. Nichols of Federal District Court successful Washington, was lone the latest effort by a Capitol Hill suspect to onslaught the charges against him. Other defendants person challenged the applicability of definite statutes oregon person sought to determination their trials retired of Washington, arguing that section jurors are excessively wide to springiness them just trials.
But Mr. Miller’s selective prosecution assertion is the archetypal truthful acold to impeach the authorities of blatantly playing authorities successful the Jan. 6 probe — an accusation that prosecutors denied.
“Stripped to its core,” the prosecutors wrote, “Miller relies connected fertile conjecture successful suggesting that governmental favoritism has guided the government’s charging and plea decisions.”