Conservative federal judge condemns ‘normalization’ of January 6 while sentencing defiant rioter

By Marshall Cohen | CNN

A federal judge on Wednesday blasted a convicted Jan. 6 rioter for downplaying the attack on the U.S. Capitol and using the kind of revisionist rhetoric that former President Donald Trump often uses during the campaign trial.

“This cannot become normal…We cannot tolerate the normalization of the January 6 riots at the U.S. Capitol,” U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth said in sentencing Taylor James Johnatakis to more than seven years in prison.

The judge warned of a “vicious cycle…that could put our institutions at risk” if Americans, unhappy with future election results, resort to the “vigilantism, anarchy and lawlessness” that have taken place on January 6, 2021.

He did not refer to Trump by name when sentencing Johnatakis, but the comparisons were clear. After Johnatakis’ conviction in November, he echoed Trump’s rhetoric in interviews about the insurrection, saying “everything about January 6 is just overblown” and calling the Washington, D.C., prison a “gulag “.

Trump used the “January 6 hostages” at the forefront of his campaign. He pledged to pardon some of those indicted for their role in the insurrection. And he performed a song at political rallies in which the voices of January 6 detainees sang the national anthem.

The judge said Wednesday that “the January 6 riot was not civil disobedience” but rather a “corrosive” and “selfish, unpatriotic” affront to the nation, where Americans were “fighting against (their) own representative government.” He cited the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Henry David Thoreau as examples of American historical figures who carried out “peaceful” but powerful acts of civil disobedience.

California Daily Newspapers

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