One of the brave police officers who defended the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 testified before Congress Tuesday that some of the men who attacked him seemed — by their demeanor, attire or tactics — to have military or law enforcement experience. This, of course, has been established already. At least 45 of the approximately 450 overall defendants have ties to the US military, according to a CNN review of records.
But then there are the rest — those who never got near military service but enlisted in Trump’s “Stop the Steal” army and joined in attacking Capitol and Metro cops on the day Congress was to certify Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election. Many of the attackers said, “Trump sent us,” according to testimony, and it should be pretty clear by now, if it wasn’t already, that Donald Trump should be in prison for inciting insurrection. He would have been convicted of that by the U.S. Senate if the Republican Party had not become thoroughly Trumpified. The GOP is merely the political arm of the loser’s army, its members either ignoring what happened on Jan. 6 or joining Trump in revising it into a love fest or robust tourist visit. It’s more than disgusting. It’s a toxic mindset that continues to threaten democracy.
Trump has inspired white men with grievances, and racists are prominent among them. And clearly, many of them think it will take violence to preserve the America they want. Trump summoned the angry white male from his brooding and made him feel vital.
You take racist politics, toxic masculinity and the ever-easy access to guns — a nation with a high tolerance for gun violence — and the threat to the civil order and democracy remains.
But here’s some good news: The justice system will not let it stand. The Capitol attackers are being prosecuted and, across America, state and federal authorities are taking threats of political violence seriously.
What follows is the full press release issued Tuesday by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Baltimore about the prosecution of a Maryland man who was a member of the loser’s army. Note the parts I’ve put in italics. You can be sure that James Dale Reed is not the only soldier out there.
Baltimore, Maryland – U.S. District Judge Ellen L. Hollander today sentenced James Dale Reed, age 42, of Frederick, Maryland, to seven months in federal prison and four months of home detention, followed by three years of supervised release, for threats to a major candidate for President or Vice President—specifically, making threats against then-former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris. Judge Hollander gave Reed credit toward his sentence for time served in federal custody since February 24, 2021. A federal criminal complaint for the same charge was filed against Reed on October 21, 2020 and he was also convicted of related state election law charges in Frederick County Circuit Court.
The sentence was announced by Acting United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Jonathan F. Lenzner and Special Agent in Charge Bo Keane of the United States Secret Service – Baltimore Field Office.
“Making threats against candidates and fellow citizens for their political beliefs undermines our democracy and will not be tolerated,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Jonathan F. Lenzner. “This sentence reflects our commitment to holding accountable anyone who seeks to intimidate, harass or dissuade Americans from exercising their right to vote and to peacefully support the candidate of their choice.”
According to Reed’s guilty plea and court documents, on October 4, 2020, a letter threatening candidates for President and Vice President—specifically, then-former Vice President Joe Biden and then-Senator Kamala Harris—with physical harm and execution, was left on the doorstep of a resident in Frederick in the early morning hours. The letter also stated, “…if you are a Biden/Harris supporter you will be targeted. We have a list of homes and addresses by your election signs. We are the ones with those scary guns. We are the ones your children have nightmares about…” The resident had several signs in the yard supporting the candidates threatened in the letter. The likeness of the subject delivering the letter was captured by a door camera and was subsequently identified as Reed.
Investigators learned that Reed had firearms registered to him, including an M4/AR-15 and a 9mm pistol. On October 15, 2020, investigators contacted Reed at his residence and requested palm prints and a more extensive handwriting sample. Reed consented and complied with both requests. Law enforcement then advised Reed of his Miranda rights, which he voluntarily waived. Investigators audio-recorded the waiver and all subsequent questioning. During the interview, Reed admitted that he wrote the letter and delivered it to the first house he saw that had multiple Democratic political signs because he was upset at the political situation.
Following the interview, law enforcement obtained an Extreme Risk Protective Order (ERPO) to seize Reed’s firearms based on misdemeanor charges of voter intimidation and threats of mass violence, and a search warrant for the clothing items visible on the video surveillance. That same evening, law enforcement conducted the search of Reed’s house. The search was limited primarily to the “back room” where Reed stated his guns and military equipment were located. The “back room” that Reed referred to was full of U.S. Army paraphernalia, including many pairs of military-issue uniforms, helmets, plate carriers, and bags/packs. Two grenades without blast caps were also found. The room resembled a U.S. military outpost bunker containing a voluminous supply of maps, books, and documents related to military strategy and history. Law enforcement seized: a Smith & Wesson 9VE handgun; a JC Higgins 20-12 Gauge rifle; a .223 caliber Bushmaster XM15-E25; a Hi Point 995 handgun; and approximately eight ammunition cans with 5.56 and 9mm ammunition and AR-15 carbine magazines. In addition, a military-style “go-bag” was seized along with the jacket Reed wore when he delivered the threatening letter.
As part of his plea agreement, Reed waived his interest in the firearms and ammunition.
Acting United States Attorney Jonathan F. Lenzner commended the U.S. Secret Service for its work in the investigation and thanked the Frederick Police Department for its assistance. Mr. Lenzner thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys James G. Warwick and Joan C. Mathias, who prosecuted the case.