Is there a point where we can charge the Trumpists with sedition?

Without evidence, Donald Trump is claiming that the recent election has been stolen through fraud. Most likely these claims will not go anywhere and are probably theatre to rile up his base and potentially grift from them. Secretaries of state (some of them Republican) have declared that there is no evidence of fraud and that the election was fair. This has been verified by outside non-partisan observers and even partisan poll watchers. This is also very different from the 2000 Presidential election; President-elect Biden has won several key states by margins of tens of thousands of votes that would need to be discarded to give the win to Trump. In 2000 the election was dependent on ~500 votes in a single state. The legal cases that the Trump team has brought to the courts this election have mostly been summarily dismissed as being without evidence or merit. Still, it is possible that this coup will be successful and Trump will serve another 4 years and the American experiment will be over. Most likely he will not succeed and this great nation will continue and hopefully heal.

This topic is about that scenario. Assuming Biden is sworn in as President on January 20th, I seriously doubt that The Donald will cease claiming that the election was stolen and fraudulent. President Trump has a lot of supporters, some of them in official positions in the house, senate, or other government roles that will amplify and repeat these claims. Partisans who value party over country at Fox news and the other right wing infotainment channels will also add to the attempts to delegitimize the Biden administration. Can these bad actors be charged with sedition or other crimes? I know that the sedition acts were all mostly overturned in the 20’s and all that remains is the Smith act which is pretty weak, but we are entering an unprecedented time where a duly elected President of the United States may be viewed as illegitimate by ~40% of the population due to the dishonest and inciting rhetoric of the cult of Trump. Can anything be done about this? Are there any steps that can be taken against these bad actors, or at lease those with a pulpit, from trying to delegitimize the democratically elected government?

And a final comment: I know that a lot of people claimed that President Trump was not legitimate in that he did not get a majority of the popular vote or whatever. The same claims were made about President Bush during and after his adminstration. Hell, a lot of people claimed President Obama was not legitimate either; mostly the birthers but there were others. This is all clearly bullshit and I believe this is a different and much more dangerous case. In the main it was not elected officials or pundits that made these claims but individual citizens with no official standing. We have freedom of speech in this country and people can mostly voice their opinions up until they start yelling fire in a crowded theater. Now, however, we have the President of the United States, a bunch of elected and politically appointed officials including the secretary of state and attorney general, and many popular media figures making thinly veiled or even bold claims that the election was somehow illegitimate. I believe this is dangerous and unprecedented; am I wrong?

I doubt you can charge Trump himself with that particular crime. (Be patient. There’s lots of prosecutions waiting for him.) Unfortunately being an idiot, openly on the internet or on camera, is not a crime in of itself.

Some of his lawyers go into trouble for opening frivolous cases. Judges can actually enact punishment for that.

Rudy Giuliani (hilariously, but semi-accurately) said that if witnesses to the “fraud” lied on the stand, they could be charged with perjury. We should believe them because they’re taking that risk. At least one of the four witnesses lied at that press conference. He was not qualified to be a poll observer in Pennsylvania because you have have to be an eligible Pennsylvania voter to be one… and he’s an eligible voter in New Jersey! Giuliani either didn’t do the basics (said witness is a New Jersey political candidate and was unearthed using that incredibly complex too, Google) or he knew and was promoting perjury and sedition. Giuliani is such a loose cannon it’s probably the former.

I think there might be a few things that could stop being reasonably considered gaslighting at 12:01pm on 20 January 2021.

Who cares what popular media figures claim???

Jenny McCarthy is a popular media figure, and an anti-vaxxer, but no one cares. Why would they?

I’m under the impression (based on the behavior of some of them ) that the “brave whistleblowers” who came forward about Election Fraud may have been promised presidential pardons, at least implicitly.

My understanding is that sedition requires an element of force. So saying the election is fraudulent doesn’t qualify. A sedition charge requires people to commit some physical act.

As the time gets closer, I fully expect Trump to call on this supporters to stop the Inauguration by any means possible.

I think his enablers are going to be sorely tested soon.

IANAL but that might not qualify as sedition (although there are other crimes Trump and his followers could be charged with). The public inauguration is just a public ceremony. From a legal standpoint, they can have a justice show up at Biden’s home and swear him in his kitchen and he’ll be just as much President.

The text of 18 U.S. Code § 2384.Seditious conspiracy:

If two or more persons in any State or Territory, or in any place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, conspire to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States, or to levy war against them, or to oppose by force the authority thereof, or by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States, or by force to seize, take, or possess any property of the United States contrary to the authority thereof, they shall each be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both.

So if Trump’s goons actually marched into the Capital building property, they would be committing sedition by attempting to take the property. But they wouldn’t be doing anything to stop or delay Biden’s inauguration.

In this scenario, the Trump administration would end on a typical note for its existence - breaking the law but ineffectively failing to accomplish the goal it was breaking the law for.

It’s not just Tucker Carlson and Alex Jones and Lou Dobbs. It’s also sitting senators like Lindsey Graham and Ron Johnson and governors like Ron Desantis. At a more practical level are the small town officials like (thankfully former) police chief Lang Holland from Marshall, AR, who believes that Democrats should be assaulted just because they are Democrats.

ETA. Regarding medical advice, what if we’re talking about Dr. Scott Atlas rather than Jenny McCarthy?

I was about to remark that the inauguration will not be in public, and rather difficult to stop. It occurred to me that one of the rumors that will begin is that the inauguration is false because it was not held in public, and Trump is still President.

Relevant xkcd strip.

I think this argument is pretty dumb; Rush Limbaugh has played kingmaker for the GOP for years so obviously some people do care.

My neighbor, an avid Trump supporter, has been posting stuff on his Facebook page about the Election Riot of 1874! He has not come out and explicitly called for violence in defense of Trump, but he pointed to the riot as a bright point in American history and maybe something that we should do now on a national level. I doubt he has a clear picture of what happened in 1874 (at least I hope not!) and thinks this was somehow some application of justice in the history of America. At least this is how he is portraying it in his Facebook page. It has become clear to me over the last couple of weeks that he is far down the rabbit hole in the medie he uses to get his information from.

Still though, I view this kind of talk as really starting to border on sedition. He is coming to a hairs breadth of advocating for the violent overthrow of a duly elected government of the US. Guy was a marine too; clearly a violation of the oath he took.

I really can’t wait until 2020 is over.

You mean like Adams’ victory over Jackson in 1824, where Jackson won the popular vote and the electoral college, but Adams won the presidency, and many popular media figures made bold claims that the result was somehow illegitimate?

I think that American politics has not always been as consensual and apolitical as it is now, but I don’t know this stuff well, and may have this wrong.

It’s time to be humble. Stop thinking of oneself as great. Just strive to be better. Never think you are even close to any goal.