Sorry, Ron DeSantis: January 6 Isn't Going Away
The Florida governor talks out of both sides by promising to "end the weaponization" of DOJ while ignoring DOJs abusive, retaliatory prosecution of Capitol protesters--including his own constituents.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has a canned response when asked any question related to the events of January 6, 2021: It’s time to move on.
On the campaign trail, DeSantis often claims that January 6 will be a losing issue in the general election. The governor repeated that warning at the debate in Milwaukee on Wednesday night, insisting the 2024 election “is not about January 6 of 2021, it’s about January 20 of 2025.”
DeSantis has neatly sidestepped the matter of January 6 since announcing his run for president, entirely avoiding any mention of the date until recently. Radio show host Clay Travis asked DeSantis in May whether he would consider pardoning January 6 defendants if he became president; DeSantis pivoted away from the question to instead talk about the DOJs targeting of pro-life activists and parents protesting at school board meetings.
When pressed, DeSantis again refused to directly reply. “[Any] example of disfavored treatment based on politics or weaponization would be included in that review, no matter how small or how big.”
DeSantis finally can bring himself to say “January 6” but only to dismiss it as a legitimate campaign issue or to blame Donald Trump for what happened that day. Cribbing talking points from Nancy Pelosi’s January 6 select committee, DeSantis recently told a crowd of supporters that Trump failed to stop the protest at the Capitol despite Trump’s inability to do so. “I think it was shown how [Trump] was in the White House and didn’t do anything while things were going on. He should have come out more forcefully,” DeSantis said in South Carolina last month.
Yet no matter how hard DeSantis tries to rewrite the account of January 6 or wish away the issue on the campaign trail, it’s not going anywhere. And contrary to his claims, it is Democrats, not Republicans, who plan to make January 6 a key if not the top issue in the 2024 election.
Proceedings in Special Counsel Jack Smith’s federal case and Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’ state case will remain the focus of Joe Biden’s re-election campaign. Team Biden plans to remind Americans every day how close Donald Trump came to “overthrowing democracy” on January 6 and that the country cannot take a chance by electing the MAGA-Terrorist-In-Chief again. That strategy also will apply to DeSantis if he is the nominee.
No Escaping the Democrats’ Noose of January 6
What DeSantis clearly doesn’t see coming is how Democrats will hang January 6 around his neck if he defeats Trump for the nomination. After all, it’s no coincidence that Florida by far has the greatest number of defendants charged in DOJ’s criminal prosecution of January 6. Florida residents currently represent roughly 10 percent of the total caseload.
Florida also is home to the highest number of defendants convicted of seditious conspiracy, a crime tantamount to treason. Next week, two Florida residents—Enrique Tarrio and Joseph Biggs—will be sentenced for seditious conspiracy and other January 6 related convictions. Prosecutors are seeking more than three decades in prison for both men.
Matthew Graves, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia responsible for handling each January 6 case, continues to investigate and arrest Capitol protesters including individuals from Florida. Earlier this month, Graves’ office announced the arrest of a man from Marathon, Florida for allegedly assaulting police on January 6. A D.C. judge last week sentenced a Lakeland man to 18 months in prison for civil disorder and misdemeanor convictions. Faced with the wrath of a Biden appointed federal judge, a man from Pompano Beach just pleaded guilty to several offenses and now faces years in prison.
A Naples man convicted by another D.C. judge on multiple charges is now on the lam. Graves’ office has asked for 14 years in prison for Christopher Worrell, who left his home on August 18, four days before his sentencing hearing. He has not been heard from since.
Now, just imagine how Joe Biden, Democrats, and the news media will use those figures against DeSantis. They will claim Florida is a hotbed for breeding “insurrectionists” and “extremists,” that DeSantis’ loyalty to Trump inspired his own constituents to travel to Washington and “attack” the Capitol, that a President DeSantis will embolden the rise of more violent “domestic terrorists.”
And what will his response be? Let’s just “move on?” Such a weak argument might work among a weak field of Republican presidential candidates—except for Donald Trump, of course—but it won’t fly in a general election campaign.
A Walking Contradiction
Further, DeSantis’ promise that he will “end the weaponization” of the DOJ and FBI if elected president is inconsistent with his cowardly approach to January 6. (Defendants and relatives complain that requests to meet with DeSantis to discuss their plight have been ignored. My own outreach to DeSantis’ office—directly and through intermediaries—to brief the governor or staffers about the political persecution of Florida residents also has been ignored. I am not aware of DeSantis meeting with any January 6 defendant over the past 2 ½ years.)
“As President, I will end the weaponization of government, replace the FBI Director, and ensure a single standard of justice for all Americans,” DeSantis posted on Twitter after Smith announced a four-count indictment against Trump in his January 6 investigation.
But January 6 is ground zero for how the Biden regime and D.C. judges are abusing their power, bastardizing the law, imposing excessive and in some cases unlawful sentences, and in general violating the Constitutional rights of American citizens to criminalize political dissent. If DOJ is the weapon, those involved in January 6—from Donald Trump (also DeSantis’ constituent) down to trespassers from Tampa—are the targets.
And it’s going on to this day.
Perhaps dismissing the regime’s exploitation of January 6 is part of DeSantis’ latest attempt to revive his floundering campaign. Perhaps as a former federal prosecutor, DeSantis, despite talking tough, has no intention of reining in a corrupt, rogue Department of Justice if he’s elected president. Perhaps he finds the “listless vessels” who participated in January 6 so beneath him that he cannot possibly defend them—even if they live, work, and pay taxes in the state he leads.
Whatever the thinking, it appears to be a losing one. If he does lose the nomination, any postmortem undoubtedly will include his hands-off approach to January 6.