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Extremist Threat Seems Untouched by Jan. 6 Prosecutions

The threat of political violence stubbornly persists more than two years into the massive federal crackdown on extremists who took part in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, the Washington Post reports. Even while the seditious conspiracy convictions of members of the far-right Proud Boys and Oath Keepers have raised new possibilities for prosecuting domestic terrorism cases, and more than 1,000 people have been arrested and upward of 650 have pleaded guilty or been convicted so far, the same divisive politics that instigated the attack have thwarted a shared historical reckoning with what happened. “History is written by the victors, and it’s completely unclear who the victors of Jan. 6 are at this point,” said Jacob Ware, a Council on Foreign Relations researcher who studies far-right militant movements. “We only know who lost, and that’s the country and its democracy.”

Despite video evidence of vicious beatings during the insurrection and witness testimony about pre-rally planning for an assault, the Republican Party’s most powerful figure and front-runner for its 2024 presidential nomination continues to be Donald Trump, whose rhetoric fueled the violence. Both he and leading rival Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis have said they might pardon Jan. 6 defendants if elected. Attacking the Justice Department’s prosecutions has become a virtual plank of the Republican platform, with a Washington Post-ABC News survey released last month finding that nearly 80 percent of Republicans said that Trump should not face criminal charges in a federal investigation into his role in the events leading to the storming of the Capitol. A key, dangerous part of the legacy of Jan. 6 is the “normalized political violence we’ve seen grip the country,” said Cynthia Miller-Idriss, who leads an extremism research lab at American University. She and other extremism researchers said they have observed no letup in the targeting of members of Congress, local officials and marginalized communities. “We should continue to take them seriously,” she said, “and not assume that this handful of convictions in any way solves the problem.”


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