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There was even a crowd watching the proceedings on TV in a park near the U.S. Capitol, with a picnic in the same place that was up for grabs on January 6. It is once again touching nerves and may be touching those Illinoisans already charged.
I-TEAM INSIDER | Attack on the U.S. Capitol
Democracy was in danger on the day of the insurrection, according to a select January 6th committee. Then-President Donald Trump was in the middle of what the committee members called a “culmination of an attempted coup.”
“This is still a threat to democracy,” said U.S. Congressman Adam Kinzinger. His district is just south of Chicago and he is one of two Republicans on the committee.
Kinzinger said the committee’s evidence is that what happened at the Capitol on January 6th is tied to a desperate president and his most radical followers.
SEE ALSO | Capitol riot panel blames former President Trump for January 6 ‘attempted coup’
“As we’ve seen with the Proud Boys being charged with seditious conspiracy, it certainly looks like that with the president,” Kinzinger said. “It looks like certainly he’s abusing the DOJ for his purposes, abusing other areas of the federal government.”
Illinois residents are among those already charged with January 6th crimes, mostly misdemeanors. There are 31 total, according to a tracking database; 10 have pleaded guilty and several others are considering plea deals.
Across the U.S., 825 people have been charged. About 30% have pleaded or been found guilty. That’s about the same proportion as in Illinois.
“It may be that some of the people who are on the docket right now and weighing whether to plead guilty or go to trial will be moved a little bit closer to pleading guilty now that they’ve seen what’s there, but it’s not likely to make an enormous difference. Each case will turn on the evidence,” said former federal prosecutor and ABC7 legal analyst Gil Soffer.
“There’s very little reason for someone charged with a misdemeanor to fight this to the bitter end. A misdemeanor doesn’t have many serious consequences.”
Kinzinger, who has announced he is leaving Congress, said the committee is motivated by one simple point: “A transfer of power cannot happen like this ever again because we will not be a functioning democracy with any more of these.”
More than 20 million people watched the prime-time TV hearing Thursday night, with most viewers hanging with the entire two-hour window. That figure is not as sizable as big political debates, but more on par with a Sunday night NFL game.