Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as they push barricades to storm the US Capitol in Washington D.C on January 6, 2021. (Photo by ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP via Getty Images)
Capitol riot apologists are in uproar after Proud Boy leader Enrique Tarrio was sentenced Tuesday to 22 years behind bars for his role in Jan. 6. “We are witnessing a communist takeover of our judicial system to target political enemies and destroy their lives,” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene wrote on the website X, formerly known as Twitter. Greene and others, in their rabid condemnation of the “Biden regime,” appear to be overlooking the fact that Judge Timothy Kelly, who handed down Tuesday’s sentence (which was 11 years short of what the Justice Department wanted), was appointed to the bench by former President Donald Trump in 2017.
“The U.S. government has become an abomination that must be completely rebuilt,” former Trump adviser Steve Bannon wrote on his “War Room” Telegram channel. Tarrio was convicted by a jury along with three of his top lieutenants for seditious conspiracy in May and he’s received the longest sentence out of any Jan. 6 defendant so far. On Tuesday, Kelly said that he found Tarrio to be the head of the “command structure” on Jan. 6 and was calling the shots, despite watching the mayhem unfold from a hotel room in Baltimore, having been banned from DC days prior due to prior offenses. “The Biden Regime just sentenced Enrique Tarrio to 22 years in prison for a riot he was not present at,” wrote far-right media personality Charlie Kirk online. “You live in a country with political prisoners.”The outrage from Greene, Kirk, Bannon, and other hard-right personalities in response to Tarrio’s sentencing suggests that the “political prisoner” narrative that’s been simmering ever since the government began arresting Jan. 6 rioters isn’t going anywhere any time soon. They’ve tried to recast Jan. 6 rioters as anywhere from freedom fighting patriots, to confused Trump supporters who were goaded into crime by throngs of undercover federal agents (the latter baseless narrative is known as the “fedsurrection” conspiracy theory).
“JUSTICE IS DEAD,” declared The Gateway Pundit in a headline about Tarrio’s sentence, before going on to assert, “With each new day, we learn the January 6 “insurrection” was an FBI setup. What a disgraceful time for America.”The hard-right machine has been using the Jan. 6 arrests to paint the Biden Administration as a tyrannical “regime” that imprisons its political opponents—which, they say, has now reached Trump. This is a narrative that Trump is using to his benefit as he campaigns for the White House in 2024. He’s cast the growing pile of criminal indictments (now four in total) as a corrupt scheme to keep him from the presidency — and himself a political prisoner. Tarrio and his co-defendants’ best shot at freedom may hinge on whether Trump can win the presidency in 2024. In a CNN Town Hall in May, Trump vowed to pardon “a large portion” of Jan 6 rioters.