Judge publicly refutes RNC claim that Capitol riot was ‘legitimate political discourse’ while sentencing rioter
- A judge took aim at the RNC’s resolution calling the Capitol riot ‘legitimate political discourse.’
- Federal judge Amy Berman Jackson refuted this during the sentencing of a Jan. 6 rioter, per ABC News.
- “It is not justified to descend on the nation’s Capitol … and disrupt the electoral process,” she said.
A federal judge rebuked the Republican National Committee (RNC) during sentencing remarks for a January 6 rioter on Thursday, saying that the 2021 assault on the Capitol was “not ‘legitimate political discourse.'”
That phrase was lifted verbatim from a Republican National Committee document released on February 4 as the party censured Republican reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger over various grievances, including their contribution to the ongoing investigation into the Capitol riot.
“Representatives Cheney and Kinzinger are participating in a Democrat-led persecution of ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse,” the document said.
D.C. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson directly quoted that three word phrase during her sentencing of rioter Mark Leffingwell, but vehemently disagreed with it.
Per ABC News, Berman Jackson said: “It is not ‘legitimate political discourse,’ and it is not justified to descend on the nation’s Capitol at the direction of a disappointed candidate and disrupt the electoral process.”
“Cancelling out the votes of other people with a show of force is the opposite of what America stands for,” she added, ABC said.
According to court documents seen by Insider, Leffingwell, a resident of Seattle, pleaded guilty in October to charges of assaulting, resisting, or impeding an officer.
On Thursday he was sentenced to six months in prison, two years of supervised probation, and community service on his release, the Seattle Times reported. He was also fined $2,000.
The complaint said he entered the Capitol on January 6 and tried to push past a police officer. When the officer barred him, Leffingwell punched the officer twice, in the head and the chest. He also punched a second officer. He later apologized, one officer noted.
The original RNC document using the phrase “legitimate political discourse” drew widespread criticism after its release last Friday, with Democrats and some Republicans criticizing the phrasing and sentiment of the statement.
“The GOP officially supports violent criminal assaults on police, and on our democracy,” Democratic Rep. Don Beyer of Virginia said.
Soon after its release, RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel issued a statement saying the wording referred to people engaged in peaceful protest elsewhere, and not the violent rioters at the Capitol. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy also made a similar assertion.
Other GOP figures, such as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Mitt Romney distanced themselves from the comment.
Romney said it “could not have been a more inappropriate message.”