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Friday, June 14, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

What cost treason?

May 24, 2024

The Donald Trump campaign refused to answer this question: Have you or your candidate or the Republican Party reimbursed, or defended, any of the 869 federal defendants who have been sentenced to 589 years in prison for storming the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021?

Robert Kahn

By Robert Kahn

Deputy editor emeritus, Courthouse News

Most statistics in this column come from a May 1 U.S. Department of Justice document, “Sentences Imposed in Cases Arising out of the Events of January 6, 2021." This 98-page gem includes the names of 869 defendants, their case numbers and offense(s), prosecutors’ sentencing recommendations, sentences imposed (one day to 22 years), plus fines, lengths of probation and/or community service, and restitution (generally $500 — ranging up to $31,000).

This analysis does not include 884 criminal defendants in D.C. Superior Court, or the 541 who were sentenced there to jail or prison.

Here is the question to which the Trump campaign refused to respond:

I am a columnist for Courthouse News.

I see, from US Department of Justice statistics, that 869 of the federal defendants who stormed the US Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, have been sentenced, so far, to 589 years in prison, at a cost of lost wages to their families, during their terms of incarceration, of at least $13.5 million, at federal minimum wage.

Do candidate Trump, or the Republican Party, or the Republican National Committee, have any plans to reimburse these faithful adherents, or their families?

Have candidate Mr. Trump, or the Party, or the RNC, to this date, spent any money in defense of these 869 of their supporters?

If so, for whom? And how much?

If not, why not?

Finally, how much money does the Republican Party and/or the RNC have on hand today, at large, and how much is dedicated to legal defense or support for these 869 families?

You may respond to me by email or by telephone.

Thank you for your prompt response.

And God bless the United States of America.

Robert Kahn


OK, let’s get down. From the 98-page DOJ document, and other reliable sources, I calculated that the cost to the U.S. government of the Jan. 6 rebellion, as of May 1 this year, exceeds $2.75 billion: $8.33 for every man, woman and child in the United States.

This includes $2.7 billion, and counting, in damages to the U.S. Capitol, according to the Government Accountability Office.

The cost of 589 years of incarceration in federal prisons, as of FY 2022, came to $25,554,354. Surely it is more expensive today.

Add that to the cost to our government — our taxes — for the riot.

These costs to the federal government do not include lost income taxes from the jailbirds, costs of gathering evidence and prosecution, court costs, and costs of salaries for federal probation officers, whose median annual income is $61,329.

I hear what you’re thinking: That’s fine, Bob, but nobody gives a bluebird’s fart about costs to the federal government. What about the families of the rioters?

Thanks for asking.

The 869 rioters who had been sentenced, as of May 1, were ordered to pay $3,178,775 in restitution, for, for example, defecating on the floor of the Capitol and smearing their shit on a wall. These people were fined a total of $710,000 — which seems rather small, at $817 a head, though it seems an exaggeration of the value of those heads.

Now, the 869 rioters who have been sentenced to prison so far lost $13,436,280 of income for their families — conservatively (what a word) calculated at 40 hours a week at the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.

That comes to $17,325,055 income lost to their families, not including legal fees, costs of probation, gas money to visit dad or mom in prison, or counseling: $34,228 lost income per family per year — $658.24 per family per week.

This concludes the first part of our report.

Now let’s look at where that $2.75 billion in riot costs could have been spent elsewhere. (The $17,325,055 in expenses for families of the rioters amounts to a rounding error: 006% of the economic damage to the federal government — what our taxes must buy.)

That $2.75 billion, and nine deaths, had Donald Trump not demanded and overseen the riot, could have bought:

• 42,000 new school buses: more than three new buses for every public school district in the United States

• Scholarships for 105,743 students to attend a four-year state college for a year

• or 26,436 four-year scholarships to state colleges

• Tuition for 533,463 in-state students to attend a community college for a year

• or tuition of 311,262 out-of-state students to attend a community college for a year

• 32,945 one-year scholarships for students to go to Harvard

• or a free ride for 8,234 Harvard students — books, rooms and meals — for four years

• It could pay 108,505 people to work on public works project for a year, at the federal minimum wage

• It could pave 393 miles of rural roads, or 250 miles of urban roads

• It could pay for 191,829 K-12 students to attend public schools, at the $14,347 annual per-student cost, relieving taxpayers of that burden on their property taxes

• It could have built 116 brand new elementary schools

• It could have paid a year’s salary for 47,389 public schoolteachers: 948 new public schoolteachers in each and every of the 50 states

• It could have paid for 916,667 vasectomies or 458,333 tubal ligations.

Having proved this, by simple math, I suggest that we allow these 869 defendants be allowed to reduce their sentences by submitting themselves to vasectomy or tubal ligation.

Because god help us if these people reproduce.

(By the way, of these 869 federal criminal defendants, 24 had Latino names: 0.24% of the perps. Yet Latinos constitute 18.9% of the U.S. population. So it appears that Latinos are 1/79th as likely to engage in insurrectionary violence as their average, non-Latino neighbors.)

Categories / Op-Ed, Politics

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