The case for charging Donald Trump with manslaughter

By | July 16, 2022

Barbara McQuade writes:

The next Jan. 6 committee hearing — a prime-time finale after seven previous hearings — is expected to focus even more intently on what was happening inside the White House during the insurrection. I will be listening for evidence of a crime that has gone largely undiscussed: manslaughter.

Five people died in the Jan. 6 attack. Officer Brian Sicknick sustained a fatal stroke a day after rioters sprayed him with a chemical irritant. Air Force veteran Ashli Babbitt was shot by police when she tried to climb through a window and enter the House chamber. A Georgia woman, Rosanne Boyland, was crushed by fellow rioters as they pushed their way against the police outside a Capitol door. Kevin Greeson, an Alabama man, died of a heart attack in a sea of Trump supporters on the sidewalk west of the building. Benjamin Philips of Pennsylvania died of a stroke during the assault on the Capitol.

The loss of life was predictable in light of the size of the mob, their emotional state and their use of force. We recently learned from Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony another key fact — then-President Donald Trump knew that the crowd was armed, adding to the risk that someone would be killed. According to Hutchinson, this risk was also foreseeable to White House counsel Pat Cipollone, who urged White House chief of staff Mark Meadows to persuade Trump to take action to stop it. According to Hutchinson, Cipollone told Meadows: “Something needs to be done or people are going to die and the blood’s going to be on your f—ing hands. This is getting out of control.”

Under federal law, involuntary manslaughter occurs when a person commits an act on federal property without due care that it might produce death. To establish a criminal case of manslaughter against Trump, prosecutors would need to prove each of the elements of that offense beyond a reasonable doubt: an act, committed without due care, that caused death. [Continue reading…]

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