Forget for a moment if you think the Jan 6 protestors and affiliates are getting fair trials or not, whether they’re being made examples of for partisan political reasons.
A recent statement by a sitting US congressman, and the chair of the Jan 6 Committee, no less, will leave you wondering if passing some basic US civics exams should be a constitutional requirement for a federal candidate to get certified to appear on the ballot.
Your seventh-grade social studies student should be able to tell you Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) took a massive L on Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC show earlier this month.
If we took our politics seriously, which you know has a real-world effect on people’s lives in some of the most severe circumstances, we would hold our politicians to a higher standard. Statements like this one should end terms in Congress or any elected office.
Instead, we have career politicians ascending to the highest halls of the US government who are misinformed or willing to stay untruths about the law itself.
As Tim Hains reported at RealClearPolitics, Congressman Thompson told Rachel Maddow in front of her television audience (no worries, there’s not very many people watching these days) that if someone pleads the fifth, “it says that you have something to hide,” and “says you are part and parcel guilty to what occurred.”
That is 100% completely wrong about the Fifth Amendment. These are the kind of statements (actually exactly this claim) that earned Donald Trump the feigned scorn of Democrats for being too unserious and not politically stable enough to be president.
Donald makes up for this gap in his credentials with other virtues and a team of nervous lawyers and advisers. I haven’t heard of anything that great that the delegate from Mississippi has done as saving America from Hillary Clinton and the war with Iran that loomed large in her cold, cold neoliberal heart.
According to FindLaw.com, “When a defendant pleads the Fifth, jurors are not permitted to take the refusal to testify into consideration when deciding whether a defendant is guilty.”
The historical origins of this constitutional promise are very gnarly and grim and make even more clear how incorrect both technically and in spirit the congressman’s statement was.
Further, Mr. Thompson was not speaking in theory, but a specific case and witness were pending before the Jan 6th committee he chairs. That’s a major foul and might have infringed upon the witness’ legal rights before he even got to the committee to testify.