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Biden is ‘Rightfully and Respectfully’ President, Capitol Rioter Says at Sentencing as Consequences Bring Truth

Rex Huppke, Tribune Content Agency on

As he faced the Dawn of Consequences, Paul Allard Hodgkins, a 38-year-old Florida man who carried a “Trump 2020” flag on the floor of the U.S. Senate during the Jan. 6 domestic terrorist attack on the Capitol, stood up in a federal courtroom and told the truth:

“I completely acknowledge and accept that Joseph R. Biden Jr. is rightfully and respectfully the president of the United States,” Hodgkins told U.S. District Judge Randolph D. Moss at his sentencing hearing Monday.

It’s funny what consequences do to a person. They tend to juice the truth out of them like a lemon in a press.

I doubt Hodgkins spent the day of Jan. 6 acknowledging and accepting that Biden won the presidential election. It wasn’t acceptance of the 2020 election results that motivated him to board a bus from Florida to Washington, D.C., for a “March to Save America” rally organized by groups supporting former President Donald Trump and promoted by Trump himself.

No, Hodgkins consumed the same steady diet of lies as the hundreds of other pro-Trump rioters around him, and his ludicrous outrage was stoked by Trump and myriad other opportunists who would trash our democracy if it put a buck in their pocket.

On Monday, he became the first of the Jan. 6 louts to be sentenced for a felony. The first over the hill at the Dawn of Consequences.

 

During the hearing, Moss said of Hodgkins’ flag-carrying trek onto the Senate floor: “The symbolism of that act was unmistakable. He was staking a claim on the floor of the U.S. Senate not with an American flag, but declaring his loyalty to a single individual over the nation. In that act, he captured the threat to democracy that we all witnessed that day.”

The judge added, powerfully and accurately, that the attack has left a stain on our nation’s history: “It means it will be harder for all of us to tell our children and grandchildren that democracy stands as the immutable foundation of our nation. It means we are all fearful of the next attack in a way we never were, and it makes us question whether our democracy is less secure than we believed just months ago.”

Hodgkins was sentenced to eight months in prison, well under the 18 months prosecutors sought. That seems lenient for taking part in an act of domestic terrorism, but the judge took seriously the fact that Hodgkins didn’t engage in violence or destruction of property during the attack, had no prior criminal history and entered a guilty plea swiftly, not attempting to defend his actions.

That won’t be the case for many of the hundreds of hearings to follow, so the judge may well be sending a message to those not cooperating or pleading guilty. Consequences are coming, and more faux-patriots — hundreds of them — will be standing up in court and saying the words so many Republicans, Trump in particular, don’t want to hear: “I completely acknowledge and accept that Joseph R. Biden Jr. is rightfully and respectfully the president of the United States.”

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