For the past four years there has been a sort of race of politicians and experts trying to outdo each other on the most sensational allegations of how Donald Trump could be prosecuted or charged on an ever-growing list of criminal offenses. Every claim is given with absolute certainty, despite long-standing questions or constitutional obstacles. California Democratic MP Maxine Waters was a standout figure in that crowd – she called for impeachments and law enforcement actions from the start of Trump’s tenure. She now insists that Trump can and should be charged with “premeditated murder” in the January 6th fatal riot in the US Capitol. The statement was made on MSNBC, which has acted on such ridiculous theories without the media or legal experts pushing it back.
Waters made her statement in an interview with Joy Reid, who had one of the most controversial records on television because of her racially charged language, dubious legal arguments, and unsupported claims. In particular, Reid does not squeeze Waters on her claim that Trump should be charged with premeditated murder.
Here is the interview:
In the interview, Reid refers to the 1990s and the “Los Angeles riots”. The interview does not reveal what constituted an insurrection in the 1990s, but the term “insurrection” seems to be effectively ruled out in favor of “insurrection” today.
When Trump or his allies made outlandish and unsupported claims about the law in the past, media coverage increased that such claims were ridiculous or unsubstantiated. I regularly called on Trump on such allegations, including calling for changes to entire areas of law such as defamation. Likewise unsupported claims on the left are hardly or not at all pushed back by hosts or the media.
Waters explains: “He should definitely be charged with willful murder because of the loss of lives in that riot in this invasion. So that the President of the United States could watch the invasion and the insurrection and not say a word, knowing that he absolutely initiated it – and as some of them said, “He invited us to come. We are here at the invitation of the President of the United States. “
In Washington, DC, a person is guilty of first degree murder if he or she has the express intention of deliberately and intentionally killing another person, or killing while committing a crime. See section 22-2104. Most states require that premeditated murder be proven to be willful, premeditated, and willful killing. This is treated as a specific intent crime when an intentional act or an act of express malice is shown. They generally need to demonstrate a specific intention to kill, and willful intent is usually demonstrated by evidence that a defendant contemplated the act or is planned for the act of murder.
The Waters home state courts recently addressed this issue:
“Murder, whether in the first or second degree, requires premeditation. (§ 187.) Malice can be explicit or tacit. It is express if there is an obvious intention to kill (§ 188, letter a) (1)); it is implied when someone kills without “significant provocation”. . . or if the circumstances of the murder show an abandoned and malevolent heart ”(Section 188 Paragraph (a) (2)). If a person directly commits murder, the perpetrator must have such malice. People v. Gentile (Riverside County Court, December 2020). “
In this case, there is no evidence that Trump directly murdered anyone or sought someone’s death. He is charged with conspiring to commit such murders. That sounds more like an allegation to be a helper and promote murder. However, even in California, the use of a natural and likely consequence was limited. The courts have opposed such broad interpretations. “According to the doctrine of natural and probable consequences, an accomplice is guilty not only of the offense he or she directly supported or aided (ie, the target offense), but any other offense committed by the direct perpetrator, the ‘natural and likely consequence of “the crime that the accomplice supported and facilitated (ie, the non-targeted crime).” In addition, as explained on a legal page, in People v. Medrano, 42 Cal. App. 5th 1001 (2019) that an earlier law “did away with the doctrine of natural and probable consequences [as] a viable theory of accomplice’s liability for attempted murder. “
This distinction was recently discussed again by a California court:
“At Chiu we believed that the doctrine of natural and probable consequences did not support a conviction of first degree premeditated murder. (Chiu, op. Cit., 59. Kal. 4, p. 167.) We have found that the doctrine of natural and probable consequences associated with murder serves the purpose of “deterring helpers and advocates from committing crimes support or promote that would naturally be likely and foreseeable to lead to an unlawful homicide. ”(Id. On p. 165) But this end“ loses its power ”when an accomplice is held responsible for first degree premeditated murder according to a theory of natural and probable consequences. (Id. On p. 166.) First degree willful murder is associated with significantly higher penalties than second degree murder and requires the additional mental state that the killing is “willful, willful and willful”. MENSCHEN versus GENTILE Expert opinion of the Court of Justice by Liu, J. 12 (§ 189, letter a; Chiu, p. 166.) Whether or not the direct perpetrator killed with intent “has no influence on the resulting damage. The victim was killed regardless of the intentional state of mind of the perpetrator. “(Chiu, p. 166.) We also concluded that it is contrary to” reasonable notions of fault “to subject an accomplice to increased punishment based solely on the” uniquely subjective and personal “state of mind of the direct Perpetrator is based. (Chiu, see above, 59. Cal. 4, p. 166, 165.) ”
In her interview, Waters was apparently referring to allegations that some of the rioters had planned in advance to storm the Capitol. On the day of the riot, many of us found that some of the rioters were clearly bringing ropes and other items with them that indicated preparations for the attack. However, these reports cut both ways. It certainly shows that these people had intent, but it also shows that the speech itself may not have been inciting these people. Critics can rightly state that the president has been indulging in reckless rhetoric for weeks. However, there is a difference between reckless and criminal language. More importantly, if such comments are now clear evidence of intent to murder, they would allow such vicarious charges of murder in a wide variety of cases involving politicians.
While Waters has defended their long list of criminal offenses on the basis that “impeachment is what Congress says,” the Criminal Code does not.