Biden Regime Jails a ‘Domestic Terrorist’

“Paul Hodgkins is not my enemy.”

Fighting back tears, Patrick Leduc, an attorney representing a man charged in connection with the January 6 protest at the Capitol, made that statement in a dramatic court hearing Monday morning. Leduc, by the way, is no snowflake. On Tuesday, the 33-year-old U.S. Army reservist will be deployed to the Middle East for his third tour.

Leduc cited his military oath—to protect the country from “against all enemies, foreign and domestic”—to refute the government’s accusation that Paul Hodgkins, 38, is a domestic terrorist. “Words have meaning,” Leduc told U.S. District Court Judge Randoph Moss. “I have been shot at by real terrorists. If we’re going to label this as domestic terrorism, where do we draw that line?”

Sadly, after listening to Monday’s proceedings, I must conclude there is no line. Americans on the political Right are considered an enemy no less lethal than al-Qaeda and minus the civil libertarians to defend them. 

It’s clear the Biden regime, in cooperation with federal judges, will stop at nothing to destroy the lives of people who protested the 2020 presidential election. This includes people like Paul Hodgkins, who was sentenced to eight months in prison for denouncing what his government was about to do on January 6—certify a rigged, corrupt presidential election—and for supporting Donald Trump.

Hodgkins, who lives in a working-class neighborhood in Tampa, took a bus alone from his home in central Florida to Washington, D.C. to attend Donald Trump’s January 6 speech. After the speech, he walked to Capitol Hill. He later said he had no intention of going inside the building but got caught up in the moment.

Like many pro-Trump protesters, Hodgkins did not bring a weapon. He did not assault a police officer or damage any property. He was inside the building for roughly 22 minutes, entered the Senate chamber, hoisted a “Trump 2020” flag, took some selfies, and left.

Nonetheless, law enforcement arrested Hodgkins in Tampa on February 16 and charged him with four misdemeanors and one felony count of obstruction of an official proceeding. Joe Biden’s Justice Department has added the obstruction charge to roughly 200 misdemeanor cases so federal prosecutors can get jail time for Capitol defendants.

Which is exactly what happened in the case of Paul Hodgkins. The Justice Department not only sought 18 months in prison for the first-time offender who committed no violent crime but, in the most hyperbolic and inflammatory language possible, accused Hodgkins of being a domestic terrorist. “The need to deter others is especially strong in cases involving domestic terrorism, which the breach of the Capitol certainly was,” federal prosecutors wrote in a July sentencing memo. “Moreover, with respect to specific deterrence, courts have recognized that “terrorists[,] [even those] with no prior criminal behavior, are unique among criminals in the likelihood of recidivism, the difficulty of rehabilitation, and the need for incapacitation.”

In other words, Hodgkins’ actions on January 6 on their face did not merit a prison term but the Biden regime must defend their insistence the Capitol breach represented the “worst attack on our democracy since the Civil War” or that it was comparable to 9/11. They need to pretend that it is something other than political grandstanding. So every top Biden apparatchik, from Attorney General Merrick Garland and Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines to line prosecutors, gladly wields their unchecked authority to make these alleged terrorists pay.

Without mercy.

Paul Hodgkins, facing an enemy he clearly underestimated, asked for mercy anyway. In a statement before sentencing, Hodgkins told the court “without a shadow of doubt, I am truly regretful for my actions and the way this country I love has been hurt.” He said he traveled to D.C. alone to “support a president I love.”

Then he said the words Joe Biden’s Justice Department wanted to hear, words reminiscent of the sort of Soviet-style confessions beaten out of political dissidents the world over: “Joseph R. Biden is rightfully and respectfully the president of the United States.”

The former Eagle Scout then explained to Judge Moss what would happen if he were sent to prison. (Defense lawyer asked for probation; the government asked for 18 months.) “The felony conviction will cost me several of my civil rights. I will lose the job I love.” Hodgkins said he’s in an apprenticeship at work and hoped to be promoted to mechanic but his employer won’t be able to keep him on while he’s in jail. “I will lose the house I rent and have to find a place for my two cats.”

Moss, however, showed no mercy. The Obama appointee at times sounded more dramatic than the average pre-teen girl. The circumstances of the Capitol breach are so beyond the pale, Moss claimed, that there is no equal—including the weeks-long protests against the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh in 2018, which Patrick Leduc raised in court. “There is no existing benchmark. This case defies comparison to other obstruction cases.” (None of the more than 200 activists arrested during the Kavanaugh protests was charged with obstruction of an official proceeding.)

He called the brief delay in certifying the election results “chilling” and warned the day is a stain on the county’s history. “Democracy requires the cooperation of the governed,” Moss warned. “Democracy is in trouble. This is a damage that will persist in this country for decades.”

The nation’s leaders and law enforcement officers will suffer the long-term consequences, Moss lamented. “People were traumatized [and] killed that day. They will carry it for the rest of their lives.”

Moss seemed particularly offended that Hodgkins carried a Trump flag into the well of the Senate and hoisted the rebel flag in the air at one point. “The symbolism of that act is unmistakable. He was staking a claim on the Senate floor, declaring his loyalty to a single individual over a nation.”

And therein lies the real crime: Paul Hodgkins, a working-class American who took a bus on the 900-mile journey to the nation’s capital to support his president and protest a clearly rigged election, defiled the ruling class’ palace with a Trump flag.

Washington, D.C. is the fiefdom of people like Judge Moss and federal prosecutors. How dare hundreds of thousands of Americans trespass on their sacred space? This is why the Beltway aristocracy takes the events of January 6 so personally—they feel violated by the uninvited entry of those they consider far beneath them.

Further, the “official proceeding” restarted the evening of January 6. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were certified in the early hours of January 7. The chaos, in fact, had the exact opposite effect of what Trump supporters wanted; the desired audit was scuttled, Republican senators intending to protest results in key states relented, and concerns over provable election fraud were quashed, even criminalized.

Patrick Leduc warned the court that describing January 6 as a domestic terror attack is “gaslighting” the country. “Most of the people thought the [Kavanaugh] standard would apply to them on January 6,” Leduc told me Monday afternoon. “They didn’t know there would be a much bigger price to pay.”

But the problems are much bigger, Leduc said. His client will wear a kind of scarlet letter for the rest of his life, Leduc told the court, and “there will be a large section of American society who will never forgive” Hodgkins for his minimal role in the Capitol breach. Further, Leduc said, the national news media will “blast him out” and make his life miserable.

Paul Hodgkins, who had nothing much to start with, will now lose everything. He will live the rest of his life as a convicted felon. A broken man railroaded by a broken country. But it was clear on social media that the bloodlust of the Left still is unsatiated. Destroying him isn’t enough; they want heads to roll.

“We are a country ruled by cancel culture now,” Leduc told me. “There is no compassion or grace.”

And nowhere was that more evident than in the Washington, D.C. federal courtroom of Judge Randolph Moss on Monday. 

About Julie Kelly

Julie Kelly is a political commentator and senior contributor to American Greatness. She is the author of Disloyal Opposition: How the NeverTrump Right Tried―And Failed―To Take Down the President. Her past work can be found at The Federalist and National Review. She also has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, The Hill, Chicago Tribune, Forbes, and Genetic Literacy Project. She is the co-host of ‘Happy Hour podcast with Julie and Liz.’ She is a graduate of Eastern Illinois University and lives in suburban Chicago with her husband and two daughters.

Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

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