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Washington Post contributing columnist Matt Bai suggested in an op-ed Thursday that John Hinckley Jr. had been treated more harshly by the Justice Department than President Donald Trump’s supporters.
On June 15, Hinckley was granted an absolute discharge, 41 years after shooting and attempting to kill President Ronald Reagan. In addition to attacking the president, Hinckley also shot then-White House press secretary James Brady and a Secret Service agent, leading to the former suffering medical issues at life.
Shortly after his release, Hinckley announced plans to hold a music concert in Brooklyn on July 8. New York City canceled the event a day later.
While Bai described the situation as “hard to digest”, he pointed out that Hinckley “paid for his crimes”.
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“It’s all hard to bear, I grant you. But you know what? Hinckley paid for his crime with what could well be more than half his life. It’s not like anyone had did a battery of rapid tests and sent him back out into the world. His treatment was intense and freezing slow,” Bai wrote.
He then compared Hinckley to Trump supporters, suggesting that their actions were like Hinckley’s, only, worse, they have no “remorse” and suffered no consequences.
“Ultimately, federal prosecutors paved the way for Hinckley’s release, after doctors treating him told the court he was mentally stable and would not pose a danger to the public,” he said. Bai writes. “If only we could say one or the other of these things for the architects of the plot to deny the 2020 elections. They too have sought to destabilize the country by depriving us of a duly elected president. Their decisions have also leads to violence and tragic death. Where is the remorse there? Where is the courage to face what you have wrought?”
Although Bai insisted that he was not downplaying Hinckley’s crime, he suggested that Hinckley was treated more unfairly than Rudy Giuliani and Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.
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“What makes one of these guys more deserving of freedom than Hinckley? What makes one of them think he’s better off or more protected than a sick man of paranoid schizophrenia who thought he could control the course of history?” Bai questioned.
He concluded: “Hinckley will end up a proverbial footnote, the amorous assassin who failed and then faded into obscurity. Trump, Eastman, Giuliani and the others, on the other hand, will endure in posterity like Benedict Arnold, the worst kind of traitors being those who hide their crimes behind the flag.”
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The January 6 Committee held several public hearings into the events of the Capitol Riot.