Katelyn Polantz and Marshall Cohen at CNN
Former President Donald Trump's continued promotion of the "big lie" about the 2020 election could still incite his followers to violence, the Justice Department and judges noted repeatedly this week, as courts weigh the future dangerousness of US Capitol riot defendants.
Two federal judges this week brought up the disinformation about 2020 from right-wing figures, and even Trump himself, as they considered keeping alleged Capitol rioters in jail before trial.
And prosecutors from the Justice Department are arguing more explicitly that violent threats stemming from Trump-backed conspiracy theories are still alive, and that Trump supporters could be called to act again.
"It's never too late" for pro-Trump extremist groups like the Proud Boys to mobilize, because the right-wing political climate hasn't shifted much since Trump left office, federal prosecutor Jason McCullough argued at a hearing for one of the accused Proud Boys leaders earlier this week.
Federal Judge Emmet Sullivan raised some of Trump's other recent comments in a written opinion Tuesday that kept in jail one of the men accused of dragging and beating police on the Capitol's terrace.
"The Court is not convinced that dissatisfaction and concern about the legitimacy of the election results has dissipated for all Americans. Former President Donald J. Trump continues to make forceful public comments about the 'stolen election,' chastising individuals who did not reject the supposedly illegitimate results that put the current administration in place," Sullivan wrote.
The issue came up Thursday at a hearing for another defendant in the same case.
"The unfounded allegations are out there, and they're being made constantly by the former President," Sullivan said, prompting a defense attorney to condemn Trump's comments as "absolutely reprehensible" and express hope that "somebody" will "try to stop" the lying.
The defendants that Sullivan was worried could commit future violence -- Jack Whitton of Georgia and Michael Lopatic of Pennsylvania -- have remained in jail since their arrests.