Congress must act now to fix Insurrection Act before Trump returns to power: former FBI official
Donald Trump speaking with supporters at an event hosted by Students for Trump and Turning Point Action at Dream City Church in Phoenix, Arizona in 2020. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

Democrats in Congress need to take immediate action to fix the 1807 Insurrection Act so that guardrails prevent abuse of the act before America has another authoritarian president, a former assistant director for counterintelligence at the Federal Bureau of Investigation argued on Saturday.

"We should always take note when Congress discovers that a long-standing law doesn’t address our current reality. But when those members of Congress happen to be sitting on the select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol and they are privy to a mountain of evidence related to the planning and execution of a purported plot to overturn a presidential election, they should have our undivided attention," Frank Figliuzzi argued. "According to an April 19 report in The New York Times, that committee is considering whether the 1807 Insurrection Act needs revision."

Figliuzzi explained why the report indicated a problem.

"If the committee sees a need to change a law that provides absolute power to a president, it’s likely that they’re seeing evidence that a president – in this case former President Donald Trump — came close to abusing that power," he explained. "Trump threatened to invoke the Insurrection Act following the nationwide and sometimes violent protests that erupted after a Minneapolis police officer murdered George Floyd. Trump’s idea was successfully rejected by then Defense Secretary Mark Esper. The Insurrection Act came up again as Trump desperately considered options that would help him overturn Joe Biden’s victory over Trump in the 2020 election. The Times reports that Trump advisors, including former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn, and Roger Stone, suggested that martial law be declared or that the military be used to seize voting machines and “rerun” the election."

Figliuzzi suggested a legislative fix could include congressional oversight, requiring multiple high-level executive officials to sign off, automatic judicial review.

"Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill, a member of the Select Committee, characterized the January 6 attack on our democracy as a “dry run” – implying it could happen again – perhaps successfully. It will happen again – unless we put mechanisms in place to constrain a corrupt president from exploiting the absolute power presently conveyed by the Insurrection Act. That change needs to happen now – before yet another authoritarian – or even the same one – tries another Jan. 6 and succeeds," he argued.

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