Trump is giving aid and comfort to insurrectionists.

Let’s revisit and focus on a specific piece of Trump’s rhetoric that James Joyner noted yesterday, specifically this: describing those who have been tried and convicted of their actions on January 6th, 2021 as “hostages.”

This is not the first or only time he has used the term. Note the following from Truth Social (via The Hill):

“My first acts as your next President will be to Close the Border, DRILL, BABY, DRILL, and Free the January 6 Hostages being wrongfully imprisoned!” 

All of which makes me think of the following:

Section 3.
No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

Trump is currently giving comfort (and promising aid) to insurrectionists.

It is as if allowing such a person access to the highest office in the land is a really bad idea and that the framers of the 14th Amendment tried to codify that fact into the US Constitution.

Side note: I still maintain that the last sentence of the section is the opposite of requiring Congress to act to implement the rule contained in the section, i.e., instead of telling Congress it had to pass a law, the passage states that Congress can overturn the strictures of section 3 via a super-majority.

No time for much more than an observation on this, as it struck me this morning driving in.

Some additional reading via MSNBC: Are these the Jan. 6 ‘hostages’ Trump promises to free?

Also allow me to add the following form Bill Kristol in referencing the first clip above:

But I come back to the salute.

I’ve never served in the military. So I’ve never really saluted or been saluted. But I served in the White House, and traveled with Vice President Quayle, and was near the men and women of the military a fair amount then. And I’ve been around the military a bit in subsequent years.

I’ve seen many salutes. And I’ve always found them oddly moving. They’re gestures of respect and acknowledgments of order. They embody a kind of rule of law, a setting aside of personal feelings. You salute the rank, not the man.

Presidents as civilians probably shouldn’t return salutes (they didn’t, I believe, until pretty recently). But if they do so now, they do so as a gesture of respect. Respect for the military who are serving our nation. And respect for the nation, for the republic, and for the Constitution that upholds it.

And to see Trump saluting the insurrectionists, the Americans he persuaded to violently break the law in the service of undermining the Constitution, was unnerving.

But perhaps also clarifying.

Trump salutes the insurrectionists who stormed the Capitol.

Trump supports criminals.

The rest of us support the republic.

It is truly stomach-turning.

FILED UNDER: 2024 Election, Crime, US Politics, , , , , ,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. Charley in Cleveland says:

    As Kristol implies and Dr. T notes, Trump’s behavior isn’t just revealing of his mindset, it is nauseating. He is telling America who he is, and it is a dark and ugly thing to behold. But apparently it is OK to a significant part of the population and media because,”Joe Biden is old.”

  2. just nutha says:

    @Charley in Cleveland: Definitely OKAY to a large segment, but “Joe Biden is old” isn’t the reason.

  3. gVOR10 says:

    A day or two ago I quoted historian Sean Wilentz saying the Constitution says an insurrectionist can’t be president, but the Court said an insurrectionist can.

  4. James Joyner says:


    I still maintain that the last sentence of the section is the opposite of requiring Congress to act to implement the rule contained in the section, i.e., instead of telling Congress it had to pass a law, the passage states that Congress can overturn the strictures of section 3 via a super-majority.

    I think that’s certainly right in terms of the insurgency at hand, the US Civil War. But it’s not at all clear how Section 3 is self-executing otherwise. It’s not unreasonable to say that, as happened in Colorado and elsewhere, that it’s the job of state courts to hear challenges on those grounds. SCOTUS ruled 9-0 otherwise. The majority said the answer is Section 5 (not the last sentence of Section 3), “The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.” Obviously, the dissenters thought this went too far.

  5. Michael Cain says:

    None of this would matter if one of the two major political parties in the US weren’t entirely willing to back him up.

  6. Joe says:

    At another point in his article, Kristol points out that Trump’s promise to pardon the J6 “hostages” is also a signal to his partisans that they will be similarly pardoned if they take to the streets in support of him before and after his reelection.

    That, too, is pretty stomach turning.

  7. Daryl says:

    But it’s not at all clear how Section 3 is self-executing otherwise.

    Well, no more or less than Section 2.
    You have to be 21 yrs old, a citizen and, taken with Section 3, not have been part of an insurrection or given aid and comfort to our enemies.
    Important to note that they didn’t take a stand on the Insurrection.
    IMHO they got scared of the potential for conflict and chaos and took the cowardly way out.

  8. Daryl says:

    Mike Pence…hardly a man with with any fortitude…

    “I think it’s very unfortunate. At a time that there are American hostages being held in Gaza, that the president or any other leaders would refer to people that are moving through our justice system as hostages…and it’s just, it’s just unacceptable.”

  9. Kathy says:

    Will no one rid us of this troublesome traitor?

  10. Modulo Myself says:

    It’s telling that the decades of Constitution-worship ends in a theory of the law which says that the law flows from those in power, and that’s that. What can you do? Similarly, if an insurrection takes control of Congress and passes a law that says the lawful government is the actual insurrectionist, then you have to follow the law and start exiling the actual winners of election. What else can you do? That’s the beauty of our system.

  11. James Joyner says:

    @Modulo Myself: Ironically, that’s more-or-less what happened not all that long after the 14th Amendment went into effect. Congress passed multiple laws giving a pass to all but a handful of Confederates, removing the restrictions under Section 3.

  12. Modulo Myself says:

    @James Joyner:

    I mean, the entire US Government endorsed the reversal of Reconstruction and eventually the existence of Jim Crow, so it’s not surprising they ended up letting Confederates back into office.

    America has always been queasy about punishing the Confederate-type of transgression. The aftermath of WW1 saw raids against Communists but not against states who flew the Confederate battle-flag and kept black people from exercising their rights. The 1950s didn’t require a bunch of Dixiecrats to take loyalty oaths. Much of Trump’s appeal comes from people who believe that there’s a mythic power in the forgiveness of white racism and paramilitary violence. This blends in into why it is patriotic to attack Congress. There is a general conceptual confusion in American nationalism regarding what’s real treason and what isn’t.

  13. Scott F. says:

    @Michael Cain:
    What Michael has written.

    I think we’re spending too much time decrying Trump’s latest outrage. They are so frequent and so outrageous, we’ve become numb to it. There were warnings not to normalize Trump’s pathologies, but the normalization horse has left the barn.

    But, there is still much to be done to excoriate Trump followers and, especially so, his enablers in the media and the GOP establishment. Trump will be Trump – there’s no changing that. But, we have to be relentless about not allowing his supporters to hand-wave away what he stands for and what their support for him means to the country’s future.

    Shorter version: Trump behaving horribly at a rally is not the story. The story is the Trumpists in attendance cheered him wildly and that the rally was a campaign event for the Republican Party’s presumptive nominee for POTUS.

  14. Robert in SF says:

    Speaking of salutes, I still can’t believe that former President Trump’s salute to a general of a foreign nation, North Korea!, wasn’t even bigger news, and isn’t still talked about every chance his name comes up! We Democrats suck at messaging!

    Surely there is some alliterative nickname for this to be used to remind people about it with every reference!!

    Link to one article

  15. EddieInCA says:

    Here is a tidbit I found interesting. I spent most of today driving back roads from Valdosta, Georgia to Jacksonville Florida. This is Trump country. All along these backcountry roads were anti-abortion signs, Jesus loves you signs, the Lord will save you signs. There were also a lot of signs for local sheriffs, yard signs because there are several elections coming up locally.

    Here is the interesting part.

    Not one Trump sign.
    Not one Trump flag.

    Last time I made this drive about five years ago, you couldn’t go half a mile without seeing a Trump sign or a Trump flag.

  16. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @EddieInCA: Maybe they’re giving their money directly to Trump for his criminal “defense” fund rather than to the local party for flags and signs. More bang for the buck that way. Giving to the party only dilutes the contribution because the party has to share it with all the candidates.

  17. Jen says:

    @Robert in SF: I mean, Obama had a coffee cup in his hand once, so really that was rock bottom, and the only thing worth covering in the news. It even had a “scandal name”: the Latte Salute Scandal! /s

  18. Gustopher says:

    Can we trade these hostages with Hamas? If they release the Jewish hostages, they can have these ones instead?

  19. CSK says:

    @Robert in SF:

    That happened in June 2018. As I said, if it didn’t bother the MAGAs then, it won’t now.