Former U.S. Attorney Argues Trump Should Be Charged with Manslaughter

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Former U.S. Attorney and current University of Michigan law professor Barbara McQuade believes Trump could and should be charged with multiple counts of manslaughter.

Manslaughter is the unlawful killing of a human being without malice aforethought. In the federal code, there are two types: voluntary and involuntary. Voluntary manslaughter is a killing done in the heat of passion. The old example often used is the man who walks in on his wife with another man and, in shock, kills the man in bed. Involuntary manslaughter occurs when one does something so criminally dangerous and reckless that one should have known that someone could die as a result of one’s recklessness. Often vehicular manslaughter is used interchangeably with involuntary manslaughter, drunk driving, and causing a fatal accident.

It only takes a moment to see how McQuade is right. She says Trump is responsible for every death on January 6th. From NBC News:

“Five people died in the Jan. 6 attack. Officer Brian Sicknick sustained a fatal stroke a day after rioters sprayed him with a chemical irritant. Air Force veteran Ashli Babbitt was shot by police when she tried to climb through a window and enter the House chamber. A Georgia woman, Rosanne Boyland, was crushed by fellow rioters as they pushed their way against the police outside a Capitol door. Kevin Greeson, an Alabama man, died of a heart attack in a sea of Trump supporters on the sidewalk west of the building. Benjamin Philips of Pennsylvania died of a stroke during the assault on the Capitol.”

Ashli Babbit would be the easiest case if one charged Trump with manslaughter, and it doesn’t matter in the least that she was fighting on Trump’s behalf, nor does it matter that she was shot by an officer who has been cleared of all wrongdoing.

McQuade says:

“Under federal law, involuntary manslaughter occurs when a person commits an act on federal property without due care that it might produce death.”

“It was not until the 187th minute of the riot that Trump put out a video-recorded statement asking the mob to go home. I believe his three hours of inaction could amount to an omission necessary to prove that first element of manslaughter.

For criminal liability, prosecutors must show not just simple negligence, but gross negligence, an extreme deviation from the standard of care. Here, Trump certainly was aware or should have been aware, of the risk of death at the Capitol. And yet he failed to take action. Testimony from staffers who urged him to act will be important at the upcoming hearing, especially for establishing a failure to take due care.”

McQuade also notes that charging Trump with manslaughter would not preclude charging Trump with sedition or obstruction of congress.

This attorney will also say that a person could charge Trump even without the 187 minutes of inaction. Trump knew that an extremely angry mob stood in front of him during his speech. He knew that the mob was armed. He even said, “they aren’t here to hurt me.” Trump then exhorted them to go up to the Capitol and “fight like hell,” or they won’t have a country anymore. Many insurrectionists have said that they believed Trump was ordering them up to fight. Trump wrestled with his own agents to lead the insurrection.

Even without the 187-minute wait, Trump recklessly set that armed crowd loose on an undermanned police presence which was to be overridden. Ashli Babbit was doing nothing more than what Trump asked, breaking in to fight like hell and stop the steal. Anyone could have foreseen that someone was going to die that day, and Trump was the proximate cause of that death.

It is only in the context of the presidency and the attack on the Capitol that manslaughter sounds “foreign” and something that didn’t leap quickly to mind. Put the same behavior in any other context, and it is obvious.


@JasonMiciak believes a day without learning is a day not lived. He is a political writer, features writer, author, and attorney. He is a Canadian-born dual citizen who spent his teen and college years in the Pacific Northwest and has since lived in seven states. He now enjoys life as a single dad of a young girl, writing from the beaches of the Gulf Coast. He loves crafting his flower pots, cooking, and currently studies philosophy of science, religion, and non-math principles behind quantum mechanics and cosmology. Please feel free to contact for speaking engagements or any concerns.