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Washington Post contributing columnist Matt Bai suggested in an op-ed on Thursday that John Hinckley Jr. was treated more harshly by the Justice Department than supporters of President Donald Trump.
On June 15, Hinckley received an unconditional release, 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 the former to suffer lifelong medical issues.
Shortly after his release, Hinckley announced plans to hold a music concert in Brooklyn on July 8. New York City canceled the event one day later.
While Bai described the situation as “hard to stomach,” he emphasized that Hinckley “paid for his crimes.”
“All of which is hard to stomach, I grant you. But you know what? Hinckley paid for his crime with what might well be more than half his life. It’s not like anyone ran a quick battery of tests and tossed him back into the world. His treatment was intense and glacially slow,” Bai wrote.
He then compared Hinckley to Trump supporters, suggesting that their actions were like Hinckley’s, but, worse, they have no “remorse” and have not faced any consequences.
“In the end, federal prosecutors cleared the way for Hinckley’s release, after the doctors treating him told the court he was mentally stable and would pose no danger to the public,” Bai wrote. “If only we could say either one of those things for the architects of the plot to negate the 2020 election. They too sought to destabilize the country by depriving us of a duly elected president. Their decisions, too, led to violence and tragic death. Where’s the remorse there? Where’s the courage to face what you’ve wrought?”
Although Bai insisted he was not minimizing Hinckley’s crime, he suggested that Hinckley was treated more unfairly than Rudy Giuliani and Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.
“What makes any of these guys more deserving of freedom than Hinckley? What makes any of them think they’re better or more entitled to protection than a man suffering from paranoid schizophrenia who thought he could commandeer the course of history?” Bai questioned.
He concluded, “Hinckley will wind up a proverbial footnote, the lovesick assassin who failed and then faded into obscurity. Trump, Eastman, Giuliani and the rest of them, 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.”
The Jan 6. Committee has held several public hearings on the events of the Capitol riot.