What was Trump thinking on January 6? Consider two possibilities.

Thomas Wood
3 min readJul 22, 2022


While the evidence in this and previous hearings appears to me now to fall short of establishing seditious conspiracy, it might provide evidence for a charge of insurrection (18 U.S. Code § 2383 — Rebellion or insurrection). 1/15

Or does the evidence in its totality only show that Trump suffers from a “reality-distorting mental condition” (like maybe severe malignant narcissism)? 2/15

As to the first possibility, consider that the evidence does show that Trump sent the mob to the Capitol with the intent of stopping the certification by any means necessary — which includes: by violence, if necessary. (He knew they were armed and potentially violent.) 3/1

As I read 18 U.S. Code § 2383, if anyone incites an armed, angry mob to stop a government function and violence ensues, the burden of proof falls on the defendant to show that he had no reason to anticipate violence, and certainly that he intended to stop it if it ever did. 4/15

That is, the statute doesn’t require establishing an intention to commit violence: only an intention to set something in motion where violence can happen; where the actor is fine with that if it does happen; and if he does nothing to stop the violence when it does. 5/15

So much for the first possibility. But what about the second possibility: that Trump is non-compos mentis, or at least that he was on Jan 6? (It is a possible legal defense, BTW, that @gtconway3d, among others, has considered and rejected.) 6/15

Consider for example, two tweets by Trump on Jan 6 at 7:38 and 8:13, where he says, for example: “Stay peaceful.” These were tweeted when he had been watching the extreme violence on Fox News in the WH dining room for several hours! 7/15

“Stay peaceful” can only mean in this context (at best): It’s okay to use violence to stop the certification, but don’t attack law enforcement, as we are the party of law and order. 8/15

IOW: this could only be said by someone who is psychologically deeply impaired: by someone who must and can believe two totally incompatible things at the same time. 9/15

Trump would *like* to see Rs as the party of law and order, so he sees the violence and still says: “Stay peaceful.” No normal person in his right mind could do this. 10/15

That, of course, doesn’t show he condemned the violence. It only shows that at that time (and maybe all the time) he had/has a “reality-distorting mental condition.” How could he believe two incompatible things at the same time? Because he’s nuts! 11/15

Further evidence of this was provided tonight with the damning footage of the video he made on Jan 7. He could not say anything coherent then. That is likely because he sees the world generally, and what happened on Jan 6 specifically, incoherently. 12/15

So as I see it, the only way that Trump could be found not guilty on the charge of insurrection on Jan 6 is by being found to be non compos mentis. When it comes to anything that challenges his self-esteem, his brain is scrambled eggs. 13/15

I don’t know whether Garland would ever charge Trump for insurrection, since he could assume that Trump would raise these tweets on Jan 6 (and similar things) in his defense, so trying to establish clear intent for violence and insurrection would likely end up in the weeds. 14/15

Fortunately, however, I remain convinced that Trump will be charged (and convicted) for other crimes: conspiracy to commit an offense or defraud the government (18 U.S.C. § 371) and obstruction of Congress, an official proceeding (18 U.S.C. § 1512(c)(2)). 15/15



Thomas Wood

The Resistance. Vote Blue: True Blue American. We look forward, they look back. We’re progressive, they’re regressive. @twoodiac