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  • Writer's pictureMario Nicolais

Tina Peters is not just suing her prosecutors, she is attacking democracy

Tina Peters’ attempt to avoid accountability by filing a federal lawsuit against prosecutors would be laughable if it were not so terrifying. Peters is just one example of the brazen gaslighting embraced by far-right extremists today.


The local district attorney, Republican Dan Rubinstein, debunked Peters’ claims more than a year ago. As Peters spun out wild conspiracy theories and imagined wrongs against her, the prosecutor methodically laid out evidence and facts. Presumably, he will be even better prepared to make that case when he commences her trial in February. 


That has not stopped her from alleging that her constitutional rights have been violated by ongoing investigations and prosecutions. Of course, her claims do not rely on tried and true venues for exclusion. For example, she is not claiming that investigators somehow conducted an improper search or seizure protected by the Fourth Amendment. Likely, she had no such claims to make. 


Instead, she relies on her First and Fourteenth Amendment rights and claims she has been unlawfully retaliated against. That’s right. She claims prosecutors have treated her unfairly by bringing charges against her for the illegal conduct she engaged in.


After her conviction, she would fit right in at Shawshank Prison where, according to Andy Dufresne, “Everybody is innocent in here, don’t you know that?”


While her legal arguments are not serious and should be bounced out of the federal courthouse posthaste, it is the conviction with which she stands by them that is most jaw-dropping. She almost seems to believe that by simply repeating the same mantra over and over and over, she will overcome the mountain of evidence and legal standards set against her.


And Peters is not the only one.


Last week, Republicans were elated at the release of new security videos from January 6, 2021. Far-right media personalities and elected officials have been quick to declare the video footage disproves the narrative that January 6th was a violent insurrection. They cherrypick snippets with protesters wandering the halls before law enforcement who neither engage nor arrest anyone.


Of course, to their minds this is incontrovertible evidence that January 6th was not violent. Other, more plausible explanations are discarded. There is no room to believe outnumbered officers were simply trying to deescalate the situation and lead insurrectionists away from the vice president or members of Congress they sought out. 


The same folks likely think that Officer Eugene Goodman was guiding a tour of the U.S. Capitol. 


More insidiously, they have taken up the cause of “freeing” or “pardoning” the violent insurrectionists already convicted by courts. Republican U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene has leaned into her conspiracy theory roots and radical base to visit jailed defendants. Rallies and marches have been organized to call for their release. A wide swath of America believes they did nothing wrong when they violently sought to stop the transition of power for the first time in a quarter millennia.


Of course, this delusional rationalization flows from the source at the top. Former President Donald Trump has made gaslighting the American public an artform. In a Thanksgiving missive he claimed the New York judge overseeing his fraud trial “Criminally Defrauded the State of New York, & ME” and “allowed our Country to go to HELL.”


Trump’s disparagement of the legal system has had a far-reaching and worrying effect on followers like Peters. He has consistently called into question the independence and impartiality of our courts. By attacking judges, he attacks the underpinnings of our judicial system. What is more, he knows that he does not need to have a verifiable complaint.


As long as Trump casts himself as a victim, his acolytes evangelize his words.


It is no wonder that Tina Peters has taken the same tactic. She effectively broke the law to prove his lies about election fraud were true. It did not matter that Colorado was never in play for Trump during the 2020 election. It did not matter that it would not change the outcome. It most certainly did not matter that Colorado has proved, time and again, that its elections are among the safest and most secure in the country. 


Peters believed her orange-hued god and wanted to make any offering she could to him. So when she was caught, she was always destined to follow in his footsteps and not just deny the allegations, but go on the offensive against the very people charged with bringing her to justice.


I am not worried about the outcome in her case. I am confident she will not just lose, but she will lose early and overwhelmingly.


It is the long-term effect claims like hers and Trump’s have on our country and faith in the judiciary that keeps me up at night. The relentless attacks on the system, absent proof or legal rationale, will erode the moral and reputational power of courts. That will in turn undermine an entire pillar of our branch of government.


Peters may be suing only a handful of specific people, but she is really attacking democracy as a whole. That should be enough to frighten anyone from dismissing her idiotic complaint out of hand.




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