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All the President’s sins

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“Doors have opened, new subpoenas have been issued, and the dam has begun to break,” said Rep Liz Cheney, vice chair of the House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack on the Capitol

Holdouts from the Trump White House are now coming forward, especially with the conviction last week of Trump consigliere Stephen Bannon, who will likely go to jail for his contemptuous refusal to appear before the Select Committee.

WASHINGTON, DC – JULY 21: Former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon speaks to reporters as he leaves the Federal District Court House at the end of the fourth day of his trial for contempt of Congress on July 21, 2022 in Washington, DC. The government rested its case against Bannon, who did not testify or call witnesses in his own trial. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

There will be much more ahead in putting in place the pieces of the mosaic that was, as Rep Bennie Thompson has said, an attempted coup by Donald Trump to overturn the 2020 presidential election and remain in power. It was, Thompson said, a path of lawlessness and corruption.

The Select Committee is presenting all the President’s sins.

Not even the Covid infection of the current president, Joe Biden, could dent the wall-to-wall media coverage – mainstream and social – of the blockbuster hearing last Thursday night. 

What is clear now, after nine hearings by the Select Committee, is that the January 6 attack was not simply a protest that got out of control, a one-off event of limited force and duration that was over by the end of the day, with no serious threat to America’s democracy.  

What we know now is that the events of that day were the culmination of a conspiracy to keep Donald Trump in power by whatever means necessary.

The evidence presented last week – direct testimony, videotapes, telephone recordings, cell phone video – was relentless:

  • Trump did not act because he did not want to stop the attack
  • Trump was adamant that he wanted to go to the Capitol and join the mob
  • Trump did not call any law enforcement or military officials to respond to the attack
  • Trump did not call on the mob to go home until it was clear the insurrection was lost
  • Trump rejected the urgings of those around him that day to call on the mob to leave
  • Trump was indifferent to the physical, mortal danger to Vice President Pence
  • The people around Pence, agents and staff, feared for their lives
  • Trump’s tweet at 224 pm attacking Pence for not overturning the election – “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution.”– intensified the fury of the mob’s attack
  • For hours, Trump rejected pleas from his family his staff, Republican members of Congress, political associates, to issue a statement calling on the attackers to go home
  • When Trump finally made a video statement late in the day, he called the attackers “patriots.” ”We love you. Go home in peace.”

What was so powerful about the presentation – aside from its unique made-for-television, cinematic quality and the highest reality TV production values – was that every witness, every person whose testimony was shown was not only a Republican, but a Trump Republican: professionals who have worked for and with Trump during his term, who were loyal to him, who believed in him, and who were ultimately repelled by what Trump did – and did not do – that day. Trump’s people turned on Trump and spit out their stories in prime time.

In preparing his video message the day after the attack, Trump could not say, “The election is over.”

That was left on the cutting room floor “I don’t want to say the election’s over,” the video out-take reveals.

“I just want to say Congress has certified the results without saying the election is over.”

Trump never in a million years believed he would be haunted by his own videos that did not make it to air the day after the insurrection.  

That mosaic of conspiracy already includes direct efforts by Trump to pressure state legislatures and state election officials to overturn the certified election results in their states.  It includes a Trump attempt to decapitate the leadership of the Justice Department and install his loyalists in order for them to pressure several states to overturn their election results. 

A video of former President Donald Trump is shown on a screen, as the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol holds a hearing at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, July 21, 2022. Alex Brandon/Pool via REUTERS

It includes intensive pressure on the Vice President to prevent him from carrying out his constitutional responsibilities to certify the election result in the joint session on January 6.  It includes efforts by Trump to incite the mob to attack the Capitol in order to prevent the House and Senate from completing their business that day.

Trump is now haunted by the prospect of the Attorney General, Merrick Garland, convening a grand jury to assess whether crimes were committed by Trump between Election Day in November 2020 and the attack on the Capitol. 

JAN 6

There is now huge pressure on the Attorney General to prosecute Trump for what he did and failed to do.  There is a strong case: Trump wanted to join the insurrectionists, he did not call on law enforcement or the military to deploy force to put the riot down, he did not tell his supporters to go home while the attack was raging.

Trump wanted the electoral count to be stopped – he wanted Congress to  be stopped from doing its duty under the law. He did not care about the mortal danger to the Vice President. 

All the President’s sins continue to this day.  His is sinning some more. 

As the Select Committee hearing convened last week, the New York Times reported:

“Donald J. Trump called a top Republican in the State Legislature in Wisconsin in recent days to lobby for a measure that would overturn his 2020 loss in the state to President Biden.” The state official, who is a Trump supporter, told Trump that there was no provision in law in Wisconsin to rescind that state’s certification of the 2020 votes, and that such an act would violate the state’s constitution.

Trump wants the 2020 election overturned. 

The only thing that can stop him is the rule of law and the commitment of all public officials who take an oath of office to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States to ensure the rule of law applies to everyone – including  to the former president of the United States.

Bruce Wolpe is a Ticker News US political contributor. He’s a Senior Fellow at the US Studies Centre and has worked with Democrats in Congress during President Barack Obama's first term, and on the staff of Prime Minister Julia Gillard. He has also served as the former PM's chief of staff.

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Trump’s campaign tactic – debase and disgrace the legal process

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Donald Trump, former president of the United States, hated Arraignment Day I in Manhattan two months ago, the first time a former president had been criminally charged. 

Trump was being forced against his will into a proceeding he had utter contempt for.  He was being arrested and fingerprinted and photographed under an indictment under the jurisdiction of Manhattan in New York City for allegations of hush money payments and fraudulent bookkeeping practices to conceal criminal activity. Trump heard the charges read out against him and he entered a plea of not guilty.

Trump had a terrible day. Trump wore a scowl throughout. His countenance was fearsome.  What Trump hated most about his arraignment in New York is that he had to sit at a table with his counsel side by side with him — equal to him — and with the judge above him looking down on him. Trump could not control the discussion and could not interrupt to make his points.

Trump was subordinate to the judge. He was subordinate to no one as president.

Arraignment Day II

Arraignment Day II in Miami will be worse from Trump, even more stressful.  The charges are substantially more serious:  the alleged violation of federal criminal statutes involving the alleged mishandling and illegal possession of classified documents, lying to legal authorities, and obstruction of justice.  Potential penalties run to years in prison and millions of dollars in fines.

Trump throughout his business life had always crafted his affairs to avoid being a defendant. But in his term in office, he was caught up in it big time. He was a defendant in two impeachment trials – again, unprecedented events – and left office in disgrace.

But Trump does not feel disgraced. He never does.  Trump does not have a reverse gear.  He never retreats.  Never admits. Never concedes. Never yields.  Trump is never embarrassed. Trump never feels ashamed. When something goes wrong, it is always the fault of someone else.

And Trump never repents.

Trump can feel this way because Trump is waging war on behalf of his armies in “the final battle” for the future of the county. In his first, fiery post-indictment speech in Georgia, Trump said, “They’ve launched one witch hunt after another to try and stop our movement, to thwart the will of the American people.  In the end, they’re not coming after me. They’re coming after you … “Either we have a Deep State, or we have a Democracy…Either the Deep State destroys America, or WE destroy the Deep State.”

It is a powerful formulation, and his true believers love it.

Hours later, In North Carolina, Trump mainlined his distilled message for the Republican crowd:

“We are a failing nation. We are a nation in decline. And now these radical left lunatics want to interfere with our elections by using law enforcement.

It’s totally corrupt and we cannot let it happen.

This is the final battle.

With you at my side we will demolish the Deep State.

We will expel the warmongers from our government.

We will drive out the globalists.

We will cast out the communists.

We will throw off the sick political class that hates our country.

We will roll out the fake news media.

We will defeat Joe Bide and we will liberate America from those villains once and for all.”

Any lesser mortal would be staggered by these events.  Any other presidential candidate would be driven from the race.  But not Trump.

Debase and disgrace

Trump is using the same playbook today as he successfully triggered after being charged in New York:  debase and disgrace the legal process by terming it completely political.  Trump said the federal indictment is “election interference at the highest level.”

Almost every other Republican running for president has adopted this line, insulating Trump from pressure to leave the field.

Trump’s chief opponent, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said after these indictments: “The weaponization of federal law enforcement represents a mortal threat to a free society. We have for years witnessed an uneven application of the law depending upon political affiliation.”

Republican congressperson Nancy Mace: “This is a banana republic. I can’t believe this is happening.” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene: “Democrats are arresting their political enemies. and they work together in their corrupt ways to get it done.”

Trump is using his affliction to raise millions of dollars from his base.

Trump will likely face Arraignment Day III in Georgia in August.  A state prosecutor is expected to charge Trump with criminal interference in the certification of Georgia’s vote for Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election.

As of now, there is no sign of cracks in Trump’s support among Republican voters.  There is no surge to another candidate.  What remains to be seen is whether Republican voters, as they see Trump spend his days in courtrooms and his evenings at rallies around the country, reach a conclusion that this is a spectacle too far, too much to bear, and that they want to turn to another conservative populist who stands for them in the political trials— and not the criminal trials – of 2024.

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Donald Trump’s legal woes will serve him well

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It’s not often that a U.S. President faces federal indictment, but if it’s going to happen to anyone, it might as well be Donald Trump first.

The news that Donald Trump is facing a federal investigation over the removal of secret documents from the White House in 2021 came as no surprise.

Keen watches of the Washington soap opera have seen this playbook before, albeit in a different form.

There is no doubt that Donald Trump is a Washington outsider. But as seriously damaged as he may be (thanks to the events of January 6), his support base has only grown whenever he faces scrutiny.

For his supporters, his legal woes mirror their own relationship with the government – a giant, unfair beast that picks and chooses its fights.

Trump is accused of storing sensitive documents—including those concerning matters of national security—in boxes, some even in a shower.

The documents were seized last August when investigators from the FBI executed a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago.

The Department of Justice has historically avoided charging people who are running for public office. Whether they should do that is a debate for another day. But it’s happening now. And it’s making it all too easy for Trump to claim there is a concerted campaign to get him away from the White House.

Trump exposed the deep state. IF they exist, they probably don’t want him back in power. Whether they exist doesn’t matter really, because plenty of Trump’s supporters agree with him, and believe the secret state is working against them. Call it QAnon, call it a conspiracy – it doesn’t matter in a democracy.

The DoJ now has to go all in. Failing to secure a conviction would be a serious embarrassment for the department.

This is the second time Trump has been indicted in recent months, yet the opinion polls show he only increases his popularity among MAGA and Republican voters. It leaves the Republican party in a difficult position. Support their leading candidate or support the law?

As other Republicans rallied around the embattled candidate, Trump held on to his loyal base of supporters.

For the Democrats, and for Biden, another reality will soon sink in – if Trump becomes President, and they lose office next year, how will a Trump-run DoJ deal with them?

Broadly, the tit-for-tat one-up-manship of U.S. politics is breaking tradition and potentially breaking the country.

 

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