Let us assume Trump is responsible for the rioting at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. What a shame that he was not successfully impeached, his enemies say. He was able to game the system. He was able to commit the crime of insurrection and pay no consequences, they say.
Really? I don’t think so.
There is nothing that stops an eager prosecutor looking to make a name for himself or herself from charging private citizen Donald Trump for any criminal charges even ones he allegedly committed as president. In our system presidents are not Charles I or Louis XIV. They are not above the law, at least in theory.
In fact, upon leaving office in 1974, president Richard Nixon was about to be charged with criminal offenses committed during the Watergate scandal. He knew it. He needed and accepted a pardon from his successor, President Gerald Ford.
Trump…Guilty as Charged?
So can Trump be charged for supposed criminal and civil liability.
I will address the former. The short answer is, at this point, I don’t think so, but it remains an outstanding issue. Still, Trump brought on some of this upon himself. In November Trump, as usual, exaggerated the election results. As he often does, he says some stupid things, even when someone can agree with the essence of what he says.
For example, he said there was election fraud. I think he was right, but how much is difficult to determine. It would need a serious investigation by Congress to determine how much.
Enough Fraud to change the election?
No one will know that until there is a Congressional investigation. But certainly Trump was wrong, I believe, when he said he was on his way to “a landslide” victory. That, to me, was wrong. Here was another Trump exaggeration.
In the United States today, given how divided we are, there was no chance last year that either party would win a landslide. That’s despite the fact Democrats were predicting their own landslide, a “blue wave.” What we actually got were mixed results. Democrats won the presidency, picked up four seats in the Senate but lost a dozen seats in the House. They narrowly hold Congress and have a president who is distrusted by many Americans.
Trump, after his defeat in November by Joe Biden, mopped around. He kept insisting that there would be a reversal of the election results; that, when the Electoral College reported in January, everything would go his way.
He pressured Vice President Mike Pence to act. Pence presided over the Senate and certifies the election results; a sort of on the record function that doesn’t mean he checks them in detail.
Trump was disappointed when Pence stated that he couldn’t do anything, that he was obliged to obey the constitution. Clearly, the presidential election was lost. But Trump seemed as though he wasn’t going to accept it. Indeed, a Trump hater told me in December that Trump wasn’t going to accept his defeat. He was going to declare martial law, this person said.
Come to DC
But Trump did call for his supporters to come to the Capitol on January 6 and he addressed them. He called for them to march to Congress and let their opinions be known. But, and here is the key issue, no matter how bad and how rough Trump’s comments were, they were never outside the recent norms of the brutal political discourse of this nation. Many of his opponents have made comments that could also be interpreted as inciting violence.
For example, left-wing pols often and routinely tell their followers to “fight.”. Last summer, Kamala Harris, in an interview with Stephen Colbert, urged her followers to keep rioting; to not stop even after the election. Indeed, she set up a fund to bail them out of jail.
By the way, this obviously affected the last impeachment trial. Democrats wanted to call witnesses to document what they said were Trump’s call to violence. But then they decided to pass on witnesses.
Don’t Leave the Door Open!
Democrats would have opened the door for Republicans to offer their own witnesses to document Democrats egging on last year’s riots. Trump told his people to fight but he also told them to “peacefully and patriotically” make their opinions known.
This, I believe, is not an incitement to riot. And it should be remembered that the vast majority of the some 100,000 Trump supporters who came to DC didn’t riot. They didn’t break into the US Capitol and engage in a criminal spree. Those hooligans who did should face the full fury of the law and then some.
In other words, their actions should have the same consequences as the tens of thousands who rioted in our cities last summer. Unfortunately, very few of them ever faced charges because pusillanimous Democrats control many of those cities and seemed incapable of enforcing the law, most especially putrid pols like New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. The latter has suddenly been exposed. Even some of the left now regard him as politically radioactive, yet last year these same people were whooping it up for him, mentioning him as a possible future presidential candidate (Many people think the politically and physically frail Biden isn’t going to last a long time. Even he has said he expects to be a one-term president and has already allowed his vice president to negotiate with foreign leaders).
Reporters Taking a Nap?
Where has our mainstream media been for the last five or six years or so as New York State’s cities have burned, its businesses destroyed by outrageous lockdown orders, and with tens of thousands of its citizens saying enough is enough, moving to less taxing climes where the laws are actually enforced and criminals are jailed?
We end this two-part Trump impeachment series by, once again, coming back to the hypocrisy of much of our ruling class; our media and our career pols, both left and right. But lately it has been more the former than the latter, who are destroying this country. However, many Republicans, by their silence, by their poltroonery, aren’t helping this country recover.
There’s a fair number of bad things one can say about Trump—he used to twitter too much—until those twitter tyrants banned him. Trump simply gets some things wrong. He takes on some ridiculous fights.
But still Trump certainly did some good things. At the top of my list: He got this nation out of two wars. For decades now, the majority of Americans, as measured by public opinion polls, have said they want us to stop fighting these insane wars. They want no part of our nation building efforts. These are efforts that lead us, to quote a long forgotten yet brilliant Republican leader of generations ago, “to fight an endless war for an endless peace.”
And, from my pro-commerce, pro peace point of view, blessed be the peacemaker. Trump also helped produce a strong economy by cutting taxes and regulation, policies that produce jobs for all sorts of people.
Guilty as Charged?
Is Trump criminally liable for what happened on January 6th?
Courts are open. If someone can make a criminal case—a real case, not the pathetic, Star Chamber case that just failed in the U.S. Senate—let the prosecutor do it. I’m all for the rule of law. And that means something that applies to all, both Republicans and Democratic.
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