Yesterday the National Governors Association met in DC. The Republican chairman, Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas told Business Insider that he "does not believe Trump is the one to lead our party and our country again, as president." Earlier he said the words that infuriate Trump the most: "I don't believe the election was stolen. I respect the results." While the governors were meeting in DC-- trying their best to deal with their own problems and to ignore Trump-- Señor T was headlining a super-spreader rally in Conroe, north of Houston. Conroe is the county seat of Montgomery County, which is significantly less vaccinated (53%) than Harris County next door (62%) or the state of Texas in general (59%). It's also way Trumpier. Texas gave 52.1% of it's vote to Trump, while Harris County voted 42.7% Trump and backward Montgomery County gave Trump a big 72.2% win. Under-vaccinated and stupid-- what a perfect place for the con man to hold a rally!
Texas' primary is just a month away-- yes just one month, please consider contributing to Texas progressives here. Trump's opening acts were some of the wing nuts he's backing, including Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Attorney General Ken Paxton, Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller and state Sen. Dawn Buckingham (the Trump-endorsed nut running to replace George P. Bush as Land Commissioner). One of Trump's candidates, Paxton, a scandal-scarred crook, is likely to be forced into a runoff with either George P Bush or Louie Gohmert, both of who also want to be Attorney General and both of whom are also embarrassingly Trumpist.
As he often does at his rallies, Trump recited the lyrics of Al Wilson's song, The Snake, written by Black nationalist and Communist Party member Oscar Brown, although Trump, as you can see in the video, lies and claims it was written by Wilson. Trump's virulently anti-immigrant version (in 2017):
The backward Trumpist xenophobes and racists at the rally yesterday, applauded wildly and with self-satisfied enthusiasm when Trump gave them permission to let their bigotry flags fly, adding "And that's what's happening to the United States of America with immigration. I think it's pretty accurate, do you agree?"
The big news out of his rally though was about the insurrectionists. "If I run and if I win, we will treat those people from January 6th fairly. And if it requires pardons, we will give them pardons because they are being treated so unfairly." Jill Colvin wrote that "The offer represents an attempt by Trump to further minimize the most significant attack on the seat of government since the War of 1812. Participants smashed through windows, assaulted police officers and sent lawmakers and congressional staff fleeing for their lives while trying to halt the peaceful transition of power and the certification of rival Joe Biden’s victory. More than 700 people have been arrested and charged with federal crimes in connection with the riot, marking the largest investigation in the Justice Department’s history. The tally includes more than 150 people charged with assaulting police officers, more than 50 charged with conspiracy, and charges of seditious conspiracy against the founder and leader of the far-right Oath Keepers militia group, and 10 other members or associates."
More than 100 police officers were injured, some critically, after Trump supporters stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, following a “Stop the Steal” rally by Trump near the White House in which he falsely claimed Biden had won election through massive voter fraud.
As president Trump used his pardon power to pardon or commute the sentences of numerous political allies, friends and associates, including his former chief strategist, Steve Bannon; his former campaign chair, Paul Manafort; his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn; and a longtime friend and political ally, Roger Stone.
Trump has criticized the Democrat-led House for its ongoing investigation of the riot.
While his supporters overran the Capitol on Jan. 6, Trump ignored desperate pleas from allies to forcefully disavow the attack and has repeatedly praised those who participated in the protest.
“It was a lot of love there,” he said recently of those who attended the rally in an interview on Fox News. “Believe me, there was a lot of love and a lot of friendship and people that love our country.”
Trump, who was impeached by the House for his role in inciting the insurrection but acquitted by the Senate, has been teasing a third run for the White House in 2024.
This may not be a smart issue for Trump and his GOP zombie candidates. Earlier this month, Forbes looked at all the polling about the insurrection (the Washington Post/University of Maryland, CBS News/YouGov, ABC News/Ipsos, AP/NORC, NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist, NPR/Ipsos and the Economist/YouGov) one year after it occurred. Many voters blame Trump for what happened. "In the early January 2022 Economist/YouGov online poll, people split 43% yes to 39% no on whether Donald Trump urged his supporters to engage in violence on January 6 last year. A solid majority of Americans strongly disapproved of his supporters’ actions (60% in the same Economist poll), and the polls agree that the former president deserves a substantial amount of blame for what happened. A year ago in the ABC News/Washington Post telephone poll, 57% said Donald Trump bore a great deal or a good amount of the responsibility for what happened. In the mid-December Washington Post/University of Maryland online/phone poll, a virtually identical 60% gave this response. In the AP/NORC online/phone poll in late January–early February 2021, 50% said he deserved a great deal or quite a bit of the blame. In their new poll, 57% give this response. In a separate item, 80% said the individuals involved deserved a great deal or quite a bit of the blame. In the mid-December NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist telephone poll, 53% said Trump deserved a great deal or good amount, down from 63% in early January 2021 and 58% in mid-January 2021. Around 25% in most of these polls say Trump deserves none of the blame. In the Economist/YouGov poll, 31% said the 5-year sentence for a man who used a wooden plank and a fire extinguisher to attack police was too short, 35% about right, and 15% too long. In a broader question from the Washington Post/University of Maryland poll, 51% said the legal punishments for people who broke into the Capitol have been not harsh enough, 19% too harsh, while 28% said they have been fair."
This afternoon, reporting for the Philadelphia Inquirer, Will Bunch wrote that Trump "delivered one of the most incendiary and most dangerous speeches in America’s 246-year history. It included an appeal for all-out mayhem in the streets to thwart the U.S. justice system and prevent Trump from going to jail, as the vise tightens from overlapping criminal probes in multiple jurisdictions. And it also featured a stunning campaign promise-- that Trump would look to abuse the power of the presidency to pardon those involved in the Jan. 6 insurrection. It’s impossible for me to understate or downplay the importance of this moment, and I hope that my colleagues in the media-- who too often over the last year have craved or even pretended about a return to the politics of “normal,” when we are nowhere near normal-- will wake up and see this. Of course, Biden’s presidency deserves our full scrutiny, with praise for what’s gone right (an economic boom) and criticism for what’s gone wrong (broken promises on climate and student debt). But while Biden is seeking to restore democratic norms, a shadow ex-president-- unpunished so far for his role in an attempted coup on Jan. 6-- is rebuilding a cult-like movement in the heartland of America, with all the personal grievance and appeals to Brownshirts-style violence that marked the lowest moments of the 20th century. On the 89th anniversary of the date (Jan. 30, 1933) that Adolf Hitler-- rehabilitated after his attempted coup-- assumed power in Germany, are we repeating the past’s mistakes of complacency and underestimation?"
Bunch wonders if his dangling pardons are for "many or all of the more than 700 mostly low-level insurrectionists, or [was he] sending a message to his higher-up friends like Rudy Giuliani, Steve Bannon, Mark Meadows and others who could be subject to criminal probes?" He wants to make sure none of them cut a deal to testify against him. Bunch also noted that "In a sign that Trump is increasingly worried about the overlapping probes-- the remarkable evidence uncovered by the House Jan. 6 Committee that will likely be referred to the Justice Department, the Fulton County grand jury investigation into Georgia election tampering, and the unrelated probe into dodgy Trump family finances in New York, he explicitly called for mob action if charges are lodged in any of these jurisdictions. Said Trump: 'If these radical, vicious racist prosecutors do anything wrong or illegal I hope we are going to have in this country the biggest protest we have ever had ... in Washington D.C., in New York, in Atlanta and elsewhere because our country and our elections are corrupt.'"
Trump’s chief weapons are fear and intimidation. To save American democracy, the people tasked with getting to the bottom of a former president’s high crimes and misdemeanors-- on Capitol Hill and in those key courthouses-- must be ready for the violence that Trump is inciting, and must summon the courage to finish their job. My fear is that Trump’s speech in Conroe will live in infamy-- but the only reason it happened at all is because we have not held Trump to account for attempting to wreck American democracy on Jan. 6 ... not yet. Now, Trump has told us in no uncertain terms how he plans to break the nation this time. We can act forcefully to stop his new insurrection and punish his past crimes-- or we can sit back and let the comet of autocracy strike.
Don't ask me why George Stephanopoulos would invite a brainless blow hard like Susan Collins on his show so frequently, but there she was today babbling away. Stephanopoulos noted that "Trump was out in Texas last night suggesting he may pardon those-- if he were elected in 2024-- those who were part of the January 6th riots. Given that, can you imagine any circumstances where you could support his election in 2024?" Collins responded that "We're a long ways from 2024. But let me say this, I do not think... that President Trump should have made that pledge to do pardons. We should let the judicial process proceed. January 6th was a dark day in our history." She added that "it's very unlikely" that she would support Trump if he ran for president again. No response from Trump yet. Stay tuned.