Would They Ever Accept Seeing Trump Hauled Off The Prison?
Yesterday, the New Republic published polling results from Hart Research that suggest that nearly half of Americans are very worried that our system of government-- democracy-- is crumbling. "Their concern does not demonstrate a strong partisan divide: 44 percent of Republicans agree with 48 percent of Democrats that our political system is in such trouble that it needs no less than major changes or even 'a complete overhaul.' And respondents were not optimistic about the prospects of any such overhaul arriving: Only a quarter of Republicans and 36 percent of Democrats feel confident about how democracy will look in 10 or 20 years."
Democrats are disturbed by the growing strength of white nationalist groups, as well as by state legislatures’ increasing power to determine the outcome of presidential elections. Republicans are disturbed by mandated vaccination and mask-wearing but unbothered by the filibuster and positively cheerful about Trump’s attempts to overturn the result of the 2020 election. While they either don’t care or don’t believe that their party is making it harder to vote, they are quite worked up about Democrats committing so-called election fraud.
Interestingly, the Republican rank and file is split about what January 6, 2021, represents. Although most Republicans in our poll described the events of that day as patriotic, a hefty minority said what happened was an insurrection-- a dissensus, it should be underscored, that isn’t reflected among Republican Party leadership, which has been overwhelmingly reluctant to condemn the incident. “I don’t know whether we should take a lot of comfort in knowing there are still 43 percent of Republicans who think that was wrong,” [pollster] Molyneux reflected, “or despair that it’s only 43 percent.”
What, in any case, should be done to strengthen our democracy? Democrats are keen to do away with the Electoral College, increase the number of justices on the Supreme Court, and eliminate the filibuster; Republicans, not so much. They’d prefer to reduce absentee voting and limit early voting times, although what they’d most love to do is improve border security and restrict illegal immigration-- a position that a high percentage of Democrats (61 percent) agrees with. A more heartening measure of common feeling can be found in the question of the Supreme Court: 59 percent of Republicans agree with 75 percent of Democrats that it would strengthen democracy to limit the number of years a justice can serve. Fixed terms, of course, would ensure that new justices are added more frequently and would give successive presidents a more comparable likelihood of appointing them.
Elie Mystal wrote this morning that he-- like the vast majority of normal Americans-- very much does not see the Trumpist coup and insurrection as "patriotic" and he, like many if us, is furious that Trump is not behind bars. The evidence backing up vigorous prosecution is overwhelming. "We have evidence," he wrote, "that he tried to tamper with a federal election, because Trump is on tape asking Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to 'find' the votes to put him over the top. We have evidence that he engaged in a conspiracy to obstruct Congress on January 6, 2021, because he urged people to do so on live television and spent weeks beforehand trying to overturn the results of the presidential election. We have evidence that Trump knew what he did was wrong, because he and his lawyers ordered his collaborators to not cooperate with congressional investigators. And yet Trump remains a free man. He has not been arrested; he has not been indicted. We don’t even know whether he is being investigated by federal authorities for his apparent crimes against the country. Trump grudgingly left the White House on January 20, 2021-- destroying presidential records on his way out the door, another crime-- but has churlishly continued to proclaim himself the victor of an election he lost. Millions of Republicans wait for Trump to return and finish the job of permanently smashing democracy and installing one-party white supremacist rule, much like millions of French authoritarians waited for Napoleon to return from exile on Elba to reconquer Europe.
So far, the Department of Justice has busied itself with 800 or so of the people who stormed the Capitol on January 6, 2021, including the leaders of white supremacist organizations who appear to have been part of the conspiracy. But there’s been no hint of charges, or even investigations, into the Republican members of Congress who supported the insurrection or the president who encouraged it. It appears that Garland has ceded that part of the investigation to the House Select Committee on January 6, which has mere oversight authority, instead of putting it in the hands of the FBI, where it belongs. Even there, Garland has been so slow to enforce the lawful subpoenas issued by the House of Representatives that his recalcitrance borders on sabotage.
Trump’s continued liberty is an affront to the rule of law, and his freedom is a threat to democratic self-government, but every time I bring up Garland’s crucial and thus far absentee role in defending these ideals, I am told to wait. The wheels of justice turn slowly, but the institutionalists assure me that those wheels are turning and Trump will eventually be held accountable.
The people telling me to wait for Garland are the same people who told me to put my faith in Robert Mueller and his no-nonsense, by-the-book approach to bringing Trump and his whole cabal to justice. But at least the Mueller argument was believable. The case for Garland is starting to sound less like sober analysis and more like pleasing fan fiction.
Here is the story that Garland’s defenders would have me believe: The attorney general is working in secret but in parallel to the House investigation, building a case against Trump from the ground up by pressuring the people who physically stormed the Capitol. He’s been getting secret wiretaps approved by judges, poring over documents obtained via the two-year-old investigation into Rudolph Giuliani’s failure to register as a lobbyist for foreign interests, and is synthesizing this information with (also still secret) Southern District of New York investigations into Trump’s finances. He hasn’t actually deposed any of the key witnesses in Trump’s inner circle or seen any of the key documents, because Trump appeals to the Supreme Court every time somebody asks for a piece of paper he forgot to eat. But we shouldn’t worry, because Garland has got this, and criminal charges against Trump are totally going to spill out of the Justice Department before he runs for office again in 2024.
...But it’s more likely that Garland is asleep, Bragg is a coward, and aliens fly past Earth with their windows rolled up so we don’t infect them with any of our stupid.
Yesterday, Steve Benen, reported that Jamie Raskin, the smartest and most aggressive member of teh select committee, spoke Wednesday to the Washington Post and suggested new revelations are on the way in the case against Trump. Raskin: "We have not been shy about criminal evidence we encounter, and our report will be profuse in setting forth crimes that have not yet been alleged. But, having said that, we are not a prosecutorial entity. Our job is to make a report to Congress and the American people about what happened on Jan. 6 and what needs to be done to prevent coups and insurrections going forward."
When The Post asked whether there will be consequences for those behind the insurrectionist violence, the Maryland Democrat added, “As in most mob-style investigations, the Department of Justice seems to be working its way up from the bottom to the top. They have charged a lot of people with violent assault, destruction of federal property, interference with a federal proceeding and now, increasingly, seditious conspiracy, conspiracy to overthrow the government.
“So that’s why I’m telling the people who are despairing over the fact that the people at the top always seem to get away with it to be patient because I do think they are working their way up.”