Yesterday, CNN reported that a group of former Trump administration officials are banding together in an effort to block their former boss from entering office again. It's the same old group of latter-day anti-Trumpists who have been blowing the whistle on him for a year or two-- Miles Taylor, Olivia Troye, Anthony Scaramucci...
"The meeting of the group, announced by former White House press secretary and chief of staff to the first lady Stephanie Grisham," wrote Merdith McGraw and Daniel Lippman, "is scheduled for next week where they will discuss how to 'try and stop' former President Donald Trump and the 'kind of violence and rhetoric that has been talked about and continues to divide our country.' In an interview with CNN on the morning of Jan. 6, Grisham said about 15 former Trump administration officials-- some she said, who ranked higher than her-- have held informal discussions and plan to meet in person. 'I think that there were a few of us who, again, have been sitting back watching him continue to manipulate and spread this big lie and continue to harm our country,' Grisham told CNN. 'And [we] started some informal chats and then started throwing around ideas of what we could do, how we could formalize it."
Yesterday, the infamous husband of one of Trump's most infamous enablers, Kellyanne Conway wrote how that lame Attorney General of Trump's "pledged that the Justice Department has 'no higher priority' and would do 'whatever it takes for justice to be done-- consistent with the facts and the law.' Most important, he made clear that 'the Justice Department remains committed to holding all January 6th perpetrators, at any level, accountable under law-- whether they were present that day or were otherwise criminally responsible for the assault on our democracy.'"
If Garland means what he says, then the investigative road must lead prosecutors to the individual most responsible for the events of Jan. 6: former president Donald Trump.
...As Judge Amit B. Mehta told defendant John Lolos at his sentencing, “I think you are a pawn. You are a pawn in a game that’s played and directed by people who should know better.”
As the pawns meet their fates, the man who led them to try to stop the peaceful, democratic transfer of power remains safe in his Palm Beach palace. As Mehta put it, “People like Mr. Lolos were told lies, falsehoods, told the election was stolen when it really wasn’t.” Those lies were Trump’s.
And not only did Trump deceive the mob, but also he directed it. Trump urged the rioters to come to Washington on Jan. 6, promising it would be “wild!” On that day, he told his supporters to march on the Capitol, to “fight like hell”-- and warned that “if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.” He told the crowd that “our country will be destroyed” if Joe Biden took office, and that “we’re not going to stand for that.”
Trump’s intent was obvious well before Jan. 6. I tweeted on Dec. 26, 2020, “It’s pretty clear now that @realDonaldTrump’s next desperate play is to encourage disruption, if not violence, in Washington on January 6.” I wasn’t being prescient; I had just listened to what Trump had been saying. As Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) said in announcing her vote to impeach, “The President of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack.” He did it all in plain sight.
So now the question is, will the Justice Department hold Trump responsible for his role in the attack? If Garland truly means that perpetrators at any level will be held accountable, and that “there cannot be different rules for the powerful and the powerless,” then the department can, it should, and it must.
Garland must not fear that prosecuting Trump would be viewed as a partisan act. He need only look to the words of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who, after voting against an impeachment conviction on the (meritless) ground that Trump had left office, all but called for Trump’s prosecution. “We have a criminal justice system in this country,” McConnell said. “President Trump is still liable for everything he did while he was in office,” McConnell added. “He didn’t get away with anything yet. Yet.”
The Justice Department has plenty of statutory tools available to make sure Trump doesn’t get away with what he did. Most notably, it could invoke one of the same provisions it has applied to individual rioters: Title 18, section 1512(c)(2) of the U.S. Code punishes “whoever corruptly … obstructs … or impedes any official proceeding.” The statute makes clear that an “official proceeding” includes one “before the Congress.” At least one judge handling Jan. 6 cases has already held that it includes Congress’s joint session for counting electoral votes.
If the attorney general means what he says, Trump’s day in the dock will come-- if not soon, then soon enough.
Republicans have been tying themselves in knots over this mess for a year now and the latest to get hoist on his own petard is everyone's favorite Texas villain, "Ted" Cruz. Yesterday he crawled on his belly to Tucker Carlson to beg forgiveness after it slipped out of his face that the Trump insurrection mob of police-assaulters was a bunch of terrorists. Jonathan Chait wrote in his New York Magazine column yesterday that Cruz "pleaded for the chance to trade one of his remaining scraps of dignity in return for a measure of forgiveness." He called it "sloppy phrasing" and claimed that "caused a lot of people to misunderstand what I meant. What I was referring to was the limited number of people who engaged in violent attacks against police officers." But that didn't go well either.
Cruz and Carlson disagreed over whether it was accurate to describe people who assault police as “terrorists.” (The FBI defines domestic terrorism as “violent, criminal acts committed by individuals and/or groups to further ideological goals stemming from domestic influences, such as those of a political, religious, social, racial, or environmental nature,” which would seem to include assaulting police officers in order to further the ideological goal of giving Donald Trump an unelected second term.)
Cruz did not back down on the broader definitional claim that attacking police officers is “terrorism.” He conceded, however, that it was wrong to describe Trump fans who attacked police officers this way. “The reason I used that word is that’s the word I’ve always used for people that attack cops,” he pleaded, “But in this context, I get why people are angry. Because we’ve had a year of the corrupt corporate media and Democrats have so politicized it.”
Calling right-wing extremists who attacked cops in hopes they could pressure Congress to cancel the results of the election “terrorists,” Cruz now agrees, was a horrendous slur. Whatever these people are, they are not as bad as people who attack police officers for other, less sympathetic reasons.
Cruz also noted that, while he erred by describing the violent attackers in the insurrection as “terrorists,” he would never describe their effort to overthrow the government as an “insurrection.” “Saying it’s an insurrection is a political term,” he noted. “It’s a lie, I’ve repeatedly denounced it.”
Cruz ended the segment by reminding Carlson he was one of a dozen senators who supported Trump’s effort to cancel the election results. “While thousands of people were standing up to defend this country on January 6,” he said, “I was standing on the Senate floor, objecting to the election results.”
Cruz thought the sweet spot for him was to position himself as a champion of Trump’s non-violent efforts to discard the election results while strongly condemning its violent aspects. Not for the first time, and probably not for the last, he misjudged the political market.
Bernie reminded his supporters yesterday that "the attack on our democracy goes far deeper than the violence of January 6, 2021. Our democracy is under attack from Republicans in Congress and in state legislatures across the country who are doing everything in their power to suppress the vote and make it harder for people of color and young people to vote. These political cowards are also engaging in extreme gerrymandering and are drawing the lines of their districts so they pick their voters instead of voters picking their representatives. They are intent on establishing permanent majorities."
Our democracy is under attack when many Republicans, at all levels of government, promote the Big Lie that the presidential election was stolen and increasingly call into question the results of any election they lose.
Our democracy is under attack when election officials are being harassed and threatened and when efforts are being made to allow partisan legislatures to determine election winners and losers.
But let’s be clear. It is not just the subversion of democratic norms and voting rights that is undermining our democracy.
Our democracy is also under attack because all across this country people increasingly believe democracy itself, and our government, does not work for them.
For the vast majority of Americans there is a huge disconnect between the reality of their lives and what goes on in Washington, D.C. The people see the politicians talking, talking and talking, they watch the 30 second TV ads and they hear the promises that are made-- but never kept. They remember what Lincoln said about "government of the people, by the people and for the people," and they know how far removed we are from that today.
They see the very rich become much richer while politicians and the corporate media ignore the collapse of the middle class and the painful realities facing working families-- low wages, dead end jobs, debt, homelessness, lack of health care or educational opportunity, declining life expectancy, substance abuse, impoverished retirement.
Democrat or Republican. Who cares? Nothing changes or, if it does, it's usually for the worse.
Millions of Americans are unable to make it on starvation wages and many of them struggle to put food on the table, but Congress is unable to raise the minimum wage to a living wage.
Over 80 million Americans are uninsured or underinsured, with millions going into bankruptcy because of unpaid medical bills, but Congress is unable to do what every other major country does-- guarantee health care as a human right.
One out of four Americans are unable to afford the prescription drugs they need but Congress is unable to take on the greed of the pharmaceutical industry which charges us, by far, the highest prices in the world.
Almost 43 million Americans are struggling with student debt but Congress, busy giving tax breaks to the rich and well-connected, is unable to forgive that burden which is crushing the dreams of so many.
In homes across this country seniors are being forced to live out their later years without teeth in their mouths or the ability to see or hear properly, but Congress is unable to expand Medicare to cover dental, hearing and vision.
And, while climate change ravages our country and the world, Congress is unable to confront the fossil fuel industry, cut carbon emissions and leave future generations a planet that will be healthy and habitable.
So it is no great surprise that people look at the process that produces these outcomes and say, “Nope. Not for me. I don’t know what these guys are doing but it's not relevant to my life.”
So yes, Congress must hold responsible those who engaged in insurrection at the Capitol and make sure there is never again any doubt about the peaceful transition of power in this country.
Yes, Congress must take action immediately to end voter suppression and make it easier for people in every state in this country to participate in the political process.
But, if we are really going to save democracy and make it relevant to people's lives, Congress must boldly address the long-neglected crises facing the working people of this country. In other words, dare I say, Congress must represent the needs of ordinary Americans and not just wealthy campaign contributors.