Wednesday, January 13, 2021





No doubt in my mind, Donald Trump is responsible for the Capitol Insurrection on January 6. He told his supporters that they had been grievously harmed by a stolen election and called for them to march on the Capitol to encourage them to prevent Congress from certifying his defeat. And they did. Now, he did not exactly tell them to occupy and ransack the Capitol. Nor did he tell them to detain and execute the vice-resident and members of Congress. He didn’t have to. The crowd had long been prepped for violence.

Trump has been feeding that monster nonstop from his earliest days as a candidate. He encouraged participants at his rallies to attack counter protesters and the press. He suggested that police rough up (“not be so nice to) criminal suspects. Neo-Nazi rioters in Charlottesville were “fine people”. Mass murderers from Pittsburgh to New Zealand have launched their massacres listening to Trump’s voice in their heads. He has broadly characterized Black Lives Matter and other police reform advocates as thugs and looters who should be shot. On January 6 he told an angry mass rally that the Deep State has robbed them of his landslide re-election victory and that they should do something about it. Trump has been piling up tinder for years now. Last week it erupted in flame.

While Trump sparked last week’s conflagration he’s had plenty of help from Republican elected officials and right-wing media that largely ignored his fascination his influence on the violence that seems to always follow in his wake. “It’s just Trump being Trump” has been the typical excuse when Trump’s words result in mayhem, injury and death. Somehow that is OK. Even now his apologists try to separate Trump’s exhortations to the crowd--”be wild”, “march to the Capitol”, Giuliani's call for “trial by combat”—as not really calls for violence. Bullshit! Trump yelled “Fire! In a crowded theater and is responsible for the chaos and death that ensued. His orcs, minions and catchfarts who’ve acquiesced and remained silent in response to his calls for violence and refusal to accept the results of an election that was by all accounts one of the best administered in recent history (despite the springtime problems caused by the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic) share a large portion of blame as well.

That said, Trump and his enablers are not solely to blame for the disaster at the Capitol. Congressional authorities responsible for Capitol security also failed miserably. Twenty years after the 911 attacks that supposedly “changed everything” an inchoate mob can storm, occupy and vandalize the Capitol of the United States. Like 911, intelligence an information indicating the possibility of and attack was available and either ignored or dismissed. Last week’s failure may exceed 911 in that the evidence was more specific as to time, place and the intent of the more violent factions within Trump World. Reading the accounts of the online chatter leading up to January 6, it seems pretty clear that violence at the Capitol was a very real possibility and yet Capitol security was wholly unprepared for what happened. I can’t pinpoint who did or did not do what—responsibility for and coordination of security around the Capitol is shared among Congress, DC government and the federal executive branch (mainly the Department of Defense, I think)—but the bottom line is eminently clear: the citadel of American democracy was successfully attacked and disabled. The success was only temporary but the damage to America will be permanent.

Trump’s refusal to accept the election results and commit of a peaceful transfer of power clearly violates his oath of office. So, too, does his incitement to violence. I don’t know if this is a cynical Trumpian ploy to avoid accepting defeat or if he truly believes that he won by a landslide. Either way, he is clearly unfit for office (disclosure: I’ve never considered him fit for office) and should be removed from office immediately. I realize his term ends in a few days but I sure as hell do not want him to continue to have sole authority to launch nuclear weapons one minute more. But the VP and cabinet are unwilling to act and Congress has impeached the president for a second time. Inciting a deadly riot more than meets the requirement of “high crimes and misdemeanors”.

At best, impeachment will be a permanent record of Trump’s cancerous presence in office. Whether Congress can proceed with impeachment against an ex-president is an open legal question and also raises complications for the incoming Biden Administration which would prefer to have Congress focusing on confirming appointments and addressing Biden’s initiatives on the pandemic, economy and the other fires set by the Trump Administration as they exit.

Impeachment is a very blunt instrument. Apparently that is the only thing likely to make a dent in Trump’s oversized ego.

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