I never contemplated that “checks and balances” would take the form of the President of the United States inciting a fascist mob to storm the legislative branch. That’s quite a “check” on Congress. However, not a whole lot of “balance.”
The tyrant-president did not do this alone. He had plenty of co-conspirators whose words, like those of aspiring autocrat Trump, mattered: Rudy Giuliani, who urged the fanatic rabble to initiate “trial by combat;” Donald Trump, Jr. who revved up the barbarian hordes, warning members of Congress inclined to follow the Constitution and not object to Joe Biden’s electoral vote count that “we’re coming for you;” Rep. Mo Brooks telling the mob it was time to “kick ass;” Sen. Josh Hawley, whose fist pumping on his way into the Capitol was intended to get Trump supporters’ pulses racing; and Sen. Ted Cruz, the oleaginous Trump bootlicker whose lies leading up to the attempted coup aroused the passions of the great unwashed. More on these two craven congressional Quislings below.
All of these democracy destroyers merit the full punishments that the law allows. They must be held to account. For the conspirators who fomented insurrection—Trump, Giuliani and Junior, that means indictments and ultimately prison for the many U.S. criminal code provisions they transgressed: seditious conspiracy, insurrection, knowingly and willfully advocating and abetting overthrowing the government by force or violence, inciting a riot, treason and perhaps felony murder. For their congressional colleagues, it should mean expulsion from office under Article I, Section 5, Clause 2 of the Constitution.
Another “perfect” phone call? Reprising his attempted telephone shakedown of Ukraine’s president in which he threatened to withhold desperately needed military equipment unless the foreign leader manufactured evidence against Joe Biden, Donald Trump attempted the same strong-arm tactic on Georgia election officials. This brazen attempt to commit election theft was accompanied by threats of prosecution if the Georgia officials did not illegally flip the Georgia results to Trump. Fortunately for American democracy, they refused.
Trump’s Kool-Aid-besotted base probably has not listened to the president’s 62-minute, feverish phone call or read the shocking transcript. Consequently, they will continue to believe that their cult leader is not the criminal mob boss that the rest of America and the world know all too well.
Trump must also be held accountable for this seditious act. While the Biden Justice Department will hopefully have its hands full bringing him to justice for inciting his followers to storm Congress, the Georgia Attorney General has no such distraction. Georgia Criminal Code §21-2-604(a)(1) states: “A person commits the offense of criminal solicitation to commit election fraud in the first degree when, with intent that another person engage in conduct constituting a felony under this article, he or she solicits, requests, commands, importunes, or otherwise attempts to cause the other person to engage in such conduct.” The penalty is 1-3 years in prison. Another section of the Georgia Criminal Code makes it a felony to conspire to commit election fraud. Our resident despot can’t self-pardon himself out of a state crime.
It’s been 157 years since General William Tecumseh Sherman left Atlanta a charred ruin while burning his way to the sea. Donald Trump left Atlanta intact but charbroiled the Republican Party, losing it both the two Georgia runoffs and the U.S. Senate by his scorched earth demolition trek through Georgia. His lies and bombast about rigged elections and attacks on state Republicans for doing their constitutional duty confused and deterred thousands of Republicans from voting. At the same time, as in 2018, he once again energized Democrats disgusted with his boorish behavior and wicked ways to come out and vote in droves. Malevolence, self-absorption, villainy and ineptitude are never a great combination.
The 150 or so congressional Republicans who, even after the Capitol insurrection, continued to deny the will of the American people and opted for fascist autocracy over republican democracy deserve to have their treachery and cowardice memorialized in a Hall of Shame. Come the next several election cycles, these seditious traitors should be marked for a pull-out-all-the-stops effort to defeat them and send them back to the ignominious futures they so richly deserve. Deterring the next autocrat wannabe—Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, Kevin McCarthy (a worthy heir of his 1950s namesake), Stephen Scalise and their disgraceful ilk—from attempting a similar coup d’état in the extremely unfortunate event that one of them comes to power down the road, is crucial. Sadly, we will likely have to wait at least two years to begin the process of cleansing Congress and America of these execrable proto-Fascists.
January 8, 2021