LOck him up! Echoing the chant from Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign against Hillary Clinton, many Americans seem interested in jailing their president after his criminally reckless incitement to last week’s mob-driven insurrection and fan-hour. in Washington.
His harshest critics would send him immediately to a federal prison or psychiatric institution. Yet despite fears that an unstable Trump poses a security threat in his last 10 days in office, it is unlikely that he will be forced to resign. It is not that easy, neither politically nor legally.
What to do about Trump once he began to deny, on election night, that he had lost the November vote was already deeply problematic. The failed “Capitol coup,” which marked the climax of his attempt to reverse the outcome, has given the issue desperate urgency. Trump is lucky not to live in a country less attached to democratic laws that he so easily breaks himself. Republican Congressman Mike Gallagher accused him of “trash from the banana republic.” He has a point. In some parts of the world, Trump would be shot for sedition.
In a sense, the assault on Congress has simplified things. It shocked America and, to some extent, brought it together. Most will condemn violence, even if one notorious BIG Voter numbers still believe Trump’s lies about voter theft and fraud.
Ultimately, it made it easy to certify Joe Biden’s victory. The embarrassed Republicans who had spearheaded efforts to reject the electoral college bills abandoned their opposition. Many, like Mitch McConnell, have denounced Trump after cynically feeding on Trumpism for years.
There is a familiar and self-defeating pattern to the dramatic denouement of this narcissistic president. Accusing each and everyone of treason, corruption, and weakness (look at yourself in the mirror, Donald), he couldn’t get away with it. So he started smashing things, like an enraged little boy. By figuratively setting fire to the Capitol, as the British troops actually did in 1814, Trump sent his last, delusional hopes of electoral resurrection in the smoke. By declaring the Georgia Senate runoffs invalid, he helped Democrats achieve a two-gun victory. “He screwed up his supporters, he screwed up the country and now he has screwed up himself,” Scott Jennings, a Republican insider, told Politico. Liz Cheney, a right-wing Republican congresswoman, was equally outspoken.
“There is no doubt that the president formed the mafia, the president incited the mafia, the president addressed the mafia. He lit the flame, ”Cheney enraged.
It looks like an open and closed case. If Trump were a private citizen, he would certainly face criminal charges, at least conspiracy and incitement to violence. But he is not, and even after January 20, when Biden impersonates him, he is unlikely to be treated as such.
“There must be consequences,” a New York Times Editorial growled, or else it would set a terrible precedent. But who will enforce a reckoning?
Vice President Mike Pence and the Cabinet could do so by invoking Amendment 25 to the constitution, which would remove Trump from office on incapacity grounds. But the yes-man Pence, who was shocked to certify the choice, refuses to challenge his boss again.
And by belatedly condemning the rioters and offering an “orderly transition,” Trump may have defused some of the pressure to fire him. Fighting to save his own hide, he betrayed the followers he had cowardly led from behind.
One second the impeachment process Is another option. The case is strong. Leaving Trump in power “puts the security of the nation at risk, leaves our reputation as a democracy in tatters, and evades the inescapable truth that the assault on Congress was a violent sedition aided and abetted by a lawless, immoral and terrifying president. “said columnist Bret Stephens. .
Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer insist Trump must resign, be removed or impeached. Given the nature of the beast, resignation doesn’t make sense. And the formal impeachment seems over the top, if only because there is so little time to organize it.
It’s hard to imagine Senate Republicans joining forces with Democrats to achieve the necessary two-thirds majority. The Republican Party is punished, defeated and badly divided; prominent figures have left his administration. But the party is still reluctant to hand over the scalp to its president.
Biden’s attitude, once he takes office, will be crucial in deciding what to do with Trump. He says he will leave the decision on any federal investigation or prosecution up to his attorney general candidate, Merrick Garland. Presidents of the United States do not usually persecute their predecessors, for fear of setting a precedent that will bite them again. Biden may prefer, like Barack Obama in 2009, to “look forward, not backward,” and deny Trump the platform that would give him a divisive legal show.
Still, the unrest and widespread and continuing outrage have put enormous new pressure on Biden to have Trump come forward for this and other past crimes. Doing nothing may not be an option.
Any recourse to the courts, if it comes, could extend to Donald Trump Jr., who deliberately whipped the crowd before the attack on Congress, and Trump’s attorney, Rudy Giuliani, who urged the Capitol crowd to pursue a “trial. by combat “.
Biden may also have a hard time resisting calls for retrospective justice from Democrats who believe the Trump campaign in 2016 acted illegally and want to pursue numerous obstruction of justice allegations against Trump contained in the Mueller report on collusion with Russia, which it implied a firm basis for criminal prosecution. . Trump’s attempt recorded last week to pressure Georgia state election officials, a repeat of the Ukraine twist that landed him on impeachment, was also flagrantly illegal.
A Washington Justice Department investigation into the violence on Capitol Hill could quickly entangle Trump when his presidential immunity runs out.
Even if Trump escapes federal charges, state prosecutors may be less lenient. In such cases, any pardon that Trump may grant himself, his family members or associates will be invalid.
One example is the long-running investigation into Trump’s business affairs by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, allegedly targeting possible tax and bank fraud and a document trail leading to Russia via Germany. .
Vance is reportedly still investigating the “secret money” payments made to two women who said they had had adulterous sex with Trump. Now Vance is said to be looking for possible links between the payments and the Trump Organization.
Other state-level investigations and civil lawsuits have been initiated or discussed, including Trump’s alleged abuse of power for personal financial gain. A Washington hotel he owns that was sponsored by foreign governments is under scrutiny.
As a private citizen, Trump also faces legal complaints of sexual misconduct and sexual assault from which he was effectively protected while he was president. He is also being sued for defamation and, separately, for fraud on the part of his niece, Mary Trump. Meanwhile, their businesses are said to face a mountain of debt.
This growing storm of government, state and private, criminal and civil lawsuits, akin to being placed in the stock and thrown incessantly, will overshadow the Trump post-presidency. But it may not be enough to silence or stop it again in 2024.
Will he really be punished for his many serious crimes and misdemeanors and end up behind bars, wearing an orange jumpsuit, as his enemies expect? It seems unlikely at this point.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism