The 45-page indictment against the criminally-indicted and disgraced former president Donald J. Trump lays out the case from the federal Justice Department. Trump tried his damnest to destroy democracy and America.
“The Defendant lost the 2020 presidential election,” the charging docutment states right up front:: 45 pages that unspool a story that is at once familiar and newly shocking. “Despite having lost, the Defendant was determined to remain in power.”
The former president now stands accused — not by political opponents, not by opinion columnists, but by a duly constituted grand jury that has heard the evidence against him. As the indictment spells out, Trump tried to commit a crime against democracy. The country and its voters are his intended victims.
The indictment takes pains to recognize that Trump “had a right, like every American, to speak publicly about the election and even to claim, falsely, that there had been outcome-determinative fraud during the election and that he had won.” But Trump isn’t charged for his egregious lying.
He is charged with engaging in numerous “unlawful means of discounting legitimate votes and subverting the election results,” in what prosecutors say amounted to three separate criminal conspiracies: to obstruct the business of government in conducting the election; to obstruct the official proceeding of Congress in counting and certifying the electoral college results; and to violate the rights of all Americans to have their votes counted.
Each of these conspiracies — which built on the widespread mistrust the defendant was creating through pervasive and destabilizing lies about election fraud — targeted a bedrock function of the United States federal government: the nation’s process of collecting, counting and certifying the results of the presidential election.
“These charges do not have the air of a prosecutorial stretch. Special counsel Jack Smith, for instance, held off, as expected, from charging Trump with seditious conspiracy, which would have required evidence that he intended the violent overthrow of the government,” Marcus writes. “I do believe that this is not a step to be taken lightly. The risks of charging Trump include inflaming even more distrust of what his allies will claim is a partisan “weaponized” Justice Department; injecting more turmoil into an already inflamed and divided electorate; and, most frightening, unleashing a punitive cycle of prosecuting political opponents.”
The Trump team’s response, complaining that “the lawlessness of these persecutions of President Trump and his supporters is reminiscent of Nazi Germany in the 1930s,” shows, as though any more proof were needed, that Trump won’t hesitate to try to destroy public confidence in the administration of justice if it might help him escape liability.
The broad outlines of Trump’s conduct, and its potential criminal ramifications, have been long known.
Fully warned that the mob he had summoned to Washington to protest the election results was armed, Trump nonetheless incited them to march on the Capitol to try to prevent the peaceful transfer of power for the first time in the history of the republic.
If Trump’s behavior is allowed to stand, if it is not called out for the crime that it appears to be, the message to future presidents seeking to retain power at all costs would be: The coast is clear. Do what you need to remain in office. You can get away with murder in the middle of Fifth Avenue, and insurrection in the very halls of democracy.
Prosecuting Trump on these charges is a grave, even perilous, step. Condoning his behavior by ignoring it would be far worse.
In the long annals of the republic, the White House has seen its share of perfidy and scandal, presidents who cheated on their wives and cheated the taxpayers, who abused their power and abused the public trust.
But not since the framers emerged from Independence Hall on that clear, cool day in Philadelphia 236 years ago has any president who was voted out of office been accused of plotting to hold onto power in an elaborate scheme of deception and intimidation that would lead to violence in the halls of Congress.
What makes the indictment against Donald J. Trump on Tuesday so breathtaking is not that it is the first time a president has been charged with a crime or even the second. Mr. Trump already holds those records. But as serious as hush money and classified documents may be, this third indictment in four months gets to the heart of the matter, the issue that will define the future of American democracy.
At the core of the United States of America v. Donald J. Trump is no less than the viability of the system constructed during that summer in Philadelphia. Can a sitting president spread lies about an election and try to employ the authority of the government to overturn the will of the voters without consequence? The question would have been unimaginable just a few years ago, but the Trump case raises the kind of specter more familiar in countries with histories of coups and juntas and dictators.
In effect, Jack Smith, the special counsel who brought the case, charged Mr. Trump with one of the most sensational frauds in the history of the United States, one “fueled by lies” and animated by the basest of motives, the thirst for power. In a 45-page, four-count indictment, Mr. Smith dispensed with the notion that Mr. Trump believed his claims of election fraud. “The defendant knew that they were false,” it said, and made them anyway to “create an intense national atmosphere of mistrust and anger and erode public faith in the administration of the election.”
Yet, the lockstep Republican lemmings who make up his fanatical, cult-like “base” want Trump left alone to continue his treasonous, criminal actions. They ignore the facts that shhow Trump wanted to use his compliant attorney general William Barr, to try and use the Justice Department to force his will on a public that he felt should be controlled, not served.
By invoking claims of Nazi-style opression by his successor, he ignores the terrifying fact that, as President, he became an “Ameriican Hitler” who felt his role made him “Emperor for Life.” He was, and always has been, a criminal despot ruled by a massive, narcissistic ego that says he must be praised and supported without question.
Barr has since admitted he was wrong to serve Trump and now calls him “unfit for office” and deserves to be convicted and imprisoned for his crimes.
But others should pay the price for this treason and treachery. The six unnamed “co-conspirators” include now disbarred attorney Rudy Giuliani and five others who should be prosecuted after Trump is stopped. Others lilke the extremist Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, his courtesan ally Marjorie Taylor-Greene and so many others should face indictments, charges, convictions and serious prison time.
MAGA should stand for “Malicious Anti-American Grifting Agitators” who must pay for their crimes against Democracy and America. “Justice, matters” says former federal U.S. Army and federal prosecutor Glenn Kirshner and now podcaster and legal commentator.”
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