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All of the Donald Trump scandals follow the basic tenet of “many secrets, no puzzles.”
What transpired on January 6, 2021, has never been a mystery. “There’s no question—none—that President Trump is practically and ethically accountable for instigating the events of the day,” declared Senator Mitch McConnell at Trump’s second impeachment trial.
The investigation by the congressional committee into the attack on the Capitol has produced a wealth of information that Americans can now use to confirm McConnell’s view. They have further information regarding when and how Trump sparked the incident. They have an exact timeline of Trump’s statements and deeds. They know who encouraged him and who sought to stop him.
But even with all of this knowledge, Americans still confront the same issue they have throughout the Trump administration: what to do about it. They consistently receive the same response: “It’s somebody else’s job.”
Robert Mueller, the special counsel, looked into Trump’s cooperation with Russia. Mueller filed criminal complaints against many Russian individuals and companies in addition to Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, former national security advisor Michael Flynn, personal attorney Michael Cohen, and longtime ally Roger Stone. However, Mueller declined to make a decision about Trump himself because he felt he lacked the legal authority to indict a sitting president. He also thought that since he lacked that authority, he shouldn’t express an opinion about whether the president’s actions were criminally wrong. Mueller provided proof that Trump obstructed justice, but beyond that, he passed the buck to Congress.
Following the release of Mueller’s findings, courageous informants made public Trump’s plan to use blackmail to gain support for his reelection bid in 2020. This time, Congress volunteered to look into the situation. The charges made by the whistleblowers were supported by recorded testimony. The Senate tried Trump after the House had impeached him. What is Trump’s primary defensive argument? Someone else, in this case the voters, should be responsible for holding Trump accountable.
“For all their bluster about election meddling, they’re here to perpetrate the most significant interference in an election in American history—and we can’t let that to happen,” Trump White House Counsel Pat Cipollone said. If Trump acted improperly, let voters settle the issue, not Congress. That defense was adopted by enough Republican senators to guarantee Trump’s exoneration.
The results of the 2020 election were announced in November. They rejected Trump by a margin of 81 million to 74 million. Trump and his backers resisted accepting the verdict. They attempted to rig the election first by fraud and later through violence. Once more, they contended, it was the responsibility of someone else to keep Trump accountable: not the voters, but rather the state legislatures, which should disregard the results of the popular vote and choose their own electors in its place.
The conspiracy against Trump resulted in his second impeachment and another round of “It’s somebody else’s job.” Trump’s supporters said that his planned coup had failed and that he would be leaving office on time. According to McConnell, there are other options for dealing with presidential misconduct without impeachment: “This country has a criminal justice system. Civil litigation exists. And neither of them exempts former presidents from being held accountable.
The circle was finished as a result. criminal charges? No, Congress is in charge. Impeachment of members of Congress? No, let the voters make the call. refusal to accept a loss in an election? returning to criminal prosecution
It’s “practically and morally” very difficult to hold a misbehaving president accountable, to use McConnell’s words again. An American president is subject to the law and exercises his or her power through legal channels, but he or she also has personal power sources that are not constrained by the law and are used outside of institutions. Trump relied more heavily than the majority of presidents on unofficial, uninstitutionalized power.
He and his loyal supporters constantly threatened to resort to violence against the law if any laws were attempted to be applied to him. If Trump was ever charged with a crime, both Trump’s allies and he himself have threatened rioting.
These threats might just be empty brags. But no contemporary American politician has ever made statements quite like those. Trump encouraged political violence on January 6 and achieved his goal. In the two years since, he hasn’t expressed regret or made amends.
However, the threat itself makes it even more imperative to move forward with the criminal referrals recommended by the January 6 Committee. Trump and his fans will have grounds to assume that Trump somehow scared the American legal system into backing down from otherwise abundantly justifiable action if he is not held accountable for the events of that day.
If you draw a line for Trump to cross, he will. Up until his final days in office, when he fled with boxes of official documents as if they were his personal property, such was his record as president. Trump has already declared his intention to run for office in 2024. Whatever the outcome of that race, his most likely Republican opponents are researching his strategies and weighing which ones to adopt and which to reject. Any political system that wants to maintain its constitutionality cannot ignore and pardon the encouragement to violence by the head of state.
The duty of upholding the law against Donald Trump has been handed off from one unwilling group of hands to the next for the past six years. The job is back where it was when it first began. Nobody else is available to receive it. The suggestion has come in. Justice must now be served.
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