Trump and His Minions Step into Illegality, Over and Over
Despite it all, from impeachable offenses to bad policy to public lying about coronavirus dangers, Donald Trump apparently remains the most popular Republican in the country.
The political tea leaves, including his own, say that except for any serious health issue it is likely that we will see Trump make a bid to return to the White House in 2024. And we will see him actively backing candidates for Congress or governor or even school boards across the country whom he feels support his continuing efforts at pursuing the Big Lie that the 2020 election was fraudulent or stolen from him.
We’re watching a series of events and reflected in the news that each strike at Team Trump credibility and culpability in the Jan. 6 coup attempt and a seemingly endless set of investigations.
Even as he faces a barrage of legal actions, business setbacks, personal challenges using blatant misinformation as a shield, we’re headed toward a re-run election with Trump refusing to accept any vote that is for the other candidates.
To help him, Republican-controlled state legislatures are further gerrymandering districts, even in red states, moving to limit votes in targeted urban, largely minority, Democratic areas, and putting in place rules to allow Republican officials to overturn adverse vote counts.
At the same time, even Republican-led efforts masquerading as official recounts show Trump marginally losing 2020 votes in Arizona and two counties in Idaho.
The legal challenges don’t just frame problems for Trump, they outline a real and sustained attempt to suborn what we have known as democracy in America.
Long Problems List
With that starting point, we’re watching a series of events and reflected in the news that each strike at Team Trump credibility and culpability in the Jan. 6 coup attempt and a seemingly endless set of investigations of Trump’s taxes, businesses and law-skirting political maneuverings in pursuit of self-promotion and election reversal.
The sheer weight of the list should give even ardent Trump supporters pause. Legal pursuit of Trump is as full-time a task as shielding our cringes as Trump mounts rally stages to offer total rewrites of the recent histories of election fraud, Covid, international affairs, Afghanistan – the full gamut of public issues.
Even out of office, Trump demands executive privilege for protection from inquiry—about things one would think he would be proud to defend, like Jan. 6 or even his health or wealth. Biden says he is leaning toward the release of any such White House information.
Among the most egregious disclosures of late:
- The Eastman Memo, in which Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and a lawyer named John Eastman met in the Oval Office scheming to subvert the will of the American people by using legal sleight-of-hand, a New York Times editorial summarized. The new book by Washington Post journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa provides the details of Eastman’s proposed six-point plan for Pence to reject already certified electoral votes representing 10s of millions of legally cast ballots and allow Congress to return Trump to office. Among other things, reliance on outsider Eastman in the chaotic final weeks of his administration also underscores the degree to which Trump not only relied on, but encouraged, a crew of players from the fringes of politics, reported The Times in a piece about Eastman. They became key participants in his efforts to remain in power as many of his longtime aides and lawyers refused to help him.
- The Trump lawyers are being sent to the showers in various legal settings. In Detroit, a federal judge ordered penalties to be levied against Sidney Powell and eight other Trump lawyers who filed an election lawsuit using the false claims about Dominion. Now, even Trump is disowning Powell. And in a court deposition, Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani fessed up that he did absolutely no research into election fraud other than reading a social media post – he couldn’t recall whether on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram – and that his lawsuit against Dominion Voting Systems and its employees were made up. You can read the deposition. Rachel Maddow made a meal of it this week.
- The Jan. 6 Congressional inquiry has resulted in a dozen subpoenas of Trump associates to testify about their roles and that of Trump before and during the Capitol riots. So far, Trump is insistent that none need obey a Congressional subpoena. The committee is insistent that there is no legal shield for them, or for Trump himself. We know this one is going to court. Meanwhile, the government watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) released several hours’ worth of audiotapes of U.S. Park Police showing park officers overwhelmed by pro-Trump crowds early in the morning of Jan. 6, hours before the assault on the U.S. Capitol. No help was provided – raising all the same kind of questions about the White House’s role in encouraging rather than handling lawlessness.
- Lawsuits arising from charges of election fraud are proceeding, mostly adversely for Team Trump. But they also are reflecting Trump’s hypocrisy about some of the more bizarre conspiracy theories at the base of the alleged fraud. Two weeks after the November elections, Trump lawyers said that Dominion Voting Services voting had worked with an election software firm, the financier George Soros and Venezuela to steal the presidential contest. But by then, Trump’s own campaign had already prepared an internal memo on many of the outlandish claims, The Times reported. In other words, Team Trump was spouting theories that its own campaign had doused. There were no ties to Venezuela, Dominion did not use technology from Smartmatic, Dominion leaders had no ties to Antifa.
What We Should Hear
It’s a long list, and we haven’t gotten to the New York state cases about Trump Organization business tax fraud charges, to personal lawsuits over the use of campaign monies for Trump’s sexual encounters or to the investigation in Fulton County, Ga., over attempts to extort false election results from local officials.
What we keep hearing is that any time votes go against what he wants, Trump—and now other Republican candidates—claim fraud. In each instance, we learn months later that fraud means things like voting rolls that have yet to be cleaned up when people leave one jurisdiction for another, not multiple votes. Or that people can vote by mail at all – including Trump and his family themselves, of course.
We would not put up with football teams flouting the rules of the game to declare a do-over or to insist that they won a game with a losing score. Why is it OK in elections?
We have seen Republicans across the country fall into line to call for more nutty recounts that are anything but recounts months after the 2020 election, and more Republican moves to tilt the tables for the next election to return them to power in Washington. Meanwhile, in Washington, we see Republican abdication of any responsibility to govern at all, not endorsement of no platform other than closed borders, rejection of abortion and voting rights and more tax cuts for corporations.
What we should hear is a presentation from Trump that says straight out, yes, he ordered, and helped insurrectionists, that he will say anything true or false to become president again and that we should demand that he do so some more.
If he went through all the machinations to make it happen, he should take credit for it and stand up for consequences. If he understands there is something fundamentally wrong here, he should stop the election fraud talk. It’s not persuading a single voter.