What the Impeachment Managers Proved
The House impeachment managers did a great job of giving us the tick tock leading up to, during and after the day of the Capitol insurrection incited by Donald Trump. They proved their case but they did not get a conviction or disqualification of Trump because too many Republican Senators are afraid of the very people who invaded the Capitol; their deluded Republican base. Trump was acquitted by a vote of 57 to 43.
There are three audiences: the Senators, the American people and history. All of them matter. 17 Senators would have had to vote to convict Now that Trump is acquitted, many more Americans will decide the Republican Party has left them, and they will leave the GOP because the GOP has become a cult instead of a political party.
Anyone who watched the impeachment trial with an open mind knows that Trump was the match that lit the mob attack on the Capitol and that the incitement happened over time as Trump engaged, cultivated and encouraged angry, disaffected supporters to falsely believe his win was stolen from him. He got the mob to carry out his will and then coordinated in real time with the leaders of the mob who used his tweets to direct the crowd’s action.
As we got closer to the election, Trump spoke directly to his “people” via Twitter telling them over and over that the only way he could lose would be if the election was rigged. Trump was priming them. The impeachment managers reminded us of Trump’s reaction when his radicalized activist base attacked a busload of Biden campaign organizers. A caravan of cars and trucks surrounded the bus, endangering it and eventually running it off the road. Trump congratulated these people and retweeted the incident adding fight music just for fun. Trump made fighting fun over and over again. No wonder so many of the radicalized people who attacked the Capitol taped everything on their cell phones and posted it on Facebook.
Trump organized the rally to coincide with the counting of the ballots and changed the time of the rally so that the mob would show up just exactly when the ballots were being finalized. He incited the mob using “fight” language 20 times. Like every good mob boss he also threw in at least one “go in peace” comment for plausible deniability. Trump told his crowd that when they went down the street to the Capitol he would be going there with them. (No. He did not do that.) It was totally predictable that Trump’s incitement of this crowd would result in the attack on the Capitol.
What Was Trump Trying to Do on the 6th Anyhow?
What Trump desperately wanted to do on January 6th was stop the Electoral College votes from being counted. Why would that do any good? His goal was to keep working over the Republican led state legislatures in Georgia, Arizona, Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania to get them to overturn the slate of electors that had been chosen based on the popular vote and replace them with a slate of electors loyal to him. He believed that if he could just get more time he could eventually get Georgia state officials or Michigan state officials to yield to his pressure and help him win by replacing the electors. Once one state flipped maybe more Republican state legislatures would follow.
To Trump’s obsessive, delusional mind, it all came down to Pence on January 6th. That was his last chance. If Pence would break with the law and the Constitution, it would buy Trump more time for his pressure campaign. When Pence did not do his bidding, Trump got the back up plan he wanted: revenge. Trump knew the mob was after Pence and others in both chambers at this point in time. He was watching the coverage in real time as most Americans were. Pence and his family had to be hurried away as the mob closed in on the Capitol.
Trump, knowing that Pence was in danger, turned the mob on his Vice President with this tweet:
“Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution,”
After that tweet, the crowd erected a noose and hunted for Pence yelling, “Hang Mike Pence!” Traitor!” “Traitor!”
Kevin McCarthy directly called Trump and told him angrily to call off his mob. Here is what happened in that call between Trump and McCarthy:
The call became heated, according to the report from CNN, and Trump first tried to blame Antifa for the attack before telling McCarthy, “Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.”
McCarthy angrily told Trump that members of the mob were trying to break into his office, and said, “Who the [expletive] do you think you are talking to?”
CNN’s latest reporting cited several House Republicans who were familiar with the call. In the wake of the insurrection, McCarthy himself spoke on the House floor and said Trump was at least partly responsible for the attack.
The new details bolster Democrats’ argument that Trump abdicated his duty to protect the Constitution, a sentiment that was echoed by one anonymous Republican who spoke to CNN.
“He is not a blameless observer, he was rooting for them,” the Republican member of Congress told CNN.
Trump got the mob to carry out his will, coordinated in real time with the leaders of the mob who used his tweets to direct the crowd’s action, and refused to call off his mob for over 2 hours. He was not blameless as the defense would have you believe.
Why the Defense of Trump Was Baloney
The Trump defense mainly focused on Trump’s so called right to say whatever he wants if he believes it’s true. (That is not true as I explain in my blog post ‘Republicans Still Protecting Trump.’) Trump, his lawyers said, didn’t incite a mob. Lots of politicians use fight language, they said. Then they played numerous out-of-context clips with Democrats saying “Fight” over and over.
The difference here is that when these politicians used the word “fight” they were telling supporters about the need to fight for climate change legislation or fight for the rights of women. No one but Trump has ever told a known armed mob of followers to go down Pennsylvania Avenue to Capitol Hill to “fight like hell or they would not have a country anymore” and given them the mission to stop the Electoral Vote count.
Republicans also relied on the idea that a former president cannot be convicted even after being impeached while in office. That was incorrect. The House managers relied on Federalist Society conservative scholars to rebut it. But the Republicans used it as their figleaf.
Who Was In Trump’s Mob?
Trump has always encouraged his supporters to be mean, nasty and rowdy. He was the role model who catered to violent extremists who became the activist core of his radicalized base. He built up their support for him over time. After Charlottesville when he said there were “good people on both sides,” he was raising up the extreme violent white supremacists in our country, emboldening them.
Trump’s mob on January 6th consisted of a variety of what you might think of as “normal” American people, and others who had been in the military or had been radicalized to violence. Some of the most extreme actors on the right were the Proud Boys, Bugaloo bois, Three Percenters, Oath Keepers and other militant white supremacist groups. These people led the charge to carry out Trump’s will on January 6th, They attacked the Capitol Police with American flags, sticks, fire extinguishers, bear spray and other weapons, trying to get at the unarmed legislators. They forced their way into Congress hunting for lawmakers to assault to stop the certification from happening. This group of insurrectionists was an equal opportunity attack mob. They hated everyone on Capitol Hill representing “government” with the possible exception of co-conspirators like Senators Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley, and Representatives Mo Brooks, Paul Gosar, Lauren Bobert and Marjorie Taylor Greene.
Many who participated in the riot on January 6th were facing financial trouble- unpaid loans, bankruptcies, and broken dreams. They had lives that were not going well. Many were also people who had a history of being physically violent with wives or girlfriends or significant others. It makes sense that this group of already angry, demoralized Americans would be drawn to Trump who seemed to be speaking for them and expressing their rage about being left behind in a country that is growing more diverse, out of their control. Trump had taken many steps to squelch the rising tide of black and brown people in America such as his harsh Zero Tolerance policy at the border.
The pandemic made things worse in America especially since it was mishandled and politicized by Trump. As it raged on, causing shut downs of their small businesses– restaurants, flower shops, and damaged their lives in other ways, these Americans could see what was left of their hopes and dreams being destroyed or jeopardized. These people got involved in Q’Anon, Christian prophecy groups and other radical communities out of fear and anger, in search of answers, certainty and a remake of reality to be the world they wanted. They went to Washington DC at their president’s direct request to fight not only for him but for themselves, for their own futures. Trump captured their feelings and spoke for them. Stop the Steal? What was being stolen? Trump’s followers believed their futures were being stolen from them. Their freedoms were being stolen from them. That was what motivated them.
The radicalized soldiers of Trump went to DC with their guns and weapons, their body armor, tactical gear, bear spray and their rage, believing their own personal futures depended on upending the Electoral College vote and that Trump was fighting for them. Trump had become their unlikely savior.
This is, in fact, the defense Trump’s mob has been raising in courts across the country. Over 200 cases so far. The president called them to DC, they say. They answered his call. They followed his tweeted orders. They fought for him because he asked them to. They are not to blame. Trump is.
Why Conservative Media, Mitch and Trump Are to Blame
Conservative media deserves much of the blame for this blow to democracy because it repeated so many of Trump’s Big Lies, especially the one about how he won in a landslide when Biden won the election fair and square. Republicans, especially Mitch McConnell, deserve blame for failing to implement many of the 400 bills that the House passed that McConnell sat on for 4 years. These were legislative plans that, if implemented, would have helped Americans have affordable health care, job retraining programs, and other opportunities to realize the American dream. Instead, the Republican led Congress gave the 1% their tax break and starved ordinary Americans of hope by making it too hard for too many Americans to have a life that worked.
What Happens Now That Republicans Acquitted Trump?
Why wouldn’t 17 Senate Republicans vote to convict Trump? This was the moment they could have freed their party from this would-be dictator. Are they cowards? Do they really think Trump is the way forward for their party? Is this really the Republican Party Americans will want to be part of? Really?
Republican voters are leaving the Republican party by the thousands in states across the country since the mob attack on the Capitol.
An analysis of January voting records by The New York Times found that nearly 140,000 Republicans had quit the party in 25 states that had readily available data (19 states do not have registration by party). Voting experts said the data indicated a stronger-than-usual flight from a political party after a presidential election, as well as the potential start of a damaging period for G.O.P. registrations as voters recoil from the Capitol violence and its fallout.
The problem is that 66% of Republicans across America still believe the Big Lie that Trump won. That’s because the GOP and conservative media have not deconstructed the alternate universe that Trump and conservative media created. Until they do that, people like Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger will be the pariahs, not Trump and his sycophants.
This does not bode well for the GOP, however. The party is now split into two distinct parts. Many people will not be able to stomach remaining in this former political party that is a cult of personality and white supremacy.
The GOP is Trump’s bitch now.
Will Trump Get Away With Everything?
Trump has once again skated on this impeachment trial, but he could still be indicted by the US Attorney in DC for inciting this riot and possibly for murder since his incitement of the mob resulted in the death of Officer Brian Sicknick. He will also face criminal charges for his unlawful actions in Georgia urging Republicans in that state to change the results of the popular vote. He will soon be facing indictments from SDNY for tax fraud. And don’t forget he is still Individual One in the Stormy Daniels case. There will be even more civil and criminal cases to keep him busy. Trump’s base is likely to continue to shrink as he faces indictment after indictment.
The Alternate Universe Lives On
This impeachment trial should have been the ultimate show down between the real world that the impeachment managers have honestly documented in extraordinary, painful detail, and the alternate dystopian world that Trump and his supporters and sycophants live in in which Trump is still all-powerful, still the real president, and the dictator-in-waiting. But the battle between truth and lies is not over and will not be for a long time in our country.
The answer to this problem is being worked on by Biden and his administration.
The Answer to Trump and Trumpism
The answer to Trumpism is a government that works for all Americans including those people who supported and still adore Trump. Many who participated in the insurrection will be going to go to jail just like Michael Cohen did because they did Trump’s dirty work when they shouldn’t have.
The answer to authoritarianism is a democracy that works. That’s our job. We have to help our country to work better.
1) We must beat back the lies from conservative media, the Josh Hawleys, and the Ted Cruzes. I support Media Matters for America because that group is leading that fight. I hope you will donate to that group at any level you can.
2) We need to make sure the Republicans who vote to acquit Trump are not re-elected. Donate to Democratic candidates who run against them.
3) We need to give people who were misled by Trump a way to leave their cult without being attacked by those of us who are shocked and disgusted by their choices.
4) We need to support the Biden administration because a government that works is the cure for the cynicism and demoralization that got us into this damn mess in the first place.