Trump did everything he could to change the results of the 2020 election. He tried to halt the count of absentee ballots, tried to stop states from declaring Biden the winner, asked state legislatures to go back into session and declare him the winner, and plotted a fake elector scheme to submit fraudulent certificates of ascertainment that falsely asserted Trump had won the Electoral College vote in a few key states that he had not won.

THEN: In December of 2020, Trump held a meeting in the Trump Oval Office that turned into a screaming match for some reason that until now has been kept under wraps. Who was there? Gen. Michael Flynn, Sidney Powell, Pat Cipollone, and Eric Herschmann among others.

After this meeting, Trump urged his followers to come to DC on January 6th. 

What happened in that meeting that turned into a verbal brawl?

The January 6th committee tried to find out the answer. They got some information, which was highlighted by the committee in their public presentation, but they also got stonewalled by some of the people they wanted to hear from.

Rep Adam Schiff and others on that committee did their best to get key witnesses into their committee to expose what was said in that meeting. Without the power of the Justice Department to impose consequences for failing to testify or grant immunity for self-incriminating testimony, the committee was not able to fully crack open the wall of secrecy that shielded Trump from being exposed as either a co-conspirator or a director in the coup plot that had been evolving and had been revealed as the subject of the verbal brawl in that Oval Office meeting.

Then, on January 6th we all saw with our own eyes the result of the surreal attempted coup as white supremacists, Oath Keepers, 3 Percenters and Trump followers descended on the capitol threatening to hang Mike Pence and attack other lawmakers or kidnap them (remember that guy carrying all those restraints with him?) The goal of the plot to keep Trump in power was to create enough chaos to throw the final determination of the election to the House of Representatives where the number of GOP led state legislatures and the convoluted, unclear wording of the constitution would have allowed Trump to make a claim that he had won re-election.


It is certain that if Trump had not wanted to stay in power the insurrection would not have happened. But was he the instigator of the coup? Did he command the coup or simply go along with what others were planning on his behalf and that of others who stood to benefit from the continuation of a Trump presidency? The January 6th Committee got only so far in answering that question. They heard from Eric Herschmann, Pat Cipollone and other attorneys who were conscious of the legal peril they could face if they failed to come clean. These people were in the room and had spoken up against the coup. They wanted to get on the right side of history. But anyone who was deep into the weeds of the coup who could be found liable for participating and pushing the treasonous actions that were taken refused to testify in congress. Mark Meadows did not testify in congress but he released a trove of emails that helped the January 6th committee a great deal.

With the appointment of Jack Smith as Special Counsel the dynamic shifted. The DOJ has the ability to get information from co-conspirators who want to make a deal by telling the truth. Smith is now getting testimony from some of those people who were present at that meeting in the Oval Office that turned into a shouting match who were not only on the right but also the wrong side of history. There is some evidence that Mark Meadows is very quietly cooperating with the DOJ investigation, for example. We are going to find out what was shouted, who shouted it, who stood up for democracy and who was all in on cheating to get Trump back in power after he lost the election to Joe Biden.


Vanity Fair, CNN and other reliable news sources are reporting on what Jack Smith is interested in learning about. What Smith is probing can be ascertained from the accounts given by witnesses after they leave the grand jury because they are questioned by reporters about what Smith’s team asked them.  Here is what they say Jack Smith’s investigation is bearing down on.

As we know from contemporaneous reporting, topics discussed during the Oval Office meeting included not just using the military to seize voting machines and invoking martial law*—the latter of which Flynn had pushed for on TV, saying they should “rerun” the election—but making Powell a special counsel to investigate voter fraud. As The New York Times reported, “White House counsel, Pat A. Cipollone, and the White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, repeatedly and aggressively pushed back on the ideas being proposed, which went beyond the special counsel idea, those briefed on the meeting said. Mr. Cipollone told Mr. Trump there was no constitutional authority for what was being discussed, one of the people briefed on the meeting said. Other advisers from the White House and the Trump campaign delivered the same message throughout the meeting, which stretched on for a long period of time.” As CNN notes, “shouting and insults ensued” and “the night ended with Trump tweeting that a coming gathering in Washington, DC, on January 6, 2021, to protest the election results ‘will be wild.’”

In addition to Giuliani, Smith’s team has reportedly also questioned former national security adviser Robert O’Brien. Also said to be of interest to investigators is December 14, 2020, the day a slate of fake GOP electors signed certificates falsely claiming Trump had won the election; investigators have reportedly focused on “efforts to recruit the illegitimate electors, have them sign certificates falsely asserting Trump had won, and then use them as a pretense to pressure then vice president Mike Pence to delay certification of Biden’s Electoral College win on January 6.” (Vanity Fair)


As Jack Smith hunts down the evidence that shines a light on Trump’s role in the coup plot, he gets ever closer to indicting Trump. There is no longer a question about whether Trump will be indicted, only when.

Since Trump’s base has been lied to by conservative media propaganda, they are convinced that Biden is an illegitimate president. They think Trump is the real president who is being persecuted by the woke left that has taken over our government. When Trump gets indicted for his role in the coup plot, his base will rally around him even more. Trump’s approvals with the GOP base will go up instead of going down. In short, Trump’s base is still living in an alternate universe crafted and bolstered by Fox “news”, Breitbart, conservative radio personalities and hosts who are using propaganda to keep Republicans aligned with Trump and others who are behind his attempted coup and are betting on his return to power.


There are some uncomfortable parallels between Trump and Hitler.

Hitler went to prison after an attempted coup but rose to greater power after that.

Lockdown in prison also had unexpected, less quantifiable boons for Hitler. Though there had been a trial before his imprisonment, it had been a show trial which promoted his popularity and brought him to national attention on the German stage.

However, his time in prison also influenced his political philosophies and his public image. Throughout his prison sentence, German people felt sympathetic towards his cause – this is exemplified in the shortness of Hitler’s sentence in comparison with Communist equivalents. The image of Hitler, in the eyes of some German people, significantly changed thanks to his prison time. He became a popular martyr, and a challenge to the injustices and failures rife throughout Germany. 

Like Hitler, Trump will try to use prosecution by the DOJ to help him gain a second term as president. It is unlikely Trump will be tried and convicted before the 2024 election. (I hope I am wrong about that but with Aileen Cannon as the presiding judge we are already seeing delay tactics by Walt Nauta’s attorneys and Cannon, a less experienced judge, is not likely to be able to stand up to the pressure she will get from Trump’s defense team.) So, when he gains the nomination and we get a rematch between Trump and Biden in November of 2024, Trump has to hope that enough Americans believe he is being unfairly persecuted by being prosecuted. He will rely heavily on conservative media to help him with this narrative.

Trump already uses white grievance as one of his signature tools for creating a sense of alliance especially with low education white men in America who feel under attack from Black and Brown people, women, and the “woke left”. Just as with Hitler, Trump uses fearmongering and propaganda to rally and keep the support of his base.  Trump, like Hitler, wants the electorate to see him as the powerful leader this country needs to combat all of the scary stuff going on in the world: unfit people coming to the border to sneak into our country, the reason they cannot get better paying jobs, even the unsettling effects of climate change. Scared people yearn for a strong leader who will stand up for their interests.


The bad news for Trump is that Biden is doing such a good job as president that the Republicans are having trouble effectively labeling him as the big bad boogeyman they wish he were. Bidenomics has been proven to be a very good thing: building the middle class out and up instead of relying on trickle down economics.

Our country is doing better than other countries post pandemic.

We have a robust job market, infrastructure bills were passed that are revitalizing the country including rural America, and even with our shockingly extreme right wing Supreme Court that just struck down Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan and affirmative action, Biden has vowed to find a way to help students manage their loan debt and make sure universities and workplaces will continue to be diverse. This is all part of bolstering the middle class (normal America) and making sure hard working people, including young people, have a path forward. The goal is a multicultural, diverse country of opportunity with a strong democracy.

Biden’s age helps him to be both wise but also vulnerable to attack as a doddering old man. Sometimes he stumbles. Sometimes he stutters. If you look at what he has accomplished in his time in office, however, you have to admit he has been incredibly effective despite a divided country and congress. Biden’s successes make it hard to argue that Trump is the strongman America needs.  In addition, many of the right wing culture war talking points simply don’t resonate with a majority of Americans. Americans don’t think that book bans or abortion bans are wonderful. They don’t agree that it’s fine to refuse to do a wedding website or cake decorations for people who are gay. The majority is more tolerant of differences and unafraid of immigrants than the GOP wish we would be. The Freedom Caucus looks like a bunch of goof balls who are out to lunch about what Americans really want from their government. Americans want congressional leaders who are passing laws that help them have good lives, not fighting amongst themselves about whether Marjorie Taylor Greene should be kicked out of the Freedom Caucus for calling Lauren Boebert the “b” word.

The current iteration of the GOP is idiotic and petty. And so is Trump.

That’s the good news. Because Trump and the ultra-right will be trying to use the “Hitler playbook” to regain power. To get our country back to a more normal status quo where politicians disagree about policies and approaches but are not anti-democracy, Republicans need to lose and lose big in 2024. Once they lose again, Trump can be convicted and finally!! face consequences for breaking the law and maybe, just maybe, the GOP will realize it has to remake itself into a party that is interested in governing.