Investigations of Donald Trump in The Next Phase of
The War After the Election
Scenarios of a Stolen Election, Mass Protest, Violence and Even Civil War Afterwards— And What We Can Do to Prevent Ourselves from Spiraling Towards That Point
STOP! DON’T READ THIS VERSION OF THE WAR AFTER THE ELECTION. CLICK HERE TO BE BROUGHT TO A SPECIAL PREVIEW OF PART 1 OF THE NEW UPDATED EBOOK VERSION OF THIS ARTICLE.
[An update of this article regarding the potential censure of Donald Trump follows this brief summary of its previous installments:]
In June of 2020 the Transition Integrity Project ran a series of political scenario exercises (or what the military would call “war games”) on various outcomes for the 2020 presidential election. “We anticipate lawsuits, divergent media narratives, attempts to stop the counting of ballots, and protests drawing people from both sides,” the TIP report summarized. “The potential for violent conflict is high.”
On top of this, Nils Gilman, one of the TIP’s co-founders said in an interview with Vox afterwards, “We’re also concerned, frankly, that the incumbent administration could attempt to do things using … the power of the executive branch, to basically stop the full resolution of a close election.”
Bryan Dijkhuizen in his Medium article “The US Faces an Unprecedented Stress Test of its Democracy” quoted Wilkerson: “The incumbent president pulls all the reins of federal power. The Border Guard and the Department of Homeland Security can hire and uniform contractors, Justice, the armed forces.”
Dijkhuizen said Wilkerson was fearful of a split in the military ranks between high level officers who think the military should stay out of elections, and low level troops who might support Trump; as well as of the potential role of the National Guard under the governors, who at the time were Republican in 31 states.
“In those states, guards as semi-professional militias, because that’s what they are, could be mobilized under the ostensible command of the governor. Or Trump can place them under federal authority,” Wilkerson explained, which Dijkhuizen summarized to mean: “If (part of) the army chooses the Biden camp, real soldiers can face guards.”
Gilman described how an attempt could be made to use the 12th Amendment to overturn the results of the Electoral College — which ultimately led to the attack on the United States Capitol on January 6.
The Transition Integrity Project consisted of former Congressmen, United States Senators, previous cabinet members, White House Chiefs of Staffs, Secretaries of Defense and Homeland Security and state governors. That officials of this stature would play “war games” in case President Trump refused to leave office peacefully or that they were even TALKING about such scenarios was not given the gravity and attention it required … and is one reason we find ourselves in the constitutional crisis we are in today.
The War After the Election was updated to address how to approach Donald Trump’s impeachment and other matters between Election Day and Joseph Biden’s inauguration. You can still read the original version of the article in its entirety, which goes into more detail about the history of the 12th Amendment and its relevance to the 2020 election; and the first update with suggestions on how to handle the critical period between January 6 until Biden’s inauguration on January 20 in this link: [https://medium.com/@alcris2/in-june-of-2020-the-transition-integrity-project-ran-a-series-of-political-scenario-exercises-or-90b508c47cf5])
The Impeachment Phase — Hurry Up and Slow Down
The next phase of “The War After the Election” involved what to do regarding the second impeachment of Donald Trump.
In the post-January 6 update to the article, I stressed a two-pronged approach to politically paralyzing Trump until he was out of office: by holding over Trump’s head the threat of removal from office via an impeachment conviction and/or the 25th Amendment if he began to move towards the misuse of any kind of emergency power; and a strategy of “passive resistance” by the public so that he would have no excuse to do so.
The article argued for a “phased impeachment” in which the House would impeach Trump, but wouldn’t send the articles to the Senate until later (unless events would trigger the need for his immediate removal, in which case they could be sent to the Senate at a moment’s notice).
It was also argued that without such a crisis, an impeachment conviction would require a more thorough investigation than the House had time to prepare and that once he was out of office Donald Trump was no longer the primary concern: national security issues were.
A Strategy for a Censure With Teeth in It
Now that he is out of office and the impeachment has failed to result in Trump’s conviction, the rest of the process should not be rushed. The Congress will most certainly initiate further investigations regarding these matters and then proceed as the evidence merits.
The two most vital issues to investigate are what happened on January 6 regarding national security matters, especially as is relevant to the Trump administration; and those aspects that the Mueller investigation was obstructed by the Trump administration from exploring, and which the Mueller report expected Congress to take up and remedy.
The War After the Election is far from over. The constitutional crisis that was averted by the botched insurrection at the Capitol will now be carried beyond the impeachment trial in the Senate and to where a new and different maize of questions and constitutional conflicts await.
Was it an Insurrection or a Coup Attempt? — or Both?
A fuller INVESTIGATION would allow for the Congress and Justice Department to look more thoroughly into this question. How deeply were Donald Trump’s hands on the levers of power that many increasingly suspect may have been the cause of inaction on the part of the security forces — both on January 6 itself, but also in the two months which led up to it? This needs to be INVESTIGATED and not just swept under the rug of history — because the same powers which were at Trump’s disposal still remain for a SUBSEQUENT President to abuse.
The counter-coup by the communist generals to reverse the dissolution of the Soviet Union only failed because Boris Yeltsin took a different route to work on the morning of the generals’ attempt to kidnap him.
As Dave Volek similarly points out in his excellent Medium article “January 6 Might Have Been a Constitutional Crisis”:
“Just imagine if the Metropolitan Police had been delayed by another half hour in their advance to the Capitol. The frenzied insurgents might have found a few high-ranking politicians: assassination would have been within the realm of possibility.
Here is the speech Mr. Trump would have preferred to have given later on that day:
I have called on the military to deal with the unrest at the Capitol Building. To prevent further chaos, I am hereby suspending Congress until such time we regain safety of our elected officials. Should there be any further disruption of civil order, I will order martial law.
From a legal perspective, this means the certification of the Electoral College was not done. So Mr. Biden cannot be president according to the Constitution and the rules around that Constitution. Mr. Trump would continue in that office — until such a time when Mr. Trump could declare Congress safe enough to resume sitting.
Could this have really happened? Is it not within the possibility of Trump logic? Remember this is a man who says he believes the election was stolen after 60 court cases that failed to prove it was stolen.
The sad part is that a significant minority of Americans would have approved of the suspension of Congress. Of course, many other Americans would take to the streets in protest. And there would be some violence. That would have given reason for martial law — and a more permanent suspension of Congress.
The military would have been in a difficult position indeed. Their oath is to uphold the Constitution, not support a particular party or its leader. The Constitution says that until the certification process is complete, the new president cannot take office. The certification process was not complete. So what should the generals do?”
We now know it was much worse: the insurrectionists were merely feet and seconds away from being able to take hostages, with all that would have meant.
If the above scenario alarms you enough to take action to prevent it from happening, there is a legislative proposal intended to stop it and a petition that urges Congress to pass legislation that would specifically put a brake on excessive presidential powers that could allow a president to defy a Supreme Court decision in order to declare unwarranted states of emergency or martial law.
Finding answers to exactly what happened in the executive branch of government on January 6 and in the two months leading up to it after the election on November 3 is the paramount question to be looked into regarding Trump’s role in the insurrection/coup attempt. Remember, he made many moves to consolidate the levers of military, law enforcement and intelligence power under his authority during those two months.
Such questions are raised in the m2c4 Medium article “Movin’ On to the Next Demagogue”:
[We may never know] … just how deep [was] the conspiracy to foment the insurrection … and who was involved … just how closely the Trump campaign staffers who moved over to the Stop the Steal rally continued to work with the White House … how closely certain House Republicans worked to organize the insurrection rally … how much of the program at the insurrection rally was dictated by Trump and the White House ... why the Department of Defense, where Trump had only recently installed the Acting Secretary and two of his political cronies, required a sign off from senior Pentagon leadership in order to deploy the National Guard ... whether Trump’s social media guru, Dan Scavino, let Trump know just how determined many of his supporters were to attack the Capitol … just how much influence Roger Stone had in controlling the actions of the Proud Boys during the insurrection and whether he working on behest of Trump … what was actually discussed at the meeting in the Trump Hotel the night before the insurrection or even if the meeting actually occurred … if Trump was indeed delighted with the storming of the Capitol as he watched it occur … And we may never know just how many GOP officials Trump bribed or extorted to continue to push his Big Lie about winning the election.
Simply convicting Trump in the Senate “so that he can never run for office again” might have solved the problem of Trump’s own potential future abuse of presidential power, and might have conveniently solved the “political” problem of Donald Trump for Mitch McConnell and the Republican Party. But it wouldn’t have answered the questions above or many others, and it would not prevent a future President from abusing those same powers.
Furthermore, a conviction of Trump would not have finished the process of looking into those things the Mueller investigation was prevented from exploring due to the Trump administration’s obstruction of its work; whereas a more prolonged congressional investigation will. Remember, now that he is out of office and the Democrats control both chambers of Congress, Trump will not have the levers of power with which to obstruct such congressional investigations.
In this very interesting video, Heather Cox Richardson raises the possibility that the Justice Department may use RICO laws to investigate what happened leading up to the Capitol attack. The relevant section starts at 2:50.
But regardless of where these investigations lead, Trump is still eligible to run for office again and would have the same excessive presidential capacities available to him that he abused during his term. While Trump may seem to be in a political death spiral, remember how derisively he was dismissed in 2016; and remember how much better he did than expected in this last election.
Trump’s misuse of authoritarian powers was only made possible because those powers existed in the first place. Whether there is a return of Trump or of somebody similar to him, those powers must be eliminated now while there is still multipartisan support for doing so and before another president (Trump or otherwise) might be inclined to use them again.
What alternatives are there now that the second impeachment of Donald Trump has resulted in acquittal? And how do we solve the longer-term problem of limiting presidential power regardless of what happens to Donald Trump specifically?
Use of section 3 of the 14th Amendment to prevent him from holding office again should be left hanging over Trump’s head, especially if he starts to stir up violence that could be interpreted as leading towards another insurrection. Not allowing somebody to run for office must pass a high bar of proof, and would be a drastic step, but it would be easier to peel away enough Republicans to prevent Trump from running again in this manner than to impeach him.
There has also been talk by Republicans about “censuring” Trump. But if Trump is censured, Democrats and moderate Republicans should band together and pass “a censure with teeth in it” which would be much more than a “slap on the wrist.” Most urgently, legislation needs to be attached to such a censure in order to limit the presidential emergency powers which as described above so well by Dave Volek could have culminated in martial law on January 6.
The merits of implementation of section 3 of the 14th Amendment can be debated as events evolve.
But the Need to Limit Presidential Power Is Paramount.
The Pledge to Safeguard the Constitution below is a petition for Congress to pass legislation to limit presidential power which could be attached to a censure. It addresses the most urgent, critical danger: the overreach and misuse of presidential emergency and military powers in defiance of a Supreme Court order, conceivably culminating in an attempt of a president to remain in power under the guise of a national emergency by declaring martial law and rejecting the results of a presidential election.
Rather than approaching selective issues in a piecemeal, scattershot manner, Congress must be pressured to curtail presidential power in a comprehensive way.
Do more than just read this article. Urge Congress to act. Click and add your name to the short six paragraph summary of The Pledge to Safeguard the Constitution immediately below and pass it on to others:
Click Below to Be Brought to The Pledge Site to Sign the Petition:
Email Address: ______________________
Zip Code: ___________________________
More will be written here and elsewhere about the constitutional and social crises which have arisen out of the 2020 election and its aftermath. To get occasional notifications regarding such updates, slide the button below:
Previous articles that explained what was happening leading up to the Capitol attack on January 6 and in its aftermath:
How Would Martin Luther King Handle the Inaugural Capitol Riot, Trump and the Threat of Martial…
King and Eugene Goodman Would Do More Than Just “Turn the Other Cheek”