Criminal or Delusional
After two days of public hearings on the part of the January 6th Committee, I expect anyone paying attention has concluded that Trump is either (a) guilty of orchestrating a criminal conspiracy to maintain power despite losing the presidential election, or (b) certifiably delusional. In either case, his ongoing hold on the Republican party is mystifying. One way or the other, the man is unfit to lead.
William Barr, other Justice Department officials, and key members of Trump’s inner circle have all testified that Trump’s claims of voter fraud were meritless. All were, and are, Republicans; and all were in positions to know. Trump and his cultish followers willfully ignored these testimonies; and instead, as Representative Liz Cheney said, they’ve have chosen to defend the indefensible.
Each of these aforementioned witnesses testified that they advised Trump as to their views and findings: No fraud. Trump lost. Biden Won. And, not surprisingly, these assessments were later corroborated by post-election recounts in all the six critical states in which claims of voter fraud were most vociferous. Nonetheless, despite this counsel, despite the post-election audits and recounts, and despite the 60 judicial findings giving no credence to any of the claims of fraud, Trump persists in perpetuating the lie to this day.
I keep hearing from legal experts that the Justice Department’s reluctance to charge Trump criminally most likely stems from their fear of failure — i.e., that the prosecutors might not be able to convince a jury unanimously, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Trump acted criminally; and while that threshold has certainly been more than surpassed for me, given the size of Trump’s unshakeable support, the reticence of the Justice department may be understandable.
A sizable population refuses to be swayed by the facts. Irrespective of what might be represented during jury selection, all it takes is a single outlier and Trump could walk. That’s the way the system was designed; and as frustrating as it may be in this case, it’s a safeguard that knowingly accepts outcomes where some guilty parties will evade accountability as being necessary to safeguard against the prospect of innocents being wrongfully convicted.
The idea that it would be better not to charge Trump than to charge him and end up with an acquittal where he claims vindication may seem to be worthy of consideration. As we are learning from the hearings, Trump’s thumb prints are so ubiquitous in his and his acolytes’ effort to stay in power, it’s hard to fathom that the standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt” wouldn’t be satisfied for at least one of, plausibly, dozens of counts.
We all heard the tape of his conversation with Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, asking him to “find” more than 11,000 ballots. How can that conversation be misinterpreted? In the words of Al Franken, a monkey ought to be able to win that case. (Franken used that line when his lawyer informed him that Fox News had dropped its suit against Franken to prevent distribution of his book, “Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right.”)
Perhaps my biggest frustration is with the Republican leadership and the Republican National Committee, all of whom have been in position to right this ship. Those in, or seeking, elective office who continue to embrace the big lie deserve as much condemnation as Trump himself. It’s one thing to favor the policies advocated by Trump and his administration; it’s quite another thing to repeat the big lie even today, after all the evidence that has been put forth to debunk it. Apparently neither principle nor character count any longer with these Republicans — if they ever did.