Tag Archives: Supreme Court

trump’s attempted coup – THAT WAS the week that was

The Week is Over

The cliché says that journalism is the first draft of history. We shall have to wait the verdict of historians several years down the road to craft a title for the tumultuous events of the last week and put them into perspective. For now it shall suffice to note that the FBI is calling on citizens to help identify members of the violent mob of Donald Trump supporters who attacked the United States Capitol on Wednesday in an attempt to stop Congress from tallying the Electoral College votes declaring Joseph Biden and Kamala Harris the next president and vice-president.

It was the first time since the Constitution was ratified on June 21, 1788, that a President of the United States attempted to overturn the results of an election and remain in office after the election of his successor had been certified by the states and the District of Columbia.

This was a violent insurrection by a mob summoned to Washington for a “Save America” rally by Donald Trump, calling for a “wild” protest and urged by him to “walk down … to the Capitol…. Because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength and you have to be strong.” That after Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, told the mob, “Let’s have trial by combat.” And after Trump’s sons threatened retribution against any Republicans who did not vote to reject the certified Electoral College results.

This attack on Congress was simply the culmination of the attacks on the norms, laws, and institutions of the United States that have marked the Trump administration. Shots were fired. People died. The historic center of the American government was vandalized. The battle flag of the Confederacy was paraded through the halls, a sight never seen before, not even during the nation’s bitter Civil War.

Some members of the administration have resigned. Some Republican members of Congress and other Repuublican supporters have “rethought” their unwavering support of Trump which has enabled his transgressions for the last four years. But there is still significant support for him in the Congress and in the executive branch.

There is considerable fear of what Trump might do in the last week and a half of his term. His mental health has always been questionable. He has always exhibited the textbook symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder. But now he seems more unhinged than before. There have been calls, led by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, for the Vice-President and cabinet to declare Trump unfit to serve and remove him from office, something Vice-President Pence has indicated he is not ready to do yet, but might change his mind if Trump tries to do more damage.

Pelosi also talked with the Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff, Mark Milley, “to discuss available precautions for preventing an unstable president from initiating military hostilities or accessing the launch codes and ordering a nuclear strike,” she said in a letter to House Democrats. That she though that call was necessary is frightening.

Democratic House members have drafted new Articles of Impeachment which could be introduced on Monday and voted on by Wednesday. They seem to have some Republican support. The draft cites Trump for “incitement of insurrection.” They argue, “Trump gravely endangered the security of the United States and its institutions of government.”

If passed, Trump would become the only president in American history to be impeached twice. The fate of such an impeachment by the House is uncertain in the Senate.

The Investigation

Meanwhile the investigation into Wednesday’s riot continue. In addition to the FBI search for members of the mob, Congress is set to look into the actions, or inactions, of the Capitol Police. Three top officials, including the chief, have resigned amid reports the police were wholly unprepared and some may have been complicit in the storming of the Capitol. There is no question individual members of the Capitol Police performed heroic acts and put themselves in harm’s way to protect members of Congress and their staff. But some may have turned their backs on protestors and their leadership may well have failed them.

There will also be questions for the Pentagon, where civilian leaders who had pushed back on Trump’s efforts to employ the military in support of his political endeavors were fired in the last few months and replaced by Trump loyalists. The Pentagon apparently withheld deployment of the District of Columbia National Guard when Capitol Police requested assistance. Because of DC’s unique status as “not a state,” the executive branch must approve its use. The Capitol was finally secured with the assistance of the DC Metropolitan Police and National Guard forces from Virginia and Maryland, responding at the request of DC and under the authority of their governors. This is just another argument in favor of DC statehood.

Social Media

In the wake of the calls for violence and persistent lying about the outcome of the election by Donald Trump, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter shut down his accounts. Talk about closing the barn door after the horse has bolted. There is considerable evidence that the attack was planned and plotted and organized in the months since the election on various outlets of social media.

While a majority of the mob might have been unknowing Trump supporters caught up in the moment, there appear to have have been a core minority group of insurrectionists, members of the “militia” movement which has always been a factor in America. How the FBI and other national security agencies missed that is beyond explanation. Unless they did so on purpose.

And do not minimize the threat, at least that from the core group of military trained goons, dressed in camouflage uniforms, wearing body armor, helmets and outfitted with communications gear and weapons. There were chants in the mob, clearly recorded, of “Hang Mike Pence,” and “Where’s Nancy?” references to the Vice-President and the Speaker of the House. An apparently working gallows had been set up outside the Capitol. What might have happened had these leaders, both in the line of succession, been reached by the mob?

Legacy

There is no doubt whatever legacy Trump might have hoped for has been squandered. So be it. And the movement to impeach even in the final days of the Trump administration make perfect sense in terms of preventing him from ever running for office again.

But this has been more than four years in the making. From the moment Trump came down that escalator in Trump Tower to announce his candidacy Trump has staged an assault on America’s core values. He has lied with impunity, aided by opportunists in his own pollical party and the media.

A leader can tell those in society who believe the American Dream has passed them by that he sympathizes with their sense of frustration. Such a leader offers a helping hand to help people improve their situation. A megalomaniac like Trump tells them the suffering they perceive is a result of oppression by “others” and that he is the only solution to their problems.

Trump’s entire political ideology has been to convince Americans that the nation is broken, and that only Trump can fix it. In fact, what is most broken, and always has been, is Trump.

Links to previous entries in this series….

Day One.

Day Two.

Day Three.

Day Four.

Day Five.

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trump’s attempted coup – Day 5

–> This will be an ongoing story this week and will be updated as needed.

(January 7 – Insurrection

A violent mob of Donald Trump supporters, urged to action by Trump himself, Wednesday attacked the United States Capitol in an attempt to stop Congress from tallying the certified Electoral College votes declaring Joseph Biden and Kamala Harris the next president and vice-president of the United States.

In that, they failed.

But for hours they laid siege to the seat of the American government, marauding through the halls, vandalizing offices, occupying the chambers of the Senate and the House of Representatives, and preventing the members from attending to the business of the day. Before the insurrection was quelled, shots had been fired inside the Capitol and on the grounds, tear gas and flash bangs had been utilized, and four people had died.

These were events we have witnessed many times before. But always in other countries. The last and only other time the Capitol was under fire was during the War of 1812. The British were the attackers. They burned the building.

No Federal Response

The mob blew past the Capitol Police like a hot knife runs through butter. Soft butter. How that happened is unclear. It certainly was not for lack of warning. Since the election on November 3rd, Donald Trump has been falsely claiming he had won and calling his acolytes to come to Washington January 6 for a massive rally.

Wild it was. On Wednesday Trump addressed the crowd, first repeating his lies about a fraudulent election stealing from him a great victory, and then:

“And after this, we’re going to walk down there, and I’ll be there with you, we’re going to walk down … to the Capitol and we are going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women…. And we’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them. Because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength and you have to be strong.”

Many of the rioters thought Trump was walking to the Capitol with them. Of course the coward-in-chief had returned to the White House and hunkered down in safety, leaving his followers to face down the police alone. It wasn’t hard, the Capitol Police quickly gave way and let the mob pass. Were they a small force generally trained for crowd control that was overwhelmed? Or where they ordered to stand down by Trump supporters in their ranks? While some clearly put their lives on the line to protect the members under their care, others posed for selfies with the members of the mob. Certainly Nancy Pelosi will order a major investigation, and possibly a major housecleaning.

But where was the federal response? When Trump wanted to stage a photo-op in Layfette Square last summer and wanted to have peaceful Black Lives Matter demonstrators moved out of the way, the federal government routed the protestors with an iron fist. The Park Police, special tactics forces from Customs and Border Patrol, the FBI, the Attorney General, the Director of Homeland Security and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff with attack helicopters from the National Guard all came down on the protestors who were detained and hauled off in buses.

None of these forces came to the aide of the Capitol Police and there are reports that Trump himself blocked their deployment. When the Capitol was finally secured, well after sunset, it was with the help of the local District of Columbia Police assisted by state police and national guard forces from Virginia and Maryland, deployed by the governors of those states at the request of the DC government. Most of the insurrectionists driven out of the Capitol were allowed to depart without arrest.

Why? Another question for the post mortem. Of course, the BLM demonstrators were mostly Black. The Trump insurrectionists mostly White.

The Sedition Caucus

None of would have happened without the cooperation of the Republicans making up that is now known as the sedition caucus. They are the Trump loyalists who turned what was supposed to be a ceremonial function of the Congress into still another challenge to the election results. These results have already been reviewed, challenged and audited by fifty states and the District of Columbia and certified to be valid. These results have been challenged by more than sixty lawsuits and not a single one has been found to have any validity. But that didn’t stop Republican Senators led by Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley to force the House and Senate into a lengthy debate on the validity of the returns, even though Congress has no legal basis to reject them.

Mitch McConnell, yes, the soon-to-be senate minority leader of who I have been harshly critical, did rise to the occasion to oppose objections to the ballots, saying they would “damage our republic forever.” So did Mitt Romney, who gave an impassioned speech on the impact of the seditious attack on democracy, calling it “an insurrection incited by the President.” Even Lindsey Graham, who said, disappointed as he was, that Trump had lost and enough was enough. On the House side, more than 140 Republicans challenged the validity of the election results and the debate became so heated some members came close to exchanging blows on the floor of the chamber.

Just before 4am Thursday morning, Congress completed its work and proclaimed the Biden-Harris victory official. They will be sworn into office on January 20th, just as the Constitution requires.

What’s Next?

There is a lot of cleanup facing President Biden and the Democrat-controlled Congress in the months ahead. Those who formed the mob need to be tracked down and prosecuted. They left plenty of pictures behind and the FBI has already asked for help in their identification. The police response, and the lack thereof needs to be investigated. And while Congress seems today to be trying to assume a business-as-usual; stance, business cannot be conducted as usual.

What to do with Donald Trump? Many fear what he may do in the 13 days remaining in his term in office. There is talk of invoking the 25th Amendment, declaring Trump incapacitated and installing Mike Pence as acting president. Today several social media sites banned Trump at least for the remainder of his term. If they can act, why can’t the Vice-President and the cabinet? It is frightening to think Trump is considered unfit to have a Facebook account while he still has the nuclear codes.

The images of yesterday were frightening and will forever stain our democracy. We must demonstrate to the world, and to ourselves, that our values remain intact. After four years of destructive activity by Donald Trump, that will not be easy. How do we convince the 74 million people who voted for his reelection to accept that he lost? We must start by holding responsible those pollical leaders who chose sedition over democracy. We cannot forget.

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Links to previous entries in this series….

Day One.

Day Two.

Day Three.

Day Four.

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trump’s attempted coup – Day 4

US Senate

–> This will be an ongoing story this week and will be updated as needed.

(January 6 – Georgia and the Senate)

Pinch me.

Awww…. Not so hard.

We will not know for sure until the official certification. But as of this writing, it looks as if the people of Georgia have come through and elected two Democrats to the United States Senate. That would make the Senate evenly divided, 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans. And in case of a tie vote, the tie is broken by the President of the Senate. “The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided” (U.S. Constitution, Article I, section 3). And the President of the Senate is, drum-roll please, the Vice-President of the United States. And the Vice-President of the United States is, rim-shot here, Democrat Kamala Harris!

What does this mean? First and foremost, it means Kentucky Republican Mitch McConnell will get a new title. Minority Leader. And as minority leader, he will be able to control, insert cymbal crash here, absolutely nothing. With the election results still unofficial I am afraid of jinxing something. But I would love to be able to get into McConnell’s face and congratulate him on his new found impotence.

McConnell is the man who announced his goal in life was to make Barack Obama a one-term president. He failed at that. But he managed to be a thorn in the side of America’s first Black president for no reason other than his apparent disgust at seeing a person of color behind the Resolute Desk. McConnell denied Obama a Supreme Court nomination, having the audacity to refuse to even meet with Merrick Garland, the Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, let alone allow him an up-or-down vote in the Senate.

The little dictator from Kentucky had no problem ramming through in record time Trump’s nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the top court. Nor did he have any problem letting hundreds of progressive bills designed to benefit the majority of Americans and passed by the Democrat controlled House of Representatives die on his desk, never to even be considered by the Senate. The most recent was the House bill to raise the emergency Covid relief payments to $2,000, an idea that had the support of Trump! During his years as majority leader the Senate has become a legislative graveyard. The only exception is the rubber-stamping of Trumps nominees. That includes the stacking of the federal judiciary with right wing zealots demonstrably unqualified to serve as judges with life-time tenure. What used to tout itself as the world’s greatest legislative body has become a laughing stock.

And while I’m dreaming about confronting Republican senators I have visions of standing in front of Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, now to be chairman of NO committee and saying, with a smirk, “Elections have consequences.”

This does not mean things will be easy for the Democrats, who are much more diverse than Republicans and historically difficult to get on the same page. Joe Manchin of West Virginia come to mind. But I suggest New York’s Chuck Schumer, who has been minority leader during the Trump years and is expected to become the new majority leader, just transfer the pork McConnell larded on Kentucky over to West Virginia. That ought to get Manchin in line.

Schumer is not my idea of a dynamic, progressive leader. But anything is an improvement over McConnell and Schumer should work well with President Biden. My hope is that Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi work with the more progressive wing of their party to bring forward legislation that will help all of us, not just the people already in the top one percent. At least we should see Biden get his appointments to the cabinet, the agencies and the judiciary through the Senate. And Biden is bringing people with real experience and expertise into those roles. What a revolutionary approach to government.

Electoral College and the Congress

Of course all this is contingent on Congress certifying Biden’s Electoral College victory in a session beginning today and ending who knows when. The who knows when part of because some 140 members of the House and a dozen or so members of the Senate plan to challenge the tally. Few outside of this sedition caucus believe they have a snowball’s chance in hell of rejecting Biden’s victory, now certified by election officials in all fifty states and the District of Columbia, and giving Trump a second term. But they are apparently going to try.

It is an act destructive to our democracy and the most extreme attack on our nation since the Civil War. I only hope President Biden takes does names and acts accordingly. We have heard him talk over and over about burying the hatchet and working with Republicans. But those who stage today’s insurrection should not be excused from the consequences of their actions.

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Links to previous entries in this series….

Day One.

Day Two.

Day Three.

#####

trump’s attempted coup – Day 3

(January 5 – U.S.D.C. Court)

They are battening down the hatches at the White House. But before we get to that, we have another extraordinary court decision to contemplate.

Yesterday the United States District Court for the District of Columbia denied still another request for an injunction seeking to stop Congress from counting the Electoral College ballots declaring Joe Biden the 46th President when it meets tomorrow. The opinion handed down by Judge James E. Boasberg pulls no punches in describing the scope of the plaintiffs’ complaint:

Plaintiffs’ aims in this election challenge are bold indeed: they ask this Court to declare unconstitutional several decades-old federal statutes governing the appointment of electors and the counting of electoral votes for President of the United States; to invalidate multiple state statutes regulating the certification of Presidential votes; to ignore certain Supreme Court decisions; and, the coup de grace, to enjoin the U.S. Congress from counting the electoral votes on January 6, 2021, and declaring Joseph R. Biden the next President.

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trump’s attempted coup – Day 2

(January 4 – The Georgia Telephone Call)

No sooner had I posted the first installment of this series of columns when events overran its contents. Yesterday the Washington Post released the audio recording of a sixty-plus minute telephone conversation Donald Trump had the day before with the Secretary of State of Georgia, Brad Raffensperger. Raffensperger, a Republican, and Trump have been at odds for weeks. Trump insisting that he won the vote in Georgia but was the victim of massive vote fraud and Raffensperger, noting that he supported and voted for Trump, certifying that Biden was the victor by a margin of 11,779 votes.

Please, listen to the audio and read the transcript and make up your own mind.

When I heard it, my thoughts immediately turned to the first time I heard Richard Nixon’s voice on a recording discussing the Watergate break-in. He was considering having the CIA block the FBI from investigating the connection between the burglars of the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee and the Nixon reelection committee.

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trump’s attempted coup

(January 3)

Two months since the election and only today do I write about the outcome. That is because, unbelievably, the outcome is still not 100% certain. I had prepared the graphic within days of November 3, 2020. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, two leaders-elect. And an empty room representing the loser, Donald Trump, who refused to concede and sulked off into retreat. The two leaders are the unquestionable victors receiving 81 million votes. The most of any presidential ticket in history. And 306 electoral college votes, the same number as Trump received in 2016.

In all this time, Trump has refused to admit defeat. Trump and his acolytes continue to maintain a fantasy that he really won, and won it “bigly.” They have fought the battle to validate their alternate reality by whatever means available. Trump got 74 million votes, they argue. More than he got in 2016. How could he have lost? Easy. Biden got 7 million votes more. And flipped five states Trump won in his 2016 campaign against Hillary Clinton.

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The Handmaid already has blood on her hands

The Daily Mail produced the wonderful graphic above to go with a story published October 3, 2020. The photo was taken on September 26 and shows the crowd gathered in the White House Rose Garden as Donald Trump introduced Amy Coney Barrett as his nominee to be an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, filling the seat which became vacant upon the death on September 18 of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

In its October 3 story the Mail reported that nine of the people who attended this event had, at that point, tested positive for the Covid-19 virus. As the picture demonstrates, few of the 100 or so people who attended wore face masks, and all were sitting close together. On October 9, Dr. Anthony Fauci, America’s top infectious disease expert, labeled this as a “Superspreader event.”

An October 5 poll report said more than 9 out of 10 Americans wear a face mask when they leave home. But that clearly does not include Donald Trump, our Covid denying superspreader-in-chief. Nor apparently does it include Amy Coney Barrett, whose nomination was rammed through the Senate on a strict partisan vote and who took her seat on October 27. America’s newest associate justice wants to be sure you can attend superspreader events too.

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