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Donald Trump is a man at war with America – and deserves everything he gets

He never even believed the election had really been ‘stolen’

Sean O'Grady
Tuesday 20 December 2022 10:03 GMT
Jan 6 committee votes to recommend criminal charges against Donald Trump

The most depressing revelation in the unrelenting misery of the January 6th Congressional committee hearings is that Donald Trump has known all along that he lost the presidential election of 2020. He never believed the election had been really “stolen”.

He admitted as much to many of his colleagues and advisers after polling had ended and he proceeded to foment trouble, even when he knew full well that he was in the wrong. It was at best a face-saving, self-delusional ploy to protect his fragile ego; it was at worst a conscious attempt to overturn an election – to steal it – and to cheat Joe Biden of his right to become the 46th president of the United States.

Either way, it was a breach of his, Trump’s, oath of office and a criminal act, and a deeply cynical fraud perpetrated on his dedicated army of supporters and on the American people as a whole. In the end, Trump’s ego was not bigger than the constitution and laws of the United States, and in the cold forensic atmosphere of the January 6th Committee room, those around Trump in those final days of his presidency testified to his desperate attempts to cling to office.

But did Trump’s actions amount to criminal activity so serious he couldn’t hold public office again? Should the Justice Department now pursue Donald J Trump to trial and conviction?

Of course, yes. In fact, no one really needs to go much further than the speech he made outside the Capitol on that very day, when he encouraged the armed mob to march with him on the Capitol and engage in their “fight like hell”. Those are not the words and actions of someone upholding their promise to, to the best of their ability, “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States”.

When he and his remaining cronies failed to persuade Vice President Pence to cheat the election certification process, the evidence – that notorious speech – suggests he wanted the likes of the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers to use physical force and pressure to so disrupt the proceedings and, against  the odds, somehow leave Trump in office for another term.

The fact that it was an outlandish, far-fetched and impractical attempt at a coup d’etat by a rabble of deranged conspiracy theorists and neo fascists, albeit well-armed, doesn’t make it any less of an attempt at a coup d’etat and a serious crime against the United States itself. Law enforcement officers were attacked and lives were lost – it was a violent event.

Some of the laws referred to by the Committee date back to the Civil War, designed never to allow such a tragedy to befall the US again. This has led some to question their relevance to the Trump case. After all, the Confederate States explicitly went to war with their own nation, with their own president and constitution, their own army and their own very obvious will to end the existence of the United States as a democratic nation state.

The QAnon Shaman and the other strange people kicking around the Senate that day didn’t look much like an army that could conquer the world’s greatest superpower. That doesn’t matter, though. The fact is that they tried to do so. Indeed, they did disrupt and delay the lawful proceedings for the transfer of power. The first of their aims was accomplished.

They were Trump’s private army and when, eventually, he decided to call them off, when it was apparent the clumsy little coup had failed, they meekly obeyed his orders. Without any ceremony or formal declarations of insurrection, a paramilitary force presented itself to Trump for duty, and he addressed it on the Ellipse as if he was George C Scott playing General Patton in the famous movie. “If you don’t fight like hell you’re not going to have a country anymore.”

Trump deserves everything he gets. He defiantly declares that “if it doesn’t kill me it makes me stronger”. These proceedings will certainly confirm to his fanatical followers that there is a vast conspiracy against him, but these are people who believe anything Trump tells them. It’s also true that this dangerous man still commands the support of a surprisingly large portion of the electorate.

To prosecute him is divisive and will look like vindictiveness. But Americans, surely, cannot let attempted insurrection and treason pass. That is the most divisive and vindictive act of all. They must reflect on what happened on January 6th and conclude what was fairly apparent for some time during his presidency, that Donald J Trump was a man at war with his own country and with democracy itself. It’s past time for America to fight back against Trump, because if it doesn’t, Americans won’t have a country anymore.

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