Donald Trump’s final reign of terror at the U.S. Capitol, stormed by MAGA cultists and militant followers intent on overturning our democracy, has revealed a disturbing, little reported reality.
The January 6 insurrection and the days leading up to it, showed how easily law enforcement was corrupted and in some cases complicit in the riot.
Elements of FBI, Secret Service, state and local law enforcement and even the Pentagon failed in their primary duty — to be the bulwark and front line defense against threats to our democracy.
The Secret Service, the agency entrusted with protecting the president and other top officials, seems to have been complicit in covering up the origins of the insurrection, which we now know began in Trump’s White House.
The record is damning.
The Secret Service ignored warnings of possible violence on January 6.
Agents “accidentally” deleted thousands of text messages pertaining to that day, and individual agents like Tony Ornato went out of their way to smear former Mike Pence aide Cassidy Hutchinson.
The evidence points to an epic dereliction of duty – from top to bottom – on what, until recently, was one of the most revered government agencies.
The FBI was equally derelict. The agency was apparently notified of potential violence on January 6, yet did nothing to stop it — until it was too late.
The FBI employs tens of thousands of patriotic agents, yet, all it takes is one, like, say, agent Stephen Friend, to lend a sympathetic hand to white supremacists. His actions could destroy the agency’s credibility for decades to come.
When a former National Guard official goes on the record and accuses the heads of the Department of Defense of lying, you know we’re not in Kansas anymore. Not for nothing, but is anyone actually doing anything about this?
When I penned a piece for the Huff Post questioning if enlisting in the military played a role in exacerbating an individual’s racist tendencies, I was inundated with death threats.
It was years before the insurrection, and we had yet to learn of the sheer numbers of former/current military involved in the attempted coup.
And its not just among enlisted ranks. Former U.S. Army General Mike Flynn, is a modern day Benedict Arnold, a true traitor to our democracy.
The retired three-star general continues to push unbelievably deranged conspiracy-theories at cult rallies, including advocating for civil war and the violent overthrow of our government.
Language intended to incite insurrection and foment a seditious conspiracy is a clear violation of federal law. Yet, Flynn has faced no repercussions.
Flynn is a felon. He pleaded guilty to one count of “willfully and knowingly making materially false statements and omissions” to the FBI involving conversations with Russian spy Sergey Kislyak.
But he was just one of a rogue’s gallery of convicted, right-wing political operatives to receive executive pardons during Trump’s term in office or after his defeat in the Nov. 2020 election.
Others were Dinesh D’Souza, convicted of illegal campaign contributions; Patrick James Nolan, a former Republican lawmaker also convicted for illegal campaign contributions; George Papadopoulos, convicted for making false statements to the FBI and Roger Stone, convicted on five counts for making false statements to Congress.
Added to the list is Paul J. Manafort, who supplied polling data to Russian operatives, Stephen Bannon, who was charged with wire fraud and money laundering and Elliott Broidy, a top Trump fundraiser convicted for violating foreign lobbying laws.
D’Souza, Papadopoulos, Stone and Bannon have gone on to become major mouthpieces on social media for right-wing conspiracy theories and mid-term election agitprop.
This might be the scariest one of all. Politically motivated corruption in local law enforcement has been a problem for decades. If you can’t trust the police to impartially uphold the law, our democracy is in real danger.
The raw display of excessive force used in June 2020 to clear Lafayette Park of peaceful protesters to make way for Trump and his entourage was shocking in its callous disregard for the rights of citizens and the U.S. Constitution.
But in African-American communities across the country, such police brutality is an all-too-familiar reality of everyday life.
Far from protect and serve, the police have come to represent oppression and subjugation in black communities, with roots that go back to the post-Civil War “Jim Crow” era.
It’s no secret that dozens of sheriffs and police officers, across the country have demonstrated a political bias for Trump and the GOP in their work.
An unknown number of law enforcement officers actually participated in the riot or are members of right-wing militant groups like the Three Percenters, Oath Keepers and Proud Boys.
In many cases, Trump has gone to bat for local law enforcement officials who engaged in political corruption.
In 2017, Trump pardoned former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was convicted of criminal contempt for ignoring a judge’s order not to detain suspected undocumented immigrants as part of a campaign of politically motivated harassment.
Trump also pardoned former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, who was convicted of income tax evasion.
Kerik is now a contributor on Fox News and a long-time crony of former New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, who lobbied Trump for his pardon.
During his time in office, Trump appointed three hard-right Supreme Court justices, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. All of them lied under oath during Senate confirmation hearings about their commitment to settled law, specifically Roe v. Wade.
Trump promised during the 2016 election to support only anti-abortion jurists for the high court. Those justices paid back the political debt in June by overturning the 50-year-old precedent, in a ruling that upended the country. Yet, they’ve face no repercussions for lying to Congress.
While the Supreme Court nominations were widely publicized, Trump, in little publicized appointments, also named dozens of lower, federal district court judges. He often rewarded political hacks with little judicial temperament.
Aileen Cannon, one of those judges, surfaced in a significant case involving Trump’s alleged theft of top secret and classified documents.
Despite significant national security implications, Cannon’s attempt to shield Trump with her rulings in the case sent shockwaves through the judicial system.
She was so widely criticized by judges (including other Trump appointees) lawyers, professors and pundits, one can only assume she’s a card-carrying member of the MAGA cult.
Trump-appointed federal judge Carl Nichols, showed blatant political partisanship in his sentencing of Trump operative Stephen Bannon, who was convicted of contempt for defying a Congressional subpoena.
Nichols refused to jail Bannon pending an appeal that could take years, after imposing a relatively light, four-month sentence. Bannon continues to boast about his support of Trump and the insurrection on his radio show.
When you think about what we know, and more importantly, what we don’t, it definitely seems as if we’re living in a real-life version of David Fincher’s, “Fight Club.”
These right-wing zealots are all the more threatening because they have taken an oath to uphold the laws of the United States.
Instead, they’ve acted like a fifth column within the government to aid and abet a fascist movement that seeks to undermine our democracy.