Let’s be honest. The impeachment of Donald Trump in Washington this week had nothing to do with the law or justice.
Trump’s second impeachment goes to the heart of the disaffection eating at the country like a cancer. Whether you’re on the right or the left, a belief that America is an unjust society is driving protesters to the streets.
Trump is the personification of that disaffection. If you are rich enough, or connected enough, you really can shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and walk away scot free.
Everyone else goes to jail. And, if you’re a minority, they’ll throw away the key. That’s not justice, that’s oppression.
It was clear the fix was in. The claim that impeaching a president no longer in office is unconstitutional, coupled with the argument from the first impeachment to “let the voters decide,” and you’re basically saying Trump is above the law.
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) telegraphed Trump’s acquittal by refusing to reconvene the Senate to conduct a trial while Trump was still in office.
The president of the United States had just incited an angry mob to attack his own government, had watched with glee as a Capitol police officer was murdered, other lives were lost and as the vice-president, himself, was targeted for possible execution.
Yet, McConnell couldn’t be bothered to tear himself away from his bi-monthly embalming to convene the Senate to do its job and defend the Constitution.
Right then and there, you knew exactly what the self-professed Grim Reaper was doing. Stall until the human Chernobyl was no longer president. Then say: “Well, we certainly can’t impeach a man who’s no longer president!”
What he did was a textbook example of corruption and hypocrisy.
McConnell acted with shameless, almost laughable transparency, displaying a haughty arrogance that can only be born out of a lack of all moral and ethical bounds.
It’s a trait he shares with Trump, who epitomizes the intersection between corruption and privilege. Trump has made a career out of exploiting loopholes that riddle the law expressly to shield the privileged from the consequences of their own fetid corruption.
There is no clearer example of that than the most powerful branch of our government choosing to dismiss Trump’s sedition (again, which resulted in multiple deaths) on a flimsy and false technicality.
Academics may debate the constitutionality of impeaching a president out of office. But as far as the Senate trial was concerned, the issue was settled. By a 56 to 44 vote, the Senate agreed impeachment was constitutional.
So, McConnell not only jiggered the calendar to create the pretext for acquitting Trump, the so-called Senate “traditionalist” ignored the Senate’s own rules to pull off the scam. That’s corruption writ large.
But, why? What does it say about us as a nation if other democracies seek, and sometimes succeed at holding their leaders accountable for crimes committed in office? But the United States, like a banana republic, allows patently criminal leaders to live high on the hog in Palm Beach? No matter what? Would they call us hypocrites? Aren’t they already?
Republicans tried mightily to convince Democrats to move on. Impeachment was too divisive for the good a country that should be focused on “unity.”
“But what do you call a nation that mobilizes an army to hunt down a Muslim extremist who seeks to incite violence against our democracy, then turns around and allows an ex-president who commits the same crime to go golfing in Florida?”
Without accountability there can be no justice. And without justice, the nation will continue down the slippery slope of insurrection.
We may survive this instance of allowing our president to grift the nation for four years, then trash the government on his way out while pocketing free, 24/7 secret service protection, health care for life and a giant, golden parachute.
But, the current reality is, we may not survive. At least, not when it comes to our long-term survival as a nation of laws rather than an authoritarian dictatorship.
A friend of mine from England called the other day and said, “WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH THESE REPUBLICANS?!! Don’t they know they’re turning your country into the laughing stock of the entire world??!!”
He’s right. At the moment, the nation is a laughing stock of the world. Republicans have handed our principal adversary, Vladimir Putin, a propaganda victory of historic proportions.
For more than 70 years, since the end of World War II, the United States has been a beacon for democracy, precisely because our government is rooted in the peaceful transfer of power.
For more than 200 years, that standard stood firm and untarnished– until Trump soiled our democracy. Putin and other tin-horn dictators no longer have to fear being compared to a standard that exposes their own corruption.
That’s the legacy, Trump, McConnell and 43 GOP Senators have bequeathed to future generations of Americans.
The mission of our government now is to repair that damage. Those who broke into the Capitol will surely be prosecuted and many will face jail.
But if the person who lit the fuse and incited the insurrection doesn’t face the same standard of justice, the polarized nation’s wounds will continue to fester.
The president must be held criminally liable for his offenses. I’ll go a step further and say he should be held to a higher – not lower – standard.
Just for a minute, though, let’s say this incredibly capable, no-nonsense prosecutor, Fani Willis, the District Attorney in Fulton County, Georgia, succeeds in convincing a jury that Trump attempted to commit election fraud.
And he’s found guilty of the other crimes in New York City – ranging from tax fraud to bribery to more election fraud; do you honestly think a judge would put a former president in prison? One of our prisons? No matter the crime? And, even if he was, do you think it would end his political career?
The most we could hope for with a criminal conviction would be a few months of house arrest at the Boca Raton Beach Club. But Trump’s brag would still stand. He could commit murder and not lose one voter.
That’s why it’s now up to the Biden Justice Department to carry the insurrection to a just and equitable end; convict Trump for inciting an insurrection and prevent him from ever running for public office, again.
He should suffer the same fate as Army Lt Philip Nolan in Edward Everett Hale’s short story.
Trump should spend the rest of his days at sea without so much as a word of news about the United States.
Only then, would the most criminally corrupt president to ever disgrace this Republic get the sentence he–and the nation–deserves.