BY JON NELSON
The 2 Senate trials of former president Donald J. Trump were a farce from the beginning. Trump was a traitor to his country, the evidence proving this was overwhelming, and open for everyone to see. Yet despite this, Senate Republicans ignored their constitutional duties to be fair and impartial witnesses and overwhelmingly voted to acquit him of all charges in both trials. This article will examine how this tragic state of affairs has come about and how the Republican party has become a fascist organization that no longer cares about the United States Constitution or the rule of law. As such, its leaders are traitors to their country.
Much of what follows has been presented in my various articles on Trump, and interested readers will find these on my blog: nonbeliever.me What follows is a summary of the main points as well as much new material.
From the beginning of this first presidential campaign, Trump proved himself to be an unmitigated liar. One of the more outrageous and easily falsifiable lies occurred when he said of Russian president Vladimir Putin: “I got to know him very well because we were both on 60 Minutes, we were stablemates and we did very well that night.” In fact, when he said this, he had never met the man: the two did make joint appearances on a single episode, but they were taped separately, Trump in his New York office, and Putin in Moscow. Despite this obvious lie, virtually no one in his party, the Democratic party, or the mainstream media (constantly referred to by conservatives as “the liberal media” since they don’t always support the Republican party line) or anyone else seems to have made an issue of it.
I summarized Trump’s willingness to lie in all occasions in the summary of my 2016 article: Lies, Lies, and More Lies. Here is the summary: “There are so many amusing/alarming/dangerous things this man has said and done that detailing them all would require a huge book—or series of books. He flip-flops on virtually everything: First he was a Democrat, then a Republican. He’s for a woman’s right to choose abortion, then he’s against it. Contradictory stances on taxes, health care, trade and other issues are also well documented. And yet he has supporters who like him because he ‘tells the truth’ and ‘speaks his mind.’ No, he’s just a self-indulgent crackpot who doesn’t possess anything even remotely resembling a consistent and coherent political philosophy.” If there were any doubts about this, they were certainly removed during his presidency and his actions after leaving office. The lies have multiplied to such an extent that it is inconceivable that they would have been ignored in earlier times, when truth actually mattered in political discourse. Trump even lies when he has no reason to do so.
I noted in my first lengthy article on Trump Fascism Comes to America, that the Republican party has gradually morphed from a legitimate political entity to an authoritarian, even totalitarian state. I first noted that: “In 1933, Adolf Hitler promised the German people that he would make Germany ‘great again.’ Donald Trump’s campaign slogan was ‘Make America Great Again.’ Lest anyone think this was mere coincidence, what followed showed otherwise: This was only the beginning, and the situation has gone from bad to worse since 2016.
I will now provide a few defining characteristics of what constitutes a fascist state. In my article America: Can it be Saved?, I provided a quote from Daily Kos which described fourteen traits that detail what fascism encompasses: “1) Powerful and continuing nationalism; 2) Disdain for human rights; 3) Identification of enemies as a unifying cause; 4) Supremacy of the military; 5) Rampant sexism; 6) Controlled mass media; 7) Obsession with national security; 8) Religion and government intertwined; 9) Corporate power protected; 10) Labor power suppressed; 11) Disdain for intellectuals and the arts; 12) Obsession with crime and punishment; 13) Rampant cronyism and corruption; 14) Fraudulent elections.” (Daily Kos, January 20, 2020)
After this timely quote, I added: “Every single one of these characteristics is an integral part of Trump’s administration. To this may be added several more significant characteristics. One of these is governmental secrecy; Republicans want to go about their business without the public knowing what they are doing. They last thing they want is for the general public to be aware of their actions and to be held accountable for them. This is why they do their level best to exclude unbiased reporters from their press releases and interviews. Another characteristic is an absolute unwillingness to admit error, coupled with extreme anger sometimes bordering on hysteria whenever they are questioned. Yet another one is one that even Hitler failed to obtain, but that Republicans have nearly accomplished already: Almost complete control of the courts. Republican efforts to derail the impeachment trial conclusively demonstrates how successful they have been.”
All of this should be kept in mind as we examine the two impeachment trials, as these fascist characteristics have become painfully obvious except to the most fanatical Trump supporters. The unfortunate reality is that the overwhelming majority of Republican senators now fall under the category of fascism. Their words and actions conclusively demonstrate this.
My second article on Trump’s presidency, Trump and the Republican War on Truth further elaborates the fascist theme. The administration began using the term “alternative facts” to counter any factual evidence they don’t like. And, on the rare occasions when these “facts” were disputed, they were labeled “fake news” as if this automatically invalidates the truth. Just about every Republican leader has followed Trump’s lead: Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani who now serves as Trump’s sycophantic lawyer famously said during a televised interview that: “facts are not facts.” Quotes such as this are further proof of a burgeoning fascist party.
Fascists want to have one set of rules for themselves and another for their opponents. In my article: America: Can it be Saved?, I compared Trump’s impeachment trial with that of president Bill Clinton back in the 1990s: “There are two critical differences other than the obvious fact that Clinton was never a threat to our country and the world. One of these is the fact that Clinton apologized and promised never to do it again. Trump is unapologetic and insists that he will do it again. In other words Republicans thought that Clinton having an affair outside of marriage was a call for impeachment, whereas Trump’s trampling of the Constitution and the laws of the land are perfectly okay. This brings us to the second point, namely which of these presidential offenses poses a greater danger to our country: A president having an extra-marital affair or a president who colludes with foreign governments in order to obtain information on a political opponent in order to win the next election. The answer should be obvious, and it shows that the impeachment farces proved beyond any doubt that the Republican party has no legal or moral compass guiding their thoughts and actions. Loyalty to Trump and the party are all that matters. Further proof is seen in the fact that fourteen of the Republicans that voted to impeach, convict and remove Bill Clinton voted to acquit Donald Trump. They are party hacks, nothing more. Here is a quote from one of them, Jerry Moran of Kansas, who said during Clinton’s trial: “I choose to be on the side that says no person is above the law; that this is a nation of laws, not men; that telling the truth matters; and that we should expect our public officials to conduct themselves in compliance with the highest ethical standards.” Other Republicans made similar statements at that time. They have said nothing of the kind during Trump’s reign of terror. If this isn’t hypocrisy, then what is?”
There are countless other examples of Republican hypocrisy and dishonesty. One of these concerns the Supreme Court and Republican Senator Mitch McConnell’s alternating views about how nominees should be handled. In a February 2016 report, CBS News quoted McConnell saying : ”The Frist fairness rule guarantees up-or-down votes for every circuit court or Supreme Court nomination, regardless of which party controls the Senate or the White House…It guarantees every president that their judicial nominees will get through committee and get a vote on the Senate floor.” This was said during the presidency of Republican George W. Bush.
However, when Supreme Court chief justice Antonin Scalia died in March 2016, McConnell suddenly changed his views, knowing that Democratic president Barack Obama would nominate someone he wouldn’t like: “The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new President.” Even though Republicans had for years suggested they would consider Garland as a possible Democratic nominee (he is a very moderate Democrat), they now steadfastly refused to hold a hearing or vote on his nomination, insisting that the next president should be the one to nominate a candidate. So the position went unfilled for ten months. When Trump became president, he immediately nominated right-wing Neil Gorsich for the position, and he was quickly approved by the Senate.
McConnell reverted to his earlier view when justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died in 2020. It took Trump eight days to nominate arch conservative Amy Coney Barrett to the position, and McConnell managed to get her approved in a mere thirty days after her nomination.
This proves conclusively my earlier point that there is one set of rules for Republicans, and another for Democrats. Again, there is little mention of their obvious hypocrisy in the mainstream news media which, Republican claims to the contrary, bends over backwards to accommodate the right wing.
Now let us move on to some of the crimes Donald Trump has committed during his presidency. The excellent book: The Constitution Demands it was published before Trump’s first impeachment trial and lists no less than eight grounds for impeachment: “1) Accepting unconstitutional foreign and domestic government emoluments. 2) Conspiring to solicit and then conceal illegal foreign assistance for his presidential campaign. 3) Obstructing justice. 4) Directing law enforcement to investigate and prosecute political adversaries and critics for improper purposes. 5) Abusing the pardon power. 6) Advocating illegal violence and undermining equal protection of the laws. 7) Reckless endangerment by threatening nuclear war, and 8) Undermining the freedom of the press.” (The Constitution Demands it by Ron Fein, John Bonifaz, and Ron Clements. Published 2018 by Melville House publishing)
By any standard, these are exceptionally serious charges; nothing comparable to them has ever been leveled at an American president before. Yet, Republicans chose to band together, ignore the charges, and defend Trump no matter what facts emerged proving his criminality.
In any trial, jurors are supposed to be impartial and render their decision based exclusively on the evidence presented. If they cannot judge the case fairly, they will not be allowed to serve on the case. Yet Senate Republicans openly defied the law and announced that they would not be impartial jurors. Rather than recuse themselves from the proceedings as the law requires, they said they would support Trump no matter what came out at the trial. Again, there were few dissenting voices when these public announcements were made.
If this were not enough, Republicans further corrupted the judicial process when Mitch McConnell announced that no witnesses would be called. No questions of the legality of such an unprecedented legal violation were raised; there are no legal precedents for such an action. Clearly, he and his cohorts didn’t want an honest trial to take place, one in which witnesses might actually present evidence against the president. McConnell’s refusal to follow the law is in and of itself an indictment of him and his party.
In my article America: Can it be Saved? I elaborated on this mockery of justice by McConnell and Congressional Republicans: “They have no interest in the truth; if they were convinced of Trump’s innocence, they would have welcomed witness testimonies. In the entire history of the U.S. Senate, there have been fifteen completed impeachment trials. In every single case, witnesses were called to testify. Why have the rules suddenly been changed for Trump? Clearly, Republicans have no problem whatever in tossing out legal precedents that go back to our nation’s founding. Let us call these people what they are: Traitors.
“Imagine the following scenario: Someone is called to jury duty and is told that he must decide on the defendant’s guilt or innocence without hearing the testimony of a single witness. Possibly incriminating documents will not be allowed as evidence. Jurors are not even questioned if they are biased one way or another. Some of them have even made their biases public. By what stretch of the imagination would the result of such a trial be considered legitimate? Yet this scenario is exactly what has transpired in the mock trial of Donald Trump. This is the very essence of what is meant by the term ‘kangaroo court.’…Mitch McConnell was even able to restrict Democratic House Impeachment managers to 24 hours of testimony to Senate jurors—in the dead of night! If this eleventh hour rule change were not enough, he also refused to allow any evidence from the House of Representatives to be presented—unless it was first accepted by a line-item vote in the Senate. He also went to unprecedented lengths to keep the public from having access to the trial.” Despite all these slaps in the face of law, the Constitution, and even common sense, the Republicans got their way.
The facts are obvious: Everyone, including Republican congressmen, knows that Trump is guilty of multiple legal and moral crimes. The senators decided long before the trial began that they would rig it in Trump’s favor—the Constitution be damned. The last thing they and Trump’s lawyers wanted was to hear evidence, so they changed their focus from defending Trump to insisting that the trial was somehow unnecessary and shouldn’t even take place! This proves that they are aware of Trump’s crimes and that a trial would expose them for all to see.
Just watching the Republicans during the trial showed that they had no interest whatever in administering justice. Many of the Republican senators seemed bored by the proceedings; Rand Paul spent most of his time doing crossword puzzles, and other Republicans, in defiance of accepted procedures, left their seats to wander the halls of Congress. Of course, there were no consequences for their doing this. Obviously, most of these people took the trial about as seriously as they took their oath to administer “impartial” justice.
Yet another example of Republican dishonesty and hypocrisy was seen in the Republican response to the Democrats 111 page brief that laid out in clear detail the reasons for Trump’s guilt. One of the most ridiculous claims was that presidential impeachment: “subverts the will of the people.” This makes no sense whatever, especially since they made no such argument when Democrat Bill Clinton was impeached. Once again, one set of rules for Democrats, and another for Republicans.
Trump’s lawyer Alan Dershowitz’s argument against impeachment shows how far removed from reality right-wingers have become. His argument was essentially that Trump’s abuse of power, obstruction of justice and other crimes do not meet the criteria for impeachment under the Constitution. In other words, conservatives aren’t addressing the issue of Trump’s crimes, only that, according to their twisted version of Constitutional law, he is allowed to do so as commander-in-chief. In other words, they are insisting that the executive branch of government is superior to the other two branches and the president can do anything he wants without fear of repercussions. Trump’s colluding with a foreign government to interfere with the 2016 election? No problem. Publishing private emails and other documents to smear their opponents? Fine and dandy. Presidents can withhold funds in order to force foreign leaders to do their bidding: Also perfectly legal. Finally, they can deny facts, lie, and do essentially anything they want without being held accountable.
The foundation of Dershowitz’s argument is that abuse of power and obstruction of Congress do not meet the criteria for impeachment under the Constitution. So he isn’t arguing that Trump isn’t guilty of abuse of power or obstruction of Congress, only that, in his view, the Constitution allows him to do so. Think about that. Dershowitz, as well as Trump’s defenders in Congress and the press, believe that a president may abuse power and obstruct Congress without ever having to worry about being held accountable. They can collude with adversarial foreign governments to interfere with an election. They can publish stolen emails and other private documents to smear their opponents. They can withhold critical funds in order to coerce foreign leaders to do their bidding on personal matters. And they can refuse to disclose such behaviors, and even lie about them to the American people. A Republican totalitarian regime is “legal,” according to Dershowitz. But, should a Democrat be accused of sex outside of marriage, as Clinton was, suddenly the “rules” about presidential immunity no longer apply.
Trump was guilty of treason in that back in the fall of 2019 he put pressure on the Ukrainian president to dig up any dirt he could find on his presumed 2020 Democratic presidential opponent, Joe Biden. He is also in violation of the Hatch Act, which was enacted to keep administration officials to campaign from the White House. Clearly, Republicans know Trump is guilty, so they are saying that’s OK—because he is the president. If any of these lawyers had made such ridiculous arguments when they were in law school, they would never have passed the bar exam. These so-called “lawyers” should have their licenses Immediately revoked. And the Republican congressmen who agree and who refuse to recuse themselves from a trial in which they are openly professing bias should be removed and tried in a legitimate court of law for the crime of treason. Their allegiance is to Donald Trump, not the Constitution or the American people.
During the Mueller investigation of Trump, the president repeatedly referred to the proceedings as a “witch hunt,” a term he used again during the impeachment trial. However, even the original Salem witch trials of 1692 allowed witnesses of both sides to be called. Trump’s 2020 impeachment farce was not only a direct violation of the laws of the land by the Republican party, but a repudiation of all legal precedent going back to England’s Magna Carta of 1215. But then, fascists aren’t the least bit concerned about legal precedent.
In my article America: Can it be Saved, I summarized the first impeachment trial by saying: “The Republican party turned the impeachment ‘trial’ into a farce. They will now concentrate on making the November election a sham election. There wasn’t the slightest pretense of legality. Republicans are doing all these illegal things for one reason: Because they can. No one is stopping them. Not the courts, not the Attorney General, not the news media, and certainly not the Democrats. With Republicans, it’s about one thing and one thing only: Getting and keeping power.
My summary of the first impeachment trial could equally apply to the second. I don’t think anyone expected the second to turn out any differently. However, there was one significant event that occurred that made the second trial a legal and moral necessity. That of course was the storming of the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.
This was not a completely unexpected event, however. The groundwork was laid by Trump and his supporters long before the presidential election. Trump’s nonstop barrage of nonsense about voter fraud served as the necessary precursor to the attack. But the roots go back to 2013.
In that year, the Supreme Court made the stupidly immoral decision to gut the Voting Rights Act, enacted in 1965. The results of that decision have led to increasingly restrictive voting laws and untold numbers of obstacles to the ballot box. And these efforts are focused on disenfranchising voters who tend to vote Democratic, including young people, seniors, minorities and people of color. Since Biden’s victory, Republicans have introduced over 300 pieces of voter restriction in 48 states across the country.
Trump and his far-right supporters are well aware of the fact that the majority of their ideas are not popular with the general public. This is why they have made so many groundless claims about alleged voter fraud; Trump has been claiming as much since the election of 2016. And as the 2020 election grew closer, his hysterical rants steadily increased.
On July 10, Trump tweeted: “Mail-In-Ballot fraud found in many elections. People are just now seeing how bad, dishonest and slow it is. Election results could be delayed for months. No more big election night answers? 1% not even counted in 2016. Ridiculous! Just a formula for RIGGING an Election.” This was said even though he had encouraged voters in Pennsylvania to vote by mail only a couple of weeks previously.
Twelve days later, Trump posted his most oft-repeated lie about the upcoming election (Caps are all in his original tweet): “RIGGED 2020 ELECTION: MILLIONS OF MAIL-IN BALLOTS WILL BE PRINTED BY FOREIGN COUNTRIES, AND OTHERS. IT WILL BE THE SCANDAL OF OUR TIMES!” Of course, none of this happened; the only scandal was the deliberate lying of the president of the United States in order to rig the election himself. Not surprisingly, Trump failed to mention which foreign countries would be involved or who these “others” might be; his statement is particularly ironic since he is the only presidential candidate in U.S. history who has sought illegal foreign assistance during an election.
The facts refute everything the Republicans said and continue to say about mail-in ballots. These ballots are completely safe and secure, with less than 0.0001% resulting in fraud. This form of voting is supported by the overwhelming majority of Americans: At least one in four voters have used this method in the past several elections. This year, given the threats of the pandemic, even more voters will seek to vote by mail. There is no evidence whatever to support Republican claims about election fraud and so, like all their other lies, they don’t provide specific examples simply because there aren’t any. Not that this means anything to Trump’s supporters, who will continue to believe anything he tells them.
Republicans have been trying to take away people’s voting rights by any number of means, including purging voter rolls, enacting ridiculously strict voter-ID laws, drawing district lines that favor their party, and attacking the post office and voting by mail. Meanwhile, Trump has threatened to withhold aid from states that will use vote by mail in the election.
Of course, these same Republican leaders invariably vote by mail, trusting that their votes will be legally counted, but then they turn around and become suspicious when anyone else’s votes are concerned. They want the right to vote by mail only for themselves.
Trump’s attacks on the post office can only be understood in this context. He knows that if every American can vote, Republicans will be big losers. And once he lost the election, he predictably said that everything he predicted had come true.
His Facebook ads about the election spread misinformation and downright lies to millions of people. Despite the obvious falsehoods, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg refused to stop Trump from continuing these ads. Zuckerberg in fact has made enormous profits from Trump’s efforts to rig the election.
The 2020 primary elections served as a blueprint for what would follow in November: Absentee ballots turned up missing. Countless polling places were closed, while many of those that remained used outdated voting machines. The end result was that countless numbers of potential voters were denied their right to participate in our democracy.
In order to steal an election he knew he could not win honestly, Trump utilized his friends at Fox News and other right-wing media sources to disseminate false information, distort reality, and mislead voters. He and his fellow Republicans filed numerous lawsuits against state and local governments to keep them from using mail-in ballots. Finally, they have spent millions of dollars to hire veterans and off-duty police officers and officials to appear at key Democratic precincts to intimidate both voters and poll workers. There is historical precedent for this; Hitler’s goons did the same thing in the 1933 election.
In state after state, efforts were made to suppress votes from populations that tend to vote liberal. This means open discrimination against people of color and other minorities. Georgia closed countless polling places in minority areas. Alabama requested the Supreme Court act to stop curbside voting. And in Pennsylvania, all registered Republicans received mail-in ballot requests, but Democrats did not. This in itself is scandalous to the extreme, but little was made of it by the supposedly “liberal” media who for decades have bent over backwards to accommodate the increasingly radical Republican party.
The obvious fact to point out is that, if election fraud actually existed, shouldn’t the Republicans who were elected by the same methods be insisting that everyone’s victory should be re-examined? Here, Republicans once again are contradicting themselves: They are saying that there is nothing wrong with the election methods by which they gained victories, while those same methods somehow become magically corrupt when a Democrat wins. They want to have their cake and eat it too.
The situation in Georgia serves as an example of how corrupt the Republican party has become and the lengths they will go to in order to stay in power. Common Cause ran an excellent article setting forth the obstacles a potential voter in Georgia might face: “Just imagine being a voter in Georgia a few weeks ago. You wanted to follow social distancing guidelines, so you requested your absentee ballot weeks or even months in advance so you could vote by mail. One week goes by, then two, then three—and your ballot never arrives. So first thing in the morning on Election Day, you go to your polling place—after looking it up one more time, just to be sure. And good thing you did, because it was changed at the last minute to a new location. Just as frustrating, your polling place isn’t open when you get there. You wait in line for hours—maybe a machine breaks, or there are too few poll workers, or too many voters in the same situation as you. And finally, after all of that, you’re told you won’t be able to vote at all, or forced to use a provisional ballot you’re not sure will count. This is exactly what happened to thousands upon thousands of voters this year, in state after state. Despite the best efforts of poll workers and volunteers, a multitude of eligible voters—particularly in Black and Brown communities—were left behind.” (Karen Hobert Flynn, Common Cause, July 31, 2020)
The right-wing dominated Supreme Court aided and abetted Trump by refusing to allow the general public to see the complete Mueller report until after the election. They also assisted him in keeping his financial records a secret—by sending his case down to the lower courts, knowing full well that the resulting delays would keep the results from the public until well after the election.
The role of QAnon in the storming of the capital is central to our understanding of the role played by fascist and neo-fascist groups that have become emboldened by Trump and the Republican Party. QAnon is a conspiracy theory group that makes ridiculous claims that have no foundation in reality. The group all but worships Donald Trump since they hold the view that he must remain in power to fight a liberal group of satanic pedophiles. The group operates in the same way as any fundamentalist religious group operates: They start with something they want to believe is true and try and find information from any source that seems to support their beliefs. If no such information is available, they create it and then post it to their followers. Nothing is too ridiculous or far-fetched for them to believe. But then, isn’t this true of all religions?
This crackpot group has now become mainstream, and is supported not only by Trump, who repeatedly tweeted some of their claims, but by far too many others in his administration. His son Eric openly supports QAnon, as do Trump’s favorite news sources One America News, and literally dozens of Republican candidates, including recently elected Republicans like Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert. A poll conducted in December 2020 showed that 17% of adults believe in their nonsense while another 37% are not sure. This means that, if this poll is accurate, about 54% of American adults are unable to distinguish truth from falsehoods. This is a telling indictment about the intelligence, or lack thereof, of the American public. Again, as with all religious claims, QAnon followers obviously find some sort of comfort in these outlandish claims.
QAnon supporters pose a very real threat to our country, a fact that was played out on January 6, 2021. The FBI noted in the previous year that: “The FBI assesses these conspiracy theories very likely will emerge, spread, and evolve in the modern information marketplace, occasionally driving both groups and individual extremists to carry out criminal or violent acts.” Despite this, QAnon has become indelibly intertwined with the Republican party. The party refused to withdraw its support for a single one of the 64 GOP candidates who support QAnon’s claims. The inevitable result was to push the party even further to the right.
Many of the rioters who attacked the U.S. capital wore QAnon clothing and other paraphernalia. Others waved Confederate flags and wore swastikas. Despite this, and in order to deflect blame, numerous Republicans are now claiming that Joe Biden is responsible for the attack. One can only wonder if those deluded 54% are buying into this claim as well.
As early as July, 2020, Trump said he might not accept the results of the election, which served to embolden his fanatical supporters and spur them to action. On July 20, he even suggested that the election be postponed “until people can properly, securely and safely vote.” The date of the election, presumably, would be decided by Trump. Of course, the president of the United States, whoever it is, does not possess the power to delay an election, but little things like the Constitution do not worry a man like Trump. Only a convinced fascist like Trump would do as he did: Create unfounded suspicion about the election, deny the results when he lost, and even refuse to leave office at the end of his term.
Categories: Political Affairs