Trump’s absence (or minimal references to him) on twitter and the news has been wonderful. (I’m sorry if these words and this post ruins this moment.) But there is a really serious question about how the Biden DOJ, Congress, and State AGs should proceed–specifically, with regard to convicting Trump of impeachment charges and investigating and prosecuting him for federal and state crimes. (Note: I’m starting a separate thread instead of including this in the Biden Administration threat because I didn’t want to mess that one up with this topic.)
This op-ed by George Conway lays out the potential state and federal crimes. I highly recommend reading this article, as it provides a good overview of these potential crimes, and the costs and benefits with pursuing or forgoing prosecution. It’s important that Americans understand the number and seriousness of potential crimes and misdeeds. These are not trivial issues. Here are some general points that I think are important:
- Conway mentions that Biden has a desire to move on. I understand this, and a part of me feels this way, too. Prosecuting Trump will be messy, and this may interfere with addressing serious and pressing problems.
- At the same time, I strongly believe Trump must face some serious consequence. I think most people who read the list of potential crimes and misdeeds would agree. To acquit him and not prosecute him would not only be wrong, but would indicate that future presidents are above the law. This would put our republic in a potentially dangerous position.
- What would consequence would sufficiently bolster the idea that the POTUS is not above the law, but also not creating a huge circus? My sense is that this is the sweetspot we should seek.
- Off the top of my head, I would say the Senate convicting Trump might be sufficient–at least on the federal level. Trump would lose the pension all presidents receive, lifetime secret service protection, and could be barred from running for office again. If this is sufficient, this consequence would be better than investigating and prosecuting several federal crimes. Senate Republicans should consider this strongly.
- This does not include whether states should investigate potential crimes and prosecute. They may have to, at least the most serious ones.
6 thoughts on “What Should the Biden Administration, Congress, and State AGs Do About Trump Now?”
Republicans claim to care about unity–and the desire to avoid divisiveness–to justify their opposition to impeachment and conviction is bogus. See Sen. Romney’s sums up my position:
I believe congressional Republicans want to avoid their role in healing divisions–specifically, being straight with Trump supporters–telling them that Biden won legitimately, that the claim Biden stole the election is completely baseless–and that the truth is that Trump and many congressional Republicans and conservative pundits have been misleading them.
I also want to make another point. The fact that Senate Republicans have to decide whether to convict Trump is problematic–because to do so would implicate those who also enabled, actively or passively, in Trump’s incitement. I’m not sure how this issue can be dealt with, but it seems very real.
I don’t always agree with AOC, but I agree with her comments below:
The Republicans who have actively or passively enabled Trump’s undermining of the election, before and after the election, have not faced the appropriate level of condemnation. There should be an overwhelming uproar over their involvement in misleading Americans about the election. Some corporations have acted, by pledging to stop funding Republican candidates. But that’s not enough. The level of outrage has bee insufficient, given what they’ve done. Many of these Republicans know better, too–which makes it all the more appalling.
These Republicans have not been chastened. Apparently, six deaths–the mob chanting, “Hang Mike Pence!”–was not enough for them to apologize and change their ways. It’s utterly disgusting.
This is a good summary, from Asha Rangappa:
As we near the Senate impeachment trial–and Senate Republicans seem prepared to acquit Trump–here are some important to things to consider. First, here’s a video made by the Just Security website, a site I trust (if that means anything):
"Fight For Trump" Just Security – Incitement at US Capitol from Justin Hendrix on Vimeo.
from Just Security
On the website, they also feature former federal prosecutors commenting on whether this would constitute incitement of violence. (Note: Many appear on cable TV news, and many have been openly critical of Trump.)
I also recommend reading an account of Trump’s reaction as the January 6 riot at the Capitol was ongoing: Six hours of paralysis: Inside Trump’s failure to act after a mob stormed the Capitol reporting from WaPo The report is based on “nterviews with 15 Trump advisers, members of Congress, GOP officials and other Trump confidants, many of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to share candid details.”
Here are passages that stood out for me:
After Trump Jr. tweeted the mob to not resort to violence,
I think it’s important to consider the various efforts Trump made to overturn the election. Below is an audio of Trump trying to get the Georgia secretary of state (a Republican who voted for Trump) to find 11,000+ votes for Trump.
(I believe this Sen. Graham also called Georgia officials, inquiring about changing the results as well.)
On the same day the tape was made public, or the day after, the NYT story below came out: Trump and Justice Dept. Lawyer Said to Have Plotted to Oust Acting Attorney General from NYT
Trump and the protegee of the acting Attorney General had a conversation about overturning the Georgia electoral results. The Acting AG and someone else tried to shoot down the idea twice. But then the lawyer, Jeffery Clark, told the Acting AG that Clark was going to replace him. When various different DOJ lawyers said they would resign if that happened. Trump eventually backed off.
Katie Benner of NYT speaking about the story, which provides more contextual information, which explains why this was such a big deal (from about the 10:00 min mark to the 40:00 minute mark)
I’m leaving out attempts to change the Michigan votes. (I’m pretty sure Trump invited two prominent Michigan Republicans to the White House to talk to him about this.)
I’m also not including many other comments Trump made to undermine the legitimacy of the election as well as incite violence, before and after Election Day.
I wish I knew the total number of congressional staffers, the total number of Republican staffers, and the number of Republican staffers who signed the letter. In any event, it’s worth listening to.
I hope people are not forgetting how bad January 6 was–or could have been.
Americans should be super angry about this. The mob chanting, “Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence!” comes to mind and pisses me off, too.
AOC’s account of that day:
Ocasio-Cortez reveals she’s a sexual assault survivor, recounts ‘trauma’ of Capitol riot: ‘I thought everything was over from WaPo
Responsible, patriotic Republicans also have a part to play
Whatever failings these Republicans have had in this past, particularly with regard to defending the country against Trump, the following words are examples of leadership the country needs from Republicans now.
Representative Liz Cheney.
Senator Ben Sasse
Senator Mitt Romney
Here’s Romney’s speech on convicting Trump for the first impeachment.