Thursday, February 11, 2021

Connecting the Dots Is A Bridge Too Far

 Republicans and Trump-leaning commentators are saying House impeachment managers arguing for conviction in Donald Trump’s Senate trial were “not connecting the dots” linking the former president’s inflammatory oratory to the invasion of the Capitol January 6.

Thus, convincing at least 17 Republicans to join 50 Democrats to vote guilty on the premise of that linkage is far fetched, to be brutally honest.

But that result should not be the final basis upon which Senate judgment should be rendered:

* Should Trump be held responsible for failure to promptly and forcibly demand that the mob immediately end its attack and leave the Capitol?;

* Should Trump be held responsible for failure to promptly direct deployment of military forces to quell the insurrection and protect the Capitol and its occupants?;

* Should Trump be held responsible for failure to protect his vice president, for tweeting dissatisfaction with Mike Pence during the attack even as Trump knew Pence was being targeted by a mob chanting, “Hang Pence?”;

* Should Trump be held responsible for pressuring Georgia state officials to “find” 11,780 votes, enough to give him a one vote victory in Georgia, for intimating that if they do not do his bidding they could be prosecuted for criminal activity?

Trump could and should be found guilty of violating his oath of office on any one or all of those questions.

But I am not optimistic. Too many Republican senators are in thrall, or fear, of Trump, even some who are retiring by the next election in 2022 or who recently won re-election and should have six years of freedom from fear of a primary.

So, is there an alternative to conviction? Is there an option that would keep Trump from seeking election in 2024?

Some seek relief from Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution: “No Person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof (emphasis added). But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.”

Trump repeatedly gave “comfort” to the assailants. He even expressed understanding of why they invaded the Capitol. 

Yet, using Section 3 is a long shot. For more background, here’s an analysis by Robert Reinstein, Dean Emeritus and Clifford Scott Green Professor of Law Emeritus, Temple University Beasley School of Law:

As long as Republicans remain afraid to stand up to Trump, our country will be terrorized by him.