a strong adverse inference

Yesterday Congressman Jamie Raskin, the lead impeachment manager, sent Comrade Trump an email inviting him to testify at his impeachment hearing. The email was in response to Trump’s reply to the House’s trial memorandum (which I discussed earlier).

The email (which you can read here) began Dear President Trump, which I thought was nice. I doubt if Raskin really holds Trump dear, but the term is a traditional courtesy. And like my poor old momma always said, “It never hurts to be polite when you can.” Raskin then got right down to business. He wrote:

[Y]ou filed an Answer in which you denied many factual allegations set forth in the article of impeachment. You have thus attempted to put critical facts at issue.

You’re probably asking, “Greg, old sock, what critical facts would those be?” I’m glad you asked — although really, you need to stop calling me ‘old sock’. The trial memo basically said Trump “gravely endangered the security of the United States and its institutions of Government” and “threatened the integrity of the democratic system” and “interfered with the peaceful transition of power” AND “imperiled a coequal branch Government.” He did all that by lying about the election results frequently and in public. Trump, in his response, basically said, “What? Me? No way. I didn’t do any of those things.”

“I swear that the evidence that I shall give shall be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. So help me God, help me.”

Raskin, in his email, responded:

In light of your disputing these factual allegations, I write to invite you to provide testimony under oath, either before or during the Senate impeachment trial.

Again, very nice. Very polite. Trump is offered the opportunity to present his side of the events and defend himself. He can explain how he actually won the election. He can explain his phone calls to the Georgia secretary of state; he can explain what he meant when he said he wanted to ‘find’ those extra votes. He can explain his call for Vice President Pence to “do the right thing” and refuse to certify the election results. All he has to do is show up and testify under oath.

But…and we all know that it’s what comes after the ‘but’ that really matters…Raskin also included a bit of iron fist inside that velvet glove.

If you decline this invitation, we reserve any and all rights, including the right to establish at trial that your refusal to testify supports a strong adverse inference regarding your actions (and inaction) on January 6, 2021.

In other words, put up or shut up. Trump has the absolute right to present his side of the story. But in order to do that, he has to swear to tell the truth. If he refuses to take advantage of that opportunity — if he refuses to make, under oath, the same claims he’s been making in public speeches — then Raskin (and the Senate, and the public in general) is free to infer that Trump was, as we say in the justice system, a lying sack of shit.

A few hours after he received the email, to nobody’s surprise, Trump declined to accept Raskin’s polite invitation to testify.

“Testify? Under oath? Like a loser? Naw, I don’t think so.”

You’re probably wondering, “Greg, old sock, can the Senate compel Mr. Trump’s testimony?” You bet your ass, they can. Once the trial starts, the Senate can vote to issue a subpoena to Trump (or any witness, for that matter). All it takes is a simple majority vote.

Let me amend that. I think he can be subpoenaed. Here’s the problem: in a criminal case, if the accused chooses to remain silent, the prosecution can’t call them as a witness; nobody can compel a criminal defendant to testify. In a civil case, defendants can be forced to testify. But an impeachment is neither a criminal nor a civil matter; it’s a legislative process. Trump hasn’t been criminally charged with a violation of 18 U.S.C. Section 2383, the federal crime of insurrection. But that IS the impeachment charge. So you bet your ass the Senate CAN subpoena him, but it’s not clear to me whether Trump could be compelled to actually testify.

My guess is that IF the Senate chooses to subpoena Trump (and I hope they do), his lawyers will do everything they can to quash the subpoena. That will require a hearing. Probably several hearings. And a lot of time — time that might be better spent passing President Biden’s legislative measures.

Would it be worth all that time and effort if Trump could be compelled to testify under oath? Historically, yes, absolutely. But is it worth it at the risk of disrupting Biden’s attempt to get the pandemic and the economy under control? Probably not.

I suspect we’ll be forced to settle for the ‘strong adverse inference’ that Trump’s refusal to testify under oath means he’s a lying sack of shit.

the gingerbread man defense

The House of Representatives has filed its trial memorandum, outlining the case it will present to the Senate in the looming repeachment trial of Comrade former-president Donald J. Trump. You can read the memorandum here.

You can also read the answering brief presented by Trump’s attorneys. His most recent attorneys, not the attorneys who quit over the weekend, or the attorneys who represented him in his last impeachment and declined to represent him in the repeachment. (Also, yes, I know, ‘repeachment’ isn’t an actual word, but I’d argue that we’ve never needed it to be a word because until now there’s never been anybody in US history who ever needed to be repeached.)

I’ve read both the House’s memorandum and Trump’s response. In order to save you the effort, I’ll summarize them here (I’m a goddamn saint, is what I am). But here’s the TL;DR version of Trump’s defense:

Run away, run away, fast as you can!
You can’t catch me, I’m the Gingerbread Man!

First, the House managers set the stage, noting the US Constitution says the House of Representatives “shall have the sole Power of Impeachment” and that the President “shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”

Trump’s response: admitted in part, denied in part, not relevant. Yes, the Constitution says Congress can impeach and try POTUS. But hey, guess what, Trump isn’t POTUS, and therefore it doesn’t apply to him.

Second, the managers say the Constitution prohibits any person who has “engaged in insurrection or rebellion against” the United States from holding any federal office.

Trump’s response: admitted in part, denied in part, not relevant. Yes, the Constitution says that, but Trump didn’t do any insurrectioning or rebelling. Also, he doesn’t hold any federal office, so there.

Third, the managers say Trump violated his constitutional oath to “faithfully execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”

Trump’s response: denied, and irrelevant. They claim Trump totally faithfully executed his duties as POTUS, and he never ever not even once did any high Crimes or Misdemeanors. Also, he’s still not POTUS.

Fourth, the managers say Trump DID SO engage in high Crimes and Misdemeanors, on account of inciting violence against the government by repeatedly lying about the Presidential election results and telling folks the results shouldn’t be “accepted by the American people or certified by State or Federal officials.”

Trump’s response: admitted in part, denied in part, and irrelevant. Trump, they say, only exercised his First Amendment right “to express his belief that the election results were suspect.” Plus, there isn’t sufficient evidence to show that Trump knew his lies were lies, and besides, he believes them. Also? That First Amendment thing again.

Fifth, the managers point to Trump’s speech to the crowd at the Capitol ellipse, in which he repeated his lies, claiming “We won this election, and we won it by a landslide.”

Trump’s response: admitted in part, denied in part. Yes, Trump spoke to the crowd. Yes, he told them he’d won the election. But that was just Trump being Trump and expressing his opinion. First Amendment, and all that.

Sixth, the managers say Trump willfully made statements that “encouraged – and
foreseeably resulted in – lawless action” at the Capitol building. That action resulted in an attempt to “interfere with the Joint Session’s solemn constitutional duty to certify the results of the 2020 Presidential election.” You know, on account of all the rioting and violence and murder.

Trump’s response: admitted in part, denied in part. Yes, some people “unlawfully breached and vandalized the Capitol” and yes, “people were injured and killed.” But POTUS denies they did it on account of what he said. Also, Trump never “intended to interfere with the counting of Electoral votes.”

Seventh, the managers assert that Trump’s behavior on January 6, 2021 were part of “his prior efforts to subvert the certification of the results of the 2020 Presidential Election.” Those efforts included calling Brad Raffensperger, the Georgia Secretary of State, and urging him to ‘find’ enough votes to overturn the Georgia Presidential election results. Also, Trump sorta kinda threatened Raffensperger if he failed to ‘find’ those votes.

Trump’s response: admitted in part, denied in part, denied as irrelevant. Yes, Trump spoke to Raffensperger, but not to “subvert the certification of the results of the 2020 Presidential election.” He only wanted Raffensperger to do a really really really thorough count. Also, the term ‘find’ is taken out of context. Also too, Trump never really threatened Raffensperger. And besides, none of that matters because Trump still isn’t POTUS.

Eighth, the House managers assert that Trump, by doing all the shit he did, “gravely endangered the security of the United States and its institutions of Government.” Also, he “threatened the integrity of the democratic system.” Also too, he “interfered with the peaceful transition of power.” Also too plus, he “imperiled a coequal branch Government” by sending murderous rioters to the Capitol building, none of which he should have done because it was a betrayal of his trust as President.

Trump’s response: Denied, and denied as irrelevant. Nope, Trump never endangered the security of the United States, never endangered its institutions of Government, never threatened the integrity of the democratic system, never interfered with the peaceful transition of power, never imperiled a coequal branch Government, and never betrayed his trust as President. In fact, Trump “performed admirably in his role as president, at all times doing what he thought was in the best interests of the American people.” Also, he’s still not POTUS, so this is irrelevant.

Trump’s current crop of lawyers sum up his defense, claiming 1) the Senate doesn’t have jurisdiction to try him because they can’t remove him from an office he doesn’t hold, that 2) the House denied him due process by impeaching him without giving him an opportunity to defend himself, that 3) even attempting to try him under those circumstances is equivalent to a bill of attainder (okay, quick note: a bill of attainder is a legislative act that declares a person guilty of a crime, and punishing them, without the benefit of a trial), and 4) the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court isn’t acting as the trial judge (which is true, because the Chief is only required to act as judge in an impeachment of a sitting president), and 5) the impeachment is constitutionally flawed because it includes multiple allegedly impeachable offenses in a single article (they seem to be suggesting there should be MORE articles of impeachment), and 6) there’s that whole First Amendment business, which is being ignored.

In other words, Trump is saying, “I didn’t do it. But even if I did do it, it was legal. And even if it wasn’t legal, you shouldn’t do anything about it. And even if you should do something about it, you can’t. It’s basically the Gingerbread Man defense.

Run away, run away, fast as you can!
You can’t catch me, I’m the Gingerbread Man!

the looming repeachment

Comrade Trump has a new legal team. Another new legal team. A new new legal team. His original impeachment team declined to represent him in his repeachment, so he had to find a new legal team. Over the weekend, his new legal team walked away from him, which makes them his old new legal team. His new new legal team will probably defend him in his repeachment trial. I say ‘probably’ because this is Trump and who the hell knows?

The new new team revolves around two lawyers, David Schoen and Bruce Castor. These guys are taking a metric ton of shit about their previous clients and legal decisions. Castor, for example, was the prosecutor who initially chose NOT to prosecute Bill Cosby for drugging women and raping them. And Schoen? He represented Jeffrey Epstein, among others. He’s been quoted as saying the following:

“I represented all sorts of reputed mobster figures: alleged head of Russian mafia in this country, Israeli mafia and two Italian bosses, as well a guy the government claimed was the biggest mafioso in the world.”

Me, I don’t have a problem with that. In the US every accused criminal has the right to defend themselves, and every defense lawyer has an obligation to defend their client to best of their ability. The fact that Trump’s new lawyers worked with some other nasty folks doesn’t bother me at all. It’s the least interesting aspect of the looming repeachment.

I like the sound of that. The looming impeachment. [Okay, tangent: loom as a verb is entirely unrelated to loom as a noun. A loom, of course, is a weaving machine, and the term originates from the Old English geloma, meaning a utensil or tool. An heirloom is a crafted thing bequeathed to one’s heirs. Nobody is quite certain how loom as a verb meaning ‘to be imminent, especially in some menacing or threatening way’ came into being. Some folks think it’s from the East Frisian lomen, which meant “to move slowly” and was probably related to the way ships move in a harbor. Which is appropriate, since Trump’s repeachment is slowly coming to the dock — and lawdy, there’s another etymological rabbit hole.]

Comrade Trump, did you order the Code Red?

Anyway, what I find interesting about the repeachment is how Trump’s defense is being framed. Trump, it seems, wants his lawyers to focus on the same thing the rioters and insurrectionists focused on — the ridiculous claim that the election was stolen from him by fraud. That would require Trump’s lawyers to present a case based on lies, which would get them soundly spanked by the American Bar Association. Instead, Trump’s lawyers apparently want to challenge the constitutionality of the repeachment, claiming that it’s unconstitutional to impeach a president who’s no longer president. Most constitutional scholars describe that strategy as “a load of stinking bullshit.”

Steve Bannon, Trump’s recently-pardoned former adviser, has been suggesting Trump should lead the defense team himself. It’ll never happen, but lawdy, there’s part of me that would love to see that, because there’d be a really good chance of a Colonel Jessup / A Few Good Men moment. “You can’t handle the truth! We live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns!”

But no, that’s not going to happen. Still, what’s interesting is that neither defense approach really addresses the crime with which Trump is charged: incitement of insurrection. The sole article of impeachment accuses Trump of engaging “in high Crimes and Misdemeanors by inciting violence against the Government of the United States.” Claiming “the election was stolen from me” may speak to Trump’s motives, but it isn’t a defense against inciting violence against the government. Claiming it’s unconstitutional to impeach a former president isn’t a defense against inciting violence against the government either; it’s just an argument saying the Senate isn’t legally authorized to rule on Trump’s behavior since he’s no longer in government.

On February 9th Democrats are going to say, “Trump incited a riot.” Trump wants his defense team to argue, “The election was stolen from him; he was just trying to get it back.” His lawyers want to argue, “Y’all aren’t authorized to decide whether or not he incited a riot.” It appears nobody will be arguing, “No, Trump didn’t incite no riot.”

“Yeah, I incited a riot. And I grabbed women by the pussy, cheated on my taxes, and gave intel to Russia. What’re you gonna do about it?”

That’s because Trump did, in fact, incite a riot. To be clear, he hasn’t actually been charged with the federal crime of inciting a riot. I’m not a lawyer, but I suspect you could make a case that Trump violated 18 U.S. Code § 2101 in that he 1) traveled interstate, 2) told his supporters the election had been ‘stolen’ from him…and from them, 3) encouraged them to travel to DC, 4) on a specific date, where 5) he told them they had to “fight like hell” to stop Congress from ratifying the Electoral College results, and then 6) told them to walk to the Capitol building.

He may not have specifically told them to riot, or to break into the Capitol building, or to harm anybody, but he created the conditions that inflamed the crowd, then he pointed them in the direction of the Capitol, and told them to fight like hell. Which they did.

Of course, that doesn’t mean Republicans in the Senate will vote to find Trump guilty. They’ll probably never find him guilty of anything. Republicans have proven themselves to be invulnerable to evidence.

the gutter of rancor and vitriol

Yesterday all one hundred members of the United States Senate were sworn in as jurors in the historic Repeachment trial of Comrade Donald Trump. A short time later, 45 of those senators–all Republicans, of course–voted against holding that trial.

That vote came about because Rand Paul, the weasel-ass Republican from Kentucky, had raised a point of order on the constitutionality of the repeachment trial. Although the Senate doesn’t have any legal authority to decide on the constitutionality of any issue, Paul suggested the trial would be unconstitutional because Trump is no longer president. He said,

“Private citizens don’t get impeached. Impeachment is for removal from office, and the accused here has already left office. Hyperpartisan Democrats are about to drag our great country down into the gutter of rancor and vitriol, the likes of which has never been seen in our nation’s history.”

Rand Paul, if you haven’t figured it out yet, is a lying sack of rancid horseshit. Private citizens DO get impeached IF they’re former federal officials. There are several examples of this, though not at the presidential level. And if Rand Paul thinks a repeachment trial is dragging the US “into the gutter of rancor and vitriol, the likes of which has never been seen” I’d suggest he visit YouTube and watch some of the videos of the January 6th Insurrection. There’s some solid rancorous, vitriolic gutter-work there.

Senator Rand Paul (Weasel-ass, Ky) addresses the United States Senate.

The fact is, it’s not just Trump who’ll be on trial during the repeachment. The entire Republican Party will be on trial. Trump may have lit the fuse that caused the explosion at the Capitol, but the GOP either applauded him or stood quietly by while he did it. A hundred and forty Republican members of the House attempted to block the electoral college from certifying Biden’s election on the day of the insurrection. Yesterday, forty-five Republican senators supported Rand Paul’s objection to the repeachment trial. Republicans are actively working to prevent Trump from being held accountable for any criminal act, mainly because it would implicate them in the crimes as well. In doing so, the GOP is undermining representative democracy.

I’m of the opinion that any senator who believes the election was rigged or who refuses to acknowledge that Uncle Joe is the legit president, should be disqualified to act as a juror. In fact, here are some questions I think all one hundred senators should be asked–and required to answer under oath–during the repeachment trial:

  • Do you believe the 2020 election was rigged against Donald Trump?
  • Do you believe there is evidence of massive voter fraud in the 2020 election?
  • Do you believe Joe Biden is the legitimate president of the United States?
  • Do you believe Donald Trump disseminated a lie when he repeatedly told his followers the election had been stolen from him?
  • Do you believe Trump bears any responsibility for lying about the election?
  • Do you believe the invasion of the Capitol Building would have taken place if Trump hadn’t lied to his supporters about losing the election?
  • Do you believe the invasion of the Capitol was justified?
  • Do you believe the safety of VP Pence and Speaker Pelosi was at risk during the invasion?
  • Do you believe your personal safety–or the safety of your staff–was at risk during the rioting?
  • Do you believe the rioters should be held accountable for their actions?

Let’s face it; the entire GOP is guilty of dragging our great country down into the gutter of rancor and vitriol. Many of them were complicit in Trump’s attempt to overturn the election. The repeachment trial is as much a trial for the Republican Party itself. Will the GOP acknowledge its guilt and try to atone for it, or will they compound their guilt by denying it?

The truly sad thing–and I genuinely mean this makes me sad–is that they’ll almost certainly try to pretend they’re innocent.

caught up in the moment

You know that guy playing ninja during Comrade Trump’s RiotFest? The one in the photo, hanging from the balcony of the Senate Chamber, that guy? His name is Josiah Colt (and by the way, that’s a great name for a fictional character, isn’t it?). He’s 34 years old, from Boise, Idaho (also by the way, the ‘s’ in Boise is pronounced like…well, an ‘s’ not a ‘z’; you call it Boyzee folks will know you’re from out of town — just so you know).

Our boy Josiah left Idaho and went all the way to DC, nearly 2400 miles, to support Comrade Trump’s attempt to overturn the 2020 election. He wants you to know he’s sorry. In an interview with CBS news, he said,

“I love America, I love the people, I didn’t hurt anyone and I didn’t cause any damage in the Chamber. I got caught up in the moment.”

I get that. I really do. I’ve experienced that. I’ve been caught up in the moment and done stuff that I regret, stuff I knew was wrong, stuff I’d never do ordinarily. I suspect many of us have had similar moments. We found ourselves caught up in the moment, and afterwards wondered, “What the HELL was I thinking?” We got caught up in the moment at an auction and bid too much money on something we didn’t really want. Or we got caught up in the moment and got a tattoo. On our ass. That says ‘Mom’. Or we got caught up in the moment and agreed to volunteer to knock on doors for a cause. Or we had sex with somebody wildly inappropriate. Or we came home from the market with a tin of sardines in mustard sauce.

Being in the moment is a good thing. Getting caught up in the moment is a risk; it can be good or it can be an utter fucking disaster. Hell, sometimes getting caught up in the moment is absolutely glorious even as it’s turning into an utter fucking disaster. I’m pretty sure our boy Josiah was having a great time being ‘Josiah Colt, American Ninja’ starring in the action movie Capitol Building Takedown. I’d be willing to bet my modest income that a LOT of the insurrectionists who stormed the Capitol Building were like Josiah, folks who just got caught up in the moment.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m also confident that many of the insurrectionists knew exactly what they were doing, knew exactly how criminal it was, and were genuinely trying to destroy the government. Those people were just using the Josiah Colts as unthinking camouflage and cannon fodder. Which, let’s face it, is what they were.

Josiah also said this:

“I sincerely apologize to the American people. I recognize my actions that have brought shame upon myself, my family, my friends, and my beautiful country. In the moment I thought I was doing the right thing. I realize now that my actions were inappropriate and I beg for forgiveness from America and my home state of Idaho.”

I believe him. Well, I believe he actively regrets what he did. I appreciate his apology, though I question its sincerity. Maybe at some point in the future, I’d be willing to forgive him and his fellow ‘in the moment’ insurrectionists. But not now. It’s too soon. It’s not too soon for me to forgive him; it’s too soon for him to apologize sincerely. He hasn’t had enough time to truly consider what he and his fellow insurrectionists have done.

The problem with — wait. This is going to seem like a tangent (yes I’ve a history of wandering off on tangents, so I don’t blame you for being suspicious), but it’s not. Okay, I want you to think for a moment about the Japanese tea ceremony, cha no yu. You’ve probably seen it in movies and there’s a fairly good chance you thought it was lovely but relatively ridiculous. I mean, it’s a lot of time and effort just to sip a cup of tea. But here’s the thing: all that effort, all the meticulous preparation, the cleaning of the path to the tea room, the washing of the implements and the teapot, the arrangement of the flowers, the slow process of making the tea, the ritual of how to handle the cup — all of those things are done for a very simple reason: to create a quiet, meditative state of mind which allows the host and the visitor to be in the moment — that one particular moment — when the tea is sipped. There is a singular, beautiful purity in that moment.

Josiah and his fellow insurrectionists went through a somewhat similar process, although it’s the polar opposite. There were a LOT of steps involved in getting them to DC, all of which contributed to creating the proper frame of mind to try to overturn the election. Every step along the way fed their purpose — the constant barrage of presidential tweets, the echoing claims of fraud, the commitment involved in traveling to DC, the speeches given that morning, the chanting at the rally, the excitement of the crowd, the thrill of feeling powerful, the violence. All of those steps helped create and nourish the frame of mind needed to experience that one particular moment when the mob breached the Capitol. There’s a singular, awful purity in that moment.

Of course people got caught up in it. It took time and a lot of emotional spade-work to achieve that moment. It’ll take an equal amount of time and spade-work for Josiah Colt to truly comprehend what he did in that moment, the gravity of his offense. Unless he’s able to do that, his apology won’t truly be sincere. Until his apology is actually sincere, there won’t be any forgiveness. Not from me.

The same goes for everybody involved in the insurrection, from the most insignificant and lowly flag-waver to the elected representatives in Congress. They all willingly took that path. They have to willingly retrace their steps if they expect any sort of absolution.

that lying fucker is fucking lying again

Did you see Comrade President Trump’s ‘concession’ video? I watched it last night. I knew it would be full of lies, because…well, Trump. But Jesus suffering fuck, it was like thirty pounds of lies packed into a twenty pound lie-sack. You’d need a goddamned abacus to count all the lies. Almost every sentence was a lie.

Let’s just look at the first three lines. “I would like to begin by addressing the heinous attack on the United States Capitol.” Bullshit. There is NOTHING he liked about addressing the attack. He no more wants to address the attack than a toddler wants to begin potty training. And I seriously doubt he considers the attack heinous. Having to deal with the aftermath of the attack, that’s heinous for Trump.

6MWE — six million wasn’t enough. Not convinced this guy was motivated by election integrity.

“Like all Americans, I am outraged by the violence, lawlessness and mayhem.” Bullshit. Trump has a history of encouraging violence, lawlessness, and mayhem if it’s done by his followers at his campaign rallies. Or if it’s done by gun-toting right-wing teenagers defending gas stations in Kenosha. Or if it’s done by local law enforcement officers against ‘thugs’. Or by federal agents or the National Guard against BLM and Antifa. Or by the military (or private military contractors) against Muslims. When used by his people against people who oppose him, Trump eats up violence, lawlessness, and mayhem with a spoon.

That’s part of the reason Trump’s followers love him. He allows them to hate the people they want to hate. He let’s them enjoy their hate, and feel proud of it. All those people storming the Capitol Building on Wednesday, does anybody really believe that was about election integrity? Naw, that was mostly his followers getting a chance to let their hate run free. It didn’t matter if the hate wasn’t actually directed at the specific groups they hated, it was a chance to break shit and feel good about it. It was venting without consequence. It was a physical manifestation of their Twitter/Parler feeds. Let loose, tear shit up, have a laugh.

“I immediately deployed the National Guard and federal law enforcement to secure the building and expel the intruders.” Bullshit. Massive bullshit. Trump, who was puppy-dog eager to deploy the National Guard against BLM protests, did fuck-all on Wednesday. Trump even blocked the DC National Guard from being issued riot gear or being deployed without the direct approval of…whoever the fuck the current Acting Defense Secretary is (seriously, I pay attention to this stuff, and I don’t have a clue who is in charge of the DoD at the moment; Trump spent recent weeks hollowing out the leadership of the Pentagon, replacing career people with obscure but virulent Trump sycophants). So no, Trump didn’t authorize the deployment of either the DC or the Maryland National Guard; he did everything he could to disrupt any National Guard response.

How could anybody predict rioters would breach the Capitol Building perimeter by 1:30?

What Trump DID do, though, was tell the rioters that he understood them, that he loved them and thought they were special. He actually said that. Then, in his bullshit ‘concession’ speech, he said “emotions are high” as if the storming of the Capitol Building was some sort of spontaneous emotional outburst.

It wasn’t. It was planned well in advance. Trump even announced and promoted it himself on multiple occasions. Big Protest in DC on January 6th. Be there, will be wild! His followers organized rides to DC, they published lists of what to pack (toothbrush, gas masks, a sweater in case it gets chilly, zip tie cuffs if you intend to take prisoners, charger for your cell phone), they arranged meeting locations, they created and sold event merch. There was nothing surprising or spontaneous about this.

Who could have predicted there’d be a MAGA Civil War on January 6th?

Trump’s ‘concession’ speech wasn’t a concession speech at all. It was a grudging, weak-ass, pathetic attempt to dodge being impeached for a second time. It was Trump’s version of the kid who murdered his parents asking a judge for mercy because he’s an orphan. It was Trump doing the spouse abuser apology (I’m sorry I hit you, but you made me so mad, here are some carnations I picked up from the gas station, I love you). It was Trump saying all he did was set off some celebratory fireworks, it’s not his fault there was a drought, who could predict there’d be a forest fire, and why didn’t the fire service respond sooner?

It was Trump sacrificing his followers to save his own ass. He said, “[T]hose who engage in the acts of violence and destruction: you do not represent our country, and to those who broke the law: you will pay.” This is what Trump does. If it turns out that somebody has to pay for the awful shit he’s pulled, he makes sure it’s not him. Or his feral children (although if they have to be sacrificed, we all know Eric goes down first).

The stupidest thing is, Trump probably believes his ‘concession’ speech will work. He probably believes it’ll get him off the hook. It’ll save him from impeachment. He’s said some of the words his people have told him he needs to say, surely everything will be okay now. That’s how it works, right?

Sadly, that IS how it works. At least it’s how it’s always worked before. If history is any indication (SPOILER: history is almost always an indication), there’s every reason to believe Trump will skate on this. There’s every reason to believe he’ll manage to remain POTUS until his term expires. There’s every reason to believe he’ll never be held fully accountable for his many crimes.

But we have a new president coming in, with a new Congress that’ll be controlled by Democrats, and a new Attorney General. So while there’s every reason to believe Trump will skate, there’s also reason to hope this time will be different.

what needs to happen

First, invoke the 25th Amendment and remove Trump’s power and authority. Second, impeach him again, and this time do it right. Third, appoint a Special Counsel to investigate Trump specifically in regard to yesterday’s insurrection.

That first step, invoking the 25th, is critically important. I don’t think we can afford to wait two more weeks for Trump to be removed. I don’t think he’s emotionally stable enough to trust for…hell, for another day. So yeah, I think it’s necessary for Vice President Pence to get together with Trump’s cabinet and invoke the 25th Amendment in order to remove Trump’s control of the nuclear arsenal, to take him out of the chain of military command, and to remove his power to issue pardons. I think we have to neuter his presidential authority, because yesterday he demonstrated more clearly than ever that he simply can’t be trusted to wield that power responsibly.

Then we need to impeach him again. The House needs to draft and pass articles of impeachment based only on his abuse of power yesterday. Keep it simple and specific. He incited a riot that resulted in an assault on a federal building, the destruction of federal property, and four deaths. The Senate needs to try him on that charge and Republicans need to find the balls to convict him and remove him from office.

At that point — before Biden assumes office — appoint a non-partisan Special Counsel with a very narrow mandate: investigate Trump to determine his level of responsibility in the January 6 riot and breach of the Capitol.

That’s not everything that should be done, of course. It’s not everything I’d like to be done. I’d like to see Trump hauled out of the White House in handcuffs. I’d like to see him in an orange jumpsuit. Hell, I’d like to see Cruz and Hawley and the rest of the Sedition Caucus removed from office. I’d like to see them dipped in shit and rolled in the sand. But what the nation needs right now is stability and maturity.

Right now — and I mean right now, starting this day — we need to take a few strong but essentially simple steps to settle the nation. We can sort out the rest later. But the shit that took place yesterday simply cannot be allowed to stand.

I’m ashamed to say it, but I don’t think any of this will happen. I don’t think there are enough Republicans with integrity to do any of this, and it can’t be done without them.

I have a LOT more thoughts on what happened yesterday, but I’m still too angry and sad and ashamed and disgusted to put them in any sort of order.

anything you can get away with

I seriously doubt Comrade President Trump has anything like an actual philosophy of life. That would require thoughtful consideration and self-reflection, neither of which are in his toolbox. I do, though, think he has a guiding principle. Well, let’s make that two related guiding principles, which are as follows:

  1. take anything you can get away with
  2. if you can get away with it, it’s okay.

As guiding principles go (and c’mon, guiding principles should go pretty far), these have the advantage of being simple and flexible, largely because they’re not constrained by anything like morality, decency, and honor. They apply to almost any situation or circumstance, and they’re completely self-justifying. It can be summed up in two tiny sentences: Can I get away with this? Okay then. That’s it, right there.

“I can get away with it. I DID get away with it. You can’t stop me.”

Trump’s guiding principles are grounded in very basic zero-sum motivations: greed and power. One person’s gain is equivalent to another’s loss. Only one of us can have it. If you have it, then I can’t have it; if I have it, you can’t.

Doesn’t even matter what ‘it’ is. An apartment. The presidency. A magazine cover. The last piece of pie. The last two pieces of pie. What matters is only one of us can have it. It all comes down to greed and power. Greed means I want it (or just as likely, I may not actually want it, but I want you NOT to have it). Power means I can take it (or I can prevent you from taking it). It’s self-justifying because if I want it and I have the power to take it without much consequence, then I deserve it — and you don’t.

Trump is such a hollow, empty, soulless motherfucker that having ‘it’ isn’t quite enough. As far as that goes, you NOT having ‘it’ isn’t quite enough. Taking ‘it’ without any real consequence, that isn’t quite enough either. You being unable to prevent Trump from taking ‘it’ isn’t quite enough. It’s also necessary to make sure others SEE that Trump has ‘it’ and you don’t, that he took ‘it’ and you couldn’t stop him. Everybody has to see that Trump won.

Examples? Sure, I’ve got examples. Here’s a small example. Back in 2017, TIME magazine reported that at state dinners, Trump gets two scoops of ice cream with his dessert while everyone else at the table gets just one. If you wanted two scoops of ice cream, you’d have to ask. Subordinates ask. (I’m going to come back to this in a minute.)

Protecting a murderous thug, getting two scoops of ice cream — same thing.

A more meaningful example: In his most recent book about Trump, Bob Woodward quotes him as saying this:

“The people at the Post are upset about the Khashoggi killing. That is one of the most gruesome things. You yourself have said. I saved his ass. I was able to get Congress to leave him alone. I was able to get them to stop.”

Woodward is a former Washington Post reporter. WaPo has not been kind to Trump. He wants Woodward — and everybody at WaPo — to know he protected the Saudi ruler who had a WaPo reporter tortured, murdered, and dismembered. Trump wins, you lose, nothing you can do about it. He was able to help a despicable ruler get away with an international crime, and he gets a second scoop of ice cream.

A moment ago I said subordinates ask, which implies superiors don’t. Superiors don’t have to ask. If they ask, they expect it to be taken as a command. When Trump said to the President of Ukraine, “I would like you to do us a favor,” he wasn’t really asking for a favor. He was expecting obedience. On Saturday, in his telephone call with the Georgia Secretary of State, Trump said, “So what are we going to do here, folks? I only need 11,000 votes. Fellas, I need 11,000 votes. Give me a break.” You can hear in his voice how galling it was that he was forced to ask for a break, when he should have been given one as a matter of course. You can be sure, if Georgia SoS Raffensperger had agreed to ‘give him a break’ Trump would make certain everybody knew he was the one in charge and Raffensperger merely complied.

“So look. All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes.”

John Adams, in reply to a letter from Thomas Jefferson (Tangent Alert: the letter was about the partition of Poland, of all things, and increasing turmoil in Europe — and really, if you’ve got a moment, Adams’ letter is worth reading, if only to see what real statesmen used to be like), wrote this:

Power always sincerely, conscientiously, de tres bon foi, believes itself Right. Power always thinks it has a great soul, and vast views, beyond the comprehension of the weak; and that it is doing God service, when it is violating all his laws.

Greed and power. Take everything you can get away with; if you can get away with it, it’s okay. I suspect Comrade Trump truly believes he has vast views beyond the comprehension of the weak; but I’m also convinced he has panicky moments in which he knows himself to be a hollow, frightened, shell of a human being who is only valued by others because of his purported power and genuine greed.

I feel compassion for the panicked hollow Trump. I truly do. But that doesn’t prevent me from also wanting to see that wretched motherfucker taken away in handcuffs and tried for crimes against the American people. At a time when the nation whose care he’s been charged with is experiencing the worst public health crisis in modern history, this piddling, grasping, spiteful bastard is only interested in protecting himself.