The Second Impeachment Trial of Donald J. Trump

Let us start with the easy question. “Did Donald Trump do things worthy of impeachment?” If you have to ask, you are spending too much time parsing your experience through a tribal media filter. Of course he violated his oath of office, in ways directly harmful to the legitimate government and interests of his nation, too many times to count. And of course, regarding the specific events of January 6th, he incited a mob of violently angry followers, who took his demagoguery of that very day, and many preceding days, at face value, and as a direct rationalization to attack the U.S. Capitol on his behalf. They believed he was egging them on, and that he would support their actions. (And we all know he did support their actions, in principle, until he was slowly prodded by his handlers to grasp that the optics would be harmful to him.) That matters.

Yes, Trump behaved in an essentially treasonous manner, not because he was trying to commit treason as such, but simply because his childish vanity is such as to lead him to act with complete disregard for all concerns or interests apart from his own material advantage — obviously a dangerous mindset in a president, as we all observed so many times during Trump’s one tiny little term, and never more apparently than during his two-month “Say anything” tour, as he blatantly attempted to overturn an election result on the basis of nothing but a refusal to accept his loss like a man. (As if he has ever done anything like a man.) His words and actions during his two-month daily effort to use his bully pulpit and a pack of lies to steal an election were straight-up tyrannical, ladies and gentlemen. If a man cannot be impeached for that — and above all for, on the emotionally charged day of reckoning, deliberately stoking his cult followers up to murderous hatred against his own vice president (“Hang Mike Pence!” chanted many of the rioters, some of whom came armed with the tools to do it) merely because that vice president had refused to commit an overtly despotic act of treason on the president’s behalf — then what kind of behavior is the U.S. Constitution’s impeachment process designed to account for?

Having said that, I would like to carry the thought process one step further. For Trump will be judged in this case by the members of the U.S. Senate. But how many of these judges would not themselves be worthy of expulsion from office, had not the United States of America long ago lost its moorings? Are not all, or nearly all, of them guilty of violating their oaths of office in various and fundamental ways? Are not all of them engaged in the ongoing transformation of the American government into a protection racket with no remaining purpose related to serving the citizenry, but only to enriching and empowering a collection of second-rate lawyers, corporate powerbrokers, and establishment careerists whose lust for unearned gain achieved at other people’s expense knows no bounds?

Let he who has not actively participated in the vicious undermining of a constitutional republic cast the first stone.

Trump will not likely be convicted in this second impeachment trial. He probably should be, however — were not his judges so utterly unworthy of accusing another man of undermining liberty.

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