Charge’em

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 28: President Donald Trump speaks on the phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Oval Office of the White House, January 28, 2017 in Washington, DC. On Saturday, President Trump is making several phone calls with world leaders from Japan, Germany, Russia, France and Australia. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
President Donald Trump speaks on the phone in the Oval Office on January 28, 2017. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
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October 7, 2021 2:42 p.m.

That’s what TPM Reader PJ says …

Maybe this is out there, but I think Trump should be charged for election fraud ASAP. Let’s start with the topline: by any reasonable standard you already have enough evidence to charge him, and probably convict him: one needs say little about the Senate report that was not already partially in plain sight with Trump’s own talk about the election, its corruption, etc. But the report’s release today underscores that you’ve got plenty of evidence against Trump and also evidence to indict many of his toadies that might rat on him.

Now, I understand the argument that charging a former president with a big crime will blow up the polity but…whatever damage and instability one things would come from that, we’re already experiencing some of it. Its a bit of a slow drip…some rallies here and there, GOPers ret-conning the post-election events to talk about November 3 as the *real* election fraud…but the public is lacking those singular crystalizing moments that Trump provided which underscored the rot in the polity and the danger he posed to the country, whether his regularly terrifying press conferences, him getting COVID, etc.

Look, you don’t charge a former president with a crime for political reasons. You do it because its the right thing to do. And in this case it is. It also has the effect of highlighting what bullshit Trump’s “Law and Order” talk was, and you can focus things into a case that put the American people and the Democratic Party on the side of law and order, while positioning Trump as the ultimate figure of predatory, white collar criminality and corruption.

It’s a ticking time bomb, and the fuse is lit. What we have right now is a short window of time. “The people” in their democratic voice already had their say in 2020, and Trump told them to shut up. So, now we need the people’s legal authority to have its say as well. One way or the other we are going to see future insurrections: will they be stochastic, going on for decades with no end, and with our public vocabulary enfeebled in terms of a capacity to name them? Or will they burn brightly for a bit but also provide clarifying lines between the two parties and the forces in operation in US society?

All this is a bit of a fantasy, of course, and I’m generally very suspicious of law enforcement, I had little time for the hopes and wishes that Bob Mueller and a host of ethical bureaucrats would kick Trump out of office. Nevertheless, I feel like the only way out of this one is through…

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