Dan O'Heirity

The Capitol Hill Insurrection Is Still on My Mind

As is the case with millions of people around the world, I have been reflecting on the insurrection in Washington since the day that it was first reported. It seems to me now that happens to Trump for inciting the riot is not just a matter of what happens to Trump. Rather, the future of America and American democracy is at stake. If Trump goes unpunished then he will have won. He will have shown that he is untouchable and this will give him the imprimatur to do pretty much whatever he wants to do in the future whether that be running for office for a second time or mobilizing right wing militia to attack American democracy. There have been many videos of the riot that took place but as a reminder here is one from MSNBC that reviews the entire event whilst providing commentary concerning the fact that the riot was much worse than was originally thought.

There are a number of ways in which Trump might be held accountable for inciting the riot. The Vice President Mike Pence could have invoked the 25th Amendment to have Trump removed from office. However, as reported by 9News Australia, Pence has rejected the call to invoke that amendment. This means that the Democrats will almost certainly start impeachment proceedings against Trump. Three Republicans in the House of Representatives have indicated that they will support the impeachment including Liz Cheney who holds the third-highest position in the caucus. Cheyney has said, “There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution“. Trump will likely be impeached but there is a successful prosecution remains a completely open question. That said, none of the three US Presidents who have been impeached have been convicted. This number includes Trump who has already been impeached during his presidency.

Whilst Trump and his cronies may escape federal law, there is heartening news that it might be possible to charge Trump, and likely others such as Donald Trump Junior, under state law. The Washington DC Attorney General has indicated very strongly that this scenario is possible. In more concrete terms, the DC Attorney General is looking at a charge of “inciting violence” under DC Code. The Attorney General also indicates that it is entirely possible to prosecute Trump, and those around him, after his presidency.

I would say again that it is vital for the future of America that Trump, his cronies and all of the rioters be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. I shall quote from The Guardian to reinforce the importance of these prosecutions, “It was unknowable, as the glass was being swept up in the Capitol and the police began to eject the jubilant rioters, whether they were the embodiment of a last spasm of a spent force, or the true face of America’s future“. And there we have it in the simplest of terms from a professional journalist writing for a very reputable newspaper. America is now on a knife edge and one outcome is Trump moving forwards with the kind of power base that could fundamentally disrupt the United States government. That said, as reported by SBS News, some of Trump’s right wing supporters are deserting him, feeling that he “threw them under a bus” when he denounced the riot. However, irrespective, Trump needs to be charged and convicted to prevent this from happening. The same holds true for all those who had a hand in inciting the violence. It really is that black and white but I fear that we shall end up with shades of grey with Trump walking away pretty much unscathed. Watch this video interview with Chris Wallace questioning a senior Trump aide to see what shades of grey looks like.

First Published 13th January, 2020

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