by Kevin Seraaj, J.D., M.Div., OrlandoAdvocate.com
The Jan. 6 Committee has formally recommended that the Department of Justice charge and prosecute former president Donald Trump for his post-Election 2020 antics. Good news for some, bad news for others.
While arguably the nation might have been better served by a legislative process that stayed in its lane and let the DOJ handle its own criminal investigation, it is clear that Donald Trump must be held accountable for his actions under existing law. His recent call to terminate the Constitution in order to undo the 2020 election makes clear that he is the consummate threat to the institutions that today— at least on paper— provide necessary protections for every black man, woman and child in America. Lose the constitution and we lose the amendments that give blacks the basic right to vote or eat in public accommodations. He’s ignorantly dangerous.
Trump continues to maintain he did nothing wrong on Jan. 6, saying over and over that the committee is conducting a “witch hunt.” But a witch hunt is only problematic when there’s no witch in sight.
Some observers think Trump actually believes his hands are clean. The Committee, though, thinks not.
“Even if it were true that President Trump genuinely believed the election was stolen, this is no defense,” the committee wrote in its executive summary. “No president can ignore the courts and purposely violate the law no matter what supposed ‘justification’ he or she presents.”
But Trump knew he lost the election. And he knew in the same way that every President before him has known. Suddenly the process that has been good for hundreds of years is suddenly flawed beyond redemption.
The committee’s recommendation shoves the matter over to the Justice Department for additional action. Prosecution of Trump is not automatic. Attorney General Merrick Garland has appointed a special counsel, Jack Smith, to investigate all the alleged efforts to interfere with the transference of power after the 2020 election. Smith can agree with the committee, or he can run with Trump. Everyone is watching.
It is both historic and profoundly regrettable that a former president is being referred to the Department of Justice for criminal prosecution, but even more concerning is the amount of evidence the committee has amassed about this would-be-2-time president that makes the referral necessary.
In September of this year, Yale historian Timothy Snyder argued that President Donald Trump was surrounding the election in “the authoritarian language of a coup d’etat.” er
And make no mistake about it, what Trump was hoping for was a January 6 event that installed him back into the presidency despite his loss.
The GOP understands its vulnerabilities at the polls– with or without Trump on the ticket, so it has poised itself to take power in 2024 without having to win an election.
With just a little bit of attention to what’s happening in the nation, one can see the recent moves that have been made by Republican-controlled state legislatures across the country to suppress the votes of people of color. Snyder is correct: Republicans “are all working toward the scenario in 2024 where they lose, but they still appoint their guy.”
Replacement theorists are working themselves into a frenzy. Underlying their outcry is the sense of entitlement they feel. But all of them are immigrants. Only Native Americans– and blacks– did not come to America in search of the “amber waves of grain.” By the sheer power of their numbers, they believe themselves to be entitled, that their votes inherently count for more, and when things don’t go the way they want, American history says they get violent. Like they did on January 6.
It may behoove us all to give especially serious thought to Snyder’s assessment of where we are:
“A failed coup,” he says, “is practice for a successful coup.”