It’s a ”kangaroo court,” cried Donald Trump and his supporters.
There they go again, maligning the two-legged marsupials in venting their rage over criminal charges recommended by the congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection.
The Trump defenders, of which there are amazingly still a large number in Canada, like to reduce every charge coming at him as the work of shameful brazen partisanship. The tactic helps. Especially if you have little else to go on.
On the face of it, the Trumpians have a point regarding the makeup of the Jan. 6 committee. It’s composed of seven Democrats and only two Republicans – both defiant anti-Trumpers.
If you focus on that and ignore the mountains of evidence in committee testimony by no less than 900 witnesses, you can make it sound like you’ve been hard done by.
House Minority leader Kevin McCarthy is going that route. He’s so irked by the bias that he has said Republicans will be opening their own Jan. 6 committee aimed at discrediting the existing one when they take charge of the House in January. They might well call it the tit-for-tat panel.
Of some comfort to the Trumpians is that the committee referrals have no legal bearing, they are only advisory. The Department of Justice is not likely to act on them for months, if at all.
To be considered also is that to indict a former president is an incredibly high bar, and if that happens, the Trump supporters will be able to cry foul again. They can point to Attorney-General Merrick Garland as being a liberal favourite.
In the United States, most everything is reduced to partisanship. We recall that Mr. Trump was impeached for his Jan. 6 actions last year in the House and it hardly affected public opinion at all.
But all the caveats aren’t enough to save the former president. He now has charges and possible indictments coming at him from several corners. His support numbers among Republicans are collapsing. Two polls of Republican voters in the last week showed him running 23 and 14 points behind Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in any race for the party’s presidential nomination. Those are free-fall numbers for someone who enjoyed so much popularity in his party just a short time ago.
His word was once feared, but no longer; his endorsements once sought, but no longer. He’s been the party’s Formula One driver. Soon it could be a go-kart.
He is accused by the Jan. 6 committee of violating four statutes. Is it likely he can evade all four? He is already facing a Justice Department investigation for removal of government documents from the White House. Supporters like to belittle this as a failure to return library books. But legal experts say charges are more likely on this offence than others and that they could come soon.
Meanwhile, in the state of Georgia, Mr. Trump and his allies face possible indictments for election interference. A special grand jury has almost concluded hearing testimony.
In New York, two subsidiaries of the Trump organization were convicted this month of multiple crimes, including tax fraud and falsifying business records. Mr. Trump was not a defendant, but prosecutors said he knew exactly what was going.
More trouble could greet Mr. Trump with the decision by the House Ways and Means Committee Tuesday to release six years of Mr. Trump’s tax returns, which he’d been fighting for years to keep hidden.
Other recent embarrassments include his dining with Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes, his absurd call for a termination of parts of the Constitution to overturn the 2020 election and the beating his reputation took with the unexpectedly weak showing of the Republicans in the midterm elections.
He has announced a re-election bid, but his organization is in shambles. Top guns have left him, inexperienced lackeys are in control. He spends much of his time hitting golf balls.
Before there was belief that the laying of charges against him might serve to anger and tremendously energize his base. That’s unlikely now. There’s too many charges and too much evidence against him for anyone to believe it’s all because of kangaroo courts.
Nobody thinks Mr. Trump is going away. But there’s one charge from the Jan. 6 committee that could make him do so. It’s the fomenting an insurrection charge, the one that says “Whoever incites, sets on foot, assists, or engages in any rebellion or insurrection against the authority of the United States … shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.”
It then adds “ … and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.”