Michael Cohen, the long-time fixer for Donald Trump, said a couple of years ago that “given my experience working for Mr. Trump, I fear that if he loses in 2020, there will never be a peaceful transition of power.”
Was anyone listening? Many thought the reckless demagogue wouldn’t go that far. They found out differently Wednesday when he triggered an apocalyptic mob attack on the citadel of American power not seen since 1814, when the British burned Washington to the ground.
The storming of the Capitol building, more akin to something you might see in Belarus, was brought on by the monstrous fiction that Mr. Trump had somehow been cheated out of what he called a “landslide” election victory. Many Americans shamefully imbibed the poppycock. If they’re not embarrassed now, they should be, as should be the Canadians who have supported this President.
As the day of infamy ended, the mad king said he would go peacefully but ominously warned, “It’s only the beginning of our fight to Make America Great Again.” He should be taken at his word. If he isn’t stopped, more insurrections will come.
The question is whether Republican Party members will find a way of putting a nail in the coffin he has just rolled out for himself. Lawmakers talked of the possibility of invoking the 25th Amendment to remove him from office. It should happen. But his cabinet is likely too cowardly and sycophantic to pursue it.
Such a move would also risk triggering more anarchy from his cult followers, rioters he had the gall to call “great patriots” while they were carrying out their assault.
The insurgency brought back memories to former Washington police chief Charles Ramsey of when the capital was besieged by Vietnam protests. “But that was to stop a war,” he said, “not start one.”
If Mr. Trump is allowed to serve out his last two weeks, he still faces terrible odds against recovering his standing. Among all his other legal difficulties, he now faces allegations of sedition, even treason. What else do you call inciting an insurrection to stop a newly elected president from taking office?
He will likely face desertion by the Republican Party establishment. Said Senator Lindsey Graham, an ally for years: “Trump and I, we’ve had a hell of a journey. I hate it to end this way... All I can say is – count me out. Enough is enough.”
The party has remained aligned with him because of his depth of support. But his divisive fulminations were a factor in Republicans losing control of the Senate with the loss of two seats in elections Tuesday. This followed the loss of the presidency. That followed the loss in 2018 of the House of Representatives.
Mr. Trump will maintain the support of the far-right members of his base – the white nationalists, the fascists, the Proud Boys. Well possible is a scenario which sees the party divide in two, a mainstream party and a splinter group headed by Mr. Trump.
Possible, too, is that he has put the country, as CNN commentator Van Jones said, on a “glide path” toward a real civil war. That sounds far-fetched – just as the notion of a violent takeover of the Capitol would have once been deemed far-fetched.
Stunning was the ease with which the rebels broke into the Capitol building. Authorities knew a massive protest was planned. But their resistance was pitiful. As Black commentators noted, if it was a Black Lives Matter protest, national militias would have been out in far greater force. They suspected the Pentagon was under instructions from the White House to let the protesters have their way.
That it was Mr. Trump who incited the violence cannot be disputed. In a speech at the Ellipse park before their assault, he told followers that “if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country any more … You’ll never take back our country with weakness.”
The President’s words during the riot were deemed so incendiary that Twitter and Facebook locked him out of his accounts. Joe Biden said what happened “bordered on sedition.” Four other former presidents issued strongly worded laments and censures.
No one could think of another time when a president had disgraced the United States in such a manner as had Donald Trump. The country and the Republican Party must now see fit to disgrace him. Democracy’s destroyer is too dangerous to be left at large.
Keep your Opinions sharp and informed. Get the Opinion newsletter. Sign up today.