February 13, 2021

The Case against Trump

 I was surprised this morning when defense attorney Michael van der Veen argued that the impeachment document against ex-president Donald Trump only charges that Trump incited the attack on the Capital. In other words, he considers Tump’s dereliction of duty, i.e., his failure to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed” by trying to overturn the election and to prevent the Congress from certifying the votes of the Electoral College is irrelevant. This position attacks the full story that the House prosecutors have laid out.

That story is the following. It is clear and, I think, compelling:

  1. Trump knew that he would likely lose the 2020 election. Beginning months before the election, therefore, he began arguing that he could only lose if the election were stolen.
  2. Trump lost the election decisively.
  3. Trump never conceded defeat, arguing that the election had indeed been stolen and that the “steal”had to be stopped.
  4. Trump tried to turn the vote in his favor through intimidation and numerous meritless, unsuccessful lawsuits.
  5. Trump encouraged his supporters to come to D.C. on June 6 for what was eventually billed as a “Save America” rally.
  6. At that rally, Trump and other speakers told the crowd that they had to fight for their country; that he hoped that the vice president would dispute the Electoral College votes; and that they needed to march to the Capitol.
  7. Trump supporters, many of whom had attended the rally, sacked the Capitol while the votes of the Electoral College were officially being counted.
  8. Trump, knowing that the Capitol had been overrun, intentionally delayed calling for the attack on the Capitol to stop.
  9. Finally, Trump told the insurrectionists to go home and called them patriots.
  10. Once the insurrectionists were cleared from the Capitol, the Congress accepted the Electoral College votes that made Joe Biden the winner of the 2020 presidential election.
Trump had tried every ploy he could devise to keep himself in office. His final hope involved Vice President Pence’s acting improperly and rejecting some of the votes of the Electoral College. Barring that, Trump thought his people could interrupt the vote certification that was ongoing in the Capitol. To what end was inclear.

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