January 6

by Henry on January 8, 2021

Elizabeth Saunders and I have a piece in the Washington Post. Behind a paywall, but the nub of the argument below the fold.

Washington generally shrugs at cynical theatrical gestures like the GOP Senate effort, led by Sens. Josh Hawley (Mo.) and Ted Cruz (Tex.), to object to the election results. … But this time, the prop revolvers were loaded with live bullets, and half the audience thought the drama was real. Hawley’s decision to challenge the certification of Joe Biden’s presidential victory transformed the process into a farce, in which Cruz and other Republican senators promised to outdo one another’s displays of loyalty to President Trump — until a mob of Trump supporters invaded the Capitol. … Democracy is built upon the notion that politicians who lose elections will admit defeat and move on. By challenging this idea — however insincerely — Hawley and Cruz are helping unravel the core political bargains of American politics.

The piece had a slightly complicated history. We were commissioned to write a piece on Hawley and Cruz’s cynicism at the beginning of the week, and already had most of it drafted when things started going down on Wednesday. This meant that we had to reorient the piece to focus it more on urgent events. Mostly this was to the good, but there were some important questions that we wanted to write about but couldn’t cover in any depth.

One of the things we would like to have talked more about is that there are two versions of anti-democracy in the current debate among U.S. Republicans. One is what happened yesterday and what we ended up writing about – a straightforward, if idiotic and terribly planned effort to disrupt the handover of power, egged on by the cynical rhetoric of Cruz and Hawley, who pretended that there were serious problems of election fraud. The other is more long term. As we note in passing in the piece, Sam Rosenfeld describes how “some Republicans understand that they benefit more in the long term from “legal anti-democratic institutions” than from dubiously legal “anti-democratic actions,” which are more set-piece theatrical statements than carefully planned strategies.”

Unsurprisingly, given the last 48 hours, there is a lot of attention to the latter. But the former is important too. There are going to be a lot of fights over redistricting, easy voting and so on, where Republicans like Tom Cotton and Mitch McConnell, who have more or less repudiated the Cruz/Hawley line, are almost certainly set to use bogus claims of election fraud to try to block reform. Democrats will push a bill that aims to limit gerrymandering and other abuses (which Democrats do as well; look at Congressional representation in Maryland), and Republicans will do their best to filibuster it. It’s a good thing that the mob invasion failed, and seems to be falling apart, and that Hawley and Cruz are getting some opprobrium (though not nearly enough). But many of the people who tried to block their efforts were motivated by a different kind of cynicism, arguing that attacks on the certification of the vote might lead in the longer term to the undermining of the Electoral College. In the frank description of Kentucky Congressman Thomas Massie and several colleagues:

From a purely partisan perspective, Republican presidential candidates have won the national popular vote only once in the last 32 years. They have therefore depended on the electoral college for nearly all presidential victories in the last generation. If we perpetuate the notion that Congress may disregard certified electoral votes—based solely on its own assessment that one or more states mishandled the presidential election—we will be delegitimizing the very system that led Donald Trump to victory in 2016, and that could provide the only path to victory in 2024.

There is a Sturm und Drang anti-democratism, and a very different and one that is a slow, relentless grind. Figuring out the relationship between the two (they sometimes reinforce each other, and are sometimes in conflict) is complicated.

{ 70 comments }

1

Alan White 01.08.21 at 3:29 am

Thank you for opening this discussion with sobering but essential insights. I have been anxious to hear from the many excellent CTers here who can expand on your themes with insight and perspective far beyond what I can supply. Of course, there are some old CT Trumpster voices–pretty conspicuously absent of late–who might also chime in ala FOX and Newsmax with diversion and lies too. I’ll just say that the only way this horror can receive pushback is from many, many enablers of Trump–Pence most prominently–just coming out to say that Agent Orange is a criminal serial liar, and that his hordes of Cult 45-drinkers have been victims all along (yeah, not really, but how else to possibly persuade them at all by toning down their emotional attachments to that monster-child). Yeah I know Cruz et al want those Nuremberg hordes for themselves, but pressure must come from somewhere to show that trail only leads to more deaths in the Capitol rotunda.

2

James Ford 01.08.21 at 3:38 am

The Sci-Fi writer John Scalzi had a good post on this today about Republican’s disregarding norms going back to Gingrich, but I’m sure there are even more examples: https://whatever.scalzi.com/2021/01/07/but-what-if-we-didnt/

3

ph 01.08.21 at 5:35 am

From Occupy Wallstreet to where Henry is now makes for an interesting discussion. The unruly demonstrators reminded me most of the Yippies, especially the guy who dressed up as a Viking. And for those describing the disturbance as an insurrection, what kind of insurrection ends when social media shuts down the President’s Twitter account?

The Trump presidency began with a plot by the Resistance TM to derail the appointment of a general who hated the endless war posture of America’s generals and is unhappily bookended by Congress siding with the generals to prevent the president from halving the number of US troops remaining in Afghanistan. Any prospect of finally ending America’s fifty-year war against N. Korea drift to the periphery.

The invasion of the capital was a carnival and little more. Watch some of the footage of the red-hat goobers aw-shucksing each other as they gawped at the high ceilings and paintings.

That this protest, rather than the four-year campaign to undo a lawful election, is presented as an act against democracy unlikely to age well. As the brighter have noted, the ‘treasonous acts’ of Trump and his supporters will be vigorously pursued and prosecuted. And only just this last year Speaker Pelosi was publicly describing Trump’s presidency as illegitimate.

Good to know!

4

Alex SL 01.08.21 at 7:04 am

Two versions of anti-democratism and figuring their relationship seems to be overthinking what is ultimately a really simple impulse:

“When my side wins, it is the will of the people, when the other side wins, it is illegitimate, because my side are the True [country]ans, and the other side are an unnatural contaminant that doesn’t belong. My side’s media influencers will argue whatever they need to right now to justify why my side should be in power, even if it contradicts directly what they argued last week, and I will lap it up, because this is about defeating the other side, not an academic argument based on empirical evidence and logical consistency.”

Be it on social media or in political speeches, US Republicans continually argue that the electoral college is as it should be because you can’t have a few coastal cities dominate the majority of the states, USA is a republic instead of a democracy, etc. Simple thought experiment: what would these same people say if in 2024 a Democrat won the electoral college while losing the popular vote by five million? “That is how it should be, because we are a republic, not a democracy”? Not very likely. Instead they’d be shouting in the streets for the electoral college to elect their guy instead because, hey, he won the popular vote.

5

Hidari 01.08.21 at 12:00 pm

In the unlikely event that anyone losing their shit about yesterday’s farce is serious, I might point out that Iraq has just issued a warrant for the arrest of Trump for the murder of Qassim Soleimani. Given that we all seem to have decided that Trump is totally the New Hitler etc. and the murder of Soleimani was, well, murder, unarguably, I take it this won’t be a problem?

https://uk.news.yahoo.com/iraq-court-issues-arrest-warrant-105705391.html

6

Lee A. Arnold 01.08.21 at 2:07 pm

News — the Alabama Attorney General leads a dark money nonprofit that “helped organize the protest and rally that preceded the riots, attack and attempted insurrection”
https://www.alreporter.com/2021/01/07/alabama-ag-leads-nonprofit-that-helped-organize-march-at-capitol/

We’re probably going to find out that half the GOP was in on this. Which may be one reason why they’re running for the exits.

Another reason is to mute the obvious blame for their long silence in the face of Trump’s lies, thus helping to inflame Trump’s supporters to believe him.

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan told Washington Post that despite repeated calls he couldn’t get Pentagon authorization to send in the Maryland National Guard for 90 minutes. All the while Hogan is on the other line with Steny Hoyer and Pelosi, bunkered down in the Capitol, frantically asking what’s causing the delay, while rioters swarmed the halls.

Have to wonder how & why communication broke down between the Pentagon & the Oval Office. One insider reported that advisors couldn’t get in to see Trump, while he watched the riot on TV. Did Trump, knowing half the GOP was on board with this, wait to see if the riot would force Congress’ hand?

From the Financial Times editorial board, two days before the riot: “A Moment of Grave Danger for US Democracy”

“…alarming possibility lies in the suggestion made by some Trump loyalists — including Michael Flynn, his former national security adviser — that the president should declare martial law. In response to such threats, every living former defence secretary has signed a joint letter saying that the time to question the results has passed and that the US military should play no part in changing the result.

“This letter is both reassuring and alarming. The display of bipartisan unity is welcome — particularly since the letter is signed by such famously hawkish Republicans as Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. But it is still worrying that senior figures of this sort should feel the need to speak out. It clearly raises the question of what may be going on behind the scenes. …

“Extraordinary as it may seem, what amounts to an undeclared coup d’état is being attempted in the US. It will almost certainly fail. But the next two weeks will severely test the strength of America’s institutions — and the courage of its public officials.”

7

Jake Gibson 01.08.21 at 2:13 pm

“It’s a republic, not a democracy” predates Gingrich, but it went from being a slogan of the fringe to a central tenet of conservatism in the last 30 years. In that period “cultural conservatives” have become cultural reactionary authoritarians.

8

notGoodenough 01.08.21 at 4:28 pm

Hidari @ 5

“Given that we all seem to have decided that Trump is totally the New Hitler etc.”

If it seems to you that everyone has decided that, then you are – as you so frequently are these days – quite mistaken.

Some of us do think that armed rioters breaching the US capital is not the best thing in the world, and that Trump (like many others in the republican party and the media) bears some degree of blame for his incendiary rhetoric. If you think that’s an unreasonable position, you may make the case to the contrary. Otherwise, perhaps you might do better if you engage people’s actual positions? Just a thought.

9

Orange Watch 01.08.21 at 4:28 pm

ph@3:

And for those describing the disturbance as an insurrection, what kind of insurrection ends when social media shuts down the President’s Twitter account?

One who has been lied to about forthcoming military backup. That crowd was a mix of ideologies, but the most recognizable ones were QAnon and white nationalist accelerationists. The former is in effect a cult that has been assured for years now that a military coup was already underway, and that it moving from the shadows to the open would usher in a swift, easy divinely-ordained uprising supported by almost all the population. Those ones were egged on by token resistance or even support by Capitol police. The accelerationists, OTOH, wanted a massacre that never started – they didn’t have a plan for what would happen when they occupied an emptied building.

In both cases, the reason you’re free to deem the insurrection Trump ordered the crowd to perform a carnival is because Congress could evacuate in time. Had they not been able to do so, we’d have dead or hostage legislators right now. The insurrectionists went in with firearms and flex cuffs. They had serious intent, but poor planning. A core tenet of QAnon belief is that the Storm that ushers in the Great Awakening will include mass executions of all the pols they hate. The reason this fizzled out was because Trump was, as ever, out of touch with what his followers actually want and unwilling to support their wants that are inconvenient to him. His followers expected him to support their insurrection. He expected them to give him a spectacle, or perhaps even leverage to force the political outcome he desired. They wanted a glorious revolution, but they were following a lazy, disinterested, cynical leader who absolutely does not want a revolution.

To answer your question, the sort of insurrection that stumbles to a halt when its leader gets his social media yanked is one whose leader doesn’t know or care what his followers desire or are doing – one who views them as props and set dressing rather than human beings with wants and needs. One whose leader isn’t interested in doing anything more than the bare minimum, and who hadn’t done the preparation that his followers believed he had. One whose leader has never worked a day in his life, and isn’t about to start now. Brèf, a Trumpist insurrection.

10

JimV 01.08.21 at 5:41 pm

“And only just this last year Speaker Pelosi was publicly describing Trump’s presidency as illegitimate.” Which it was, because Trump committed campaign crimes and impeachable offenses, which Republican office-holders shielded him from. (Paraphrasing, Barr: the Mueller Report exonerated the President; Mueller: the hell it did!) Not because of claims of voting frauds which were outright lies. Because Democrats made valid claims it is okay for Trump to make invalid ones? Is that the logic?

Yes, idiots and clowns who get lost in Capitol buildings looking to trash Schumer’s and Pelosi’s offices are idiots and clowns, which is exactly why it is wrong to incite them to do so. If they were rational people they wouldn’t have supported Trump in the first place. Pretty much all lynch mobs are composed of idiots and clowns, and very laughable from a long distance, if you have no empathy for their victims.

At this point, remaining Trump supporters are on a par with flat-earthers; although to be fair Fox News doesn’t spend a lot of time pimping for flat-eartherism. (Since it is not yet part of the Republican platform.)

11

Jim 01.08.21 at 6:05 pm

“The unruly demonstrators reminded me most of the Yippies, especially the guy who dressed up as a Viking”

Yippies carried water pistols and plastic M16s. And that shaman guy looks more like satan than Eric the Red; and, in the eyes of the deplorable confederates, satan he would be–if he warn’t for Trump. Poor old Trump, 4 years of having the authenticity of his birth certificate denied.

12

Lee A. Arnold 01.08.21 at 6:15 pm

News is popping on Taegan Goddard’s Political Wire. In just the last few hours–

Security officials trying to figure out how to prevent Trump from inciting more violence or spilling national security secrets.
Senior White House officials told Sen. Ben Sasse that President Trump was “excited” and “delighted” as his supporters tried to storm the U.S. Capitol. Sasse says a key issue for him regarding impeachment is finding out why the National Guard wasn’t deployed.
House may impeach Trump by the middle of next week. (I’m guessing that is just to further drive the wedge into the GOP since there is so little time remaining.)

13

CHETAN R MURTHY 01.08.21 at 6:40 pm

Hidari: I know your “Dems suck, heh heh fart” reflex is firing so fast you’re in danger of burning out those neuronal pathways, so I’ll be brief, try not to ovvertax your nervous system.

(1) yes, I think many of us wouldn’t mind if Trump were extradited to a foreign country, but we’d prefer The Hague. Thing is, we’d still rather we cleaned up our mess at home, and we think that Florence, CO would be a fine, fine resting place for his execrable carcass. Maybe you know there’s a supermax facility there. But let’s imagine a world where somehow he’s pardoned for all his crimes. In such case, I would jump for joy if he got extradited. Perhaps you have misunderestimated [sic] the depth of our hatred and anger against the man.

(2) Perhaps you didn’t read what “the most middle-of-the-road Democrat you can find” Joe Biden said about Black Lives, and about police brutality? But also: I would hope we would agree that what has been perpetrated against Black Americans for centuries, including the century-and-a-half when they were supposedly full citizens, has all the marks of a totalitarian police state, and probably a proto-fascist one. Thing is, if there’s any hope that we can fix that, it’ll come about by preserving what democracy we have, not by laughing at it get flushed down the crapper. That’s why you saw the vast majority of Black Americans voting the support the Democratic Party, Hidari. Maybe you might want to think about that: the people whose lives are most in danger, overwhelmingly voted for the safest path they saw.

Last: Aside from known fascist “ph”, everybody else here recognizes the horror of what happened on Wednesday 1/6. For those who don’t: yes, America does a lot of pretty awful things all over the world. But imagine America run by actual Fascists, and unhinged ones at that. It’s not a pretty thought, for what America could wreak on the planet. And (back to Hidari) if you think that America couldn’t get any worse, you are so, so wrong.

We’re starting to get identification now: ex-military, ex-intelligence folks, with the equipment to take hostages and (it is clear) the desire to do so. “Hang Mike Pence” was a rallying cry. They went searching for James Clyburn’s office, and knew where it was [he’s a very senior Black Congressman.] America got lucky.

14

rogergathmann 01.08.21 at 6:40 pm

3 Warrents could be issued for all the prezes going back to Harding, if we are pressing the case against imperial murders.
But we aren’t.
I could easily be too optimistic, but I think the Donald burnt his country club get out of jail card with his Aryan Nation cosplay Coup. There is a reason that police departments target working class areas of town to do the stop and frisk shit – cause they do that in the rich part of town, the police union is busted and all the cops are replaced. DT just crapped on the biggest country club in the world. I don’t see him making it through the next four years uncathed.

15

Tm 01.08.21 at 7:58 pm

“ I cannot stop thinking about how close the 1-2-3 in the line of presidential succession, VP-Speaker-Pro tempore came to being physically harmed on Weds. The terrorists had operable bombs, killed an officer and ransacked difficult to access areas of the Capitol. We need answers… If NYT reports are accurate, that some Capitol Police willfully gave the terrorists directions to Leader Schumer’s office, that is appalling. If WaPo report that off duty police were flashing their badges as they stormed the Capitol and let through is accurate, that is appalling.“
https://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2021/01/witty-things-do-not-go-well-with-massacres

16

CHETAN R MURTHY 01.08.21 at 8:17 pm

TL;DR there have already been pictures of coup participants exercising good opsec, also carrying serious weaponry, zipties, handcuffs, etc. Reports that some were ex-military. Reports that they were searching for specific offices of leading legislators. they attacked the location where The Vice President was sheltering, and had to be repulsed with killing violence. What would have happened if they’d gotten thru? What would have happened if they’d found the other locations where legislators were sheltering? We can’t dismiss this as just a bunch of yahoos: if you wanted to pull off a decapitation, you very well might find that surrounding yourself with a screen of yahoos was excellent tactics.

A number of commenters [including “good faith” commenters, I’m not casting stones here] have described the seditious force that attacked the US Capitol with words like “fools” and “clowns”. There is -some- tendency [I’m not saying it’s pervasive] to dismiss these coup participants as barely-sentient apes. Lots press reports do the same. Some thoughts:
(1) there were a number of folks photographed who maintained decent operational security (opsec, as it’s called). This isn’t by accident: it takes training.
(2) it’s already been reported that a number of the folks there were ex-military and off-duty cops.
(3) what would you do, if you wanted to stage a coup and you thought the odds were against you? You’d gather a bunch of yahoos amongst whom you could blend in, until you saw your moment. If you didn’t see your moment, you’d fade away, again using the yahoos for cover.
(4) The funding for this came from the top of the conservative movement: the Republic DA’s Association, as Lee A. Arnold notes above.
(5) Some of these people came loaded for bear, with zipties, handcuffs, tasers, guns. The idea that because they didn’t succeed …… somehow they’re laughable, is somewhat ridiculous.
(6) What stood between Pence being executed and him being alive? His protective detail, who had to shoot-to-kill to stop the invaders. Think about that.

We don’t know a lot yet. But I think one thing we should watch for, is if very few of the invaders were practicing good opsec, and how many of those are identified and arrested. That will tell us a lot about how dangerous this attack was: how close we came to losing the top of our order of succession (remember that #2, #3, #4 in the order of succession were sheltering-in-place, and I’m guessing all in the same undisclosed location: a well-informed and -supplied team could have taken them all out).

Last: others have noted that America’s (and the West’s) adversaries would have done well to take this opportunity to send in operatives to bug computers, networks, and rooms. Every square inch of the Capitol will have to be swept for bugs, every computer, printer, and network disassembled and checked. The cost of this alone will be eye-watering.

17

CHETAN R MURTHY 01.08.21 at 8:38 pm

Dan Kois at Slate puts it well (worth reading the whole thing): https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2021/01/was-there-a-plan-for-hostages-or-killings-at-the-capitol.html

I can’t stop thinking about the zip-tie guys.

Amid the photos that flooded social media during Wednesday’s riot at the Capitol—shirtless jokers in horned helmets, dudes pointing at their nuts, dumbasses carrying away souvenirs—the images of the zip-tie guys were quieter, less exuberant, more chilling. And we’d better not forget what they almost managed to do.

It’s easy to think of the siege of the U.S. Capitol as a clown show with accidentally deadly consequences. [….]

But there were other rioters inside the Capitol, if you look at the images. And once you see them, it’s impossible to look away. The zip-tie guys.

Call the zip ties by their correct name: The guys were carrying flex cuffs, the plastic double restraints often used by police in mass arrest situations. They walked through the Senate chamber with a sense of purpose. They were not dressed in silly costumes but kitted out in full paramilitary regalia: helmets, armor, camo, holsters with sidearms. At least one had a semi-automatic rifle and 11 Molotov cocktails. At least one, unlike nearly every other right-wing rioter photographed that day, wore a mask that obscured his face.

These are the same guys who, when the windows of the Capitol were broken and entry secured, went in first with what I’d call military-ish precision. They moved with purpose, to the offices of major figures like Nancy Pelosi and then to the Senate floor. What was that purpose? It wasn’t to pose for photos. It was to use those flex cuffs on someone.

In October, the FBI and state authorities charged 13 men with plotting to kidnap Gretchen Whitmer, the Democratic governor of Michigan. Members of that plot attended protests at the Michigan Capitol in April, real planners of violence mixing easily with those for whom guns are fun protest props. The plotters discussed a summary execution—“knock on the door,” one wrote in the group chat, “and when she answers it just cap her”—but settled on a kidnapping, pulled off while police were distracted by a nearby explosion. Think of that plot, as these men surely did, as a dress rehearsal for what the zip-tie guys wanted to accomplish at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday.

18

Hidari 01.08.21 at 9:41 pm

I could comment here, but if people genuinely want to see the weakest President of the post-war era, weaker even than Carter, who has lost the Senate, Congress, and the Presidency and whose own underlings (in the Armed forces, CIA, etc.) openly indicate that they will refuse to obey his orders (and not just indicate either, they simply refuse to obey him and boast about it) a man who has been kicked off Twitter and Facebook, a man who has the support of almost no newspapers, no media outlets, a man who (it seems) will suffer the appalling ignominy and humiliation of being impeached twice (although probably not removed from office by force, although then again who knows?), if one wishes to see a man who almost literally has no power whatsoever anymore as a ‘fascist dictator’. who nearly seized power of the entire American Empire by virtue of a few drongoes wandering into Congress to be shot…..there are psychiatrists available.

However, if one wants sane commentary (which most American liberals don’t, ‘cos they’re not) here’s CT’s own Corey Robin on this sad and sorry event.

https://twitter.com/CoreyRobin/status/1347350824125661184

Hopefully the last word on this sad waste of everybody’s time.

19

Alan White 01.09.21 at 1:22 am

There are some PatHetic comments here.

Five people seldom die at “carnivals”.

There is good reason to ban that !@#$ from Twitter for incitement. And although apologies that shade off into non sequiturs and tu quoque are guarded by reasonably flexibly stretched standards of free speech–that does not make them less reprehensible sometimes. Like apparently the “journalistic standards” of a Fox news , Newsmax, or some CT commentators.

CM and others: thanks for truth and forthrightness.

20

J-D 01.09.21 at 2:02 am

Otherwise, perhaps you might do better if you engage people’s actual positions? Just a thought.

Consider this question: is it a better approach to the fulfilment of objective X if Hidari engages people’s actual positions? Obviously the answer depends on what objective X is. To take a simplistic example, if objective X is ‘pleasing notgoodenough’, then clearly the answer to the question is ‘Yes’. It’s not so clear that the answer is ‘Yes’ if for objective X we insert an objective Hidari is actually pursuing. It’s possible that engaging people’s actual positions would not be a better way of pursuing Hidari’s objectives. It depends on what Hidari’s actual objectives in commenting are.

Consider this question: is engaging people’s actual positions a better objective than the objectives Hidari is actually pursuing? The answer to this question might depend at least partly on what Hidari’s actual objectives are, but even if these were explicitly stated, Hidari and notgoodenough might disagree about the relative merits of different objectives.

In any case, notgoodenough, and anybody else who agrees with notgoodenough that it is good (or better) to engage people’s actual positions, and who therefore wants to engage Hidari’s actual position, might benefit from reflecting on what Hidari’s actual objectives might be.

21

Alex SL 01.09.21 at 2:41 am

Sometimes it is more helpful to talk about specific actions and beliefs instead of getting lost in semantics of terms that people have different understandings of. (E.g., is this proposed policy “socialism”? Who cares, why not focus on what the policy will achieve?)

But for those who argue that this wasn’t really a coup attempt a simple thought experiment should put the matter to rest: how would the exact same situation have been described in the media if it had happened, say, in Sudan?

I am fairly certain I remember a good number of cases over my lifetime where a bunch of armed protesters or a single military unit occupied a government building in some country, and then gave up within hours because it turned out they didn’t have the mass support they thought they had and/or they never had a well-thought-out plan for what to do next. And in each case the media report “attempted coup has failed”.

Success and competence never seem to have been criteria for whether something was an attempted coup.

22

Colin Danby 01.09.21 at 3:18 am

The players in this “farce” also clubbed a policeman to death with a fire extinguisher.

The theatrical aspects of mob violence never contradict its seriousness. U.S. lynchings, for example, were often festive events, with dressing-up and group photos. In a January 7 tweet, John Ganz writes that “most everything starts in the realm of pretense and fantasy but some things get realized, I would have thought people would have learned by now that things can be both absurd and sinister.”

Moreover this was not just a matter of murder and threats and vandalism. It was also a briefly-successful effort to interfere with the constitutional mechanism of the transition of power, at the instigation of the guy who lost the election.

The networks Trump has allied himself with for this purpose are mainly white supremacists of various flavors, a fact that is becoming even clearer as participants are arrested. So: a President not only mainstreamed these people, but began using them as a private militia. It failed, indeed backfired, this time.

23

J-D 01.09.21 at 3:19 am

Because Democrats made valid claims it is okay for Trump to make invalid ones? Is that the logic?

I don’t know whether that kind of argument is being employed in this case, but there are certainly many examples of that kind of argument being employed, so it wouldn’t be at all surprising.

I could analyse this kind of argument in more detail, but I’m not sure the point is of sufficient interest.

24

J-D 01.09.21 at 5:52 am

I cannot stop thinking about how close the 1-2-3 in the line of presidential succession, VP-Speaker-Pro tempore came to being physically harmed on Weds.

… how close we came to losing the top of our order of succession (remember that #2, #3, #4 in the order of succession were sheltering-in-place, and I’m guessing all in the same undisclosed location: a well-informed and -supplied team could have taken them all out).

I’m not clear on the reason for focussing on this particular detail.

The point of the presidential line of succession is (obviously) that it provides for succession to the Presidency if it becomes vacant. If the Presidency becomes vacant between now and 20 January, the Vice-President, Mike Pence, will become President for the remainder of the term until that date. If the Presidency becomes vacant between now and 20 January and the next positions in the line of succession (Vice-President, Speaker of the House, and President [i]pro tempore[/i] of the Senate) are all vacant, then the holder of the next position in the line of succession (the Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo) will become President for the remainder of the term until that date. Is there a critical difference between the possibility of the Presidency devolving on Mike Pence and the possibility of its devolving on Mike Pompeo? What am I missing?

25

rivelle 01.09.21 at 6:21 am

@CHETAN R MURTHY 16 wrote

“(1) there were a number of folks photographed who maintained decent operational security (opsec, as it’s called). This isn’t by accident: it takes training.”

Do you mind elaborating on this point, please?

In a photograph of a number of people, what do the individuals maintaining decent opsec look like? It’s the look or the sight of them that puzzles me.
My understanding of opsec is that it is about intelligence. So do they look studious, observant and then as you pointed out, also seem to be well-blended in and camouflaged amongst the crowd?

26

nobody 01.09.21 at 8:40 am

@Lee A. Arnold, #6:

We’re probably going to find out that half the GOP was in on this.

The potential for members of politically-untouchable groups to be implicated (such as law enforcement, elected Republicans, and possibly GOP donors) is so high that one can be sure that the investigations will be kneecapped specifically to prevent that from happening. There will also be a deliberate disinterest in following the money trail closely enough to accidentally expose enough ordinary corruption in the Republican party that a failure to prosecute said corruption would be politically embarrassing. Expect a repeat of the magically vanishing counterintelligence investigation into Trump’s Russia ties. Undermining the legitimacy of the Republican party is simply not permissible and, indeed, is the most highly electrified third rail of American politics.

As an aside to this, with 45% of Republicans backing the attack on congress, I’m not sure of ‘attempted coup’ is even the right phrase for what happened. The assault demonstrates that a large section of the US polity violently rejects the legitimacy of the political system in which it exists. This seems a fundamentally different problem than the abuse of power by a tiny minority that is typically implied by the term ‘coup.’

27

Hidari 01.09.21 at 8:46 am

‘Last: others have noted that America’s (and the West’s) adversaries’

I would love to be told who “America”‘s enemies and that mythical entity ‘the West’ (also known as ‘America’), are. I would also love to know how ‘we’ should ‘defend’ ourselves against putative ‘attacks’ by these ‘enemies’.

28

hix 01.09.21 at 9:03 am

This is all so absurd. Trump’s hardcore fans just acted coherent. If you seriously believe the election results have been rigged against your candidate, while he still loses every legal appeal, that means from their point of view Biden just made a successful coup in cooperation with the judiciary. It’s absurd, of course, but that’s what they keep claiming. And if it were true, that mob would be largely acting according to the highest ethical standards (short of some violence excess against people). It was pretty small compared to his voter base. God knows how many of them should be in a psychiatric hospital. Frankly 5 death and some property damage is also small collateral damage compared to what Trump and his enablers are doing otherwise. By drawing the line there while going along with all the other nonsense, one just reveals anti-democratic attitudes.

29

Lee A. Arnold 01.09.21 at 12:30 pm

Partial correction to my #12 above. If House impeaches, Senate might have the trial after a new President’s inauguration. Doesn’t appear to be anything in the Constitution that prevents this.

Why would enough GOP senators join Democrats to get the 67 needed to convict Trump? Because then he can be disqualified from running for President again.

That would help to solve a political problem for the GOP. Imagine Trump’s personal calculations, a week after the Nov. 3 election:
1. GOP won’t concede, for fear of my voters
2. Maneuvers push the contest into judicial decisions, SCOTUS
3. Cast permanent doubt on legitimacy of 2020 if I lose
4. Start a new media empire to control the GOP, frustrate Biden policy, and keep me & the family in the money, and in the running (Ivanka, Don. Jr. reportedly were interested).

#4 is still in play. The current issue for McConnell is political fundraising, going forward. A Trump media empire is going to be the 800-lb. gorilla, crowding out funding for more moderate GOP candidates, a massive headache. And loss of the Senate in Georgia means weakening of McConnell’s ability to fundraise independently of Trump. It always helps to be able to reward donors with current policy favors, and McConnell just lost control of policymaking.

You might think that goading demonstrators into an insurrection would be the kiss of death for Trump. But don’t be too sure. There are always enough vicious dishonorable cowards like Cruz & Hawley to latch onto any affordance to ascend to power.

Weakening Trump by disqualifying him from running for office again, after Senate conviction upon House impeachment, would help Republicans who want to reconstruct a more palatable party.

30

Lee A. Arnold 01.09.21 at 1:07 pm

“Senior Trump Official: We Were Wrong, He’s a ‘Fascist’”
New York Magazine
https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/01/capitol-riot-senior-trump-official-calls-him-a-fascist.html

31

Chris Bertram 01.09.21 at 3:18 pm

Henry is rather too busy to moderate the comments here at the moment and rather a lot had built up. So I’ve taken some executive decisions, which, inevitably some people won’t like. Overlong comments including multiple links have been deleted. Comments including gratuitous insults directed at other commenters have been deleted. For those feeling aggrieved, a full refund on your CT subscription is available (yes, an old joke I know). Polite and shortish comments that make genuine points and which don’t conflict with our comments policy will probably be approved. Comments that argue about these decisions probably won’t be.

32

Donald 01.09.21 at 3:45 pm

“ yes, I think many of us wouldn’t mind if Trump were extradited to a foreign country, but we’d prefer The Hague.”

I want to see Trump in jail for incitement to riot. There is a small but non- negligible chance that could happen.

But sending him to The Hague for war crimes? Yes, he deserves it, for Yemen, but then so does Obama and Biden and various other officials in both Administrations. Biden says he will end the war. He should, but he shouldn’t get a cookie for that. He should get a prison sentence, with time cut if he ends the war. But he won’t and no high ranking official will. Obama covered for Bush’s crimes and this bipartisan tradition will continue because if it didn’t, members of both parties would go to jail.

Americans are not serious about war crimes. It’s at best a minor secondary issue to most and while I could blame the media, people who are at least somewhat aware of what is being done in their names have ranted far more about comparative trivialities like Trump going after Biden in Ukraine instead of the fact that our country has been complicit in a genocidal war for nearly five years now.

It’s very strange. It’s like living in a moral insane asylum. Presumably this is what the kids call “ privilege”.

33

Cranky Observer 01.09.21 at 4:01 pm

= = = hix@9:03am: God knows how many of them should be in a psychiatric hospital. Frankly 5 death and some property damage is also small collateral damage compared to what Trump and his enablers are doing otherwise. By drawing the line there while going along with all the other nonsense, one just reveals anti-democratic attitudes. = = =

Congressperson Pramila Jayapal addressed this in her interview with Rebecca Traister about what she experienced during the violent insurrection against the Constitution:

https://www.thecut.com/2021/01/pramila-jayapal-surviving-capitol-riots.html

Congresspersons and staff had been advised to bring an overnight bag on the 6th due the possibility of large-scale protest outside. The white male staffers at least, and many of the less-known congresspeople, only needed to put on a checked shirt and a MAGA hat and they could have walked out of the secure bunker and out of the building unharmed. Ms. Jayapal and another other non-white congressperson were at risk of being beaten, shot, or dragged out to that pre-positioned gallows and hanged. 90% of the insurrectionists were there on a lark; 10% of them were deadly serious.

34

notGoodenough 01.09.21 at 4:13 pm

J-D @ 20

”In any case, notgoodenough, and anybody else who agrees with notgoodenough that it is good (or better) to engage people’s actual positions, and who therefore wants to engage Hidari’s actual position, might benefit from reflecting on what Hidari’s actual objectives might be.”

An interesting idea, but as I have no ability to read Hidari’s mind I am – sadly – unaware of what their “actual objectives” might be. Should you have a reliable and accurate way to determine someone’s “actual objectives” which is based on something more sound than looking at and responding to their statements (the method I currently use within the CT threads), I am certainly open to hearing it.

Until then, I can only address what someone says and the positions they adopt – which is, generally speaking, all I can do for most people. But thank you for the suggestion.

35

Hidari 01.09.21 at 4:24 pm

‘@22

‘The players in this “farce” also clubbed a policeman to death with a fire extinguisher.’

You might want to take this up with some of the regular commentators on CT, who, in threads still ongoing, were arguing that the police force of the United States were an institutionally racist occupying force, morally or indeed politically indistinguishable from the Gestapo. Many of them took great pains to restate this over and over again, over a period of weeks if not months, and got very angry with people who questioned it.

Incidentally, 4 other people died, and one notices there is an intense lack of curiosity in this thread about who those people might be and who killed them (one was killed by a cop even though she obviously wasn’t carrying a weapon. The others, well who knows or cares?).

@29 https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/political-commentary/trump-removed-from-office-25th-amendment-impeachment-1111371/

36

Tm 01.09.21 at 4:26 pm

„I certainly want all of the clowns prosecuted, but they REALLY need to go after the serious fascists who came this close to being able to kidnap and murder members of Congress. And most of all we need to know 1) why both Capitol and DC police were pretending, for days before the putsch, not to know that plans to breach the Capitol were all over social media, and 2) precisely what role the acting SecDef played, on whose orders, in restricting the DC National Guard to traffic control and delaying the ability of Hogan and Northam to send their National Guards. This was classic Weimar shit- elements of the security forces in collusion with radical right putschists. Every element of it must be brought fully into the light and those involved must be severely punished. Because they are going to try again if we don’t get serious.
https://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2021/01/i-love-a-man-in-uniform

37

Tm 01.09.21 at 4:35 pm

J-D 24 one thing you are apparently missing is that kidnapping or killing the highest officials of the country after the president would create maximum chaos. Another thing you are missing is that the insurgents were trying to prevent the handover of power to Biden, which would have left Trump as the only „legitimate“ government, and nobody with the power to remove him. But honestly I find it hard to believe your question is serious, despite knowing that it must be because you are always serious…

38

Orange Watch 01.09.21 at 5:50 pm

CM@16:

A number of commenters […] have described the seditious force that attacked the US Capitol with words like “fools” and “clowns”

It has been noted that DC’s strict and well-enforced gun laws may well be the only reason that only the accelerationists in the crowd were armed and properly prepared for violence. Trump very possibly expected a re-run of this spring’s “protests” in the MI capitol, and I honestly wonder if he’s so out of touch as to not understand DC’s gun laws.

OTOH, in concurrence w/rivelle, there’s nothing in the pictures or videos that shows any trace of OPSEC. There’s nothing about any of this that shows any OPSEC. They advertised their intent weeks in advance on public forums. Even the most tactically competent seeming elements (like the tacticool one with restraints) are currently being doxxed based on photos and videos they posted to social media both before and after the event. There clearly was planning and coordination, but there absolutely wasn’t OPSEC.

39

Chris Bertram 01.09.21 at 6:17 pm

Tm: I’ve allowed short comment through, but not the other 6, some of which contain large numbers of links and one of which is excessively long, but contains the denial that it is excessively long.

I’ll not be bothering to moderate this thread again today, so further comments (and complaint) will stay in the mod queue unless some other kind CTer releases them.

40

Kiwanda 01.09.21 at 6:20 pm

My blocked comment, now without any links to comments being responded to (to give context), or links to sources (to give sources), part I:

ph:

….invasion of the capital was a carnival and little more…

A carnival at which five people died, including a cop from being struck, a deluded woman from being shot, and a heart attack. And: just what was this guy up to? Handgun, mace, “thin blue line” patch, flexcuffs.

That this protest, rather than the four-year campaign to undo a lawful election, is presented as an act against democracy unlikely to age well. As the brighter have noted, the ‘treasonous acts’ of Trump and his supporters will be vigorously pursued and prosecuted. And only just this last year Speaker Pelosi was publicly describing Trump’s presidency as illegitimate.

You mean after Trump was caught out, trying to subvert democracy by black-mailing a foreign government? Or do you mean when she said back in 2016,

The peaceful transfer of power is the cornerstone of our democracy. After an election in which Donald Trump won the electoral college and Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, we have a responsibility to come together and find common ground…

I congratulate President-elect Trump and his family, and pray for his success.

41

Kiwanda 01.09.21 at 6:20 pm

My blocked comment, now without any links to comments being responded to (to give context), or links to sources (to give sources), part II:

Lee Arnold:

I’m guessing that is just to further drive the wedge into the GOP since there is so little time remaining.

My understanding is that once impeached, Trump cannot be President again. And, no more pardons. Plus: it’s the least that needs to be done.

One disturbing if unsurprising thing: 45 percent of registered GOP voters saying they actively supported the actions of the demonstrators,[sic] with 43 percent opposing, and “…among Republicans, 52 percent identified Biden as the biggest culprit, rather than Trump himself.”

42

Porgnoys complaint 01.09.21 at 7:45 pm

I think it may be sedition for one leg of the Government to repeatedly claim the other parts (congress/courts) of government which have legally processed the issue he has — for it to falsely claim illegal acts against it have been allowed — that’s sedition.

43

Shirley0401 01.09.21 at 8:57 pm

It has been noted that DC’s strict and well-enforced gun laws may well be the only reason that only the accelerationists in the crowd were armed and properly prepared for violence.

Yeah, when I watched the video, all I could think of was how much worse it would’ve been if these yahoos had all had their assault rifles and other assorted toys.

44

CHETAN R MURTHY 01.09.21 at 8:59 pm

[in case this gets thru]
rivelle: you asked what “decent opsec” is. I’m no expert, but for sure, it would include (a) masks, nondescript clothing, (b) not live-streaming, taking pictures

Here’s another way of putting it: thousands of these terrorists invaded the Capitol. How many will be found, and by what means? Well, by their having posted pictures to social media, yes? So by construction almost, the ones we won’t find, are the ones who didn’t make their presence know. And as it turns out, researchers like John Scott-Railton have stated to identify some of these latter folks: but it’s not easy to do, and that alone means that some number are going to escape.

Escape, to try again.

45

alfredlordbleep 01.10.21 at 12:19 am

(I hope this isn’t taken as too, too absurd at this or any time)
From the NY mag story Lee A Arnold referred to above on the Trump insurrection:

America The Beautiful
. . . This adviser, who spoke to Trump on Wednesday amid the siege, said Trump watched the events on television intently. CNN reported that he was so excited by the action, it “freaked out” some staffers around him. The adviser told me that Trump expressed disgust on aesthetic grounds over how “low class” his supporters looked.

46

J-D 01.10.21 at 1:55 am

An interesting idea, but as I have no ability to read Hidari’s mind I am – sadly – unaware of what their “actual objectives” might be. Should you have a reliable and accurate way to determine someone’s “actual objectives” which is based on something more sound than looking at and responding to their statements (the method I currently use within the CT threads), I am certainly open to hearing it.

Until then, I can only address what someone says and the positions they adopt – which is, generally speaking, all I can do for most people. But thank you for the suggestion.

Reading the comments people post is exactly the way I gather evidence from which I can draw conclusions about their purposes in commenting. For example, when I read somebody’s comments and find them regularly peppered with sneers, I conclude that sneering is an objective of the commenter.

Also, if I read somebody’s comments and I can’t understand them and I seek clarification and it isn’t provided, then I feel justified in concluding that, whatever the purpose of the comment is, it’s not to communicate with me.

47

J-D 01.10.21 at 2:02 am

J-D 24 one thing you are apparently missing is that kidnapping or killing the highest officials of the country after the president would create maximum chaos. Another thing you are missing is that the insurgents were trying to prevent the handover of power to Biden, which would have left Trump as the only „legitimate“ government, and nobody with the power to remove him. But honestly I find it hard to believe your question is serious, despite knowing that it must be because you are always serious…

The cumulative historical evidence is clear that (as a general rule) killing high officials does not create maximum chaos. What creates maximum chaos is disruption of essential infrastructure. In the particular case of the Vice-Presidency, the United States has repeatedly experienced a vacant Vice-Presidency with no chaos.

I do take the storming of the Capitol seriously. It was serious, and it could easily have been more serious if, for example, the people who had stormed the Capitol had kept control of it. There may be more similar incidents to come, and there are they could easily be even more serious. It’s not strange to me that people are taking seriously the events and the future possibilities; I take them seriously too. It’s only the specific focus on the Presidential line of succession which seems strange to me.

48

CHETAN R MURTHY 01.10.21 at 6:03 am

Chris, perhaps you might find this worth posting: https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/inside-capitol-siege/2021/01/09/e3ad3274-5283-11eb-bda4-615aaefd0555_story.html

The margin between “it was a failed riot” and “it was a massacre in the Senate” was a lot thinner than many people realize. A lot thinner. We got really lucky.

49

Hidari 01.10.21 at 9:59 am

@32

Trump’s foreign policy crimes are egregious and relatively well known (just today he ‘recognised’ the ‘state’ of ‘Taiwan’): in the last few months he has pushed through various ‘peace treaties’ with ‘Israel’, he murdered Qasem Soleimani in cold blood, he has ‘amped up’ baby-killing sanctions on various countries, continued Obama’s genocide in Yemen, amped up Obama’s terrorist ‘drone campaign’ and so on. All of these actions are infinitely worse than whatever responsibility he bears for the deaths a few days ago (and it should be noted that his chances of going to jail for incitement are zero: American laws on freedom of speech are very tight, and unless some evidence emerges of Trump explicitly stating to his followers ‘go to Congress and kill cops’ then nothing will happen, as the Democrats know perfectly well).

But two things prevent anything being done about this: firstly, as you correctly state, generally speaking, Americans (by which I presume you mean ‘educated’ white male middle class Americans) don’t really care about war crimes committed by Americans and, if anything, sort of approve of them, and secondly, if Trump went down, Obama, Clinton, Bush et al would go down with him, and obviously that’s not going to happen.

So this is the problem, and will continue to be the problem until the United States makes a commitment to follow the diktats of international law, which will take a while (he said drily).

Until this happens, domestic American politics will remain what it has been since, roughly, the 1980s, hysterical over-reaction to what are essentially trivialities, because the genuinely important issues simply cannot be discussed (or even mentioned, more often than not).

50

Hidari 01.10.21 at 2:12 pm

@41 ‘My understanding is that once impeached, Trump cannot be President again.’

Your understanding is not exactly wrong, but it’s not exactly correct either. The problem is that impeachment has two ‘stages’. In order to be banned from standing for office again, both ‘stages’ have to be gone through. First he has to be impeached (i.e. by Congress). It is unlikely that this will happen (not enough time), but possible. But that’s not what the Democrats want. They want Trump to be impeached and convicted (i.e. by the Senate).

Too long and boring to go into the details, but the upshot is that the odds of this happening and absolutely and precisely zero (in the time period available). (see here for details: https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/political-commentary/trump-removed-from-office-25th-amendment-impeachment-1111371/).

Some people have talked about impeaching (or ‘impeaching’, depending on your point of view) Trump after he has left office, but this is highly problematic legal ground (it’s never happened to a President before), and probably nobody will want to risk it once Trump has gone (instead, he will be swiftly memory holed). It’s also deeply weird to impeach a sitting President who…er…isn’t the sitting President any more.

All the Democrats and Republicans politicians talking about impeachment all know, perfectly well, the above facts, incidentally.

51

Callum 01.10.21 at 4:15 pm

These two ideas can be true at the same time:

1) trump and a significant chunk of his base and of the republican party are aggressive nationalist authoritarians with a significant number of facists/neo-facists who will happily use violence to damage democratic outcomes and cultures. What’s more the threat posed by these groups has frequently been underestimated by certain parts of the left, and is not likely to evaporate just because trump loses steam.

2) the close knit alliance between corporate democrats and big technology is very bad for democracy and we ought to be deeply resistant to unchecked corporate control of the public sphere, and any introduction of new executive powers to deal with the threat of trump’s gang. What’s more the danger posed by silicon valley and the democratic elites has frequently been ignored by certain parts of the left.

There seems to be an alarming tendency on the left to act as if 1) and 2) were mutually incompatible, and to coalesce into two ‘sides’ which seem largely incapable of meaningfully engaging with the concerns of the other.

And this is not a call for moderate centrism, dealing with 1) and 2) require drastic action. But this isn’t helped when the Greenwalds of the world continuously act as if those who believe 1) are craven idiots, and progressive intellectuals treat people who believe 2) as being cranks and conspiracy theorists. Both 1) and 2) are true.

52

LFC 01.10.21 at 5:27 pm

Re war crimes as it relates to Saudi Arabia and Yemen:

A few seconds searching reveals that in 2019 Congress voted to block U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia. Trump vetoed those resolutions, and the Senate could not get the 67 votes needed to override the veto, although more Senators voted to override than not:

https://www.defensenews.com/congress/2019/07/29/us-senate-allows-arms-sales-to-saudi-arabia-sustaining-trump-vetoes/

It’s fairly clear that many Americans do not follow the foreign policy of their country closely, or at all. There are doubtless various reasons for this, ranging from indifference to preoccupation (in “normal” non-pandemic times) with working/career and/or family and/or other matters, etc.

Among those who do follow foreign policy and care about it, views differ, but if there weren’t substantial sentiment against U.S. support for Saudi Arabia in Yemen, Congress probably would not have passed those resolutions. I would amend Donald @32’s statement that “Americans are not serious about war crimes” to “much less concerned/serious than they should be.”

Unfortunately another consideration affecting U.S. public opinion, whether one likes this fact or not, is whether U.S. lives are at stake esp. via soldiers on the ground. Obviously, this does not apply in the case of Yemen, which is one reason U.S. support for Saudi actions there has not generated the kind of widespread, persistent outrage it should have. (The Houthi, as I understand it, have also committed war crimes, but that’s a separate issue.)

53

alfredlordbleep 01.10.21 at 6:29 pm

Seriously
following Nobody @26:

TRIAGE AND IMPEACHMENT: PRIORITIZE A LEGITIMATE CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION INTO THE WIDER PLOT OVER IMPEACHMENT
2 Comments/January 10, 2021/emptywheel
Given that key levers of Trump’s power have been neutralized for the short term, I think it more important to ensure the evidence supporting and the integrity of a criminal investigation holding Trump accountable for his role in Wednesday’s terrorist attack. Merrick Garland’s confirmation should take precedence over an impeachment trial in the Senate. . .

54

Hidari 01.10.21 at 8:02 pm

@52

You might like this article:

‘Trump’s imminent departure from power poses a fascinating question about accountability politics in Washington, D.C. For four years, Trump has flouted basic rules of law, profited off the presidency, used executive powers to protect and enrich his friends, and committed acts amounting to basic crimes that would have been prosecuted if committed by an ordinary person. In short, Trump has abused the powers of the presidency for personal gain.

Calls are mounting for post-presidency prosecution of Trump and with very good reason. But they center around Trump’s personal and brazen crookedness. On the issue of his war crimes? Nothing. There is no movement demanding he be prosecuted under international law for the assassination of an Iranian military official on the territory of a third country. No calls for prosecution for proudly aiding and abetting the genocidal campaign of terror being waged by the Saudis in Yemen. No inquiries planned for his policy changes that allowed for even greater widespread killing of civilians in U.S. military operations.

There’s little mystery why. While there was huffing and puffing from some Democrats about Trump’s international recklessness, his “national security” policies for the most part fit squarely within the parameters of ordinary U.S. business. For four years, the bipartisan war machine in Washington lavished his administration with record-shattering military budgets culminating in an overwhelming bipartisan override of Trump’s veto of the final National Defense Authorization Act of his presidency. The adults in Congress made sure the defense industry and the insatiable appetite for war among the political ruling class would be satisfied.’

https://theintercept.com/2021/01/04/trump-prosecution-war-crimes/

55

Kiwanda 01.10.21 at 9:21 pm

Hidari

They want Trump to be impeached and convicted (i.e. by the Senate).

Yes yes, “impeached and convicted”, per the formal process, or, as we often colloquially (if inaccurately) say, “impeached”. (My bumpersticker didn’t say “impeach” with the implicit message “but don’t convict”.) I’m also well aware that McConnell and the Republican senators will likely block conviction. Maybe some of them will have, at long last, a conscience; they may not actually have wanted to see some of their their colleagues killed, an outcome probably only been narrowly avoided. And, if it’s the only stand that can be taken, so be it. (NB: if we’re being sticklers for accuracy, “First he has to be impeached (i.e. by Congress).” is incorrect; it is the House of Representatives that impeaches, not Congress (the House plus the Senate).)

56

J-D 01.10.21 at 11:01 pm

My understanding is that once impeached, Trump cannot be President again

The penalties for conviction on impeachment are limited to one which automatically follows and one which is an optional extra. Conviction on impeachment results automatically in removal from office. It does not automatically result in disqualification from office in the future; a separate vote by the Senate after conviction is required to add that additional penalty. The relevant constitutional text is Section 4 of Article II and the last sentence of Section 3 of Article I.

57

Donald 01.11.21 at 12:04 am

I hadn’t seen the Intercept piece that Hidari linked, but my view is a pretty standard one for anti- interventionists.

Hidari—“ by which I presume you mean ‘educated’ white male middle class Americans”

I mean most educated upper middle class and above Americans, male and female. My guess is American exceptionalism is more prevalent with whites. But we all get bombarded with it here.

LFC— I won’t quibble about the amendment you propose. Post- Khashoggi virtually all Democrats and some Republicans turned against the war in Yemen. People suddenly woke up to the fact that we are complicit in genocide and want to stop it. Good, but it was obvious from very early on that the war was going to be one long atrocity. It didn’t require any great insight. I can’t recall exactly when I knew it, but there was plenty of information out by 2016. This wasn’t some innocent blunder.

I have been reading in various places how the rioters of January 6 and those who instigated it need to be held accountable and many or most should get jail sentences. We should investigate, I have read, to see if there was an actual conspiracy involving people in government to change the results of the election. I agree.

But surely the same arguments apply to people who willingly supported the Saudi bombing campaign in Yemen? I haven’t read them, but Ben Rhodes and Samantha Power wrote books about their time in the Obama Administration and reportedly said nothing about the Obama Administration’s decision to support the Saudis. I think that was from a guilty conscience. We know from the nyt that lawyers in the Obama Administration worried that American officials might be guilty of war crimes. The fact that nobody in mainstream political culture thinks we should investigate and prosecute our own war crimes shows a kind of narcissism. In fact it reminds me of Trump.

58

J-D 01.11.21 at 12:17 am

Here’s one thing I’m curious about now.

I’ve read reports that people have been charged over the events of 6 January, and that more may be.

I have no way of knowing what will happen in those cases. Some prosecutions may be dropped. Some cases may be pled out. But if some of them proceed to trial, what are going to be the arguments for the defence?

59

Hidari 01.11.21 at 7:13 am

@55 ‘Maybe some of them will have, at long last, a conscience’.

Good luck with that. Let me know how that one works out for you.

60

notGoodenough 01.11.21 at 11:58 am

J-D @ 58

”But if some of them proceed to trial, what are going to be the arguments for the defence?”

I would suspect it will depend (at least to an extent) what they’ve been charged with, what arguments the prosecutor makes, and what sort of plea they may wish to enter.

61

Orange Watch 01.11.21 at 5:04 pm

J-D@58:
. But if some of them proceed to trial, what are going to be the arguments for the defence?

So far, every time I’ve seen the charges being leveled mentioned, the most prominent (and sometimes only) one has been Unauthorized Access To A Restricted Area. By virtue of being shown having entered the Capitol, they can be trivially proven guilty of this. And since two Capitol Police have died, this would be a 10y sentence instead of the lesser 1y. The videos and their phones make satisfying the elements of this charge extremely straightforward. As mentioned upthread, there was no OPSEC to speak of – OPSEC is a group effort, so even if you have good OPSEC, when everyone around you has no idea what security culture even is, you do not, in fact, have good OPSEC. Leftist activists know this b/c they are regularly and aggressively targeted by LE. Most centrists and right-wingers don’t b/c the state condones their activities even under dramatic circumstances. Being nondescript in a sea of distinct individuals is difficult b/c your efforts make you stand out. Many of those being charged stated before and after on social media, or posted from phones while committing their crimes. Location and identity are all you need for Unauthorized Access, so (if I may borrow a QAnon tenet) their symbolism will be their downfall.

62

Stephen Calhoun 01.11.21 at 6:10 pm

A lot rides on the seditious terrorist attack against the congress being fully investigated, including following the money, and tracking back through all the social media crumbs.

The investigations will be thorough; (my guess.)

63

Hidari 01.12.21 at 8:33 am

About those ‘five deaths’ incidentally. Apart from the murder of Ashli Babbitt, and the death (possibly murder, possibly not) of Brian Sicknick, we now discover (what a surprise!) that toe other three deaths loudly trumpeted (sic) by journalists who write articles for money for tax dodging corporations trying to curry favour with the incoming Biden regime were only tangentially (if at all) related to the ‘riot’.

Kevin Greeson had a heart attack.

Rosanne Boyland might have been crushed (i.e. in a crowd) but it’s also possible she died of a pre-existing medial emergency.

Benjamin Philips died of a stroke.

Needless to say all of these people are MAGA types who (we are told) are ‘literal Nazis’ and Sicknick is a cop in the American police for, which we were told recently (on CT comments threads no less) is a force literally indistinguishable from the Gestapo. So it’s not at all clear why any ‘liberal’ is even the slightest bit upset.

Your beliefs that Congresspeople care deeply about the lives of MAGA types, and are deeply upset about these deaths (maybe Sicknick, at a push) and not, say, because they were forced to leave their chairs and stand in a room, and then move back, being entirely safe throughout this whole process, is deeply touching.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/11/us/who-died-in-capitol-building-attack.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage

64

J-D 01.12.21 at 11:26 am

J-D@58:
. But if some of them proceed to trial, what are going to be the arguments for the defence?

So far, every time I’ve seen the charges being leveled mentioned, the most prominent (and sometimes only) one has been Unauthorized Access To A Restricted Area. By virtue of being shown having entered the Capitol, they can be trivially proven guilty of this. And since two Capitol Police have died, this would be a 10y sentence instead of the lesser 1y. The videos and their phones make satisfying the elements of this charge extremely straightforward. As mentioned upthread, there was no OPSEC to speak of – OPSEC is a group effort, so even if you have good OPSEC, when everyone around you has no idea what security culture even is, you do not, in fact, have good OPSEC. Leftist activists know this b/c they are regularly and aggressively targeted by LE. Most centrists and right-wingers don’t b/c the state condones their activities even under dramatic circumstances. Being nondescript in a sea of distinct individuals is difficult b/c your efforts make you stand out. Many of those being charged stated before and after on social media, or posted from phones while committing their crimes. Location and identity are all you need for Unauthorized Access, so (if I may borrow a QAnon tenet) their symbolism will be their downfall.

You’re describing the case for the prosecution. I’m asking what the case for the defence will be.

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Tm 01.12.21 at 1:29 pm

J-D 58: I don’t see a need to speculate on that question; we’ll almost certainly find out soon enough. Sadly, most of them will come off way too lightly because it will be difficult to prove individual violent acts, as opposed to just aggravated trespassing.

What I’m curious about is whether Trump will pardon all those involved, or throw them under the bus once he thinks they are of no use to him any more. I do think that pardoning them will help his reputation among that segment of the population that still believes in him – and that segment is still more than big enough to threaten American democracy. Otoh pardoning insurrectionists might increase his own chances of being prosecuted. – We’ll find out soon enough.

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Tm 01.12.21 at 1:38 pm

I have called out many times here on CT the attempt to minimize Trump’s threat to democracy by the anti-anti-Trumpist, anti-anti-fascist pseudo-left. (https://crookedtimber.org/2020/10/21/gonzo-constitutionalism-on-the-right-norm-erosion-on-the-left/#comment-805875). I was mildly curious whether this fraction would continue its denialism in the face of the Capitol ransacked by a fascist mob, fired up by Trump himself. As current CT threads demonstrate, they do. What I didn’t quite expect was that some of them would now openly take the side of Trumpism against liberal democracy in depicting the fascists as victims of “repression and censorship” (https://crookedtimber.org/2020/12/31/room-for-debate/#comment-807642). At least we now won’t have to take this fraction seriously any more, it has ultimately disqualified itself from any serious political debate. And I will never again engage with members of said fraction

I posted a longer comment including relevant thoughts and observations, both from before and after the coup attempt, which other readers of the present thread might find interesting: https://crookedtimber.org/2020/12/31/room-for-debate/#comment-807629.
I find LGM has a lot to say about the state of American democracy and I’m drawing heavily from that source.

Happy new year to y’all! A year that I trust will bring a promising new beginning. Let’s not miss this chance!

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Abby 01.12.21 at 5:22 pm

”But if some of them proceed to trial, what are going to be the arguments for the defence?”

For people who can only be shown to have been in areas of the Capitol that are normally open to the public, such as the Rotunda, the argument would be that they arrived after others had breached entry and the state cannot prove that they knew they were accessing any restricted area. Could work. I expect these are not the cases that would proceed to trial, though. For those on the floor of the House, there’s always insanity, temporary or otherwise.

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Hidari 01.12.21 at 7:13 pm

And in my last piece of investigative journalism, I have discovered that the dead policeman, Brian Sicknick, was a MAGA type (and had even protested online that the ‘election was stolen’ or somesuch), but then the headline: ‘Trump supporters invade Capitol, results in death of 5 Trump supporters’ would not lead to the appropriate level of hysteria.

Anyway! I’m bowing out of these threads now as I detect a distinct lack of enthusiasm of my fact-based objections to the media created narrative. But please remember three little aphorisms for you all to reflect upon.

1: Those who know Trump best fear him least. Those who know Trump least fear him most.

2: Freedom for some is freedom for none. Freedom of speech for some is not really freedom of speech at all. If they came for X (no matter how reprehensible ‘X’ may be), they can come for ‘Y’ and probably will, and ‘Y’ might be you.

3: The media is not your friend.

Enjoy the impeachment! It will be a spectacle.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Society_of_the_Spectacle

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steven t johnson 01.12.21 at 8:19 pm

Hidari@63 wrote “…(members of Congress) were forced to leave their chairs and stand in a room, and then move back, being entirely safe throughout this whole process…”

I believe this is false, to literal fact, and false to logic, as the issue was, were they safe if they didn’t run? I don’t think Hidari can honestly agree they were.

As to respecting police injured in fighting a mob, I can only point out that it is well-nigh universal to admire John Adams for defending English soldiers for the murders in the Boston Massacre. I do not think the person who shot Ashli Babbitt should be lionized and possibly charged with manslaughter. (Every implication it was in cold blood is malicious nonsense, expressing a political tendency in favor of the “Stop the steal!” rationale.) Slogans about defunding the police, much less abolishing them, really are the kind of meaningless gestures decried in another thread.

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CHETAN R MURTHY 01.12.21 at 9:38 pm

Abby @ 67: “the argument would be that they arrived after others had breached entry and the state cannot prove that they knew they were accessing any restricted area.”

Indeed, I’m sure they’ll try this. The problem will arise, when they don’t show up with a pre-breach timestamp on the security cameras that are trained on all entrances. Or at least, that’s what I’m hoping ….. given that we are getting significant evidence that this was partially an inside job (two Capitol Hill police already suspended, 10 more under investigation, reporting that supervisors sent the night shift home and did not recall them even after the attack began) I’m mildly a-fearin’ that the recorded footage will somehow “disappear”. But sufficient unto the day, etc.

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