A friend just asked something like this:
‘Yes, Rachel Maddow, we know Trump is a crook surrounded by crooks, but when are we going to move on?’
Here’s my answer:
I warned in November 2020 in the days after the presidential election that if we saw Trump do what all dictators who are about to mount a coup d’etat do – begin to replace the high military leadership with unqualified cronies, we could be sure that he would attempt to violently overturn the election for the first time in all of American history.
This was the article a few weeks later on CNN on December 5, 2020:
“Trump has jettisoned much of the Pentagon’s civilian leadership in recent weeks, replacing officials with a slew of political loyalists in a wave of disruption as his administration winds to a close. Since firing Defense Secretary Mark Esper by tweet November 9, the President has ousted at least three other top officials and replaced them with perceived loyalists and targeted two advisory boards…”
“One of the President’s more recent nominees for a Pentagon position has spread debunked conspiracy theories on Twitter that called Trump’s election loss to President-elect Joe Biden a “coup” and shared tweets that suggest Trump should declare martial law.”
[“Scott O’Grady, a former fighter pilot and Trump loyalist, repeatedly retweeted tweets that falsely stated Trump won the election in “landslide fashion” and that millions of votes were stolen from the President.”]
[“On November 25, O’Grady retweeted a tweet that said, “Trump won & Biden & his Comrades will now attempt a coup,” next to a photoshopped image of Biden beside Xi Jinping, the President of China.”]
[“On December 2, he retweeted an account that shared an article that said former national security adviser Michael Flynn had shared a petition that called for martial law. He then retweeted the same account which suggested that Trump should declare martial law.”]
“It is not clear why Trump has embarked on such sweeping changes with only weeks left before Biden moves into the White House.”
It might not have been clear to CNN, but it was clear to those of us who have studied how democracies are destroyed from within. This was yet another instance in which Trump’s moves were met with ridicule, then, wonder, then confusion, then boredom, then, ultimately, no accountability – no push back by our democracy to defend itself.
If there is no accountability for Trump, he will never stop criming, and his legions of brainwashed followers will never stop trying to destroy our democracy.
For example, did you ever wonder why Trump, who is no longer president, has not been charged with conspiracy in the hush-money case by the Southern District of New York, when:
1. The work us already done in the investigation;
2. Trump is named as a co-conspirator with Michael Cohen; and
3. It is Trump, not Cohen, who ordered the illegal payments – which may have tipped the balance in the 2016 election, a matter of epic import – and Trump who benefited, yet Cohen went to jail?
What is the SDNY doing? The press should be asking questions about why there is no prosecution there, not treating the SDNY like it is the mystical legal oracle of wisdom that is sacrosanct and cannot be questioned.
Something is awry there, and the press is not doing its job.
How about the Department of Justice more broadly? Robert Mueller did all the work. He spelled out a full case of obstruction of justice. He spelled out ten cases of obstruction, to be exact. Where are the prosecutions against Trump himself for his obstruction of justice?
My own belief is that far more of what Trump does, is actually done for the sole purpose of intimidating prosecutors than people imagine. So far it’s working, as Trump continues to pretend to be planning a comeback, and is then met with intimidated prosecutors terrified about swinging and missing, causing them never to step up to the plate.
So, yes, friend who asked when we can move on: we can move on, but we cannot move on safely until there is accountability not for those around Trump, but accountability for Trump himself, and we had better not move on one second sooner.
Accountability is the only way to prevent disaster. If we have not learned that by the attack on our Capitol trying to prevent the legal transfer of power, when will we learn this lesson?
Let’s learn the lesson that democracies must defend themselves from attempts at autocratic rule. Always.