Last week, I urged Democratic leaders in the US House of Representatives to re-impeach President Trump on newly documented corruption charges. I suggested this mainly as a procedural maneuver to block the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court by hijacking the Senate’s docket, which according to the Constitution must give an impeachment trial priority over other business. If Senate Republicans, against their own declared principles, are ramming through this lifetime appointment while a presidential election is in progress simply because they can — well, give them a taste of their own medicine.
But as of Saturday night, impeaching Trump immediately became an urgent matter of national security for the United States — and, ipso facto, for the rest of the world, especially allies like Israel.
Holding immense, closely-packed campaign rallies in defiance of his own “administration’s” Covid-19 guidelines is bad enough. It might cost America merely a few thousand more pandemic fatalities before 20 January if he loses the election– as polls, and the increasing number of Republicans dissociating from Trump, now indicate. Since the death toll has already topped 220,000, that many more would hardly justify another doomed impeachment effort. (As is now necessary, let me emphasize that this paragraph is intended to be heavily sarcastic).
But at such a rally in Michigan, Trump revived his 2016 chant of “lock ‘er up!” — now against the state’s Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer, for her measures to contain the pandemic resurgence. Trump also renewed this rabble-rousing against his then-rival Hillary Clinton, and more alarmingly against his present election rival, Joe Biden. None of the three have been charged with any crime. Indeed, Rudy Giuliani’s latest attempt to smear Biden with bogus Ukrainian documents has been shown up by US intelligence as another Russian exercise to help Trump.
There are two salient differences between these “lock ’em up” howls in 2016 and now. First, Trump was then just a long-shot presidential candidate with no executive powers. Now he is not only the chief executive, but has a compliant attorney-general to do his bidding with all the wherewithal of federal law enforcement (though characteristically, Trump has recently voiced displeasure even with Bill Barr as not quite compliant enough).
Second, Governor Whitmer was already the target of a serious abduction-murder plot that also included blowing up a bridge. Multiple suspects are facing federal and state charges after being exposed by undercover agents. There are, then, clearly some — enough — who take their cue from Trump’s calls to “liberate Michigan”; and on the national level, they might try to do the same to Biden.
Trump has already sounded barely-veiled appeals to his diehard, armed supporters to intimidate voters at the polls and to contest the election results if they go against him. Now he has crossed a bright red line into explicit incitement to domestic violence — a high crime and misdemeanor by any account, but worse: a clear and present danger to the American republic. If his rampant corruption and the other myriad transgressions of his “administration” could await the voters’ verdict and then another two-and-a-half months until the next presidential inauguration, countering this danger can’t wait that long. I recently called him “Trumpashenko”; now he has unmistakably moved US politics into recent Belarusian territory. This is not a matter of urgent concern for US citizens alone, but they in particular must take action right away to remove this menace before it plays out — that is, before election day.
When the above reports came in, I was working on a blog post about Trump’s admission, at a previous rally, that if defeated he “might have to leave the country” — presumably to evade arrest, to dodge creditors, or both. OMG, I thought, some of my worst fears have come one step closer: that he may try (with Law-of-Return-eligible Ivanka and Jared) to seek asylum in one of the few places where he remains inexplicably popular, namely Israel. Would that he chooses the Gulf instead; Russia and North Korea will have little use for him once he’s out of power for good. If he does show up here, I mused, he should be consigned to the Potemkin village that Netanyahu named after him on the Golan Heights, and permanently quarantined there.
But Trump’s latest — hopefully, desperate — turn to openly fascist tactics must leave any such worries for later. Congressmen Nadler and Schiff, please move expediently. It is now literally a matter of life and death — and not only from the coronavirus.