To heal America, convict and imprison Trump

Photo by Max Letek on Unsplash

The U.S. is under attack from within, and it will not end after the attackers’ leader is out of the White House

Joe Biden has been talking since day one of his presidential campaign about how he wants to “heal America,” which is a great idea that, based on the election results, the majority of Americans go along with. He’s made it clear that he doesn’t want to dwell on the past, i.e. to dwell on Donald Trump and his malign influence, but to move on, and part of his idea of moving on, some of his associates have told the media, is not to sic the law on Trump once he’s out of office. To let sleeping dogs lie, rather than rouse them by trying to put their master in prison.

After Wednesday at the U.S. Capitol, it’s clear that the sleeping dogs are wide awake, always will be, and they’ve got blood in their eyes.

How does Biden propose to heal America now, the morning after Trump’s army invaded the Capitol for him?

If anybody thought that after Trump is gone from the White House, Trumpism will be gone from America, I doubt they still think that today. It has to be clear now that there’s no placating this movement – and while only a small minority of Trumpists may be ready to physically storm Washington, there is a huge mass movement across America that idolizes him, that buys into his whole demonology and feeds him new demons, that for the last four years has poisoned America, and that really believes he rightfully won the election in November and that Biden and Co. stole it from him. From them.

How do you heal that?

After Wednesday in Washington, the majority of Americans, maybe Biden himself as well, understand that there’s no lowering these people’s temperature, and that going out of your way to avoid a collision with them is the worst thing you can do. It broadcasts weakness, and weakness encourages them, just like it encourages their leader. (And just like the police’s miserably weak response to the mob at the Capitol yesterday encouraged them, leaving them giddy with success. As one of them told CNN: “This is just the beginning.”)

How can you broadcast strength – no, fearlessness – to such a sprawling subculture of crazies? You do it by going straight for their leader and taking him down. By hurting him as badly as you legally can, which in Trump’s case would mean putting him in prison for the rest of his life.

The Manhattan district attorney and New York attorney general are already investigating him for financial crimes. But after January 20, the Biden administration is going to have to step up. America’s leadership must resolve to bring Trump to justice.

Forget about impeachment while the Republicans still control the Senate. But once Biden takes office, the Democrats will control something that in this contest is infinitely more important than the Senate – the U.S. Department of Justice.

Just for starters, the department appears to have one hell of a case in Trump’s call on Saturday warning the Georgia secretary of state – on tape – that he would be committing a crime if he dared refuse to fix the state’s November vote for Trump. To all appearances, that was a gross, grotesque move to defraud a presidential election, the kind of thing that could send you to prison for a long, long time.

Also, let Biden’s Justice Department see if Trump is culpable for inciting Wednesday’s insurrection, sedition, attempted coup, terrorism, treason, whatever the legal term for it may be.

Let them comb through Trump’s history in and out of office and see if they think they can nail him on something, and if they do, let them open the case(s). They should pursue him like the feds pursued Al Capone – if they couldn’t get Capone for his worst crimes, which included murder, they’d get him for the worst crime that they could make stick, which was tax evasion.

With Trump as with Capone: By any legal means necessary.

I would never suggest such a thing for a politician I merely hated but who gave no sign of having broken the law. That, however, is not Trump. There’s every reason to believe he’s committed crimes – and in the case of Saturday’s call to Georgia, a seemingly monstrous one. So the question becomes: Why not investigate him? And if the investigators find good enough evidence, why not indict him?

One reason not to do so is fear – fear of stirring up the hive of Trump’s cult followers. But that’s not a reason after Wednesday, if it ever was.

Another reason is fear of setting a dangerous precedent: If the Democrats prosecute Trump, the next Republican president could well go after his Democratic predecessor, even if the predecessor was utterly clean.

Hopefully, by the time there is another Republican president, the GOP will have gone through a “de-Trumpification” process, and they will understand that Trump is not a Republican, but a mutation of one. That he’s not a politician, but a gangster, a leader of a hate cult, a plain and simple menace. That unlike every other American president except Nixon in the days of Watergate, his “leadership” is illegitimate. Just like Trumpism is an illegitimate brand of “politics.”

But even if the Republicans never realize this, let the Democrats worry about their potential vengeance if and when the time comes. For now, there can be no fear. America is under attack from within, and it will not end after the attackers’ leader leaves the White House. Starting January 20, and by any and all legal means, Trump must be put away.

CLICK HERE to get my new memoir, “Playing Till We Have to Go – A Jewish childhood in inner-city L.A.” Available at Amazon – $2.99 on Kindle, $8.99 in paperback. 

About the Author
Larry Derfner is the author of the memoir "Playing Till We Have to Go -- A Jewish childhood in inner-city L.A.," published November 2020. His first memoir was "No Country for Jewish Liberals" (2017). He is also lead singer for The NightCallers, a '60s-'70s rock 'n' soul cover band, and a copy editor and contributor at Haaretz. Previously he was a columnist and feature writer at The Jerusalem Post. He also blogs at
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