Donald Trump, the disgraced former president of the United States, is on the campaign trail to become the Republican Party’s nominee in the 2024 presidential election. As he travels around the country, he vehemently denies that he tried to overturn the results of the 2020 election, which, contrary to his absurd assertion, was handily won by Joe Biden.
In his desperate attempt to cling to power, the twice impeached ex-president claimed ad nauseam that he was the victim of a massive election fraud scheme.
Jack Smith, the special counsel charged with investigating these claims, resoundingly rejected them when he recently indicted Trump on four criminal counts.
Smith accused Trump of three conspiracies — defrauding the United States, obstructing an official government proceeding, and depriving voters of the right to have their votes counted. As well, he charged Trump with obstructing or attempting to obstruct an official proceeding.
These grave charges are related to the unprecedented events of January 6, 2021. On that ominous day, Trump exhorted his followers to rally on Capitol Hill for a “wild” protest and pressured the vice-president, Mike Pence, to interfere in the official certification of Biden’s victory, which was cut short by ensuing violence during which protesters stormed Congress.
Trump, in effect, attempted to subvert the democratic process against the will of voters so that he could remain in office for another four years.
With these unethical and illegal maneuvers, Trump tried to turn America into a Central American-type tinpot dictatorship. He thereby committed an unpardonable crime worthy of imprisonment.
Contrary to his beliefs, he was not trying to make America great again.
In his indictment filed in the Federal District Court in Washington, D.C., Smith wrote, “Each of these conspiracies — which built on the widespread mistrust the defendant was creating through pervasive and destabilizing lies about election fraud — targeted a bedrock function of the United States federal government: the nation’s process of collecting, counting and certifying the results of the presidential election.”
Trump’s advisors and Justice Department officials repeatedly informed him that he had lost the election and that his allegations of having been cheated were patently untrue.
As Smith wrote, Trump was perfectly aware that his claims of widespread election fraud “were false,” yet he persisted in disseminating this monumental lie.
Lawyers close to Trump, such as Rudolph Giuliani and John Eastman, willfully ignored this information and apparently advised him to press on and exert pressure on Pence to change the outcome of the election. When Pence refused to follow their foolhardy advice, Trump reportedly said, “You’re too honest.”
As Pence has strongly suggested, Trump expected him to be more loyal to him than to the constitution.
Trump’s cynical, undemocratic behavior on January 6 speaks to his character as a schemer, liar, and crass political operator who will do virtually anything to advance his personal interests at whatever cost and at the expense of the nation’s cherished democratic system.
Lest it be forgotten, Trump peddled the malicious falsehood that Barack Obama, the first African American to be elected president, was not born in the United States and was thus ineligible to run for the presidency.
Shortly after Smith handed down his damning indictments, Trump’s campaign office issued a historically erroneous and misleading statement equating them with the noxious culture of Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia: “The lawlessness of these persecutions of President Trump and his supporters is reminiscent of Nazi Germany in the 1930s, the former Soviet Union, and other authoritarian dictatorial regimes.”
This communique is not only factually incorrect, but deeply offensive. It implies that the United States is little more than a foul fascist autocracy, which could not be farther from the truth. Yet Trump’s false equation is hardly surprising and is in keeping with his propensity to bend the truth for his own selfish ends.
With his indictment and forthcoming trial, the United States has entered dangerous uncharted waters.
At this fraught moment in American history, Trump is still the Republican Party’s frontrunner as its presidential candidate. His opponents, like Ron DeSantis and Pence, lag far behind and appear to have no chance of overtaking Trump.
Unfortunately, tens of millions of Americans regard Trump as a great American and a selfless martyr who richly deserves to be reelected.
They are unperturbed by the fact that Trump is already under indictment in two other cases concerning his sloppy and irresponsible handling of top-secret government documents and his hush-money payment to a pornographic actress with whom he had an affair prior to the 2016 election.
He may well face a fourth criminal case in the state of Georgia, where the district attorney in Fulton county is investigating his scheme to undermine the 2020 election.
Other Americans will not be as charitable toward Trump. They understand that he deliberately violated the spirit and letter of the constitution two and a half years ago when he tried to block the peaceful transfer of power in the wake of the presidential election.
Trump is a conspiracy theorist and a power-hungry narcissist who has no business being president for a second term, though he should be given credit for brokering the 2020 Abraham Accords, managing the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccines, and trying to reach an accommodation with North Korea.
Deeply flawed as a person, he is unpresidential in terms of his temperament and his capacity to sow societal divisions. The Republican Party, which seems to be in thrall to him, should remove him as a presidential aspirant. This is not likely to happen. Barring an extraordinary event, the Republicans will probably select him as their presidential candidate.
It will be a sorry day for America if this unsettling scenario transpires.