The Trump Chronicles, Volume 164: Another Day In Court

Yesterday former President Trump and his legal team were in court yesterday, specifically US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. It stems from a criminal case linked to his January 6, 2021 attempt to overthrow the government and remain in power. Trump’s team filed a brief arguing that he is immune from prosecution because he was acting in his role as President. There is reason to argue that a sitting President cannot be charged with a crime but Trump wishes us to believe that he can never be prosecuted, unless his crime causes him to be impeached and removed from office by Congress.

I subscribe to an excellent podcast called Prosecuting Donald Trump and yesterday they gave me access to the recording of the hearing. I listened to it so you don’t have to. Here’s what I learned:

Trump’s legal team argues that if a President breaks the law he cannot be prosecuted, even after he leaves office, unless he was impeached by the House of Representatives and removed from office by the Senate. They argued that without this protection Presidents would always have to “look over his shoulder” when making decisions and worry that after they leave office they will be prosecuted. The President needs this protection to govern effectively.

Jack Smith is prosecuting the Trump case and his team responded that this is not sufficient. For example, if a President breaks the law he can then resign and provide no avenue for him to answer to his actions. Additionally they reminded the court that after Trump was impeached for his actions on January 6th several Senators advised against voting to convict. They argued that once Trump left office he would be subject to criminal charges and since he was leaving office on January 20, 2021 there was no point. Now the Trump wants to have it both ways.

It’s no surprise that I disagree with Trump but I just can’t get past the idea that the President can break the law with no fear of consequences. Trump argues that if a President can be prosecuted for actions in office it would open floodgates. One of their examples was President George W. Bush lying to Congress to get their agreement to invade Iraq. There are two problems with this: President Bush honestly believed Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction (because his Vice President and Secretary of Defense told him so). Additionally, it’s not illegal to lie to Congress unless you’re under oath. He never was. President Trump claims he honestly believed the 2020 election was stolen from him but we have tape of him admitting he lost. This just doesn’t work.

The US Court of Appeals will likely render their decision in the next few weeks and it will almost certainly go to the Supreme Court. I can only hope the court rules against Trump.

The Trump Chronicles, Volume 163: Looking at January 6th, Three Years Later

On the morning of January 6, 2021 I didn’t expect the date to be important. But newly defeated President Trump did. He knew that the Senate would convene that day to accept the electoral votes of the 2020 election and preventing that was his last chance to stay in office. He proclaimed, then and now, that he won the election but it was stolen from him by corruption and voter fraud.

Trump was far from the first president to be defeated in his quest for re-election; that goes all the way back to John Adams. But he was the first who fomented violence to keep his job. On December 19, 2020 he tweeted this: “Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!”

On that morning he held a rally near the White House and told his followers to march to the Capitol to “take back our country.” In fairness he expected to join the crowd but his Secret Service team refused his request and took him back to the White House.

What happened next shouldn’t have surprised anyone. The crowd marched to the Capitol, broke windows, climbed over barriers, assaulted law enforcement and attempted to prevent Congress from certifying the vote. At first even Republicans saw this for the terrorist act it was. But it didn’t take long for that to change.

Even those who were in harm’s way have now claimed this wasn’t an attempt to overthrow the government but a peaceful protest. Trump now refers to those convicted of crimes related to this are hostages. You can read an excellent article: here.

We can’t let Trump and his minions rewrite history. Our future depends on it.

The Election 2024 Chronicles, Volume 11; The Trump Chronicles, Volume 162: Why I Believe Trump Is Ineligible To Be President Again

As of a few days ago we are in an election year. This election, alas, has been hard to watch and I wish I had written more. By the election I hope to have written enough to have given a good sense of the year.

This is unusual this early but the nominees are almost certainly set. Once again, presumably, Joe Biden will run against Donald Trump. We’ve had a rematch before. We’ve been this way before. Grover Cleveland served from 1885 and 1889 and lost to Benjamin Harrison in 1888. Cleveland ran again in 1892 and defeated Harrison’s bid for reelection. He served his second term from 1893 to 1897 and retired after that.

But the election of 2024 has a few wrinkles. For the first time in our history in 2020 the loser refused to concede. Trump has spent the time since 2020 successfully convincing a large percentage of Americans that he was fraudulently defeated and the Presidency was stolen from him. Frankly conceding defeat is custom but not a requirement.

But on January 6, 2021, in the waning days of his Presidency Trump planned to overthrow the government and stop the peaceful transfer of power. That was the day the Senate was to gather and accept the electoral votes and vote to name Joe Biden the 46th President. But on that day Trump gathered his supporters at the White House and directed them to march to the Capitol and stop the voting. They almost succeeded. It was only through the heroic actions of Vice President Mike Pence, the Secret Service and the Capitol Police.

So why does that make him ineligible to run again? After the Civil War we passed three Constitutional amendments: 13, 14, and 15. The 14th Amendment guarantees citizenship to newly freed slaves who were born in the United States but it does several other things. Section 3 says this:

No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

Section 3 intended that those who betrayed their oaths by fighting for the Confederacy couldn’t come back to government service. But according to my reading Trump’s actions fit this. He took an oath of office at his inauguration in 2017 and called for the violent overthrow of the government in 2021 to stay in office.

Those who support his reelection claim that it should be up to the American people to chose our next President. But if you want someone who is under 35 or was not born in this country to be President, you can’t have what you want. Several years ago when Arnold Schwarzenegger was the wildly popular governor of California there was talk about finding a way to be President. His political star fell soon after that but even if it hadn’t he couldn’t become President. Even a naturalized citizen can’t be President.

Constitutional amendments don’t expire and they don’t become guidelines. They are the law of the land unless they are repealed (as was the 18th Amendment).

More later.