Criminal evidence abounds against Trump. He must be held accountable

The final Jan. 6 insurrection committee hearing last Thursday presented what, in any other historical context, would have been a series of major bombshells.

But in this shell-shocked nation, numbed by years of daily Trumpian outrages, the idea of a president and his advisers colluding to organize a violent coup no longer seems to spark the sustained outrage it deserves.


Americans should be outraged nevertheless because the evidence is clear: Donald Trump worked actively to subvert an election and seize power through a violent attack on Congress.

An astonishing number of Americans still don’t grasp why that was such a bad thing, as if it’s OK to take up knives, guns, bear spray, battering rams and military-style body armor to invade the Capitol simply because an election didn’t yield the desired result.

Evidence abounds that Trump knew weeks ahead of the November 2020 election that his defeat loomed, and he colluded with outsiders to stay in the White House anyway.

Contacts were established with right-wing militias to lead a military-style assault on the Capitol.

Trump advisers Roger Stone and Steve Bannon helped with coordination.

Bannon, chief White House strategist in 2017, said in an audio recording more than a week before the election: “What Trump’s gonna do is just declare victory, right? He’s gonna declare victory. But that doesn’t mean he’s a winner. He’s just gonna say he’s the winner. … If Trump is losing by 10 or 11 o’clock at night (on Election Day), it’s going to be even crazier. Because he’s going to sit right there and say, ‘they stole it.’”

Stone, in separate video footage, stated that if the election result was still undecided on election night, “the key thing to do is to claim victory.” In a subsequent clip, he stated bluntly regarding a Trump loss, “F—- the voting, let’s get right to the violence. We’ll have to start smashing pumpkins, if you know what I mean.”

Bannon used a broadcast to warn on Jan. 5: “All hell is going to break loose tomorrow. It’s all converging and now we’re on, as they say, the point of attack, right, the point of attack tomorrow.”

Trump consulted with a close adviser, Tom Fitton, about declaring victory before the votes were counted.

Fitton told the House committee that preparations for a victory declaration, even if Trump were to lose, began four months before the election.

The insurrection was premeditated, with Trump playing an active role in the planning.

The question is whether Attorney General Merrick Garland has the intestinal fortitude to prosecute.

The Supreme Court last Thursday indicated in a ruling in another Trump case that it would not intervene to rescue the ex-president.

If Trump isn’t held accountable, he or someone inspired by his wanton display of criminal conduct will almost certainly try it again.

What would they have to lose?

— St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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