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Posts published in “Day: February 5, 2022”

Idaho needs a McMullin

richardson

As I write this, the filing deadline for elective office in Idaho is fast approaching. No Democrat has yet announced against Sen. Mike Crapo, who is on the ballot this November. Given the dismal track record of Idaho’s Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate that is unsurprising. Moreover, Crapo is sitting on a campaign war chest of over $5 million, and there’s likely more where that came from; Crapo’s top contributors are special interests with very deep pockets – insurance, securities and investment, real estate, and pharmaceuticals.

But Crapo, who brandishes Trump’s endorsement like a badge of honor, badly needs a challenger; and perhaps the strongest challenger to Crapo is not a Democrat, but an independent, ideally a former Republican who is ready to reject Trump and his many lies. We have an example of this in our neighboring state of Utah where Evan McMullin, an American political activist and former Central Intelligence Agency operations officer who ran as an independent during the 2016 United States presidential election, is challenging incumbent Senator Mike Lee.

McMullin, a former Republican, believes that Republicans who care about the survivability of our republic should reject any candidate who aligns with an authoritarian thug. McMullin said of Lee, “I like to believe he went [to Washington, D.C.] as a principled constitutional conservative, but if you aid and abet an effort to overturn the republic, you can no longer claim to be that.”

The same could be said of Crapo.

Crapo, like Lee, enabled Trump’s effort to subvert the 2020 election process. Both men voted to acquit Trump for his role in the January 6th insurrection and opposed the formation of an independent, bipartisan commission to investigate the riot. Despite the many recent revelations that Trump fostered and facilitated an attempted coup, Crapo has remained complicit in his silence.

Utah, like Idaho, is heavily conservative. In order for McMullin, a former Republican, to beat Lee in the Beehive State he will need to unite Democrats, independents, and Trump-averse Republicans. He has gotten off to a strong start. Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger endorsed McMullin, saying “Evan has stood up to extremism in every form [and] to fix politics, we need to do things differently.” Ben McAdams, a former Democratic congressman from Utah has also endorsed McMullin and urged his party to support him. McAdams, who calls McMullin a “patriot, independent of both political parties,” echoes Kinzinger in asking “what have we got to lose by trying something new?”

Perhaps a capable Democratic challenger to Crapo will yet emerge. Perhaps he, or she, will be able to break 40%, something no Democrat running for the Senate from Idaho has accomplished since 1986 when Steve Symms narrowly defeated challenger and then governor John V. Evans. But if no credible Democrat steps up to the plate, Crapo ought not run unopposed; he does not deserve a free ride.

McMullin believes that, in today’s America, ‘the primary dividing line in American politics isn’t Republicans versus Democrats. It’s freedom versus despotism, order versus chaos, truth versus lies, and fear versus love.” It has become painfully clear on which side of the line Crapo stands. He stands with Trump.

In McMullin, Utah has a model of integrity, an individual who has the courage to defend the Constitution, promote civic responsibility and protect American democracy. Here’s hoping Idaho has an Evan McMullin, a principled conservative who will fight for freedom and truth, someone who will challenge Crapo, run as a true independent, and unite those of us – Democrats, unaffiliated, and Republicans – who are committed to the preservation of our Union.
 

The coming reckoning

johnson

Brace yourself.

In the next few months, perhaps even weeks, a former president of the United States is going to be indicted, charged with serious crimes that almost certainly will shake the fragile foundations of American democracy.

To date speculation about charges against Donald J. Trump, the 45th American president, have been largely taking place among legal and Constitutional scholars who watch every development as it unfolds amid the long threads of Trump’s legal exposure. But now the reality of what is likely to happen is increasingly in plain view. The man’s own words – Trump never hides what he’s really thinking or worried about – betray the peril he faces.

Trump is committing a type of obstruction in public. During a typically rambling, grievance laced performance in Texas recently, the former president was clear about two things. He read these lines straight off the teleprompter.

“If these radical, vicious racist prosecutors do anything wrong or illegal, I hope we are going to have in this country the biggest protest we have ever had … in Washington, D.C., in New York, in Atlanta, and elsewhere because our country and our elections are corrupt.”

And this: “If I run and I win, we will treat those people from January 6 fairly,” Trump said, and then underscoring his intentions “And if it requires pardons, we will give them pardons because they are being treated so unfairly.”

Will Bunch, a practiced Trump watcher who writes for the Philadelphia Inquirer, called it one of the “most incendiary and most dangerous speeches in America’s 246-year history.” He is not wrong.

In a few words, Trump was signaling again that those not cooperating with investigations into his incitement of an insurrectionist mob on January 6, people like former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, should hang tough. He’ll pardon them when he’s back in power. And that promise has particular influence. Trump’s done it before.

Even more astounding – and more dangerous – Trump is broadcasting to his most committed followers that any effort to hold him to account will be met by protests, and likely violence. There is simply no parallel in American history for a former president to behave in such a reckless, lawless fashion. This is not normal.

As Harry Litman, a former top Justice Department official and now a law professor, wrote in the Los Angeles Times: “Under Justice Department prosecution standards, just the publicly available evidence is sufficient to bring an indictment against Trump for the federal crime of obstruction or impeding an official proceeding – in this case, Congress’ certification of a presidential election.”

Prosecutors in Georgia examining Trump’s efforts to intimidate that state’s election officials into “finding” the votes he needed to defeat Joe Biden immediately asked the FBI to assess the risks prosecutors face after Trump’s threat.

Litman goes on: “The guideline for federal prosecutors specify that prosecutors ‘should’ generally commence prosecution if two circumstances exist: first, the person’s conduct constitutes a federal offense – i.e. the prosecutor has determined that the defendant really is guilty and the prosecution is righteous – and second, the admissible evidence will ‘probably be sufficient’ to convict.”

We also know from extensive reporting, including on the record interviews, that Trump was actively involved in not only the events of January 6, but efforts before the Capitol attack to change the outcome of the election. And that word “change” is important because Trump and his defenders have peddled the fiction that he was just buying time to “investigate” alleged election irregularities. The trouble for Trump is there are no irregularities. Sixty unsuccessful lawsuits drive that point home conclusively.

Still, he sought to “change” the outcome. Trump tried to find a rationale to seize voting machines in several states, even going so far as to flirt with the idea of using the U.S. military to do the deed. He failed only because subordinates refused to follow through.

Former attorney general William Barr, long-time a Trump enabler, acknowledged to ABC’s Jonathan Karl that he eventually reached even his breaking point and quit. “My attitude was:” Barr told Karl for his book Betrayal: The Final Act of the Trump Show. “It was put-up or shut-up time. If there was evidence of fraud, I had no motive to suppress it. But my suspicion all the way along was that there was nothing there. It was all bullshit.”

Meanwhile, New York state officials are continuing a separate and long-running investigation into the Trump family’s business activities. Who knows what else is yet to come?

Brace yourself.

When the indictments come, when the charges are filed, the former president has already indicated what he will do. He’ll rally his troops, including the various militia groups that provided the organizational and physical muscle for January 6. He will insist that he is above any accountability, that the American judicial process is “rigged” against him and that his most armed, angry and grievance driven supporters – his brown shirts – must save the country.

The most committed Trumpists are clearly aware of what is unfolding. It is hardly a secret. The vast majority of Americans however, content to feast on insignificance like Tom Brady’s retirement or the host of Jeopardy, seem unaware of the danger ahead. The big lies about the election, Trump’s bluster and an endless pandemic have numbed us and exhausted us. Jeffrey Engel, the director of the Center for Presidential History at Southern Methodist University, says it well.

“I actually think the American public is dramatically underplaying how significant and dangerous this is,” Engel told the New York Times recently, “because we cannot process the basic truth of what we are learning about President Trump’s efforts – which is we’ve never had a president before who fundamentally placed his own personal interests above the nation’s.”

Trump has secured absolutely the leadership of the Republican Party. His most violent prone true believers are locked and loaded. The Vichy-like enablers who have refused at every step to denounce and isolate the cancer at the heart of their party won’t save us. They have had many, many chances. They lack the courage to defend democracy, let alone the rule of law.

Brace yourself.

The real Constitutional crisis is coming. To look on the bright side we will never before have seen what is going to happen. It is wholly unique. The dark side of this uniqueness is more difficult to comprehend.