The ultimate issue in this impeachment case is whether the president incited insurrection .
As was mentioned yesterday during the trial, to address this issue, you need to answer these three questions:
A. Was violence forseeable?
B. Did he encourage violence?
C. Did he act willfully.
Was it foreseeable that violence would erupt on January 6th?
The answer to this is definitely. It had occurred numerous times with or without Trump’s presence. Violence had become a integral component of American life since Trump emerged on the political scene. The last MAGA March, weeks before, ended up with 4 stabbed and 33 arrested with among vicious clashes. However, back then, the issue was not do or die. There was always the courts and the legislatures that could turn for the president. On January 6th, this was it. If Congress approved the state’s certifications, the election would be officially over without any alternatives or rabbits emerging from hats.
Now, let ask ourselves, would violence be foreseeable with Donald Trump speaking to hundreds of thousands of angry, desperate loyalists? Of course. In fact, common sense tells us that Trump has mastered the skill of bringing his audience into a frenzy.
All one had to do is take a walk down social media lane to see the threats. Throughout the Internet, people of all stripes were claiming that January 6 was 1776. It was the revolution day. It was either now or never. There were literally thousands of posts and tweets showing his supporters as “patriots” emblazoned with weapons ready for the moment. I personally wrote numerous times that the risk of violence was not just probable, but, absolute. It would not take much at all for these so-called patriots to go wild, the very description Trump used when first describing the upcoming event. His crowd was whipped up into a frenzy ready to explode. There would be no need for a blow torch to light this up. An amber could create a wild-fire conflagration.
The videos of the crowds response to his calls for marching to the Capitol resonated throughout the crowd with responses demanding action.
DID TRUMP ENCOURAGE VIOLENCE?
This question must be broken down into two parts—Trump’s actions leading up to the Stop the Steal rally and those acts on January 6.
The House managers went into great detail about Trump’s propensity towards violence. The most apparent was his elevating the criminal behaviors of those who were his most loyal followers.
Leading up to the rally, he condoned the behaviors of those people the FBI had warned to be terrorists and or dangerous. At the first debate, he told the Proud Boys to stand back and standby, a phrase the organization took as a Trump-sanctioned battle cry. Standby for what? The Proud Boys had suddenly been transformed by the president into the superheroes, his guys. In fact, they played a very public role in the prior Stop the Steal rally weeks before as well as that of January 6. This essentially would be akin to President Biden working with the Nazi SS to put together a rally. In fact, the head of the Proud Boys said that he had even gotten an invitation to the White House the day of the December Stop the Steal MAGA March rally.
What was the obvious message to the Proud Boys and to others? Trump had their back and he wanted them to have his. It told other groups that their actions would also be sanctioned and approved. The Oath Keepers, different right wing groups knew that Trump would ignore violence taken in his name. That is exactly what happened on that October weekend when the Biden bus was threatened by Trump supporters on a Texas highway. How did Trump deal with this? He loved it. He tweeted about it. He said at a rally, in referring to this, “I love Texas”.
Throughout Trump’s presence on the political stage, Trump seemed to thrive in violence. He tweeted the video of his beating up CNN at a wrestling match. He promoted a strikingly frightening simulation video of his killing major Democrat leaders in a church. If he and his followers were so outraged about a pathetic image of a stupid Hollywood comedian holding up a decapitated Trump head, they surely failed to show any when the video simulation killed the likes of Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi.
He honored the leader of the Cowboys for Trump with incredible recognition. This Trump advocate said in a video “The only good democrat is a dead democrat”. Did Trump admonish his follower for such an outrageous and dangerous statement? Of course not. He retweet the video and said, “Thank you Cowboys. See you in New Mexico!”
There are numerous examples, some presented at the trial that let the far right fringe know that whatever they did, Trump supported them. They could shoot democrats on 5th avenue and Trump would retweet the video.
What lesson did the Proud Boys and the White Supremacists and other violent supporters learn? Again, it is obvious. Trump appreciated the violence in his name. They knew that if January 6th was the day where the insurrection would take place, as Michael Flynn and others who got invited to the White House to push, they would be there in body, spirit and armed.
So, did Trump encourage violence? What would a video of his killing Democrats in a church, a retweet of “only good democrat is a dead one”, his retweeted video of beating up CNN, his kudos to Trump thugs trying to intimidate a Biden bus on a Texas road, inviting pro-insurrectionists like Flynn and his attorney to the White House tell anyone, particularly, those who felt that it would be the patriotic duty to STOP THE STEAL under any and all circumstances? I think the answer is so obvious—you have my permission to do what you need to do, if, that is what its going to take to keep America American (like you and me)
But, would his acceptance of violence for his own self-promotion equate to encouraging violence on that day and at that time?
Again, logic tells us that given the incredible cries and squeals of those in the audience, it would not take much convincing to take action, if action were needed.
Trump would not need to tell this crowd to march down to the capitol and kidnap Pelosi, to take over the chambers, to kill his own vice president. Dons don’t talk like that. They don’t tell others to “break the windows, crash through the doors”. They aren’t stupid. Instead, they make offers that cannot be refused. And the offer can be subtle such as telling hundreds of thousands that unless they be strong, brave and unless they “fight, fight, fight”, they will never get their country back ever again from those people who he claimed stole their elections.
So, did Trump know that violence was probable and did he encourage it? Consider the very thin line that the angry mob was walking--which separated outright hate and unspeakable anger. It would be impossible to ignore the probabilities of significant violence, especially given the gravity and importance of the moment that this was a "win all or lose everything" situation. It would also be impossible to deny that over the months and even years of honoring and retweeting the evil words of hate, the images of violence and the videos of heroism in his name, it would take so little pressure to pull the trigger. Things were ready to explode.
Did Trump deliberately want the crowd to storm the capitol?
As mentioned, Trump is not stupid. People like Trump speak in mob-code. They don’t say storm the capitol and tear it down. They knowingly create the environment in which his secret wishes are apparent to those under his command.
Trump was involved in the planning of the event. He helped orchestrate it as he would his other major productions. Those people appearing before him were able to get the water boiling so furiously that a little more heat would blow the lid. We know that the speakers preceding him fed red meat of patriotic imperatives. The video that followed Rudy Giuliani was as inspiring and blameworthy as any by the masters of propaganda. They forcefully told the audience with the loud music and the large video images that the time was now, that the enemy was before them.
Trump had been watching the event before his speech. He knew that Mike Pence was not going to do his bidding. He knew the moment was now. He knew that if the Congress would approve the ballots, all would be loss. He would be facing long prosecutions. He would lose his immunities. His power would be taken. He knew he needed one last miracle because his intimidation of the Secretary of States, the Governors, the Electors, the Judges had cost him tens of millions and got him nowhere. He knew that tweeting dozens and dozens of videos and posts alleging all types of voter fraud was falling on deaf ears. Trump was a man who could never lose. We all know that. When Trump is cornered, he doubles down, builds the wall higher than before, threaten governors with even more violence that follows by death threats. He knew that this was it. He knew there was no other choice but to take acts of insurrection.
Which is why he mentioned the word “fight” roughly two dozen times but only mentioned peaceful once. Which is why among other demands for action, he said:
“”All of us here today do not want to see our election victory stolen. There's never been anything like this. It is the biggest theft and it American history. Make no mistake that this election was stolen from you, for me. And from the country. And we will never give up our never concede. It does not happen. We will STOP THE STEAL. We will not let them silence your voices. We will not let into happen. Not going to let it happen. [inaudible]. Trump: thank you. You have to get your people to fight.
Because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength and you have to be strong."
Also, Trump said, “But I said something is wrong here, something is really wrong, can’t have happened, and we fight. We fight like hell, and if you don’t fight like hell you’re not going to have a country anymore”.
What would you expect to happen when the President of the United States puts the country on the line at that very moment, bestows upon you the mantle, that-- "you are the patriots", that they are the nation-destroyers, that your free election was not just riddled by errors, but was willfully stolen?
What did Trump want at that moment? What did he want the hordes of devotee and the hostile to do? This was not just a rally as was planned. His administration made this into a march, different than what had been approved by the county.
Think about what he might have wanted at this point. He wanted action. He did not want cheers and boos. He said “fight, fight, fight”, they are stealing your country”.
He had set up this event, decided to finish his speech at the moment that Congress would be making its ultimate decision. What could he expect from those he has just stoked into a patriotic passion frenzy? To scream, “stop the steal”? Was that the reason he brought these people to the capitol at that moment?
It is wholly inconsistent with common sense to claim that telling tens of thousands to fight for their lives, for their countries only means to scream at capitol outer walls. There would be no other moments. This was everything or nothing.
The willfulness question is decisively resolved by not what happened before but after the speech. When his speech was over, it was well known that the barricades were breached, the crowd had gotten out of control. As the minutes clicked away, Trump did nothing. He knew that his people were crashing the gates.
Reportedly, Senators and Congressmen, family members urged him to scream STOP. He failed to do so. He ignored them. Instead, while the capitol walls were crumbling, he was single-minded. He called Senator Tuberville for help, urging a delay in the hearing.
Tuberville reportedly told Trump at that moment that he could not speak, that they had taken Pence away, that the Senate was under siege. So, what did Trump do? He tweeted, knowing that Pence and family was at major risk, that his own vice president was disloyal.
While the President of the United States is being urged by others to tweet, to do a video to do anything to stop the riot, Trump decided to stand back and kick his vice president and family in the proverbial groin. The president, who had criticized mayors and governors and Congresspeople for being inactive as cities burned, was more interested in burning his most loyal devotee. Cities weren’t burning, America was. Our precious Capitol was facing the very revolution that his followers were demanding. Our Congresspeople were running for their lives, afraid of the loud screams, the threats to kill Pelosi. Trump’s tweet was broadcasted by megaphone to the crowd that Pence was a traitor. Trump’s army, his mob, his militants demanded capture and death. They heard Trump’s anger and as the president had directed, they were there to do his bidding.
As we know, finally, Trump capitulated as the anger and the outrage targeted him. And, we know that Trump, as he had done so many times before, consoled his own terrorists. He told them he loved them, they were special but would have to go home. But first, he let them know that they were the victims, not anybody else, but them and that he understood how they felt.
Indeed, he knew how they felt. They became the monster he created in his own image. He could not have been surprised because he did not act it. Had he been shocked, he would have demanded the riots end just as he did during the summer. He did not. These were his people doing his bidding, doing what he told them to do. He told them to stop the steal, to save their country, that they were the only people who could do it and it had to be NOW.
Donald Trump clearly knew that violence was very foreseeable as it had exploded throughout the country with death threats, with taking over the Michigan capitol, with stabbings at the most recent Washington MAGA rally. Trump is not dumb. He was not surprised. The world knew and wrote about January 6, 2021 morphing combusting into 1776, the revolution, the patriots were ready to take the country back.
Trump clearly encouraged violence. The president took control of the orchestration of this event. The speakers were his. The propaganda video demanding action now, was his. He had ignored violence for years and paraded it on the campaign, on his twitter feed. If people were going to destroy his critics, his “enemy of the people”, his political foes, not only did he not mind, he promoted their work and misdeeds.
The president speech was carefully planned. This was not an impulsive walk in the park, talk to the pigeons. He knew what he was going to say. It was written. It hit all the buttons that needed to be hit.
And the proof of his work was the response. His terrorists said before, during and after the horror, that they were doing this for him. They were there because he asked them to be there. He told them to march down to the capitol, not walk. March! The words of militants. The only time he mentioned peaceful was once out of over 1200 words.
Trump’s acts were willful. His tweets of voter fraud while his attorney were mute in court about that same issue was willful. He pushed their buttons. He refused to stop the violence. He knew what he wanted during the summer of terror. He told us what he demanded of others. But now, his focus was on stopping the vote. His calls to Senators were to stop the vote. He felt the cavalry was coming that would justify his claim that the states electors were wrongfully chosen. Rudy Giuliani told us so on a phone audio taped to Senator Lee, intended for Tuberville.
More than anything else, he willfully went after his own vice president, putting a target on his and his family’s back. He was told that Pence was taken out of the chamber. He did not call Pence to ensure safety, nor did he call anybody else except for those he wanted to do his election charade bidding.
This week, Republican Senators are going to ignore facts as many of them have ignored their oath. They are now the soldiers at the capitol, once again, doing Trump’s bidding. The product of their actions are foreseeable: Any president can do anything in the future and not face punishment, even insurrection. They have encouraged the violence of the inevitable. They are going on Fox News telling the world that Trump did not do what they in their hearts know he did. Last, they are acting willfully. They know what they are doing. The presidency will forever be free to disrupt our elections, claim voter fraud, lie over and over, intimidate judges, legislators, secretary of states, the media, extort state officials and call out the mob while pretending surprise and claiming lack of any responsibility whatsoever.