Helen MeesJune 28, 20221:00 pm

    According to the commission investigating the storming of the Capitol, Donald Trump spearheaded a conspiracy to reverse the results of the presidential election. The public hearings, which are broadcast live on US television, are structured like a criminal case. The so-called ‘January 6 Commission’ shows that the then president had the means, motive and ability to commit a crime; the classic elements of a criminal case.

    Former Attorney General Bill Barr said he told Trump at least three times that there was no evidence of fraud. Barr resigned in December 2020 due to Trump’s public allegations of election result fraud. Trump then pressured acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen to investigate bizarre conspiracy theories about voter fraud.

    When Rosen also stated that there was no fraud and that Trump’s attempts to reverse the election results were against the Constitution, Trump said all Rosen had to say was that the election was corrupt; the rest he could leave to him and the Republican congressmen. When Rosen refused to cooperate, Trump wanted to appoint a junior official, Jeffrey Clark, as attorney general.

    The intent was for Clark, who was responsible for environmental damage at the Justice Department, as Attorney General to get Georgia lawmakers to invalidate the election results. Trump ultimately declined to appoint Clark because the entire top of the Justice Department threatened to resign if he went through with the plan.

    Trump also suggested that the Justice Department seize the voting machines. When Rosen told him that the voting machines were the responsibility of the Department of Homeland Security, Trump called the top official at the Department of Homeland Security. Homeland Security and lied that Rosen had said he had the authority to confiscate the voting machines.

    When Trump’s senior officials made it clear that his attempts to use the Justice Department to manipulate the election results were inappropriate, Trump said he had nothing to lose. His campaign team bombarded his supporters with requests for financial contributions to Trump’s Legal Defense Fund. Of the $250 million that Trump thus amassed, only a fraction went to legal proceedings. The rest is reserved for Trump’s election campaign.

    Last Thursday, the FBI raided Jeffrey Clark’s home early in the morning. According to Clark, who pleaded his right to remain silent before the Jan. 6 commission, the FBI agents took all of his electronics. On Monday, it was announced that the same day in New Mexico, the FBI also seized the phone of John Eastman, the conservative lawyer who had devised Vice President Mike Pence to block the counting of the electoral votes. The net is closing.

    The prosecution of the former president promises to be a dire spectacle. There is a real risk that the United States will slide into political violence. The storming of the Capitol will then prove to have been just a foretaste of what lies ahead for the country. But if you let Trump get away with this, chances are there will be another coup attempt in the foreseeable future. The foundations for this are already being laid.

    Two weeks ago, for example, a Republican-dominated committee in a New Mexico constituency refused to ratify the primaries, ostensibly because the voting machines were not reliable. Adam Kinzinger, who along with Liz Cheney is the only Republican delegate on the Jan. 6 committee, warned on Twitter that this will be the modus operandi for the MAGA (Make America Great Again) campaign, which is putting people in low positions who refuse to do their basic duty.

    The Jan. 6 commission hearings show Trump has been repeatedly told that Joe Biden had legitimately won the election and that his attempts to change that outcome were illegal. Trump went ahead with it anyway, which is enough to prove criminal intent. As unsavory as it is to persecute your political opponent, it is the only way to save American democracy.

    Helen Mees is an economist. She writes an exchange column with Marcia Luyten every other week.