Put the Traitor in Jail

Donald Trump should be arrested on January 21

Photo by mana5280 on Unsplash

It was the last straw. We just can’t take any more of this. In an hour-long phone call, Donald Trump, alternately pleading and threatening, demanded that the Georgia Secretary of State “find” enough votes to change the outcome of the Presidential election in the Peach State. Many legal experts are saying that this election tampering (some called it extortion) could have violated federal and/or Georgia law. I first found these contentions on yahoo!news and lawandcrime.com, but just Google “Trump Georgia phone call crime” and take your pick of the entries. Here’s my advice to Joe Biden: don’t follow the magnanimous precedent of Gerald Ford, who let Richard Nixon off the hook. Pick your Attorney General, Joe, have him or her work on the charges and arrest Trump on January 21, or ASAP.

Of course, between now and then, Trump may pardon himself. If he takes that unprecedented action, we’ll see if it stands up in court. If the Supreme Court, one-third of which consists of Trump-appointed Justices, backs him up, we’ll know that the conservative majority on the Court considers someone, namely the President, above the law of the land. That would give the Democrats a good argument for expanding the number of Justices if they get the power to do so by winning the two Senate runoffs in Georgia. Trump has already pardoned confessed felon Michael Flynn and convicted felon Roger Stone, among other law-breaking cronies. That’s bad enough. Pardoning himself would be just too much for our democracy to bear. If such a pardon is allowed to stand, at least it won’t apply to violations of state laws, and we’ll have to rely on New York, where he and his company are under investigation, to bring him to justice.

A charge based on the Georgia phone call would be just a placeholder for a whole list of federal crimes Trump could be indicted for over a period of months. He has made crime a way of life before his Presidency and during it. He is credibly accused of misrepresenting the value of his assets when seeking loans, evading taxes and assaulting women. Who says he’s committed multiple frauds? His own long-time personal lawyer, Michael Cohen. In court documents, Trump was “Individual 1,” who directed Cohen to make an illegal hush-money payoff to Stormy Daniels—one of the crimes that sent Cohen to prison. As President, he has turned the Treasury and his fund-raising committees into personal piggy banks. He has spent huge sums of taxpayer money at Trump properties, and the Trump Organization allegedly grossly overcharged his Inaugural Committee for use of his Washington, D.C. hotel. When he allowed and even encouraged foreign officials to spend money at his properties, he, according to various watchdogs who sued him, violated the emoluments clause of the Constitution. Perhaps worst of all, he abused his power by pressuring Ukraine’s President to meddle in U.S. elections, for which he was impeached, and has now done almost the same thing in his call to the man who supervises Georgia’s elections. By trying to undermine the will of the voters and our democratic system of government, Trump is a traitor to our country and the ideals on which it was founded. He has committed enough crimes to be put away for the rest of his life.

I’ll grant you that a President’s throwing his predecessor in jail would make us look a little like a banana republic. But if we let such a heinous repeat offender as Trump go free, then we will be a lawless country. Hitler was dead at the end of World War II, but his henchmen weren’t allowed to escape justice. They were put on trial. Oh no! How can I compare Trump to someone who sent millions to death camps? Well, Trump may be not be a mass murderer of Hitlerian proportions, but he has killed many Americans—not with his own hands but by luring them to their ultimate deaths after they attended the President’s extremely dangerous political rallies, insanely staged during a deadly pandemic. During this coronavirus plague, Trump’s followers have become a death cult. And tens of thousands of Americans have died needlessly because Trump’s handling of the pandemic has been so thoughtlessly bad.

We just can’t have a criminal—on an authoritarian mission to destroy democracy—leading one of our two major parties. We can’t have him continue to poison the minds of half our population with his constant lies and conspiracy theories. The Republican Party used to be a respectable outfit that abided by the rules and served as an important counterweight to the Democratic Party. Now a large percentage of Republicans want to challenge an election that’s already been decided at the polls and in the courts. If Senators Josh Hawley, Ted Cruz and others who have raised objections want to run for President in 2024 on a Trumpist platform of limited government, less regulation, lower taxes and reduced immigration, fine. If one of them can get enough Electoral College votes to win, fine. But he can’t just declare himself the winner, as Trump is doing. Republicans will keep trying to win by doing what they accuse Democrats of doing: rigging elections. They use legal forms of cheating. Republican-controlled state legislatures have made it hard for Black people to vote and engaged in unfair gerrymandering. That’s how Republicans, a minority party, have maintained such power at the state and local levels. These tactics are deplorable, but they don’t amount to the kind of illegal coup that Trump has tried to pull off.

But won’t putting Trump in jail lead to major civil unrest? Well, bring it on. If Trump followers want to refight the Civil War, let’s get to it. Trump has already ignited a traitorous insurrection in this country, but it won’t take four years to put it down this time. The Proud Boys and the like will be no match for the FBI, National Guard and the U.S. Army. If Trumpers want to stage large peaceful protests like the anti-Trumpers did in 2017, fine. If they want to put RESIST buttons on their red MAGA hats, fine. But if they bring their AR-15s to the cities and threaten or commit violence, we’ll have plenty of room in prisons once we finish freeing all the Black prisoners who have been incarcerated just for using drugs or other crimes that white people get away with. We may find that the real rioters in this country are not the Black Lives Matter protestors but Trump-loving white supremacists who don’t believe in democracy.

We can’t let this insurrection fester until it eats away the foundations of our republic. We have to enforce the law, put criminals like Trump and his cronies in jail, and put down the rebellion once and for all. It won’t be easy, but letting Trump continue his lawless assault on our country will be even worse. And think how beautiful it could ultimately be. If Trump goes to prison, the guards can confiscate his phone, and we may never have to read another vicious, false Trump tweet.