Calmes: The Jan. 6 committee fingered not just Trump, but his GOP enablers for betraying democracy

America’s democracy still has one great thing going for it: when it comes to past and perhaps future coup attempts, the nation’s military leaders want nothing to do with it.

If only the same could be said for our civilian leaders in either of the two major political parties.

Echoing the U.S. military’s well-established respect for two pillars of our democracy — the peaceful transfer of power and civilian control of the military — seven retired four-star generals and admirals published an op-ed in the New York Times on Thursday, expressing the Former President Trump condemned his actions before and on January 6, 2021 for threatening these imperatives “like never before”.

Trump “waives his duty to uphold, protect and defend the Constitution” as required by the president’s oath, the former officers wrote — not least as he contemplated an unlawful order for the military to “seize voting machines.” and monitors a re-election”. had clearly lost.

“Our democracy cannot be taken for granted. To preserve it, Americans must demand of their leaders nothing less than an unimpeachable commitment to the country through the party—and most importantly, their oath.”

Spotted portrait illustration of Jackie Calmes

opinion columnist

Jackie Calmes

Jackie Calmes takes a critical look at the national political scene. She has decades of experience reporting on the White House and Congress.

country about party. oath of office. The leaders’ admonition was for Trump, but it applies more broadly to his Republican Party: Trump would not be the threat he was – and is – but to his accomplices in the States, and particularly in Congress, of Sen. Mitch McConnell and Rep. Kevin McCarthy by much of the party’s rank and file, politicians whose actions or inactions have made his unprecedented abuses possible.

Keep in mind that just hours after Trump’s insurgents sacked the Capitol, nearly two-thirds of congressional Republicans did exactly what the rioters wanted: they voted against confirming Joe Biden’s election. And now, thanks to the work of journalists and the January 6 House Election Committee, we have evidence that strongly suggests that some of these Republicans were complicit in the coup plot. Many of the others knew before the election that Team Trump was up to no good, yet said nothing publicly.

One of the few Republican heroes of this sad saga, Georgia election official Gabriel Sterling, angrily spat in the direction of these quislings when he and others opposed to Trump faced death threats: “If you want to be in a position of leadership, show it!” “

They didn’t and didn’t, with a few exceptions, notably Rep. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger. Because they put the country above the party, their party drives them both out of Congress. (Separately this week the Arizona Republican Party censored State House Speaker Rusty Bowers for opposing Trump’s coup and calling for Bowers’ defeat in next month’s party primary.)

An overwhelming number of Republicans in Congress opposed Trump’s impeachment in the House of Representatives and secured his acquittal in the subsequent Senate trial, despite overwhelming evidence that he had broken his oath in a way no president had ever done before.

Only two House Republicans approved the committee’s creation on Jan. 6, and even now — as gripping hearings leading up to Thursday’s prime-time finale point to treacherous crime by Trump and others — McCarthy and his ilk continue to vie for prime-time on Fox News to condemn the proceedings as fake news.

They know better, as evidenced by the Jan. 6 committee’s evidence of their complicity and foreknowledge.

History will not be kind. That will be the case even if voters reward Republicans in November by giving them control of the House and perhaps the Senate.

Ahead of the last midterm elections in 2018, conservative George Will wrote a column urging voters to reject Republicans in Congress as a message to them and then-President Trump. He later explained to an interviewer, “When there is no penalty for failure, failure increases. And when there is no punishment for recklessness, recklessness spreads.”

And it has. Republicans suffered defeats in 2018 and lost their majority in the House of Representatives, but it wasn’t enough return to change their Trump ways. Trump, conjuring his own false reality as usual, went so far as to declare victory.

No wonder he did it again in 2020 when his own strength was at stake.

Months before the election, he said he could only lose if the vote was rigged. On election night, he claimed victory on the basis of early votes in favor of Republicans after being told by his own campaign managers that later mail-in returns would favor Democrats; those voices were fraudulent, he lied. He then pressured Republican officials in swing states that Biden had won not to certify Democratic Electoral College votes, but instead to support alternate lists of Trump voters. For the final confirmation of the result by Congress in January, he asked his vice president to reject Biden votes.

When all of that failed, Trump summoned his MAGA army for a “wild” march on the Capitol.

We saw reports in the week after the riots that Trump watched the White House riots on television for three hours – 187 minutes – enjoying the show and doing nothing to fulfill his oath as commander in chief. Now the Jan. 6 committee has produced evidence from primary sources, including eyewitness testimony from Trump’s own advisers.

It’s hard to imagine anyone, let alone a President, enjoying this mess. It is also hard to imagine that members of Congress, directly threatened by this violence – provoked by a president against their equal governance – would not bring justice to the would-be usurper. And that some of those lawmakers were lieutenants in his coup plan.

In other countries, the military leads coups. In ours, perhaps the military could lead a class in avoiding them and defending democracy. Sign Kevin McCarthy and the rest of Trump’s Republican toads.

@jackiekcalmes Calmes: The Jan. 6 committee fingered not just Trump, but his GOP enablers for betraying democracy

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