Voters, not Democratic lawmakers, should decide Trump’s political future
If the January 6 House committee comes to its seemingly predetermined conclusion that former President Donald Trump incited the Capitol riot and attempted to reverse the results of the 2020 election, and if it recommends to the Department of Justice that Mr. Trump has committed criminal acts and should be prosecuted, President Biden will face a serious choice.
Mr. Biden, who has promised to unite the country but who most Republicans say has contributed to its division, could either allow the prosecution of the former president to continue or go down the high road taken by the president. Gerald Ford when he pardoned Richard Nixon for associated acts. with the Watergate scandal. If Mr. Biden chooses the former, the divide will likely widen into a chasm that won’t be repaired for years. If he chose to follow Mr. Ford’s lead, he would anger progressives, but could avoid the specter I doubt most rational Americans would like to see – a former president in court and possibly in jail. . Maybe a deal could be done. In exchange for a pardon, Mr. Trump would agree to no longer run for president.
It would be difficult for a prosecutor to convince a jury (except in a strongly Democratic Washington) that Mr. Trump caused the riot by his language. In a soundbite played by the committee, it is true that Mr. Trump urged protesters to descend on Capitol Hill. Granted, he seemed to agree with the sign brought by a protester that read, “Hang up Mike Pence,” but that’s different from giving the order.
One can be disgusted by Mr. Trump’s behavior and his inability even now to accept the results of the 2020 election – I am – and not want to see a precedent set that leads to trial, conviction and dismissal. imprisonment of a former president. Not only would that fuel the political wildfire that is already consuming the country, but it would also encourage some Republicans to do the same with a future Democratic president. Impeachment and indictments would become the norm, not the exception.
We’ve all heard people say, “No one is above the law,” but practically that’s not true. There is a two-tier court system: one for blacks and one for whites; one for those who can afford expensive lawyers and one for those who cannot; one for legal immigrants and one for those who break the law to cross our borders; one for current and former senior officials and one for the rest of us; one for the well-connected and one for the disconnected.
Rioters who broke the law on January 6, 2021 are held accountable. More than 800 have been formally charged with criminal offenses and some have gone to jail. Others are waiting for court dates. The FBI estimates that more than 2,000 people may have been involved in the attack that day.
During the 1968 campaign, there was supposedly a teenager in Ohio holding a sign as President Richard Nixon’s motorcade passed. He said, “Gather us together.” Nixon’s speechwriter and later New York Times columnist William Safire said he doubted the sign ever existed, but the phrase became part of Nixon’s campaign. Then, and now, it’s a laudable sentiment, but an unattainable goal because the two sides can’t agree on our problems, let alone how best to solve them.
Mr. Trump would do well to step back from the field and let younger, less controversial candidates replace him. His record of political success while president is undeniable (except to those who deny it), but his narcissistic personality contributed to his downfall. It also contributes to the work of the January 6 committee. If this committee wishes to “get us together,” it will forgo recommendations for criminal prosecutions and let voters decide, as they should and ultimately will, Mr. Trump’s future.
• Readers can email Cal Thomas at [email protected] Look for Cal Thomas’ latest book “America’s Expiration Date: The Fall of Empires and Superpowers and the Future of the United States” (HarperCollins/Zondervan).