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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 8/2/21

By not charging Trump for treason, our nation forfeits self-respect

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1. This happened

On July 27 at a nationally televised congressional hearing, four police officers described the savage beating they endured from MAGA rioters who had invaded the Capitol on Jan.6. The mob was hunting loudly for the Vice President and the Speaker of the House. Pence and Pelosi were ushered to safety in the nick of time by the Secret Service and police. The second and third-ranking persons in the U.S. government might have been murdered. Members of Congress and their staffs were hiding in fear.

Trump had been pressuring Pence to reject the tally of electoral votes, but Pence told him on the morning of Jan. 6 that he lacked the authority and wouldn't do it. Trump "blew a gasket." Later that morning Trump spoke to thousands of supporters at a "Stop the Steal" rally, urging them to march to the Capitol and pressure the Vice President, falsely claiming that "If Mike Pence does the right thing, we win the election." He was trying to stop a peaceful transition of power after losing the election.

When his supporters reached the Capitol, they erected a make-shift gallows with a noose hanging from the top beam. As they were attacking the Capitol, breaking windows and assaulting police, Trump tweeted: "Mike Pence didn't have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution." The mob began chanting, "Hang Mike Pence!" Five demonstrators died, including one shot by police. About 140 police officers were injured. They were hit by poles, ax handles, bats, hockey sticks, bear- and mace-sprayed, trampled, dragged down stairs, and tased. One police officer died from injuries, and two committed suicide shortly after the riot.

Despite pleas from his daughter, aides and legislators to intervene, Trump did nothing, happily watching the violence unfold on TV. Two hours into the insurrection, he tweeted a call for his followers to "remain peaceful. No violence!", though he didn't tell them to leave the Capitol. An hour later, he finally released a video telling the rioters "We love you, you're very special. . . .I know how you feel. But go home. . .in peace." His attempted coup had failed.

2. It was treason

According to the Constitution, Article III, Section 3, Clause 1: "Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. " Here is what Carlton F W Larson, a widely respected scholar on the history of treason law, had to say about Jan. 6:

"The scenes are nearly unbelievable: An armed mob storming the U.S. Capitol to disrupt the counting of the electoral votes. The rioters claimed to be patriots, some of them even waving the Revolutionary War flag "Don't Tread on Me." So what would our nation's founders have thought about this conduct?

The answer is pretty clear they would have denounced it as treason.

The Constitution's drafters understood the term 'levying war' to include any armed insurrection to obstruct a law of the United States."

Trump's insurrectionists were trying to obstruct something even more fundamental than "a law of the United States." They were attacking the institution of electing a President and Congress, the foundation of all U.S. law.

Ironically, the most damning public denunciation of Trump's actions came from Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky), the Senate minority leader. He spoke on the Senate floor on Feb. 14, minutes after voting to acquit Trump of the charge of "incitement of insurrection" in his second impeachment trial. McConnell argued that it was unconstitutional to impeach someone who was out of office, since the purpose of impeachment was to remove offenders from office. However, McConnell badly wanted to make clear that he condemned what Trump had done:

"There is no question that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of that day.

The people who stormed this building believed they were acting on the wishes and instructions of their president.

And their having that belief was a foreseeable consequence of the growing crescendo of false statements, conspiracy theories, and reckless hyperbole which the defeated president kept shouting into the largest megaphone on planet Earth."

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Brian Cooney Social Media Pages: Facebook Page       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

I'm a retired philosophy professor at Centre College. My last book was Posthumanity-Thinking Philosophically about the Future (Rowman & Littlefield, 2004). I am an anti-capitalist.

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