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Protecting the Constitution

Presidents are not above the law by Woody Bassett | July 21, 2022 at 1:00 a.m.

The events of Jan. 6, 2021, were the culmination of the first attempted coup led by an American president and the most serious domestic attack on our democracy and country since the Civil War.

The U.S. House Select Committee on the Jan. 6 attack has done a real service for the nation by gathering and publicly presenting in a straightforward manner the facts and evidence bearing on this ugly historical event which has blemished America and by exposing those who made it happen, all of whom should be appropriately punished so it never occurs again.

The rule of law is the centerpiece of American democracy. In this country, no man is above the law and no elected leader is free to ignore the U.S. Constitution.

The multiple people responsible for plotting, inciting and participating in the insurrection on Jan. 6 and all that preceded it must be held accountable, starting with the former President of the United States Donald Trump. Because if Trump and his enablers had succeeded and their plan to overturn his 2020 election loss to Joe Biden had worked, America's Constitution and cherished institutions would have suffered irreparable damage and the outcome of every future national election would have been cast in doubt, eventually leading to the demise of democracy.

The 2020 election was a free and fair election and there's not a shred of evidence to the contrary. Yet, Trump repeatedly lied to the nation following the election by claiming he had actually won and, along with a few rogue and unethical lawyers, engaged in numerous crazy schemes and lawsuits designed to overturn the will of the voters. It was clearly an unconstitutional and un-American effort by Trump to remain in office.

Even now as he contemplates when to publicly announce his intention to seek the presidency again in 2024, Trump and some in the Republican Party continue to push the outrageous lie that the last election was stolen from him.

Trump is a 76-year old man. He, and he alone, is responsible for his actions, words and choices. There must be severe consequences for what he did, and continues to do.

Trump is in political and legal trouble, and he knows it. Due to the work of the January 6 Committee, Trump is taking a well-deserved beating in the court of public opinion. But it remains uncertain if he will have to face the music in a court of law.

Whether Trump should be indicted and prosecuted is a complicated issue because of the precedent it would set and the potential for unwanted ramifications.

So the fundamental question now before the U.S. Department of Justice is this: In a nation currently so politically fractured, should a former President of the United States be charged for alleged crimes against the Constitution that occurred when he was in office?

There's sharp disagreement, mostly along partisan lines, as to how to answer this question, just as there was when Trump was impeached following the events of Jan. 6. With few exceptions, most Congressional Republicans back then cowardly chose to shirk their constitutional duty, letting the former president off the hook. And most, including those representing Arkansas in Congress, still cower today in fear of Trump and his hardcore followers, putting their own political interests ahead of what's best for the country.

But there are a handful of profiles in courage, most notably the ultra-conservative Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney, who had this message for those in her party who continue to blindly support the former president and dismiss or downplay what happened on Jan. 6: "I say this to my Republican colleagues who are defending the indefensible: There will come a day when Donald Trump will be gone, but your dishonor will remain."

There's plenty of evidence showing Trump, the former and wannabe future president, acted on his own and in concert with others to overthrow the results of a legitimate election and was the leading force in orchestrating an open insurrection.

We can't maintain and preserve our constitutional republic if we allow a president and his political allies to ignore the rule of law or the Constitution itself. Nor can we tolerate a leader who actively attempts to thwart the democratic process or resists the peaceful transfer of power.

Trump may or may not be indicted but there's a compelling argument he should be. An irrational and dangerous man who cares only about himself, he's a proven threat to American democracy. Voters, including Republicans, should know that by now.

Republicans don't have to forfeit their belief in the policies Trump advanced while in office but they should abandon the man himself.

Rep. Cheney summed up the reality for Republicans this way: "Republicans cannot both be loyal to Donald Trump and loyal to the Constitution."

Donald Trump should never get near the White House again. Republicans can choose to make sure he doesn't.

Print Headline: Protecting the Constitution

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