Trump Impeached Amid Efforts to Cancel Him

Trump has been impeached again and this time the Republican-controlled Senate may convict to keep him from running in 2024, as Democrat-aligned big tech moves to shut him up, reports Joe Lauria. 

By Joe Lauria
Special to Consortium News

The vote on Wednesday to impeach Donald Trump a second time with just days to go in his term was meant to prevent him from running again in 2024, as the Constitution disqualifies an impeached official from seeking future office. 

The House voted 232-197 to impeach after Vice President Mike Pence rejected a Democratic ultimatum Tuesday of 24 hours to begin the process of removing Trump under the 25th Amendment.  Trump will finish out his term as the Senate won’t likely take up the case until after Inauguration Day, Jan. 20.

Conviction is possible this time as Senate Republicans face a dilemma: vote to convict and alienate Trump voters, or remain loyal to Trump and alienate everyone else. 

If he is convicted, Article 1, Section 3 of the Constitution says,

“Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States: but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law.”

The 14th Amendment also disqualifies anyone to hold office who “shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against” the United States.

The articles of impeachment say: “Donald John Trump engaged in high Crimes and Misdemeanors by inciting violence against the Government of the United States.”

It goes on to say:

“President Trump repeatedly issued false statements asserting that the Presidential election results were the product of widespread fraud and should not be accepted by the American people or certified by State or Federal officials.

Shortly before the Joint Session commenced, President Trump addressed a crowd at the Ellipse in Washington, DC. There, he reiterated false claims that ‘we won this election, and we won it by a landslide.’

He also willfully made statements that, in context, encouraged—and foreseeably resulted in—lawless action at the Capitol, such as: ‘if you don’t fight like hell you’re not going to have a country anymore.’

Thus incited by President Trump, members of the crowd he had addressed, in an attempt to, among other objectives, interfere with the Joint Session’s solemn constitutional duty to certify the results of the 2020 Presidential election, unlawfully breached and vandalized the Capitol, injured and killed law enforcement personnel, menaced Members of Congress, the Vice President, and Congressional personnel, and engaged in other violent, deadly, destructive, and seditious acts.”

Did Trump Incite the Capitol Takeover?

To convict Trump, the Senate trial, if it were not a completely political exercise, should have to determine if his words at the rally on Wednesday broke federal law, which states in 18 U.S. Code § 373 – “Solicitation to commit a crime of violence”:

“Whoever, with intent that another person engage in conduct constituting a felony that has as an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against property or against the person of another in violation of the laws of the United States, and under circumstances strongly corroborative of that intent, solicits, commands, induces, or otherwise endeavors to persuade such other person to engage in such conduct, shall be imprisoned…”

About 30,000 Trump supporters filled the Ellipse between the back of the White House and the Washington Monument. According to the transcript of his remarks, Trump said:

“These people are not going to take it any longer. They’re not going to take it any longer. … All of us here today do not want to see our election victory stolen by emboldened radical left Democrats … and stolen by the fake news media. We will never give up. We will never concede, it doesn’t happen. You don’t concede when there’s theft involved. … 

Our country has had enough. We will not take it anymore and that’s what this is all about. To use a favorite term that all of you people really came up with, we will stop the steal. … We’re gathered together in the heart of our nation’s Capitol for one very, very basic and simple reason, to save our democracy…. we’re going to have somebody in there that should not be in there and our country will be destroyed, and we’re not going to stand for that. …

You’re stronger, you’re smarter. You’ve got more going than anybody, and they try and demean everybody having to do with us, and you’re the real people. … Unbelievable, what we have to go through, what we have to go through and you have to get your people to fight. If they don’t fight, we have to primary the hell out of the ones that don’t fight. You primary them…. 

Now it is up to Congress to confront this egregious assault on our democracy. After this, we’re going to walk down and I’ll be there with you. We’re going to walk down. We’re going to walk down any one you want, but I think right here.

We’re going walk down to the Capitol, and we’re going to cheer on our brave senators, and congressmen and women. We’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong… 

I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.

Today we will see whether Republicans stand strong for integrity of our elections, but whether or not they stand strong for our country, our country. … The radical left knows exactly what they’re doing. They’re ruthless and it’s time that somebody did something about it. And Mike Pence, I hope you’re going to stand up for the good of our constitution and for the good of our country. …

So we’re going to, we’re going to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue, I love Pennsylvania Avenue, and we’re going to the Capitol and we’re going to try and give …  our Republicans, the weak ones, because the strong ones don’t need any of our help, we’re going to try and give them the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country.”

At times the crowd chanted, “Fight for Trump! Fight for Trump! Fight for Trump!”

Are these words by Trump “strongly corroborative” of an “intent that another person engage in conduct constituting a felony,” an intent that “… solicits, commands, induces, or otherwise endeavors to persuade such other person to engage in such conduct?”? 

Or were these just the fighting words of a politician, directed almost entirely at fellow Republicans?  He said: “I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.” [Emphasis added.]

When he said the Democrats were “ruthless” and “it’s time that somebody did something about it” he was referring to Pence and the Republicans sending the electoral college votes back to key states. That is the entire context of his more than one hour speech.  When he said “you have to get your people to fight,” he meant Republican representatives who would have to be primaried.

With no proof so far that Trump had prior knowledge of the plan to take over the Capitol, or evidence of direct instructions from him to do so, it would seem difficult to convict him in a court of law, but maybe not in a political trial in the Senate. 

Before Trump spoke, Donald Trump Jr., who acted like he’s preparing to run for office, whipped up the crowd saying that Wednesday was the day to prove “if you are a hero or a zero.” But he was not referring to the supporters, but to Republicans in Congress who he was demanding vote against certifying election results from key swing states.

Rudy Giuliani, likewise used a strange phrase, “combat justice,” but in the context of continuing to challenge the computer results of the election.  Trump’s people already filed 62 electoral fraud lawsuits across the country, and lost them all. 

Whether or not it would be sufficient evidence to convict him, it was troubling that Trump took several hours before he called on the rioters to leave the Capitol and afterward tweeted “Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!” 

Was it a Coup, an Insurrection or Terrorism?

Storming of the US Capitol on 6 January 2021 (TapTheForwardAssist/Wikimedia Commons)

More information about the events at the Capitol have emerged since my column last Thursday, in which I wrote:

“But by the time it was over we knew that: only five weapons were seized by police so most of the intruders were probably unarmed; the only shots fired were by police who killed an unarmed female protestor; video and photos showed the demonstrators taking pictures of chambers and art work like they were tourists; and the occupiers were peacefully led out of the Capitol six hours later.  (Had they been anti-racism protestors one wonders how differently it would have ended.)”

All of that remained true from what was known 24 hours after the 4-hour takeover peacefully ended. But since then new information has emerged:

A police officer was killed after protestors beat him with a fire extinguisher; fighting with police took place inside the Capitol not only at the breached police lines outside;  computers, allegedly with sensitive defense information, were stolen; cars nearby were found carrying pipe bombs; at least one protestor inside the Capitol was photographed with plastic ties presumably to arrest lawmakers and a noose was constructed outside the steps of the capital. 

There are arrest warrants so far for about 150 suspects out of the thousands of protestors who stormed the Capitol. This would indicate that a relatively small group inside the crowd had planned the violent assault on the building.

This has led to so far totally unfounded theories that it was a false flag operation to set Trump up for impeachment. Who this small band of men were, whether active or ex-servicemen, or off-duty policemen is being investigated, as were plans discussed in online fora. 

Once the police were overwhelmed and doors broken open, hundreds more–mostly acting like tourists–streamed in, some walking single file inside velvet ropes.  They too are subject to arrest for illegally entering a federal building.

Did what happen constitute a coup or an insurrection, and are the protestors domestic terrorists, as President-elect Joe Biden called them? Was the noose purely symbolic? Did they really think they could succeed in using it? 

One has to separate out those few who appeared ready to arrest members of Congress or use pipe bombs, from the vast majority of protestors who entered the Capitol. Smearing them all as “extremists” and even worse as “terrorists” is inflammatory. It is leading to a wholesale reaction that is further deepening the crisis. 

The actions certainly exposed an extreme rage against Congress. Just a handful of male protestors of military age it seems, some trained to climb up walls, were potentially planning to detain and perhaps punish members and Pence, whose name was chanted near the noose. Had these far-fetched plans succeeded would it have constituted a coup? 

A study of attempted and successful coups show that the usual targets are the presidential palace, radio and TV stations and the airport. The military or the police has to be on the coup-plotters side, or they will be crushed by the state. 

A coup d’etat means the overthrow of an existing government and its replacement with new rulers. Is that what was attempted here? 

The small number of protestors who may have dreamed of a coup had only the presidential palace on their side and nothing else. It was a deluded fantasy that they could have taken over the vast and powerful U.S. government, and not just the Capitol for a few hours. They had zero chance of forcing Congress or Pence to reject the electoral college results. Calling it a coup attempt is a huge stretch.

Insurrection

The U.S. law against insurrection is exceedingly broad. 18 U.S. Code § 2383 – “Rebellion or insurrection” reads:

“Whoever incites, sets on foot, assists, or engages in any rebellion or insurrection against the authority of the United States or the laws thereof, or gives aid or comfort thereto, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.”

What happened at the Capitol could qualify under the broadest phrase “any rebellion.” But the Cambridge Dictionary definition of “insurrection” would exclude what happened last week: “an organized attempt by a group of people to defeat their government and take control of their country, usually by violence.”

It was an attempt to take control of the Capitol, not the country. Trump was impeached for inciting an insurrection.

Defining terrorism has been immensely controversial, with the UN General Assembly failing to agree on its meaning. A working definition is violent acts by non-state actors against civilian targets for political aims.  The FBI’s definition of domestic terrorism is broader: 

“Domestic terrorism is the unlawful use, or threatened use, of force or violence by a group or individual based and operating entirely within the United States or Puerto Rico without foreign direction committed against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof in furtherance of political or social objectives.”

Under these broad terms the protestors who used violence “to intimidate” government could conceivably be indicted on a terrorism charge.  Biden, the author of the Patriot Act, has promised new domestic terrorism laws.

Is the Reaction Worse Than the Crime?

U.S. House of Representatives. (Photo credit: Architect of the Capitol)

The Congressional Republicans who challenged the electoral college results last Wednesday are guilty of one transgression:  wasting Congress’ time.  There was no way the electoral college votes would be overturned.

However those Republicans were completely within their rights to challenge the results and spur debate and a vote in both chambers. To suggest that that Constitutional right constituted incitement or support for the riot is extraordinary overreach. 

Yet there have been Democratic calls for these Republicans to be unseated and even investigated for possible prosecution. During the impeachment debate on Wednesday, Democratic Congressman Jerrold Nadler said the rioters’ “accomplices in this House will be held to account.”  Numerous corporate donors have said they will no longer contribute to these Republicans’ campaigns.

There is even wild speculation by some Democrats that some Republican members gave Capitol “reconnaissance” tours to the rioters the night before.  The New York Times posted photos of all Republican members who challenged the electoral college votes as if they were on a wanted poster.

Republican Congressman Jim Jordan in the impeachment debate pointed out that more Democrats in Congress objected to more states’ electoral college results in 2017’s certification than had Republicans last Wednesday.

A Democratic member responded that Hillary Clinton had conceded, unlike Trump, and that the objections were based on “Russian interference” in that election. He accused the Republicans, with a straight face, of engaging in “conspiracy theories” about a stolen 2020 election.

Such Democratic hypocrisy was underscored on 60 Minutes Sunday, when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called Trump “deranged, unhinged, and dangerous.” But is he any more “deranged, unhinged, and dangerous”  than Democrats who joined Republicans to vote in 2003 to invade and occupy a nation that posed no threat to the United States? How would one describe Pelosi’s response in 2019 when asked why she opposed impeaching George W. Bush for that invasion, a crime of “aggression,” the worst war crime according to the Nuremberg Tribunal?

Because of that invasion Bush was still a far worse and more dangerous president than even Trump. 

 

Bias

Democratic media has shown extraordinary bias throughout these events. The slanted New York Times coverage of the impeachment proceedings is shown by its reporting on this tweet.  The protestor who says he was invited to the Capitol by the president was outside the building. Had he been inside it would be a valid argument. 

Fact Check: Rep. Brian Mast, a Florida Republican, asked whether any rioters specifically said that the president incited them to act. This video appears to answer his question.   

 

Shutting Trump Up

The move by Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other social media companies to  temporarily or permanently ban Trump is part of the effort to crush him and prevent a comeback—to try to cut him off from his 70+ million voters. 

It may not be so easy to silence him, however, even if he winds up in jail for his alleged role in the takeover of the Capitol or for financial crimes. Major drug dealers have been able to continue running their operations from behind bars. He would become a martyr in prison.  

Indeed, the Biden Justice Department may think twice about indicting him. Barack Obama declined to prosecute George W. Bush or his administration for war crimes in Iraq or for ordering torture, infamously declaring the nation should look forward, not back.

Prosecuting Trump could set a precedent of going after ex-presidents that Democrats might not want to set, whatever the evidence against Trump.  An indictment from the Southern District of New York on financial crimes may be more likely.

Trump may or may not have Fox News as an outlet for his post-presidency views. Some Fox hosts may invite him on, while others may not. The ratings would be hard to resist, though. Even Democrats would likely tune in to see what he’s saying next.

Trump was furious at Fox for the way it covered election night, particularly for calling Arizona for Biden before other networks. There was talk at the time that Trump would begin his own TV channel, most likely an online-only venture. With a ready audience of 70 million it shouldn’t be hard to raise investment or attract apolitical advertisers.   

Trump could also create his own social media platform to directly communicate with his base. It could spur a mass exodus of Trump supporters from Twitter and divide social media into two camps like cable news has already done. 

Fox News started it in the 1990s with overt Republican propaganda. It killed CNN and MSNBC in ratings, leading them both to eventually become Democratic “Fox” channels, spewing Democratic Party propaganda. All the channels’ audiences have their beliefs constantly reinforced as the gulf between the parties and their voters perilously widens thanks in large measure to the cable networks and their lust for profits.

Defeating Trumpism

President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs Social Security Bill, Aug. 14, 1935. Labor Secretary Frances Perkins shown behind his left shoulder. (Social Security Online, Wikimedia Commons)

Several readers contended that the motive behind the march on the Capitol was only about the election and had nothing to do with how Congress has ignored the interests of ordinary Americans and instead serve their wealthy donors. But why do Trump supporters back Trump if not because they believe, wrongly I contend, that he is their champion who fights for their interests?

It is a difficult argument to make about a president who cut taxes for the rich; largely failed to bring back promised off-shore manufacturing jobs; failed to bring home working class soldiers from forever wars; deregulated business at workers’ expense; saw income inequality widen under his watch; did not support a rise in the federal minimum wage and horribly mismanaged a pandemic that has taken a much larger toll on front-line workers than on stay-at-home professionals.

The misery of American workers and the shrinking of the middle class began long before Trump, however, and both Democrats and Republicans are to blame.  Bill Clinton moved his party firmly behind neoliberal economic policies, begun in full under Ronald Reagan, that have devastated workers.  All presidents since, including Trump, have adhered to these policies. 

The justified anger of Americans has reached the boiling point. It was certainly a seminal moment in recent U.S. history to see people breaking windows to get into the people’s house. 

The Establishment has been spooked since the Democratic and Republican voter insurgencies of the 2016 election. Though Trump talked a good anti-Establishment game, he is firmly entrenched in it. 

Rising popularism on both left and right, though fighting for many of the same economic and even foreign policy goals, appears inevitably headed to a clash. The one solution to this metastasizing crisis is what Congress, and the incoming Biden administration, are refusing to do.   

Government must address the needs of the people who pay their salaries or they will face increasingly violent revolts. Such a radical shift in policy would mean risking the ire of their powerfully wealthy donors, however.   

The agenda is simple, bring the United States into line with most industrialized democracies: radically cut defense spending, provide national health insurance, invest in green infrastructure, raise minimum wages, forgive student debt, provide free state higher education, encourage re-unionization and provide monthly stipends during the pandemic.

Trump supporters are vocal in their denunciation of “socialism.” But would they send back $2,000-a-month checks? Would they reject heavily government-subsidized medical care? Would they turn down free university education? Do they return their Social Security checks now?

Franklin Roosevelt was moved to forge the New Deal during a depression to stave off the specter of social revolution.

These are the measures of a new New Deal that could truly unite the nation as Biden says he wants to do, and put an end to an exploding American crisis, one of the worst in its history. 

Joe Lauria is editor-in-chief of Consortium News and a former UN correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, and numerous other newspapers. He was an investigative reporter for the Sunday Times of London and began his professional career as a stringer for The New York Times.  He can be reached at joelauria@consortiumnews.com and followed on Twitter @unjoe  

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39 comments for “Trump Impeached Amid Efforts to Cancel Him

  1. Rev Bhikshuni Trinlae, PhD
    January 15, 2021 at 12:32

    Weren’t all of the people at the Trump rally were cleared by secret service as being unarmed?

    Let’s summarize the karmic cycle:

    2001++ War on terror, NDAA, illegal invasions, wars, spy-state from Bush-Cheney-Ashcroft-Rumsfeld team successfully merged into DNC as WAR PARTY war profiteering (violent suffering for profits) brand owner

    2008 GFC bankruptcy nightmares successfully merged into DNC as owner of millions of residents made homeless and jobless

    2010 DNC rubber stamps and fails to agitate against Citizens United case transfer of power away from citizens, passes Bush tax cuts for transferring commons to private companies and their billionnaire owners

    2016 DNC squashes Bernie / Tulsi attempts to bring DNC back to sanity, reinforcing the WAR PARTY brand, transfers all intel staff to legacy media companies and regional party headquarters, runs shadow govt from Belfer Center, runs Russiagate psyop aimed at the aged homebound baby boomers who still only get news from TV and MSM

    2020 DNC scales up the 2016 game for rerun, gets PR win with scary looking unarmed “invasion” of rag tag, unorganized rally attendees thereby painting “opposition” as Orange Man Bad (Trump Derangement Syndrome), thereby distracting the MSM voters from thinking about the fact that the number of Republicans, Independents, Libertarians, and Greens as well as Trump voters far exceed 70 million people.

    The political and financial power has all been transferred away from the public successfully, but in twenty ensuing years, none of the political class has shown itself capable of benefiting any entity other than themselves, only able to produce harm and suffering at home and abroad. Nothing there to rejoice about at all, except for those who take pleasure in harming others.

    See Hannah Arendt’s On Violence for how this ends!
    #endstagecapitalism
    #freeJulianNOW

  2. Randal Marlin
    January 15, 2021 at 09:57

    I agree heartily with Joe’s agenda regarding the way forward. What needs to be said, though, is that there was a clear attempt on Trump’s part to intimidate Congress through mob violence.
    Don’t be fooled by his rhetoric of peace. That is about as credible as Mark Antony’s statement to his crowd that Brutus and his co-conspirators in the assassination of Caesar, were all “honorable men.”
    Look at the context of Trump’s comments, and parse their meanings in the light of the whole sequence of statements and events, all spelled out in the Report by the Majority Staff of the House Committee on the Judiciary. (No doubt there will be more information to come.)
    This was all about intimidation, and increase of presidential power, to the detriment of the power allotted to Congress by the Constitution.
    As I see it, Nancy Pelosi was a brave woman, doing her sworn duty to uphold the Constitution despite nasty threatening behavior by a violent mob intent on nullifying or delaying the results of a legitimate election. Impeachment was a necessary action to proclaim that Congress was not a craven institution fearful of a presidentially-incited mob. Her earlier support for invading Iraq in 2003 despite knowledge that WMDs were fictional is to my mind to her great discredit, but that shouldn’t detract from her sound and courageous stand against a power-hungry, deceitful, and Constitution-defying Donald Trump.

  3. DH Fabian
    January 15, 2021 at 09:39

    If Trump is guilty of that list of crimes (as Democrats interpret it), and if he were as widely opposed as Democrats have claimed, a second impeachment intended to block Trump from running again in 2024 would be pointless. As strongly as I oppose Trump’s political ideology, the Democrats’ rabid obsession with ousting Trump at any cost is far more alarming than anything Trump actually did. Clearly, as the country is in crisis, Democrats have put their thirst for power well ahead of the best interests of the country.

  4. Frederick Dean
    January 15, 2021 at 00:55

    Where those ‘pipe bombs’ planted by some government plumbers unit? This ‘siege’ seems so staged. The fired DC Police Chief says he asked for help from the National Guard 6 times but was rebuffed by his Congressional overseers (Reuters). The Norfolk FBI Office issued an alert about trouble brewing in DC days before and were ignored by the DC FBI . Their press release though said they were not aware of any threats(Forbes).
    Is it more likely that the discovery of these pipe bombs was another propaganda event meant to bolster their brand and discredit the protesters. I am at the point where I doubt anything I hear from the FBI. I find that all their statements turn out to be lie in one shape or form. They have problems selling the simple truth. CIA Chief, William Casey told us “We’ll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the public believes is false.”

  5. Col. Sandy Volestrangler (ret)
    January 14, 2021 at 23:54

    The Glorious Restoration of Neoliberal Blob rule is all but complete.

    Notice how simultaneously with there suppression of Trump as a political entity (he’s officially the president, yet he is incapable of reaching the public). ‘the Squad’ was brought to heel. AOC is now the latest version of liberalism. She’ll trade on her stint in the service industry, while supporting aggressive war, the smothering of working class consciousness and making performative denunciations of Mark Zuckerberg. Who makes a convenient punching bag. Trump failed to seize the heights of communication. You can’t start any kind of change movement without being able to reach your base. The problem is, all the carefully laid plans of ‘global management’ and the technocratic management caste have been confounded by the unexpected consequences of previous iterations of ‘agenda 21′ or agenda19’. The stock market has been revealed as a completely fake theatre and the real economy is teetering under the weight of numerous onrushing catastrophes. The fantasy of turning the world into an Orwellian anthill didn’t pan out. Now they’re just going to have to go full Zardoz and unleash a real killer virus.

  6. P. Michael Garber
    January 14, 2021 at 23:38

    Rational voices are so rare in our hyper-partisan mediascape, thank you Joe Lauria and CN for this perspective.

  7. January 14, 2021 at 23:30

    I have a comment above which alludes to Congress being forever at ends with each other. The real core of the problem is that for elections the donations from the Big Corporations and various oligarchs are divisive. Citizens United was in my opinion a bad decision by SCOTUS…..basically increasing the spending for candidates running for office and …well, one hand washes the other.So the only way to put a stop to the bribes is the have a massive change in funding for elections. One is to have the Feds finance the elections and outlaw any and ALL donations from ANY other source. here’s a link to explain the amounts ,,as there are merchandise sales counted in. hXXps://www.cnbc.com/2020/10/28/2020-election-spending-to-hit-nearly-14-billion-a-record.html Surely they can cut a bit out of the Defense Budget to fund elections. I also have suggestions on how the amounts can be allocated. I’ll not get into that, but have to say the there would be a lot of pushback from certain elements and especially the MIC . There MUST be a funding change.

  8. January 14, 2021 at 21:59

    Editor Joe, I can see Bob Parry smiling down from his heavenly perch in the sparsely populated “Honest Journalists” section, looking at the work of the kind of successor he must have hoped for after he had his first stroke three years ago and sensed he might not be able to keep going. Bob’s eyesight was impaired and he told me how hard it was for him to manage this final piece, written four weeks before he died.

    Your gutsy articles on “January 6” do him — and the rest of us — proud. Thanks.

    Here are excerpts from what Bob wrote on Dec. 31, 2017

    =================

    From Editor Robert Parry:

    … I would like to extend my personal apology for our spotty production in recent days. On Christmas Eve, I suffered a stroke that has affected my eyesight (especially my reading and thus my writing). … The doctors have been working to figure out exactly what happened since I have never had high blood pressure, I never smoked, and my recent physical found nothing out of the ordinary. Perhaps my personal slogan that “every day’s a work day” had something to do with this.

    Perhaps, too, the unrelenting ugliness that has become Official Washington and national journalism was a factor. …

    Though I don’t like the word “weaponized,” it began to apply to how “information” was used in America. The point of Consortium News, which I founded in 1995, was to use the new medium of the modern Internet to allow the old principles of journalism to have a new home, i.e., a place to pursue important facts and giving everyone a fair shake. But we were just a tiny pebble in the ocean. …

    More and more I would encounter policymakers, activists and, yes, journalists who cared less about a careful evaluation of the facts and logic and more about achieving a pre-ordained geopolitical result – and this loss of objective standards reached deeply into the most prestigious halls of American media.

    This perversion of principles – twisting information to fit a desired conclusion – became the modus vivendi of American politics and journalism. And those of us who insisted on defending the journalistic principles of skepticism and evenhandedness were increasingly shunned by our colleagues, …

    The hatred of Trump and Putin was so intense that old-fashioned rules of journalism and fairness were brushed aside.

    On a personal note, I faced harsh criticism even from friends of many years for refusing to enlist in the anti-Trump “Resistance.” The argument was that Trump was such a unique threat to America and the world that I should join in finding any justification for his ouster. Some people saw my insistence on the same journalistic standards that I had always employed somehow a betrayal. …

    Hatred of Trump had become like some invasion of the body snatchers – or perhaps many of my journalistic colleagues had never believed in the principles of journalism that I had embraced throughout my adult life. To me, journalism wasn’t just a cover for political activism; it was a commitment to the American people and the world to tell important news stories as fully and fairly as I could; not to slant the “facts” to “get” some “bad” political leader or “guide” the public in some desired direction.

    … “approved” opinions are elevated – regardless of their absence of factual basis – and “unapproved” evidence is brushed aside or disparaged regardless of its quality. Everything becomes “information warfare” – whether on Fox News, the Wall Street Journal editorial page, MSNBC, the New York Times or the Washington Post. Instead of information provided evenhandedly to the public, it is rationed out in morsels designed to elicit the desired emotional reactions and achieve a political outcome. …

    What is perhaps most alarming about the past year of Donald Trump is that the mask is now gone and, in many ways, all sides of Official Washington are revealed collectively as reflections of Donald Trump, disinterested in reality, exploiting “information” for tactical purposes, eager to manipulate or con the public. While I’m sure many anti-Trumpers will be deeply offended by my comparison of esteemed Establishment figures with the grotesque Trump, there is a deeply troubling commonality between Trump’s convenient use of “facts” and what has pervaded the Russia-gate investigation. …

    But – as the New Year dawns – if I could change one thing about America and Western journalism, it would be that we all repudiate “information warfare” in favor of an old-fashioned respect for facts and fairness — and do whatever we can to achieve a truly informed electorate.

    ==================

    Editor Joe, in my view this latest piece of yours places you even more firmly in the highly respected tradition of Bob Parry. I don’t think. there can be a higher compliment.

    Ray McGovern

    • January 15, 2021 at 12:49

      “I don’t think. there can be a higher compliment.”

      Nor would it be easy to find a higher praise than yours, Ray!

  9. Tom Kath
    January 14, 2021 at 19:57

    Truly epic analysis from Joe (Lauria, I mean). I particularly endorse the implied assessment that Trump has come to symbolise or stand for something which he is NOT – (anti establishment). However we merely revert to that “lesser of two evils” paradigm. The establishment is obviously very clearly anti Trump!

  10. michael888
    January 14, 2021 at 19:41

    Excellent article Joe. But you may be painting a target on your back by not embracing the new, improved Police State.

  11. John Drake
    January 14, 2021 at 18:08

    “Statistically impossible to have lost the 2020 Election,” he tweeted. “Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!” Donald Trump 12/19, reported by his former friends at Fox News

    “Giuliani repeated false claims that the election results were “fraudulent” and told the crowd: “If we are wrong we will be made fools of, but if we’re right a lot of them will go to jail. So let’s have trial by combat.” Jan 6, Business Insider. This was addressed to the rally before the attack. “Trial by combat” is an ancient Germanic concept meaning to settle differences by fighting. Interesting statement from Mr. “law and order, stop and frisk” former Mayor Giuliani.

    Obviously inflammatory statements especially to people known to be aggressive. Free speech has always rested on the principle that you do not yell fire in a crowed theatre, unless there is a fire. For a good view of the consequences see Max Blumenthal’s article in Greyzone Jan 12, “Chaos Agent:…” it features long video by the provocateur the article is about. The video amply demonstrates the behavior and attitudes of the invaders, it is shot from their point of view.

    All that is just surface, the important thing the depth of it all is what is motivating what appears to be floridly irrational and violent behavior. For that the author of “The Cult of Trump”, Steve Hassan has a number of you tube videos as well as his book-best savored with an inebriating beverage. The twelve minute one done after the riot addresses that specifically.

    • Afdal Shahanshah
      January 15, 2021 at 11:03

      “Free speech has always rested on the principle that you do not yell fire in a crowed theatre, unless there is a fire.”
      It hasn’t, actually. That principle didn’t exist for the first century of the 1st Amendment, and in fact it was only invented to justify the blatantly unconstitutional Espionage Act used to crack down on socialists and anarchists protesting involvement in WWI. The very same Espionage Act that now of course is being used to go after whistleblowers.

  12. Jan Marie LLoyd
    January 14, 2021 at 17:11

    How can someone be impeached twice? Is English taking a nosedive with everything else. Obviously he wasn’t impeached or we wouldn’t have been stuck with him. He is facing impeachment now for the second time, but so far has never been impeached yet, impeached is what happens after the trial. Could someone please explain why everyone is using the words incorrectly, did donald duck have that much of an influence so quickly he even lowered the language used by professional journalists.

    Impeachment: The removal of a person from an office of trust. He is still here.

    • Consortiumnews.com
      January 14, 2021 at 18:21

      Impeachment only means a formal accusation or charge, like an indictment.
      Conviction or acquittal comes in a Senate trial.

      You can be impeached many times if you keep getting acquitted.

      • Tom Kath
        January 14, 2021 at 20:07

        Thank you for that explanation. We do however note that there is an increasing tendency to confuse an accusation with a conviction. (Much of the Assange “trial” relies on this)
        There is the added confusion that acquitted or pardoned is far from being proven innocent.

  13. January 14, 2021 at 16:55

    Joe Lauria’s article omits what I think are some salient facts. It ignores Trump’s slavish actions to satisfy Netanyahu’s wishes regarding the Golan Heights, the move of the US embassy to Jerusalem, and perhaps most tellingly, Trump sending his private plane to Israel with Jonathan Pollard on board. Pollard was a traitor and sent to prison for life until Trump freed him. Apparently the president thought he could, in a sense, move at least some Jews from their traditional backing of the Democrats. The obedience of US politicians, of course, began long ago under the Truman administration. Twenty-six state legislatures have attempted to criminalize criticism of Israel by Americans. In his Farewell Address, Washington warned against a “passionate attachment” to any foreign country. His warning has unwisely been ignored.

    • Consortiumnews.com
      January 14, 2021 at 18:23

      This article had absolutely nothing to do with Trump’s foreign policy, nor was it a review of his presidency.

  14. DH Fabian
    January 14, 2021 at 16:22

    First order of business: Dem Party loyalists need to explain why Putin stole the election for Biden. That said, what we see here is an example of the worst level of utterly meaningless Democrat grandstanding. They spent four years and multi-millions of taxpayer dollars trying to oust Trump. After all that, they still failed to learn that it takes evidence, not just endless allegations, to remove a politician from office. Here we are, the country deep in crisis, closing in on collapse, and Democrats chose to pursue an utterly pointless re-impeachment of Trump, a week from the end of his administration. Gee, what could possible be more important:?

  15. Jeff Harrison
    January 14, 2021 at 13:48

    Well said, Joe. Why can’t other news outlets provide the kind of quality reporting that CN does?

    Why is it that everybody can rant and rave about socialism as a bad and evil economic philosophy but nobody mentions the evils of the opposite side of the spectrum – fascism? It used to be (I think) that the government largely spent its time making sure the country ran smoothly and fixing problems. Now, the government seems to spend its time applying ideology instead of solving problems.

    • January 15, 2021 at 02:51

      I don’t know when that beautiful time was when ” the government largely spent its time making sure the country ran smoothly”. Otherwise, why would anyone have bothered getting a civil rights movement going? The USA is no better or worse than it ever was in most respects apart from the abolition of slavery.

  16. January 14, 2021 at 13:47

    Thank you for that comprehensive and objective report on what’s going on. This is why I support Consortium News. I will only make one comment: I don’t think the Senate will ever convict Trump. After the Inauguration and some time has passed, I think the momentum for trying Trump will be lost. Increasingly, polls will show that the American people want to move on. A Senate trial of an ex-president will be seen as vindictive and a waste of time, when there are so many pressing issues to be dealt with.

  17. Deniz
    January 14, 2021 at 12:54

    “But why do Trump supporters back Trump if not because they believe, wrongly I contend, that he is their champion who fights for their interests?”

    The best explanation for this is the difference between the symbol of Trump and the reality of Trump. Trump was the first prominent politician to publicly express in a Presidential debate forum unprecedented viewership, what many people, including CN, believe about the Iraq War, the Bushes and the Clintons. He coined the term FakeNews, which CN protests against with every article, which became a common colloquialism under him. This made a tremendous impact on the narrative and is probably the real reason we are seeing all the shrieking on Capital Hill at the moment. However, the reality of Trump is that he supported the MIC, Netanyahu, Big Oil and the wealthy.

    Those supporting the symbol of Trump are on the right track, those who support the reality of Trump are probably politically naïve, at best.

  18. John Zwiebel
    January 14, 2021 at 12:52

    I agree with the broad policies Joe has outlined here. However, no one talks about how weak our election system is — riddled with corruption and fraud.

    The electoral system is not merely the counting of the votes on election day. It includes voter registration (including voter caging), gerrymandering, voter identification, mail-in options, polling locations (where some voters have to wait 3 hours while others wait for 3 minutes), early voting and finally the voting machines themselves.

    Both parties participate in some way in each of the above areas — both parties cheat. Biden won solely because he cheated better.

    Without an honest election system, the true will of the American People will never be known. The bifurcation of the voting block will be further polarized as candidates appointed (anointed?) by the Oligarchy run on empty platitudes and blame.

    We must remember that the Oligarchy is structured more like a criminal enterprise (mafia) than some solid “Establishment” where all members agree. The Oligarchy’s crime families make and break alliances with one another with the sole goal of accumulating more and more and more.

    If the voters do not trust the system, the Oligarchy can, and will, manipulate the vote. If voters become too disenchanted, the Oligarchy will allow some minor policy change like the Affordable Care Act, which the media will uniformly support with broad unsubstantiated propaganda. Voters will have actually attained very little, but they won’t know it.

  19. January 14, 2021 at 12:05

    Since you brought it up, Joe … Is the statute of limitations yet met for Bush 43? Initiating impeachment process may only be an option for a sitting official. However, outright prosecution for the war crimes of his cabinet can still be constructed. I’m sure some of the more forward-thinking on the bar have documents in the wait for some such action. Liz Cheney wouldn’t approve daresay, but then again, this demise of America took long planning and, in its present and turpitudinous end runs, is almost entirely the spawn of nixonites and reaganites like her and LBJ and the Clintons et al.

    The militarized deep state is not the brain trust — and no, not even grandfather egghead Allen Dulles — it never has been, and it cannot be relied upon to save or even coherently guide the nation any longer.

    Constitutional law is natural law; we and our bureaucrats should be cautious not to drift too far from it.

  20. worldblee
    January 14, 2021 at 11:54

    Good, sensible article, Joe.

  21. Ed Rickert
    January 14, 2021 at 10:59

    Joe thanks for your insightful article and your previous Jan 8 piece. I shudder at many of Biden’s choices for top positions in foreign policy. It looks like business as usual: actions that promote instability and conflict, misery for millions through sanctions and regime change, and blindness to consequences of those policies. If his foreign policy is a rerun of Obama’s and his domestic policy as timid as his announcements suggest, we are in for a rough ride.

  22. Anonymot
    January 14, 2021 at 10:00

    Joe, there’s much to disagree with in your assessment of just a bunch of angry citizens and then beyond the punishment for those attacking the capitol building, but the impeachment and conviction of Trump, but your agenda of what this country needs id excellent save for one omission: the de-monetization of elections. Money-Money as the sole measure of success for any area of activity was begun by Reagan, but big bucks in elections is a recent innovation initiated by Obama in August 2011.

    If there is a real leader left in America it may be a good time to start a new third party with your agenda. The Democrats are stale, stuck in obedience to Wall St., the MIC, and the intelligence community while the Republicans are no longer the honorable proponents of a reasonable conservative position.

    Or maybe America is so dysfunctional that there’s nothing left to do but party while the good ship, Lollypop, goes down.

  23. Vera Gottlieb
    January 14, 2021 at 09:49

    No fan of Trump but…he should have the right to speak his mind but NOT the right to incite violence – something he has been doing almost from the first day of his Presidency.

  24. January 14, 2021 at 09:23

    I’m not sure any of the details and legalities of the Capitol gate-crashing event can ever be satisfactorily sorted. It was chaos, and it is hard to find patterns in chaos.

    But in the aftermath, two things are certain.

    America is a badly divided nation, one divided along some very dangerous lines.

    And American politics, always under the withering influence of big money, are now also grown poisonous.

    I see no easy fix.

    Joe Biden is not an inspired leader, and his political party is just about as dedicated to the status quo as the Republicans are.

    At the same time, the country continues to waste a fortune on its military and security service ventures around the world.

    While China builds, everywhere, America threatens and sanctions and blockades and assassinates and destroys in many places. Which approach do you think builds a healthy, long-term future?

    America’s attitudes are virtually all bristling with various hostilities, and it can’t even summon the strength of cooperation and helpfulness in fighting a pandemic.

    • Vera Gottlieb
      January 14, 2021 at 09:51

      While China builds everywhere, the US destroys everywhere.

      • January 15, 2021 at 02:48

        True. But China’s massive programme of infrastructure is also emitting equally gigantic greenhouse gases, destroying the environment via its extractive and transport industries and polluting the world. We can’t have our cake and eat it – there’s no such thing as green economic growth.

    • David Aston
      January 14, 2021 at 16:12

      Excellent commentary

    • DH Fabian
      January 14, 2021 at 16:24

      Well said. Thank you.

    • January 14, 2021 at 22:59

      Spot on…we’re in for bigger troubles unless Congress makes some big decisions and put politics aside for once. I’m not sure they’re up to it, as McConnell and Pelosi have tunnel vision and should be retired . We need less one upmanship and more done for the country and it citizens.

  25. Eric Cleveland
    January 14, 2021 at 08:11

    “The agenda is simple, bring the United States into line with most industrialized democracies: radically cut defense spending, provide national health insurance, invest in green infrastructure, raise minimum wages, forgive student debt, provide free state higher education, encourage re-unionization and provide monthly stipends during the pandemic.

    Trump supporters are vocal in their denunciation of “socialism.” But would they send back $2,000 a month checks? Would they reject heavily government-subsidized medical care? Would they turn down free university education? Do they return their Social Security checks now?”

    Thanks, Joe, for this section of your article in particular. If our government got on board with plans to implement these suggestions, this would have a healing effect not only on our nation but on the entire planet. I hesitate to say this because it is so depressing, but I fear that greed and delusional thinking will continue to neutralize any efforts to change the way this faltering empire does business.

    • DH Fabian
      January 14, 2021 at 16:37

      That’s just the narrow perspective of the bourgeoisie. America has built (and ignored) one hell of a poverty crisis over the past quarter-century, as US job losses long surpassed job gains. Now the pandemic, businesses going under by the day for months. Several million more celebrated Working Americans have no jobs, and Democrats had stripped the jobless poor of their most basic human rights (UN’s UDHR) to food and shelter. No question, today’s liberals believe relieving the anxiety of the better-off must take priority over the survival of our “surplus population”(those not currently needed by employers). But they’re in the minority by how.

    • ML
      January 14, 2021 at 18:45

      Excellent points, Eric! And Joe, you hit it outa the ballpark once again. Thank you.

    • Lisa Lucas
      January 14, 2021 at 19:53

      Yes, Eric, that was for me the part of the article that rang true.

      On the definitions of treason, insurrection, coup, and terrorism, I hear what you are saying, Joe, but I don’t think the overall intent of this mob will uniformly fit into any one definition. Those breaking windows and stealing things are subject to normal breaking and entering charges, disorderly conduct, and theft. Those who killed the Capitol policeman should be tried for murder. Those persons putting up the noose and carrying zip ties should be arrested for intent to commit violence. I am not a lawyer, but if we try to parse a definition for the overall intent of this mob and the President on the day, we may lose sight that at the very least, our Capitol building was vandalized by an unruly gang, some of who intended to do harm to elected officials and others working there.

      Regardless of what Trump said early in the day, he did not call for a stop to the violence while it was in progress — something about his intent may be inferred from his reaction. He has been whipping up this violent fringe of his base to fight for years, with the frequency and urgency exponentially increasing after the election. If we look at the incident from a normal rule of law perspective, those who did the damage need to be prosecuted. If we make this only about Trump’s use of rhetoric on the day, nothing will be accomplished (as you seem to suggest). Trump has been spewing the same language for years; none of his words were much different from any other day. And, so this incident will go as they usually do — perhaps a few arrests, a lot of pardons, and a dearth of lessons learned. And, that will truly be a pity.

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