Trump's 'dereliction of duty' on January 6 underscores his 'insurrectionist intentions': conservatives

Trump's 'dereliction of duty' on January 6 underscores his 'insurrectionist intentions': conservatives

President Donald Trump will go down in history as the first president in U.S. history to be impeached twice. It remains to be seen, however, whether or not the U.S. Senate will vote to convict him on incitement to insurrection. And in an article for The Bulwark published on January 19 — Trump's last full day in office — Never Trump conservatives William Kristol and Jeffrey K. Tulis argue that Trump's initial reaction to the storming of the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6 should be part of the evidence presented against him.

"The charge that will be argued in the Senate begins with Trump's efforts to pressure officeholders to alter the results of the 2020 election," Kristol and Tulis explain. "At the same time, he repeatedly attempted to misinform American citizens about the results of the election —well before the day of the insurrection. Trump then encouraged an assembly with the intention of having it pressure members of Congress to violate their oaths. And Trump then made a clearly incendiary speech, repeating his election lies and urging the assembly to march to the Capitol and 'fight like hell,' while Congress was in session and in the process of counting the Electoral College votes."

The New York Times' Maggie Haberman and other journalists have reported that when Trump first found out that a mob had stormed the Capitol Building, he had a positive reaction and believed that they were fighting for him. Haberman has used the word "pleased" to describe Trump's initial reaction. But according to Haberman, the thing that "really seemed to snap him out of it," according to her sources, was being told he could have "legal exposure."

Kristol and Tulis note, "Further evidence of Trump's insurrectionist intentions can be proven by Trump's dereliction of duty during the attack on the legislature. The House chose not to mention this explicitly in its article of impeachment, (but) the dereliction of duty on the afternoon of January 6 is further evidence of Trump's guilt. It should be an important part of the case presented to the Senate."

"After all," they continue, "what does it say that the president watched the Capitol being stormed on television, was implored by members of Congress to intervene — and did nothing? Donald Trump chose not to do what any president would have done in the circumstances — to mobilize the federal government to secure the Capitol. And he chose not to speak to the mob — which consisted of his supporters — to tell them to leave until hours after the Capitol was breached."

According to Kristol and Tulis — who teaches government at the University of Texas at Austin — Trump would have had a very different reaction to the January 6 attack on the Capitol if he hadn't incited insurrection that day.

"This stunning dereliction of duty shows that the president understood the attack on the Capitol as the desired result of his prior actions," Kristol and Tulis argue. "His dereliction of duty on the day of January 6 is a key part of the case for impeachment, for it refutes the predictable defense of the president — that he did not mean to incite. But the truth is that if he had not meant to incite, he would have reacted with horror, mobilized the federal government, and done his best to call off the mob immediately. He did none of these things."

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