Federal prosecutors and former senior DOJ officials agree: Video evidence is damning against Trump

Online news outlet Just Security, which focuses on 'rigorous analysis of law, rights, and U.S. national security policy,' has created an intense 10-minute compilation splicing together video clips from events leading up to the Capitol insurrection alongside Donald Trump's speech to the mob before they marched to and into the Capitol.

Using videos that were created and uploaded by users of the gutter of right-wing social media dumpster Parler (before the FBI lights came on and users started to scramble), the events of Jan. 6 are becoming clearer. The original video was collected by ProPublica and made available to the public, and Just Security was able to create more context for Donald Trump's speech, using the crowd responses. Set chronologically, the video is a damning piece of evidence that could and should be used in the impeachment trial of the twice-impeached former president. It shows the crowd reacting in real-time to Donald Trump's calls to "fight" for him at the Capitol, as well as whipping the crowd into a white-hot frenzy toward his own vice president.

Just Security reporters Ryan Goodman and Justin Hendrix interviewed numerous "former senior Justice Department officials and former federal prosecutors" to get their takes on the video compilation and the result is a roadmap into the possible second impeachment of Donald Trump.

The video begins with footage of Donald Trump speaking to the Jan. 6 Stop the Steal crowd, highlighting his claims that "We will never give up. We will never concede. You don't concede when there is theft involved," and "We want to be so nice. We want to be so respectful of everybody, including bad people."

Video of the crowd obtained from Parler shows people yelling and cheering, and responding to Trump's call to action by yelling things like "Storm the Capitol," "Invade the Capitol building," and "Take the Capitol." Calling the "left" of the United States, "ruthless," Trump continuously called on then-Vice President Mike Pence to "do what's right for the Constitution and the country."

Trump hits the war and fighting metaphor again, saying that "Now it is up to Congress to confront this egregious assault on our democracy," and how the Stop The Steal folks will now march down to the Capitol building and make themselves a herd heard. The video then pivots to the march down to the Capitol building, showing charlatan luminaries like InfoWars' Alex Jones telling the crowd to go to the "other side of the Capitol building," where he claims Trump will be.

Later, the video shows a crowd at the door of the Capitol building chanting "We want Pence," over and over again. It's not a bunch of people calling for Mike Pence to speak—that's something that's never happened in America, frankly. A man inside of the Capitol building is videotaped talking into a landline phone in the building, asking for Speaker Pelosi and Mike Pence, saying "We are coming for you, bitch!"

Other video taped next to scaffolding erected at the Capitol building shows a guy speaking into a megaphone, saying he hopes Mike Pence goes to the "gallows," and that he would like to see him in front of a "firing squad." I wonder why Mike Pence didn't come out to nod paternalistically at the MAGA supporters, like he has for the past four years?

Video inside of the Capitol building hallways shows big bearded faketriots screaming at D.C. and Capitol police, telling them that "You're outnumbered. There's a million of us out there, and we are listening to Donald Trump—your boss."

The chant of "Fight for Trump" continues.

At 4:17 PM that day, after hours of inaction, Trump released his weak sauce Twitter video, once again calling the election "fraudulent," but telling his supporters to go home. This is followed by video of Mr. QAnon Narcissistic Mascot Jacob Chansley saying that Trump told them to go home and that the rioters had "won the day," because it had sent the message they would remove officials from office "one way or another" if they didn't overturn the results of the election—or whatever demands they come up with, I guess?

Finally, they cut in MAGA acolytes like Texas realtor Jenna Ryan, who chartered a private jet to go and storm the Capitol building. After first telling people she hadn't gone in the building, only to have her own footage and a lot of other footage show that she was lying, the video has a local news interview with her saying that she thought she was following Trump's instructions. She was, but that's still a crime.

Former Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York Elie Honig tells Just Security that "The House impeachment managers should consider rolling this tape as their final exhibit at the trial. It shows, clearly and viscerally, how President Trump's words in fact incited the insurrectionist mob — particularly when taken in combination with Trump's own tweet, after the riot, praising the mob as 'great patriots' who should 'remember this day forever.'"

Former U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania and former Deputy Assistant Attorney General Harry Litman disagrees with Honig on strategy, but not on how damning this all is:

From a legal standpoint, a prosecutor in a case charging Trump with seditious conspiracy would play this tape in an opening, and then say, "Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury, the evidence will show that the insurrectionists came to Washington that day because they believed the President had called them there to do their patriotic duty; once there, the President worked them into a demented rage, telling them they had to fight like hell, and that he would be there with them at the Capitol. They went with blood in their eyes screaming 'Fight for Trump!,' threatening the lives of Nancy Pelosi and Mike Pence, and proceeded to storm and lay waste to the Capitol, the sanctum of our democracy, all while President Trump viewed the bedlam with delight from his safe perch back at the White House. They were criminals and deserved to be punished; but any fair-minded person will see from this evidence and more that we will bring forward that it was the President who lit the match and threw it on the fire because he wanted – and at a minimum reasonably foresaw – that they would become an out-of-control mob."

In lieu of real evidence of fraud, the Trump administration and its surrogates—and those wanting to make some last-minute money off the MAGA crowds—promoted the idea that the entire election of Joe Biden over Donald Trump was rigged. In every form of media, at every opportunity, they told millions of Americans that not only were their suspicions of problematic votes cast, but that in fact, a coordinated effort to overthrow the "landslide" victory of Donald Trump was underway.

You can argue that the people who believe the things that Donald Trump says are being conned. They are. You can say they truly believed that their attempt to force Congress to throw out millions of American votes was just and constitutional. You can say all of those things because Donald Trump, the president of the United States, told them exactly that. Other elected officials, including senators, told them it was true.

The fact of the matter is that Trump's guilt is very easily verified. He purposely misled his supporters and then attempted to have them illegally overthrow our government. The only defense the MAGA insurrectionists being arrested right now have amounts to an insanity plea. They believed the government was out to get them and they needed to violently defend themselves because they believed they were about to be hurt by magic. It's not a worthwhile defense in most of their cases, and hopefully, they can watch from a jail cell's closed-captioned television set as their fearful leader and liar is convicted of crimes against our Constitution and the Executive office of our country.

Trump's radicalized followers must be forced to see who he really is

Donald Trump is gone. Jan. 20 has come and gone. Joe Biden is our 46th president and Kamala Harris is our vice president. Celebration has been on display and our democracy is breathing easier.

But our glow of hopefulness will inevitably be dampened by the penetrating darkness of the past four years. The aftermath of Donald Trump is before us. And it cannot be avoided. For example, Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley and several other members of the "sedition caucus" are still in Congress and stand as a constant reminder of how much accountability and healing must still occur.

Many of us are at high risk for the development of trauma, stress-related and anxiety-related symptoms (e.g., post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD). We have been subjected to physical and psychological abuse by the now-departed president. The sickness and death associated with the coronavirus pandemic has been catastrophic. Our crippled economy has created widespread depression and anxiety. Trump's racism, xenophobia, misogyny, nativism, white supremacy, violence and incitement of insurrection have all been traumatic forces as well.

Post-traumatic stress symptoms are increasingly evident among us: distressing and intrusive thoughts, anxiety, worry, fear, flashbacks, nightmares, hyper-vigilance, disturbed sleep and more. These symptoms occur most notably in those with close proximity to the horrific nature of the deadly disease, such as first responders, medical providers and friends and families of victims. All are due to the impact of a cruel and corrupt leader who harmed us after swearing to be our protector. Much like a domestic abuser, Trump deceived, betrayed and mistreated us.

Beyond that, millions of Americans continue to view Trump as their beloved cult leader — even though he has been defeated, disgraced and repudiated. Trump's followers have been radicalized by the cumulative effects of his lies, conspiracy theories, magical thinking and fake narratives. Americans were bombarded with misinformation and propaganda. As a result, there are many passionate supporters who, at least until now, have refused to allow facts and the truth to shape their perceptions of their leader. Trump's demagoguery and fear-mongering has worked.

Donald Trump is a proven traitor — at least in the colloquial sense, and perhaps the legal sense as well — who spent four years disavowing the Constitution, attacking our democracy and abusing the public. He must be prosecuted and punished for his misdeeds and malfeasance.

We know that victims of abuse are better able to recover their self-esteem and hopefulness when abusers are held to account and victim safety is assured. Victims often feel unheard, misunderstood and unloved because their horrific experiences are minimized or not believed altogether. Prosecution of the abuser can go a long way to validate the intrinsic worth of the victim, and to help recapture positive mental health.

So, in a very real way, prosecution of Donald Trump is necessary for individual Americans to heal from their psychological distress and trauma and to feel liberated and positive going forward.

In a similar vein, the radicalization of Trump supporters can be deprogrammed if they see him being prosecuted and punished for his nefarious acts. He must be exposed for who he is — a con man whose cruelty, indifference and anti-democratic leanings were unleashed on the public. The realization of Trump's menace might help sweep away the false view of him as an esteemed leader. For some, this realization began last Wednesday, as President Biden was sworn in and Trump's supporters realized that their delusional belief in an ongoing Trump reign was shattered.

Dealing with the maliciousness and destructiveness of Donald Trump has begun. His oxygen of attention has been taken away. He has been banned from social media platforms. He is being ostracized and purged in most circles. But more than that, he must be prosecuted and punished for his transgressions against America and its people. He cannot simply be given a free pass because he is finally out of office. This would convey a dangerous message. We cannot stick our heads in the sand when abuse and radicalization have run rampant.

It appears that Trump is already considering another presidential run in 2024. Such is an unfathomable proposition in light of his past four years of abuse, death and insurrection. His lack of shame and remorse is appalling — but in no way surprising.

Trump must be convicted in the Senate for his second impeachment offense. He must be banned from future elected office as well. We must send a clear message to him and to all other future or potential presidential candidates that corrupt and criminal behavior will not be tolerated. We will not be abused all over again.

It will take time for us to heal, but that will happen more quickly and completely if prosecution and punishment is meted out to Donald Trump. In a democracy, no person is above the law. We must all be held accountable for our actions. Especially someone who misused and debased the highest office in the land, and whose reign of terror has traumatized us all.

There's a glaring problem with Republicans' bid to stop Trump's trial in its tracks

Despite widespread demands that the U.S. Senate hold former President Donald Trump accountable for helping to incite a deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol just before leaving office, all but five Republican senators on Tuesday voted to invalidate the trial as unconstitutional—a move that ultimately failed but portends poorly for those hoping for conviction.

Just 10 House Republicans joined with Democrats earlier this month to impeach Trump—the only president to be impeached twice—for his role in sparking the January 6 attack on Congress. House impeachment managers delivered the article to the Senate on Monday.

While senators were sworn in on Tuesday for Trump's second impeachment trial, arguments aren't set to start until February 9.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on Tuesday claimed that the trial is unconstitutional and forced a procedural vote on the matter. Paul's move "might seem like a silly procedural gambit, but it's important," reported Politico, because it forces GOP senators to go on record about whether they think the trial should be allowed to proceed.

Only Republican Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Mitt Romney (Utah), Ben Sasse (Neb.), and Pat Toomey (Pa.) joined with Democrats to oppose Paul's effort, which Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) supported. The 55-45 vote signals that the necessary two-thirds of senators do not support a conviction.

The Senate vote was swiftly condemned, including by House Democrats who supported Trump's impeachment:

As MSNBC's Chris Hayes noted: "McConnell delayed the trial and then voted in favor of a point or order to dismiss it because it was...starting too late."

Despite the timing of the House impeachment vote, McConnell, while he was still Senate majority leader in the immediate wake of the attack, refused to start a trial before President Joe Biden's inauguration.

Ahead of the Tuesday vote, Paul told reporters: "I think there will be enough support on it to show there's no chance they can impeach the president... If 34 people support my resolution that this is an unconstitutional proceeding, it shows they don't have the votes and we're basically wasting our time."

Paul tried to claim that the trial is unconstitutional because Trump is no longer in office. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) responded by pointing to Article II, Section II of the U.S. Constitution, which allows for the "removal of office and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office honor."

"If the framers intended impeachment to merely be a vehicle to remove sitting officials from their office they would not have included that additional provision, disqualification from future office," he said.

"The language is crystal clear without any ambiguity," Schumer said. "The history and precedent is clear. The Senate has the power to try former officials, and the reasons for that are basic common sense."

Common Dreams reported earlier Tuesday that polls continue to show that the American public supports convicting Trump and barring him from ever holding office again. A survey conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute from January 21 to January 24 found 56% of Americans approve of the House impeaching Trump.

That polling results also showed that 52% of the U.S. public wants the Senate to convict Trump on the impeachment charge. Additionally, when those surveyed were told that a conviction must precede a ban on Trump holding office in the future, support for the Senate convicting the ex-president jumped from 52% to 55%.

As the advocacy group Stand Up America put it in a tweet Tuesday: "Convicting Donald Trump for inciting a white supremacist insurrection against the government of the United States should be a given."

Chief Justice Roberts refused to preside over Trump's second impeachment, Schumer reveals

When it became clear that the second impeachment trial of Donald Trump would take place after he was out of office, it raised a curious constitutional question that few had ever previously considered: Should Chief Justice John Roberts preside over the trial, as he did during the previous impeachment?

We recently got the answer: No. President pro tempore of the Senate Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, will preside instead.

And in an interview on MSNBC with Rachel Maddow on Monday night, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer revealed why for the first time.

"It was up to John Roberts whether he wanted to preside," Schumer said, "and he doesn't want to do it."

Many had assumed that, as he was during Trump's first impeachment trial, the chief justice would be obligated to preside. But a close reading of the U.S. Constitution suggests he is not.

"When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside," the Constitution reads. The word "the" before "President" is crucial. Because while Trump is in some sense still "a president," he is definitively not "the president." Joe Biden is. Therefore, we can conclude there's no obligation on the part of the chief justice to preside in Trump's trial.

Schumer did seem to suggest that the chief justice may have presided over the trial, if he had so chosen. And nothing in the Constitution would appear to forbid that. But it's not surprising that Roberts, believing he had an option under the constitution, would opt to sit the trial out. He is known for having a strong desire to keep the Supreme Court as apolitical as possible. During Trump's first impeachment trial, he frequently looked uncomfortable and displeased with his obligation to preside.

There still remains a question of why the Leahy had undertaken the obligation to preside over the trial. The duty could have fallen to Vice President Kamala Harris, who is the president of the Senate. Leahy, the president pro tempore, only presides in her absence. And Harris may be required during the trial if she needs to cast any tie-splitting votes on procedural matters.

Trump and other critics of the impeachment process may point to the chief justice's absence as a reason to discredit and dismiss the trial. But the constitutional analysis about his presence being unnecessary is clear-cut.

On Tuesday, 45 Senate Republicans voted to dismiss the trial entirely, arguing that former officials can no longer be subject to impeachment procedures. However, the scholarly consensus is against this view, and it is not directly supported by the Constitution. In fact, the Constitution specifically lists "disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States" as a potential consequence of conviction. And that possibility clearly still exists for a former official. So it's reasonable to infer that a trial for a former president is within the scope of the Constitution. The Constitution also makes clear that the Senate itself has the sole power to try impeachments, suggesting that its determination on the matter is conclusive. And with 55 votes in favor of the trial, it has determined that the proceedings against Trump are legitmiate.

Trump campaign paid over $2.7 million to those behind infamous Jan. 6 'Save America Rally': report

Hours before a violent mob of pro-Trump extremists stormed the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6, then-President Donald Trump and his allies spoke at a so-called "Save America Rally" in Washington, D.C. According to a study by the Center for Responsive Politics issued on January 22, the rally's organizers received millions of dollars from Trump's reelection campaign.

"Trump's campaign disclosed paying more than $2.7 million to the individuals and firms behind the January 6 rally," the Center for Responsive Politics' Anna Massoglia reports. "But (Federal Election Commission) disclosures do not necessarily provide a complete picture of the campaign's financial dealings since so much of its spending was routed through shell companies, making it difficult to know who the campaign paid and when."

The National Parks Service permit for the Save America Rally, Massoglia notes, lists Maggie Mulvaney — a niece of former White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney — as a "VIP lead" for the event. The Trump campaign, according to Massoglia, paid her "at least $138,000 through November 2020."

Others listed on the rally permit, Massoglia reports, include Megan Powers (who was the campaign's director of operations) and Caroline Wren, a long-time GOP fundraiser. Powers, according to Massoglia, "was paid around $290,000 by Trump's campaign while on its payroll from February 2019 through at least November 2020, FEC records show" — and Wren "received at least $20,000 from the campaign each month as its national finance consultant for its joint fundraising committee with the Republican National Committee, totaling $170,000 from March through November."

"The rally's production manager is listed as Justin Caporale, the Trump campaign's advance director who received more than $144,000 in direct payroll payments from the campaign in the one-year period leading up to November 2020," Massoglia explains. "Caporale's business partner, Tim Unes, was the rally stage manager and was paid more than $117,000 by the Trump campaign through at least November 2020. Event Strategies Inc., their firm, was paid more than $1.7 million from Trump's campaign and joint fundraising committee."

Massoglia adds, "Trump-affiliated dark money group America First Policies paid the firm another $2.1 million from 2018 to 2019, the most recent years for which data is available. America First Policies' tax returns obtained by OpenSecrets show it also provided funding to Women for America First, a 501(c)(4) nonprofit that submitted the rally's permit records to the National Park Service."

The organizers of the Save America Rally and the far-right insurrectionists who stormed the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6 were hoping to prevent Congress from certifying Joe Biden's Electoral College victory in the 2020 presidential election. Regardless, the certification went ahead as planned, and Biden was sworn in as president on January 20.

Schumer and McConnell face demands to 'remove seditious senators' from Trump's trial

As the House of Representatives formally sent an article of impeachment against Donald Trump to the Senate on Monday for the former president's upcoming trial for inciting this month's deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol, a leading progressive advocacy group implored Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to preclude lawmakers who supported the January 6 insurrection from the proceedings.

On Monday evening, House impeachment managers delivered a single article of impeachment against Trump—who is the only president to have been impeached twice—to the upper chamber of Congress. In that legislative body are 11 Republicans who supported efforts by Sens. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) to thwart the peaceful transition of power to President Joe Biden by challenging certification of the Electoral College vote for the 2020 presidential election.

The offending senators' at least tacit embrace of Trump's myriad lies and conspiracy theories regarding the election has been blamed for helping to incite the mob that attacked the Capitol in a failed bid to overturn the election results. In the wake of the attack, House Democrats including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) have called on Hawley and Cruz to resign or be expelled from the Senate, while a group of Democratic senators has filed an ethics complaint against them.

Rahna Epting, executive director of MoveOn, says the 13 "seditious" GOP senators should be barred by Schumer (D-N.Y.) and McConnell (R-Ky.) from participation in Trump's impeachment trial.

"Trump has been impeached for inciting a mob to attack our country and its lawmakers with deadly violence in an effort to override his election loss," Epting said in a statement on Monday.

"But Trump did not act alone," she added. "Senators who participated in Trump's campaign to undermine our free and fair election and fan the flames of insurrection share responsibility for gathering and inciting the crowd that assaulted the Capitol and killed a police officer on January 6."

"Senators who supported Trump's insurrection cannot also be his judges," stressed Epting. "Senators cannot be impartial jurors in a trial for acts in which they themselves are implicated. These senators should be witnesses, not jurors. Senators Schumer and McConnell must remove seditious senators from Trump's impeachment trial via the trial rules once Speaker Pelosi sends the article of impeachment to the Senate."

Trump's Senate trial is scheduled to begin on February 8. Sen. Pat Leahy (D-Vt.), the chamber's president pro tempore, will preside over the proceeding.

'Could doom the GOP to minority status': ​WSJ slams Arizona Republicans' recent 'meltdown'

Under the direction of far-right Kelli Ward, the Arizona GOP has passed resolutions censuring three Arizona Republicans — Gov. Doug Ducey, Cindy McCain and former Sen. Jeff Flake — for failing to live up their Trumpian standards. And the Wall Street Journal's conservative editorial board slammed the resolution in a blistering editorial published over the weekend.

As the WSJ's editorial board sees it, this type of purity test can only marginalize the Republican Party in the months ahead.

"The resolutions have little practical effect," the editorial board explains, "but they symbolize the party divisions that could doom the GOP to minority status nationwide for years. Ms. Ward, who has run twice for Senate and lost, was endorsed for party chair this past week by Donald Trump. Mr. Trump, now decamped to Mar-a-Lago, is contemplating revenge against everyone in the GOP he blames for his defeat."

Ward is angry with McCain, widow of the late Arizona Sen. John McCain, and Flake because both of them endorsed Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election. Ducey, unlike McCain and Flake, favored Trump. But when Biden won the election, Ducey acknowledged him as president-elect and refused to join Trump in contesting the election results in Arizona — one of the states Biden won. Ducey, much to the chagrin of Trump and Ward, certified Arizona's election results.

"Sensible parties that lose elections try to reunite in opposition even while they debate policy differences and examine why they lost," the WSJ editorial board emphasizes. "They don't excommunicate people who could help rebuild a majority. Mr. Flake and Ms. McCain found Mr. Trump's behavior as president unacceptable, but they were hardly alone. Mr. Trump didn't lose because Republicans betrayed him. He lost because he alienated too many voters in Wisconsin, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Arizona who liked his policies but disliked his tumultuous leadership."

The Arizona GOP has suffered three major disappoints in statewide races in recent years, including losing two U.S. Senate seats. Once a GOP stronghold closely identified with the conservatism of Sen. Barry Goldwater and his successor, John McCain, Arizona now has two centrist Democratic U.S. senators — Sen. Kyrsten Sinema and Sen. Mark Kelly — and Trump's loss to Biden in Arizona in 2020 was another major blow.

"The attack on Mr. Ducey is simply bizarre," the WSJ's editorial board writes. "The governor has a strong conservative record and will finish his second term in 2022. Senate Republicans have been hoping to recruit him to run against newly elected Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly, who must run again in 2022 because he is filling former Sen. McCain's uncompleted term."

The editorial board goes on to say, "The Arizona meltdown illustrates Mr. Trump's potential as a former president to damage the GOP for years. He blames Mr. Ducey for not challenging Arizona's electoral votes for Joe Biden, though the governor had no legal grounds for doing so. The Trump campaign's ballot complaints lacked significant evidence, and a challenge lost in court."

The Journal's editorial board concludes its editorial by stressing that if Republicans continue to engage in Trumpian purity tests like the ones coming from the Arizona GOP, they are going to have even more disappointments in the future.

"If Republicans want to keep losing elections," the board warns, "they'll keep fighting over 2020 and Donald Trump instead of looking to the future."

Ex-Mueller prosecutor reveals gaps in the pardons for Trump's allies that could come back to bite them

As expected, former President Donald Trump pardoned a long list of cronies during his final weeks in office, including Paul Manafort, his former 2016 campaign manager, and former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon. Andrew Weissmann, who served as a lead prosecutor for then-Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office from 2017-2019, offers a legal analysis and critique of Trump's "abuse of the pardon power" in an article for Just Security.

And according to Weissmann, Trump hasn't necessarily saved Manafort and Bannon from all legal exposure.

"In issuing his pardons, Trump, true to form, followed no process," Weissmann explains. "He did not seek to identify those most worthy of the use of the clemency process. Instead, his abuse of this constitutional power has led many to deplore the expansive executive authority, although it can be a means of meting out justice when wielded impartially and even-handedly to the most deserving after due consideration of the interests of numerous parties."

Some of Trump's pardons, Weissmann notes, were "exceedingly broad" — for example, the pardon of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

"Flynn's pardon on Nov. 25, 2020 covers most any crime one can imagine, clearly seeking to leave no room for now holding Flynn to account for his past felonious conduct," Weissmann observes. "But oddly, not all of Trump's pardons followed the Flynn model. Indeed, many are narrowly drawn.

Weissmann cites Trump's Manafort pardon as an example of one that is "narrowly drawn." In Manafort's case, Weissmann writes, the "pardon is solely for the crimes of conviction: eight in the Eastern District of Virginia and two in the District of Columbia." And according to Weissmann, "That leaves numerous crimes as to which Manafort can still be prosecuted, as in Virginia, there were ten hung counts."

"In Washington," Weissmann adds, "the situation is even more wide open. In that district, Manafort pleaded to a superseding information containing two conspiracy charges, while the entire underlying indictment — containing numerous crimes, from money laundering to witness tampering to violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act — now remains open to prosecution, as there was no conviction for those charges."

Another pardon Weissmann considers "narrowly drawn" is Trump's pardon of Bannon. In Weissmann's view, Bannon still has legal exposure despite the pardon Trump issued on his last full day in office.

Trump's Bannon pardon, according to Weissman, "applies to the pending 'offenses charged,' and not the underlying conduct, as it pardons Bannon for the specific counts charged."

"It also pardons crimes that could be charged for the underlying conduct under Chapter 95 of Title 18 of the United States Code — basically, racketeering type charges," Weissmann writes. "But that clearly leaves — unpardoned — numerous potential federal charges, such as mail and wire fraud. It is rare that a prosecutor charges all such counts that could be charged, as it would overwhelm a jury and is unnecessary to increasing a sentence upon conviction."

It's time to treat Republican officials like children

I think children understand justice better than most members of the Republican Party. I think they would understand better than pretty much any grownup that something serious is missing from the debate over the former president's crimes, his pending trial in the U.S. Senate, and the complicity of some of his fellow Republicans.

Right now, most of us insist that truth is a necessary precondition to unity. In other words, if all the Republicans who said, or implied, that Joe Biden stole the election concede the truth—which is that Donald Trump lost fair and square—then we can have unity. That's not enough. We can't see it, though. We're too focused on insisting the Republicans tell the truth. Fact is, lying is an injury. It's going to take more than accepting the truth to restore trust in the Republicans. It's going to take an apology.

The republic can't endure without the truth. It can't endure without justice either. But the Republicans want peace without it. They want unity without it. They want you to trust them without having done the work to restore your trust.

Look, when my 9-year-old hurts a friend's feelings, she knows there are three steps toward reconciliation. One, accept the truth. She hurt a friend. Yes, she didn't mean to. But she did. Now she needs to accept the fact of her friend's hurt feelings. She needs to accept that—if she values their friendship. If she does not, well, then we need to talk.

Two, ask for forgiveness. In asking, my daughter is demonstrating understanding and acceptance of the truth. Her friend's feelings are real. They are legitimate. And she is accountable for her actions. Her friend may not forgive her. Their friendship might not survive. But that's not in my daughter's power. What is is accepting responsibility.

Three, say sorry. In saying sorry, my daughter is affirming that her interests are equal to their friendship, but at the same time, her interests do not supersede their mutual interest. Friendship isn't about what one person can do for another, but what we can do for each other, and most importantly, what we can do together in unity. In saying sorry, she is recognizing the reality of a third entity worthy of respect: me, you and us.

This, apparently, needs to be said for the benefit of some Republicans who continue to insist, or imply childishly, that Trump was wronged in some way, and that their efforts are honest and noble instead of what they are, which is malicious and treasonable. My child, like many children, understands the moral character of the body politic better than most of the GOP. The republic can't endure without the truth. It can't endure without justice either. But the Republicans want peace without it. They want unity without it. They want you to trust them without having worked to restore your trust.

But why should they? We aren't demanding it. So far, the only demand is that they stop denying the truth. Rand Paul, the fascist senator from Kentucky, was on ABC's "This Week." George Stephanopoulos asked Paul if he believed that Biden won fair and square. Paul declined. The more he was asked, the more he denied it. Stephanopoulos should have stated Paul was giving voice to falsehoods, then asked what he was going to do to restore trust in him. Stephanopoulos made news in any case. He and his employers might be satisfied with that. Justice isn't, though. Neither is the republic.

Marjorie Taylor Greene, a new House Republican, agreed in 2018 that the Sandy Hook massacre was staged by the Democrats in order to take people's guns away. In old social media posts unearthed by Media Matters, she said the Parkland massacre was also staged, along with Ronald Reagan's assassination attempt and the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Newtown, Conn., is a few miles from where I'm writing these words. It's hard for me to overstate how despicable the "false flag" lie is. People like Taylor Greene can't be trusted with anything except perhaps pissing on 20 dead kids' graves.

Does she still believe that? According to her spokesman, no! And yet in 2018, before she entered the Congress, she wrote: "I'm told that Nancy Pelosi tells Hillary Clinton several times a month that 'we need another school shooting in order to persuade the public to want strict gun control.'" How did she go from authoritative insider peddling lies to honest broker? No one asked. Can we trust her? She wants us to. She's the Congress's most prominent believer in a conspiracy theory holding the Democrats prey sexually on innocent children before eating them. Why wouldn't we trust her?

Fact is, Taylor Greene knows the Sandy Hook massacre was real. She knows QAnon is bunk. She knows Joe Biden did not steal the election. She's lying, as other Republicans are lying. While they know lying is injurious—it does real harm to the republic—they do it anyway, because why not? It gets them where they want to go, and there are no consequences. Barack Obama isn't a citizen. Good guys with guns can stop bad guys with guns. Climate change is a hoax. Mexico will pay for the wall. Covid is just like the flu. And now, courtesy of fascist senator Josh Hawley, there's "the muzzling of America." There will be no end to the lying until there are consequences for lying, and there will never been consequences as long as truth and reconciliation are divorced.

Children understand this, because parents teach it to them.

It's time to treat the Republicans like children.

Trump came closer to stealing a 2nd term than many realize — here's what really stopped him

Last week, Donald Trump finally left the White House, after two and a half months of trying to steal the election — which culminated in Trump inciting a violent insurrection at the Capitol. Even before he sent a mob to violently interrupt the certification of Joe Biden's win on January 6, Trump's efforts to overturn the election were relentless to the point of being uncountable: Dozens of lawsuits (which were nearly all struck down), pressure campaigns on local election boards and state legislators, an extortion scheme against Senate Republicans, threats against state officials, demands that then-Vice President Mike Pence illegally invalidate the election, and even meetings to explore the possibility of a military coup.

In the face of all this, a narrative has shaped up: Trump's failure to pull off a coup was largely due to his own shortcomings.

It's a narrative that started early, with Max Boot of the Washington Post opining shortly after the election that he's "never been more grateful for President Trump's incompetence," because he "can't even organize a coup d'état properly." It culminated in Adam Serwer of the Atlantic arguing that Trump's "assault was most often futile, almost always buffoonish."

To be clear, no one is saying that Trump's efforts were inconsequential, just because he failed to steal the election. Even Ross Douthat, who was most devoted to the "incompetence" narrative, admitted in his New York Times column that it was bad that a violent mob had descended on the Capitol, killing a police officer and coming perilously close to getting their hands on the lawmakers they were threatening. As Ed Kilgore wrote last week at the New Yorker, the lesson we all learned is that there were "some moments of real peril," and Trump got distressingly close to pulling it off at times. Still, the focus on why Trump failed is largely on his own inadequacies and bad planning — Kilgore suggests he could have succeeded with "better timing and better lawyers" — and some lucky breaks, such as the quick thinking of some Capitol police who saved lawmakers from the insurrectionists.

Over the weekend, however, a piece by Alexander Burns of the New York Times highlighted how much the credit to ending Trump's coup should go to Democratic and progressive activists. Far from standing by idly while Trump bumbled his way towards failure, these groups never underestimated Trump's likelihood of winning. If not for these groups and their organized and devoted efforts, the odds are quite high that Trump could have stolen himself a second term.

Defeating Trump took a "long season of planning and coordination by progressives who anticipated Mr. Trump's postelection schemes, including his premature attempt to claim a victory he had not achieved, his pressure campaigns targeting Republican election administrators and county officials and his incitement of far-right violence," Burns writes. It took a remarkable "degree of collaboration among progressive groups that often struggle to work so closely together because of competition over political turf, funding and conflicting ideological priorities."

The Democracy Defense Coalition brought together over 200 groups, guided by the correct assumption that Trump would try to stage a coup after he lost the election. Their work was largely quiet, no doubt to keep Trump and his minions from finding out about it and interfering with it. But without this coordinated response, it's quite likely Trump would have been able to pull off at least one of his many plans to steal the election.

As I chronicled at Salon back in October, with help from activists doing this work, defeating Trump required an organized, calm, and persistent response from Democratic voters. For instance, activists recognized that Trump was going to use the partisan divergence on voting styles — coronavirus-concerned Democrats would vote by mail and COVID-denying Republicans would vote in person — as a wedge point, and try to get mail-in ballots thrown out in large numbers. The counteraction to that was to convince Democratic voters to vote as early as possible, on the theory that ballots that arrived before Election Day were easier to protect from Trump's legal assault.

The strategy was effective.

In Pennsylvania, so few mail-in ballots arrived after Election Day that even if Trump had been successful in arguing that they should be thrown out, it wouldn't have changed the outcome of the election. The result was swifter court decisions shutting down Trump's challenges, depriving him of the momentum needed for a successful coup. As Burns notes, the activists had a nearly impossible task, of striking a balance between taking the coup seriously but also projecting an air of confidence that Trump would fail. Defeating a coup is very much about convincing the public that your side will prevail. This balance was struck, but not by accident. It took lots of hard work by activists, often working quietly behind the scenes, to organize progressives in a way that showed concern-but-confidence. The result was events such as one night in Philadelphia when pro-democracy crowds ran off Rudy Giuliani and Eric Trump from the convention center, where the two men were trying to whip a right-wing crowd up to harass vote counters. After Giuliani and Trump took off, the protest broke out into a dance party.

It's important to learn from this recent history for a very simple reason: The effort to end democracy isn't over.

Trump may run again, and as he did in every election he's been in, he will cheat and encourage others to cheat on his behalf. But even if Trump doesn't run again, he's empowered a movement of anti-democracy Republicans who will look for every advantage they can to nullify the results of elections they lose. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is already doing this, with his plot to keep the Senate from even beginning business unless the Democratic majority simply relinquishes the power given to them by the voters.

To defeat the longer-term assault on democracy, it's critical for everyday voters to understand that they do have power, and that, by taking action, they can help preserve and restore democracy.

The reason why Republicans have gotten so far in their efforts to undermine democracy is that they've trained ordinary people into believing that efforts to stop them will all be in vain. The true story of how Trump was defeated, by regular people who fought for their democracy, is empowering. It can convince people to keep up the fight. So while no one should doubt Trump is an idiot, it's important to give credit where it's due for his defeat: On the progressives who fought him, every step of the way.

'Its roots are deep': Noam Chomsky breaks down just how dangerous Trumpism is after ex-president's 'attempted putsch'

President Donald Trump's reign may be over but there are still concerns about how his lingering legacy will impact U. politics. Now, American linguist Noam Chomsky is explaining just how disturbing Trump's incitement of the Capitol riot was as he argued that it hit much closer to the United States' centers of power than Hitler's first coup attempt in Germany.

During an interview with TruthOut, Chomsky discussed the Capitol riot as he offered a comparison of that disturbing event to Hitler's Beer Hall Putsch of 1923.

"An attempted putsch, though the connotations of the term putsch may be too strong," Chomsky said. "The events reminded many, including historians of fascism, of Hitler's failed Beer Hall Putsch of 1923, which actually did not so easily penetrate the centers of power as the attempted coup of January 6."

He added, "The reasons for the security failures are being debated. I have no special insight. Black members of the Capitol police, who showed great courage along with many of their white colleagues, have charged for years that the force has been infiltrated with white supremacists. There may have been some collusion, and possibly serious corruption higher up the chain of command."

Chomsky's remarks come just weeks after Trump's mob of supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol following his "Save America" rally on Jan. 6.

At the time, the president and his supporters encouraged rally-goers to head to the Capitol and express their demands to lawmakers in hopes of having the election overturned. Trump and his allies made these remarks even after it was clear that the Electoral College certification would not be invalidated. The president's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani even encouraged rally-goers to pursue "trial by combat."

Although the Trump presidency is over, Chomsky admitted that he believes the disgraced outgoing president is "far from" done.

"Whether Trump will survive the error of judgment that turned major power centers against him is unclear," Chomsky said. "He may well do so. The voting base of the Party seems to remain loyal, maybe with even greater fervor after this attack on their hero by the 'deep state.' Local officials too. He was cheered on his visit to the Republican National Committee the day after the Capitol riot. He has other resources."

Chomsky added, "Whatever the fate of the individual, Trumpism will not be so easily contained. Its roots are deep."