Nervous pundits warn that for the good of the US, the US Justice Department should not indict Donald Trump, since prosecuting a former president is one of the things “banana republics” do.
Hat is wrong for two reasons. First, it is not for Attorney General Merrick Garland to decide what is in the country’s long-term democratic interest. The decision to “spare” the country the turmoil surrounding a previous president’s criminal trial rests with the chief executive, as was the case with Richard Nixon under former US President Gerald Ford.
The US Department of Justice’s prosecutorial guidelines come closest to this concept when a prosecution serves a “significant federal interest.” But this factor, properly understood, supports prosecution. The guidelines state: “One factor that appears to be of primary concern (when it comes to law enforcement) is the actual or potential impact of the crime on the community and the victim(s). The nature and severity of the crime may also involve consideration of national security interests.”
He appeared to dismiss the idea of barring prosecution just because Trump was president
Well, there could be few greater interests than punishing the leader of an attempt to overthrow a democratic election to deter future coups.
Fortunately, in a recent interview with NBC News’ Lester Holt, Garland made it clear that his department intends to “hold anyone found criminally accountable for what happened around the 6th of April.”
He appeared to dismiss the idea of barring prosecution just because Trump was president.
Second, the persecution of a former political leader will not turn the US into a “banana republic.”
Indeed, I have unfortunate news for the nervous Nellies: the country is already on the way to becoming a failed democracy. The question now is what we want to do about it.
How do you know that democracy is crumbling? It’s when an incumbent does these types of things:
⬤ Refuses to acknowledge losing an election.
⬤ Uses corporate media to undermine the sanctity of elections and spread lies about “election fraud”.
⬤ Ignore mountains of evidence proving the election was legitimate.
⬤ Try to use the US Department of Justice to cast doubt on the legitimacy of an election.
⬤ Pressures state officials to “find” just enough votes to change the outcome of a key state.
⬤ Pressures state officials to withdraw ballots and create fraudulent documents to override the will of the people.
⬤ Invents a plan to retain power that his own lawyer knows would be illegal.
⬤ Pressures his Vice President to disregard his oath and facilitate the coup plan.
⬤ Calls for angry people to show up in the nation’s capital just as lawmakers are counting the votes, promising the gathering will be “wild.”
⬤ Invites an armed, disorganized mob to march on Congress and promises to join them to confront the elected leaders who are fulfilling their constitutional duties.
⬤ Incites the crowd to blame his VP for not having the “guts” to overturn an election even when the violent mob is coming his way.
⬤ Refuses to use law enforcement or national security forces to quell the violent uprising of his supporters.
By now, Americans should realize that this was the stuff of tin-pot dictatorships, not full-fledged constitutional democracies.
They should understand that the Republican Party, filled with petty individuals who hide behind false claims of privilege to avoid testimony, has become a bullying apparatus that dictators have historically used to reinforce their lies and their actions with to cover up legitimacy.
If Americans don’t want violence to become a standard political weapon, they should demand that Garland keep his word.
This is not a call to “lock him up”. This is a call from citizens demanding that the US Department of Justice follow legal process to hold accountable everyone involved in what is arguably the worst crime against democracy in US history. Only a “banana republic” would give the man behind the attempted coup carte blanche.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/letting-donald-trump-off-the-hook-would-be-an-act-of-banana-republicanism-41883368.html Letting Donald Trump off the hook would be an act of banana republicanism