Abby Zimet: Still Ripping Things Up, Still Bewilderingly Roaming Free
Somehow, brazen crimes by the former fascist-in-chief keep surfacing. (Feel free to stop now if you understandably don’t want to read any more about this affront to humanity. Lamentably, it’s still news.) Less than shockingly, it seems the lying grifter who hid his school grades, tax returns, sexual assaults and countless financial transgressions also blithely ripped up hundreds of documents, often in violation of the Presidential Records Act and despite warnings from legal experts; later, his minions, or National Archives staff, had to paw through papers to tape them back together for shredded posterity and, now, the Jan. 6 Committee. “He didn’t want a record of anything,” said one former staff member. “He never stopped ripping things up.” Sometimes, he also took home – ie stole – stuff, including his “love letters” from Kim Jong Un. But what about her emails?
Former staffers also revealed he was so giddy Jan. 6 watching “all of the people fighting for me” – ie thugs rioting – he kept rewinding the nasty parts, and was “confused” others didn’t share his glee. But most of the new disclosures came straight from the dimwit’s mouth, from whining Pence refused to “overturn the election” – a gift to prosecutors – to his incendiary call in Texas for “vigilante justice against the justice system.” Committing obstruction of justice in plain loud sight, he told yahoos “if these radical, vicious, racist prosecutors do anything wrong or illegal” – ie charge him with the crimes he’s committed – he hopes to see “the biggest protests” in D.C, New York, Atlanta – cities where prosecutors of color are after him, hence the goad for race war. And there was the offer of pardons to rioters who “are being treated so unfairly.” Legal experts argue he “may have shot himself in the foot” with his braying, noting “criminal intent can be hard to prove,” unless an idiot declares it himself. Liz Cheney: “He’s saying he would do it all again, if given the chance.”
Happily, many are working to ensure he doesn’t get that chance. By one count, his “legal threats” total 19 lawsuits, six investigations and several other probes; another lists them by subject – insurrection, finances, election, sexual misconduct – but still totals 19. Among those suing him: Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who testified during impeachment, charging him with “an intentional, concerted campaign of unlawful intimidation and retaliation” that “had severe and deeply personal ramifications” and “left a stain on our democracy”; Michael Cohen, citing “a long line of retaliatory measures” by Trump et al “in the weaponization of his administration against his enemies”; the NAACP and other groups for curtailing voting rights; and multiple lawmakers, prosecutors and members of the Capitol and D.C. police for trying to get them killed on Jan 6. From harrowing police accounts: “Because of Defendants’ unlawful actions, Plaintiffs were violently assaulted, spat on, tear-gassed, bear-sprayed, subjected to racial slurs and put in fear for their lives…injuries (that) persist to this day.”
Still, in a country whose criminal laws purport to hold people accountable for their actions, Will Bunch notes “a shadow ex-president, unpunished so far, is rebuilding a cult-like movement with all the personal grievance and appeals to Brownshirts-style violence” of Hitler – who, after a failed coup, assumed power in Germany on the same date 89 years ago as that Texas speech. And Trump, he writes, “has told us in no uncertain terms how he plans to break the nation this time.” Meanwhile, as we await the creaking wheels of justice, he remains “bewilderingly roaming free,” notes The Rude Pundit, who arguesin two classic Pundit-ese pieces why he should be in jail. “The whole idea of a ‘peaceful transfer of power’ is that the loser isn’t a dick about it,” he notes. Given the first loser to decide, “Yeah, I’m gonna be a dick about it”; his “abject, shameless call to action” to his goons “to be ready to ‘Save America.’ From what? Legal elections”; and a legal system that can “put dicks away so they can’t spread their dickishness,” he should be arrested. “Sure, we can say that arresting a former president would never happen,” he notes. “Except if we’re a country that really does want to live up to the ideals of our founding…then no person is above the law. Arresting Trump would prove we are, occasionally, who we say we are.”
Abby Zimet has written Common Dream’s Further column since 2008. A longtime, award-winning journalist, she moved to the Maine woods in the early 70s, where she spent a dozen years building a house, hauling water and writing before moving to Portland. Having come of political age during the Vietnam War, she has long been involved in women’s, labor, anti-war, social justice and refugee rights issues.