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A Treasonous President and a Nation in Peril

The writer, a retired professor of international relations at the Center for Global Affairs at New York University (NYU), taught courses on international negotiation and Middle Eastern studies for over 20 years.

Donald J. Trump, President of the United States, addresses the General Assembly’s 75th session in September 2020. Credit: UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

NEW YORK, Jun 13 2022 (IPS) - I am at a loss for words to express my horror as I watched the first segment of the public hearing of the Congressional committee investigating the January 6 insurrection. As long as the Republican Party denies what happened that infamous day and Trump remains free, this country faces unprecedented peril.

Righting the Wrong

The Congressional committee investigating the January 6 insurrection began the first of its public hearings last week. Each of these is of the highest importance to the country, even if many Americans are unlikely to be swayed by them.

Last Thursday’s hearing revealed never-before-seen footage of the violence that erupted in the nation’s capital, and testimony from officials and advisors close to Trump (including Attorney General Barr and Ivanka Trump) made it clear that they did not believe Trump’s fabrication of a stolen election and told him so.

These hearings are crucial to our Republic, to maintaining the integrity of our democratic norms and institutions, and to preventing not simply another violent mob outbreak, but another attack on our democracy orchestrated, as this was, by the highest office in the land.

Indeed, what happened on January 6, 2021, was unprecedented in our history. It was the culmination of a concerted months-long effort by the President of the United States to halt the transfer of power and stage a coup that would have meant the end of this country as we know it, had he been successful.

The rule of law hung in the balance that day. Trump knowingly lied and continues to lie about the results of the 2020 election, and he summoned a mob to the capital promising that January 6 would be “Wild” – a last ditch effort to prevent the certification of Biden’s election victory.

Every president in our nation’s history has honored the constitutional duty to relinquish power and allow the peaceful transfer of executive authority – every president that is, until Donald Trump.

This is what many Americans still fail to grasp or acknowledge: Trump struck at the very heart of our democracy, he broke a solemn oath and in doing so he has made it easier for this to happen again.

If presidents are unwilling to honor the results of free and fair elections, then the future of this Republic in the gravest of danger. As it is, Trump has forever stained the office of the president: in breaking his oath to the constitution he has irrevocably broken the sacred trust between the American people and their chief executive.

Nothing will ever change the fact that a sitting president attempted an illegal, unconstitutional, and profoundly immoral coup to remain in power; that is a cause not only for the gravest concern but for the deepest sadness.

These hearings then are among the most important ever conducted in the 246 years since this nation was born, for they bear on nothing less than the very survival of this country as a constitutional democracy.

The existential danger that burst into deadly mob violence on January 6 has not been laid to rest, it is ongoing. It is still poisoning our country and casting a shadow over the next presidential election.

Trump continues to lie to the public; Republican lawmakers continue to parrot those lies and downplay what happened on January 6 or excuse and even justify it as “legitimate political discourse.”

If a mob attack on the Capitol is “legitimate political discourse” then our fate is already sealed – it is, then only a matter of time until the next violent insurrection; and the next one may well make January 6 look like a mere rehearsal.

If Trump had his way, then Vice-President Pence would have also broken his oath to the constitution and derailed the certification of electoral votes. Our continued existence as a Republic might very well have hung on Pence’s actions that day.

The mob’s response was to call for Pence to be hanged, and a noose and scaffold was erected apparently for that very purpose. What was Trump’s reaction when he was told that the mob was calling for Pence’s summary execution? His words were: “Maybe our supporters have the right idea.” Mike Pence “deserves” it.

Trump did not want the attack to stop, responded angrily to advisors that begged him to call off the mob, and supported their aim to see Mike Pence, one of his most loyal followers, hanged. The country as a whole must reckon with and acknowledge what a sitting president perpetrated and the existential harm he brought on this country with his reckless, abhorrent, and illegal actions.

To be sure, Trump was personally and directly responsible for the worst attack on the Capitol since 1814, and as long as he is at the helm of the Republican Party, he remains a very serious threat to the United States.

The Republican Party has been irredeemably hijacked by Trump’s autocratic ambitions. In following him they are bringing this country ever closer to another existential precipice. Congresswoman Liz Cheney of Wyoming – effectively excommunicated from the Republican Party simply for performing her sworn duty as a member of Congress – said what every Republican lawmaker “defending the indefensible” must hear and take to heart:

“There will come a day when Donald Trump is gone, but your dishonor will remain.”

Indeed, if these hearings assure us of anything it is that history will not be able to forget or deny the peril in which the nation was placed by a violent mob deployed by the President of the United States to overturn the result of a legitimate elections.

It is now clear, even before we hear more testimony, that Trump and his co-conspirators engineered a coup to prevent the peaceful transfer of power even though he handedly lost the election.

Trump knowingly violated the constitution that he swore to uphold and protect. Thus, there should be no doubt in anybody’s mind that he has committed treason against the United States, for which he must be charged and face his day in court.

IPS UN Bureau


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  • Roy

    He is a criminal and the worst president to ever serve in the position, though “serve” is the wrong word. Trump is a traitor to the United States of America. He must face justice like any American citizen. Failure to bring this scurrilous liar before a court of law will be much worse than anything we as a free people can imagine.

  • Rev. Jake Harrison

    Donald Trump was “placed into office” by the ‘Electoral College’ which is a miserably corrupt holdover from the 18th century when the majority of the ‘voters’ could not read the ballots. Even though it is ludicrously corrupt it has never been abandoned simply because its corruption works for whichever side uses it.
    Speaking from the Native American perspective, and an heir to the “abrogated” 1868 “Medicine Lodge Creek Treaty”; the USA is a continuous Oligarchy which was founded on genocide and financed for its first 90 years by slavery. This is reflected in the fact that more than 60% of the signers of the “Declaration of Independence were slave holders. Those “founders” who were so dedicated to that system that they most often sold the children they produced with their slaves, as slaves: and their descendants, were willing to fight the bloodiest war the USA has ever had over the “right of one human being to own another.” The fact that those slaves that were freed from the war that many are still fighting, did not receive any enforceable civil rights for another 99 years is yet one more emphasis that “conservatism is a fatally flawed doctrine”; and needs to be abandoned.
    The fact that such a bloated and corrupt sample of humanity as Donald J. Trump, could become the most powerful human being on the planet as a result of not only a miserably corrupt political system. Add the fact that so many voters are such simple minded and easily fooled people is a reflection that history will have no other choice but to remember the USA as “negative example” and a severe warning to humanity. But hey, “if you know what NOT to do, you have half the problem solved”.
    The absolute irony is that the USA may just have some time to make the needed changes, and in doing so would automatically become a ‘shining light to humanity’ by making such a change that the rest of the world would rush to immolate them.

  • disqus_3BrONUAJno

    Literacy was almost complete in 18th century America, because there was no public fool system to prevent people like Frederick Douglass from teaching themselves to read.

  • disqus_3BrONUAJno

    You must be pretty ignorant of the definition of treason in the Constitution.
    Treason is defined in the Constitution at Article 3, Section 3, as consisting “only in levying War against (the United States), or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.”
    All members of the American military take an oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; (and to) bear true faith and allegiance to the same.”
    When the military is committed to foreign actions without a declaration of war by Congress, as required by Article 1, Section 8, Paragraph 11 of the Constitution, that is a violation of the Constitution, arguably the action of domestic enemies.
    When a member of the military participates in an unconstitutional foreign military deployment, s/he violates both the Constitution and his/her oath to “support and defend” it, giving “aid and comfort” to it’s “domestic enemies,” committing treason by the definition given by the Constitution.