“Let’s have trial by combat,” his lawyer Rudy Giuliani told a rally of Trump supporters shortly before they stormed the Capitol.
So pro-Trump crowds dismantled security fences and invaded the Capitol. You can call them rioters or terrorists or coup plotters, but they were not Making American Great Again.
In Portland, Ore., last summer, I saw federal authorities periodically use tear gas even against protesters who were peaceful and outside — so it was astonishing to see waves of protesters overrun the Capitol with almost no response. Leftist protests sometimes did become violent and destructive in Portland and other cities, and when that happened Biden repeatedly denounced them; he stood up to his base. Trump in contrast incited violence by his base on Wednesday morning.
There have been whispers that Trump might try to take advantage of disorder at home or a crisis abroad by invoking the Insurrection Act and deploy military forces to interrupt the presidential transition. We should all be on alert and remember the warning of every living former U.S. defense secretary that the military should stay out of such a crisis.
Trump’s assaults on truth are not as visible as assaults on the Capitol, but they are also damaging. Some 62 percent of Republicans say they do not accept Biden’s election, and that is toxic for democracy and lays the groundwork for this kind of violence.
Trump and other Republicans talk about personal responsibility and obeying the law. So Tanya McDowell, a homeless African-American mom, was imprisoned after misleading school officials about where she lived so that she could send her young son to a better school district and give him a better life. But, hypocritically, Trump fails to take any responsibility after a term in which he has lost the House, the presidency and the Senate — and then unleashes mobs to terrorize the Capitol.
As I said, I’ve covered other attempted coups, and history usually catches up to autocrats and thugs — eventually. They end up in prison, exile or disgrace, whining about the unfairness of it all, monuments to the perils of demagogy and authoritarianism.
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