Calling You as a Witness

If you hadn’t seen it with your own eyes, you’d accuse Jack Smith of crossing the Hollywood writer’s picket line to write the latest, and by far the most damning, indictment of Donald Trump. But you did see it. Like anyone else with access to a TV and a computer, you were a witness to these crimes. Give yourself some credit. After relentless lying and a coordinated misinformation effort that continues to this day, you still aren’t looking at the world through orange colored glasses. What you saw and heard during Trump’s efforts to overturn an election and cling to power was exactly what happened. We got a lot more details behind the plot from the vital January 6 Committee hearings. And we got a few new details from Jack Smith’s indictment. And you should definitely read that indictment for yourself. The NYT (Gift Article) has an annotated version. But you live in reality, so this will be a re-run. You know what happened. If you were paying attention, you even knew what was going to happen before it did. A few months before the 2020 election, I mentioned to my dad that the numbers looked pretty good for Biden and Trump was starting to lose his grip (political and mental). My dad, who had survived the Holocaust and knew a thing or two about the rise and tactics of strongmen, said, “Yeah, but he’ll never accept the results.”

Around the same time my dad was predicting that Trump would never leave the White House in a normal, orderly transition, The Atlantic’s Barton Gellman wrote his piece, The Election That Could Break America. “The worst case, however, is not that Trump rejects the election outcome. The worst case is that he uses his power to prevent a decisive outcome against him. If Trump sheds all restraint, and if his Republican allies play the parts he assigns them, he could obstruct the emergence of a legally unambiguous victory for Biden in the Electoral College and then in Congress. He could prevent the formation of consensus about whether there is any outcome at all. He could seize on that un­certainty to hold on to power.”

Trump had been sowing doubt in the election results for years before the election even took place. So we knew he was going to try to cling to power and then we watched him do it real time. And, contrary to Trump’s advice, we believed what we were seeing and hearing. Thankfully, so did Jack Smith.

+ “The oddity of the indictment is that a great deal of it—the overwhelming majority of its narrative, in fact—is already quite familiar. The reason is that the story it tells tracks closely with the work of two prior investigations, both conducted by Congress. First, on Jan. 13, 2021, the House of Representatives impeached Trump for incitement of insurrection; the outlines of the story the special counsel tells here first emerged in the proceedings surrounding Trump’s trial in the Senate.” Lawfare Blog: The Big One: Trump is Indicted for Jan. 6.

+ Joyce Vance has a good overview of the indictment, including the identities of most of “the six uncharged and therefore unnamed (but as good as identified) co-conspirators.”

+ “The third and latest indictment against Trump sets out four charges and makes the case against him in the plainest terms. ‘Despite having lost, the defendant was determined to remain in power,’ the introduction to the forty-five-page document reads—and where have you seen a more succinct summary of criminal intent?” David Remnick in The New Yorker: The New Trump Indictment and the Reckoning Ahead. “With the former President still far ahead of the rest of the Republican field, the American electorate is likely headed for a crucial test.”

+ “The federal judge assigned to the election fraud case against former President Donald Trump has stood out as one of the toughest punishers of rioters who stormed the U.S. Capitol in an attack fueled by Trump’s baseless claims of a stolen election.”

+ Daniel Dale on the 21 Donald Trump election lies listed in his new indictment. Narrowing Trump’s oeuvre down to just 21 lies should make Jack Smith a Pulitzer contender.

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