Calls Grow for Charges Against Trump in Order to Avoid Another Coup Attempt

With the Home Choose Committee to Examine the January sixth Assault on the U.S. Capitol recommending legal prices in opposition to former President Donald Trump, we communicate with Ruth Ben-Ghiat, a scholar of fascism and authoritarianism, and Robert Weissman, president of the advocacy group Public Citizen. They are saying the committee has left little question that the riot was half of a bigger plot to overturn the reputable outcomes of the 2020 election and that the Division of Justice should act quickly if it intends to comply with via on the referral. “An important factor to stop this type of coup from ever happening once more is accountability for the folks on the prime,” says Weissman.


It is a rush transcript. Copy is probably not in its last kind.

AMY GOODMAN: That is Democracy Now!,, The Struggle and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, as we proceed to have a look at the Home January sixth committee’s vote to refer President Donald Trump to the Justice Division to face legal prices for making an attempt to overturn the 2020 election.

Throughout its last listening to Monday, the committee aired what might be referred to as an riot mixtape of excerpts from earlier hearings, that features footage of the assault on the Capitol, depositions, primarily Republican voices, Trump attorneys, assistants and relations. This excerpt begins with U.S. Capitol Police officer Caroline Edwards.

AMY GOODMAN: A part of a 10-minute riot mixtape that the Home choose committee on the assault on the Capitol performed originally of their last listening to on Monday.

We’re are joined now by two company. Ruth Ben-Ghiat, professor of historical past at New York College, creator of Strongmen: Mussolini to the Current, additionally publishes Lucid, a e-newsletter on threats to democracy. And becoming a member of us from Washington, D.C., Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen.

Earlier than we go to the technical features of what this implies for a Home choose committee to refer legal prices, first time ever, in opposition to a former president, Professor Ruth Ben-Ghiat, I need to discuss in regards to the significance of that second and what this implies for at the moment, what you took from what occurred yesterday — earlier than Wednesday, they’ll launch their report — however yesterday, the referral of legal prices in opposition to a president.

RUTH BEN-GHIAT: Properly, to start with, I felt profoundly grateful that we nonetheless dwell in a democracy, the place this investigation and this committee may even exist, and that, the second, that I felt how necessary it’s to claim accountability, to claim the rule of legislation, and to say that nobody is above the legislation, as a result of, you realize, Trump, like different authoritarians, spent a number of effort making a character cult and a faithful mass of followers who assume he’s untouchable and in addition admire him as a result of he transgresses. The essence of authoritarianism is getting away with it. And that is the glamor of the strongman. So, this legal referral says, “No, you’re a mortal like everybody else, and you may be held accountable.”

AMY GOODMAN: Robert Weissman, head of Public Citizen, in the event you can discuss these 4 legal prices: obstruction of an official continuing, conspiracy to defraud the USA, false statements to the federal authorities, and inciting or aiding an riot? These are the legal prices that the Home choose committee is referring to the Justice Division.

ROBERT WEISSMAN: Yeah, I feel what’s necessary about them is perhaps two issues. One, you realize, for individuals who of us who had been watching January 6 unfold in actual time, it form of appeared as a rally that form of spun uncontrolled. And what the January 6 committee has proven past any doubt, and has now referenced of their referral to the Justice Division, is that the riot was deliberate and intentional. In truth, now we have motive to consider that Trump really hoped to be on the Capitol main the bodily riot. So it wasn’t one thing that was an accident or a spur-of-the-moment factor; it was a part of an total scheme. That’s, I feel, the primary level.

The second factor that the committee has proven, and is, once more, mirrored within the referral, is that the riot itself was a part of a broader scheme to overthrow the election. Once more, in actual time, I feel a number of us seeing what occurred after the election in November of 2020 thought these things was simply form of youngster’s play and sort of Trump form of figuring out his personal psychodrama, claiming there was a fraud and a lie when — a fraud with the election when there by no means had been. However what we now know is that there was an precise, orchestrated, vital scheme that would have succeeded to overthrow the election.

And so, the 4 prices collectively mirror each these issues: the intentionality behind the riot and the multifaceted total scheme that Trump led, masterminded, orchestrated and almost succeeded in finishing up.

AMY GOODMAN: And discuss technically what this implies, that this Home choose committee is referring legal prices to the Justice Division. The Justice Division is investigating individually. They don’t want this to indict the president. However so, what does it imply?

ROBERT WEISSMAN: Properly, that’s proper. The Justice Division goes to make its personal willpower. They’re free to disregard, in the event that they select, what the Home committee has now referred to them. However I feel they’re not going to disregard it. For one factor, the committee has generated a number of proof, that’s now going to be made obtainable to the Justice Division, and that ought to inform the choice that the Justice Division takes.

I feel what’s going to be actually necessary, for the explanations that Chairman Thompson laid out originally, and as Ruth simply mentioned, that the Justice Division proceed with a prosecution. There are going to be a number of reforms proposed. The Home Republicans should not more likely to transfer ahead with them. One vital reform goes to in all probability be achieved in laws within the subsequent couple days to cope with the mechanism of counting electoral votes. However on the finish of the day, an important factor to stop this type of coup from ever happening once more is accountability for the folks on the prime, and most significantly for the one one that masterminded it, Donald Trump.

Now, whether or not the Justice Division proceeds with this, that call has now been kicked over, not less than within the first occasion, away from the precise management of the Justice Division to a particular prosecutor, Jack Smith. Hopefully, he’s going to make the choice quickly to proceed with an investigation and have the Lawyer Basic Merrick Garland agree that that ought to happen. The longer they wait, the tougher it’s going to be politically to proceed with a prosecution.

AMY GOODMAN: Now, Jack Smith, Professor Ben-Ghiat, is an attention-grabbing man. He served as head of the Justice Division Public Integrity Unit in 2010. He served in The Hague prosecuting warfare crimes. He was additionally concerned in New York Metropolis within the prosecution of a bunch of New York Metropolis cops concerned within the 1997 assault on Abner Louima, the Haitian immigrant who was raped, sodomized and attacked by New York Metropolis police. Are you able to discuss Jack Smith and, extra considerably, additionally what that historical past means, from police corruption and violence to The Hague?

RUTH BEN-GHIAT: [inaudible] set to evaluate the actions of — simply maintaining to Trump for the second — of anyone like Trump, who has such a broad vary of criminality. You already know, there isn’t any one else in America — I can consider Berlusconi in Italy as a partial equal — who’s legal in so some ways as Trump. So, the truth that Jack Smith has prosecuted a sitting politician, he’s executed corruption instances — as a result of, in fact, we heard, you realize, that one of many prices is that Trump was attempting to defraud the U.S. authorities, and fraud is what he does, proper? Let’s do not forget that when Trump ran for workplace in 2016, he was beneath investigation for fraud for Trump College.

After which, in fact, the prosecuting in The Hague is extraordinarily necessary, as a result of, you realize, this has by no means occurred earlier than, however Donald Trump is anyone who’s completely different than any president we’ve ever had, Republican or Democrat, as a result of he’s an autocratic particular person. The folks he admires, the leaders he admires are autocrats. And he has no regard for human life in any way. And so, he would commit warfare crimes if he may. Certainly, we heard from John Kelly, in Peter Baker and Susan Glasser’s e-book, hat he wished — he was disenchanted that his generals weren’t appearing like Hitler’s generals. So, Jack Smith, together with his vary of expertise, appears to be the proper person who now we have been despatched at this second in time.

AMY GOODMAN: Now, Professor Ben-Ghiat, it’s not solely President Trump who’s acquired these legal prices referred in opposition to him, additionally his lawyer, John Eastman. Are you able to discuss in regards to the significance of this?

RUTH BEN-GHIAT: Yeah. There’s a little bit subtheme in authoritarian historical past of the attorneys of authoritarians, and lots of of them go to jail. Berlusconi’s lawyer is just one of many who went to jail. We now have additionally Michael Cohen. However it’s essential, you realize, this — they selected to not examine the position of establishments, the FBI, the Secret Service, derelictions of obligation. However it’s essential to have broadened the scope, as a result of this was, once more, not only a violent riot, however an elite — elites are essential to pulling off coups. And Eastman was sort of one of many minds of the coup and linked to the Claremont Institute. And if you look again in historical past, you want this type of buy-in from elites who’ve these theories and give you plans that then get applied by the chief instigator. And so I used to be more than happy to see the title of Eastman there.

AMY GOODMAN: Rob Weissman, additionally referring to the Ethics Committee these congressmembers, this bipartisan committee’s colleagues, who refuse to take part in what so many others — Republican advisers, attorneys, even relations — did by way of cooperating with the committee, and this contains the person who’s working to be Home speaker, Kevin McCarthy.

ROBERT WEISSMAN: Yeah, Kevin McCarthy is fascinating. I feel that, you realize, the data that McCarthy didn’t need to share is that he really was very upset, felt personally bodily threatened the day of the January sixth coup try, riot, and referred to as the president, referred to as the chief of employees and made that clear. He didn’t need to be on the document about that, as a result of he knew what that may imply for his efforts now to change into speaker of the Home.

The opposite three, and particularly two of them, appear to be fairly actively concerned in finishing up the conspiracy. That’s data we don’t fairly know, precisely what their particular person roles had been. We might study fairly a bit extra about that within the last report popping out from the committee tomorrow.

AMY GOODMAN: And we’ll discuss extra about that within the coming days on Democracy Now! Lastly, Ruth Ben-Ghiat, once more, President Trump has not been charged. The Home will now swap to be Republican-led, however the Justice Division doesn’t change. Are you able to clarify what occurs subsequent?

RUTH BEN-GHIAT: I’m not a authorized professional, however, you realize, one factor that got here out yesterday, which is so necessary for democracy prevention, is that the one motive that Jeffrey Clark was not appointed — and that is what autocrats do, they politicize justice, they put loyalists in there — was that there was mass resignations threatened by DOJ staff. And this assertion {of professional} ethics is itself a type of democracy prevention. And so, civil service — some folks assume, “Oh, it’s boring,” the civil service. However it’s completely important, as a result of these are the folks whose particular person actions add as much as — on this case, added as much as — a block on an autocratic transfer. So, the tradition of the DOJ is essential, and so we’ll see what they select to do.

AMY GOODMAN: Ruth Ben-Ghiat, we need to thanks for being with us, historian, professor of historical past at New York College, creator of the e-book Strongmen: Mussolini to the Current, and Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen.

That does it for our present. I’m Amy Goodman. Thanks a lot for becoming a member of us.