The Senate impeachment trial of former president Donald Trump confirms historian Henry Adams’s adage a century ago that politics “has always been the systematic organization of hatreds.” The impeachment process was a farce that should fortify Americans’ disdain for Washington. Considering how Democrats are using the January 6 clash at the Capitol to justify enacting a new domestic terrorism law, Americans need to recognize the frauds that permeated this process from the start.
At last week’s trial, House impeachment manager Jaime Raskin (D-MD) boasted to the Senate, “I think we have done an exceedingly thorough and comprehensive job with all the evidence that was available.” But the House Democrats did not bother accumulating evidence before the trial. Instead, House impeachment managers showed up at the Senate with video clips and tweets and a bunch of overheated rhetoric and thought that should suffice. House impeachment manager Ted Lieu summarized the proceedings: “Trump is receiving any and all process that he is due.”
Shortly before the Senate was expected to cast the final vote on the trial, Raskin announced that the House team wanted to call an actual witness. Democratic senators first voted to call witnesses and then, a couple of hours later, Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) announced that, instead of witnesses, they would simply add one news article based on hearsay to the official record. Unfortunately, the only laughter that erupted on the Senate floor occurred when Trump’s lawyer threatened to summon witnesses for depositions to his law office in “Philly-delphia.” (His house was vandalized after the trial ended.)
The formal article of impeachment condemned Trump for inciting supporters who “unlawfully breached and vandalized the Capitol, injured and killed law enforcement personnel.” House manager Representative David Cicilline (D-RI) condemned “the violent insurrectionists, criminals who killed and injured police officers.” Representative Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), the House Democratic Caucus chair, declared, “Blood is on the hands of every single House Republican sycophant.”
But the murder allegation is collapsing. Even CNN admitted that prosecutors seeking to build a murder case on Sicknick’s demise were “vexed by a lack of evidence.” Capitol policeman Brian Sicknick died a day after the clash but his demise is shrouded in secrecy. He was apparently fine after engaging with protestors but reportedly suffered a stroke the next day. The Capitol Police have refused to release his autopsy report and his body was quickly cremated. Some accounts have suggested that Sicknick died after being exposed to bear spray or pepper spray. If so, his death is a tragic result of the clashes that day. But police regularly spray peaceful protestors with pepper spray or other nasty substances.
Politicians have sanctified themselves by wildly exaggerating the threat they faced on January 6. Raskin wailed to the Senate: “All around me, people were calling their wives and their husbands, their loved ones to say goodbye.” Representative Cicilline declared, “Senators, remember, as one of you said, during this attack, they could have killed us all—our staff, the officers protecting all of us, everyone.” Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) declared, “We came close to half of the House nearly dying“ from the attackers. But no members of Congress suffered any physical harm.
The only person who was shot at the Capitol that day was Ashli Babbitt, a thirty-five-year-old Air Force veteran; she was killed by a Capitol policeman at point-blank range. The most flagrant “weapon” case involving protestors was that of sixty-year-old Richard Barnett, who achieved notoriety after being photographed with his feet on Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s desk. Barnett faces a felony weapons charge and ten years in prison for carrying with him a ZAP Hike ‘n Strike walking stick/stun gun that Amazon sells for $98. (Barnett would have been outgunned by the two thousand Capitol Police officers carrying Glocks with twenty-two rounds.) Barnett, like many other protestors, is being legally scourged for his bad attitude. Barnett was ordered jailed until trial later this year, in part because federal judge Beryl Howell was enraged that Barnett told a reporter he had “scratched my balls“ in Pelosi’s office.
January 6 also quickly metamorphosed into epic comparisons to fan national outrage. Schumer compared that ruckus to Pearl Harbor—a “day of infamy.” Schumer complained that the “temple to democracy was desecrated … our offices vandalized.” Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) compared an incursion that broke some windows and furniture with the 1814 British invasion that torched the Capitol. But most of the eight hundred protestors and others who entered the Capitol left peacefully after a few hours. As journalist Michael Tracey quipped, “Who knew it was so easy to squash an ‘armed insurrection’—just announce a curfew and most of the ‘insurrectionists’ will voluntarily abide.”
Schumer claimed that Trump’s “incitement” of the January 6 protestors was “the most despicable act that any president has ever committed.” This is “Trump-washing” all of the prior official crimes in American history. From President Andrew Jackson’s Trail of Tears to President Woodrow Wilson imposing Jim Crow on a federal basis and dishonestly dragging the nation into World War I, to President Harry Truman unnecessarily dropping atomic bombs on two Japanese cities, to President Lyndon Johnson dishonestly dragging this nation far deeper into a Vietnam quagmire, to President George W. Bush dishonestly launching the Iraq War, there have been far more damaging presidential abuses of power than sometimes reckless Trump’s blather.
Democrats are also exploiting the January 6 Capitol clash to sanctify the 2020 presidential election. House impeachment manager Madeleine Dean (D-PA) declared, “Trump’s conduct over many months incited his supporters to believe his big lie, that the only way he could lose was if the election were rigged.” Schumer hit the same point, deriding Trump for a telling “a big lie that the election was stolen and that he was the rightful winner.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi declared that Republican members of Congress who refused to ratify the Electoral College results “gave aid and comfort to [protestors] with the idea that they were embracing a lie—that the election did not have legitimacy.” But if only traitors would not vote to ratify the Electoral College results, why did the Founding Fathers include that safeguard in the Constitution? And was Raskin guilty of treason when he challenged Electoral College votes for Donald Trump in 2017?
Schumer also denounced Trump for having “inspired, directed, and propelled a mob to violently … subvert the will of the people.” This sounds like the ultimate heresy in a democracy. Since November, the “will of the people” has been one of the most popular themes for Democrats. But where was the “will of the people” discovered? At the bottom of an unmanned mystery ballot drop box in Kenosha, Wisconsin?
The 2020 election was determined in part by the novel doctrine that verifying ballots was a crime against democracy. Biden won thanks to fewer than fifty thousand votes in a small number of swing states that abandoned many of the existing safeguards for ballots, including most of the security procedures for absentee or mail-in ballots. The attorney general for Texas complained in a brief to the Supreme Court about the “unconstitutional relaxation of ballot-integrity protections in [Michigan, Georgia, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania] election laws.” The Supreme Court did not take that case but that was no endorsement of last year’s electoral reforms. Though most of the media acts as if all the issues regarding the 2020 election are long since settled, legal disputes continue. On January 27, a Virginia circuit court struck down a late rule change by the Virginia Board of Elections permitting the counting of mail-in ballots that arrived three days after the election without a postmark. Similar arbitrary decrees happened across the country, probably spurring far more dubious votes than in prior elections. None of this proves the election was actually stolen, but there are plenty of legitimate questions about the electoral conduct of numerous state governments.
Democrats are seeking to use last year’s electoral innovations as the model to impose sweeping federal mandates on every state election system in the nation. H.R. 1, the “For the People Act of 2021,” would compel all states to rely on mass mail-in ballots and other “reforms” justified last year in part due to the covid pandemic.
But Democrats’ disdain for verifying votes’ intent has a gaping loophole. Apparently citizens are much more trustworthy when they conferring political power than when they seek to revoke it. Californians are launching a massive effort to recall Democratic governor Gavin Newsom. Richard Grenell, one of the likely Republican gubernatorial challengers, scoffed on Twitter on Friday: “Suddenly, California officials want aggressive signature verifications. The hypocrisy with politicians is a sickness” (link added).
Perhaps the biggest danger from the impeachment saga is that Democrats will exploit the outrage they are fanning to enact a new catch-all “domestic terrorism” law. Biden denounced the January 6 protestors as “domestic terrorists”—a theme echoed and expanded by many of his Democratic colleagues. Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-CA) suggested that it was “time to call Republicans the terrorist right.” Since there are already plenty of federal laws to prosecute the minority of protestors who assaulted police, why do we need a new law? Former representative Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) warned that proposed new terrorism legislation could target anyone who happens “to be a white person, obviously likely male, libertarians, anyone who loves freedom, liberty, maybe has an American flag outside their house, or people who, you know, attended a Trump rally.”
After the Senate’s failure to convict Trump, hatred and rage will continue to permeate Washington. The latest impeachment saga simply confirms Thomas Paine’s adage: “The trade of governing has always been monopolized by the most ignorant and the most rascally individuals of mankind.” Score: another victory for the Swamp.
This article was originally featured at the Ludwig von Mises Institute and is republished with permission.