More on Trump “acquittal”

Following the Senate’s failure to convict Donald Trump of inciting the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capital as part of his “Stop the Steal” campaign to overturn Biden’s election, Senator Mitch McConnell proclaimed that “There’s no question, none, that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of that day….” Nonetheless, he voted against conviction on the grounds that according to some legal scholars the impeachment provisions of the U.S. Constitution applied only to a President still in office.  Since Trump was no longer the President, impeachment did not apply.  However, if that were so he should have voted to convict Trump and left it to the Supreme Court to sort out this issue if Trump challenged the conviction on these constitutional grounds.

In retrospect (for those of us who were eager to get all of this behind us and move on), it would have been wiser and more convincing to the doubters to have delayed the Senate trial by several months of evidence gathering and to provide for each side to bring and cross exam witnesses. The 9/11 type commission suggested by Rep. Pelosi might correct that mistake. But as Sen. McConnell pointed out in his post Senate vote speech that Trump will now be tried, and no doubt convicted, of many crimes in the courts. I am confident that justice will ultimately prevail.

“Out of office and without the protections that the presidency afforded him, Trump is now facing multiple criminal investigations, civil state inquiries and defamation lawsuits by two women accusing him of sexual assault.”  “Trump legal problems post impeachment”   

Georgia has launched investigations into calls Trump made to election officials in an attempt to overturn that state’s election results. We all heard Trump’s threats to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger if he could not find 11,780 votes for Trump in order to flip the election outcome.  I found the call truly shocking, even from Trump.

“In New York… the Manhattan District Attorney’s office is looking into whether the Trump Organization violated state laws, such as insurance fraud, tax fraud or other schemes to defraud….  Prosecutors are awaiting a decision from the US Supreme Court on whether it will continue to delay the enforcement of a subpoena for eight years of Trump’s personal and business tax returns and related records from his accounting firm.” Op. cit.

A potentially large number of people could charge Trump with various damages in connection with the January 6 attack of the Capitol.  For example, Mississippi Democratic congressman Bennie Thompson has accused Trump and others “of conspiring to disenfranchise millions of black voters by preventing Congress from certifying election results on January 6th.  A lawsuit, brought by the NAACP on behalf of Mr. Thompson, argues that they violated the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871.” “NAACP Rep Bennie Thompson sue Trump Giuliani over capitol riot”

As more and more of his supporters encounter the fact that Trump was unable to produce any credible evidence of significant voter fraud, they will hopefully increasingly give up believing it.  The multi billion-dollar defamation suits by Smartmatic and Dominion Voting Systems against Fox News, former Trump lawyers Rudy Giuliani, and Sidney Powell, and others who claimed that their voting systems switched votes from Trump to Biden should also help change some minds. Most of those making such claims publicly retracted them and apologized for them “Fox Business host Lou Dobbs and Fox News hosts Maria Bartiromo and Jeanine Pirro aired [multiple segments debunking false election claims made on their shows for weeks] that Smartmatic was involved in schemes to switch votes from President Donald Trump to President-elect Joe Biden….” “Fox news suddenly worried about a defamation suit-forced to debunk its own false election claims”  and Fox News fired them. Most people who believe fake claims eventually give them up when confronted with credible counter evidence (I hope).

But what if they don’t? “Some of the senators may have little sympathy for the former president, yet made the partisan choice to appease an increasingly extremist Republican base. A recent poll conducted by the conservative American Enterprise Institute found that nearly 4 out of 10 Republicans believe that political violence is justifiable and could be necessary in a troubled domestic future. Another poll found that three-quarters of Republican voters want Trump to play a prominent role in the party’s future.”  “Trump acquittal questions multiparty system” Most of the rest, presumably, will not remain in a party that includes Trump.

Is the Republican Party thus doomed to minority status for many years to come?  My hope is that multiple court convictions of at least a few of Trump’s many (presumed) crimes will significantly shrink his support and eliminate his role in the party. His refusal to help Rep. Kevin McCarty on January 6 (much less Vice President Pence) was one of the more damning pieces of evidence of Trump’s complicity with the Capital attackers. Yet, “Wary of inflaming tensions within his own party, House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) is staying silent about his frantic Jan. 6 call to then-President Trump as rioters raided the Capitol.” “Riot probe to likely focus on McCarthy-Trump call” In my opinion, Republican leadership should push Trump out of the party as quickly as possible. An internet poll on February 17 found 75% of the responding Republicans thought that Republicans who voted to convict Donald Trump should be censured. This is not promising. The country needs two strong political parties.

The Party should start by squeezing out its radical loony extremists like Rep Marjorie Taylor Greene.  https://wcoats.blog/2021/02/04/cancer-in-the-republican-party/  The reactions by Republican Party leaders in states whose Republican senators voted against Trump raise concerns that hard core Trump supporters would rather destroy the Republican Party than abandon their Stable Genius. “The Republican Representative Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) was sent a scathing letter from eleven members of his own family just two days after he called for former President Donald Trump to be removed from office.” “GOP rep Kinzinger is blasted by his own family after calling for trumps removal” The Central Committee of the North Carolina Republican Party unanimously censured Sen. Richard Burr for voting to convict Trump. They said that the party “agrees with the strong majority of Republicans in both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate that the Democrat-led attempt to impeach a former President lies outside the United States Constitution.” Maybe, maybe not, but there was a proper way to find out while still confirming Trump’s guilt.

I do not wish to see the Republican Party destroyed. In my opinion, its survival and viability will depend on how quickly Trump fades from the picture and how successfully the Party marginalizes its lunatic fringe.  Reducing gerrymandering of congressional districts on the basis of the latest ten-year census would also help reduce the election of the most radical candidate from each party in primary elections.

Author: wcoats

I specialize in advising central banks on monetary policy and the development of the capacity to formulate and implement monetary policy.  I joined the International Monetary Fund in 1975 from which I retired in 2003 as Assistant Director of the Monetary and Financial Systems Department. While at the IMF I led or participated in missions to the central banks of over twenty countries (including Afghanistan, Bosnia, Croatia, Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kosovo, Kyrgystan, Moldova, Serbia, Turkey, West Bank and Gaza Strip, and Zimbabwe) and was seconded as a visiting economist to the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (1979-80), and to the World Bank's World Development Report team in 1989.  After retirement from the IMF I was a member of the Board of the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority from 2003-10 and of the editorial board of the Cayman Financial Review from 2010-2017.  Prior to joining the IMF I was Assistant Prof of Economics at UVa from 1970-75.  I am currently a fellow of Johns Hopkins Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, Institute for Applied Economics, Global Health, and the Study of Business Enterprise.  In March 2019 Central Banking Journal awarded me for my “Outstanding Contribution for Capacity Building.”  My most recent book is One Currency for Bosnia: Creating the Central Bank of Bosnia and Herzegovina. I have a BA in Economics from the UC Berkeley and a PhD in Economics from the University of Chicago. My dissertation committee was chaired by Milton Friedman and included Robert J. Gordon.

2 thoughts on “More on Trump “acquittal””

  1. Interesting that your visceral attitudes (as well as “factional” interests ) are strong enough to a “damn the torpedos full speed ahead” approach which suggests that an unconstitutional action should be set aside in favor of the impeachment of a private citizen; in hopes that the Supreme Court sort it out later.
    Woudl you like such ex post facto process to be applied to yourself in a court?
    Nonetheless, your additional elitist/institutionalist “Part[ies] should start by squeezing out [their] radical loony extremists shows your further disregard of our Founders intent for the primacy of the liberty and will of the people by elections (originalism).

  2. Unfortunately, Trump tapped successfully into the “silent” side of the culture wars and at first seemed to be like an isolationist old Republican, but his puerile personality soon took over. He did succeed in arousing a large, rural bloc of voters who seem possibly to be motivated to follow him still (“since he is falsely accused by ‘Liberals’ “) and Reps. like Kevin McCarthy don’t know which way the wind is blowing yet. McConnell is also a windmill, but he had the smarts to plant a flag on the Anti-Trump side, after mulling the aftermath and looking to the future of the Senate, as well as the GOP.
    After all, what does the GOP stand for? Proto-Mussolini nationalism and a “go slower” takeover of the US economy?

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