It is critical for American democracy that the Department of Justice prosecute Trump.
Was the storming of the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, a spontaneous outburst that became violent or a coup attempt guided from above? The select committee in the U.S. House of Representatives has explored this question in painstaking detail and arrived at a straightforward conclusion: Donald Trump, aided by unscrupulous advisers, was the first president in U.S. history to instigate a rebellion to stay in power despite having lost the election.
The recommendation that the Department of Justice prosecute Trump has no immediate judicial or political consequences. Attorney General Merrick Garland will make his own decision and seems to be reluctant to indict Trump to avoid the impression of a partisan judiciary. The former president’s guilt has long been obvious to Democrats and conservative “Never Trumpers,” whereas his fan base has always viewed the committee’s work as a witch hunt. Trump’s star was already fading in the Republican Party after most of his candidates lost in the midterm elections.
Today, the idea that Trump will ever be led away in handcuffs is just as improbable as his returning to the White House. But it is be critical that the Department of Justice prosecute Trump on this and other charges, such as his removal of classified documents. American democracy, 230 years old, deserves no less.
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