Editorial: Trump’s travesty wreaks havoc on others
Seemingly, the troubling aspects of the Trump drama never end. After the fourth day of testimony by the House committee looking into the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, inspired by ex-president Donald Trump, those Americans paying attention now fully realize how callous and premeditated Trump’s “big lie” has been.
Most Americans, including former Republican Vice President Mike Pence, knew President Biden fairly won the election. They believed in the validity of the elections, and believed the validation provided by the numerous court challenges (over 60) of election results. But because of a cowardly Republican Party, which at first recoiled at Trump’s lie (that the election had been stolen from him) and then embraced it out of concern for their electability, the lie took hold and those citizens with blind loyalty to party, rather than truth, fell in line like lemmings to Trump’s piper.
The first consequence of that lie, and Trump’s callous disregard of the truth and his willingness to subjugate the nation’s democracy, was the assault on the nation’s Capitol. An assault in which the assailants chanted, “Hang Mike Pence,” and came within seconds of the vice-president’s exit from the building — all while Trump watched approvingly from the safety of the White House.
Whether Trump’s role was a criminal act in which he could face prosecution is what these hearings are about. But more has come out of the hearings than many of us expected.
We knew Trump and his team had shown callous disregard of the truth and that his actions were potentially criminal, but we weren’t so aware of how premeditated it had been and how his actions threatened the lives of the individuals he and his team singled out and/or pressured to illegally change election results on Trump’s behalf.
The first three days of testimony laid out a solid case that Trump pursued his “big lie” even though he knew he had legitimately lost the election. We have learned that he shamelessly pursued the lie for monetary gain, and in the hope that he could overthrow the regular transfer of power through devious means.
Among the testimony on Day Four of the hearings were two stories of how the lives of two election workers from Georgia and a GOP leader in Arizona were threatened and turned upside down by Trump’s reckless behavior.
Arizona House Speaker Russell “Rusty” Bowers, a diehard conservative Republican, testified on Wednesday that as much of a conservative, life-long Republican and ardent Trump supporter that he was, he couldn’t bring himself to disavow the oath of office he was sworn to. Bowers testified that Trump and his team pressured him relentlessly to throw the state’s electors to Trump even though he knew President Biden had carried the state by an undeniable margin.
For Bowers’ honesty and sticking up for America’s democracy, Trump threw a tantrum, called him unfaithful to his cause, and, consequently, Bowers suffered the misguided wrath of Trump’s clueless and amoral supporters.
According to an account in the New York Times: “Bowers had voted for Trump, campaigned for Trump, but would not violate the law for him — and, as a result, his political future was jeopardized, his character was questioned and his family was harassed as his daughter was dying…. In the weeks that followed, Bowers’ neighborhood in Mesa, a suburb east of Phoenix, was practically occupied at times by caravans of Trump supporters. They screamed at Bowers through bullhorns, filmed his home and led parades to ridicule him that featured a civilian military-style truck. At one point, a man showed up with a gun and was threatening Bowers’ neighbor.”
And that was for a fellow Republican.
More troubling was the mother-daughter duo, Wandrea “Shaye” Moss and her mother Ruby Freeman — Georgia election workers. Trump and Rudy Giuliani targeted them because one passed a mint to the other during the vote count, and Trump, having no evidence but good optics, used the moment to falsely allege it was a USB drive.
Because Trump’s supporters were so willing to believe Trump’s big lie that the election was stolen, his supporters jumped at every false allegation Trump made. Trump and Giuliani were relentless in their assault, specifically attacking the duo 20 separate times, even as they knew they were spreading more of the same lie.
The consequences to the mother and daughter were devastating. “A lot of threats,” Moss told the committee, “wishing death upon me. Telling me that, you know, I’ll be in jail with my mother, and saying things like, ‘be glad it’s 2020 and not 1920.’”
In a taped deposition, Moss’s mother, Ruby Freeman, told the House committee that she’s now afraid, 18 months later, to have her name said in public. “For my entire professional life, I was Lady Ruby,” Freeman told the select committee. “My community in Georgia, where I was born and lived my whole life, knew me as Lady Ruby…. Now, I won’t even introduce myself by my name anymore. I get nervous when I bump into someone I know in the grocery store who says my name. I’m worried about who is listening. I get nervous when I have to give my name for food orders. I’m always concerned of who is around me. I’ve lost my name, and I’ve lost my reputation. I’ve lost my sense of security all because a group of people, starting with number 45 and his ally Rudy Giuliani, decided to scapegoat me and my daughter, Shaye. To push their own lies about how the presidential election was stolen… There is nowhere I feel safe. Nowhere. Do you know how it feels to have the president of the United States target you? The president of the United States is supposed to represent every American. Not to target one. But he targeted me, Lady Ruby, a small-business owner, a mother, a proud American citizen, who stood up to help Fulton County run an election in the middle of the pandemic.”
It’s stuff none of us want to read, or watch, or even think about. We’re all sick from it, and sick-and-tired of it. Even for diehard news professionals like myself, I’d rather just tune out.
But for our democracy’s sake, we can’t.
As the committee has demonstrated time and again, the actions taken by Trump and key members of the Republican Party to subvert the constitutional transfer of power were a serious challenge to the nation’s democracy. It was more than just insuring the election results were accurate; it was a deliberate attempt to keep Trump in power despite his loss.
To ignore those acts and fail to prosecute is to set the stage for democracy’s demise.
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