Probably the largest question that the Trump impeachment trial must answer is both simple and straightforward: “Did the President lead or participate in a conspiracy to overthrow the government of the United States and install himself as a strongman dictator-for-life?”
Proving this first requires connecting Trump to the traitors who actually, physically tried to seize the Capitol and murder Vice President Mike Pence and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, killing five other people in the process.
It’ll also require proof that Trump or people in his immediate circle directed that insurrection with his knowledge; that he himself directed people to march on the capital and suggested or implied they should act violently; and that he or his agents took active steps to prevent the federal government from protecting the Capitol or Pence, Pelosi, and the constitutional process of counting the votes.
New reporting from the New York Times brings shocking detail to this investigation, and a recently released document raises troubling questions.
First, it appears that the invasion of the Capitol to “stop the steal” wasn’t spontaneous, but was the result of a conspiracy that promoted it directly to the people who ultimately carried it out.
“The rally had taken on new branding, the March to Save America, and other groups were joining in, among them the Republican Attorneys General Association,” the Times reporters noted. “Its [RAGA’s] policy wing, the Rule of Law Defense Fund, promoted the event in a robocall that said, ‘We will march to the Capitol building and call on Congress to stop the steal,’ according to a recording obtained by the progressive investigative group Documented.”
Additionally, there are multiple reports of a shadowy meeting the evening before, January 5, at the Trump Hotel in Trump’s private suite that may be a key to a possible conspiracy to overthrow the American government the following day.
An associate of Alabama Senator Tommy Tuberville, “the then-director of the Republican Attorneys General Association,” noted on Facebook that Tuberville was among the participants, although the Senator has since denied it. His denials notwithstanding, multiple photos of him in the Trump Hotel and purported to have been taken on that night have surfaced.
The rally on the ellipse was put together by a group called Women for America First, but they had no plans to march to the Capital building and certainly had no plans to engage in a violent overthrow of the American government.
But when Trump and his colleagues showed up at the rally, he and others specifically called for a march to the Capitol building.
Trump even announced that he would march with the crowd, although after he left his speaking position behind his bulletproof glass, he instead took his bulletproof limousine back into the White House.
Speaking of the original, peaceful rally organizers, the Times noted: “Mr. Stockton said he was surprised to learn on the day of the rally that it would now include a march from the Ellipse to the Capitol.”
The Times added, “Before the White House became involved, he said, the plan had been to stay at the Ellipse until the counting of state electoral slates was completed.”
Trump, of course, specifically directed the crowd to march on the Capitol when he spoke at the rally.
Which may bring us to Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller and the memo he wrote 2 days before the assault on the Capitol. (Trump made Miller the Acting Secretary of Defense, along with installing several other pro-Trump people at DOD, a few days after the November election was called for Joe Biden by the media.)
The memo has been leaked in the last few days and is widely circulating on the Internet. If authentic, it appears to explicitly block the DC National Guard from playing any sort of meaningful role in supporting the Capitol Police to defend the Capitol building, the Vice President or any Members of Congress.
If authenticated, it appears to direct the Secretary of the Army that the DC National Guard may not assist the Capitol Police in any meaningful way without a specific, direct authorization from Miller himself.
If I’m reading this memo right, the DC National Guard is specifically forbidden from offering any sort of intelligence or logistical support including drones or helicopters, using tear gas or other riot control agents, or helping arrest insurrectionists who may storm the Capitol.
As Mark Ames writes for National Memo: “The full memo shows that the D.C. Guard did receive a request from D.C. government for guard presence during the Jan. 6 event. Miller responds promptly to go ahead, so long as the soldiers are given no weapons, no body armor, and no helmets. They can bring agents like pepper spray or flashbangs. They can’t share any gear with Capitol Police or Metro D.C. Police. They can’t … really do much of anything.”
He adds that this is probably why the National Guard was directing traffic rather than defending the Capitol on January 6th.
As a result, according to the Capitol Police’s Union Chairman Gus Papathanasiou: “We have one officer who lost his life as a direct result of the insurrection. Another officer has tragically taken his own life. Between USCP and our colleagues at the Metropolitan Police Department, we have almost 140 officers injured. I have officers who were not issued helmets prior to the attack who have sustained brain injuries. One officer has two cracked ribs and two smashed spinal disks. One officer is going to lose his eye, and another was stabbed with a metal fence stake.”
Other reporting suggests Miller was simply defining what the Capitol Police could ask the DC National Guard for, but that the Capitol Police inexplicably ignored FBI and other warnings of impending violence and a request for help didn’t come until well after the siege was underway.
Vanity Fair’s reporting has Acting Secretary of Defense Miller claiming that Trump threw him “under the bus,” rather than that he helped Trump make sure the Capitol was left defenseless.
Presumably these details will come out at Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate next week.
If it turns out that Trump and his cronies conspired to co-opt the peacefully planned Women For America First rally and turn it into an assault on the Capitol, that they encouraged or explicitly called for the march to and seizure of the Capitol, and that they took active measures to leave the Capitol defenseless, America is looking at something far worse than an impeachment.
If such a conspiracy had been successful and Mike Pence and Nancy Pelosi (among others) today lay dead, the electoral count was flipped, and Trump had been re-installed as President For Life (as he’d “jokingly” called for numerous times in the past) , it would have been the end of our republic.
Americans have a right to know if Trump and his associates tried to overthrow the government of the United States, the literal definition of treason. And, if it can be proven that they did, we have the right and obligation to demand justice.
This article was originally posted to Medium.