Un-Civil Insurrection Edition
Welcome to Trumplandia, a place where, with a bit of wit and snark, we keep the world caught up on all the tasty Nuggets-O-Trump you might have heard about but were too busy to care. Because most of this minutia occurs just below the massive headlines, it’s in a land of its own. Here, an infusion of social media, video clips and print media meld with our political views to make more delicious “Fake News” about our Commander-in-Chief.
So just like the president, we start it all with a little tweet like this:
A Mob Hit!
The week of our Trump — Jan. 2, 2021: As the January 6 certification of Electoral College results was awaiting a ceremonial tour through the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate, another tally was underway — the number of dead and injured following an apparent coup d’etat carried out by the lame-duck President of the United States and thousands of his avid followers.
Trump, the pretend dictator/mobster, held another outdoor super-spreader event amid climbing COVID-19 numbers. Appearing outside the White House, the President of the United States urged his followers to travel down Pennsylvania Avenue to Capitol Hill and stop democratic action that would certify Joe Biden’s presidential election win last year.
The result was an insurrection against the country that set throngs of disorderly Trump supporters against Capitol Police and other law enforcement agencies that protect Congress. The violent spectacle saw often armed members of Trump’s cult first breach the steps of the Capitol before finally routing the building while covering it with Trump flags, Confederate flags and, in some cases, human waste in protest of the Biden victory.
Inside, a joint session of Congress was taking place that was already being contested by seditious Republicans.
Presided over by Vice President Mike Pence, the ceremonial event usually lasts under an hour and is a formality leading up to the inauguration of a new president on Jan. 20, 2021. This year, the failure of the outgoing president to concede defeat created an aura of uncertainty and gave the day an ominous feel despite the expected affirming votes.
Trump lied about Pence’s power to investigate and/or overturn the results of the election just days before in Georgia, where he urged the second in command to “come through for us.” Clear on his role, Pence said he did not have the power to change the outcome of the election for the president and expected to tally the vote for Biden. It would not be that easy.
In addition, unsubstantiated Republican claims of widespread voter fraud already were poisoning the process, which had gained attention due to Trump’s public begging for his followers to usurp an American election in his favor and reject the will of the people that gave victory to Biden by some 7 million popular votes and a win in the Electoral College.
Trump wrote on Twitter the night before the vote:
“Washington is being inundated with people who don’t want to see an election victory stolen by emboldened Radical Left Democrats. Our Country has had enough, they won’t take it anymore! We hear you (and love you) from the Oval Office. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”
Seditious plans to challenge the election were led by Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mi.) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tx.) who planned to delay the certification process during Trump’s protest rally that attracted at least 50,000. The combination of the rally and planned delay tactics by political opportunists formed a perfect storm and caused a scene like no other in American history.
Titled the “Save America March,” or “Stop the Steal,” by Trump, the gathering was also dubbed: “Operation Occupy the Capitol, #Civilwar2 and Independence Day,” by online extremists. The president and the First Family gathered people at 7 a.m. outside the White House Ellipse and spent the next four hours charging them up before sending them down to get “combat justice,” from Congress, as per Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani.
Donald Trump, Jr. said:
“They can choose to be a ‘hero or a zero.’ The choice is yours, but we are all watching. The whole world is watching, folks. Choose wisely. These guys (Congress and Pence) better fight for Trump. Because if they’re not — guess what? I’m going to be in your backyard in a couple of months. We’re coming for you, and we’re going to have a good time doing it.”
Mobs of dutiful, largely unmasked Trump supporters — decked out in all of their sickening Trump gear and red MAGA hats and carrying bastardizations of the American flag — joined with elements of militia groups from around the country, including white nationalists, racists, anarchists and others to swarm upon Congress during the ceremony.
The outcome was easily one of the most shameful displays of violence, mayhem and anti-American acts of domestic terror in the country’s history.
Capitol Police officer Brain Sicknick died on Jan. 7 after engaging with rioters during the attack the day before. The 42-year-old officer was hospitalized after returning to his division office and was rushed to the hospital moments later. Initial reports suggested Sicknick was possibly attacked with a fire extinguisher by rabid Trump supporters.
Four rioters, including a former member of the military from California identified as Ashli Babbitt, who was shot by police, and Kevin Greeson, 55, of Alabama, both avid Trump supporters, died during the mayhem.
The attack on Congress successfully suspended the certification process and chased Capitol Police, security and Congress itself into hiding as dozens of Trump-branded traitors streamed into the halls of the Capitol and breached the House and Senate chambers, as well as the personal offices of congressional leaders.
However, under the cover of night, members of both houses returned to complete the vote and certify Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris as the next occupants of the White House.
Hours after the death and chaos, Trump issued a videotaped statement telling his supporters: “You have to go home now. We have to have peace. We have to have law and order.” But Trump then reminded them that “We love you. You’re very special.”
The riot on Capitol Hill turned into a different sort of bloodbath the next day when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca.) and soon-to-be Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) regained some control and began cracking some heads of their own.
Pelosi called for Trump to be immediately removed from office and reached out to Vice President Mike Pence and the president’s Cabinet to try and invoke the 25th Amendment to immediately remove Trump from office. Meanwhile, Pelosi said the House will move forward with the impeachment of Trump for a historic second time.
“I join the Senate Democratic leader in calling on the vice president to remove the President by immediately invoking the 25th Amendment. If the vice president and the Cabinet do not act, the Congress may be prepared to move forward with impeachment that is the overwhelming sentiment of my caucus and the American people.”
Although no formal statement has been issued by Pence, reports suggest he is not considering removing or replacing Trump through use of the 25th Amendment.
The actions of the president and his apparent ordering of the horde to overwhelm Congress caused an exodus of Trump allies and supporters.
Former Attorney General William Barr, who resigned his post last month, issued a scathing statement against his former boss, calling his rally before the attack on Congress “a betrayal of his office and supporters.”
Barr said in a statement to the Associated Press:
“Orchestrating a mob to pressure Congress is inexcusable.”
Mick Mulvaney, former White House Chief of Staff, resigned as special U.S. envoy to Northern Ireland in a call to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, stating, “I can’t do it, I can’t stay.”
Mulvaney’s exit was followed by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Transportation Secretary and wife of Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) Elaine Chao, as well as others.
Trump’s supporters who participated in the insurrection were immediately pursued by federal authorities, although Capitol Police allowed most of the rioters to simply walk away.
Michael Sherwin, acting U.S. Attorney for D.C., said federal prosecutors had brought charges against at least 55 people believed to have participated in the attack at the Capitol Building. Sherwin said all charges were brought to the district’s federal and local courts and that more would follow.
Pelosi called on Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund to resign. He did so, but his resignation will not be effective until Jan. 16. The House Speaker also said Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving had resigned.
Even social media itself turned its back on Trump, who has often called the use of Twitter and Facebook his open line of communication with his supporters. Both social media giants locked the accounts of the President of the United States following the attacks on the Capitol.
Facebook on Jan. 7 initially locked Trump’s social media and Instagram accounts for 24 hours and then extended the lockout indefinitely, with the extended timeout possibly ending after the Jan. 20 inauguration of Biden.
Twitter initially only suspended the president’s account for 12 hours following the insurrection. Trump was allowed to again tweet on Jan. 8, but Twitter later announced it had permanently suspended Trump’s account after that his posts were deemed to pose a risk of inciting further violence.
“After assessing the language in these tweets against our Glorification of Violence policy, we have determined that these tweets are in violation of the Glorification of Violence Policy and the user @realDoanldTrump should be immediately permanently suspended from the service.”
Smaller platforms also took action to silence Trump. Twitch, a video streaming platform owned by Amazon, disabled Trump’s account indefinitely and Snapchat also blocked the president’s account until at least after the inauguration.
Before Trump declared war on Congress, there was a glimmer of hope.
On the morning of what will go down as one of the darkest days in America’s history, Senator-elects Rev. Raphael Warnock, the pastor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s former church, and Jon Ossoff, a young Jewish documentary film producer and journalist, swept incumbent Republicans from office in a historic runoff election in Georgia.
The election results, which unseated incumbent Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) and Sen. David Purdue (R-Ga.), changed the nation’s political landscape in the short term. Those victories were then overshadowed by the riotous actions of hundreds of Trump supporters.
Prior to the history-making mayhem, the race in Georgia had been the focal point of the political universe. Smarting from his own loss in the Peach State, Trump focused his disinformation campaign on the former Republican stronghold by insisting there was no way he could have lost the historically red state. He blamed the governor and secretary of state for his defeat.
In the days immediately following his Nov. 3, 2020, loss, the master of disaster hurled legal challenges at the battleground state and forced no fewer than three recounts. When those did not change the electoral outcome, Trump began twisting the arms of its Republican officials, focusing on Gov. Brian Kemp, a faithful supporter of the president, and Brad Raffensperger, Georgia’s Secretary of State, who oversaw the election process. Insisting he’d won the state despite a deficit of some 11,000 votes, Trump dubbed the lifelong Republicans “RINO’s” or (Republicans in Name Only).
The president ratcheted up the tension even higher on Thanksgiving, of all days, branding Raffensperger as “an enemy of the people,” and placing him in an imaginary cabal with Democratic organizer Stacey Abrams to steal votes.
As the threats to himself, his staff and family increased, Raffensperger called for an end to Trump’s full-court-press and urged the president to stop attacking the electoral process.
In a November 28, 2020, interview with Newsweek he said:
“I don’t think it’s helpful when you create doubt in the election process. People might throw up their arms and say, ‘Why vote?’ ”
By this week, a desperate Trump began calling Kemp and Raffensperger in the hopes of trying to get them to overturn the results in Georgia despite the will of the American people.
Disclosed in a secret tape and first reported in the Washington Post, the hour-long call featured Trump attempting to cajole, beg, bargain and threaten the two officials to overturn his loss in the state. Trump unfurled elaborate conspiracy theories surrounding the machines that counted the votes and ultimately called his loss of Georgia a hoax.
“So look. All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have. Because we won the state.” He later added: “So what are we going to do here, folks? I only need 11,000 votes. Fellas, I need 11,000 votes. Give me a break.”
Despite his apparent threats, Georgia election officials wouldn’t take the bait and instead told Trump, along with White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Team Trump attorney Cleta Mitchell, that the assertions were wrong and the election in Biden’s favor was accurate and proper.
The call, which was top news ahead of the runoff, attracted legal scrutiny and was thought to have possibly violated state election laws that prohibit interference in federal or state elections. The call also appeared at least to be a gross abuse of power by the commander-in-chief.
In the end, Trump’s illegal Georgia call arguably sunk the prospects of the two incumbents, as Republican voter turnout did not meet expectations. The president still lost Georgia and the control of the U.S. Senate swung from a body controlled for years by Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to the Democrats for the first time since 2009.
Warnock said in a December 30, 2020 tweet:
“@KLoeffler and Donald Trump continue to lie, attack our democracy, and deny the will of Georgia voters – even if it means attacking members of their own party.”