There is something almost transcendental, even miraculous about Donald Trump’s awfulness. As British humourist Nate White puts it, “His faults are fractal: even his flaws have flaws, and so on ad infinitum.” It comes as no surprise then that Trump would blame the January 6 attack on Mike Pence, one of his victims.
On Monday, Trump responded to Mike Pence’s contention that history will hold him accountable for the January 6 attack on Congress by saying the deadly attack was the former VP’s fault. “Had he sent the votes back to the legislatures,” Trump said, “they wouldn’t have had a problem with January 6, so in many ways you can blame [Pence] for January 6,” Trump told reporters on a flight to Iowa for a campaign appearance.
The problem with Trump’s contention is that Pence had no authority to send the votes back to state legislatures. In fact, Pence had no real choices at all that day. His job was rigidly prescribed by the Constitution. So what Trump is really saying is that Pence should have breached his vice presidential oath of office to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”
It was the domestic enemies of the Constitution that were of particular relevance that day, and they included the men and women outside the Capitol building and the former president himself. Soon those men and women were inside the Capitol building. They desecrated and destroyed, attacked and killed. They were there to vent their misplaced hatreds and frustrations on the wrong people.
For years Republicans like Trump taught those same people to hate all the wrong things and blame all the wrong people. That day Trump released them and their repressed hatreds on the sacred work and the Constitutionally-enshrined business of their very own government. Trump ordered Pence to defile that work, and when Pence refused to do as Trump demanded, Trump blamed him for the consequences.
It should be remembered that, in front of witnesses, Donald Trump expressed the opinion that Mike Pence should have been murdered for failing to defy the Constitution that day. In other words, Trump wanted Pence hanged for non-treason. There cannot possibly be any crime more antithetical to the sacred office of the president of the United States than that. It should be remembered that Trump was impeached for his actions that day.
This is the final outcome of decades of the alarming trajectory of the “party of personal responsibility.” Nine deaths have been linked to the January 6 attack on Congress, including law enforcement suicides. The deadly insurrection happened after Trump told supporters to “fight like hell.” More than a thousand of those rioters have been arrested, hundreds charged and many convicted of crimes that range from trespassing to seditious conspiracy.
More than two years later and Trump has yet to be charged for the blatant crimes he committed that day. Instead Trump blames his own Vice President for those crimes. That is why Donald Trump needs to be brought to justice for those crimes above all others.
It is well that Donald Trump is under threat of indictment for other offenses, but his crimes against the Constitution, above all, demand to be redressed with swift and terrible justice. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.