John Colson: Either a felon or insane — which is Trump?
Hit & Run
I had planned to write this week about something more positive, more hopeful than our current political maelstrom in the U.S., as President Donald Trump continues to do his best to undermine the basic political law of the land: our right to vote.
But, as has happened before, Trump got in my way, this time by trying to bully Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger into somehow managing to “find” roughly 11,800 votes in Trump’s favor from the November general election — which Trump lost to Democrat Joe Biden by just under 11,800 votes, coincidentally enough.
In a phone call that lasted about an hour, and which was recorded by Raffensperger as a precaution, Trump wandered through a lengthy diatribe of debunked voter-fraud claims, threats against Raffensperger and other Georgia election officials for not doing Trump’s bidding to violate state and federal law, and other nonsense.
I’ve sometimes wondered what it would be like if I were to somehow land the job of White House press secretary, or some other advisory job where I would have the ear of whomever was serving as President of the United States.
Not that I believe in any way that I would ever be offered such a job, given my political leanings and published opinions about, well, about anything and everything under the sun, really.
But, that aside, it’s fun to fantasize.
And today I know exactly what I would be saying in my supposed advisory capacity in a Trump White House: “Take away his smart phone, which clearly is not smart enough to keep him from making incredibly foolish, potentially criminal calls to other leaders of our country and around the world.”
This is the second time Trump’s telephone habits have gotten him into deep do-do, in case you have forgotten.
The first, of course, was his July 2019 phone call to the newly elected president of Ukraine (a former Republic of the Soviet Union), Volodymyr Zelensky, during which he tried to get Zelensky to agree to announce to the world that he was investigating Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, regarding Hunter Biden’s term on the board of a troubled Ukrainian energy company a decade or so earlier.
That move by Trump also was believed by many to be a violation of federal law and an abuse of presidential power for political ends, and it got Trump impeached by the Democrat-controlled U.S. House of Representatives, leaving it to Republicans in control of the U.S. Senate to pull the president’s chestnuts out of the fire and quash the impeachment.
This latest telephonic gaffe was, naturally, in service to Trump’s claims that he, not Biden, won the 2020 presidential contest, despite the vote counts, despite losing about 60 court cases filed by the Trump campaign against various states, including Georgia.
Among other things, Trump at one point urged Raffensperger to announce that he had “recalculated” the vote tally in Georgia, and had discovered that Trump won after all. Raffensperger, to his credit, refused, and told the president his facts were wrong.
As noted, Raffensperger taped the call from Trump, on Jan. 2, and at one point reportedly remarked that he did not plan to release the tape publicly unless Trump attacked him or deliberately mischaracterized the contents of the phone call.
Which, predictably, Trump did more than once over the course of the weekend just passed.
I’m not sure how The Washington Post obtained the audiotape of the phone call, but it represents a certain kind of poetical/political justice that the news organization Trump hates more than any other was the one to out him in this instance.
Anyway, the point is that Trump is not to be trusted with a telephone in his hand, at least not by the enablers who insist he is not the worst president this nation has ever endured, and who seem determined to help him stay in office despite his loss to Biden.
Trump’s main problem, right now, is that even some of his erstwhile Republican supporters are now saying that he has gone a step too far. That list, while embarrassingly short, includes such right-wing stalwarts as former House Speaker Paul Ryan and former presidential candidate Mitt Romney, among a few others.
The phone call and its aftermath are taking a toll on Trump’s reputation beyond the incalculably corrupted Republican party, thankfully.
Michael Bromwich, a former official in the U.S. Department of Justice with a history of other government service, remarked on Twitter that it appears either that the president has committed a felony, or he’s gone nuts.
“Unless there are portions of the tape that somehow negate criminal intent, ‘I just want to find 11,780 votes’ and his threats against Raffensperger and his counsel violate 52 U.S. Code § 20511. His best defense would be insanity,” Bromwich wrote.
And that just about sums it up for me.
Email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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