Photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen on Unsplash

Defiant Trump may not concede defeat

News Analysis

By Steven A Cohen

If they beat him in November, Democrats had better have a plan for getting Donald Trump out of the White House. He won’t go willingly. They also should plan how to deal with Trump’s mischief between the election in November and inauguration day, January 20.

No doubt Trump is hoping Bernie Sanders will be the Democratic nominee, though all the Democratic candidates carry baggage. Sanders may be easy for the incumbent to demonize — as a self-described “democratic socialist” and his long history of activism. His brand of socialism doesn’t seek a public takeover of the means of production, however. He simply wants a fair deal for workers.

Trump’s post-impeachment-trial meddling in the sentencing of his longtime friend, Roger Stone, leading to the resignations of the four prosecutors who tried the case, is a clear indication of what lies ahead. No doubt he’ll pardon Stone, who was convicted of witness tampering and lying to Congress, and his imprisoned former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, who is serving a four-year sentence on tax and bank fraud charges. The prosecution had recommended a sentence of up to nine years for Stone, but Attorney General William Barr intervened after an early morning tweet by Trump. Manafort’s sentence is viewed as light by critics who say he avoided $6 million in taxes by hiding $30 million from the IRS.

America may not be ready for Sanders, or Elizabeth Warren, who share similar ideas about social justice. Of those running, it seems that the former New York City mayor, billionaire Michael Bloomberg, may be the least risky — if the first goal is to get Trump out of the White House. Bloomberg can be viewed as a transitional president. He is 78, and he’ll be 82 at the end of one term. His baggage includes New York City’s former “stop and frisk” program, which targeted minority neighborhoods with aggressive police tactics, and for which he has only recently apologized. (As a New York real estate tycoon, Trump also supported “stop and frisk”). “I should have done it faster and sooner,” Bloomberg acknowledged. “I have taken responsibility for taking too long to understand the impact it had on black and Latino communities,” Still, he recently received endorsements by four members of the Congressional Black Caucus. A ticket with Bloomberg and U.S. Sen. Amy Klorbuchar, D-Minn., as the nominee for vice president might work, although she also alienated minorities as the chief prosecutor in Minnesota’s largest county.

Former South Bend Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg is an appealing candidate for the future, but he is risky for these times, and Trump has succeeded in sullying the reputation of former Vice President Joe Biden. Sen. Warren’s candidacy fizzled in Iowa and New Hampshire. No matter who is the nominee for president, a dynamite addition to the ticket would would be the unflappable Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the chief prosecutor at Trump’s impeachment trial, as the vice presidential nominee, if he is willing.

In the meantime, the House ought to re-open the impeachment inquiry into Trump and open one into Attorney General Barr. The Roger Stone case is only the tip of the iceberg at the Justice Department, according to a recent article in the online magazine Vox and other media reports.

“…Barr and his allies are centralizing control over the Justice Department and acting in increasingly blatant ways to protect President Trump and his allies,” Andrew Prokop wrote in Vox. “Senior Justice Department officials also intervened to change the sentencing recommendation for another Trump ally, Michael Flynn, last month… And Barr instituted new rules requiring his personal approval for any new investigations into presidential campaigns, staff or foreign contributions — something that naturally would help the investigation-plagued Trump campaign.”

Flynn is Trump’s former national security adviser who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with the Russians. He agreed to cooperate with the investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller but later changed his mind. The prosecution recommended up to six months in jail, but eventually, “they agreed with the defendant that ‘a sentence of probation is a reasonable sentence’,” Vox said. His sentencing is still pending. Barr also has consolidated control of prosecutions in the District of Columbia by replacing the U.S. attorney with a close ally.

Congressional hearings on Trump’s abuse of power can run right up to the election in November — or beyond if necessary, so the public understands what the president clearly does not about the rule of law. Trump also can be impeached again, and he deserves to be for turning the Justice Department into a law office that works just for him.

It would be interesting to see if Republicans in the Senate are so quick to acquit the president a second time. The president, whose vindictive behavior against those who obeyed lawful subpoenas by testifying before House committees, has proved senators like Susan Collins, R-Maine, wrong in saying he’d learned a lesson. She and Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky are among several Republicans facing tough reelection competition because they lack the backbone to stand up to Trump.

A second trial remains an option. It may be necessary if the Russians interfere again and Trump “wins” again. It also may become necessary if Trump loses and the administration trumps up a reason to declare the election invalid. The Democrats had better prepare for that. Trump had said he would not accept the results of the 2016 election if he had lost. He only had his base then. Now he also has the power of the throne.



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