Donald Trump’s cowardice saved democracy in the U.S. on January 6, 2021. That assertion is becoming more and more evident as the information about what happened that day slowly leaks out. If Trump had had the guts to lead the insurrection up to the U.S. Capitol building, we could well be in a political dictatorship today. The fact that we are not in that position is testament to his weak, totally egocentric, character, if he even deserves the use of that word to describe him. In case anyone hasn’t noticed, it’s 100% about him, with all other possible considerations running far behind, if they are running at all. On January 6, self-preservation, and his cowardice, defeated his ego, thank god.

     In the weeks after the January 6 insurrection, one of the odd political moves was how quickly Republican lawmakers fell back into line behind former president Trump. Anyone watching could see that the information about Trump’s involvement in the insurrection would come out, probably about a year before the midterm elections, in other words “now”, and it was going to be bad. Fear is an unpredictable driver of political action, or inaction, and this is eminently true of those lawmakers.

     The Washington Post has just published a long report about the events before, during, and after January 6. It was compiled by a team of more than 25 reporters and staff who reviewed video and court transcripts, followed social media posts, and interviewed more than 230 people. The report lays the blame for January 6 firmly on Trump, and warns that we are in a fight for the survival of democracy. The report is horrific. It is full of images, tapes, and timelines of a far more violent attack on our government than has previously been put together. It shows how very close the insurrectionists came to getting their hands on Vice President Mike Pence, who Trump told them was the architect of their disappointment. The report concludes: “Trump was the driving force at every turn, as he orchestrated what would become an attempted political coup in the months leading up to Jan. 6, calling his supporters to Washington, encouraging the mob to march on the Capitol, and freezing in place key federal agencies whose job it was to investigate and stop threats to national security.” 

     “The consequences of that day are still coming into focus, but what is already clear is that the insurrection was not a spontaneous act, nor an isolated event. It was a battle in a broader war over the truth and over the future of American democracy,” the report says. “Since then, the forces behind the attack remain potent and growing.”

     Other news suggests there are things Trump does not want us to know about the insurrection. This past weekend, we learned he is trying to block the National Archives and Records Administration from giving the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol information that includes call records from that day, information about visitors to the White House around then, and so on: material that is generally a matter of public record. Trump is trying to use executive privilege in this attempt, but only the current president can invoke executive privilege, and President Joe Biden has declined to do so over these materials. Trump’s cowardice in not facing what he has attempted to achieve is understandable given his history, but contemptible nevertheless.

     An older story involving the former president is also suddenly in the news. In October 2016, four computer scientists noticed unusual activity between the Trump organization, Russia’s Alfa Bank, which was connected to the Kremlin, and Spectrum Health, a Michigan-based healthcare organization connected to the DeVos family. The computer folks took their information to the FBI, which was already engaged in its own investigation of the ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. The story was folded into all the other material about the campaign and its ties to Russia, and was largely forgotten. Then, earlier this month, a special counsel appointed by Trump’s Attorney General William Barr to investigate the Russia investigation indicted a cybersecurity lawyer for lying to the FBI. In the indictment, Special Counsel John Durham accused those computer scientists of advancing a story they did not believe in, in order to hurt Trump’s 2016 presidential bid. 

     The computer scientists have hit back, rejecting the idea that they were advancing a political attack, and maintaining that the weird connections they saw did, indeed, show coordination between Trump and the Russian-based Alfa Bank. They believed there was enough evidence to open a criminal investigation. They have accused Durham of misrepresenting their debates over the material, and they say their evidence is solid and reproducible. 

     It is to this entire mess that Republican lawmakers have tied themselves in their bids to assuage the vindictive anger generated by crossing Trump. How they cannot see through Trump’s cowardice and self-centered contempt for anything other than himself is beyond belief.

     I am indebted to Heather Cox-Richardson for some of the details of this piece, although the opinions stated at the beginning are purely mine.

     Hopefully, the true nature – I refuse to use the word character – of Donald Trump will receive enough scrutiny from moderate Republicans that they will finally become so disgusted by what they are supporting. If that happens they will either change political sides, abstain from voting at all, as long as he is on any ballot or, preferably, look for a new party leader who has integrity, morals and at least a little humility. Trump’s cowardice and lack of character should be an excellent example of what not to look for in a leader.

     The U.S. needs to rebuild its internal dignity, as well as its image as a world leader. Banishing Trump from public life would be an essential start.

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