ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

American Opinion: Trump is accused of inciting an insurrection. He should be charged for it

From the editorial: As we observed (earlier), it’s critical that the ringleader (Donald Trump) who exhorted his followers to march to the Capitol to “take back our country” also be held accountable.

An image of President Donald Trump is displayed on a screen as the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol conducts its final hearing in the Cannon House Office Building on Monday, Dec. 19, 2022, in Washington, D.C.
An image of President Donald Trump is displayed on a screen as the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol conducts its final hearing in the Cannon House Office Building on Monday, Dec. 19, 2022, in Washington, D.C.
(Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
We are part of The Trust Project.

The decision of the House Jan. 6 committee to recommend that the Justice Department pursue potential criminal charges against Donald J. Trump is not binding on the department, which in any case is already investigating “whether any person or entity unlawfully interfered with the transfer of power following the 2020 presidential election” under the leadership of a special counsel.

American Opinion
American Opinion
Tribune graphic / Forum News Service
More American Opinion:
The Justice Department should ask Cannon to recuse herself, and if she refuses, it should appeal for reassignment of the case.
From the editorial: The right to marry whom you love should not be subject to the whims of an out-of-step conservative court or be left to a patchwork of state regulations. Congress must make the Respect for Marriage Act the law of the land.
From American Opinion editorial: Enter the Anti-Robocall Litigation Task Force, a nationwide effort that’s being made to investigate and take legal action against companies who bring foreign robocalls into the United States. The coalition includes attorneys general from all 50 states.
From the American Opinioin editorial: Late in 2021, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland formally created a process to replace derogatory names of geographic features across the nation. She declared the word “squaw” to be derogatory and ordered a federal panel — called the Board on Geographic Names — to move forward with procedures to remove that word from federal usage.

Still, the panel’s recommendation Monday that the department pursue four potential charges against Trump — including inciting, aiding or giving aid and comfort to an insurrection — is a powerful statement. Equally important, it is based on a voluminous and damning record amassed in hearings at which some of the most damaging witnesses were Trump’s own appointees.

For anyone not blinded by partisanship or in thrall to the cult of Trump, the facts assembled by the panel, and contained in an executive summary of its report released on Monday, are shocking and shameful. They fully justify the dramatic step of a criminal referral of a former president.

Yes, such a recommendation is revolutionary, but as Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, the committee chairman, aptly explained, “We’ve never had a president of the United States stir up a violent attempt to block the transfer of power.”

To its credit, the panel — launched after Senate Republicans stymied the creation of an independent commission to investigate the insurrection — viewed its mandate as more than a forensic investigation of the violent events of a uniquely dark day in American history. Horrific as it was, the violence on Jan. 6 was the culmination of a prolonged and multifaceted effort by Trump and his enablers to seize on spurious claims of voter fraud to maintain Trump’s hold on the White House.

ADVERTISEMENT

Led by Thompson and Vice Chair Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, a Republican with impeccable conservative credentials, the panel rightly placed the riot at the Capitol and Trump’s dereliction of duty on that day in that broader context. In doing so it compiled a historical record that will be of inestimable value to prosecutors as well as the public.

The scheme to overturn the election collapsed when Vice President Mike Pence rejected the idea that he could refuse to count electoral votes fairly won by President-elect Joe Biden. But it was a sprawling conspiracy and, the committee persuasively suggests, a criminal one.

The breadth of the campaign to overturn the 2020 election is reflected in the charges the committee asked the Justice Department to consider. The committee filed criminal referrals for Trump on three charges in addition to insurrection: obstruction of an official proceeding, conspiracy to make a false statement and conspiracy to defraud the United States.

More Opinion:
Editorial cartoonist Adam Zyblis draws on the Newport News shooting of a teacher by a six-year-old in January.
From the commentary: It's clear that whatever else happens, sets should be safer as a result of what Baldwin did.
From the commentary: By passing bipartisan laws and enforcing strong ethics, our elected leaders can once again demonstrate that they are working for the people and promoting the common good.
An editorial cartoon by Dave Granlund.
From the editorial: If McCarthy and other House leaders aren’t willing to endorse an increase, Biden must appeal to responsible Republicans in the House.
From the commentary: People who threaten to blow up an airplane if their political demands aren't met are political terrorists.
From the commentary: A policy of complete openness in most areas of information would lead to a more useful debate of national security issues and perhaps sounder policy choices.
An editorial cartoon by Dave Granlund.
From the editorial: "There’s a lack of political checks and balances in Minnesota right now that’s far from ideal."
Leadership takes honest reflection and thinking about the needs of others, Jenny Schlecht writes. With that in mind, do we have the right leaders to get a new farm bill passed by Sept. 30?

The insurrection charge is the most dramatic. The House in 2021 impeached Trump, accusing him of “incitement of insurrection” (the Senate failed to convict). A criminal incitement conviction might be harder to secure because Trump may claim that his statements were protected by the 1st Amendment and that he never advocated violence.

Still, the committee has established a powerful case for pursuing prosecution on that and the other charges. The Justice Department already has successfully prosecuted foot soldiers in the Trump-orchestrated war on democracy. As we observed in an earlier editorial, it’s critical that the ringleader who exhorted his followers to march to the Capitol to “take back our country” also be held accountable.

Whatever the outcome of any criminal prosecution, the Jan. 6 committee irrefutably established, as Cheney eloquently put it, that Trump “is “unfit for any office.” Whatever happens in court, Trump has disqualified himself from any sane or patriotic voter’s consideration.

This American Opinion editorial is the view of the Los Angeles Times Editorial Board. Send feedback to: opinion@wctrib.com.

©2022 Los Angeles Times. Visit at latimes.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

______________________________________________________

This story was written by one of our partner news agencies. Forum Communications Company uses content from agencies such as Reuters, Kaiser Health News, Tribune News Service and others to provide a wider range of news to our readers. Learn more about the news services FCC uses here.

What To Read Next
From the editorial: The rules are the rules. It shouldn’t be too much to expect the country’s highest leaders to start following them.
From the editorial: The days of magnanimity and bipartisan compromise are over. Some people want war and seem determined to provoke it.
From the editorial: First, public debt cannot safely be allowed to keep rising at the projected rate. Second, purporting to solve this problem by threatening to default on the country’s obligations is nuts.
Why is it that women’s hygiene products are not offered for free in school bathrooms?