Trump is a domestic enemy. Treat him like one.

Former President Donald Trump speaks to supporters during a rally at the Iowa State Fairgrounds on October 09, 2021. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

The hearings of the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection have already provided conclusive evidence that the effort to overturn the 2020 election was a conspiracy directed by a corrupt sitting president who knew the effort was based on lies and encouraged violence in pursuit of power.

The damning testimony before the committee and the persuasiveness of its case has been widely analyzed. But a frank discussion of accountability for the insurrection has been muted.

There is a reason for this. The gravity of the crime exceeds any that an American president has ever been suspected of committing, and the scale of culpability is greater than many citizens are comfortable contemplating.

Another reason, one that puts the country in peril, is that too many Americans continue to support the perpetrators.

Rep. Bennie G. Thompson of Mississippi, the Democratic chairman of the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol, set the tone for the hearings a week ago in his opening statement.

“It was domestic enemies of the Constitution who stormed the Capitol and occupied the Capitol who sought to thwart the will of the people to stop the transfer of power,” he said. Later he said, “Ultimately, Donald Trump — the president of the United States — spurred a mob of domestic enemies of the Constitution to march down the Capitol and subvert American democracy … January 6th was the culmination of an attempted coup. … Violence was no accident. It represented Trump’s last stand, most desperate chance to halt the transfer of power.”

Thompson’s use of the phrase “domestic enemies” was deliberate. He noted the Civil War-era adoption of language regarding “all enemies — foreign and domestic” in the federal oath to account for the South’s rebellion.

In other words, the crimes committed by Trump and his co-conspirators are categorically akin to war-waging against the United States.

What is the appropriate punishment? If Trump and those who joined him in this violent attempted coup — including lawyers John Eastman, Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, and seditionist members of Congress such as Reps. Lauren Boebert of Colorado, Jim Jordan of Ohio and Andy Biggs of Arizona, other senior officials such as Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, as well as the hundreds of extremists who stormed the Capitol — are enemies of America, what’s to be done with them?

The answer comes to mind more readily than it’s given voice. We know the essence of the appropriate punishment for the crime. We don’t know yet how to engage it. Read more

What I learned from watching more than 500 Jan. 6 videos

A pro-Trump mob breaks through police barriers at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. (Screenshot from a video published by ProPublica)

I recently watched hundreds of videos from the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Many of the stark moments from the attack on the U.S. Capitol are well-known — the battle at the west terrace tunnel, the shooting of rioter Ashli Babbitt, the desecration of the Senate chamber.

But nothing provides the kind of granular and exhaustive understanding of that day like a mass of videos taken by rioters themselves as they converse with one another, chant together, coalesce as a mob, commit violence, and take stock of what they accomplished. Here’s the top takeaway: The insurrection represented a greater threat to America than casual observers think.

ProPublica published a collection of videos posted to the social media site Parler by people who were present at the Jan. 6 attack. The videos cover almost six hours, from the early afternoon when President Donald Trump delivered an incendiary speech at The Ellipse to the evening as law enforcement finally cleared the Capitol grounds of attackers. The collection includes more than 500 videos.

I watched every one. Here’s what I learned.

Rioters attacked the Capitol because they believed that’s what Trump wanted them to do. This is indisputable. Trump, who had been claiming without evidence that the 2020 election had been stolen from him, during his speech exhorted followers to march on the Capitol and “fight like hell.”

One man posted a video of himself coming from Trump’s speech on his way to the Capitol, and he says, “Maybe we’ll break down the doors,” shortly before the mob did just that. “We were invited here,” a person screams at police. “We were invited by the president of the United States!” Another person made a video shortly after 2 p.m. as the mob swarmed the east side of the Capitol. “They’re ready to really stand up and do a revolutionary war,” he observes. “Hey, Trump asked for wild. He got it.”

Revolutionary war — that’s the spirit in which the insurrectionists took action on Jan. 6. Rep. Lauren Boebert that morning tweeted “Today is 1776.” What becomes clear in scores of videos from the attack is that the memory of the American Revolution animated the whole violent episode. Crowds chanted “1776.” The conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, armed with a bullhorn, led his own “1776” chant. Some of the first rioters to break into the Capitol shouted, “1776, motherf***ers.” Throughout the afternoon, attackers purported to fight as if in the manner of a colonial citizen militia.

The presence of contemporary militia elements was conspicuous at the Capitol. It is now well-known that organized factions of the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers and other militia groups were active on Jan. 6. The videos demonstrate that their participation in the attack could not have been missed by anyone who was there. The Three Percenters, to which Boebert has ties, were especially visible. Members wore insignia on their clothes. They flew identifying flags. The Southern Poverty Law Center says the Three Percenters is “an extremist movement that claims to be ready to carry out armed resistance to perceived tyranny.” They don’t have to just claim it. They did it on Jan. 6.

An underappreciated aspect of the attack is that it was undergirded by strains of religion. Read more

Jan. 6 succeeded. Here’s what’s next.

A rioter sits in the Senate Chamber on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

If the point of the Jan. 6 insurrection was to establish that a significant portion of the country is done with democracy, it succeeded.

The attack on the U.S. Capitol one year ago by violent supporters of former President Donald Trump — whose lie that the 2020 election was stolen from him was the fuel for the attack and whose exhortations to followers that they march on the Capitol and “fight like hell” was the spark — is the most consequential episode of domestic discord since the Civil War.

Some leaders excused the attack or sympathized with the attackers. John “Tig” Tiegen, a surrogate for Trump’s reelection campaign in Colorado, said about the attack in the hours after it occurred that “a little fear is always good.” Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado has sought better treatment for Capitol rioters charged with crimes.

But the attack horrified most Americans, who were aghast at its violence and shocked that such a breakdown of constitutional order could occur in the United States. A common expectation in the immediate aftermath of the insurrection was that such a stain of MAGA toxicity would compel Republicans who previously feared Trump’s wrath to finally reject him as a danger to the republic and would demonstrate to conservative voters that, no matter how much they might admire Trump’s brash manner or believe he was “good on the economy,” he would ultimately tear the nation apart.

“Hey, Republicans who supported this president,” said a visibly shaken Stephen Colbert on the night of Jan. 6, 2021. “Have you had enough?”

The answer, as is clear 12 months later, is no.

Within hours of the Capitol siege, Republicans voted to object to the electoral votes from Arizona and Pennsylvania. In all, 147 GOP senators and representatives joined this disgraceful show of contempt for democracy, and it was only the first proof that the insurrection, far from chastening Republicans, was in fact an articulate expression of the party’s aims.

The lie that the 2020 election was fraudulent was advanced most brazenly, on election night, by Trump himself. Only days later, America First fundamentalists, who have no interest whatsoever in free and fair elections, birthed the “stop the steal” movement, and it has since only gained momentum. “Election integrity” activists, as they so preposterously style themselves, have turned up all over the country seeking, through the courts, at county clerks’ offices, and in neighborhoods, to spread the gospel of fraud so that American voters will never again trust an election. These are the franchise haters responsible for the sham election “audit” in Maricopa County, Arizona, and the election system security breach in Mesa County, Colorado. Groups of self-appointed, conspiracy-crazed “canvassers” have gone door-to-door bullying voters with “election integrity” interrogations. Trumpist state legislators in 19 states since the 2020 election passed 34 laws restricting access to voting.

Assaults on democracy indisputably have had the intended effect. Only 1 in 3 Republicans say they’ll trust the 2024 election, according to a recent poll. Another recent poll found that 30% of Republicans agree that “true American patriots might have to resort to violence in order to save our country.”

The election-losing right decided even before Trump it cares more about power than democracy. Gerrymandering, especially since 2010 and reaffirmed in the latest redistricting process, has undemocratically tilted the electoral scales right. The Senate, egregiously undemocratic by its very design, in that one voter from sparsely-populated Wyoming effectively wields about 70 times more influence in the Senate than one voter from dense California, increasingly favors the interests of white, non-college educated voters.

Beyond structural flaws, extreme Republican tactics have drained the once-proud institution of democratic energy and saturated it with partisan poison.

Even the military, typically vaunted for its nonpartisan quality, is compromised. Read more