Let the Senate’s Show Trial Begin

So much for unity.

During her first softball briefing, Jen Psaki, Joe Biden’s press secretary, assured America that the U.S. Senate can “multi-task” by conducting its routine business and proceeding with a trial against former President Donald Trump at the same time. “[Biden’s] gonna leave the mechanics, the timing, the specifics of how Congress moves forward on impeachment to them,” the ex-Obama staffer told a Fox News reporter Wednesday.

The House of Representatives hastily impeached Trump a second time on January 13, one week after the so-called insurrection at the Capitol. The former president was charged with “willfully inciting violence against the Government of the United States” for allegedly provoking the mob with his speech prior to Congress’ formal certification of the 2020 election.

Ten Republican House members, including U.S. Representative Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), voted for the resolution; Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), bitter after losing control of the Senate, suggested on the Senate floor last week that Trump did in fact fuel the mob.

To which I say—let the trial begin.

Republican lawmakers and Trump supporters should welcome this opportunity to expose the truth. After all, the former president has been tried in an ex parte court of public outrage and convicted of sedition by the news media, Democrats, and a sizable swath of the American public.

A Proper Defense

Trump and his supporters are denied any defense in the virtual courtroom of social media; tens of thousands of Twitter users, including the former president, were permanently purged from the site following the January 6 melee.

Not only is there a bounty on the heads of people who were involved in the Capitol violence or who even just attended Trump’s speech that day, 74.2 million Americans now are considered “terrorists” for the simple act of voting to reelect the president. Comparisons to Iraqi insurgents or al-Qaeda terrorists easily slip from the tongues of ex-military leaders and alleged “conservative” pundits. Joe Biden mentioned “domestic terrorists” in his inauguration speech. 

“Two weeks ago, when an angry violent mob staged an insurrection and desecrated this temple of our democracy, it awakened us,” Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) said in the inauguration’s opening remarks Wednesday.

But more than two weeks later, many questions remain unanswered about exactly what happened on January 6. And just like every other overblown crisis intended to inflict mortal damage to Donald Trump, key parts of the narrative are falling apart while others are swept under the rug.

A Senate trial allows for the only public opportunity to vet the various charges now levied against Trump and his voters.

First and foremost, the public needs to know what happened to Brian Sicknick, the Capitol police officer who died on January 7. His cause of death remains unclear, but anti-Trumpers are grotesquely exploiting his passing to add to the January 6 body count, which the public has been told is five people dead. At first, news reports claimed Sicknick was beaten by a Trump thug with a fire extinguisher.

But Sicknick’s family contradicted that narrative a few days later. 

“Many details regarding Wednesday’s events and the direct causes of Brian’s injuries remain unknown, and our family asks the public and the press to respect our wishes in not making Brian’s passing a political issue,” the family said in a statement issued January 8. 

Top federal law enforcement officials said they are investigating Sicknick’s “passing” not murder. “[We] are looking at everything we can and [it] cuts us to the core that our law enforcement personnel has passed away,” Steven D’Antuono, assistant director for the FBI’s D.C. field office said January 12.

The FBI initially said 37 people were under investigation for Sicknick’s death but later admitted that figure was incorrect. The agency has since offered no update on Sicknick and his name has largely disappeared from the headlines. But identifying who is responsible for Sicknick’s death, if anyone, or clarifying exactly what happened should be a top priority.

Ditto for the killing of Ashli Babbitt, a Trump supporter killed that day. The officer who shot her has not been identified or charged with any crime and the media has lost interest in her death, too. The public also doesn’t have the details of the other three “victims” reportedly killed because of the events that day.

Law enforcement hasn’t caught the man who allegedly planted pipe bombs near the D.C. headquarters of both the Republican National Committee and Democratic National Committee early on January 6. The FBI now is offering a $75,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the perpetrator.

The Timeline Doesn’t Add Up 

The FBI has arrested 110 people for various crimes committed on January 6 but no one has been charged with sedition or insurrection, serious felonies that require more than just the loose assertions of politicians and newspaper columnists to prove. Most of the offenses are property crimes—which were dismissed as no big deal over the summer when Antifa and Black Lives Matter rioters were destroying family businesses in Minneapolis, Portland, and Kenosha—and a few protestors have been charged with assault or “intent to impede government business or official functions.”

Despite more than 200,000 tips, the most wide-ranging investigation in Justice Department history, according to the acting attorney general, has yet to find any evidence of an orchestrated insurrection—just a lot of random troublemakers. 

Federal law enforcement also refuses to answer whether Antifa members were present even though news reports and several first-hand accounts confirm Antifa was at least partially involved.

Further—and most importantly as it relates to President Trump—the timeline does not support Democrats’ central accusation that he incited the mob. 

Last week, the Washington Post published a detailed timeline of how law enforcement failed to prepare for the January 6 rally and certification vote. “But despite numerous internal briefings, intelligence warnings, and planning meetings, officials failed to take sufficient action to fend off the attacks—with deadly consequences,” the Post reported January 16. The threat of potential violence was ignored and suggestions to add security were denied.

“Trump has not yet taken the stage near the White House, more than a mile and a half away, but a group of 200 to 300 protesters arrive at the Capitol reflecting pool area, near the west side of the building, video captured by a D.C. police camera shows,” the Post article confirmed. Protestors had congregated near the building that morning; while the president was speaking, the trouble began.

By the time Trump ended his speech around 1:15 p.m. local time, barricades were being torn down and police were being overrun outside the Capitol. (It’s about a 40-minute walk from the White House to the Capitol and reports are that cell phone service was spotty, at best, on the National Mall. So it is unlikely that crowds closer to the violence were listening to the speech.) The chaotic scene forced lawmakers into hiding for hours.

But emerging evidence, including Trump’s rally speech—admittedly a fiery stemwinder with plenty of red meat about election fraud—contradicts the accusation that his words fueled the attack. The article of impeachment specifically claimed that “members of the crowd he addressed . . . unlawfully breached and vandalized the Capitol, injured and killed law enforcement personnel, menaced members of Congress . . . and engaged in other violent, deadly, destructive, and seditious acts.” (Emphasis added.) But that seems improbable.

Of course, those loaded, incendiary words are aimed not just at the president but at the tens of thousands who attended his speech and now, by extension, Trump’s 74.2 million voters. Now it’s incumbent upon the accusers—House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and her House impeachment managers—to prove their case. (McConnell on Thursday sent Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) a timeline to proceed.)

A Senate trial, unfortunately, is now the only way to hold accountable the Democrats and their media mouthpieces for initiating this dangerous path. And it’s the only way to exonerate President Trump and his supporters; the president’s term ended under a cloud of undue shame, lawmakers who pushed for an audit of the election that day are considered traitors even by their colleagues, and regular Americans are being harassed, doxxed, and fired for merely attending the protest even if they committed no crime. Soldiers used as props for Inauguration Day photo ops are fighting back. 

Joe Biden wants the Senate to “multitask” and conduct an impeachment trial that will include revisiting the 2020 election? Good—let’s roll.

About Julie Kelly

Julie Kelly is a political commentator and senior contributor to American Greatness. She is the author of Disloyal Opposition: How the NeverTrump Right Tried―And Failed―To Take Down the President. Her past work can be found at The Federalist and National Review. She also has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, The Hill, Chicago Tribune, Forbes, and Genetic Literacy Project. She is the co-host of ‘Happy Hour podcast with Julie and Liz.’ She is a graduate of Eastern Illinois University and lives in suburban Chicago with her husband and two daughters.

Photo: iStock/Getty Images

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