Spoiler alert — that IS where this story is going: Donald Trump did not “win” the 2016 election in any sense of the word. He stole it. Literally. Go look up the two words — “win” & “steal”. They’re not the same thing.
To have legitimately won the 2016 presidential election (and this applies to the races up and down the ballot), Trump and the Republicans would have had to have sold Americans on the superiority of their ideas. They didn’t. They sold America the idea that Hillary Clinton was less trustworthy than Trump — a message they sold in collaboration with Russia. Stone cold facts — Wikileaks equals Russian Military Intelligence and Trump’s campaign was actively engaged with not only Wikileaks but multiple Russian intel officers. Paul Manafort — the convict — handed Konstantin Kilimnik proprietary polling data concerning four states: Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.
We don’t know what did or didn’t happen in Minnesota. We know what happened in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. It’s not just the fact that Trump pulled off “surprise victories” in three blue states — it’s the margin by which he pulled off those three victories. He won them by a combined 77,000 votes. Between three states.
That’s just over 25,000 votes PER STATE.
One of the now accepted reasons for Clinton’s loss in those three states was the weaker than expected turnout of Black voters. Those same voters were the focus of Facebook ads delivered to their individual computers — saying that Hillary Clinton was a closet racist so why bother voting for her? Where were those messages originating? At Russian Military Intelligence. They were using all that proprietary polling data Trump’s campaign manager had illegally given them.
This isn’t just bad behavior, it’s flat out illegal. It’s a crime. It’s a flagrant violation of the rule of law.
That’s the bottomest line there is: it violated the rule of law. The rule of law says you cannot cheat in order to win. The act of cheating disqualifies the win. And if you didn’t legitimately win, then you never had the authority that would have flowed from that win. Donald Trump — as he’s been telling us since he “won” — has never been the legitimate President of the United States. It’s a stone cold fact. He’s never had the authority to do anything. None of it can stand — not “none of it should stand” — none of it can stand. That is, if we really and truly intend to enforce the rule of law.
Quick reminder: the rule of law has never stopped being in force. We have stopped enforcing it (having never enforced it properly to begin with). That does not mean it wasn’t in effect. The rule of law didn’t let us down, we let it down. Not the same thing. But, fortunately, we have a chance to fix that. Hell, we have in front of us a golden opportunity to do even better: we can create structures that guarantee (or do a better job of guaranteeing at least) that we follow the rule of law to the letter.
If we don’t enforce the rule of law — the founding principle of our republic — then the rule of law will eventually break down. Can we please learn this lesson?
When we finally factor in how Russia didn’t just “influence” the election on Trump’s behalf, but physically weighed in on its outcome — literally changing it from how We The People actually voted (or intended to vote) to what Don & Vladimir wanted — we’ll face a difficult Day of Reckoning. First in line for that day of reckoning will be Trump and every single Republican who allowed this to happen.
That will be every single Republican. “See something, say something” is part of the rule of law. When we even suspect anyone is violating the rule of law, the rule of law obligates us to say something to the authorities charged with enforcing it. That’s how it gets enforced. We The People actually work to maintain it. Self government isn’t automatic. To virtually a person, the Republican Party, though aware (even vaguely) that something was amiss, have not met their obligation as citizens following the rule of law.
This isn’t some “conspiracy theory” conspiracy, it’s a nuts & bolts conspiracy. A conspiracy of silence because… well, that will be what comes out at trial. The “why” each and every single Republican failed to uphold their oath of office. Most of their excuses will be the same. A few Republicans have indeed been compromised (Lindsey Graham, I bet… Dana Rohrbacher, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell for sure!) but most will have been willing participants who had little idea where the treason bus was headed. They didn’t care whether it was a treason bus or not.
We know — because the press reported it — that the Republicans knew for sure as early as the 2016 convention that Trump was owned by Moscow. No one called the FBI.
See something, say nothing? That’s how conspiracy works.
The case will be made — and made emphatically: Donald Trump did not win the presidency in 2016. Moscow won it for him — as an act of Cyber War. Trump — and everyone conspiring with him — are literal (not hyperbolic) traitors. He did not “win” the 2016 election in any way, shape or form.
What a relief that will be because finally, We The People will be off the hook.
The news media hammers away at us how “Yeah, but Trump won the election” or “But America voted for Trump!” No, he didn’t and we didn’t.
The question will land on our heads: “So, now that you know for a fact that Trump didn’t win the presidency and has never been legitimate POTUS, what do you intend to do about it?” Do we let an illegitimate president keep what he stole from us — OUR CHOICE? Would we let a car thief — caught inside our vehicle, pissing all over the nice leather seats — keep our car after we’ve caught him? I wouldn’t. You probably wouldn’t either.
Well, neither would the rule of law.
Judges were stolen from us. Judges and the lifetime of sitting on the federal bench that each (now doctrinaire conservative) judge will spend judging. Those judges should represent the majority’s choice and choices, not some treasonous minority’s.
Trump and the GOP will get their day of reckoning inside a court room (and then a federal prison). The news media — who kept hawking a story they knew (but couldn’t convince themselves) was true — will get their day of reckoning in the court of public opinion and the marketplace. Just like we can’t let a single Republican get away with what they’ve done, the same goes for every journalist who failed to meet their First Amendment obligation to be the final check on power.
Every journalist who repeated Trump’s bile context-free (looking at YOU, NBC News’ Kelly O’Donnell) as if truth and bullshit had equal weight must confess their journalistic sins and atone.
Every journalist who asked “Yeah, but what if bullshit was true?” questions (looking at YOU, NBC News’ Stephanie Ruhl!) needs to acknowledge that they were directly responsible for giving bullshit the credence of Truth to the Truth’s detriment. The whole “fake news” meme stems from asking “Yeah, but what if bullshit was true?” Bullshit is never true. Ever.
So stop asking.
Finally, all those journalists will have to answer for their inability to aggregate the story of Donald Trump and the Republican Party. They will have to answer for why they couldn’t pry the normalcy bias blinders from their heads. They will have to answer for why — in spite of the mountains of evidence produced often by their own reporting — they couldn’t manage to build the narrative past a “square one” where Donald Trump was merely “a different kind of president”.
When Paul Manafort was convicted — when Roger Stone and Michael Cohen and every other Trumpanista was convicted — that wasn’t the starting point for their criminality. It was (we hope) the end point. Up until that moment though, they were actively engaged in committing the crime they were sentenced for. In Manafort’s case — it went back to the 2016 campaign. That means everything he did was criminal in real time. The lag in reporting it is the problem. Same goes for the time it took for us to enforce the rule of law.
We’re stuck in a problematic zone where an active crime is being committed upon us — we know it — the criminals know it — even the people reporting it know it — and yet, we’re strangely limited in our ability to do anything to stop it — in real time. But we must. The criminals here are on a do or die mission. There’s no going back now — look at what they’re all guilty of: treason. That’s still a capital offense. And think of how financially ruinous this will be for every guilty person and their family.
Treason will be a hard brand to shake — personally and universally. I don’t know how the Republican Party will ever stop being the party that nurtured treason in its heart. That went along with treason. That actively aided and abetted it.
The news media will have reported all this in real time — but failed to connect dots it should have connected. That’s for itself but more importantly for its audience — We The People. What damns our news media more than anything is that it wasn’t everyone. There were reporters and news writers and journalists who saw it from the get-go and screamed it as loud as they could with the means they were allowed. The news networks have the Big Megaphone. They decide which of those voices gets heard — and gets credence.
Imagine if MSNBC had swapped each Hugh Hewitt appearance for a Sarah Kendzior appearance. The mind boggles at how much further down the road to stopping this we’d be. Imagine if each and every reporter on staff was as sharp, focused and outraged as Nicolle Wallace, Rachel Maddow or Joy-Ann Reid. Yes, they bring a lot of advocacy to their journalism. But the thing they’re advocating for is the Truth.
I’m not sure what all those journalists will say when their day of reckoning comes but it had damned well better start with “I’m sorry.”