None of us wants to live in the kind of country where losing an election means going to prison. Russia, for example, or the proverbial Banana Republic. Anywhere the powerful can have their freedom taken away, many fear that theirs too is in danger.
Even more oppressive, however, are regimes where the powerful enjoy absolute impunity. Equality under the law is the one right upon which all the others depend.
It follows, then, that Attorney General Merrick Garland faces the toughest of choices. Politically speaking, the only thing worse than failing to indict Donald Trump for his role in the January 6 mob assault upon the U.S. Capitol would be to charge the crazy SOB and fail to convict him.
Conspiracy charges are notoriously hard to prove.
Trump’s trial would be a legal spectacle like none before it. Jury selection alone would be a nightmare, mob violence a strong likelihood.
Too bad former Vice President Mike Pence, former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, and other cabinet members who talked about using the 25th amendment to remove Trump from office after the insurrection failed to follow through.
A majority vote of Trump’s cabinet signifying that he was non compos mentis on the subject of the 2020 presidential election might have given pause to all but the most delusional members of the Trump cult before their suspicions hardened into dogma.
Non compos mentis as in crazy as a loon, crazier than the proverbial outhouse rat, crazier than a bag of cats, etc. During his videotaped testimony to the committee, Trump's former Attorney General William P. Barr said, “I was somewhat demoralized because I thought, boy … he has become detached from reality if he really believes this stuff.”
When he would try to explain how bizarre some of the voter fraud allegations pushed by cranks like Rudy Giuliani and the My Pillow Guy were, Barr added, “there was never an indication of interest in what the actual facts were.”
Former Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien told the committee that following the election, the former president’s immediate circle separated into “Team Crazy” vs. “Team Normal” and that the president had no use for the normal ones.
Mere reality, you see, has never meant much to Trump when compared to the intensity of his needs. That’s how he managed to go bankrupt running a casino; an airline, a make-believe “university,” etc. If the numbers don’t add up, he invents his own numbers, declares bankruptcy, and then cons somebody into lending him some more.
Anybody want to buy a used golf course?
In the present instance, the House Select Committee has learned that the Trump campaign solicited political donations for an “Official Election Defense Fund,” which happened not to exist.
Instead, Trump put the cash to other uses.
Same as it ever was.
So what are his needs? Well, the diagnostic criteria for “Narcissistic Personality Disorder” are as follows:
“A. Grandiose sense of self-importance or uniqueness, e.g. exaggeration of achievements and talents….
B. Preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance….
C. Exhibitionism: the person requires constant attention and admiration.
D. Cool indifference or marked feelings of rage, inferiority, shame, humiliation or emptiness in response to criticism…or defeat.”
Also, “entitlement,” “interpersonal exploitativeness,” and “lack of empathy.”
Sound like anybody we all know?
According to his niece, Mary L. Trump, a clinical psychologist and author of Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man, Uncle Donald is essentially a textbook case.
Like his cruel, bullying father before him.
Years ago, I wrote a book called Widow’s Web about an Arkansas murderer who turned the state upside down with the help of a showboating elected sheriff and a gullible, sensationalizing news media. Best thing I’ve ever done. Anyway, for a couple of years, the exploits and bizarre alibis of Mary Lee Orsini were all anybody here talked about; another textbook case.
Here’s how I summed her up:
“Criminal psychopaths live as permanent impostors. They know right from wrong; they just don’t give a damn. Their world divides into user and used; morality consists of fear of getting caught. And whatever happens, somebody else is always to blame. To the question: Are psychopaths sick or are they evil? There is just one answer: They are both…. ‘Moral imbeciles’ was the nineteenth-century term. The prisons are full of them.”
Could Trump himself end up in prison? Frankly, I can’t imagine that happening. There’s just no telling what mad acts he and his more enraptured followers would be capable of to prevent that happening. Remember, whatever happens, somebody else is always to blame.
As the evidence accumulates of the former president’s complicity in raising a mob to prevent Congress from certifying the presidential election, Merrick Garland’s dilemma deepens. He’s no rookie, having prosecuted both “Unabomber” Theodore Kaczynski and Oklahoma City terror bomber Timothy McVeigh. But he’s walking into a snake’s nest now.