Part 1 of 2
This blog post started as a YouTube video. You can see it here.
I think the way the current fascist threat will be beaten back is most likely through a thousand small cuts, each seemingly undramatic. After all, over the past several decades, Trump’s brand of fascism has gained as much power as it has by a thousand cuts.
What I plan to offer now is an overview.
Because there’s been a steady drip of evidence of Trump (and Republican) crimes, there’s an expectation among some that criminal prosecution will bring Trump — and his brand of American fascism — crashing down.
A few weeks ago, in a blog post called “Republican Lawbreaking,” I explained why I think criminal prosecution is unlikely to end the danger posed by what we might call the Trump-Newsmax-Fox Republican Party. (I used to call it the Trump-Fox Party, but the sad fact is that right-wing media has now moved far to the right of Fox News.)
If you missed that blog post, and your expectation is that criminal prosecution will (or can) put an end to American fascism, you might want to read that one first.
We have a political problem, and political problems require political solutions. What prosecution can do is help expose the truth. Fascism is built on lies. Rule of law, which requires a shared factuality, is based on truth. That’s why truth is the enemy of fascism.
Let’s look at some of these small cuts.
- The DOJ refused to defend Mo Brooks in the lawsuit about inciting the insurrection, which means it’s almost certain they’ll also refuse to defend Trump. If you don’t think that’s significant, consider what a DOJ under one of Trump’s appointees would be doing right now.
- Trump is being criminally investigated for that phone call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in which he told Raffensperger to “find” the votes that would make Trump the winner in Georgia.
- Congress is looking into the phone call with senior justice department officials in which Trump’s people pressured officials to say that the election was rigged as part of the larger scheme to undermine the 2020 election.
- These new revelations about the efforts of Trump government insiders to overturn the results of the 2020 election mean that the choice for voters in upcoming elections will be stark: Vote Republican and vote for a party that will actively undermine free and fair elections.
- Republican leaders were afraid these investigations would spill into 2022 and affect the midterm elections. Now it’s fairly certain that they will.
- And don’t forget: The Trump Organization has been indicted, and that investigation is ongoing. I strongly suspect more indictments are coming.
- Also in New York, Attorney General Letitia James has joined Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance’s criminal probe. In 2019, she opened a separate civil investigation into Trump’s business practices. When the public is bombarded with evidence that Trump got rich by cheating, it gets harder for him to claim he’s a successful businessman because he’s a good businessman, and it narrows his appeal to those who think it’s perfectly fine to get rich cheating.
- And there’s the House Select Committee investigating the January 6 attack on the United States Capitol. There’s really no doubt that Trump incited that insurrection. Even Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said:
At the same time, there are signs that Trumpism isn’t going away, and Trump is not losing his grip on the Republican Party.
- Trump has raised a stunning $100 million since losing office.
- While Trump’s pick in a Texas primary (Susan Wright) lost, his choice in Ohio (Mike Carey) won.
- Elected officials like Elise Stefanik obviously think it’s better for their political future to grovel at Trump’s feet.
- And of course, Republicans in numerous states are taking steps to make it easier to keep people from voting and to make it easier not to count votes from Democratic areas — but (without going too much into that right now) this can be stopped with legislation from Congress and only works in close elections because courts (even Trump-appointed judges) have proved that they’re not going along with these lies.
In fact, one of the institutions that saved us from Trump’s attempted coup was the courts. I wrote about that in this Washington Post piece:
This brings me to Trump’s lawyers being sanctioned and possibly disbarred by the courts — which is among the thousands of cuts.
A Federal judge in Colorado sanctioned two lawyers who brought a conspiracy-theory-filled lawsuit trying to overturn the 2020 election.
The judge found the case was “frivolous,” “not warranted by existing law,” and filed “in bad faith.”
In June, a New York appellate court suspended Rudy Giuliani’s license to practice law. I wrote about this when it happened in this NBC Think piece:
The court in that case said this:
Disbarment — a punishment meted out by a court for code violations — occurs when a lawyer commits an offense that directly relates to his or her fitness to practice law. This is serious and always devastating to a lawyer.
Given the harsh words the court had to say, and the way it made mincemeat of Giuliani’s silly defenses, it means that unless Giuliani comes up with better defenses than those he has already presented — and it is unlikely he can — he will never again practice law in New York.
You may be thinking, “So what?”
Well, for one thing, these rulings serve as a warning to other lawyers who may try to use the courts as a vehicle for spreading lies.
Also, as a result of this, we have courts denouncing these lies. If you don’t think this is a big deal, imagine how you’d feel if courts were backing up the lie — which is what happens in autocracies.
And as I mentioned earlier, courts are one of the institutions that saved us from Trump’s attempt to overturn the 2020 election.
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