A year ago, I made a bold and, as it transpired, horrendously wrong prediction about the 2020 US Election.
It wasn’t quite as bad as the Decca Recording Company turning down the Beatles in 1961 because ‘we don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out’, but it wasn’t far off.
Last January, Donald Trump had just been feted at Davos for the purring US economy, his Impeachment trial over alleged Russian collusion was collapsing in his favour, he’d taken out the world’s top two terror leaders in just four months (ISIS chief, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and Iran‘s military commander, General Suleimani), and the Democrats were eating themselves alive.
‘The President’s laughing all the way back to the White House,’ I wrote. ‘The Democrats need a Hail Mary pass in November.’
Well, they got one a lot earlier than that in the form of the coronavirus pandemic which erupted in February and exposed all Trump’s worst failings as a leader including his delusional fork-tongued narcissism, refusal to believe or heed science, and chronic inability to show even a shred of empathy towards the millions of Americans left mourning or jobless as COVID-19 wrought its mayhem.
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President Donald Trump is seen last week on January 12 boarding Air Force One in Harlingen, Texas. He begins his last full day in office today
The MAGA mob are seen about during the Capitol riots on January 06
If that wasn’t bad enough, he then gave an equally disastrous masterclass in how not to handle a crisis following the horrendous killing of George Floyd at the knee of a brutal callous police officer.
And in the final horrific coup de grâce of his presidency, Trump refused to accept the result of the free and fair election and whipped up a frenzied mob of his supporters into such a deadly fury with his deliberate lies about having the result ‘stolen’ from him that they stormed the US Capitol and attacked the very heart of American democracy.
So, in just 12 months, Donald Trump’s gone from a man heading for comfortable re-election to the worst president in US history with the lowest outgoing approval rating ever recorded.
Tomorrow morning, in an act of spectacular gracelessness even by his very low standards, humiliated Trump will slink out of office and flee Washington without bothering to attend Joe Biden’s inauguration or greet him for the traditional handover on the steps of the White House.
I doubt the Bidens give a monkey’s cuss if he’s there or not.
And nor should they, because Trump’s presidency is ending in a blaze of shame and ignominy that threatens to contaminate anyone who comes within a hundred meters of him.
The MAGA mob smashes windows above as they enter the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6
As he leaves though, there remains the very important question of what should now happen to him.
It’s been a febrile debate that’s raged intensely since the US Capitol riots on January 6 and been fuelled by the House of Representatives launching another impeachment charge at him, the first time any president has ever been impeached twice.
His trial in the Senate won’t take place until after he’s gone, so it won’t be an instrument to remove him from office.
But what it can be is an instrument to hold him properly to account for what happened at the Capitol and to potentially bar him from ever running for president again.
In my opinion, Trump should be convicted.
If a president can’t be impeached for inspiring an insurrection against the result of a democratic election in his own country – then, when can he?
This is far more serious than anything Richard Nixon ever did.
Trump was to those rioters what Osama bin Laden was to Al Qaeda fighters, the delusional and deranged figurehead of a large brain-washed nihilistic terror group intent on violently attacking and destroying US democracy.
Only by luck, and heroic police work, did we avoid seeing elected officials murdered that day in a way that would have had Al-Qaeda or ISIS cheering.
But what we did see is more than enough for Donald Trump to be convicted in the Senate.
He undeniably inspired those rioters with his appalling lies and ‘STOP THE STEAL!’ rhetoric. We all saw and heard him with our own eyes and ears.
He commanded them to go down to the Capitol and stop the election being stolen.
He urged them to ‘fight’ and promised the protest would be ‘wild’.
‘QAnon shaman’ Jacob Chansley, 33, stormed the Capitol wearing a fur headdress with horns
And even two hours into their riots, as they were still on the rampage inside Congress, doing exactly what he told them to do, Trump went on TV to say he loved them, and they were ‘special people.’ One of these ‘special people’ was seen on camera wearing a Camp Auschwitz T-shirt.
Trump may not have physically been there, but he was to blame.
Just as Bin Laden wasn’t himself on the planes on 9/11 but was entirely responsible for what happened.
Many of the Capitol rioters, or domestic terrorists as they should be called, have since told the FBI that they acted on the instructions of the president.
Texas real estate broker Jenna Ryan, 50, who bragged about taking a private jet to storm the US Capitol during the January 6 siege and was arrested Friday is now demanding President Donald Trump pardon her from charges after simply following his instructions
Ryan pictured wearing a Trump hat storming the US Capitol during the January 6 siege. She later tweeted, ‘We just stormed the Capital. It was one of the best days of my life’
Jenna Ryan, a Texas realtor arrested at the scene, even asked Trump for a pardon because she claimed to have been following his instructions.
‘I just want people to know I’m a normal person,’ she told CBS11, ‘that I listen to my president who told me to go to the Capitol’.
So, he should be convicted in the Senate on the charge of inciting an insurrection because that’s self-evidently what he did.
But WILL he be?
That’s the big question.
The answer lies with Republicans.
And if I were Donald Trump, I’d be starting to sweat.
Republican support for convicting him has grown in his final days in office, according to a POLITICO/Morning Consult poll published today.
Around 20 percent of Republicans said they ‘strongly’ or ‘somewhat’ approved of convicting, up from 14 percent a week earlier.
There’s movement against Trump, and it’s dangerous movement for him.
It shows that more and more Republicans are reflecting on what happened, reading and seeing ever more appalling evidence about exactly what went down that day, and realising just how bad it was.
And they’re also starting to realise that there is a massive inconsistency looming in the whole accountability process.
How can any of the rioters be prosecuted and convicted of their serious crimes of insurrection if the man who by their own words inspired them to commit them goes free?
How can the supposed ‘party of law and order’ turn a blind eye to such brazen disregard for law and order as shown by Donald Trump?
For the Senate to convict, 17 Republican senators must vote with the 50 Democrats who will be making up the chamber from tomorrow.
And key to that scenario happening is Republican senate leader Mitch McConnell who’s said he has an open mind about it.
If he decides to vote to convict, so will at least 16 other Republican senators because there’s no way McConnell will pull the Brutus-style trigger if he isn’t sure of victory.
If McConnell needs any help in deciding the right thing to do, he should look no further than Trump’s own words.
In a typically cowardly U-turn last week, Trump threw under the bus all the rioters who he had earlier claimed to love because they were ‘special people.’
‘America is a nation of laws,’ he said. ‘Those who engaged in the attacks last week will be brought to justice.’
But the rioters can’t be brought to justice if the guy who sent them down to the Capitol to ‘fight’ for him and ‘STOP THE STEAL!’ isn’t.
It’s time to remind every Republican senator that their first duty is to serve the American Constitution and rule of Law, not Donald Trump.
And that in an impeachment trial, they are required to exercise ‘impartial justice.’
The oath they will take says: ‘I solemnly swear (or affirm, as the case may be,) that in all things appertaining to the trial of the impeachment of, now pending, I will do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws: so help me God.’
By any impartial justice, Donald Trump’s guilty as charged.