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Justice on trial

The eyes of the world will be focused on Washington on February 9, when a trial will begin in the United States Senate charging Donald Trump with instigating activity aimed at halting certification of the recent election results, which saw him defeated by Democrat Joe Biden.

It will be very different from the first impeachment trial, which saw the Republican-controlled Senate acquit him without allowing any witnesses to testify.

The significant difference this time is that not only will there be witnesses, but many of those Democrats and Republicans were also victims of an event that nearly broke the back of democracy in America.

Trump, with his back against the wall in efforts to overturn an election he insisted was stolen from him, was prepared to risk everything to remain in power — including turning the nation against itself. In urging his fired-up supporters to march on the Capitol Building, he abandoned his role as commander-in-chief, protector of the union.

What happened next would have legal scholars and historians pondering an incident in America’s history where the leader of the country felt he had been denied a second term of four years as president, claiming massive election fraud but without a shred of evidence to substantiate that claim.

It mattered little to Trump that every court in the country dismissed his allegations. That did not prevent him from working his supporters into a frenzy, while hammering home his false claims of election fraud.

Many Americans were becoming anxious and uneasy over what was unfolding amid a pandemic that which had a stranglehold on the nation and the world, taking a heavy death toll each day. The divisive political climate made seeking solutions more difficult.

With the elected president, Joe Biden, yet to take office, tension increased daily, as Trump appeared to concentrate more on his election loss rather than find ways to bring comfort to millions deeply affected by the economic downturn resulting from job losses owing to business closures as the nation tried to tackle the spread of a deadly virus.

It was already a testing time for all Americans — Democrats and Republicans. This was a crucial period when all Americans should have been pulling together. While many were trying to do just that, their leader had other things in mind. He wanted to use any method to stop the final count of the electoral college, which he knew would take place in the US Congress on January 6.

Some of Trump’s followers were very vocal, including several Republican members of the Senate who spoke of January 6 as some type of D-Day when something would happen to prevent certification of the electoral college vote that gave the election to Biden.

Josh Hawley was one those senators who waved a clenched fist, vowing that the election result should not stand. His stance prompted veteran Republican John Danforth, who once promoted Hawley in his attempt to become a senator, to declare it turned out to be the biggest mistake of his life.

Danforth said he was deeply disturbed by Hawley’s conduct. The violent attack on the Capitol Building stunned the nation, and the world, as screaming Trump supporters invaded the building in what has been described as an attempted coup designed to disrupt the process of government, opening the door to a collapse of democracy. Officials labelled the move as nothing short of insurrection.

The impending Trump trial is expected this time to have powerful evidence, much of it witnessed throughout America and around the world through the eye of the camera.

When Trump gave marching orders to a raging mob, promising to be with them to reclaim the country, they felt nothing could stop them. What they did not know at the time was that Trump had no intention of marching with them. Instead, he went to the safety of the White House to observe television coverage of what would be one of America’s darkest days.

Only later was it revealed that the enraged throng once inside the building had deadly intentions for Vice-President Mike Pence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and perhaps any other members of government they could reach.

Had the Secret Service not acted swiftly in the midst of the mayhem, along with a Capitol building policeman, who led intruders away from the Senate chambers, the outcome might have been a greater tragedy.

Five lives were lost. It was a close call for the nation’s anchor of democracy.

While a number of Republicans are not in favour of putting the former president on trial, such a gesture reflects somewhat on the old South, where a Black person appearing before a White jury had a guilty verdict locked in before the trial had even begun, no matter the evidence.

There is a school of thought that too many Republicans are still in that frame of mind when it comes to dealing with one of their own charged with a serious offence. Such attitudes place justice itself on trial. America cannot afford to have a system where someone, because of economic or political status, should be above the law.

Hopefully, the trial will show that it is wrong for one person to walk free while another is placed behind bars based on race or status. Should the trial conclude with a guilty verdict, Trump would be banned from holding any political office in the future. That is a key objective of the Democrats to deter anyone from ever attempting to destroy democracy in America for political gain.

There is a strong suspicion that Donald Trump will not be in a position to gloat over acquittal after becoming the first United States president to be impeached twice (Photograph by Evan Vucci/AP)

When this trial is over, the country will be able to move forward with the knowledge that no one, not even the president is above the law. If that is not the case, seeking true justice will remain a distant dream for those who cherish freedom and equal rights for all.

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Published January 30, 2021 at 8:01 am (Updated January 29, 2021 at 4:16 pm)

Justice on trial

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