Reprinted from The Times of Israel
By Karl Grossman
About the Author Karl Grossman is a professor of journalism at the State University of New York/College at Old Westbury who has specialized in investigative reporting for 45 years. He is the host of the TV program “Enviro Close-Up,” the writer and presenter of numerous TV documentaries and the author of six books.
The impeachment of Donald Trump — the first president of the United States to be impeached twice — is fitting for the worst president in the history of the U.S.
The attack by his supporters on the Capitol in Washington, D.C. — lawless, an attack on democracy, a U.S. counterpart of the rise of Nazism in Germany in the 1930s.
It was a horror representative of his tenure.
As stated in the resolution titled “Impeaching Donald John Trump, President of the United States, for high crimes and misdemeanors,” he “incited violence” against the government of the United States.” It noted that at a rally of Trump supporters before the insurrection, “he reiterated false claims that ‘we won this election, and we won it in a landslide,’” and “encouraged …lawless action at the Capitol.” And this “followed his prior efforts to subvert and obstruct the certification of the 2020 Presidential election. Those prior efforts included a phone call…during which…Trump urged the secretary of state of Georgia, Brad Raffenberger, to ‘find’ enough votes to overturn the Georgia Presidential election results and threatened Secretary Raffenberger if he failed to do so.”
“In all this,” the resolution continued, Trump “threatened the integrity of the democratic system, interfered with the peaceful transition of power…”
Trump, “by such conduct, has demonstrated that he will remain a threat to national security, democracy, and the Constitution if allowed to remain in office, and has acted in a manner grossly incompatible with self-governance and the rule of law.”
David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker, among the most respected publications in the U.S., wrote immediately after the election of 2016 in a piece entitled “An American Tragedy” — “The election of Donald Trump to the Presidency is nothing less than a tragedy for the American republic, a tragedy for the Constitution, and a triumph for the forces, at home and abroad, of nativism, authoritarianism, misogyny, and racism.”
Peter Baker, the chief White House correspondent for The New York Times wrote a front-page piece last month about how the “final days of the Trump presidency has taken on the stormy elements of a drama more common in history or literature than a modern White House. ….At times, Mr. Trump’s railing-against-his-fate outbursts seem like a story straight out of William Shakespeare, part tragedy, part farce, full of sound and fury.” And he quoted a Shakespearian scholar at Harvard University, Jeffrey R. Wilson, author of the book Shakespeare and Trump, saying: “We’re approaching the end of the play here and that’s where catastrophe always comes.”
It came on January 6 in the assault on the Capitol.
“If inciting an insurrection is not enough to get a president impeached, what is?” asked Representative Joaquin Castro of Texas before the House vote for impeachment.
Trump had tweeted is followers on December 20th — “Big protest in DC on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!”
It was wild, and deadly.
In a speech in front of the White House on January 6th, addressing his backers who had arrived, he declared: “We’re going to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue…and we’re going to the Capitol.” He added: “You have to be strong.”
Trump’s call was preceded by his lawyer, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani proclaiming “let’s have trial by combat.”
Giuliani took an oath to be an attorney to adhere to rule of law and represented Trump in many court challenges to Trump’s election defeat with claims that judges found totally untrue. But Giuliani opted instead, in violation of that oath, for “trial by combat.” The New York State Bar Association this week announced it was launching an inquiry into whether to remove Giuliani from its ranks for his comments at the Trump rally.
Trump tapped into a vein of racism and other poisons in the United States.
As a Jew with all members of the families of both my paternal and maternal grandparents who did not get out of Hungary and Poland in time murdered in the Holocaust, my heart stopped seeing one of the Trump supporters rioting at the Capitol sporting a shirt saying “Camp Auschwitz” and below that arbeit macht frei.
I’ve been amazed that some Jews in the United States and Israel have been big supporters of Trump. His throwing the Kurds under the proverbial bus — his conferring with Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s Israel-hating president, which was followed promptly by the attack on the Kurds by the Turkish military —demonstrated for Israel that Trump cannot be trusted.
Trump will turn on a dime.
I grew up in Queens in New York City, not far from Jamaica where Trump was raised. There are lots of Jews in Queens, of course. And Trump learned to “play” with them.
But should any Jew — indeed could anybody — trust him? Ask that of his former longtime personal attorney whom he abandoned, Michael Cohen, the son of a Holocaust survivor, who has been full of disclosures since. Trump, he has emphasized, is a bigot. And says Cohen of the “Trump I know in a nutshell…he projects his own sins and crimes onto others, partly to distract and confuse but mostly because he thinks everyone is as corrupt and shameless and ruthless as he is; a poisonous mindset I know all too well.”
Good for the Jews, good for anybody for any length of time? No.
Carl Bernstein, the U.S. journalist of Watergate fame, says Trump “will be in our history books as a dark, dark stain unlike any president of the United States.” And Bernstein investigated U.S. President Richard Nixon, forced to resign because of the Watergate scandal.
My rabbi, Dan Geffen, wrote to congregants after the Trump-incited attack on the Capitol about the Rabbinic sage Aytalyon saying: “Sages, be careful with your words! So as not to warrant the punishment of exile and be exiled to a land of ‘evil waters’ and the disciples who follow you drink and die, and thus the name of heaven becomes profaned.”
Said Rabbi Geffen: “There are numerous times in our tradition when the rabbis instruct us to guard our words carefully. Just as Creation begins with words, so too can destruction. Just as words of Torah are like mayim chayim (life-giving waters); words of hatred, selfishness and division are like a poisoned well. What we witnessed yesterday in Washington was a sad and painful reminder of the prescience of Avtalyon’s warning and the danger that is posed to all when words are perverted and weaponized. So let us not waste our breath on equivocations and calming platitudes. What happened yesterday was a disgrace — a stain on this country and its most fundamental principles, values and ethics. Every single one of us must feel the pain and shame of this moment, because it is now a part of our shared history.”
“The future of our country and our community will be defined by how we choose to respond to the stoked barbarism on display in the Capitol yesterday. And in this simple fact, I am filled not with despair, but with hope….These are indeed fraught times. Times filled with anger, pain, grief and a loss of hope. And it would be irresponsible to suggest that the problems and challenges we face as a country are easily addressed. Nevertheless, just as words of division can be used to poison the proverbial well; words of unity, hope and purpose can help clear and purify the miasma. There is much to be done to repair the fabric of our society, and we all have an important role to play in its repair. So let each of us do everything in our power to use the ignoble events of January 6, 2021 as motivation to inspire us to work together to return our beloved country to a land truly flowing with the life-giving waters of liberty, justice and equity for all!”
Trump has been a nightmare for the United States of America.
Thank heaven and a lot of hard political work that he will soon be gone, his final days concluding with a despicable, awful, violent attack on democracy.
Thank you Karl for your eloquent and thoughtful piece on this American tragedy