The Roman senate had a very direct and effective way to deal with power-hungry chief executives. It involved knives and literal murder. Donald Trump has learned much from the death of Julius Caesar (though I doubt he’s read Shakespeare’s play).
Trump has, from his bully pulpit, thoroughly murdered the truth. He has publicly tweeted and said things that, outside the protection of the presidency, would have him sued into oblivion for libel.
Congress is similarly protected from legal consequences for murdering the truth. Article I, Section 6 gives Senators and Representatives carte blanche to say anything at all from the hallowed halls of their respective houses. They can lie, misrepresent, and slander (anyone at all, except each other) at will.
Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks indicated that “dozens” of House Republicans could whip out their knives and stab at the truth during the joint session on January 6, 2021, at 1:00 pm, when the Congress fulfills its duty to certify the results of the Electoral College. He cited “overwhelming” and “compelling” evidence of “serious voter fraud and election theft.” Of course, beyond the shield of protected political slander, no such evidence seems to exist.
Every lawsuit filed by Trump’s legal team has failed. Only the crackpot lawsuits of hucksters like Lin Wood remain, clotting up the court system like two dozen donuts eaten by a heart patient. If Trump’s lawyers were to continue claiming, in open court, what the president and Brooks say publicly, they would be disbarred. It’s illegal for a lawyer, before a judge, to murder the truth.
Yet, Congress is untethered by such societal niceties as adhering to the truth, or passing laws based on true things. (You only need to look at Obamacare, or Bush’s AUMF in Iraq, or Bill Clinton’s “assault weapon” ban to see how entire legislative agendas are shaped by untruths. But I digress.)
It’s quite a convoluted path for Trump and his team of knife-wielding truth murderers to achieve victory. But there is a path. It only takes one Representative and one Senator signing an objection to stop the pro-forma joint session of Congress and send both houses to their chambers separately for two hours. Then they vote, in which the Democrat-controlled House will kill any objection.
The vice president also plays a role in the session, governed by a rather dated and dense, but heretofore unplumbed, law passed in 1887—the Electoral Count Act. If, after two hours, the returning Senate and House agree to discard certain state Electors and their votes (again, impossible), then things get muddy. If no “team” can get to 270 votes, does the election get thrown into the House, where each state gets a single vote based on a majority of its representatives? On party lines, this could hand Trump a victory.
But who would accept it? Emerging from their chamber, blood dripping from their knives after a thorough murdering of the truth, Congress would have to ask, how could such a result, despite the color of law, be legal?
There’s no way it would be unchallenged. Even Republicans (like Sen. Mitt Romney for instance) would not stand idly by and see the election so slandered, and American voters subject to a horrible libel with no punishment due to the slandering and libelous criminals.
Vice President Mike Pence, in his role as President of the Senate, can do a lot to “preserve order” during the January 6th session. He could either save the truth, or play the part of Brutus and plunge his own knife. I tend to believe in Pence’s commitment to actual truth, and his skill in staying out of the way of his boss’s statements. At least I hope he will do the right thing.
In 2005, Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones and Sen. Barbara Boxer tried to get Ohio’s Electoral Votes thrown out. Congress met in separate sessions, and with roll call votes, overwhelmingly denied the objection. In that instance “dozens” of Democrats in the House signed on to Jones’ objection—31 to be exact.
It’s nearly inconceivable that a Democrat-controlled House would ever give leave to Trump’s objections. But nobody said murdering the truth would be neat. We don’t know what’s up the sleeves of Republicans willing to do it in the first place. What if they objected to some states where Trump won, just to induce Democrats to support the objections? If you’re in to murder the truth, why not make it a massacre?
The only defense against this is to preserve the truth. Once out of office, Trump’s statements about Dominion and Smartmatic will draw lawsuits, which he will lose. The only forum where the truth can be legally murdered is in Washington, D.C., and the sooner this particular murderer-in-chief is gone, the better.
Photo by Vincenzo Camuccini - Own work, user:Rlbberlin, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=77355355
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My brother Jay and I might discuss the mechanics of the January 6th session in our next podcast. Keep watching for it…