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Bringing Republicans to justice

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That Trump and his gang will eventually be brought to justice, there can be no doubt. I offer no proof of this conjecture, except for my strong feeling that America will eventually return to her senses.

The parallels between the Nazis and this regime are extensive. Both arose under similar circumstances, using similar methods of propaganda, coercion and lies. The end of the Trump regime may well resemble the end of the Hitler regime, which I describe below.

Once the Allies knew they were going to win the war (sometime around 1943), the question arose of what to do with the leading Nazis, both in civil government and in the military. There was substantial debate in the Allied countries: Russia, America and Great Britain. At one point Roosevelt, for the U.S., and Stalin, for the Soviet Union, seemed to favor the summary execution of up to 50,000 Nazi leaders. They felt that organizing an international trial would be too complicated and time-consuming, and anyway, so much was known by then about the extent of Nazi atrocities that trials were unnecessary.

Churchill, for Great Britain, objected. The British people, he said indignantly, would never stand for such mass executions. Stalin and Roosevelt backed off. It can never be known whether they had previously been “joking” about the 50,000 (as Stalin later claimed), or if they’d been serious. At any rate, the decision was made in favor of the trials, which were held after the war in Nuremberg, Germany.

There were several sets of trials: for instance, one for the lesser military leaders and one for the industrialists who manufactured the tanks, airplanes and machine guns that fueled the Nazi war effort. But the most spectacular trial of all was of the leading war criminals, who included such infamous figures as Goering, Hess, Streicher, von Ribbentrop, Kaltenbrunner, and Generals Keitel and Jodl.

There were four counts in the indictments of the war criminals: conspiracy to commit crimes alleged in other counts (such as breaking peace treaties and planning for war); crimes against peace; war crimes; and crimes against humanity. Of the 21 major defendants, three were acquitted. The rest received sentences ranging from ten years imprisonment to death by hanging.

The question now before us is how to deal with Republican criminals, when we have decisively beaten them. Letting the major ones go scott-free cannot be an option, not after all the harm they have caused. Vengeance will be for rounding them up and imprisoning them, perhaps at Guantanamo, but this is not the American way. There must be trials. The logical place to hold such trials is in Washington, D.C., perhaps at the Supreme Court. The judges should not be the Supreme Court Justices appointed by Republicans, however, because of their obvious ideological prejudice. That leaves four Justices; they might be joined by appropriate political officials of national stature (Governors, Senators, leading members of the Congress), and by other leaders of national reputation. Not all need be lawyers.

Who should the defendants be, and how many? Obviously Trump himself (if he’s alive), as well as Pence and the entire Trump cabinet and sub-cabinet. The entire West Wing White House staff, too, especially the communications officers; spreading propaganda was a major indictment at Nuremberg, and it should be in this case. Then there are the Republican Senators and Representatives who have been strongest in backing Trump up: Devin Nunes, Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy are prime examples. Certain former Congressmen should also be tried: certainly Paul Ryan.

They would not be charged with war crimes, or with crimes against humanity, since there were no official murders that we know of. But they should be charged with crimes contained in other counts (for instance, perjury, obstruction of justice, aiding and abetting election fraud) and crimes against domestic tranquility. It will not be hard for prosecutors to cite the legal framework for such charges.

I would expect “guilty” sentences in most if not all cases. As for the penalties, no one would be sentenced to death. The appropriate punishments will be lengthy prison sentences, the exact terms of which will be determined by each defendant’s criminal activity. I personally have no problem with life sentences for individuals such as Trump, Pence, and the higher-ranking Cabinet officials. The American military is another matter. In the trial’s testimonial evidence, the jurists would have to figure out exactly what key military officers, including the Joint Chiefs, said and did. Did they mindlessly enable Trump? Did they express reservations against his immoral rule? Did they stop the more radical of his foreign adventures? It may be that the military does get off scott-free, but much investigatory work has to be done.

After the trials, America will need a period of time to heal. Germany took many years to recover its balance. The German people themselves were split for decades as to their own culpability, and the fairness of the Nuremberg trials, and whether or not the trials were legal to begin with. In many respects, it can be said that Germans did not sort all this out until the World War II generation died out. It may well be that America will have to wait for Trump era Republicans to die out, before we can recover.

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