It all depends on which side you’re on.
Historian Michael Beschloss’ choice is clear on the insurrection Donald Trump incited.
“Did we treat Jefferson Davis as some honored citizen?” he asked on MSNBC. “No. He was in disgrace, and he was punished.”
A whole bunch of historians have chosen that side.
Eight hundred and seventy-eight of them, including Pulitzer-winners Garry Wills, Ron Chernow, Jon Meacham and Stacy Schiff, signed a joint letter calling Trump “a clear and present danger to American democracy” and saying he shouldn’t be allowed to run for office again.
Unless you are using the QAnon Service App in the pandemic, this should be a no-brainer.
However, if possible, for a moment set aside the impeachment of now — the images of terrorists bashing in Capitol windows and spidering up its walls with “Trump” banners — and know this:
Trump should have been forever exiled in Year Three of his presidency. He tried to extort Ukraine with our defense dollars to knee-cap the man who would cut him down to size in 2020.
It wasn’t a “perfect phone call,” not a moment's whim. It was a months-long plot that blew up in his scorched-caramel face.
Then again, this:
He’d have been gone by Year Two had he not exerted all of his super-weasel powers to evade accountability in Robert Mueller’s Russia probe.
Andrew Weissmann, one of Mueller’s top lieutenants, makes that case in his book, “Where Law Ends,” about the special counsel’s investigation and Trump’s efforts to obstruct justice when Russia – with Trump’s clear blessing because, heck, it aided him – sabotaged our democracy.
Weissmann writes, “We were attacked, repeatedly, and in a way that is as pernicious as anything we faced in World War II or on 9/11.”
If you’re counting, that’s one presidency, two concerted attacks on our country on Donald Trump’s behalf.
Russian operatives did far more than hack emails from the Democratic National Committee. They nosed into state elections systems. They engaged in voter suppression by using social media for deep-data profiling of voters.
Played the patsy by Vladimir Putin, Trump did nothing about any of this, much as when on 1/6 Trump scurried off to the White House to tune in to what his red-capped windup goons did at the Capitol.
Robert Mueller told Congress the Russians weren’t through. And what do you know? They had just begun.
Trump obstructed the Mueller probe at every turn – firing the FBI director for not kowtowing to him, intimidating Justice Department officials and ordering the White House counsel to fire Mueller. He must have had a lot to hide.
"A brazen effort to undermine the rule of law,” Weissmann calls it.
Brazen. What an understatement.
Trump’s effort to evade accountability was abetted by the whitewash of the Mueller report by Attorney General William Barr which allowed Republicans to say Trump had been “cleared.”
In fact, Mueller cited and Weissmann affirms a handful of acts for which Trump could be indicted, but which Justice Department policy prevented Mueller from pursuing.
Maybe those indictments are yet to come.
Possibly most egregious was the bartering of Trump’s pardon power when associates like Paul Manafort, Roger Stone and Mike Flynn were being convicted for varied crimes, including lying to federal prosecutors.
Now they’ve been let off the hook by he who thus far has skated from accountability.
The title of Weissmann's book comes from John Locke: “Where-ever law ends, tyranny begins” — words displayed at the very Justice Department Barr defiled by playing Trump’s toady.
The historians are right. Trump should never be in public office again. He doesn’t care about the law. He cares only about himself and bolstering his cult.
Let him establish his own personal Guyana where he is king, Kool-Aid at the ready.
Let's then resume a democratic republic, a more perfect union where the law applies to all of us.
Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: email@example.com.