Joseph Sabino Mistick: Not even Trump is above the law
When Donald Trump learned that he was headed for possible impeachment, he launched one of his trademark Twitter storms, filled with misdirection, accusations and threats. He even claimed that if he was impeached, we would face “Civil War,” capitalizing the words, making no mistake what war he had in mind.
Our Civil War started in 1861 and lasted four years. Two massive armies fought on blood-soaked fields, and 750,000 soldiers died. At Gettysburg alone, there were 51,000 dead, wounded and missing over three days.
Our Civil War was fought over a high principle: the abolition of slavery. Both sides believed that providence favored them, and the scale of destruction was unprecedented until World War I.
No individual or politician is worth that. No president of the United States is worth that. Donald Trump is not worth that. And Americans know that.
What Trump is really saying is that some of his most zealous followers could be easily provoked to commit violent crimes and we better be careful how we treat him. But that’s not news.
Trump’s loose language has encouraged violence since his campaign announcement. He promoted thuggery at his rallies, and encouraged his wildest fans to threaten and assault protesters and the media.
We saw this attitude in Charlottesville, Va., where a peaceful protester was run over and killed for protesting a neo-Nazi march in 2017. Trump’s response? There were “very fine people on both sides.”
And we saw it in El Paso, where a killer slaughtered 22 people in August and declared “this attack is a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas.” Just months before, Trump started trumpeting those same words, calling Hispanic immigrants at our border “an invasion.”
None of the bad actors involved in this political violence are noble soldiers fighting for American principles. They’re just criminals. American justice will give them the treatment they deserve.
The heroes here are the police officers, civic leaders, public officials, judges and lawyers, and courageous citizens who stand up to these criminals every day. They are the soldiers fighting for America.
Remember that Trump’s troubles are of his own making. When he squeezed the Ukrainian president to give him dirt on Joe Biden in exchange for military aid, those words came out of his own mouth. They were committed to print by his own people.
And the whistleblower who raised alarms about the July call between Trump and the president of Ukraine worked through proper channels. His complaint was taken seriously by the inspector general of the intelligence community and the acting director of national intelligence, who are Trump’s own appointments.
For three years, Trump has refused to cooperate with any investigation. He has basked in the policy that a sitting president cannot be indicted. And now he is saying that impeachment should be off the table, too.
Josef Stalin had that deal. Kim Jong Un and a handful of lunatics around the globe have that deal, too. Those guys are dictators who can do whatever they want.
But this is America and we have a process for times like this. It must protect the president’s rights and follow the rule of law. And we need to get on with it, because Americans have always believed that no one is above the law.
Joseph Sabino Mistick is a Pittsburgh lawyer. Reach him at [email protected].