(CNN) — President Donald Trump is leaving America in a vortex of violence, disease and death and more internally divided than it has been for 150 years.
The disorienting end of his scandalous tenure has the nation reeling from an insurrection in Washington. The FBI warned Monday of armed protests by pro-Trump thugs in 50 states, raising the dire prospect of a national insurgency. Health officials fear that 5,000 Americans may soon die every day from the pandemic that Trump ignored. Hospitals are overwhelmed, health workers are devastated amid a faltering launch of the vaccination plan that is supposed to end the crisis.
It took 200 years for the country to add its first two political trials of presidents. Trump’s misbehavior has led the country down that terrible and divisive path twice in just over a year. With House Democrats expected to formally indict the president for inciting a mob assault on Congress on Wednesday, it will be up to Republican facilitators who refused to control his anarchy to save him again from conviction.
Millions of Americans have bought into the delusional and poisoned fiction that the election Trump lost was actually stolen, and there are signs that some police and military forces have become radicalized by the grievance he promotes.
The city that Trump has called home for four years is turning into an armed camp that does not match the mood of joy and renewal that beats at most inaugurations. In what is a symbol of a besieged democracy, the buildings of the town, the White House and the United States Capitol, look caged behind ugly iron and concrete barriers.
This is the legacy that President-elect Joe Biden will inherit in eight days when he pledges to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution, an oath that Trump trampled on by inciting the attack on Capitol Hill last week from behind a bulletproof screen while shaking the appreciated chain of peaceful transfers of power in the United States.
With unintended irony, Biden’s team has chosen “America United” as its opening theme, a motto that is now better suited to define what Biden hopes for rather than the chipped earth to begin. to lead.
Trump’s pattern of violence
It is becoming increasingly obvious that the horrific scenes on Capitol Hill on Wednesday were not exceptional. Instead, they now seem part of a pattern that includes the white supremacist marches in Charlottesville, which Trump refused to condemn, and the gassing of peaceful anti-racist protesters in the plaza in front of the White House so the president could have an incendiary photo shoot.
In a chilling new warning, the FBI revealed the possible next stage in this wave of radicalization now domestically. He said armed protests are planned at state Capitols in 50 states between Jan. 16 and Inauguration Day, Jan. 20. Even as a nationwide search for the perpetrators of last week’s events has been expanded, the FBI said new protests are planned in Washington for three days around the inauguration.
There are threats of an uprising if Trump is removed by the 25th Amendment. The FBI said it was also tracking threats against Biden, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi. In Washington, two Capitol Police officers were suspended and others are under investigation for allegedly aiding the mob.
Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe was surprised by the magnitude of intelligence reports on possible new acts of violence.
“I don’t think that in my entire career working on anti-terrorism issues for many, many years, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a bulletin that referred to armed protest activity in 50 states in a three or four day period.” McCabe said on CNN’s “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer.”
Biden told reporters that despite the warnings, he was not afraid to take the oath out in the open next week, but the combination of a massive security operation to protect him from Trump supporters and social distancing amid the pandemic. Covid-19 means yours will be the emptiest opening in years.
Trump’s acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf resigned Monday, in yet another sign that the country lacks an effective government at a time of great danger. In contrast, senior officials from the outgoing Bush administration and the incoming Obama administration worked closely in the Situation Room on January 20, 2009, when there were concerns about the authenticity of terrorist threats against the inauguration.
So far, following a large-scale domestic terrorist attack at the center of American democracy, there have been no major public reports by any federal agency or the White House, an omission that fosters a sense of absent government.
The current atmosphere of fear and savage political insurrection is a lesson in what happens when a figure as powerful as a president deliberately tears across America’s deep racial and social dividing lines as a tool of his own power. The Trump presidency revealed a new perspective on the all-powerful modern presidency: The character of the person in the Oval Office chair really matters.
A Congress that cannot limit a president
The momentum toward impeachment is now nearly unstoppable in the House of Representatives after Pelosi rejected a suggestion by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy about some form of no confidence motion.
McCarthy acknowledged to members of the Republican group on Monday that the president had part of the responsibility for last week’s insurrection, according to a person familiar with the call. But some of his other responses to the insurrection, such as a review of the electoral certification process and the proposal for legislation to promote voter confidence, hinted at the insincerity of the Republican approach.
With a few exceptions, Republicans, who repeated and in many cases supported Trump’s blatantly false claims of voter fraud for weeks, have responded to upset over last week’s Capitol attack by complaining that by pushing for impeachment, Democrats they are fracturing national unity. It’s like the last four years never happened.
There are also questions about whether Republicans understand the seriousness of last week’s events. Missouri Senator Roy Blunt’s comments still echo around the Capitol.
“My personal opinion is that the president touched the hot stove on Wednesday and is unlikely to touch it again,” Blunt said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
His comment hauntingly recalled the rationalizations of Republicans who refused to convict Trump in his first impeachment after he tried to get Ukraine to interfere in the election to harm Biden.
America has emerged from many dark periods since the Civil War. The country was torn apart by resistance to the civil rights movement. And the Vietnam War brought generations face to face. But the fact that millions of people now seem deeply distrustful of the electoral system, which is the foundation of American democracy, means that the country’s internal political cohesion is now being tested as it has rarely been in the last century and means, medium.
And the Republican indulgence in the face of repeated political arson by the president has revealed a huge constitutional blind spot. When the legislators of a party are held captive by a strong leader, they soon forget their duty to guarantee checks and balances to restrict presidential power.
Trump has not appeared in public for days. And the suspension of his social media accounts amid concerns that it could lead to more violence means the country has been unable to assess his state of mind.
But the president will make a trip to visit the border wall that he said Mexico would pay for, but instead billed taxpayers. White House sources said the president is determined to spend his last full week in office touting his accomplishments and is expected to announce another round of controversial pardons. CNN reported Monday that former Attorney General William Barr and White House attorney Pat Cipollone advised the president not to try to do what would be another epic abuse of power: an attempt to forgive himself.
Meanwhile, the virus runs rampant. Eleven states and Washington, the capital, have just recorded their highest seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began. For the first time, the country has an average of more than 3,000 daily deaths from the pandemic. The outgoing director of Trump’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Robert Redfield, warned in a recent interview with McClatchy newspapers that the pandemic would worsen for the rest of January and part of February and that the country could suffer 5,000 deaths a day.
And hopes that the nation could show progress soon are dampened by failures in the vaccine launch. As in the early stages of the crisis, poor coordination between federal, local, and state authorities and the general lack of a broader distribution plan are hampering the effort.
Like everything else, it will be up to Biden to fix it.