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Juan Williams: Trump’s coup attempt should bar him from 2024 race

Let’s agree — former President Trump is running again.

He has $100 million in his political war-chest. His GOP rivals for the nomination, including top congressional Republicans, fear him.

One reason he might not run is if any of the several investigations into his business affairs leads to criminal indictment.

{mosads}Another roadblock might emerge if Congress gets access to his tax returns and finds embarrassing debts that compromised his dealings with powerful people in other countries.

None of that is likely to stop him from launching Trump ’24.

But Attorney General Merrick Garland might be able to stop him.

Garland has the power to rule out another Trump run by citing “section 3 of the 14th amendment, which bars anyone from holding office who ‘engaged in insurrection,’ against the U.S.,” Robert Reich, the former Labor secretary, recently wrote in The Guardian.

If Garland takes Reich’s advice, he is sure to set off alarms about the attorney general playing politics.

But Garland has the facts on his side.

The facts say Trump tried to stage a coup.

Prohibition on future political bids by a coup leader — someone “engaged in insurrection” — fits with what is now publicly known about Trump’s efforts to remain in office after he lost in 2020.

“Just say the election was corrupt [and] leave the rest to me and the [Republican] congressmen,” Trump told Jeffrey Rosen, then the acting attorney general, in a December phone call, according to notes on the call made by Rosen’s deputy.

In the weeks before that call, Trump pressured William Barr, his attorney general, to find evidence of voter fraud that could be used to overthrow the election, by showing it had been “stolen.”

“We realized from the beginning it was just bullshit,” Barr later told ABC News’s Jonathan Karl for his forthcoming book, “Betrayal.”

After Barr was gone, the president brashly demanded Rosen act without evidence of voter fraud by labeling the election as “corrupt.”

In both cases, Trump was calling for federal officials to join a conspiracy to break election law.

And when Rosen did not follow Trump’s suggestion, the former president apparently considered ousting him and inserting a loyalist, Jeffrey Clark, who according to a recent report from the Washington Post “was willing to push Trump’s false claims of election fraud.”

Trump also went to Georgia’s secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger, trying to pull him into the conspiracy.

He asked Raffensperger to “find” enough votes to make him the winner of the state’s presidential contest. Those requests might be enough for a grand jury to indict him on charges of trying to defraud voters and conspiracy.

And a third piece of evidence for criminal charges is his ongoing effort at insurrection.

Maggie Haberman of The New York Times tweeted in June: “Trump has been telling a number of people he’s in contact with that he expects he will get reinstated by August (no that isn’t how it works but simply sharing the information.)”

And that crazy claim builds on the events of Jan. 6 when he inspired his followers to try to stop Congress from certifying Biden’s election.

All of this is strong evidence against Trump. It recently got even more chilling when court filings alleged one person in the crowd wanted more than insurrection. He wanted to secede from the union and create the “State of Appalachia.”

Seeking to destroy the union is a criminal act of conspiracy.

To this day, the idea of seceding from the United States has traction with Trump Republicans.

Among Republicans in the south — solid Trump country in the last election — support for secession reached 66 percent, according to a recent poll from Bright Line Watch, conducted with YouGov.

Southerners’ support for breaking away from the United States has increased since Jan. 6 when only 50 percent favored secession.

The poll found that across the nation, 37 percent of respondents indicated a “willingness to secede.”

Another toxic form of quasi-secession by Trump’s supporters is evident in GOP-controlled state legislatures taking power away from local election officials. They now reserve final control over vote counting for themselves. Those legislatures have also passed laws suppressing voter turnout among Americans likely to vote for Democrats.

That amounts to a slow-motion demolition of America, a quiet movement in support of secession from Trump supporters.

There is more evidence.

{mossecondads}For example, according to a recent Quinnipiac poll, 74 percent of Republicans agree that “too much is being made of the storming of the U.S. Capitol on January 6th and it is time to move on.”

The whitewashing of the Jan. 6 riots is an ongoing conspiracy to downplay violent disruption of the U.S. government.

So, yes, there is a case to be made that Trump committed crimes against America.

“The bottom line is this: Now that Trump is out of office, the DOJ’s view that sitting presidents cannot be indicted no longer shields him. Attempted coups cannot be ignored,” wrote lawyers Laurence Tribe, Barbara McQuade and Joyce White Vance in a recent column in The Washington Post.

“If Garland’s Justice Department is going to restore respect for the rule of law, no one, not even a former president can be above it.”

Yes, Garland has the power to stop Trump from running again. It is time to use it.

Juan Williams is an author, and a political analyst for Fox News Channel.

Tags 2024 presidential election Capitol insurrection Capitol riot Donald Trump incitement January 6 Maggie Haberman Merrick Garland Trump 2024 William Barr

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