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Juan Williams: What if the coup had worked?

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What if…

they had taken a senator hostage?

What if they had kidnapped Vice President Pence?

{mosads}Think about it.

Then Congress could not have certified President-elect Joe Biden’s election victory.

That would have extended President Trump’s control of the White House — and the military — possibly past Inauguration Day until the radicals relented.

The Trump seditionists wanted just such a coup. And they came close.

This is the dream for the violent white supremacists and Proud Boys who identify Trump as their defender of white, Christian dominance.

At the Capitol they waved Confederate flags and wore T-shirts with anti-Semitic slogans. One man wore a hoodie with the slogan “Camp Auschwitz.”

Their years of talking about lynching liberals led them to hang a noose from wooden gallows they erected on the mall.

Their invitations to violence fit with the profile of the people who made a social media hero out of Kyle Rittenhouse, the then-17-year-old who killed two men during protests over the police shooting of a black man in Kenosha, Wis., last year. Rittenhouse, now 18, pleaded not guilty to all charges at his arraignment last week, claiming self-defense.

The Trump anarchists at the Capitol also fit with the crowd that is charged with planning to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) last year, in another attempt to subvert America as a nation of laws.

These people happily swim in an alternate reality full of despicable lies and radical conspiracy theories fed to them by right-wing media.

The big lie in that echo chamber is that Trump won the November election.

It is a lie that Trump repeated as the violence at the Capitol was in full rage.

He tweeted that “we had an election that was stolen from us.”

Earlier at a rally near the White House, Trump fired up his insurrectionists by saying, “Never concede [the election] — you don’t concede when there is theft involved.”

While the crowd chanted “Fight for Trump,” the president asked his loyalists to march to the Capitol as Congress was about to certify the election results.

He was not done.

As the attack was underway, he attacked Vice President Pence as a man lacking “the courage to do what should have been done to protect our country” and stop Congress from certifying the election.

The lie that Trump won the presidential race is repeated on the radical right by Trump’s radio, TV and social media lieutenants.

According to a Fox News poll taken before Christmas, 36 percent of Americans — including 68 percent of Republicans — believe the election was stolen from Trump.

And 45 percent of Republicans approved of the siege on the Capitol in a YouGov snap poll done the day after the attack.

Last month, the king of conservative talk radio Rush Limbaugh raised the specter of secession: “I actually think that we’re trending toward secession.”

The morning of the assault, Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani told the mob, “Let’s have trial by combat!”

Adding to the tension was the Democrats winning two Senate seats in Georgia the night before — giving Democrats control of the Senate.

Now the burning question for Biden is how to bring the country together when the radical right does not want healing.

What can he do when Republican politicians fundraise by refusing invitations to compromise?

What can Biden do when two-thirds of the House GOP caucus voted not to certify his election as president?

What can anyone do with racists who see themselves as victims of “PC culture” when they are challenged for denigrating racial equality and criticized for preferring mob rule over the rule of law?

“The question is whether … America is at the beginning of a descent into an even darker and more divided epoch or the end of one,” The New York Times editorialized the day after the assault on the Capitol.

The paper called on Republicans outside the ranks of their radical fringe to rise “in defense of the nation they swore oaths to serve.”

In the days before the assault, several Republicans in the military and in the business world spoke out against Trump’s refusal to accept election loss.

{mossecondads}Ten former U.S. secretaries of Defense — including former Vice President Dick Cheney — signed an unprecedented op-ed in The Washington Post calling for the military to stay out of presidential disputes.

After the assault, the head of the National Association of Manufacturers even called on Pence to “seriously consider” using the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office.

Now will they back up their words with deeds and refuse to give PAC contributions to the Republican who abetted the coup? 

Enough is enough.

The week after the election, I wrote in this column:

“In his victory speech, President-elect Biden said: ‘This is the time to heal in America.’ Yes, the country needs healing. But honesty and accountability are part of national healing.”

And in a democracy, accountability requires consequences for the Trump mob. We just had a chilling reminder of the fragile state of our democracy.

There can be no more of trying to reason with people who violently acted to tear down the most essential pillar of the Founding Fathers’ design — political stability based on liberty and justice for all as written in law, our Constitution.

Arrest the rioters; impeach Trump.

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

Tags Capitol riot Coup attempt Donald Trump Gretchen Whitmer incitement Joe Biden Mike Pence Rudy Giuliani

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