On the Trail of the Cowards

(Graphic: Brian Covert / Photo: Getty)

Back in the 1960s, following the assassination of then-president John F. Kennedy, the district attorney of New Orleans, Louisiana, Jim Garrison, began casually looking into a few local leads in his city related to the Kennedy killing. Those local leads eventually expanded into a full-blown investigation and the only prosecution ever undertaken in a United States court for the killing of Kennedy. Garrison told the whole intriguing story in his 1988 book On the Trail of the Assassins, a real-life murder mystery in which he exposes layer by layer, fact by fact, the network of cowards involved in the planned homicide of Kennedy. A true classic, Garrison’s book later became part of the basis for the 1991 blockbuster motion picture JFK by director Oliver Stone.

Today, a half-century later, investigators and prosecutors at various levels of government around the U.S. are hot on the trail of a whole new set of cowards — those involved in the planning, organizing and carrying out of the 6 January attack on the U.S. Congress in 2021. Like Garrison did more than half a century earlier, investigators and prosecutors at various levels today are exposing such cowards for who they are. And what these cowards are revealing to the world is not a pretty picture of America, the land of justice and freedom.

The former U.S. president, Donald Trump, didn’t create all this cowardice by himself, of course, but he sure did entice many of these cowards out of the woodwork and into the light of day. There, in broad daylight, they tried to take over the reins of government by force and subvert a fair and free national election, which is the heart and soul of a democracy. Now, liberated by Trump from the moral, ethical and legal constraints of the past, these courage-challenged Americans are changing the political landscape as we speak, with a view to getting Orange Julius Caesar himself, Trump, back into the Oval Office in Washington DC, where he will finally finish the job of a fascist coup that the thwarted insurrection of 6 January failed to achieve.

Congress of Cowards

There is no shortage of cowards to be found in both houses of the U.S. Congress when it comes to the 6 January insurrection. Some of them were intimately linked to Trump in the lead-up to the attack, others tried within the hallowed chamber of Congress itself to subvert the confirmation of election results on the day, and still others are guilty of breathing new life into Trump’s political comeback after 6 January. Where to begin?

Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a real southern cracker of a Republican, seems as good a place as any to start. When Trump was running for president in 2016, Graham at various times referred to Trump as a “kook,” a “jackass,” “a race-baiting bigot” and “the most flawed nominee in the history of the Republican Party”. Ol’ Graham Cracker then spent the next six years kissing up to Trump and trying desperately to stay in his fickle graces.

By August 2022, when Trump found himself being investigated for being a naughty boy and taking highly classified U.S. documents home with him as souvenirs after leaving office, Graham made a not-so-veiled threat of chaos in the streets if Justice Department prosecutors dared to indict Trump for mishandling official government property.

Senator Ted Cruz, the plastic prince of pomp from Texas, took a similar tack. During Trump’s candidacy for president in 2016, Cruz attacked Trump as a “sniveling coward” for criticizing Cruz’s wife. Cruz called Trump “a small and petty man who is intimidated by strong women” and predicted that he, Cruz, would handily defeat Trump in the Republican Party nomination for president.

Remember the Alamo? Cruz sure did. A mere five years later, on 6 January 2021, Cruz led a contingent of 11 Republican senators in Congress in an attempt to block the certification of Electoral College results confirming that president-elect Joe Biden had won the election. Cruz’s speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate that day was, to borrow a historical phrase, one that will live in infamy: Within an hour of the speech by Cruz, a violent pro-Trump mob of cowards broke through law enforcement lines and forced their way right into the Senate chamber. In televised scenes seen around the world, the Capitol remained out of police control for much of that day.

On the House side, 139 Republican representatives in Congress voted that same day in favor of the objections to certifying the Pennsylvania and/or Arizona electoral college votes. Meet the members of the chicken-hearted Sedition Caucus here

One of those participants was Kevin McCarthy, minority leader in the U.S. House of Representatives. McCarthy is originally from and currently represents Bakersfield, California — which is all you need to know about his particular brand of redneck gutlessness. McCarthy’s lack of anything resembling a spine when came to holding Trump accountable stands unique in the annals of cowering congressional leaders.

Just after the election results came through in November 2020 and Biden had won, McCarthy was out in front, urging on an uprising: “President Trump won this election,” McCarthy falsely declared. “Everyone who’s listening, do not be quiet, do not be silent about this. We cannot allow this to happen before our very eyes, we need to unite together.”

And following 6 January, it was none other than McCarthy who threw the sinking Trump a life preserver and brought him back aboard the U.S.S. Republican Party, which Trump continued steering through stormy waters as the party’s de facto skipper, Captain Kangaroo. See for yourself what the Republican Accountability Project has to say about McCarthy and his fellow pusillanimous party members in Congress who occupy the Republican Wall of Shame.

No trail of cowards would be complete without the presence of Mitch McConnell, the marble-mouthed U.S. senator from Kentucky who serves as Senate minority leader — the self-described “Grim Reaper” of Congress. Mumblin’ Mitch enabled, protected, defended, sided with and carried out the many wishes of Trump for most of the latter’s four years in office. McConnell refused to vote for Trump’s impeachment twice and made sure most of the Senate followed suit, allowing Trump to continuing to wreak havoc from the White House.

Following the events of 6 January, McConnell took the rare opportunity to denounce Trump from the Senate floor: “There is no question, none, that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day.” But it was only a passing thing. McConnell today slips in and out of Trump’s favor while trying desperately not to offend Trump’s vast base of “Make America Great Again” loonies, louts and lackeys. (Disclaimer: Not all Republican voters support Trump…though most do.)

Insidious Insiders

Thanks to the persistence of investigators and prosecutors at various levels, we are slowly but steadily finding out how and why a bunch of lily-livered faux patriots operating deep inside Trumpland nearly succeeded in their insidious plans for 6 January.

The one coward who stands out above all others is Mark Meadows, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for North Carolina before Trump had lured him away from Congress and anointed him chief of staff at the White House. We know now how Meadows had gone along with the scheme to upend the results of the 2020 presidential election and at key points dutifully did Trump’s bidding.

We know that Trump, on the day of the 6 January attack, understood his followers were armed and dangerous and that he fully intended to lead them right into the halls of Congress himself to stop the official certification of votes in the election. We know that his Secret Service detail refused to let him march with the riled-up crowd. We know that Trump even tried to physically overpower the Secret Service agent driving the presidential limousine when the agent informed him that they were going back to the White House instead.

We even know that the Cowardly Lion himself, Trump, often took out his rage on the White House building by throwing plates of food during his frequent temper tantrums. Picture ketchup running down the pristinely clean White House walls as Trump rails at something that has bothered him while watching television. And like a typical coward, Trump never cleaned up his own messes; he had others do the wall-cleaning work for him.

We know about all this and more thanks to the courage of one woman — Mark Meadows’ top aide, Cassidy Hutchinson, a young woman who braved the shark-infested waters of her Republican Party to tell the truth to the world in riveting sworn testimony on 28 June 2022, during a public hearing of the United States House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack. In doing so, Hutchinson demonstrated more bravery in telling the truth about Trump than all of the Republican Party combined.

Meadows, by then, had been held in criminal contempt of Congress for refusing to cooperate with the January 6 Select Committee — the first former member of Congress to have been held in contempt of Congress. The contempt charge was referred to the U.S. Justice Department, which unfortunately decided not to prosecute him.

Meanwhile, the Justice Department and a local district attorney in Georgia, among others, continue their own investigations into 6 January-related events and participants, hot on the trail of the cowards as we speak.

Drunk on the Fifth

The Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects individuals from being forced to incriminate themselves during legal proceedings. In the wake of the various 6 January investigations, a number of key players in the political orbit of Trump have “pleaded the Fifth” as a way to hide their dastardly deeds and keep themselves out of being fitted for prison inmate uniforms.

Among those cowards who have up to now pleaded the Fifth include:

• Jeffrey Clark, a Department of Justice lawyer who attempted to send a letter telling Georgia officials of nonexistent Justice Department concerns about the 2020 presidential election results in the state

• Roger Stone, a longtime political consultant in the Republican Party involved with the events of 6 January (and the last known living link between reptiles and human beings)

• John Eastman, a far-right lawyer who helped devise a plan that would illegally force then-vice president Mike Pence to block the certification of the presidential election by Congress on 6 January 2021

• And Trump’s former national security advisor Michael Flynn, a propagator of bizarre conspiracy theories and proponent of using martial law to throw the 2020 election to Trump over Biden.

Some of these cowards around Trump even tried to get him to grant them a presidential pardon that would protect them from becoming legally liable in the future. Which begs the question: If you’re not doing anything wrong in the first place, then why ask a corrupt U.S. president for a pardon before he leaves office?

The Weight of History

At the heart of this deviousness is the biggest, truest American coward of all — The Great Pumpkin himself, Trump, the former 45th president of the United States and a lifelong liar, grifter and thrower of people close to him under the proverbial bus. A self-proclaimed “stable genius” while he was in office, Trump is now fighting off a slew of lawsuits and remains busy suing people and dragging out the legal processes. All indications are that Trump may run for U.S. president again in the next election simply as a way to protect himself from having to serve prison time, a pitiful act of unchivalrous conduct if there ever was one.

The insurrection that took place at Capitol Hill on 6 January and the resulting investigations, arrests and lawsuits that have continued since then are teaching the United States of America a lot about itself. The fragility of democracy, the existence of homegrown terrorism and a weakening of the social fabric that holds the country together are just a few of those hard lessons the Americans are learning — lessons that democratic states around the globe with much longer histories than the U.S. have well known and experienced.

But there’s one ugly factor above all others that the 6 January attempted coup of the government and all the revelations that followed have exposed to Americans and the world: the deep strains of cowardice that increasingly run throughout U.S. society from the outhouse, as the saying goes, to the White House.

Just as the late New Orleans district attorney Jim Garrison had courageously and righteously done back in the 1960s in trying to uncover the truth about the Kennedy assassination, investigators and prosecutors today are hot on the trail of the Trump cowards, exposing them for the craven creatures they are and even moving to have a few of them locked up behind bars. As Garrison showed us with his prosecution of New Orleans businessman Clay Shaw in connection with the murder of JFK, the truth about such cowards seeking to alter the destiny of democracy often comes out in bits and pieces and it can take decades, if not longer, to piece together their crimes. That is certainly true in the case of Shaw, who was eventually exposed as a reliable asset of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) right up to the time of the Kennedy killing.

With Trump as with the Kennedy investigation, the truth about the cowards in hiding always comes out sooner or later — and when it does, the weight of history is on us to never, ever let those treasonous crimes happen again.

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