Share | Email a Friend

January 6, 2021

Written Thursday, December 31, 2020

In his memoir Disloyal, Michael Cohen, the former attorney who was President Donald J. Trump's special counsel from 2017-2018, tells us that "like a crime boss, Trump wanted no evidence that could connect him to any of his deeds, or deeds that he indirectly or directly ordered other to do." Cohen testified that in his requests or orders, Trump "used inferences, nods, silences, euphemisms, signals" and kept staff around him who could ingerpret what he wanted.

In their opinion piece "Will Pence Do the Right Thing?" in the New York Times (12/29/20), law professor Neal Katyal and historian John Monsky interpret Trump's tweet that "The 'Justice' Department and the FBI have done nothing about the 2020 Presidential Election Voter Fraud," ending his complaint with the encouragement to "Never give up." And he signs off with "See everyone in D.C. on January 6th." The writers call the last sentence "ominous" for, they say, it unmistakenly refers to the day Congress will count the Electoral College's votes with Vice President Mike Pence, the man they point out who has still not acknowledged President-elect Joe Biden winning the election and who said, "We're going to keep fighting until every legal vote is counted . . . [and] every illegal vote is thrown out." Did Trump give Pence the indirect order to overturn the election results?

While January 6 is the day that Congress is set to approve the 2020 election results, it is also the very same day that Trump has invited his 74 million supporters to protest election fraud on the streets of Washington, DC. 

A website that seems locked up proclaims a "March for Trump" flyer for the 5,000-member Trump-supporting organization Women for America First, which is headlined: "ALL HANDS ON DECK. THE PRESIDENT HAS CALLED US TO ACTION." 

How should we interpret Trump's tweet invitation that ends: "Be there, will be wild."? Is this an indirect order? And what does his promise that it will be "wild" mean? Come armed? Is this a call to march on Congress and take over the government?

The lead-up to events in Germany in the 1930s comes to mind. Eric Metaxas' biography of theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, which I happen to be reading, sketches in the sociological scenery that was the pastor's context in his native Germany at that time. In 1933 Hitler tried for a second time to run for president of the German government and won. "Limiting the participation of Jews in German public life," as the Holocaust Encyclopedia puts it, had begun like an ugly intellectual argument. Under Hitler the German government interfered in Germany's Christian religion by wanting to "prevent pastors of Jewish background who had already been ordained from serving as ministers." Bonhoeffer publicly expressed his belief that "a church that was not willing to stand up for the Jews in its midst was not the real church of Jesus Christ." 

Pre-war, the Third Reich laid down more and more legislation that interfered in the lives of its Jewish population that affected who they could love and marry, what they could study, where they could work, what careers were closed to them, what businesses they could run until on April 1, 1938, Hitler declared a boycott of Jewish stores in Germany. (It should be noted that on the day of the boycott in Berlin, Bonhoeffer's ninety-year-old grandmother, Julia Bonhoeffer, even with Nazi thugs guarding the door, defiantly continued her shopping at one of the biggest Jewish-owned department stores.)

Metaxas quotes Bonhoeffer's twin sister, Sabine, who said, "The hope, so eagerly nourished, that Hitler would soon ruin himself by mismanagement was shattered . . . National Socialsm [Naziism] established itself with lightning swiftness." It's as if she foresaw what was to come, for  on November 9-10, 1938, exploded Kristollnacht ("The Night of Broken Glass"), when the physical violence began. 

Why has Vice President Pence not acknowledged that Joe Biden won the election by a landslide--the same electoral college numbers that Trump called a landslide in his victory over Hillary Clinton? How could Pence find "illegal" votes in Congress on January 6? Why did Donald Trump invite his supporters to rally in Washington on January 6, the day that Joe Biden will officially be declared President-elect? Or has Trump planned to invite his supporters inside the White House to start a new government with "lightning swiftness"? I hope I am wrong. 


Readers are free to print out articles or letters for personal use and to quote or paraphrase them in other work as long as fair use of the material is given proper credit. See the Chicago-Style Citation Quick Guide at for forms of attribution.