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Opinion: How Americans can hold Trump accountable if Congress won’t

While the anger has not dissipated, another emotion seems to be rising to the surface: helplessness. Many Americans are skeptical of the ability of politicians in Washington, particularly the Republicans, to hold all of the terrorists and their supporters accountable.

That helplessness is not without foundation. Time and time again for the last four years the American public has watched President Donald Trump avoid accountability for his outrageous and immoral behavior. Republicans have consistently enabled him, and our judicial system, with the exception of the election issues, has not been able to thwart his constant judicial stalling and obstruction. Color the American public skeptical that this time our institutions will deliver.

There are two potential paths for the politicians in Washington to punish the President: Invoking the 25th Amendment at the direction of the vice president and the cabinet, or impeaching Trump for a second time and holding a trial in the Senate.
The first of these seems unlikely to happen. It might require a broader deal — if he were willing, Vice President Mike Pence could convince both Trump and the cabinet to remove the President in return for a full pardon from President Pence. It would be a risky move for Pence’s future given the negative reception former President Gerald Ford received for pardoning Richard Nixon. And that kind of deal depends on Trump’s emotional state and whether or not he believes he can pardon himself.
Republicans, expel anyone who supports the rioters
The House is likely to move on impeachment this week. The timing of sending the articles over to the Senate is where this gets interesting. The House can pass articles of impeachment quickly, but it is unlikely the Senate could pull off a trial before the President’s term ended. Some Democrats worry that trying him in the new Senate, which they are allowed to do, would take focus away from a new President Biden’s agenda. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi can hold onto the articles of impeachment for as long as she wants. One scenario would be to hold them until after the first hundred days of the Biden Administration so as to not interfere with Covid-19 and vaccine efforts, cabinet confirmations and economic recovery initiatives.

The bottom line is, while there are multiple options, it is still possible the President can run out the clock and once again avoid any legal responsibility for his actions. That’s where the helplessness comes from for the majority of Americans. We’ve seen this movie before, and we don’t like how it ends.

The good news for all Americans is that they are not completely helpless in punishing Trump for taking the country to the brink of authoritarianism. We all have power to deny him the vast privileges and riches that come with the distinction of being the former president of the United States.

How do we do that? Here’s a few ideas to make sure former President Trump feels the pain he has inflicted on our country:

If you work at a company, belong to an organization or trade association or an institution of higher education, let your bosses know that you won’t tolerate paying Trump to come speak at events, conferences or any sort of engagement. Don’t wait until he’s booked, let them know in advance that he’s not welcome. If you are a lecture agency and take Trump on as a client, understand that your other clients will go elsewhere for representation.

We all buy books from the major publishers. Let them know you will no longer buy their books if they sign Trump to a book deal. Tell your local officials to stay away from Trump. No renaming of airports, highways or public buildings — I might exclude toxic waste dumps and landfills from this list, however. If they don’t listen, vote them out of office.

Make sure the Trump Organization is not afforded any the tax breaks for building in your community. And no donations of land for a Presidential library. Let him build it in the smoking room at Mar-a-Lago.

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