The test isn’t for the Department of Justice. It’s for Republicans.

By Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post, June 16, 2023

Some people are blithely claiming that the indictment of former president Donald Trump on charges of violating the Espionage Act, obstruction, conspiracy and other crimes puts the justice system on trialBalderdash. The cliché has no meaning at this stage — and it improperly shifts the attention and blame from a treacherous defendant alleged to have endangered U.S. national security.

The justice system already proved its mettle in the investigation and indictment of Trump. Attorney General Merrick Garland and special counsel Jack Smith meticulously investigated the facts, interviewing every imaginable witness and got Trump lawyer Evan Corcoran to supply invaluable evidence. Ordinary Americans serving on a grand jury indicted him. Should this go to trial, Trump’s fate, as with every criminal defendant who chooses a jury trial, will rest with a jury of his peers.

If there is a test, it is for Republicans. Indeed, it’s a test they have failed repeatedly thus far. When Senate Republicans adopted the “big lie” and acquitted Trump in the second impeachment, they took the side of lawlessness, authoritarianism and contempt for the Constitution.

Now they have a second chance (or third chance, if you consider they could have jettisoned him in the first impeachment). Republicans must decide whether they will continue with self-delusion (aided by lame rationales provided by the right-wing media that will excuse any conduct and minimize any charge) to the detriment of the country, our democracy and the rule of law.

Voters need to think long and hard about nominating someone who has been indicted (and, by next year, might be convicted) on charges of serious crimes. Entrusting this guy with U.S. secrets would be ludicrous. Do they really care so little for national security? Do they lack any appreciation for the insult to the Constitution that they’d return to office someone so cavalier about it?

Republican officeholders’ gob-smacking determination to defend him should disqualify them from office. They apparently would stop at nothing to further their own careers (by pandering to the base they’ve radicalized) to the detriment of our democracy.

Democrats might be rooting for Republicans to sleepwalk their way to nominating Trump, believing he would surely lose in the general election. Perhaps. But we should not encourage millions of Americans to play Russian roulette with our democracy. Indeed, we should root for millions of our fellow Americans to regain their decency, honor and sobriety by rejecting someone so manifestly unfit and dangerous.