Yesterday Mehdi Hasan raised the question. "Why aren't we holding Trump legally accountable for COVID deaths."
This segment recalled what I wrote here at C&L back in September.
.@ElieNYC I want legal accountability for Trump for his role in the death of 100's of thousands.
How do we make that happen?
We can start by busting Trump & campaign staff for violating public health laws at the Tulsa rally. @glennkirschner2 @mehdirhasan https://t.co/GdGrP9LZzn
— Spocko (@spockosbrain) December 14, 2021
Elie suggested that the Catholics created hell to punish people like Trump, but our legal system has a problem with prosecuting politicians for their policies.
I'm a big fan of Elie and I want to talk with him about this and all the reasons why it's hard to do. Then, as an activist, I'll ask.
"Okay Elie, what CAN WE DO to hold them legally accountable for all this sickness and death?"
For the last 18 months I've been trying to figure out ways to hold Trump and his administration accountable here on Earth for the infections and deaths directly related to their actions & non-actions spreading COVID with their rallies.
We have proof the rallies led to large scale infections and deaths. The media has reported on this in their news coverage and books. But what the public, and the media CAN'T uncover is the hard evidence that the Trump admin intentionally violated public health laws. Not just the violations we can see, like not wearing masks or social distancing, but violations we can't see because of medical privacy laws, of people breaking state and federal laws around COVID test reporting.
Test reporting has become a big deal because of Meadow's book talking about Trump's COVID testing timeline, but what the press & public can't get is the actual timeline of Trump's tests, who did the testing, what type of test, EXACTLY when they were taken and where the results were sent.
Trump has been using privacy and executive privilege to hide hard evidence of their law breaking, their awareness of what they were doing and their INTENT. As I said earlier at Digby's Hullabaloo, there is a group that can get this, the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis. @COVIDOversight It's chaired by Democratic Rep. James Clyburn. @WhipClyburn
Don't trust Mark Meadows' book!
Want to know exact dates & results of Trump's COVID tests? Ask Dr. Conley & The White House Medical Unit. @maddow @suekroll @kylegriffin1 @Lawrence @11thHour
They won't tell you. But they MUST tell @WhipClyburn & @COVIDOversight if subpoenaed pic.twitter.com/Dhc5FEImkm
— Spocko (@spockosbrain) December 4, 2021
One of the things I've discovered is that when anyone goes after Trump & his followers for their law breaking--or a coup attempt--they respond with, "What are you going to do about it?" Then they turn the tables to sue and threaten people who DO attempt to do something about it.
As Elie points out, there are many problems with holding Trump and his people legally accountable for their actions & inactions around the COVID pandemic. (I was thinking of fun headlines for this piece like, "God Damns Trump. So Why Can't We Indict him?" "Trump's Policy of Killing People Is A Winning Electoral Strategy!"
I'm always thinking about how to hold people accountable for their behavior that harms others. During the first days of the pandemic I wrote about the need to enforce public health laws. Let's Track The COVIDIOT Protesters
I said police shouldn't be jailing people during the pandemic, but they could give people citations for not wearing masks, so they could trace their movements. But they didn't. Cops Didn't Enforce Law On Anti-lockdown Protesters, COVID-19 Spread
When I talked to public health officials and experts on privacy & contact tracing early in the pandemic I was told that involving the police on public health violation enforcement is a mistake. It would stop people from cooperating with contact tracing for fear the data would be used by the police for other reasons. I understood this and agreed at the time. But things haven't gone as expected.
The right wing turned requests to wear a mask into a political identity issue. If they were required to wear a mask they often freaked out, which we saw on multiple videos. Some were arrested for trespassing, but not for violating public health laws. Some, when they coughed on produce or on a person, were arrested for assault. This is an important thing to remember, because in our country assault still means a criminal case.
One of the ways Trump and his admin avoid accountability is through threats and intimidation. As we saw with Ruby Freeman, the threats come from the top and are enacted by followers nationwide. The Reuter's series on election worker threats showed the severity of the threats. The general public was outraged. "Why didn't the police make arrests? What is the FBI going to do? Ruby should sue Kanye!"
That is the kind of outrage that gets action. Lawyers' ears perk up when they know someone with big money is involved. We need more of this. Outrage then criminal and civil legal action. And BAD PR for people making death threats.
Sadly in many cases the police don't even follow up on death threats. And when people make threats and there are no consequences to them, they keep doing it.
That means when it comes to busting Trump, his administration and others for their COVID actions, look for their threats of violence & intimidation of others and then use those threats to increase their penalties.
Did Mark Meadows, Brad Parscale and Tony Orenato threaten doctors, contract nurses and the White House Medical Unit staff to not report people in Tulsa with positive COVID tests? How was Trump's furiousness about the positive tests in Tulsa translated into threats?
Or as Liz Cheney might put it, "Did Donald Trump, through action or inaction, corruptly seek to obstruct or impede a government agency or official from performing their duties?"
How The Trump Admin Legally Hid Their Crimes
The Trump admin used medical privacy as a perfect way to hide what they were doing. Elie talks about "piercing the veil" of Trump's & the GOP's policy choice to allow people to die. If we could see all the documents & records around Trump's rallies, we could learn of their violations and their intent. And if they used threats and intimidation of government officials to get their way, that would increases their penalties.
So what can we do? Find the people who SHOULD care about violation of public health laws and have the authority to look at the confidential information.
I hear, "Well we need a prosecutor who will take this on, who will be the first?"
Why not the Oklahoma AG? Doesn't he care about the dead in Oklahoma? He should, someone should ask him. But maybe the Governor of Oklahoma doesn't want an investigation, since he encouraged the Tulsa rally. Then who?
I hear, "Look to the Federal government to investigate and charge." But both Glenn Kirschner and Elie talk about the problems with getting the United States Attorney General to take this on. Then what do we do? Where do we go next?
"And we do not have an attorney general that`s willing to hold the former President accountable. ... So, until we get a prosecutor who is willing to go to the mattresses against this man, he's going to continue to walk away free."
Who can bring the legal case against Trump?
There are federal agencies & officials that are supposed to oversee these violations. For example, the Department of Homeland Security, that oversees the Secret Service, could investigate. In fact, the Secret Service agents ASKED for the Inspector General to investigate, but he's a Trump appointee and he refused. So who is next to help the Secret Service? Rep. Bennie Thompson. He is the chair of the DHS Oversight Committee. But he's busy, so who is next?
The House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis.
They have the authority to investigate and subpoena power. In fact, they've already asked for the data on this topic from the Trump White House on June 22, 2021 when Trump said to "Slow down the testing." Here is their letter asking for documents
As Coronavirus Infections Surge, Select Subcommittee Seeks Information On Possible White House Efforts To Suppress Testing
Of course the Trump White House didn't deliver, so they asked the Biden White House in February of 2021.
Clyburn Renews Inquiry into Previous Administration’s Disastrous Pandemic Response, Seeks to Identify and Address Failures The good news is that they might already have the documents they need. PDF of letter to Ron Klain
So when the January 6th Committee wins the fight for testimony from Meadows & other high level Trump staffers, the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis can interview them, under oath.
Justice On Earth Vs. Punishment In Hell
The media can ask the question about holding Trump legally accountable for the COVID illness and deaths, but they don't see it is their job to build a case to prosecute Trump.
The legal pundits and experts can talk about the problems with making it happen, but it's not their job to find a way to hold him legally accountable.
Multiple people can and should be held legally accountable for their COVID crimes, not just Trump. There are multiple methods to get them with criminal and civil charges. Stop with the defeatism! Pick a path. Work the problem. Expect the obstacles. Prepare for their delays. Use their threats against them. Find allies who can do the work. Enlist the people who care.
I want to remind people how the Trump campaign's actions led to mass death. Thousands of people in Oklahoma got sick and died because they got infected from people at that campaign rally. But we only hear of Herman Cain. He shouldn’t be the face of the deaths that happened because of that rally, it should be people like Dr. Yee Se Choa Ong, a cardiologist who died from COVID-19 12/21/2020 in San Francis Hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma.