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The January 6 committee is right. It’s time to prosecute the kingpin, Trump | Lawrence Douglas

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The assault on the Capitol was not a spontaneous spasm of violence. It was the culmination of a concerted effort to reject the results of a fair election

Over the course of 18 months, the intrepid patriots on the House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection tirelessly researched Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election through fraud, intimidation, harassment and violence. The committee’s public hearings were an exercise in civic education, presenting the nation with a gripping, granular and truthful account of an unhinged president seeking to cling to power at all costs. Now they have gone one crucial step further. They have referred the matter to the justice department, urging that Trump be prosecuted.

Let us take stock of this astonishing moment. For the first time in American history, a congressional committee has recommended that a former president be criminally prosecuted – and not just for any crimes. The chief crimes at the heart of the referral – inciting insurrection, conspiracy to defraud the United States, and obstructing an official act of Congress – involve nothing short of an elaborate effort to frustrate and upend the peaceful transfer of presidential power, the bedrock of our constitutional democracy.

Lawrence Douglas is the author, most recently, of Will He Go? Trump and the Looming Election Meltdown in 2020. He is a contributing opinion writer for the Guardian US and teaches at Amherst College

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