Let us parler today about Parler, the now shuttered Twitter for Traitors app that our insurrectionists here allegedly used to do their coup planning.
Like other aspects of the shocking developments the world has watched lately in America, it has been part of something unique: open book, crowd-sourced, plain-view treason.
In the past, most traitors plotting to overthrow a government have done their planning and organising in secret. Not anymore. Trump and his co-conspirators have decided from the beginning to do their acts in the open and dare us to see the obvious. As a deliberate strategy, I believe, not just because of clumsiness or arrogance.
Not only relatively benign corruption, like his White House adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner's various grotesque conflicts. Not only Trump publicly asking both Ukraine and China to investigate the Bidens and find campaign dirt. Not only the famous Trump Tower meeting between Donnie Jr, Jared and Russian agents offering dirt on Hillary in 2016. But also meeting Putin on various occasions with zero Americans present. Or when in 2016 Trump publicly asked, "Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing." Which, according to our Mueller Report, Russia began work on the same day. Remember when Trump received the Russian ambassador to the US and its foreign minister in the Oval Office in 2017 and promptly leaked them top secret info obtained by Israel?
But last week most shockingly, he summoned a mob to Washington, DC and then sent them to attack the US Capitol to prevent it from certifying the election of his rival Joe Biden. It was insurrection and treason in plain view. He says he did nothing wrong and is proud of the speech.
So far, the strategy is working because it is incredibly hard for most folks to accept that we have elected a conman traitor. And it's especially hard for those 74 million here who voted for him just two months ago. By the way, when I wrote my first column for you just three months ago, I described Trump as a "conman traitor". The very fair and reasonable editors here felt the description was a tad strong to print. Not anymore.
Don't take my word for it. Last night, conservative Republican congresswoman Liz Cheney of Wyoming, daughter of President George Bush's equally conservative Vice-President Dick Cheney, declared she would support Trump's impeachment today and issued an amazing statement: "Much more will become clear in coming days and weeks, but what we know now is enough. The President of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack. Everything that followed was his doing. None of this would have happened without the President. The President could have immediately and forcefully intervened to stop the violence. He did not. There has never been a greater betrayal by a president of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution."
Which brings us to Parler. As Facebook and Twitter began to push back slowly against right wing online lies in 2018, Parler was founded to provide right wingers a safe place to chat, uncensored and free of oversight. It has allegedly been financed by the American Mercer family, the same kind folks who backed a firm called Cambridge Analytica, which became famous for weaponising Facebook data and targeting ads to successfully push both Trump's 2016 election and Brexit.
Last week, after Parler was apparently used to help plan the Capitol attack, it was shut down. Apple and Google both banned its app. And Amazon Web Services, whose servers Parler used, literally pulled the plug, forcing Parler off the web. The same right wingers here who have been cool with Trump's open-air criminality immediately fell into the swooning, hand-wringing false victimhood for which the Republicans are famous. Free speech is being censored, they said. How can you do this?
First, our laws are liberal, but planning a crime is not considered free speech. Second, it wasn't our government that shut Parler down. It was other businesses who prefer rule of law to a coup. Third, there is a significant precedent in the famous Silk Road case in 2015.
There, a website similarly enabled crime, but mostly drug dealing, rather than sedition, insurrection and murder. Their defence was identical to those offered for Parler. The founder told the court that his actions through Silk Road were committed through "libertarian idealism" and that "Silk Road was supposed to be about giving people the freedom to make their own choices". Sound familiar? On May 29, 2015, he was sentenced to two life sentences without the possibility of parole. The verdict was upheld on appeal.
It's not clear how this will end and I won't pretend I know. There are rumours of more right-wing attacks that had been planned on Parler. Some are supposedly designed to interrupt Biden's Inauguration, kill Democrats or invade various state Capitols with armed goons. There are also reports Trump plans to resign, that he won't, that Pence will pardon him, that Pence won't, and that Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell will support impeachment. Trump will be impeached today. That's pretty certain. What follows next isn't predictable because we are dealing with a cornered criminal.
I will predict one thing that won't be in plain sight: There will be no monuments here to Donald Trump after this. No great statues, no building in DC, no new head on Mt Rushmore that he spoke of, maybe not even a Presidential Library.
But his reckless impact on this country and the world will be as vast as any president in our history. He has wrecked us in a way that will require much repair.
Si monumentum requiris, circumspice. If you seek his monument, look around.