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What if Trump and others crossed the legal line?

What if Trump and others crossed the legal line?

Awhile back, I posed the hypothetical question: What if President Trump and his closest advisors had not committed any crimes in attempting to reverse the 2020 presidential election?  I was raising that question to demonstrate that the partisans who have reached a guilty verdict in the vigilante court-of-public opinion are motivated by hateful partisanship more than an understanding of the Constitution and law.  It is the same dynamic that has them accusing the Capitol Hill rioters with insurrection when so far not a single case of insurrect has been charged by prosecutors in more than 600 cases.

Fighting the legitimacy of certain ballots, demanding recounts, going to the courts, voting against certification are all perfectly legal.  As is lobbying state legislatures to replace the elected Electors with a new slate is legal.  Even peacefully demonstrating to pressure members of Congress to vote against certification is legal.  

It is not even illegal for an attorney to suggest extreme actions – such as asking the military to seize the voting machines.   Taking such action, may well be an abuse of power – but that never happened.  Acting badly is not necessarily a crime.  

Even alleging Executive Privilege is not a crime.  That is simply a matter for the federal judiciary to resolve.  It is a Constitutional question.

Rioting, of course, is not legal – and so far, that is the extent of the known criminality.  It will be very difficult to prove that even the rioters were in a coordinated and directed effort to overthrow the government and put Trump back in the White House by force.  That is just a bridge too far.

As a counterpoint, we can examine what possibilities there may be in which Trump or his minions actually committed crimes – not ill-advised actions, extreme measures or even boneheaded plans – but real crimes that would stand up in a court-of-law.

Probably the two most prominent charges would be “abuse of power” and “obstruction of justice.”  On the fringe might be “inciting a riot.” There could evolve ancillary charges, such as “lying to investigators,” “contempt of Congress” (as we see rolling out) and “perjury.”  It is possible that investigators may find some examples of “destroying evidence” or “destroying public records” that are required to be maintained. (Think Hillary Clinton and the infamous server.)

Ironically, the accusation most advanced in the court-of-public opinion by a compromised news media – insurrection, sedition, and coup-plotting – are not likely to be charged in any of the cases.

To bring criminal charges successfully, there are two major hurdles.  The first is defining what a person meant.  Trump did make a call to Georgia Governor Brian Kemp to request that he “find 11,780 ballots.”  Was Trump assuming that there would be at least that many illegal or improper ballots to be found or was he asking the Governor to do something illegal?  That will be a debatable point in a court-of-law.  Unless there is clear evidence that Trump wanted Kemp to tamper with the legitimate count, it will not be an easy case to prove beyond a reasonable doubt.

The second problem with criminal charges is you must establish “intent.”  Did Trump “intend” for rioters to storm the Capitol in a violent manner or was he just calling for supporters to protest the certification in a constitutional manner.

It is very possible that those meeting at the Willard Hotel were planning actions that went beyond bad judgment.  Trump may have abused his power at some point.  He and others may have obstructed justice in the legal sense – as opposed to simply not cooperating.  

If any of the aforementioned crimes can be established, then the Department of Justice will be handing down indictments – and that could include Trump, himself.  He is not immune from criminal prosecution – although there is a tradition of not proceeding against former Presidents or even top officials.

As of this point, there has been no evidence – hard court-type evidence – that any crimes have been committed.  Potential crimes are being investigated by the Department of Justice, but there has not even been a hint of what they might have found – or are pursuing.  We will just have to wait and see.

While the House Select Committee is investigating the Capitol Hill riot, they have no power to hold anyone accountable.  They can only make politically based accusations and refer any criminal allegations to the Justice Department.  It will all end up there – eventually.

And by “eventually,” I mean a rather long time.  None of the folks with targets on their backs will be send off to the hoosegow before the 2022 election – and maybe not even before the 2024 election. Maybe never.  Other than contempt of Congress, I cannot imagine that even if crimes are alleged and indictments handed down, there will be any trials for a year or more – maybe several years.

The underlying question is whether all the public accusations and political showboating will negatively impact on Republican candidates in 2022.  THAT is what virtually all this obsessive attention to concocted insurrections and fantastical coup plots is all about. 

It is mostly a game of optics and political propaganda.  There may be crimes that have been committed.  People may get indicted and convicted – but it is likely to be for more minor – albeit serious – offenses.  And even then, justice would not be served for a very long time.

To paraphrase the cliché, we have a donkey laboring mightily that will bring forth a mouse – at best.

So, there ‘tis.

About The Author

Larry Horist

So,there‘tis… The opinions, perspectives and analyses of Larry Horist Larry Horist is a businessman, conservative writer and political strategist with an extensive background in economics and public policy. Clients of his consulting firm have included such conservative icons as Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman. He has served as a consultant to the Nixon White House and travelled the country as a spokesman for President Reagan’s economic reforms. He has testified as an expert witness before numerous legislative bodies, including the U. S. Congress. Horist has lectured and taught courses at numerous colleges and universities, including Harvard, Northwestern, DePaul universities, Hope College and his alma mater, Knox College. He has been a guest on hundreds of public affairs talk shows, and hosted his own program, “Chicago In Sight,” on WIND radio. Horist was a one-time candidate for mayor of Chicago and served as Executive Director of the City Club of Chicago, where he led a successful two-year campaign to save the historic Chicago Theatre from the wrecking ball. An award-winning debater, his insightful and sometimes controversial commentaries appear frequently on the editorial pages of newspapers across the nation. He is praised by readers for his style, substance and sense of humor. According to one reader, Horist is the “new Charles Krauthammer.” He is actively semi-retired in Boca Raton, Florida where he devotes his time to writing. So, there ‘tis is Horist’s signature sign off.


  1. Ben

    Again, I must admit that we are simply following the road map laid out by republicans. “It is mostly a game of optics and political propaganda”. You guys laid out a plan for the email lady and Ben gahzi , knowing it was all political theater and then bragged about it causing political damage.
    Now we are using your abortion blueprint to go after guns and coal. Y’all got some great ideas.

    That being said, how quickly opinions change over here at PBP. I think we will do well to allow the J6 committee to do their jobs. They’ve uncovered some texts and the power point, I’m excited to see what else they find.

    I do find it odd that if there were no crimes committed, why members of trump’s administration wouldn’t want to be forth coming to this bipartisan committee ? I’d like to see some of them testify for 11 hrs like they made the email lady do.

    As Q keeps saying,” grab some corn and enjoy the show.” I LOVE Q! He is wildly entertaining.

    • Miles. Collins


      • Ben

        I agree ! Larry’s partisanship aimed at protecting his friends from the radicalized right is getting old and he needs to STFU.

        • larry Horist

          Ben … typical left wing response. Shut down anyone who does not agree. I would never tell you to STFU no matter what you say. In fact, responses like this just show the real nature of the arrogant and authoritarian left. No room for free speech.

          • Ben

            Why you attack me? And not Miles, Mojo, or Tom? ( I mean, I understand they are the same guy, but still…) I tried to put a humorous twist on your readers continuously telling me to STFU, and your old snowflake ass gets all butt hurt. You just aren’t cut out for this.

            Hey, I got a question for you. Multiple high ranking republicans, including trump have advocated that the Vice President has the ability to invalidate elections if they think this something was wrong with the election… Does this hold true for Kamala in 2024 also?

            Curious of you take on this. Once again, y’all get things done, and we use your blueprint.

          • Ben

            Hello Larry,
            How come you didn’t answer my question?
            How come you jumped on me, but not the idiots that continually tell me to shut up?
            What about the blatant and continued Islamophobia?

            I guess it’s easy to stick your head in the sand and when you’re living in an ivory tower on the beach. That explains how you can be so biased. If you don’t acknowledge what you don’t want to see, then it doesn’t exist.

            Your readers continue to post stuff that you desperately want to disprove, but they keep proving you wrong.

    • mojo

      Simmer down ben you may swallow some of that excrement, I am sure after you pull your head out of bidens rear, clear the excrement out of your eyes and ears, you will begin to get your faculties back, return to reality and see biden and you demoncraps only evidence is doctored up e-mails and cut and paste audio as was the case of russian collusion.
      Come back and tell us how the price of fuel, food, and necessities are working out for you, maybe when you have cleared your head of all the demoncrap excrement and propaganda you will join the MAGA CROWD THAT IS MAKING THINGS CLEAR ONCE AGAIN for AMERICA AND OUR CONSTITUTION.

      • Ben

        How’s inflation working out for me? Great, wages have grown at a faster rate than any other time in my life. So, things are a little more costly, but I’m making more money than I ever have. I’m still WAAAAY ahead. Hopefully with continued democratic leadership, wages will finally catch up to where they should be.

        As far as saving our constitution, one party tried to overturn the will of the people on January 6th, the other did not. trump lost, get over it snowflake.

        As Q says, Sit back and enjoy the show

        • Theodore Sueck

          You really are confused with your head so far up bidens backside that you can see his tonsils. So you say you are making more money, so what? If it doesn’t buy as much as it used to, then there is no way that you can be WAAAAY ahead of anything except in higher taxes. And another thing that you have wrong, the snowflakes are the ones like you, on the far left wingnut gallery.

          • Ben

            I know maths is hard.
            But if my wages are up more than inflation, I’m still ahead. And it’s not even close.

            Y’all snowflakes tried to overthrow democracy because you didn’t get your way…every article on this godforsaken blog is whining about something. So don’t tell me the left are snowflakes, when all I keep hearing is how tough it is to be a white Christian male in America.

        • larry Horist

          Ben You are lucky. For most inflation is running ahead of their incomes. about a 3 percent growth in wages and a 10 percent rise in prices — more on many of the essentials.

          • Ben

            *6% rise in prices.

            But I digress. Everyone and their mother is begging for workers. If you’re settling for a 3.9% raise, you’re doing it wrong. If your employer balks at a raise that covers inflation, find another job. The next guy will gladly give it to you.

            For the first time in my lifetime , workers have leverage. Use it.

      • frank stetson

        two points for consistent crudity. 10 yard penalty for child-like behavior.

  2. mojo

    Ben: you need to pull your head out o bidens rear, wipe the excrement out of your ears and eyes, so you may see and understand that all they have as evidence is doctored emails and audio. I know that may be a little foggy to you until you get all your faculties back to reality.

    • frank Stetson

      Wow, so much work to say so little. What a rude little boy.

    • Ben


      I’d call you an asshole, but you process neither the depth or warmth of one.

      What is it with you guys and asses? There seems to be an unhealthy obsession with fecal matter. Y’all smeared it all over the Capital when you tried to over turn the will of the people, now every comment you make has some reference to assholes and shit.

      Y’all are a weird bunch.

      • Ernest keller

        Is your daughter in law really a Muslim? Noooooo!!! Is she radicalized? As much as you hate America I can’t help but wonder.

        • Ben

          Congratulations, the are the latest contributor to CAIR. They thank you for your donation.
          I love America. I have served the Nation and my community. I love it so much that I work hard to make it a better place. I see the inherent bigotry and racism and work hard to change hearts and minds.
          With each racist quip made by a PBP reader I help a little bit more with donations to Muslim organizations that help fight bigotry.
          Thank you for helping. If you’d like to share your address, they can send you a thank you card.

          • Frank stetson

            Lots of new names and one hit wonders popping up. Almost like a vacuum was suddenly filled again. Too bad, at least the racism toned down for a second. Well one thing is certain: vacuums suck.

      • frank stetson

        I might call him an asshole too but that would be so demeaning to the asshole.

  3. frank stetson

    “Fighting the legitimacy of certain ballots, demanding recounts, going to the courts, voting against certification are all perfectly legal.” But when Republicans get tossed out of court over 50 times, have their crack legal team admonished by judges, sent for re-training, and referred back to State Bars for possible sanctions, when lawyers are barred from practice over the way they fight the election results for a Presidential election that has yet to be conceded as a loss —– yeah, we got troubles, right here in the Republic. The Big Lie is here, the election results are still being legally argued, there is no concession, it’s ongoing and a live problem.

    As far as the rest of your onerous and unending mostly unsupported, again, diatribe, hey, I will take lying to Congress. I am not proud. The important thing is to uncover the what’s, why’s, when’s and wherefores as to what happened and who did what. No, we will never get to the truth. But we can destroy the Republican mantra that it was just overexcited tourists, a few bad actors, and everyone in Congress and the administration acted appropriately before and during the tragedy. The fact that it’s political, it’s will be throughout the midterms, hey, that’s just timing. We didn’t pick 1/6/2021 as the day of infamy. Trump did.

  4. AC

    Larry, there is no ifs about it. Trump needs some of his own medicine applied. He said. “Lock her up” about Hillary Clinton. Republicans rant about a cancel culture while they accept the Big Lie from Trump attempting the mother of all cancellations, the democratically fair and legal Presidential election. That takes a mountain of hubris on the part of Trump, his allies, hiis base supporters, an Republicans believing the stolen conspiracy theory.
    His intention has been clear from day one,. By hook or by or crook he intended that he would determine time occupying the White House. His arrogant sense of super entitlement determined his mind and it was set on something beyond his control. With reality not playing along he acted out of his alternate reality construct. Such a mindset was obviously created so he, in his own world, could do no wrong. Sadly, his closest Allie’s and loyal sycophants enabled this psychosis. To do other wise and save the county apparently was unthinkable, considering the way past associates suspected of disloyalty had been dealt with.
    Trump may not have pulled the trigger participating in the Capital Building breach, subsequent violence resulting in death for some and gross injuries for many. However, he is at the center insisting that his will be carried out. Then, loyalists stepped forward planning, initiating, supporting, denying, covering up, lies repeated, and 11 months later making light of a horrific event America’s history.
    Justice demands accountability from those involved leading up to the events that day, those perpetrators storming the building, those threatening life with harm unto death for legislators and the Vice-President, as well as oath taken Republican representatives giving support and encouragement before, during, and after to this day..
    The word Treason rolled easily and often off Trump’s tongue. He leveled this accusation at those who crossed him or in his opinion committed some travesty worthy of death. Treason is the harshest judgement someone can receive. And yet, in some Republicans’ minds and conversations the intended severity was diminished with the term’s many repetitions.
    Republicans interjected words like treason and treasonous, being synonymous with the Democratic Party, its representatives in the House and Senate, as well as all others Republicans view as enemies of their causes. If aiding and abetting any enemies tearing at the fabric of our democracy is the definition for treason, then all forms of attack against a democratically fair and honest election fits.
    Those defying orders to testify before congressional committee, refuse requests for documents relative to an inquiry, and when pleading the 5th amendment is tantamount to pleading guilty. Persons deciding to be uncooperative are guilty of crimes of obstruction.
    The committee investigating 1/6 is not a kangaroo court or conducting its responsibility with red eyed political bias. The red eyed radicals belong to the red political right team. There side care little about civility, trampling rights, and fabricating fables devoid of facts, truth, and decency. Fox Entertainment boasts about ratings surpassing their competitions. Truth is there is no competition. Fox has the distinction of occupying the air space monopoly on ridiculousness, falsified news made into sick entertainment, and intentionally dipping their audience. Not since war of the worlds broadcast put fear of distraction in the minds of listeners has a network hoodwinked masses of Americans until FOX Faux News took to the air. Back in the day producers apologized and broadcast networks realized the powerful influence made over the airwaves sent information. Today we have the evolution of radio tech into the power of internet programming, pervasive use, and available connection to the entire planet.
    Irresponsible use of this power takes more forms than imaginable, so persons, parties. corporations, and countries advertise with posts as they do please.
    Lies masked as true fact predominate. Fact checking information has become a growth industry. Trump’s prolific capacity for unabashedly prevaricating with virtually every sentence said, text, tweeted, and pronounced initiated a cottage industry around just his fact fracking output prodigious and copiousl.

  5. Fareed

    Is anyone here in a position to recommend Sexy Fantasy and Roleplay Costumes? Cheers xxx

  6. Hugo Kurtti

    This actually answered my drawback, thanks!