The diminished prestige of the presidency
Past generations could not imagine a betrayal by the president. Now there must be a change in the American psyche. While citizens were always critical of members of Congress, the president remained a revered presence who was relied upon as the protector of the nation, the commander in chief.
It was inconceivable that a House committee could conduct a thorough examination of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol and conclude that Donald Trump, the former U.S president, was an essential engineer of the event. Consequently, the House committee referred four recommendations for criminal action by the U.S. Department of Justice against Trump. The House is a body of Congress and lacks the authority to bring criminal lawsuits on its own.
The language of the charges complied with the requirements of specific criminal statutes. The first, for the violation of corruptly obstructing an official proceeding, demonstrated that Trump had obstructed, influenced or impeded an official proceeding — the registration of presidential votes. The second charge was conspiring to defraud the U.S. when Trump tried to claim the presidency after he knew that he had lost. The third was making false statements, by submitting fake electors. The fourth was assisting, inciting or providing aid and comfort to those committing rebellion or insurrection.
The DOJ is not required to prosecute Trump, but there is now considerable pressure to do so. However, the House committee’s investigation and report is so exhaustive that the job of the DOJ is simplified. There is also greater public pressure for action.
Trump’s conduct has perpetually violated for all Americans the status of the presidency, which is no longer pristine.