Jail to the Chief
Vic Dinnerstein and John Jeheber
Los Angeles, CA
The news that the House of Representatives’ January 6th committee voted to refer Donald Trump for criminal prosecution to the Attorney General’s office brings to mind an earlier poster in which presidential criminality was at issue.
Altering the familiar phrase “Hail to the Chief,” CSPG’s Poster of the Week proposes that prison might be a more fitting place than the White House for Vice President Spiro Agnew and President Richard Nixon. Agnew resigned on October 10, 1973, after pleading no contest to charges of federal tax evasion, a plea bargain that dropped charges of political corruption. Nixon resigned on August 8,1974 after the House Judiciary Committee approved three articles of impeachment against him for obstruction of justice, abuse of power, and contempt of Congress following the 1972 break-in of Democratic National Committee offices in the Watergate Hotel by the Committee to Re-elect the President (CREEP). Taped conversations proved that Nixon had attempted to influence the police investigation of the Watergate incident.
Trump’s efforts to incite an insurrection was much worse – and this is the first time in history that a Congressional committee referred a former president for criminal prosecution.
Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution disqualifies any person from holding federal office “who, having previously taken an oath … to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.” This amendment was added after the Civil War, to prevent members of the Confederate army from running for government office.
The amendment can remove an elected official from office and also prevent them from holding official offices in the future. However, this constitutional clause has never been fully tried – Trump may be the first public official to test it.
Will the Justice Department continue prosecution and finally hold Trump accountable for one of the most egregious offenses on his seemingly endless list of criminal activity? Or will he once again elude justice and charge forward into 2024? Some of insurrectionists have already been tried and convicted. But not Trump. Not yet.