Robert Reich: The Big Picture And Trump’s Ongoing Attempted Coup – OpEd


The criminal case known as the People of the State of New York vs. Donald J. Trump went to trial Monday.

Hundreds of citizens were summoned to potentially join a jury that will decide the fate of the first American president to face prosecution. Although most potential jurors will be rejected, their mere presence illustrates America’s common good — our collective willingness to be bound by the rule of law and our duty to ensure a fair system of justice. 

The defendant in this case illustrates the exact opposite — an utter disregard for the rule of law and an all-consuming selfishness that consistently puts his personal interests above those of the nation. 

Just before Trump walked into the courtroom Monday morning, he called the case “an assault on America,” accused his political rivals of orchestrating the trial, and claimed the charges against him amounted to political persecution.


Zoom out and Trump’s entire presidential campaign constitutes an assault on America. In reality, Trump’s campaign is an ongoing attempted coup. 

In his presidential campaign, he has: 

(1) Repeatedly rejected the legitimate outcome of the 2020 presidential election, without any basis in fact. Trump continues to tell his followers, — in advertisements, on social media, and and in rallies — that the 2020 election was “stolen” from him. 

This ongoing lie continues to undermine faith in our democracy, divide the public, and invite more violence. 

(2) Repeatedly praised the criminals convicted of the January 6 mob violence. He calls them “hostages” and promises to pardon them, despite the fact that most were convicted of injuring police officers during the attack.

This constitutes an incitement to even more violence on behalf of Trump — encouraging die-hard supporters to repeat events like those that unfolded on Jan. 6.

(3) Repeatedly claimed, without evidence, that the criminal indictments issued against him in connection with his attempts to overturn the election are the work of President Biden, and that prosecutors and judges are part of the same Biden-led conspiracy against him. 

This outright lie is undermining confidence in our system of justice.

In fact, the prosecutors and grand juries who issued the indictments acted independently. The judges handling these cases are doing their best to uphold the Constitution and maintain the principle that no individual is above the law. 

Despite the gag order in this case — barring Trump from attacking witnesses, prosecutors, jurors and the judge’s family — Trump has not ceased doing so. He has reposted articles about the judge’s daughter, a Democratic political consultant, and, this past weekend, assailed one of the prosecution’s key witnesses, Michael D. Cohen, his former fixer. 

Together, these three central elements of Trump’s presidential campaign — his baseless claim that the 2020 election was stolen from him, his praise for the January 6 rioters, and his groundless claim that the indictments against are a partisan plot — constitute a direct extension of his attempted coup that began in 2020.

If we are serious about upholding democracy and the rule of law, shouldn’t Trump’s indictments for seeking to overturn the 2020 election be amended to include his treasonous presidential campaign?

This article was published at Robert Reich’s Substack

Robert Reich

Robert B. Reich is Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies, and writes at Reich served as Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, for which Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century. He has written fifteen books, including the best sellers "Aftershock", "The Work of Nations," and"Beyond Outrage," and, his most recent, "The Common Good," which is available in bookstores now. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, chairman of Common Cause, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and co-creator of the award-winning documentary, "Inequality For All." He's co-creator of the Netflix original documentary "Saving Capitalism," which is streaming now.

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