High Crimes and Miss-demeanors

In a few day’s time, the U.S. Senate will convene for the second Impeachment trial of Donald J. Trump, 45th President of the United States. Trump is the only President – living or dead – to have such an Impeachment distinction, let alone in a one-term presidency.

Trump, of course, has been charged with “incitement of insurrection” relating to the violent rioting of mostly white supremacist anarchists at the U.S. Capitol on January 6th.

The Insurrection was tied to a rally where Trump exhorted his audience to march on the Capitol in a bid to stop Congress from accepting the certified votes of all 50 states that ended in Joe Biden becoming the 46th President of the U.S.

Trump had been fomenting dissent over those results since he before he lost the November 3, 2020 election to Biden by claiming the election was fraudulent. He also lost more than 60 court cases that held his claims to be baseless.

But that didn’t stop Trump from riling up the frenzied rally attendees in an alleged coup against the government he then led and the Constitution he had sworn to uphold.

Now the question is whether or not the Senate will hold him responsible for his words, his actions and his Constitutional oath when the trial starts in earnest on February 8th.

Trump is not the first man in our history to betray the nation. That distinction goes to Major General Benedict Arnold of the Continental Army.

During the Revolutionary War, Arnold was persuaded by his Loyalist wife, Peggy Shippen of Pennsylvania, to betray the Continental Army by giving away troop locations and strengths, including to fortified West Point.

But it was Peggy, not Arnold, who was the real spy of their marriage. Raised in a Tory household, she had a relationship with Britain’s spy master in the Colonies, Major John André. It was Peggy who encouraged Arnold’s defection to the British side and acted as the conduit of information between Arnold and André.

Upon being found out, the Arnolds decamped to England, so neither were held accountable for their treasonous activity.

Peggy Shippen is also hardly the only female traitor in our country’s history.

As the Civil War was ending, Mary Surratt of Washington, D.C. was one of several people taken into custody as a co-conspirator of John Wilkes Booth for his assassination of Abraham Lincoln.

Surratt, a Virginia widow and Southern sympathizer, owned a D.C. boarding house, Virginia tavern and other property left her by her husband.

Booth made frequent visits to the boarding house as a friend of her son, John, also named a co-conspirator to Lincoln’s slaying and the attempted assassination of Secretary of State William H. Seward.

The evidence on which Mary Surratt was arrested was circumstantial. Still her hearing before a military tribunal found her guilty based primarily on the testimony of John Lloyd, her tavern tenant, and Louis J. Weichmann, a boarder.

Lloyd claimed Surratt gave him pistols to keep to be used as part of the plot, and later, a package containing binoculars given to her by Booth, which Booth picked up as he fled D.C. on horseback the night he killed Lincoln. 

Weichmann gave testimony about the meetings Booth and his co-conspirators had at the boarding house about what was originally a plan to kidnap Lincoln that took a deadly twist. 

On June 30, 1865, the military tribunal sentenced Mary Surratt on all but two charges against her. On July 7th, shortly after 1 pm, Mary Surratt was hanged in front of 1,000 people, the first woman ever to be executed by the U.S. government. 

The modern era has seen its share of other females imprisoned and executed for betraying the nation. There were Axis Sally (Millard Gillars) and Tokyo Rose (Iva Toguri) who served prison sentences for propaganda they broadcast to U.S. troops during WWII.  There was also Ethel Rosenberg who, with her husband Julius, went to the electric chair for selling atomic bomb secrets to the Soviet Union.

And then there is Hillary. For many years, the Republican Party has worked hard to portray former Secretary of State Clinton as a traitor and worse to the American public to spoil her bid to become the first female President of the country.

In fact, per Quora.com, there were 33 congressional hearings and four public hearings conducted to the tune of $7 million taxpayer dollars into the deaths of four Americans as a result of a terrorist attack on a diplomatic compound in Libya in 2012.

Clinton sat through 11 hours of testimony herself, and the hearings became less about the attack than what the leader of the appointed Select Committee, Trey Gowdy (R-SC, retired) said was a review of “policy decisions” Clinton made about Libya itself. As part of the testimony given, Benghazi morphed into the FBI investigation of the private email server she maintained in her home.

All this examination of Clinton lasted up to the November 8, 2016 election, in which she won the popular vote for the presidency but lost the Electoral College vote to Trump by narrow margins in “Rust Belt” states. Clinton has never been indicted for anything related to the Benghazi attacks or for maintaining a private email server on which she conducted government business.

Still an ongoing theme of Trump’s never-ending five year rallies were the chants of “lock her up,” even though Clinton has never been charged with a crime, treason or otherwise.

And in an era where conspiracy theories spread faster on internet sites than coronavirus in a maskless crowd, Clinton has been portrayed as a cannibalistic child predator who wears childrens’ faces like masks over her own face. It makes the Salem witch trials seem like a Cinderella fairy tale.

Meanwhile, upon losing the 2020 election to Biden in both the popular and Electoral College votes, Trump himself instigated a coup wherein five people died – including conspirator Ashli Babbitt.

Insurrectionists roamed the Capitol halls calling for the hanging of Trump’s own Vice-President, Mike Pence, as well as for the shooting death of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and assassination of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY).

This after Trump had told his rally goers they should march from the Ellipse to “stop the steal” and that HE would go with them.

Of course that was just another of his Big Lies.

The intricacies of who funded the coup, how different groups participating coordinated their efforts, and whether or not members of Congress and the Trump Campaign played a role in planning the insurrection are still playing out in widespread FBI investigations and thousands of words of news coverage in papers like the New York Times. 

At least one funding source – the largest contribution – came from Publix heiress Julie Jenkins Fancelli, a Trump supporter and one of his largest and most consistent donors.

So when women either betray the nation or are perceived of doing so, they either pay with their lives, their freedom, or suffer severely damaged reputations. Even Peggy Shippen in the end spent a fortune paying off Benedict Arnold’s many debts for ventures at which he failed after running from his treason.

If found guilty in the Senate Impeachment trial, no such dreadful outcomes as those for these women will be assigned to Trump. The harshest sentence that can be given him will be the inability to ever again hold an office of public trust.

That, and an even more ignominious place in our history than he already holds for the cruelty, self-dealing, and political chicanery of his Administration.

Except for those who worship him like the Golden Calf while they wander with him in the desert of his delusions. For them, history has “alternative facts.”

It will more truly be a matter of High Crimes and Misdemeanors if the Senate fails to do its job and convict.

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