The US Must Prosecute Republicans

Matthew R. Bishop
5 min readJul 1, 2022

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Donald Trump campaigns in 2016. CC-SA.

From November of 2020 to January 4th, 2021, I wrote a series of articles urging Congress to immediately arrest their coup-conspiring Republican colleagues before the events of January 6th had any chance to occur. I had hoped that by arresting and prosecuting seditionists prior to the day of January 6th itself, our nation might avoid the damage and the trauma of watching Trump’s final, desperate coup attempt play out on live television all around the world.

Congress, of course, took no action. America’s global reputation has been shattered, and our future as a nation has come under so much scrutiny that American citizens now openly wonder whether or not the States can even remain united in a single nation at all. The end of the United States itself might be within sight. We have few options left to correct our course.

This is the last article that I will write advocating for the criminal investigation and prosecution of Republican members of the United States Congress. In the end, when our government fails us, it falls to the American people themselves to seize command of their own nation, and to steer its course into the future. We are nearing that point. Any further Congressional inaction will justify and necessitate it.

To understand the grave importance of this moment, we need to turn the clock back by at least six years. In 2016, Donald Trump began campaigning as an openly fascist candidate, promising his audience that he’d never accept the results of any election unless he is declared the winner, encouraging physical violence against dissidents and protestors at his rallies, promising to crush free speech, and labelling journalists as “enemies of the people” in a script he could have taken directly from Goebbels himself. Donald Trump never pretended to be anything other than the man he is: A self-obsessed aspiring dictator who would burn down his own country just to enrich himself.

After an initial display of outrage and dissent, prominent Republicans like Cruz and McCarthy eventually conceded the entirety of the Republican Party to Trump’s dogma. As Donald Trump ousted qualified professionals from American government and replaced them with brainless loyalists, the GOP necessarily grew further and further to the extreme right as the Trump regime progressed year-by-year. By the time November of 2020 came around, Trump had surrounded himself with violent extremists and far-right fascists, entirely loyal to Donald Trump himself, and entirely unconcerned with the United States of America.

Eventually, the power of this expanding circle encompassed almost all Republicans who had dissented only a few years prior — including Ted Cruz, now an enthusiastic pro-Trump fascist whose work helped guarantee the violence of January 6th, and Jim McCarthy, who flew down to Mar-a-Lago almost immediately after the failed coup to pledge allegiance to a terrorist who had just directly attacked the United States on live television. These are but two stunning examples out of hundreds involving both state and federal Republicans who knowingly betrayed their oath to the United States and are almost invariably guilty of sedition. These senior Republicans, among perhaps hundreds of others, must be considered hostile domestic enemies of the United States.

A majority of US Republican Senators and Representatives did most of the following:

1) Knowingly encouraged, justified, broadcasted and/or directly facilitated the coup attempt between November of 2020 to January of 2021;

2) Covered up the coup attempt and then whitewashed the terrorist attack after the day of Jan. 6 itself;

3) Pledged political allegiance to an aspiring dictator and a hostile enemy of the United States government who had facilitated a direct terrorist attack against the United States Congress itself, and who had plotted for the assassination of US Congresspeople and the US Vice President;

4) Continued pledging fealty and allegiance to that individual for months and years after the event of the terrorist attack itself, knowingly and intentionally cultivating an anti-US terrorist insurgency within the US itself;

5) Chose not to convict the chief architect of that attack, but instead to continue spreading his propaganda, working to earn his political approval and endorsement, normalizing his violence, and hosting him for key political events even after his direct attack against the United States.

As other writers have already pointed out, there are not sentences heavy enough for the gravity of the crimes that US Republicans have committed. Life and death sentences, for such crimes, are both insufficient. But to fail to prosecute those crimes altogether is tantamount to the existential surrender of the nation itself. It signals that the coup has succeeded, that the fascists have won, and that the United States may as well dissolve, then we can all go our separate ways.

To say that criminals must be prosecuted for some of the most serious crimes that any criminal has committed should not be a political statement. It should be an accepted fact. That a major political party argues otherwise does not illegitimize the law; it illegitimizes that party, and in fact suggests that party’s own widespread criminal guilt and direct involvement with the crimes in question.

The horrific fact of the matter is this: The US Republican party, the GOP itself — barring only a few principled dissidents — helped orchestrate, justify, organize, broadcast, and execute the attempted coup from November of 2020 onward, with the full intention of overthrowing our elected government and replacing it with an unelected, far-right dictatorship through the use of lethal force and against the clear consent of the governed. The crimes these men are guilty of are world-shattering and historic in their nature. They demand historic prosecutions and historic sentences.

At least some of these Republicans in Congress and throughout the States must have taken these actions knowing full well that these actions might result in a second American Civil War, the dissolution of the United States, and — potentially — the deaths of millions of their own fellow Americans.

They chose to do it anyways. We cannot not act.

A majority of Republican Congresspeople can and should be criminally investigated for the vital supportive role they played in Trump’s attack against the United States of America. For a minority of them, there is already enough public evidence to seek 20+ year sentences in federal prison on charges of sedition against the United States. For a handful of them, the charges will be graver still. As our evidence grows, that list is sure to expand — perhaps dramatically.

Whatever the case, I am tragically confident that further investigations will yield the kind of evidence and results that none of us had actually hoped to find. Federals prosecutors and policymakers cannot be afraid to make the hard choices that the weight of the evidence demands. They should instead be far more fearful of what happens to their country if they fail.

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Matthew R. Bishop

Matt is an author, journalist, international affairs writer, and a federal civilian crisis responder for the United States.