The Struggle for the Soul of America: Trump Grapples for a Lifeboat as He Sinks Deeper into Troubled Waters

In the last month almost all the headlines have focused on former President Trump’s mishandling and concealing classified documents belonging to the government. Until very recently, it seemed like an open and shut case. Trump knowingly took the documents that belonged to the government. When he was asked to return them, he claimed he had. But a court-ordered search of Mar-a-Lago revealed that he still had many such documents in his possession in violation of federal law.

To no one’s surprise, Trump devised a scheme to delay the DOJ’s prosecution of this case. He got one of his hand-picked judges, U.S. District Judge Aileen M. Cannon, to order that a special master examinethe seized documents, telling prosecutors they cannot use the material until it is reviewed.[1] While legal experts believe the judge had no legal support for her ruling[2] and the Justice Department immediately appealed Cannon’s decision,[3] it is an open question as to the extent Trump’s maneuver will hamper the wheels of justice.

Though many are dismayed by his latest ploy, Trump is still in a heap of trouble. Former high ranking Justice Department lawyer Peter Keisler noted, “If the department concludes that the former president or others in his circle intentionally sought to deceive the government in order to obstruct its investigation, that would significantly elevate the seriousness of this already very serious matter.”[4]

From what we now know, it sure looks like Trump intentionally sought to deceive the government and obstruct justice. Nevertheless, his duplicity could unfortunately delay prosecuting him in this matter for some time.

Regardless, Trump is sinking deeper into troubled waters and his legal jeopardy will not go away. In fact, the DOJ’s continuing investigation into the January 6 insurrection and the conspiracy to have alternative electors overturn the 2020 election in a number of states will likely now receive greater scrutiny due to the delay in the concealment of government documents probe.

Former Trump White House lawyer Ty Cobb (not the baseball hall of famer) contends that the chances of Trump being indicted by the Department of Justice are “very high.” He recently explained that Trump’s “interfering with Pence…trying to persuade him in a very aggressive effort not to certify the election, and to send certain electors back, I think that was criminal.”[5] He believes Trump’s most serious legal problems are due to the obstructive activity he took in connection with the Jan. 6 proceeding…and the attempts to interfere in the election count in Georgia,  Arizona, Pennsylvania and perhaps Michigan.”[6]

Still, there will be no resolution of any of this until after November’s election. Neither the DOJ nor the states’ prosecutors will want any hint that their actions are politically motivated. Yet Trump’s obsession with being in the limelight will clearly color this year’s elections as well as those in 2024. Sink or swim, Trump just can’t help himself.

Bruce Berlin, J.D.

A retired, public sector ethics attorney, Berlin is the author of Breaking Big Money’s Grip on America (See breakingbigmoneysgrip.com.), the founder of New Mexicans for Money Out of Politics, a former U.S. Institute of Peace fellow, and the founder and former executive director of The Trinity Forum for International Security and Conflict Resolution. He can be reached at breakingbigmoneysgrip@gmail.com.

Subscribe to this blog at https://breakingbigmoneysgrip.com/my-blog-3/. Join the movement to revive our democracy. Together we can save the soul of America.


[1] https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/09/08/justice-appeals-trump-documents-special-master/

[2] https://truthout.org/articles/trump-appointed-judge-rejects-amicus-brief-in-bizarre-move-critics-say/

[3] https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/09/08/justice-appeals-trump-documents-special-master/

[4] https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/09/01/republican-lawyers-trump-documents/

[5] https://www.cnbc.com/2022/09/09/ty-cobb-former-trump-white-house-lawyer-says-he-violated-constitution.html

[6] Ibid.

The Struggle for the Soul of America: Republican Dishonor Will Remain

“Tonight, I say this to my Republican colleagues who are defending the indefensible: There will come a day when Donald Trump is gone, but your dishonor will remain.”[1] That was the message Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), co-chair of the House Select Committee investigating the January 6th insurrection, gave to Congressional Republicans as the committee’s historic hearings began on June 9th.

After concluding three public hearings, Cheney’s warning has become even more foreboding. Yet, despite Trump’s unforgiveable transgressions against American democracy, a great many Republicans continue to support him and believe his Big Lie that the election was stolen.[2] The power Trump has over his party is just mindboggling.

A major test of the impact of the Select Committee’s hearings will be to what extent they influence Americans’ opinions not only of Trump, but of his Congressional Republican enablers. In a recent ABC News/Ipsos poll, “58% of Americans think Trump should be charged with a crime for his role in the riot.”[3] That is six points higher than before the hearings began.[4]

As the hearings continue, I believe that majority will likely grow even larger.  In fact, “ex-justice department lawyers say new revelations at the hearings increase the likelihood that Trump will be charged with crimes involving conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding or defrauding the United States…”[5]

It stands to reason that an increasing majority would want to hold Trump’s Congressional enablers accountable as well. Afterall, the backing of a majority of Republican Congresspeople bolstered Trump’s baseless claims,[6] at least in the eyes of Trump voters.

The most effective way to hold those Republicans accountable would be at the polls this November. While conventional wisdom holds that the insurrection will not be a major issue in this year’s midterm elections, the Select Committee’s hearings could change that.

Of course, inflation and the economy will be very important factors in the election. However, if the hearings continue to provide overwhelming evidence of a conspiracy to overturn the 2020 election and destroy American democracy, then the seats of all the Congressional Republicans who gave credence to the Big Lie could be vulnerable. Instead of supporting Trump’s efforts to subvert the election, these Republicans could have stood up for the truth and our democracy. But their fear of Trump and their thirst for power were stronger than their allegiance to the Constitution and our democracy. For that, as Rep. Cheney noted, their dishonor will remain.

While Trump will not be on the ballot this November, the survival of our democracy will be. Republicans who supported Trump and his attempt to overturn the election are the enemies of democracy. They must be fully exposed as co-conspirators. Americans must understand that a vote for any of them is a vote to destroy our democratic process and create a Trump-led autocratic government. It is up to everyone who wants our democracy to survive to make that crystal clear to all Americans going to the polls this fall.

Bruce Berlin, J.D.

A retired, public sector ethics attorney, Berlin is the author of Breaking Big Money’s Grip on America (See breakingbigmoneysgrip.com.), the founder of New Mexicans for Money Out of Politics, a former U.S. Institute of Peace fellow, and the founder and former executive director of The Trinity Forum for International Security and Conflict Resolution. He can be reached at breakingbigmoneysgrip@gmail.com.

Subscribe to this blog at https://breakingbigmoneysgrip.com/my-blog-3/. Join the movement to revive our democracy. Together we can save the soul of America.


[1] https://www.npr.org/2022/06/09/1104083111/liz-cheney-stark-message-gop-trump-supporters

[2] https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/midterm-primaries-trump-retains-majority-gop-support-poll/story?id=84452201

[3] https://www.yahoo.com/gma/6-10-americans-trump-charged-130009380.html

[4] Ibid.

[5] https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/jun/19/trump-charges-january-6-hearings-capitol-attack

[6] https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/01/07/us/elections/electoral-college-biden-objectors.html

The Struggle for the Soul of America: Will the January 6th Select Committee Succeed?

While it’s not a sure bet, I believe the House Select Committee investigating the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol will succeed. And, in my view, there is only one measure of success. That is, the Department of Justice will indict Donald Trump for crimes against our nation based on the evidence the committee presents to the American people.

The country is clearly divided on whether Trump is culpable for the insurrection. Thursday’s first televised hearing was only the beginning of the committee’s effort to lay out its case that he is criminally liable. With Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wy) leading the charge, it was a good initial step.

The committee’s evidence was convincing that there was a conspiracy to overturn the election. For example, it showed video of a meeting between leaders of two far-right groups, the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers, the night before the attack. Then Capitol Police Officer Caroline Edwards testified that she observed about 200 members of these groups marching to the Capitol at 10:30 the morning of the insurrection, well before Trump urged the crowd at the Ellipse to go to the Capitol and “fight like hell.”[1]

If the “riot” was a spontaneous response to Trump’s speech, why were these right-wing groups already meeting in advance of January 6th? Why were they encountering police at the Capitol prior to Trump’s Ellipse speech? It stands to reason that they must have conspired in advance to be on the frontline of the larger attack they knew was coming.

The essential question that the committee must answer with concrete evidence in its subsequent hearings then is, to what degree was Trump involved in the effort to overthrow our government. What did Trump do or not do to advance the insurrection and with whom did he interact? As Rep. Cheney asserted, that attempt went well beyond the January 6th attack on the Capitol. In fact, it continues to this day.

Cheney explained that over the course of several months Trump had a “sophisticated seven-point plan” to overturn the 2020 election and prevent the transition of presidential power. In the next couple of weeks, the committee’s hearings will provide substantial evidence of Trump’s central role in executing his plan. When all else failed, the January insurrection was the final stab at accomplishing his goal.

Other elements of Trump’s scheme included:

  1. Spreading false and fraudulent information to the American public claiming the 2020 election was stolen from him,
  2. Replacing the Acting Attorney General, so that the Department of Justice would support his fake election claims,
  3. Pressuring state election officials, and state legislators, to change election results,
  4. Instructing Republicans in multiple states to create false electoral slates and transmit those slates to Congress and the National Archives, and
  5. Summoning his supporters to Washington and directing them to march on the US Capitol.[2]

When you put this all together, it’s clear that Trump’s intent was to overturn the election and remain in power by unlawful means. In practically all criminal cases, proving the accused’s intent is a critical element in obtaining a conviction. It’s now up to the committee to present evidence in its upcoming hearings that establishes Trump’s intent beyond a reasonable doubt. If it can do that, and I think they can, Attorney General Merrick Garland and the Department of Justice will prosecute Trump for crimes against the United States.

Bruce Berlin, J.D.

A retired, public sector ethics attorney, Berlin is the author of Breaking Big Money’s Grip on America (See breakingbigmoneysgrip.com.), the founder of New Mexicans for Money Out of Politics, a former U.S. Institute of Peace fellow, and the founder and former executive director of The Trinity Forum for International Security and Conflict Resolution. He can be reached at breakingbigmoneysgrip@gmail.com.

Subscribe to this blog at https://breakingbigmoneysgrip.com/my-blog-3/. Join the movement to revive our democracy. Together we can save the soul of America.


[1] https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2022/06/09/january-6-committee-hearing-live-updates/7529743001/

[2] https://www.cnn.com/2022/06/09/politics/jan-6-hearing-cheney-trump-overturn-election-plan/index.html

The Struggle for the Soul of America: Through the Darkness, Signs of Positive Change on the Horizon

We live in extremely challenging times. A great many of us are overwhelmed by what’s taking place in our country and in the world. Yet, as dark as it may seem, some encouraging signs of positive change are on the horizon.

The Ukrainian people in the face of a massive attack on their country are showing amazing courage and fortitude. An inspiration to all of us. “Ukrainian forces (have) continued to halt significant Russian battlefield gains,” according to recent reports.[1] At the same time, Russian protests against the war are steadily intensifying. More than 5,000 anti-war demonstrators were arrested in 69 Russian cities last Sunday alone.[2] Western nations have united to impose crippling sanctions against Russia in an effort to pressure Putin to end the war.[3] And military expert, retired Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman even predicted that “the Russian invasion into Ukraine marked the ‘beginning of the end’ for Russian President Vladimir Putin as casualties from the war grow.”[4]

On the home front, COVID cases are declining significantly.[5] Almost the entire country is open for business. The U.S. economy added a record 6.4 million new jobs in 2021.[6] And Congress finally passed a $1.5 trillion bipartisan budget, including support for Ukraine and climate protection.[7]

One of the most surprising signs of progress is in the redistricting battles occurring across the country. Republican gerrymandering was supposed to give the GOP a distinct, unfair advantage in November’s Congressional elections. But Democrats are winning redistricting court cases in key battleground states like Pennsylvania and North Carolina. According to CNN, “they now have a chance to come out better than expected, and perhaps even benefit from the new maps overall.”[8] With President Biden’s poll numbers finally rising, the Democrats just might have a chance of holding onto their majority in Congress next fall.[9]

Finally, slowly but surely, the January 6th insurrectionists are being brought to justice. Earlier this month, a federal jury convicted Guy Wesley Reffitt on the very serious charge of obstructing Congress’s certification of the 2020 presidential election. At the same time, the Justice Department announced the indictment of the former Proud Boys leader, Enrique Tarrio, on charges of conspiring with several of his top lieutenants to plan and launch the assault on the Capitol.[10]

Just this week Attorney General Merrick Garland stressed that “almost every U.S. attorney’s office in the country is working on this matter…People are working every day, 24/7, and are fully aware of how important this is. This had to do with the interference with the peaceful transfer of power from one administration to another. And it doesn’t get more important than that.[11]

Meanwhile, the House Select committee investigating the insurrection, recently said in a court filing that it had gathered sufficient evidence to conclude that former President Trump and some of his allies might have conspired to commit fraud and obstruction by misleading Americans about the outcome of the 2020 election and attempting to overturn the result.[12]

We are moving forward. Truly positive change is on the horizon.

Bruce Berlin, J.D.

A retired, public sector ethics attorney, Berlin is the author of Breaking Big Money’s Grip on America (See breakingbigmoneysgrip.com.), the founder of New Mexicans for Money Out of Politics, a former U.S. Institute of Peace fellow, and the founder and former executive director of The Trinity Forum for International Security and Conflict Resolution. He can be reached at breakingbigmoneysgrip@gmail.com.

Subscribe to this blog at https://breakingbigmoneysgrip.com/my-blog-3/. Join the movement to revive our democracy. Together we can save the soul of America.


[1] https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/3/10/russia-ukraine-war-military-dispatch-march-10-2022; https://us.yahoo.com/news/ukraines-army-vastly-outgunned-inflicts-211426968.html

[2] https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/3/10/anti-war-protests-intensify-in-russia-along-with-police-crackdown

[3] https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/05/world/europe/russia-ukraine-invasion-sanctions.html

[4] https://www.yahoo.com/news/vindman-beginning-end-putin-171123293.html

[5] https://www.axios.com/covid-cases-continue-steep-decline-in-us-420ab059-19df-4d4c-9052-178fe17aeb3e.html

[6] https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-01-07/u-s-sees-record-job-growth-in-2021-after-millions-lost-in-2020#:~:text=The%20U.S.%20economy%20added%20a,Labor%20Department%20data%20released%20Friday.

[7] https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/10/us/politics/senate-spending-bill-approved.html

[8] https://edition.cnn.com/2022/03/08/politics/democrats-congressional-redistricing-fights-ctzn/index.html

[9] https://www.usnews.com/news/national-news/articles/2022-03-08/bidens-approval-rises-in-crisis

[10] https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/08/us/politics/guy-reffitt-jan-6-trial.html

[11] https://www.npr.org/2022/03/10/1085016383/garland-says-the-jan-6-investigation-wont-end-until-everyone-is-held-to-account

[12] https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/08/us/politics/guy-reffitt-jan-6-trial.html

The Struggle for the Soul of America: Democrats and Our Country Owe Liz Cheney a Deep Debt of Gratitude

How ironic that Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wy) is leading the charge to save our democracy from Trump and his Republican enablers. Until last May, Cheney was the third ranking Republican in the House of Representatives.[1] She voted with Trump’s positions 93% of the time.[2] And, she’s the daughter of arch-conservative Republican icon, former Vice-President Dick Cheney.

Nevertheless, Rep. Cheney has chosen to stand up for the Constitution and the rule of law in the face of extreme pressure from her own party. Last Friday the Republican National Committee voted to formally censure Cheney and her fellow Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger for joining the House Select Committee investigating the January 6th attack on the Capitol. The RNC’s resolution censuring the two Republicans claimed they were participating in the “persecution of ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse.”[3] Really?!

Here’s what Cheney is actually doing to save our democratic government. First and foremost, she is giving the House Select Committee’s investigation credibility that it would not possibly have been able to garner without her. When the third highest member of the House Republicans who voted in lockstep with Trump for four years bucks her president and the Party line, the country pays attention. Even diehard Republicans like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell want to know what Cheney and her committee are going to reveal to the public.[4]

In addition, Cheney’s work in the effort to get to the bottom of how and why the insurrection occurred is helping to divide Republicans and aid Democrats. Republican Leader McCarthy and most elected party officials continue to support Trump and his Big Lie that the 2020 election was stolen. They downplay the riot and promote authoritarian causes like banning books and demonizing the press.[5]

At the same time, the anti-Trump/pro-democracy Republican movement is slowly growing, thanks in part to Rep. Cheney’s outspokenness. Recently, it gained momentum when Trump’s former Vice President Mike Pence joined its ranks.[6] As this movement grows and the Republicans become more divided, the Democrats’ chances in the November mid-term elections will also expand. When the House Committee’s hearings reach across the country on national television, swing voters who fear the demise of our democracy will side with the Democrats.

Finally, Cheney’s leadership is strengthening the committee’s resolve. According to the New York Times:

“Some of the Democrats on the committee were concerned that if the panel was too aggressive, Republicans might turn the tables on the Democrats whenever they took back control of the House. But Ms. Cheney insisted that the committee be as aggressive as possible. She said that the panel would face significant resistance from Mr. Trump’s inner circle, and that the committee would be criticized no matter what it did, so there was no reason to hold back in the face of efforts to impede its work.”[7]

I never thought I would say this, but thank you, Liz Cheney, for all you are doing to save our democracy.

Bruce Berlin, J.D.

A retired, public sector ethics attorney, Berlin is the author of Breaking Big Money’s Grip on America (See breakingbigmoneysgrip.com.), the founder of New Mexicans for Money Out of Politics, a former U.S. Institute of Peace fellow, and the founder and former executive director of The Trinity Forum for International Security and Conflict Resolution. He can be reached at breakingbigmoneysgrip@gmail.com.

Subscribe to this blog at https://breakingbigmoneysgrip.com/my-blog-3/. Join the movement to revive our democracy. Together we can save the soul of America.


[1] https://www.cnn.com/2021/05/12/politics/liz-cheney-gop-conference-vote/index.html

[2] https://cowboystatedaily.com/2021/01/26/liz-cheney-voted-with-trump-more-often-than-matt-gaetz-did/

[3] https://time.com/6145764/rnc-censures-liz-cheney-adam-kinzinger-january-6-donald-trump/

[4] https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/congress/mcconnell-says-jan-6-committee-s-findings-are-something-public-n1286194

[5] https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/11/22/republican-authoritarianism-is-here-stay/

[6] https://www.brookings.edu/blog/fixgov/2022/02/08/is-trumps-hold-on-the-republican-party-getting-weaker/

[7] https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/05/us/politics/january-6-committee.html

The Struggle for the Soul of America: Are Trump and His Republican Party Going Down?

The walls are closing in on Donald Trump. It’s now clear that Republicans in at least five states won by Joe Biden conspired to fraudulently overturn the 2020 presidential election. In one of those states, the Michigan “Republican Party Co-Chair Meshawn Maddock said that the Trump presidential campaign directed Republicans in Michigan to seat fake GOP Electoral College delegates.”[1] No doubt Trump’s campaign directed the other states to do the same.

This effort was led by Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer.[2] It’s inconceivable that Giuliani would have implemented such a scheme without his client’s knowledge and approval.

At the same time, the New York Daily News has reported that NY “state Attorney General Tish James reveal(ed) that the cheating conman (Trump) we’ve known all these long decades cheated and conned in illegally misrepresenting the finances of his real estate firm.”[3] The Daily News editorial board called Trump “this miserable insipid democracy-threatening horror of a man.”[4]

Meanwhile, “a district attorney in Atlanta on Thursday asked a judge to convene a special grand jury to help a criminal investigation into former President Donald J. Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election results in Georgia.”[5]

And it does not appear that the conservative U.S. Supreme Court is ready to come to Trump’s rescue either. On Wednesday, in an 8 to 1 decision, the Court refused Trump’s request to block the release of White House records to the House select committee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol.[6]

In the coming weeks how all these pieces fit together will most likely become abundantly clear when the House Select Committee conducts nationally televised hearings regarding the Jan. 6 insurrection. What will take longer to decipher is the American public’s response to what these hearings reveal. Specifically, how will the committee’s revelations affect next November’s elections?

We know that Republican members of Congress met with some of the rioters before January 6th. Reports indicate that White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows also interacted with them.[7] In fact, 147 Republican members of the House and Senate voted to overturn Biden’s election.[8]

Americans are about to learn who really tried to steal the 2020 election. Once they understand the extent to which Trump and the Republican Party went to unlawfully overturn the election will they be willing to trust them with the reins of power and vote them into office? While the Democrats recently lost the battle over voting rights, it appears they still may have a pretty good shot at winning the struggle for the soul of America.

Bruce Berlin, J.D.

A retired, public sector ethics attorney, Berlin is the author of Breaking Big Money’s Grip on America (See breakingbigmoneysgrip.com.), the founder of New Mexicans for Money Out of Politics, a former U.S. Institute of Peace fellow, and the founder and former executive director of The Trinity Forum for International Security and Conflict Resolution. He can be reached at breakingbigmoneysgrip@gmail.com.

Subscribe to this blog at https://breakingbigmoneysgrip.com/my-blog-3/. Join the movement to revive our democracy. Together we can save the soul of America.


[1] https://www.yahoo.com/news/michigan-gop-co-chair-says-004310038.html

[2] https://www.cnn.com/2022/01/20/politics/trump-campaign-officials-rudy-giuliani-fake-electors/index.html

[3] https://www.yahoo.com/news/digging-donald-trump-comeuppance-coming-090000451.html

[4] Ibid.

[5] https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/20/us/politics/georgia-trump-election-investigation.html

[6] https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/19/us/politics/trump-supreme-court-jan-6.html

[7] https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-news/exclusive-jan-6-organizers-met-congress-white-house-1245289/

[8] https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/01/07/us/elections/electoral-college-biden-objectors.html