How can we hold Trump legally accountable for COVID deaths?

Yesterday Mehdi Hasan raised the question. “Why aren’t we holding Trump legally accountable for COVID deaths.”

When I saw this segment I was excited because I’ve been working on this and wrote about it recently at Crooks & Liars.

Elie said our legal system has a problem with prosecuting politicians and their policy issues. He suggested that the Catholics created hell to punish people like Trump.
I’m a big fan of Elie and I wish I had the chance to talk about this with him and discuss all the reasons why it’s hard to do. Then, as an activist, I’ll ask.

Okay Elie, what CAN WE DO to hold them legally accountable for all this sickness and death?”

For the last 18 months I’ve been trying to figure out ways to hold Trump and his administration accountable for the infections and deaths directly related to their actions & non-actions spreading COVID with their rallies.

We have proof the rallies led to large scale infections and deaths. The media has reported on this in their news coverage and books. But what the public, and the media CAN’T uncover is the hard evidence that the Trump admin intentionally violated public health laws. Not just the violations we can see, like not wearing masks or social distancing, but violations of state and federal laws on COVID test reporting.

Test reporting has become a big deal because of Meadow’s book talking about Trump’s COVID testing timeline, but what the press & public can’t know is the actual timeline of Trump’s tests, who did the testing, what type of test, EXACTLY when they were taken and where the results were sent.

Trump has been using executive privilege to hide hard evidence of their law breaking, their awareness of what they are doing and their INTENT. As I said elsewhere, there is a group that can get this, the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis. @COVIDOversight It’s chaired by Democratic Rep. James Clyburn. @WhipClyburn

When Trump & his followers break public health laws in public they say, “What are you going to do about it?” They turn the tables and threaten people who DO follow the public health laws.
They know that when it comes to prosecuting people for breaking public health laws the opinion of many in the public health profession is, “Don’t do it!”

They know that many in law enforcement don’t want to enforce it and even REFUSE to enforce it.
The general public doesn’t want to be busted for unintentionally forgetting their mask.
The right wing will use Whataboutism if someone on the left doesn’t follow the law:
Newsom! French Laundry! Nancy! Hairdresser!

The Trump admin has used all these attitudes to avoid consequences for their serious intentional actions that has led to the death of 100’s of thousands. And a huge method they use to avoid accountability needs to be discussed. Threats and intimidation.

Making threats and intimidating others is what they do. It is how they “negotiate” to get what they want. As we have seen in the Reuters series, when their people make threats, there are no consequences to them. As we saw with Ruby Freeman, the threats come from the top and are enacted nationwide. Bots run by foreign government boost their signal.

But We Can’t Bust Trump For ANYTHING!

But if my brilliant plan is to bust Trump & his campaign for not reporting the COVID test results to the state department of health promptly, I need to anticipate their reasons that it’s not enough, like:

“Are you kidding? Not reporting details on time? Even if true, it’s a misdemeanor.”
They might show that they DID cooperate but it was 24, 48, 72 or 96 hours later.
I need to show how this violated the law and remind people that they obstructed a public health agency from carrying out their official duties. which is a felony. (Does that phrase sound familiar from Liz Cheney and the 1/6 Committee? It should.

Did officials falsify COVID test data to state public health agency? That’s a felony.

They will argue about who should have been tested & where the results should have been be sent. They will use the complex multi jurisdiction nature of reporting and say things like:
“It was unclear since there are multiple jurisdictions for the Secret Service, campaign staffers that work in DC and the VIPs visiting from other states.”

Who is making those decisions? Doctors or campaign officials who want to “Keep the numbers down.”

They will push the idea that “Everyone was tested eventually.”
And the idea that contract tracing is impossible: “There were so many people no one could even do the contact tracing to prove people got sick from the rally.”

I’ve heard these possible reasons from people who don’t have the evidence. There are also people who want to give the medical professionals carrying out the process the benefit of the doubt. That’s fine, but we must look at how they were pressured to not follow the laws. The Trump people will suggest that delays were inevitable and were caused by simple miscommunication instead of criminal intent.

As we know, the Trump admin uses intimidation every time they can, and when they can hide their bullying, they will. The using medical privacy is a perfect way to hide what they were doing.

I’ve looked into answers for all these objections, but I can’t see the evidence. I’m not a prosecutor who worries about if I can win taking on the Trump administration with all their methods to avoid legal accountability. I’m not a public health officer who worries if they try to hold Trump accountable for this will be attacked. They don’t want to be in the bullseye from the right wing nutballs.

So what can we do? Find the people who SHOULD care about violation of public health laws.
I hear, ‘Well we need a prosecutor who will take this on, who will be the first?”
Why not the Oklahoma AG? Doesn’t he care about the dead in Oklahoma?
I anticipate that the Governor of Oklahoma doesn’t want an investigation, so who does?
It’s time to look to a Federal authority.

If we can’t get the United States Attorney General Merrick Garland, to take this one, then what do we do, where do we go?

The House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis

There are federal agencies & officials that are supposed to oversee these violations. For example, the Department of Homeland Security, that oversees the Secret Service, could investigate. In fact, the Secret Service agents ASKED for the Inspector General to investigate, but he’s a Trump appointee and he refused. So who is next? Rep. Bennie Thompson. He is the chair of the DHS oversight committee. If he’s busy, so who is next?

The House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis. They have the authority to investigate and subpoena power. In fact, they’ve already asked for the data on this topic from the Trump White House, who didn’t deliver.
As Coronavirus Infections Surge, Select Subcommittee Seeks Information On Possible White House Efforts To Suppress Testing

So they asked the Biden White House in February of 2021. Clyburn Renews Inquiry into Previous Administration’s Disastrous Pandemic Response, Seeks to Identify and Address Failures The good news is that they might already have the documents they need. And when the January 6th Committee win the fight for testimony from Meadows & other high level Trump staffers, the Coronavirus Crisis subcommittee can interview them under oath.

The media can ask the question about holding Trump legally accountable for the COVID illness and deaths, but they don’t see it is their job to build a case to prosecute Trump.

The legal pundits and experts can talk about the problems with making it happen, but it’s not their job to find a way to hold him legally accountable.

We can’t wait for Trump and his enablers to go to hell and be punished. We need to act now.

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