Every criminal caper needs a patsy — the dimwitted, naive guy who is taken advantage of and who unwittingly helps the true criminals pull off their scheme. It has become painfully obvious that during Donald Trump’s last-ditch efforts to subvert American democracy and upend a free and fair election, the biggest patsy was Sen. Tommy Tuberville.
The soon-to-be senior senator from Alabama is up to his ears in this mess, and it’s only getting worse. First, we all learned that Trump’s attorney, Rudy Giuliani, was trying desperately to call Tuberville the night before the vote certification to give him instructions on slowing down the voting process.
The slow-down plan, it seems obvious now, was designed to give Trump and his other cronies time to apply pressure on other Republican lawmakers by inciting Trump’s zombie-like throng of supporters to “fight like hell.”
Tuberville also was allegedly at a Jan. 5 meeting at the Trump hotel in D.C., where several Trump supporters say plans were discussed for challenging the results on Jan. 6. Tuberville has denied attending a meeting but has admitted to being in the hotel when it was said to be taking place and when other meeting attendees said he was present.
And now, following Tuesday’s presentation at Trump’s second impeachment trial, we have learned that Tuberville was on the phone with Trump as rioters breached the Capitol Building in search of Vice President Mike Pence. Trump was specifically asking Tuberville about Pence, and Tuberville told reporters Wednesday night that he told Trump that Pence was being evacuated.
A few minutes later Trump tweeted that Pence “didn’t have the courage” to overturn the election. A message that further incited the mob that was seen chanting “hang Mike Pence.” The video shown during Tuesday’s impeachment trial showed a Trump supporter reading Trump’s tweet through a megaphone to the other rioters.
What an utter disgrace.
All of it. It should shame the hell out of every single American that millions of their fellow citizens could be so easily misguided and sent down the path of sedition and insurrection. And it should lead at least one political party to explore exactly why it is that so many of its elected members were so willing to participate in the farce that led to the Jan. 6 riots.
Because that’s what it all was — a farce.
A complete and thorough scam pulled off by one of the biggest scam artists in the history of the United States. No different than the golden facades of his over-leveraged skyscrapers or his bottomless-pit land deals — all of it designed to lure in suckers.
There was never any voting fraud. Hell, there was never even any real disputes about the changes to the laws that allowed for more vote-by-mail options during a global pandemic. They were all legal and correct, and audit after audit has shown nothing more than a few dozen honest mistakes out of more than 155 million votes.
The rest was noise. It was internet rumor and message board fantasies. And every single court challenge in every single state proved that to be the case. Not a shred of evidence of fraud was ever provided.
Yet, many Republicans, either genuinely fooled or purposefully pandering, took up these claims of fraud and helped Trump spread them. Shamelessly, and without a scintilla of proof, they spewed this nonsense for weeks after the election, while telling Trump supporters that they had been lied to and cheated.
Tuberville was among them, using, of course, a football analogy to explain the obvious fraud that was taking place. “It’s like the whistle has blown, the game is over, and the players have gone home, but the referees are suddenly adding touchdowns to the other team’s side of the scoreboard. I’d challenge that as a coach, and President Trump is right to challenge that as a candidate,” Tuberville wrote in a Facebook post shortly after the November election.
And he didn’t stop there. He very quickly became one of the first Republican senators to pledge to challenge the election results from states. Trump quickly spotted his mark. And very soon, Tuberville, a freshman senator who hadn’t even picked out his drapes for his D.C. office yet, was getting calls from the White House.
Now, look, I don’t believe that Tuberville supported an insurrection. I don’t believe he even really supported a protest, and certainly, no one let him plan either.
But I do believe Trump and his closest allies and family members spotted in Tuberville someone who could be easily swayed, easily convinced to do the wrong things, while not realizing that there was a larger, more sinister plan afoot. They spotted a patsy.
And that’s exactly how he was used.
All of the awful, gut-wrenching, rage-inducing, horrific videos we’ve watched over the last two days during Trump’s impeachment trial were the result of Tuberville and people like him aiding and abetting Trump’s attempt to subvert the election — even if they did so unwittingly. Because they should have known better.
And for that, even the patsy should pay a price.