The Case for Prosecuting Trump

Produced by ‘The Ezra Klein Show’

The Jan. 6 hearings have made it clear that Donald Trump led a concerted, monthslong effort to overturn a democratic election. The extensive interviews — over 1,000 — that the House select committee conducted prove that Trump was told there was no evidence of election fraud, but he pressed his anti-democratic case regardless. And it appears that the hearings may be making an impact on public opinion: An ABC News/Ipsos survey released Sunday found that 58 percent of respondents believe Trump should be charged with a crime for his role in the Jan. 6 attack, up from 52 percent in April.

But after all the evidence comes to light, will he actually face legal consequences? If the answer is no, then what might future presidents — including, perhaps, Trump himself — be emboldened to do? And what would that mean for the future of the American political system?

[You can listen to this episode of “The Ezra Klein Show” on Apple, Spotify, Amazon Music, Google or wherever you get your podcasts.]

Jamelle Bouie is a Times Opinion columnist and co-host of the podcast “Unclear and Present Danger.” Bouie brings a remarkable historical depth to his writing about American politics. His columns about Jan. 6 — and the troubling idiosyncrasies of Trump’s presidency before it — have shown how the former president’s illiberal actions have threatened the constitutional foundation of American government. So I asked him on the show to help me process the Jan. 6 hearings with an eye to America’s past, and also to its uncertain future.

We discuss why Jan. 6 may be not just an insurrection but “a kind of revolution or, at least, the very beginning of one”; how the anti-democratic nature of the American Constitution makes our system vulnerable to demagogues like Trump; the most important takeaways from the hearings so far; what could happen in 2024 if Trump is allowed to walk free; what Trump allies are already doing to gain power overelections; why refusing to prosecute Trump would itself be a “radical act”; why Republicans have grown increasingly suspicious of — and hostile to — representative democracy; why Bouie thinks prosecuting Trump would be worth the political fallout it would cause; and more.

You can listen to our whole conversation by following “The Ezra Klein Show” on Apple, Spotify, Google or wherever you get your podcasts. View a list of book recommendations from our guests here.

(A full transcript of the episode will be available midday on the Times website.)

Credit…The New York Times

“The Ezra Klein Show” is produced by Annie Galvin and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Michelle Harris, Rollin Hu, Mary Marge Locker and Kate Sinclair; mixing and original music by Isaac Jones; audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Our executive producer is Irene Noguchi. Special thanks to Kristin Lin and Kristina Samulewski.

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