2023 was bad, but at least there was some accountability in Washington

(Godofredo A. Vsquez / Associated Press)

2023 was bad, but at least there was some accountability in Washington

Opinion piece, Elections 2024

Jackie Calmes

Dec. 27, 2023

How about a glass half full, in the spirit of the season, of our parlous politics at the end of 2023?

Whatever else it was, 2023 was a year of finally mocking laws,


and godless politicians held accountable, thanks to decisions by courts, prosecutors and, yes, voter events that broke records, made history and affirmed justice.

This list is not exhaustive, nor is it in any order.

Let’s start with


recent development: Rudy Giuliani’s conviction and $148 million fine for defaming two Georgia election workers as fraudsters after Donald Trump lost in 2020. Giuliani has filed for bankruptcy

less than a week

after being ordered to pay Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss.

It has become difficult to remember a time when Giuliani was much more appreciated than that other old New York newsmaker, Trump. As America’s mayor on September 11, he organized the city’s response to the terrorist attacks, while the self-centered and mendacious Trump boasted that a Trump building was now the tallest in downtown Manhattan. (That wasn’t the case.) Giuliani is now literally paying a price for moving from known mob busters to


for a mafia-like boss, Trump.

The fall of Giuliani is a tragedy worthy of Shakespeare, but it does not arouse sympathy. For all his other alleged sins in his efforts to keep Trump in power, he still faces charges in Georgia and is an unnamed co-conspirator in the federal case of the horrors Giuliani brought on Freeman and Moss .

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his lies are the most despicable. The black officials faced racist messages, death threats and even a burglary by vigilantes who wanted to arrest citizens.

Outside the courtroom, Giuliani repeated his lies about the women to reporters this month. Inside, he refused to testify under oath. That says it all.

Speaking of defamation, in April we saw Fox News penalize Faux News $787.5 million for allowing right-wing anchors to knowingly make false claims that Dominion Voting Systems rigged 2020 election machines against Trump. The amount would be the largest media defamation settlement in American history might have been smaller, but Fox’s arrogance in not reaching a settlement sooner, before the pre-trial published internal texts that were humiliating to Fox founder Rupert Murdoch and celebrities Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity.

In the summary proceedings that ultimately led to the settlement, the judge ruled that it concerned CRYSTAL It is clear that none of the statements regarding Dominion regarding the 2020 election are true. Of course, Fox News viewers didn’t get to hear much about the gory details of Fox’s deception, such as Carlson’s lines about the Trump team’s accusations against Dominion. The whole thing struck me as crazy, even though it seemed to give oxygen to the untruths.

As for Carlson, who would have thought Fox News would ever fire its top-rated anchor? Yet that’s what happened in April, and so far Carlson has been unable to do it again

creating the outsized platform he once had to spew his venomous anti-democratic, racist and misogynistic rants. Fox ultimately decided it wasn’t worth the legal fees and the loss of advertisers turned off by his poison.

I predicted it would never happen. I’m glad I was wrong.

When the Supreme Court recused itself


Half a century of abortion rights by 2022, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. wrote. for the majority: We do not pretend to know how our political system or society will react. In 2023 they found out.

The November election results confirmed a reassuring trend: Every time voters have expressed their opinions in the 18 months since the Dobbs decision, they have favored those rights and the supermajority of the courts and Republican-led state legislatures have rebuked those rushed to impose abortion bans.

Another well-deserved reward: these months


House of Representatives vote to unseat Republican Rep. George Santos of New York. The cartoonish congressman falsely claimed all kinds of successes last year by selling Long Island voters on his candidacy, but in the end he accomplished a real doozy: He’s just


sixth House member to be expelled in its history.

Santos remains tried on multiple federal charges. Meanwhile, he is shamelessly publicizing most of his 15 minutes after his eviction, including by charging users online for personal messages. a

Dec. The October 18 interview with comedian Ziwe Fumudoh went viral. At one point she asked: What can we do to get you to leave? Stop inviting me to your shows, he replied. Here’s a New Year’s resolution for all bookers: listen to the man.

Two months before Santos’ ouster, a far more historic humiliation occurred: the vote in the House of Representatives made Kevin McCarthy the first speaker ever ousted, and thanks to the kind of MAGA extremists he had trafficked to to get the job. (As welcome as McCarthy’s resignation was, Republicans replaced him with someone arguably worse: Rep. “MAGA Mike” Johnson of Louisiana.)

The leaders of the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol and democracy itself also received well-deserved responsibility.

More than 1,200 people have been charged in what has been the largest criminal investigation in US history. Among those convicted of seditious conspiracy in 2023 were additional leaders of the extremist groups the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys. The longest sentences were 22 years in prison for Proud Boy Henry Enrique Tarrio and 18 years for Stewart Rhodes, founder of the Oath Keepers.

And of course, this year the ultimate insurrectionist, Trump, became the first president in history to be criminally charged. Among his four charges and 91 felonies are the cases in Washington and Georgia accusing him of illegally attempting to reverse his 2020 loss.

Forget the pundits on whether the accusations have backfired, making Trump the favorite for renomination and perhaps reelection. All that remains is this question: What would it say about a democracy based on the rule of law if it did not hold to account the first defeated presidential candidate who rejected an election result and opposed the peaceful transfer of power?

Let’s hope that a year from now, America’s glass will be full, that we will have seen the ultimate responsibility: Trump’s conviction and, if nominated, a second defeat.



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