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Column: Justice is finally coming to some of the liars and cheats who enabled Trump

Newport Beach, CA - September 26: Republican National Committee Chairman Ronna McDaniel speaks while joining Republican National Committee (RNC), the California Republican Party (CAGOP) and top Orange County Republican Candidates during a rally ahead of the November elections in Newport Beach Monday, Sept. 26, 2022. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)
Ronna McDaniel, former Republican National Committee chair, lied about the 2020 election and helped Donald Trump's efforts to overturn his loss. NBC changed its mind about hiring her, but only after on-air protests from several of its marquee personalities. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

The arc of the moral universe — the one that is supposedly long and bending toward justice — seems finally to be edging closer to its mark.

A series of events in recent days — the defenestration of Ronna McDaniel, threatened disbarment of John Eastman, capitulation of Kari Lake in a defamation lawsuit — suggests a reckoning is upon us.

It’s taken awhile. Too long to satisfy those who would rather justice be swift than sure.

But the humiliation visited on McDaniel, the sanctioning of Eastman and Lake, as well as the jailing of Peter Navarro, the Clinton-Democrat-turned-Trump-flunky, all bring a welcome and much-needed measure of accountability.

Perhaps their punishment will deter others who might similarly endeavor to overthrow a free and fairly conducted election, affronting the country's values and assaulting our democracy with their deceit.

The four differ in their deeds. But all are sprung from the same poisoned seed: Donald Trump's lie about the 2020 election, which he lost, clearly and indisputably, to Joe Biden.

McDaniel, while she was head of the Republican National Committee, not only helped spread Trump's lie but also sought to pressure officials in Michigan — her home state — to withhold certification of Biden's victory there.

Read more: NBC News cuts ties with Ronna McDaniel after internal backlash

Her reward was a $300,000-a-year contract to serve as a political commentator for NBC, which soiled itself in a misguided attempt to bring political diversity to its election coverage.

The network backed off and dumped McDaniel only after a remarkable on-air revolt by several of its marquee personalities, who rightly questioned the platforming of a fabulist and accessory to attempted election sabotage.

As MSNBC host Rachel Maddow aptly put it, "You wouldn’t hire ... a mobster to work at a DA’s office, right?”

The swift dispatch of McDaniel was not a matter of silencing a conservative voice, as some would have it. Rather, it was taking back a megaphone from a known liar whose every utterance would — and should — have been called into question.

(A whole other issue is the amount of money that was shelled out to McDaniel not long after NBC made cuts to its news division — a reflection of an industry preference for elevating partisans, Democratic and Republican, over journalists.)

Eastman's comeuppance came a day after McDaniel's unceremonious exit, when a California State Bar judge recommended the attorney lose his law license for helping devise a cockamamie scheme to keep Trump in office despite his election defeat.

It's one thing to provide zealous counsel, said the judge, Yvette Roland, whose recommendation of disbarment goes to the state Supreme Court. “However, Eastman’s inaccurate assertions were lies that cannot be justified as zealous advocacy,” she concluded.

Indeed, though it would have been nice had the judge gone beyond the $10,000 fine imposed on Eastman, which seems a pittance considering the damage wrought by the former Orange County law school dean.

It's not as though he were testing some novel theory in moot court, or practicing "creative" lawyering, as he claimed in a self-pitying podcast interview.

Eastman set out to override and invalidate the judgment of more than 80 million Americans who voted for Biden and cast their ballots with full faith the results would be honored, just as they had been for the previous 200-plus years in America.

(For those members of the what-about chorus, yawping that Hillary Clinton and Stacey Abrams questioned the legitimacy of their defeats, there is no comparison between griping on the lecture circuit and mounting a spurious, full-frontal legal attack. Not to mention inciting a violent mob to storm the Capitol and prevent lawmakers from certifying the election.)

Happily, one of Eastman's fellow henchmen, Navarro, is stewing in prison after refusing to testify about the Jan. 6 insurrection and his plan to keep Congress from tallying Biden's electoral college victory.

The four-month jail hitch is just the latest adornment on Navarro's unusual career path from environmentalist San Diego mayoral candidate and Democratic congressional hopeful to fall-on-his-sword MAGA loyalist.

Read more: Column: The weird saga of Peter Navarro, from California environmentalist to Trump henchman

Finally, there is Arizona's feckless Kari Lake.

She ran for governor in 2022 as a Trump wannabe and kept up the act for months after losing, falsely claiming she, too, was a victim of election fraud.

Her fakery resulted in a defamation suit filed by Maricopa County's Republican elections chief, which Lake — now running for U.S. Senate — has ceased to contest. Last week, she asked a judge to skip the trial and go straight to assessing damages.

Here's hoping for a huge drain on Lake's bank account, followed by a resounding rejection by Arizona voters.

Read more: Column: Trump's vice presidential show and Kennedy's kamikaze mission

Of course, the impresario of all the destruction and duplicity — Trump — has yet to face any criminal penalties.

That moment may be nearing, as a New York City jury is scheduled next month to take up the matter surrounding hush money Trump paid adult film performer Stormy Daniels to cover up an alleged one-night stand.

It's tempting to turn away and be spared the yucky details. But it's important to remember the context.

The panicked payment to Daniels came after Trump was heard boasting on the infamous "Access Hollywood" tape about committing sexual assault, which pushed his candidacy to the brink of collapse in the final weeks of the 2016 campaign. The additional revelation of an extramarital affair could have cost Trump the White House; voters certainly deserved to know the facts.

Unfortunately, other criminal cases, involving the former president's efforts to overturn the election and his negligent handling of classified documents after leaving the White House, may not reach a jury before November.

That leaves it up to voters to deliver their verdict on Trump, which should be a clear and unequivocal thrashing at the polls.

But for now, at least, there's satisfaction in holding to account at least some of the fraudsters and cheats who enabled his rampant wrongdoing.

At long last.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.