Someone was shot. People died, including Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick. The United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate were placed on lockdown. The Capitol was under siege. The Vice President of the United States was evacuated into a secure location.
On January 6th, in our nation’s capital, chaos reigned, and the President of the United States was there not to quell the insanity, but to egg it on. In a speech prior to the 1:00 p.m. convening of the House and Senate to certify the states’ Electoral College returns, the President gave the supposed “patriots” precisely what they so desperately wanted: Lies. Lies, heaped upon lies, heaped upon lies. Lies that he had won the 2020 presidential election. Lies that the election had been “stolen” from him. Lies that Vice President Michael R. Pence had any semblance of rightful constitutional authority to overturn his electoral loss.
It was shameful. Like so many of his actions in the past few months, this was “rotten to the core.” It was disgraceful. But the President had not yet reached his low point. Trump’s months-long rhetorical attacks on the legitimacy of our democratic republic and the peaceful transfer of power that we so rightly prize grew even worse as the day progressed.
After insurrectionist rioters—neither patriotic nor peaceful—stormed the Capitol building, the President was busy lamenting Vice President Pence’s apparent lack of fealty to him over Twitter. As the chaos progressed, Trump dallied in calling in the National Guard, made a few lukewarm calls for peace and order, and then released a heinous video that called for an end to the violent law-breaking while propagating the myth of a stolen election. The insurrectionists were still patriots and he still “loved them.” Their motives and ludicrous grievances were still vindicated by the President of the United States.
It is time to impeach—and this time, convict—the President of the United States. As Princeton University constitutional law scholar Keith Whittington wrote in calling for the President’s removal from office:
“This [impeachment and removal] need not be a lengthy process. The evidence of the president’s actions are clear and available to all. The House does not need an elaborate inquiry. The Senate does not need a lengthy trial. House and Senate members need only determine whether they believe that the president’s words and actions rise to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors and whether Donald Trump can be safely left to exercise the powers of the presidency until the scheduled inauguration of his elected successor. That does not seem like a difficult question, and the members of Congress should go on record with an answer to it.”
Indeed, this need not be a lengthy process. It should be short and decisive: A message to Americans that this is not who we are nor who we aspire to be. At our core, we still are blessed members of a nation of laws, not of men. We can live up to the challenges of self-government. We still have the requisite self-respect not to allow our venerable institutions and norms to be desecrated by a horde of delusional conspiracy theorists.
Shame on them. Shame on the President. Impeach him, remove him from office, and bar him from ever holding the office again. And shame on us for descending to such despicable depths. We must do better.