President Trump has pushed the country to the edge with repeated and outlandish claims of election fraud, to the point of inciting a riot that sent hundreds of followers crashing into the U.S. Capitol.
The country came as close as any time in its history to a political coup. Even during the Civil War, the nation’s capital was never so threatened.
The president has been angling for this ever since he lost the election, Nov. 3.
His repeated false assertions that the election was stolen–rejected more than 60 times by state, federal courts and the Supreme Court–provided the basis to incite the mob.
The scene yesterday on Capitol his was ugly, and was a direct result of his actions.
During a speech earlier that day, he urged his followers to storm the Capitol to prevent the routine certification of electors for President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.
“You will never take back our country with weakness,” he exhorted the crowd.
Tragically, one person lost their life as she tried to push her way into the House Chamber through a broken window. A guard shot her before she could make her way in.
Any loss of life is unspeakable, but we believe the officer did his duty. The sound of that shot echoed through Capitol halls and made clear the riot was no sunny waltz in the park.
To the contrary, the riot marked a key turning point. We must now decide whether this nation remains a democracy with respect for our institutions, or whether it caves to more base instincts–mob rule.
After a bumbling performance by the Capitol Hill police, order was finally restored by police units from surrounding jurisdictions and the National Guard.
The Capitol Hill police were an embarrassment and aided in creating a dangerous situation by letting the crowd get out of control. But that’s not surprising.
They have been chronically under-funded and under-trained for years. Effectively, they are mall cops. Their biggest duty has been escorting tourists through the Capitol, and they acted like tour guides yesterday.
They backed off and opened gates to the rioters. Once they were inside, some took selfies with them– just like any other day.
Although it’s been said over and over, it still bears repeating; had the rioters been African-American they would have been treated far differently.
That was clearly demonstrated over-and-over again during the summer when Black Lives Matter protesters faced police instigated violence and a hail of rubber bullets, tear gas and mass arrests.
As darkness fell and a curfew was imposed by D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, House and Senate members were finally able to get back to business. Biden and Harris were certified as election winners.
They will take office as planned on Jan. 20. But the beginning of their administration will be inauspicious. They must immediately address the riot and its aftermath.
It won’t be pretty, but it is wholly necessary. They must make it clear, that the United States is, and remains, a nation of laws.
That process needs to begin today with the removal from office of President Trump.
The president’s refusal to accept the outcome of the election–a 150 year tradition– and his demonstrably false claims of election fraud amounted to borderline sedition.
Yesterday, he clearly stepped over the line into willfully unlawful behavior. The remedy is the 25th amendment, or immediate impeachment.
With 14 days left in his administration, he is too unhinged and too dangerous to continue in office. His only other route is to continue to escalate what has now become a national crisis. The end justifies the means.
As president, he is unlikely to be prosecuted for his crimes, but that’s not the case with others.
Rudy Giuliani, who call for “trial by combat” in a fiery speech yesterday, should be arrested immediately and charged with inciting a riot and sedition.
This isn’t “Alice in Wonderland;” words have meaning. When they encourage and incite a riot against the government they are unlawful and seditious.
Donald Trump Jr. should also be arrested on the same grounds.
“This gathering should send a message to them: This isn’t their Republican Party anymore! This is Donald Trump’s Republican Party!” he shouted.
Eric Trump Jr. made equally egregious remarks. “We need to march on the Capitol today. And we need to stand up for this country. And we need to stand up for what’s right,” he exclaimed.
But the Trump’s notion of right and wrong begins and ends with their father. He’s right, and everyone else is wrong… all the time. These are the seeds of dictatorship.
The Trumps and other speakers heaped praise on the rioters as “American patriots,” but they are far from it. They are far-right terrorists and must be taken seriously by law enforcement.
The threat they pose to the nation is real and visceral. Their actions, time and time, again, have carried with it intimidation and the threat of violence.
Yesterday, the violence and threat to our democracy was real and unmistakable.
For the past four years, President Trump has aided and abetted these groups and emboldened them.
The direct consequence was their effort to impose their distorted views of the United States and the Constitution with violence against our nation and elected officials.
Yesterday’s riot caused tens of thousands of dollars in damage to the Capitol. But the symbolic damage went far beyond that.
The nation was humiliated and for a few short hours our government was brought to its knees in the eyes of the world.
For that reason alone, the rioters must be brought to justice.
The FBI must make it a top priority to identify as many perpetrators as they can and the Justice Department must prosecute them.
These groups take pride in brandishing military style weapons and idolize a would-be dictator. They can not be allowed to wantonly break the law and threaten U.S. citizens as they did at the Capitol and State Capitals around the country.
This is a harsh prescription, but harsh times call for it. Trump, his cohorts and their legion of fellow travelers threw down the gauntlet.
The government and we the people must make clear that there is no place for violence, intimidation and sedition in our national discourse.
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