President Donald Trump has staged an unprecedented attack on the peaceful transition of power. He has refused to acknowledge Joe Biden’s victory, spread wild conspiracy theories, and incited a mob that ransacked the Capitol. Those who still deny that he is, and always has been, a danger to American democracy simply don’t want to see the world for what it is.
Trump’s outrageous actions help explain why so many people—including Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill, conservative writers at right-leaning publications, and many of my Atlantic colleagues—have called for Trump to be removed from office immediately. Trump will likely use the time he has left in the White House to pardon many of his accomplices, and perhaps even himself. The closer the date of his departure, the angrier and more vindictive he grows.
The case for removing Trump from office is strong. If I could wave a magic wand that ended his presidency instantly, and ensured that we would never hear from him or his supporters again, my arm would by now be in need of urgent medical attention. But such a magic wand does not exist. Any attempt to usher Trump out of the White House before January 20 is likely to fail. Even in the highly unlikely case of success, Trump’s opponents would pay a heavy price. Instead of leaving the White House as a sore loser who had lost the support of the American people, Trump would paint himself as a courageous martyr cast out by the “deep state.”