This is a moment of shame and grief.
If we are not very careful, it will also be a terrible moment of opportunity for President Donald Trump. The violence Trump incited could be his pretext for further abuses of presidential power.
As so often with Trump, he has indicated the plan in advance: Use the Insurrection Act to somehow interfere with the transition of power. He could try it this very day.
In institutional self-defense, Trump must be impeached again and this time removed. That needs to happen immediately, before he can declare martial law, so that Vice President Mike Pence can oversee the constitutional transition of power, the first time since the Civil War that such a transition can no longer be described as “peaceful.”
What’s needed, this time, is for a saving remnant of Republican senators to emulate the integrity that was embodied last time around only by Senator Mitt Romney. The leaders of Trump’s own party have to do the job of protecting the country from Trump’s violent lawlessness. Last time, the other senators refused. Now they need to feel real pressure.
All through this day, Republican pundits have expressed shock and puzzlement that it could come to this. “We don’t know who these people are,” the radio host Mark Levin tweeted. That’s the same Mark Levin who wrote an article urging Congress to challenge the results of the 2020 election, an article approvingly tweeted by Trump on December 30. In fact, we know “who these people are.” They are the monsters incubated, birthed, nurtured, fed, trained, and now loosed by Trump and by his enablers in politics and the media.