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.
“This is not who we are,” Donald Trump Jr. tweeted this afternoon, although earlier today he had been doing plenty of incitement of his own. As the whole world now sees, this is exactly who the Trumps are and who his most loyal supporters are. But it does not have to be the enduring legacy of all Republicans and all conservatives.
Everybody connected in any way to Trumpism must instantly put as many miles of distance as possible between themselves and this president and the mob that he raised and unleashed. There is still hope that the word Republican can be wrenched back from the thugs and insurrectionists. And the new majority in the House and Senate should act fast to offer Republicans the chance to return to faith in the Constitution they have attacked.
Schedule an impeachment vote for this very night. Stay ’til dawn. Do whatever is necessary. Avert any potential for martial law. Deny Trump command of the military; withdraw the nuclear codes. Don’t wait until the next crossed red line, until the next smashed barrier, until the next putsch attempt. Install Mike Pence right away as the 46th president and work with him to manage the transition on January 20 to Joe Biden as the 47th. Bar Trump from ever again holding office—and get ready to prosecute him for his crimes on January 21.
Act now. And everyone who acts now—even those who were most in the wrong until now—can share the credit and recognition as a protector of the Constitution. There is no time for delay.
Remove this treasonous president. Invite his own party to join the effort to remove him now, or to share now and forever Trump’s guilt.