Updated at 4:35 p.m. ET on January 13, 2021
Representative Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, a 12-term veteran of Congress, was holed up in her office when the mob arrived. Thousands of MAGA diehards had followed President Donald Trump’s call to march to the Capitol to protest the certification of the Electoral College vote. “It was like a declaration of war against the United States, issued by the president of the United States,” Schakowsky told me.
When she returned to Washington yesterday to impeach a president she holds personally responsible for the attack, she didn’t wear her members’ pin in public. The threat against lawmakers is ongoing—a reality driven home for Democrats like Schakowsky in a briefing they heard on Monday night, when leaders of the Capitol Police told them of a plot by insurrectionists to surround the Capitol, the White House, and the Supreme Court ahead of next week’s inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.
So when congressional Democrats voted today to impeach Trump for inciting an insurrection, they believed they were acting to remove “a clear and present danger” not only to American citizens and democracy at large, but to themselves specifically. And the fear that Democrats have following the assault on their Capitol extends beyond Trump to their own House colleagues. After impeaching Trump, Democrats are likely to pursue punishments against Republican members—including Representatives Paul Gosar and Andy Biggs of Arizona, Mo Brooks of Alabama, and Lauren Boebert of Colorado—who either spoke at last week’s rally or applauded the rioters who stormed the Capitol. Brooks addressed the same rally as Trump and told the crowd, “Today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass.” Boebert tweeted during the attack that Speaker Nancy Pelosi had been removed from the House chamber, infuriating Democrats who saw the tweet as a signal to rioters of the speaker’s whereabouts.