Any Functioning Government Would Expel Donald Trump Tonight
For six years, Donald Trump has fed his supporters a fatty diet of grievances, lies, and exhortations to violence. It was only a matter of time before that incitement produced a major upheaval, and it happened today — a violent and deadly, if aimless, assault on the U.S. Capitol by Trump-supporting thugs, after Trump, standing on the Ellipse, had called on them to “walk down to the Capitol” and “fight much harder,” and told them “you’ll never take back our country with weakness,” and just as members of Congress were beginning to hear baseless challenges by some GOP members to the collective, decisive judgment of the states that Joe Biden defeated Trump in the presidential election.
Trump’s conduct today, including after the Capitol invasion — repeating, on Twitter and on video, his false and grandiose claims that he won the election, and praising the rioters even as he called for them to withdraw — demands that he be removed from office now, even though just two weeks remain until Biden’s inauguration.
Trump always knew what he planned to do if he were defeated in the 2020 election, and we were warned by some who knew him very well. “I fear,” Michael Cohen told the House Oversight Committee in February 2019, “that if he loses the election in 2020 that there will never be a peaceful transition of power.” To underscore his concern, Cohen added, “And this is why I agreed to appear before you today.”
For weeks since election day, Trump, aided by a string of tawdry, dishonest, delusional lawyers, has — in addition to filing scores of meritless and unsuccessful lawsuits — improperly and unlawfully pressured state legislators, governors, and secretaries of state to upend Biden’s wins; entertained discussions of martial law; and spewed to the public endless lies that he won in a landslide, one supposedly concealed by massive voter fraud. But today Trump took his lawlessness and recklessness to a disturbing, disgusting new low.
The joint congressional session has just resumed. The 100-plus Senators and House members who were pursuing claims, with no evidence, of election fraud should now immediately drop their objections, and their plans for hours and hours of debate, and move immediately to certification of Biden’s electoral victory.
But that cannot be the end of the action. Trump must go now.
Trump has vowed to never concede the election, and, at least until he does that, he will continue motivating supporters to engage in insurrection on his behalf. The Capitol invasion could be just the start. Imagine Trump supporters, fueled by QAnon conspiracy theories and Trump’s own lies, seeking to blow up buildings, assassinate Trump foes, and engage in other mayhem. Of course, such threats may persist even after Trump leaves office, but removing the objective of keeping Trump in office could help defuse the threat.
Trump’s presence in office is harmful in other respects. He months ago ceased performing the duties of president, at a time when the nation urgently needs leadership to address the raging COVID pandemic, economic crisis, and other serious challenges.
Trump, if he remains president, also is likely to continue his venal, disgraceful string of corrupt pardons of cronies and co-conspirators. Additional pardons could extend to himself, his family, and indeed the protestors who committed mayhem at the Capitol today, resulting in at least one death.
The erratic, vengeful Trump cannot be trusted with command of military forces or conduct of foreign relations. Tonight there are signs that Pence and others already are cutting Trump out of the loop on security decisions in the wake of the shameless MAGA assault done in his name.
Trump could be removed from office by his own cabinet, or by the Congress.
It’s doubtful that Mike Pence and the Trump cabinet will finally stand up to their great leader via the Constitution’s 25th Amendment. Even if the previously obsequious Pence stood up, some of the worst of them — think Mike Pompeo — likely would move to be MAGA heroes by thwarting Trump’s overthrow.
Congress could also move to force out Trump via impeachment in the House and removal from office by the Senate. The Constitution also permits the Senate, by separate vote, to impose a second penalty– disqualifying the president from holding federal officer again. In this case, that seems like a really good idea.
The Senate had the chance to remove Trump from office early last year, when Trump was impeached after being caught red-handed doing what he has, without evidence, always accused the Democrats of — trying to cheat in the election. Only one Republican senator, Mitt Romney, actually voted according to the evidence and supported removal. Another five or so GOP senators suggested that Trump was guilty but weren’t willing to impose the penalty. One of those, Susan Collins, famously assured us that Trump had learned “a pretty big lesson” from his impeachment.
Obviously Trump did not learn anything, except that he could get away with anything. He continued on his path as the most vile, corrupt president in U.S. history.
Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff have won their Senate elections in Georgia, but until they are sworn in, the Senate has 99 members, 48 Democrats and 51 Republicans (including the defeated Kelly Loeffler). Two-thirds of senators present are required to remove from office.
After the events of today, could there be 18 Republicans who would join all Democrats in deciding that Trump has abused his office, that he represents a clear and present danger, that Mike Pence would be a better president than Donald Trump for the next two weeks, and that the country would be served by barring Trump from another bid for the White House in 2024? I wish the answer was yes.
UPDATE 01-07-21: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said today that if Vice President Pence doesn’t move ahead with a 25th Amendment effort, the House might consider impeachment. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) has introduced a clear, concise resolution calling for Trump’s impeachment for (1) pressuring Georgia secretary of state Brad Raffensperger to overturn Biden’s win in that state; and (2) inciting the violent attack on the Capitol. The resolution has growing support.