President Trump needs to be held accountable for the riots he incited at the U.S. Capitol last week.
If that means going so far as the House of Representatives impeaching him a second time, or if it means he is deemed unfit to serve and is removed from office under the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, or if it means he resigns in disgrace in order to spare the country any further embarrassment and disruption, then that’s what needs to be done.
There should be no doubt after what happened over the last two months following his failed re-election bid — culminating in last week’s siege of the U.S. Capitol by his supporters — that the president has lost the moral authority to lead the nation.
It was his dishonesty and his unwillingness to accept the results of an election universally deemed fair and honest that fanned the flames of this insurrection.
To allow him to ride out the remaining few days left in his term without any kind of sanction or long-term consequences, even in the pursuit of peace and unity, would be to invite similar or worse insurrections in the future.
Impeachment or removal would send a clear message that no individual comes before the country.
It was President Trump who put lives in danger, who in fact put American democracy in danger, with the equivalent of shouting fire in a crowded theater.
It was President Trump who put his own interests above that of our national interests.
It was he who violated his own oath of office to “faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States” and to the best of his ability “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
And it is he who should be held most accountable.
While lawmakers in Congress should move forward assertively, they need to be careful that they don’t rush the impeachment process.
To act impetuously and without adequate deliberation, with the sole goal of completing it before the president leaves office, would undermine the legitimacy of the impeachment process forever.
Even in haste, the actual possibility of the impeachment leading to the president’s conviction and removal of office before Jan. 20 is very slim.
But Congress could still make the process effective as a sanction, since the Senate might still be able to act even after the president leaves office.
If they’re going to do something as monumental as this, they need to assure citizens all along the political spectrum that they are acting solely in the best interests of the country.
That can only be done with a full and deliberate proceeding.
NOT ALL ON TRUMP
While the president bears much of the responsibility for what happened last week, he’s not fully accountable for the outcome.
Also in need of accountability are those who are responsible for the handling of the protests that led to the rioting and siege of the Capitol.
Four people died, many were injured and even more were placed in grave danger, including most of our federal elected officials and their staffs.
Everyone from the president, to the Defense Department, to the Capitol Police, to local law enforcement, to public officials at all levels should be investigated for the role they played.
How was the most sacred building in American democracy left so grossly unprotected?
Why was security so lax and why did it take so long for reinforcements to respond?
How were officials not prepared to handle what happened given the city’s experience with protests in the past?
Who was monitoring the online discussions, and why were they not aware that something like this was not only possible, but probable?
Nothing less than full and deep investigations into all facets of this incident are acceptable.
And when these investigations are concluded, the officials in charge need to send a clear message to future insurrectionists and their enablers that such conduct will not be tolerated.
That means removing people from their jobs and pursuing criminal and civil penalties when warranted.
The American people have a right to know who was responsible and what officials plan to do to prevent it from happening ever again.
This was more than a riot.
It was an assault on the fundamental values of the American democracy.
It should be treated as such.